Nonlinearity in words
Happy 2022! With that obligatory note of goodwill out of the way, I want to thank everyone who has signed up to share their attention with me. But seriously, I hope you’re well and so greatly appreciate that our paths have intersected. Making connections and then sustaining these connections through sharing ideas and information is something that gives me purpose.
Below are learnings 10-12. If you haven’t read previous posts, that’s okay. The numbers are sequential, but the content isn’t.
Thanks for reading.
#10 Retail stores as distribution nodes and so much more
Before launching Just Mystic I had never worked in retail. I had exposure to retail at Nike, but that was through the lens of digital. And on the digital side, as we were beginning our climb to reach 50% of revenue through digital channels, digital was everything. The idea of opening new stores when digital was growing so quickly was sacrilegious. But that’s how many of us felt in Nike Digital. Our colleagues in retail, known as Nike Stores at corporate, had very different feelings, and now I have some sense of why.
Retail stores are so much more than a place to sell product. They are places to tell a story that comes to life much differently in person than on a screen. Customers can touch and feel product, and they can literally walk through curated experiences. There is emotion and tangibility, driving a stronger connection to a brand. And retail stores are distribution nodes, buttressing logistics networks, while also serving as an indelible piece of omnichannel strategies, such as curbside pickup and buy online, pickup in store (aka BOPIS).
Some people are surprised when I talk about our plan to open a Just Mystic retail store. It’s understandable for anyone who’s never worked in retail and or lives most of their life online. But now, simply having run a few pop-ups, connecting directly with our customers, telling our story in person, and seeing the potential to connect digital and physical through omnichannel strategies, I understand the need for retail stores and am fomoing hard, especially after recently watching our digital traffic drop off the week before Christmas (one of the biggest shopping weeks of the year). And customers are not just in stores, shopping in person, that last week before Christmas. In fact, digital sales (i.e., e-commerce) are still, on average, below 20% as a share of total retail sales in the United States, the largest retail market in the world.
The hard numbers aside, let me circle back to the point of this blog – learning! There is so much to be learned from in-person, physical experiences. This is where customers and product intersect in the wild. Words are not even necessary. Watch their actions. Like the local 20-something woman who ran out of the bar across the street, mid-gulp, to rush to our pop-up to buy a crewneck, and later acted out her sequence of actions for us, or the graphic designer from Boston whose eyes smiled with satisfaction as he admired a simple and clean design, similar to his own aesthetic. This is not to say that data is not important. But data, combined with the learnings of in-person behavior, provides a nuanced understanding that guides a business toward not only desirability, but also viability.
#11 The Just Mystic blog might be an airline magazine
Hemisphere? En Route? Sky? Any idea what these are? Probably not.
These are the publications of United, Delta, and Alaska Airlines, respectively.
I’ve often wondered who reads them. And recently, on a flight from Connecticut to California, I had six hours to sit with my shocking epiphany that our Just Mystic blog might be as unread, and probably, okay, definitely is a lot more unread, than an airline magazine. I’m told it’s not all in vain though. As soon as we hit the magic number of 100 posts our web traffic will light up. Seriously. SEO consultants preach blogs as vehicles to park keywords, variations on keywords, and links, lots of links (we have so many links in our posts!). This is what SEO optimization looks like.
80 or so posts until take off!
That’s a lot of blogging. Alas, I’ve discovered a solution: Fiverr.
I might be giving away a not-so-secret secret here, but in my short time experimenting with Fiverr, I’ve been impressed. Find a reasonably priced writer, craft a tight brief, and in a few days you’ll have content that, with a little polishing and keyword stuffing, you can post. Fiverr offers much more than writing services, of course. I might next test their chops in video content, specifically voice overs. Who doesn’t want a voice of god to enhance their brand?
Standby for more learnings as we soar to 100 posts. Apologies for the surfeit of transportation metaphors.
#12 Toward fulfillment
This is a learning that I may not have the words to capture appropriately. Fulfillment, I think, is ineffable. Or to borrow from Buddhism's concept of stillness, fulfillment isn’t something that can be described but, rather, it can only be experienced. If you practice meditation regularly, you may understand what I mean. Nonetheless, for the meditators and non-meditators alike, I’ll try to express this feeling of moving toward fulfillment. And I’ll add that my experience of fulfillment is personal and subjective, very likely different from someone else’s experience.
So how might I describe this feeling of fulfillment? First, I need to reflect on what fulfillment even is. There are many definitions, all of which have commonality, expressing the completion, or achievement, or the end of something. There was perhaps a gap that needed to be filled, and now, through some actions or events, this gap has been filled, marking something as done. And that’s how I’m starting to think about my own experience moving toward fulfillment.
I’ve long had a desire to build something, to go from 0 to 1, testing ideas and entrepreneurial visions. I’ve barely begun this journey, but I know it’s different from past experiences. My mind feels fertile, rich with creativity, ideas buzzing constantly. I have the autonomy and space to act on an idea in just hours or days. I am excited to meet others, to share ideas, brainstorm, get different perspectives, iterate, and so on. In short, each day is satisfyingly frenetic, and I believe that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
And then there’s also this feeling of checking a box. Completion. Achievement. The end of something as a result of starting something.
I have so far to go to call anything I’m working on a commercial success, but I’ve made the leap, and as difficult as it is to capture the feeling of fulfillment, I know I’m moving toward it.