For how long did you and your partner date? How long before you and your partner made some significant decisions, like meeting each others family, going on holiday together, getting a dog, sharing bank details, moving in together, or maybe (call me old fashioned), getting married?
Hey, it’s Andrew, and this is Safety on Tap.
Since you’re listening in, you must be a leader wanting to grow yourself and drastically improve health and safety along the way. Welcome to you, you’re in the right place. If this is your first time listening in, thanks for joining us and well done for trying something different to improve! And of course welcome back to all of you wonderful regular listeners.
Everything has a first time, right? Think about the first date. Think about your first date. Think about a great first date you’ve had. Now think about a bad first date, one you wouldn’t want to tell many people about. So you’ve got a picture in your mind, right?
Dating is about a relationship. It is a container in which a relationship forms, or on bad dates where a relationship dies. Two people with different backgrounds, perspectives, experiences, interests, different wants and needs, and expectations.
Now we are all adults here, and this episode does have an explicit warning so if you are in the car or a public place or with kids, fair warning about my next question.
When does the sex happen?
Now you might think I’ve gone bonkers, there is a lesson in the metaphor here so bear with me. It’s not a lude question – it’s a fact of many adult lives that at some point, it happens. Was that something you anticipated when I asked you earlier about a first date? Was it there at all? If it was, was that a good thing or not?
I’m not judging anyone, but I’ll draw on some common stereotypes on the topic you’ll be familiar with: sex on the first date seems appealing but not with the person you want to marry. Sex on the first date is an absolute no-no. Sex on the first date is a positive goal for mature respectful independent people. Sex on the first date is sinful. All different perspectives. And there are some other stereotypes you might have come across.
Let’s think about some of those promotional emails you are getting more and more of, given we are at the time of year where you can hardly avoid seeing some sort of Black Friday, Thanksgiving or Christmas sale on.
What’s the kind of marketing messages you are seeing? Are you seeing ‘Buy Now Limited Time’? ‘Don’t miss out on this best gift for him/her’?. What about ‘
Selling or buying a gift is a relationship too, albeit usually far less human than a first date. What makes that relationship successful? Is it the most pushy? The most persistent? The lowest price? Free shipping? Or timely and relevant offers which are value for money?
You know what ‘good’ marketing is, and is not, based on your buying behaviour. Have a think about it. Who have you bought from this year, and why? What was that experience like, compared to other marketing relationships where you didn’t buy? When and why did you seal the deal?
Let’s think about you now, and some specific points in time in your life. Like starting a new job? Or the end of a year? Or developing or updating a safety plan or strategy? Or getting a new boss?
Dan Pink wrote a book called ‘To Sell is Human’, where he suggests that the traditional view of a salesperson wasn’t that flash, but that kind of sales is fast disappearing. At the same time, there is this monstrous rise of white-collar roles where the central purpose of the job is to move other people to action – to enable change.
What first dates, or dating in general, and holiday season marketing, and health and safety roles have in common, is that they are all based on moving other people to action. Call me old fashioned but my first date goal was to be sufficiently polite, engaging, and interested to get a second date and nothing else. The marketing you succumbed to during the holiday season, have you got a relationship with those companies, or are they a one-hit or once-a-year kind of thing?
And most importantly, what are you trying to achieve in your role as a health and safety professional?
Sex on the first date? Buy now don’t delay?
What I see a lot of, when I am coaching health and safety leaders, when I am facilitating learning events with health and safety teams, is that we are frustrated. The connection between these metaphors is that we are madly swiping left and right trying to build relationships, wanting marriage but behaving like we are rushing to get to home base on the first date. We want to have a great relationship with a customer buy we pressure them into buying whatever it is we’ve got to sell.
So what this looks and sounds like is:
– I want something, so I am less interested in listening to you or getting to know you
– I am in a hurry
– I am treating you like you are no different to anyone else
– I am interested in a transaction here, not a relationship
Notice how all of those sentences started with ‘I’? What about ‘them’?
There is a massive amount we can learn from both dating, and marketing, which can make us more effective.
Instead of angling for one of your hurried outcomes, why not simply invest in building a relationship as an outcome?
Instead of trying to be interesting, why not be a little more interested?
Instead of treating all your customers are the same, why not seek to understand how they are different?
Instead of assuming you have something that others want or need, why not create something with someone to meet their wants and needs?
Instead of assuming wants and needs are the same, why not assume that they are different, and engage with the people you seek to serve to understand why and how they are different?
We are all in sales now. And most of us have more exposure to marketing than dating, as a broad generalisation. I’m sure you have your health and safety subject-matter expertise in a good spot, your technical capabilities.
Yet I don’t know any health and safety professional who doesn’t struggle to move people to action, to influence a change, to get them to buy into something new or different.
We are all in sales now. To sell is human. Maybe you might spend some of your reflection time in the holidays thinking about how you can improve your marketing and sales capability.
The year 2020 is fast approaching. There are three things I’d encourage you to think about before we head into the holiday season:
Reflect on your year! Have a listen to Ep 62 entitled ‘You Are Your Own Best Teacher’ for some inspiration to do this
What can you do to sharpen your focus? A few other episodes which may help you are Ep 63 ‘The Law of the Harvest’ which reminds us how far back a harvest starts, Ep123 ‘How much Human’, a reflection on the importance of relationships, Ep 92 ‘What’s It For?’ which talks though the emerging models which recognise that much of what we do has nothing to do with actual health and safety (and what to do about it’, and finally Ep 98 ’80/20′ explores the Pareto principle, and how it might help you sharpen your focus on what you should do (and not do) in 2020.
Finally, a little extra help for those of you already getting lots of value from the podcast. In 2019 I experimented with a number of specific experiences all of which overlaid marketing on top of our health and safety world, to help people like you improve your effectiveness. With amazing results and feedback, I’m excited to launch a series of workshops across Australia in 2020 called ‘Marketing Health and Safety Properly’. These one-day workshops will teach you foundational marketing concepts and models and apply these not just to health and safety in general but to your specific circumstances so you will walk away with a marketing plan to improve how you deliver value to your customers. If you are interested in learning more about these workshops, which are endorsed by the Australian Institute of Health and Safety for Continuing Professional Development, jump onto our email list over at and I’ll send you the details when we have dates and locations locked in.
Thanks so much for listening. Until next time, what’s the one thing you’ll do to take positive, effective or rewarding action, to grow yourself, and drastically improve health and safety along the way? Seeya!

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