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I was talking to a client a while ago who happens to be my dad’s age. I told him that he needed to get an iPhone or Palm Pilot or some other electronic daily planner. I’d been egging him to “go electronic” for months, and that once he did, he would wonder why he hadn’t sooner.

He was constantly misplacing his Franklin Covey planner, so scheduling appointments with him was hit or miss. If he had his planner, he would write down the meeting details, but if he had forgotten it at home (as he had done more than occasionally), he would say “oh darn, I’ll have to remember to call you when I get home and try to schedule it then.” But that was easy to say, and also easy to forget.

So he finally did. He took my advice and “went electronic.” (In his case, he got an iPod touch). He now has iCal on it, and I helped him install MobileMe, so he can sync with his iMac at home.

Nearly every time I’ve seen him since then, he’ll excitedly tell me “I just figured out how to invite attendees to a meeting!” or share some other new feature he’s discovered. It has changed the way he does business. He’s much more efficient, much better at scheduling, his secretary is able to schedule appointments for him while he’s out and about, and he has it all in the palm of his hand at all times.

I asked him why he waited so long to take my advice, and his response was revealing:

“…because tech geeks have been telling us for years how ‘easy’ everything is. ‘Just buy this new gadget and it will make your life so much easier.’

But whenever I listen to them, and buy the darn thing, I take it home, and sure enough—it’s NOT easy like they promised it would be. Or I’ll buy a new gadget, and when I start it up, it gives me cryptic error messages, or the setup fails for some reason. So when you told me it would be easy, I just assumed was the same old pitch.”

This was an interesting lesson for me for two reasons:

  1. It tells me that the tech-savvy salesmen who lurk by the videocameras at every superstore are hurting my ability to do my job, because they’ve lost the trust of the public, or at least the trust of a generation (folks my parents’ age).
  2. It also tells me that if I can overcome a potential client’s initial distrust, I can really hit a home run. But it’s going to take some serious hand holding, extreme patience and validation (e.g. “You’re right—the salesman misled you. It is more difficult than he told you. I understand your frustration.”)

It’s probably not that the yellow-vested guys at Best Buy intend to deceive anyone, but I also think they’re doing their customers no favors by saying that buying a product will make their life better, when in fact, the customer buys it, and it makes his or her life more complicated and they either give up or return it.

So the conclusion I’ve come to is this: technology really has reached the point where it’s easy for just about everyone to us, and I’m here to help if you can’t figure it out.

But it really is time. Please, toss your paper planner and go electronic.