Leadership Alert Here

You can’t teach what you don’t possess.

You can’t teach motivation when you don’t have motivation

You can’t teach a skill if you don’t practice that skill yourself.

You can’t teach discipline when you don’t have discipline.

You can’t tell me about life when you don’t live a life that others would want to live.

You can’t ask me to be better, when you don’t work on getting better yourself.

You can’t tell me to manage my time when you can’t manage your time.

Don’t ask me to to go to training when you haven’t gone to training.

Don’t ask me to take action when you haven’t taken action.

Dont promise me things and then don’t deliver, and then ask me why I don’t deliver.

Leadership is a great place to be, but it is a big responsibility.  It is the ultimate responsibility.  You must be the “leader” which means in all of the above areas, you must be the standard-bearer, you set the pace, you show how it should be done.  You have people’s lives in your hands, leadership is serious.

My challenge to any leader that reads this or parent for that matter.  Be the standard-bearer, set the pace, show the way today.




Set The Pace

Read my blog “I failed miserably, but I will keep pursuing the goal” for context on this post.

Set the Pace

If you look at most sales positions within a company and the people who are in those jobs, you will typically see some characteristics about their personalities that are alike.  Most of them are really high energy, will talk to everyone, assertive in the things they do.  These are all things that make up a great sales person.

Since all sales people are typically pace setters in an organization, how do you as a leader get out in front of them and set the pace at a higher level. To quote the legendary Green Bay Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi:  I believe it starts with a relentless pursuit of perfection and settling for excellence.  If you can get to excellence, that is a pretty good place to be.

I personally believe that I am not ever going to be the smartest person in the room and I am usually not.  However, I am disciplined and very routine to a fault in my personal and professional life.  There are three things that I do every day that lets my team know that I am setting the pace daily and they are going to have to keep up.

Always show up first, except when it is time to eat:

I believe that if you are right on time, you are actually late in my opinion.  Well, Brian, if you are right on time, then how are you late?  I am not saying that sometimes you won’t be right on time, or even late from time to time, but if it is a constant thing that happens, then I have no doubt that most of the things you do in your personal and professional life are this way.  To me it is a perception thing.  As a leader you show up early and leave late.  If you are right on time, you don’t get the benefits that have enhanced my career as I describe below.

In some sales manager positions you are remote and your people won’t see you when you are in the office.  Get in early and send some kind of email to them.  A Good Morning email, an update on the previous day’s production, some kind of email letting them know you are up at them early.  If you work in an office, it is real easy for your people to know that you are setting the pace.  Be visible as they come in throughout the morning.

Being the first at meetings:  In any type of meeting with subordinates, peers, or your bosses it is good to be first, whether it is a training session, a general meeting that you are holding, or a meeting that you must attend.   If it is your meeting than being first is a must.  You have to make sure the room is set up the way you want it, the technology if needed is working properly, and making sure you are prepared overall to conduct your meeting.  This part is a no brainer to me.   If it is your boss’s meeting than you want to make sure you are early, you can’t run the risk of being late. You also want your boss to know how well prepared you are, by doing this you will differentiate yourself from everyone else.  Lastly, on being early to meetings:  You get to spend some quality time with the participants of the meeting.  If you are the boss and it is your meeting and everything is set up, that extra time as your employees arrive for the meeting is so valuable.  You can talk to them about life and how everything is going for them, a great time to build trust and on the relationships.  If it is your boss’s meeting, than the extra time before the meeting is quality time with your boss, and that time is very valuable for you and your career.  Lastly, how early do you arrive?  I am a big believer in if it is my meeting, just a basic meeting to discuss topics. 10-15 minutes, if it is a presentation or training, at least a half hour maybe more depending on how much set up you have.  All other meeting about 10 minutes or so.  Oh, at cookouts, company events, anything where there is food, you always eat last. Come on, be courteous.

Work even when it is not a workday:

Now some people have issues with this statement, that’s ok.  In this world of feel good and everyone gets a ribbon culture, it is no wonder the US is struggling in certain areas, mainly with our youth, but I digress.  The bottom line is that hard work will win most of the time, nothing is 100%.  I believe in work\life balance, but only after you complete your work.  Call me crazy, but I believe that hard work and determination are two of the most important ingredients of success.  All people like a day off, its how we are in the United States, and I am no different.  However, what I have found is that if I am going to be a pace setter and expect my team to run with me, then I must set the pace and I am going to work even when everyone is expected not to work.

Yes, I have heard all of the comments “Brian, you don’t have a life”, “When you have Kids, it will be different”, “Don’t let work identify who you are”.  These statements drive me crazy as you might imagine, but the last one especially does.  “Don’t let work identify who you are”.  Let me be clear with you here.  I like nice things and I like basics things.  I like to be able to have a $5 dollar coffee when I want one, I like to have a nice car, and I like to have a nice house.  All of those things are possible to me because I work hard, so yes my work does identify me and it allows me to have the things that I want.  Some of my favorite days to work are on the non-workdays, because I know I am being more productive than 99% of my peers, and I am setting the pace for my team.

The last thing I do to set the pace is: Never Not show up

How do you mean Brian?  Well, again, this is the one that some people may have a problem with, so hear me out.  Luckily, for the most part I am pretty healthy.  I also, try to eat right and exercise regularly. We all get sick, however there are different kinds of sick in my opinion.

People get sick and sometimes have to go to the doctor and sometimes it is not in the best interest of your health or your co-workers health for you to show up.  However, I think a little headache, little sick in the stomach, or just a little under the weather is not sick to me, and you don’t not show up for these minor inconveniences that are part of life.  Secondly, you are the sales manager, so most likely you are not making 100’s of outbound calls daily and have the ability to dictate your workday in most cases.  So show up, let everyone know you showed up, take care of a little business and cut out early if you can.  Most likely you don’t even have to show up anywhere, you can set at home and send a few emails out from your IPAD, but do something.

I know some of the things above seem pretty basic, and you might be saying well duh, we are all managers and we do these things.  As I am typing this chapter, I know many of my peers who are not following any of the above rules as I laid them out.  Lastly, I don’t want everyone to think I am hardcore do whatever it takes and work 24/7 to get it done type of person, however as a sales manager I believe it is our job to set the pace, be the example, and your team will follow, so by doing some of the above things over a period of time it will change the teams pace.

I failed miserably, but I will keep pursuing the goal

8 years ago, I received a promotion as a Sales Manager.  At that time, I was really growing and learning a lot.  I was also still under thirty.  So in my brilliance and sophistication I started keeping a journal (that’s what I would call it today) but then it was a WORD document.  All it really was at that time was phrases regarding leadership that I liked, or things that I learned by making mistakes, or things I didn’t want to forget, etc.  It could have been the way I handled a situation that worked out well or it could be a process that I learned that I wanted to document.  It became about a 10 page document comprised of bullet points. 

I started telling myself that I would turn those bullet points into a book titled “The Top 30 Things I learned as a Sales Manager before 30.” It would be targeted for a young sales manager.  Well, that never happened.  However around 30 years old, I did make some more progress.  I created another word document that took the information from the 10 page document paired down to 30 bullet points that was more title format of those things that I learned and liked.  I didn’t get the book done by 30 either.  So then I started thinking I would change the book title to 35 things. I had to do something, I was getting older and I liked the title so much. (LOL)  I thought at that time, that is way too many chapters and I didn’t know if I could write that much (I was defeated before I started in a sense). Oh by the way, I attempted to do that book of 35, but I could only come up with 31 as the list below shows.  But I started writing some chapters about 4 years ago and stopped, and then I started again about 2 years ago and stopped. Now I am 35, and the book still isn’t finished, but it is on the goal list for 2014. 

So over the next few months I will be posting some of the chapters that I have written and will be trying to write more chapters.  I am desirous of being a top trainer, speaker, and executive.  I know I will never get there, but I will pursue those goals daily.  By writing, I become better at all three of those things.  Along the way I would appreciate any feedback or additional insights you may have.

I am sure some of these chapters sound familiar and have been written about before, but this book will be my story and my examples and they are unique.  It is really cool as I read each chapter title below and reflect on my reasons for having that title.  They truly are just examples of lessons that I had to learn on my own and learn from. As I look at them again, I see a lot of duplication as well. Oh well, its my list. 

  1. Cant, wont, don’t know how
  2. Not everyone is motivated the same way
  3. You have been put there for a reason
  4. Confidence is king
  5. Leading people that have more experience than you
  6. Set the pace (Run faster than everyone else)
  7. Personal and Professional growth is key
  8. Don’t forget to have a little tact
  9. Keep a finger on the pulse of your industry
  10. You will inherit people.  Find out who is bought in and cut the rest
  11. Charisma is good but competence is better
  12. Hire Slowly and Fire quickly
  13. Hire people who are smarter than you
  14. Remember Management and Leadership is not a popularity contest
  15. Inspect what you expect
  16. Don’t Manage people, lead people, manage a process
  17. Seek to understand before trying to be understood
  18. Create an accountability system to manage results
  19. Results only work environment
  20. Provide Training
  21. Over-Communicate
  22. Celebrate often
  23. Motivation is short lived, inspiring people is long-term
  24. Coach up or coach out
  25. Spend time with people
  26. Be yourself
  27. Praise in public, and criticize in private
  28. Lead up
  29. Set High Expectations
  30. Don’t forget where you came from. 
  31. Take the Temperature 

My mentor said…

Three years ago I was introduced to Jim Rohn.  Not technically introduced, he was already dead by the time I had heard of him.  I was exposed to his teachings through a magazine that I subscribed to.  SUCCESS Magazine.

One key insight I learned from that first seminar I purchased from Success Magazine and Jim Rohn.

Walk away from the 97%

  • Don’t talk like they talk
  • Don’t think like they think
  • Don’t read what they read
  • Don’t act like they act
  • Don’t do what they do

I am sure as you read this you are saying, hmm… does that mean in the workplace or at home?  The answer is yes and yes.  I guess the main point of this short but powerful message, is if you want to live an extraordinary life, don’t do what most people do.

But I did it anyway

  • I really didn’t feel like getting up this morning and putting 60 minutes on the bike, but I did it anyway.
  • I really didn’t feel like reading for 30 minutes this morning, but I did it anyway.
  • I really didn’t feel like sending out several emails just following up with people I am connecting with to see how we could assist each other, but I did it anyway.
  • I really didn’t feel like eating that protein bar for breakfast, that McDonald’s sausage egg biscuit sounded so much better, but I did it anyway.

We all have choices to make in life.  If we only made the right (your interpretation of right) choices in life when we felt like doing it, I don’t know about you, but I would probably have more days where I didn’t feel like it than I do feel like it.   What keeps me making the right choices, right in my mind, is the “WHY” associated with making the choices I made today and make each day.

I want to have a depth of knowledge that makes me more valuable, which in turn I can be of value to others. I want to live a healthy lifestyle so that I can live a prosperous long healthy life free from illness, so I can earn all I can and give away all I can.  These are some of my WHY’s, but the passage below paints the picture even more clearly for me and maybe it will for you as well.

  • There is no doubt that every human being comes to this earth with a mission.  We are not accidental puppets thrown off to be buffetted by luck or chance or cruel fate.  We are part of a great universal plan.  We were made to fit into this plan, to play a definite part of it.  We come here with a message for humanity which no one else but ourselves can deliver, and faith in our mission, the belief we are important factors in the great creative plan, that we are in fact, co-creators with God, will add wonderfully, to the dignity and effectiveness of our lives, will enable us to perform the impossible. —Author: Orison Swett Marden

I am just a seeker on a path and I really like and enjoy this path I am on.

To think you can, creates the force that can.

Brian Willett


8 Book Summary’s in 140 Characters or less…

This year my goal is to read about 4 books a month.  I am on pace to accomplish this task.  I have summarized my 8 books so far in 2014 in 140 characters or less.  These are all tweetable.

“An American Life”; Autobiography of Ronald Reagan

  • Anything is possible in the USA, with hardwork, determination and faith you can accomplish anything you desire.

“EntreLeadership”; Author: Dave Ramsey

  • You can go broke, change everything that got you that way and build back up and run a very successful business helping others not go broke.

“The Why Axis” (Hidden motives and the undiscovered economics of everyday life); Author(s) Uri Gneezy; John A. List.  

  • Fear of loss is greater than the desire to gain. 

“Straight from the Gut”; Author: Jack Welch (Autobiography)

  • Leadership is Leadership and once you have identified good leaders you can plug and play them in any kind of business and they will succeed

“The Challenger Sale” (Taking control of the customer conversation); Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson)

  • Your best sales people are not only relationship builders, but they can tailor, teach, and take control with their clients. 

“The Philosophy for Successful Living”; Jim Rohn

  • There is a direct correlation between income and continued learning. We all have the ability to learn more and become more if we choose to.

Up the organization “How to stop Corporations from stifling People and Strangling profits”; Robert Townsend

  • Don’t over complicate business.  When you do what is right and you try your hardest to keep things simple, it just works.

21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling (Proven Actions You Must Take to Make Easier, Faster, Bigger Sales); Jeffrey Gitomer

  • Add value and be intentional. A guy buys a drill to make a hole. Don’t sell him a drill until you find out more about the hole.

The iPhone is on version 5, which version of you are you on?

I believe the iPhone is currently on version 5, Microsoft Windows is on “Windows 8”, and I just upgraded my MAC Book Operating System to “OS X .”  Why are they constantly updating these things?  It requires consumers to buy it if we desire the latest and greatest?  And how many of us purchase the upgrades?  If we don’t, we won’t have the newest technology, or the fastest speeds, or the newest features and we all agree that this will just not work.

Just like Apple and Microsoft all companies must update their products for them to stay relevant.  Look around to your left and to your right, how many Blackberry’s do you see?  Probably not any, Blackberry didn’t update their product and thought that their customer loyalty was so strong that they didn’t need to, and when they finally did make a decision to make changes it was too late. The market had moved on to the other products.

You are no different from these companies.  We as Human beings should constantly be seeking to improve our own product which is ourselves and don’t wait too long to do this.  I, like most people did whatever one else did.  I graduated high school, went to work, decided that wasn’t going to work, so I decided to go to college and get a two-year degree, then I decided that it wasn’t enough to get me where I wanted to be, and then went on to get further formal education.  After completing my formal education I was introduced to self-development, and that is what changed my life and career forever more.

During my first 6 years in the marketplace I did better than average, but when I got turned on to self-development and self-education, I doubled everything in those next 6 years.  Sure experience and circumstances helped, but I give all the credit to investing in my most appreciable asset, which is my own self-education.

Seems like iPhone gets upgraded about every 1-2 years.  Which works for iPhone, because they are one of the most successful companies in the USA and the world.  I think we should be investing in our own product (ourselves) everyday.  When is the last time you had an upgrade?  Are you running the best version of you?  One my mentors says and I also believe it is in the bible (don’t quote me on the bible acknowledgment), but we should all earn everything we can, save all we can, and give all we can, and the only way we can do this, is to be all we can.  To be all you can, you must constantly upgrade your skills, your knowledge, and invest in yourself, don’t become a Blackberry.

How would you rank today?

Last year I read the book by the 2 Time NCAA Mens Basketball National Championship Coach Rick Pitino, titled “One Day Contract.”  The premise of the book is at the end of the day everybody should do an analysis of your day and determine objectively, if you were on a one day contract with your employer, team, department, etc., would you sign this person for another day of work.  So what did you accomplish that day and would you be willing to pay for it another day. Now life doesn’t work like that, well at least not in the real world, but would if it did?  How would you do?  Would you get re-signed for another day?

For the last three years I have done some very very detailed goal setting at the beginning of the year and at times will modify my goals through out the year as needed.  This year was really no different, other than I have shared those goals with one person and we meet each week and we run down through each of our goals and rank ourselves 1-10 on how we did overall and in each area.  Really we are accountability partners.   It is one thing to know yourself where you fell short, but it is different when you have someone else tell you or at least you share with them that you fell short.  Now some of these goals are very personal and some are professional, but by doing this exercise it is making me better.  Especially the personal stuff.  I have never had anyone hold me accountable to my personal stuff?  Business sure, but personal.

What I appreciate more about this meeting each week than anything is our openness with each other, our candor with each other, the trust we have in one another.  Neither one of us judge each other, and honestly I have some out there goals.   We now have started asking each other by text or by email, how do you rank today.  This extra push is making us better each day.

Whether you want to share your goals with someone else or not, do an analysis everyday or at least every week, and rank your self objectively, you are either getting better or getting worse, there is no in between.

Yep I did it…

I did it…  Yep I finally did it.  I was inspired by a good friend of mine and something I heard in church to finally do it.  Yep, I cut my cable television off.  When I called in to cut it off, the cable company basically kept offering more and more discounts.  It is not about the money, unfortunately or fortunately, I spend that amount of money at the coffee shop in a given month.  They just kept on probing asking me what they could do.  Then they asked if it was a technical issue.  It isn’t that either, so after 20 minutes I finally got off the phone.  It was so funny.

Honestly, most people I know think I am crazy.  It’s not that I watch a lot of TV, however, on the weekends, I am prone to watch a few hours of sports and mindless television just like anyone else.  I understand we all need an escape in our life and you should spend a certain amount of your budget towards entertainment or you will go crazy.  However, we all go through different seasons in our life, and I am in a season where I need to be distraction free.

I am in an interesting season in my life right now.  Earlier this year, I heard the story of Nehemiah out of the bible.  I cannot quote scripture, however, I do remember this.  “I can’t come down, because I have great work to do.”  I am not a philosopher or theologian, but from a business perspective, I want to accomplish even greater things. This quote means don’t get distracted by little things, because you were put on this earth to accomplish so much more. So focus on your “Great Work” whatever that is.   So to do this, I have to make some sacrifices.  Because if I was able to do some of the things I want to do, I would have already done it.  So since I haven’t accomplished some of these things I want to accomplish, I must change for things to change.  TV is probably a small amount of time in my budget of time, but it is also the easiest to cut off so I can accomplish the great work I want to accomplish.

Is this forever?  Absolutely not, come on, I love watching Tiger Woods on the Golf Course or the Louisville Cardinals play basketball.  But right now, I have some things I am trying to accomplish and I have to eliminate all distractions.  However, if Tiger is in the hunt for a Masters in April, I will be in the local Sports Bar or somewhere watching.  Just saying.