3 Things I learned last week…12/21-27/2015

Cherish the time you have. Many of you know this.  My father passed away this year suddenly and way too young.  This is the first go around for my family and I to go through the Holiday Season without him.  I have had many friends reach out to me and ask me how we are doing.  I have really appreciated their thoughts and concerns.  In many cases I don’t know how to respond when someone asks me how we are doing.  The best way I can sum it up is this way:  It is weird. Sure I am sad.  Sure I zone out thinking about him and my childhood and adulthood memories with him.  Sure I cry.  I learned so much from my father throughout my life.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today without his good example.  He always showed up early and stayed until the job got done. He was loyal to people and he was loyal to my mom and our family.  I guess what I learned most last week going through Christmas Day and Christmas Eve is that we have to be grateful for the times we get to spend with family.  We have to cherish those moments during the moment.  We are all too busy these days to spend quality time with the people we should and want to spend quality time with.  The Holidays are a great time to spend that quality time make sure you do it.

Don’t overstay your usefulness.  There comes a time with almost everything in life that it eventually becomes not as useful as it once was.  For example: Go over to your wall in your house. Do you have a place where a landline phone used to exist?  Or go into your drawer where you store things in your house and tell me how many chargers or old cell phones you have in it.  Or pull out your last CD you bought.  These are all items that were awesome at the time, but as technology got better and time went on they were no longer useful.  This happens to people as well.  It is unfortunate but it is a reality.  You are hired to do a job for a company.  You do it well for many years.  Then things start to change.  As things start to change you don’t change or even worse, you can’t change.  Maybe it is a physical limitation.  Or it could be a competency limitation. It may me something you can change or you may not be able to change it because that is how life is.  Michael Jordan can’t play at the same level of basketball that he did when he was in his prime.  Is he still capable?  Absolutely.  However he can’t play with the 20 and 30 year olds that make up the majority of the NBA. He has had to adapt to become a successful businessman and become useful to basketball in a different way.  This is what we all have to do throughout our life.  Once we are no longer useful the way we used to be, we have to adapt and become useful in a different way, or useful somewhere else in the same way.

When there are too many cooks in the kitchen the food never gets cooked.  We have all heard the saying “We have more Chiefs than Indians.”  What they are saying in case you haven’t heard that before.  Is that we have more people who want to be in charge and not enough people wanting to do the work.  It is the opposite of this with too many cooks in the kitchen.  When we have too many cooks in the kitchen we have too many people wanting to create menus, cook food, decide on what to prepare and how to prepare it. In both cases you must have balance. You have to have enough cooks to get the job done effectively and efficiently.  You have to defer to the people who know the most and have a track record and experience to create the menu and do the cooking. You have to have balance with Chiefs and Indians as well.  When you have too many Indians it becomes chaos like it does with too many cooks. You have to have enough Chiefs and enough Indians to get a job done.  Too many of either one and things will slow down and may not get accomplished.  For my own sanity I am going to only choose projects and partnerships where there is balance.

What did you learn last week?

To your success and your future.


3 Things I learned last week…12/14-20/2015

Purpose: Last week I had a great opportunity to meet with a Vice President whose company manages everything related to food and nutrition for senior living facilities.  It was a great meeting where I had the chance to learn a lot about their business.  This person was very passionate about what they did.  Out of all of the things we discussed, one of the things that really struck a chord with me is this:  During our conversation he told me that he reminds himself and the people he leads that “the meal they are serving their customers could be their last meal.”  He actually told me one of the many stories that he can remember where this was the exact case.  The meal he served was that persons last meal.  His heart and his purpose is very clear to me in his business. He is serving and taking care of people first.  He is leading with this mindset that he must do his job with excellence and of the most quality every single day to serve his customers.  He challenged me to think about why I do what I do and am I serving, am I thinking about the bigger picture of what I do?

Constant harmony may be a cause for harm.  A conflict free team means no one is bringing anything to the table that might engender controversy. The team members aren’t focused on the teams purpose, instead, they are focused on protecting the groups relationships. Its one of the ways teams can be less than the sum of their parts; fear of offending anybody.  This is a paragraph that I recently read.  I have had the front seat to watching this first hand in business.  If you can’t or won’t challenge the status quo or do the hard things you are guaranteeing yourself and your company that there won’t be any growth.  I must continue to do hard things even when it isn’t comfortable. Growth and development should be uncomfortable.

Abundance versus scarcity.  I have thought about these two topics many many times.  Do I have an abundance mindset or do I have a scarcity mindset?  An abundance mindset means I think that there is always more to do, more to have, more out there, things are not limited.  Scarcity means that things are limited.  There isn’t enough or only so much. They way I approach my business, my life, my investments, my relationships, my finances, my development, you name it, I have to approach it with one of these two mindsets.  I must choose the abundance mindset.  I can’t hoard.  I can’t think that there isn’t more that can be done, more can be taught, more can be expected.  At times I can fall into the trap of cutting back, being more conservative, or not taking chances.  I have to think abundance all of the time.  We are living in one of the greatest times of our existence.  Opportunities are everywhere.  My philosophy has to continue to be of abundance.

To your success and your future.

3 Things I learned last week…12/7-13/2015

Last week, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend Dale Carnegie’s annual regional convention.  So I spent five days in the lovely Scottsdale, Arizona area.  Attending a conference such as this one is always such a great experience.  The connections you make and the things you learn really gets you pumped up and excited about what you do.  That is one of the major takeaways for me.  But in my typical weekly fashion, here are three things I learned last week.

It’s right in front of you:  Sometimes in life we go searching for something and the thing(s) we are searching for are right in front of us.  Have you ever lost your car keys, or you thought you lost your car keys?  You run around the office or at home frantically looking for them.  After going crazy for a few minutes looking for them, you see them laying where you always put them. Or they are laying somewhere else, but in plain sight?  I have spent a great deal of my time throughout my life searching for this or that, and in many cases I didn’t appreciate or realize what I had in front of me.  In business, we sometimes go searching for new customers, when in reality we could create more solutions for our existing customers.  My takeaway is to look closer at what I have and what I could have in front of me before searching for something new.

I will say it again: You can look at all of the concepts I have written about over the years and you will read over and over me discussing how important goals and vision are. These are not just concepts a leader or a company must have to be successful, they are required for any of us to be successful.  If we don’t have goals and a vision we are just doing what we have to do.  We are just taking whatever it is that comes at us.  We have no focus.  You can be successful in the short-term living like this, but if you want long-term success you must have a vision and goals.  That is the first step.  The second step is to develop a very clear action plan to achieve the goals and the vision.  This is the hard part, but we can all do it.  Right now is good time to see where you are on accomplishing your goals or if you haven’t set any in a while, go ahead and set some for the upcoming year that will be here soon.

Think impact before income: I am guilty of this.  Sometimes I get ahead of myself in this area.  I focus on money or the opportunity for money.  It’s not that my heart is not worried about the impact I want to have, it just isn’t my sole focus.  I have to ask myself “Would I be more successful if I focused solely on impact and not on money and impact?”  I believe I know the answer to this, but I will shift my focus and let my results speak for themselves.

What did you learn last week?

To your success and your future.

3 Things I learned last week…11/30-12/6/2015

People like honesty only when they agree with it:  Last week I had two conversations where I watched this play out.  Picture this: we have all seen this scenario before.  A group of employees who are dependent on each other to be successful.  Wait a minute, this is all of us, if you work. Right!  We all need each other to be successful. You can’t be successful on your own.  A sales person needs marketing.  A shipping employee needs the receiving employee.  The conversation I had was one of those where one colleague was asking another where they stood on making their goals.  Seems realistic doesn’t it?  That conversation turns into the person who was being asked about their goals to feeling like they were being attacked because the colleague was pointing out that they were not making the desired outcomes.  In this case the numbers don’t lie.  So it was honest truth.  However, the person being asked had a variety of rebuttals and responses.  AKA (also know as) Excuses.  Most people say they want honesty, but when it isn’t what they want to hear, they want to disagree with it.  In most cases everything can be proven, there isn’t much gray area.  Especially with numbers.  Numbers don’t lie.

You have to be there, consistently: Cal Ripken Jr. holds one of Major League Baseballs unbreakable records.  Cal played in 2,632 consecutive games.  Which equates to about 16 years without missing a game.  In todays sports landscape it is hard to believe that someone would be able to endure that long without having some injury, sickness, or life event that would cause them to miss at least one game. Not to mention that some people believe that if they show up 30 days in a row, or show up on time a few times, they are entitled to taking a day off. Inevitably they will remind you that although they showed up late today, they were on time the previous two meetings.  Consistency is what leads to greatness.  Consistency is what leads to better relationships.  Consistency to showing up all of the time is what leads to success.

Your ability to influence is up to you: Last week I had a situation where someone I know wasn’t having the kind of influence that they thought they had or that they thought they had earned.  Instead of admitting this or moving on, they instead decided to criticize someone else’s influence.  How often have we seen this before?  “I don’t get what I want”, so I question your ability and how you got what you wanted.  This is a bad road to go down.  Instead of questioning someone else’s influence or abilities, you should take a look at yourself and determine what you can do differently to get what you want.  In life your ability to get what you want and have the influence you want to have on your friends, relatives, children, neighbors, colleagues, managers, team members, etc. is up to you. A statement that sums this up is this “Your reputation shows up before you do.”

What did you learn last week?

To your success and your future.

3 Things I learned last week…11/23-29/2015

Be obsessed: I believe we all know what it feels like to be obsessed with something. Maybe it is a food, an activity, a television program, a person, a job, a book, you name it.  The definition for obsessed on the free dictionary online states it like this: having or showing compulsive concern with something.  Some people believe obsession is a bad thing.  I don’t.  I believe that when I get obsessed with something I thrive at it.  Matter of fact I know some of my best results have come from activities that I have become obsessed with.  So here is the question I asked myself last week:  “What am I obsessed with right now?”  The answer for me is I don’t know.  As we wrap up 2015 in a few weeks, I am already writing my goals down for 2016.  My goals for 2016 will only include the activities that I want to be obsessed with.

Just ask: Have you ever sat around and thought about what someone else is thinking?  Maybe they are your spouse, your boss, a friend, a family member, etc.  In some cases you might think so much about it that you start to assume what they are thinking.  What was the result of you assuming?  What were the results of you thinking about what this other person was thinking?  I’ll tell you from my own experience.  You think about all of the scenarios good and bad.  You then start to assume.  All the while, you don’t really have any answers, you just have more questions.  Here is what I learned and I have to remember this going forward.  Just ask.  I just asked last week and I learned what I needed to know.  After asking the question I was able to move forward.  Don’t waste your time thinking about things, ask whoever it is the questions you want answers to and move on.

Anticipation is motivation:  In leadership seminars and in my position as a leader of leaders in my organization, one of the common questions I am asked all of the time is “how do I motivate people.” And my answer is the same every single time:  You can’t motivate people.  You can create an environment and culture for people to be motivated, but you can’t personally motivate people.  People have to motivate themselves. Think about that vacation you went on or maybe you are about to take.  Think about the planning of it.  The process of getting to your destination.  What you will do while you are there.  What restaurants or food you will eat while on vacation.  The different activities you will do while you are there.  Can you see it?  What you are doing is creating anticipation in your mind of what kind of time you will have.  In your mind you are already living out the experiences and memories you will make.  The anticipation leading up to the event is what allows you to do all of the things you have to do to ensure when that day comes that you will be ready for your vacation.

This is what we have to do as leaders, parents, influencers, and for ourselves.  We have to create our own anticipation for the things to come.  If we are not constantly creating anticipation for the things to come, we won’t be motivated.  We wont accomplish the things we want to accomplish.  Create anticipation for yourself, I know I am.

What did you learn last week?  Please share.

To your success and your future.

16 behaviors that are killing your sales

One of my favorite authors and speakers is Marshall Goldsmith.  Marshall is a New York Times best-selling author of several books.  One of his best-selling books, titled “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” he discusses the many actions and behaviors leaders demonstrate that prevent them from growing and having the influence that they would like to have in their organization and with their peers.  The key things in this book are the 20 behaviors that managers should stop doing. You can access a book summary that I wrote similar to this one you are reading here.  Marshall spent a lot of time with one of the greatest management thinkers of all time Peter Drucker. Mr. Drucker said that most leaders, and people in general, focus on learning more things to do, when they should really focus on what they should stop doing.  Marshall has spent most of his career and life’s work coaching executives on behaviors they should stop.

Marshall partnered with Don Brown and Bill Hawkins and wrote the book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There in Sales”.  In this book they discuss the 16 behaviors that sales people demonstrate that prevent them from making more sales and having the influence they would like to have with their prospects.

Below are the 16 behaviors that Sales People demonstrate that they need to stop.

Habit #1:  Failure to be present

  • Are you that sales person who takes a phone call while meeting with a client? Or responding to a text while giving a presentation.  Ignoring the prospect you have in front of you to pursue another one that walks by. These are some of the things sales people do that kill rapport and kill sales.  I know you are thinking to your self, I don’t do this, be sure you don’t.
  • There are three-time zones.  The past, present, and the future.  Sales people need to be sure they are in the right time zone with their prospect.

Habit #2: Vocal Filler

  • The sales person who talks too much tends to use words that are fill words or negative qualifiers.  Words such as however, but, or even no.  Have you ever had that conversation with a teen, that says “like” like 100 times, (lol)during a short conversation.  I have been guilty of these filler words, before, “Um”, “Just like”,  “I am going to be honest with you”, etc.  What about “No, You are right”.  All of these little filler words are killing your ability to be persuasive with your prospect. Record your next meeting with a prospect and see if you have any filler words, qualifiers, or other words you might be saying that could be turning your prospect off.

Habit #3:  Selling past the close

  • Some sales people try to explain the entire process from start to finish.  It is good to educate your buyer, but sometimes we try to add too much value.  Once the customer says yes, stop selling.  You don’t have to add the benefits you didn’t go over yet.  Once the customer is ready, let the customer buy. One car lot required a buyer to meet the service manager before they purchased a car.  Sure this seems nice in theory.  But sometimes a customer wants to make the purchase and leave.  Don’t send your buyer through hoops that they don’t care about.  Find out what interest them and sell them on that and move on.

Habit #4: Selective Hearing

  • There are several levels of listening.  The best form of listening is what is called active listening.  Meaning being actively involved in the conversation with someone.  Listening is a skill that can be learned.  Do you have selective hearing that is preventing you from earning more sales?

Habit #5: Contact without purpose

  • Some sales people just call their customers for the sake of calling them.  Wasting their prospects time and their own time.  Sure we need to call our prospects and follow-up with them.  But you must have a purpose for contacting.  Let a customers needs drive the contact.  Don’t bug your customers, add value to them when you are reaching out to them.  Don’t always be looking to sell something either.  Be willing to share new information or something they can use.

Habit #6: Curb qualifying

  • We think we know everything we need to know about a person just by watching them cross the street.  We assume we know everything based on appearance.  Or what we assumed they were willing to spend.  Think about Julia Roberts in the movie in Pretty Woman.  She is dressed like a hooker and the sales people in the store wouldn’t help her.  She later comes back and tells that sales person that they made a big mistake by not serving her earlier that day, as she stood there with several bags of clothing that she had purchased.  Don’t qualify your prospects based on anything.  Get to know them by asking questions.

Habit #7: Using tension as a tool

  • “Sale ends Saturday.”  Have you ever used this sales technique?  Sure we have to create urgency for our prospect sometimes, but it can sometimes backfire.  Using discomfort and scarcity to persuade the customer to buy can alienate the customer.  It can work short-term, but it doesn’t create long-term loyalty, especially when it isn’t real.

Habit #8: One upping

  • Has your spouse ever come home and said they had a really bad day at work?  And your response is, “You think your day was bad, let me tell you about my day and how bad it was!”  This is an example of one upping.  Sales people do this all of the time and don’t even realize it.  The best thing to do most of the time is to say nothing. Don’t attempt to one up your customer by telling you story or your situation.  Just like your spouse wants you to do, just listen.

Habit #9: Over Familiarity

  • The use of words and gestures as if we are closer to the prospect than we actually are.  Familiarity and being too informal can be a killer if used too soon.  The best thing to do is to be more conservative and more professional until you have good rapport built.

Habit #10: With-holding passion and energy

  • If a sales person isn’t enthusiastic about their product and services, their customer wont be either.  People make purchases on emotion, not logic.  If your presentation is flat and not exciting, then your prospect won’t be motivated to buy.  You have to give yourself a hard reality check here.  Maybe you have been doing what you are doing for years and years and you just aren’t as passionate as you used to be.  If that is the case, that is okay, just be honest with yourself and move towards something that you can get excited about.

Habit #11: Explaining failure

  • Telling the customer why you failed to deliver.  When is the last time you were in a restaurant and your food took forever and when you finally received it your waiter said that they were really busy.  They used the “we are busy” as an excuse you didn’t get your food very quickly? Did you really care that they were busy?  I know I don’t care.  How often as a sales person do you try to explain the failure to your customers instead of just owning it and moving on.  The excuse is usually worse than the actual failure.  Nobody really likes hearing excuses, even when they are real.

Habit #12: Never having to say you’re sorry

  • Refusing to say I am sorry is another thing sales people fail to do when they should be willing to do it.  “I am sorry” are three words that can change the dynamic of almost any personal relationship, so why wouldn’t it work in a business relationship?  The answer is, it does work.  Sales people must be willing to say it when a customer has been wronged. Regardless if you agree or not, if the customer feels that way, just say it and move on.

Habit #13: Throwing others under the bus 

  • Sacrificing a colleague for your own shortcomings.  If we fail to deliver what we promised, it is on us to make it right.   Blaming others shows more about who you are than it does about anything else.  Sure there are times when it is other people’s fault within your organization. However, since you are the face for the organization, just own it, correct it, and do whatever you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Habit #14: Propogandizing

  • Over-reliance on your company mission and philosophy.  Instead of adapting to a customers needs and wants, you state your company’s mission and values and processes.  Relying on the company line instead of focusing on the customer and showing empathy.  Substituting prepared information over genuine conversation.  This turns the customer off.  Be real with a prospect and do whatever you can to tailor to their needs as necessary.

Habit #15: Wasting energy

  • Hanging out at the water cooler and taking to your colleagues about what is wrong with the company and the manager.  Discussing who screwed up.  These negative actions don’t usually take place in front of your customer, but it does takes it toll on your ability to positively sell to your customer.  If you waste energy participating in this, you wont have the energy to take care of what you need to take care of. This spills over to your personal life as well.  The next thing you know you are coming home talking about how bad things are at work.  The best thing to do is to not waste energy and just do your job.

Habit #16: Obsessing over the numbers

  • At what cost is it acceptable to hit your numbers?  Sure goal obsession can be a good thing, but when does it become a bad thing?  It can become bad when we start putting sales over customer needs.  When we start embellishing the truth and not telling the truth just to make a sale.  Sure I am sure you don’t do this, but focus on serving people and the numbers will work out.

Which of the above 16 behaviors do you need to stop?  Be honest with yourself.  Focus on eliminating a few of these at a time.  Or contact me if you would like to learn more about coaching and how I could possibly work with you and your sales team to become more effective and eliminate these behaviors.  I am a certified coach in Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching.

I hope you enjoyed this book summary and notes.

To your success and your future.