Accountability? You don’t want none.

Earlier this week I sat down with someone who I have been doing some coaching with.  They don’t have an actual contract with me, but they come to me for a little coaching from time to time.  This person, like a lot of people, had these big aspirations on January 1 earlier this year.  Like many of us, we all have these big goals and dreams, also known as new years resolutions, that we are going to accomplish in almost every new year.

Side note here:  A good friend of mine told me once.  I was telling him that I was going to start a program in the new year.  He said “That’s cool”. “But what is going to change between now and the new year.”  At this time, it was probably the end of October, kind of like today as I am writing this. I responded and said “nothing”.  He said “Why don’t you start the program now?”  I responded and said “You are right”, “Why not start now.” So I did.

Since that time I have declared that anything that is worth starting in the future, is worth starting now.  Don’t wait.  The time will never be right.  The resources and everything else will not be any better in the future.  The only way to ensure the future is better, is to start making the future better in the present, and you must start now.

Now back to the original discussion: Now I know, and you know, that most people don’t accomplish these goals they set for themselves, or the so-called new years resolutions.  There are a variety of reasons why we don’t.  However, the biggest one is that we don’t hold ourselves accountable for doing so.  And in ninety-nine percent of most cases, I believe that having someone else hold you accountable is critical for your success in accomplishing most goals.

Think about it.  When we set a goal, the chances are, we have never accomplished that goal before.  That is why we set it in the first place.  So for us to now accomplish this goal, a lot has to change.  If you have always over eaten.  Then changing behaviors so you don’t overeat is going to be a challenge at first.  If you have always overspent.  Then changing your spending habits is going to take a while to do.  None of us are very good at quitting anything cold turkey.  It is too hard.

Most of us need some accountability in accomplishing something we have never accomplished.  The chances are, whatever it is we are seeking to do, has been too hard for us in the past.  Which means we quit pursuing it.  We may have tried to do it alone.  And when we do things alone, then we don’t have to share our shortcomings with others.

And lets face it.  You always give yourself a pass, but you never give others a pass.  You are allowed to not use a turn signal to turn off the highway, but others aren’t.  You are allowed to not finish the project, but if someone else does it, they are a, you know what.  We allow ourselves to look at Facebook all day, but if someone else does it, they are lazy. You get the point here.  We give ourselves more slack then we give others.

So let me ask you.  Do you really want some accountability in your life?  Or let me say it another way.  Did you accomplish what you set out to accomplish this year?  If the answer is no.  Why not?  Did you not hold yourself accountable to some kind of measurements and progress?  The chances are, your answers to that question is yes.

If you want to accomplish something that you have never accomplished, then it is going to require you to find a coach , an accountability partner, to help you achieve that of which you have been unable to achieve on your own.

I am no different from you.  We all need accountability in our lives, we just have to be willing to go out and find some.  If we don’t, we will never accomplish what we truly are capable of.

To your success and your future.

 

Charms Blow Pops and Dum-Dums suckers

I am not sure how big Charms Blow Pops are in todays culture, but when I was a kid they were the best suckers you could buy.  They were two treats in one.  You got the hard candy part, just like all suckers, and then you got the gum in the middle.  Now, let’s be honest, you could only chew the gum for about five minutes or less and all of the flavor would be gone.  But they were still the best suckers.

At the time, the only comparison I had was the Tootsie Roll pop. Which I personally thought were gross.  They were similar to the Charms Blow Pop except they had a chocolate tootsie roll in the center versus bubble gum.  I personally never liked the taste of any kind of flavored candy on top of that chocolate.  So the Charms Blow Pop and the Dum-Dums suckers were my go to, and the Dum Dums didn’t have any thing in the center.  It was just a sucker.

It must have been when I was in middle school that these Charms Blow Pops became popular in my neighborhood in Louisville, Ky.  All of us kids loved them.  I loved them a lot.  To this day, my mom still teases me that I spent all of my money on candy while growing up.  While my older brother, the smarter one of us two.  Spent his money on actual tangible things that lasted and didn’t give you a tummy ache or acne.

Between my love of candy and my love of making money. At this young age, whatever middle school age is. Is when I started thinking entrepreneurial.   At the time my local grocery store and the local Walgreens sold a bag of Charms Blow Pops for ninety-nine cents.  For that ninety-nine cents you would get four Charms Blow Pops.  I would buy that bag and then take it to school the next day and sell the suckers for fifty cents a piece.  So I would double my money.

My biggest challenge was holding myself accountable to take my profits and invest them in to more suckers for the next day. Instead of, taking my extra dollar or my original investment of a dollar, and buying myself something.  I am not much different from I was then, I like to spend money.  And even then, I would be in that candy aisle and be motivated to buy myself a Hershey’s chocolate bar instead of buying more stock for the next day.

So each day, I would put those suckers on the inside pocket of my blue jean jacket and sell those four or eight suckers to my friends and other people on the bus, in the cafeteria, or in the halls.   You could only fit so many suckers in those pockets.

I am sure there were other examples as a kid when I thought entrepreneurial, but this is the one that sticks out to me most.  I am not sure how long I had this candy store business in the pockets of my blue jean jacket, but I do remember during my seventh and eighth grade years at my middle school being the guy that people would come to and knew they could purchase a sucker from.  Over time a friend of mine and I actually combined efforts and expanded our product lines to include candy bars and other little snacks.

To this day, although I have worked for companies for a long periods of time, and I have also owned my own businesses and still do.  I still have that entrepreneurial spirit inside me.

And it is a pretty simple philosophy that I have when it comes to business and being an entrepreneur.  How can I invest a dollar into something and get my money back and a dollar more.  My biggest challenge is that I have to continue to think bigger and say how can I invest two hundred thousand dollars and get four hundred thousand dollars back in return.   This is where I am today. Where are you?

I am curious to know what your first entrepreneurial experience was?  How has that impacted you to this day?  And are you running your own business because of these early life entrepreneurial experiences?

To your success and your future.

 

 

 

The biggest myth we all tell ourselves

In a far, far, place…way off into the future.  It could be six months, one year, three years, or ten years.  This future place, it is pretty magical.

We have less stress in our lives.  We have more time to do the things we want to do.  The kids are more self-sufficient.  Work is demanding less.  We have more money. We have better support.

This future place is just amazing.  Its like free ice cream and pizza all day long.  And they never run out.

Now if you haven’t picked up on it yet.  I will bust your bubble now.  This future place.  Where we have more time.  More money. Less stress.  Less demands, etc.  Well, it doesn’t really exist does it?

If you are like most people, you actually tell yourself that it does exist. It is a myth. This mythical place in the future will never come to exist in your present.  Because in the future, you will find other things, activities, and needs that must be accomplished before you can take on the things you would like to do.

Since this place doesn’t exist. Why do we keep telling ourselves it does? Why do we keep delaying the things that are important to us?  Why do we keep procrastinating?  Why don’t we just make the time to do the things we want and should be doing?

As my mentor told me “I don’t know the answers, but I have an opinion.”

My first opinion is:  Whatever it is that we are telling ourselves we will do in the future, just hasn’t become important enough to us in the present.  

A well-known example of this that you have probably witnessed or it may have even happened to you or someone close to you.   The person that is unhealthy, doesn’t exercise, maybe smokes, is overweight by a lot. And one day they get the bad test result from the doctor.  Or the chest pain.  Or the, you name it.  Then they decide at that moment that they are going to change.  And from that day going forward they make eating right and exercising a priority.  They find the time.  They find the money. They find whatever it is they need to ensure that they are making time for their health.

My second opinion is this. Very similar to the other, but a little different variation. We don’t think it can happen to us.  My job is safe.  I have been here for years.  I have a lot of experience.  I get a long with everyone here.  They can’t replace me. Sound familiar.  Yes.

Instead of learning new skills and becoming more valuable to our company.  We just think everything is good and we will always have a job.  Then we all have heard this story before.  The company loses a big contract.  Or technology disrupts the business.  Or you name it, happens.  And the person that was safe is no longer employed.

Lets be honest here.  If one of the two above didn’t strike a chord with you.  Then my guess is, you aren’t a human.  We all have been surprised at one time or another, because we chose to delay and put off something that we should have been doing.  We thought that there would be more time in the future to accomplish those things. It could have been saving for retirement, focusing on our health, spending time with kids, investing in our own education and skill development. You pick the topic.

My advice is simple. Whatever you think is a good idea to do in the future.  The chances are, it is a good idea to do now. You just have to find the time, energy, and discipline to make it happen. The magical place in the future doesn’t exist.

If it is good enough to do in the future, it is good enough to do now.

To your success and your future.

 

The one thing sales people must sell, but very rarely do.

Everybody wants a guarantee that it will work.  You do, I do, and so does everyone else.

Is this even realistic though?  Absolutely not.

We all have to take a chance and jump in on whatever it is.  You have to buy the new car.  Upgrade the cell phone.  Upgrade the software.  Purchase the product.   But the fear of it not being the right thing, or solving our problem, is always in our mind.

As a salesperson, your number one job is to sell certainty.  Lets be honest though.  We all know that there are no guarantees.  We all know that if the buyer doesn’t use the product or use it correctly.  They won’t get the benefit from the product. We all know that people will buy something, use it once or twice, and then tell everyone that it didn’t work.

So how do we sell certainty? Especially, when we know that the product is certain to work when used correctly, but we know that the consumer will not do it the way they should?

You have to set the expectations on the front end.  You have to let the buyer know that for them to get the best benefit, they will have to use it the exact way you are telling them.  You also have to let them know that you will hold them accountable to using the product the way you have suggested.

I can remember working for a company where we upgraded our CRM (Customer Relationship Manager system).  This is a software application that helps sales teams manager their sales prospects and customers.

We purchased the product and then immediately tried to make that new product work exactly like our old one.  We were constantly asking the software implementation team to change this or that to make a change to the new software to perform, and look like our old system.  This went on for two years until we finally pulled the plug on our end, to stop trying to make the software work.

Who was at fault?  Well, I can say we (the company) were partly at fault because we were constantly trying to make it look, act like, and perform like our old system.  However, that is what people do.  We hate change and when given the opportunity we will keep things like they are.

The fault lies with the software team that sold us the new CRM.  They set the wrong expectations on the front end.  First, they told us that all of these great things were available.  And they may have been, but not early on. So they oversold. Secondly, they kept making the changes we asked for.  Which slowly kept us doing the same things we had always done, and the only thing that was different was the system we were using.

Instead of selling us certainty that this new CRM software application was the right system.  They actually did the opposite.  By making all the changes we asked for.  It further made the point that the new software was no different from our old one. And the more changes we made, the more uncertainty we had about the new system.

As a salesperson you have to sell certainty on the front end.  You have to let the prospect know that you will be with them every step of the way to ensure they get maximum benefit from the purchase.  You also have to be willing to hold them accountable after the purchase to following the prescribed way of using that product.

When you allow them to make changes and fall into a doing what they have always done, or not using the product at all.  You as the salesperson, have  to hold them accountable and follow-up with  them to ensure they get maximum benefit from the product.

This is how you sell certainty in an uncertain world.  This is how you overcome the doubt “Will it work”.  You let the prospect know that you will make sure it works for them.  This will eliminate the doubt.

To your success and your future.

 

 

Quit only managing time and start managing this instead

I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more I realize I don’t have the same energy as I used to have.  We all have been a teenager before.  This is a time where you can stay up all night, get fours hours of rest, and be ready to go the next day.  For me those days are long gone.  If I don’t get my seven to eight hours of sleep everyday, I am not as good that day.

In the business world, everyone is focused on time and money.  And you know what, you should be.  Those two things are very important. However, the one precious resource that is just as important, or in many cases, even more important is your energy.

What I have learned about myself, is that there are certain things that I must do when I have the most energy, which is obviously in the morning.

I have written about this before.  See this article here for more about that topic and my thoughts.  Here is another one as well.   It goes right along with this blog as well.

Let me give you an example of managing energy.  You and I both have more energy in the morning than we do at any other part of the day. It may not feel like it when we first get up, but you do.  Especially, if you got the amount of hours of sleep that your body needs.  For me, it is seven to eight.

In the morning, I get my workout done because that is when I know I have the most energy and I get it out-of-the-way.  I also use the time immediately right after a workout to do the more tedious things and tasks that require me to think.  Things such as writing, prepping for training I might be delivering, planning some marketing efforts, etc.  These kinds of tasks require me to think a lot, which takes a lot of energy.

What I have found is that If I try to do these tasks in the evening or late in the day, I am not as good at them.  And when I say not as good, I mean this.  The actual end products are not as good.  The reasons they aren’t as good is because I am not as creative.  And when I am not a creative, I tend to get more frustrated.  And when I get frustrated I don’t produce as well as I do when I am not.

I don’t have children, but I have been around a lot of children.  And what do parents say about a cranky toddler, or a cranky baby sometimes.  “Oh they didn’t have their nap”.  “They didn’t get as much sleep”, etc.  We as adults are no different.  We are more crankier when we are tired, which means we aren’t going to be a productive as we can be when we are not.

I have designed my days around my energy.  I work out in the morning, I plan in the morning, I prep in the morning.  As a manager of people, I would write reviews in the morning.  If I had a spreadsheet or something that I needed to work on, I would do this in the morning.  I would plan my day based off of my energy levels.

As I have gotten even older, I have now tried to even fit in a nap when possible.  Yes. A nap.  I don’t need much sleep.  Maybe twenty minutes or so, around 12:30 or 1:00.  Keep in mind, if you are getting up as early as I do, by the time, noon or so rolls around, I have been up for a while.  By including this little nap, when I get back to work I have about a two to three-hour time span where my energy level is really high again.

I am not smart enough to tell you how food and diet contributes to your energy, but we all know it does.  What I do know.  Is that you must eat the right kinds of foods and take in the right kinds of liquids to maintain your energy levels as well.

I have tried to point out to you that managing time and money is really important, but don’t forget how important it is to manage your energy as well.  I manage my time, based off of my energy levels.  And you should to.

For the sports fans out there.  If your favorite quarterback or point guard for your favorite college or pro sports team gets an injury.  And you know they are injured.  You wouldn’t want them to play, or you shouldn’t want them to play until they are one hundred percent healed from the energy.  Because you know if they are not one hundred percent healed, that the chances of getting hurt are higher, or it could prevent the injury from healing the way it needs to.  And lastly, you know because of that injury they aren’t going to be as good when they are playing.

This is no different from us trying to do things through out our day without considering our energy levels.  We try to do hard tasks when are energy is at its lowest.  This puts us a an extreme disadvantage of being successful, just like an athlete trying to play through an injury.

I encourage you to think about your days and how you can start managing your day, not only around the time you have, but consider managing your day around the energy you have as well.

To your success and your future.

 

Why some training programs work and others don’t

Last week, I was kicking off the second, of at least four twelve week leadership training courses that I will be delivering for a client of mine.   This client has 3,100 or so employees and produces a very needed product.

One of the most senior leaders in the organization who oversees the manufacturing operations of the organization.  Is one of the reasons the training was brought in to the company to begin with.  I allow them to kick off the training for the twelve week training program.   The twenty or so leaders that are participating in the training all report up to this person somehow.  This leader may not have a direct contact with the participants, but they all fall under their responsibilities somewhere down the line.

The reason the training works within this company is because of the commitment of leadership to the training and the follow-up.  This leader tells the participants in the room that day, that they appreciate their commitment to their job and the company.  They then go on to speak for about three or four minutes on the importance of the training and why they are participating in it.  During this message, something they said that most leaders don’t say, or in many cases, are so far removed that they are not in position to say is this.

They said “Over the next twelve weeks of this training course, there will be times when you question whether to complete a job that you are working on, or follow-up with a customer, or need to put out a pending fire that needs your attention, or attend the training.  In all of these cases, I want to remind you that there is no need to think about what you should do.  The answer will always be make sure you are in this training session and are fully present during this training.”

As a trainer this is music to my ears.  And it should be to an employee as well.  The commitment that this company has to increasing the skills of its employees is truly amazing.  Many times as a trainer, I have conducted training where a person, or persons, who are participating in the training, come and go during a session.  I have asked a manager what is going on? Or if they think they should be in here?  And I have had managers tell me many times, that whatever it is the employee is working on can’t wait.

By making this statement, the training and development of this employee is put on hold, because the manager has communicated what is most important.  Which is getting work done, over getting training in.

One of the problems with this philosophy, that a lot of senior leaders and company owners have. Is that they think there will come a day when the work stops and they can focus on training and development.  This is a myth.  We both know the work never stops.  There is always another issue, another upset customer, another employee issue, that will take precedent over training with this kind of philosophy.

The company that I share the story about above is one that knows that there is never a good time for training.  There are always other priorities.  However, they also know that without ongoing development and training that the individual will never deliver the best value that they can for their skills and talents, which in turn doesn’t allow the company to thrive and grow.  If the employees aren’t growing, the chances are the company isn’t going to grow either.

This leader, and the leaders within this company, understand that growth, training, and development of the employees, especially the leadership working directly with the majority of the workforce responsible for manufacturing, producing, and shipping the product.  Is the most important investment that they can make.

To answer the question.  Why do some training programs work and some don’t?  Very simply the commitment from the top leaders of the company.  As I mentioned earlier, one of the leaders in this company gets in front of the group and tells them that nothing they do or are required to do is as important as them attending and participating in this training program for the next twelve weeks.

This kind of statement and commitment not only communicates what is most important, but it also takes the decision-making out of the equation for the employees involved in the training.  Leaders have to help employees make decisions some times.  It is part of leadership.  By telling them in advance what the priorities are and what is most import, it clearly communicates what should be done. When a decision that needs to be made comes up.  This is a gift that most leaders never give their employees.

Instead employees are left to make their own decisions.  And then when they do, they may find out that it was the wrong decision, and then a leader doubles down on it, by reprimanding the employee for making the wrong decision.

Senior leaders and owners of companies need to ask themselves these questions first before investing in training for the workforce:

  • How committed are you to the training?
  • How will you communicate the importance of this training to the people involved?
  • How will you demonstrate that the training is as important as you say it is?
  • What kind of follow-up will you do and require the employees to participate in to make sure the training sticks?
  • What kind of accountability will you conduct to those who don’t take it as seriously as they should?

I am sure there are other questions to ask as well, but these are a good start.

If you want training and development to work and stick, you have to create a learning culture that is clearly communicated from the top.  That is how you get training programs to work, and when you don’t clearly communicate it, the chances are the program wont work.

To your success and your future.