My Favorite thing to do

This morning I am doing something that is by far my most favorite thing to do.  I am going to sit down and talk to someone about their desires for growth and development.  This person has taken it upon themselves to become more educated on how to grow and develop a career and a life that they want.  I get to ask lots of questions and I will listen to their story.  I love listening to other people’s story, (it is more interesting than mine, I know mine already.)

What is interesting about this meeting, is it stemmed from a class that I recently conducted with a group of about 20 people.  What is really interesting about that, is they are 1 of 20 people who actually followed up and asked for a meeting.  Does that make them different?  Yes it does actually, a lot different considering they are 1 of 20.  Meaning 19 other people didn’t do it.   I want to be around people who are different, that are seeking to get better and go above and beyond to be successful.  I like different.

I don’t have all of the answers, I am just a seeker like they are.  I have a few things I do well, but I will be learning from them just as they are learning from me.

My mentor told me that inspiration begins with education.  I know this is true, because the more educated I have become the more inspired I have become.  I am just trying to figure it all out though.  So as a friend and a colleague, my plan is always to educate someone. We don’t know until we know.  And once we know that can change the whole trajectory of our entire life.  So maybe I will say something in a way that they haven’t heard it before, or through our conversation they will say something that I have never heard before.

Here is what I do know.  I like to be around inspired people.  They just have more fun and say things and add things of value to my life.  They are a lot more fun to talk to, than the uninspired.

So as I prepare my thoughts and goals for today, I know that I am truly blessed because I get to do one of my favorite things to start my day.

Brian Willett

Not everyone is motivated the same way

I am a very competitive person and really get motivated when I see someone out performing me in a task or goal; this is just how I am made up.  As a sales manager it is our job to keep our sales staff motivated and challenged to meet the goals of the team and the organization. To be able to do this effectively is a vital part of our job. 

As a sales manager I like to think of myself as a cheerleader, a person who is on the sidelines yelling and screaming when you are doing things well, and spitting out Fight Songs and Chants to motivate you to perform well.   This is just how I am. 

As sales managers we all know how challenging it can be to keep the troops motivated and inspired to accomplish the desired goals.  So something that I would do is create daily challenges, weekly challenges, mini-goals, all sorts of Score Boards that I thought would motivate people to do better, because like me, I thought that all people would be motivated by this. 

I can remember the very day, (not the exact day) but the individual and situation that taught me this very important lesson that not all people are motivated the same way.  As I have stated throughout this book, I inherited a team in my first position as a sales manager.  One of the employees I inherited was actually a person who I started working with about two and half years prior.  This person actually interviewed me during my initial interview to join the company and their sales force.  Once I started my position he served as a mentor to me.  When I say mentor, I really mean someone who could tell me how to do something and how not do something, etc.  We worked side by side everyday for two and half years.  Now keep in mind this person was twice my age as well. 

After spending two and half years working with this person, you would assume, I would know what made them tick, what got them excited, what motivated them. For god’s sake, this person actually came to my mother’s house for a holiday dinner, I should know them pretty well. 

So I get promoted to run the outside sales team for our company, and then eventually inherit the team that they were still on.  So now this person reported to me.  I did what most new sales managers do, which is have a meeting and let the team know what the expectations are and how they will be held accountable.  This new team that included this person knew exactly what I was going to do, because they had watched it for the last year or so and they worked with me for two and half years side by side. 

I started incorporating my philosophies and processes into this new team, it was a smooth transition.  This person was what I call a middle 60 percenter.  I will go into this later in the book.  We all know how it is when our goals must be met for the quarter, year-end, or whatever your sales cycle consists of.  The pressure gets stronger and usually as a sales manager you will actually try to do more to motivate the team.

In one of the daily or weekly Score Cards that I did, this person was really not making any effort to compete.  I was not very happy about it, considering in their role what they did was very vital to our sales team.  So I printed off the results of the challenges along with some other reports.  We Sales Managers have lots of reports.  I pulled this individual to the side and said to them, “Look at these results; you are not competing very well with your colleagues.”  Their response are words I will never forget.  They said “Brian, I don’t care how well I am competing with my colleagues, I know what I am doing is within your expectations you have set.”  The second half of the comment is something I will address later in this book, but the first half of the comment is the real lesson for me.  “Brian I don’t care how well I am competing with my colleagues”.  These 12 words are words that resonated with me that day and still continue to do so.

First of all fundamental part of leadership is to know your people, which is a lesson I learned, but secondly, I made a decision that I would not measure that person against their colleagues any more.  They could care less, if I compared them to others, they would actually get upset. This was a really valuable lesson to me as a new leader.  Just because I was motivated by scoreboards and challenges and things like this, it didn’t mean others would be as well.  This individual eventually left the company for another position.  

Learn what motivates the sales people you lead.  Don’t assume, just because they are sales people, that they are motivated by scoreboards and challenges and beating the other sales people.  

Getting out of the Pile…B

Getting out of the pile part B.  As mentioned in Part A.  In every organization and company there are many people trying to work their way up, but may not know what to do and how to do it.  How do you separate yourself from the pile (the pack).  In my previous blog, I wrote about four ways that helped me get out of the pile, and on a career progression track that has exceeded my expectations beyond my belief.

Continued Core principles of getting out of the pile.

Personal/Self Development:  If I were to number these principles, and I may one day.  I would put personal/self-development number two, right behind results.  If you are reading this blog, it is very evident that this is where my passion lies. Regardless of my passion for self-development, I have seen so many case studies in the business world.  I have witnessed person after person, that is basically where they were 1,2,5,10, 20 years ago, in their career, because their education and their self-development stopped those amount of years ago.  For things to get better, you must get better, that is a fact.  One of my mentors and friends used to say all of the time.  There are people who have 20 years of experience and there are people who have 1 year or experience 20 times.  Who do you want on your team.  As a leader now, I know the answer to that.

Candor/Diplomacy: This is hard one. I honestly feel that telling how it is, is what actually got me on the path. Being candid with people and processes, and providing solutions to problems and telling leadership what they don’t expect to hear is so beneficial. Through out the years though I have learned to “tell it how it is” with a little more diplomacy thinking about the receivers opinion in the feedback I am providing.  The bottom line is things only happen with and through people, and having their best interest in mind when pushing your agenda and getting results is crucial for your ability to influence and get out of the pile. If you are able to push things forward and influence from where you are, your growth potential is huge.

Set the pace:  To put it a different way, work harder than everyone else.  Be the first person to show up, set in the front of the room, contribute to everything, as mentioned earlier, show results.  No manager wants to constantly have to push people, and when you are an employee that is constantly in front of them (your manager and colleagues), you are setting the pace and they will recognize it.  I have noticed that in most organizations, it is really easy to set the pace.  Working longer hours, volunteering for everything, being a contributor, being early, staying late, being around when no one else is around. Most people don’t want to do these things, so if you just do them, it will set you apart and it will help you get out of the pile.

Ideas/Solutions:  Be the one who has something to say.  Be the one, that is more educated on a related topic on the business or industry that everybody listens, because you have the credibility to contribute.  No manager likes the people who never have any opinions, however don’t always have an opinion on the obvious, be unique, bring something different to the table.  If you bring the same ideas and solutions, tell them how you will do it different this time.  Be a solutions finder and a problem solver.  As Zig Ziglar says, some people find fault like there is a prize for it, don’t be that person, if you do, bring solutions.

More to come on getting out of the pile.

Leave me your comments, I would love to hear your feedback.

Getting out of the pile…A

Getting out of the pile was something I just did by being who I am, but later learned what it meant from another great leader and quasi-mentor for me, the famous Jack Welch.  Jack Welch says it best.  In every company, every organization, there is a pile, a pile of people all (well most) trying to climb the ladder within that organization.  So how do you get out of that pile?  I accomplished getting out of the pile in three organizations that I have worked for and reflecting on my ascension of getting out of the pile was unique, but revolved around the same core principles in all three company’s no matter what the challenges were in the very different businesses.

I am planning on writing on this topic over the next three blogs.  I don’t really have a defined number of principles, maybe I will after I blog, just a lot of philosophical beliefs and passion that I hope to illustrate.

Results:  This one is number one for a reason:  It doesn’t matter what you do, if you don’t have good results, none of the other stuff I write even matters.  In the Five Major Pieces of the Life Puzzle: Jim Rohn says “Results are the best measurement of human progress.”  “We must make measurable progress in reasonable time.”  Your results are in direct proportion to the activity and effort you put in to pursuing results for a given goal.  In the first sentence I carefully chose the word “good” results, because I believe you don’t have to have “great” results to get out of the pile, when you have good results along with some of the other principles I will discuss, I have shown you can get out of the pile.  I have had great results in some cases and good results in some cases.

Give more than what is asked for:  Nothing earth shattering here, but profound nonetheless.  If you are sitting there reading this. Ask your self:  “Are you really giving more than what is asked of you?”  Zig Ziglar says it like this:  “When you do more than you get paid for, eventually you’ll be paid for more than you do.”  I have worked with lots of people who think they are doing more than they are asked to do, and I have been one of those people. Ex: My first leadership position I had a terrible boss. This person, was the one who didn’t give any credit, always criticized, and we really just had a bad relationship.  Guess what: That person wasn’t going anywhere. So I had to change.  So what did I do?  I just worked harder.  I made sure I beat them to work everyday, I went way above and beyond in everything I did. Our relationship changed after that, but for things to change I had to change, the only thing I have control over, is me.

Never be satisfied:  This is a hard one for me to articulate and it is also one that I struggle with everyday on trying to find that perfect balance. As a leader you do have to celebrate the little wins, if not your team will want to shoot you, because you are never happy.  However that is when you are a leader, as a person trying to get out of the pile, your manager will appreciate the fact that you believe that there is always a better way and you can do better next time.  Never being satisfied will keep you hungry, it will keep you pursuing, it will keep you striving. Leaders in an organization appreciate the people who are constantly seeking excellence and those who seek more, better, and faster.

Choose well:  Who do you associate with.  I learned this lesson a few times.  In every organization there are different people within a team, or department, and the organization. Typically four groups.  The Ninja’s:  They are the ones that are the silent killers.  The ones who gossip, they are not bought in, and really hurt the culture of a team.  Good leaders typically sniff them out.  Hostages:  They are the ones that don’t want to be there and think that every thing sucks and in their minds they feel like they are a hostage, and really they do have an option to quit, but they never do, they just complain all of the time. Vacationers:  Just seeing how long they can hang out and not do too much.  Don’t really add very much to the organization.  Hanging out for the time being until something better comes along. Learners and Doer’s: These are the ones that seek to add to the organization, they constantly volunteer and go above and beyond in everything they do. So if your want to get out of the pile who should you associate with?  I think it is obvious.

Stay tuned for future blogs and insights on how to get out of the pile.