X amount of things I wish I would have learned sooner

There are many things I wish I would have learned sooner, but now that I got it, I refuse to lose it.

  • Do more than you are asked to do.
  • Read more.
  • Work harder on yourself than you do anything else. 
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Helping people is more rewarding than money.
  • Goal Setting is vital for success.  
  • Remember every person you talk to is dealing with something. 
  • Profits are better than wages.
  • Your best investment is in your own personal development. 
  • If you wake up early, you get more things accomplished. Be an early riser.
  • Remember some peoples criticisms are actually compliments.
  • Set goals that stretch you to do something different. 
  • Time is more valuable than money.  You can’t make more money, but you can’t make more time. 
  • Spend less than you make.
  • Don’t take financial advice from people who are broke. 
  • Read more.
  • Remember everyone has an agenda
  • People are usually selfish. Use this as a guide. 
  • Don’t spend more time watching television than you do reading. 
  • Save first and spend what is left. 
  • Your health is top priority, without it nothing else really matters. 
  • Remember that the tortoise always wins the race. Measurable progress in reasonable time. 
  • Read more.
  • Don’t criticize, condem, or complain.
  • Give yourself credit more often.  
  • Don’t try to rationalize things that are stupid. 
  • If you know it isn’t working, get out of it quickly.  Investments, career, relationships. 
  • Don’t major on minor things. 
  • Have a financial plan.  
  • Do what you can to become more and have more. 
  • Pursue excellence in everything you do. 
  • Do things that require you to get out of your comfort zone. 
  • Express Gratitude for everything you do have. 
  • Remember that NO body owes you anything.
  • Remember that YOU can only take care of you. 
  • Have goals for your health, wealth, and career. 
  • Don’t listen to AVERAGE people unless you want to be average. 
  • Try honestly to see things from the other persons point of view. 
  • Go TO Bed before midnight. Nothing good ever happens after midnight, unless you are getting up really early. 
  • When you wake up get out of bed quickly.  Don’t lay around. 
  • Make suggestions to people instead of telling them what to do. 
  • Read more. 
  • Formal education will make you a living, personal and self education will make you a fortune. 
  • Find a mentor in all areas of your life. 
  • Be coachable.
  • Remember that people only care about the results. 
  • Find solutions instead of problems. 
  • To really understand a concept, try teaching it.  This is the best way to learn the material. 
  • You don’t have to have debt to own a nice car. 
  • Rich people don’t ask what does it cost a month. They ask “How Much does it cost.”
  • Things are never too expensive.  I just can’t afford it. 
  • Where there is no vision, the people will perish.  Have vision for all aspects of your life. 
  • Your relationships with people are what make life worthwhile. 
  • Get around people that are doing big things. 
  • Remember you are the average of the people who you spend the most time with. 
  • True Leadership begins with leading yourself first. 
  • When you take action, things just happen. 
  • Life is really short. YOLO
  • Do more than you get paid to do. 
  • Have multiple income resources.  Don’t rely on only one source.  TOO risky. 
  • Have a back-up plan for your back-up plan. 
  • Read more. 
  • Reflect more often.
  • Introspection is vital for success. 
  • Do what I have to do as quickly as possible, so I can do what I want to do. 

I am sure I will blog on this subject many times in my life.  This is a good start. Please share your thoughts.

Brian Willett

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.

Getting out of the pile..C

As you have read I have been discussing what I have determined, based on my experience are some of the most beneficial things you can do to separate yourself from the pack within a company or organization.  As I write this last blog on this topic, I quickly want to re-cap what I have stated are the principles for you to successfully get out of the pile.

  • Results
  • Ideas/Solutions
  • Set the pace
  • Candor/Diplomacy
  • Personal/Self Development
  • Give more than what is asked for
  • Never be satisfied
  • Choose well

Volunteer: I had a friend tell me that when he went into the Navy, a group of officers asked a group of these new seaman if they would like to volunteer for a special assignment.  He said that he volunteered.  He spent the next 4 years on a submarine.  He suggested to me to never volunteer for anything.  I obviously disagree.  I have volunteered for things even when I know I don’t want to do them.  But by putting myself out there over and over, it allowed me to separate myself from the pack and get out of the pile.  It has also exposed me to things that I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to.  This not only included experience, but people as well.

Attitude: I personally believe that many of the things I have already talked about illustrates what an attitude is. However, I guess I probably have to put this on the list as being a principle.  I don’t consider myself a naturally optimistic person.  I honestly feel like pound for pound I am like most people, I am kind of neutral most days.  But I spend the first 2 hours every day getting my attitude in a place that has allowed me to be successful.  I think to do many of the things I have suggested in this series is an attitude and your attitude is what will determine your willingness to adhere to the principles.

Gratitude:  3 years ago, this would not have been on my list.  I didn’t think this way.  I always thought of more, and what can I do to get more, I didn’t appreciate what I had enough.  I never had an attitude that I deserve more, because life has a funny way of giving you exactly what you deserve (another blog by itself).  But I never took the time to actually acknowledge and appreciate what I do have.  I now do this everyday.  Some of this things are pretty basic as well.  Like a home, a great family, close friends, a great career, and health.  These things are easily forgotten. So be grateful for what you have within your company.  Your manager will notice this and again will help you get out of the pile.

Don’t wait:  I honestly didn’t know what else to call it, but this encompasses a lot.  Don’t wait for your boss to tell you what to do, Don’t wait for your boss to ask you what you are doing for self-development, Don’t wait for your boss to suggest for you to go to training, Don’t wait to tell your boss about a good suggestion, Don’t wait for anything.  Be pro-active. I tell most people that we all have to “Lead Up”.  Leading up means you are helping yourself by setting the agenda with your boss.  I can tell you that when you are doing the 11 above things very well, you will be leading up (meaning your boss will be following the agenda you are setting, because you are out in front).

I hope this has helped some of you.  Again, any suggestions on principles you would add to the list, I would love to hear them.

  • Results
  • Ideas/Solutions
  • Set the pace
  • Candor/Diplomacy
  • Personal/Self Development
  • Give more than what is asked for
  • Never be satisfied
  • Choose well
  • Volunteer
  • Attitude
  • Gratitude
  • Don’t wait

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.

What’s easy to do, is easy not to do…

My mentor Jim Rohn taught me this little saying almost two years ago.  It is a really simple phrase, but it has a lot of meaning.  Since I read this, I am not saying it is easy to follow.  But as I continue to grow in different areas of my life, I find myself repeating this phrase to myself when there are things I don’t want to do.  What I have done is taken this little phrase and modified it to provide me the extra motivation that I need to make things happen the way I would like for them to happen in my life.

“What’s easy to do, is easy not to do”.  I have turned this into, “What do I want, and what do I have to do to get it”.  A slight modification to this phrase, but one that applies to me.  In my mind when things are hard, I tell myself that I can either do this or not, nothing will happen today when I make this decision, but choosing not to do something for a long period of time has major impact on my life.  The double-bacon cheeseburger at White Castle doesn’t hurt me today, tomorrow, or a month from now, but do it for 20 years and what happens.

What do I want, and what do I have to do to get it: I will be 35 years young in about two weeks.  My goal is to be in the best shape I have been in since my early twenties.

  • What’s easy to do: get up a little earlier and work out, modify my eating habits, watch my calorie intake.
  • What’s easy not to do: get up a little earlier and work out, modify my eating habits, watch my calorie intake.

What do I want, and what do I have to do to get it: My personal brand is to add value to myself so I can add value to others. Value=worth and to increase your worth (value) to the marketplace it requires you to increase your skill sets. Also, I can’t add value if my value never changes.

  • What’s easy to do: Read 30 minutes a day, get out of my comfort zone, make networking a top priority, intentionally grow and develop, ask for feedback.
  • What’s easy not to do: Read 30 minutes a day, get out of my comfort zone, network, be intentional about growth and development, be open to feedback.

What do I want, and what do I have to do to get it: Build a portfolio of opportunities for myself personally and professionally that deliver revenue streams, assets, and leveraging business contacts to make a difference with many kinds of organizations and businesses.

  • What’s easy to do: take calculated risks, be growth minded, associate with different people, colleagues, and business associates, get involved.
  • What’s easy not to do: take calculated risks, be growth minded, associate with different people, colleagues, and business associates, get involved.

To sum it up, I define “Easy” as something I can do, which means it is not beyond my ability to do it.  So when I find myself overwhelmed and tired, I remind myself of “What do I want, and what do I have to do to get it”, and the difference between getting it and not getting it, really comes down to doing what’s easy to do, and most things are easy to do, you just have to do it.