Wednesday, November 26, 2014


"with great power comes great responsibility" - Spiderman's Uncle 

I teach six year old females how to play soccer. We have 3 rules:
1. Focus
2. Focus
3. Focus

The old adage is true, everything we need to know about business we learned in youth sports.

We sure have come to expect a lot from our employers in this day-and-age. We want extra vacation, more money, the ability to work from home, yoga, happy hour and an on-site guru. These luxuries have distracted us from the primary responsibility of our employment: Winning!

As I always tell the young people I coach: we are here to have fun and there is nothing more fun than winning. Our effort in our profession should feed our happiness. Nothing will make you more happy than achievement. 

To be given a thank you for showing up is nice, but are you OK with nice? To be told you have done a great job when you haven't is reassuring but you know if you actually deserve the accolade. 

The Holidays are a time when people let their guard down and say thanks for all they have. This season of distraction is also very difficult to navigate. 

Focus on Grander Goals
I once heard a CEO say that he would be much more successful if he didn't have to deal with people. No such luck! Our comrades are competitive and they take pride in their work... along with this comes condescension, the need to be validated and whole lot of emotion. If we invest too much in the little battles our character is revealed and our ego can get the best of us.

In any situation it is important to remember what the ultimate goal is and to give ground in the little battles. It is OK to allow people to win an argument for the sake of moving toward the ultimate goal. Over time, those who choose confrontation are revealed incapable of handling greater responsibility.

Be Flexible, Not Indecisive      
The best professional relationships I have are without nonsense. I would rather you tell me 'no' in the first minute of speaking with me than to pretend to be polite for a year only to come to the same conclusion. 

It is beneficial to be willing to listen more than you talk. It is even better to have a direct solution to a problem. If we are incapable of letting one another know where we stand, we will all sink into the quicksand together. 

Perform Above Expectations
In sales we are acutely aware that every suggestion made to management is followed by an audit of where we are on the ranking report. If you haven't sold anything, no one gives a shit about your earth shattering ideas to change the world. 

Regardless of your occupation, you have a goal to hit. Every goal is crowded by the emotion of co-workers, bad advice from management, and complaints from all angles. 

You have to hurdle all obstacles on your way to accomplishing the goals established for you. None of it is easy, but nothing worth doing is. 

Stop asking for entitled benefits and start producing. No one owes you anything. You will recognize this when you conquer expectations and take control of your own destiny. 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, November 21, 2014

The Giving Tree

A long time ago I worked at a Gas Station in Bellevue, Michigan. During a particularly boring graveyard shift a man came in looking for a cup of coffee. He looked a bit agitated. I told him we didn't have any coffee. He looked at the pot behind the counter inquisitively? I meandered over to see the pot. I opened a cabinet below, looked at the various tools to assemble a cup of Joe, and then stepped back. I heard the man say, "you've never made a cup of coffee have you?". What ensued next was an unexpected glory!

The man stepped behind the counter with me and showed me how to make a cup of coffee. He laughed as I poured the grains into the filter and we talked about life while the coffee brewed. Just two guys in the middle of the night talking over coffee. The guy chuckled with delight as I fumbled through the process and left with what he proclaimed the greatest cup of coffee he had ever tasted. It seemed he was thrilled to have the opportunity to teach someone something (he may not have had the opportunity to do that for a while). His agitation had subsided and he walked out whistling.

We always examine what engages people. Is it money, rewards, technology...? The example above reveals that people have a mutual appreciation for one another. Too often our predisposed frustration replaces teaching opportunities with confrontation.

People want to learn and to teach and to be given an opportunity to grow.

Last week we discussed the possibility that our character may be revealed through that which we are willing to do for free. Life is full of necessary evils (things we have to do). But, what do you want to do, and why not go do it?

By the virtue of the above mind frame, can engagement not be defined by the opportunity to give? Isn't there something pretty wonderful about that? 

Don't give me a catalog of outdated gifts in reward of my achievements. Give me the opportunity to conduct a class for the organization on the sociological significance of The Streets album "A Grand Don't Come For Free".

If I have 10 calls today that are creating opportunities and driving meaningful objectives, I am not only engaged but energized! I don't need a ping pong table or an espresso machine or to take a walk or even to eat. Give me a purpose and the tools to amplify its meaning and I will teach others to engage in it.

Now engagement has become advocacy!

We don't want gifts or more money. We want to be part of something we believe in and the trust to bring it to others.

~ Know what your employees need to succeed.
~ Design a program that helps them measure progress every day.
~ Reward achievement with new opportunities.
~ Never run out of new opportunities.

Have we forgotten how easy it is to help others??? 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Passing Time

I would venture to guess that our true character is measured by the things we do for free. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have with people that start with a raised eye brow. People simply cannot believe that a salesman would help someone without asking for something in return. I do it a lot.

My profession is only a part of my existence: I coach youth sports, help college kids get jobs, conduct Human Resources training and occasionally provide advice when asked... I've never been paid for any of it.

Long ago, I worked at a booth at a prominent Human Resources annual conference. I far prefer being a conference attendee and/or volunteer. In my sales career I have done everything I can to be viewed as a peer to my buyer. It takes research, listening skills and empathy. I understand why people don't like sales people; I don't either.

The only thing I dislike more than sales people are people without sales training trying to sell something. Everyone is trying to sell something.

What do you do for free? Are people surprised when you offer to help without holding your hand out?

Time Spent
I feel at this point in my life the most valuable asset I possess is time. The recognition of time as a valued asset provokes a study in what (and to whom) one devotes their time.

Are you chasing that big deal simply because the pay off would be huge? Do you pursue certain business partnerships with the knowledge that they will never happen? Why bother! Your time is as valuable as any CEO's. Use it wisely.

I See Your Cards
I sat next to a person in the press room at a conference. This person exclaimed, "I'm not going to a presentation, I'm here to sell something". So dangerously mislead! If you are not willing to invest in your buyer's mind frame, you will never provide value to them.

I was interviewed by a person recently for a radio show. Every question asked was accompanied by five comments before I could even answer. Don't pretend to be interested in me if all you are really here to do is hear yourself talk.

The social space is full of hacks! People who pretend to possess what all of us can get for free.

You would drop everything for your kids. You would quit your job if your spouse got ill. You wouldn't ask for compensation for coaching your kid's team.

Think About It!

The things you do for free are rooted in your life's true passion. If you are truly passionate you should share what you know to allow what you care about to germinate. Your ideas are not sacred. Everything has been thought of.... how you carry those ideas into the world is what matters.

Regrets surface when you are unwilling to put the work into something you believe in with all your heart. Regrets hang like ugly chandeliers... you cannot face a day without walking under them!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014


One part of qualifying candidates for sales jobs today is their number of "connections" on LinkedIn (and other social networks). One's presence in the social space can be a game changer.... it's also really easy to game the system. You might have 1,500 connections on LinkedIn but how many of them would drop everything to meet with you? How many people in your network have any relevance to your occupational development? If you contacted your LinkedIn connections one-by-one how many would reply, "how do I know you"......?

A Rolodex is one thing. Genuine connections are something completely different. The only thing worst than a sales person is a person who has no sales training trying to sell someone something. Long ago, Keith Ferrazzi introduced vulnerability and generosity as concepts of genuine connection in the social space, he nailed it! Having been in sales for nearly 20 years, I can identify an impostor from a mile away (most of them are not in sales). 

It is not the number of contacts you have in your network, it is how you utilize your privilege to interact. Most people are surprised if you are able to network without asking for something. 

Got Hugs?
Want to identify the real difference between a business relationship and a true partnership.... when you meet your contact in the lobby do they hug or shake hands?

It matters... The greatest contacts I have in business have been in the trenches with me: I have held their hand in an airport bar when they found out their wife had cancer, I have put my hand on their shoulder when their son failed to report to court (again), I've buried my head in their shoulder to hide my tears when I found out my mom had cancer (again). That's the real stuff, most of us can hide it, when we don't feel obligated to hide... we are home!

How many genuine connections do you make each day? Not friends added to your network but genuinely human interactions. Will he or she with whom you meet be willing to share a personal detail with you? Would they explain their lack of concentration on their failing marriage (and ask for your advice)? 

It is easy to watch your top performer succeed... It is far more difficult to make an ugly duckling a swan. Most leaders bank their points with their top performers and give up on the ugly ducklings only to dismiss their responsibility to their failure. 

You hire people, and when you do, you take responsibility for their livelihood. If your employees fail, it is your fault! The good lord gave us all free will, most people will abuse it if you give them too much rope. 

Priorities and Privileges matter. Your job should be your #1 priority.... raising your children is a privilege. Let's not confuse the two. 

Your measure of success are the lost souls whom you have given a home, the ship to which you have affixed a rudder, and the number of hugs you receive every day!

Don't Forget to Remember!