Friday, March 30, 2012

The Definition of Effort

The Stanford Cardinal Basketball Team recently won the NIT basketball tournament. This accomplishment cementing their legacy as the 69th best basketball in the NCAA in 2012. The unceremonious accolade came with a much bigger prize! My friend Steve shared a pre-game speech they were given by the Great Ray Lewis. Mr. Lewis is one of the greatest Linebackers in the history of professional football. He is also a physical beast and a person who many consider to be a complete maniac. So, what can a fire breathing physical mad man from the mean streets of Lakeland Florida teach a team of well-to-do student athletes.....a lot, it turns out!

Mr. Lewis makes a variety of points in this 2 minute rampage of inspiration. The 3 most prominent in my mind:
"If tomorrow wasn't promised what would you give for today"
"Legacy is found through effort"
"Every moment is a new moment"

No Sunlight Left
Ray Lewis poses the question: If there was no tomorrow would you worry about yourself or the person sitting next to you. Fear might insist that on our last day on earth we would act with cowardice....but I doubt it! I would like to believe that people would want to share their fleeting hours with their loved ones...and to tell them how much they cared.

What if tomorrow wasn't promised?

Do you have the job you genuinely want? Are you with a person who makes you better in every moment? Do you treat people around you with respect? Are you focused on the right things? Does money matter more to you than the people who exchange it? Are you a Hero?

NOW is the time to start pondering these questions. Tomorrow is not promised!

Effort is Everything!
We often approach life in shoulds. "Should I take the job for which I am over-qualified and perform extremely well or should I take the job for which I am under-qualified and risk failure?". I hearken back to my college days.....I posed a similar question to my career counselor, her response......Take the job for which you are under-qualified and perform extremely well.

Dam Right!

Greatness has a simple definition: You know you are the most talented person on the team and you still put in more effort than anyone else.

It is easy to be talented and to give just enough effort. It is not so easy to show up early and to stay late. Combining the aforementioned virtues means you are working harder and smarter. There are no shoulds in this scenario, it is the difference between greatness and mediocrity. Ray Lewis reminds us that no one is OK with being basic.

Pissed Off for Greatness
You are a different creature now than you were 5 minutes ago. That truth is difficult to embrace. You have a plan to follow: get the finances in order, find a girl, buy a house, raise some children, get that corner office. While the end game in that might seem boring it takes a special creature to achieve such things. Every day there is struggle! The first step in conquering your goals is confronting what is difficult and making it less so. It is simply a matter of having the will to try, the courage to risk failure, and the ability to find a door where others see a dead end.

It doesn't matter if you are a middle-aged business contributor, you can still compete like a college basketball player. You don't have to be an entrepreneur to have original ideas and to utilize them in your work. Every day is an opportunity to redefine yourself.

Are You Pissed Off for Greatness?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Black Licorice Theory

“We're like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.”
― Jerry Garcia

I recently re-read a friend's book on "PUSH marketing". From what I could ascertain there were two main themes in his book:
  1. Quantity not Quality
  2. Ideas must be Commercialized to gain adoption
.....I emphatically disagree with both of these misguided principles!

Far too often in the Social Media space, I see users with 10,000 followers who produce no relevant material. Therein lies the problem. The people with great content shy away from social media because they see the aforementioned popularized user producing irrelevance. The system is broken. Trending topics do not encompass specialized content, popular users are not experts, and the opportunity of thought leadership sharing has been trumped by the commercialization of ideas.

Introducing the Black Licorice Theory:
  • Quantity is a smokescreen
  • The experts have been forced into Lurkerland
  • Personal connection is all that matters
You have 10,000 followers....what does that really mean?
I read an article a while back about how to use LinkedIn. The well-intended author gave bullet pointed advice on how to gain followers. All points probably would enhance one's profile....Now you have another 100 followers, most of them independent staffing professionals.

Following the PUSH marketing strategy on LinkedIn commoditizes your life's work. Once you commoditize yourself your differentiated relevance is forever gone. Now you cannot attract the people with whom you actually want to connect.You are a person not a product.

Why I don't use Facebook
I am a self-professed social media evangelist. Admittedly, I don't have a Facebook profile. Like so many, I fell victim to the frustration of irrelevance. Tons of content - all vapid to the point of enticing me to rip my eyeballs out. Unfairly, I forever wrote off Facebook as a thought conveyor for the thoughtless.

Today, a one day Facebook advertisement generates more attention than a Super Bowl commercial. The collective of Facebook users is the third largest nation in the world. Unfortunately, the marketers forecasted these amazing statistics, commoditized a Facebook strategy, and squandered an opportunity to make meaningful connections.

One (is not) The Loneliest Number!
It takes an incredibly intelligent person to assess social media before they jump in.

There is only one piece of advice I can give you:
Be Yourself

You cannot pretend to be of a certain professional ilk to impress your buying public. Best case scenario, you actually get to meet them and they discover your masquerade. Then you have wasted your time and you have blown your credibility. Don't pretend to be someone you are not.

Honesty and Negativity are different concepts. I remember attacking someone on my friend's blog who had insulted my intelligence. When I revisited the feed I realized that I had been disregarded. A thousand people viewed my tirade and all of them knew better than to justify it with a response. In the right social forums the villagers rule with dignity and empower you to act accordingly. With great power comes great responsibility!

In the movie Office space, Michael Bolton compromised his integrity to impress his assumed future bosses. He sold himself down the river in an effort to keep a job he didn't want in the first place. It is the ultimate lesson in compromise. If your goal is to be regular, achievement is inevitable.

Business is driven by new ideas. Truly innovative ideas are very hard to come by. All you have is your unique thought and it is imperative that you protect it. No one ever changed lives by selling out.

PUSH Marketing sucks! Black Licorice is Delicious!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Sales 2.0

Over the last few weeks, we reviewed the concepts of Social Selling and The Social Enterprise. This week we will marry the aforementioned concepts in the revolution known as Sales 2.0. In my estimation there are 3 key characteristics to Sales 2.0:
  • Introducing Compelling Content
  • Performing Rock Star Presentations
  • The Forgotten Concept of Human Interaction
Cold Calling is Dead
Very few people answer the office phone, everyone has caller ID, and calling from a blocked number is a poor way to establish trust. Everyone is busy and interruptions are never well received. Even the magic phone controllers of yesteryear need a point of reference these days.

In order to make an impact you need content to support your prospecting efforts that is easy to access and simple to understand:
  • Value propositions must be conveyed within 10 seconds
  • Content has to be written in your prospective customer's language
  • The best way to intrigue your buying audience is by entertaining them 
Maybe you have a knack for writing concise and meaningful emails. You might be able to peak customer interest through video sharing. Maybe social media has served as an engagement point. These days a phone call or smile without significant content attached to it will commoditize you as another pretty face.

Wake Up Call
Sales teams spend countless hours preparing for the big pitch. We think ourselves in circles obsessing over the intricacies of our products and services. We get in front of a prospective customer and take them way down the rabbit whole....a 90 minute crash course training on how our products works......without considering WHY they would want to use it. Repeat this pain staking process 4 times and you have a day in the life of a wonder why they're grumpy.

All sales people want to be Rock Stars....your content and how you present it is your Rock Opera!

You can differentiate yourself from the other boring presenters by doing the following:
  • Deliver multi-media presentations that are "fun" for your audience
  • Consult in an interactive manner
  • Articulate a business solution (not a product or service)
We all know the fine points of where we are better than our competitors....our buyer doesn't care. The key to wining is presenting as if you were a co-worker not a potential "vendor".

The Secret Sauce
The sales folk are aggressive and articulate but they still seem to believe their gift of gab is all that matters. The marketing folk have amazing content but engaging at the point of sale requires more than product functionality. Sales 2.0 brings great content and differentiated consultation together. But, don't fall into the trap. There are products built by brilliant programmers who know how products function but are unable to articulate why they will make a potential customer's business better. It's not about the widget!

The key to winning in sales is to develop the ability to become a consultant not a salesperson, a partner not a vendor, a friendly advisor not an annoying product pusher.

Consider This....
  • Don't demonstrate a product, present a solution
  • A brand is only as good as the people who represent it
  • Make is easy
  • Make it fun!
Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Marley

Hi Mar Mar - Welcome to the my blog. I've been writing stories here for almost 5 years to help people understand that the things they love are the fuel for their professional motivation. As far as I know, these writings will be yours to enjoy for years to come. I hope it gives you some insight to the work your Daddy was doing while you were stumbling through the halls of the house your Mommy and I built for you.

So now you are 4 years old. Just last night I told you that I didn't want you to grow up anymore and you explained to me that you are a big girl now. Your words give me hope! You are wise beyond your years.

I hope I've been a good Dad thus far. I try really hard to listen to you all the time, but my world is encompassed by thousands of people. Just know, no one is more important to me than you, your brother, and your mom. You will come to understand that in order to buy you a Hello Kitty Raincoat, Mommy and Daddy have to go to work. We wish we never had to spend time away from you, but when we do, it builds your own personality. Some day your independence will serve you well!

I work very hard for a great company, I tell your mother I love her at least 5 times a day, and I am always helping your brother to understand the importance of looking after you!

I was really impressed when your teacher told us that you include your brother in all of your paintings. You already understand that the 3 people you live with are the essence of your existence. We will always love you and everything that is beautiful about you.....everything is beautiful about you.

Happy Birthday to You! Enjoy your Princess Party!

...and if you're reading this years from now, may I remind you to take heart in this advice:
  • Be nice to everyone....but don't take shit from anyone
  • Listen to your mother (and your brother)
  • Know that your failures make you better....don't be afraid to try
Words cannot describe how much your Daddy loves you. I have been with you every day of your life...and I always will be with you.

Your beauty is irreplaceable! Every moment you live is a miracle! I am so very proud of you!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Now Boarding...The Enterprise

I remember giving a seminar to HR Professionals in 2007 extolling the virtue of what I called "Social Networking Tools". At that time, Social Media (as it would come to be tagged) was still suffering from the Paris Hilton stigma. This was the perception that tools like Twitter were of the same ilk as Facebook and that they had no business relevance. The crowd of HR Pros embraced the story I told of recovering addicts who used Twitter to encourage one another throughout the day. But, they still left with eyebrows raised.

Times have changed! I was blown away when I heard's CEO, Marc Benioff, advocate the virtue of what he called "The Social Enterprise" a few years back. The spirit of the keynote inspired business progress through collaboration not competition. This was a foreign message to the cut-throat sales professionals in the room....but Benioff had conviction in his cause and it caught fire!!!!

Last week, I attended another Cloudforce event, sponsored by the aforementioned cloud computing maverick organizational leader. The message again redirected: Social Networking Tools evolved into Social Media which has now become "The Social Enterprise". The social enterprise has adopted two primary functions:
  • Internal Strategy Platform
  • Customer Community
There is a problem with email, it is nontransparent! I can cc the team on project objectives but this traditionally leads to one off cyber-conversations that create silos. What if it was all out in the open? What if you couldn't hide information or misstep deadlines any more? developed Chatter a few years back. Chatter is a social application: an internal platform to share best practices. But, Chatter's divine power lies in transparency. No longer are there side roads in the path to success...we all face it together. Collaborative, Transparent and All-Accountable!

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
People fear social media because the interpretation of intent is a very slippery slope. "give them an inch and they'll take a mile". In other words, if there is an application central to my organization that I can access any time, I might go to happy hour, log-on, and tell them what I really think. So, we turn a blind eye to that which is there to help us for fear that it may expose us. The kids will not learn to play fair in the sandbox if you keep them tied down in their swings.

Today you can go to Twitter, hashtag a company name, voice an issue, and get a reply in real time. No more waiting on-hold. Your issue is out in the open for millions to see....frequently asked questions in real time. An unavoidable basis for pro-active problem solving. Faults can no longer be put off or avoided. The sooner your problem is fixed the sooner they get off the front page. Today everyone works for Consumer Reports!

Customer Community
Let's not mistake the issue, social access is not an invitation to complain. We all simply need to adjust our frame of thinking to collaborate not compete. Before we know it we will all be on the same side of the screen.

The world's best companies are developing communities for their advocates to communicate across the Globe. It's product development through consumer input. You are no longer on the side lines, you are in the game, and your voice matters. Reviews are no longer confined to professional news publications, the board of directors voice is dwarfed by unavoidable customer input, and leader interpretation is backed by metrics from a thousand sources. The only solution is to get better, quicker. That's a good thing!

Mending Fences
We are at the crest of a tidal wave. Companies locked in buildings are becoming communities of unique individuals free to share their vision. Companies are no longer hiding their mistakes, they are inviting others to help create their destiny. Giving up control is no longer a sign of weakness but an invitation to consistently evolve. We live in real-time and everyone has something to teach. The opportunity is massive, if you ignore it, the wave will swallow you.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

People Not Contacts

It was a great day in San Francisco on March 12th. The Sales Giants of Tomorrow braved the time change to attend Inside View's Insider Summit. It was a well put together event...great keynote, 1 minute sponsor intros and short/informative breakout sessions. A lot of information in a snapshot....such are times in which we exist.

Umberto Milletti eloquently delivered the message of the day.....selling is about people not contacts. Umberto told us that he, as a buyer, does not answer the phone and rarely replies to email. He then noted that commercial real estate agents are among the most pushy salespeople but when he requested information for commercial space on Twitter only 2 people replied. A reflection on the swinging pendulum of sales. It is no longer about having the gift of gab or an extroverted personality. It is about doing your research, differentiating your solution to the personality of your buyer, and finding a creative way to access them. The game is changing and if you stick to your old methods your forehead will start bleeding.....from running into walls!

Introducing the 3 Stages of Social Selling:
Personal Access
Silver Bullet

How did you know that?
....because it's on your facebook page.

Still to this day people are surprised when I mention their favorite baseball team or a current event at their alma mater - and this is the easily accessible information. Don't worry about freaking out your buyer. You can find out a lot about a person in a 15 minute review of their LinkedIn profile, Twitter page, Facebook posts and/or blog. If they put it out there it is yours to share in....the key is using the information in a differentiating way without creeping someone out!!!!!!

Information is not an Invitation!
Be an advisor not a stalker! Use the elements of a person's personality conveyed through social media only in ways applicable to your products/services.

Tell someone their daughter is beautiful!
Revisit a political or religious opinion that may have been posted!
Ask if you can have permission to date the aforementioned beautiful daughter!!!

Mention an industry relevant article or case study that they posted, retweeted, or favored
Mention a common professional connection
Correlate the benefit of your solution in metaphor to their favorite team winning (...tricky...)

The introduction is over
People's time has never been more precious. They will smile and entertain your personal probing questions but they would rather you cut to the chase. You can now access the answers to all the stupid "ice breaker" questions before you check in with the receptionist.

With all the information at your finger tips everything you say should be direct and relevant. Formulate and customize a presentation (or conversation strategy) that is personally engaging. If you are smooth in your delivery (which every salesperson should be) you will come off as a subject matter expert: "This guy knows my business and his product matches what I do really well".

The New Age in Sales
* Everyone thinks sales people are pushy. You have a direct path to victory if you can dispel that presumption.
* Time is money: be relevant, precise and direct.
* Know not just what they do but why it matters and how you can help.

The tools are there but they are commonly avoided. The salespeople who are winning have put themselves on the buyers side of the table through research and the ability to differentiate. The salespeople who are losing think they can still rely on their big mouth to impress people.

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"   - Albert Einstein

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Even Linebackers Need Recognition

Greg Williams and his former New Orleans Saints organizational mates are in deep trouble. It is alleged that Coach Williams took the process of inspiring his players a step too far. No one would advocate rewarding a professional football player for hurting one of his union mates....we are unsure if this was the intent of what has been labeled a "bounty program". Everyone, however, would applaud a leader for offering his/her employees incentives for improving their performance.

The intended consequences of the New Orleans Saints unconventional incentive program are yet to be fully realized. There are, however, 2 key lessons learned from this controversy applicable to Employee Recognition:
Everyone Wants to be Recognized
It's Not About the Reward

Romo's Thoughts
" wasn't about the money, it was about the recognition..." - Bill Romanowski

A sports scientist nor even Roger Goodell can explain the importance of a post game moment. That moment in Pop Warner Football when the coach gives you a sticker to put on your helmet. It has nothing to do with the hit you put on your classmate and you did not intend to hurt him. For the first time in your life you spent 5 hours of every summer day in the hot sun with pads on and YOU overcame your personal limitations. Your parents were nowhere to be found, it was not soccer, and your dad was not the coach. For the first time in your life you did something on your own, you tried your hardest, and after days of uncertainty...the Coach picked YOU as the top performer. This, dear readers, is the premise of greatness. It is a result of great parenting, faith in the right things, and your recognition of your own ability! There is simply nothing better!

On a recent broadcast of the Jim Rome Show, Bill Romanowski explained it in terms that related to that which was documented above. Football players in this day and age make 10 figure incomes. They also risk their life every day. Put it in perspective: you are walking into a gun fight....a knife won't do!

Houses, Cars, and Attractive Women are elements of fame. They cannot make up for that moment when the coach brings you in front of the team to recognize YOUR effort! It is humbling and gratifying all at once. It is the place we all strive to get back to regardless of our income or status.

There is not a person on Earth who would not be humbled and gratified by a coach calling him/her in front of their team to get a sticker to put on their helmet. The sticker goes on the helmet and the recognition of your personal ability is never forgotten. You cannot assign a fiscal value to trying your hardest and knowing it made a difference.

Coach Williams did not encourage grown men to hurt their union mates. He wanted them to remember what it was like to try, succeed, and to be validated.

Value Is Interpretive
I once won a sales contest and our Vice President gave me a gift card. I bought diapers for my kids. Only they gave a shit! It was amazingly easy for our VP to ask her assistant to send me the card in the mail. There was no human life's dedication had become a commodity. As I sharpened up my resume, my boss called me into a room, all of my teammates were there. They applauded for me. I had no idea what I had done. Without my knowing, everyone on my team had nominated me for an award that was globally recognized. I was the only sales professional to be given the reward. I stayed with the company for an additional 5 years because I didn't want my team to have to live with our Vice President.

Lance Armstrong said it best, "it's not about the bike". His life's dedication was to beat cancer and to inspire other people to do the same. To look a death sentence in the eye and win is far more important than any professional achievement.

Think about it....the best gift you have ever received did not cost more than any other. Someone took enough time to get to know you, they took time to find something that meant more to you than money, and they presented it to you in a fashion that made you remember what LIFE is all about!

We all need a sticker for our helmet. None of us would injure another to get it.

Don't Forget to Remember!