Do You Have Resolve?

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"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
~ Isoroku Yamamato

After the attack on Pearl Harbor Admiral Yamamoto, of the Japanese navy, made the above statement reflecting his apprehension of what was about to come. At the beginning of each year millions of people go through the time honored tradition of making resolutions. We resolve to do better, be better and make a difference. We resolve to change. But are we filled with a terrible resolve? A resolve that can withstand any circumstance, any condition and any setback? You know the kind of resolve I'm talking about. The resolve that we see highlighted on the silver screen from "Rudy" to the guy who saws his arm off to free himself from a giant boulder. We see it on the news when our soldiers are interviewed protecting what we value so dearly. We see it in the determination to do what others can't or won't. We see it and we respect it. We admire it. But does the seeing fuel our own personal resolve? Does it make us more determined to follow through on the simple little things we resolve to do to be better and make the world a better place? An opportunity awaits us all - not just at the beginning of the year, but every day. To resolve and persevere through setbacks. By all means make resolutions this year. Awaken a giant within. Fill yourself with a terrible resolve. Make it real. Make it a "No Matter What Resolution" This year make it a resolution to be a person of resolve.

I Resolve - No Matter What...
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From Aida to Dread


"Sales are contingent on the attitude of the salesman - not the attitude of the prospect." ~ W. Clement Stone
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Salespeople all over the world are saying "What Happened?" Things changed! The Buyer is now in control.Every product, every service and every transaction has become a commodity where buyers can just jump on the internet and get price, quotes and all the information they need to compare. What is a salesperson to do? It used to be so easy we say. All we had to do was follow the old standby that every sales class taught us AIDA. Attention ~ Interest ~ Desire ~ Action. But now... It's a different model. Now it's DREAD. The buyer has a DESIRE ~ They do RESEARCH ~ They ENGAGE sellers ~ They APPRAISE their choices ~ Then they DECIDE. What's a salesperson to do?

The answer is ~ Engage. Buyers now have more information. Buyers now have more options. But just like in the AIDA model where the key was found in translating Desire into Action the new paradigm puts an emphasis on maintaining Engagement. Buyers certainly have access to more choices. Buyers will evaluate who they've engaged with and may appraise their options often after the initial contacts. Great salespeople will keep buyers engaged and stay actively engaged with them through their decision. Desire to Action? - Now it's all about Engagement to Decision. The more things change, the more they...
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5 Lies We Tell Ourselves

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"Deed, not words shall speak to me." ~ John Fletcher

What if we were visited tonight by the ghosts that went to see Ebeneezer Scrooge? What if they came and said to us "Come On - Be honest about a few things." What are 5 Lies we tell ourselves?

Why Do We Blog?

The Lie ~ "Because we want to connect, inform, educate and give something back. Because we want to share insights and perspective.

The Truth ~ It's Because of our Ego.

Why Don't We Call More?

The Lie ~ Because it's inefficient, people don't like it. It's outdated, a waste of time and other methods of contact work much better.

The Truth ~ Because we don't like difficult things. We are lazy, try to avoid possible conflict and discomfort. We want to be passively read, respected and liked. Because calls take a whole lot of work & effort.

Why Do We Use Social Media?

The Lie ~ Because it's the mode that everyone is using. Because it's the future. Because I'm smart. Because I'm getting huge exposure. Because more people can see, connect with and like me.

The Truth ~ Because it's entertaining and we can turn it off like TV.

Why Do We Follow Less Than Follow Us?

The Lie ~ Because we filter for quality. Because we are selective.

The Truth ~ Because we are Divas that think we're all that - We're Not.

Why Don't We Say Less and Do More?

The Lie ~ Because we need to get our word out and build a large following to effect change. We need a lot of connections.

The Truth ~ Come On - Be Honest...

"A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed."
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Eat, Pray and Love?

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"Kites rise highest against the wind-not with it." - Winston S. Churchill


Sales is a funny business. No really - it's a really funny business. Why? Because there is no single "right way" of getting business and making people happy. This in turn drives a multitude of experts to hang up a shingle that says "Here is how you sell". Now naturally the next step is we need people to tune in and turn on to our message. So what do people that want to consult, or teach sales, do in order to get people to listen? We make it warm and fuzzy. People like to hear about soft skills, relationship building, inspirational stories and stuff that makes them feel good - it's human nature. Be good, sincere and caring is our message. Ask questions and think about what the client wants first. Be prepared and diligent and everything else will take care of itself. Then you will be able to just "Eat, Pray and Love". That's a really nice message - it resonates. It's warm and fuzzy. It's all true and it really sells. It sells because it's human nature - it's golden rule stuff. But here is the brutal, unadulterated truth ~ If you really want to be good at sales - You have to do stuff that most people don't want to do. You have to hear stuff that most people don't want to hear. You have to ask questions that most people don't ask. You have to have a sense of urgency that most people don't have. You need drive, courage and the character to keep going when most people give up. Want to be good at sales? Instead of Eat, Pray and Love. Try ~ Call, Listen and Drive.
Call more people than others do. Listen more intently and ask the tough questions that others don't. Drive your conversations to next actions and continue driving when you want to give up. Have an unrelenting sense of urgency. Be more dependable than anyone else and provide more value than anyone else - anywhere. That's what drives sales success first and foremost - then by all means...

Take a moment to Eat, Pray and Love.


Do What You Must

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."A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality." Winston S. Churchill

I had dinner recently with an old boss and a new friend. It's kind of funny how that works in life. The line that was necessary when you work for, or report to, someone vanishes once you are away from the shared arena and day to day cauldron of expectations. It's replaced by anecdotes, memories and respect. We shared a steak and a beer and great conversation about a new venture he was starting with a couple of former Navy Seals. The discussion turned to character traits, business lessons learned and what was at the core of things and people in life. John smiled when he spoke of his children and we shared pictures. Then we spoke about the "core" of people. We spoke about character and what we wanted for our children and he asked me what I treasure in people. I responded "The Core". Some people have a core that is like tempered steel. It is a self defined set of principles that they have determined will drive their life. It's an honor thing. An uncompromising, unwavering no matter what thing. Some people define their core by what others believe are unreasonable expectations and those are the people I respect. They hold unreasonable expectations of themselves and those they come to respect. Circumstance and conditions are irrelevant to their core. Churchill said "A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality." Each of us determines what we "must" do. Each of us determines our core and how strong and unrelenting that core will be. What earns respect?

A well defined and tempered steel core.





Have You Ever...?

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"Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone". ~ G.B. Stern


Have you ever really said Thank You? I don't mean the every day kind. I don't mean the kind you say out of courtesy. I mean - Really Said - Thank You. The kind of thank you that comes from the depths of your soul. The kind of thank you that tells a person that they really made a difference in your life. The kind of thank you that humbles you. Have you ever choked back your ego and said to someone I can't tell you how much I appreciate you and what you mean to me? Saying thanks is easy - we throw the words out there every day. But how about taking a moment and making a list. A list of those who have really made a difference in your life. A list that includes a child, a spouse, a mentor, a veteran, a boss, a friend or an associate. Take a moment and write out a real "from the depths of my soul" thank you list. Then think before you give them the greatest gift you possibly can. A sincere and heartfelt thank you. Go ahead. Call, write or tell them in person. Say Thank You from the heart. Isn't that what thanksgiving is all about?

Silent Gratitude Isn't Much Use To Anyone.

The Best

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"I am easily satisfied with the very best." - Winston S. Churchill


Do you see things in people - things that you like, admire and respect? Do you notice remarkable traits in others? Do you appreciate great quality in products, service and people? Of course you do - we all do. We talk about them, respect them, admire them and sometimes stand in awe of what we call "The Best". The Best is easily acknowledged - It's "The Best." There is little debate with great. Good is subjective. Great is Great. Better is subjective. The Best is the Best. The Best Things. The Best People. The Best Achievements. The Best Relationships. The Best Life. They all have traits, attributes and qualities that we can identify. We try to incorporate the best into our lives. We love to associate, work with and be around the best. We want to compete with the best and be on the best teams. We strive to emulate what the best do. We strive to enjoy the best experiences, relationships and things. And yet all too often we settle for less than the best. The Best Doesn't Come Easy. But the Best Know that. The Best isn't expensive. It's Rare, it's Valuable and It Has A Cost. But here is the funny thing about the Best. If we have to ask the cost - If we are concerned with the price we have to pay - the best may remain out of our reach because as we all know:

The Best Is - Priceless.

Fluff, Action, Metrics & Effort

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"As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do." ~ Andrew Carnegie

Most of us are suckers for inspirational words, quotes, movies and people. They uplift our souls and challenge us to be better than we are. That's a good thing. But for most people, sadly, inspiration is merely a pause, a respite, an entertaining interlude before we return to thoughts, actions and habits that have become ingrained and repeated over many years. So what's the disconnect? Why do such positive words, thoughts, missives, and those that deliver them, become so much 'fluff'? Why does it all become such baloney? Because fluff, entertainment and the feel good nature of inspiration is easy and addictive and behavior modification is hard and takes persistent discipline. In sales we see it every day. Great attitudes without Great Actions. Desire without Discipline. Declaring without Doing. Goals without Grit and Effort without Execution. We hear a lot of talk. See people with permanent potential and harbor hopes of better days. But you want to know how to really get better in sales, life or anything? Raise Your Baseline. Measure your actions and raise the bar. Take any activity or any action - Do more of it and do it better. Measure your metrics. For example: Get up earlier. Make more presentations, more contacts and more calls. Ask more questions. Listen more and talk less. Learn from a mentor. Do what others can't or won't. Be better prepared with a background profile on every target. Care enough to call, communicate and meet people when others don't. Try before 8am and after 6pm. There is not much traffic on the extra mile - make that place your home. The bottom line? Just having a great attitude is worthless. Being inspired is fluff unless you take consistently challenging actions.

Be Inspired - Take Action - Raise Your Baseline.


We Are Judged By...

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"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done." ~ H. W. Longfellow

First of all let's get one thing out of the way. We are all judged and we all judge. Let's not kid ourselves. We do it every day. We judge quality, content, character and value both in things and people every minute of every day. We determine worth and make decisions based on those determinations. So what are the primary criteria that we are all judged by? What are the main areas that influence the thoughts of others?
I submit that we are judged by the three 'R' s.

Results:

What have we done, what are we doing and what do we repeat? In life as opposed to investments past performance is an indicator of future results. People can change but in the majority of cases we will do what we have always done and get what we have always got unless we do something significantly different. If you want different results...

Reputation:

People will treat, respect and behave toward us as they believe us to be. The reality is we all get in direct proportion to what we give in life. Character and Reputation is pretty transparent over time. We are what we most frequently think about and our actions follow those thoughts. Thoughts determine actions, actions determine habits, habits determine character, character determines reputation. Want a better life? Build a better Reputation. Think Better Thoughts and Give more. Give More and you Get More.

Relationships:

Great relationships are the breakfast of champions. Want a better life? It's simple - Build Better Relationships. There's an old Japanese proverb that says "When the character of a man isn't clear to you, look at his friends.” When we improve our relationships we improve our life.
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A Sales Reference.

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"Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company."
~ George Washington

Have you ever been asked about a previous sales employee who is now looking for a job? You know - some manager or HR person calls to ask you for a reference evaluation. Whether they were good, or not so good, legal considerations have made the " So how was their performance?" question not so easy to answer these days. Many companies default their response to the dates of employment only.













Some even ask for a written request rather than being held to account over the telephone. But what are sales managers and executives really saying when they utter what sounds like harmless platitudes and faint praise to the potential new employer?  What are the secret codes in the phrases they use? So here we go ~ For your amusement only...  

I humbly submit here is what they are really saying:

"He was a nice guy, very friendly, and got along with everyone."

"He couldn't close a door. He was nice enough talking to existing clients but never consistently prospected or drove higher revenues. He's not going to hurt your business if you hire him but isn't going to help your top line much either. Everyone will like him but your best sales people and your competition won't consider him much of a threat. Hire or don't hire him - Your call. He will process incoming orders just fine but isn't going to change your bottom line much."

"He worked here between (date) and (date). Seems like he was ok - I can't remember anything in particular I would mention. "

"Stay away from this guy like the plague. There are issues that I would rather not address. I kind of wish this guy would go to work for my competition - it would only hurt them and help us."

"She Makes A Difference"

"I wish she had never left. Don't wait - hire this girl now ! She will get done whatever you need done. She is a dependable go-getter."

Naturally most of us would expand on this third category of candidate. He, or she, sticks out in our mind as a difference maker. Someone we would hire back in a minute. Which brings me to the real question that people should ask first. "Would you hire them back?" If a supervisor waffles on this one or says something soft and non commital like -
" I would certainly interview them if a position became available" then you have your answer. They didn't really make a difference.

Great Salespeople - Make A Difference.







The Success Formula

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"If you don't know what you want to do, it's harder to do it."
~ Malcolm Forbes

When a bright eyed youngster asks you "What's the secret to success?" What do you say? When someone looks for simple guidance and perspective what do you give them? You know that they don't want a sermon or a moralizing philosophy. They want something that they can customize to their needs and build on. What's your answer? Sometimes we lean on the tried and true lessons of the past - the wisdom of sages. Sometimes we spout generic "Just Do It' instructions with a deferential bow to desire and drive. And sometimes we just talk about our perspective, our experience, and our lessons learned. We give them an ego driven backhand that smashes the ball back across the net as if we are trying to win a point. That's not what they're asking for. They want a foundation. A framework that fits sales, business and life. They want a formula that they can manage, mould and measure. They want something that works. Something that helps them define direction and results. They want something that clearly says "Here is what I am". The answer lies in three components. Each is equally important. The formula breaks down when you leave out any of the three. The success formula is I + A + M = I AM.

Inspiration: Where do you get it from? What drives, inspires you, and fuels your internal drive? What words, images, sounds, people, relationships, concepts and values define you? Use inspiration to identify who you are, where you want to go and what matters to you.

Action: The world is filled with inspiring entertainment. Inspiration without action however is just that - entertainment. Inspiration is fuel. Action is the accelerator. Don't just be inspired - Take Action.

Metrics: Inspiration is fuel and actions get you moving but its metrics that really matter. If you don't measure your actions and your results how do you know how well you're doing? Don't be fluffy - be focused. Key Performance Indicators are critical in all aspects of sales, business and life. Measure and map your journey, actions and results.

Identify what inspires you. Use your inspirations to show the world who you are and where you want to go. Inspiration is your mapquest and your fuel gauge. Action is what gets you out of park and puts your foot on the accelerator. Action moves you. Metrics determine how fast you're going and how far along your journey you've gone.

Want a success formula? Try "I AM".

Don't Be Sorry

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He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Surrounding ourselves and working with consummate professionals is one of the true joys of being in business. Working with a flake can be one of our worst nightmares. How do you know the difference before you get in with anyone too deep? How can you tell early whether someone is a professional or a flake? There are simple tell tale signs. Flakes apologize a lot. They apologize for being late. They apologize for being unprepared. They apologize for not meeting commitments and they apologize for - well a whole lot of things. Customers don't have to accept apologies. They shouldn't. Want to become a consummate professional? Be better prepared than anyone else. Ask more questions. Care more about what others want than what you want. NEVER BE LATE. Be the person that others can totally depend on. Customers don't have to understand your reasons. They shouldn't give us a second chance. The mantra is "Give Results Not Reasons". In business we don't deserve a second chance. That's the bottom line. Business goes to those that provide the most value. "There's no crying in business." I say to every salesperson, every vendor, every employee and every executive if you really want to succeed in business:

"Don't be Sorry - Be Squared Away."
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Something Important.

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"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." ~ Cynthia Ozick.


Something important happens to me when I meet a combat veteran. Something that's hard to explain. There's a recognition, a respect, a salute and... a sadness that embraces me. It's something important.













It's simple, silent and sincere. It's something shared. On Memorial day, and Veterans day, a different emotion rises from the depths of my soul.

It's different than the love that I have for my child. It's different than the respect I have for role models and different than the salute I give to those who accomplish things in business and in life.

It's different and yet It's the same. It's a strange bond that transcends country, color, race and religion. It's older than age and younger than youth. It's about selfless sacrifice and sincere substance. It's grave and it's gravitas. It's hard to explain the warm smile and the chilling sadness that I feel when I think of the value and values of a veteran.

It's hard to explain but it's really... ~ "Something important."



The One True Joy In Life.

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"This is the one true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world did not devote itself to making you happy." ~ G B Shaw

Simply - Be the change you want to see in the world.
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10 Tips For A Go-Getter.

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"Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
" ~ Bill Bradley.

Are you a Go Getter? No Really. I'm not talking about someone who is looking to make a comfortable way through life or business. I'm not talking about someone who puts in an eight hour shift and then goes home. I'm not talking about work - life balance here. I'm talking about naked ambition and drive. I'm talking about having a hunger to lead, make a difference in business and influence others. If that's you - then the tepid leadership tomes and cookie cutter advice out there doesn't help you too much. You need specific bullet points on what to do, how to think and act, and how to impress those who can help you get where you want to go. So here we go ~ 10 Tips For A Go Getter:











No Whining - Whatever you get in life is up to you. Never blame, make excuses or give reasons. It's all about "Results not Reasons". If you fall short of expectations suck it up - give no excuses and dive in again. The mantra is always get results. Nothing impresses and promotes quicker than someone who consistently delivers results.

Work Harder - Forget the work smarter not harder crap. Working harder will hold you in good stead as you drive to the top. It impresses those you need to impress and besides it gets results. You are smart enough to know what to focus on and work hard at - only an idiot can't determine where to put the effort to get results. If you are not working harder than your boss how in the hell are you going to impress him?

Listen & Learn - Having confidence is one thing but not learning from those who are already where you want to go is just plain stupid. Ego can drive and it can destroy. Find a mentor, surround yourself and learn from those who are where you want to go. Listen up. Yes I really mean Listen Up - not sideways from peers. Learn and apply the lessons from those in positions where you want to go. Think ROI. Recognize the difference between Top Line and Bottom Line results. Know how to Identify A and B players. Learn to do what leaders respect. Immerse yourself in the things that drive a business.

Be Dependable - Nothing beats someone you can depend on to be there when you need them. Someone who gets results while others rest. That means - never late, never absent, never sick. If that's too stringent a standard. Then you're a conditional go getter.

Love It - Go-Getters have passion. They love it when conditions and circumstances are at the worst. That's when they shine. While others whimper, whine and recoil from "unreasonable expectations" go getters embrace them. In the most dire situations a true go getter shows character, and what they're truly made of, by "Loving it."

Lead & Influence - Nothing impresses and influences leadership (after results) more than the ability to influence others. As you rise to the top make sure you teach others what you are learning and influence them to follow your example. "Be the change you want to see in the world" Lead by Example and Influence Others.

Be Selfless not Selfish - Naked ambition will create animus. Get used to the idea. With that said the only way to mitigate this is to focus your attention and drive on getting results that benefit others. Your success as a go-getter is in direct proportion to how much your efforts benefit others. The perks, plaudits and promotions you get along the way are a bi product. Deliver results that benefit others.

Set Metrics - Forget the fluff. Metrics drive business. Set clearly defined numeric goals. Measure your actions and results. And most of all - share those metrics with those above you. Make sure you are on the same page with their expectations and then go ahead and exceed those expectations. Metrics Matter.

Fail - If you are not failing you are not setting your sights high enough. You've got to fail, fall short and go after it again. Leaders will judge you on how well you respond to setbacks and whether you lower your expectations or drive harder and higher.

Pass Tests - All leaders test Go-Getters. They do it in many different ways. Little tasks they ask to be completed. A barrage of unreasonable vitriol to see how you react. Or a big hairy goal that can't be met. Leaders need to find out whether you can withstand pressure - make sure you pass the little tests.

Are You A Go Getter?
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Life and Business

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"Life is to Live, Love, Learn, and Leave a Legacy" ~ Steven Covey

Have you ever entered a discussion where the person you are talking to holds a position so diametrically opposed to your values or core beliefs that you become emotional? If you are a reasonably sentient being you recognize that counter arguments should always be examined in order for any of us to not become dogmatic. But sometimes the baseline premise of those that challenge us is difficult to accept. A number of years ago I entered a discussion with a manager who held such a position, not dissimilar to what many hold today and his premise was this "My business life, beliefs, behaviors, communications and actions are not the same as those I have with my family and close friends. I act and believe one way for business and another in my personal life" he said. Now this was an intelligent man. A Stanford grad who could hold his own in any debate, on any subject, and he honestly believed that what he did in his business life was separate from what he did and believed in his personal life. Do you believe this? Doesn't it become difficult to lead two separate lives? It seems to me that life is a journey that begins and ends and what we do in between, whether in business or personal relationships is all one. It seems to me that we are like a leaf that falls from a tree into a river. A leaf that winds it's course around rocks and over obstacles and eventually leads to an open sea. I don't quite see how a leaf that comes to a fork in the stream can go in two directions.

Business or personal - One Life - One Leaf.
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No - It's Not Alright!

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"Acceptance of prevailing standards often means we have no standards of our own." ~ Jean Toomer

Every leader, every manager, every parent, every teacher and every coach has experienced it. The time when a protege, student, child or employee has asked permission to do less and be less. Whether in words, actions or behavior they've said "I want to just call this one in". "I'm just going through the motions". A wise coach once told me that when the teacher wants more from the student than the student wants from themselves - you've got a problem. Ok - but what should you do? How do you respond? When your passion, your enthusiasm and your view of what's possible is more than theirs - what do you say? Do you just call this one in? Do you give them a pass? If you do you are making a big mistake. If you say that's OK you are reinforcing the very thing you wish to change. Even if you have to scream it from the rooftops the message is and needs to be "No it's not alright". NO - doing less than you can - being less than you can be - and just going through the motions Is Not Alright. I expect more of you. I expect more of myself than to say it's ok - If you truly want to influence others - Be a leader damn it. Expect more and be more. Don't accept going through the motions for yourself and don't accept it from others.

No It's Not Alright - "Be the change you want to see in the world".
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Doubters, Haters & Realists

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"The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.
" ~ Frank Lloyd Wright
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Those of you who have kids will understand. Those who have dreams will understand. Those of you who have hopes, aspirations, ideals and something that resonates deep in your very soul will understand. There are people out there that are dead. They're the walking dead. Their dreams have died, their spirit has been broken and the twinkling stars of possibilities have been extinguished from their lives. They will tell you why things can't be done. They believe they are doing you a favor by playing devils advocate. They share their wisdom and experience about difficulties, challenges and the "knowledge" they have of the huge likelihood of failure. They are the realists. They're smart, opinionated and forceful in what they advocate. They tell you why it won't work and why it's better not to try. They advise against things. Listen up people - Those of you who have dreams, aspirations, ideals, hopes and something deep within your soul - Listen Up and Listen Good. Get away from those people. Run - Don't Walk. People who tell you what can't be done, why things won't work, why you shouldn't go for it are not helping you - they are hurting you, harming you, and they are killing you. Find people that help you with solutions to realize your dreams. Find people that tell you it's difficult but you can do it with belief, action and discipline. They are the ones you want to talk to. People that say - "If you want it bad enough anything is possible" They are the ones you need to surround yourself with. The can't crowd can only hurt you. The doubters, the haters & the realists may fuel your drive to prove them wrong but they can't help you in any other way.

Find and surround yourself with believers.
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Test and Trust

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"
No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher." ~ Mr Miyagi

There is a lot of talk in business about motivation and how the 80 / 20 rule applies. ( 80% of results comes from 20% of the people). Consequently managers focus on the extremes. Rewarding and developing the top and cutting at the bottom. Ok but what about the middle? What should be done about those average players. Those who are not good enough and not bad enough at the same time? How do we move them? Like Mr Miyagi - You test and trust. What did Miyagi have his young student do? Wax on and Wax off. He gave a task - an innocuous, seemingly unimportant task to his young charge and let it serve as a test. Moving people is all about momentum. You can't stand still in business. Your people can't stand still. So move them with simple tasks. If they perform the task as expected they move up in trust. If they don't they move down. No questions. It's a trust thing - can people be trusted to do stuff. It's at the heart of business and indeed life. Want to move people? Ask them to wax on and wax off.

Test and Trust based on how they respond.
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How Important Are You?

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"It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter."
~
Marlene Dietrich

Social media has added a new dimension to our contact lists both in our personal lives and business. We've multiplied our opportunities to create relationships. It begs a question. How important are we to the people we communicate with? In the competitive arena of business this matters. Why? Because people make choices based on how much value you provide to them - How important you are to them. Want to find out how important you are to others? Do You Really? Can You Handle The Truth? Ok then do this. List all of your contacts and connections and get a phone number for each of them - Yep all of them. Call each one and leave a simple message - "Call me - I'd like to talk to you" and keep a list of who calls back and how long it took them to return your call. It's simple - It's honest and It will tell you how important you are to people. Perhaps they will call you back out of curiosity - great that's a start. Now comes the hard part - Can you get them to continue to call you back - next month, next year - every year? Can you maintain value to them? Do your contacts, your connections, your customers and your friends call you back quickly? There Are No Excuses. This is a real test of how important we are to people. If you truly are important to someone they will make it a priority to call you back - Whether it's convenient or not. It's a simple truth

If you're important to them - they call back.
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The Last Frontier

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"Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." ~ Voltaire

There's a place we can go. A place where we can unplug from the world and spend some quiet time. A place I like to call the last frontier. It's a real place that lies deep within the caverns of our mind. It's patched together with peaceful, happy and contented feelings plucked from our memory. Feelings we plant in a place that makes us smile. Choose your own location. Mine was taken from a trip to the wilderness of Alaska. In the silent majesty of mountain ranges and deep languid lakes I painted a masterpiece in my mind. A picture that overflowed with gratitude, appreciation and warmth. A picture of pride in my daughter. Of the joy in her smile. A picture of respect for those I admire and compassion for those I don't. A portrait that reflects the awe I experience with each sunrise. A portrait of perspective. It's a place that reminds us of what's important. An image that refreshes and fills our soul with warmth and peace. It's the last frontier. Pick a place. Choose your memories and paint a picture. Close Your Eyes and Remember. Reflect and Smile as it Refreshes Your Soul.

It's Your Last Frontier.
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Social Media & C Suite


"In God we trust, all others bring data." ~ Deming


Why is the C Suite resisting social media so much? It's pretty simple really - The Fluff. We all recognize the power and enormous scope that social media has achieved - lot's of people are on the playing field. But what about the end result? Social media gurus will chastise us for thinking too linear, too old school and say that it's all about the enormous communication possibilities, awareness and reach. Ok - but you've still got to measure what you manage in business otherwise... (well you can fill in the blank). Here's the bottom line in three C's. Here's a way to categorize and measure social media in a good, old fashioned, linear way that completely disregards the fluff and the unmeasurables. Here's 3 social media metrics for the C Suite.

Contacts - You broadcast to them & read their stuff (one way).

Connections
- You've moved them to a two way communication.

Customers - You've monetized them.

There are a myriad of great reasons to participate in social media that can't be immediately measured. But if you want to keep it simple - Measure how you are doing with Three Simple C's.
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Being The Best

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"If You Ain't First, You're Last." ~ Ricky Bobby

How good do you want to be? It's a question that parents put to their children. Teachers to their students. Coaches to their athletes. And managers to their employees. There's only one answer that really makes any sense to me - "The Best That I Can Be". Everything else is an insult to ... Well to everybody. Everything else is a cop out.













There is a scene in one of my favorite movies "Chariots of Fire" when a runner is whining to his girlfriend about not winning a race and he says "If I can't win - I won't run". ~ The lady beautifully responds to him

"If you don't run - You can't win.

Winners have to run. Whatever race you decide to participate in. Win It. Whatever you determine to focus your attention on. Wherever your interests take you - Be the very best. There will come times of frustration, of failure and disappointment and those times will tempt you to settle for less. ~ To be content with merely "good enough".

There will be people that tell you that just being in the game is what counts - I say baloney. I say once you stop trying to be the best you're done. Once you settle you're dead.  ~ Ricky Bobby sure knows...

If You Ain't First - You're Last
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Anger Can Motivate Us

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"We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.
" Winston Churchill

Winston Spencer Churchill was an icon. His impact on this simple guy was without peer. Bereft of a father figure in my youth I chose to cast him in that role and read every word I could find on this heroic figure. The man had a drive and determination that spurred a nation and it certainly inspired me beyond measure. But Winston also had a demon - he called it his "Black Dog". A name he gave to the depression that would consume him and rile the red mist of aggressive anger. An anger that propelled him to take action. Most people get angry and they lash out. When Winston got angry he channeled it into a creative tour de force. His anger and resolve fueled a nation. It drove him to do and say what others could or would not. So what does this mean to you and I? What can we learn from this? Anger can serve as effective motivation. It is when we become so depressed, so dissatisfied and so angry with something that we determine action must be taken. It is when the "red mist" consumes us that we often have the greatest will to change our conditions and circumstance. What can we learn from this? Anger with our status quo is powerful once turned to action. What is your Black Dog? What angers you? What raises the red mist within you? We can't all be Winston Churchill. But we can channel dissatisfaction and depression into something good if get angry enough to take action.
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How Well Do You Lead?

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"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." Lao Tzu

The number of tomes, teachers, tweets and testimonials on the topic of true leadership could reach from here to the moon and back countless times. Some of them entertain, some educate, and some engage. Each has a different perspective on what it takes to be a "True Leader". Can anyone really capture the unique character traits that influence us to follow someones lead? To take actions we would not otherwise take, or be inspired to make a difference? Twenty years ago a young man that I worked with gave me a compass, as a gift. He said it represented my steering him in the right direction. Helping him to discover his true north. I still have that compass today and it reminds me of my definition of what a true leader should be. A leader is not a reflection of his star students, his exemplary employees or his most coachable athlete. A leader is not a reflection of the success his exceptional charges achieve. He is not what people say about him in public and to the press. A leader is reflected by his worst student. His weakest employee. His most incorrigible charge. He is reflected by what people say about him in private conversations, behind his back. A leader is not reflected by the employee who is always on time and goes above and beyond the call of duty. He is reflected by the employee who is always late and misrepresents what is expected of him. Leadership is measured by the weakest members of the team. They reflect the real quality of leadership. True leaders understand that it's what they do about the problems, perspectives and people that prove the most difficult that defines how well they lead. They measure themselves by how well the weakest member of their team is doing. How well the weakest member is reading his own compass and moving north. Do you really want to know how well you lead? Take a look at the weakest member of your team - That's the true test.

True Leaders Are Rare.
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We Should Salute Them

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"Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place."
~ Tecumseh

I really love people who love what they do. People that love it so much that they exemplify what it is to be a consummate professional. Those that shine with the spirit of excellence from every pore. Teachers that make a lasting difference to our children. Parents that set a lifelong example. Soldiers that quietly defend, honorably and selflessly. And quiet professionals everywhere who inspire us with the standards they set. The Blue Angels flew over our office today, practicing for the Miramar air show. As they passed overhead I felt the urge to stand and salute them. I felt self conscious and the salute was simply delivered in my mind - but I saluted them nonetheless. Why? Because they remind me of what each of us needs to do a lot more of. We need to say thank you to those quiet professionals who represent the wonderful traits that we admire. We need to tell those dependable souls who reignite and reaffirm our faith in people what a difference they make. We need to salute the people who do really good stuff just because that is who they are. They don't do it for reward. They don't do it for acknowledgment. They don't do it for glory or promotion. They set a higher standard because that is who they are. We really should salute these remarkable souls with words, a handshake or a heartfelt gesture but even if you salute them simply in your thoughts - I sincerely believe

We should salute them more.
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Business Is About 3 Things

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"Business is all about three things - People, Products and Profits"
Lee Iacocca


There is a lot of talk going around that the web and social media has changed the way business is done. I say baloney. Business hasn't changed but the communication venues certainly have evolved and they provide a plethora of new opportunities to connect. Business is still all about People, Products and Profits. But these new venues have added a heightened focus to Brand, Connect and Promote. What does this mean to those who wish to take full advantage of the new frontier? We need to clearly identify the value proposition of our brand. We need to connect with our target prospect using all available means and then proactively move those connections into real time conversations. And we need to promote our value proposition by leveraging the power of those connections. Social media simply means that more people know who you are, what you value, and what you bring to the table. It provides an increased visibility but business is still all about 3 things:

People, Products and Profits.
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I'm Serious.

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"There are three rules for running a business, fortunately we don't know any of them." ~ Paul Newman.


There are plenty of people that offer advice on how to make more sales, run a business and live our lives better. Many have excellent credentials and - some don't. I applaud their best intentions to set the world straight and dispense wisdom on what we should do and should not do. We all need to make the effort to listen better, apply best practices in our lives and learn more. Experienced insights and meaningful stories can prove invaluable. But here's just one simple aside to those wishing to dispense wisdom ~

Let's not take ourselves so seriously.

None of us get out of this thing alive. By all means take what you do seriously. By all means be passionate. Certainly let's take our life's work, our relationships and our values seriously. But please let's not take ourselves so seriously. Take a moment to think about the real giants who preceded us throughout history - Pick out your favorite inspirational figure - Think about any one of them that made a real difference in the world. Then let's each of us be honest with ourselves.

When We Think We're Good - We're Not.











AddVenture Awards

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"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
~ Walt Disney

AddVenture Products is a wonderful place to work. Creative, young and vibrant employees work in an industry that brings smiles to people every day. We design, create, manufacture and compress T shirts and promotional products for distributors and resellers who represent Movies, Fortune 500 companies and cutting edge Brands all over the world. IT'S REALLY FUN STUFF. And this year we have been honored with numerous awards - Best Place to Work - Best Boss in the Industry Award - PPB Top Rising Stars - Counselor Listing of Hottest People & Ideas. We are really thankful. At AddVenture we enjoy our work and take great pride in what we do and how we do it. But you know what we truly appreciate more than anything else? The Opportunity to make a difference. The chance to do something just a little bit better. The chance to make someone smile and say "You know those guys at AddVenture are fun to work with and I can really depend on them". We take our work seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. We know that what we do doesn't compare to what Mother Teresa did, what Soldiers do, what outstanding Teachers and other selfless givers do. We simply design and print great t-shirts. Awards are great - we appreciate the attention, the accolades and the press - It's fun. But we also know that as soon as we think we're good - we're not. We want to do better - We want to make more people smile - we don't want all the business - Just Yours. Thank You for all the attention and the awards we appreciate it. But it's what we do next that really matters - It's what we do today to make you smile. It's what we can do for you that matters. To personally congratulate Brad, Kathleen or any of our AddVenture award winners call us at (858) 587-0061.
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Gracious Leadership.

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"Leadership is Influence" ~ John Maxwell.

History is replete with tales of demanding leaders. Leaders that set the bar so high that mere mortals crumble under the weight of their expectations. Leaders that drive themselves and their charges to achieve incredible things. These inspiring souls burn so bright that many recoil from participating in their quests. They are driven by some internal force that sets, what most believe are, unreasonable standards. They expect more than others think is wise. They inspire those kindred spirits who share their passions, beliefs and standards.

But what about those who do not share their drive, passion, perspective, and beliefs? How do true leaders address those who do not share their unquenchable thirst? What do we call the leaders who engage and embrace those dissenters? Who are they? They're the gracious leaders. They're demanding of themselves yet recognize that some do not share their view and march to a different drummer.

They set an example trusting that some will embrace their standards and expectations - While recognizing some will not. They wish to positively influence both rather than raise one and lower the other. To those who do not share their perspective they are gracious. They see no need to condemn or insult those who sing to a different tune.

They acknowledge disagreement without having to demean.They don't play the politically favorite tune of personal attacks. They have no need to paint ego centric pictures of I'm right and You're wrong. They simply set their standards and expectations and invite others to come along.

They clearly understand and articulate who they are. What they believe. What they value and expect ~ Then they ask for our support.

That's gracious leadership.
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I Don't Understand

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"Character is higher than intellect." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don't understand most things - and as I get older it seems that I understand even less. I realized long ago that I'm a pretty simple guy. Smart people have confirmed it over the years with the number of times they've said "You Don't Understand". They're right ~ I don't understand.

I don't understand why smart people take drugs. I don't understand why smart people don't respect soldiers. I don't understand why smart people say America is bad and then choose to stay here. I don't understand why smart people talk about rights but not about responsibilities. I don't understand why smart people have to ridicule faith. I don't understand why smart people can't see that passion, emotion and belief will always beat intellect. I don't understand why smart people think they're so smart but can't speak another language.

I don't understand why smart salespeople don't listen. I don't understand why smart people think working hard is not smart. I don't understand why smart people say ethics can be "situational". I don't understand when smart people talk about gray areas. I don't understand why honor, loyalty and duty are words that smart people make fun of. I don't understand why smart people coddle their children instead of challenging them. I don't understand why smart people blame. I don't understand why smart people give up. I don't understand why smart people can't take care of themselves in a fight.

I don't understand why those younger than eight and older than eighty are smarter than those of us in between. I don't understand how smart people can't see that dogs are smarter than us. I don't understand why smart people don't get that some people take pleasure in hurting others and we don't need to understand them. I don't understand the evil of September 11th. I don't want to. I don't understand any of these things and they make me sad. This simple guy isn't convinced that understanding them will make him any smarter. He's not convinced that understanding will make him a better person or stop these things.

You know what he does understand? - What little he understands.


Sales Success Is Simple.

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"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it,
change your attitude."
~ Maya Angelou.













Sales Success is Simple - It Really All Comes Down To:

......................Which Attitude You Choose.
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My Brain - Your Sale

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"Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge." Plato

We could fill stadiums with insights, books, tapes and advice on sales and the behavior that influences sales success. Every day business leaders are inundated with tips on how to increase sales and revenues with a plethora of perspectives on what works and what they could do better. So what does a salesman, a business leader or anyone need to know - in simple terms - about what causes people to do something? What stimulates action? - What is it that influences buyer behavior? Although there are certainly many variables if you had to focus on only one what would it be? I humbly suggest it's the Reticular Activating System in our brain. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) consists of a bundle of densely packed nerve cells located in the central core of the brain stem. It contains nearly 70% of our brains estimated 200 billion nerve cells. The RAS is the gatekeeper or filter that screens what type of information gets through to us. The information we find important enough to pay attention to. Only two categories of information are filtered, pushed forward, and get immediate attention:

1.Information that is valuable and important to us right now.

(An easy way to think of this is when you are planning on buying a new car, and you know that you want a white Mercedes, for example, you start seeing white Mercedes parked and driving all over the place. Or at an airport you would filter out most of the loudspeaker messages except those which mention either your name or flight number.)

2. Information that alerts you to a threat or danger.

You are going jogging in the park and someone mentions that they saw a snake recently while running. Suddenly every stick on the path is noticed whereas previously you paid no attention to them. Or your child is playing outside in the street and you hear a car horn - it immediately is noticed whereas if your child was inside you would pay no attention and it would not filter through.

If you want to make things really simple in sales then focus on the two things that the Reticular Activating system allows through. Some call it "What's In it For Me?" Some say "People Act On Fears" and some simply say that "People buy with their emotions and rationalize the decision with their mind." Any way you look at it Emotion drives Behavior. And it's the Reticular Activating System that regulates our emotions. The Reticular Activating System filters and lets the stuff through that influences behavior - It pays attention to two things:
  • Stuff that is Important and valuable to me Right Now
  • Stuff that Alerts me to a threat or danger.

Work, Life and Whining

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"Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy."
Kahlil Gibran

We've all done it at one time or another. We've spoken from the pampered place. The place where the spoiled child resides. The place where we feel entitled, unappreciated and deserving of special consideration. The place where we whimper and whine about work. It's the place where fridays become wasted time and mondays are dreaded. It's the place where the victim lives. Most people play along with us. Most people look at work as a 'have to' instead of a choice. Because then most people don't have to be accountable - we can blame the 'rat race'. We can talk about work - life balance as if one is bad and the other is good. We can talk about the bad 'workaholics' and the good family friendly types as if they are mutually exclusive. We all know some passionate workers who are labelled 'workaholics' and they raise wonderful families. We know some that don't. We all know some wonderful parents who fail miserably at work. Those that blame work for their failings to balance life however are the weakest of souls. They convict themselves of the most spineless of traits - not taking responsibility for their own lives. Don't like your job - Leave. Don't like your boss - find another. Don't find your job fulfilling - then find something fulfilling. For work is what you make it. Work is a way to provide for your family. A privilige that some do not have. Work provides a way to express who we are, what we value and what we bring to the table. Just as in other areas of our life - It's what we put into it that determines what we get out of it. If you choose to whine about work don't be surprised if you get what most people get. Most people believe they are doing better, working harder and deserving of more when in fact that attitude is the problem - It creates a sense of entitlement instead of gratitude. Work is just another aspect of Life - no more, no less - Just try an attitude of being grateful for work.
Be appreciative of work - Like Life - It Works.
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There Comes A Time

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"Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs."
Anthony J. D'Angelo

There comes a time when the day is done. You've closed the deal, coached an athlete, raised a child or worked with an associate. There comes a time when a customer speaks, a colleague recalls, a client remembers and a previous employee talks about you. There comes a time when an old boss mentions you to a friend - what does he say? There comes a time when a competitor acknowledges you. There comes a time when your children have grown and talk of their parents. There comes a time when you're not close by to hear the words they say. Like a cowboy in an old western - the day is done and you ride into the sunset. The day is done & they speak. What do they say?

You May Not Think It's True - But What They Say Is Up To You.
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The American Way

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"Results not Reasons"


America means a lot to me. I came here as a very young boy and served her as a soldier. She taught me, provided opportunity, and hardened me to the realities of true competition and business. She introduced me to men, women and ideals that I cherish and will defend to the death. When her flag unfurls and the anthem is played I salute her and it brings a tear to my eye decades after that very first boat trip that brought me to her shores. With that said - What did I learn about her that is so useful in business? What is the crystal clear message that she echoes? It is simply America is about "Results not Reasons". America separates Fluff from Focus. She is a simple child, with passions and distractions, but deep down she does what every good business does. America Encourages Effort. America Praises Performance and America Rewards Results. So if you're a nice person that's nice - lets share a cup of coffee and some friendly conversation. If you are an honored veteran - great I salute you as a friend who sacrificed for a greater good and lets have a beer. If you're a good parent - excellent that is the most satisfying job you will ever have to do and I sincerely respect you for doing it well. But when all is said and done America will reward us for Results. She will encourage effort, she will praise performance but she will Reward Results. When all is said and done the thing this simple guy really loves about America is her beautifully pure focus: America Rewards "Results not Reasons."
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Let's Take A Walk

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"Whatever you are, be a good one." ~ Abraham Lincoln

Some of you may have seen the movie "Up in the Air" , starring George Clooney, which tells the story of how companies and managements deal with layoffs, downsizing and cuts. It is a poignant portrayal of an issue that all executives, supervisors and managers have to deal with at some time in their career. I regularly attend local "Vistage" group meetings with other entrepreneurs, Chief Executives and Presidents of companies where this issue is addressed and many members have good naturedly kidded me about the tradition I have of taking a walk around the building with employees that appear to be having difficulties adapting to either culture, expectations or performance within the companies that I have been privileged and tasked to manage. A walk away from the office to understand the employees perspective is something very few executives choose to do - preferring to stay in the controlled environment of their office with all the status trappings and implicit authority furnishings to bolster their case. The conversation becomes a blunt "Here is what you need to do". Which is fine - because eventually that message needs to be underscored. But my take is that first we need to find out the willingness - the desire - the mindset and the perspective of the employee. We shouldn't always do this second hand through others. Although we certainly need to accept supervisors judgment and advice. A first hand chat with an employee, away from the office, is a rarely used and yet essential tool that can assist you in building highly effective organizations and teams. What are you trying to find out ? Does this person want to do better? Are they willing to accept responsibility to do the things it takes to do better? Or are they pointing fingers at external things and others?. A walk around the building is a way to find out how willing a person is to accept accountability away from the trappings. Walking stimulates an exchange that is free flowing. An exchange where body language doesn't tighten up. An exchange where gestures and volume can be more free and open. A conversation about attitude, performance or perspective disagreements should be open, free and informal in order to get stuff out in the open. Many leading executives and managers fall in love with the formalities and furnishings of position. Many forget that business is about people. There is plenty of time to move conversations into a formal "Here are the expectations" mode. Try taking a walk around the building first. You will learn the real skinny of what people think. You will learn what they are willing, and sometimes not willing, to do first hand. Got a second? - Let's Take A Walk.
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The Other Side.

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"If you're going through hell, keep going". ~ Winston Churchill.

We've all been there. A place where circumstance, conditions and challenges become too much. We want to quit and throw in the towel. To say "enough" and walk away.  ~ We just can't take it any more.













I remember having such thoughts many years ago when people were shooting at us and soldiers struggled to keep going in a land far away. I remember listening to those thoughts when my daughter called me during her first year at one of the finest colleges in the nation. With a trembling voice she said  
"Dad these kids are so smart and the stuff they are covering is so difficult, I don't think I can..."  She was sharing the innermost thought that we all have at sometime in our life.

"I don't think I can..."

But then something happens. Something simple happens in our mind - We think about the other side. We think about what it's going to be like when we get to the other side. We picture the accomplishment. The pride, satisfaction and the feeling we get when we've made it through.

We picture ourself on the other side.

We picture how proud we'll be. We picture how good it will feel. And that can keep us going. When we believe in getting to the other side others start to believe in us. We all get that feeling of "I don't think I can" but we can overcome it - If we picture what's on the other side.

When things get tough - Just picture the other side.
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"I'm Not Interested"

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"You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you." Dale Carnegie

We've all heard "I'm not interested" more times than we can count. Conventional wisdom says don't waste time with these people and move on to prospects who are inclined to say "I'm interested". People who are ready to buy what you have. That's Nice and Yes. Low hanging fruit or those who are ready and able to buy are the most productive prospects out there. They are the #1 category. But should we then ignore everyone who says "I'm not interested?" And don't the ones in that category also say "I'm not interested"sometimes? You bet they do. So what should we do when someone says "I'm not interested?" Well first let's look at the 4 categories of prospects in business. The categories are people who:

1. Have previously identified the need and it has a high priority.

2. Are aware of the need but it has a lower priority.

3. Are not aware of the need.

4. Deny or don't care about the need.

Naturally the gold rush is for #1 - this is where orders are taken. But don't kid yourself, even at this level "I'm not interested" is heard when the buyer has already made a choice of what they want and who they want to deal with. You may have a great offering, be the perfect option, and feel you are the best person, but still hear the dreaded words "I'm not interested". So what do you do, and more importantly NOT DO, when you hear those dastardly words? Well you don't talk about features, benefits, price, your company or why they should work with you. Just Don't Do It. First and foremost find out which stage the prospect is in (1-4). Where is their mindset? If they are in #1 great - you should certainly go after them -but at any stage the answer is the same. Become interested in them. Their business, their needs, what they care about. Listen and Learn about them. Ask Questions. Once you do this "I'm not interested" simply means "You don't know enough about what I want, need and care about. Doing business then becomes simply about a time-line. Not if but when. It becomes a listen and learn thing. It's all well and good to find lot's of people in stage one and differentiate your offering to be more valuable to them. That's good work and where orders are taken. That's productive and if you find enough of those to keep everyone happy the rest is irrelevant. But if you don't - Then discovering more, learning, listening and building relationships doesn't stop with "I'm not interested". That is when great salesmen start work and order takers go home. That is when real relationships begin. Remember "I'm not interested" simply means "You don't know enough about what I want and need. If "I'm not interested" beats us - well... It's not the prospect that's not qualified - it's us.

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