How Do We Get To 'Aha'?

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." 1 Corinthians 13:11

I never want to stop being a child. You can keep your intellectual maturity. Your complex concepts and your reasoned discourse. Oh - I will certainly participate and even agree that they are necessary components to navigate this thing called life. But me? I want to smile - Put aside your mature moments if you want to get to 'AHA'. Put aside your reasoned thoughts if you want to smile. Come play with me in my sandbox. Let's be superman. Let's be the children who still get those 'aha' moments every day and we can be truly happy. How do we get to 'aha'? We remember what we did as a child. We looked at things, people, places and ideas with AWE. We didn't know, what we thought we knew. We looked at life with HUMILITY. We smiled at every wonderful experience, every ice-cream, every sunrise and every person. We hugged life with APPRECIATION. No - I don't ever want to give up my childish ways. I choose to smile and keep my 'AHA' moments.

AHA = Awe + Humility + Appreciation

Are You A Type A?

"Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one's potential."
Bruce Lee

East and West. Yin and Yang. Striving and Stillness. I love the comparisons. Like most that find themselves responsible for bottom line results in business I've been called a 'Type A'. And like anyone who humbly hopes to improve on the less appealing traits of that personality, I recognize the benefits and appreciate the beauty, simplicity and calm of Asian ways. Hell - after spending time in South East Asia, studying Aikido, and marrying a Japanese woman you would think that some of it would rub off. But as much as we try to modify our genetic predisposition and smooth the rough edges some of us are still Type A drivers and always will be. If you are a Type A and like bullet point answers. Here are 5 eastern insights:
  • Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues. – Confucius
  • Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. - Sun Tzu
  • He, who wishes to secure the good of others, has already secured his own. – Confucius
  • We're no more than candles burning in the wind” Proverb
  • "Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment." Morihei Ueshiba

Click and Take the Test - What's Your Personality Type?

No Where Else To Go?

"Being sincere is the easiest part of selling. It's simply a matter of caring about your customer and believing in what you sell. If you don't feel this way, my advice to you is to seek other employment or find a product to sell that you believe in." Joe Girard

I worked in a boiler room once. Most old time salesman have at one time or another in their lives. It seems like ages ago - and indeed it was. Now I get to pontificate, like a lot of 'C Suite' guys do, about highfalutin concepts and long term strategies and I get to smile and shake hands with 'movers and shakers' on a daily basis. I get to speak about character traits and work with intelligent, energetic, enthusiastic and invigorating people who smile as they go about making their mark in the world. These days our whole team interviews candidates for employment and recommends who we should consider hiring. I get to see who they think would be a good person to add to our team and I remember back to the days, many years ago, when I sat in that chair being interviewed. Just wanting to get a job, just wanting to earn some money and the guy who sat across from me said "A man like you comes to a place like this, either he's running away from something or he has nowhere else to go." and I thought "wow was that a punch in the gut". But he hit the nail squarely on the head. He had done what most great salespeople do without thinking - He had profiled and qualified me. I needed a job that gave me the opportunity to make a good income and sales did just that. So like most guys who drift into sales - let's be honest - we didn't choose it. We felt like we had no where else to go. It fit what we wanted at the time. We got good at it and took it from there. Some people get good and stay selling, some get good and it leads them into other places and some don't get good and they leave to do something else. So what does this simple guy say to people that sit across the table from him now? It doesn't matter whether you have other choices or not, it doesn't matter whether you choose this place or not but if you want to be successful in business "Get Good At Sales And Take It From There."

Is Respect Emotion?

"Probably no greater honor can come to any man than the respect of his colleagues." ~ Cary Grant.

We all have people we respect. I'm not talking here about respect for position, office or vocation but sincere respect for a person. Respect based on who they are, what they do and how they do it. For many this is the holy grail of life. Love is Nice (like chocolate). Family is always there (or should be). But respect? That comes down to another persons perception of us. Respect comes from others. Do we have any control over this? In business this elusive component creates bonds, influences decisions and strengthens relationships. But more than any of those, respect defies commoditization. ~ Respect is Priceless.

Many times a person will defer business decisions in favor of the character, behavior and traits they know rather than the potentially troublesome risk of the unknown. So how do we earn respect and thus weigh the scales of business in our favor?  We listen and learn.

We ask questions and sincerely try to find out what ties people emotionally to their employees, their partners, their vendors and their associates. We ask ourselves - "What are the traits we respect in others?". Then we work on developing these traits.

Initially people will say that their business decisions are based on price, salary, support or service. But delve a little deeper and you will find there is so much more going on behind the scenes.

What's the most important ingredient to an exceptional business relationship? To any great relationship? Mutual Respect. Is Respect An Emotion? You Betcha. Respect drives us to follow people into places we would not normally go. Respect makes us not only listen, but listen with a different mindset. Respect evokes memories and feelings that last forever. Respect influences us to do and be what we might not without it. Respect causes us to defer our ego driven self and learn from those we've come to respect. Respect instills a sense of responsibility and accountability to others. Respect humbles us.

Yes - Respect is certainly an emotion.

Sales, Jedi & Preachers Daughter

.“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” − Seth Godin

Once upon a time, in a land far out west, there lived an old salesman. He sold his wares the old fashioned way by calling, meeting and building relationships with people. He was a simple guy. But the world was changing around him and the youngsters were heralding in a new era. They called it social media. The old salesman smirked and responded "Show me the Money" and the youngsters said "You Don't Get It". So the old man decided to do what he always did when he was confused - find a wiser man to talk to. He searched out in cyberspace and found a Jedi Warrior.This was a man with many followers who also understood the language of sales. A man whose father and brothers were military men - he would understand and show the old salesman the path to ROI on this new frontier. And so they connected. They Linked. They Friended and the Salesman Followed him. The Jedi warrior had many followers and one day he said to a few of them - Let us talk offline. Let us connect by phone and tell each other stories. The salesman talked and the Jedi followers told their stories. On the phone a simple guy spoke to a Preachers Daughter and three other complete strangers were connected. The preachers daughter made everyone smile with her insight and you could tell that the force was with her and the others who spoke. And in the background the Jedi warrior smiled. The old salesman hung up the phone and realized he had been looking at this social media thing all wrong. Sales, Business and Life is all about making connections. Sharing and supporting others with what you have. The old salesman and the preachers daughter connected and shared stories and the Jedi warrior smiled. He took his light sabre off to another battle, far, far away, and they all lived happily ever after.

Cast Credits (click to connect):

Jedi Warrior Paul Castain

Preachers Daughter Donna Highfill

The Impression Of You

."A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed." Henrik Ibsen

Everyone knows the importance of making a good first impression. Scientific research has discovered that we evaluate, profile and judge people, messages and stimuli within the first 5 seconds of encountering them. Everything after that point is filtered through similar impressions and experiences that are stored in our memory. Then we categorize them into pictures associated with words like credible, sincere, amusing and attentive or words like flaky, shifty, self centered and inattentive. You know what we don't remember in the first 5 seconds? The bland, the neutral and the boring.Think about it.

Your appearance, your words, the tone of your voice, the things you say on the phone or upon meeting someone are all lumped together and determined to be the 'same ' as previous experiences the viewer has had. Each of us in the first five seconds of encountering anything is trying to line it up in our mind with previous experiences that are similar. Is this interesting, amusing, beautiful, accurate and credible? Based upon what is stored in my memory. The subject line of your emails, the colors on your website, your facebook page, blog and tweets, the spelling and typos, the words and pictures you use and the content you find interesting is, within the first 5 seconds, determined to be 'the same as previous good experiences the viewer has had or the same as bad experiences. It all happens in the first 5 seconds.

Salespeople - you don't close deals at the end of your presentation - the buyer made the decision on whether they were going to buy from you in their first 5 seconds. People make up their minds on whether to continue to pay attention to you and your message within the first 5 seconds based on good or bad previous images in their mind AND THEN YOU REINFORCE that good or bad impression with your deeds. Your deeds, after that point, either reinforce their first impression or they refute it. So the question is can you recover from a bad first impression? Yes sometimes but you are really in a battle. Why fight scientific research? Most people have already made up their minds - Successful people work on clarifying and improving the first 5 seconds of what they present to the world and then backing it up with deeds.


A Great Way To Say - Thank You.

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

One of the great joys in life is hearing two simple words "Thank You".

As we journey through business and life, become more successful, and get older we all start to acquire 'buffers' - Buffers are the people and technology that assist us in dealing with life's details. They make life easier to navigate and give us time to focus and prioritize our attention on what's important to us. But... We sometimes forget how powerful and meaningful a spoken "Thank You" can be.

Over the years we connect with more than a few people that we like, admire and respect - We recommend their services, blogs, links and character and invariably appreciation is tendered in many ways. A reciprocal connection, email, letter or note is now often accompanied by a tweet, friend or follower. And all of those are really great sentiments - But you know what really makes a difference? When someone calls us up on the phone and says "Thank You".

A facebook posting, a tweet sent through cyberspace, an email of appreciation, a comment on a blog and hand written notes are really appreciated and thoughtful but when someone takes the time to call and say "Thank You" - It's Truly Priceless. Whether it's a friend, associate, mentor, connection, or just someone you appreciate...

Make them feel really good - Call em up.

Can You Think Differently?

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them"
Albert Einstein

Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer's beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the farmer's debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter.

He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father's debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father's debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the farmer's field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked
them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.

Now, imagine you were standing in the field.
What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you say?

Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2. The girl should show that there were 2 black pebbles in the bag and then this would expose the money-lender as a cheat.
3. The girl should pick a black pebble & sacrifice herself saving her father from his debt & imprisonment.

Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl's dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers.
What would you recommend the Girl do?

The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it
immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

"Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that's left, you'll be able to tell which pebble I picked."

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the money-lender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

10 Things Great Salespeople Know.

"Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
~ Mark Twain

There's some things that all great salespeople know in their gut.

1. People buy with their emotions and justify decisions with their mind.

2. When we focus on 'I'  ~ We lose 'You' the prospect.

3. If we can't answer their question 'what's in it for me?' don't even start.

4. If our pitched value is price - the prospect will leave us for price.

5. EVERYONE hates flaky people - Even flaky people.

6. People remember bad stuff more than good stuff.
....(But they remember what you did about the bad stuff even more).

7. The person who LISTENS is the person in control.

8. The objective of every sales call is a mutually agreed next action.

9. If you aren't interested in them - They'll never be interested in you.

10. There is no right or wrong way to make someone happy.

.......Just Make Them Happy.

The Competition.

"When you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easier on you." ~ Zig Ziglar.

Two guys were out hiking in the woods when they came across a huge grizzly bear. They turned to each other in horror as the beast bounded toward them, expecting a tasty human treat for dinner. As they took off running one guy turns to the other and says ~ "We are never going to outrun this bear" and the other guy says to him ~ "I don't have to outrun the bear - I've just got to outrun you".

Who do you compete with? Some people say the only person we really need to compete with is ourself. Perhaps that's true in the philosophical world but in the real world we compete both against ourself and others. Let's be honest. There are people and companies out there that we want to do better than and although focusing on exceeding our own personal standards is certainly essential we need to be aware of, and beat, competition as well.
So how do we do that?

Just set your own personal standards above everyone else and constantly strive to do what it takes to exceed those standards. 
As we row through life, to beat the sharks of competition that follow our canoe, we need to remind ourselves to embrace an attitude that says:
When we encounter someone who is doing something better than we are, learn from them and do better. When we encounter someone who is a better person - learn from them and be better. When we meet someone smarter - learn from them and be smarter. If we know of someone who works harder - learn from them and work harder.

We all can be better ~ and when we are tougher on ourselves life is going to be infinitely easier on us. ~ So what's the bottom line? 

The shark following our canoe is complacency. The Bear we need to outrun is complacency. Beat complacency and we beat competition.

Living the Dream in San Diego

"Stay Classy San Diego". Ron Burgundy

San Diego, California - Americas Finest City - Where it's 72 degrees year round and the living is easy. People come from all around the world to visit here and some stay. The attitude is laid back and the sun is always shining - what does that do for business? It creates opportunity for people - but not the way you might think. People don't think of San Diego as a place to come to work - they think of it as a place to come to relax. And that creates real opportunity. It is no secret that California employers look for east coast attributes and mid west values. There is a Yin and Yang thing going on. To be productive in business you need to conduct transactions with a sense of urgency, have a strong work ethic and a drive to exceed expectations and accomplish objectives. To enjoy life people need to relax, smile more and build mutually beneficial relationships. Developing both sides of the same coin and recognizing that they are not mutually exclusive is challenging for most people. Driving transactions with an East coast fervor and creating relationships based on Mid West values while enjoying California dreams takes 'skills'. But then if you want to thrive in San Diego and live the dream that is exactly what you need to do. San Diego is Americas finest city and like anything that is the 'finest' there's a cost. Learning to develop both your Yin and Yang is the cost. The attitude you need to succeed in business in San Diego is the attitude you need to succeed in America. "Stay Classy San Diego."

Why Are Salespeople Hated?

"Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman - not the attitude of the prospect."
~ W. Clement Stone

Why are salespeople hated? Whoa... that's a really loaded question.
But every person who has ever knocked on a door, dialed a phone or followed up on a lead with even an indirect intention to generate revenue knows what I'm talking about. You know... The wall that's built before a relationship even gets started. The understanding wall.

Those who do not sell (or think they don't) perceive sales as a zero sum game. The salesperson gets paid and the customer pays. It's not a zero sum game - but that discussion is for another time. All salespeople are not hated. But some really are ~ Why is that?

Because they don't understand.

They don't understand what the secretary cares about or what the accountant cares about. They don't understand what the graphic artist cares about. Or what their boss cares about. They don't understand what the 'C' suite cares about and so the 'hate' problem continues.

Yep sales is a tough gig. You live and die by the dollars you've generated. But if we ever want to be different we need to understand.

Sales is not a zero sum game - It's all about understanding.

Improve Results - The Formula

"There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self." Aldous Huxley

How do we improve results in any endeavor? Is there a formula? Over the years I have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of people who specialize in 'turning around' both individuals and organizations. Want to improve your results? If you recognize that doing the same thing and expecting different results is indeed insanity then you will turn to resources with a different perspective. There is an amusing story about the man who boasts of twenty years of experience as his claim to fame only for an insightful listener to ask him "Is that twenty years of experience or one year of experience repeated twenty times?" Many people and organizations repeat the same thoughts, attitudes, actions and behaviors over and over and call it experience. True that is experience, but it is not a growth experience and as the song says it's merely "same as it ever was". True growth experience involves getting out of this rut and turning to resources outside of "What We Know" If these resources are going to work they will challenge you to do something outside of what you think you know. They will provide a cognitive discomfort that will hold a mirror to your thoughts, actions and behavior and will force you to make a choice. You can choose to put down the mirror and turn back to your baseline of "what you know" or you can choose to gaze deeper into the reflected image of your attitudes, actions, circumstance and conditions and make changes. Whether it be for individual or organizational growth the formula is similar. Every resource available will follow essentially the same process of qualifying, questioning, listening, observing, evaluating, recommending and measuring your attitudes, actions, processes, habits and results and challenge you to change - Yes change. Each of them will recommend essentially the same course of action. Do the same things and get the same results or - Hold a mirror up to yourself and your current conditions then take consistent actions, which cause cognitive discomfort, to change those conditions. Then turn those actions into habits. If a resource doesn't do this you've merely found support for or someone to agree with "what you know". As human beings and organizations we gravitate toward those who validate our opinions, achievements and experiences when we might be better served to seek out those who hold a mirror up to our ego and challenge us to improve. So what's the bottom line? Learn this formula:
When we think we know - We Don't.

First In - Last Out

"Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working"

Most people think it's crazy, I don't care. First in and last out is a habit that was forged from observing men who set a tremendous example. Men that said very little and asked nothing of us that they were not doing themselves. This impressed an impressionable boy immensely. So setting the keypad before people arrive at work and again when the sun goes down is a symbolic privilege and joy that I cherish. And what goes on in between those hours is invigorating. People strive, drive, learn, grow and contribute and I get to play along with them as we struggle to realize the enormous potential the big guy has given us - together. For over thirty years at five different companies I have had the privilege of opening and closing the business and observing the best characteristics of those who strive in America to provide for their families and build something to be proud of. Some people meet me at the door as the sun rises and some have to be encouraged to leave as it sets. In between there is a vibrant hum of activity & achievement that motivates and inspires me. The day is framed by a keypad & the sun
. Family and friends understand. I work half a day -12 hours - from 6am till 6pm, and the other half is for them. It's a simple program for a simple guy framed by a keypad and the sun. God I love this country.

Mental Tips.

"The Only Easy Day - Was Yesterday."

Most people who come to San Diego are merely passing through. Pass through the gates of a Navy base in Coronado, stroll across the concrete parade ground they call the 'grinder' and attempt to navigate the fifty nine week training of a navy seal and 'passing through' takes on a whole different meaning to the few that eventually make it to a successful graduation. Now I'm an old army guy. A quiet professional who begrudgingly recognizes that what these guys go through is 'difficult'. I've got a few friends, and a relative, who've earned the trident and they all acknowledge the importance of mental conditioning.

A Navy Seals success starts with their mindset.

What can we learn from them in business, and indeed life? What has the military discovered separates those that pass 'Buds Training' from those that fail? Special Operations training has discovered that the successful candidate displays four components in their mindset which increases their chance of success. They've built a ~ "Big 4" Program ~ around identifying and developing these critical mental disciplines.

1. Goal Setting - Successful candidates have clearly defined short term and long term goals. They know what they want to achieve.

2. Mental Rehearsal - Visualization - Successful individuals constantly visualize and rehearse positive outcomes in their mind prior to the event or goal they have set. They 'see it' before they do it.

3. Self Talk - The average human being says 300 to 1,000 words per minute to themselves in their mind. Successful individuals recognize that this is a very powerful tool and use it positively and wisely.

4. Emotion and Arousal Control - Successful people develop the discipline to control the fear, flight and inherent emote or avoid natural responses that we all have. They discipline themselves to focus on mission, goals, objectives and responsibilities regardless of circumstances. They reject the natural path of least resistance.

What can we learn from this and how do we apply it in daily life?

A large percentage of our daily activities are dictated and driven by an area of the brain called the Amygdala. Recognizing and developing the strengths and tendencies of this powerful memory and emotional processing tool within our limbic system is a primary key to success in any area of our life. Learn to use this powerful tool and the mental disciplines contained within the 'Big 4' and we may find that how we 'Pass Through' our lives will take on a whole different perspective.

What Makes You Different?

"Every man and woman is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done." Benjamin E. Mays

For centuries mankind has searched for the essence, the unique quality, that distinguishes each of us from every other person. In business today the catchword is "differentiator". What is the unique and rare quality that seperates you from the crowd? In historical times it has been called many different names. The Romans named it 'genius'; the Greeks, your 'daimon'. In Egypt it might have been your 'ka' or 'ba' with whom you would intimately converse. Eskimos refer to it as 'your spirit, animal soul or breath-soul'. To some it is their 'calling'. The famous novel Don Quixote tells the story of a man pursuing ideals that he felt were at the heart of his essence. This difficult to define essence represents what you really are at your core. Identifying what that unique differentiator is in ourselves and those we come into contact with goes a long way to moving interactions from a mere transaction of information, goods and services to creating long term, trusting, relationships. So what is our differentiator and how do we identify it? (And do we really need to take the time to identify it anyway?) Well you may find the whole idea a little Quixotic and see it as a senseless fight with the Wind-mills inside your own head. You may choose to remain with the sane majority and not seek to define the extreme character trait, talent or habit that makes you unique. After all aren't we all unique anyway? Why should we take the time to clarify what it is? Why? Because only then have we identified what our distinct 'value proposition' is to others. The unique gift that we each have to share. Then we have done something that is truly rare. Until we identify this quality, this essence, this differentiator we have and take actions to share it - We may be special but we are not rare.

You Get To Choose

"When one has not had a good father, one must create one.
Friedrich Nietzsche

One of the truisms in life is "You don't get to choose Your parents".
A question I ask of almost every person I meet is "Who is the person you most admire?" and those that respond "my father" illicit an envious smile from any of us whose fathers went 'walk about' never to return. Being a father is the most rewarding and accountable job any of us will ever hold and not doing it well or abandoning that responsibility is a character trait of only the weakest of men. With that said I humbly submit that We Do Get To Choose who will influence us in life. We get to choose who we will gravitate towards, which ideas, inspirations and interests will sway our imagination, emotions and actions. We get to form our habits and character and we create and weave this tapestry of life with the help of those we admire. There are a plethora of good parents or even just good people we can read about, learn character traits from and, in very rare cases, get to meet and become inspired by. No-one is perfect, but some people do perfect things, say perfect words and exhibit traits that influence us. Through their actions and achievements they do just enough to fill the parental void perfectly. There can be no excuse to whimper and whine away our adulthood on childhood absences - each of us has an opportunity to learn and be inspired by a cacophony of character elsewhere. You Get To Choose.

PS: Yep that is me in the middle of the picture.