Business Is About 3 Things

"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.


I'm Serious.

"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

"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.

Gracious Leadership.

"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.

I Don't Understand

"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.

"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.

My Brain - Your Sale

"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

"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.

There Comes A Time

"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.

The American Way

"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."

Let's Take A Walk

"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.