Something Deep Inside.

"I'm not interested in what your neo cortex has to say - I want to hear your heart."

There's something deep inside each of us that we are all very familiar with. Sometimes it bubbles lightly to the surface and stimulates smiles, warmth and pleasure like smooth vanilla ice cream. And sometimes it drags up from deep within us a determination to strive and overcome. It's in the mind, the brain, the heart and the soul and yep ~ We Call This Thing Emotion. It is, without any doubt, the primal force that drives each of us to take action. It's what makes us do stuff.

Many years ago, in a land called Robin Sage, a hard and grizzled man looked me in the eye and said " Have you ever cared for something greater than yourself?" While I lay in the mud, covered in putrid self pity, he goaded, prodded and encouraged me to quit. To give up. To throw in the towel and rationalize a warm and comfortable retreat from unreasonable standards and expectations ~ And then... He said the words that I will remember for the rest of my life. "I'm not interested in what your neo cortex has to say - I want to hear your heart."

We buy with our heart. We sell with our heart. We achieve with our heart. We lead with our heart and... We experience everything worth anything in this life with our heart. So if you really want to get someones attention ~ Remember ~  People aren't interested in what your neo cortex has to say ~ They want to hear your heart.

3 Simple Truths

"The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable."
~ James Garfield.

I kind of like gettin' old. For many years I've told anyone that will listen that the people I really like are those remarkable souls that are younger than eight and older than eighty. Those in between?
Well... I guess I prefer my dog. Maybe it's a grumpy old man thing.

True wisdom seems to come from those younger than eight and older than eighty ~ And the truest wisdom seems to have been uttered more than eighty years ago. But gettin' old is kind of fun. We are afforded permission to say what we mean. Simple stuff and simple truth tends to resonate. I kind of like simple ~ just like ~ I kind of like gettin' old. They both sure as hell beat the alternatives. So, as I'm gettin older, what are the 3 Simple Truths that make the most sense to me?

  • Can't Means Won't.
  • Be The Change You Want To See.
  • This Too Shall Pass.

Our Greatest Strength.

"Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less." ~ Ken Blanchard.

What is our greatest strength? Which of our strengths provides the greatest return to friends, customers, associates and indeed mankind? Is it insight ~ A wisdom shared? Is it giving ~ A selfless act? Is it character ~ An inspiring example? ~ Or is it something else?

Social Media has provided us a platform to share more of ourselves than any time in history. We share links, blogs, opinions, insights and tales both brilliant and banal. We are talking, broadcasting and sharing ~ A Lot. We are shining a spotlight on our likes, dislikes, preferences and peccadilloes and in so doing drawing attention to ourselves like never before. It's perhaps neither good nor bad ~ it just is.

Yet something seems different today. Gone is the simplicity, the substance and the sincerity of quiet action. Quiet professionalism. The simple act of doing and being what one must without acclaim or praise.

There is the strength that it takes to get over anything. 
Then there is the strength that it takes to get over ourselves.

We admire those who have the strength to get over things. We read, hear about, and praise them. We respect that strength. But perhaps ~ Just perhaps ~ True strength is rarely seen. Perhaps our greatest strength is found in the quiet and simple act of getting over ourselves.

What Do You Want?

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." ~ John Quincy Adams.

So you're a leader, manager, coach or supervisor and someone comes out and asks you "What Do You Really Want?" ~ What Do You Say?

The easy answer is to go straight to metrics and measurable activities. After all numbers matter in business and often that's where management determines success and failure. But once you get beyond the numbers and people ask "Ok I get that - but what do you really want?" What do you say then? There is no right or wrong answer to this part ~ It's personal, It's values and it's preference. Most of us fall back on what others have asked of us. Those we've come to respect tend to influence the expectations we have of ourselves and others.

When someone asks "What Do You Want?" ~ I say:

Accountability ~ I want you to take responsibility. Your actions, relationships, destiny and consequences are your own. I want you to be totally accountable. No excuses, No reasons. Total Accountability.

Example ~ I want you to be the eagle that inspires others. The eagle that flies higher and stronger than others but is willing to fly in formation when asked. I want you to "Be the change you want to see in the world." I want you to set the example that others respect.

Solutions ~ I want you to seek out solutions. I want you to search for knowledge, insights and ways to do and be better. I want you to find ways to get things done rather than point out the difficulties. Anyone can identify problems. I want you to seek out and provide solutions and answers to challenges that others can't or won't face. I want you to view difficulties as opportunities to show the world what you're made of.

Dependability ~ I want you to be the person I'd choose to have beside me in combat. I want you to be the person I would trust to raise my daughter, if I were not around. I want you to be the person that friends, coworkers, customers and partners trust like no other. I want you to be the very essence of trust and dependability. ~  But most of all...

I want you to... Learn and Lead.

What Are Ya Sellin'?

"Every one lives by selling something".
~ Robert Louis Stevenson.

Any one who has ever sold anything knows what I'm talking about. It's the first thing that pops into every prospects mind. Whether they say it out loud or think it - The words are drowning out every other thought they have of entertaining your warm and fuzzy "relationship", "questions" and "solution" based chats. We were hoping for an opening and they went straight to the close. "What Are Ya Sellin'?" is a challenge, a test and a defense all rolled into one. So how do we respond? We've all run across the old curmudgeons, the acerbic ogres, who put up a huge barrier to test our resolve. They mainly want to see what we've got. They want to get to the bottom line of "our value to them" as quickly as possible and get rid of the riff raff just as quickly. So what do we do? ~ A lot of people will tell you that we need to know about the prospect first and that is very true. But before we go there we really need to know two things about ourselves ~ We need to know
  • Who We Are.
  • What We've Got.
When someone asks a salesperson "What Are Ya Sellin'?" Our response tends to fall into one of three categories - We Run, Defer or Answer. The way we respond answers a lot about who we are.

Run ~ (Preferred by Qualifiers and / or Cowards) ~ Whether we view challenge as a dis-qualifier or a fight to avoid we can run.

Defer ~ (Preferred by Comedians, Intellectuals, Friends & the Curious) We can amuse, entertain, enlighten, educate or simply ask questions to defer answering immediately. We can try to build and open a rapport with some type of like-able common ground before we move forward. The vast majority of sales people choose these approaches.

Answer ~ (Preferred by Direct Alphas) This may well be the toughest trait to master. We really need to know who we are and what we've got. It better be really valuable, different, evident and of interest to ~ Well ~ To the person who is thinking and saying "What Are Ya Sellin'?"

Whichever category we fall into at some time we will need to address the "What Are Ya Sellin'?" and then we should be crystal clear on who we are and what we've got. Before we ask anything of others, personally and product wise, we need to know what we've got to offer.

Do You Know What You're Selling? Think you know what you've got? Write it on a post it note in ten words or less. Write down what you've got & what your product and solutions have got. "What's Your Value?"

Can't do it? ~ Then you've got nothing.

Got A Minute?

"Great companies have high cultures of accountability"
~ Steve Ballmer

What is the primary reason a salesperson doesn't make it in any company? What is the final straw that leads supervisors, managers and bosses to speak those fateful words "Got A Minute?". Is it that they can't follow a proven process? Is it because they won't prospect? Is it because of attitude or attendance problems? Or is it because they simply couldn't bring in the revenue for whatever reason? All of these are frequently stated "reasons" for having that final "Got A Minute" talk.

But perhaps there is a bigger reason?

Many years ago, before the internet, email and social media we knew very little of the salesman who sold us something over the telephone. You couldn't check him out on facebook or linked in. We had no idea who this voice on the end of the phone was and yet we bought stuff from him - both business and consumer stuff. During those dark, dark, days I managed a few motley characters at the height of the "one call, one close" era. It was an interesting experience to say the least. I was the sales manager to a man named "Jack". Jack was a biker. Six foot three and three hundred pounds of beef, muscle and tattoos. He was a frightening bull of a man ~ with a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore. Jack was an angry man. He saw every adverse circumstance or poor result in his life as someone elses fault. The customer, the system, the commission structure or ~ whatever ~ was always "the reason". I gave Jack my best shot for a long time but finally it got to the point where I said "Jack ~ Got A Minute". Now most people would just say "It's not working out" and leave it at that. But me? No ~ I've got to save the world. So it went something like this ~

"Jack. Somewhere along the line you are going to have to really accept responsibility and be a man. Sometime, if you want to stop this cycle and start moving forward you are going to have to recognize that what you get out of life comes from being accountable for your results, your destiny, and your relationships rather than always looking at others and blaming. Blaming is for children Jack - If you want to change this anytime in the future - If you want to really be a man - You're going to have to grow up and accept total responsibility for your results."
Jack didn't say a word - He just picked up his check and left.

But the next morning was really scary. It was 5am and I drove up to the darkened office to open the building. Sitting astride his Harley Davidson in the blackness was Jack - He was waiting for me and blocking the door. "Ok Dan" I thought to myself - "Here is a good old fashioned ass kicking coming your way." I got out of the car and walked, as nonchalantly as I could muster, to where Jack sat. He looked me straight in the eye and said "No-one has ever talked to me like that before". There was a pause that seemed like eternity, then he added..."Thank You", shook my hand, and rode off into the darkness.

What's the main reason a salesperson doesn't make it?

They don't take personal accountability. ~ "Got A Minute?"

Samurai Selling.

"The true meaning of the term samurai is one who serves and adheres to the power of love". ~ Morihei Ueshiba.

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be anchored by an internal code of conduct and behavior when others are influenced and sent off course by circumstance and conditions? What is it that holds those inspiring people steady, like a rock, when adversity strikes?

The Samurai would say it is "Bushido" or the way. A code of moral principles that Samurai were required to observe.  Bushido and the revered principles of the Samurai are romantic ideals and actionable disciplines that serve to anchor warriors in time of difficulty.

The principles are simple and uncompromising. They are timeless tests that only we know whether we pass on a moment by moment basis. So what are the Samurai principles and how can they help us sell more and be more today? ~ The 7 Samurai principles are:

Gi = Honesty ~ Be acutely honest with yourself and others. There are no shades of gray. There is only honesty and dishonesty.

Rei = Courtesy ~ Samurai do not need to prove their strength. True strength shows itself in times of difficulty and adversity.

Yu = Courage ~ Do what others are afraid to do. Waiting for change, hiding and counting on conditions and others to act is not the way of a Samurai. We must act courageously. We must take action.

Meiyo = Honor ~ There is ultimately only one real judge of your honor and that is you. We each know what we must do and we either do it or avoid it. Honor is in the mirror. If we honestly look into the mirror - If we look within. Our honor or dishonor is revealed ~ It shows itself to us.

Jin = Compassion ~ The Samurai is not like others. He is selfless and develops his power to serve, teach and help others. "Samurai" means to "Serve". The way of Bushido isn't about us - it's about others.

Makoto = Sincerity ~ When a Samurai says he will do something - it's as good as done. There are no circumstances, conditions or obstacles that can prevent him from keeping his word. Speaking and doing are the same action. (This, in my view, is the very essence of Samurai).

Chu = Duty / Loyalty ~ For the Samurai saying or doing something is ownership of that thing. Total accountability and responsibility for all the consequences that follow. There are no excuses or reasons. There's no one to blame or complain about. It's an accountability thing. There is only a duty to be "Samurai" and a loyalty to those we serve.

Force Multipliers & Pain

"A Force Multiplier is ~ A capability that, when added to and employed by a force, significantly increases the potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment." Department of Defense.

The military, and particularly special operations, believes very strongly in the effectiveness of force multipliers in order to accomplish mission objectives. But what are force multipliers in business and how can we effectively use them to achieve our goals? I put it to you that they are essentially the same as those used by special operations units.

People ~ The power of a few highly trained and committed individuals to set an example and teach others through their character, attitude, dependability, work ethic and actions is enormous. Identify those few in your organization immediately. The few that take responsibility for results and possess an uncompromising focus on higher standards are critical to effective force multiplication. Engage them with a selfless responsibility to teach, train, and set an example for others to follow. One then becomes two, two becomes four and four becomes eight. The character of our people holds the key to force multiplication.

Attitude ~ Our attitude toward these few is critical. The standards we set must challenge each one separately. Consequently they are individual based. Identify the potential of each person individually. The objective is to get the most out of each according to their own unique capabilities. Talented individuals, those who accomplish what others find difficult easily, need to be challenged the most. The attitude must be that those with the most to contribute hold a responsibility, an obligation, to the team and the mission, to train and support others to achieve more of their potential. Teach them to teach.

Intel ~ You need good intel to be successful in any mission. You need to know where you are going. What is currently happening there. What you want. And what other people want. You need to know what motivates people and you only get that by listening to them and observing their behavior. When people say one thing and do another always give credibility to their actions and results over their words. Develop people who accept accountability for both their actions and their results. There are no good reasons or excuses for bad results. Bad results come from bad actions, bad attitudes and bad intel.

Never ~ Never, ever, give up. Never, ever, leave someone behind (cut those from the team that aren't on board - but never leave a team member behind). Never admit defeat and never, ever, think you are bigger than the mission or the team. Develop a great culture. Develop a special team. Develop Force multipliers. It takes pain to develop force multipliers. People, Attitude, Intel & Never = PAIN. But pain is good. Why? - Because it let's you know you're still alive. Embrace the pain - Go ahead ~ Develop force multipliers in your business.

And ~ Don't Be Weak ~ Be A Force Multiplier Yourself.

3 Wishes.

"My wish isn't to mean everything to everyone but simply to mean something to someone."

In a recent note to his friends Dale Dauten wrote of three wishes.
I really hope he doesn't mind me taking the liberty of editing his words for space. Well old buddy from one curmudgeon to another ~ Thanks.

"I wish that you get to hire extraordinary people and when they are asked how it is to work at your company they smile and say, "Cool."

"I wish for you that when business goes down and the slope slips, you don't. When an employee comes to you and says, "These numbers look awful, but we could fudge a little right here on this line and forget to report this account and then they'd look okay." You give them that tight smile and hard eye and say, "No, we'll either figure it out or tough it out," and your employee looks at you with relief and admiration and says, "I was hoping that was what you'd say."

"I wish that when you start to think about retiring that your coworkers are horrified. And I wish for you that when you're old you have a mild heart attack, where everyone prays for you and comes to visit and they all realize how much they love you. And when, after a long healthy life, you die, I wish that everyone says, "THAT was a life well lived" and then, every so often, when things are tough, they think of you and smile, and try one more thing, and that's the one that works."

We Just Need One

"It is not so much our friends' help that helps us, as the confidence of their help." ~ Epicurus

How many friends do we need? How many followers do we need? How many customers? How many things? How many...? Whether we are talking about a spouse, a child, a soldier or anything how many do we really need? Answer ~ If they're really good ~ We Just Need One.

A young girl and her dad were crossing an old, rickety bridge. Her Dad said, "Please hold my hand so you don't fall into the river." The little girl replied, "No, Dad, I want YOU to hold MY hand." Puzzled, the Dad asked, "What's the difference?" She said "There's a big difference. If I hold your hand, I may stumble and accidentally let go. But if you hold my hand, I know that no matter what happens, you will never let go."

Whether it be in Life, Love, War, Business or our Faith ~ All we really need is one we can trust will never let go. ~ We Just Need One.

Appreciating The Few

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them".
~ John F. Kennedy

There is a poignant story about Vince Lombardi that strikes a sad chord with me. One day a good friend of Lombardi went to his office to find the man sitting in the corner sobbing into his hands. His face was etched in pain and soaked in tears. Now this was toward the end of the great coaches career ~ when he was stricken with cancer and each day brought more agony than the day before. So naturally the friend assumed that the disease was the cause of his anguish - but he asked nonetheless - "Vince, what's wrong?" The legendary coach looked up at him and said "Why do I always have to push them so hard? Why do I always have to drive the players to do more than they want ~ Why? The friend replied quietly "Because Coach ~ That's Who You Are."

Have you ever stopped to think of those who push us to be more of what we can be?
Those few who won't allow us to settle for "good enough". Those teachers who are a little stricter than the others. Those instructors who set impossible standards and uncompromising expectations. Those coaches who demand that we do more than we are comfortable doing. Those few that insist we can be "better"? Sports is an easy arena to find such people ~ but life is filled with them. In our day to day business and personal lives we encounter a few remarkable individuals who demand more out of us than we want to give. They are the best of us. They are the most selfless of us. For they have set aside their need to be liked to bring out the best in us. We don't like to be uncomfortable and we especially don't like those who hold a mirror up to us and say "You can do better". We should appreciate those few who demand that we be ALL we can. For they are the very best of us.

It's The People Stupid

"I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing
people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies." ~ Larry Bossidy.

One of the most gratifying things that can happen to us in business is when an associate from years gone by calls or writes to convey appreciation. The cauldron of daily expectations has been replaced by warm insights that come from a detached introspection. Lessons have been learned. Someone once said to me "What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave?" My answer was 'What happens if we don't, and they stay?" It doesn't matter whether people stay for decades or leave in a week ~ Lessons remain. Develop & Invest (both emotionally & otherwise) in your people. Remind yourself every day ~ Rule One In Business & Life Is ~ "It's the people stupid".