"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open ones mouth and remove all doubt." ~ Mark Twain.
What do you think about opinions? Everyone has them. We tend to love our own don't we? Nowadays the ability to broadcast our opinion to others is enormous. With the internet, social media, comments, blogs and so on... We get to say a whole lot of stuff. But let's put opinion in perspective. Some very smart people have said some very stupid things over the years. ~ Opinions that they really believed.
"Two years from now spam will be solved." ~ Bill Gates 2004.
"I don't need a bodyguard." ~ Jimmy Hoffa.
"It doesn't matter what he does, he will never amount to anything." Albert Einsteins teacher.
"There is no chance the I Phone is going to get any significant market share, no chance." ~ Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, 2007.
Freedom of speech affords us the luxury to opine on everything.
What we say can turn out to be brilliant, banal, or blithering idiocy.
But when all is said and done - It's just our opinion.
"Sales are contingent on the attitude of the salesperson, not the attitude of the prospect." ~ W. Clement Stone.
The young salesperson wasn't doing very well. It wasn't through lack of effort, or presentations, he was sure that he was giving more than the senior salespeople who were closing deals left and right. Something was missing. So he went into the old mans office and asked...
"What do I need to work on?"
The old campaigner leaned forward in his chair and said to the young rookie ~ " Every presentation you ever make ends up in a Buy, Sell, or Hold situation. The people you talk to will inevitably buy, sell you on why they can't, or put you on hold. ~ So what do you think you should be working on to ensure that more people buy from you?" he asked.
I don't know the young protege responded - I think I'm doing all I can. Alright the old man said... Let me ask you three simple questions...
- Are people buying the stuff you sell from others? ~ Yes, he said.
- Are they buying it for about the same price that you're asking? ~ Yes again.
- Are they buying it from you? ~ No.
- People are buying.
- They are buying from others.
- They're just not buying from you.
What do YOU think you need to work on?
"When one has not had a good father, one must create one." Nietzsche.
We get called a lot of things in our lives. Some good and some not so good. Over the years I've been called Kid, Dan, Sarge, Boss, Gaffer, and Old Man but the one name that I treasure the most is... Dad.
A friend once asked me for the very best advice I could give him as we went our separate ways ~ my response was... "Be A Good Dad"
It seemed to be the most important and sincere thing I could say.
Time forgets most things we do but the view from my window is...
If you're a man ~ "Be A Good Dad."
"Straight reality is always cold" ~ Van Morrison.
We all say we want this or that. We have goals, aspirations, wishes, and dreams ~ and we tell people about them. Good people support us, and sympathize with the challenges that come with making those wishes come true, but after a while... They take notice of our actions.
Are we doing what it takes to make our dreams come true or are we making excuses and casting blame. Straight reality is always cold.
"Illusions and pipe dreams on the one hand
And straight reality always seems cold
Saying something hard edged is off the wall
And it just might seem too bold."
So let's Keep It Simple:
We get what we give ~ When we don't get...
We simply didn't give enough.
"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else." ~ Benjamin Franklin.
Have you ever noticed that some people feel a need to give us a little bit too much information ~ To over share? ~ Do we really need to know the reasons why they... What's the difference between an excuse and a reason? Well... Others give excuses and we have reasons - right?
Maybe we could all learn a little, in this oversharing society we now live in, from our friends in one branch of the military who have seven acceptable answers to anything. ~ Seven Simple Responses:
I don't know.
I don't understand.
May I ask a question?
May I make a statement?
So why do some feel a need to give us all that extra information?
To share the stuff that nobody really needs to know like:
Why they are late
What they can't do.
How difficult something is.
Well ... I Don't Know ~ but there is... No Excuse.
"Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn't fit in with that core belief."
Listen up young soldier, the team leader barked. You think you're pretty good at this and that's a problem. You need to learn a little bit about cognitive dissonance. Self justification is one of the most common ways we resolve dissonance. Stop rationalizing what you do and why you do it. We don't learn much from what we agree with.
We learn from challenge, he said ~ not comfort. I'm going to challenge you, physically, mentally, and emotionally. With every part of my being I am going to try to get you to quit. Your mind will want to go to a familiar place, a secure and comfortable place. It will rationalize. Often when we think we are reasoning we are in fact rationalizing. Our mind resists what it doesn't like. It rationalizes with self justification.
I hope you don't like me he said. Because if you like me ~ it means I'm not challenging you. We need the physical, mental, philosophical and emotional challenges that we dislike. We need cognitive dissonance.
The secret is in how we deal with dissonance.
But what about inner peace, tranquility, acceptance and all the zen stuff we are learning about I said. ~ He smiled, looked me square in the eye, and replied ~ "Now there's some cognitive dissonance."
"Never challenge an old man, because if you lose, you've lost to an old man, and if you win, so what?"
It was some of the best advice that a young man full of confidence could ever receive. Respect your elders son ~ Not because they are older but because you have no idea who they are, what they've done, or what they've been through. ~ Watch out for your Huckleberry.
" I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over..." ~ Michael Jordan.
What's a good closing percentage in sales? It's a question that's asked by professionals in every industry and measured by managers and bean counters the whole world over. Striving to improve ones 'number' is critical to getting better in pretty much any endeavor and sales is no different. ~ We can't manage and improve what we don't measure.
But think about this...
In the National Basketball Association (NBA)
The average shot conversion percentage is 43%
In the National Football League (NFL)
The average pass completion percentage is 48%
In the English Premier Soccer League (EPL)
The average shot conversion percentage is 14%.
These guys are the best in the world at their profession. The very best. They've honed their skills to a razor sharp edge. No-one is better. They are the cream of the crop at what they do and they miss... How many?
The next time someone tells you that you should close 60%, or more, of your sales... Smile, agree, and work a little harder at improving your percentage ~ But you keep right on pitching and shooting because...
Only a loser aims at his foot because he knows he can hit it.
"A really great talent finds its happiness in execution."
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.
It's got to be one of the most satisfying things in life. Identifying pure talent, providing an opportunity, and then... observing it bloom in execution. Every day we are all provided opportunities to be both students and mentors. But there's talent... and then there's execution.
We can all assist those with talent ~ but we can't execute for them.
A mentor smiles ~ When they execute.
"As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do." ~ Andrew Carnegie.
A father once asked "What advice do you give to your daughter about men?" ~ Well that's a timeless question isn't it? We men say a lot of things. We use words both sparingly and excessively. We pitch, boast, brag, and boost ourselves up. We say a lot of stuff and every woman knows ~ we're from Mars. Yes... men certainly say a lot but...
As I grow older I pay less attention to what men say...
I just watch what they do.
"The only way to find out if you can trust someone ~ is to trust them." ~ Ernest Hemingway.
Sales is a tough gig. We all know that. Now I'm not talking about order taking here ~ That's not really sales is it? ~ I'm talking about the first sale we make to a new customer. The real sale. Yes... Client reorders are nice ~ We love 'em. But if we've done our job, established trust, and built the relationship, we're really not selling any more are we?
Yes we're listening, learning, and providing value. And maybe we have to do a bit of convincing to wrap things up but it's different with an existing customer isn't it? Not to say we don't do all that stuff on the first sale ~ Of course we do. But on that first sale ~ The new sale ~ We need courage to overcome our greatest weakness as salespeople don't we? ~ The courage to prospect, and approach, someone new.
Some salespeople don't do this any more. ~ They're afraid. ~ Now they'll say they're not. They'll say that it's a lot harder, unnecessary, and then there's the rejection. They will argue that it's easier and more effective to work referrals and cultivate customer relationships. To build upon what they already have. As if we can't do that and go after new customers. Sorry ladies and gentlemen ~ Often when we believe we are reasoning we are really rationalizing and in this case...
The real professional overcomes ... Sales Fear.
"Lost time is never found again." ~ Benjamin Franklin.
We all have them. Every single day we have ... "Moments in time." Single moments in time when we can seize control, take complete responsibility, and really go for something we want. When we can choose to do whatever it takes, without excuses, blame, or reservation.
Or we can choose to give out reasons why we didn't. We can settle for doing and being less ~ or ~ We can seize our one moment in time.
NOW ~ is another of those moments.
"The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus." Bruce Lee.
If there is a difference, one single difference, between those who succeed and those who fail at anything what is it? ~ Many will argue that the primary difference is their focus. ~ Where, and how well, a person sets their focus seperates the contenders from the pretenders.
7 Simple Tips To Better Focus:
Keep a To Do List and check off simple steps achieved.
Limit distractions - You know what they are.
Don't be weak. Use challenging self talk - strive rather than settle.
Set goals and deadlines and stick to them.
Keep visual reminders. Pictures of loved ones & people you respect.
Be accountable by asking yourself ~ "Is this productive?"
Motivate yourself with stirring music.
"I recommend you take care of the minutes for the hours will take care of themselves." ~ Lord Chesterfield.
How would you like to spend ten minutes? ~ The next ten minutes? Your last ten minutes? ~ Or any ten minutes of your life? We have lots of options and... We all know that time is a terrible thing to waste.
We can do a lot in just ten minutes. A lot of listening and learning. Take care of the minutes for the hours will take care of themselves.
"A simple song."
The old man looked up and smiled. We don't need advice he said. What we really need are reminders. Reminders of value and values.
Nothing anyone tells us is actually new. It's just a different coat of paint on a theme that has been gussied up a bit to meet the temperament, time, and technology of today. We should listen to other peoples perspectives and insights but really it all comes down to one thing...
Life's a... Simple Song ~ A Cavatina.
How we play it is up to us.
Never, Ever, Give Up. ~ Winston Churchill.
You have the courage of three great nations coursing through your veins I said to my young daughter. England, Japan and America.
These are three countries with an indomitable spirit. But we are not alone in having this spirit. Every four years we get to see this beautiful spirit displayed by great athletes from every country in the world.
It's not only the Olympic spirit. ~ It's the human spirit within us to..
Never, Ever, Give Up.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein.
This is one of the most frequently used quotes on change, individual development and success in business, or indeed in life itself. So much so that the quote has become the mantra of virtually every teacher, coach and leader on the planet. But how do we execute on this?
How do we think differently? After all...Habits, and particularly thought patterns, are ingrained. They are familiar and a source of real comfort.
We have to get MAD.
Mad enough to change our Mindset, Actions and Decisions.
If you think the secret is quality - increase your quantity ~ and vice versa. If you think it's all about strong relationships, increase your transactions. If you believe it's all about thinking take more actions.
If you think it's all about doing more, do less. Whoa... That's mad.
Maybe I'm going off the deep end a bit there... But then again...
Take what you believe got you where you are today and ...
Get mad enough to change your... Mindset ~ Actions ~ Decisions.
"Todays subliminal thought is:"
Does subliminal messaging work or is it all hocus pocus?
Well it depends on who you ask ~ and more importantly how attached they are to the answer. As the words to a very popular song say...
"A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."
The majority of current scientific research indicates that subliminal messaging simply reinforces actions or behaviors that were already present in the subjects mind. ~ It merely reminds us of stuff.
Now that is not to say this messaging isn't an effective prompt. Subliminal Stimuli (wikipedia) can be looked at much like product placement. But what does that mean? Think about this ~ Why do some people keep going through obstacles and adversity when others give up or take an easier path? What's happening in their mind?
Simple... Some say to themselves... "Strive" ~ Some Say... "Settle".
If there is any merit to subliminal messaging it is really about what we are putting into our own mind. ~ Not what others are putting in there.
"Strive or Settle?"
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction." ~ Howard Zinn.
So here's the thing. We watch, read, and hear the news. Both the good stuff and bad ~ (It seems like much of what they like to show us is bad and the good stuff comes in second.) So what are we supposed to do?
Our lives keep spinning like a top - We start fast, slow, and then stop.
Maybe we really just need ~ One Simple Idea.
Perhaps... We are supposed to make our life the good news...
Before the top stops.
"A players are Accountable ~ B players Blame."
Do you have control of your mind ~ Can you keep it on track ~ Towards a result? Or does it slip off the rails and focus on reasons?
Are you the victim of a ... Mind Heist?
Keep staring at the black dot. After a while the gray haze around it will appear to shrink. The black dot is a result, the gray is our reasons.
A mind heist happens because we let it. We left the door open. It's all our fault. We start to blame and look outside of ourselves for reasons things don't turn out the way we want. ~ We get distracted and weak.
You want to know the difference between an A player and a B player?
A players are Accountable ~ B players Blame. ~ Focus on your dot.
Don't be weak ~ Keep Your Mind On Track.
Birth Of An Idea.
"So you've had a bad day" ~ Daniel Powter.
You've done what you could. They asked your opinion and you gave it - as honestly as you could. You've given it your very best. Been loyal, conscientious and cared more than others think is wise. But those you have been loyal to haven't been loyal. Those you wanted to keep going ~ Well they gave up. Those you asked to do the hardest things ~ Took an easier path. ~ You're dissapointed, dejected, and downtrodden.
You've had a bad day.
One day the people you've influenced will look back on it all ~ They will write to you and say " Thanks ~ I didn't understand it all then but I appreciate it now." Once they are away from the arena. But today they say something else. Something that's not so kind and understanding.
What can you do? ~ Just think of your family and... smile.
"Good advice is often annoying. Bad advice never is."
Work smarter not harder.
How about work smarter AND harder.
Do what you love.
Why not love what you do?
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Unless it's mean.
Sales is ALL about relationships.
Not all - some people just want to buy stuff.
Take it easy.
Perhaps that's what got you in trouble in the first place.
There's plenty of time for that later.
The best things in life are free.
Smiles and sunsets yes - but not all the best things.
Take a look in the mirror.
Great advice - unless you're a narcissist.
You are unique and special.
Yes - and so is everyone else.
Maybe... except to bad advice.
For some people that's the very worst advice.
"Do not pray for an easy life. Pray to be a strong person."
They say that perfection is impossible. That perfectionism is an undesirable trait. Yes we should strive for excellence they say.
But perfection? - A Perfect 10 ? ~ There's no such thing ~ They say.
Then Nadia Comaneci proved them wrong.
In the 1976 Olympics Nadia scored the first perfect 10 in history.
No one had thought a perfect score of ten was possible. The scoreboards at the venue were not even able to display a perfect score of ten ~ so they used the number one instead. For a few moments the crowd was confused but soon they figured it out and the arena erupted.
The look on Nadia's teammates faces as she completes her routine says it all. Respect, amazement and admiration - It's inspiring.
The world stood in awe and applauded. It was very much like when Roger Bannister broke the first 4 minute mile ~ Nadia Comaneci, and every other athlete who thirsts to achieve perfection, shows us that...
The spirit of striving is... Perfection.
" Citius, Altius, Fortius. ~ Faster, Stronger, Higher." ~ Olympic motto.
What do you think about when you watch the Olympics? ~ It's really good stuff isn't it? The very best of all of us. But have you ever thought about what's going on inside those Olympians? ~ It must be awesome.
What's happening inside Oscar Pistorius the double amputee. A man with no legs who qualified to compete, and run, in the Olympic games?
What's happening in the hearts and minds of these athletes? Something Special. Something that the five circles is all about.
Something that we all have within us. ~ Every One Of Us.
When I watch the Olympics I admire the talent, skill, and abilities of the athletes but it's the something special that chokes me up.
This thing we all have inside us - The spirit that links the five circles.
"Action cures fear." ~ Douglas Horton.
Have you ever taken a test? Of course you have. At school or work. For physical, mental, occupational, or just so others can find out what you're all about. People of all sorts love to view test results and make determinations of how good we are. What the chances are we will be successful at this or that. We like to say that if a person answers, thinks, scores, or responds in a certain way then we can predict...
But here's the thing. When they've studied notorious serial killers across the ages do you know what the common response was when they were asked ~ Why did you do it? ~ Most of them answered...
"Because I liked it."
Winston Churchill told the story of the time he took a Latin test, at the English college Harrow, and turned in a paper with his name, the number 1 (indicating the first question) and an inkblot smudge - nothing more. He didn't like Latin and didn't do it. From this the distinguished teacher concluded that Churchill would amount to absolutely nothing.
Tests are great fun for scholars and thinkers but...
The Results Of Our Actions.
That's The Real Test.
"I believe you can be..."
The little girl turned to her father and asked "What do you think Dad?" He smiled and said ~ The most important thing isn't what I think...
It's what YOU think ~ What You Believe.
The only thing you need to know about what I think is...
I believe you can be ~ Whatever You Want To Be.
"You simply fail to understand that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." ~ Sentinel Prime.
Sentinel Prime hailed from an older time. He personified what a leader should be: wise, compassionate, and more than a worthy warrior.
So what does that have to do with leadership in sales and business? Well, since the dawn of time, tales of those who fall, or are brought down, from lofty heights are often stories of those who forget that...
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
"All conversations begin with the one you have with yourself."
Have you ever looked at a dimmer switch? It's easy to push it down... To dim the light. Any pressure will do it ~ But to make things brighter you need to push it up. It takes a little effort. ~ A bit like our self talk.
"Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie." ~ William Shakespeare.
Have you ever tried to help someone? ~ Of course you have. Wanting to help is human nature. We initiate, inspire, and irritate ~ To help people. But what is the best help? ~ Is it found in inspiration and receiving recognition? ~ Is it in irritation, in stoking a fire that produces a flame in spite of / because of us? ~ Or is it found in something else?
Perhaps the best help isn't inspiring or irritating ~ Maybe it's invisible. The unseen, and unappreciated, hand that causes people to think...
"I did it myself".
The paradox of the best help is ~ To help without helping.
"However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." ~ Winston Churchill.
There are a lot of people, experts, that will try to tell you what sales is all about the old man said - They will talk about relationships, process, networking, attitude, fortitude and so on. I'm not sure anyone is really qualified to tell you what will work best for you. ~ But here's the thing...
Sooner, or later, you'll see that all sales comes down to...
"Results or Reasons."
Get one and you won't have to give the other.
"All I know is that I know nothing." ~ Socrates.
Have you ever re-examined your assumptions about things, people, stuff and... Well anything? Have you ever looked at the way you think and tried to change your perspective? ~ Or are you sure, certain, that the thoughts that got you here ~ will get you where you want to go?
People that are certain tend to ridicule those who believe, act, and think differently from them. We know stuff for sure and, well... we let others know that we know stuff. We repeat thoughts, actions, and behaviors - doing the same things and expecting different results.
Now I'm not saying don't be decisive ~ determine a course of action ~ live by a code, set of principles, and sense of what we believe is right and wrong. I'm just saying let's not profess anything to be THE way just because it's the way we believe is the best. The thoughts that got us where we are ~ may not be the best to get us where we want to go.
But remember ~ That's just my brain talking. ~ Your's is different.
"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow" ~ Chaucer.
Think of yourself as a tree. A mighty oak tree ~ and every thought, word, and action you take is an acorn. Lots of little acorns that fall from your branches into the fertile soil, of friends and foes, every day.
"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow" ~ Great things can come from very small beginnings. Our acorns - grow to become mighty oaks.
Be A Mighty Oak.
"The crowd don't understand."
Most people don't get it. ~ The life of a salesperson.
It's all about words and windows ~ Opportunities and obstacles.
There are windows of opportunity, obstacles, wares, and words...
And that's about it.
The crowd don't understand.
"In order to excel you must be completely dedicated, prepared to work hard, and to accept constructive criticism." ~ Willie Mays.
I was up late one night watching a sports legends interview with the great Willie Mays. The interviewer asked him "Do you still go out to the stadium and watch the guys during batting practise?" Willie said Yes.
The interviewer went on to say... "The young guys must really appreciate your insights?" ~ Not really said Willie ~ They know a whole lot ~ these kids nowadays. And it struck me ~ what chance do any of us have in teaching, coaching, or leading if the young baseball players of today don't listen, and pay attention to, ~ Willie Mays?
They call it the Dunning-Kruger effect in psychology whereas those with lesser ability, and / or competence in any area, tend to:
1. Overestimate their own level of skill.
2. Fail to recognize genuine skill in others.
3. Fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy.
Whereas those people with true ability and competence tend to underestimate their relative competence. What was the most startling revelation, or conclusion, in the landmark Dunning- Kruger study?
Well the dagger to the heart to every hopeful optimist is... ~ "Poor performers do not learn from feedback suggesting a need to improve."
Now none of this helps us with the frustration of trying to assist those afflicted with the 'syndrome'. ~ But perhaps a little comfort can be found in knowing that when you're trying to help someone improve their swing in life... Some people won't even listen to the great Willie Mays.
"It's not about the cards you're dealt. ~ But how you play your hand."
The old Asian leaned back on his stool and grinned as he dipped the white hot needle in a bowl of ink. It was just a little tattoo ~ An Ace of Spades up on my left shoulder. Each of us got one, and a dose of the old mans worldly insight at the same time. An old man. A shot of whiskey. A tattoo, and a few words of wisdom that none of us forgot.
"It's not about the cards you're dealt ~ but how you play your hand."
"This too shall pass."
What do you say to someone when they are facing a challenge that seems insurmountable? A personal tragedy, or adversity, that devastates the spirit? ~ How do we help with something that causes them to question... everything? Words seem inadequate. None of us can truly feel what another human being feels. We each try to offer our support, comfort, and understanding, as best we can but only time...
"A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success." ~ Bo Bennett.
We all have to face it ~ Salesmen, soldiers, secretaries and scientists.
From the highest to the lowest and the richest to the poorest. Across America, and around the world. Actors, Athletes, Administrators and Assistants all feel her sting. In both our business and personal lives we all, at some point, have to face... Rejection. ~ Some try to avoid her by playing safe. Not asking, risking, or challenging themselves. But that's no way to go through life. So what is the best way to handle rejection?
How about like this guy? ~ When he received a job rejection letter.
"Are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling?" ~ MC Escher.
Have you ever noticed how much we use mutually exclusive thinking?
How we convince ourselves it has to be either - Quality or Quantity. - This or That - Business or Pleasure? ~ What a load of codswallop. When we think we are reasoning we are often rationalizing.
Life isn't Yin OR Yang. It's Yin AND Yang. Polar opposites are not mutually exclusive. We simply choose to make them so - because it's easier and we are lazy. We can do more and be better. We can have Quantity and Quality. Work and Play. Focus and Feelings. We can be Fire and Ice. Disciplined and Creative. ~ Warriors in love with peace.
There are no right and wrong ways to do, and see, things - just ways.
Isn't it all perspective?
Once we choose not to rationalize away one thing for another and think of solutions and inclusions rather than separations and exclusions...
We Can ~ Do More And Be More.
"Then let us all do what is right, strive with all our might toward the unattainable, develop as fully as we can the gifts God has given us, and never stop learning." ~ Ludwig Van Beethoven.
Who inspires you? What is it about them that prompts you to reach deeper, do more, and be more? I humbly submit they show us with their will, works, and words what can be done. They challenge us.
Think about this for a moment. You're going to die ~ Before that happens... Go ahead and challenge yourself like those who have inspired you challenged themselves. Complete the circle of inspiration.
A famous samurai asked Master Hakuin: ~ What happens to the enlightened man at death and... What happens to the unenlightened man? - The Zen master replied to the young man: - "Why ask me?"
Because you are a Zen master!
Yes said Hakuin ~ "But not a dead one."
"Past accomplishments are the refuge of the weak."
~ Winston Churchill.
All of our lives are filled with shadows. Memories of what we've done. Memories are like silhouettes cast upon the wall of our past. I look back at my silhouette, as it changes, and need to remember that...
Past accomplishments are the refuge of the weak.
Remember ~ Cast A New Shadow TODAY