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Archive for April, 2011

Let’s Rock & Roll!

That is how Joe Carusi, one of the best trainers I have ever learned from (and a mentor to this day), segues into the exercises he wants his class participants to compete.  Joe always has great enthusiasm and his enthusiasm is (still) catching!  

Training, coaching, motivation – they all go together, yes?  When a company invests in good training, by a skilled coach this should be a motivational experience for employees, don’t you agree?  Linda Richardson, another training professional, put it this way: 

            Coaching is for everybody, every day.                                 

Enabling; coaching; role playing; training; giving feedback; teaching; windshield time; instructing; offering you my opinion; providing you some input; doing a ride-along – it goes by many names and comes in many forms, true? 

Take a moment; what do you remember about your favorite coach?  Go on; let the glow of that memory warm you for a few minutes.  Good coaches and good coaching motivates us; makes us believe we can succeed; makes us believe we can do anything! 

Ever have a bad coaching experience?  I bet you remember that person or that training event, too.  Ever sat through a training session that was a complete waste of time?  Ever interact with a coach who belittled you?   You’re right; bad training is not very motivational. 

Last week, I had a coaching session with a colleague of mine.  His knowledge and experience were quite valuable to my writing pursuits.  Unfortunately, his delivery sucked!  Here we were in a detailed review of my web site and although his insight was totally on target, it was very hard to accept his coaching because his “bedside manner” was so personally painful. 

Thankfully, there are many terrific coaches in our world just waiting to help us; and in so doing, motivating us, too.  When you find a good coach, grab on and don’t lose hold!  And if you’re a business leader and think your people no longer need coaching, well you might consider reconsidering.  An Unknown Sage offers this coaching about coaching: 

Common misconceptions about coaching in the marketplace:

  • “Coaching is primarily for correcting behavior” – If we only coach people when they do something wrong, we have missed the point.  It’s about building not fixing.
  • “Coaching requires giving up power and control” – Actually, the manager relies more on influence. The person is still accountable.
  • “Coaching takes too much time” – Coaching only takes too much time if you don’t do enough of it and you don’t do it correctly.
  • “Coaching is soft stuff” – The manager who avoids soft stuff usually does so because it is so hard.  The work is easy; people are difficult.
  • “Coaching is laissez-faire management” – Not true.  Freedom in the workplace, actually just about anywhere, is rooted in strict discipline.
  • “Coaching is simply being a good cheerleader” – A good manager has the courage and inner strength when needed to tell people the truth.
  • “Coaching is like therapy” – Well, to be a good manager and coach one does need a basic understanding of human behavior and motivation, but therapy has no place in your relationship with the people you are leading. 

Yes, I believe good coaching is motivating.  And I love to hear Joe say, “Let’s Rock & Roll!”  The famous, inspirational sales trainer Zig Ziglar adds this perspective: 

People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily. 

                                                                           GAP 

How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could buy my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit www.TheQuoteGuys.com.

Mandatory Mondays…

Good morning everyone; it’s Monday – yeahhhh!  How do you start your week?  

Is it important to you to GET MOTIVATED?  What’s your routine?  For many of us Monday is still the traditional start of our work week.  Not for Moms with toddlers however; for them there is no such thing as the “start” or the “end” of a week, true?  Same can be said at the other end of the spectrum I suppose.  I remember my Dad during his years in assisted-living would often ask, “What day is it?” After working for 50 years and being retired for 20 years, I guess the day of the week was no longer something important to keep track of.   

How do you start your week?  I remember a sales professional who always liked to schedule client visits for Monday mornings.  She would fill her morning up with appointments.  The clients were happy to see her; the meetings were easy to prepare for; and she would almost always come away with an order for additional business.  Besides, she said it got her up on Monday mornings and started her week off on the right foot.  Her positive attitude was FIRED UP by noon so she was ready to face the cold realities of cold prospects and cold calling.  Mondays – yeah! 

What’s your routine?  Reading the paper?  Borrrring!  A work-out is the favorite week-starter for another friend.  He hits the gym at 6 a.m. Monday mornings and keeps his engines running throughout the day.  I’m an early riser, but the thought of working out first thing Monday morning is not on the top of my list.  How about you?  Are you a Monday morning work-out fanatic? 

Some of my colleagues are lucky enough to have a flexible schedule.  That lets them have breakfast with their kids and then drive them to school Monday mornings.  I envy those with their priorities in order and control over their day, don’t you?  When my kids were young it seemed I was always running behind at work.  No time to eat – gotta go – have a nice day!  Paranoia I suppose.  But to me, the concept of eating a sit-down breakfast was foreign and a routine of driving my kids to school Monday mornings was unfathomable.  An Unknown Sage quotes Wolter: 

Wolter’s Law:

If you have the time, you won’t have the money.  If you have the money, you won’t have the time.                            

Starbucks is a favorite stop on the way to work Monday mornings, yes?  Fodder-4-Thought heard someone place this order, “Venti, sugar-free, non-fat, vanilla soy, double shot, decaf, no foam, extra hot, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with light whip and extra syrup, please.”  (Taking a breath now.)  Perhaps it’s bagels and cream cheese from Panera Bread.  Do you bring a box in for the office?  Maybe breakfast burritos!  Back in the day, my favorite was Dunkin Donuts.  Not quite the popular, health-conscious cuisine today, I guess.  Do you have special Monday morning menu morsels?  

Yes, motivation; particularly important for “Mandatory Mondays”, true?  What helps me GET MOTIVATED is loud, hard-rock or heavy metal music.  And if it’s Monday morning, then it’s mandatory Metallica. Fast-paced, head-banging music really revs up my engine!  The louder the better; and some of their lyrics can penetrate one’s soul: 

Forever trust in who we are, and nothing else matters. 

Trust me; it’s simply who I am.  What’s your Mandatory Monday musical mantra? 

                                                                           GAP 

How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could buy my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit www.TheQuoteGuys.com.

Performing magic

Whether in a business-to-business, or a business-to-consumer setting, Client Service experiences can be a stimulating topic.  I bet you remember your favorite experiences (and maybe a few unbelievable horror stories).  Perhaps you will share one with us? 

Here’s a favorite story of mine.  Back in the days of selling for the nation’s leading payroll processing company, my desk was next to the Client Service team assigned to our largest clients in the Rocky Mountain Region.  These reps were tenured and very knowledgeable, as you would expect.  They were also unbelievably committed to providing a pleasant and professional service to their clients.  To them, delivering excellent client service was matter of personal pride. 

Our clients?  Well, when there was a problem with payroll (especially if the boss’ check was just blown out of the water) a client was not always equally pleasant and professional.  Here’s what happened one day: 

After exhausting every possible way to assist an irate client for the past 45 minutes, and then concluding her phone conversation in the professional manner she had been trained, the client service representative was heard to let out a pent-up, rhetorical question of frustration to no one in particular, “What does thiscustomer want me to do about their problem, perform magic”? 

Ah – magic.  Now there’s a creative client service technique.  Have you ever been in a situation where magic seemed to be the only way to resolve an issue?  I remember my gratitude when magic (or a miracle) saved the day.  And even if the client service representative was just lucky, I still appreciated the fact that my problem was solved.  According to an Unknown Sage, Finagle said this: 

            Finagle’s Sixth Rule:

Do not believe in miracles – rely on them.                                                

When a company’s leaders are committed to client service excellence, they do more than rely on miracles or magic.  They do all of the little things (and some of the big things) to insure our experience as a customer is effective and pleasant, yes?  Excellent client service doesn’t happen by accident; after all: 

If you want happy clients, first make sure that your client services employees are happy.  Everyone has run into that disgruntled client service rep who hates his job.

                                                                 Gary A. Pokorn

Unfortunately, a popular technique irate clients like to use when faced with service needs is to turn up the volume!  I confess – I’ve been there, too.  For me, this is often caused by an urgent situation; it’s occasionally caused by the apparent stupidity of a client service rep; and it almost always surfaces when I get one of “those reps” with “an attitude”.  I bet you’ve met that same rep, too; you know; the one who thinks we caused the problem and we’re bothering them when we call the Client Service Department. 

So even though I want my clients to do as I say, not as I do, working with irate clients is not for the faint of heart.  For some clients, they will be upset no matter what we do.  And when we are on the service-delivery side facing a particularly irate client who insists on turning up the volume, here’s a technique we’d all like to use: 

How to Manage an Irate Client Call: 

“I’m sorry you’re so upset.  I really feel your pain.  No, I don’t think we can fix the problem.  No, you can’t get your money back.  Well, I am the supervisor, but let me transfer you to Mr. Dial Tone…”

                                                                          Unknown Sage 

                                                                          GAP 

How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could buy my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit www.TheQuoteGuys.com.

Are we making a difference?

Hey everybody – it’s income tax time, yea!  

Have you ever had this happen to you?  I recently asked a very dear, pretty well-to-do, relative, “How are you doing?”  You see, I hadn’t seen him in some time and I was hoping he was well.  (You might have distant friends and relatives, too.)  The answer he gave was not what I was looking for.  Instead of finding out how he was doing, I heard all about how hard he works; what a rat race his company is; how tough he has to be each day just to get by; how much he pays in taxes. 

To get off of the job (and tax) topic, I asked about his family.  Response:  How big his annual bonus better be; how that money is already spent; that he and his wife now have a wine locker at an upscale restaurant (even though for the fifty plus years I have known him I have never seen him drink wine); etc.  His health?  Plans for retirement?  Relationship with his family?  Hobbies and outside interests?  I must have been speaking Greek. 

When he got around to asking about me, I said my job was terrific and taxes are taxes.   I expressed excitement about my son’s wedding this summer to which he replied that they would be much too busy to attend.  You know – commitments and all.  Funny, he and I have both wed once in our lifetimes.  The vows of marriage are important to our family.  One would think such an occasion would be worth changing a daily routine for.  How do you say that in Greek? 

So I’m sure my son and his bride will receive a nice check from this dear, pretty well-to-do relative in absentia.  There won’t be a picture of the check in their wedding album though.  

It’s not a W-2 that makes a difference but rather what we do with our income that’s important, don’t you think?  When we discuss our children they are more important than just a standard deduction.   Imagine the contributions to mankind they will make in their lifetimes (not to mention the pride and happiness they will give us).  Weddings, graduations, birthdays – these are special occasions, not inconveniences, true?  Or is it me? 

Income tax season?  Well, I don’t like paying taxes any more than the next person, and Will Rogers said, “The Income Tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.”  But you know what they say about death and taxes being certain.  We are fortunate to have what we have in our lives, taxes included, yes?  

So this year, like past years, our CPA helped us complete our Income Tax return; we updated our important files and shredded outdated documents; we finished a thorough, financial “check-up”, and our “prognosis” is promising.  We reviewed our household budget and made plans for important projects this year (not the least of which is our son’s wedding).   Of course, this household budgeting process brings to mind our good friend Murphy: 

Addendum to Murphy’s Law:

In precise mathematical terms, 1+1 = 2, where “=” is a symbol meaning seldom if ever.

                                                                         Unknown Sage 

Yet it was my very dear, pretty well-to-do, relative that helped me re-focus my monetary perspective.  James P. Owen put it this way: 

I have come to realize that anybody can make money; it is much harder to make a difference.  

                                                                           GAP 

How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could buy my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit www.TheQuoteGuys.com.

Lookers vs. Buyers

Rick Page once said: 

Sell the way the customer buys and allocate your resources accordingly. 

A key resource for sales people is time, yes?  And a key challenge for sales people is separating prospects that are “just looking” vs. customers that are actually buying.  However, lookers so significantly outnumber buyers, that wasting time is virtually unavoidable in our profession.  Unfortunately, to combat this problem some sales people take time management to an extreme.  

We might agree that in sales, cold-calling is tough; trade show leads (an example of which follows) are not much warmer.  How many deals do sales reps lose simply for lack of follow-up?  An Unknown Sage provided this perspective: 

At a recent annual meeting of the International Association of Clairvoyants, the meeting began by reading the minutes of next year’s meeting. 

Most sales reps aren’t clairvoyant when it comes to “leads”, true?  But taking time management and efficiency to the extreme can impact effectiveness – not to mention professionalism. 

Here’s an example: Each year my wife and I peruse the vendor booths at the National Western Stock Show from the “prospective customer” and in this case “buyer” side.  Since I’m a sales professional, too I wanted to be specific with each vendor: Here’s what we wanted; when we wanted it; and, most importantly, who our decision maker was.  For this project my wife was “VITO” (from the book Selling to VITO – Very Important Top Officer).  So far pretty straight forward, yes?  Guess not.  

Either we didn’t’ come across as credible (under the “these people are too good to be true” syndrome), or the sales reps we spoke to were overly efficient.  My wife was looking for a custom-built, indoor riding arena for her horses.  The final design was a 110’ by 65’; two-story building; that sits on a quarter acre of property.  One would think sales reps would want to follow up on this lead promptly and professionally.  Guess not. 

We visited eleven vendor booths; four called us back.  Four.  Were we worthy of a call from the other seven vendors?  Guess not. 

The first vendor quoted us a price per square foot over the phone.  No appointment; no explanation on useable vs. total number of square feet; no company description.  Very efficient, but we were hoping to meet with him at our site.  The second vendor would only meet if I were present (for efficiency purposes no doubt).  He refused to believe my wife was VITO.  Was she amused?  Nope – just insulted. 

The third vendor scheduled an appointment.  He shard drawings and a pricing worksheet.  He set up two references so we could see examples of his work and talk with his customers.  Then he returned for a final consultation which was followed by his proposal.  He won the job. 

The fourth vendor?  He called in June.  The Stock Show was in January; the arena was finished in May. 

Now I believe in winning business or losing it quickly to save time, too.  However, since sales people are not clairvoyant we should treat each lead professionally, don’t you think?  The most efficient way to lose business is to assume each lead is “just looking” and then not bother following-up.  

“Make them beg.”  That seems to be the motto of some reps; and Norman R. Augustine commented on business executives condoning this type of efficiency: 

It nonetheless spoke highly of the firm’s management that they seemed to be going out of business in an orderly fashion. 

                                                                           GAP 

How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could buy my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit www.TheQuoteGuys.com.

Luck favors the persistent

That’s what James C. Collins said.  Was Charl Schwartzel, who won his first Masters Golf Tournament yesterday, lucky or persistent?  The Masters – perhaps the most prestigious tournament on the PGA tour.  Now Charl Schwartzel gets to wear his green jacket every year for the rest of his life; a symbol of this great accomplishment. 

The game of golf offers great material when discussing components that contribute to one’s success; success in golf and success in our careers, yes?  I suggest one important component might be the ability to maintain our sense of humor: 

A golfer, searching for a ball lost deep in the rough, asked the caddie, “Why do you keep looking at that pocket watch?  It isn’t a watch”. The caddie said.  “It’s a compass”.

                                                                            Unknown Sage  

No, that wasn’t me so deep in the rough that my caddie needed a compass to find our way out; but my game is bad enough it could have been! 

Another key component to success is coaching.  Have you ever noticed that the top players in the world all have instructors?  So if you are Charl Schwartzel and just won the Masters, you’re probably a better player than your instructor.  What do you suppose that instructor did to add value to Charl’s game last week?  One thing is for sure, the best golfers in the world don’t go about their profession by themselves.  

How many of us try to approach our career solo vs. having a caddie or an instructor?  Donald Keough said: 

What separates those who achieve from those who do not is in direct proportion to one’s ability to ask others for help.  

Asking others for help – common on the PGA tour; uncommon for the rest of us.  OK, humor and coaching are key contributors to success.  How about preparation? 

My fraternity brother, Jim Wetherbee, was good enough in college to go for a PGA card.  While he was at “Q-School” in Florida (where budding players go to qualify for the PGA Tour) I asked him what he was working on.  He told me he was hitting 5-irons with his right hand on top of his left hand.  I asked him how long he did that for, and he said all day!  He went on to tell me that his instructor wanted him to improve the mechanics on the left side of his swing. (Silly me – I didn’t even know there were sides to a golf swing!).  He was hitting 5-irons all day, every day that week, and would probably be doing the same thing next week.  

Talk about preparation!  For Jim to follow through with his dream of playing on the PGA Tour, he was going to have to commit to preparation unlike anything he ever committed to before.  Although he never made it through Q-School and on to the Tour, he definitely improved his game; and he applied these lessons-learned to his career, too.  

Yes, following through: 

In golf and in life, it’s the follow-through that makes the difference.  Whether or not we follow through on our ideas, our goals, or our intentions is what really makes the difference.  If we don’t follow through on our ideas, they become only wishes, and wishes, by themselves don’t do anything. 

                                                                           Don Essig 

So here’s to golf; preparing for success; and the difference between wishing vs. following through.   All while maintaining our sense of humor and carrying a compass with us on the course (just in case!) LOL! 

                                                                           GAP 

How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet.  Or, you could read The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please sign up on www.TheQuoteGuys.com.

PC or Mac (or iPad or Android, or…)?

OK, who stood in line last month to buy the new iPad 2?  Have you recently argued the advantages vs. disadvantages between owning the iPhone 4 now vs. waiting for the iPhone 5 to be released in June?  I’m not much of a gadget guy, unlike my wife, who is a total gadget girl. Referencing the advertising campaign – I’m a PC; she’s a Mac.

Isn’t it funny how we associate ourselves with the technology of the day? Reminds me of the story by Dan Danborn:

I am a dot-com person, but my friend Steve, who works for a public television station, is a dot-org person.  He believes dot-org persons are more noble than dot-com persons because dot-com persons are in businesses where they try to make money, while his dot-org public television station has a more lofty goal than making money:  they would rather beg and whine for it.

Passionate about their technology, yes?

And which of your gadgets are you passionate about?  But not just passion; addiction, too!  Did anyone read the article a couple of years ago labeled “Crackberry”?  This included testimonials from business people who literally lost sleep in order to respond to emails in the middle of the night.  Sound familiar, anyone?  OK, I’ll raise my hand here too – not because I wake up at 4 a.m. to check emails, but I do admit that I carry my mobile devices with me everywhere.  You?

So far we’ve just been touching on gadgets.  Add in applications and the Internet?  Forget about it!

The Internet; how did it actually come about that this technology took over our lives?  Here’s one theory from Rick Levine:

And along comes the Internet.  It was as if we’d ordered it from Arizona: “Hello, US Federal Government?  Yes, we’d like one totally open, high-speed, data backbone. Uh-huh, and charge that to the Department of Defense, why don’t you?  What’s that?  What do we want if for?  Oh, just chatting about stuff.  You know, this and that.”

So as I add it up, in the past twenty years I have moved from mainframe/character-based/green-bar-paper; through mini-computer/GUI/dot-matrix-printing; past Win-Tel/Internet-based/color-laser-printing; into mobile/social/video/paperless computing.  I used to be able to leave my work at the office when I went home.  Now, I am one with my office (and may The Force be with you, too!).

It makes me wonder if the titans of the technology industry think about what they created.  I wonder what gadgets they personally use (and how many they carry).  Do they have an army of administrative assistants to support their daily routine?  And if they do, isn’t that a manual approach to their business world?  Would they chuckle about that?

The gadgets they invented have us tripping over ourselves to acquire the latest and greatest upgrades; consuming untold numbers of hours using these devices; working harder and harder just to keep up; while they kick back in a chauffer-driven limo, on their way to meetings scheduled for them by personal secretaries, with notes and follow-ups handled by a herd of staffers.  Does that still count as high-tech?

All in the name of smaller-faster-mobile-social-ubiquitous-technology.  Here’s one philosophy from Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, and one of the titans who impacted our lives:

Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.

And that’s exactly why I take out the insurance coverage on my smart phone.

GAP

How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet.  Or, you could read The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please sign up on www.TheQuoteGuys.com.

April, optimism, and Chicago

April – we made it through another winter!  Welcome to springtime; April showers; spring flowers; baseball.  I love this time of year.  And when I reflect, I always think the past winter wasn’t so bad.  Memories of cold, snowy days and icy drives to work fade quickly this time of year.  Warm, sunny, spring days have a unique impact on our perspective, yes?  

Then I catch my self, “Wait a minute – you live in Denver”.  In Denver, we’re “in play” for a spring blizzard at least through Memorial Day. (In 2010, it snowed on June 15th).  Nonetheless, April makes me think of sunshine, cutting the grass, and baseball; it’s a very optimistic time of the year and of our life: 

No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn.
                               
Hal Borland 

Weather (and baseball) like life, is a matter of perspective, don’t you think?   Take our perspective in Chicago – my hometown: 

Life in Chicago 

60° above – Floridians wear coats, gloves and woolly hats.  Chicago people sunbathe. 

50° above – New Yorkers try to turn on the heat.  Chicago people plant gardens. 

40° above – Italian cars won’t start.  Chicago people drive with their windows down. 

32° above – Distilled water freezes.  Lake Michigan’s water gets thicker. 

20° above – Californians shiver uncontrollably.  Chicago people have their last cook-out before it gets cold. 

15° above – New York landlords finally turn up the heat.  Chicago people throw on a sweatshirt. 

Zero – Californians fly away to  Mexico.  Chicago people lick the flagpole. 

20° below – People in Miami cease to exist.  Chicago people get out their winter coats. 

40° below – Hollywood disintegrates.  Chicago’s Girl Scouts begin selling cookies door-to-door. 

60° below – Polar bears begin to  evacuate Antartica.  Chicago’s Boy Scouts postpone “Winter Survival” classes until it gets cold enough. 

80° below – Mt. St. Helen’s freezes.  Chicago people rent some videos. 

100° below – Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.  Chicago people get frustrated when they can’t thaw the keg. 

297° below – Microbial life survives on dairy products.  Illinois cows complain of farmers with cold hands. 

460° below – ALL atomic motion stops.  Chicago people start saying, “Cold ’nuff for ya?” 

500° below – Hell freezes over.  The Cubs win the World Series!                                          Unknown Sage 

Ah, the Cubs.  When I think of baseball in April, I think of Chicago.  You see – I’m a diehard Cubs fan.  Although I’ve lived in Denver since 1991, I’m only now warming to the Colorado Rockies baseball team.  

But my Cubbies?  Well you know, this is our year!  (Did I say April is a very optimistic time?)  I’ve been hoping this will be the Cubs’ year since I was a boy.  My Dad followed them his entire lifetime; ninety one years and he never saw them win a World Series. 

Yes, the weather; baseball; our entire life; all a matter of perspective.  And perspective is a range with borders on either side, as this Unknown Sage described it: 

“Pessimist”:

A person who not only expects the worst, but makes the most of it when it happens. 

“Optimist”:

The person who makes it possible for the pessimist to know how happy he or she isn’t.

So come on Die Hard Cubs fans; don’t be pessimistic; don’t give up; don’t give in; don’t expect the worst.  This is our year!  At least that’s my perspective in April; and no April skips its turn in Chicago. 

                                          GAP 

How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet.  Or, you could read The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please sign up on www.TheQuoteGuys.com.