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Archive for January, 2012

Facing our daily fears…

We face much fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the blaring headlines and the news of our day, these modern days, true?  The value of our 401k; global warming; job security; what our children post on Facebook.  In fact, it has been the news of our modern day that stimulated the creation of my slogan, originally suggested by my creative provider, Chere Martin.   (Check her out: http://www.cmmcreativestrategies.com/ )

On my web site my slogan begins, “When life gets tough, you could get a helmet …” Where do you turn to find the courage to face your day in these modern days?

Fear; uncertainty; doubt; they often appear as a “surprise” in my life.  And I’m getting to the point where I really don’t like surprises – even good surprises.  I’d rather be in “control”.  Sometimes I find myself trying to “control” the lives of my children and grandchildren, too.  I try to protect them from those unknown, painful surprises that impact us all.  Impractical, I know; but I can’t seem to help but fear the unknown.

Except for our Unknown Sage – I turn to him often for encouragement.  He tries to help in the fear, uncertainty, and doubt area by reminding us:

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. 

                                  German Proverb 

You should consider yourself very lucky if the size of the wolf in your mind’s eye has not grown during the recent years of modern difficulty.

Can modern man learn how to face our difficulties from ancient societies?  Take the ancient Greeks, for instance; they believed their gods inspired man to approach the unknown without fear.  Inspired to approach the unknown without fear – WOW!

Imagine what our modern life would be like if we approached the unknown without fear.  Imagine more faith; less control; more peace of mind; less fear; more courage, even in the face of less certainty.  Is it possible that the affliction modern man has is we prefer “knowns” and fear “unknowns”?  Where the ancient Greeks emphasized faith and inspiration, are we emphasizing antacids and high blood pressure medication?

One would expect that the advancement of modern science and the higher level of thinking by modern man would serve to lessen the fear, uncertainty, and doubt in our lives.  David Ben-Gurian suggests that knowledge and courage are linked:

Courage is a special kind of knowledge; the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how to not fear what ought not to be feared.

OK then; it looks like we have things we ought to fear in our lives.  We can’t think them away; or will them away; or gain such tight control over every aspect of our life that we never have to worry about another surprise.

Can we apply business knowledge to better understand life’s fears?

Two types of uncertainty plague most efforts to introduce major new products: known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns. 

                                  Norman R. Augustine

“Known-unknowns” and “unknown-unknowns”; sounds like the wolf is getting bigger!  Where is an ancient Greek when we need one?

Can the remedy for the fear we face in our modern lives really be as simple as simply having the type of faith that prevailed in ancient times?

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.  To one without faith, no explanation is possible. 

                                  Thomas Aquinas 

Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century theologian and philosopher, may not be on Facebook, but a little more modern than the ancient Greeks.

GAP

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Smells like money…

The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo just wrapped up in Denver.  When was the last time you went to the rodeo?  I enjoy writing about the Stock Show as you might remember from last January: 

            http://thequoteguys.com/2011/01/cowboy-secrets-to-success/ 

There is always a lot going on at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo.  The wide variety means there’s something for everyone – adults; children; farmers; ranchers; sales professionals; business leaders.  In my case, I particularly enjoy the variety of equestrian events, but not just for the entertainment value.   

Business professionals can gain great benefit from cowboys, English riders, and horses.  For instance, if you own or even lease a horse, you know how motivational it can be – just thinking about the price of hay alone gets me up and at ‘em in the morning!  Serves me right, I suppose, for ignoring the advice of our favorite, Unknown Sage who tells us this about investing: 

Seymore’s Investment Principle: 

Never invest in anything that eats.                            

And my corollary: 

GAP‘s Reaction to Seymore’s Investment Principle: 

Never buy anything that eats while you sleep.                            

Yep – smells like money.  Better get up and go sell somebody something today! 

Speaking of sales, understanding a horse’s behavior is also beneficial to our profession because our prospects act a lot like horses.  For instance, if we’re not careful, we can spook our prospects.  And when we do, they cut and run and we never seem to catch them again, do we. 

Prospects often show a herd animal instinct.  They want to keep their distance from sales people and fear being “cut-out from the herd”, yes?  You probably have faced every excuse in the book why a prospect does not want to meet with you 1-on-1, even for a straight-forward; 30-minute; business conversation.  Maybe they’re afraid that if they meet with you they won’t be able to help themselves and they will inadvertently buy something at that first meeting.  (If it were only that easy!) 

I was working with a team of sales professionals last week and suggested that even a prospect’s objections can have herd characteristics.  First, the prospect objects to our proposed price; then they don’t like our contract language; then it’s our payment terms; and then they want to delay placing their order.  Before you know it we get stampeded by a whole herd of objections! 

English style, hunter-jumper riders competed at the Stock Show, too.  If you’ve ever watched those riders you know that as they are approaching each jump, they reach a critical, “Go” or “No Go” point, before the horse must leap. 

Indecision on the part of the rider or the horse, or a business owner, can lead to a “train wreck”, true?  Another cross-over example of the great benefit sales professionals and business leaders can gain from horses: 

Half the failures of this world in life arise from pulling in one’s horse as he is leaping. 

                                  Julius and Augustus Hare 

Of course, western pleasure style riders don’t usually mix well with English style riders.  Come from different herds I suppose.  But whether western, or English, it’s the horses they ride, not the style they use, that we can learn important business lessons from. 

If you are a sales leader or business owner, and hear one of your sales reps complain about the difficulties of his/her quota pursuit, or the problems they are having with a prospect, you might offer the equestrian-oriented advice:

 “Cowboy-Up”!  

Or if you prefer,

“English-Up”!

 GAP 

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Can you believe it?

Even if you’re not an NFL fan; a Denver Broncos fan; or a Tim Tebow fan; how can you not enjoy this story?  Though the story is over for now – I’ve been all three. 

I haven’t had this much fun watching football since the 1985 Chicago Bears; Refrigerator Perry; the Kooky QB; Sweetness; the Super Bowl Shuffle, et al.  Now there was a championship team that added fun to the game.  Watching the Denver Broncos this season was fun, too. 

When the Broncos beat the Miami Dolphins in an improbable comeback during the last few minutes of the game, I said, “If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.”  After they beat the Chicago Bears in overtime, I said. “I was there; I saw it in person; I still don’t believe it.”  With a little over 2 minutes to go in regulation and the Bears up by 10 points, the oddest sight was that no one at Mile High stadium was leaving; we were believing! 

And after watching the games, listening to the analysts, and being subjected to the unbelievable hype that bombarded us all, I’m happy to report that I have finally discovered “the answer” to the questions: 

  • Is Tim Tebow a great quarterback?
  • Or, is Tim Tebow a terrible quarterback?
  • Or, is Tim Tebow something else? 

The answer is, “Yes”.  

But let’s not spend all of our time marveling at the year Tim Tebow, and the Denver Broncos, had.  Let’s see if there are cross-over-lessons we can learn from their improbable year that we can apply to our business pursuits, OK? 

Attitude Counts 

After beginning the season losing 4 of their fist 5 games, the Denver Broncos changed more than just their starting quarterback – the team changed their attitude.  We all witnessed it when a single word soared above the media din; “Believe”.  Of course, this is not a new business lesson.  Zig Ziglar has been citing Henry Ford for decades: 

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.                                                                                   

Mistakes Trump Talent 

All Marion Barber, running back for the Chicago Bears, had to do was fall down.  If he did, the Bears win, and the Tim Tebow story ends then and there.  But he didn’t; he ran out of bounds, which stopped the clock and gave the Broncos enough time to tie the game in regulation.  (They won it in overtime after, believe it or not, Marion Barber fumbled on his way to scoring the game-winning touchdown.) 

In my profession, sales people pull a “Marion Barber” too often.  We pressure the prospect to close; we become overly aggressive in bashing the competition; we get complacent and cut corners; and we do other, stupid, things.  When we make mistakes, it costs us deals. 

One Person Can – and Does – Make a Difference 

As I mentioned above, the most amazing thing about the Denver Broncos’ story, is the team’s transformation when the coaching staff (grudgingly) made a change of one starting player – one. That one player inspired his teammates to elevate their level of play.  The result was all over our TVs, radios, newspapers, social media sites, and even a few Denver billboards,  ever since. 

One with passion is better than forty who are merely interested.                                                                                   

Tom Connellan 

Do you have the passion to lead your company; or your department; or yourself to success in 2012?  You better believe it! 

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please check it out Subscribe.

“4-A’s” and Aligned Principles…

We touched on Approach last week: 

            http://thequoteguys.com/2012/01/2012-a-year-of-fulfillment-2/ 

Today, permit me to share a few thoughts on the “4-A’s”: Approach; Activity; Ability; and Attitude, plus a few related Principles. 

I’ve noticed successful sales professionals take time to write out their annual business plan – their Approach to pursuing a successful year.  They consider it the first key to their sales success.  Successful Producers don’t “hope” to succeed – they plan to succeed. 

If you’ve read my previous posts about how to write an Achievement Plan, you know the importance placed on measurable tasks and observable milestones.  I learned this concept from the way Josh Weston led ADP during the 1980s and 1990s.  Through a quarterly “operating review” process, we all looked at our weekly and monthly performance results-to-date.  Josh liked to say we were three months smarter each time we looked at our milestones; still had time to adjust our Approach, if necessary. 

In the sales profession, a second key to success, I believe, is Activity.  Yep, I’m talking about good, old-fashion sales-prospecting.  With sales-prospecting, we can apply the Principle of Game Theory and the Principle of Personal Best to our Activity plan, too.  

The Principle of Game Theory means just that; treating sales-prospecting as a game.  Sometimes our prospects cooperate, other times they don’t.  It’s like some days we have stellar workouts at the gym; feel like we could go all day; get stronger as we go.  Other days?  We’re tired after our warm-up; lucky to get through a minimal workout.  But we still take pride in showing up, because: 

            Sometimes just showing up is half the battle. 

                          Unknown Sage 

And by “showing up” for sales-prospecting; putting in our reps; using the Principle of Game Theory; successful Producers maintain the level of Activity necessary to succeed. 

The Principle of Game Theory is closely aligned with the Principle of Personal Best.  We can learn about this principle from observing interviews with Olympic Athletes.  Even when they don’t win a medal, they are joyous with their performance when they are able to say that they accomplished a “Personal Best”, true?  It’s their pride in the Principle of Personal Best that leads to their unbelievable commitment to the work needed just to be an Olympian.  And Olympians are the epitome of athletic success, yes? 

Of course, Ability is a key to sales success, too.  Top Producers tend to be the most knowledgeable; the most able; usually the type of successful business professional that our prospects prefer to do business with.  Whatever our current level of Ability may be, the good news is we can always get better if we apply the Principle of Continuous Improvement, don’t you agree? 

And the Principle of Continuous Improvement is often linked to – Attitude.  The best of the best in the sales profession tend to have the most successful Attitude.  They are mentally committed to their profession; don’t waste time; remain focused; are psychologically tough.  

You may know some of them – their Attitude tends to stand out from the crowd.  They can be pleasant, but maybe not sociable.  They can be coached, but don’t want to be “managed”.  They are committed to learning, but find being “trained” a waste of their time.  Sound familiar? 

Attitude is the foundation that Approach, Activity and Ability are built on.  And I believe these 4-A’s are linked together by a set of aligned Principles that all of us can leverage for a successful 2012.  Bon Chance! 

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please check it out Subscribe.

2012 – A year of Fulfillment?

Welcome to the New Year!  Will it be our best ever?  Well if it is to be, then let’s get started, OK?  Let’s start at the beginning; with our annual plan.  

Of course, planning our year is more than simply writing down goals.  Goals without milestones are just “hope” as I wrote about last year: 

            http://thequoteguys.com/2011/01/1st-rule-of-personal-business/ 

Nonetheless, writing down our goals is an excellent starting point: 

The first and most important thing about goals is having one. 

                                  Geoffrey Albery 

When writing our goals, I believe it’s also wise to incorporate the “Principle of Balance”.  Here’s a picture with space for notes, if you’d like:  

 

Many of us write individual “business plans” thinking only in terms of Financial Success, true?  Yes, Financial Success is important; but do we have the commitment to achieve it?  I remember while leading a top sales team, I would occasionally hear one of my Producers say when he or she faced the crossroads of a good year vs. a bad year, that being Family oriented was what was most important to them.  Well, me too.  However, I believe one of the best ways to care for our Family is to be successful; you? 

OK, that covers Financial Success, and leads us to Family.  Establishing personal goals for the role we play with our Family can easily be overlooked, yes? Certainly, writing down goals for our Family is quite personal – but just as important as any other quadrant in our annual Achievement Plan, don’t you think?  Go on – take a moment to write down a few of your 2012 goals for the role you will play with your Family; we’ll wait. 

The importance of Personal Development in our Plan can also be minimized.  Yet, it remains another key to success – whatever our abilities today, we should continuously strive to be better tomorrow, don’t you agree?  It could be as elaborate as the Electrical Engineering degree my older son is pursuing; or as straight-forward as the 1-2 books each month my younger son reads.  Personal Development is personal; yet writing goals in the Personal Development quadrant reinforces the Principle of Balance. 

Leading us to Fulfillment.  Doug Larson put it this way: 

Establishing goals is all right if you don’t let them deprive you of interesting detours. 

Although I advocate writing an annual Achievement Plan; with measurable goals; corresponding milestones; striving to make the New Year better than the previous; … I also believe in the power of imagination; the presence of magic; and the purpose of Fulfillment

The idea came from a former colleague of mine, Peter Goodwin.     He also believed in the annual planning process, but he added a unique twist to his that I have since incorporated into mine.  Each year I write down lifetime dreams that if I could be so blessed, I will achieve.  And when I do realize the Fulfillment of one of these dreams, I don’t check it off the list.  No, it remains on my annual Achievement Plan with the date of Fulfillment; serving as a constant reminder of the power of imagination; the presence of magic. 

And it reinforces the Principle of Balance:                                   

Goals are dreams with deadlines.                                 

Diana Scharf-Hunt                     

OK then, go ahead and update your list of dreams in the Fulfillment quadrant of your 2012 Achievement Plan; we’ll wait.  And remember to DREAM BIG!  James Collins in his book, Built to Last, called them “Big, Hairy Audacious Goals!” 

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please check it out Subscribe