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Archive for January, 2015

Committed?

I’m a Denver Broncos football fanatic.  This of course means, I’m in morning over the way our season abruptly ended in defeat.  Beat handily by the Indianapolis Colts, who were subsequently pummeled by the New England Patriots – we were clearly not the elite team that we thought we were.

It reminded me of a key leadership message delivered at our 2015 sales kick-off meeting:

Complacency kills opportunities for success.

Were the Denver Broncos complacent?  Maybe not exactly.  I think their demise can be attributed to something else – something worse.  The same something worse that can happen at a company.

As it turns out… the leaders of the Denver Broncos were engaged in the pursuit of next year’s opportunities vs. remaining focused on this year.  It was reported that the EVP of Football Operations (John Elway) and the Head Coach (John Fox) were “not in sync”; “mutually agreed to separate”.  Actually, it was worse than that.  They were not committed!

Leadership commitment rolls downhill, don’t you think?  Elway was not committed to Fox; therefore, Fox’s Offensive Coordinator (Adam Gase) and Defensive Coordinator (Jack Del Rio) lacked commitment – which they reciprocated by poorly preparing their players for the Divisional Playoff – and the players portrayed what non-committed playing looks like.

Leadership commitment – we can all feel the presence; or absence; of leadership commitment, can’t we?  I suppose it originates from the old adage:

In a ham and egg breakfast, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed. 

Unknown Sage

The Denver Broncos leaders were “involved” in their Divisional Playoff game, as were their players.  But they were not committed.  And the lack of commitment, closely related to complacency, infected the entire organization.  That day – they were beaten.

At the start of our 2015 sales year, my company’s leadership warned of “complacency”; closely related to “commitment”.  Not just whether our leaders are committed.  In business like football, a company’s success is attributed to everyone’s commitment, true?

Contrast the Denver Broncos debacle with miraculous come-from-way-behind-victory the Seattle Seahawks accomplished in their Divisional Championship game.  Although their quarterback (aka, “field general”) Russell Wilson threw four interceptions, his teammates refused to lose.  I say again – his teammates refused to lose!

It’s one of the reasons I coach sales professionals to “hunt as a pack”.  The Steve Jobs’, miraculous Apple rescue aside, trying to win in business today from the efforts of a singular, super star, hero comes with a corresponding “Hail Mary” chance of success.

Back to football; according to Wikipedia:

A Hail Mary pass is a very long forward pass in American football, made in desperation with only a small chance of success,… 

The term became widespread after a December 28, 1975 NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (a Roman Catholic) said about his game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.”

Yes, business requires risk-taking.  And it’s true that not every business risk can have a successful outcome.  But dealing with business risk should be at a far distance from relying on a Hail Mary.

I prefer to rely on a group of people (aka “the pack”); united in a common cause (aka 2015 goals); helping each other recover from interceptions (aka “occasional mistakes”); all the while portraying a zeal for success (aka commitment!).  I believe my teammates (and our leaders) refuse to lose in 2015.  Because of this commitment it will be a very good year.  Yours?

GAP

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And what do you do?

My company has been hiring lots of people.  We used to do quarterly new hire receptions.  Lately, our receptions have been less frequent – everyone is so busy helping the company grow I suppose.

So now I meet a new employee or two each week casually – a new face by the coffee machine; or someone sitting in the lunchroom I don’t recognize.  We have a terrific company culture.  People are very friendly – it’s easy to meet and exchange introductions.

My little known secret is they have no clue the amusement I enjoy during these brief “Hellos”.  It’s the usual ritual.  They tell me their name; what role they’ve been hired into; and who their manager is.  (I like to see if I know their manager, as a way to keep track of who’s who in the zoo.)  Then it’s the same, “And Gary, what do you do?”  Let my game begin!

I offer some vague response like, “I’m an enablement manager”; or “I’m in the channel”.  Rarely does the new hire clarify my vagueness.  It’s a personal market test – you see, I believe in the sales profession today, specificity is a killer application.  The more skilled we are as sales professionals in our ability to cut through vagueness, the more we (A) differentiate ourselves from our competitors, and (B) get to a more clear understanding of our prospects.

Now I’m not a prospect for our new hires, however I like to observe how they react to vague responses because, T. Harv Eker reminds us:

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Of course, I have a second, ulterior motive for vaguely telling my fellow employees what I do.  These brief interactions remind of my Dad.  He was a widower for 34 years.  And, he wasn’t much of a cook.  So he ate dinner at the hospital cafeteria near his house (where my Mom died) almost every night – for over 30 years.

The hospital employees became so used to seeing my Dad in the cafeteria; they started inviting him to their company picnics each summer.   What a delight for my Dad!  A social engagement; with many of his acquaintances; someone barbequing for him; raffle prizes; all FREE!  He laughed every year he told me about it, “Gary, they think I work here!”

When I would scold my Dad for the masquerade, he would protest, “I never said I was an employee – they just assumed I am because I’ve been going to the cafeteria longer than they have worked there.  No one ever asked me specifically about my job.”

The topper came during the last two company picnics he attended before his health failed and he moved into an assisted living facility.  (Still preferring someone to cook for him!)  Over my annual protest, he attended the hospital’s picnic and he won a door prize – a Weber Grill nonetheless!  He wanted me to take it (because you already know he wouldn’t use it).  I think he gave it to his neighbor.

At his last company picnic, he won the grand prize – a TV.  That prize he gladly moved with him to his new apartment.  The hospital never knew that they had invited an outsider to their employee picnic for all those years.  Oh well, it was a great cause and most appreciated by the Pokorn family.

So come on everyone, don’t let your prospects; or me; or anyone for that matter; get away with vagueness.  You may just wind up cooking for us.

GAP

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Success = P x 4

Welcome to the next year everyone!  Is it a “new”, next year for you?  Or, are you still striving to make your fiscal 2014/2015 a success within the next few months?   For my beloved Denver Broncos, they’re still working on making 2014 a successful year.  Is your favorite NFL Team still striving?  Or are they like my beloved Chicago Cubs – “waiting until next year?”

I bet my Denver Broncos are applying the “Success = P x 4” formula.  What is your formula for success in 2015?  Do you have a formula?  See my point?

The Broncos’ formula for success probably looks something like this:

Success = Planning + Preparation + Practice + Performance

How many hours do you think the average NFL coaching staff puts into developing their team’s game plan for each of their 16 regular season games, let alone each of their playoff games?  How many hours have you put into developing your 2015 Success Plan?  See my point?

First Rule of Business:

Having a detailed business plan doesn’t guarantee success, but not having one guarantees failure.  

Unknown Sage

If you imagine an NFL game as something similar to one of our “big presentations” or “big deals”, how many hours do you think Peyton Manning puts into his game preparation?  How many hours did you put into the preparation for your last “big presentation” and/or “big deal”?  Less?  See my point?

Prepare:

It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. 

Howard Ruff

If you imagine a prospect’s competitive evaluation process, pitting one vendor against another, as something similar to a competitive NFL game; how many hours do you think the Denver Broncos team practices their game plan and their individual preparation before each competition?  How many hours do you and your teammates practice before facing your prospect’s competitive vendor comparison process?  See my point?

At anything you choose to do, you’ll be as good as the practice, drill, and rehearsal you go through before you actually perform the action. 

Tom Hopkins

And even with their hours and hours of game planning, preparation, and team-practice, what are the odds that the Denver Broncos will have the winning performance in each of their games – regular season, playoffs, or possibly even the Super Bowl?  Just because performance trumps planning, preparation and practice, do you think any professional team would forgo 3 of the P’s and only focus on the 4th P?  Do you?  See my point?

It’s how you show up at the showdown that counts. 

Homer Norton

And beyond business, how many of us write a personal achievement plan each year that balances business with other important elements of our lives?

Acheivement_Plan_Quads-010415

If our business and financial success is important enough to write an annual “business plan”; are our family; our personal development; and our lifelong fulfillment dreams any less important?  Do you have a written achievement plan for 2015?  No?  What are you waiting for?  See my point?

ACTION:

Having the world’s best idea will do you no good unless you act on it.  People who want milk shouldn’t sit on a stool in the middle of a field in hopes that a cow will back up to them.

Curtis Grant

Do you know how to write a balanced plan?  If not – ping me.  I’ll send you “How To: Writing My Annual Achievement Plan” templates and paint-by-numbers instructions.

The greatest secret of success in life is for a person to be ready when their opportunity comes.

Benjamin Disraeli

See my point?

GAP

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