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Archive for November, 2015

Still Giving Thanks…

We are in the season of giving thanks.  Not that we should wait throughout the rest of the year to say, “Thank you”; but certainly November and December remind us of our blessings, don’t you agree?

So before I go any further, let me say, “Thank you”!

Ready or not, Thanksgiving week has arrived!  Hard to believe it’s here already isn’t it?  I guess time flies when we’re heads down, working hard, striving for success (or perhaps striving just to make ends meet).  Thankfully, I am blessed with family, friends, and colleagues who enrich my life beyond count.

I have much to be thankful for.  Thankfully, I have my readers who accept my periodic posts and reciprocate with personalized responses of appreciation towards these little ditties.  With the ski resorts open in Colorado; winter is upon us.  No worries, though – the kindness I receive from all those around me, will keep me warm:

A kind word warms for three winters. 

Chinese Proverb

Thankfully many of us will “have a little fun in our life” this holiday/weekend given the nature of how we have extended our working hours; added electronic devices that track us down every waking minute; increased our stress level; and decreased the quality of nightly sleep.

In the working world, I have been fortunate enough to work for some of the 20th century, “all time” business leaders, including Josh Weston of ADP; Larry Ellison of Oracle; and Dave Duffield of Integral Systems (which preceded PeopleSoft which preceded Workday).

Thankfully, many are optimistic that we will have a successful “Black Friday”; “Small Business Saturday”; and “Cyber Monday” of retail sales.  This will help contribute to our economy and our future.

Thankfully, we have people much smarter than me to help put our economy in proper perspective.  I suppose the next best thing to being a financial genius is to mingle with those who are:

Market Terminology for Dummies:

Bull Market – A random market movement causing the investor to mistake himself for a financial genius.  

Momentum Investing – The fine art of buying high and selling low.

Standard & Poor – Your investment strategy in a nutshell.

Mailbits.com

Thankfully we are charitable with our blessings and our gift giving to those less fortunate than us:

Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left. 

Fulton J. Sheen

Thankfully, we will spend time with family, friends, food, fun, football, and even a movie thrown in during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thankfully, if we are traveling for our family gatherings we will still retain our sense of humor:

A famous Chairman of the Board of a national airline, uses self-deprecating humor, such as the story he told about a woman who wrote a letter complaining about his airline.  She didn’t like anything: not the peanuts, not the color of the plane.  She didn’t even like the uniforms of the stewards.  She was just full of gripes. 

The marketing division took it over, spent a week writing a 22-page letter trying to reason with her, and showed it to the Chairman before he signed it.  He read it, and tossed it into the wastebasket.  He asked for a piece of stationery and wrote;

Dear Madam,

We’re going to miss you. 

Sincerely,

Herb.

Herb Kelleher

Thankfully, we will have a few quiet moments to reflect on all we have to be thankful for.  May the peace and power of a positive perspective be with you and yours this holiday season.

GAP

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Cowboys & You’re welcome…

Every day I say, “Thank you” to someone.  I bet you do too.  Of course, the common response in our modern era is, “No problem”.  Where did that come from?  What ever happened to, “You’re welcome”?

When someone says, “No problem”, that implies, “It wasn’t a problem for me that I did something for you that caused you to say Thank you”.  Well OK, if the something done to stimulate my “Thank you” was done for kindness reasons.

The problem I’m having with “No problem” is the typical context is not kindness-based, but rather courtesy-based.  And in that context, “You’re welcome” is the more courteous response, yes?

Maybe we should follow our cowboy heritage.  I’m fascinated by cowboys and the traditions of the American West.  The cowboy image carries with it attributes of ruggedness; strength; bravery; and courtesy, true?  A tip of their hat; a polite, “Ma’am”; a soft “You’re welcome” in response to “Thank you”.

I’m referring to actual cowboys; working men; rodeoers.  Not we city folk who like to dress up in boots, belt buckles, and B.S.

The cowboy way can make a difference in our lives; like my son Kevin has in mine.  We celebrated his birthday last weekend – I hope you enjoy this little present I gave him years ago from the opening to chapter seven of my book, The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©.

Chapter VII:  Cowboy Up – You’ll Get Through It!

Dedicated to the American Cowboy – may we all learn to be more like them.

Now, I’m no cowboy; but I know one.

Cowboys are quiet, polite – men of few words; comfortable just listening while others around them bark at the moon nonstop.

No, I’m no cowboy; but I’ve heard one.

Cowboys have a reserve of strength far and above the average person – physical strength to be sure; but also great emotional strength.

I’m definitely no cowboy; but I’ve seen one.

Cowboys have the ability to remain in control even while every living thing around them, man and beast, spooks in mortal fear.

True, I’m no cowboy; but I’ve been protected by one.

Cowboys remain focused even with adrenaline rushing through their veins when they’re bull riding, or racing flat out, one-handed on horseback, to rope an escaping calf.

Yes, I’m no cowboy; but I’ve lived with one.

Cowboys are fearless especially at the age of 15 when they look down in the shoot and prepare to mount a bare back bucking bronco at their very first high school rodeo competition.

Absolutely, I’m no cowboy; but I’ve filmed one looking down that very shoot.

Cowboys always believe they can.  The cowboy feels that sigh of relief when he’s all twisted up in the dirt, having fallen off a stumbling horse and the rodeo announcer comes on the PA system and says, “Well folks, he’ll have an option for a re-ride.”

So, I’m no cowboy, but I’ve sat next to his Mother in the stands when we heard that Rodeo Announcer come over the P.A. System to say, “Well folks, he’ll have an option for a re-ride.” And as the announcer glanced down to the stands to see her reaction he quickly added, “But his Mother says NO!”

You see, I know a lot about cowboys.  That’s why I’m so sure I’m not one.  No, I’m no cowboy, but my son Kevin is.  And every day I try to be a little bit more like him.

Thank you for being you, Kevin!  Luv, Dad.

GAP

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Hall of Fame…

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Jon Burianek, 2015 Inductee into the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame.  Has a really nice ring to it!

Jon is only the 67th person to be so honored.  According to Wikipedia,

The University of Colorado was a member of the Colorado Football Association in 1893.

122 years later, 67 people in total have been acknowledged for their Athletic Hall of Fame contributions, Jon is now one of them.

As a former, competitive, collegiate athlete myself, I tend to associate Hall of Fame designations with sports.  As it turns out, Hall of Fame roots are quite different.  Back to Wikipedia:

The concept of the Hall of Fame has its roots in ancient Norse mythology. Valhalla was an enormous hall in Asgard where warriors who were slain in battle would go upon their death. 

King Ludwig I of Bavaria was apparently inspired by this legend, and built two different halls inspired by the Norse legend: Walhalla near Regensburg, Bavaria (completed in 1842), and the Ruhmeshallein Munich (completed in 1853), whose name literally means “Hall of Fame.” These halls were museums containing plaques and statues of important German-speaking people, including scientists, artists, and politicians. 

In 1900, the Hall of Fame for Great Americans was completed. Inspired by the Ruhmeshalle, Dr. Henry MacCracken, chancellor of New York University, conceived the idea for this hall, built in the Bronx. The hall includes Americans in a variety of categories, including authors, businessmen, inventors, clergy, scientists, artists, soldiers, and teachers, but not athletes. The name of this building is the first time that the English phrase “Hall of Fame” was used. 

From there, it wasn’t that big of a leap to come up with the idea of a “hall of fame” dedicated to a particular sport.

Hall of Famers may have enjoyed financial rewards, but all were acknowledged for something other than making money;

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

James P. Owen

Jon was inducted into the CU Athletic Hall of Fame for making a difference; here’s an excerpt from the Hall of Fame program;

Jon Burianek faithfully served the athletic department for 38 years…  The last 24 years of his tenure he served as associate athletic director of internal affairs… He finished his career working 415 consecutive CU football games (home, road and neutral)… the streak started…in 1970.

38 years; 24 in a leadership role; 415 consecutive football games over a 36 year span; rain or snow; near or far; sickness and health; faithfully serving – all with the same organization.  Hall of Fame indeed!

In our professional pursuits today, how many professionals do we know who are faithfully serving?  For 38 years? Maintaining a 36 year, consecutive streak – with the same organization?

Hall of Fame: Acknowledging the “best of the best”; honoring those who stood out in their field; celebrating their accomplishments; and thanking family members, friends, colleagues, and mentors who collectively contributed their love, time and support – without which – the Hall of Famer would not have been.

If you happen to know of such a person, offer them a pat on the back – they’ve earned it.  And then ask if they could use a little help – during Jon’s acceptance speech, he acknowledged dozens of people by name who contributed to the CU program’s success, and ultimately his personal recognition, because nobody can reach the Hall of Fame on their own.

And that’s called faithfully serving!

GAP

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Speak the language?

Today, business discourse in general and sales interactions in particular, involves asking questions, true?  Lots and lots of questions, yes?  See what I mean?  Point made?  ‘nuff said?

OK, OK, I’m simply trying to demonstrate that today’s business language involves asking a great many questions.  The more skilled we are in the language of questions, the more successful we can be.

Think about our doctor and her ability to diagnose ailments.  Doctors ask us lots and lots of questions so we can participate in the process more so than simply offering a body part for repair.  Our tax accountants ask questions; our lawyers too.  Many professions involve the asking of many questions; but not all.

Contrast our interactions with our doctors to that of our auto mechanics.  With the latter, there is less question/answer dialog, isn’t there?  Many auto mechanics have drop boxes where we fill out a form, leave our keys and expect them to fix the problem.  “I hear a noises coming from the right-front-end” might be the only clue we offer our mechanic – expecting him to perform a miracle from there (and hopefully, inexpensively too).

Of course, auto mechanics don’t always welcome our assistance:

            Labor Rates 

    Regular                                 $ 24.50

    If you wait                               30.00

    If you watch                             35.00

    If you help                               50.00

    If you laugh                             75.00

Unknown Sage

In my profession, sales people ask our prospects a plethora of questions.  However, many times we are not asking questions because of our natural curiosity and true interest in our prospect’s situation. Too many times our questions are more self-serving; more product-feature-focused; more trial-closing-oriented.  Did we not read the book?

THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey 

HABIT 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Let’s turn the table.  Have you ever noticed the times we’re comfortable with the questions we’re being asked, and the other times questioning irritates us?  How about those forecasting calls?  How about the times when a subject matter expert needed for our deal asks first if our deal is even “qualified”?  Same question our Sales Manager asks – often!  Some questions can be very irritating, don’t you agree?

Maybe we all can agree that it’s not so much “what” we ask; rather it’s “how” we ask it.  It’s our tone of voice; choice of words; the directness; the quantity; the repetition of our questions.  I mean, it’s not supposed to feel like an interrogation (unless I suppose, we are interrogators – or Sales Managers).

If our dentist displayed the same chairside manner that we do during sales calls, we would become a totally toothless society.  I mean, if we applied the same tone, language, and directness we use in our sales role to our social life, we would all become hermits ostracized by family, friends and potential companions who would consider us rude and totally uncouth!  Not to mention our toothlessness.  But I digress.

There are also times where we ask questions about things the prospect finds obvious.  That’s not good:

In a visit to a utility company to study its best practices, teams from Sprint Corporation in Westwood, Kansas, were shocked to learn that some corporate cultures weren’t quite as rigid as theirs.  When the Sprint teams asked questions regarding dress code and attendance policies, the firm responded that its policies were come to work, and wear clothes. 

Bob Nelson

So I submit to my fellow sales professionals for your professional consideration – shall we add a little more professionalism back into our profession?

GAP

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