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Archive for February, 2016

CIO…

May I ask you to change the way you always have been doing it, please?  Yeah – right!

“Change”, now there’s a provocative word in our vocabulary.  And just when we get comfortable with how things are working.  Hey everyone, Windows 11 is on the way – great!

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order. 

Alfred North Whitehead

In the sales profession, what we sell the most of is change, true?  Or we try to – sometimes we face difficult obstacles from our prospective clients as posted on LinkedIn recently:

CIO

We’ve all worked with members of this org chart before, yes?  Truth be told, I have served in one or more of those capacities myself when I have been on the “change” side of the equation.

In business, change is constant.  Here’s a little ditty one of my readers shared with me a while back based on another LinkedIn post:

Just Monkeying Around 

…While eating lunch together with colleagues one of his friends was attempting to peel a banana.  As often happens the stem was not cooperating and a struggle with the banana ensued.  Another friend observing the struggle said “you know you are doing that wrong”.  Everyone at the table turned to hear the revelation on proper banana peeling technique. 

The observer explained that if you watch monkeys, who clearly have been dealing with bananas much longer than we humans, they peel bananas by pinching the opposite end and gently pulling the peel away from both sides of the banana.  

What followed at the lunch table was a mass return to the lunch counter for bananas and a series of very successful tests of the monkey banana peeling technique.  The author observed how often we use the phrase “This is how we’ve always done it” and how inhibiting that is to even looking for new techniques.  Secondly he observed how incredibly valuable firsthand experience or “seeing is believing” is when it comes to learning and embracing change. 

As I read the post and spent time pondering the appeal of his story I started thinking of innovation and change working together.  Not all change is innovative but all innovation implies change.  Like the banana story if we are so comfortable or set in our ways even when they are only marginally effective we miss the opportunity to monkey around with more effective techniques.  Innovative ideas for more effective and efficient ways to work are all around us.

Of course, dealing with change in the business world is one thing; dealing with change in our lives is something altogether different:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. 

Unknown Sage

What’s good for me isn’t always good for you, and visa versa – don’t you agree?  The phrase, “not in my back yard” is very Americana, isn’t it?  Yet change is inevitable and more than that, often needed.

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.  For, indeed, that’s all whoever have. 

Margaret Mead

So come-on fellow members of the Chief Indecision Officer’s org chart – let’s get over the worries and get into the fun of making positive change in our lives and those of others.

I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time.  Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult. 

E.B. White

That’s my call-to-action.  What’s yours?

GAP

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It’s a duck…

Managing people can be a challenging; rewarding; and sometimes messy business, true?  For all the talk about employee engagement, front line “supervision” seems to remain a consistent phenomenon in our business world.  Are employees just incorrigible?

As one IT Professional put it; “We’ve been reorganized, restructured, re-engineered, right-sized, down-sized, up-sized, TQM’ed, and MBO’ed, and if I hear the word empowered once more, I swear I’m gonna scream!” 

Geoffrey James

What happens to us when we get promoted to a manager?

Man-a-ger (man-i-gir) n 1. Coach, Teacher, instructor, Leader 2. Mr. Know-It-All, Ego with Legs 3. One who has or will have an ulcer 4. One who apologizes to subordinates for the stupid actions of superiors 5. One who apologizes to superiors for the actions of subordinates.

What’s the key to being a successful manager?  Hall of Fame baseball manager Casey Stengel had this philosophy:

The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.

With all the animosity and bad jokes about management, many of us still seek that big promotion, don’t we?  In some companies (mine included) a sort of artificial environment is created where employees adopt the feeling:

If I’m not moving up; I must be moving down.

My friend and former colleague, Adam, had this affliction.  Truth be told, I’ve suffered from it myself.

Experienced; skilled; articulate; professional; I can’t say enough about Adam’s talents.  And I think I know the cause of his “moving down” affliction.  We were observing other, less talented colleagues at our company get promoted into front line sales manager roles.

We see it all the time, don’t we?  Those that can do; while those that can’t perfect the internal politic of wooing their boss to promote them.  I was so afflicted early in my career that when two of my best friends were promoted, I could not share the joy of their success.  Nope, in my mind I was “moving down”.  I needlessly quit a great job because of it.

So when Adam caught that bug, I knew the early warning signs.  I tried to offer a little “elderly wisdom” to no avail.  He was going to take a promotion into a bad job come hell or high water.  Which would it be you ask?  Hell or high water?  Well, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Sure enough, within 10 months of total emersion into his managerial assignment; facing  innumerable obstacles; receiving little support from his superiors; the man who promoted him to begin with called one day.  When needing to deliver bad news, managers often “tip their hand”, hoping to soften the blow I suspect.

Ten months into his role, the discussion was about returning to a front line sales rep role (aka a demotion).  That’s not exactly how his superior said it.  The conversation was less direct; more vague.  Adam called me to relate the exchange and ask for a little “elderly wisdom”.  “Were they really demoting me?”  he asked.  I suggested it might be a good move; a better fit for him.

A new area manager was flying in to meet with him the following week.  To me, all of the signs indicated he was being demoted.  I said to Adam, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…”  I asked him to let me know how the meeting went.

Adam called me that following week – he left a voice mail, “It’s a duck”.

GAP

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Luv still rules…

Valentine’s Day is on its way – there’s still time to make special arrangements for that special person in our life.

Love_Billboard-2

OK, OK – so I can’t take credit for creating this awesome display of love for my love.  That was someone else’s awesome display of their love for their love.  But I can take “observation credit” for stopping along the roadside while driving through this western Illinois farm community to take the picture, can’t I?  I think my wife will give me credit for a little kind-hearted, photo-plagiarism because I know she knows:

Love rules without rules

Italian Proverb

And who says men are oblivious and have no powers of observation?  OK – so with the billboard approach there were no subtleties.  But observing his demonstration of love reminds us all that for this Sunday, no assumptions; no taking her for granted; no obliviousness; no subtleties are allowed.  On Valentine’s Day, we must shout our love for our love from the top of the mountains!  Of course, we hope our women do the same for the men in their lives:

You know “That Look” women get when they want sex?  Me neither. 

Steve Martin

This Sunday may be a special day in my marriage, but our relationship over the years has taken constant care (and patience).  Thankfully, my wife has patience:

Patience strengthens the spirit,

sweetens the temper,

stifles anger,

extinguishes envy,

subdues pride,

bridles the tongue,

restrains the hand,

and tramples upon temptation. 

George Horne

It’s easier to be patient with the little things I suppose.   But when times get tough, the most convenient person to argue with, vent to, and take our frustrations out on is often our partner, true?  Life seems to move so fast; people seem to be so stressed; the media inundates us with so many sensationalized issues.

I don’t know; are meaningful, loving partnerships easier or harder to find these days?  With everything racing at a break-neck pace, who’s responsible for maintaining a healthy, loving, long-lasting relationship?  Well, here’s a view from Wyatt Webb:

You are 100 percent responsible for 50 percent of any relationship.

Carrying more than ½ the load you say?  Yep – you and my wife, too.

Thankfully, my wife and I are still in love after all of these years.  We will do something quiet this Valentine’s Day; we enjoy our quiet time together – always have.  We’re blessed with sharing many common interests, so spending time together and “decompressing” from our fast-paced life is a nice retreat.

Like you, our conversations will span a variety of topics; children; friends; happy memories; love.  Of course, when we’re together we will also synchronize our calendars; debate upcoming projects; disagree on priorities; discuss business; and almost always review our finances.  Yuck!  Necessary I suppose, but certainly not very romantic.

Yet this Valentine’s Day I will be reminded:

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. 

Mignon McLaughlin

So here’s to February 14th – Valentine’s Day.  May you enjoy it with someone special in your life.  If you’re lucky enough to be in love, may you cherish your quiet time together; sharing common interests; being patient with life’s challenges; relishing the restorative results of romance.

And if you’re with someone but you’re not yet sure if he or she is “the one”, don’t worry – trust your gut feeling:

Love is not finding someone you can live with; it’s finding someone you cannot live without.

Rafael Ortiz

Love rules without rules Valentine’s Day – and every day.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my others too.

Hunters…

I think it can be hard to discuss successful sales professionals in a positive, uplifting light.  The best of the best earn recognition and rewards that can stimulate envy amongst others in the village.  Nonetheless, permit me to offer this salute to the few, the true, “hunters”.

Throughout my career I’ve enjoyed interacting with and learning from that rare breed of sales professionals.  Maybe I learned too well.

I never enjoyed the materialistic rewards of hunting as much as I enjoyed the intellectual challenge of winning the deal.  The fun of being a hunter for me was the hunt – the kill was actually anticlimactic.

That mentality served me as a buffer from a common frustration hunters face.  Best stated by my friend (and a terrific hunter) John Kleinhenz whom I paraphrase;

There’s nothing worse in the sales profession for a hunter than to kill the proverbial elephant and before being able to enjoy the feast of the kill have the villagers drag the carcass off to feed the masses of those incapable of feeding themselves leaving the hunter no choice but to return to the jungle in search of another elephant.

Now the metaphor of “hunting” in the sales profession is not intended to be disrespectful to our customers.  They are not the “enemy”; nor really the “prey”.  I believe the term hunting simply reflects the reality stated by many including our favorite Unknown Sage:

Nothing happens until somebody sells someone something.

It takes a hunter to initiate the action, without which the company (and every employee) will “starve” from lack of revenue.  In fact, there have been a variety of studies conducted over the decades that conclude the #1 cause of business failure is lack of revenue (aka successful hunting expeditions).

Yet, before assuming that the solution is simply to hire a few hunters, I always caution my clients.  There are downsides to having hunters hunt for us.

Hunters are often outliers – in the village but not really part of the village; nomadic by nature.  In my case, I was never a great fit within my companies.  They enjoyed the elephants I killed.  But I never drove the right car; wore the right jewelry; had the right haberdasher; made the right sacrifices of riches over family.  I’m awkward in most social settings; no particular reason – just always preparing for the next hunt.

Truth be told, many (not all) of the most financially successful hunters I know are assholes.  Now I mean that in the most kind and respectful way LoL!  It’s just that they have invested supreme efforts to gain their success, while being labeled as “born salesmen”; wooing business over lavish lunches and golf outings.  Thick skin and ego are prerequisites in our profession.

In reality, it’s usually the customer that acts as if it’s my duty to provide extravagance in exchange for their business.  And as hunters, we learn how to leverage such extravagance even if it’s really not our personally preferred style.

No, hunters are “a little different” because hunting is so competitive; so difficult.  The hunt becomes consuming as we narrow our focus to compete for the prize.  It’s a zero sum game:  I must win while every one of my competitors must lose.  And we are always on the clock – we must win and win quickly.  With success, the villagers eat; without, we all starve.

So here’s to you fellow hunters – not everyone can do this for a living.

Now let’s get back out there and sell somebody something!

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com