The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


Archive for July, 2016

Keeping my day job…

I’ve been attending the Startups 2.0 MeetUp facilitated by Kenton Johnson ( ).  Kenton’s experience is outstanding and his content is stellar.   I’ve always been fascinated by the business of business.

At Kenton’s first MeetUp, he established context for the working sessions by citing “Mark Cuban’s 12 Rules for Start-Ups”:

Rule 01:  Don’t start a company unless it is an obsession and something you love.

Rule 02:  If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.

Rule 03:  Hire people you think will love working there.

Rule 04:  Sales cure all.

Rule 05:  Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them.

Rule 06:  Lunch is a chance to get out of the office and talk.

Rule 07:  No offices.  There is nothing private in a start-up.

Rule 08:  As far as technology, go with what you know. 

Rule 09:  Keep the organization flat. 

Rule 10:  Never buy swag.

Rule 11:  Never hire a PR firm.

Rule 12:  Make the job fun for employees.

I met Kenton at Denver’s 2015 StartUp Week.  That’s where I also heard Brad Feld speak for the first time (see ).  After Brad’s presentation those in attendance received a copy of his book, Startup Opportunities: Know When to Quit Your Day Job©.  The section, “Trust Me, Your Idea is Worthless” caught my attention.

How many people do we know who want to start their own company because (A) they have a “great idea” and (B) they want to sell their company to get rich?  In other words, they start a company with an exit strategy firmly in place – breaking Cuban’s Rule # 02.

IMHO, in the real world it doesn’t typically work that way.  I mean, if you’ve read the book by Paul Allen, Idea Man© and read about how Paul Allen and Bill Gates launched Microsoft, I bet you were as amazed as I was about their true genius.  Bill Gates didn’t become the richest man in the world by simply duping IBM with a software licensing deal.

Bill Gates became the richest man in the world by creating/coding the Disk Operating System (aka DOS) which ran PC’s – IBM’s and everyone else’s (except of course Steve Jobs at Apple, which is a story for another time).  Sounds straight forward?  Well think about how Paul Allen and Bill Gates had to figure out how to do this by writing the operating system for a machine that wouldn’t work without first having an operating system.  A classic “chicken or egg” conundrum.  Oh and by the way, Gates and Allen definitely understood Mark Cuban’s Rules # 01 and # 02, true?

Reveal Alert:  If you don’t want to read the book about the birthing of the PC era, here is the essence of their work:  (1) Paul Allen wrote a PC hardware emulator to make a DEC mini-computer act as if it were a PC, and (2) Bill Gates coded DOS to run and be debugged on that emulator.  Oh and by the way, Gates wrote his DOS code with pencil and paper; during marathon, 3 day coding sessions; in which he would collapse from exhaustion; only to resume after needed sleep and nourishment.

It seems to me that they ignored Cuban’s Rules # 06 and #12; but definitely maximized Rule #04.

What do you say – Is that the type of commitment coupled with genius seen by those today that have a “great idea”?  Maybe best to keep our day jobs – just saying.


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It’s a not a diet…

I know I write often about the sales profession – which may not please some of my readers.  I also occasionally upset my marketing colleagues ( ).

I write less about dieting – which might please my fellow couch potatoes.  It occurred to me recently (while reclining on the couch watching athletic activities) that there is a connection between sales-prospecting and dieting.  Fascinating?  Well maybe not, but please read on.

The catalyst for my connection came recently when one of my clients whom I haven’t heard from in 3 years, called for a little assistance; the sales-prospecting kind of assistance.  I receive calls like his periodically; I bet doctors and dietitians do too.

Here’s the pattern: My client is going along; selling successfully; everything seems to be fine; and they think, “Thanks Gary – we’re good; we’ll call you when we need you.”  Kind of like when we’re at an ideal body weight and leading an active lifestyle.  Doctors; dietitians; personal trainers?  “We’ll call you when we need you.”

Then, some of us wake up one morning; get on the scale; and say, “Ishkabibble!  I need to go on a diet!”  Of course, when we seek professional guidance we hear, “It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle change.”  True?

If you’re like me, I’m not so good at a “lifestyle change”:

I’ve been on a diet for two weeks and all I’ve lost is two weeks. 

Totie Fields 

We know it’s true.  Having the right BMI; muscle mass; bone density; and related physiological attributes takes more than going on a diet – it requires a life style change including a big helping of daily discipline.

Back to my client who made “the call”.  Business is down; their sales pipeline is empty; their calendar is void of upcoming appointments; let’s call Gary.  (They must have really been desperate.)

Unfortunately, my message was not what they were hoping for; which reminds me of one of my favorite book titles by Rick Paige:

Hope is not a strategy© 

IMHO, when endeavoring to sales-prospect, you can’t simply blitz your target market for a week or a month and expect success as measured by a filled sales funnel and over-achievement of sales quota.  To avoid the lifestyle change I suppose you could outsource lead-gen; you could have gastric bypass surgery too.

Sales-prospecting is a mind-set; as regular of a routine as eating right and exercising regularly.  It is a week-in and week-out discipline that compliments the efforts made, and assets provided by, our marketing colleagues.

So here I was talking with one of my couch-potato-sales-prospecting clients, thinking of the comparison of their sales-prospecting needs (and complaints) to my need (and complaints) to dieting.  Or rather, “making a life style change”!  Filling the pipeline on the one hand; eliminating the plates of calories on the other; both requiring a day-in and day-out commitment to success.

Both requiring a thought process change:

Question:     Is beer bad for you? 

Answer:        Look, it goes to the earlier point about vegetables.  As we all know, scientists divide everything in the world into three categories: animal, mineral, and vegetable.  Well, we all know that beer is not an animal, and it’s not on the periodic table of elements, so that only leaves one thing, right?  My advice:  Have a burger and a beer and tell everyone you’re on a vegetarian diet. 

Unknown Sage 

So, we agreed to schedule weekly meetings to restart their sales-prospecting “lifestyle” change. Question:  Should I drink beer during our sessions?


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Playing our position…

Now that the 2016 NBA Championship is over (congratulations Cleveland!), I believe cross-over lessons learned are available between the game of basketball and the professions of sales and marketing.

As usual, I draw my opinions from personal experience.  At 6’3”, I played the low post position in basketball (aka the “5”) through my sophomore year of high school.  By junior year, I was too small, too slow, and not athletic enough to remain in the “5”; so I moved to the small forward position (aka the “3”).

As I looked forward to playing collegiate ball, it was painfully obvious that at the NCAA Division I level, my only chance would be to play the off-guard role (aka the “2”).  Even then, getting playing time among the superior Division I athletes would be iffy.  Thankfully, the NCAA has other divisions.

I started every year of college ball, albeit Division III.  But even then, I played different positions.  My sophomore year I played the “5”; junior year the “2”; and senior year the “3”.

Of course, as we watched LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers we saw him seemingly seamlessly move from role to role throughout each game.  Sometimes the point guard (the “1”); other times the power forward (the “4”); and so on.  Such movement from position to position works in today’s NBA game.  I suggest it doesn’t in the sales and marketing world.

You see, every time my marketing colleagues try to play outside their position and dabble with the tools, tactics, and techniques preferred by sales professionals they seem to muck things up for the both of us.

Based on my StrengthsFinder 2.0© profile, my strongest strength is Context – I understand the present by researching the past (aka history).  And when it comes to history, there are many examples of what happens when marketing professionals try to play the sales professionals’ position.

Take telephone prospecting (aka cold calling); a tough position to play even for the most seasoned sales professional.  Our marketing colleagues thought they could help which begot “telemarketing”.  Yuck!

Look at what happened to the art of business letter-writing.  Yep, marketing stepped in and voila… we have mass mail (aka junk mail).  Email correspondence begat email blasts (aka spam); LinkedIn for personalized, professional networking begat social media marketing (aka Internet din); and so on.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect and value most of the things marketing professionals contribute to the cause.  What sales professional doesn’t look forward to receiving a Marketing Originated Inquiry?  Anything warmed even slightly is better than a cold list.  But a Marketing Originated Inquiry isn’t a “lead” – that’s the sales professionals’ position.

Maintaining websites; search engine optimization; white papers; positioning statements; market research; branding; marketing communication pieces; the list is long for the value marketing provides.  Just not “leads”.

According to the renowned, marketing automation company, Marketo:

There are many definitions of a lead, and there are even more definitions of a “good lead”… in our own revenue cycle, a lead is “a qualified prospect that is starting to exhibit buying behavior”. But the sales and marketing team don’t always agree on what constitutes “buying behavior”…

Seemingly every time a marketing professional is attracted by the shiny objects sales professionals use in the pursuit of leads (let alone good leads) the marketer thinks applying the “more button” makes these tools, tactics, and techniques better.  When in reality, their “help” makes things worse.

It would be better if we all simply played our positions, true?


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Time off…

I’m reminiscing about my just completed, 2-week vacation.  It was time:

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” 

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.” 

“You must be an engineer”, said the balloonist.  “I am”, replied the woman, “How did you know”? 

“Well”, answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.” 

The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”  “I am”, replied the balloonist, “but how did you know”? 

“Well”, said the woman, you don’t know where you are or where you’re going.   You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.  You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to help. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.” 

Unknown Sage

So, I’m following Steven Covey’s advice:

It was the final of the lumberjack competition, only 2 competitors remained, an older experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack. 

The rules were simply – he who felled the most trees in 24 hours was the winner. 

The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the woods; set to work straight away; working all through the day and all through the night.  He felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win; because he knew that he had superior youth and stamina than the older lumberjack that he could also hear working away in another part of the forest. 

At regular intervals throughout the day the noise of trees being felled coming from the other part of the forest would stop, the younger lumberjack took heart from this thinking that this meant that the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to just keep going. 

At the end of the competition the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won, he looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort. 

At the medal ceremony the younger lumberjack stood on the podium still confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack.  Next to him stood the older lumberjack who he was surprised to see looked a lot less exhausted than he did. 

When the results were read out the younger lumberjack was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. 

He turned to the older lumber jack and said, “How can this be?  I heard you take a rest every hour whilst I worked continuously through the night, and I am younger, stronger and fitter than you old man”! 

The older lumberjack turned to him and said; every hour I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw.”

I love it when the old guy wins!


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Posted Jul 1 2016 by in True North with 2 Comments

Happy Independence Day Americans!  Here’s to a fun (and safe) July 4th weekend.  And here’s to our country – land of the free and home of the brave.

Our Founding Fathers had a very specific set of ideals in mind when they fought for our country’s independence.  The freedom they fought for seems to have morphed a bit over the years, yes?

Today, the term “it’s a free country” too often takes on unintended meanings and overly individualized interpretations.  Being free doesn’t mean we can do whatever-the-duck we feel like doing.  Pick any one of your personal pet peeves:  texting while driving; parking in handicapped spaces when you’re not actually handicapped (just old or fat); bringing your pet on a plane declaring it is an “emotional support animal” (which trivializes heroic service dogs performing invaluable service to those who really need it).  The list of “I’m an exception” is long.

Today, it seems many of us want to believe that this is “my” country so I’m entitled to make up my own rules – or abide by no rules at all.  I don’t think our Forefathers meant for America’s freedom to mean being undisciplined:

Piloting your own plane may suggest a desire for freedom.  It usually takes a lot of self-control, however, to earn the money necessary to buy your own plane.  And once you are at the controls, concentration and rules are vital.  Undisciplined pilots do not live long. 

Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.

Our country’s power lies not with us individually, but rather our ability to find common ground for the pursuit of our collective, common good.  It’s not about our individual W-2; it’s about how we share our fortune with those less fortunate:

Do all the good you can.

  By all the means you can.

    In all the ways you can.

      In all the places you can.

        At all the times you can.

          To all the people you can.

            As long as you can. 

John Wesley

Yes, America is the land of the free, but as it has been said many times, freedom is not free:

Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it.  It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.

Unknown Sage

We are also home of the brave.  And bravery is found in many more places than just on the battle field.  We witness bravery every day by everyday people, don’t you agree?

And bravery can be found in places we least expect it.  Take comedy for instance.  Joan Rivers was brave in her professional pursuits during an era where women were not treated as the equal of their male, comedian counterparts.  But she was not deterred:

The more successful you become, the fewer people will encourage you and cheer you on, and the more successful you become, the fewer people you will trust.  But that’s not bad, because if you’ve made it on your own, it gives you a chance to say, I did it.  No one helped me.  That’s only two sentences, and that’s good because success is a short-lived phenomenon that’s never to be trusted.  Enjoy it for the moment and then get back to work.  Never forget that work is the reason you became successful.

So let us all enjoy America’s success this weekend.  And then on Tuesday, let’s go back to work – working to make this country what our Founding Fathers and those who gave their lives for our freedom the type of country they had in mind.


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