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Archive for May, 2017

Memorable…

Today of course, is Memorial Day; begging the question, what makes it memorable for you?

When we google the origin of Memorial Day:

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

2017 finds some wishing to eradicate the memory of those men and women who died on the confederate side of the Civil War.  Is that the best way to honor what was at stake; what was gained; and what was lost 150 years ago?

2017 finds us all “drafted” into a twisted type of military service.  Our foes don’t pitch their armies against ours anymore.  Now it’s fanatics terrorizing innocent civilians.  Is this worth memorializing?

2017 finds a special election in Montana in the headlines as the statesmanship (or lack thereof) of a United States Representative is called into question as he chose violence over tolerance in a stressful moment.  Is that the government, “of the people; by the people; and for the people” our Founding Fathers had in mind?

2017 finds our extensive and seemingly ever expanding media continuously pounding “we the people” with everything that’s wrong with our way of life, true?  Violence; dishonesty; greed; disgraces of every kind – even involving celebrity media members themselves – nothing seems off limits to the shock value needed to compete for citizenship followership.  Memorable?

As we celebrate Memorial Day I am torn between what is worth remembering and what I’d sooner forget.  In 2017 one has to “effort” to stay focused on the positive things in our world in the face of unending bombardment of negativity, don’t you agree?

A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness. 

Elbert Hubbard

2017 finds us at this crossroads of what to remember and what to forget.  I mean, there will always be evil; wrong-doers; and negativity surrounding us.  In the history of humankind, there always has been.  2017 is no different.

So, in 2017 the real challenge becomes what do we do about it?  I came across this Monday Motivation that stimulated me to reflect on meeting the challenge; thanking those that positively influence my life – thought I would pass it along in case you didn’t see it:

https://twitter.com/MotivatorMonday/status/866536815913820160

2017 and Memorial Day reminds me to reflect on those who died in the cause of defending our way of life, to be sure.  I’m adding to my Memorial Day time to reflect on those who live and make my daily challenges easier to overcome.  Those are memorable and worthy of thanking, too.  And yes, you are on my list of those to thank – well at least most of you:

People who read me seem to be divided into four groups; Twenty-five percent like me for the right reasons; 25 percent like me for the wrong reasons; 25 percent hate me for the right reasons.  It’s the last 25 percent that worries me. 

Robert Frost

2017 and Memorial Day is our opportunity to stay positive; hopeful; grateful; civil; in the face of it all.  And our favorite, Unknown Sage reminds us of what “all” likely is:

Law of Probable Dispersal:

Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

Distribution aside; in 2017 we have a choice over what is memorable; positive or negative.  What do you choose?

GAP

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Discomfort…

I chatted with a colleague over coffee recently.  We were discussing her experience and the parallels between acting and selling.  As an actor and a sales professional, she coaches sales professionals on presentation and demonstration skills (check her stellar work out www.performancesalesandtraining.com).

During our conversation something Julie said turned this light bulb on:

Sales success (similar to acting success) requires one to become comfortable with our discomfort.

Oh, and now I’m thinking discomfort is not limited to selling or acting, agreed?  I remember when my wife and I brought our first son home from the hospital after he was born.  He was lying in his crib in his bedroom, sleeping.  I turned to my wife and asked, “Now what?”  Parenthood – a lifelong endeavor of becoming comfortable with our discomfort, true?

You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going. 

Unknown Sage

The more I thought about our conversation the more examples came to mind about professional discomfort.  I think about athletes calming their nerves in the waning moments of tight competition; the fame and fortune that goes to the few who made the “big play” during those “big moments” in that “big game”.

Then my mind flashes to the first time my granddaughter got behind the wheel of a car to start learning how to drive.  Everyone was seeking comfort with that particular discomfort; her, me; every other driver on the road!  And that discomfort is not limited to young people:

When I die, I want to die like my Grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep.  Not screaming like all the passengers in his car. 

Unknown Sage

My younger son was a rough rider in high school rodeo for a few years.  I can’t imagine how he overcame the discomfort of lowering his body in the bucking chute onto the back of a soon-to-be bucking bronco; settling in; strapping in; seeking comfort knowing what the ensuing discomfort will entail.  Back to our Unknown Sage:

Cowboy secrets to life’s success:

Don’t let your head strap your hand to anything your butt can’t ride.

Never corner anything meaner than you.

I’m thankful Julie agreed to meet for coffee which stimulated this thinking about discomfort.  She clarified another aspect of my job I hadn’t thought of before.  You see, when I lead sales training sessions I like to take my class participants out of their comfort zone.  Truth be told, I do that because I remember to this day when I was the class participant and totally uncomfortable.

My very first sales trainer, Frank Justo in 1979, scared the bejesus out of me!  The role plays he took the class through were brutal.  Today, as I work with my class participants I smile; remember Frank; and think, payback time!

Thankfully, I came across this thought leadership suggesting one aspect of my approach actually has value:

Training Techniques – Giving Assignments

Hint: People retain and accomplish more when dealing with tasks they are not allowed to complete as opposed to those they are allowed to complete.  We are conditioned to complete things.  It creates discomfort when we can’t, but that discomfort also has a memory value. 

Geri McArdle

Julie summarized that reading for parts and rehearsing for demos whether young actors or old sales reps; are uncomfortable.  Immersing oneself into the role is one technique that helps actors and reps alike, become comfortable with our discomfort.

And hers were very comforting words.

GAP

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Force multipliers…

I enjoy coaching sales managers.  IMHO, it’s the toughest role in the business; part super-sales-rep; part leader; part administrator; part trainer.  Lots of parts to being a front-line manager (sales or otherwise), true?

In the sales department, companies like to promote top sales reps.  Despite all the research stating almost universally those top sales reps don’t have the requisite skill set to be effective sales managers; companies promote them anyway, yes?

In, “Critical Ways Managers Motivate and Demotivate Employees”, Dr. Bradberry offers:

Organizations know how important it is to have motivated, engaged employees, but most fail to hold managers accountable for making it happen… When they don’t, the bottom line suffers… Gallop research shows that a mind-boggling 70% of an employee’s motivation is influenced by his or her managers.  It’s no wonder employees don’t leave jobs; the leave managers.

When in doubt – blame it on the manager – but that might actually be accurate.

I get it; I’ve been one.  And like all managers, I enjoyed some success; endured some failure.  Some of my direct reports thrived under my management; some hated me; a few I had to fire.

I too wanted to learn the answer to the question I was recently asked by an Oracle Sales Manager, “Gary, what is my job?”  He continued, “Should it be the super-sales-closer”?

Coming in at the end of a sales process; offering your pen to sign the order; leading the close, the win, the “kill of the hunt”… that’s the glory part of selling.  Do sales managers think their people like them stealing the lime light?  Does the manager understand the damage she is doing to her own credibility?

Damage you say?  How does closing deals damage manager credibility?  After all, the sales rep still gets the commission.  Going back to the question at hand, deal-closing is not the sales manager’s job.

Each time the sales manager steps in and “takes control” she delivers the message to the sales rep, “You’re not capable.”  Oh yes, I’ve heard the justifications…  “Gary, I’m just helping my reps until they become self-sufficient.”   Really?  IMHO – it doesn’t work that way:

Call it a universal law… You are exactly as credible (as a sales manager) as (your sales rep) is with you… Recognize him for what he is – a mirror of you. 

Barry Trailer

No, I don’t believe the front-line sales manager should be the “super-sales-closer” and in so doing damage their own credibility.  Jump in on one deal, and managers tend to jump in on all deals.  The lime light is addicting.  The sales manager role must scale to much greater heights above just deals.

Managers must focus on getting the job done through their team; they must build-up their team’s credibility.  And that takes great skill when dealing with rep diversity.  For example:

Treating everyone equally shows your top performers that no matter how high they perform… they will be treated the same as the bozo who does nothing more than punch the clock.

Dr. Bradberry

OK, OK, let’s lighten up on Bozo – it’s not easy being a clown.

But managers must encourage each person to believe he is the super-sales-closer.  Managers must get the most from each person on their team – regardless of diverse experience and skills.  Each sales rep must believe she will kill her quota; is unstoppable; is totally credible:

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. 

Colin Powell

Yep – the sales manager has so much more to accomplish than merely closing deals.  Don’t you think?

GAP

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Special Moms…

Moms are special, true?  My Mom was special – I bet your Mom is (or was) special, too.  This coming Sunday – in mind; in memory; or in person; please be sure to make it a special day for your Mom.

My wife is a special Mom.  She continues to lovingly mother our grown boys and our grandchildren even while their father worries, “How do I get all of these kids off the payroll?”  But I digress.

Our Moms have a special sense of humor – just ask our favorite, Unknown Sage:

A wife invited some people to dinner.  At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”  I wouldn’t know what to say”, the girl replied.  “Just say what you hear Mommy say”, the wife answered.  The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Our Moms are special teachers.  Remember many of the life-long lessons you learned from your Mom?  These special lessons we learned from our mothers are often passed down through generations.  Back to our Unknown Sage:

What my Mother taught me:

My Mother taught me logic;

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

My Mother taught me irony;

“Keep laughing and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

My Mother taught me about the science of osmosis:

“Shut your mouth and eat your supper!”

Even Bill Gates has a take (including “Mom” in his reference to his parents, and ours):

Excerpt from Bill Gates’ speech to Mount Whitney High School, Visalia, CA:

Rule 1 – Life is not fair; get used to it.

Rule 7 – Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now.  They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were.  So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Our Moms have a special and immeasurable reservoir of power.  I bet your Mom has power; my Mom did.  She was stricken with cancer when I was 6 years old.  In fact, I no longer remember a time when she was not ill.  The last 15 years of her life were spent undergoing cancer treatments.

I watched my Mom’s great power, which she needed in order to deal with a new cancer treatment in the late 1960’s that was so unimaginably harsh – that the administration of this treatment was solely based on the primitive science of trial and error – where the doctors’ routine consisted of observing how much of a dose could she tolerate without dying from the treatment.

It was an experimental treatment back then; offered only as a last resort for terminally ill cancer patients. This wasn’t a cancer cure; just a radical option to extend one’s life another year or two.  It was due to her staying power (and that of many other patients like her) before she finally succumbed in 1974, that has helped pave the way to the development of the commonly used, life-saving cancer treatment we all know today as chemotherapy.

How many special Moms have died fighting terrible diseases (and brutal treatments) so the rest of us can benefit from the overly exaggerated term, “modern medicine”?

Mother’s Day – make it special for your Mom if she’s living; make it special for you through your memories of your Mom if she’s not.

GAP

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Keys to success…

The History Channel recently telecast, “The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us” the documentary stated the key to financial success in the 1980’s was greed.  Individual greed no matter what the impact; no matter what the collateral damage; no matter who was stepped on; the Michael Douglas line in the movie Wall Street surmised, “Greed is good.”

Is that the key?  I certainly hope not.  But what makes one person super successful while others struggle through life?  What makes one cause successful while other causes fail?  Or a business; or a sports team; or medical research?  What are the keys to success?

Of course, let’s not to get too carried away with the sound bite, “keys to success”.  It seems to oversimplify things.  Besides, keys are kept on key chains – and key chains make me nervous:

A key chain is a gadget that allows us to lose several keys at the same time.    

Unknown Sage

Perhaps one key to success is confidence.  Here’s an excerpt from “Critical Things Confident People Won’t Do” (see https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/critical-things-confident-people-wont-do-dr-travis-bradberry ) by Dr. Travis Bradberry:

In The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda is training Luke to be a Jedi, he demonstrates the power of the Force by raising an X-wing fighter from a swamp. Luke mutters, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda replies, “That is why you fail.”

As usual, Yoda was right — and science backs him up. Numerous studies have proved that confidence is the real key to success.

And who doesn’t believe Yoda was successful?  Talk about not being able to judge a book by its cover!  But that occurred, “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

OK, success sits on a foundation of confidence.  But we’ve all witnessed some pretty kooky confidence from time to time,

Even though we have admittedly fallen behind on the engine development, I feel confident that we will have the airplane’s engine there for the first flight.  

Norman R. Augustine

Not exactly the underpinnings of a successful airplane manufacturer.

Dr. Brad emphasizes another key to success we probably all can agree on – to be successful, we must believe.  Believe in what we’re doing; believe in our product or service; believe in our company or cause; believe in our team.  Most importantly, we must believe in ourselves; especially in the face of adversity.

Our self-belief is a powerfully positive influence on others too.  But we must lead the way for others:

Gentlemen, enlisted men may be entitled to morale problems, but officers are not. 

General George C. Marshall

So far confidence, good morale, and self-belief are keys that will contribute to our success.  However, we might need a few more keys on that key chain, yes?  Let’s keep looking.

How about this key offered by another thought leader:

Success, real success, in any endeavor demands more from an individual than most people are willing to offer- not more than they are capable of offering. 

James Roche

Hmmm…  James Roche suggests we all are capable of being successful but the degree of success we realize boils down to our individual will.  What do you think?  Can one will oneself to success?  Well, do you know of anyone who succeeded without a strong will?

I guess I can’t simply list the specific keys to success.  I confess I don’t have the key chain.  But if the keys to success needs to include confidence; self-belief; positive morale; and a strong will; then I believe there’s hope for you (and me) yet.

GAP

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