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Archive for June, 2017

Gray area? – Probably not…

Occasionally, I come across a written piece that really impacts me – think sledge hammer impact.  I’ve referenced such a piece I read recently in its entirety; hoping it impacts you, too.

Mark’s piece speaks directly to the point:  Do you and I have integrity?  Yes or no?

We will forget and forgive any judgment error that you make, but integrity mistakes are forever. 

David Cottrell

Regardless of our professions (but absolutely in the sales profession) skilled, intelligent, ambitious people have great power.  The question becomes how does one use one’s power?  IMHO, the most evil weapons turned inwardly upon the American people of our generation has been a PC and a spreadsheet operated by an ambitious, Wall Street, MBA.  Even Warren Buffett chimes in (followed by the sledge hammer):

In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.  

Warren Buffett

The phrase “Eight is Great” was a mantra for Wells Fargo from the CEO on down.  The targets were daunting. Every customer was to have 8 bank products.  Wall Street and shareholders were transfixed and came to expect even more impossible results quarter after quarter.

The controversy upended lives, shook the bank, and destroyed trust.  Leadership looked the other way, management pushed too hard, and reps took short cuts.  Short cuts led to deceit.  Deceit led to fraud.

Sales is as exciting as it is dangerous.  You negotiate the deals, bring in the revenue, and own the relationship.  Sales is also the most high risk and high stress of professions because it boils down to the number.  The expectation for earnings drives the revenue number which sets the quota at every tier of the sales organization.

Incentives drive behavior.  It starts with revenue goals and quotas.  That can lead to activities that live in the ethical gray area.  When you mix intelligence and ambition in an environment with no boundaries, the gray area takes over the culture.  Think Enron, the subprime mortgage crisis, and the litany of past corporate scandals.

Integrity is the cornerstone and foundation of professionalism. That is especially true in sales where trust is our currency and credibility can be fleeting.  Even small lies or misstatements can create huge rifts.

Integrity begins with you and your actions.  We all have that voice inside our head that causes us to pause when we come to an ethical dilemma.  Listen to it, pause, and think about the consequences.  If you are still unsure, talk it out with someone.  But in my experience, when the question pops up in your mind, it is a clear sign.

Even if you do right, what about the company you are employed?  The environment matters.  If your company signs deals at the “35th of the month”, if harassment goes unchecked, if “customer first” is more a punchline than practice, you do not want to be guilty by association.  You are better off working somewhere that respects ethics.

Live a life of integrity, all good things in life & sales starts with that one principle.

Mark Birch

Our favorite, Unknown Sage offers reinforcement:

Conscious – is when you are aware of something.

Conscience – is when you wish you weren’t.

And Emily Jong brings us home with this advice:

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.

When it comes to integrity – there really aren’t gray areas, are there?

GAP

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Class of 2029…

That’s my grandson’s class – the class of 2029.  WOW!  Now I feel old.

During my grandson’s recent kindergarten graduation event I thought a lot about education; learning; and knowledge over the generations.  It was fun to observe the family and friends of the kindergarten kids.  It was fun to observe the kids!

It occurred to me during that morning that everything I want to learn – my cell phone already knows.  I mean, if you think about what we need to think about in 2017 our little, cellular devices have put every answer to any question at our fingertips (and now at Alexa and Siri’s “fingertips”).  WOW!  Now I feel old.

Today, all we need is electricity; our cell phones will do the rest of the thinking for us.  But what type of “thinking” do these devices do?  Do phones have emotions?  Can they be compassionate?  Will these devices reinforce our social norms; mores; manners?  Will people equipped with these devices have the knowledge to even know the difference?

Ah yes, there’s that word “know”.  I asked my phone – it had the answer, of course:

verb.  1. Be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information

OK, seems pretty matter-of-fact.  But how does modern technology impact our ability to know?  Is technology enhancing or diminishing our inquiry?  Our observation?  Or just pouring out information?

I think we know that knowledge has value, don’t we?

An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends. 

Benjamin Franklin

But is knowledge “it”?  Is that all we need to know?  Is that the mission of the Class of 2029 – to know they need to gain knowledge?  Or, do they only need to know that cell phones run on electricity?  And their cell phones already “know” everything?

Could there be more?

Imagination is stronger than knowledge.  Dreams are more powerful than facts.  Hope always triumphs over experience. 

Robert Fulghum

Hmmm…  I’m aware through observation and inquiry that at my grandson’s kindergarten graduation one of the teachers cited excerpts from Robert Fulghum, too:

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten ©

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.  Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.  Play fair.  Don’t hit people.  Put things back where you found them.  Clean up your own mess.  Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.  Wash your hands before you eat.  Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.  Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.  Take a nap every afternoon

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.  Be aware of wonder.

Think what a better world it would be if all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.  Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put thing back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Siri – give that an Amen!

GAP

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Dads’ day…

My son might take my 6 year old grandson golfing this Sunday.  They go to the practice range often.  It’s the roots of a lifelong, father-son bonding; just like my Dad and I, along with my son for a few years, enjoyed.

Hopefully, the short amount of time I spent on the golf course with my son left him with core values of courtesy, camaraderie, and the pursuit of personal best.  Of course, other things are sometimes learned on the golf course:

Golfer Tommy Bolt is known for his sweet swing and foul temper.  While giving a clinic to a group of amateurs, Bolt tried to show his softer side by involving his 14-year old son in the lesson.  “Show the nice folks what I taught you”, said Bolt.  His son obediently took a 9-iron, cursed, and hurled it into the sky. 

Thomas Roswell

They don’t have to take us golfing to influence our lives, true?  Dads can simply set the example; doing – not just telling; instilling core values like pride in our work; ethics; honesty; quiet resolve to make a better life for our families.  That’s the paternal role my other son portrays.

Sunday, he might encourage his daughter (who has entered the workforce fulltime) to have a good day.  He might reinforce her customer service skills; how to address questionably ethical situations; address workplace safety.  Sunday, and every day, he is her Dad.

And we are all so proud when our children demonstrate the skill of common sense we hope we have taught them:

Kid wisdom:

When your Dad is mad at you and asks you, “Do I look stupid?”  Don’t answer him. 

Michael

Sometimes our Dads employ “tough-love”.  The worst years of my life occurred when I was trying such a tough-love approach.  I wasn’t skilled at it; didn’t like the outcome; and today would caution any young father to be wary of such an approach.  Whoever came up with the idea of tough-love was probably not a Dad.

But the good news is our children are resilient.  (Did they get that from us?)  If we are tough with them from time-to-time, it doesn’t have to be permanent, as offered by our Unknown Sage:

A flustered father, stressed out from his day at work, was unsuccessfully texting his kids to come in for dinner.  Finally, he walks out on his porch and yells for his kids to come in.

At that point one youngster turns to his brother and asks, “I can’t remember, which one am I – Jesus Christ or God Dammit?”

Ah yes – texting; technology; stress – challenges all for fathers to be good fathers Sunday.  But I suppose no more challenging that the technology and stress of their time for our fathers; grandfathers; and great grandfathers.  Nonetheless, Dads today take great pride in continuing to provide a home for their families, even if the definition of “home” has evolved:

Home, nowadays, is a place where part of the family waits ‘til the rest of the family brings the car back. 

Earl Wilson

So, here’s to our Dads; Sunday’s time with them; or Sunday’s phone conversation with them; or Sunday’s memories of them.  And here’s to step-fathers and father-figures that share that special kind of unconditional love with children who don’t have their biological father in their life.  May we continue to pass on the traditions of love we received from our fathers, grandfathers, and father figures.

Dads all.

GAP

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