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Archive for September, 2017

Coincidence…

I think I’ve had a fair share of coincidence in my lifetime.  How about you?  In fact, if not for coincidence, I may not be here.  More on that in a minute.

According to Wikipedia:

A coincidence is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances which have no apparent causal connection with each other. The perception of remarkable coincidences may lead to supernatural, occult, or paranormal claims.

What’s your view?  Do you believe in the paranormal?  Or, do you believe you control your own outcomes?  Perhaps a combination of the two – that’s where I align.  James C. Collins’ comment resonates with me:

Luck favors the persistent.

On the one hand, I feel I have worked very hard throughout my life to accomplish my accomplishments.  I know a lot of people who excel at excelling with a major effort intellectually, emotionally, and even physically.  They’re the early risers; the strivers; the competitors; the winners.

On the other hand, I have benefited often from random acts of kindness; luck; coincidence.  And if I were a betting man, I’d bet you have too.

For those events that we might consider having been “outside of our control”, what do you suppose the origin was; divine intervention; supernatural; coincidence?  How do you feel about having aspects of your life impacted by things “outside of your control”?

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. 

Dalai Lama

I’m comfortable with “fate” playing a significant role in my life.  Call it what you will, but without coincidence I might not be here today.  It has to do with World War II; my Dad; and Brownsville Texas.

Like so many men of the time, my Dad enlisted in the Army Air Corps to join in the defense of our country.  (The Army Air Corps was replaced in circa 1947, becoming today’s Air Force.)  Back in the 1940’s, my Dad was assigned to be a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber.  It was known as the “Flying Fortress” – but not for tail gunners.

Following basic training, my Dad was stationed in Brownsville, Texas for 6 months of gunnery school.  Coincidentally, the person in charge of records at his base knew my Dad and my Mom having worked with them at a manufacturing plant in suburban Chicago before the outbreak of the war.

This person – this “protector” – this “angel” – likely saved my Dad’s life; and I don’t even know his name.  You see after completing the 6 months of gunnery school, these soldiers were transferred to Europe where the B-17s were bombing Germany.  The person in charge of records maintained those records in a 3 x 5 card “system”.

After my Dad’s first 6 month training, when his 3 x 5 card came up for assignment, this person put his card at the back of the box of cards.  My Dad’s comrades shipped out; a new group of soldiers shipped in for gunnery school and my Dad repeated the training.  This occurred through three, 6-month cycles and then the war ended.  My Dad never was transferred to Europe.

This coincidence manifesting itself in the form of a 3 x 5 card, record keeping system and the person overseeing it meant my Dad never saw “action”.  Fortuitous for me you see because the mortality rate of B-17 tail gunners in WWII was 80%.  Had my Dad been in one of those bombers it is very likely I would have never been born.

Coincidence?  I’m a fan.

GAP

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How was your day?

I was in an earthquake in Mexico City; 7.1.

How do you work that into casual conversation?  Yesterday at about 1:15 pm local time, a powerful earthquake shook the bejeezus out my training class; our lunch break; my colleagues and me!  Thankfully, no one in our group got hurt.

Please pray for those in Mexico City and surrounding states that did get hurt; over 200 people killed; hundreds if not thousands injured.  According to The Guardian ©;

It was the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City, killing 5,000 people and destroying 10,000 homes.

Because of the anniversary and to commemorate that devastation we actually had an emergency evacuation drill scheduled for 11 am.  Just 2 hours before the real thing!  How do you work that into casual conversation?

During the episode, I wasn’t afraid; but I was not brave either.  I was conscious of the fact we were experiencing an earthquake – on the 19th floor of a hotel!.  What started out feeling like a freight train passing by, causing the table to vibrate quickly erupted into what seemed like a prolonged period of ferocious shaking; I could not keep my feet.

Those much braver and more capable than I were calling out; directing us towards the room’s framed archway.  Firmly they instructed us to move away from the windows; calmly, they reassured us that we will be alright.

I can remember looking out the window and seeing the glass buildings across the plaza moving and swaying.  It was surreal; reminded me of that scene in movie The Matrix when a disturbance rippled through the facade of an office tower.

In today’s aftermath, my overriding feeling is one of disappointment.  So many had invested so much before the earthquake hit – and after.  Gustavo Moussalli, out Latin American Division Director and the executive sponsor for the class made a huge commitment to his local partners; coordinating a 3-day enablement class to help contribute to their success.

Gerardo Diez Martinez, our local Channel Manager made all the logistical arrangements.  The meeting rooms and room set-up; AV equipment; food and beverage; Gerardo spared no expense to insure we would have everything needed to support his partners.

My colleague Susanna Lagtapon sacrificed time her daughter’s 13th birthday; traveling instead to join us for the class.  My colleague, Tony Caporal, whose cooler head and bravery prevailed following the earthquake; helping us retrieve our laptops and luggage.  (Even stopping at the lobby bar to grab a free beer on his way out.)

Our VP, Brian Enright, being our “home base”; coordinating flights out of town; hotel reservations; and anything else he could do to support us from afar.

And especially Hector Garcia from our long-time partner NetSoft.  Hector insisted on personally driving us to the airport; would not hear of us taking a taxi or a private car.  He would navigate us through the city streets; on constant vigil for our safety.  Three hours to drive us 12 kilometers.  Three hours in the opposite direction from his own home and family – taking us in his care.

As with all disasters, there were many heroes – named and unnamed.

But that was yesterday; Mexico City; and an earthquake.  Today, it’s hurricane Maria pounding Puerto Rico; last week it was hurricane Irma pounding Florida; the week before that is was storms and flooding in Houston.  Many heroes indeed – named and unnamed.

Thank you all and my God bless.

GAP

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Elephants…

One segment of the sales profession that fascinates me is selling “big deals”; “up market”; “enterprise”; “global”; “whales”… “Elephants”.  Many are enamored with the feast of the “kill”.  Few have the constitution for, nor an understanding of, the perils of the “hunt”.

Today, I do my best to support my clients in their “Elephant Hunting”.  I’m merely a guide however; having stopped carrying an elephant gun in 2011 when my elephants got away (see http://thequoteguys.com/2011/02/the-obvious-choice/ ).  My clients like that I know the language of the “hunter”; what to say; what to ask.  They also like that I know how to avoid the language of the “villagers”.

Big deal tracking is usually a quiet endeavor.  Not for want of self-invited guests.  When the boss hears we’ve got an elephant in the pipeline, she becomes our new best friend; along with product management; corporate executives; vendor partners; and a safari of followers.  Exactly the commotion the “hunter” doesn’t want.

I was speaking with a former sales rep of mine who lamented his disgust with his “elephant hunting” experiences over the course of a long and illustrious career.  Here he was, one of the best enterprise sales professionals I have ever known lamenting; lamenting!   It wasn’t about the financial remuneration or company accolades.  In my experience, it’s never been about the money (aka the “kill”) – it’s about the “hunt”.

Pursuing a big deal is as intellectually and confidence-challenging as it is exhilarating.  Exhilarating: as in exciting; terrifying; roller-coaster; nerve-wracking.  The exhilaration is the issue.  You see, “Elephants” are rare and missing the “kill” can be job-ending.  There’s also the negative impact of bringing in an “elephant” – only to have “the villagers drag the carcass off for their feast” expecting the “hunter” to simply go out and track down another.

In my wife’s business, a $500 transaction is considered “big”.  In the software business, many of my partners feel it takes a $500k level before it’s “big”.  I recently caught up with another former sales rep of mine who has been assigned a multi-million dollar quota from 13 accounts – 13.  I suppose if we were in the aerospace field, it would take a $500 Million deal before it gets to “elephant”.

Regardless, I find when a sales rep is working an “elephant”; it can not only be a lonely endeavor, but one that tests your intestinal fortitude.  Facing the prospect’s committee is tough enough.  Add-in lawyers (theirs and ours); purchasing; competition; plus, while tracking – worrying that “No Decision” is lurking in the shadows and will scare our rare “elephant” back into the jungle.

Still, all those pressures are trumped by the “village”.  It goes like this…  From our colleagues, every single time we see them – Hey Gary, how’s that big deal coming?  From our manager, every single time we see her – Hey Gary, did you close that big deal yet?  From corporate executives – Gary, you need to “commit” that big deal for this month.  From Accounting – Gary, you need to change the payment terms of that big deal to Net 30.

Even from the home front – Honey, when will you get the commission check for that big deal?  I wonder if she’s looking at our bank account:

Checkbook Balancer’s Law

In matters of dispute, the bank’s balance is always smaller than yours.

Unknown Sage

Enamored with the idea of selling “elephants”?  Be careful what you ask for.  To keep one’s sanity (and job), life as a “hunter” might mean living apart from the “villagers”.

GAP

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Vacation…

I just returned from vacation; actually, a “stay-cation”.  Hermited for a few; just me, my wife, our dog and our horses.  No deadlines; no stress – just horse manure; dog treats; relaxing; and recharging!

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking. 

Earl Wilson

We sprint for as long as we can – then rest and recharge via vacation.  And when I vacation, I unplug.  Do you?  I know… when I returned to work Tuesday, I had 289 emails waiting for me, too.  I’m still catching up.  But that’s OK; when I was gone, I was “gone”.

During my vacation from my full-time job, I actually worked in my other job – my wife’s company.  We staffed a booth at Taste of Colorado Thursday through Monday; 7:30 am until 10:30 pm.  15 hour days in 90-degree heat – now she’s ready for a vacation!

No rest for the weary.  One’s heavy workload is due to one’s own choice. 

Unknown Sage

Truth be told, we don’t have a high-stress jobs.  Stress in our world is self-imposed.  We take what we do seriously.  For those of you like us I know you can relate – we are all professionals at our profession, don’t you agree?  Perfection may not be demanded by others, but we professionals believe we should do our best to the best of our ability.

Work for professionals like us is fulfilling.  And for those of us lucky to be in fulfilling professions, we would like to enjoy this fulfillment for as long as we are able, true?  That premise coupled with the start of the football season, brings Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas to mind:

Live today, and every day, to the fullest; with awe and enthusiasm; because when you die, you’re dead for a long, long time.

This time of year, we hear of NFL players who don’t want to retire; still want to play in the lime light; don’t know what to do next.  The problem in athletics is Father Time is undefeated.  We all have to find our “next” in our lifetime.

And now I’m back, I’m rested; recharged; and ready to re-engage with my fulfilling work.  I continue to support my wife and her company – no rest ‘til Brooklyn for her I’m afraid.  Thanks Beastie Boys!

But that’s OK – she loves the company she launched four years ago as her “next”.  She has never been so engaged.  Even at our age, she and I found our wonderfully fulfilling “next”.  Still fending off Father Time; with awe and enthusiasm!

Not everyone though.  According to survey after survey in 2017 employee engagement is at historical lows.  Certain recent research suggests as many as 70% of employees are not fully engaged in their work.  70%!  Did they not take a vacation?  Or when they were gone, were they actually not “gone”?  Didn’t know how to “unplug”?

Can it be as simple as simply unplugging when you’re on vacation?  Or is there more to it?  Do 7 of 10 employees today really hate their job?  Scary!  Maybe we need to lighten things up a bit:

Oh, you hate your job?  Why didn’t you say so?  There’s a support group for that.  It’s called everybody, and they meet at the bar. 

Drew Carey

Come on 70%’ers; before hoping for some miraculous “next” without engagement – get out of the bar; take a vacation; unplug; and then get back in the game called life.  Johnny Unitas would if he were here today.

GAP

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