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Day by day…

If I do the math 45 years is the equivalent of 16,425 days.  This coming Monday marks 45 years; 16,425 days.  A significant amount of time to be with one’s significant other, true?

In reality it’s been significantly more than 16,425 days when I think about our engagement, plus the many days we dated in high school. And every day for over 16,425 days – more than 45 years – I have enjoyed being married to my high school sweetheart.  Happy Anniversary Debbie!

Many of you are in a long-lasting relationship; many have been married longer than we.  A Mile High Salute!  Maybe my relationship thrived because I was a “road warrior” for several years?  As one of my colleagues once said:

The secret to a long marriage is a husband that travels. 

Lisa Kwiecien

As you know, I write about my wife frequently; not necessarily daily; but frequently.  Like any couple, we have our good days and our not-so-good days.  Like many couples, we’ve also had some of those relationship-testing; foundation-rattling; we’re-not-going-to-make-it; kind of days.   When those days have occurred we followed James P. Owen’s advice:

When you’re riding through hell… keep riding.

Any meaningful journey is like that, don’t you think?  Even one of America’s most famous sweethearts offered all of us her guidance on life’s journey:

Pain nourishes courage.  You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you. 

Mary Tyler Moore

Over our 16,000+ days, we have had more than our share of wonderful things happen; all driven by love.  In fact, 45 years ago this month the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was “Love Train” by the O’Jays.  According to Wikipedia:

The word ‘train’ comes from the Old French trahiner, from the Latin trahere meaning pull, or draw.

I have been a passenger on that love train as my wife has pulled us along for 45 years!  Of course, I’ve tried to pay attention to the little things that make a difference day by day; lighten her load a bit; smooth the tracks.  Rob Gilbert made a list:

How to have a Winning Day:

You have to listen more than you talk…

You have to smile more than you frown…

You have to be fascinated more than you’re frustrated…

You have to believe in yourself more than you doubt yourself.

You have to work more than you whine.

You have to do more than you don’t.

I have also paid attention to my role, responsibilities and boundaries:

Men ordering custom colors must first bring in a note from their wife.  

Guiry Paint Store

It’s OK; she writes the notes; I run the errands; we make a great team.  And on those occasional occasions where disagreement looms, we heed Harlan Miller’s advice:

Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving three or four things a day unsaid.

16,425 days and our love train is still rolling strong.  No matter our future course; no matter the challenges we will face; the trials that will test us; not even the weather we may encounter; our love train will continue – pulled along by my significant other – regardless of whether the wind is boosting us from behind our back or resisting us as it blows hard in our face.  Etheridge Knight’s words will continue to guide us:

Love is a rock against the wind.

Happy 45th Anniversary Dear!  You’re my rock and I love you.

GAP

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Strategic direction…

Last year, my company made a strategic change to our go-to-market approach and corresponding sales, implementation and support processes.  We made significant changes to almost all of our software programs too.

This is not a foreign phenomenon – companies implement strategic directional changes all the time, true?  And you know it’s strategic when they create a logo, a slogan, and have T-shirts made up.

As with any “strategic direction” there was a corresponding amount of “push-back” from the field.  This is also not a foreign phenomenon – pushback from the field is always a normal reaction to changes in strategic direction, especially from sales people – true again?

It always amazes me how change-adverse sales people are even though our profession is all about selling change.  But I digress.

I was one of the messengers tasked with going out to face sales teams and sell the advantages of said strategic direction.  Carrying the message from leadership to the field – fun!  I was not a member of the Corporate Staff, thankfully.  Just someone on one of the internal teams assigned to this project:

Corporate Staff:

Known in some quarters as Sea Gulls for reasons relating to their propensity to fly round the country leaving their mark wherever they have alighted. 

Norman R. Augustine

As I mentioned, there has been a degree of pushback from our constituents.  Pushback often gravitates towards the shadows of strategic initiatives; the areas not fully baked; vague issues yet to be worked out.  And vagueness in the technology field presents problems:

Golub’s Laws of Computerdom

Fuzzy project objectives are used to avoid the embarrassment of estimating the corresponding costs.

A carelessly planned project takes three times longer to complete than expected; if carefully planned, it will take only twice as long.

Project teams detest weekly progress reporting because it so vividly manifests their lack of progress.

We’ve all been there – leadership decides on a strategic direction and a project team is assembled to covey the tactical meaning and daily impacts to the field.  In 2017, I was one of those project team someones.  Hooray!

In 2018 we are continuing our strategic direction.  Our team has done a pretty good job with pretty good support in the deployment of these strategic changes.  But it seems that in every meeting, someone from the field stumps us with a question about the process and the changes that puts in that uncomfortable, “I have no clue what they were thinking” position.

When we are put on the defensive we can’t always defend or even explain our Corporate Staff beyond Woltman’s view:

Woltman’s Law

Never program and drink beer at the same time.

I think it will be OK though.  Strategic changes are often complicated; take a while to work out the vagaries; hard to convince everyone.  And given the complexity of this roll-out I feel we have faced the field as well as possible.

That is until we’re facing said field and someone raises an issue we weren’t prepared for.  Then, if we’re not careful; even with our pretty good efforts; we run the risk of making things worse:

Anderson’s Law

Any system or problem, however complicated, if looked at in exactly the right way, will become even more complicated.

So, if your company is making a substantial change and you’re involved with articulating the message behind the new, strategic direction to the field, don’t panic.  Just hide the keg in the programming department and plan your travel so you don’t follow behind the Corporate Staff.

GAP

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Good fortune…

Posted Mar 1 2018 by in True North with 0 Comments

February is my birth month. That means I will pause for a moment and reflect on the past twelve months. I will speculate on what the next twelve will bring, to be sure. But I need to do more than mere speculating. I must set a course for success. Good fortune does not appear by happenstance, true?

So far, I have finished my Annual Achievement Plan – yea! I have also submitted our documentation to the CPA who will finalize our income tax returns – yuck! I suppose if our financial situation is involved enough to merit a CPA’s expertise, that’s a good thing. Until I receive his invoice that is.

Speaking of good fortune… I’m looking forward to the upcoming year. It’s another year offering me the opportunity to get better. Lord knows I certainly have plenty to get better on. This year’s birthday can be the juncture between backwards and forwards:

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

Soren Kierkegaard

Looking backwards it is important to recognize my failures; understand what went wrong. On the other hand, I want to celebrate my accomplishments too. Like many people, regretfully I still gravitate to focusing more on my shortcomings than my successes. Gurus would say, “Live life with no regrets” – but I think that only works for gurus.

So if part of life’s fulfillment is facing and recovering from failures, then I am leading a very fulfilling life indeed LoL! Today, as I seek to understand my past year in preparing for this next year, I’ll try to heed John Charles Salak:

Failures are divided into two classes – those who thought and never did, and those who did and ever thought.

What do you think? Which class of failure is worse? I’m guilty of both. But that’s OK; this next year affords me the opportunity to learn from the past; to improve; to be better; to accomplish more; and hopefully, to fail less. How about you?

When we pause to think about it, one of the keys to good fortune has to do with our daily routine. A “big splash” or two might occur during the year. But for most of us it’s all of those little things; all of the details; all that we do (or choose not to do) day in and day out; that builds towards our annual outcome:

Some wins and some losses are big and unavoidable, but most of life is won or lost at the margin.

Harry S. Campbell

Setting up my daily routine to win “in the margins”, that’s an important lesson to apply to my upcoming year. And if God blesses me with peace of mind and a few “big wins”, I will be grateful. But I’m not counting on Divine Intervention to make my way. As has been said, we will reap what we sow. While remembering past failures, I am sowing this year’s successes.

Thankfully, I’m still ready, able, and willing to work for my harvest:

Luck is not chance, it’s toil. Fortune’s expensive smile is earned.

Emily Dickinson

So here’s to good fortune this next year on earth – for you; for me; for our families; and our friends. And as we stumble into failures seen and unseen, let those not deter us from fulfilling our full potential.

Then come the following year, we can repeat the process; building a lifetime worthy of remembering – of celebrating – of having won in the margins.

Good fortune everyone – let’s go to work!

GAP

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Olympians all…

It’s hard to top Olympic longevity.  Per Wikipedia:

The Olympic Games (Ancient Greek: Ὀλύμπια Olympia, “the Olympics”) were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of city-states … They were held in honor of Zeus, and the Greeks gave them a mythological origin. The first Olympics is traditionally dated to 776 BC.

That’s 2,794 years (and counting)!

Are you watching the 2018 Winter Games?  What’s your favorite part?  Here’s mine from a previous Games:

Let your imagination put you in a grandstand at the Seattle version of the Special Olympics.  There are nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash.  At the gun, they all start out, not exactly in a dash, but with relish to run the race to the finish and win.  All, that is, except one boy who stumbles on the asphalt, tumbles over a couple of times, and begins to cry.  The other eight hear the boy cry.  They slow down and look back.  They all turn around and go back… every one of them.  As you watch, one girl with Down’s Syndrome bends down and kisses him.  You hear her say, “This will make it better.”  All nine link arms and walk across the finish line together.  Everyone in the stadium, including you, stands up, and the cheering goes on for several minutes.  People who were actually there are still telling the story, four years later.  Why?  Because deep down we know this one thing:  What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means changing our own course. 

David S. Pottruck

The Olympics are a major TV event.  High drama perhaps; but has their purpose morphed? Originally the Games were religious in nature; intended to honor the Greek Gods.  Back to Wikipedia:

In the ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, the Twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus.  Hades and Persephone were sometimes included as part of the twelve Olympians (primarily due to the influence of the Eleusinian Mysteries), although in general Hades was excluded, because he resided permanently in the underworld and never visited Olympus.

I didn’t know that.

Here’s what I do know – Olympians are not limited to Olympic Games.  For many of us, just facing our daily challenges is an Olympic event.  For many of us, making ends meet requires an Olympian effort.

For many of us, each day we must set our mind for victory to avoid defeat

If you think you are beaten, you are,

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you like to win, but you think you can’t,

It is almost certain you won’t.

 

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,

For out in the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will –

It’s all in the state of mind.

 

If you think you are outclassed, you are,

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

 

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But soon or later that man who wins

Is the man who thinks he can. 

Unknown Sage

The Olympics will continue in the future.  For the rest of us; we will rise tomorrow; set our mind for the demands of our day; thinking (BELIEVING) “we can”!

Not something I would call “Games”.

GAP

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Luv rules…

Today is Valentine’s Day – men, it’s not too late.  There’s still time to do something special for that special person.

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 farming 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 today:

Love rules without rules. 

Italian Proverb

Who says men are oblivious and have no powers of observation?  OK – so a billboard is hard to miss; not very subtle.  But observing that man’s demonstration of love reminds us all that today, 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

Today 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 on Valentine’s Day – and every day.

GAP

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Horse people…

I like being around horse people.  They have commitment!  For that matter, I like being around farmers, ranchers, and western folk.  I like their foundation of values – God, country, family.  I like their work ethic; centered on kids, crops, and critters vs. board rooms, bank accounts, and bling.

Since moving to Colorado, my wife has become a horse person; and my younger son, his wife, and my granddaughter, too.  After growing up in suburban Chicago, I now live with a whole different “herd”.  And these horse people are committed!

My husband said if I don’t sell my horses, he will leave me.  Some days I miss him.

Unknown Sage

In January, I enjoyed being around western folk and horse people almost the entire month as I worked evenings and weekends with my wife’s company at the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo.  She is the unofficial embroiderer for the National Western Event Center equestrian events.  She embroidered 83 champion coats over a 16 day stretch:

One of my favorite events involved the draft horse teams.  Talk about commitment!  On surface, the audience sees the power and beauty of these teams that campaign throughout the United States.  They certainly exemplify western values as written about in James P. Owen’s book, Cowboy Ethics©:

Ride for the brand.

Those in the know understand what it takes below the surface for these folks to run such campaigns.  The time commitment alone necessary to prepare to compete in a venue such as the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo is indescribable.  Not to mention the small fortune required to enter the event.

When you look at this picture of 14, 6-horse teams (84 tons of horse!) I figure you’re looking at a financial investment of $8,029,000!

$105,000 for tack (42 sets of harness, hitches and reins x $2,500 per set; 3 pairs per team – 2 horses as the wheel team; 2 horses as the swing team; and 2 as the lead team, all with special fitting, matching tack); 14 show wagons with trailer @ $25,000 each = $350,000; 14 pick-up trucks to haul the show wagon trailers @ $70,000 each = $980,000; 14 tractor-trailers to haul the 84 draft horses @ $110,000 each = $1,554,000; and 84 show draft horses @ $60,000 each average public auction price = $5,040,000.

Not counting the cost to hay these horses (50 pounds of hay per horse per day x 84 horses x $5 per pound x 365 days = $7,665,000); and grain them (50 pounds of grain per day…); or to shoe them … or to vet them … or the fuel for the vehicles to haul them … or… or… or…

The $2,500 prize money for the 1st place team (along with a couple of “Champion” jackets provided by NWSS and embroidered by my wife) clearly is not the reason why these western folk compete, true?

While many were watching the NFL playoffs on TV (and perhaps remembering the controversy NFL players started by kneeling during the National Anthem); these teamsters were filling water troughs; grooming their horses; polishing their tack and wagons; mucking manure out of stalls.  They all know one another and enjoy visiting with fellow competitors; sharing stories.  While caring for their critters, they eat their meals in the barn; and prepare for their next event.

And at the start of each and every day, everyone stands and “removes cover” for the singing of our National Anthem.  Yep – I really like being around horse people!

GAP

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I’m Gonna…

Annual planning; boat-floating; achievement drive; creating memories; we’re one month into 2018… now what?

If we don’t intervene, the start of each New Year can look a lot like the end of the previous calendar year, don’t you agree?  Many of us have great intentions each New Year; some of us even make New Year resolutions.  That’s a boon for health clubs.  Weight loss goals, along with many other popular resolutions, recycle this time of year for many of us.

Resolutions recycle because of the high failure rate.  Here’s what the Google Machine says:

Only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions, according to one commonly cited statistic. There are many reasons people can’t stick to their resolutions, from setting too many of them to getting derailed by small failures.

Count me in on the list of those with great intentions.  The problem is intentions don’t count:

You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do. 

Henry Ford

Nonetheless, I will try and re-try and re-re-try in 2018.  I bet you will too.  We vow not to get derailed by small failures; nor will we postpone our effort:

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.

Donald Robert

This year – we’re gonna!  This year, we will join those 8 percenters.  Of course, the odds are not on our side.

It’s curious why there are so many of us that share this dilemma.  I mean, we are capable; intelligent; even successful in our fields of endeavor.  But when it comes to self-improvement or self-discipline, we often perform worse for ourselves than we do for our companies, our clients, and our careers.  Disappointing.

I have spoken about the “Principle of Disappointment” before, meaning: Every day I know I’m going to disappoint someone.  Every day I know I won’t be able to complete every task on my task list.  Every day I start the day with determination to do it all, get everything done, disappoint no one.  And at the end of every day I fail – someone was disappointed today.  Every day.

It’s inevitable for me and I believe it’s inevitable for us all.  The better and more capable we are, the more we pile on to our daily To Do List; inevitably setting ourselves up for small failures.

If you believe (as I do) that we cannot avoid disappointing someone today, then the only question remaining is, “Who will we not disappoint today?”  Ironically, we rarely put ourselves at the top of that list.  (Google suggests 92 out of 100 of us don’t.)  And inevitably, we become the very ones we disappoint… especially as it relates to our self-improvement and personal development goals.  It’s a common trap

Life is what happens when we’ve made other plans. 

Susan Jeffers

No, we can’t “plan” our way around it.  And, we can’t avoid the Principle of Disappointment.  If we will achieve our self-improvement goals it will take focus; it will take a new way of prioritizing; it will take acceptance that we will inevitably disappoint some one today; and every day; but today, it will not be us!

This year I will try and re-try to put myself on the list of those who succeed with their resolutions.  This year, if I accomplish my self-improvement goals then I will become an even better resource for my company, my clients and my career.  A healthier, better balanced “me” is good for all those I care about.  You too?

This year – I’m gonna!

GAP

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Memorable…

Posted Jan 24 2018 by in True North with 1 Comment

What do you remember about 2017?  Or for that matter, 2016 or even 2015?  You know … it wasn’t very long ago.  What stands out?

Living in the moment is one thing; but pausing our daily grind to remember why we’re grinding every day to begin with is important as well, true?  Do you have to consult Facebook or your cell phone photo gallery to remind you?  Are today’s machines going beyond dominating our daily routine and now replacing our memories also?

If we’re not careful, our fast-paced life can become a blur.  Guilt can surface when we’ve missed time with our family because of our job.  If we don’t pay attention, our failures, short comings, and tragedies can consume our memory.

Here’s an item (and a picture) I’m adding to my 2018 plan reminding me to lighten up – courtesy of Guy R. Ratti:

I carry a picture of myself as a child (about six years old) to remind me of two things: 

To remember to always look at the world as a child does, with wonder and excitement of what I can become.

To remember to forgive and love myself just as I would that innocent child in the picture. 

Too many grown-ups live their lives feeling guilty over mistakes made or lose time blaming themselves for things that could have been.  I remember what it is like to be a child and know that in many ways I am not much different from that boy in the picture.

Our approach to remembering things can vary by age group, too.  The young have their whole future unfolding in front of them.  Looking back is less common because looking ahead is a wonderful opportunity to imagine what can be; what will be.  The old are in a different state and we often look back.  Here’s Jan Carroll’s observation:

The young are luckier:  They don’t need to remember what the rest of us are trying to forget.

Will we commit to memory all of the wonderful things that happen in our lives; every accomplishment; every enjoyment; our family; our friendships; all of the good things that surround us in 2018?

OK, but what about the “other stuff”?  Yes, we all have to face the constant drum beat of negative impressions often courtesy of our modern media where negativity; mud-slinging; and shock seem to be their stock and trade.   It’s true that we have to face it; and when it’s real, we have to deal with it.

We have to deal with it when it’s labeled “fake news” as well, but we don’t have to commit those images to memory:

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

Elbert Hubbard

There is a limit to everything that one can remember over the course of our lifetime.  Starting in 2018 let’s commit to remembering the good things in our lives and leave the “other stuff” to the machines.   Google can call up that “other stuff” as necessary.

We can also count on those that have better memories for counting stuff than we do:

Creditors have better memories than debtors. 

Benjamin Franklin

We don’t have to constantly stress out over our credit card balances; student loans; and mortgages.  Others are doing that counting and they are more than happy to remind us.

So, let’s make 2018 memorable for all of the right reasons.  Go ahead and share your childhood pictures everyone.  I bet they are memorable!

GAP

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Achievement Drive…

I met with a front-line sales manager recently.  I believe front-line management of any kind is among the most difficult jobs in today’s work place.

He recapped the sales management process he has put in place.  He has confidence in this process; his 1-to-1 coaching interactions; the clarity of expectations he’s set with each of his sales reps.

However, at the team level?  Of his 7-person sales team; 2 are over-quota; 1 is at quota; and 4 are under-quota.  Scary.  I said his distribution was in line with industry research.  Not following the research, he was surprised.

I’m not experienced with other functional areas, but in the sales area teams rarely have everyone over-quota.  I know managers want “A-Players”; but in the real world, most teams have “B” and “C” players, too.

Integrity Solutions (see https://www.integritysolutions.com/) recently provided this research published in Sales & Marketing Magazine©:

Perhaps the most important issue affecting sales performance today is the concern over lagging sales quotas.  According to CSO Insights, only 51% of salespeople across all industries made quota in 2017, down from 53% in 2016, 55.8% in the previous year, and a steady decline from 63% in 2011.

Barely 50% of sales reps are over-quota.  Almost 50% don’t make it!  That catches a sales manager’s attention, yes?  Scary.  Add in the reality that some over-performing reps will turn over every year (either positive, aka “promotion”; or negative, aka “adios”) and the sales manager’s team quota looms even larger.

It’s scary to believe that 50% of your sales people won’t make quota.  It begs the question, “What do I do about it?”  Integrity Solutions offers us coaching; the Germans do too.

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. 

German Proverb

I said to my colleague that he should not invest his time equally with his 7 sales reps.  He agreed, thinking he should spend more time with his under-performers.  I suggested exactly the opposite.

You see, his under-performers have to earn extra resources (including their manager’s time).  Industry research states many of them simply won’t make it.  As a sales manager, I believe the best thing we can do for our people is to help them clarify their understanding of themselves.  Sales is the unchosen profession:

Sales is what we do when we can’t do anything else.

But it’s not for everyone; nor is it easy.  It can be scary.

Integrity Solutions extends this foundation-building advice:

Every salesperson unconsciously asks and silently answers these questions as part of that internal dialogue:

  • Who am I?
  • What’s possible for me to sell?
  • What’s not possible for me to sell?
  • What’s possible for me to earn?
  • What’s not possible for me to earn?
  • What level of people am I able to call on and sell?
  • What level of people am I not able to call on and sell?
  • What level of life rewards do I think I deserve to enjoy?
  • What level of life rewards do I not think I deserve to enjoy?

The sales rep’s musts: Answer these questions before the sales manager can offer support.  Pour a foundation of achievement drive to build knowledge and skills upon.  Start with the right mind set:

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? 

Robert Schuller

The sales manager can help; but research indicates most sales reps won’t commit to, or be able to succeed.  That means the manager’s 100% quota assignment will ultimately come from the achievement drive of 50% of the reps.  Scary.

GAP

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Boat floating…

Last week I wrote about Annual Achievement Planning.  Planning is one thing; now comes the achieving part.  Motivation is a good place to start, yes?

Careful though, individual motivation is quite personal.  For me, recognition floats my boat.  For you, it might be a promotion or an office.  If you manage a team, how do you motivate while avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach?

Here are excerpts of Tim Houlihan’s thoughts (see “Don’t show me the money”) published in Sales & Marketing Management ©:

A few months ago, I was in Denver and met a retired man who asked about my work. I told him I research the motivational effectiveness of different types of rewards. He held up a worn leather bag and said with a smile, “I was a sales rep and this was my first reward for winning a sales contest in 1967.” He beamed at the accomplishment made over 50 years ago.

When it comes to motivation, our brains know deep down what we’ll do with a bonus check: pay off a credit card or replace the water heater. There’s no joy and no motivation in that. Motivation comes from a new TV or a vacation, especially if it’s a reward.

Don’t show them the money, show them the vacation, show them the new bling. Focus your incentive spend so reps have unforgettable experiences — not just a paid-off credit card. High performers are motivated by things and trips, not cash.

I had a unique motivational experience in 2016, receiving “on stage” recognition:

Unfortunately, my last name was misspelled turning a boat floating opportunity into, “Misspelled?  Really?!”

That certificate hangs in my cube as motivation; reflecting my potential job security.  Such “one-size-fits-all; let’s not bother to check the spelling of his name” example reminds me of the, “Here today; forgotten tomorrow” realities of today’s workplace.

In the sales profession, much has been said and much has been written about the role money plays in motivation.  Money actually fits that impersonal, “one-size-fits-all” category mentioned above.  In the real world, money doesn’t float sales reps’ boats the way many people think it does.  Personal motivation is not that simple.

Here’s another excerpt from BI Worldwide also published in Sales & Marketing Management © (see “Nudging Sales Reps”):

While it can be intuitive to believe the risk-loving nature and generally high confidence of sales reps would lead to both high goal selection and high goal achievement, research is proving otherwise.

Risk-loving?  High confidence?  Research suggests maybe not.

What if sales reps aren’t these made-up, Hollywood, gun-slinging personas?  What if we’re just average people working in a career where individual performance dictates our income, our outcomes, and our very job security?  What if it’s a symbol of accomplishment in the face of job uncertainty that floats our boat? A leather bag; a paper certificate?

What if a bonus or a commission – minus taxes of course – just blends into our direct deposit for a week, and then it’s spent; gone; forgotten?

Looking beyond stereotypes and following credible research we find motivation originates from sources more powerful than mere money.  However, these sources are personal.  For managers, they’re hard to leverage; they aren’t “one-size-fits-all”; but they’re there.  And when we’re motivated – we will “run through walls” to achieve!

Today’s research is sales-oriented.  Yet, if sales reps are truly mere mortals; just average people risking income and job security on quota performance; then these principles apply to any person and every position, true?

What will float your boat in 2018?

GAP

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