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Ladders or Jungle Gyms?

I was chatting with a colleague of mine recently.  He was thinking of putting his “hat in the ring” for a management role.  He asked for my opinion.  I’m always up for sharing opinions, although I know that my opinions are not always welcomed:

“What’s your opinion of my idea?” the brash young man asked his boss.  “It isn’t worth anything”, said the boss.  “I know”, conceded the young egotist, “but give it to me anyway.”

Unknown Sage

Nonetheless, we had a nice conversation about the position he was interested in.  We discussed the pros and cons of managing people.  We also discussed the potential “downside” if he didn’t pursue the position; or worse, pursued it at less than an “all in” manner.  Would there be another opportunity in the future?

I believe the way you go after a job is as important as the credentials you have (or don’t have).  He expressed concern over whether this was the right “Career Ladder” move, and if so was it the “right time”.  I don’t know much about “right timing”.  I have never been skilled at figuring out what the “right time” is when it comes to career moves.  But I know timing is important:

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. 

Texas Bix Bender

In absence of a conclusion, we circled back to his career ladder question.  Which in turn stimulated this question:  Is the concept of a career ladder relevant in the 21st century?  I know people move up in organizations; I see people moving up in my organization frequently.  I also see people leave my organization equally if not even more frequently.  Maybe they believe that to move up they have to move on.

When you look at an org chart, the higher up you look the fewer spots there are, true?  Sometimes it appears the only way people from lower levels can move up is if the higher-ups move on.  And when openings appear, does it have to be some sequential progression up a ladder?

If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat.

Eric Schmidt

Do you recognize the name Eric Schmidt?  He was the CEO at Google from 2001-2015.  Talk about a rocket ship!  Prior to joining Google, he led the now defunct Novell Corporation.  I wonder: Did riding one company to oblivion lead to the next rung up on the career ladder at another?

Exactly how does career progression work these days?

The most common metaphor for careers is a ladder, but this concept no longer applies to most workers… the average American has eleven jobs from the ages of eighteen to forty-six… (Bureau of Labor Statistics) …  Pattie Sellers conceived a better metaphor:  Careers are a jungle gym. 

Sheryl Sandberg

Do you recognize the name Sheryl Sandberg?  She is the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook.  Prior to her technology career, she was Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of the Treasury.  Pattie Sellers is the former Assistant managing Editor of Fortune.

I’m thinking this jungle gym metaphor might have some merit.  According to Wikipedia:

Ninety-one percent of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers. That means they would have 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives!

Maybe it’s time to throw out those ladders.

GAP

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Relevant experience…

Are you an expert at what you do?  Do you have extensive knowledge and experience?  Are you your company’s “Go To” resource?  Or, are you the “Up and Comer” with aspirations to “Take over the world”?  The smartest subject matter expert I know at my company left my company.  It seems he felt his knowledge and experience were no longer relevant to my company’s needs.

Knowledge and experience are tricky things these days.  With answers to just about any question at our fingertips thanks to the World-Wide-Interweb, how much value do companies place in individual expertise?  Add in Artificial Intelligence and the Internet-of-Things; now machines might be those “Up and Comers” with aspirations to “Take over the world”.

At the current stage of my career I’m past “Up and Comer” and “Take over the world”.  What’s fulfilling for me is coaching and enabling those less knowledgeable and experienced with how to execute in today’s business-to-business selling environment.

I get a kick out of the people I work with, young and old, and their level of self-confidence.  Many of the young believe they “already know”; many of the old believe they’ve “already done”.  Neither looks at Learning & Development as relevant.

Well, what do I know?  Maybe they’re right.  Maybe my knowledge and experience are no longer relevant in the 21st century.  That’s why I continuously seek modern tools, tactics and techniques relevant for the sales profession.  Google Alerts; webinars; research papers; business books; MeetUps; every week I seek current thought leadership.  There is tons of thought leadership readily available. It’s the “current” and “relevant” parts that are tricky:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. 

Alvin Toffler

What is today’s speed of change?  I mean, if you’ve been doing what you do for more than 36 months (maybe even 24 months), is your experience still relevant?  Experience and knowledge may no longer matter.  It may just boil down to whoever can learn, unlearn and relearn the fastest.  Is “Machine Learning” becoming our companies’ “Go To” resource?

With today’s rapid change do we even have a choice but to commit to continuous learning in our business pursuits?  As company leaders and aspiring leaders (the human kind, not the machines) update their strategic plans for competing on a worldwide basis, winning or losing may now boil down to the continuous learning environment they nurture and invest in.

It’s the “invest in” part that’s tricky.  There are lots of reasons leaders get spooked about investing in employees.  After all, study after study suggests that modern employees change jobs at an alarmingly rapid pace.  A leader may feel, “There goes that investment.”  Maybe… maybe not:

…what one CEO said about the risk of investing in a focused training initiative for his company.  Someone asked him, ‘What if you train everyone and they all leave?’   He responded, ‘What if we don’t train them and they all stay? 

Stephen M.R. Covey

Is this CEO’s thought leadership still relevant?  What is the shelf life of thought leadership in the 21st Century anyway?  I believe it’s that relevance part that’s the tricky part.  But how is relevance achieved?  How is it measured?  I mean, Learning & Development is delivered; results are measured; how do these connect?

I wonder if relevance and experience are related and complimentary to one another; or if they have become mutually exclusive?  Oh well, maybe the machines will figure it out.

GAP

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What makes you tick?

OK everyone; I’m swimming in the deep end of the pool with this one.

My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, “Mom, they weren’t trying to teach you how to swim.”

Paula Poundstone

I was thinking about my career the other day in anticipation of attending a Learning & Development seminar (e.g. a seminar on training trainers how to train). I knew at this seminar I would be asked to introduce myself and give a short “elevator pitch” on my background and what brought me to the event.

I have written about my shyness many times before. Mingling in public with strangers in professional or even social settings is painful. I’ve had to learn how to overcome my awkwardness.

How about you? What makes you tick? Are you extroverted; introverted; it all depends; all of the above? Do you subscribe to the quote that according to the Quote Investigator is attributed to Mark Twain as well as many other sources?

Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt. And live like it’s heaven on earth.

That definitely doesn’t describe me. In order to disguise a delicate level of self-confidence I have become a “situational extrovert”. Maintaining this appearance takes practice. I practice via frequent, social interactions. I do so for two reasons; the first is because I am a life-long-learner. The second is because I’m following the advice of William James:

Everyone should do two things each day that they hate to do, just for practice.

What makes me tick is the realization that choosing to be a sales professional requires continuous interactions with others; mostly strangers. To succeed requires practice. So I practice that which I hate, often.

I have trained myself to face these confidence-shaking situations by preparing; in advance; in detail; rehearsals included. And at first when I did not succeed; I tried, tried, again. I’m still trying.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Alvin Toffler

Ignorance in the 20th century led to my fragile self-confidence. I wasn’t illiterate as I built my career; just the opposite, I think. I didn’t know anything about anything so to make a living I had no choice but to learn; quickly; on-the-job.

I was reminded of this once when I was interviewing a sales rep who wanted to join my Major Accounts team. His resume looked good, but don’t they all? It was during his interview that I sensed he did not truly have the experience he claimed. He picked up on my concern and said:

Gary, just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. I’m all balls and no brains, but I will learn quickly.

I hired him. He did learn quickly and ascended to a President’s Club level of sales performance.

I’ve come to realize that what makes me tick is this career connection to learning. My first 10 years in the sales profession I was learning while doing. During my second 10 years, I was learning to manage while still doing. In my third 10 years, I was leading while learning to teach. And the past 10 years I have been teaching while re-learning.

I get great fulfillment from life-long learning. The social interactions part? Not so much. What makes you tick?

GAP

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“That guy”, still…

Posted May 3 2018 by in True North with 0 Comments

I was chatting about my recent little ditty with a friend of mine who never knew “that guy” (see http://thequoteguys.com/2018/04/that-guy-again/ ).

The real me would rather be a hermit.  With today’s headlines I doubt I’m alone in that yearning.  But life is meant to be lived among others; so here I am – living and working with the villagers.  It’s not easy.

Dr. Travis Bradberry wrote this about people like me.  Maybe you can relate:

Nine Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

Sensitive people get a bad rap. Highly sensitive people’s strong emotions are easier to identify (and potentially use to their benefit) than the average person. This also helps them to communicate effectively because they don’t just hear the words coming out of other people’s mouths, but they also catch on to subtleties in gesture and tone.

The Highly Sensitive Person:

  1. You think deeply. When life throws you a curveball, you retreat deep into your shell, thinking through every aspect of what transpired before taking any action. Small things (in your own life and other people’s lives) can have a big impact on you.
  2. You’re detail-oriented. You’re as sensitive to details as you are to feelings. You see details that others miss, and you aren’t content until you’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s. This is a strength that is highly valuable in the right profession.
  3. You take longer to reach decisions. Since you’re prone to dig deep beneath the surface, you tend to drag out decisions. You can’t help but try to run every possible outcome through your head, and this is often at the expense of the ticking clock.
  4. You’re crushed by bad decisions. When you finally make a decision, and it turns out to be a poor choice, you take it much harder than most. This can create a vicious cycle that slows down your decision-making process even more, as fear of making a bad decision is part of what slows you down in the first place.
  5. You’re emotionally reactive. When left to your own devices, you have a knee-jerk reaction to your feelings. You also have strong reactions to what other people are going through. When your emotions come on strong, it’s easy to let them hijack your behavior.
  6. You take criticism harshly. Your strong feelings and intense emotional reactions can make criticism hard to take. Though you may overreact to criticism initially, you also have the tendency to think hard about things and explore them deeply. This exploration of criticism can play out well for you in the long run, as your inability to “shrug it off” helps you make the appropriate changes.
  7. You work well in teams. Your unique ability to take other people’s feelings into account, weigh different aspects of multifaceted decisions, and pay attention to the smaller details makes you extremely valuable in a team environment.
  8. You have great manners. Your heightened awareness of the emotions of other people makes you highly conscientious. You pay close attention to how your behavior affects other people and have the good manners to show for it. You also get particularly irked when other people are rude.
  9. Open offices drive you crazy. Your sensitivity to other people, loud noises, and other stimuli makes it practically impossible for you to work effectively in an open-office environment. You’re better off in a cube or working from home.

It’s that fifth one that I constantly work to overcome.  You?

GAP

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“That Guy”, again…

I have written about this side of me before (see http://thequoteguys.com/2014/04/that-man/).  Not the proudest time in my personal or professional life.  In a competitive world when there is seemingly a lot at stake; sometimes we feel it is OK if we “have to do what we have to do”:

David didn’t beat Goliath with a whiteboard. 

Brad Feld

Here’s the good news:  If we have demonstrated behaviors we are ashamed of in the business world (or any other part of the world for that matter), those behaviors, embarrassments or failures don’t have to define us forever.

Life is change…

Growth is optional…

Choose wisely.

Karen Kaiser Clark

Still, those tendencies may lurk underneath; I know mine do and recently did – again, not my proudest moment.

I am on a cross-functional team working to support a strategic initiative at my company (which I have also written about  http://thequoteguys.com/2018/03/strategic-direction/ ).  One member on the team, from another department, has several different views than I on both the initiative and how we should work together.  OK, we have our differences; happens every day in your world too.

Normally, our disagreements are tempered by the fact that we live in different cities and communicate via phone and email.  When “that guy” begins to surface during a disagreement, I can put my phone on mute and vent; or I can write my scathing email reply and then push “delete” instead of “send”.

But recently, he was in my office and came over to my desk for a visit.  I appreciated the gesture and told him so.  The conversation started with customary pleasantries… the weather, his flight, sports.  Then the topic turned to our strategic initiative.  He wanted an argument.  Argument?  Count me in!

Pratter’s Prayer

Lord, make my words as sweet as honey, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.

Unknown Sage

I don’t know, maybe this is a result of our generational gap; he a millennial (e.g. a bright young man with little real-world experience) me a baby boomer (e.g. a grumpy old man with plenty of real-world experience).  Maybe I could blame it on the horses as in the opening to Chapter Two of my book:

Dedicated to those business professionals who know the difference between the smell of horse manure in the barn vs. the “sound” of horse manure in the office.  Not everyone can do this for a living.

Maybe I just like a good argument once in a while.  Regardless, when my boss called and asked about the encounter I knew “that guy” was sited – again.  No honey in sight.

Coincidentally, my colleague’s manager works on my floor.  In fact, she walks past me many mornings on the way to her office.  I don’t really know her – just an occasional exchange of “good mornings”.  She wanted to see for herself if I was the ogre her direct report said I was. We had a very pleasant conversation – “that guy” was gone.

Today, the cross-functional team is back on track.  My young colleague and I are communicating on a professional even pleasant level.  And I’ll be more careful with any future, in-person encounters:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. 

The second-best time is today. 

Chinese Proverb

Oh, I still bite.  But when it comes to horse manure at the office, I have enough real-world experience to “choose wisely” and seek growth.  After all, there’s not much time left in my professional career to grow that tree.

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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Wrong – again!

Hapless?  Helpless?  Hopeless?

It happened at the office (again).  I saw it coming (again).  And I responded wrongly – again!  It was my old brain reaction – that fight or flight stimulus thing – and flight is not my way.

It started out innocently enough.  He was in my office for meetings; took the time to see if I was at my desk; wanted to discuss something with me.  Our social pleasantries started out fine; but I saw it coming (again!).  Ever have to work with someone that you just don’t get along with?  Me too.

I know he wasn’t trying to spoil my day.  And when I say I don’t get along with him, it’s not that I don’t like him.  But his business acumen?  Triggers my old brain.  Do you have one of those at work?  Thank God we’re perfect right?   LoL!

First Law of Debate

Never argue with a fool.   People might not know the difference.

Unknown Sage

When we met, it was not my intent to argue.  I complimented him on a recent email he sent clarifying an important question we had been struggling with.  I thanked him for his clarification – should have left it at that.  But I didn’t (again).  I guess leaving well enough alone is not one of my “features”.

Instead, I elaborated; thought he might want to understand; thought offering additional background was a good thing.  It wasn’t.  Let the debate; aka argument begin!

It is important to realize what the purpose of these debates is and what it isn’t.  Don’t think for a moment that at the end of such debates all participants will arrive at a unanimous point of view.  That’s naïve.  However, through the process of presenting their own opinions, the participants will define their own arguments and facts so that they are in much clearer focus.  Gradually, all parties can cut through the murkiness that surrounds their arguments, clearly understand the issues and each other’s point of view.  The clearer images that result permit management to make a more informed – and more likely correct – call. 

Andy Grove

“Clearly understand the issues and each other’s point of view”, isn’t one of his “features”.  He remained focused on his point of view.  I felt I understood his point of view; didn’t agree with it; didn’t really respect it.  “Clearly…”, the feeling was mutual.

So he argued; I elaborated.  He was presumptuous; I was impatient.  He became arrogant; I became an asshole – again!  What started out as a conversation between two associates interacting on a cross-functional, initiative ended as a confrontation.

Happens every day in the business world you say?  True enough.  My disappointment is I could have (and should have) avoided it altogether.  You see, he’s been in our industry 4 years – me, 4 decades.  I know better.

The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else doing it wrong, without commentary. 

T.H. White

It’s that “without commentary” that trips me up every time.  I simply can’t seem to avoid that old brain, “fight” trigger when in an argument with a fool.  I’d like to manage these encounters better – guess I’m still a little hapless, but hopefully not hopeless:

Fall down seven times.  Stand up eight. 

Japanese Proverb

I have enough experience to dial down the fervor and better manage my response in the face of ineptitude.  So I’m certainly not helpless.

Confrontation; not my proudest “feature” – and I was wrong.  Again!

GAP

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Jerk…

Now there’s a word used often in our society these days, yes?

During my performance appraisals my manager has given me superior ratings in all but one area.  In my company’s rating scale, the highest level of performance is labeled “Outstandingly Awesome”.  I like that label.

To be sure, I’m as motivated as anyone to have my performance rated outstandingly awesome.  I’m as competitive as anyone to “win”.  I have strived from childhood to adulthood; work and play; continuously reading training and motivational materials to help me earn outstandingly awesome recognition.

I often envision myself on the podium; waving a bouquet of flowers; kissing the pretty hostess; preparing for the glorious interview where the interviewer asks, “Gary, how did you do it?”  And on occasion, I’ve actually been on that podium (albeit sans flowers, pretty hostess or the interviewer).

Does this envisioning make me a jerk?  Am I arrogant and obnoxious?  Well, from time-to-time I would acknowledge – guilty.  My manager has so-noted in that one area on said performance reviews, too.  In my defense – is such an attitude and approach an outcome from how I was coached?

Al McGuire, former head basketball coach of Marquette University, once said, “A team should be an extension of the coach’s personality.  My teams were arrogant and obnoxious.”

Al McGuire

At this stage of my career I have finally accepted the fact that sometimes, I don’t play well with others (aka am a jerk).  Even though I have succeeded in my career by “playing angry” (which I recently wrote about http://thequoteguys.com/2017/07/playing-angry/ ), I’m finally at a point where I agree I could lighten up a bit.

Winning in business and in life is so much more than the podium, don’t you agree?

The most valuable thing you can ever own is your image of yourself as a winner in the great game of life, as a contributor to the betterment of humankind, as an achiever of worthy goals. 

Tom Hopkins

So, to get me headed in the right direction my boss’ boss jumped in and asked me to read Emotional Intelligence 2.0 © by Dr. Travis Bradberry.  You might have noticed I quote him often.  His book starts with a self-diagnostic.  I actually rated much better than I had expected; 74 – which means “With a little improvement, this could be a strength.”  Today, I keep the book on my desk with the pages dog-eared to the sections on addressing conflict with emotional intelligence.

Liking this new path I am exploring at this stage of my career, I next read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There © by Marshall Goldsmith.  I enjoyed one of his foundational points, articulated by the famous management consultant, Peter Drucker:

We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do.  We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop.

After all of these years, I finally have a manager who is helping to teach me what to stop.  Oh he still wants and expects my outstandingly awesome, competitive fire.  He’d just like me to play nicer with others.

So I returned to my recent readings seeking advice for improvement – and found it:

There’s a simpler way to achieve being nicer.  All you have to do is stop being a jerk. 

Marshall Goldsmith

Well, my manager; his manager; Dr. Brad; and Marshall Goldsmith are all pointing me to the solution.

Many receive advice.  Only the wise profit from it. 

Publilius Syms

And only a jerk would ignore Publilius Syms, true?

GAP

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Learning…

2017 has started off with a bang!  My department is “doubling down” on the enablement programs, training classes, and learning content we provide to our re-sellers.

For instance, instead of leading an in-person sales enablement class every other month (as I did in prior years); in 2017 the class cadence is monthly.  Couple that with conducting on-site enablement meetings for our larger partners, along with re-casting (aka “re-writing”; “improving”; “finishing”; “fixing”) existing enablement content for my external audience and there you have it – bang!  OK, OK – perhaps a bit unfair on felling I must fix our existing content.  Still learning…

Thankfully, I have the perfect job:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. 

Confucius

My Boss also seems happy that I am happy staying so busy:

Among the chief worries of today’s business executives is the large number of unemployed still on the payrolls. 

Unknown Sage

There are many reasons why I love doing what I do in the sales enablement field.  First and foremost, the term “enablement” is conveniently vague.  Combine such vagueness with a manager who is very empowering means I get to do what I think I should do; the way I think I should do it; leveraging the knowledge, skills and experiences I have learned over the past 40 years; and enabling others the way I was enabled by those who took me under their wing – and still do!

Another reason why I love what I do is I get a front row seat in the fascinating arena of adult learning;

To teach is to learn. 

Japanese Proverb

I get a kick out of working with seasoned, senior, experienced, successful sales, marketing and business professionals.  I get to observe those that invest effort and energy to learn; as well as those that invest effort and energy to remind me what they have already learned (aka “Gary, I know; I KNOW!”).  It makes me reflect on, “…the chief worries among business executives…”

I think I get it (e.g. I’m learning).  My successful audience doesn’t want me to try to teach them things they have already learned.  Fair enough – sounds like my kids when they were growing up and complaining about my repetition.  “Yes Dad, I know. Dad – I KNOW!” So I’m (still) learning what my clients “KNOW!”  I do my best to add new learning value in the time they invest with me.

And then I reflect – wait a minute – I’m seasoned; I’m senior…experienced…successful… We’re in agreement.  “Don’t repeat what I’ve already learned in the past – help me learn what I need to know for the future.”  And that’s the key to adult learning IMHO for the sales profession of today.  Sales professionals realize:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning a lion wakes up.  It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.  When the sun comes up, you better start running. 

African Proverb

Past success does not guarantee future nourishment.  Those darn, up-and-comers (aka Millennials) I have written about frequently are hungry.  They know they don’t necessarily have to out run the fastest lion to capture the slowest gazelle; they just have to out run we seasoned, senior, experienced, successful sales people.

Rise and shine everyone – time to start running – and learning!

GAP

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Authenticity…

A lot has been said and even more has been written about being authentic.  I attended a social media marketing for business MeetUp where the topic was Google’s plan to rank authenticity highest in their search; threatening that posers risk being bypassed in searches altogether.  Not sure how that applied to our recent Presidential elections; but I digress…

Dr. Travis Bradberry is one of my favorite and authentic bloggers.  His recent post, “10 Unmistakable Habits of Utterly Authentic People” caught my eye.  I particularly liked his Oscar Wilde reference:

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Wilde made it sound so simple, but living with authenticity is a real challenge.

To live authentically, you must own your actions and ensure that they align with your beliefs and needs. This can be a difficult thing to maintain when external forces pressure you to do something you’re not comfortable with or to be someone you’re not.

External forces… Beliefs and needs… be someone you’re not…  hmmm.  Check it out: http://www.talent-smart.net/10-Unmistakable-Habits-of-Utterly-Authentic-People.php

Dr. Travis’ reference coupled with my recent trip to Toronto reminded me of an authentic experience of my own.  In 2008, I interviewed for a Sales Rep role in Denver.  One of my interviewers was the local Sales Manager, Chris (affectionately referred to as “The Bear”) followed by his boss.  Chris now works in our Toronto office.

After the customary resume review and phone screening, I was invited for an in-person interview.  Sitting in a conference room Chris rumbled in; dramatically plopping my file down on the table.  He started the conversation about my application this way:

“Pokorn, what are you doing here?  You’ve done my job; Hell, you’ve done Danny’s job.”

In a moment of authenticity I reacted, “It’s because I have done your job and I have done Danny’s job.  At this stage of my career, taking care of just me seems like a pretty good option.”

That was good enough for Chris and his boss Danny – I got the job; turned out pretty well, too.  Over my career, I was an excellent sales manager; but I was an even better sales rep – one of the rare breeds – a “Hunter”.

Like many sales reps, I had spent a significant part of my career trying to play that Corporate Ladder Game.  Stephen R. Covey wrote about it:

Avoid the ladder against the wrong wall syndrome:

Meaning, we climb the proverbial ladder of success only to find that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

So, in 2008 I (finally) had the opportunity to be authentic and returned to my roots of “Hunting”.  Not that such a role is a panacea.  One of the best Sales Hunters I know recently lamented:

Gary, I am done with hunting the proverbial whale only to have the villagers at my company drag off the carcass for a feast leaving me no other choice but to go back out on the hunt. 

John Kleinhenz

It’s OK – Such a moment of complaint wasn’t authentic for the John I know.  Everyone is entitled to vent now and then.  John is as authentic as they come; and Dr. Travis addresses that, too:

They don’t complain about their problems.

Complaining is what you do when you think that the situation you’re in is someone else’s fault or that it’s someone else’s job to fix it. Authentic people, on the other hand, are accountable.

Ah yes – “accountability”.  Lots has been said and lots has been written about that too… but I digress.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my past posts too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com