Archive for May, 2014

Reflection Is the Breakfast of Champions

LinkedIn recently started an article series of “If I Were 22…”  and even provided its own hash tag of #IfIWere22. Members were invited to share their thoughts about what advice they would have for today’s college graduates.  In reading and enjoying the various postings, I realized reflection is the breakfast of champions.

reflectionWhen we invest the time to reflect, we are engaged in a variety of mental processes that further stimulate our gray cells.

First we bring up old memories that may in fact trigger additional memories.These past memories in many cases are filled with emotions and those emotions may also trigger other memories.

Second we work through the various stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  The stages of analysis and evaluation help us to create new thoughts.

Third, we begin to think not only of ourselves, but of others and this is where champions truly excel.

Just imagine the collective wealth of all those LinkedIn contributors who have shared their personal reflections, through emotionally compelling stories?  Even we who are older, can benefit from these reflections and not just those “If I Were 22.”

Yes reflection is indeed the breakfast of champions so what’s in your bowl this morning?

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Walk Softly When Marketing Your Small Business

Social media has exploded the marketing possibilities for any small business. Between the plethora of different sites and let us not forget the coveted blog, you have the opportunity to attract attention far easier than ever before.

small-businessYet what is happening is people are running into this marketing frenzy and annoying a lot of people including their ideal customers as well as strategic partners or professional colleagues.

Where these misguided actions are most prevalent appear to be over at LinkedIn.  Maybe this is because of all the now “LinkedIn experts” who are providing advice as how to increase sales leads through this very popular business to business site.

LinkedIn is not an auto-responder like AWeber or Constant Contact where you as the small business person can send broadcast messages under the disguise of education based marketing.

What LinkedIn is a place to develop authentic, personal relationships because people buy from people they know and trust.

Email messages are fine as long as you have crafted a compelling message with the two fold end result of:

  1. Make a friend
  2. Secure a meeting either phone call or in person

Additionally, there is a presumption you are sending these email messages to your ideal customer and not hopefully to one of your competitors.

Another hard step (think hard selling) over at LinkedIn is in discussion groups. Far too many members just post their most recent blog and think this is a discussion.

Hello, this is not a discussion especially when there is not any additional comments as to the relevancy of the blog’s content and why should anyone read it.  What these individuals are attempting to do is to get traffic to their blogs through LinkedIn.

A softer approach would be to find a third party article and ask a question or to pose a real problem you as a small business person have experienced.  In one LinkedIn group, Fresh Sales Strategies, Mark Zazeela, asked a very real question about how to handle a former customer who went elsewhere because of price and then returned for one purchase because the new vendor could not handle this one need.

Yes social media marketing is a true boon for cash strapped small business owners who want to attract more attention. Just be careful to walk softly and not engage in the mistake of constantly pitching your message and annoying all those sales leads from suspects to prospects to qualified potential customers.



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Is Leadership Really That Complicated?

In speaking with Dr. Laura Hills earlier this month, she told me that she discovered over 40 leadership models or theories when writing her dissertation.

leadershipReally, over 40? How did we as human beings ever managed to survive?

Yesterday in speaking with Thomas Capone, CEO of MTP and now director of NYDLA, he cannot understand why so many younger people ignore the leadership opportunities from meeting well known business connections to taking that next action without being told.

Could  part of the problem be the confusion between leading others (organizational) and leading one’s self?

Self leadership is the ability to lead one’s self; to be able to secure the results from predetermined goals through the consistent demonstration of positive core values.

Organizational leadership is the ability to secure results through the collaborative efforts of others.  In this role as well, predetermined goals and consistent demonstration of positive core values will measure the success of the individual leader.

The reality is until individuals are able to lead themselves they cannot lead others.

When I have examined some of the leadership models I have noticed three missing elements:

  1. There is no process present that allows for continual improvement
  2. There is no goal setting as part of the learning and development
  3. There is no or limited discussion about how beliefs (attitudes) drive actions or behaviors creating  results

Leadership is a process, a continuum and not a program.  To continue that learning and developmental growth does require a complete understanding and then application of a proven goal setting process along with supporting goal setting tools (goal setting worksheet). And before any learning takes place, individual beliefs must be addressed.

One of the activities I have used for over 10 years is to simply categorize the 3 types of leaders as:

  • Enhancers
  • Diminishers
  • Neutralizers

Then I ask the participants to think of 3 leaders and place them on the respect flip charts.  What is interesting is more often than not the same name may appear as an Enhancer or a Diminisher.  Discussion then follows as to why this individual is one or the other.  What surfaces are the beliefs of the participants.

Then when working with a telecommunications company, one of the participants was very reluctant. He did not believe he was a leader because leaders were the big names in the community or in government was his response.  I asked him if he believed in education.  He responded Yes.  I asked him did he encourage his child to go to school and to get good grades. Again, a resounding yes.  So I then observed that he was a leader because he was leading his child.  He looked at me with a puzzled expression.

Once his belief was challenged and he reconciled the new information, an almost magical experience happened. He came to the very next training and development session with washed hair, clean, ironed uniform and a 100% changed attitude. I was told later by one of Vice-Presidents his behavior had changed overnight and he had become one of the strongest team members.

Leadership is really not that complicated. We make it far more complicated than it needs to be for whatever the reasons.

If your business is looking for some talent management development or you are seeking some professional development through executive coaching or small business coaching, make sure whatever solution you are considering covers the three missing elements as noted above.  By taking this action, you will realize an investment to your bottom line.


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Is There a Best Sales Strategy for Banks?

With financial institutions being on almost every corner from the downtowns to the suburbs, one begins to wonder what is the best sales strategy for banks, if there is just one?

best-sales-strategy-for-banksFor years local banks did not have to sell their banking services because they were the only game in town. As towns grew into cities, more banks entered the market and life was still relatively good.  With expansion came consolidation and local banks became engulfed by bigger regional to national banks. During this time, some training firms began to specialize in sales for banks and unfortunately those firms are still training banks under the paradigms of the past.

During a keynote presentation over six years ago, I asked this question of the business professionals including many small business owners:

How many of you are happy with your bank?

Of the almost 100 people present, about 40% raised their hands.  Then I asked those with their hands raised,  “If you are not a banker or an employee of a bank, please drop your hands.”  The previously raised hands dropped by over 50%.

What was amazing in the months to come when I met with the bankers who attended that presentation, 100% had not taken advantage of what I discovered through this simple question even though they wanted to increase small business accounts.

My sense is right now the best sales strategy for banks is to take action.  Don’t sit on your duffs waiting for that next small business account.

  • Go out!
  • Build relationships with new business professionals
  • Reconnect with existing customers!
  • Craft a compelling 30 second elevator pitch that answers this question:  Why should that person to whom you just gave your card want to meet with you in 3 weeks?
  • Construct a list of the 5 top new customers you want and work that list

Did you notice each bullet point began with an action verb?  Unless action is taken all is for naught. Of course predetermined action is always better than hap hazard action.

So if you are in sales and work for a bank either in the commercial (loan) or retail side, then you may wish to embrace this sales strategy for banks, of taking action.  Is it the best one?  Who knows, but not taking action is definitely the worst sales strategy.


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Sales Leadership Talent of Sense of Belonging

Being a part of a team or a member of a group is a compelling motivating force and can also be viewed as a sales leadership talent.  In today’s very competitive world where information continues to grow exponentially working with other sales team members helps everyone including the organization to reach that next level of success.

sales-leadership-talentThe sense of belonging is all about having that feeling of being a team member. A salesperson who demonstrates this sales leadership talent “wants to feel that the people they work for/with respect them and in return have concern and respect for them as well.” (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

As this attribute is considered to be one of the six motivating forces, there is no good or bad scores. What may happen is an over evaluation towards this talent which in turn may create internal imbalance specific to his or her motivational drivers.

When salespeople feel outside of the team, their own sense of belonging may suffer. This is why those in sales management roles must truly understand the importance of working together and leave their own personal agendas outside of the office.

From my experience after working with several hundred salespeople to C Suite Executives using the Innermetrix Attribute Index, this one sales leadership talent can be dramatically impacted by the behaviors of those in sales management. When team members are excluded, this motivating force weakens and sales performance usually suffers.

When this sales leadership talent is valued lower than others, this may also suggest internal role awareness is undervalued which in many cases returns to the culture of the organization. In many cases, this low evaluation can be laid at the feet of those in sales management.

Human beings for the most part want to belong to a team, a company, a community as they are social creatures. This desire can be employed to improve individual and organizational performance provided sales management understand its importance and they also have the right talents to leverage this motivating driver.

The Innermetrix Attribute Index is one of the few objective talent assessments to determine a person’s key talents.


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War, Faith and a Mother’s Love

Even though my father did not die in World War II, he was seriously wounded during the largest naval battle in the Pacific, the Battle of Leyte. During the first check of wounded men on the beach, my father was considered to be near death due to the seriousness of his wounds and those with greater viability had priority. Along with the medics were priests and clergy giving the last rites to those left on the beach.

Dad-WWIIDad shared much later in life he prayed that God would deliver him and he accepted he was in the Lord’s hands.  The next morning, 24 hours later,  as the medics were engaged in their final sweep of the beach, they discovered my father was still alive. Dad heard these words through the haze of pain “Hey, this son of a bitch is still alive.”

Dad was taken to the hospital ship and on his way to Australia. During his voyage, my father saw his mother reading the telegram at the family homestead in northern Wisconsin that her son had been wounded in action. At that very same time, my grandmother saw my father strapped in his ship’s bunk, covered with a blanket and all she could see was most of his bandaged face.

We hear of those moments in time when people can reach across thousands of miles and see each other. I believe this happened because of a strong faith in God and of my grandmother’s love for her youngest son and my father’s love for his mother. That small moment in time provided strength for my father to endure almost two years of incredible painful, reconstructive surgery at the VA hospital in San Diego.

Not only was my father bayoneted in the stomach and had shrapnel in his leg, he had received a bullet in this face that entered from one cheek, cutting off half of a tonsil and existing through the other cheek shattering the jawbone into hundreds of pieces.   This bullet destroyed half of his face and required taking half a rib to reconstruct the jaw.

Dad like many other WWII veterans never spoke about his injury until much later in life. Even then, he was reluctant to talk about what had happened during the landing on the beach during the Battle of Leyte. What we gleamed was short parts of the entire story.

War is terrible and unfortunately still necessary because there are evil, power hungry, human beings who want to enslave, conquer, call it what you will other human beings.  Thank heaven here in America we had and continue to have young men and women who have faith in this country and in God; who have love for their families and friends; and willingly go into harm’s way.

Every morning as I walk down stairs I have the opportunity to see my father in his military uniform with that great smile and realize how much he gave for his country and how faith and a mother’s love allowed him to survive when others died. His survival is why I am here today and why I thank the military for keeping us safe and secure in times of peace and in times of war.

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Gratitude Is Graciousness of Spirit

Life is so incredibly short and chaotic we sometimes leave gratitude along side the road much like the rotting road kill carcasses.

gratitudeWhy can’t we be gracious and take the time to authentically show our gratitude?

Do we not understand or appreciate how others feel when they are the recipients of our gracious behaviors?

Are we so concerned about ourselves, so ego driven that we rationalize others know we are thankful?

What impact does this attitude of not thanking others have on our spirits?

Yesterday I received a short handwritten note from a colleague who had attended a presentation I gave last week at Resource Associates Corporation.   What a surprise to read these words:

“Thanks so much for presenting at quarterly. I always enjoy what you have to bring and it was very useful and thought provoking. Keep doing what you are doing and making an impact with your clients and community. God Bless.”

Reading those words made my spirit sing and I truly appreciated this individual for making the time to share his gratitude with me. When we receive such signs of thanks, we can also feel the spirit of the person behind the caring thoughts, the smile or even the spoken words.

My own gratitude goal is to write three handwritten notes each week to others with the expressed purpose of thanking them. After this conference concluded, I wrote four notes upon my return to my office. Writing each of those short notes lifted my spirit as well.

When we are consistently and consciously aware that life is short, that people who are our family, friends and even new acquaintances can be gone in a moment, possibly we may be more willing to be thankful for those moments when someone graciously touches our spirit and we receive a moment of joy, of peace and of abundance.

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Do Is a Better Word than Try

The great philosopher Yoda said “Do or do not; there is no try.” 

tryWhat I believe he was saying is the word “do” is better than the word try.

When we do, we are indeed trying to achieve something, however subconsciously we are not giving ourselves permission to fail.

The word try is a permission failing word and therein lies the problem.

As much as people want to succeed, they internally do not wan to admit to failing.  They think it is better to continue the effort and not be successful than to truly commit to the effort and not be successful.

If you disagree, then how many New Year resolutions actually are successfully achieved?

How many of those same New Year resolutions are just repeated year after year?

Yoda understood how our brains actually work and how easy because of past conditioned behaviors we give up doing.

Possibly the all too familiar mantra of “If you don’t succeed, try, try again.” should be revised and stated:

“If you don’t succeed, do, do again!”

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How Much of a Risk Are You Willing to Take?

Taking a risk is part of every day life.

riskSome of those risks are small and some much larger.

For many in small business to big business, the size of the risk is directly connected to the size of the dollars being spent.

Some forward thinking leaders are always willing to push the envelop, to challenge themselves and their people because they know to grow beyond the status quo requires such a commitment. Dan Waldschmidt calls this being EDGY.

Yet in spite of all the risks, the planning, the strategizing and the execution, what is desired does not happen with the necessary consistency to ensure sustainable viability.

So what is the barrier keeping these desired results from happening?

Sometimes the answer is just below the surface, not hidden 5, 10 or even 20 feet down coupled with thousands of consulting dollars.

And because it is so close, the idea that it could be there, so almost obvious defies rational thought.

No what is needed are expensive organizational solutions that in many instances fail to work and consequently more profits are drained away.

Let me ask you several questions, do you believe:

  • People are what make or break any organization?
  • People are the greatest asset even greater than all other assets combined?
  • People execute your visions, your directive and your desired results?

So why are you not getting the results you want and more importantly need to thrive, to stay ahead of the flow?

You have conducted your internal audits; possibly even employed some talent assessments and yet you still feel you are not where you want to be.

What is the problem you continue to think?

Possibly you are starting at the wrong place.

If people are your greatest asset, then remember people are emotional creatures before they are logical ones.

Many organization solutions buy solution that are based on logic and fail to recognize the emotional or innate human factor. This logical approach appears to minimize the risk which it probably does, but also minimizes results.

After all, facts is what counts and not emotions.

Imagine for a moment starting from a different perspective.

That perspective would be with the beliefs of your people.

Would you believe in 60-90 minutes you might just learn why you have a gap between what you desire and what you are currently receiving?

Of course you would have to take a risk and that may be your Achilles’ heel.

The question to be considered is not how much are you going to lose, but rather how much are you willing to risk?

If you are interested, then you may find The Green Check worth the risk and where you and upper management will recognize and understand one of the primary barriers that is keeping your organization from going beyond just surviving to truly thriving.

In less than two hours, you will be surprised by how this simple activity will bring incredible clarity to you and your top management team.

All that is needed is a flip chart, a marker, a handout and honest participation.

P.S. If you are willing to invest the time, I am willing to facilitate this powerful, eye opening session at no charge to you. (Please note travel costs are not included in this free offer.)

Please call 219.759.5601 to schedule this opportunity to take your business through your people to that next level.


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Can You Do the Profit Math?

Being able to speak in terms that activate the “pain pulses” for your sales leads or prospects is essential.  A recent posting over at Sales Gravy by Jill Konrath provided a very good list of phrases or terms that will attract attention and start that pain activation process.

profitUnfortunately, many in sales can speak the correct key phrases and yet lose incredible opportunities because they do not do the profit math.

Possibly you may be asking what is that?

Profit math is showing how much more profits your prospect will have because he or she bought and implemented your solution.

Sounds pretty simple, but it really isn’t.

Doing the math especially for a complex sale is time consuming and requires a lot of fact finding research about the company probably even before you step through the door or even make that first phone call.

When you complete your research you will end up with the following figures for your prospect’s company:

  • Total Revenue $$$
  • Less COGS (Cost of goods sold)
  • Gross Profit $$$
  • Less Direct Expenses (Administrative, general, marketing and selling that are associated with delivering the goods or services)
  • Operating Profit

Your goal is to do the math for the current, status quo situation and then forecast the increased profits if your solution is implemented (think bought).  Yes some of these figures may be estimated. However by showing your prospects you understand their business will counterbalance those figures that are in error.

The more specific you can be through your investigative research, the greater the likelihood that you will earn the sale.

In the current marketplace, profits are continually being squeezed from both ends. Top sales performers understand that the bottom line is what really matters to their customers as well as prospects.

Now some folks may do the math for just return on investment (ROI). That calculation may be necessary as well, but unless it is tied to profitability it may do a nose dive to the floor during the sales presentation.

Profit math is more about sustainability of profits than return on investment.

When you can do the math, you will find your ability to increase sales dramatically improved.

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