November 18, 2015

Details about my next book and the future of Sanders Says

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After a writing journey that took almost three years, I'm excited to announce my next book, Dealstorming: The Secret Weapon That Can Solve Your Toughest Sales Challenges. Penguin Portfolio will publish it on Feb 23, 2016.  It marks my return to talking about my days at Yahoo as a sales executive and introduces research and experiences I've gained as a consultant since then. For those that read Love Is the Killer App, you'll appreciate the voice and perspective of this book.  

Initially, I set out to write a book on creativity in the sales process, something very needed in business to business, where it's getting tougher to land quality deals due to competition, more decision makers and technology.  During my career, I often called upon my creative experiences (musician, poet) to tackle high-difficulty sales situations.  A 2012 survey I conducted found a high correlation between sales executives who had creative projects and sales executives who were top 5% performers at their company.  But as I dug into research on the nature of creativity, especially as it could relate to sales innovation, I made a startling discovery: There is no big idea, no lone inventor, no genius person.  Most of all the breakthroughs in history occurred because of team-based collaboration, where multiple minds from diverse disciplines built upon ideas or observations.  

This made sense once I could dispel the romantic notions of the lone inventor experiencing the eureka moment.  At Yahoo and as a consultant, sales genius was always a team sport. When we included everyone with a stake in the outcome or knowledge about the sales challenge, we closed the business most of the time.  After interviewing 200 sales leaders across all industries it became clear to me that cross-department team work is the secret to B2B success.  So this book will reveal a repeatable process for team building, team leadership and sales innovation I term "Dealstorming."  Over the next few years, I'll be writing about sales innovation weekly here along with my usual coverage of leadership and success.  

If you have a sales conference next year or a B2B client summit, please consider bringing me in to give your keynote. I'll motivate everyone to collaborate when stuck, lead others to explore new paths and forge relationships across their company and out into the market.  I'll also do free consulting prior to the event, helping you and your team immediately put these concepts to work against big opportunities in your pipeline or major accounts at risk. Contact us for more on this. 

Thanks to my good friends at SLAM Agency, there's a video trailer to explain the book's concept and reveal details on how you can get a free chapter.  Please share it with your friends and connection in sales and leadership.  I'm going to be scouring social media to spot your shares, and will be picking out some of you to send a special gift to. 

Posted at 9:17 AM in Books , Business Effectiveness , Sales  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)

October 21, 2015

The End of Empowerment & The Return of Prescription

Yesterday I attended the first day of CEB's annual Sales & Marketing Summit.  It's a must-attend for all B2B sales and marketing leaders, offering the most current view into the buyer's world and the best practices that come from following hard data.  The opening keynote by CEB's Brent Adamson blew my mind as he revealed a plot twist in the B2B buyer's journey.  

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The customer's age of empowerment was short lived.  The tipping point has been passed, where today, the customer wants less information and fewer choices.  Like they were in 1990 ... simple prescriptions by suppliers will win the day.  To quote Yogi Berra: "It's like Deja Vu all over again!" 

Making matters worse, the rise in decision-makers (The 5.4 Problem) and the diversity of perspectives and agendas make the buying process "landmindish" -- cause Brent to wonder how companies buy anything or for that matter, get anything done!  Between the landmines and the overwhelming amount of info and options, he declared that the seller's #1 competition is now ... The Status Quo.  

Back to empowerment: Brent asks, "When you visit the grocery store today and there are 50 kinds of mustard on the shelf, do you feel empowered?"  This is a good point as we marvel as shopping sites like Amazon, Expedia for travel, TrueCar for auto purchase, etc.  While they put is in charge at some point, being in charge loses its luster.  The CEB data confirms that the modern B2B buyer is as overwhelmed as today's consumer...but the implications are far worse for suppliers.  

When the buying experience is overwhelmingly complex, the buyer usually regrets their decision later.  Think about the last car you bought: If you were swimming in information, with endless cars to choose from and myriad options to pile on ... do you still feel like you made the right decision today?  According to CEB research, the B2B buyer is more likely to regret their decision when the purchase journey was complex.  

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At this point, Brent raises the stakes for suppliers: "It's no longer about whether you win or lose, but now, it's about how the buyer feels about it later."  To support this (very Lovecat way) of thinking, he offered this stunning chart, which proves that regrettable purchases are BAD for sellers.  

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Pay particular decision to the bars on the right: When the buyer regrets their purchase decision they actively advocate against the supplier!  This isn't a Net Promoter Score dip, Brent points out, they are telling other people inside their company or out in the market not to buy from you! 

The conclusion of Brent's keynote outlines a new selling approach: Prescription to drive ease-in-buying.  "Put all your sales and marketing strategy through the Easeometer," he advises.  In other words, to capture the essence of Bill Jensen's classic book Simplicity: Reduce the stuff, the steps and make the process simple.  Brent defines prescription as "a credible and influential set of do this/don't do that recommendations, provided to customers across the purchase process, deliberately intended to ease the customer's movement toward purchase." This includes how the buyer should prioritize the problem, who they should involve in the purchase process and how they should arrive at supplier decisions.  CEB research indicates that the Prescriptive Process will dramatically outperform the Responsive Process in terms of sales cycle & overall satisfaction.  

He closed the keynote with a salient example of the Rise of Prescription: The comeback of travel agencies.  Over the last few years, travel consultants have picked up a lot of harried consumers or business travelers who were overwhelmed with information and options about their upcoming trip. In a world of always-on smartphone powered buyers ... these travelers just wanted to "call someone and have them figure out the best way to book the trip."  As I've learned in my research for my next book (Dealstorming), B2C trends like this are the Canary In the Coal Mine for B2B sellers.  Which means that you might want to have a meeting today between sales and marketing and figure out how you can make the leap from responsive to prescriptive approaches.  

For more on the psychological impacts of information overload, check out the 2004 research I conducted with Heartmath Institute, predicting the rise of New Economy Depression Syndrome

Posted at 9:37 AM in Business Trends , Marketing , Sales  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)

October 15, 2015

Making the Leap From Disrupted to Adaptive

Regardless of what business you are in, likely, you will face business model disruption in the coming years. According to authors Robert Tercek, Jay Samit or Bill Jensen, digital technology and the ongoing expansion of the World Wide Web are driving new value propositions and annihilating legacy companies.  

Over the last 20 years, I've witnessed disruption in multiple industries, which ushered in new leaders or defined incumbents as agile and adaptive.  What's interesting is that adaptation didn't rely on physical intelligence or capital stockpiles.  It was pure psychology.  Take Blockbuster and Kodak.  Both of them could have pivoted earlier into new business models such as subscription (Netflix) or digital photography (Kodak).  They had the resources, the customer base and the brand.  But they didn't.  Why?  

These leaders, along with the rest of those who's companies ended up in the scrap heap of the Disrupted, made a bad choice when faced with the first credible signs of pain.  They rejected the innovation, labeling it as a passing fad that would fade soon enough. As time went by, and the bleeding continued, they entered the resistance phase, where they stockpiled negative emotions towards the disruptors, their customers and in some cases the government for standing by and not rushing in to protect them.  Take the current case of Uber.  Taxi cab companies are clearly stuck in the rut of resistance right now, tick-tock-tick-tock. 


Sure, it's a roller coaster ride...but that's the nature of being in any industry where Moore's Law continues to hold true.  Things will change quickly.  But some companies have figured out how to make the leap from being disrupted to becoming adaptive.  Walmart (responding to eCommerce), Gillette (responding to disposable razors) and CareerBuilder (responding to social hiring by adding SaaS services) are three examples of leadership success in psychology.   

In each case there was a fundamental decision by senior leadership that made the organization respond with agility:  They replaced fear with curiosity.  It's a decision, really.  As Norman Vincent Peale once wrote, "If you can worry, you can dream!"  His point is that our mental models can either lead us OR we can lead them.  When you face hard data suggesting that your customers are responding to a new offer in the market, you either choose to reject-then-resist it to defend the Status Quo OR you double check the data, then move across the dip into the exploration phase.  You do research that helps you understand, "What if we tried..."  Like Proctor & Gamble, you stage hackathons, empowering your youngest talent to try way-outside-the-box ideas and then test them for scalability. 

This is your challenge if you are facing disruption.  So far, I've focused on technology as the change-maker, but in industries such as insurance or telco, it's generational shift that brings the pain.  In health care or financial services, it's regulatory developments.  Whatever.  It's all the same in that you as a leader must make the decision to leap from shock to exploration faster than your competitors and certainly fast enough to retain your core customer base.  The article Surviving Disruption in Harvard Business Review puts a process around the exploration and response phase.  

Recently, I subscribed to Adobe's Creative Cloud services. I pay a monthly fee to have a suite of creative tools available to me, constantly updated to keep up with the pace of change.  I never thought I'd subscribe to software, but in fact, it's the new way of harnessing technology innovations without getting caught in legacy-land.  Many people wrote Adobe off for dead when Steve Jobs famously banished Flash to the software scrap heap.  But Adobe's leadership responded by exploring how their best customers (creatives) would use their tools in the future ... and they made the leap.  And now I'll spend $500.00 a year with them instead of using their technology for free.

(The above image was created by Coverdale, an organization founded by agility-leadership expert Ralph Coverdale.)

October 02, 2015

How Sales Kickoff Can Supercharge Your Ability to Close Complex Deals Next Year (Networking Tips)

In 2000, I attended my first sales kickoff at Yahoo!.  Our company ( had been purchased by them, and I had just moved to California to lead a sales-enablement/swat team.  Little did I know at the time, but this kickoff event would change my life. 

Usually, you'd think that the kickoff's purpose was to introduce new products, arm us with new tools and motivate us to hit the phones or bricks when we got home. But in this case, a single piece of advice changed everything. "Make some friends in unusual places," our Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Anil Singh told me. "Make our international managing directors feel at home. Huddle with the content development guests we've invited -- get outside of your circle." He explained that these relationships I'd force at sales conference would later be important as I worked with global brands on big deals where they needed all of Yahoo!'s capabilities brought to the table. 

From the moment I stepped on the kickoff hotel's property, I shook hands and made friends.  My new contacts included managing directors from Yahoo Japan, Italy, Korea, Brazil, Canada and United Kingdom.  They were easy to engage with, and told me about promotions and products they'd built for their clients.  Many of them were news to me! I sought out our non-sales guests, especially those we frequently relied on for post-contract delivery. I told them I wanted to understand more about how their groups worked, so I could pursue revenue but not create problems for them.  At first, they filled my ear with concerns about various programs we were selling, but by the end of conference, they were suggesting new ways we could help our advertisers without compromising the user experience. 

Over the next few years, these relationships were rocket fuel for our deals with global brands such as Sony, HSBC and Toyota.  Because I'd developed relationships with international and non-sales leads at kickoff, I knew more about how they could drive a global relationship. Our post-conference conversations built up enough trust so that we could bring them into the sales process early, so they could help us tailor the global deal to each regions unique way of doing business.  When I was promoted to Chief Solutions Officer, I looked back at the 2000 sales conference as my launch point.

If you are in business-to-business sales, you'll likely attend a kickoff early next year or Spring. Don't miss out on the opportunity to network and create a solutions web for future clients.  The more you know about your company's total capabilities and the unique facets of each market it serves, the better you'll do at creating winning recipes for your customers.  Here are some rules of the road for sales kickoff networking: 

1.  Set A Goal - I decided that I would connect with at least 10 new people during the 3 day kickoff.  Having that goal kept me focused on adding at least three people to my network each day.  Create your goal based on the unique strategy of your sales organization. If you are focused on global selling, focus on connecting with international attendees.  If improving delivery is the goal, focus on connecting with non-sales leads. If sales collaboration is the priority, meet account execs and managers in other markets or product categories.

2. Go Outside Of Your Work Group - You see these colleagues every day, so don't be lazy and hang with them for convenience at kickoff.  When you eat, find a new group to join.  During breaks, look for friendly but unfamiliar faces.  Think wide.  

3. Establish Common Ground - During your encounters, seek out connection points. The best ones are common customers, common sales challenges (product/industry) or common sales opportunities.  Don't be afraid to connect at the personal interest level either.  I've connected over my love of World Cup or electronic music to open up the discussion...usually leading to frank work related conversations. 

4. Contract - Strike up some agreement for post-kickoff follow up. It could be information sharing or a conference call based on the business common ground you've established. Don't let new contacts end with the conference. (Now that we all carry smart phones, it's easy to share contacts or simply take a picture of someone's badge or business card for follow up later.) 

5. Follow Up - Send a note after you get home, keep any promises you've made and schedule a future time to reconnect.  Putting a process around internal networking ensures that you keep the first burning and establish credibility.  If you've been told about a concern that needs support or attention, be the messenger and marshal resources ... especially if you work at headquarters and have access to internal influencers and power brokers. 

6. Expand From This Base Of New Contacts Over the Coming Year - Ask your new contacts, "Who else should I meet and spend time with?" You'd be surprised at how many introductions they will make, sometimes over email or conference calls.  Whatever goal you set for kickoff, add a zero to that number for the networking you'll do over the coming year.  The more you grow this circle, the better you'll be able to serve your customers. 

The sales kickoff is important beyond any education or product introductions that happen there.  They can be the social operating system of a sales driven organization, where loose ends are tied and a company truly comes together as a customer-focused team.  Don't waste the opportunity to expand your network ... because it drives your company's net worth!

Posted at 11:23 AM in Business Effectiveness , Sales  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)

September 25, 2015

Three Great Fall Business Reads

It's that time of year when publishers release copious amounts of business books.  You've probably seen them popping up in the airport book shops.  As a voracious reader and blurb-giving-author, I have the opportunity to review dozens of them between July and September.  My interests range from sales & marketing to leadership to futurism to success.  I look for a book that challenges conventional wisdom, offers a rich perspective grounded in fact and most of all, advice that I can put into practice.

This fall, there are three books in particular that I'm excited about and highly recommend: 

The Challenger Customer by Brent Adamson, Matt Dixon, Pat Spenner & Nick Toman: This is the follow up to the fantastic Challenger Sale.  In this book, the CEB team reveals how difficult it is for companies to buy services or change suppliers.  This is due to a rising number of decision makers involved in every major purchase, and the disfunction that comes from diversity of agendas.  Their solution is for marketing to create challenger content that acts as "a dog whistle" which attracts mobilizers inside prospect companies.  These mobilizers often display signs of skepticism or demand action as go-getters. But they are the key in driving consensus and ultimately change. This is a must-read for any B2B marketing or sales professional. But note: The authors will challenge your current attempts to establish your company as a thought leader with barrages of content. In their eyes, "looking smart" isn't nearly as effective as "proving you are wrong" when it comes to content marketing that finds the mobilizer.

Vaporized by Robert Tercek: This book will take you on a journey of technological disruption, which few companies have mastered.  Tercek is a certified futurist, with a career arc that spans from founding MTV International to consulting with the most elite tech and digital media companies in the world.  He chronicles the vaporization of print, television and all types of media ... and why companies either found success or failure in the transition.  Then he explains that "anything that can be infrastructure will be," using companies like AirBnb to illustrate the unfair advantage that comes from being digital.  He reveals insights into the App Economy, Peer-To-Peer media and Big Data. But unlike most futurists, he won't leave you hanging.  The end of the book offers a solid blueprint for navigating the vaporization of all things service, and how you can convert disruption into a game changing opportunity.  

Grit To Great by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval: This book is all about the power of pluck and determination when it comes to leading others, being an entrepreneur or succeeding in the face of adversity.  The authors reveal the attribute that Michael Jordan, Alibaba's Jack Ma and Michael Bloomberg share: Grit.  In a world of look-at-me or stand-out-in-a-sea-of-sameness, Thaler and Koval offer a different viewpoint: Grit is about sweat not swagger.  You are nothing special.  Grit is cultivated over time and is the result of practice and design.  The book lays out a series of steps, mostly decisions you need to make, that lead to a higher level of grit, which is easily converted in greatness (confidence, effectiveness, innovativeness).  From the Lead To Learn conference, Thaler offers a glimpse into the book's content in this video clip

Posted at 9:44 AM in Books , Business Effectiveness , Leadership , Marketing , Sales  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)

September 16, 2015

Turn This Up To 11 To Boost Your Leadership Performance

There are many ways we can improve our ability to drive employee engagement and loyalty.  We can pay people more (that doesn't scale), let them off easy (that's bad for business) or play tough-coach with them (that's bad for your employership brand.) 

During the course of my career, I've found a better way to manage or lead: Turn up that noticing knob to 11!  By that, I mean that we should go out of our way to notice contributions and thoughtful deeds.  Giving recognition for the little things makes a big difference, especially for Gen Y (Millennial) employees.  

It's not something that comes easy, though.  We live in a world where non-stop news cycles, full inboxes and social media clamor for our attention.  We work heads down, only noticing that which can be measured.  But most contributions at work are not obvious. When one of your employees rallies a team to solve a big problem, do we notice this leadership exercise or do we wait to see if the problem is solved? When someone mentors a co-worker, do we notice that? 

Then there's the two clicks down problem of recognition.  Too often, we only notice what our direct reports (or favorite employees) do. But a leader should engage with all of her followers, not just the chosen few.  At Barton Protective, CEO Tom Ward made a daily practice of "catching someone doing something right!" That's how he practiced management by walking around. Whether it's a custodian or cashier, turn up your noticing knob to spot laudable performances. Recognize people publicly too, as it only magnifies their pride-at-work.  

There's a side benefit to turning up your noticing knob: You'll realize how many loyal and talented people you have on your team. Their efforts, noticed, will send a powerful message to you: You are not alone in this battle! This is important for leaders too, because confidence in team translates to confidence in general.  And that's rocket fuel.  

One way to turn it up: Every morning, instead of jumping on email when you first wake up, take 10 minutes to recollect the previous day to identify someone who's made a contribution worth recognizing.  In the beginning, this exercise will identify the same old crowd, but if you do this long enough, heroes at work will emerge from the edges.  This practice not only helps you start off your day with an attitude of gratitude, it viscerally forces you to keep your eyes open every day for people that are making a difference. 

Posted at 10:22 AM in Business Effectiveness , Leadership  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)

August 12, 2015

Is Your Culture Built On the Right Foundation?

Ask a strategic consultant about the value of a strong organizational culture and she'll likely remark: "Culture eats strategy for lunch!" Her reasoning is usually based on the consistency of behavior that strong culture creates - enabling every associate to make "the right decision" even when the leader is not around.  The name of the game in business growth is scalability, growing steadily without sacrificing consistency in quality (whatever that means to you.) 

Org-culture is a conversation, led by leaders, about "how we do things here successfully." It's built up through hiring, on boarding and successions practices.  It's reinforced through rituals and stories, often shared at the group level.  The more leaders punctuate the conversation with action, the more the followers march in lock step with them. 

But here's the problem: Every idea is based on an assumption, and similarly, every culture is based on a set of values.  When transparency is a key value, the culture requires sharing information and avoiding secrecy.  When someone violates it, they are shunned, punished or coached.  The word 'transparency' is often embedded into internal communications and in some cases, the market facing branding.  While few would argue against transparency, I would take issue with whether that value is a leader's personal value or a business driver. 

The purpose of an organization is to produce customer/member value, which in turn is captured in order to sustain and grow it.  If culture drives consistency, then it should be based on values that drive the business by producing a unique value proposition.  In other words, your culture-driving values should differentiate a company in a way your customers care about.  That's the real reason that culture has become a focal point of leadership development and corporate performance.  

When Zappos put a supreme value on "Delivering Customer Happiness," it separated them from other apparel e-commerce providers.  They redesigned call center rules, adopting unconventional KPI's to ensure that reps spend ample time with customers and display empathy and a sense of humor.  They enforced the culture heavily throughout hiring an on boarding, famously offering briefcases of money to those who were willing to quit (and leave the Happiness Culture).  In this case, the value drove the business.  

But in too many cases, values are often created in a cramped conference room by over-worked founders or later in the life of the enterprise, by corporate communications during a turnaround. There is little or no formal training on how to vet a value for business output, it's usually just a random process where words or phrases are thrown around until the group forms a consensus. 

That's why companies have chosen "Fun" or "Fair" or "Agile" as their values - making them the foundation of the culture they are building.  And it's hard to debate the value of fun, fairness or agility from a personal or even professional standpoint.  Why not?  That's why they are often adopted.  But what if the company is in the financial services market, where "Meticulous" is valued by the customer more than "Fun"?  What if the company is in a risk-averse business, where customers value "Best-To-Market" instead of "First-To-Market"?  In those cases, Fun and Agility are not business drivers, they are pet values, which are likely to build more of a cult than a strong corporate culture.  

So here's the prescription: Test the values that you base your culture on for business value. If you choose "Honesty" for example, ask yourself, "is this a market space where deceit is a customer concern?  Is this a lead story in our industry?" If it is, then this value will drive the business through differentiation.  If not, then you are basing your culture on a foundation that could lead to a me-too market position.  If your competitors are honest, then why is this a business driver value and not just "good business practice"?  

You might be thinking, "What's the harm in including obviously good values in our culture mix? Why exclude "Fun" or "Honesty"?  I thought that way too for a long time, but when I went to work in human resources, where values are a part of the talent lifecycle, I realized that you have to pick your battles, and limit yourself to a manageable group of norms you want to create.  

Limit yourself to 3-5 values, the less the better.  Much like phone numbers or login passwords, the longer the list, the harder it is to call up when you need them.  Culture is all about living a set of values everyday, and if you throw in the kitchen sink, your associates will have to pick and choose, and that's where a culture starts to get weak (read: inconsistent).  

It's never too late to go through the business driver value process with your team.  If it leads to a new conversation about "how we do things around here moving forward," it just may help your company jump out of the pile, and rise to the top of the customer's mind.  Just like a company can outgrow its founders, an organization can also outgrow its founding values.

Note: The recent holocracy movement at Zappos is based on the founder's value of self-management.  It's yet to be seen as to whether that's a pet value  or a business driver (their relative customer experience levels will be lifted).  In the long run, the fate of the company's market position will be an acid test of my theory about picking personal or business centric values to base a culture on.

Watch: Culture Is A Conversation by Tim Sanders

Posted at 10:55 AM in Business Effectiveness , Leadership  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)

August 05, 2015

Clear These Three Hurdles To Be A Great Leader

Napoleon Bonaparte believed that the leader's role is "to define reality, then give hope." Within this prescription lies a formidable challenge to leaders.  How can you focus on the challenges and opportunities of today and, at the same time, maintain the spirit and effectiveness to lead your team forward? 

In today's business environment, there are high hurdles that stand between you and leadership success.  The ability to leap over them through lifestyle design and talent development separates the truly effective from the ambitious or charismatic.  The three hurdles are: 

Distraction: Today's technology makes it nearly impossible to work without distraction.  Think about right now.  Some of you are reading this post, and will stop to check your email that just dinged. Before you can get back to reading this, a text comes through on your smart phone, requiring a quick call.  After it, you return to grazing on a budget spreadsheet, which you were working on before you booted your internet browser, clicked around and found this article. Sound familiar?  You may call this multi-tasking, but really, it's LWD (Leading While Distracted).  

SOLUTION: Work on one task at a time. Turn off email notifications and instead, schedule times during the day to read-respond (and only do that during that time!). Put your smart phone in Airplane Mode.  Push back on anyone that invades your scheduled focus time.  For more on this, read Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman

Abstraction: Too often, leaders rely on verbal communication to convey complex ideas. They often do this via email or written memos.  Words often don't work, and in turn, there is confusion, requiring you to repeat the attempt and grow frustrated.  You cannot define reality or give hope if you cannot reduce abstractions into concrete ideas.  Your bullet point slides don't solve the problem, they just summarize your wordy attempts to get through.  

SOLUTION: Show them, don't tell them. Find visual ways to express your ideas. You can find images on Google or iStockPhoto.  Better yet, create prototypes of a proposed process or product. They could be simple diagrams or rough sketches.  At innovation consultancy IDEO there's a saying: A prototype is worth 1000 meetings.  For more, read Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don't Work by Dan Roam. 

Dissatisfaction: This is the highest hurdle, especially if you've been leading for a while. Skillsoft's Taavo Godtfredsen has spent time with hundreds of leaders and leadership experts during his career and has discovered that career dissatisfaction (burnout, resentment) is a supreme challenge to effectiveness.  Long after the luster of the title and power has faded, the pressures of leading and chasing made up goals crushes the best of leaders.  Never assume you'll stay motivated! 

SOLUTION: Find work-life balance, even if it means more delegation. Design you lifestyle to recharge your spirit as well as physical health.  Revisit the purpose of your organization, and periodically read your 'fan mail' to understand the significance of your work.  For more, read Fully Charged: The 3 Keys To Energizing Your Work and Life by Tom Rath.

Posted at 10:48 AM in Leadership  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)

July 07, 2015

To Multiply Your Success, Bring This To Every Conversation

Years ago, I discovered a technique for converting every meeting, conversation or interaction into a success-building opportunity.  I followed a maxim, taught to me as a child: Everywhere you go, always bring a gift.  It had long been a part of my social style, but when I applied this to my business life, success quickly followed. 

Whether you are a leader, manager, sales professional or entrepreneur ... gifting drives success.

You see, success is not a place you arrive at, but instead, a direction you traverse over your career.  That direction is forward, where everyday brings new opportunities and produces incremental progress.  During each day, most of us have several interactions with other people: Associates, customers, prospects, partners, suppliers and people we meet in transit or at events.  Too often, we treat these transactionally, as opposed to looking at them as opportunities to give to others.  If we instead inject a gift into each conversation, we deepen relationships, build our brand and create momentum. 

There are two key gifts you can bring to every conversation, and both are intangible (and scalable): 

  1. Knowledge - Look for insert points to share tips, useful reads or helpful perspectives. Be proactive in sharing a new hack you've found to solve a common problem. If you've read a book that can shift your conversational partner's thinking for the better, highlight the point, and if he's interested, unpack the core idea from the book.  Whether it's a small share or a mentor moment, he'll be enthused about the learning.  I've found that if I am patient, listen intently and do a little prep work prior to every interaction, there's always a knowledge sharing opportunity. 
  2. Encouragement - Validation is one of the most powerful psychological gifts we can give to another person.  It starts with listening to your conversational partner talk about her most important project, and prodding her to share details about her strategy, efforts and goals. Listen like the person who's on the receiving end of her efforts, which will turn up your noticing knob.  Point out the effective or creative things she's doing, and then expand on why that's either important to the project or inspires you.  By being sincere, you'll find that your gift of encouragement provides a real shot in the arm, which only fuels the energy level of the entire encounter. 

If you always bring a gift to conversations, you'll deliver high Return on Attention to others.  You'll find that they value time with you, they want to introduce you to their connections as well.  After all, you've differentiated yourself from the rest of the pack, which often brings needs, complaints or give-and-takism to their conversations.  Besides standing out, you'll find that in most cases, your gift is reciprocated with helpful advice and encouragement, just when you yourself needed it the most.

Video Clip: Everywhere You Go, Bring a Gift (from his BBST 2015 keynote)

April 01, 2015

Stop Being Medium Quality Maximum Quantity

Too many <entrepreneurial> people I know are constantly multi-tasking in their careers. 

Sure, when Benjamin Franklin endorsed pursuing "a network of enterprises," he was promoting career and interest diversity.  It was good for our creative thinking.  But he emphasized they be "networked" with each other. 

Lately, I've wondered if our constant spreading out of business ventures is good for our level of quality.  Some have a career consulting, supplanted by writing, overlaid with blogging, and then they develop myriad products on top of that.  The result?  A thinner voice and less you can sink your teeth into. 

I've taken a new approach lately: My projects must feed each other to remain on my calendar. Since I've started writing my next book (more on that later), you might have noticed that I've stopped blogging.  In fact, this is just a short break from my singular focus on the book to tell you I'm alive and well...and that I'm trying a new tact in life by focusing on the book above all. 

Sure, I still do my speaking engagements (which have either been about Love Is the Killer App principles or my new book subject).  But other ventures, not so much.  

You should give this a try also. Look at your calendar or your To-Do list or your project list and ask yourself: Are they all connected to the point that work on one improves the quality of the other? 

This is beyond time management.  It's about the quality of our work in a try-everything society. 

Posted at 8:35 AM in Business Effectiveness  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)  |  TrackBack (0)

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