5 posts categorized "October 2013"

October 31, 2013

Here's How To Steer Your Career Sideways

Sideways01 copy
Success is not a destination, it's a direction: Forward.  However, it's surprisingly easy to end up going sideways in life.  Aimlessly moving neither forward nor backward.  Passing time, waiting for a sign or a miracle.  I've experienced this in my life, and I'm sure at some point you likely have too.  

In some cases, a tragedy or adversity sends us spinning like a top.  A death in the family, a lost job, foreclosure, divorce, etc.  But in most cases, we go sideways because of our thought patterns and not reality.  While life is still good to us, we find a way to go negative on the inside, and quickly steer our career into the abyss.  Our thoughts shape our way of seeing the world, and design our emotional response system.  

How does this happen? We change what we put into our mind.  We start to listen to a new program on the way to work.  At first, we enjoy the shocking news or crude humor, but then it eventually seeps into our psyche.  Or we start to hang out with a mean spirited or pessimistic person at work. He eventually convinces us the sky is falling and that most people are 'out to get you'.  

As we are adding these negative inputs, we stop consuming the positive.  Our mind is quite binary in that it's hard to enjoy both diets at the same time.  The former inoculates us from the latter.  If the world is coming to an end and people can't be trusted, how can you be grateful?  

At some point, the negative inputs change our focal point, and our work suffers greatly.  Our new perspective makes us less appealing to others and less resilient when faced with a challenge.  The little failures that follow likely confirm our dour outlook, and we add to the problem by increasing the negative inputs: More bad friends, more bad programming.  

Here's the risk: At some point you stop moving sideways, gain traction and then enter the downward spiral.  Going backwards into self-destruction.  That's when it becomes hard to right the ship.  There's not clear threshold either. You won't see the shift into reverse coming. 

Here's your way out: Feed Your Mind Good Stuff.  Be as judicious about what you put into your head as what you put into your mouth.  If you find yourself muttering internally about all the things wrong with your life, this country or the world -- check your sources of information.  Scrutinize them for positive-neutral-negative intentions. Rethink your media patters and consider changing out your work friendships.  

Once you scrub out the negative inputs in your life, replace them with constructive ones.  Spend your first 45 minutes of each morning reading from a book that gives you confidence, inspiration or direction.  Find a new colleague at work to lunch or spend time with, and give her as much positive feedback as she gives you. Quickly, you'll find yourself moving forward again, as your thoughts dictate your actions and reactions.  

If you know someone who has suddenly jerked his career sideways, and you cannot figure out why, now you know. And it's time for YOU to be the positive inputs in his life. 

October 24, 2013

Music Can Soothe The Stranded Traveler

Last Saturday I was stranded in the Cartagena Colombia airport for almost six hours.  I was not alone. Early that morning, the radar system at the Panama City airport went down, causing all flights in and out of it to be delayed.  As it's the hub for the entire region, which meant that all travelers in Cartagena would wait in the gate lounge until the situation clears up. 

By 3pm, we were all tense, tired and stressed out about our connections. The silence was deafening. Then, something magic happened.  Members of the University of Richmond symphony whipped out their instruments, tuned them quickly, and launched into an impromptu concert for us.  

Within seconds, the mood at the gate lounge was transformed from misery to ecstasy.  At this moment, I realized that music is one of the most powerful forces in the world. It can soothe our soul and make us forget our problems. When they finished, there were smiles all around. People begin to strike up conversations with each other and by 4pm, we got the good news that the Panama City airport was back up and running. Many of us talked about the power of music and vowed to listen to more of it ... especially when we were stressed out during times of travel.  

I shot a video of their first song. Note how loud the applause was, and how surprised they were at the positive feedback.  VIDEO: THE AIRPORT LOUNGE SYMPHONY. 

October 15, 2013

The Secret To Mark Cuban's Startup Success

As I travel around the world to give speeches or to consult, I'm often asked about my experience working for Mark Cuban.  While many are curious about what it was like to work for him, some dig deeper, asking for my opinion about his secret to success. 

My answer is always the same: He understood how to build powerful customer relationships. Beginning with his first startup (MicroSolutions), he adopted a mantra: Make Love, Not War.  I've met several of his former clients, and they've all remarked about how responsive he was to their needs, even when they seemed overly demanding. He'd personally visit their office, getting underneath desks if necessary to check wiring. He'd answer emails in the middle of the night without any grousing. It endeared him to customers who usually had to fight to get their value from solution providers. 

When I went to work for him at AudioNet (later to become broadcast.com), he repeated this mantra often.  He explained that too many companies often go to war with clients that don't easily fit into their value chain. Make money or war was their approach. 

In Cuban's view, the secret to customer success was to find out what they liked, then give it to them consistently.  He believed that a service provider needs to design their company around the customer's needs and wants.  He didn't just talk this game, he lived it daily.

If there was a disagreement about the quality of our service, the customer was right and the invoice was torn up. If a customer felt slighted, he or she was welcome to contact Mark directly to resolve the issue.  The culture of his startups was about being tuned into and responsive to the desires of the customer - and not the investors/owners.  

That's why he retained customers even though he operated on the bleeding edge of technology, where failure was a commonplace occurance.  In this sense, it works just like our personal relationships.  If we make love, not war, we are often forgiven for our imperfections. Or as author Steve Farber once told me, "If you are an electrician, and your client loves you, you can burn down their house they they'll say 'accidents happen'!" 

For more, read his book: How To Win At The Sport Of Business

October 10, 2013

Here's My Technique For Overcoming Stage Fright

A few years ago, I discovered a technique for overcoming stage fright.  We all likely have to fight through nerves when making presentations, sales pitches or participating in meetings -- especially when the audience is tough or the stakes are high.  

I've learned that our performance is a function of our thinking patterns, and in particular, the state of our subconcious mind.  If we are confident, we can relax for easy power.  If we are afraid, we are either too timid or inappropriately bombastic.  Furthermore, the last thoughts we take to the stage ultimately frame our mood and outlook. 

So what are your last thoughts before it's go-time?  In this keynote excerpt, I share my fear-busting technique with a group of high performing sales people.  While it seems like a simple plan, it requires one's imagination and determination to rise above the situation.  Can you do this? 

Reload A Success Experience For Total Confidence by Tim Sanders

Reload A Success Experience by Tim Sanders from Tim Sanders on Vimeo.

October 08, 2013

How To Survive A 10 Flight Week

It's that time of year for professional speakers, when we live out of suitcases and travel non-stop on the fall lecture circuit.  A few weeks ago I reached a milestone: Ten flights in a single week. My travels took me to Chicago, Jackson Hole, Phoenix and Colorado Springs.  I spent as much time in planes and airports as I did hotels and conference centers.  

When I got home on Saturday night, I must admit, I was taxed from the multi-segment week.  But I survived.  As a seasoned road warrior, I had a plan for my 10 flight week.  It worked as well as any plan works for a human going through this much stress and strain.  

1.  Plan Well So You Can Mosey -- The secret to a wall-to-wall week of travel is to take it easy. If you are constantly rushing around, the stress adds up quickly, and can take your health with it. I plan, double check the plans, and then rehearse them mentally during the weekend leading up to the trip. I leave padding in each segment of the schedule, which results in a little more gate time than I like, but it beats running through the airport.  Whenever possible, when I arrive early enough to consider an earlier flight to my next destination, I put myself on the standby list.  

2. Sit Towards the Front -- My favorite seat on a plane is the second row (behind the dreaded bulkhead seat) in the section.  On American long haul flights, that's 9A (window).  I don't get bumped when the plane is loading and I'm one of the first people off the plane.  It makes a big difference. 

3. Talk To People Sitting Next To You -- Sitting in silence makes flights longer, and the whole traveling experience more unbearable.  I usually strike up a pleasant conversation either as we taxi out or better yet, when we are descending to our final destination.  In many cases, I've made friends and valuable business contacts.  

4. Don't Forget Your Health -- I never pass a water fountain in an airport. I eat oatmeal or simple eggs every morning before I board my first flight. I wash my hands whereever I can find hot water and soap.  I program days to ensure 7 hours of sleep (I'll post something later on how I sleep well on the road).  If you get run down, sick or dehydrated, the whole travel experience can turn on you quickly.  When I get home from a long travel week, I rehab with a massage and plenty of good food and water.  

What are your travel secrets for an action packed week?  Share them in comments!