Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Break from Positive Thoughts

Life has been extremely busy the past 2 weeks and the next 4 look just as busy and exciting.  We have made some major changes at work.  Unfortunately, we had to let two team members go that have been under performing for a long time.  It was an extremely difficult decision and we feel like we have done everything we could to prevent it.  We used a 90 day probation period to work on specific issues with them but the performance just didn't change.

So at the same time we consolidated offices and move operations for all 3 business units under one roof (our security company was previously in a separate location) we also made the staffing changes.  The physical move was very exciting and should allow us to better manage all 3 businesses.  In just 4 days, I have a much better understanding of our day to day operations.  And I didn't feel like I misunderstood before, I have just been enlightened now!

Firing is never a fun activity.  I dreaded having to do it. But at the same time after it was done, I was relieved.  One of the team members has been hurting our business for months and there is no way to be sure what exact damage was caused by her inability to perform.  Even just one client that isn't billed properly can be hundreds of dollars, sometimes even thousands.  So knowing that we had done everything we could to fix the problems I felt relieved to then remove the problem completely.

We talk a lot around here about getting the right people on the bus.  Meaning we want to have the right people, in the right place, so that we can be an excellent company.  Now the search is on for the right people!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 9 - Positive Thoughts

I have run 10 miles in 3 days.

Day 1 - 4 miles
Day 2 - 3 miles
Day 3 - 3 miles

My goal is to complete 18 miles before the end of a 7 day period.  Then I just might do it again.  I weighed in at 175 this morning, which is my goal weight.  Now that fluctuates and I'm sure I am lowest in the morning.  But that is when I weigh myself every day, so at least I am consistent.

What's positive about this?  Being intentional.  I've been trying to convince myself to run 18 miles in 7 days for a couple of weeks.  In fact, I have probably come close just through normal activity.  But I had a great run on Saturday and just told me myself to keep on going.  Now I'm over half way there and I'm excited to complete my goal.

I'm still working up to 10K or half marathon level (I'm not convinced I really want to).  The reason I keep doing this is to be healthy.  One indicator of my health is my weight, so I can easily keep an eye on that.  the other indicator would be the spare time around my waist.  Some people would say I don't have one, they would be lying.  I have a layer of fat around my waist and I'm going to minimize it as much possible.

So for now this is a good week.  I'll make sure to get 3 miles in today.  If I'm lucky, maybe I can go a little longer.  Nobody said I can't exceed my goal!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 8 - Positive Thoughts

Last night I ran 3 miles on our treadmill.  I just cruised through it and finished in 28 minutes.  I recently completed a 5K outdoors in 26 minutes, so I obviously wasn't pushing myself for this little run at home.  But it felt great just to jump on and knock it out.

I believe I am an extremely hard worker but working out has never been a hobby of mine.  I prefer physical activity like playing sports much more than going to the gym.  So it is a mental challenge to get my exercise/workouts done.  I am always better off if I just force myself to start.  Then I feel so good when I finish.

So what is positive about all this?  I set a goal at the beginning of the year to weigh 175.  I was around 185 and wanted to get that down.  I'm currently averaging 177 so I'm happy about that.  I believe with a little more focus (exercise is pretty consistent, need to improve my diet a little bit) I can hit 175.  I'm even thinking 170 might be a better goal at this point.

Also, this past weekend I went running outside and completed 5.4 miles.  I don't think I have run that far (just running) since high school.  And even then I'm not sure I did that.  We used to run a 3 mile loop for warm up before soccer.  I only walked about 1/10 of a mile during that run and that was because it was a ridiculous hill at the end of the run.  It felt really good to complete this run and I am going to try and do it again.  I know that jumping on the treadmill for a 1 mile run doesn't really do too much for me by itself, and I used to do that for my sole exercise for the day.  Glad I am past that.

Anyways, I'm doing all this for a couple reasons.  1.) to be healthy. 2.) to get in shape and play soccer again.

Can't wait to be back on a soccer field!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 7 - Positive Thoughts

Surround yourself with people that are smarter and more successful than you.

Yesterday I was able to sit down with the CEO of a competing company in my industry.  In fact, his company ranks in the top 25 in the country and is a great model of how I want my company to be.  I won't get into details about our industry topics but I will point out that you need to surround yourself with successful people.  There is the old saying, you are what you eat.  And it is also true, you are who you spend time with.  We've all seen a good kid go bad because of the friends he chooses.  The same applies throughout your entire life.

If you want to be successful, you shouldn't hang around with people with zero motivation.  You should spend as much time with hard working, intelligent people that are going to motivate you to be a better person.  That's what happened to me yesterday.  I thought I was brilliant for spending time with this CEO.  And he was sitting there telling me how he spends time consulting with his competitors.  With people who are smarter and more successful than him.  He is really successful.  I assumed he didn't apply this. What an idiot I was.  Of course he surrounds himself with successful people!  He wouldn't have gotten to where he is without applying this principle.

So you should take a look at the people you spend the most time with.  Are they inspiring?  Are they successful?  Are they the type of person you want to be?  Or not?  If not, you should change it up.  I know I need to seek out more counsel with people that are more intelligent and more successful than I am.  I learned a lot just spending 1 1/2 hours with this CEO.  I read books.  I read as many books as I can and they help.  But I need more interaction with more successful people.

Great experience.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 6 - Positive Thoughts

I took a personality profile test for the first time last year.  It was interesting because it gives you a Natural style, the way you are when you aren't under pressure, and an Adaptive Style, they way you are under pressure or at work.  My natural and adaptive were extremely different.

At work I am a 'C'.  This means I like to get all the details and go out of my way to try and make sure things get done correctly.  I don't jump to decisions quickly and I like to analyze my options.  At home I am an 'I'.  This means I am very social and don't care about the details much.  I like to have fun and enjoy myself.

I have this ability to treat my work life and my home life separately.  I'm sure my wife would argue a little bit, as I trust her and sometimes bring my work home to her.  But I noticed this weekend my friends asking about my work.  And I gave a two sentence answer.  I didn't think anything about it but as I think about it, it is a perfect example of my adaptive I personality when I am being natural.  I didn't want to talk about work or even think about work!  I just wanted to have fun.

So why is this a positive thought?  I was just thinking that an I personality would be even more social than I am.  That I would know hundreds and hundreds of people (I do know them) but I really don't want to.  I value true friendship.  I value people that I trust, people that I believe have integrity.  I am fortunate to have several good friends that I have known since middle school.  I have several more I have known since high school.  And of course good friends from college.  I definitely focus on quality over quantity when it comes to friends.  And I have great friends.  So that is the positive thought in this post.  My friends are awesome and I am happy that I can say that.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 5 - Positive Thoughts

My company has hired 1 new person per month, for the last 3 months.  I anticipate another new hire within the next 30 days.  Why is this positive?  Because we are cheap and we don't hire someone unless we have to!

We are very fortunate to be growing in a time when many businesses are struggling.  I am proud to be developing opportunities for others and giving them a way to make a living.  Entrepreneurs are a special kind of person (and a special kind of crazy).  I fall into that category.  Even though I believe I could have a very successful sales career in just about any industry I wanted, I have this strange disease that makes me want to do more than sell.  It makes me want to create, develop, and build successful organizations.

And right now we are doing it!  I try to constantly improve myself.  I try to be humble (kind of!).  I try to appreciate what I do have.  I have always thought I was a hard worker.  But I have pushed myself in ways I never imagined in the past 13 months.  And we are just getting started.

Good things happen to good people.  Just try it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 4 - Positive Thoughts

Yesterday I invested time going door to door with a sales rep in our company.  I had only been out for about 45 minutes with him and needed to find more time.  Fortunately, I got out and spent over 2 hours working closely with him.

Door to door sales are a very powerful way to generate business and create opportunity for yourself.  I believe it is a skill any salesperson should develop.  And if they do, they will be successful at any type of selling.  So it is exciting for me to have a sales rep that is willing to get out and put in the hard work that door to door takes.  If a person is willing to try, I am willing to train them.

With a great attitude you can enjoy yourself and it doesn't have to be as difficult as people might think.  I am always reminded how much experience I have when I am training a new sales rep.  It takes me back to my first summer and the tough experience I had as a 19 year old kid.  I say kid because I was so immature (I of course had no idea at the time).  I developed myself in so many ways that first summer of selling and I believe it drastically changed the course of my life.  It instilled in me and independence and ability to manage myself that some people never develop their entire lives.

So I am thankful for my past experience.  I am thankful for the young college students I have worked with in the past, hopefully because I have helped them develop in the same ways.  And I am thankful for the opportunity to continue giving the experience to others, no matter their age or experience.  I believe I will have a positive affect on many more lives thanks to my summers selling door to door.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 3 - Positive Thoughts

This weekend my wife and I took out our new to us boat for the second time.  It was awesome.

The first trip out alone was a cloudy/sunny day with temperatures in the low 70"s and the surface temperature of the water was 57 degrees. Yikes!  We had a good time driving the boat around and being on the water, but it was a little chilly for a great day.  Well, fast forward one week and we experienced fantastic conditions.

The temperatures were low to mid 80's outside and the surface temperature had jumped to 66 degrees.  We had a couple of friends on the boat and we were really able to enjoy ourselves.  We even opened up the Bimini top and enjoyed the shade for a little while.

I'm extremely excited about this summer and appreciate that we have such a nice boat.  We have worked hard for years and it seems to be the one place that I am able to spend money without being too cheap.  It's great because we really enjoy being on the water and it is a good social activity. We take out family and friends all the time.

Also, my wife was able to water ski a little bit.  She has a brand new slalom ski that is more aggressive than anything she has ever used before.  She couldn't get up on it but she was able to start on two and drop the extra.  I need a lot more practice driving the boat and she needs more practice without an audience to learn her to new ski.  Excited about the next few months!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 2 - Positive Thoughts

I volunteer as a Big Brother.  I've always thought it would be a great experience and had thought about doing it for a couple of years.  Well, I finally started at the end of 2011 and have been matched with a 15 year old for over 4 months.  Yesterday we got together and played basketball at a local park.  Basketball is typically our go to activity because I know he will enjoy it.

I spend so much time working that I feel its important to have a social life and other activities outside of work.  Because I am self employed I was able to leave the office around 3 in the afternoon and go spend time with my Little yesterday.

It is always a positive experience when I get together with my Little and hope he feels the same way.  Even after 4 months, we haven't had any kind of breakthrough experience or developed some bond for life.  Right now, we get together every week (sometimes I mess that schedule up, but I try) and we spend 1-2 hours together.  I know I walk away with a good feeling and I believe he enjoys himself each time.

At 27 I feel like I still have a lot of time to give.  Being a Big is a great experience so far but I don't know what I will do as a volunteer long term.  But I do know I will make time for something.  Both for the people I am trying to help and for myself.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 1 - Positive Thoughts

I am going to try and write 30 posts about positive thoughts / happenings in my life.  I believe I am generally a positive person but I also believe you can always improve.

So, last night my wife made chicken tacos for dinner.  We typically eat these tacos once per week or maybe once every two weeks.  We live in Little Mexico, so we can get tacos just about anywhere.  But my wife makes delicious tacos.  She makes them out of chicken because I personally like chicken much more than ground beef.

Her chicken tacos are delicious.  First she cooks the chicken in a pan, then shreds it, and then puts it back in the pan with seasoning.  The meat tastes great!  She always has a lot of extras to go in the tacos.  Sour cream. Cheese. Avocado. Salsa.  Lots of lots of flavor!

I appreciate her making dinner for me and love that the dinner is so enjoyable!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Leadership Training

As I grow and develop my company, I want the people in it to grow and develop.  So last night we held our first training designed specifically to develop our future leaders.  We identified the individuals that have stepped up to the plate at work and have shown that they have the desire to be part of our organization for a long time.

Of course, since it was the first training it didn't go perfectly.  We got a late start and we ran late.  But the great thing was that no one seemed to mind running late.  We had a great discussion about what we wanted to accomplish and we focused on teachings from John Maxwell.

Our main topic was The Law of the Lid.  It is a fairly simple principle that so few people are ever taught.  But picture a graph with desire to succeed / hard work on the horizontal axis and ability to lead on the vertical axis.  An individual is limited by his ability to lead.  Take me for example, I am a sales professional.  I have been formally selling since 19.  I have been selling my ideas and myself my entire life.  I've always used words to get the things I want.  According to the law of the lid, no matter how talented of a sales person I become I will reach a lid.  And getting to 100% perfection in sales would be extremely difficult.  But if I develop the ability to lead others I can multiply my potential and opportunity.  Much more so than just developing sales skills.

I have been intentionally trying to improve my ability to lead others.  I can honestly look back and say I have improved a great deal just in the past year.  I can also say I have a long way to go.  And that is what's so exciting to me. Because I know I can improve.  Because I understand the Law of the Lid.  Because I am working to improve, I will have more success in life.

Do you understand your lid?  What are you doing to change it?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Close Call

This morning I was driving into the office and before I had even gotten 2 miles from my house, I saw a car speeding towards my side of the road.  It wasn't too close but I slowed down just to be sure.  The car was driving too fast the residential road we were on and was actually turning left into an apt complex, that is why he was cutting onto my side of the road.

But he was actually driving too fast and missed his turn.  I saw his car slam into a small concrete divider and jump into the grass.  I stopped and just before I got out of the car he started revving his engine and spinning his tires.  My immediate assumption was that he was drunk so I moved my car down the road about 30 yards. I didn't want him doing something stupid and hitting my car.  I watched to see if he would need help but he managed to back his car up, swing it around quickly, and make it into the apt complex.

I hope he didn't hit anyone or anything else but it looked like he was parking just a few spots down.  I didn't think there was anything else I could do so I left.  I'm just glad I wasn't 1/4 mile farther down the street when this guy decided to turn left and get into an accident.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sales Experience - Terrible Communication

Yesterday I had the most interesting business to business sales experience in my career.  I will try to give the short story.

A local company with about 40 employees contacted us about becoming their new IT provider.  It would have been a great contract for us and definitely within our capabilities.  Well, the initial conversations had gone well and we had a meeting set for yesterday afternoon.  Around 8 am the owner of the company called into the office and ended up at our answering service.  We use an answering service in the event that no one else can answer a phone.  It works really well for us.  Our clients always get to talk to a live person rather than just getting a voicemail. I would estimate about 5% of our calls during normal business hours end up at our answering service, so not very many.

This owner did not want to just leave a message and kept asking for my cell phone number, but he couldn't remember my name.  One major failure on our part is that the call center didn't have a complete employee list.  She explained who she was and he kept asking for my number.  He eventually ended up with a manager at the answering service who explained they were just an answering service but he did not listen. He ended the conversation in anger and said he he now wanted to cancel our appointment because of this terrible experience trying to call us.  We have NEVER had trouble with our answering service before.

I speak with the owner and he is very angry.  He explains that we was on hold for 10 minutes and that no one at my company knows who I am.  Fortunately, all calls at the answering service are recorded.  The call was under 5 minutes.  He clearly wasn't listening to what he was being told by the very nice people on the other end of the phone call, and gets upset.

Either way, I have a long conversation with him and he agrees to still meet with us.  I admit we are going to have an up hill battle but he seems to be coming around.

The first 35 minutes of the conversation went really well.  They had 4 people from their team in the room and I had my business partner with me.  We went through a lot of details and we were grilled in more detail than any other potential client ever has done to me.  No problem.  I appreciate that they really want to find a partner to work with.  Things seem to be progressing very well.

And then it happened.  The owner brought up the phone call.  I tried to get past it very quickly.  But he wouldn't let that happen.  He continued to talk about it and forced us to discuss what happened.  He was not willing to admit he didn't listen and thought it was absurd that we would even use an answering service.  We tried to explain the decision and why it is beneficial.  Apparently he would rather have to leave a voicemail.  He just wouldn't see it any other way.  We ended up having a very difficult 10 minute conversation trying to reason with a man that is more stubborn than your average person.  I had a tablet open, notes out on the table, and a notepad.  I packed all of this up and was ready to walk out.  I had no interest in doing business with this owner.

Finally, his daughter (and acting CEO) stepped in and ended the meeting very politely.  I hate that she beat me to the punch but at least we didn't waste any more time.

Many times are a salesperson you try to focus on winning every opportunity that comes your way.  I learned in my 3rd summer of selling door to door that I got to decide who I talked to.  Rather than having to put up with rude people and take their abuse, I could just walk away.  I forgot that lesson temporarily yesterday but had a great reminder.  Even though we want to grow and develop our business, we still get to choose who we want to work with.  This owner would have been a thorn in our side constantly so I believe things happen work out the way they are supposed to.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Morning

Monday Morning is always difficult.  I don't dread the week like many people probably do, I just seem to be tired!  I spend all week developing the habit of getting up early, only to ruin it every weekend.  So when Monday morning rolls around it is harder than ever to get out of bed.

Fortunately, I am able to kick myself into gear and get going for the week. I'm typically very excited about what the new week might bring.  And I dive into head first.  I also love the weekends for everything they offer.  But I am really trying to find a balance between enjoying my week and my weekend.  I don't want to be a person that lives for the weekend.  The guy that counts down the days, the hours, and the minutes until the next weekend.  That is why I am excited about daylight savings time and the extra daylight we have at the end of the day.  It will allow me to get more out of my week.  Because when I get home and it is dark, I don't want to do anything.  When I get home and it is light outside, I am more encouraged to get things done!

So here's to Monday Morning and everything it represents.  A new week and new opportunities!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Couch to 5K

There is a popular program out there called Couch to 5K.  My wife used it (I'm not sure if she followed it completely) in the past when she decided to get into running.  I have seen other women use it as well.  I'm sure it applies to everyone but I have only seen women using it.

But since I tore my ACL last fall I had been out of the running game for some time.  Probably 5-6 months actually.  And when I did start running at the very end of 2011, it wasn't easy.  Well, last night I ran 3.1 miles on our treadmill in just under 27 minutes.  I have been working very hard to build up to a 5K.  I didn't use this couch to 5 k plan but it seemed like that is what I was doing.  I have had to build up my ability to run again.  Part of my motivation is that my company is sponsoring a 5K at the end of March and most of the team is running in it.  I won last year and I want to have a shot at winning this year.  (I didn't win the whole thing, I was just the fastest from our team).

But I have also been motivated by a desire to be more active.  I love being active and really don't want to become fat. Unfortunately, I love food and seem to be prone to adding weight easily if I'm not active.  So I have tried to make physical activity a normal part of my life.  It has been hard without being able to play soccer, my favorite way to stay active, but I have gotten very close to enjoying running.

I might even start to run longer distances.  I don't think I have run 4 or 5 miles at one time since high school, so that would be a big deal to me.  But I'm thinking I might start setting a goal of running longer distances.  We'll see!

But either way, I'm proud and happy about my current progress.  I might not beat everyone on our team in a few weeks but I'm going to have a lot of fun.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sales Training - My First Paid Speaking Engagement

This past weekend I had the pleasure of training 10 individuals on sales.  My main focus was door to door sales but we covered a lot of general principles that are valid with any type of sales.  It was very exciting for me because it was my first training for outside companies and I was paid to do it!

I had talked with a local business owner last year about my experience and he wanted my knowledge.  Well, his neighbor is also in a service based business and they sell their service door to door.  So they came to me a couple months ago asking if I would be willing to hold a training.  I liked the idea but I didn't know when I would have the time.  We decided on a 4 hour training and negotiated a price, but then we just kind of talked about.

Eventually I decided I actually wanted to do it so I set a date for this past Saturday and everything came together at that point.  We had 10 people in attendance (this was a Saturday morning) so I was impressed.  I thought it went really well but I need to get more feedback from the participating businesses.  I did learn I should have added in one more break.  And I wanted to do more role playing but we really didn't have the time.  So I gave them all a lot of information but I was concerned about how well they would execute.

The good news is that the boss was there for most of them so hopefully he will reinforce and follow up with everything they learned.  I've always thought it would be fun to get paid for speaking. At 27 I'm excited to have a set of skills that allows me to actually do it.  I love speaking and training and I wouldn't doubt that I do it more in the future for outside companies. Of course I will do it for my own companies all the time!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I have recently talked about business and some of the things that have been going on at ours.  I mentioned a difficult team member.  We were finally able to meet with him yesterday and it went extremely well.

I won't go in to details but the meeting was significant for a number of reasons.  First, I acted outside of my comfort zone and was very direct with the problems that I had.  This is not how I am and it is very difficult for me to be direct or confrontational.  I am the type that would rather avoid confrontation and let a problem get worse rather than tackle it head on.  In fact, I used to just stop talking to my girlfriends or become very rude to them rather than just breaking up with them.  It was my way of avoiding confrontation and making them eventually deal with the problem.  I am happy to see growth in this area within myself.

Second, our team member really opened up and we had a significant breakthrough working with him.  It's not easy to build real trust in people and especially in a work environment.  We have to be careful about what we are involved with but sometimes we need to be there for people.  We were able to talk through the problems we had at work and understand more about the team members personal situation.  You never know what a person has going on unless they allow you to know.  I have always been a very private person and never really put my emotional struggles on to anyone else, so I could relate to this person trying to handle everything on his own.

Another difficult meeting was accomplished and the result was positive.  It is exciting to see growth and development.  Just like other situations, you often get out what you put in.  Well we needed to put a little more into this team member so that we could get a little more out.  And that is exactly what happened.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Management Challenges

I wrote recently about tackling some problems within our company.  The meeting went extremely well and we have seen a positive response from everyone.......except one person.

Ever since the meeting, this one team member has been a struggle to work with.  There have been problems in the past, so it isn't all new.  But any past problem seems to be amplified and it has been really testing my patience. I am extremely patient and normally things don't bother me, but this person is getting under my skin with almost every interaction I have.

I am now racking my brain to figure out the best way to deal with the situation.  I am currently in the stage of gathering information but within the next week we have to take action.

Management is no easy task and I actually enjoy these challenges.  But at some point, the same challenge over and over really wears you down and even the most positive person starts to think there is only one option to really handle the situation.  Hopefully we can come up with a few more ideas and figure out a way to handle this one.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New Boat

I did not grow up boating very much.  In fact, I didn't learn how to water ski until I was about 24.  But once I did my wife did as well.  We decided to purchase a boat and see if it was going to catch on. I had a fear that the boat would spend most of its time unused.  I thought it would probably only be used a couple of times and then we would sell it after a year.

Well, this past weekend we upgraded from that starter to boat to our first Mastercraft.  After 2.5 years we know what we like, and that is boating.  We have a couple more years before we start having kids and now seemed like a great time to upgrade.

We are both extremely excited about the new boat.  We had to compromise based on our budget, but we are now proud owners of a 2001 Mastercraft Prostar 209.  The best part is that is only has 174 hours on it.  Other than a good cleaning, the boat should be ready to go as soon as the weather allows.

Looking forward to the ski season!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Asking the Right Questions

I go on a lot of sales calls.  One minute I will be in someones living room talking about their personal safety.  Another minute I might be in someones office talking about their computers. And yet another minute I might be sitting around our conference room talking to someone about their website and online marketing.  In any of these situations, my goal is to sell them something.  Yes, I could call it something else or put a more positive spin on it.  But the reality is I am trying to sell them a product or service.

What continues to amaze people is the information I am able to gather while on these sales calls.  It starts with personal items.  Just yesterday I learned the owner of a business I was talking to took 5 years to pursue golf as a career before he turned 40.  He was playing every tournament he could and trying to get into the pros.  It didn't work.  But where it all leads is to how I can help this person or business with my product or service and how we are going to make it happen.  The way that I accomplish this is by asking the right questions, in the right way.

I'm sure someone has said this before, it has probably been taught to me specifically.  But I don't remember an exact lesson with that title or message - asking the right questions in the right way.  Often times, the right question is an invasive question.  You are probably asking something that the prospect feels they shouldn't tell you.  Perfect example - how much are you willing to spend?  Could you imagine if every prospect you dealt with told you exactly what they are willing to spend. You could give them the perfect offering and earn their business every time!  But prospects don't want to do that, they want to hear your price first and then decide if they want to do business.

Yet, I regularly walk out of a sales call with my prospects number.  It isn't always easy.  But by asking the right questions in the right way, I am able to get all the information I'm looking for, without making the prospect feel uncomfortable.

I'm sure you want more detail.  Well it depends on your industry. But you need to slow down and determine if you are asking the right questions in the right way.  What kind of reactions are you getting from prospects when you ask questions?  Are they open with you or defensive? Do they fold their arms and block you out? Or do they lean in and share more than they expected to?

Listen, evaluate, improve.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

I feel like I have the ability to understand other peoples point of view really well.  I can put myself in their shoes and understand what they are thinking and why they are thinking it.  Does this mean that I always make the best decisions in how to deal with different people?  Definitely not.

I find myself doing this quite often with employees and trying to figure out how to help them.  Many times I don't agree with what they are thinking or feeling, but I understand why they feel the way they are. So the challenge is to take the information and use it to help them.

I have been reading a book on influence and it has been extremely insightful.  I am half way through the book but I am already applying lessons from the first half in the real world.  We identified two major problems within our business and I used the information from this book to design solutions to the problems.  I put myself in the shoes of our employees and tried to understand their point of view.  We called a meeting and I did my very best to explain our point of view to everyone else.

Our expectation for this meeting was that it would be very heated, uncomfortable, and challenging.  In fact, we posted a sign on the door requesting that everyone leave their emotions at the door, so that we could have a productive meeting and find effective solutions.  We also made an important move by meeting with one of our leaders prior to the company meeting, and having a preliminary discussion with her.  This was very effective in bringing out a couple of other issues that needed to be addressed and getting her to agree with our 2 major problems out loud.

So what happened?  Did our company explode and everyone started physically attacking each other in the meeting?  Nope.  Did people get really emotional and we spent the whole time without being productive?  Nope.  We had a very successful meeting.  In fact, we accomplished everything we wanted to without having the tension and anger that we thought was inevitable.

I believe it was the best example of truly applying principles we have learned from leaders, books and experience to make sure we were successful.  It has been only 4 days but the team is already responding positively.  We still have to work hard and correct our issues.  But we laid out specific plans, we set goals, and we created accountability.  I couldn't be happier so far!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cold Calling

I happen to have an extensive amount of experience with cold calling.  Most people probably think of telephone cold calling first, but cold calling door to door is also a very common practice.  I will be holding a training session for two local companies soon on how to be successful at door to door selling (or cold calling).

Here's why I can get paid to teach these skills to people -

7 years experience
About 40,000 doors knocked on
About 10,000 presentations given
Over 50 sales reps trained
Over half a million in personal sales
Over a million in team sales

Oh, and this was all accumulated in 4 month periods as we only ran a summer sales program, not year round.  I honestly believe I am one of the most knowledgeable door to door salespeople in the country.  Sure, there are thousands and thousands with experience in it.  But I would wager there are only hundreds with a true ability to succeed and teach others.

I am excited about the opportunity to pass on some of this knowledge in a different format than I ever have before.  This will be an intense, 4 hour training designed to address the most important and most difficult aspects of door to door sales. My expectation is that anyone in the training will be able to walk away and immediately see and impact on their performance.

We'll see what happens.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Step by step instructions for long term marital bliss

My poor wife.  She must be telling her co-workers how  much I dislike Valentine's Day.

Received from her boss-

Dawn’s favorite flowers are tulips.

Buy her some.

Give them to her.

Purchase a Valentine’s Day card.

Sign your name to it.

Give it to her with the tulips.

Repeat annually.

She claims she had nothing to do with it.  Despite the email, I won't be getting her flowers.  I think flowers are a huge waste of money.  They die.  Last year I completely surprised my wife by sending her flowers for the first time ever.  It wasn't worth it.

I'll consider doing something for her on this made up holiday.  But it wouldn't be wise for her to get her hopes up.  It's not that I don't love her or appreciate her.  I just don't think Valentine's Day means anything.  We are going out for a nice dinner this weekend, technically in celebration.  We'll see if anything other than that happens.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Building Rapport

People buy from you because they ........

Like You


Trust You

Even if you have experienced any type of sales training, you are probably familiar with this information.  I'm not exactly coming up with a revolutionary idea when I talk about building rapport and getting to people to like and trust you.  Sales is all about making a connection with your prospect so that they will be comfortable doing business with you.

I often see building rapport as the one of the greatest weaknesses among salespeople.  They do not take the time slow down and find a common connection with their prospect prior to talking business.  Part of the reason is that they don't know how to do it and part of the reason is that they allow the prospect to control the conversation.  Allowing the prospect to make you skip building rapport happens all the time.  There are a few principles to follow when it comes to building rapport.

Ask Questions. Even better, Ask the Right Questions. 

A salesperson should never pretend to know about a subject just because they think the prospect is interested in it. If you have a genuine interest, talk about it.  If you don't, DON'T talk about it.  I'll give you an example, I don't like dogs.  Tons and tons of people loves their animals, especially dogs.  If you go to a house with a dog, two dog, or three dogs, that is probably a subject you can use to make a connection because pet owners love their pets.  But I absolutely do not like dogs.  I can't identify what type of dog it is.  I don't want to pet the dog.  I don't want your dog to jump all over me and lick me.  I don't ever pretend to like dogs.  Now, I also don't tell people about my dislike for dogs either.  I just avoid the subject and find another topic to discuss!  A good salesperson will have a variety of topics and interests that they can discuss with prospects.  A great salesperson will be extremely knowledgeable about these subjects and will be interested in their prospects experience in these subjects.

You need to have questions that allow you to find these common subjects.  The questions need to be open ended.  The questions need to invoke emotion or passion from the prospect.  When I see a Jeep Wrangler in some one's driveway or garage, that is typically a great connection for me.  I have owned 7 Wranglers.  I love them.  I know a lot about them.  Wranglers are kind of a niche vehicle, when people own them, they really like them.  I can name 10 other subjects that I commonly am able to connect with prospects about, can you?

Control the Conversation.

Sometimes, it is appropriate to cut people off.  WHAT?!  That can be rude, and a salesperson can't be rude.  Well, don't be rude about it.  Politely cut into the conversation. Be so nice, so professional, and so likable that the prospect doesn't care you cut them off!  I often times have to 'man handle' a conversation to get it headed in the right direction.  A salesperson cannot be afraid of leading their prospect into the conversation they need.  When a prospect jumps right down to business, politely answer the question or acknowledge them, but reverse right back into building rapport.  Follow up your answer to their business question with a question about that interesting coffee table they have.  Or that recently renovated kitchen.  Or possibly that boat sitting in the driveway.  Anything that the prospect might be passionate about AND you have a genuine interest in.  Don't be afraid to control the conversation.

When done well, building rapport lays the foundation for every sale.  It opens the prospect up to listening.  It allows the prospect to buy into what you are saying.  It makes the prospect want to do business with you.  And it can prevent the prospect from having buyers remorse and cancelling!

If you want to be a successful salesperson, you must first become talented at the art of building rapport.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mastermind Group

I was recently invited to attend a Mastermind Group held by a few people I know.  I believe they have been meeting for about a year but I'm not 100% sure about that.  A mastermind group is a collection of people that get together and spend time focusing on one individual at a time, helping them to sort through questions, issues, problems, etc that they might have.  Most mastermind groups I am aware of are business related, although there often aren't any boundaries.

Now the first rule they told me about mastermind group was "what happens at mastermind group, stays at mastermind group."  So they respect each others privacy and don't repeat what they share with each other. So I obviously am not going to discuss what was actually talked about in the group.  I have not participated in a formal group like this before and it was very interesting to me.  I enjoyed the openness from each of the individuals and everyone genuinely wanted to help the other people in the group.

I feel like I was able to contribute to the group, even though I was a guest.  And we did spend some time talking about my business, which allowed me to leave with some valuable insight for myself.

If you aren't familiar with the concept you should do some research about mastermind groups and how they work.  The structure, size, meeting time, meeting length, etc is all flexible and determined by the members, so you can make it work.  I will definitely be participating in some type of mastermind group in some way.  I firmly believe you should surround yourself with successful people, because your friends are often times a reflection of yourself.

Quit being lazy, just do it!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Korean Barbecue

Growing up I was an extremely picky eater.  Over the years I have completely changed and love so many different food items and types of food.  But I have never been particularly interested in Korean food.  So when I group of people decided that was what we should eat this weekend, I was a little hesitant.

I searched the internet and tried to find an item that I might be interested in.  Turns out, they have Korean barbecue.  The meat is served raw and you cook it at the table over coals.  I'm typically against cooking my own food but this was a fun experience.  We went with the marinated beef and I must say it was delicious.  The flavor was very good and even though the meat didn't look especially high quality it was very tender.

They also served the barbecue with 7 different sides.  Some I liked.  Some I didn't care for.  But it was an interesting experience and I would definitely recommend the barbecue to anyone else looking for something new to try.

One member of our party has developed a taste for foreign food and ordered a soup that is typically reserved for Koreans.  The server immediately questioned his decision to order it and commented that its not for Americans!!  Priceless.  But he did order it and he did enjoy it.  I even tried a bite which included some type of intestine. A little chewy if you ask me.

Friday, January 27, 2012

An Inconsistent Truth

Anybody know about Phil Valentine's new documentary An Inconsistent Truth?

I had heard about it from Phil on his radio show.  I won't claim to be a dedicated listener, but I do find myself listening somewhat regularly to Phil.  Well, we had the opportunity to attend the Nashville premiere of the movie and it was really good.

Phil and the team that worked on the movie really did a great job of making an informative and entertaining documentary that addresses the other side of Al Gore and 'Global Warming'.  It was most interesting to see Phil interview people on the street and ask them about global warming.

He had picked a spot near Vanderbilt University in downtown Nashville and started off by asking if people believe in global warming.  They all said yes (I wonder if any said no, obviously they weren't as relevant to the film).  Not a single person could explain why they believed in global warming.  Of those that understood global warming was caused by CO2 they were asked to say how much was in the atmosphere.  Let's just say we are all pretty uneducated about the subject.

The other very interesting part of the movie was the footage from Al Gore's testimony to congress and fact checking against his statements.  Al Gore is so full of it.  He made exaggerated claims and made some flat out lies.

Very good movie.  I recommend everyone watching it and hearing about the other side of the issue!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rental Car

Yesterday I dropped off my car in order to have the rear bumper fixed.  I was hit from behind over a month ago and the insurance had finally been taken care of it.  I was going to need a rental car and the last thing I wanted was to get stuck in some small, crappy car.  In order to prevent this, I made sure the insurance agent I was dealing with requested a full size car for me.  I jokingly demanded a hybrid (I only drive hybrids!) but told him I really did need a decent car, because I do have other people ride with me quite often.

Well,  when the rental car employee showed up to give me the car, it was a small crappy car!  I could tell by his body language and his facial expression that he knew this wasn't the car I was supposed to have.  I had already done my best to notify the body shop I was coming and the rental company that I was headed to the body shop.  They said they were only 5 minutes away so they would be right over.  At this point, I had been waiting over 15 minutes.  Is that a long time?  Not too bad.  But if you tell me 5 minutes, and it takes 3 times as long, I'm going to be annoyed.  So you can imagine I wasn't happy go-lucky about this compact car with no power windows, stains all over the seats and it rattled like a tin can.  The employee told me they could swap the car out later but this was all they had.  I said, "What is the point of the reservation?".  No answer.

Not sure where to place the blame, I left in my tin can.  Maybe the insurance agent didn't do as he said.  But then I looked at the paperwork and there it was!  A black Impala (a full size sedan) was marked out in place of my Hyundai Accent.  OH!  So it was not the insurance agent at all, there was another car for me that the rental company gave to someone else.

No problem.  I just called them back and let them know I expected the car to be swapped out before the end of the day.  After getting to a manager, we had it arranged for a new car to be brought to me before the end of the day.  I will compliment them on doing the right thing and getting it taken care of quickly.  I felt a little bad about making them do it, but at the same time it is what I would have done for a customer in the same situation.  It was the right thing to do.

So for the next couple of days I am driving around in a new Malibu (it's even silver, my favorite color) and I am a much happier person!  By the way, I was very nice about the situation and thanked them profusely for getting me a different car.  I was not a rude person demanding that they fix it or else!  I find the best way to get what you want is to ask nicely and be persistent!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tennessee Tornado

We get a decent amount of tornadoes in TN.  Not too much, but enough that we have tornado sirens installed near our house!

I'm not sure if I have ever heard them before but last night I definitely did.  I'm not a light sleeper by any means so I was actually woken up by my wife.  But once I awake I was able to hear what a tornado siren sounds like.  I would compare it to the sounds I imagine used to go off when we were concerned about bombs during world war I and II.  Just like in the movies.

We have a 2 story townhouse and the safest place during a tornado would be in our downstairs bathroom or closet underneath the stairs.  My wife was rightfully concerned (there were sirens going off!) so she spend a couple of hours hunkered down in our bathroom, waiting the storm out.  She told me I could stay in bed if I wanted to, but I'm assuming she probably didn't want me to.  Unfortunately, I was sleeping in my underwear and the thought of getting up, getting dressed, and going downstairs was not appealing to me.  So I stayed right where I was.

Turns out no tornado ripped our house from the ground and threw me across the street in my underwear. For this, I am very thankful.  I'm not too sure if my wife will be mad at me or not.  But for now we are both fine and the house is still standing!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Man in the Mirror

I think that most people would agree, it is easier to see fault in others than it is to see your own faults.  People are quick to point out problems or shortcomings of others, myself included.  I have developed over time a very strong self confidence.  I am curious if other people think that I am unaware of shortcomings because of my confidence.

The truth is that I am very aware of most failures that I have.  I believe one of my strengths is being very self aware and also having an understanding of how actions and words affect people.    I feel like I have the ability to put myself in other peoples shoes and understand the thoughts or reactions they would have to a situation.  Anyone that knows me is probably asking, if that's the case, why are you so rude sometimes? I feel like I understand, that doesn't mean I always care!

So my curiosity is if I am as self aware as I think I am.  And also, are other people more self aware than I think they are.  On average, I feel like most people don't have a clue what type of person they really are.  I know that I have so much to learn and develop.  I try on a constant basis to develop myself in ways that allow me to be a better person, a better leader, a better husband, etc, etc.  It's not easy. And I'm not always making progress.  And sometimes I take a couple steps in the wrong direction.  But overall, I am so far ahead now than I was a few years ago.

I hope that you can say the same about yourself.  That you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses.  That you are making a conscience effort to improve on your weaknesses and continue to develop your strengths.

Try looking in the mirror, decide what it is you want to improve about yourself (not just physically).  Then create a plan to make that improvement. And most important of all, execute the plan!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Emotional Quotient

I think everyone has heard of an IQ.  But I doubt many people have heard of an EQ, or emotional quotient.  I often take for granted the knowledge and skills that I have been taught, assuming that others have the same knowledge.  I forget that many success principles were taught to me at a young age.

So the idea of an Emotional Quotient is really quite simple.  It is your ability to deal with your emotions, to control them rather than allowing them to control you.  As we were recently talking with a team member about his attitude, it suddenly occurred to me that he needed to understand his EQ and learn how to develop it.  Typically, this team member can be a little grumpy in the morning.  And worse, whenever his tasks seem to pile up or more than one thing is presented to him at a time, he gets very negative and doesn't handle it very well at first.

As I started to explain EQ, it made sense to me.  I was very thankful to this because at least he was willing to acknowledge the problem.  I know that one talk with him about it won't immediately change things.  But at least being aware, he can now start to make an effort toward improvement.  It really is something inside of you and a habit that has to be developed over time.  No one can increase there EQ overnight!

So how can you develop this emotional quotient and how will it help you?  For me, my EQ was developed through hard work and tons of rejection.  I can remember in high school I had an extremely short temper at home and often times blew up at people.  I controlled it pretty well at school and in other situations, but at home I just couldn't handle it.  I have to attribute my many summers of door to door sales that allowed me to really deal with problems and not let them effect my attitude.  I always had to be in a good mood or else nobody would want to talk to me.  And that was not good for sales!

Obviously this helped with my sales then and now.  But to this day, whether there is a problem at home, at work, or anywhere else, I am able to control my reaction and deal with the problem logically.  It is so rare that I make an emotional decision about anything. My wife tells me I actually have too much patience at times.  This has helped me to manage people, have better relationships with friends, and a better relationship with my wife.  I'm not perfect.  Home is probably still my weakest area and the times my EQ gets the lowest.  But I'm always working on it!

Just google emotional quotient and you will find much more information out there about it.  And if you need help developing it, I'm always here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Boat

For some reason, I get ideas in my head. Most of the time I don't stop until I find a way to complete my idea.  I might be in trouble right now.  I have this idea of upgrading boats in my head and it is really getting to me.  I can't stop myself from looking at boats on-line, emailing people about boats, and thinking about upgrading.

I love the boat that we have, but it has a few shortcomings.

1. As we have become boaters, we've learned we would like to have a little more space and power for our boat.  It doesn't have to be much bigger, but our current boat is pretty crowded with just 6 people and really crowded when we load up 8 or 9 people.  The engine works, but it really is underpowered for most of what we do and especially when we have 6 or more.

2. As an inboard/outboard the take off and time to plane is crazy long.  Just not wanting that in the future.

3. Wakeboarding is a really fun activity.  We aren't extremely serious with an watersport but boating is about fun.  Lot's of people like wakeboarding and we would like to have a tower.

4. Our next boat needs to be a crossover, good for both skiing and wakeboarding.  With skiing still a preference right now.

Plus, we have been spoiled by driving and riding on Mastercrafts.  I want one.  Plain and simple, this is a want and a desire.  Maybe I will find a way this year, maybe it won't happen for another year or two.  But right now I've got a bug and its bad!

Monday, January 2, 2012

North Korea

I enjoy learning about history, especially when it comes to war.  I enjoy Band of Brothers and the Pacific as well as documentaries.  With all of the recent news about Kim Jong Il dying and his son taking over as the leader of North Korea, another documentary caught my attention.

I believe it was a special produced by National Geographic but it has investigative reporter Lisa Lang in North Korea.  She was there with an eye doctor that was performing thousands of eye surgeries in 10 days. They were supposed to  be documenting this humanitarian trip but they were actually trying to get as close of a look inside North Korea as possible.

I've never learned or studied much about North Korea.  So it was extremely interesting to see how divided and secluded the country is.  I don't support communism but to me, this was an extreme level of communism.  It really seemed to be on the edge of one giant cult.  Thousands of people had come for eye surgery, most were blind because of a lack of normal healthcare in most countries.  The problem was a simple fix and this doctor would be training other people to also perform the surgery after he left.

North Korea actually had some medical equipment which had been donated by other countries. But the leadership had never done anything with it.  After each person was taken care of, they would get up and praise the Great Leader. They are oppressed by their leader and have been for decades, yet they treat him and think of him as a God.  It was terrible to see how brainwashed these people are.

Now you can only show so much in a documentary and you obviously are trying to make a statement, so they can be skewed.  But much of the information was factual and I felt sorry for the people of North Korea.  It seemed like there were many of people that would love to escape but have no way of doing so.

It will be very interesting to me to see how North Korea continues to exist while the world grows into a global environment.  It also made me fear what crazy things they might do.  I support war when war is necessary, but to be honest, I don't know why war should ever be necessary.  If we could remove the crazy from the world, we could all just get a long and treat each other with respect.  I know that won't happen!

Food Inc.

So my wife and I had a gathering at our place for New Year's Eve.  I kept explaining it was just a gathering, but everyone kept acting like it was a party.  Either way we had a good time.  So the day after was spent cleaning the house as quickly as we could, and then relaxing on the couch.  We found entertainment in the documentary section on Netflix.  After I watched a great story called Pulling John, my wife got involved and said she had to pick the next one.  Food Inc.

It was an extremely interesting documentary about food.  The changes in how our food is produced.  How instrumental corn has become in all things food.  The government policies and involvement in food.  Overall, I really enjoyed watching it and took away quite a bit.

I'm not one to worry about where my food comes from.  And I didn't have some drastic change in thinking that is going to change my diet completely.  As my wife sat there feeling sorry for some of the  animals and cringing as they were killed, I was more interested in the difference of processed vs organic.  I was more interested in how businesses are responding to the market.  I was especially disgusted by one business using its money and power to bully farmers when it came to patented seeds.

What did appeal to me was the call to vote with what we buy.  I do believe we should eat healthy food and we certainly shouldn't have of fear possible death from the food we eat.  As a business owner, I want to support other local businesses.  I think what is important is for them to be able to compete financially.  Sometimes, it is just too expensive to support local businesses.  But I do know I will be making more of an effort in the future.

One part of the documentary had Wal-Mart employees going to an organic farm.  The owner or person from the farm immediately commented about how she had never been to Wal-Mart.  Personally, I support supply and demand.  Customers are demanding organic options so Wal-Mart is delivering it.  I'm fine with any business that does not desire to be in Wal-Mart, but I think the person in the movie came across and ignorant with her comments.  She had an attitude of superiority.

Overall, I enjoyed the documentary and took away an attitude of wanting to buy more local.  I hope we can do that.