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.