Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Eye Contact

There is a thin line between perfection and creepy when it comes to eye contact.

We all know that eye contact is an important part of communication, especially when meeting someone for the first time.  Here is just a bit of information and rules to go by when it comes to making eye contact.

When introducing yourself to someone new, confidently make eye contact and hold it for at least 2-3 seconds. Once you have held the eye contact for 3 seconds, break eye contact in order to look at something else.  If the conversation continues, you may make eye contact again and continue to make and break eye contact throughout the conversation.

DON'T avoid eye contact altogether initially. This will make you seem shy, possibly dishonest, and untrustworthy.  Most people do not like other people who are afraid to make eye contact, or at least make unfair judgments about them.

DON'T hold the eye contact continuously without a break when initially meeting. This will create an awkward exchange with the new person you are meeting and also give them the wrong impression about you. People will assume you are weird or socially inept.

This is a simple rule of thumb but will communicate just as much as the words coming out of your mouth!

Friday, October 25, 2013

$2 Bill

I was miserable. It was close to 5pm and I had been knocking on doors since 10 am. I was working a particularly hilly neighborhood so every house seemed to have 20 steps on their front porch. I was definitely getting my work out today. The temperature was in the 90's and I was sweating through my shirt. I can only imagine homeowners opening their doors to see my we shirt and dripping forehead, pleasantly smiling and waving my bug photos.

I was deep into my first summer selling pest control service door to door and this particular day had not produced any results. As in, I had zero sales for the day.  I remember working one side of a street with some of the most ridiculous porches. This side of the street was all hill so every house had 30 or more steps up to the front door.  I was coming down one of these huge stairways when a car pulled to the curb and rolled his window down.  An elderly gentleman yelled to get my attention and waved me over.  I'd been through this before. It was probably the president of the Homeowner's Association. He was going to yell at me and threaten to call the police if I didn't leave now. If I was lucky, he would give me this information and go on his way, maybe follow me out of the neighborhood in his car.  If I was unlucky, he would have already called the police. He just wanted the personal delight in telling me himself.

So I made my way down the steps and down the driveway. The road actually had a good amount of traffic so I had to wait to cross the street and go to his car. As I walked up, I heard him say, "Are you Aaron Whitaker?"  "Yes sir!" I proclaimed. I had already learned my tactic, I'll kill them with kindness. But I was prepping for the worst and not looking forward to it. I was hot and had no sales, getting kicked out of the neighborhood was the next logical event in this great day.

I politely crouched down next to his car in order to put myself at or below his eye level. Another tactic I had developed, I never liked being over a person when talking to them.  I looked at the gentleman and didn't recognize him, but he stuck his had out the window and said, "I just wanted to shake your hand."  What? This is an interesting way to kick me out!

He went on to explain that I had knocked on his door earlier in the day and his wife answered. I had spent about 5 minutes with her explaining who I was, what I was doing in the neighborhood, and doing my best to get her started with pest control service. I didn't think twice about this lady. She was just another one close to 100 people I would see that day.  But he went on to explain that she had come back inside in a great mood and happy to have met this nice young man named Aaron Whitaker. He explained that she really appreciated my positive attitude and it made her day better!

I honestly didn't know what to say. But at this point, I was pretty excited. This was the first time someone had gone out of their way to thank me for working so hard.  He told me they were selling their home soon and it didn't make sense to get my service. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet.  He removed a $2 bill and gave it to me.  "I always carry a $2 bill for good luck. I want to give this to you and hopefully it will bring you some good luck."

I can't remember if I got any sales that day or not. But I remember this gentleman that was so kind and gracious, he put a smile on my face and made me feel good about what I was doing. That $2 bill was in my pocket for the rest of the summer. Not only did I finish as the top salesperson for our program, but I made 3 times the amount of money I would have made at my previous job. That summer was the start to a very successful and rewarding sales career. And this man with his $2 bill helped me get there.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Week 1 - Complete

Quick update after the first week of my intense workout program.  (intense for me)

I successfully completed everything I planned. Each morning Monday through Friday I completed 3 miles on the treadmill. This included a .25 mile warm up walk, 2.5 mile jog/run, .25 mile cool down walk. This proved to be easier than I expected. By day 4, I was waking up before my alarm went off at 5.  Of course, I waited until 5 to get up but it didn't take long to train myself mentally.

I also completed week 1 of P90x, completing those workouts each afternoon. I was not doing these with the intensity that I probably could have, but I didn't want to exhaust myself or get so sore I couldn't do it the next day. I was happy with my effort and my overall ability. If I had waited another month or two before starting P90x, I feel like I would have been in trouble.  At this point, I am not in great shape but am in good enough shape to not hate every workout.


1. I enjoyed the morning runs. It was a great start to every day. I would listen to an EntreLeadership podcast so they really helped start my day off both physically and mentally.

2. P90X is a big time commitment. Each afternoon / evening you have to set aside 1.5 hours to complete the workouts. Fortunately, I have  a flexible schedule but as life gets more demanding (it goes in cycles) the time commitment will get harder and harder.

3. In past experience, week 2 and 3 of P90x can be the hardest. My muscles tend to be fatigued from the constant workouts and with adding morning runs, I don't know how that will factor in this time around.

4. The key for me is to set my goal at the beginning of the week and commit myself. If I tell myself that I will decide in the morning, I likely won't do it. But if I say I HAVE to do it and am GOING to do it, the decision is already made. On Saturday, I felt very happy with my efforts all week and knew I was going to play soccer on Sunday. Sunday is a day of rest in P90X so I wanted to let myself off and skip the Saturday workout. I came close but in the end, I wouldn't let myself off the hook. And I felt great after completing the workout. I was so glad that I didn't get lazy.

I'm writing this after my Monday morning run. It was hard to get up, which is no surprise since the weekend included some late nights and sleeping in. It will take a day or two to get used to 5 am again. But I WILL!

Friday, October 18, 2013


I was recently listening to an EntreLeadership podcast and loved some of the content I heard. Well, I loved all of the content but I especially enjoyed one piece of information.

The person being interviewed is the CEO of a large privately held theme park company. He said that the enthusiasm of his guests' experience would never exceed the enthusiasm of his employees.  Now, he probably said it a little better than that but you get the idea.

The reason I really liked hearing this is that I have heard it before, many times. I am a student of sales above anything else. Although I am developing as a leader, my first successes came in sales. One thing that I was taught and has always stuck with me is that selling is a transference of feeling.  If I am excited about my product, my customer will be excited about the product. OR - If I am negative about my product, my customer will be negative about my product. Basically, if you have a great attitude it is going to rub off on others.  While this makes perfect sense to me for sales and in general, I have never applied to it my business very well for service.

I operate a local alarm company and have employees that go out to install and service our systems. I have discussed with them many times their importance. I have explained that they are the face of the company and their personal interaction with customers is what makes us better than other companies. I am fortunate that my team members do this on their own.

But I have neglected to truly convey this message in the way it was conveyed on the podcast.  My team members need to do more than just have a great attitude. They need to be excited about the products we are installing. They need to have an enthusiasm for the service we are providing. They need to know that our life safety products literally save lives. They need to understand that our camera systems allow business owners to more effectively run their business. They need to understand that our alarm systems give moms and dads peace of mind, knowing their children are safe. They need to really understand these concepts and go out everyday with an excitement for the role they serve.

More importantly, I need to help convey this message to them. To be a leader in the excitement and find ways to show them the impact they make on peoples lives.

When I am asked what sets us apart from our competitors, I always say our service. But what I need to say is what sets us apart is our PEOPLE. Our people care about what they do. Our people are the best that you can find. Our people have an excitement and passion that you can't help loving. And I need to make sure that is true!

I will be more intentional with my message to team members and find ways to foster excitement.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013



Sacrifice is such an important concept for life. Whether you are talking about business, career, family, religion, friendship, or just about anything, sacrifice plays a huge role in our lives. We may refer to it in different ways and sometimes not even realize sacrifice is involved, but it really is one true constant.

Today I sacrificed an extra hour of sleep in order to exercise. This sacrifice was to reach a goal that I have set for myself.

Recently, I sacrificed my own personal gain to reward an employee that I felt deserved extra pay. He had done an exceptional job and I felt he deserved a reward. So I paid him a bonus that otherwise would have been money I could have paid myself.

In the past, I sacrificed entire summers in order to develop myself in sales, schedule, communication, business, and so many other things. I would sacrifice days at the pool, travelling opportunities, time with friends, time with family, and so much more.

As a child, I sacrificed 40% of any money I earned to put it in savings. My dad required all of my brothers and sisters to do the same thing. It was so hard as a kid to earn $10 and only be able to spend $4 (the other 10% went to tithing).


All of this sacrifice means something. Sacrifice generally causes a greater good.

When I sacrificed my sleep, I gained health.

When I sacrificed own personal paycheck, I gained loyalty and appreciation from my employee.

When I sacrificed my summers, I gained experiences and knowledge that I couldn't have gotten anywhere else. I set myself up for future success.

When I sacrificed my own earnings to my savings, I gained a financial discipline that has allowed me to succeed in life in ways very few of my friends have. I was also sacrificing for myself, as that 50% was going into my own savings account.

I learned in college (while selling door to door), that successful people learn to do the things that unsuccessful people don't like doing.  Things like exercise, sharing, working extra hours, delayed gratification, all of these can be unpleasant.  But when you do these things, when you do the things that others are unwilling to do, you can be extremely successful.

This doesn't just apply to business, although it definitely is true. When you are willing to forgive a person even when you really don't want to, you will be successful. Perhaps you will be successful in sleeping at night, or reducing stress, or maybe even by developing a friendship that would have otherwise died.

I know that I am successful in so many areas of my life because I have been willing to do the things that others were not.  I would challenge anyone to look at their life. Whether it is your career, your family, your friends, any of them. If there is any area where you aren't as successful as you would like, ask yourself if you have sacrificed. If you have been willing to do the things that others were not.  Or did you take the shortcuts. Did you take the path of least resistance and end up exactly where you deserved?

Sacrifice. Get to know it.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Well, it's been a very long time since I have posted to this blog. But I return with a vigor and commitment stronger than ever before.  I feel like this blog has little direction, and I don't think that will change any time soon. Right now, I'm going to resume blogging and I am going to write about whatever I want.  The topics may or may not relate, may or may not be entertaining, but most certainly will happen on a somewhat regular basis. Good enough?  Great!

This post is going to put down some goals that I have set for myself and hold me accountable for them.  Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing these goals with people as they come up in discussion and that will also hold me accountable.

So what is the goal?

** To get in the best physical shape of my life.**

I've just upset a lot of goal setters out there. As a person that has taught goal setting (a few times anyways) and read at least a handful of books or blogs about goal setting, I realize I need to be more specific. And I need to have a timeline.  So let's add some details.

I feel like I have always been an 'athletic' guy. I grew up playing sports and lead a generally active lifestyle. Other than an embarrassing period after college, I have also always been a generally thin guy.  I am fortunate not to be pre-disposed to a much thicker body type, ie fat.  But just like anyone else, if I eat whatever I want and don't exercise, I get fat.

So here is my plan.

I am going to tackle this goal one week at a time. I turned 29 2 days ago and my goal is to be in the best physical shape of my life when I turn 30. So BOOOM, time frame is 1 year.  This will be extremely hard for me because I am very good at sticking to a workout schedule when I am first getting started (sound familiar?), but I tend to lost interest and neglect exercise pretty easily once more entertaining opportunities come along.  1 year - Time Frame Set.

What is the best physical shape of my life? Well, I am going to define it as -

1. Being able to run 3 miles in under 22 minutes. This is related to cardio obviously, and should be the easier portion of my goal. I don't like running but I can do it. I haven't been this fast in years so it will be a challenge, but I know it is attainable.  (Oh yeah, that is important for your goals as well, they need to be attainable, or else you will definitely lose interest!)

2. Being able to complete 20 pull ups consecutively. YIKES, never been able to do that before in my life.

3. Being able to complete 50 push ups consecutively. YIKES AGAIN! I gave it my all last year and maxed out at 44 push ups. At this point, I think 25 might be my max!

4. To have a six pack.  WHAT?!!?  This has never happened in my whole life. More importantly, I love food so much that this is probably the scariest part of the goal. I know that diet will become a major factor and I hate to give up food. 

5. To have an overall toned body. I could go into more detail about working out arms, shoulders, legs, etc, but I won't. Basically, I am going to try and have a balance between both cardio and muscle exercises to get the results I have in my head.

Okay, now that I have typed it up, now is the time to get it done.

Week one is shock therapy for me. I am going to run 2.5 miles every morning for 5 days, and complete the first week of P90X.  1 morning of running down, a few more exercises to go!