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Archive for the tag “enthusiasm”

5 ways to dislodge the thumbtack in your mind

5 ways to dislodge the thumbtack in your mind 

A thumbtack stuck in your mind driving you crazy goes something like this: “If I only had….” It’s wishful thinking. It’s the things that you did not do or say. Worst part is that you know the point where you could have done it. That is the tipping point where you could have significantly impacted your life and you did not do it. Yet, your inner voice was there with you all the way swinging back and forth between “do it!” and “don’t do it!” And now you are facing regret. Potentially life long regret.

There are a few strategies that can keep you from the thorn in your mind stabbing your mind for the rest of your life. Here are the questions that go with each strategy:

  • What am I afraid of? Fear is powerful and our brains want to protect us from harm. Identify what you are afraid of and then you can evaluate how real the threat is.
  • Do I really know enough about this topic? Most regrets later in life stem from not having had enough information about the issue in the first place. Get as much information as you can.
  • What am I going to miss and how much will I regret this later? You’ll be amazed how many people cannot even get beyond question one just move on not doing anything. This is one of the most important questions that you can ask yourself. If you have the slightest doubt about what you should do, go to the next question first.
  • How could I prototype what I am all torn about? A really powerful tool yanking out the thorn in your mind is to start prototyping what you would like to do, but are afraid doing it. Get ready for some positive surprises. There is a 50/50 chance that you either get to know that your stuff was a pipe dream, or you discover merit in your idea.
  • With whom can I share my dilemma? So you think you are alone in facing your issues. While true to the extent that our problems have a very personal element to them, there are so many people around who are facing very similar issues. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Shared issues are half the issues.

Life is full of distractions and clutter. A thorn in your mind just adds to it. Unfortunately, it actually does more. Because it’s a personal decision you did or didn’t make, it is more distracting. That is the last thing you need. Do not lead a life with regrets and make sure you keep asking yourself the above mentioned questions. Got more of them to share? Please leave them in the comment section below or reply in the FB or Twitter feed.



9 bad sales and networking practices to avoid

9 bad sales and networking practices to avoid 

If you are in sales you may want to check out the list below. As of late I have been the subject of some unbelievable antics out there. The economy appears to be in fairly good shape and that makes it even more peculiar why quite a few sales people turn towards totally useless sales activities.

Some of the practices are outright so bad that they are funny. What is not so funny is when you are at the receiving end of them. They totally waste your time. Not only does the sales person not sell anything now, he will probably never sell anything there. He will carry the stench of being a useless time sink for a long time, if it can be overcome at all.

Check out a few must-know resources on this topic as a bonus at the end of this post.

Please find below a few time and effort wasters that will not go over well with customers (they do not work with me at all):

  1. Abusing “networking” events for shameless sales pitches. Networking is networking. This is a platform for getting to know people better – not selling to them since they may be a captive audience and they cannot run away from you. Rule of thumb here is that if you do not have anything of value to share with folks, either do not go at all, or make a point of preparing a lot better.
  2. Circumventing the “gate keepers” and sneaking into the business office. Morale of this story is that you may end up getting into the business, but at what price? If anyone finds out what you did you will be toast and may risk never getting invited back. Even if after some time you got invited to bid again, chances are that most likely someone will hold grudge against you and your organization.
  3. Inundating prospects with voice and e-mails. Sometimes I get a “follow up” mail and phone call about the same item whoever small it could be. If that is your mode of operation then think again. Being pushy maybe necessary sometimes. That only works though if the buyer has established in form of showing action that he trusts the sales person.
  4. Sending meeting invitations via Outlook to prospects – with no prior connection. This is a fairly new one to me, but it appears to be prevalent around our area. It is an outright sneaky practice in which the subject line even suggests you know the folks and the topic. Slick. Except the recipient finds out that she does not know the people who sent the invitation. It’s another form and bait-and-hook spam. Nothing more. So what is the point?
  5. Sending mails that look legitimate reply mails (“Re.:…” in the subject line). This is a subset of no 4. Here a few prankster mass mail pieces of documentation that are used to make the recipient think that he/ she knows the sender. This can be a terrible time waster. What message does this send to the recipient of the mail? I do not get it.
  6. Sending LinkedIn connection requests to then immediately try selling you products and services: Selling and marketing through social media does make it very economical speaking with a mass of people in a short period of time. Problem is that selling without having a personal relationship to speak of is nothing short of self-destructive.
  7. Calling a prospect’s colleagues to get an appointment. When in doubt then call someone else in the same department as the original stake holder and see what if anything can be done – wrong! Really annoying is when a sales person calls your colleagues in trying to find out background information that they use against you when they finally get you on the phone. Totally incorrect and useless practices. You may be excluded from any future bidding in the future at that company. How is a customer ever supposed to trust you after this interaction?
  8. Selling based on only one thing: price. It may be good for getting the initial attention. That is it though. Price is always important. Very rarely is it the only criterion a customer uses for making a decision (unless you are buying paper towels or TP). What else have you got to offer? How is your product or service going to make everyone better off? How does it integrate with the customer’s infrastructure? Are you still trying the “it’s free” and other try and buy routines? Oh, please!
  9. Asking a prospect “so what is it that you do here”. This is the hotline to listening to the proverbial crickets on the other side of the line. Good luck trying to open up a selling conversation after you totally wasted the customer’s time. There is so much good information around about the company and people working there. You are telling the customer that you do not even have 5 minutes to invest online before picking up the phone? Yikes!

Bottom line is that when you want to sell, you need to be real, genuine, helpful, and most of all you need to provide value. Do not start sales conversations if you know nothing about the customer and his needs. You do not need to push to sell anything. Customers want to buy, if you understand them and you provide choices and options.

Three folks that totally get what I am talking about are listed here below:

Jeffrey Gitomer

Seth Godin

Chuck Piola


6 ways making deadlines work for you

6 ways making deadlines work for you 

Photo credit: Ralf Weiser

It may not always come down to a few minutes until a deadline comes your way, but have you noticed how much activity goes on leading up to one? It proves one thing: No deadline means that very few goals would ever get achieved. There is a way channeling this phenomenon working for you.

There are some famous instances where last minute deadlines brought on an unbelievable amount of work. I was vividly reminded of this visiting the Air and Space Museam near Dulles Washington DC Airport (see photos). Many artifacts were the product of super tight deadlines – the planes and rockets etc were essential for the war efforts. I remember one particular experimental plane took 100 days from concept to being ready to physically taking off. Imagine this today where so many project run over their allotted time and cost goals.

Now look at examples from work or your social life and I venture saying that you will not have to look far for finding similar situations. Have you ever gone through a planned software change at work? Fun stuff, huh? Not really, but there is usually one faction who would like to make sure that the switch over is flawless and hence they are never done. It typically takes someone drawing a line in the sand declaring a time and place when it finally will occur. Trust you me, most places will not get into overdrive mode much before about a month or two are left until the start deadline.

How can you make this work for you?

  • Make sure you always think about having a deadline with any project that you want to kick off.
  • Have a few checkup dates leading up to the due date
  • Plan on needed about 20% more time than what you thought initially
  • Have a backup solution handy in case anything goes wrong
  • Define a point of no return
  • Clearly communicate if and when folks are expected telling you when things go off course

No matter how much you may dread significant up and coming changes and their inevitable implementation due dates. Instead of fighting them, embrace them. Don’t be the problem, instead try finding solutions and then make sure there is a deadline. Without a commonsensical solution and a time challenged implementation plan success will likely never find you.


Getting away from micro managers – learn about the antidote

Getting away from micro managers – learn about the antidote 

Photo credit: Pablo by Buffer

There are five key elements to trust: They are sincerity, authenticity, competence, reliability and timely communication. Micro-management is very much at the opposite spectrum of these attributes. Micro managers have the hardest time with especially authenticity and sincerity. But trust is the omnipotent ingredient to leadership. Without trust there cannot be any leadership. Leading people is much more a process than a final result. Trust can only occur when a relationship has been slowly nurtured into existence by long term planning. “Trust is not deserved, it is earned” is what sales consultant and expert Jeffrey Gitomer wrote about trust in his book “Little Teal Book of Trust”. No manager can expect to be trusted just based on a title alone. On the other hand, the manager must trust learn trusting his employees first – only then his direct reports will show the propensity showing trust in a manager.

This process of learning to let go of control and therefore trusting the employee to do a great job takes time and most of all planning on the side of the manager. It is a recurring theme that runs through leadership like a fine red thread: If you want to see a change in others, you must first be willing to change yourself. This is especially true when a micro manager wants for his employees to achieve and learn new skills. It takes ample time to change people and first the manager must first make the commitment to learning just as much and to be patient with his people who probably need some time to achieve these goals. Impatience kills trust in an instant as does not trusting employees enough for placing them on a pro-active training and goal setting time table.

One certain way out of micro managing is to focus on becoming a master communicator. Mistrust leads to issues in the flow of information, because most managers with trust issues would rather keep the information to themselves and not delegate any work either. This is all poison to any organization. It takes a great sense of organizing skills for a manager to find a way out of the downward micro management spiral. Once the manager trusts himself enough to trust others weekly and perhaps even daily scheduled or impromptu meetings with staff helps breaking the mold. Organizing information should automatically trigger the thought of delegating as many day-to-day tasks to employees who either have the skill set or the responsibility to doing them anyway. This shows trust to the employee and can now reciprocate this with the manager who will be able to tend to more managerial tasks – imagine that, more time for organizing things.

Being able to lead people may be something that comes easy to some people. That does not mean average managers or even micro managers cannot improve because they were not born with these skills. Achieving the first step of trusting yourself is most important as it is the jumping board for being able to genuinely apologize for any bad decisions, which in turns provides the necessary feedback to the employees that it is ok to make mistakes. By not including team members in the cause and effect cycle, the managers will most likely promote long term distrust and thus disengage them from team and company goals. The reversal of this issue is just as easy: When making the mistake of not having involved the team in the process, apologize genuinely and timely. It will re-engage people almost in the short and long term.

Finally there is a solid case for developing a sense and company culture of trust. It comes down to the almighty financial rock bottom Dollar. In a recent Gallup poll the cost for lost productivity and employee disengagement has been around $300 billion in the United States of America alone.   Controlling people is all but impossible, but that is not true for controlling the cost and reviewing and managing the engagement and communication with them.

So the simplest way in which to create a trusting work environment is making a list of the worst traits of micro managers you know or experienced. Then start compiling strategies letting you do the opposite of that.


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