Dominate Your Profession Like An Elite Soldier

4 08 2014

key1Many people are happy to seek comfort and contentment in their career path – and that’s fine.  The simple life has served people well. Others however, will settle for nothing short of total domination.  Extreme doers, extreme achievers, go-getters that are not satisfied racking up “participant” ribbons. Some people seek total domination in their profession.

How do you achieve a goal of total domination?  How can it drive career success? Look to the best and do what they do. Personally, I have been lucky to have been influenced by friends and associates that have been elite soldiers.  They have provided me with undeniable examples of how to dominate.

Shortly after college, I decided to leave my hometown and try a new adventure.  I had no plan, no job prospects, no clue.  I just packed my stuff, got in my car and started driving to Southern California for the allure of living a beach life.  On the way there, I stopped for a few days to party with friends. Late one night after too many beers, I sat with a friend of mine and he asked me, “So what are you going to do?”

“I really have no idea,” I replied. “I’ll figure it out.”

He quickly responded, as though he was preparing this statement regardless of my answer. “I’ll tell you what my Dad told me,” he said. “Whatever you do – be the best at that.” Pretty simple advice, awfully hard to do, and a fantastic way to explain the goal of domination. If you are the type of person that’s driven to excel, then you can’t aspire to be good at your job – you need to shoot to be the absolute best of anyone that does that job. My friend who gave me that advice? Mr. Kevin Key – widely regarded as a top operator of the US Special Forces. He dominates.

Dan CollinsThe next piece of advice for dominating your world comes from a guy that I actually hired to be my boss. I had met him in professional circles and could tell that he was a business bad-ass. He had something I didn’t, and I knew I needed to learn. Ornery, stern, gruff – those words would be appropriate to describe Mr. Dan Collins. Other accurate words would be vigilant, relentless, intellectual, and effective. Mr. Collins works 12 hours a day every day, and he has for the past 40-something years. He never calls in sick and rarely takes vacation. He not only challenges people to be better, he demands that you excel. This is the man that has probably given me more good advice than any human on the planet. But one phrase might encapsulate “domination” more than any other: “Do what others can’t or won’t.” Find a way to achieve what normal people are unable or unwilling to do. Easy right? Yeah sure. And no shocker here – Mr. Collins was also a member of the Special Forces in his youth. An elite soldier and a dominating business man.

hicks1The last advice was not given, but rather shown to me by my good friend Darren Hicks, a retired Navy Seal now serving as his company’s CEO. A friend of mine for over 20 years, when we talk on the phone the pace is fast, we get to the point, and say goodbye. Meetings at his company are quick, direct, efficient, and over. Sales calls are performed with candor, critical communications, and a focus on defined action. Hell, when I spend leisure time with him, we drive to the lake, unload the car, fill the boats with gas, drop in from the dock, and get out in the chop! Momentum. Pacing. Action. Efficiency. The advice? “Don’t waste time.” While other people are hanging out by the water cooler, you could be on the phone taking their customers. You could be bringing extra value to your company. You could be dominating.  Just like Mr. Hicks.

And in that spirit, this article has gone on long enough. Get back to work. Go dominate!





The Most Powerful Word is…

21 05 2014

word

In a recent sales-geek conversation, the topic became “power words.”  You know the ones that sales people like to throw around:

Solution, Leverage, Partner, Profitability, Demand, Engagement, Value, Endorsement

And yes, many of those do have an impact when trying to close a deal.  In life however, I believe that there is one word that has the most impact on us – in any situation.  (Insert drum roll here.)  The word is “if.”  Simple.  With just two letters and one syllable, “if” has more effect on our lives than any other word.  Let me give you some examples:

  • I could lose weight if I ate healthier.
  • My sales could be higher if I made more calls.
  • I would get better grades if I studied more.
  • We could separate from our competitors if we provided unique value.
  • I would stay connected to my friends if I called them more often.
  • My credit score would be higher if I stopped spending.
  • I’d have more opportunities if I networked more.
  • My community could be improved if I contributed time and effort.
  • I would have a better reputation if I focused on being a good person.
  • I would feel better if I exercised more and got more sleep.
  • My boss would appreciate me if I worked harder.
  • I would feel more accomplished if I followed through on my plans.
  • People would trust me if I kept my word.
  • I could learn to play an instrument if I committed myself.
  • I would be smarter if I read more.

Addressing the “if” is the best way to change your situation and create a positive impact on your life.  And the great news is that the “if” is controlled by you!

So what’s your if?

And what are you gonna do about it?





How To Be The Catalyst Your World Needs

17 02 2014

bruce lee kick

“To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.” – Bruce Lee

There are two kinds of people in this world – those that wait for things to happen, and those that make things happen. You know those people, the ones that make the party more fun, make the company more successful, make the team win – those people. Are you one of them? If so, you need to realize the responsibility in your hands. Without you, nothing happens. The world is a boring place without a catalyst.

Or perhaps you wish you were a mover and a shaker who built a reputation for taking action and achieving great results. Well, you can be. Here is a collection of advice to help you become the catalyst in your world, capable of creating your own opportunities:

  • “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” Richard Branson. Reading books and blogs, attending classes and seminars, listening to speakers and watching videos are all good ways to educate yourself – but to be a catalyst and create change, you have to start walking.
  • “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” Grace Hopper, US Navy. You may have heard this one before, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of advice. Catalysts don’t wait for approval. They do what they think is right regardless of their title, position, or status. Will you have some explaining to do if you’re wrong? Perhaps. But what if you’re right?
  • “So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else.” – Lee Iacocca. To be a catalyst in your world, just assume no one else will do anything. Lead the charge, encourage the people around you, and demand action.
  • “We don’t have a suggestion box.” – Chad Forrester, charity founder. I love this quote. It’s great to contribute with words, it’s more valuable to contribute with action. By allowing your colleagues to act on their ideas and passions, you get their best efforts. True catalysts empower other people to take action and help the cause.
  • “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  Henry Ford. If you constantly respond to circumstances and requests, then you are limited in your ability to create. Look back at history – creating something truly new and impactful is the mark of achievement for the names we will remember most.
  • “I did not mind the public criticism. That sort of thing has not changed any program I thought was good.” Branch Rickey. When Mr. Rickey brought Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball, he faced tremendous scrutiny and criticism. But he demolished the color barrier because it was the right thing to do, not because it was popular. Catalysts act with conviction, regardless of the potential public backlash.
jackie-robinson-and-branch-rickey

Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey

  • “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.” – Bruce Lee. Sure, there’s this problem.., that person.., their business.., this city.., etc. It is easy to justify your lack of action based on your situation. Catalysts view situational difficulties as challenges to overcome – not as excuses to remain stagnant.
  • “Move fast and break things.” – Mark Zuckerberg. True catalysts are some of the least patient people you will ever meet. If the speed of their action causes things to get smashed in the process, so what? Catalysts don’t intend to maintain the status quo, they intend to demolish it. They get started, get going, and take action!

So what are you waiting for?





The Tiger Within

2 08 2013

louietigerNever in my life have I been more excited to see an animal than I was at that moment.  It had been two months since I laid eyes on Louie, my little buddy – two months of worrying, searching, and calling his name.  We posted signs with his picture, we asked the neighbors to watch for him.  Not a trace.

Wondering what happened, my mind would invent terrible scenarios.  Was he hit by a car?  Was he hurt and alone?  Did the coyotes get him?  Painful thoughts, but I knew they couldn’t be true.  Louie was too smart, too tough, too wily.

During his first year of life he became increasingly interested in being outside.  He chased bugs, teased dogs, and visited the neighbors.  At night he would return home to snuggle the kids to sleep.  That last night though, he did not come home.  He ran out the door like he HAD to get outside!  And he was gone.

Two months later, as the sun was setting, I was outside watering the plants.  The pain of not knowing was stinging me.  I thought to myself, “If I could just know that he’s okay, if I could just see him one time.  He can be a wild cat if he wants, I just want to know that he’s alive.”  Within 5 seconds of completing that thought, I saw something move in the bushes.  Startled, I took a deeper gaze – and there he was.  He walked right out in plain view and stared at me.  “Louie?”  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  “Louie!”  He ran across the driveway.  I called his name again and he gave me a long look that said, “I know you want me to stay here, but I can’t.  I’m wild.  If I let you pet me, you’ll try to take me inside – and that’s not something I can do.”  So he jogged across the grass to the edge of the sidewalk and turned his head to look back at me one more time.  Then he ran toward the park, and disappeared into the night.

I felt like a parent whose kid had just left for college.  I thought of people that I’ve worked with in the past – the ones that departed to take a new job.  I thought of friends that got married and went to live in their wife’s hometown.  Gone.  Off on an adventure.  Just like Louie.  This was no meek kitty.  He was destined to be wild!  As I reflect on the time he spent with us, I realize that he had been preparing for this the whole time.  He practiced and trained just as any risk-taker should.  Whether you are on a quest for a new job, starting a company, going to college, joining the Navy, or moving to a strange town in search of opportunity – here is what you can learn from Louie:

  • Climb trees.  Louie would climb as high as the branches would hold him, not for the thrill of it, but to get a new viewpoint and a change of perspective.  If you are going to try new things, you have to be open to unfamiliar concepts and outside influences.  Seek and accept a perspective other than your own.
  • Form a gang.  I noticed that Louie would linger in the streets in the evening when the other neighborhood cats were out.  You might think they would fight, but they never did.  They ran away from cars together, and played their own version of hide-and-seek.  They bonded for strength, just as anyone out on an adventure should find partners to help their quest.
  • Practice confrontation.  As much as he was a cuddler, he was equally a bad-ass.  His “play-fighting” was a lot more fighting than play.  I feared for the neighborhood squirrels.  In a comfortable environment, he learned to handle confrontation.  If you are going on an adventure, expect adversity – learn how and when to stand your ground.
  • Eat lizards.  Sure we fed him delicious, nutritional cat food that he could eat whenever he wanted.  So why did I always find him hunkered down in the yard chewing on a lizard?  And now, as he roams the wooded areas around our house, I am sure he finds plenty of (gross) things to eat.  On your journey, understand that nothing comes easy or quick.  You better learn how to sustain yourself until you achieve your ultimate goal.

I miss Louie – he was a great cat.  I don’t begrudge him for seeking a life of thrill and independence.  As with so many people that give up comfort in search of adventure, I can only respect that desire to unleash the tiger within.

tiger





Your Big But… and other words holding you back

10 06 2013

Elephant sit

The sales pitch starts like this: “Hello sir, my name is Such N. So, and I want to…”  It is over before it started.  Unfortunately, Mr. So doesn’t realize how “I want” sounds coming from a sales person.  Why should anyone care what he wants?  Customers only care about what they want.

Recently I was on the receiving-end of multiple “I want” sales pitches.  Knowing I am not the only one with verbal pet peeves, I reached out to my peers on the “Sales Playbook” LinkedIn group to learn if there is anything that they intentionally avoid saying.  From that discussion I created this collection of words and phrases that can have an adverse effect on your sales efforts:

    • Honestly – Am I to assume you’ve been dishonest with all of your other statements?
    • Guarantee – Unless you are willing to give someone your house if whatever you are claiming fails, then don’t make any guarantees.
    • Just between us – So you’re a person that tells secrets when other people aren’t around?  Great.  Are you telling my secrets when I’m not around?
    • Contracts vs. Agreements – Contracts can seem scary and one-sided.  Agreements imply a mutually beneficial collaboration.
    • Signature vs. Approval – I need your “signature” because I need someone to be at fault if things go wrong.  OR, I need your “approval” because you are someone with the authority to make decisions.
    • Buy vs. Own – When you “buy” a car, the focus is on the act of purchasing.  When you “own” a car, the focus is on driving and enjoying it.
    • You know what I mean? – If you have to ask, then you should know that I don’t.
    • Again If you say “Again, our policy is…” you might as well say, “I’ve told you this before, what’s wrong with you?!?!”
    • You said – As in, “You said something that enables me to trap you with your own words.”
    • I want – To me, this is the worst.  “I want to tell you about” or “I want to show you our product” or “I want a few minutes of your time.”  This is such a bad sales mistake that just typing it makes me a little nauseous.
    • You’ve got to – We often hear “You’ve got to see our latest product” or “You’ve got to try our service.”  No we don’t.
    • I, me, my – Assume your client doesn’t care about you and you’ll be off to a great start.
    • But – This word essentially implies one of two things, and both have negative connotations.  “But” either means “If you liked what I just said, then you’re not gonna like this next part,” OR it means “Here is the good news to counteract the bad news from my first statement.”  Often, you can replace a “but” with an “and” or just reword your sentence altogether.

There are many other words and phrases that could be included in this list.   As someone who talks a lot, I know how easy it is to say the wrong thing.  Be mindful of the perception of your words, and make statements in terms that are important to your audience.

Thanks to the Sales Playbook members for sharing their contributions.





Your Social Media State of Being

18 02 2013

yoga meditation hands

We have been engaged in social media long enough to do some evaluation, right?  Are all the tweets, posts, fan pages, blogs and status updates worth our energy?  Millions of businesses and professional individuals have spent time and money on social media to build relationships and develop brands – is it paying off?  Certainly, there are people that are profiting from their efforts – are you one of them?  Are you meeting your expectations?  Do you have expectations?  It is time to pause for reflection.

If you hope to achieve some level of success in business through social media, then you should contemplate your Social Media State of Being.  Who are you?  Why are you here?  What do you value?  What is true connection?  OOohhhmmm.

To achieve a higher Social Media State of Being, consider these principles:

  • Being generous. Successful companies are really good at giving products and services specifically designed to solve client’s problems or make their lives better.  Why should social media be any different?  What are you contributing?  Stop thinking of yourself and start thinking about what your online marketing efforts are doing to enhance the lives your audience.
  • Being simple. You’ve seen this one:  “Scan the code, visit our website, like our page, invite a friend, share our post – and then you might win a free cup of tea.”  Don’t force your audience to have to think too much or do too much work to participate in your efforts.  Create a benefit and make it easy to attain.
  • Being studious. We are so focused on what we put into social media, but how about what we get out of it?  What can we learn?  Data, loads of it.  Businesses can sort data to adjust their strategy or find opportunity in the market.  And for sales people, your calls don’t have to be cold.  You can gain tremendous knowledge about a company or an individual online before you make contact, and then have a warm conversation with someone you’ve never met.
  • Being original. Branding is about differentiation, so how are you showing that you are unique?  If someone in your audience used one sentence to describe you, what would it be?  You have original thoughts – present them.  Focus not on what makes you good, but what makes you different.  You must contribute something different to get noticed.
  • Being connected. You spend time trying to increase your “followers” and “friends,” but are you spending enough time truly connecting with people?  How many people “Like” your company page?  Okay, now how many of them have you contacted to ask them what they like, or to discuss how you can help them?  Going online is a great way to build a large network, going to the phone is a great way to make a genuine connection.
  • Being productive. Generating “Likes” does not equate to generating revenue.  Have you set any goals related to your social media efforts?  Do those goals contain a revenue component?  Does your daily action directly affect those goals?  Are you tracking your progress?

If you are simply using social media as a way to stay in touch with friends and family, then it readily provides your desired benefit.  For professional use, social media is a fantastic opportunity to brand your culture, share your vision, connect with your audience, and build relationships.  You must approach your efforts with purposeful ideals, follow basic business principles, and focus on specific goals.  Find your center.

Namaste.





Outside The Box is Not Far Enough

25 10 2012

Yesterday, at businesses everywhere, this meeting happened:

“Okay everyone, we need to think outside the box for next year’s marketing campaign.  We want some ideas that will really shake things up.  What we want is a game-changer!  What crazy ideas do you have?”

Then the ideas start rolling.  “Let’s throw a launch-party!  Let’s give away a car!  Let’s support a charity!  Let’s wear crazy pants at the tradeshow!  Let’s make YouTube videos!  Let’s get people to like our Facebook page!”

And then there’s Red Bull.  I can imagine their meetings:

“Let’s have an inter-continental airplane race!”

“No, we did that last year.”

“Let’s have people fly homemade aircraft at dangerously high speeds over bodies of water!”

“Been there, done that.”

“Let’s get a Major League Soccer team to change its name to the Red Bulls!”

“2006 called – it wants its idea back.”

“Wait, I got it, let’s send a guy 24 miles above the earth in a Red Bull logo’d shuttle, have him jump out in a Red Bull suit, and break a world record.  Then let’s broadcast it around the globe!”

“Okay, now we’re talking.  If he breaks the sound barrier – you get a raise.”

If there is one term I really can’t stand it is: “Think outside the box.”  If you really want to get some attention, if you really want exponential growth, then you have to explode the box, run over the remains with a monster truck, bury the rubble in a landfill, and then dump nuclear waste on the wreckage (apologies to the environmentalists).

Often, “outside-the-box-thinking” results in slight changes to the old plan, which of course is fine if you only want slightly better results.  Even more often, the so-called “crazy” ideas are scrapped altogether when it comes down to crunch time because decision-makers fear the repercussions of a failed experiment.

Meanwhile Red Bull, the most popular energy drink on the planet, sells nearly 5 billion (yes, with a “b”) cans of their drink every year.  How does sending a man to jump from record-setting heights sell energy drinks?  How does creating new sports help promote your company?  Who knows?  Frankly, who cares?  Results are all that matter.

How can we achieve our own great results?  Here is what I think we can learn from the Red Bull approach to marketing:

  • Don’t improve an old idea.  Stop looking at what your competitors are doing and don’t begin your meetings with, “Here’s what we did last year.”  Start fresh and create something totally different.
  • Embrace the weird.  When asking your team for creative ideas, don’t make them feel bad if they come up with something kind of stupid.  Doing so will squash any hope of getting creative ideas from them in the future.
  • Take risks.  It takes some big brass ones to put your job and reputation on the line to create and implement a crazy idea.  Yes, it might crash and burn – but what if it actually works?
  • It’s all about eyeballs.  It doesn’t matter how great your products and services are if no one knows you or cares enough to find out more.  If you want to grow your business, you had better find a way to get in front of people and give them a reason to pay attention.

Okay, so you don’t have a marketing budget like Red Bull, but at some point in time, neither did they.  I am not in position to tell you what your next crazy idea should be, but I am really looking forward to watching you take the leap!








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