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Success Tips From Santa

For those of you who are new to my writing, I like to give lessons from those people and things who have gained great success.  No need to recreate the wheel if we can just emulate the characteristics and qualities of those who have proven success over the years.  I’ve written about Prince, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and even Nancy Reagan.  Given that we are in the midst of the holiday season, I think we can all learn a thing or two from Santa.

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas or even believe in Santa, you can’t argue that he has stayed popular and successful for almost 350 years so he must be doing something right.  Here are some qualities he possesses that we could help all of us to be more successful:

  1. Santa is instantly identifiable.  I’m not going to encourage you to buy a red suit or gain a lot of weight, but I do want you to ask yourself what sets you apart?  Do you have a look or style that distinguishes you from everyone else?  What makes you unique and different?  And then, are you using that characteristic to brand yourself in all your marketing so when people see you they immediately recognize you?
  2. Santa has a great attitude.  He has been called jovial, gleeful, jolly, happy, merry and always has a hardy Ho Ho Ho.  People stand in line for a chance to be around him.  A positive attitude and a great disposition keeps those around us at ease as well as exudes a certain confidence about our abilities.  No one want to be around an “Eeyore” or “Chicken Little”.  So stay positive and share a smile with all those you meet.
  3. Santa asks questions.  The first thing Santa does when you sit on his lap is to start to ask questions: What’s your name?  Have you been a good little boy or girl?  What do you want for Christmas?  To be successful in any relationship, you need to ask questions.  Find out what your client’s needs, wants and expectations are.  What makes them happy?  What makes them sad?  What is their timeline?  When you ask questions you can create a lasting bond and strengthen your relationship.
  4. Santa is a good listener.  Not only does he ask questions but he then listens for the answers.  It is only in listening for the answers that he knows whether someone has been naughty or nice.  If he doesn’t listen, then he won’t know what to put under the tree.  If you don’t listen, you will miss what your clients really wants or buying signs they are giving you.  Listening is more than words.  Keep an ear out for tone and an eye out for body language.
  5. Santa is amazing with time-management.   He not only need to make all the gifts in a very limited amount of time, but he then needs to deliver them all in a very finite window.   Create a time management system for yourself to keep you on task and to keep you focused on your priorities.  Don’t confuse activity for accomplishment.

So as we move through these next three week until Christmas, keep an eye on Santa and see if there is a little Santa in you that will help you be more successful this holiday season and into 2017.

Happy Holidays!!

 

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?!

I will be the first to admit, due to getting older and a few too many shots to the head while playing football, I’m not very good at remembering names. However, I do remember a good story. That’s why almost every night, I have a conversation at home that usually sounds something like this: Question: “Chuck do you remember my friend Mary?” Answer: “No”  Followed by: “You know, my friend who lost her toe in the escalator accident.” Answer “Oh sure, I remember her – Nine Toe Mary!!!”.

A good story can create a lasting and impactful memory. That’s why so many people remember movies or books that tell a great story. A well told story can create a lasting connection by establishing an emotional bond. In fact, before the internet, TV or even books, knowledge and information was passed from generation to generation by storytelling.  In a cultural or business sense, think about some of the icons of the 20th and 21st century: Ray Kroc, Colonel Sanders, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah, Mark Zuckerberg, J.K. Rowling, President Obama etc.. They all had a story to tell that helped grow their brand. So what’s yours? The truth is you already have one – maybe dozens or even hundreds – because everyone you come across formulates a story about you.  The key is to control your own story. You need to be the one to create it and tell it for your own benefit. It’s important to have a story that sets you apart, makes you memorable and emotionally connects you to others. Here are a few steps to help you create your own story:

1.    Make it simple – one people can remember – nothing too complex or convoluted

2.    Make it short – no need to make it an epic novel just a short story

3.    Make it easily repeatable – the more people that hear it the better

4.    Make it memorable – needs to stick in people’s minds

5.    Make it emotional – the more emotional the stronger the connection

If you create and share your story, you can insure that even though someone may forget your name, they won’t forget YOU. As for me, I’m the guy who just wants to make those around me a little bit better. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

DISCOVER THE EXPLORER IN YOU

Happy Columbus Day!! As Americans, we honor the achievements of the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, but I’m not sure why. Having done some research on him, he wasn’t a very nice guy. His life was filled with flaws and failure. He was sued and jailed on numerous occasions, established the Atlantic slave trade, killed, beat or enslaved thousands of people himself, and wasn’t even that great of a sailor because he landed on an island that was over 8000 miles from where he thought he was.  Even with all this, we still honor him with a National Holiday every year. So maybe there is hope for all of us that we too can be great despite our own faults. Here are a few of Columbus’ better traits than we can emulate to help us sail to our own success:

Be Fearless – not only did he dare to go where others wouldn’t – opening up transatlantic travel with several trips that many said were too dangerous – he didn’t fear rejection, having been turned down numerous times by numerous people to fund his voyage until Queen Isabella final acquiesced. Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Great Negotiator – He negotiated three ships, four voyages and thousands of dollars from Queen Isabella. He also negotiated with hundreds of sailors to crew his vessels, despite the danger to their own personal welfare.  Have a value proposition and be able to articulate it.

Brand Yourself – Not sure this is as much about branding yourself as having others promote your brand, but despite the fact that he never actually set foot on North America, (the closest he ever got was an island in the Bahamas), many to this day still believe that Columbus discovered America.  There is only one YOU and that YOU is perfect. Let everyone know.

Persevere – As mentioned, Columbus was turned down numerous times by numerous people, yet he was never deterred. He stayed the course and ultimate received what he wanted. If you truly know what you want – GO AFTER IT.

Goal planning – If nothing else, Columbus was a man of vision. He had a goal of opening up a trade route to India, even though his execution was a little off, it did eventually happen.  His goal led, and gave confidence to others, that they too could succeed.  Create a vision for yourself and set sail to obtain it.

Even though Columbus had his share of setbacks and character flaws, he had enough of what it takes to ultimately end up with his own day in October. I challenge you to own each day. Set a path and begin your voyage to success. It may take a few twists and turns along the way. But who knows – you may end up in a better place than the one you initially planned or even with a holiday in your name. Either way, take a chance to explore your own new world.

 

PLAN FOR YOUR SUCCESS

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” I certainly hope you are achieving everything you set out to achieve this year. Whether you have or haven’t, it isn’t too early to start planning for next year to ensure that 2017 is even better than 2016.

To guarantee a successful year, you need to have a plan.  Here are some tips that might help you formulate yours:

Make it a Life Plan – When making your plan, make it more than just a business plan – make it a Life Plan. We don’t work in a vacuum. So when creating your plan, make sure to include all facets of your life.  Think about your goals and strategies around your family, your personal health, your community service and your recreation as well as your business. I am a big believer that if one aspect of our life is out of sync it tends to affect the other aspects. So make sure they are all in alignment.

Get it in Writing – Experts agree that we tend to hold ourselves more accountable if we write down our plan. Having it written down also gives us a reference guide for our daily, weekly and monthly activities throughout the year and keeps us on track.

Start with a Vision – If you consider your plan a map, a map is of no use if you don’t have your destination in mind. It is okay if that destination changes, but it is important to have a definite starting and ending point. When setting your goals, make an effort to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone.  Don’t go easy on yourself. Make sure to create a goal for each aspect of your life, For example, your goals might be $300k in income, a month vacation, an hour at the gym each day, pay for my kids college and $10k to your favorite charity.  Use these goals to keep you focused on why you are working so hard everyday.

Bit Size Morsels – Like eating the proverbial elephant, break your plan down into monthly, weekly, daily, even hourly activity and achievements.  Enough good hours lead to a good day. Enough good days lead to a successful week. Enough good weeks and you have a good month. Enough good months and you have a great year.

Share your Plan – Don’t be afraid to tell anyone and everyone your plan. This does two things: 1. It gets people on board to help you execute your plan – we all could use a little help in our lives. 2. It holds you accountable to your plan. Even if you don’t share it with a bunch of people, make sure to have at least an accountability partner to hold you to your plan.

If you take the time to plan, then you should plan on having a successful 2017.

LIVE LIKE “THE KING”

As you know from previous posts, I love to write about lessons from our fallen icon: Nancy Reagan, Prince, Muhammad Ali.  Over the weekend, we lost another one – Arnold Palmer.  So I’m not going to let the opportunity go by to not only pay tribute to “The King” but to pass along some of his qualities for which we can all learn.  I actually had the good fortune of meeting Arnie, though it was a little embarrassing for me.  In 1994, I was marshal at a  Senior PGA event in Pennsylvania.  He graciously shook my hand as he approached the tee box, but a few minutes later he yelled at me because I was having difficulty controlling a rather unruly portion of his “Army” as he was about to hit his shot.  It certainly made a lasting impression on me.  Even twenty two years later, his face and voice are embedded in my memory.

With his good looks and swashbuckling style, he took golf to a new level.   Whether it be on the golf course over almost a 50 year career, designing golf courses or as a pitchman for a number of products, he was a success in almost every aspect of his life.  Although, as I listened to the tributes over the weekend, it seems that his greatest success was the impact he had on so many people and the number of people he helped over the years.   Here are some the qualities that seemed to be repeated over and over by almost everyone he ever met.  These are the same qualities that we can emulate in our own lives to have our own lasting impact:

  • He treated everyone he met the same.  It didn’t matter if you were the President or a groundskeeper.  He looked you in the eye and shook your hand with a smile.
  • He had a style that never changed.  It was his brand.  He looked and acted the same both as a 19 year old amateur and a 87 year old legend.
  • He surrounded himself with quality people.   He had a handshake deals with his closest advisors and business partners.
  • He was a passionate man.  Arnie loved what he did and wasn’t shy about showing his emotions.
  • He took chances.  He didn’t always play it safe.  It didn’t always pay off, but he was willing to take a risk for a big reward.
  • He  gave more than he took.  He was very generous with his time, money and influence.  He helped people whenever he could.

The traits mentioned most when people were describing him were integrity, generosity, passion, commitment, love and loyalty – and always with a smile.  These are traits for which we can all strive.  If we do, we too can live like “The King.”

Arnold Palmer – Rest in Peace.

BE YOUR OWN MVP

I know it is football season, but I just recently listened to Steph Curry’s acceptance speech for being named the NBA’s MVP for the second straight year.  I heard a couple things that I wanted to share with you.  The first was all the people he thanked for his success – which of course is what you do in an acceptance speech.   But it got me thinking about how many people in our own personal and profession lives play such an integral role in our own individual development and success.  We don’t all have the public platform to thank those people collectively, but wouldn’t it be great if on a daily basis we reached out to one or two to personally thank them and show our appreciation for the impact they have had on our lives.  On the flipside, think about how many people we each have had a positive influence and/or help to reach their full potential?

Along those same lines, the second thing he said that impressed me, was that much of his success he owed to surrounding himself with people who pushed him to be the best he can be.  In order to grow, we need a certain amount of conflict and struggle in our lives.  If we have people around us who are always agreeing with us or taking it easy on us, we will never be challenged to improve.   I once heard Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice tell a group of college students “if all your friends agree with you, then you need a new set of friends.”   They say for a butterfly to be as strong as it can be, it must struggle against the sides of its cocoon before it breaks through and flies away.  Likewise, we need to surround ourselves with people who bring out the best in us and push us to be the best we can be.  And in turn, we need to push those around us to be as successful as they can be.

Keeping these two things in mind, it brings to memory the quote by the great American orator, Robert Ingersoll, who said “we all rise by lifting others.”  We should each make an effort each day to bring out the best in someone else.  If we do, we will all be MVPs.

I want to wish you all the very best and much continued success.

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL??!!

This weekend marked the beginning of another NFL season.  As I was watching all the games this weekend, it dawned on me how much of sale’s related businesses are like football.

Often we have our sale’s “TEAM.”    Every day we seem to “RUN” from one appointment to the next.  We “PASS” along leads, referrals or delegated tasks.  We sometimes get “SACKED” by our clients who “BLINDSIDE” us by deciding to cancel their deal or choosing to use someone else.   Our opportunities sometime get “BLOCKED” by a client’s objections.  We may feel like we are being “TACKLED” when we are confronted by unforeseen obstacles or issues that may arise during a transaction.  We “PUNT” on opportunities that aren’t worth our time or efforts.  But hopefully, with a great “GAME PLAN” in place, we ultimately “SCORE” new clients, deals and other opportunities.   And with our superior skill and talents, we wind up with a “WIN” as our transaction comes to a successful close.

As we bring this 2016 “SEASON” to close and look forward to 2017, here are a few tips that are synonymous with football players to help you have your own personal “CHAMPIONSHIP” or sale’s “DYNASTY”:

  1. COACHING – It’s a good idea to have a great coach in your corner to help you build your goals and plan then hold you accountable to them.
  2. PRACTICE – whether it be your sale’s scripts, style or approach, you must practice.  Joe Montana once said he practiced and prepared almost 50 hours a week to get ready for 1 hour of football on Sunday.  Always seek opportunities to hone your craft with education, training and repetition.
  3. BE PASSIONATE – sales is a tough full contact sport.  You need to love what you do.   This passion will be evident to those around you and attract opportunities to you.
  4. COMPETE – Don’t be afraid to go after, and fight for, new clients and opportunities every day.  You bring something unique to your business – YOU!!!  Be proud to show YOU off.
  5. HARD WORK, DEDICATION and COMMITMENT – you need to be a 24/7 salesperson to build your brand and your business.  Roll up your sleeves, get down in the trenches, and go belly to belly.  You need to “connect to convert.”

Hopefully with this “GAME PLAN” you too will have a successful season.  Wishing you all the very best and much continued success.

LET “W” MANAGE YOUR DAY

Do you have trouble with “Time Management,”  “Productivity Management,” or whatever you want to call getting stuff done during your week?  If so, then in the spirit of “Sesame Street”, today’s tip is brought to you by the letter “W.”

Whenever you decide is the end of your business day, whether it be 3pm or midnight, your last task of the day should be to make your “TO DO” list for the next day.  When you do, follow the formula of using the 5 “W” columns:

WHAT – The first column is your what.  This is absolutely everything you feel you need to get accomplished.  This column should include both business and personal items.  Make sure you put down items such as eating, exercise, kid time, and chores as well as your business “to dos” such as marketing, cold calls, follow up, face to face appointments, emails and returning calls.

WHEN – In the second column, write down when the items in the first columns need to be accomplished.  This can be an exact time or a time frame.  This is your first chance to decide if something absolutely needs to be done the next day or can it be put off to a subsequent day.  This is also when you start to prioritize your day.

WHERE – In the third column, write down where the event will take place.  Often, without even realizing it, we have scheduled back to back events at the opposite ends of town.  We wind up spending all day in the car getting from task to task – which is unproductive.  As you look at the “where” column, begin to group your tasks in closer geographic locations to save you travel time.

WHO – In the fourth column, evaluate who really needs to do the task.  Does the task need to be performed by you or is it more appropriate to delegate it to someone else?  For example, if “clean the house” is one of your task, I would suggest that your time is too valuable to be doing this yourself.   Assign to one of your children or hire a house keeper.  If “make copies” is on your list, delegate to an assistant.  You should be focused on activities that are productive, income generating and/or which grow your business or improve your life.

WHY – In the last column, write down why you need to do this task.  Use notations such as marketing, follow up, income generating, networking or personal health.  At this point, you may reassign to someone else, or may decide you don’t need to do it at all and remove it from your list.  The key here, as stated above, is to have as many tasks as possible committed to either enriching your business or enriching your life.

Hopefully using these five “W”s will bring you a sixth – WEALTH.   I want to wish you all the very best and much continued success.

GIVE AN OLYMPIC EFFORT!!

If you are like me, you’ve spent the last two weeks watching and enjoying the Olympics.  As I watched, I heard some reoccurring themes from the announcers as they described the amazing athletes and their Olympic efforts.  The words and phrases that I heard over and over were: dedication, commitment, hard work, determination, long hours of training, sacrifice, overcoming adversity and incredible talent.     These seem to be the shared qualities that go into becoming an Olympic Champion (and I just don’t mean those who won medals, but everyone who competed).    These are also the same qualities and attributes we should all aspire to in our own lives if we too want to be successful.

If we truly want something, whether in our personal lives or in our businesses, there is going to be a certain amount of energy we need to put forth to make that something happen.  It could be wooing a potential spouse, raising our kids or making a million dollars.    The bigger the goal, the bigger the amount of effort.   For the Olympians, it was training to qualify for the team and ultimately win a medal.  Involved in that is thousands of hours of training – which isn’t easy.  You need to be committed to putting in those long hours.  There is going to be times when things go wrong or you just want to quit.  But if the goal or dream is important enough to you, you overcome whatever adversity may come your way.    In the end, only you can decide if all the time, effort and energy was worth it.  What you generally find though is “the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.”

I always say, there is really only two things you can totally control in our lives: our effort and our attitude.  If you are giving your all and doing it with a positive attitude, not much can stand in your way to being successful.  So embrace the qualities of the Olympic athletes and be an Olympian in your life!  There is only one of you, so you should be a perfect 10 every time.

“HOW” TO WIN OVER YOUR CLIENTS

I have shared with you in a past post how vacations can be a great time to experience, enjoy and evaluate customer service and how we can use those experiences to grow our own business.  The basic message was that if you offer an “experience” to a client, they are less likely to “shop you” for price or perceive you as a commodity.  This week, I want to share with you what I see as the two parts of any customer service experience:

The first is the “WHAT” of customer service.  The “what” is the actual service we provide, whether it be loans, real estate, rental cars or food service.  If you are a restaurant, you serve food.  To have anyone even come in the doors a first time, you better be able to make and serve food.  If you are a mortgage company, you better be able to package and fund a loan.  The “what” is basically the bare minimum of customer service.    You must be able to do the task that people are coming to you to get.

The second part of customer service is the “HOW”.  The “how” is exactly that: “how” do you go about doing your “what”?  The “how” is the experience you provide and the added actions you take while you are doing your “what”.  The “how” is where you distinguish yourself from the rest.  Your “how” creates the story for your clients that they will share with others.   Make sure that story is a positive one.

A basic example of this I experienced poolside while on vacation.  I wanted a cocktail while I basked in the sun by the pool.  The drink would be the “what.”   I ordered my drink and it was delivered.  It was a perfectly fine drink.  My “what” was satisfied.  However, as a paying customer at a nice resort, I was disappointed in the “how.”  I had to wait to locate a server.  I then had to ask for a menu.  The server seemed annoyed I was “bothering” them.  I then had to wait again for the server to come back to order.  I then waited again while my drink was made and delivered back again.  The server almost threw the drink at me, then off they went without a word.  So all in all my story would be that I had a poor customer service experience.

Now change the scenario to the next day at a different resort.  I ordered the same drink poolside.  The drink tasted exactly how it did the previous day.  So the “what” was the same.  However this time, I was greeted by name as I entered the pool area.  I was politely asked if I needed anything and handed a menu by a very friendly server who had a big smile and told me their name.  I ordered my drink and it was almost immediately brought back with a side of peanuts.  The server then said, “please let me know if you need anything else.  I’ll be back to check on you shortly.”   Which customer service experience do you think was better?

The bottom line is people will use your service if they indeed have a need.  People have to eat.  And if your “what” is that great, you may not need a “how.”  However, in a world where we are often perceived as all the same, to truly be successful, you not only need to have a great “what,”  but you need to know “how” to deliver it.