Lego Galaxy Squad!

Pretty much anyone who knows me knows I LOVED the Lego Alien Conquest series and I was VERY sad to see it go. Luckily I got most of the cool sets before it was out of stores and even picked up a couple on clearance at deep discounts! What made me really sad about this particular discontinuation was that there was not good space series once Alien Conquest was gone (Besides the obvious Star Wars stuff I’m also in love with!) I know everyone says any piece is a space piece and I have done some cool things with Ninjago parts but I really like space Legos. It’s nostalgic for me because I grew up on Lego Classic Space.

The newest Lego space series is called Galaxy Squad, and I’m really excited about it! The creatures are cool because it’s a cool mix of insect looking aliens and more classic looking space ships similar to what you build in the Lego MBA set (That I have yet to finish due to some issues at work). I havent bought any of these sets yet, but I promise I will and as soon as I do there will be pictures!

So what do you think? Id Lego Galaxy Squad an epic win or epic fail?

Do you have a selling system?

sales systemSales managers… What are you doing for your staff? I know you hold training session, set goals, monitor performance, and keep people accountable. We all do that, but what separates great sales managers form the average is the ability to help sales people build good habits, learn discipline and follow a system.

I know we want every sale to be form fit to the customer based on a relationship we have developed and leveraged over time to help us develop an ideal solution for each client. And I also know that most sales people will use this desire for appointment customization and relationship building to fight you on the development of any sort of system, but I am here to tell you this could not be further from the truth. systematization is central to effective selling. It keeps us on track, it prevents us from forgetting key steps in the process, and it ensures we are efficient with our time.

So ask yourself: Have I helped my staff to develop a solid selling system that works? 

This does not have to be complicated, but it helps to have a strategy. Imagine a football team trying to play a game with no pre-set plays? Are they inflexible and unable to customize when playing from the playbook? No, but they do have a set of pre-set strategies they can implement. My goal for my staff is to provide them a strategy in the form of a framework to follow and then give them a series of plays to run based on what they find that way they feel free to do what they need to but they are never far from the known path.

For an appointment setting call for my staff the framework looks like this:

Rapport

Motivation

Qualification

Payment

Start Date 

Referral

I have them write this on a piece of paper and make sure they have covered every point before asking for an appointment… The “Plays” are how we move from point to point depending on how things are going…

So let me ask you this: Does every member of your team have a well thought out strategy or are you letting them shoot from the hip?

Pursue REAL happiness!

It's important to achieve balance in lifeHave you ever realized that what you want is right in front of you and what you think you want is a load of crap? I have been pretty reflective lately and it’s led to some great conversations between my wife and I about where we are in life, careers, and whatnot and we have come to some realizations about some things we were chasing.  Maybe some of those things weren’t so important and that we wanted to focus energy on some new things going forward. I love my girls and I love my wife… but I have given a lot to my career and I sometimes wonder to what end? I make good money, we have a stable life, cool stuff, and I am upwardly mobile; but are we happier than we were 10 years ago? Have our problems and stresses been reduced? Not really. I make literally 3x what I made 10 years ago and none of those things are measurably better so whats it all for? Krisy and I have really been talking about this and it’s kind of awesome… I’m excited because we are trying to get the ball rolling on some BIG life changes that we feel would simplify things, reduce stress and bring us closer together as a family. I’m not ready to spill the beans yet, but it’s HUGE and exciting.

So what got me thinking about this? It’s another edition of Songs That Get Stuck In My Head! This is one I found on YouTube Thanksgiving day while playing with the girls… They loved the song and I have to admit it’s a catchy tune, but the story spoke to me as well… Give it a listen and let me know if it talks to you.

The Duck Song! 

PS: When we DO make those changes you will know because it’s HUGE! :)

If you are considering rethinking things in your life I highly recommend: ONO, Options Not Obligations: Enrich Your Personal Life by Rethinking Your Financial Life by Mark Warnke. This book has helped me reshape how I think about things and is a book for people who like the idea of family first entrepreneurship.

What makes a game?

Atari 2600 JoystickEarlier this week I talked about Why Gamification fails. Today I’d like to talk about what makes a game. On the surface I think we all THINK we know what makes a game but many of the things we think of as core features are simply not required to have a game. Games to not have to have scores, points or clear winners. Wow! Who would have thought? A lot of games DO have some or all of those things, but they are not required. So what IS required? Jane McGonigal give us a great list of things to think about in her book Reality is Broken: Why Games make us better and how they can change the world. She says a game needs only 4 things to be complete

  • Goals – A specific outcome you are trying to achieve
  • Rules – Set limitations on how players can achieve these goals
  • A Feedback System – How close are you to a goal? Points, scores, progress bars, players personal knowledge of an outcome, for example the game is over when…
  • Voluntary participation  - This requires everyone to knowingly and willingly accept the rules, goals, and feedback. You can not force anyone to participate, and this ensures that any challenging or stressful work takes place in a manner that is safe and pleasurable.

That’s it… That’s ALL you need! points, scores, winners, graphics, etc are all tools to increase the players engagement in the game but they are not core to the game itself.

Lets look at some examples. In one of my favorite games Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) there are constantly changing story driven goals and the obvious goal of leveling up my gaining XP (Experience Points) You have the dice and Dungeon master as a source of feedback, and lets face it, no one is forced to play something as awesome as DnD! the most important one is no player wins DnD. The party may lose battles, but the game has no real winners and losers the story just progresses.

Starbucks reward points:  After 20 drinks you become a gold member and start getting a free cup of coffee every 5 drinks and other perks. Guess what? it’s a game… You have a goal: get 20 points for the perks then free coffee every 5 points. You have a feedback system with the little stars in the coffee cup of the app (a progress bar of sorts) the rules are quite clear, and again everyone agrees to play.

Other examples are fuel rewards, frequent flyer programs, Foursquare, and Mozilla Open Badges. Games are everywhere you look once you know what you are looking for… They are used in marketing, management  and education on a daily basis. What are some examples that come to mind for you and how do you feel about them? Are you engaged? Why or Why not?

 

What the heck is happening to Foursquare?

Foursquare Overshare BadgeFoursquare used to be my favorite check-in tool, and now I have to say that I still use it, but I’m loosing interest fast. How does a company that beat out it’s competitors and had a solid niche as the only (popular) gamified check-in app fall from grace?

In the beginning everybody fought to be the mayor of their favorite Foursquare hangout but over time the buzz surrounding the social media app seemed to have waned as many users simply stopped caring about the game’s badges and check-ins. Source: What happened to the game mechanics on Foursquare? 

Gamification.co nailed it… I can remember the first few times I saw a social check-in on Facebook and thought “How did they do that?” I immediately saw the value in sharing your whereabouts and was hooked on the game sa soon as I downloaded the app. I checked in everywhere I went and even got my Overshare badge. I was even more excited when check-ins started netting me tangible items like the grocery store that gave me a free doughnut every time I checked in! Pubs gave mayor discounts and there was some cool factor to being the mayor of your favorite locations and battling to keep the title. Unfortunately, things got a little stale and Facebook came out with a check-in system of their own as did Google +, Yelp, Meet-up, and basically every other app on my phone. It makes me sad, because the game was fun and the added benefit of check-in rewards was awesome. but the game never changed and now sadly we are seeing Foursquare pull back further and further from the game and transform itself into another Yelp not that the world needs that.

So what happened? In my opinion the bottom fell out because they did not attract enough mayor or check-in specials early on. This was simply a sales problem and one I think they could have still solved. The demise of Foursquare is going to be them entering into a crowded space and dropping the key feature that made them famous… This kind of gamification is a marketers dream and I can not believe they would walk away from it.

If you are interested in learning more about using games as a marketing tool I highly recommend: Game-Based Marketing: Inspire Customer Loyalty Through Rewards, Challenges, and Contests as a jumping off point. 

What do you think? Is Foursquare on the right or wrong track? 

 

Songs that get stuck in my head: The Ultimate Showdown!

I’ve been pretty deep all week long so I thought I’d lighten things up a bit today and share yet another of the songs that get stuck in my head: The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny!  This is an oldie but a goodie going all the way back to 2005! Here is the educational blurb from Wikipedia so you have a little background on the artist Lemon Demon:

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, often shortened to The Ultimate Showdown, is a comical song and video released on December 7, 2005. The song was written and performed by Neil Cicierega under the pseudonym “Lemon Demon”, with art and Flash animation by Shawn Vulliez.

I love this song because it’s catchy, but it also manages to use nearly every pop culture icon of the time into one video and somehow pull it off spectacularly! That and the twist at the end.

If you Would like to know more about this little gem you can get the complete lyrics at Albion Black Sheep.

Enjoy!

Selling is Caring… Really!

Helping Others Gives Success True MeaningPeople are going to think I’m crazy for saying this but it’s true. Great selling is 100% about caring…Think about the best buying experiences you have ever had. Did it feel manipulative? Could you see the crazy awesome closing techniques they used? or did it feel very natural and “good”? We think we are helping people by sharing all the awesome features and benefits we know and showing off our expertise and product knowledge  but I feel like Theodore Roosevelt nailed it when he said: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

For me the absolute best buying experiences have been with salespeople who really got to know me. They were not technique laden “hunters”, “killers”, or “closers” (believe me I’ve done this long enough that I can spot them!). They were genuine people who took an interest in me, my problems and goals and set out to present me with well thought out solutions.  All of them had good habits and techniques, but they were not relying on those skills they were building relationship.

A great example of this is the real estate agent who sold me my house. When we met for the first time he sat down and talked to my wife and I, but also took the time to talk to my kids and really try to understand what all of us were looking for. He then laid out his plan. First time out 5 houses absolutely no offers. Next time out 3 houses no offers, but we will really like these houses. Then on the third time out 2-3 houses and a solid offer on the house we would buy. To be honest at this point I was like NO freaking way! How does he know this?

So the first time out we looked at 5 houses and he did not sell one bit. He was in the background watching everything. He watched my kids, listened to my wife an I talk about what we liked and when we left he would ask questions. What really blew me away was when I’d say things like: “I really loved that deck!” and he would say yes it was very nice but did you see Sophia trying to get up and down those steps? Me… Ya I guess I did. They were really steep and there was no rail. We looked a a lot of nice houses all very different and we had things we liked about all of them though it felt like a productive day.

The next time out 3 houses and we loved them all… same story. Lots of questions and interaction paired with great feedback. Third trip out 2 houses and an offer.

Now he did a lot of things right and there was good technique, but he built trust and we sent referrals later. He did a good job not just because of his skill but because he was a good guy, a professional, and was sincerely interested in helping us get a home we would love.

I do not care what you sell… your customers have goals, dreams, and desires and if you focus your sales strategy on these things you will close more sales. If you are looking for a good read on how to master building relationships and hone your technique I highly recommend Joe Girard’s How To Sell Anything to Anybody. This book has had a very powerful influence on my selling style and helped me mature from a skillful sales person to a true professional.

I’d love to hear about your GREAT sales experiences or tragic failures and how you think caring played a role in that experience… As always I promise to replay back and keep the conversation going!

-Brad

Do you make real connections?

Are you real? In this social media enriched world we are more connected than ever before, but are we REALLY connected? Are your Facebook “Friends” really your friends? If they are, do you ever show them the REAL you? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In a private Facebook group I share with other bloggers / web entrepreneurs I shared a rant today about the word gratitude… I’ll spare you the details, but my point was that the word was getting thrown around like a buzzword when no real gratitude was being shown, and I was irritated because I had done nothing to deserve thanks or gratitude. Anyways… I’m rambling, but my point is we all go through the grocery checkout line and ask the checker “How’s your day going?” And they always say “Good and you?” and you always say “Good”… but is it REALLY good?  I’m thinking about Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher… How many people ask him this question and what was his answer? I don’t know where I am going here, but I feel like we need to make more of a connection with the people we interact with daily. So many people are out there surrounded by “friends”, but feeling so alone. we need to make an effort to be real with each other. To share our thoughts and feelings. To say what’s on our mind. If you do this you may irritate some people, but I also feel like people will get you… They will know you care, and if you are willing to ask sincere questions and give real answers when you need your friends your REAL friends wil be there. You may also luck out and get a chance to help a friend in need. This may sound like personal advice, but its also good leadership advice too. Think about your staff… what do you know about them? Do they trust you? Are you real with them? or are you putting up a front?

What can you do to help build REAL solid connections with others that you are not doing now?

Why Gamification Fails!

Why Gamification Fails

Why Gamification fails… Just a few quick thought on this topic before I go to bed tonight. I think about this a lot because as a sales manager I see “games” put out by senior management all the time that are not well thought out and poorly implemented. They push these to the field and then no one engages with the “game” because it’s neither interesting or fun, then one of two things happens. Scenario 1: Mid management pretends it was successful inspiring additional time wasted on something no one cares about. Scenario 2: There is tremendous bellyaching from the field and the idea is chalked up as a loss and never done again.

So the question is: Why does gamification fail and what can we do about it? I think I can sum up the problem in one word. Engagement! The number one problem I see with “games” put out by management is there is a LOT of thought as to how to manage and measure the metrics the game is designed to improve. There is also a lot of thought and effort put into the collection of data and additional work placed on lower level managers to track and report results, but very little thought is given to why anyone would want to play the game in the first place. Herein lies the problem… games like this may inspire a few people but most employees will ignore them.

Why? Because we failed to engage them. When designing these games there are two key things that need to be thought about. First, what key metrics am I trying to improve (The more there are the harder this is to do), and second how can I ensure that the maximum number of people are actively engaged? Our problem is we talk a lot about the first issue and very little about the second.

I’ll talk about how to do this tomorrow, but for now I’d like to hear about your experience with games managers have made and what your experience is with them as a developer or player. Were you engaged? Why or why not?

-Brad

PS: If you are looking for a GREAT book on gamification and how to make it work I recommend Reality is Broken. It is truly fantastic and will change the way you think about gamification and what it can do for you and your business.

Why Do I Blog?

Why do I blog? Why do I blog? Why does anyone blog?  Well they are both good questions, but I can only share with you the answer to the first question… The real answer to the next one is hard to nail down because everyone has their own reasons. What I can do is give you some insight into mine.

When I started blogging back in 2006 on my first WordPress.com blog it was because I wanted to share my thoughts on sales and management with the goal of networking with some like minded people, sorting out my thoughts, helping other people and maybe picking up the occasional consulting gig.  To be honest, it worked fabulously! I met some great people, secured several consulting jobs, and even launched a social network and podcast called Sales Management 2.0!

My next blog was a health and fitness blog called Running For 365 Days. On this blog I shared my experiences as a runner. When I started this blog I was just starting my doctoral program, so it fell apart after a few months because I was simply too busy to write as much as I wanted to (daily). At the same time I was also trying to launch an education blog to share my experience in my doctoral program, but again it was all just too much.

That brings us to this blog: Just My Life in Words or The Uber Geek! This is the place where I am pulling it all into one place. It lets me blog about all the things I care about, but if it takes a few weeks to come up with something on one topic it’s no biggie because I have probably written something on at least one of the 15 topics I am covering.

Now that tells you what I have blogged, but not really why… Well it sounds silly, but in part to change the world. I think about a lot of stuff and I am a pretty smart guy so I like the idea of using the internet to leverage my voice and spread ideas. I also do it to help and inspire others. I hope that people will read about my thoughts on leadership, sales, and sales management and learn that the industry is about helping people and not making a quick buck off someone. I also hope they will learn that you don’t have to be a pushy jerk to be successful as a sales manager. I hope people will see how I lost over 30 pounds so far eating paleo and running and give it a go! I’m a geek and I like to share cool things and share games I think are fun! I’m also in the dissertation phase of my doctorate of education where I am studying gamification so this lets me flush out thoughts and network with others interested in my topic. Finally I have 2 beautiful girls who I love very much and I hope long after I am gone they will be able to read my thoughts and take a little something from it that will help them out some day, or maybe gain some insight into who I am as a man and not just as their father.

As you can see I am just one person and I have a LOT of reasons why I blog and I can promise you this is not an exhaustive list. So the real question is why do YOU blog? If you don’t why SHOULD you blog? Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to talk to you about it!

-Brad

PS: If your looking for a GREAT book on how to get started blogging I highly suggest you check out Pro Blogger by Darren Rowse! It’s truly fantastic and will help you with all aspects of blogging whether its as a career or hobby!

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