Tag Archives: management

Leadership, Mistakes, Regret, And Moving On…

Keep your mistakes in your past.

Dont let past mistakes ruin your now.Occasionally we make mistakes that were preventable. Sometimes we made the best decision we could in challenging circumstances. Either way, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to look back and second guess yourself. It’s healthy and important to deal with your past, but you need to remember to keep your past in your past and not let those mistakes and feelings ruin NOW. I’ve been fairly successful in most aspects of my life. However, I’ve spent about two years dealing with resolving some things that have bothered me for a long time and its challenging.

It’s not just challenging to deal with past mistakes and errors of judgment though, it’s MORE challenging to keep it there and not let myself stewing on and trying to learn from these things create new challenges in the present. What I have tried to focus on lately is keeping my eyes focused forward while dealing with some that bother me while not second-guessing myself.

Good leaders frequently make challenging decisions.

As a leader at work, at home, and in life we often have challenging circumstances with no “correct answer”. When we are in those situations all we can do is rely on our gut, our training, and our moral compass to keep us pointed in the right direction. Remember this: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV) If you have done that there is no reason to second guess yourself. You have done the best you could with the tools you had. Knowing more now or having a better toolset can sometimes make you look back and say: “I wish I had done this differently.” or “Why did I let this happen?” allowing yourself to dwell on this just frustrates you and makes you angry.

All you can really do with your mistakes is learn from them, add to your toolbox and move forward armed with new experiences and skill sets. If you’re doing this regularly you are doing the best anyone can do and that’s all that is reasonable to ask of yourself. Sometimes you just need to take your lumps, learn, adapt, and change so you can grow.

Where do the answers lie?

I wish I had all the answers. I spend a lot of time here sharing answers with people and giving sound advice on leadership, sales, and, marketing issues but some answers are just out of reach for most of us. Fortunately, I know someone with ALL the answers and I turn to him frequently to guide me through troubled waters, to aid me in making sound decisions, and to lead me in the right direction when I am unsure. I attribute 100% of my past and future success to my faith and reliance on God and my relationship with Jesus.

10 Verses to meditate on when life is challenging you.

When I am down or face difficult decisions I focus on this knowledge:

  • Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  • II Corinthians 9:8 NIV And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
  • Colossians 3:23 ESV Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
  • Psalm 5:3 (NIV) In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
  • Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
  • Romans 12:2 NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  • II Timothy 1:7 NIV For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
  • Mark 8:36 ESV For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
  • Joshua 1:9 NIV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
  • Habakkuk 2:3 TLB But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day.

So how did I deal with my challenges?

I spent a good chunk of my early morning today in prayer before I went to the gym and thinking about this post.  Fortunately, after I got there I had time to meditate some more, my pre-workout was kicking, I had a solid workout, and my week is off to a great start. I am constantly reminding myself to remember to keep a positive attitude, focus on the things I can control, and to not let circumstances beyond my control keep me down. I’m not perfect, and life isn’t either, but I put a solid effort in every day to improve myself and my life in some way. Staying focused on the #1 thing I CAN control (my attitude) keeps me happy, positive, and focused on whats most important.

I try to remind myself in life despite my stumbles and mistakes, Jesus wants me to win! In fact, the Bible commands it: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (I Corinthians 9:24 NIV) So that’s it right there. I have to get up every day and run with all my heart and energy, my eyes focused forward, and my heart filled with the joy of the lord.  No challenge is too big and no race is too long because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought: Behold, I am doing something new! It’s already happening; don’t you recognize it? I will clear a way in the desert. I will make rivers on dry land. (Isaiah 43:19 GOD’S WORD® Translation) I hope reading this has helped you like writing it helped me. Feel free to drop me a comment with your thoughts. I promise I’ll respond.

 

 

 

Leadership. It’s all the Time!

Let's Discuss LeadershipYou are a leader in everything you do. Not just the moments you have positional authority over others. Every second of the day presents the opportunity to lead. This is true whether you are a CEO, receptionist, father, child, coach, or athlete. I’ve been thinking about leadership a lot because it is popping up in my personal life with my wife and kids, at church,  and at work. I’ve also recently transitioned into project management and for the first time in my career, I am managing processes almost exclusively and not directly supervising people. I still deal with a lot of people and I still use essentially the same skill set. However, nobody does anything for me now because of any true authority it’s 100% relationship oriented. I’ve always lead in a way that was dependent on developing relationships. However, it’s still a small adjustment and it started me thinking about leadership in general and how it’s a bit different.

Being a Leader With Your Family:

I was talking to my wife Shawna the other night and she reminded me of something I do consistently that comes straight out of one of my favourite leadership books of all time: The 360 Degree Leader. It was about doing something trivial that everyone knows I do not want or like to do, but I do anyway because I know it is important to set the right example.

“As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. The first person that I should try to change is me”.  – John C. Maxwell

I’m going to be honest here and say I HATE green beans. I don’t just dislike them, I detest them. However, I am aware they are good for me and I have some picky eaters in my family so I eat them without complaint. Part of it is so they will eat something healthy and see me do it too. Another part of it is so nobody can say: “Dad doesn’t eat green beans so I’m not either!” I was smart enough to know that asking them to eat something they don’t like when I would not, was hypocritical at best and a poor display of leadership. Knowing this, I suck it up and eat them anyway. My wife was using this as an example to one of the kids about doing things you don’t want to do because it is the right thing. Whats funny is this kid knew I did that and acknowledged it. I’ve never mentioned that I do this and I don’t make a big deal out of it, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they know I don’t like them, that I eat them anyway. Honestly I was a bit surprised, but it reinforced the idea that your kids watch and listen to everything you do.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

Another example that is a bit more serious is related to dealing with my Adult ADHD. I had gone 42 years and never been on any sort of ADHD medicine. I didn’t want it and honestly, didn’t think I needed it. Both my ex and current wife encouraged me to try something for years and I just refused for a number of reasons. If I’m being honest, I was aware I had some annoying issues,  but I had learned to live with them and I had what was in my mind a reasonable expectation everyone else would as well. 

I have 3 kids with ADHD all three of whom benefit tremendously from taking their medication. I’m not sure what sparked it but two of them were occasionally resistant to taking it and saying it didn’t help. Everybody knows this is simply not true and I had told them how important it was for months but gaining little ground. I had spent a lot of time thinking of ways to show them how important this was and was getting nowhere fast. Finally, one day I woke up and said: “self, you need to take the same stuff they do.” I had finally realized what a hypocrite I was being. Nobody had to tell me, I just reflected one day and realized I was a huge jerk if I insisted they do something I refused to do. That same day I told Shawna: “I think I need to start taking Intuniv too.” Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am so much happier now and I am able to relax in a way I have never been able to in my entire life. I wish I had done it years ago. Besides feeling better, by taking it myself I was able to show that I was 100% bought into the process of dealing with not only their ADHD but my own as well. My entire family is happier because of it. If you are a parent, you have probably already realized that your children are watching everything you do. Because of this one decision all three of my kids are now happily taking their medication and we have a calmer happier home because of it.

“If you are a parent, you have probably already realized that your children are always watching what you do. And just as children watch their parents and emulate their behavior, so do employees who are watching their bosses.” – John C. Maxwell

Being a Leader at Work

One of the most fun things I use to do as a sales manager was to jump on the phone Saturday morning during our phone-a-thons and set some appointments. It was fun for several reasons. First, I’m a great salesperson and it’s fun to do things you are good at especially if it’s out of your norm. Second, I’m competitive and I wanted to set more appointments than anyone because it’s fun to talk a little smack with my top performers and work hard. More importantly, my mid and low performers saw me demonstrating skills I had taught in training and it reinforced that training because I could prove I not only talked the talk but could walk the walk. Finally, I dialed because they LOVED it. Seriously, everyone likes to see their boss do their job and it’s good leadership to join in on Saturday morning when nobody wants to be there.

Opportunities to lead are everywhere if you are looking for them. in everything, you do someone is watching and learning. My goal every day is to make sure they learn something positive.

For Further Study:

If you are looking to improve yourself and be a better leader in every situation I recommend you buy John C Maxwell’s The 360 Degree leader. 

For Discussion:

Tell me about a hidden leadership opportunity you found in the comments!

John C Maxwell Leadership Quote

Like a Boss Photo. Feet on desk. leadershipLeadership isn’t just telling people what to do. In fact, it’s hardly every that. Real leadership comes from example and establishing a track record of truth, knowledge, and fairness. 

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

Remember wherever you are or whatever you are doing you are likely leading someone even if you do not realize it.

 

Do you have a selling system?

Having a selling system helps you achieve your goals. Systems are Important

Sales managers… What are you doing for your staff? I know you hold training sessions, set goals, monitor performance, and keep people accountable. We all do those things. What separates great sales managers from the average is the ability to help salespeople build good habits, learn discipline and follow a consistent selling system.

We all want every sale to be form fit to the customer based on a relationship we have developed and leveraged over time. This helps us develop an ideal solution for each client. I also know that most salespeople will use this desire for appointment customization and relationship building to fight you on the development of any sort of sales system. I am here to tell you this is a huge mistake. 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? Nobody knows what is going to happen next and while some plays will work, most will end in disaster. Are the players inflexible and unable to customize when running plays from the playbook? No, because they have a set of option strategies they can implement to adjust plays. My goal for my staff is to provide them a framework to follow and then give them a series of plays and options to run based on what they find. This leaves them free to do what they need to but they are never far from the known path.

Example: My Telemarketing Strategy

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. It’s not a lock step script just a simple framework that lets them know where they are and when they have enough information to ask for an appointment.

For Further Study

I love Brian Tracy’s Advanced Selling Strategies. In this book, Brian will share with you strategies, tactics, and the mindset you need to develop your own system and close more deals. If you are looking for more of a cookbook approach I think you should consider Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling. Unquestionably the best-documented account of sales success ever collected and the result of the Huthwaite corporation’s massive 12-year, $1-million dollar research into effective sales performance. This groundbreaking resource details the revolutionary SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff) strategy.

 

For Discussion:

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?

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?

 

Selling is Caring… Really!

Helping Others Gives Success True MeaningGreat Salespeople Care About Others

People 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 awesome closing techniques they used? My guess is no.  A great sale feels 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 we are not. I think Theodore Roosevelt nailed it when he said: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

A great sale should feel very natural and ''good'' #sales Click To Tweet

The best Buying Experience

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, understood my problems and goals, and set out to present me with well thought out solutions.  All of them had good habits and techniques. However, they were not focusing on themselves or on those skills, they were building a relationship.

I’m Not a Sales Apologist

Really I’m not. I make good money helping people improve their sales technique. Moreover, I think it’s important that you regularly practice those techniques so you can perform with smooth flawless delivery. However, I do not think they should be your focus. Good technique is there to assist you in staying on track, gathering information, and presenting well thought out meaningful solutions to your client’s problems.

An Example

A great example of this is the real estate agent who sold me my 2nd house. When we met for the first time he sat down and talked to my wife and I like you would expect.  What surprised me was that he also took the time to talk to my kids and see what was important to them. He was really trying to understand what all of us were looking for so he could meet all of our needs. 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?

The next thing he did was lay out his plan. First time out 5 houses absolutely no offers. Next time out 3 houses no offers, but he promised we would really like several of these houses. Then on the third time out 2-3 houses and a solid offer on the house we would buy. To be honest with you, at this point I was thinking NO freaking way! How does he know this? What if I like the first house I see?

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 or didn’t, 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!”  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 at a lot of nice houses That day. They were all very different and we had things we liked about all of them. We didn’t place an offer. However, it felt like a productive day overall.

The next time out we looked at 3 houses and we loved them all… same story. Lots of questions and interaction paired with great feedback that led us to reconsider. Then on the third trip out we looked at 2 perfect houses and placed an offer.

This salesman did a lot of things right and he had great technique, but his goal was to build trust in himself and his system. He did that very well and we sent referrals later. He did a great job not just because of his skill but because he was a good guy, a professional, and was sincerely interested in helping us get the right home we would love.

Closing Thoughts

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.

For Discussion

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

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.