Angela Ahrendts, the CEO at Burberry, created the following thought.  The message of the quote got to me, so much so that I just kept on reading it over and over. ‘Passionate, positive human energy can provide a counterbalance to the disruptive negative forces of an age of unprecedented change. Through it comes confidence, inspiration and the power to transform things for the better.’

There is so much power in this statement that you wonder where most of the power dwells. Confidence? Inspiration? Transformation? Your head starts to spin when you think of what is the most important component. Let’s face it, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all component that is the base upon which the rest of the statement sits. The beauty of Ahrendt’s comment is that every person can pick out the important factor that means the most to them.

Mine? Passion! I’ve been spending a significant amount of time thinking about how I want to spend the next 5 years of my life and how much money I want to generate within that time. The process seemed almost painful. Ever passed a stone? That painful! Then I read this quote and whacked my forehead with the heel of my hand. Duh! What’s my passion? Easy. Developing people.

How many people are buried in jobs that don’t challenge them, don’t pay crap, and leave them exhausted every night? I’d wager to say that over 60% of today’s workers. How many of that number know what their passion is? I’d say over half. If my math is correct we’re looking at 30% as the number of people sucking in air who know what their passion is.

Does everyone find their passion at the same time? No. A good friend of mine became passionate about “quality” in the workplace in his middle years. Now he practically sleeps with the Malcolm Baldridge award. A one-time client of mine found real estate sales and she routinely brings in over $300K annually. Don’t get her into a discussion on the topic unless you want to spend the day.

What is your passion and how can you bring it front and center in your life? Are you too fearful to even give it life? Have you really thought through what it will take to breathe life into the passion? Do you want to be on your death-bed, look back on your life and regret that you did not give your passion free rein? Don’t let it happen.


The Secret To Sales-Keeping It Simple

I can’t help it; I’m on a simplicity kick of late. I was baby sitting my 14 month old grandson (yes, grandfathers can do this alone) yesterday and I was on the floor with him acting a little crazy. Some people in my family might think that this is a normal occurrence and not one that I bring out only for the grand kids. They would be right of course. Anyway, Jackson and I were playing-with nothing in particular. I would mimic his sounds, he would try new ones. He would make facial expressions; I would mimic them. Meanwhile he’s laughing up a storm with nothing more than a grandpa to keep him amused. Hmmmmm, is there something to this? Me thinks there is.

People tend to complicate things in life. If someone is sad, let’s get them into a psychologist; if you have an ache or a pain and who doesn’t, let’s get into see the doc; if the lawn has a few weeds let’s call in turf care inc. When sales are down let’s ship everyone off to sales training. Don’t get me wrong I’m not against sales training but there may be shorter, less expensive options. This train of thought started as I was writing a chapter in my second book. In that chapter I was explaining a sales technique. After rereading my words I had the thought that my current explanation was a whole lot simpler than the one I used 10 years ago when I was doing sales training for a living.

The sales technique I wrote about was identifying prospect needs. As I wrote I focused on KISS-Keep It Simple Stupid. Then it dawned on me. Identifying need is nothing more than the end product of a dialogue between two people. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. What? No sophisticated techniques? No buzz words? No pain?

In Thursday’s post I’ll create a dialogue between two 13-year-old kids that will illustrate why closing or disqualifying is really pretty easy stuff.

Happiness Is Something You Design

I do not remember where I heard this but as I look for meaningful quotes, sayings, an adage I tend to browse through the cranial archives to dig up past goodies. This is one of them.

How easy this sounds right? The Law of Attraction is related to the adage above. The Law of Attraction means that if we project into the universe what we would like to receive we will receive it-in some fashion. Poor definition but you get the point. I can attest to the L of A working because it has happened to me countless times.

Designing happiness or joy or attitude or pleasure or-you pick the word-means more to me than the meaning behind the L of A. In order for the L of A to work people need to establish a specific view of life. And I do not mean putting a smiley face on to greet the day! (I had a manager like that once and I wanted to take that smile and jam it where no light exists!) A designed attitude (the word happiness is just too vague and clownish for me) requires a mental mind-set that says ya know,  regardless of what happens today, tomorrow, whenever I need to maintain an even keel. Our kids are going to screw up, I will say or do something very stupid, I may lose a sale, I may fail to make quota, the presentation in front of senior staff sounded like a 7th grade “what I did over the summer.”

When we design our attitude (life position?) we need that attitude to encompass every imaginable downer that may, could, or will happen. Flash to the Gulf states! They are staring devastation and the loss of their livelihood in the face. Next time you tune into the news watch the faces of these people. They are used to calamity, whether it’s Katrina, oil, notes that come due on their vessels-you name it. They rebound because they have to and  have no other choice. That is designing your attitude. That is mental toughness and isn’t that really what designing is all about?

If you don’t like the design of how you face life-then change it! The profession of sales requires it but then again so does every other profession. The marketing plan you worked on for 100 hours is trashed by the president, your marriage doesn’t stack up to your expectations, your parents drive you nuts, your sibs are out of touch.

Guess what-we all have choices! You get to design how you react to everything!

Create the attitude that carries you through every conceivable calamity. Your strength will show as will success!

Enjoy Life Because You Never Know When The Bolt Out Of The Blue May Hit You!

One of the things that I learned about myself is that I like to write when I need comfort. Now is one of those times. If you read my last post you know that young Jackson is our latest grandchild. Jake (my name for the little hombre) was two pounds when he was born. For three days he was doing really well. Tonight the little guy had a setback. How will that setback play out? Who knows?

If you have ever seen a 2 pound preemie you know that anything can happen. Of course, doctors will never tell you the good news; they have to tell you the worst possible outcomes. That is their job after all. But wait!! Who the heck makes this world of ours happen? It is the people who think about things in a much different way.

Will young Jake make it through all this? We do not know. Regardless of what happens in this situation there is something that needs to be said. Life is chuck full of enormous roadbumps, avalanches, hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, and an assortment of other catastrophes. At this very minute there are people I know who are concerned that one of their perfectly normal kids has ADD and dyslexia. Be still my heart! What a joke!

There are mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, classmates, salespeople, managers, CEOS, owners, presidents, siblings, young kids, old kids, old people, customers ad nauseam who are worried about something in their lives. Well, guess what folks, your worries are meaningless in the flow of life! They are the pimples on the backside of mankind!

There is a purpose to this post aside from the rantings of a father and grandfather who does not quite understand how the Big Fella plays his game. At different times in our lives or the lives of people we care about some very bad things can happen! Those bad things can range from from lost sales (at the very bottom of the “I care heap”) to enormous losses of people we care about.

Every person who reads this has to understand that there is hierarchy of worries. Some of those worries we need to cast aside; others we need to put into perspective. Things like social networking, the customer collective, closing business, not closing business, prospecting, training, competition, networking, linked in, twitter, and all the rest of the things that people think are important aren’t!!!!!

When you read this, I want you to  connect with your spouse, your kid(s), parents, sibs, boss (???), customers, prospects, customer service rep, friends, acquaintances et al and either hug them, thank them or tell them that you love them. Life tends to speed by and all of a sudden the time that we think we had isn’t there. Don’t wait another minute.

Jackson, all two pounds of him, is telling you that life is short and what you had yesterday could be gone tomorrow. Don’t wait to enjoy your moments with the people that matter most-now and in the future. As of right now my buddy Jake is alive and kicking-literally. He wants to live. He told me so. (That’s another story.) I believe that Jake will live because I am a “glass half full kind of guy” and Jake is too.

And here is the point of this rather long post. My friends, life is for seeing outcomes, positive outcomes. It is for seeing past the mundane, the horrible, the problems, the frustrations, the worries, the cancer, the horrendous managers, the bad prospects, the ungrateful customers, the bad spouses, the worrisome kids, the…glass half empty inevitabilities of life. Those inevitabilities will never go away. They are what makes us strong, successful, vibrant, believers, faithful, staunch, optimistic, joy-filled, and responsive to whatever awaits us around the next corner of living.

Stop where you are right now and think about how lucky you are. I am doing just that. I have a beautiful and caring wife, two phenomenal natural born kids and and an inherited kid, four grandkids (Jake included) , a meaningful profession, several awesome clients, more good friends than I can count, a great sib, nieces and nephews whom I love as well as their kids and hosts more.

And Jake just said to me, “hey old guy, go to bed. I’m alive and kicking but I could use you tomorrow-fully awake”! Darn kids, they always keep us awake!

The Final Thought: “Love and touch someone N-O-W!” TJS

Watch Out For Head Trash!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how so many salespeople find it so difficult to move out of their comfort zones. I may have mentioned head trash but doubt whether I spent much time on it. H.T. comes in lots of shapes and sizes; most of the trash roaming around in our brain comes courtesy of all the people who have and are impacting our lives. Here is a wondrous list of some of the more insidious bits of head trash:

  1. You can’t do that!
  2. Don’t talk about money.
  3. Don’t talk to strangers. (Absolutely great advice if you’re a kid; lousy advice if you’re in sales.)
  4. You’re lazy.
  5. Math is not your cup of tea.
  6. You have a short attention span.
  7. That’s too risky.
  8. You’ll never make it…
  9. Are you sure you want to do that?
  10. No one has ever done that before…

Now, before you think that I am about to indict all parents, teachers, coaches etc. let me say that with a few exceptions the people who raised us and effected our lives are good people. Their hearts were and are in the right place. They didn’t consciously try to mess with our brains. (OK, so there were a few times when I deliberately messed with my kid’s heads but they weathered the storm!)

Each one of the above “well-intentioned” comments, if said enough times, become lodged in our brain. They become negative mantras, reminders of limitations, and precursors of failure. You’re familiar with the acronym GIGO as it relates to computers-Garbage In, Garbage Out. The same is true with head trash. If the garbage doesn’t get tossed it begins to affect how we act and what we are willing to do.

I strongly advise younger salespeople to do a “head check” to determine what kinds of head trash they have. And if they find some determine how it affects their sales abilities. Getting rid of H.T. isn’t as hard as you think. Apply this to all situations where you think head trash might be lurking-WTWTTCHTM-or What’s The Worst Thing That Can Happen To Me if I do an intimidating or uncomfortable activity. The worst thing rarely is that bad.

The Final Thought: Most successful men have not achieved their distinction by having some new talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand.” Bruce Marton

Don’t You Think It’s Time To Reinvent Yourself?

My wife hates the phrase “reinvent yourself”. When she hears that from me she goes pale and rushes for some antacid relief! What it usually means to Cath is that I am about to embark on a new life path, which is filled with uncertainty. Personally, I love uncertainty; my wife does not. Here’s an example from the distant past.

At one point during my military years I had a three week time period between schools. I had just finished Advanced Infantry Training (that could be an oxymoron) and Officer Candidate School. The powers that be gave me and a host of other grunts the choice of doing KP for three weeks or going to jump school for three weeks, you know where you leave perfectly safe airplanes and trust your life to a piece of silk! Of course I went! Adventure, exhiliration, heart pumping excitement won out over peeling spuds for 21 days.

Of course when you’re 24 what can happen to you? By my count that was the fifth time I had reinvented myself. Why do some people find it so easy to reinvent or change who they are? I can tell you that my parents weren’t like that so throw the gene pool idea out the window. People change or reinvent themselves because they have no fear of leaving their comfort zones. Comfort zones kill creativity, progress, and forward movement. They waste dreams and time. They sap people of energy and inflict enormous amounts of emotional pain!

And here is the main reason why people like the snugness of their comfort zones. They don’t have to worry about disappointing themselves and/or others by not meeting expectations. Think about this. Each of us was raised and influenced by people who had expectations for us. If we did not meet those expectations then we disappointed people. Here’s what my mother said when she found out I was going Airborne. “Tom, why do you insist on worrying your father and me’? That my friends is a salvo of guilt that only a mother could deliver! But there it is. The clear message was-stay in your comfort zone, son, and everyone will be happy! N-O-T.

More next week on this.

The Final Thought: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T S Eliot

The Lighter Side of Sales & Sales Management

I just had to depart from the usual Thursday Sales Management Corner. I was having breakfast the other day with a guy I’ve known for ages; we were reminiscing about some of the follies we were a part of as salespeople or sales managers. This is a potpourri of several that deserve honorable mention.

I worked as a pharmaceutical rep in my first job out of the Army. I was travelling in northern Minnesota, having dinner and reading the paper. There happened to be a fairly tall candle in the middle of the table. All of a sudden I smelled smoke and when I looked up the front page of the Minneapolis Trib was burning out of control! I got up, my chair went flying back knocking over a tray of food and I proceeded to stomp out the burning paper. Nobody in the restaurant batted an eye! Gotta love those unflappable Minnesotans.

As a “detail” man we did a lot of waiting to see physicians. I was on one of those butt flattening episodes in a clinic where the heat was hovering at about eighty five degrees. I had one leg crossed over the other knee when I fell asleep and I mean sound asleep. The nurse came out and had to shake me awake to tell me that the doc would see me. My shirt was soaked with drool and my left leg was completely asleep. I got up from the chair, put weight on the leg and fell over. All the pregnant women were practically hysterical! One of the best sales calls I ever had though.

I was on a sales call with a rep and the doctor we were calling on asked a question about a measurement for a part of the heart catheter we were selling. Neither I nor the rep had a clue of the answer but without taking more than a breath the rep said, “About a quarter of a grommet.” (I’m not sure if that was the exact word but the point is it was a nonsense word.) The doctor looked at the rep for a few seconds, I’m about ready to explode and the doc says absolutely nothing. We walked out with business we never had. Honest to God neither of us could make a sales call for the rest of the day.

Then there was the ex Woody Hayes football player, standing 6’5″ and tipping at about 255 lbs. BIG MAN! I was field training him and we were observing a heart catheterization, which means that we were in scrubs wearing a 35lb lead vest to protect the, ah, well you know. The doc incises the leg artery, which means there is a nice arc of very red arterial blood coming out. The HULK takes one look at that and does a perfect, utterly exquisite face plant. If it had been an Olympic competition he would have gotten 10’s from the Communist judges. It took three of us to drag the nimrod out and put him on a gurney. The last I heard was the dental repairs ran about $3K. He never did get a job with us.

Last but far from least. We were in Hawaii for our national sales meeting and it was the awards dinner evening. These award dinners were a combo of recognition ($$$$$) and humor. The event was outside and the awards, skits and stories took place on a huge stage. Unbeknown to us we had an audience of people standing on their balconies of two adjoining hotels. This was not a group of salespeople who shied away from enhancing bizarre, true stories with a little bit of blue humor. We finished up and en-masse our “audience” broke out into applause. They also wanted an encore of the “horrow tube” story, which I gave. Can’t do it here though because it is thoroughly politically incorrect. If you want the story let me know and I’ll pass it along. I will say, however that ss a result of that true story we did sell a lot of catheters overseas.

I had to share this last story because there is a tendency for the all of us to blast companies that spend money on salespeople and incentive/sales meeting trips. As usual, the media does not always tell the whole story. We do have a right to blast companies that spend ridiculous amounts of money on a few high ranking, over paid, corner office types. You can’t blast a company that rewards their best salespeople and spouses by taking them to a lavish resort. These folks earned their money working hard and generating “honest” revenue for themselves and the company.

The Final Thought: “Nothing is better than the unintended humor of reality” Steve Allen