Drawing Assumptions Can Kill Ya!

How many times in the last 3 months did you think or begin a sentence with “well I assumed that…”. You know you have you used this phrase or one like it quite a few times. Like a lot of the drivel that comes out of our mouths assumptions can lead to a complete breakdown of communication. Assumptions can lead to profiling, stereotyping, hatred, and even death. Ask the parents of Trayvon Martin whether or not that’s true.

I think it’s about time that we wake up to the realities of 2013. Our country and our lives are undergoing sweeping changes that go far beyond the irrational hatred Jihadists have for America. We have a black man who is president and within the next 3 elections will probably have a woman elected as president. I’m pretty sure that will drive a lot of the remaining chauvinistic, old white guys stark raving mad. To whom I would say-your day has come and gone.

Caucasians will soon be in the minority. More and more gay couples will be raising children. The stream of immigrants will continue because America remains a land of opportunity. The color and gender of our politicians will continue to change hopefully bringing across the aisle common sense back to DC. This is reality without putting any spin on the facts. This is not the 1950’s when every day was pretty much like the previous one and identical to the one that followed. There is a generation of people who say that they would like those days back. That decade represented certainty, consistency, safety, and freedom from most activities that caused people to question who they were and what they believed in.

Let’s not wander too far from the gist of this post-assumptions can do you in. Assumptions are dangerous because they close off options, they narrow how we perceive life and people, they limit beliefs and personal growth. Let’s face it, George Zimmerman would have been better off staying home instead of prowling the neighborhood looking for trouble that wasn’t there. Or if he saw Trayvon he could have said, “hey man I love skittles. Can I have one?” A black guy in a hoodie does not represent a sure thing for trouble. Hey a white guy in a hoodie could mean trouble. Who the hell knows. Best not assume.

About the only thing you can assume is that change will occur. After the massacre in Colorado can you walk into a movie theater and not look around at people wondering if any of them are planning any mayhem? Shouldn’t we all be more alert to the fact that there are nutbags walking around who are mentally wrong? They are out there but that does not mean the person with over the top tats is one of them. I’m not a huge fan of environments that change often and harshly any better than the next person but change is a reality. For the sake of sanity and living a long life here’s a few suggestions.  Don’t assume; treat all people the way you want to be treated; prepare to react to any situation you are in because it could change immediately; enjoy the infusion of diversity; listen hard to other opinions.

Update On My Hero

If you’ve followed my meandering thoughts on a regular basis or, assuming you are new, traveled back in time to June 2009 you’ll know that our daughter gave birth to a one pound thirteen ounce boy. On top of being at the bottom of his weight class Jackson also had a level 4 brain bleed. Trust me, neither of these things present an optimistic chance for much of a life. The doctors offered to disconnect Jackson if his parents wanted that outcome. The answer was a resounding NO!

That’s when Jackson took over. Whether or not you believe in miracles Jackson and the rest of us did. I won’t go through all the nitty gritty from those pressure-packed, prayer-filled times. Jackson just turned 4 on Sunday. For the first time ever he said Mommy and Go. (Way to give a gift to the family little dude!) He refers to his maternal grandmother as Nene (No not the Hawaiian goose) and me as Bapa. Give him a ball or anything else he can throw and look out. He likes to torture his 18 month brother with loud piercing screams that send Logan into tears of fear.

Because of his weakened right side Jackson scoots where he wants to go. He wears a lot of pants out but on the bright side he doesn’t wear out any shoes. He’s got a temper, a sense of humor, a good appetite, an immense love for his family. Kids at his school are drawn to him like a bee to honey. Jackson has a smile that makes people happy. Can he be naughty? Yep, but he’s four after all and doesn’t that go with the territory?

I am absolutely sure that someday Jackson will walk and speak sentences. I know that. I have never seen a more determined little person in my life. He absolutely understands what we are saying to him and around him. Somewhere in the brain that is firing on all cylinders he is figuring out how to do things. The beautiful part of Jackson is that he has no time limit on those efforts. The rest of us would be driving ourselves loony tunes trying to achieve the next plateau and getting pissed because we were not moving fast enough. I think that Jackson understands progress and time better than we do.

Why is Jackson my hero? He loves without conditions. His determination knows no limits. He gives more joy that all the toys in all the Christmases since the beginning of time. He is an angel in disguise. Four years ago he said “eff you” to the doctors. He taught me about God and the true meaning of miracles. I and the rest of his posse love this little person and we always will. What a kid!

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

A Phenomenal Philosophy For Life!

Don’t you just love going through an old file, frantically looking for a document that refuses to be found and, instead, finding a gem of a quote that makes you just sit and think? Here is what popped out yesterday.

That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world a better place than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who never lacks appreciation for earth’s beauty or fails to express it; who looks for the best in others and gives the best he has.

This sounds like something JFK would have said or maybe Reagan. It’s irrelevant to me who said this. The point is-if you can attach the words to your life then you have been successful and I dare say, happy.

I want to make one more point about this saying. The phrase filled his (and of course her)  niche and accomplished his (her) task has great meaning for me. After struggling to find my niche I found it and it gave me trememdous peace of mind. Too many people search for that their whole lives and never find it. And sometimes the search is made more difficult due to one’s own ego. But I’ll leave that for another day.

The Final Thought: “Don’t let your brain write checks your body can’t cash.” Unknown

Question: Can Anyone Tell Me How Much Time You Spend Selling?

This my friends is one crazy question! Early on in my formative years selling I always thought that the time I spent in front of a prospect or current customer was “selling time”. In today’s parlance selling time would be defined as the time spent in dialogue with a prospect about a product that they may need. Obviously, time spent in front of an existing customer when you are trying to increase the business you have should also be defined as “selling time”.

The assumption is that we use 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week as the bottom line number of hours working. A friend of mine from eons ago had his workdays down to a science. I suspect he was a man way ahead of the knowledge curve when it came to time management. Prior to a new fiscal year Don would look at his revenue target and determine how much new business he needed to meet his personal income target for the year. He then plotted out what products he needed to focus on as well as the customers and prospects he needed to see in order to make the goal.

Old Don was no dummy! He knew from his selling history, which he tracked, that he needed to see X number of prospects/customers and that he had to discuss specific products in order to attain X number of closes. He knew that he had to spend X amount of time in front of decision makers or people who could influence the decision maker. Think about this. Don knew how many hours per day, week, and month that he needed to spend in front of people in order to attain his personal revenue goal! And this was in the 70’s, when a huge electronic advancement was a calculator watch!

Don had a defined territory where people expected him. The prospects and customers had to buy products that Don or his competitors sold. Blue Birds (unexpected sales) dropped in once in a while. Given all that, however, could we duplicate this today? Good question. Anyone care to chime in

The Final Thought:     I Like this quote I dislike this quoteIt pays to plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” Unknown

A Ten Minute Military Lesson Used As A Guide To Sales!

Almost everyone I know has had an “Ahah” moment. Sometimes we don’t know that they are ahah moments until later. One of these happened to me in 1970 when I was a young, very wet-behind-the-ears 2nd Lieutenant stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

I drew the short straw one Saturday night so I was the Battalion officer in charge. I had just graduated from Office Candidate School so I was long on military tactics but short on experience. As the Battalion officer you are the go-to person if anything out of the ordinary happens to anyone or anything in the Battalion. On this particular Saturday evening about 2AM I was called to Battalion headquarters where two privates from one of the platoons were being held after they starred in a bar fight off base. As the two nimrods were being processed another fight broke out between them.

Instead of intervening I stood there like the Rock of Gibraltar and let the MP’s take charge. End of situation or so I thought. Monday morning I was called into Lt. Colonel Casey’s (Battalion Commander) office. Casey was five foot nine inches of  hard core military-buzz cut, steely eyes, and combat experience. Physically I was five inches taller than Casey but mentally I was a boy scout! For ten harrowing (at the time) minutes Casey wreaked havoc on me about my failure to react properly to a leadership situation, which of course was my frozen statue imitation of the previous Saturday night.

At the end of the ten minute tirade Casey told me to stand at ease. He said to me, “Son, you will be faced with situations in your life where you have to take action quickly and with confidence. The lesson to be learned from Saturday night’s fiasco is when in doubt take action-do something. Life passes people by who stand and watch.” He spoke these three sentences slowly and with great mentoring force. I didn’t just hear them; they were seared into my brain!

And so to sales. How many times have all of us been in situations that required action and where we had a mental hiccup? Those hiccups tend to abate as we gain experience but they still occur. The rule of thumb is DO SOMETHING with a very strong emphasis on the thing! Doing something has even more meaning for sales managers. The longer a sales manager allows a bad situation to continue the larger the mess will be. The longer a salesperson allows his or her fears to rule their lives the poorer they will be, both in money and self image.

The Final Thought: “Take Action”. Lieutenant Colonel Casey, First of the 325 Battalion.

Is There Really Any Substitute For “Dogged Persistence”?

I was channel flipping Saturday night when I happened on the movie “Rudy”. For those of you who have not seen it here is the quick recap. Rudy was a  guy who wound up going to the University of Notre Dame. Why he wanted to go there is a significant part of the plot but does not tie into the meaning behind this post. Rudy was  very undersized for football but he was passionate about trying out for the team. He got as far as the practice squad, which is where he spent all but the last game of his senior year.

On the last game of the year every varsity player took a stand-they wanted Rudy to dress for the game. He did and managed to get into the game for 2 plays, the last of which resulted in Rudy tackling the QB for the last play of the game. There are enough twists and turns and sub-plots that the movie is a veritable cornucopia of feel good moments. Regardless of how many times I see Rudy I shed a few tears and I am not ashamed to admit it!

Rudy exemplifies what it takes to be successful in sales or for that matter any profession. At maybe 5’4″ and 150 pounds he was punished during every practice scrimmage but got up for the next play. His relentless pursuit of a dream and his actions in the face of huge odds against him forced coaches and other players to respect him. Rudy should be the poster man for mental toughness!

If people want something bad enough they have to exhibit tremendous amounts of “passion” on their way to achieving that goal. Passion is believing that nothing will get in the way of achieving the goal. No amount of setbacks, (translate this into the word N-O for salespeople) detours, poor execution, poor support, lack of experience, pain, or lack of knowledge should ever get in the way of any salesperson achieving their goal.

I am reminded of how a young person I know detoured into a job and company that didn’t fit his strengths. When my son understood that, he interviewed with the company he worked for prior to the detour. I am not sure who the person was who interviewed him but he commented to this person that, “he would do anything to come back to the company and if that meant washing the floors he would do it.” Now, that is passion! And yes he did get the job.

The Final Thought:     I Like this quote I dislike this quoteAll human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion and desire.” Aristotle