“I love you, Daddy!”

dadBeing a father is great…being a “DADDY” is awesome. Admittedly there are things I’ve done that many men would think are just plain boring: Like sitting for 4 hours at a dance recital for 5-year-old girls, coaching a girls’ recreational softball team, or watching a little-league game that seems like it will never end.  It’s time I’ll never get back, but wouldn’t have missed any of them for the world.  I feel so fortunate to have been there for so many of their life experiences that I can’t tell the stories without tears of pride streaming down my face. When people ask me why I do what I do, it’s never for the money, incentives, or recognition.  I chose this career because it gave me the freedom to participate with my children as they have grown up.  

There are 365 days in a year, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute.  As each day passes, every second with my family becomes more significant…literally priceless.  Thirteen years ago, my oldest daughter was in first grade.  Now she’s a sophomore in college.  My son, then just two years old, would put his head on my shoulder while we laid on the couch watching “Bob The Builder.”  He’s now a sophomore in high school and driving.  And our youngest daughter that had just been born is now a teenager.  They’re all busy doing their own things and gaining more and more independence each day.

Every great parent understands their primary role in their kids’ lives is to raise them to be incredible adults while providing love and security along the way.  Unfortunately, understanding the role doesn’t make witnessing their transition to adulthood easier. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have missed out on any of the memories we’ve created along the way.   

Music or Noise? “Let’s Get Rich…

house mountain…and build a house on a mountain makin’ everybody look like ants.”

Have you ever listened to Ingrid Michalson’s music? The tone of her voice makes me want to get into a hammock between two trees and take a nap.  I had never heard of her until my daughter’s playlist mysteriously appeared in my cloud.  Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

What’s even better?  Discovering the depth of a song’s lyrics through clear headphones instead of in a car or home sound system.   I’ll bet there are songs you love listening to that, unless you know them by heart, may illicit a totally different mental state when you actually focus on the words.

How fulfilling could life be if we focused on making music instead of giving attention to the noise created to distract us?

Playing in the Fog

Fog

The last few years have gone by so quickly that it seems like nothing has gotten accomplished.  Then, when stock of our customer inventory is taken, the concerns of inadequacy evaporate, just as fog lifts when sunshine warms the atmosphere.  How is it that such feelings even exist? Because many times we are so concerned about what others think of us that we neglect the very people who matter most:  Our customers.

In the future, you’re going to see the words “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” rather frequently.  Why?  There is a huge shift coming in consumer behavior that will forever change the sales world. In fact, it’s so extreme that the most forms of the verb: “sales”, “selling”, “sold”, may be history.  Informed consumers are about to learn everything they never wanted to know about how salespeople are paid who have been trained sell them for the last 20 years.  Not because the salaries or commission structures are published somewhere, but because a few transparent competitors are going to push the envelope.  And their response is either going to be one of pride because of the extrinsic value they have provided to the customers they have focused on or shame from the realization that their intrinsic motivations have driven the activities toward accomplishment of financial gain and company-based incentive rewards without authentic regard for the one thing customers value more than money:  Their time.

The moment of truth is fast approaching:  Will you open your records or lock them up?  If you’re providing value that meets or exceeds what you believe your customers would expect, there’s no problem, right?

Going Back in Time

ElevatorWhen I was a kid, my dad used to spend every Saturday morning from 7am to Noon at the grain elevator lobby in our local town.  He and a dozen other farmers got together to talk about anything anyone wanted to discuss.  When I went along, one of the men always gave me a shiny quarter to buy an Orange Crush in a 10-ounce bottle from the Coca-Cola chest-cooler.  Back then, I thought it was because he liked me.  Now that I’ve been a father for 18 years, I’m pretty sure it was to keep me quiet so dad could socialize.

Why did I tell you this?  How is 1972 applicable to today?  Because people like my dad and his friends were all about community.  Their sense of belonging made time stand still because they shared common world views. Today the Internet adapts the desirable characteristics of 1972 while diminishing or even eliminating the constraints of geography.  Consumers’ options are longer defined by the yellow pages.  Businesses, their products and services, and even their representatives can be searched, researched, located, contacted, interacted with, mapped, and transacted with…no matter where they are in the world.

What does that mean to consumers?  A couple of things.  First, if you’re already being served by a business, but you don’t share complementary world views with the representative you were formerly bound or assigned to, you can research and locate a provider you ARE compatible with.  Doing so contributes to the creation of a community where you belong instead of feeling like a prospect constantly  being sold to.  Second, you can regain control of your time.  You’ll be able to confidently ignore a majority of the interruptions competing for your attention every day.  If you have the desire, you can now research and compare every brand that you believe to be a fit to provide for YOUR needs as well as identifying the company representatives you feel most compatible with.

When you follow this process, you’ll find yourself in a much happier place.  You’ll be part of a community of people who share similar world views.  Everyone is set free from the continuous interruptions by representatives who “just don’t get it”.

Sounds pretty appealing, doesn’t it?

Defining YOU

who you are photo
Photo by tonyhall

Everyone is as unique as their DNA, so how do we define who we are? Who in your life matters most?  What matters most?  What pisses you off?  What makes you totally happy?  How do you feel about money?  If you have kids, what activities do you enjoy doing with them?  What activities are they passionate about?  What are your favorite sports?  How do you feel about politics? Do you like to travel or stay home?  Do you enjoy art?  How about history?  What era?  Are you a religious person?  If so, what denomination?  What kind of music so you enjoy?  What are your favorite movies or TV shows?  What about food and beverage?  Do you like to cook and/or bake?  Do you like cars?  What organizations do you support/volunteer for?

If you could talk about anything with a group of people with a common interest, what are the top 3 topics you’d select?

Of all the items listed above, what are the absolute deal-breakers that stop a conversation before it starts? What are three more that you would be okay with, but wouldn’t participate because of a lack of knowledge?  When you cross off those 6 items, what’s left is a solid cross-section of you and your worldview.

Now go get connected and start some fun conversations.

You’re A Hypocrite IF:

 

You send out 1000 mailers to the general public per month but throw away your junk mail without reading it.

You call people at home to set appointments for your business but screen calls or hang up on people that call your residence.

You send electronic sales-related messages to your customers several times a week, but have an Outlook rule set up that directs all incoming SPAM to the trash folder.

You sponsor a local school or civil organization but refuse to associate with or promote them.

We’ve all been hypocrites at some point, some more than others.  The important question isn’t if we’ve been one, it’s how often we STILL consciously do it.

If It Were Easy…

Everybody would be doing it.   Social media is great at making you FEEL like everybody IS doing it.  Everybody but you, that is.  The number of blogs, podcasts, and online platforms increases exponentially every day…as does the amount of information available on your mobile device—literally at your fingertips.

It’s easy for Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk,  Ann Handley, Seth Godin, and other influencers to post their thoughts for our reading pleasure, but how can you make something happen?

Forget about fomo.  You’re not as behind as you think.

The key is connecting with the right people, hearing the right message, filtering the right information, and creating a specific plan that leads your team to victory.  Not knowing where to start doesn’t mean you should sit on the sidelines, or worse, forfeit the game.

Until you break away from the traditional paradigms and best practices, you’ll never be able to create a new path forward.  Building and executing a plan aligned with the customer experience expectations of the next 20 years  is critical to success.   The part that’s holding you back is in the mirror.

Your opponent is YOU.

Earn An Income Without Working

It’s possible for anyone to do who has the right attitude—who’s doing something they love that other people will pay for them to provide. That’s the key. Unfortunately, either they have the wrong attitude or they don’t have enough people who want or need what they provide.

Here’s the missing piece of the puzzle:  People will pay for an above-average product when delivered by someone who makes them feel special.  They won’t always pay for an exceptional product when delivered by someone that makes them feel average.

I’m Not The Boss—You Are

Turn the hiring process upside-down.  Most employers look to fill a role with a body.  As recently as 5 years ago, many products and services were not yet considered commodities.  Companies maintained leadership positions in their industries by differentiating their advertising efforts.  Today, the ad channels are clogged with noise.  Consumers aren’t paying enough attention to most brands’ advertising to be able to tell them apart.  What does that mean?  Differentiation and market advantage must take place BEFORE perceptions are formed about the brand.  It must take place at ground level.  Enter the new hiring model.


Employers used to hire individuals based on their ability to “get it”.  In other words, they hired them and trained them on the features and benefits to prepare them for success–the ability to proficiently overcome a sufficient number of objections to close deals and generate revenue.  Many of today’s customers research products and services on their own, essentially addressing concerns and closing deals before they ever seek advice.  So how does that change the sales role?

In a nutshell, anyone who wants to serve (not work for) any employer in the future will hire themselves by being passionate about their purpose.  They may even create their own roles inside an organization.  Traditional companies have rigid job descriptions and hierarchies for keeping people in line and bases covered.  In my company, I expect three specific things: 

  • Unquestionable loyalty to the parent brand to whom I am committed to serving.  Without their brand value proposition, my sub-brand does not exist.
  • Development of expert understanding of the products and services we provide.  That is the only thing that will offer customers the confidence they are seeking when they reach out to us.
  • The passionate pursuit of your own identity enabled by consistently advertising your worldview.

What if applicants actually started subscribing to these concepts?  How would the labor market change?