Category Archives: Rewind
When you are a teenager, working for the first time, it is truly all about the money. Finally, you have some independence from your parents, and can start to buy things for yourself! As you make a little more money and get different jobs through high school, earning money gets even more exciting. The thought of providing any value to others as a teenager does not even register for most. I was part of that group. Then there was a real shift for me when I was 19 years old, thanks to my dad.
I was making $5.25 per hour working at a buffet restaurant in the summer of 1992. I was working a lot because I was off from university for a few months, and the “money was rolling in” (or so I thought). My dad was teaching an adult education class in the evenings, and connected with a man who needed some math upgrading. He was involved in an accident, and had to pursue a new career due to his injuries. The kicker was he needed his high school diploma to qualify for most jobs.
My dad could not commit to doing all the tutoring himself, so he asked if I would help at a rate of $30 per hour.
“$30 PER HOUR?” I said.
“You bet”, said my dad back.
“WHEN DO I START?” I hastily replied.
I was excited because I was going to make more money working with him in two hours a day, then I would make in eight hours per day at the restaurant!
As I started to work with the man, it soon became very clear that it would not be as easy as I thought. Just because I understood math very well, did not mean that my knowledge was going to “rub off on him” as quickly. There were some difficult days at the beginning of the process, but by the end, we were working well together. We gained a mutual respect for each other as time passed. I often caught myself thinking that this guy must have thought that I was a “know-it-all young punk”, but realistically that was not the case. He was in a jam, and I was there to help.
This was a life changing experience for a 19-year-old kid, to realize the value that I provided was much more important than the money I was receiving. It did take a while to get to that place, because all I could think about was the $60 that I made each time I saw him!
In retrospect I would have done it for free, because I changed a life. As I look back now, that is what I remember the most. The memory of the money is only for story telling purposes. I helped him get back on his feet when something terrible had happened. As a 19 years old kid, $30 per hour to me then was like $200 per hour today!
In the end, my “compensation” was that he got to start over again, and I played a small part in that.
You are not going to get paid for everything that you do in your life, that is a fact. When you realize that helping others, providing value and not always expecting something in return is a great way to live your life, it will be a real game changer. It was for me!
- When have you provided value for someone, and not even realized it at the time?
- Do you have the mindset of “what is in it for me?” before deciding if you should help somebody?
- Is it time to start giving unconditionally?
The only way that you are going to get better at something is through practice. I read a quote in a hockey book once that really caught my attention:
“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect” – Vince Lombardi
Even those with raw talent have to practice regularly. Engaging others in sales and other professional roles should not be limited to work relationships. You should practice engaging others when possible.
My dad was a teacher, and is still very engaging to this day – partially because of his personality, but it was also a necessity for his career. Could you imagine being in front of a class of kids and not holding their attention? Teachers who could captivate the crowd were always the ones that remained memorable to me. This also meant that my dad and I could never quickly go to a mall because he was always running into people. Conversations would start, and time would pass by. My mom would always comment upon our return, “Where were you? I just sent you for a couple of things!”
There are so many opportunities to engage people outside of work:
- In line at a store
- At a social events with friends
- Business or community events
- Sporting events
- On a walk or a run
- Groups, associations or teams that you and/or your children are part of
I was thinking about this one day after a run, and I reflected on how many people I acknowledge in that 45 minute period. It was about twelve!
- Some greetings were a simple hello or good morning as I passed by
- With others I would make a quick comment on the weather, or about the degree of difficulty of a hill that I (or they) had just ran up
- Some were a quick stop so our dogs could greet each other
- It was common that I ask for information about their dog, and how the person’s day was going
- I even complimented one guy who was actually attempting to train his new puppy
When I engage people in this setting, most people are pleasant back. It is common for people to jog with an iPod or Mp3 player, but I will still turn mine down to say something, or at least wave. I have done this for so long it is second nature now.
If I never practiced this skill, and instead just went through the day keeping to myself, it would be unreasonable to expect that I’d be very good at it in a short time period. Skills would develop eventually, but carrying that philosophy over to your personal life just means that you have more opportunity to practice. Then before you know it, the skill improves.
This was not always easy for me; because I was quite shy growing up due to my stutter. Speaking up and meeting people was very difficult well in to my teenage years. But with practice and patience, I consider myself very engaging now, and will always take time to speak with others.
- Do you only engage new people in work situations?
- Where can you begin to converse with people starting right away in your personal life?
The most practical business skill that has come out of this for me is keeping conversations going when there is a lot of dead air. I think most of us have experienced conversations that were very one-sided, and it was a struggle to keep it going, and interesting for the other person.
Good luck, and remember to always be in “engagement mode”!
So, like – there are lots of us on earth right?
Many of us are trying to stand out from the crowd and do “out of the ordinary stuff”. Heck many of us are trying to do ordinary stuff but still get noticed.
Like delivering beer to people’s seats at a baseball game.
There is no way to stand out from the crowd doing that right?
I had the pleasure of attending a Chicago Cubs exhibition game in April of 2011, and did not realize how much of a treat I was in for from watching a beer vendor work. His coverage of our section immediately caught my attention! He was more charismatic, more outgoing, more energetic, and more fun to watch than any other beer concession worker than I had ever seen before. I caught myself watching him work more than the game itself!
But that was not even the best part. When he left our section for a bit, I followed him and we had a bit of a conversation. I was captivated by his stories of working in the industry for many years. When I left with my drinks, he gave me his “business card”. It was a laminated baseball-like card with his picture on the front working at a game. On the back it had all of his “statistics”. By statistics I mean all the venues he had worked at during his career, and events that he attended.
I still have his “business card”, and look at it from time to time to remind me what it truly means to have a well-developed personal brand.
- What do you do to stand out from the crowd?
- Where do you know that you can improve to increase your exposure?
Developing your personal brand is not a “when I feel like it” thing. It should be ongoing. Daily if possible.
Be memorable, be engaging, be caring and for goodness sake have some fun!
Quick 30 second video to kickstart your Friday!
Have a great weekend everyone!
I just got Keith Urban tickets yesterday for a January 2014 show in Edmonton! I thought it would be appropriate to share this blog post again!
Keith Urban is one of my favourite artists. I have had the extreme pleasure of seeing him play live twice. I think Alicia Keys is one of the greatest talents in the music industry today. The collaborated at Live Earth in July 2007 for a fantastic rendition of “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones.
Have a great weekend everyone!
If you are a golfer, click on this link! It will be the best 12 seconds of your day. If you are not, you will still appreciate the skill involved!
Have a great weekend everyone!
“You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky, ex National Hockey League Super Star.
My sales spin is,
“If you don’t ask, there is no chance that you will get the answer you want”.
Confidence in the sales profession is paramount to success, but does not happen over night. If you are not in sales, please keep reading. This post has merit for whatever you may be “selling” in your personal or professional life. We have all been selling and negotiating from the moment that we could speak as toddlers!
Confidence allows people opportunities in life that they may not experience if they are tentative and uncertain. When people feel good about themselves, are not afraid to ask questions and involve themselves in potentially challenging situations, they will generally like the outcomes.
Do not mistake confidence for arrogance though. I have seen both, and one is very appealing in business and personal interactions. The other… well not so much!
When you combine confidence with most (or all) of the characteristics below in sales and/or life, very cool things can happen!
- Driven to succeed
- Independent worker and thinker
How did I know if somebody would make it in sales?
I have seen a lot of outside sales reps (retail reps too) come and go during my career. It took me a few years to really get a sense of what the signs were if they would succeed. I was quite certain most of the time, after our first couple of meetings.
What typically tipped me off?
- How they carried themselves (do they have a bounce in their step?)
- Dressed neatly (not necessarily the most expensive clothes) and cared about how they looked
- Solid handshake
- Maintained good eye contact
- Engaged well in conversation
- Wanted to learn / Inquisitive
- Enthusiastic / Excitable
- Personable / Outgoing
If you take a moment to digest that list, many of those attributes can be directly related to being confident. Imagine how different that list would be if you did not feel good about yourself and your abilities?
I urge you to start networking with people who are working towards similar goals if you are not already. It has become common knowledge that you start to portray similar characteristics to the 5 people who you are the closest with. Work on feeling more confident in areas of your personal and professional life that you don’t feel as comfortable in as soon as possible.
For me, getting up in front of crowds to speak was frightening for many years due to my stutter, and now there is nothing I would rather do. It was a long road, but I am glad that I am getting closer to where I need to be thanks to a strong support group of family, friends and Toastmasters.
Confidence does not happen over night, and you cannot push a “magic button” to change how you feel about yourself and your abilities. If you don’t try, you will never know what the outcome could have been. Once you “flip the switch” to knowing you will succeed, and not being afraid to fail, you will see positive changes in your life.
I have enjoyed the work of Dean Jackson and John Reese from the internet marketing space for close to three years now. I needed a kick in the butt a couple of weeks ago, so I replayed one of my favourite audio interviews from John Reese and Tony Robbins.
Hang on… I am not going to go in to a long-winded technically explanation of internet marketing theory. Rather, I want to tell you about an incredible concept called “Super Happy Fun Days”.
John and Tony started to speak about this on the audio interview, and Tony wanted all the details. Dean Jackson created the concept, and John Reese would take part in these events when possible. They are good friends. The “rules” are as follows (to the best of my memory):
- The event was at least 9 hours long
- Two major activities had to be completed (ie a golf game and/or a movie were typically included)
- Two meals had to be consumed
- Other fun activities were completed (to fill in the extra time)
I can “hear the comments” now coming off the page as your read this. Everyone is busy, running like chicken’s with their head’s cut off. 9 hours of fun is impossible!
It is if you want it to be!
- How often could you pencil in “Super Happy Fun Days” throughout the year?
- If nine-hour blocks of time were not always possible, how much time could you commit to?
- When you look back on your life, will look fondly remember all the work that you did, or the fun, kinship and laughter that you had along the way?
Always remember, if you don’t block off time to do these activities, they won’t get done. Treat them like a business meeting in your calendar. You wouldn’t skip those right 🙂
I planned a Saturday golf game with my friends last spring. I was very excited because it was my first game of the year, and I really needed some time to unwind with the guys.
I ended up shooting one of the top 10 games of my life. I reflected that evening on why I had done so well, and there was a very simple answer. I was relaxed. I had only played two rounds of golf all winter, so my expectations were low. I just wanted to have fun, and did not think about scoring.
I started well, and kept the momentum going throughout the entire round. Typically (due to my infrequent play) I will have a great front nine, then a rough back nine, or vice versa. But this game was consistent throughout. I still had some bad shots, but was able to recover quickly.
With my golf game, relaxation and good shots breed confidence. I heard a humorous golf analogy many years ago and I often think of it when I am struggling.
- Pretend the golf club is a tube of toothpaste. What happens when you squeeze the tube of toothpaste too hard?
- Well of course too much toothpaste comes out!
- If you are squeezing the golf club too hard, inevitably you are going to make more bad shots than normal.
What happens if you have a bad day of sales calls, or perhaps a bad week or month in general? We all have confidence and feel great when things are going well; that is the easy part. The true test of character is how we respond when things don’t go our way.
Sales people and golfers need to have short memories. If you are “squeezing the tube of toothpaste” too hard on your sales calls and during the sales process, things may not go according to plan. If you feel under pressure to close more sales, you may “squeeze the entire tube of toothpaste” out on each call! You press, you are not yourself, your presentations and discussions have no flow, and you are off your game in general.
I asked my friends about their golf game that day last spring, and they said that it was not uncommon to have 10-15 stroke swings from one nine-hole round to the next. It proves that we have the ability to bounce back if we stay focused and regain confidence.
As usual, I watched the Master’s Golf tournament in April of 2011, and it was more exciting than normal. There were 7-8 golfers in the hunt until the last few holes. I am always amazed how golfers can keep outside distractions to a minimum and just focus on the next shot. Their focus is superhero-like, and they handle pressure remarkably well.
Rory Mcllroy was in first place after three rounds, the proceeded to shoot the worst final round in Master’s history. After the last round he said that he will learn from the experience and knows that he will be in the running for many more major championships down the road. His positive attitude was impressive.
To show his resilience, he came back at the next major tournament (US Open) and destroyed the competition by nearly 10 shots. That is an incredible example of putting a negative experience in the past, learning from it, and moving on quickly.
Sales and golf have many similarities which I look forward to exploring more in the future. Relaxation, confidence and a general sense that you will excel are all keys factors while “working” on the golf course and in a sales territory.
- Do you find that you are squeezing the tube of toothpaste too hard in your sales or business role?
- What factors contribute to these feelings “invading your body”, and making things more difficult in the field than they should?
If you are struggling right now, reflect back to when things were going very well, and you were full of confidence. Make some notes about those times, and do more of that!