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Is It Time To Do Some “Cleaning”?

Building on my theme from yesterday about participating in a “marathon” rather than “sprint” I thought some “cleaning” might be in order too! It was a nice reminder reading this old post today!

Our second child was due this past Monday. Every day that the baby does not arrive, allows my wife and I some extra time to do a few things around the house (even though we should be relaxing by now). Over the past few months we have:

  • cleaned the garage top to bottom
  • organized a basement crawl space in preparation for building a kids playroom
  • donated toys, clothes, and any other household items that we were not using anymore
  • And last but certainly not least, put our office back together two nights ago after 8 months of working in the dining room!

The incredible feeling of walking in to my office and finally using it again this week after a hard wood floor renovation made me smile from ear to ear. All of the other tasks that we completed have lifted a heavy weight off our shoulders as well.

It just made me think:

  • what are we all “carrying around” personally and professionally that is holding us back?
  • when is it a good time to “clear” these things out of our lives?

Perhaps today is finally the day to do something that will make you feel fantastic and help you only look forward.

Jeb Blount once said “a little bit every day” and I have stood by that motto since the day I heard it.

I’m just sayin’ 🙂

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Are You Mentally Tough Enough?

Life can be tough..

Personal life, Business “life”. Things come out of nowhere that can knock you on your butt. But you gotta get back up. You just gotta! The more resilient you become early in your life, the more success will follow.

If you develop a tough mental mindset challenges can be overcome much easier.

Remember the old 80’s song by Matthew Wilder:

“Ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride
Nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh-no
I got to keep on movin’
Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride
I’m running and I won’t touch ground
Oh-no, I got to keep on movin'”

How ’bout some Chumbawamba:

“I get knocked down but I get up again You’re never going to keep me down”

  • What songs motivate you to keep moving forward?

I will never proclaim that crushing defeats in sports are more challenging than those in personal or professional lives, but there are still lessons to be learned. In May of this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs professional hockey team blew a 3 goal lead in the third period of game 7 during the Stanley Cup playoffs. The eventually lost to the Boston Bruins in overtime.

This was one of the most catastrophic game 7 losses in professional sports history, and I hope all the players on that team are mentally tough enough to get through it, and excel at the highest level again. Having a short memory and “erasing” setbacks is crucial. Just keep looking forward.

Life can be tough. Everyone knows that. The 64,000 dollar question is can you be tougher?

I hope the answer is a resounding YES!

Lessons Learned At Front Doors “Down Under”

I must admit something. “Hot Calling” is not a new and improved way to cold call. I took a door-to-door sales role in the summer heat of Australia on a backpacking trip in 1998. I called it “Hot Calling” in my head to make it sound more appealing! Everyone I told about this job after the fact thought I was crazy, but I explained to each of them how enjoyable the experience ended up being.

I needed some extra money when I was traveling the South Pacific. I ended up getting a job with a company promoting children’s encyclopedia programs. I did not realize the amount of door knocking and setting up of appointments that I would be required to do. My job was to secure follow-up visits with families, then more experienced sales reps would come back later and try to close the sale on a complete set of books. Yes, Google was still very new at the time!

A fellow backpacker told me the day before I was to start the job that they had a horrible experience performing this role, and I should quit immediately. I ended up giving it a shot anyways. I was planning on making new friends and having a great time. I went in with a positive attitude, and hoped for the best.

I trained at head office in Sydney and soon realized that I was in for an interesting journey! Thoughts of my stutter were front of mind, due to the nature of the role. What better situation to get nervous in then when somebody opened their door, and I had about 10 seconds to convince them that they should invite me in. I sucked it up, and continued with the training.

The managers made a point of having us role play door-to-door scenarios every day before we went in to the field.  Initially I thought it was a waste of time, and I was disappointed that it took me away from the pool. It was our warm-up period, and would typically be done in the mid afternoon. We would walk the neighbourhoods later in the day when it “cooled off”.

The most important lesson I learned from this experience was how to handle rejection; and there was a lot of it! I had to be quick on my feet, handle their objections swiftly, with the goal of being invited in for a conversation. It was a positive step for them to open their door, but an entirely different challenge of getting them to commit to a future presentation.

Other skills like persistence, keeping positive and being enthusiastic were pivotal too. Each door was a new one, so I always put the previous one out of my mind quickly. A sale could be waiting for me at the next house, and I always had to be at my best.

Another key attribute that I worked on was focus. It was difficult to stay focused when it was still 30 degrees Celsius or warmer when I was working, but I made it through. I would often ask people for water, run through sprinklers, and wear a large cricket hat to protect me from the sun. In 6 weeks on the job, only one person would not give me a glass of water when I asked!

The team lived just like a big family. On a weekly basis, we all had specific chores to fulfill like cleaning the pool, buying groceries, and cooking for the team. Whatever needed to be done, we all pitched in to get keep the house and our “adopted family” running. You can bet that we let team members know when they slacked off from their responsibilities.

As I look back now, the daily role play for warm up was the key to success. It was like athletes preparing for a game. They need to warm up to get physically and mentally ready.  As I practiced regularly, and knocked on more doors, I became more comfortable by the day. As time passed, my stutter was less of a consideration as I spoke to people during the pressure packed opening greeting.

The management team did a wonderful job motivating a group of young adults from around the world to do a less than glamorous job.  We learned how to do one of the most difficult sales roles by staying positive,  plugging away, and most importantly co-existing with team members that were strangers when we moved in together.

To this day, every time somebody says, “You did what?” when I describe the job, I am more than happy to share the story of my “Hot Calling” experience “Down Under”.

  • Have you ever door knocked during your sales career?
  • If not, have you have cold called face-to-face or on the phone?
  • What did you learn from the experience as you reflect back now?

The Five Star 5 – Your Life Can Change In A Split Second!

I was thinking about the Canadian Olympic sprinters the other day, and hoped that they were doing well. Here is a post from last August that really meant something to me. Life can change at a moment’s notice. Are you able to handle the ups and downs?

I love sports, always have, always will. Sometimes I get too emotionally involved in the outcomes. One of those times occurred last Saturday when Canada participated in the 4X100 meter men’s relay final at the London Olympics. I had not heard of one Canadian sprinter since Donovan Bailey and company won gold in the relay 16 years ago in Atlanta! But I heard these guys were young, confident and ready to make some noise behind the Americans and Jamaicans.

The Jamaicans killed it again led by Usain Bolt, and the US finished second. But on an incredible last 100 meters, the anchor sprinter for Canada moved up from 5th place to 3rd, and they finished with a bronze medal. OR SO THEY THOUGHT.

Shivers ran over all over my body as I watched the boys celebrate with true elation on the track. Memories rushed back to me off the great wins Canada had in the past on the track. But in a cruel twist of fate only minutes later, they looked up at the scoreboard to see that they were disqualified. One of the runners had stepped on his inside lane line which is illegal. Those smiled quickly turned to tears, and the same people that they had been celebrating with on the sidelines only minutes before, were now consoling them. Shame on the officials for posting them in the bronze position before all the video was reviewed.

Life can change for you at a moment’s notice (literally) and you have to be ready for anything. In this case, unfortunately for our incredible track athletes, it was a game of less than inches. The outpouring of support for the guys and their coach from Canada has been incredible. When they start competing again they WILL be on the podium, and I fully expect them to get a medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Here is a link to a newspaper article on their story:

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/08/11/canadian-4×100-team-disqualified-following-third-place-finish

5 things that I learned from this experience:

  1. You can be incredibly close to massive success and still have it ripped away from you. How you respond is the key.
  2. You win as a team, and you lose as a team. Support each other unconditionally.
  3. Never discount the benefits that come from an experience, no matter how negative it is perceived at the time.
  4. As much as it hurts, the sting always goes away.
  5. Keep smiling, have fun doing what you love, believe in yourself, and visualize the massive success that you will achieve in the future

“I’m The King Of The World” or….

“It’s The End Of The World”?

This is a post that was originally written and published about this time last year. I thought this would be a good time to bring it to everyone’s attention again. Hope you like it!

With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic this past Sunday, I thought it was time to turn some old notes in to a post!

I might be the only person in the world who has not seen the Titanic movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  But I do know that Leo screamed, “I’m the King of the world” in a pivotal scene. That phrase inspired this post.

I had a funny thought one day and combined “I’m the king of the world” with “It’s the end of the world” as a way to remember to keep emotions in check when performing a sales role.

Keeping control of emotions has been integral to my success in recent years. I have always tried not to get too high, or too low whatever the situation has been. Of course, I still get excited when I succeed, and disappointed when I fail. But I try to “limit my rides” on the roller coaster of emotions.

I am not saying don’t get excited when great things happen, or upset when things don’t go your way. I focus on minimizing the peaks and valleys. Once I accomplished this, I did not feel as emotionally exhausted at the end of each day.

About three years in to my tenure with one organization, the bottom fell out. I had a drastic drop in sales with a key account, and the reason for the decline was out of my control. It really did feel like “it was the end of the world”. I was miserable for what felt like weeks, but realistically was only days.

I had a brief meeting with my boss during my “pity party”, and agreed that there was nothing that could be done about what had transpired. We decided to focus on growing the business through other channels. Remarkably when the dust settled by year’s end, my numbers had increased year over year! I refocused after the setback occurred, tweaked my goals and ended up having a record year for the territory.

Emotion is great, and those who know me well are aware that I have always worn my heart on my sleeve (just ask anyone who has played hockey against me). You are only as good as your next sale, so keep moving forward. A loss or setback is like a bad shot in golf, tennis, or a goalie allowing a bad goal. Forget about it and move on quickly, learn from it, and stay focused.

With respect to wins, don’t get overconfident. Things can change quickly in sales. Keep focusing on securing more wins and building on past successes. It is just important to realize that if you “ride the roller coaster of emotions” too often, you are going to get off feeling very very dizzy!

A great message this morning about never giving up! Have a great day…

The Name That Tune “Beat Down” – A Lesson In Learning!

When you love something, you typically don’t have to learn it. It is almost as if you absorb the information, without having to bear down, understand and memorize the content. For those of you who have followed me for a while, you will know that I am a music fanatic. I have always done well playing “name that tune” at pubs, or with my wife making selections on our iPod during long road trips.

But my biggest victory occurred on a 3 hour car ride with three colleagues. They challenged me to a game and even used their own iPod. They were younger than me, and quite confident that they would beat “the old guy”. Long story short, it was not even close. I answered 90+% of the songs correctly (many after only hearing 2-3 second clips). They were flabbergasted, and I could not wipe the smile off my face. I have loved music since I was ten years old. They never had a chance.

With several of my sales roles, I loved what I sold. There was never really any learning involved. The knowledge “just appeared” over time, and I was having fun doing something I loved.

This is how I am today with hockey, golf, music and internet marketing. I do not have to memorize anything. The information just stays with me.

Think of how difficult it is to learn something when you do not like it, or are just not interested in it:

  • A course at school
  • Training for products, services or concepts at work
  • Music lessons as a kid

It did not go very well, did it?

If the negative feelings you have towards learning something are worse than getting your teeth pulled, how effective are you ever going to be at understanding the information? You may be able to learn it over time and perform a required role, but it will not have meaning to you. It will just be something that you have to do.

From an early age, my son fell in love with hockey. That was a “side affect” of having me as a dad. We watched it on TV, played in the basement, on the driveway and at the rink. He also took skating lessons and started to play on a team last year. Did I mention that he watched his first professional NHL game at one hour and fifty minutes old on the 7 inch TV screen in the hospital?

By the time that he was four years old, he could name any of 15 NHL players by me only giving him a number and team name as hints. We never had “memorization sessions”. He just immersed himself in the sport, and his knowledge of one of the greatest games on earth is coming to him as naturally as it did for his father.

The motivation for this post came from the courses that I did not like in school and struggled just to get passing grades in, and the jobs that I have had in the past where I did not like what I was selling.

  • Do you love the products and/or services that you sell  every day?
  • If not, should you be getting involved with something that you really love to do?
  • If you have been “festering in unhappiness” for months, years or decades, is it time to “hit reset”?

If you are sitting on the fence, maybe today is the day to take a leap of faith!