Category: Success

20 Sep 2012

Adding value to others – the bridge to relationship building success!

I handle national sales for my web based energy company, Automated Energy, Inc.  I love my job because it takes me all over the United States and puts me in front of great people in all corners of our great country.

Sales, like most disciplines in life, require the ability to build relationships based on trust and value.  The hardest part about developing relationships in this day and age is competing with all the distractions that consume a new prospect, client, or friend.

I recently got a shot at a big prospect in Texas that showed interest in switching over to our service and leaving one of our competitors.  This was huge for our company, in so many ways.  Texas is a wide open market for us and would add a lot of credibility to our company if we could land this account and take it out from under one of our major competitors.

My problem was that my contact would not return my phone calls or e-mails.  We agreed many weeks earlier that I would fly out there and meet with the staff and finalize the deal.  Our tentative scheduled meeting was less than a week away and I could not get my prospect to get back with me to confirm the meeting.

I had to think of something and I had to do it fast, as I was feeling this opportunity was quickly slipping away.  This prospect was busy and had many things going on, so I had to figure out a way to stand out and make sure that my company moved to the top of her “to do” list.

 

I remembered in an earlier conversation that my prospect noted that she had an affinity for Estes Park, Colorado.  Her family vacations there every year and she dreams of moving there sometime in the future.  She absolutely adores her trips to Estes Park and always brings home an ornament for her Christmas tree from Estes Park to commemorate the family vacation.

I used to work in Loveland, Colorado, which is 22 miles from Estes Park.  I called an old colleague and asked him to swing by Estes and pick up some goodies for me, including a special ornament and then overnight the goodies to my prospect in Texas.

Two days later, my prospect wrote me an e-mail totally ecstatic about her Estes Park package she found sitting at her office desk when she returned from a long, hard day of work out in her field of operations.  After thanking me for the surprise, she confirmed our meeting and asked if I was available for a conference call to finalize the details of our project!

I achieved five things by sending my prospect the Estes Park goodies:

  1.  I added a touch of fun to her otherwise ho-hum day at the office.
  2. I showed her that I valued her and I listened and remembered that Estes Park was special to her.
  3. I gave her a glimpse on how I will serve her in the future once she becomes one of my valued customers.
  4. I separated myself from all of her distractions and vaulted our pending project to the top of her list.
  5. I provided a moment of happiness for another human being, which made me feel good as well!

The important point you must take from this is that, the number one goal in all of your interactions with people is to find ways to add value to them and to not expect ANYTHING in return.  I would have been disappointed if I failed to get the follow-up appointment, but that should not be my only goal.  I would have made a friend in the process and that is just as important as making a customer!

If you go through life adding value and serving others, you will always be a success.  It’s the little things in life that bridge the gap to success.

So here is the question of the day – What have you done today to add value to someone in your life?

11 Sep 2012

It Get’s Easier…TRUST Me! Running Life Lesson #2

Whenever I begin a new season of running, the first training run is my hardest.  My legs scream and whine at me as I try to take my first steps.  My heart rate shoots through the roof and pounds in my chest within minutes of taking my first stride.  My ankles hurt, my knees hurt, my lower back aches and my mouth becomes instantly dry.

 

My pace is typically very slow.  I just focus on each stride and try to concentrate on my form.  Eventually, my body begins to warm up and I get into a familiar groove and work through a 4-5 mile easy run at about an 8:30/mile pace.  When I finish, I am breathing a little heavy and sweating profusely.  It feels good to finish and get that first run under my belt, but it’s also a little disconcerting.

I wonder if I have lost my running ability.  Is it over for me?  Could I ever get back in decent shape?  I suck it up the next few runs and force myself to get out there and get some mileage in over the next few weeks.  Inevitably, I begin to feel much better during my runs.  I begin to get my breathing under control and I can start to enjoy the light wind in my face as the trees on the trail zoom by me.  I feel free and fit during my runs and can feel the strength building in my body and soul.  The best experience is when I get in top shape, in the middle of my season, and get that “second wind” feeling.  This occurs in a point in my conditioning when my body develops the ability to recover during a run.  It is like I am getting a fresh start in the middle of my workout and it feels glorious!

Towards the end of my season, when I am in great shape and at a high level of fitness, I laugh at my early runs a few months back and how I felt sluggish and doubted myself.  Here is what I have learned after many shaky starts to a running season:

  1. Almost everything is hard in the beginning.
  2. Almost everything gets better over time, if you just refuse to quit!
  3. The human body has an extraordinary ability to adapt to whatever is continuously programmed into it.
  4. Pain is a part of the human experience, but the mind has the unique ability to overcome it, through training.

I challenge you to get started with that project you have been putting off.  Yes it will be hard in the beginning, but trust me it gets much easier through perseverance.  Don’t live a life full of regret.  Put on your “running shoes” and take that first step towards the rest of your life!

31 Jul 2012

The Networkers’s Reading List

Successful people are readers.  When you get into a reading habit you grow personally and professionally.  I would begin reading the following books if you are serious about becoming a Networking Maven:

1.  Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton.  This book is designed to teach you how to discover your natural talents.  Read the first three chapters then take the personality test, which will give you insight on your natural strengths.  Mr. Buckingham does a great job explaining how your brain works and how your strengths are developed, then challenges you to spend the rest of your life working and developing those strengths.  To build a strong network, you must do it by leveraging your strengths and natural talents. This book is your beginning to a new level in your life.

2.  Getting Things Done by David Allen.  You must be organized if you plan to make networking a regular habit and to be successful at it.  David focuses on the power of making lists and working those lists in the right context.  This book is a game changer if you want to be effective in your life and at expanding your network.  There is no better book out there, in my opinion, that helps you make some basic changes to get your life on track.  He rolls out an awesome three day cleansing program and then provides you with an outstanding system to help you hit the “reset button” and to manage your life in a much more effective way.  Doesn’t that sound good?

3.  Today Matters by John Maxwell.  John is one of my favorite authors and I believe this is the best book out of the 73 books he has authored to date.  If the Getting Things Done book is the how, this book by John Maxwell, is the why.  John artfully lays out why your actions TODAY are the most important of your life and why it is critical to make quality decisions in your life and then how to manage those decisions on a daily basis, so you can achieve unparalleled success in your life.  A networker has to be organized and focused, on a daily basis.  This book helps you with that focus.

4.  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  This is a classic, but relevant book on how to properly relate with people.  If your goal is to build the best network you can, then you have to relatable.  This book teaches you how to be relatable.  It is a must read for anyone that plans to make networking a part of their daily habit and with aspirations to take it to the top level.  In fact, if you plan to be a success in life, you must learn to play well with others.  Get this great book and start learning how to win in life.

5.  Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.  This is the networkers playbook.  Keith teaches you how to build a lifelong community of colleagues, contacts, friends, and mentors.  He teaches how to build great success one relationship at a time.  I read this book six years ago and is the primary reason I made a decision and commitment to purposefully build a strong network.  I am so grateful for this book and use it as a continual reference, so will you.

Make it a habit to read at least 15 minutes a day.  Read from the book list, mark them up with notes and highlights, even think about recording yourself reading some of your favorite chapters and listen to the chapters while on the road.  That’s right, create your own book on tape and take your life to a new level.  The bottom line, make reading a habit, and start today!

30 Jul 2012

Leverage the Power of Your Network..

Your network defines your life, it defines your potential, it defines your ceiling in life and is your vehicle to success.  The late Stephen Covey, best selling author of the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, said it best when he stated that we live in an interdependent world.  John Maxwell, best selling author of over 73 published books, noted, “No person has accomplished anything of significance without the help of others.”  In fact, John, also jokes, “If you see a turtle sitting on top of a fence post, you know he did not get there on his own!”

I recently had the pleasure to experience my parents 50 year wedding anniversary.  It was a time of great reflection for my family and it was inspiring for me to be a part of such a wonderful celebration.  My parents are retired, debt free, have cash flow, money in the bank, own two beautiful homes (one on a lake in Southern Indiana and the other in Florida), and drive two beautiful high-end cars.  They spend the summer months in Indiana and the winter months in Florida.  They enjoy an unbelievable and satisfying life.  Most would say they have lived the “American Dream” and are enjoying their golden years like all of us would hope to replicate someday.  How did they get here?  They both built an unbelievable network and did it by ADDING VALUE TO EVERYONE.

What is networking?  It is the cultivation of productive relationships.  Cultivation is the act of planting, tending, improving, and harvesting high quality relationships.  When people ask me “What do you do?”  I often respond, “I am a farmer of highly productive relationships.” I define productive relationships as more to what they are not, which is simply NOT hanging out with or relating with JACK ASSES.  How do I define a jack ass?  Anyone that makes you feel worse after you have interacted with them.  I am selective with whom I keep company and so should you.

I can get a good sense of where you will be in your life over the next three to five years based on two fundamental principles, 1.  The books you read, and 2. The people you hang out with, your network.  Successful people are readers.  Anyone that yearns to reach a new level in their life, must develop a regular reading habit and read material that will elevate and encourage them.  Check out my list of books that every aspiring networker should read under the “Networking” tab of this website.  The first book I recommend you read is Now Discover You Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.  This book will help you discover your strengths and how to harness your strengths to your benefit.  Discovering your natural strengths is the foundation for every successful networker, so read this book first as you work to broaden your relationships.

You are who you hang out with and you attract who you are.  Take stock of your life.  Think about where you are now and where you thought you would be by this point in your life.  Are you happy with what you have become so far?  Do you want to improve your situation and do you want to expand your possibilities?  When assessing your life, look no further than your core group of friends and associates within your network.  I had it all when I graduated from Anderson High School in Anderson, Indiana.  I was the Senior Class President, I was the Captain of the Cross-Country and Track teams, I had a great girlfriend, drove a hot sports car and had a bright future.  I was very happy with my life to that point, but I knew I needed to explore a new level and needed to expand my horizons.  I chose to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York with the sole purpose of expanding my ambitions and to pursue excellence.  The life principles and the unbelievable relationships I developed while at West Point was life changing and one the best decisions I ever made in my life.  Want to make changes in your life?  Find your West Point and expand your horizons.

In order to have a strong and productive network, you must understand the laws of attraction.  First you must learn to encourage people.  The world belongs to the encourager, why? Because we live in a negative and critical world.  Most lives are filled with negative input and excuses of why something cannot be done or why they cannot succeed.  To feel encouraged is a gift that you can give people in your network that will elevate them.  When you give encouragement, you will receive encouragement and you will find that over time you will  develop extremely positive relationships, because you chose to be an encourager.

The second law of attraction is to control your emotions.  Life is a roller coaster and everyday is fluid with “ups” and “downs”, but that does not mean that you have to emotionally respond to every conflict that life throws at you.  People should never have to “walk on egg shells” around you.  If you are predictable in your emotions, then people will be more at ease with you and will open up.  Predictability builds trust and TRUST IS THE FOUNDATION OF A STRONG NETWORK.

The third law of attraction is to add value to people.  When you add value to someone, no matter how small, you become a valuable resources to that person and he or she will likely return the favor when you are in need.  But, always remember to add value without expecting anything in return.  Helping others should be a foundational human principle and it will provide you with a more fulfilling life experience.

To be an effective networker you must develop a personal brand.  This is how you will be perceived by the world.  It is the one word people will use to describe you.  It is your moniker your symbol or how you market yourself to the world.  My brand is “WOW!”.  I strive to provide a “wow!” experience to people when I interact with them.  I want to exceed a person’s expectations when I serve them.  I want people to remember me long after I interacted with them because I “wowed” them.  I’m a “wow!” person, Steve Jobs was known as an “innovator”, Lance Armstrong is known as being “invincible”.  What do you want to be known for?

So what is your brand?  Everyone has a brand whether it is purposefully developed or the world develops it for you.  You must take control of your brand, discover what it is, and then develop and market it to your network.  You start to develop your brand by doing the following:

First, Discover your strengths.  Read the first three chapters of Now Discover Your Strengths and take the personality test and you will be on your way. Next ask three basic questions.  What excites you? What are you passionate about or what do you believe in? Finally, how do you want people to talk about you?  Answer these questions and you will begin to discover your brand.

Once you begin to develop your brand I recommend you take action and stat doing the following action steps to begin to grow and expand your network:

1.  Get into a reading habit.  Begin by reading from my suggested networking reading list.  You can find the list posted on this site titled, The Networkers Reading List.  Also, I suggest you get a Twitter account.  Once you are on Twitter follow Jeffrey Gitomer, King of Sales; Keith Ferrazzi, master networker; Harvey Mackay, master businessman; and ME!  You will find that Twitter has a wealth of information to include articles and white papers on topics of interest.  Print out these articles and take them with you on trips and read them when time permits.  Get into this habit and your mind will expand to the possibilities of your true and untapped potential.

2.  Become an encourager.  Pick three people a day to encourage.  Do this by making a phone call, writing a hand written note, or sending a thoughtful e-mail (by the way, if you want to provide more creative e-mails,  I recommend you go to www.aceofsales.com and learn more about crafting better e-mails).  How do you encourage someone?  Tell them anything that you appreciate about them.  Maybe a colleague arrived early to meeting with you and was prepared for the meeting.  Write that person a note of appreciation.  It is that simple and will make that person’s day.  What do you think his attitude will be towards you the next time you meet?

3.  Get organized.  It takes effort and determination to build a network properly.  Most people are busy, but not effective.  Most are not effective because they lack basic organization and prioritization skills.  Start by reading David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.  You can also check out my article titled Want to be EFFECTIVE in your life? in the “Effectiveness” tab of my website.

4. Add value to someone, daily.  You add value through your strengths.  If you are an excellent editor, then offer to edit a colleague’s article next time they plan to publish some content.  If you have a friend whose wife is out of town on business for the week, then invite him over to have dinner with your family.  Be mindful of your brand when you add value.  In this example, I would invite my friend over for dinner and make sure that my wife makes his favorite dessert.  That is a “wow!” moment and stays true to my brand. Be creative, but look for ways to fill the gap in someone’s life and watch your network strengthen and grow!

5.  Write!  Get social media accounts with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and WordPress and begin writing daily.  Spend 15 minutes a day writing based on your strengths and brand.  Writing is magical in that it helps shape and organize your thoughts.  Writing expands your mind and helps you become much more creative in life.  Don’t waste time and start this habit immediately.

How much time should you ultimately spend on networking?  As long as it takes to add value to THREE PEOPLE DAILY.  That is the bottom line as you strive to properly build your network.  Remember my parents are living the life you want because they spent a lifetime ADDING VALUE TO EVERYONE.  So start today by adding value to three people and do it again tomorrow and the next day and keep doing that on a consistent basis and your network and success will grow beyond belief.  Try it!  You won’t regret it and you will feel good about helping people along the way!

28 Jul 2012

Want to be EFFECTIVE in your life?

Do you ever get the feeling that you are just not measuring up?  Do you feel behind in your work, all the time?  Do you look at the mess on your desk and wonder where to even begin?  I know the feeling and I know it too well!

I spent years trying to be the most efficient person I could be.  I studied every efficiency book on the market and tried so many tools.  I tried to stay in “Quadrant II” and carried my paper planner with me everywhere.  I was faithful and diligent in keeping up with my master task lists and moving uncompleted tasks to a later date, with guilt I might add, and continued to drudge along in a task driven HELL!

I enjoy New Years Eve and look forward to this time every year for reflection on the past year and to ponder my future and how I wish to improve.  A few years ago, when I was still living in Colorado, I spent a wonderful New Years weekend at my wife’s family home in Castle Rock.  It was beautiful, but exceptionally cold one night.  I was lounging on a huge and comfortable couch in the living room with a roaring fire in the fireplace and enjoying a nice evening watching a “Twilight Zone” marathon on the SyFy Channel.  I was thinking about my first year in my new job as the Sales Manager for Automated Energy, Inc and how I could improve on what I started in my second year with the company.

Automated Energy is a small company and does not have administrative assistants to help with day to day tasks like travel planning, work expense reports and other busy work that would fill my task list.  I would get bogged down in that stuff and was trying to think of ways I could be more productive and more efficient at my work so I could spend more time making sales calls, but even that was bothering me.  I had a lot of prospects and customers to contact and follow-up with, but I was struggling with which contact I should follow-up with and when was the best time to do it.  I needed to figure out a better system than I was using so far.

I began browsing through the Blackberry Apps Store on my Blackberry phone under the productivity category.  I noticed an application that I had never seen before, ToDoMatrix by REXwireless software, and I was immediately intrigued.  What hooked me into the application was its unique selling proposition, “Exceptional task management using the one item you have with you all the time, your phone.”  I had to investigate this application, since I was getting tired of tugging my paper planner with me all the time.  I liked the software program, a concept built around list making and having a list for everything in your life and giving me the chance to manage and work on each list when the time was appropriate.

I noticed, while reading the wonderful information on the ToDoMatrix website and getting excited along the way, that the program was built around a concept taught in David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done”.  The ToDoMatrix site recommended that I read the book first, then use their application to execute what Mr. Allen teaches in his book.

I could not wait until the next morning.  I immediately drove down to the Castle Rock Outlet Mall and purchased David Allen’s book and read the book the entire weekend at my in-laws house.  My family was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with me, since I only left my bedroom for meals and to use the bathroom!  I was okay though, in fact I was more than okay, I was fantastic.  I discovered what I was looking for!  I found a guide on how to be more effective in my life in the book “Getting Things Done” and had access to a tool in the ToDoMatrix that was a game changer for me.

I wasted no time in loading the ToDoMatrix in my Blackberry, tossing my paper planner in the trash and shifting to a more effective system for managing my life and increasing my productivity in all facets of my life.  What were my results?  How about a 78% increase in sales and contracts in the next year!

Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself!  If you are still reading, then you were like me and you are yearning to be more effective.  If you have a desire to become more productive and you own a smart phone, then do the following:

1.  Read David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done;

2. Download the ToDoMatrix application into your phone and get started immediately.

I have no affiliation with David Allen or the REXwirless folks, I just like their stuff.  So what are you waiting for?  Get moving, oh and you can thank me later!