Pinnacleceo's Take

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Archive for the category “business relationships”

A Lesson on Performance From a Little League Right Fielder

I have written many sports analogies over the years, especially ones dealing with coaching kids.  You will never convince me that there are not valuable life-long lessons from these experiences.

Baseball season is once again upon us so a few days ago, I drove past my old “field of dreams” Little League ballpark to reminisce. Staring out into the outfield I was reminded of a powerful lesson I learned on how to gain consistent maximum performance from a seven year old playing a most unpopular position.

First, let’s be real. When it comes to seven year olds, getting much focus other than the end of the game cookie at any position is pretty difficult, even more so for those delegated to the outfield.  During the early years, very few balls make it out of the infield, BUT those playing in the infield are involved  because they get to field, throw and catch the ball so naturally it is easier for them stay engaged.

Outfielders however have a different view of the game.  Many of them see the game through clumps of dirt or rocks or even a bug or two.  They quite often dance to their own tune and on occasion, some just head into the dugout during the middle of an inning.  The reason as stated above is simple, not much happening for them.

As a result of this reality, many times kids in the outfield decide this is not fun and soon determine they don’t want to play anymore.  They don’t get excited about the games and they especially don’t like going to practice. Which brings me to the first lesson learned…if a player on your team is not having fun, whose fault is that?  If you said the coach, you are correct!!!

One particular game on a very hot July Saturday afternoon, our machine-pitch team’s right fielder was having one of those days as described above.  Nothing was happening in right field and he spent a lot of his time getting his uniform dirty playing in the dirt.  After a few “Will, get up buddy, here we go” pleas from me, he gave in and got in ready position again. Thankfully our time in the field ended quickly that inning and we came off the field and got ready to bat.

The kids who were about to step up to home plate dashed off the field and quickly put their hitting gloves on and grabbed their high dollar bats.  Will however, was down the list in the lineup and when coupled with a very hot, boring inning of zero activity, he slumped and slowly headed to the dugout.

As Will approached me, I had a defining moment with him that I will never forget.  I saw the disappointment in his eyes and I took it personally. (Not to get of track here, but how about you?  When you see your fellow co-worker or team mate hurting, does it bother you…Do you even notice!!!!)

Okay back to the story. I put my hand on his shoulder and I dropped down to one knee and looked him right in the eye.  “Will” I said, “I have never told you this but on draft night before the season started and we were picking the players we wanted to be on our team, your name came up and I could not wait to pick you to be our right fielder. I could not think of anyone I would want more than you, so when your name was called I said…The Aztecs choose Will, and I am so glad you are on our team…give me five!”

Both Will and my world changed.  His countenance changed immediately!  His eyes lit up and a huge smile covered his face.  He gave me a BIG high five and ran into the dugout.  I have to admit, this brought a tear to my eye…it does to this day!

The following game, as the players and their parents were arriving for pre-game warmup, Will was the first one there.  His dad came up to me and said’ “Coach, I don’t know what you said to Will but he could not wait to get here. “He’s been looking forward to this game all week!”

I’m going to get off track again… BOOM! That’s what everything we do should be about. I can’t tell you how that made me feel.  As a coach as a human, to me, that’s our purpose! Okay, now the conclusion.

I thanked Will’s father for his comments and headed to the dugout.  Will was the first to meet me. “Right field today coach?” “You’re the best right fielder I know buddy”, I said and off he went.

From that day on, Will’s outlook and performance changed. He was more attentive in the field, he liked coming to practice.  Why?  Did he start seeing more activity in right field?  Did he move up in the batting lineup? No.

Here is the lesson.  Just like Will, we will perform at our best when we are recognized and valued for what we do. We just want to!  I believe at the moment I told Will how proud I was that he was on our team, he could have moved a mountain!

I coached youth sports for years and we never had the strongest, fastest most talented athletes yet we won more championships than anyone else during our time.  My study if filled with championship memories.

The reason for this success is clear…kids WANTED to be on our team and they WANTED to play their best for us!  Why?  Because we never let a time go by that we did not tell every player how valuable they were to us.  We would always say that the most important hitter on the team was the one at the plate. We did not let batting order be a distraction.  Every at bat was equally valuable! We believed that effort and attitude would always trump mere talent alone.  I still believe that today!

I think the lesson here is clear.  It is for me.  I to this day, do everything in my power to sincerely acknowledge a colleague, co-worker or client and express my appreciation for their influence and impact on the success of my livelihood.  I do the same for my family and friends too.

So stay alert.  Keep your eyes open and the next time you see someone who feels like a Little League right fielder, hand them their glove, look them in the eye and tell them how proud you are to know them and be on their team! It will impact your both exponentially.

Four Ways to Avoiding A Business Blindspot

At any given moment, while behind the wheel of your vehicle, you can encounter an event that leaves you with the feeling of complete helplessness.  It is the moment when someone enters the void where you simply can’t see them in your path and unless drastic measures are taken, something could go very wrong.  It is your blind spot.

I try to be a safe driver… seriously I do, but the other day, I was driving back from a meeting on what seemed a fairly empty three lane highway in the town where I live.  I am in the middle lane and I need to move over into the right lane to get on the loop and head to my office. I checked my mirror, no one behind me. I assumed (more about this later), all was clear.  I put on my blinker and proceeded to venture into the right lane when…

BEEP! Out of nowhere a motorcycle begins to swerve into the other lane.  Obviously he was in the lane I was moving into and I never saw it coming.  The driver of the two-wheeler proceeded to remind me of what I had done with a few hand signs and we both moved on much more shaken up than just a few shorts seconds ago.

How many times while driving or while working, do you say to yourself “I never saw it coming” and how often when this occurs does it seem to happen with just a moment’s notice?

The consequences of a blind spot in our business activity can be devastating as well. So here are a few tips on how to avoid them.

Know your market. It is important to know who you are marketing to, what they want, how they want it and also where they get it. Look for changes in perception and adjust accordingly. Also, it is equally important to know that your market is not just your customers it is your competitors too.  It is a great idea to know what they are up to, too…

Be alert. Look both ways.  I believe we can avoid many unfavorable situations if we are paying attention on purpose and look at every angle possible.  Several years ago I developed a software program that I believed to be a great product for senior citizens. This product was developed in the early stages of the Internet.

At that time, a younger more technically savvy market would have no problem logging on the Internet and downloading the software, but, the senior citizens did not share the same confidence. Our research told us this.

We determined that in order for seniors to feel confident, we would offer the software in a CD format.  While it did the same thing as a download, it felt more safe, it was something tangible to them (which we also learned was important then and still is today), and therefore more attractive to our market.

As I look back on those early years, had we just said we don’t care, the Internet is the only way to go and tried to convince them we were right, I fear we would not have been successful at all.  You see we knew are market and alertly paid attention to their needs and wants.

Take a proactive approach. I know this sounds simple but here is the point, don’t let someone or something sneak up on your blind spot.  Don’t get caught off guard. Always take the approach to perform and promote rather than respond and repair.

A great example of a proactive approach is to let customers know what to expect from doing business with you.  It is always beneficial to lay everything out on the table at the beginning, no surprises, than be forced into damage control unnecessarily later on.

Finally assume nothing. Take nothing for granted.  I knew a business owner years ago who was “the only game in town”. He assumed he had no worries, no competitors across the street so why do anything different.  This worked until what he offered could easily be purchased anytime, anywhere on that little box called a computer and using that little thing I referred to earlier; the Internet.   Never assume anything when it comes to your livelihood…can’t be more clear than that.

There you have it, four helpful tips to avoid your business blind spot. In closing I know there are times that you cannot avoid every unforeseen pitfall, But, if you ever experience one, just once, and you get the feeling of complete helplessness along with thoughts of what things might look like had the disaster actually happened, just like me when I almost hit that motorcyclist, you too will do everything within your power to never be put in that situation again. I know that is a feeling we all agree on avoiding!

Three Sticky Resolutions to Lead and Live By

Resolution: A resolve or determination. to make a firm commitment to do something;the mental state of being resolved;firmness of purpose.

At the start of every year, my fitness club is filled with New Year’s resolutions.  So much so, that at times, it is too crowded to get a workout in, and I have to come back..and I do go back!.  But now it is March and what was once a blur of effort has once again become status quo and the only people I see now are the same people that I haves shared stair masters, treadmills and weights with for the past five years.  These are those that stick.

Now I know these others mean well at the beginning, but what happens between the first of January and the first of March that creates this occurrence year after year?  Here are a few thoughts.

First, some people just can’t find the time or won’t make the time to keep coming.  It becomes too difficult to get in the car, let alone spend time exercising. Some stop because they don’t see the results they want quickly enough and give up (I can relate a little).

 Others need someone to encourage them and when their workout buddy quits, it is an open door for their exit too.  Finally some just don’t know what to do. They simply don’t know what needs to be done to sustain results and keep going. Regardless of the reason, these well-intended resolutions just don’t STICK!

As I was thinking about this it reminded me that I need resolve in business and my personal life. I too, have been guilty many a year of setting my sites on something and have fallen short. I have aimed high and missed. But regardless of my failures, I have found three resolutions that simply stick, no matter what.  They have never led me astray or disappointed me. They were the driving force to every success I have experienced and I believe they will lead me to the greatest experience I have yet to encounter.  Here are three sticky resolutions to live and lead by. 

Sticky Resolution 1: ethic of work-be a cultivator. I have a great friend who tells the story of spending many an hour after school as a young man behind the wheel of a tractor. While others were out doing more fun things, he was cultivating the land to prepare for planting. This taught him a valuable lesson that he attributes to the success of his thriving law practice.  I believe it to. I have experienced many times doing “unfun” things that needed to be done in order to get a small business off the ground.  Cultivating is hard work. It requires sacrifice AND, not everyone is willing to do it. In order to reap from any venture, we have to first spend some time behind our own tractor. You know what I mean.

Sticky Resolution 2: Put people first. There is no other commodity on this earth more precious and valuable than being surrounded by good people.  It reminds me of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” when at the end, all the townspeople pitched in to help poor ole’ George Bailey who in reality, was the richest man in town!

Whether a friend, client, co-worker or employee or hey! A member of your family, surround yourself with good people and if you take care of them, they will help take care of everything else.   I don’t have enough paper to share my positive experiences by sticking to this resolution…  I can’t say this with more conviction than that. 

Sticky Resolution 3: Do the right thing everytime. Please, I know this may sound trite but I am sure all of us can reflect back on cross road decisions and the impact felt to this very day on choices made…both good and bad.

I had a client who had an investment mature and we needed to find the best, safest and highest yielding product we could find.  She lived on the income. The investment was a large amount and I was expecting to find a good renewal rate for her, and gain another commission for me.

After much research the best product for her, was an account that paid me nothing.  Here is the deal. My client trusted me and if I had chosen to do so, I could have moved her to another account that would not have paid as much interest, still met her criteria, and paid me a commission. She would have accepted this recommendation…I placed the funds in the zero commission to Tim account and when I did, I never felt better! 

So as you are perhaps refocusing or looking to invest in worthwhile resolutions, please consider these:
Commit to an ethic of work, be a cultivator, prepare for opportunities where you are
Think people first, they are our greatest resource and
 Just do the right thing everytime…period

I’ll admit like many well intended plans, they sound great, they are easy to write about BUT it takes real resolve to make them…stick!

All the best to you and what you do

Learn to Listen to Stories About Cows

I’ve been asked over and over again to share this story and since I have been blogging quite regularly, I thought now would be a great time to do so. The event I am about to share with you happened over twenty years ago, yet still serves as a driving force to how I conduct my business today…It is a story about cows.

The first thing you may say is “wait a minute, where could there possibly be a learning moment in that?” Cows? Really? Yep..cows. Here you go.

I had recently graduated from college and found myself in my small farming community home town opening up shop on my very own financial services practice. I had a great natural market because everyone knew my family and I represented a company with an extremely great reputation.

One of the first things I was taught was to establish great reference centers. For those who are not familiar with this term, a reference center is someone or something that values what you do enough to send folks your way. I had a great one with a local bank.

When I began my practice, banks were just getting into offering financial services and since I was operating in a small community, this concept had not made it to our fair city, therefore a great opportunity lay before me.

One particular day, a nice elderly farmer came into my office. I could tell he had just come in from the fields because his boots were still muddy. He walked in, sat down at my desk and stated that he was here to see me about a retirement account because his banker told him to do so. Great I thought to myself, this is what a reference center relationship is all about”.

After a little education on retirement plans, Mr. G. wrote me a check for $2000.00 and we completed the paperwork and the deal was done. However, the meeting was not. For the next 45 minutes or so, Mr. G. began his on education program on a topic of which I had absolutely no interest in…cows.

With his very slow southern-drawn accent, he proceeded to tell me that cattle prices were bad, feed costs were high and it was just too dry! I tried my best to engage him but the task was too difficult and 45 minutes seemed like 4.5 hours. You may say, “Why did you try to engage him. Did you not feel stupid?” I did, but I was trying to build a practice and although this transaction put sixteen dollars in my pocket, he was a client, PLUS, I wanted to take care of the referral from my reference center. Honestly I was grateful when the ordeal concluded.

The next year, this same sequence of events took place. This time, I was ready. I had read up on cattle prices and was able to have a somewhat intelligent conversation with him. He seemed pleased as he wrote me another check for $2000.00. Same commission, but I felt much better.

The following year, it was time for Mr. G to visit again only this time he did not come in. His son did. He wanted to talk about what he needed to do about his father’s IRA because Mr. G. had recently passed away. I was sad to hear the news. Then he said something to me that rings as clear to me today as it did then.

“Tim, I wanted to also come here today and talk to you about investing some of the money my dad left me, because he always enjoyed coming to town and talking with you about his cows” (You should have chills now).

I learned Mr. G was worth much more than an IRA for on the same land he raised cows, he also pumped oil. I earned the biggest account I would earn for the next five years. You see, this event took place because three years earlier, I came to a crossroad. I could have very easily scooted Mr. G. out the door at our very first meeting, but I chose not to. I chose to value the opportunity.

This event changed my life in many ways. First of all ,it catapulted me to an income level never experience before and it qualified me for our top sales conference that allowed me to sit on a “panel of experts” to share my secrets of success. I’ll never forget, sitting on that stage, listening to my peers share their secrets in 3 steps formulas. I became a bit nervous when it was my time to speak. I mean, I’m 27 years old and I can only share what I experienced, what could I say?

Then it happened; my turn. When the question was asked; “Tell us your secret to success” all I could think to say was: “I learned to listen to stories about cows”. That’s it. No big, complex system, just learning to value every client as if they are the most important entry in my sales book.

The other thing I learned is to not overlook the bread and butter sales; the ones that sustain you. I want the homerun sale just like everybody else but I need to hit the singles everyday while I am pursuing it.

So here is my challenge to you. Value every opportunity you have, never take anything for granted. Your personal cow story may be just around the corner waiting for you. While listening to it unfold may not always get the BIG account , you will get a client that will stay with you forever, give you first shot at all their needs and tell others how great you are…that’s a pretty good deal if you ask me!

A “Yes” Can Make Your Day…A “No” Can Make You Strong

On a typical selling day, anything can happen. I have preached endlessly about doing all you can to control your day, and I will support that effort forever, BUT, we live in a world that provides us the unexpected every day both good and bad.  Obviously it is easy to finish out the day when the unexpected is a favorable event but what do we do when the unexpected brings us a great letdown…hmmm.

Imagine this: It is a beautiful Tuesday morning and you are on the phone with what you believe to be the biggest potential client of your life! You can just see the $$$. The prospect agrees to meet with you this upcoming Friday at 11:00 a.m. BOOM, you’re in.  You confirm the appoint, hang up the phone and you are so excited about the conversation you can’t wait to get on the phone and call someone else. You say to yourself “That was easy, let’s do it again” and the rest of your day regardless of what happens next is filled with anticipation because Friday at 11:00 a.m. is on the way!

Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. your phone rings…It’s the BIG one telling you something has come up and they must put you off. Again BOOM, only this time BOOM rattles you to your core.  You have been counting on this for three days now you are not sure it will happen at all. Now what?

This scenario can happen at any time, but it is what you do after this letdown that will define your sales practice. To take this scene a step further, you may have put in a great deal of time working with someone on a deal and at the last minute for whatever reason you hear that dreaded word “NO”  I capitalize it for a reason.  It is one of the biggest words a salesperson will ever hear. I have heard it many times and I am confident as long as I stay in the “asking” business, I will hear it many more times.  To be quite frank, now that I look back this word has probably had more impact on where I am today than any other word.  For you see, a “yes” can make your day but what you do with the “No” can make you strong.

Many times when a salesperson gets the “No” it saps the very life right out of them.  They become useless for the rest of the day or even the work week! I’ve seen it.  I have heard comments like “What difference does it make-I’ll start my calls again next week, I’m outta here”. When the BIG one gets away, don’t quit, look for another one.  There is no gain in a “what’s the use” approach.  In fact if this attitude is sustained for a long period of time, the phone collects dust, the “I’ll start my calls next week” never happens and the inevitable occurs, another one bites the dust.

Here is the point.  Make the “NO” an ally not an enemy.  You may think this next statement is more absurd than the latter but try this:  Look for as many “No’s” as you can!  Seek them out for when you do, strength will occur.  First you will realize that “No” is part of your sales career and that it really isnt so bad afterall.  Don’t take it personal. You will see that when you hear “No” you can handle it.  But the beauty of seeking the “No” is that in the midst of all of this you will find that nugget every one of us is searching for, a “yes”.

Your positive approach to what you do after the “No’s” in your life can make you strong.  They can define you instead of defeat you.  You will discover that this word is not so big after all. In fact, it becomes the driving force for you to call or contact again and again. Through all the things  salespeople deal with every day, with the right attitude, the next make-your-day “yes” is waiting… if you are strong enough to find it.  Happy selling.

The Million Dollar Question Every Salesperson Should Ask Themselves Everyday Part 2

To begin…a quick review of our question.

“What must I do today, to see enough people favorably to share my story, convince them to do business with me, then tell others about their experience”.

Good. Let’s take a look at the last part of the question and address “share my story”. This is the time to share the compelling presentation of why I as your potential customer have to choose you! Let’s face it; you have put a lot of effort to get to this point. It would be a shame to waste it on a poor unprepared presentation…it must be compelling.

Know before you go. If I’m your prospect, what do you want me to know about you? Are you a long standing company in the community? Do you have something no one else has? Are you famous for your great service and delivery? Tell me! Make your presentation a compelling story that will intrigue your prospects to want to know more.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I have ever had regarding a training presentation has been when someone approaches me after a session and says “It is obvious you know your material” The same applies for you and your sales presentation. Before you go to that precious one-on-one time with your prospect know what you are going to say, know what materials you need (brochures, applications, demonstrations) and know what you want from your prospect and how to ask for it…a very nice segue into the next part of the question!

Convince them to do business with me: By the sheer nature of this part of the question you would think this requires great speeches using words like benefits, features, latest greatest and state of the art etc. Actually this could not be further from the truth. While I am not denying the value of the descriptive process, the less said by you at this point, the more convincing you become! What I mean is this is the time to learn about your prospect. They have heard about you now you need to learn about them. You become much more convincing to a potential customer when they know you care, really care. Once you know what matters, then you can present your features, benefits, products and services because now they are ready see what you’re about!

The final key to convincing is to ask the prospect to take action. Convincing is validating choice and asking to take action. What needs to happen for this deal to take place? What are you going to do and what are they going to do? When your prospects begin to act on your requests they are convinced of their choice and take on an entirely different identity. They are no longer prospect…they are customer!

The final part of the question “tell others about their experience” is by far the most overlooked opportunity in my opinion. People will tell others about you if you ask them to. If you have been in sales very long or if you are just beginning, you will learn that referrals are the lifeblood to your sales practice. You must have them to survive. The “tell others” comes in many shapes and sizes depending on your industry and what you are selling, but regardless of this, the concept is the same. Your new and existing customers can be your greatest source of prospects. They can provide your favorable introductions to others. Isn’t that what the million dollar question asks?

So in conclusion, let me ask you, what is the first thing you are going to ask yourself when you get to work tomorrow and the next day and the next? Your demonstrated response daily holds the key to your career. Happy Selling!

It’s About Time: The Productive 24 Part 2

To begin let’s review some of the points of part 1. We talked about how time has become one of our greatest competitors and how we must always pay attention to time. We discussed how time plays no favorites; we are each given the same amount to work with. We looked at how our attitude towards time impacts what we do with time. Remember we make time for the things we love and find time to do the things we dislike. Finally we looked at how time rewards the diligent and punishes the slacker.

Now let’s take a look at four common modes of time management operation. Each has specific symptoms and thankfully a remedy. Here we go…

The first common mode of operation is the FIREFIGHTER.
Symptoms: Everything is an emergency. The minute you walk in the door, you are met with a day of unexpected events. While you had every intention of being productive, you find yourself putting out fires all day long.
Remedy: Allocation
Days like this happen to each of us. What we must understand is that there is NO WAY to handle every task at one given moment. With that said we must prioritize the task and then allocate a specific time or deadline to complete it. Ask yourself, is this something that must be done immediately or can I deal with this when the doors close? Naturally if it truly is an emergency, then you must deal with it first. Prioritization can help with this.
Allocation understands that there is a limited amount of resources so we distribute the tasks accordingly.
The last note on allocation is a deadline. This provides accountability to getting the task done. Without a deadline, you may find yourself never getting it done

The next mode of operation is the JUGGLER
Symptoms: Too many tasks can’t get anything done. Feel like you are constantly juggling tasks and never being able to complete or let one go. A side symptom is that you can never say “NO”
Remedy: Delegation
Delegate means to authorize other resources to help. For example, do you have someone you work with that can assist you in the task or do you have a technology resource that can expedite the process. If so, do you know who and what they are and are they easily accessible? Sometimes the toughest thing about delegation is “letting go”. You think thoughts such as “It will take more time to show you how to do it than doing it myself”. Remember, time is a limited resource, so if you do have access to reliable resources, I strongly suggest you use them!

Next we look at the DISTRACTOR
Symptoms: Tasks get off course unintentionally (this is key). You mean well but other things or other people become more appealing or get in your way.
Remedy: Concentration
This is exactly what it says, intense mental application. No matter how loud the golf course or shopping spree is calling, don’t get distracted. Focus on the task first. Another form is distraction is people. Perhaps you are working on a project with someone and you can’t complete your part until they have completed their part. When this happens you must take action on the distraction before you can focus on the task. Determine if there is anything you can do to assist your co-worker, follow up with them and stress the importance of what they do and how it helps achieve success.

Finally and perhaps the most common mode of operation: The PROCRASTINATOR
Symptoms: This is the “I’ll do it later” approach. Unlike the Distractor discussed above, this symptom displays an intentional approach to putting off the task.
Remedy: Motivation
Discover the potential reward or risk regarding the task. For example, by going to work on a Saturday, I will be able to complete the presentation and therefore have the opportunity to close the deal quicker. Or, if I don’t go to work on Saturday, this presentation will never get finished on time and we will miss a great opportunity. I think you see the BIG picture here. You motivation proves your desire or incentive to get things done.

So here are two daily prescriptions to help. First prioritize your tasks. I know you have heard this before but it is critical. Second, have a real plan of action. Here are some tips for an action plan:
• Have a specific time in your day to prepare for your day. Scheduling, emails, return calls, etc.
• Make sure you are doing the “productive-money making” tasks while the doors are open. This means doing the most important things, not preparing for them
• Find time for you. You must have time to enjoy what you do. If you ignore this part of time, it will severely impact the rest of your time.
• Be sure you keep score and track progress

Let me conclude by saying I am in no way saying that I have all the answers. What I am saying is that in my personal experience, when I pay serious attention to time, when I value it, it pays great dividends and when I don’t, there is nothing more frustrating that trying to get back on schedule.

What I know is this, we choose to do what we do with time. It is my hope this article will help provide assistance to make your 24 hours a day as productive and enjoyable as possible. And by the way…Thanks for taking the TIME to read this!

“It’s About Time” Part 1

Let me start by saying I know you are busy. I don’t know anyone who isn’t and it is very clear that things are not going to change. I recently experienced the high school graduation of my youngest son and he joined my oldest son at the same university which is about 450 miles away from home. This event made me and my wife official “empty nesters” and I thought, NOW things will start to slow down…wrong! There is college to prepare for, forms to fill out, move ins, move outs, travel, adjustments, books, bedding, dorms, apartment leases and oh yeah…the boys have things to do too!!

Okay, so maybe that was a little bit of overkill, but I am sure you will agree, you have never been more busy and there never seems to be enough time in the day…so what can we do to make the most of the 24 hours each of us have been given every day? Good question.

There have been many conversations on the topic of time and time management. In fact, it has been the topic of many a song. The band Chicago asked the question “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” Jim Croce wanted to put “Time in a Bottle” but perhaps you can relate best with Freddy Fender and his song “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”. If you are like me, you have probably expressed these same sentiments at one point or another.

Two Facts About Time

To start, I want to share two facts I know specifically about time. First, time plays no favorites.
We are each given the same amount of time. No matter who we are or what we do, each of us are given 24 hours a day, no more and no less. It is what we do with time that matters.

Secondly, time rewards the diligent and punishes the slacker. Do you know someone who just seems to have everything organized and in place and are very successful? How is it that these individuals seem to have it all together? After all, they run on the same 24 hours as the rest of us, right? The key is they are diligent, persistent if you will. While it is not an easy task, I have found that in my personal experience, when I am focused on what needs to be done and have a plan in place and stick to it, I can get much more done and even have time to spare.

On the contrary, I have also been guilty of slacking. I remember very well one particular year I decided to forego my annual business planning session for the upcoming year. What I normally did in early November, I put off or actually completely avoided. I figured I would do it later because at the moment, the ski slopes were calling my name. As a result I walked into January of the following year without a clear direction. To make a long story short, because of my slacking attitude, what normally happened in January of years past, began in April and I found myself playing “catch up” the entire year. Needless to say, it was my worst production year ever.

Find vs. Make and Reward vs. Risk

I have the opportunity to sit in the chair of a great philosopher and learn many things. His name is Sonny and he cuts my hair. One day while scissors were blazing, he made the statement “We need to make a way to find more time.” He was hoping for some magic pill or potion that would do this for he believed that if you make more time, you could make more money.
I was intrigued by these two words find and make and it became clear to me that in terms of time, these words have very different meanings.

Make means to create. To me this means I will create a spot in my day to ensure the task gets done. For example, I will make time to play golf. I will make time to spend with my family. On a business note, I will make time to invoice customers and clients. Make means it is easy for me to do because the task is something I look forward to and I see a reward when the task is done.

Find means discover or uncover. I know it is there but I must put forth the effort to get it done. For example; if I am sick, I will find time to go to the doctor. I will find time to fill out my tax return and on a business note, I will find time to pay my bills. Find means the task must get done, BUT it is not something I look forward to yet I also know that there are consequences or risks if I don’t get the task done.

The point is that it is human nature to look forward to the things or tasks we love to do or see a reward in accomplishing. It is equally revealing that we will avoid or even despise doing the tasks we don’t enjoy but understand there are risks or punishments if we do not complete the task.

The first key to making (remember the word) best use of our time is to first look at our attitude towards it and the tasks involved. You will be surprised how a positive attitude puts a “make time” spin on the task while a negative approach puts a “find time” on everything.

Here is an idea. Take a look at the tasks you do on a daily basis. As you think about these, determine the benefit or reward you will see by getting the task done or by completing it early. This mentality will put a charge in your step and I believe will make your day far more productive.

Okay, now you might be saying, “Tim, that is great and I’m with you on this, but how do you do this? Do you have any tips for making it happen?” I’m glad you asked because in my next blog I will describe four modes of time management operation. I will give you the symptoms of each and the remedies. Finally, I will give you a tool that you can take a specific task and “test” it through a grid to determine how to best and most efficiently handle any routine task or emergency.

See you soon in “It’s About Time” Part 2.

Is Your Culture Contagious?

Okay, it has been a while since I wrote a blog. It’s because we have been very busy launching our training series on DVD-video. More about that later. Now what I am about to ask you, you may think that maybe I should stay away a little longer until I can get all my thoughts in proper order…here goes.

Is your business, your organization contagious? Hold on, I’m not talking about what takes place every cold and flu season. I’m talking about a culture, a positive “can do” attitude that is “catchy” not only within the walls of your organization but flows through the doors and into the community. I hope we all can answer this question with a resounding YES!

So how do you know if you’re contagious? Great question. Here are a few facts that I know specifically that can help determine the severity of your symptoms.

1) You have to have it before anyone else can get it. Before you can give anybody anything, you must possess it first. It is a personal internal commitment to the cause of your organization. Contagious begins with you!

2) You can’t spread it unless you’re around others. Think about it, when you’re sick, what does the doctor tell you? “Stay away from others, don’t go anywhere!” This is quite the contrary to our contagious ordeal. You need to be around others. It is important you demonstrate this positive culture. You can take a leadership role in your culture and what you want your organization to say to the community regardless of your role or title. So go ahead, be proactive, look for the next opportunity, go beyond the expected…share it with others and it will spread!

3) Everyone will get the same thing you have. If you are truly contagious, everyone who comes in contact with you will develop similar symptoms which will turn into the same positive attitude attributes you have. In fact, you could create a completely new “catchy” culture never seen before.

4) It spreads exponentially. If you are contagious, really contagious, you will not impact the few; you will impact your entire organization! Think about this, one person going above and beyond can positively impact the entire company. Your approach cant help but catch on. Not only will those within your walls get it, those you serve will get it too. Imagine the power of everyone you serve, getting your message completely and unconditionally. There is no greater measure of success than this.

So now aren’t you glad I asked. It is my hope that everyone in your organization will become highly contagious with a “can do” culture that spreads everywhere you go and my final wish for you is that you become so contagious, your message of who you are and what you do becomes an epidemic for which there is no cure!

The New Competition

It is a given in any industry, there is competition. Over the last 25 years, however, I have personally experienced new forms and shapes of competitors unlike never before. They are so subtle that if taken for granted, they can destroy you. Are you curious? One comes in the form of an equal measure to everyone…it plays no favorites and one comes in the form of an important ally. How can this be? A friend and a competitor at the same time! In this article I would like to introduce you to the new “T’s” of competition.

Time: Everything and everyone competes for your time. The list is exhaustive. For example: Your customers need your time, your prospective customers need your time; your staff needs your time, your family needs your time, your social and civic organizations need your time and you need a little time for yourself! Whew. As you develop your business, more responsibilities are required and these take time. If you do not compete favorably with time and win, you will find yourself out of time and looking for asomething else. I have seen many a gifted individual fail in what they do because they simply cannot keep up with what matters most. Here are three components of time to help keep you ahead. For those of you not sports fans, please excuse the mode of analysis.
1) Practice Time: This is when you prepare for the game. Work on fundamentals. This might include service and administration time, preparing for prospecting and marketing, follow up calls and emails. Practice time is the time allocated to get prepared for what matters most…the game! Please know that an athlete would never schedule practice time during a game. It is too late. So why should we as business owners and entrepreneurs schedule preparation time when we should be out doing what makes $$$! This is game time!

2) Game Time: It’s on. Batter up; play ball. Game time is the time of your day that you are doing what brings in the business period. It is prospecting, setting appointments, making presentations, sales calls or having your doors open and ready to serve. Game time is discovering the next great opportunity. Please do not get game time confused with practice time. I spent many years working with sales representatives and it amazed me at their definition of game time. Many believed game time was organizing their day, determining who to contact or what new marketing strategy to implement. Some thought it was staff or sales meetings. NO! This is practice time. Game time is the activity that brings in the $$$! This should take up the majority of every day!

3) My Time: This is personal time. You must make time for personal time, so spend with your family or your passion. If you forego “my time” it will negatively impact both practice time and game time. It can be done! In your practice time, set aside some my time and stick to it. For example. I operate two companies everyday. I make a living on what I identify and create. However, my youngest son is a senior and is playing baseball so…I put his schedule on my calendar and except for the commitments I already had before the schedule came out, I do not purposely schedule anything to conflict with that time. NOW HOLD ON…I understand that you may be in a position where you do not have the flexibility that I might have. The point is in the time you do have, please find time for yourself. The one weekend your not on call, when your cyclical busy season is over or even a routine summer vacation, make time for “my time”. I truly believe if you don’t it will adversely affect your performance to the point that practice time and game time will have no use at all!

Are you ready for the next “T”? What if I told you it might be one of your greatest promoters! I know you think I’m crazy…Well here goes.

Technology: I know many of you, myself included use technology everyday to promote our business. So let me begin by saying this is not a “bashing” statement against technology. I love it, I use it everyday…BUT, I must understand that technology competes very well with me everyday. Here is how: You can buy almost anything you want 24/7, 365 days a year, sitting in your pajamas and NEVER speak to a human being. So if that is the case AND if there is no perceived difference in what you do and that little electric box sitting in everyone’s home and office, THEN you lose. The convenience your computer provides will win more times than not.

Case in point: I’m self employed and when it came time for me to purchase health insurance, I needed a good deal. What did I do? I went web searching. I found everything I needed to make a decision. Great information about the company, the policy and the coverage it offered. I completed the application, responded to question via email and in ten days, my policy arrived in the mail. Guess how many PEOPLE I talked to…ZERO.

I think you get the point. Technology is great and I am thankful for it, however we in business must strive to make a difference…to show there is more to the product or service; there is more to it than what is in the owner’s manual. I may sound like I’m preaching (and maybe I am) but we need to take this competitor serious or we could find ourselves using it find other employment.

The only way I know to combat the convenience of technology is to use it and compliment with great personal performance. The personal touch is our greatest advantage. It’s the great relationships we build that keeps people from coming back. While I had a quick experience getting health insurance, the one major flaw to this process is that I do not know anyone at the company personally to speak to if I have a problem. So you know what I must do if that occurs…call the phone tree and push 1 if or push 2 if or push 3 if on and on.

Competition over the next 25 years will continue to change. Who knows what we will see in the future. One thing is clear though, to those who pay attention and consistently look for opportunities to set themselves apart from the pack, will sustain long term and highly successful businesses. In that regard, time is definitely on your side!

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