Monday, October 19, 2015

What To Do After A Potentially Life Changing Encounter

It is hard to know for sure, but I believe I had a transformational experience.  Although it only happened 72 hours ago, my encounter with three big-thinkers challenged me at the core.  My year-long quest to change my mindset has yielded little, but since this gathering I am operating at a different level.

Before a trip to New York to speak to a business conference I reached out to an interesting person who I had interviewed on my podcast.  She seemed smart, nice and approachable while also being a person who was open to meeting new people.  Not only did she agree, she invited two others who she thought would spur conversation.

At the breakfast I had an overwhelming feeling that I was in the presence of three individuals who had the mindset that I have been seeking in my own life.  Each were overwhelmingly successful in different areas, and the way they see the world, business, and success was at obviously at a high performance level.

Clearly one of these things was not like the other.  While I have achieved some great things in my career it does not compare with the resumes of my fellow breakfast club members.  Halfway though the 90 minutes I realized this was no longer a social call, but instead I was seated at the feet of some people who could inspire me at a core level.

Two of the people are high performance business coaches, and one has a group program that is within my budget (the other guy charges $20K for a day of his time).  I wanted to hire all of them on the spot, but realized that was not about to happen because of the financial commitment.  I also realized that while everyone was so genuinely nice, there were no instant friendships happening that were going to lead them to becoming my personal mentor.  

This potentially life changing encounter got to me even before the plates were cleared.  My mind was racing and I wanted to save this moment in my brain.  I looked at the walls of the room, the table, the faces of those around me, and tried to burn the image into my mind.

After the handshakes in parting, I felt that some amazing ships had just passed in my night.  It was 10:00 AM as I exited the restaurant, and there was a sense of being alone in a crowded city.  For just over an hour I had a seat at the big kids table, and now I did not know if I could ever return to my own past acceptance of mid-level existence.

The question is "what now"?  I have listened to podcasts these people host and episodes of other shows where they have been guests.  I read their blogs, and other online IP.  I want to move to this next level, but not sure how to take the fresh motivation and change the mindset.  Results will come in the ways I think and act.

A piece of advice I tell my own clients is that you have to take action.  Just thinking, wishing and hoping is not enough. Study alone cannot cause change.  I know that it is easy to fall back into previous patterns, and being stuck in a rut is never the best place to reside.

Has anyone ever had an experience they knew could create a paradigm, and yet did not know what to do next?  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #136): Think Big - Act Bigger with Jeffrey Hayzlett

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

I am late on getting this "Cool Things My Friends Do" released, but I cannot hide the kudos for this book.  It is a MUST READ for everyone, especially those who listen to my podcast, as you know the topic of re-invention and raising yourself to a higher level of production is a theme I believe matters to all in a world full of mediocrity. 

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, former CMO of Kodak, author, speaker, prime time Bloomberg Television host and is the chairman of the C-Suite Network.  I know Jeffrey from the National Speakers Association, and have spent time chatting with him at several conferences (and he has been a guest on my podcast).  Jeffrey is one who always gives his time to anyone, and has been a bit of a silent mentor to me since I met him last year.

Recently he released his second book, Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless.  In this book he empowers business leaders to tie their visions to actions, advancing themselves past competitors and closer to their business dream. Drawing upon his own business back stories he sharing examples from the many leaders featured on “The C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett,” Jeffrey imparts ten core lessons that dare readers to own who they are as a leader and/or company, define where they want to go, and fearlessly do what it takes to get there—caring less about conventional wisdom, re-framing limitations, and steamrolling obstacles as they go.

Being a consumer of many business and life-related books, I can tell you this one is an awesome inspirational read.  I am so happy to have this book and Jeffrey featured as week #136 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".  Check it out.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, October 04, 2015

7 Tips For Better Team Meetings

Team meetings often suck. The reputation of bad company meetings is so cliche that many companies have stopped having end of year meetings or new year kick-offs to motivate their employees. They skip the meeting to save money and not take people out of the field, but no meetings are a bad idea, as shared experiences build relationships. Over the last decade people are less satisfied with their jobs, do not feel their employers are investing in them, and have less loyalty.

Is there a connection Maybe..

Motivation is a word that get a bad wrap. Many people cringe at the thought of motivational meetings that are meant to encourage their team. People say things like "you can't motivate others", or "motivation doesn't last". Yes in high dollar industries and sales oriented companies there are often team meetings that are designed specifically to motivate. So why does it work for high performers, but not the regular folks? Or is it that without motivational exercises, people get stuck in mediocre?
People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.
Zig Ziglar
As we enter the 4th quarter, now is the time to look at planning your company meeting. It need not be expensive to be awesome and to have an impact. Here are 7 tips to make your team meeting awesome:

1. Have a stated purpose. Do not host meetings for the sake of hosting a meeting. Begin with the results in mind, and let your staff know why you are going to have this gathering.

2. Include stakeholders in the planning process. Get people from different parts of the company to be on the organizing committee and let their teams know they are part of the team that is working to make the meeting meaningful.

3. Have an outside presentation. This may or may not mean hiring a professional speaker, but an outside point of view can often get people talking. Professional facilitators exist because they do provide value to meetings, but often you can get a vendor, customer or friend of the boss to present to your team.

4. Have an agenda and keep on track. Meetings that meander and run long suck the excitement out of the crowd.

5. Be interactive. Nobody wants to have the whole day of a team meeting be a series of lectures. Let your employees get involved and participate in the discussions.

6. Include some fun. A team meeting should involve some bonding activity before, during or after the business portions of the event.

7. Have action items and accountability. A main reason meetings and motivational messaging fails is once the day is over nobody ever keeps the conversation going. Be sure that this meeting is on purpose and that purpose continues after the event ends.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

***Thom Singer has special programs for team meetings.  Call today to learn more.  512-970-0398

Friday, October 02, 2015

Selling Professional Services

Selling is hard.  This is why the top companies in the world pay their sales people very well.  Selling is the oldest profession, and to do it well means that there is always a job waiting for you. Smart leaders are always seeking proven sales professionals to add to their company.  The best business leaders cherish those who can sell.

Professional services firms face a problem that their partners (lawyers, accountants, consultants, engineers, etc...) are often doing double duty as the sales people.  If you look at sales oriented companies, the selling team gets the new clients on board, and other people deliver on the work.  But in a services firm the practitioners often has to do both.  This is what it is, and will not change anytime soon (although the largest accounting firms figured it out twenty years ago that having a top tier sales team was the best solution).

To be successful at selling professional services you must accept your role in sales.  Too often lawyers (and others) try to hide behind their work product.  However, being a "good lawyer" is just the ticket into the stadium.  It does not guarantee you will play on the field or win the game.  

Clients expect you to be good at your job.  Heck, they expect you to be great.  So thinking your work is your competitive advantage is a path to mediocre numbers.

The first question I ask those in a service profession is "what differentiates you from your competition?".  Do you know?  Can you clearly articulate the points of differentiation?  Bankers always answer this question by saying "We are a relationships bank".  They are so proud of this statement, but is it really different if all your competition claims the same unique selling position?  Most have no legitimate answer.  

To be able to describe what makes you different and to believe the words in your soul takes time.  This is not an exercise you can complete in an hour long coaching session.  And your answer could, and should, be morphing over time.  This is serious stuff, and yet regularly ignored.

A mistake that is made by those in professional services is that they spend little to no time thinking about sales, business development and their personal brand.  They lament their leading competitors who are winning the game, but they do not examine what those people are doing behind the scenes.  Assumptions are made all the time, but no research or actions are being taken. 

Oh, and social media is NOT selling.  There is a lot of people talking about "social selling", but for the those who are really finding success, social media is an add on to their success, not the basis of it.  Most professional services firms need to get their people focused on old-fashioned prospecting.  This means attending live events and meeting people and then using the phone to get on the calendar to have real conversations.  Even in our social media crazy world, the way people make most decisions still comes down to the human-to-human relationships.  People do business with those they know, like and trust.

CRM systems are great, but they will not bring you more business.  A mistake made in many businesses is they mistakenly think the system is key to sales success.  My friend Jim Pancero has been a sales trainer for over 30 years and has seen all the changes in sales over the decades.  He says that we need to remember the original CRM system was a 3x5 card (and they still can work today).  I remember in my early days of selling that I had a plastic box filled with information on index cards.  Computer programs are more efficient, and allow those inside you company to access this information, but sales still come from people making calls on live prospects.  Emails and tweets will not drive your bottom line.  Gathering information and repeated calls to prospects is how you win new business.

Professional service firms also rarely do sales training or any type of inspiring motivation for the vary people who need to sell their product.  The largest sales oriented companies do a great job of educating, inspiring, and providing motivational materials for their people, but law, accounting, banking, engineering and consulting firms rarely invest in these skills.  These firms do "partner meetings", but rarely bring their whole team together for an annual "kick off" to make sure everyone is aware of the annual goals.  I find professionals cringe at the idea of sales skills training, yet the best sales people look forward to learning new ways to do their job.

Selling professional services is difficult, but not impossible.  The first step is to embrace the need for a culture shift inside a company.  The firms that have real leadership are making changes.  I see law firms that are telling partners to learn to sell or leave.  Wow, that was not said a decade ago.  Other firms are creating training and coaching programs for younger associates and working to get all of their staff engaged in developing new business.  

What have you seen professional services firms do lately that is driving their sales numbers?

Have A Great Day

thom singer