Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Preparing for Your Next Company Meeting

Here are some important ideas to consider when you’re in charge of putting on a meeting for your associates, customers, distributors or other people outside your organization.  Not all these suggestions will apply in every case—so just pick out one or two to start with, and use it at your next meeting!
Your Invitation   Sell the end result in the invitation. “When this meeting is over you’ll leave with…”  Tell them the objective for the meeting. “The entire focus of the meeting is…”
Your Agenda Print two different agendas—one for your audience and another one for your presenters, the AV staff, the facility and your support team!
The Audience Copy Only show the times they need to know—when the meeting begins and ends (if necessary). If it’s a half-day meeting and you’re providing lunch, avoid saying on the agenda “Closing Speaker & Lunch at 12:00pm.” Just say instead, “Closing Speaker followed by Lunch.” That leaves you a cushion if you’re late! When you show the audience exact times for each speaker they keep checking their watch. “Hey, Nick is 22 minutes over.” Or, “Why did Chris only speak for 11 minutes, she had 20 minutes on the agenda …what did she leave out?”
The Actual Time Agenda This is only for those who must know real times. Make it very specific and leave yourself “cushion time.” Put in 5 minutes here and there to cover housekeeping announcements and the unexpected. Remember, if you end your meeting a little early, your audience will be thrilled! End right on time and you’re a hero. Run late, you’re seen as being unprofessional.
Breaks  Here’s the rule of thumb: People need a bathroom break within 90 minutes of breakfast, especially coffee drinkers, so your first break in the morning should be within the first 90 minutes of your opening. After lunch, you need more frequent breaks, so after 90 minutes, have a break, then 75 minutes, then a break, and finally, 60 minutes and then close!
Distance is Death!  Too big a room, with the audience too far away from the speaker and each other, deadens and depletes the audience’s energy. Keep people close.
Visuals Must Be Visible!  A washed out screen, caused by lights above it or directly on it, causes the visuals your audience needs to see to be weak and unappealing, taking away the impact.
Neck Twisting No-No!  Having a screen in the corner of the room away from the speaker disconnects the audience from both the speaker and the visuals. Keep the screen (or screens) close to the speaker so the audience can see both at the same time – without neck twisting!

For more ideas, contact Joel directly

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Leadership based on instilling confidence

Just before Thanksgiving Day last year, Judy (my wife of 47 years) and I flew to Salt Lake City for the day to attend a birthday party. There were no candles on the birthday cake, yet there were lots of kids at the party. The house was packed with family to honor Vernon Cavill, the birthday boy. OK, at 85 years old maybe “boy” is a stretch. It was a frigid cold November day in Salt Lake—yet just the day before, Vernon was out playing golf. He was still fit, friendly and fond of every living soul he ever met. That’s why Judy and I went to his party—to tell him how much we loved him.

Who’s this old guy anyway? You probably don’t know him and most likely never will, and that’s too bad. Because for the 40+ years I’ve known him, not once did I ever hear anyone say a bad word about Vernon Cavill.

When I met him over 40 years ago he was just my Sales Manager and I was a first year ex-construction worker, with no formal education, shy and self-conscious. Oh, we were also expecting our first baby, we were broke, and I was scared to death I'd never amount to anything.

Do you remember a time in your life when you felt frightened? Uncertain of your future? Lacking in self-confidence? Most people have times in their lives when they are doubtful, fearful or unsure of themselves. In fact, someone you know right now might be in that position. They might need the help of a Corporate Angel—like Vernon Cavill was to me many years ago.

Vernon had called a sales meeting to kick off a three-week sales contest and over a hundred of us attended. To motivate its sales force, the company said that any person making ten sales in a three week period would earn their choice of wristwatch. I had a pocket watch from my construction days, but never had a real business looking wristwatch with a stretchable band. I was excited. I was motivated. And I was going to get myself a watch!

As the meeting closed and people began leaving, Vernon called me over and said: “Well what do you think Joel, will you earn a watch?”

"Oh, yes, sir."

“Good, which one do you like?”

"Oh, that gold-plated one with the stretch band."

“Good,” he said. Then he paused and said: “I know you can get ten sales.”

“Thanks for the support” I said.

As I was leaving, he said: “In three weeks come and see me and tell me how you did.”

Oh, boy, now I was really on the spot. I had made a commitment and Vernon was going to hold me accountable for my performance. I was motivated, enthusiastic, goal directed, had a deadline and was excited about the end result. I worked long and hard. I felt I did everything I could to achieve my goal, and yet I failed. Now it was time to face Vernon. He welcomed me with his glowing angelic smile and softly said: “How did you do?”

“Not good enough,” I said sadly. “I only got eight.”

Without changing his tone or his mood, Vernon quietly said: “Let’s go over your activity and results for these three weeks. Show me what you did and tell me about the eight sales you made, and about the other presentations you made but didn’t sell.”

It seemed like I was on trial for my life—oh, not because he was judging me, but because I was judging myself. I could see where I went wrong and where my lack of product knowledge, qualifying skills and ability to answer customer objections was lacking. After what seemed like hours (it was actually about 30 minutes) Vernon leaned back in his chair and said the words that helped me alter my life. Yes, his action was life changing to me.

Before I tell you what he did, come to his birthday party with me 40 years later. I was reminding him why I so loved him and respected him. "It was because of the lesson of the watch," I said. Vernon smiled that angelic smile and said: “What watch?”

“The gold-plated watch—when I first worked for you, Vernon.” At 85 years young, was he losing his memory? No, he wasn't. He just never stored the memory of that brief meeting with some young sales guy who was one of just hundreds he’d been responsible for years ago. He had no memory of the watch contest, our meeting or what he had done that changed my life when he leaned back in his big leather chair and said.... 

Wait!  You finish the story!

  1. Did Vernon say: “Hey, the rules were ten sales in three weeks—you got eight. You failed to qualify. Tough luck, but that’s how life is—you don’t always get what you want!”
You’re right. Vernon didn’t say that! So did he say…

  1. “The rules were ten sales in three weeks. You got eight, but hey, you busted your butt. You worked evenings and Saturdays and you sold more than you ever had before. Since I’m the boss, I’m going to give you the watch because you made such an extra effort. Here’s the gold plated watch.” 
That would seem to be an angelic approach, and very realistic for Vernon to do. But he didn’t do that either! What he did was life changing and will remain with me forever.

He said: “Joel, I know you worked hard these past three weeks and I sense your disappointment. You made eight and that’s the most you've ever sold. But I know you can sell ten in three weeks! So here’s what we’ll do. Starting today you and I will have our own contest. You get ten sales in three weeks and I’ll get you that watch—OK?” And we shook hands.

Well, I didn't get ten sales, I got twelve! And of course, he gave me the watch. It’s been in my desk drawer for quite some time now. It doesn’t work and the band is all rusted. So why do I still love that watch? Because of what it symbolizes---the power of belief Vernon had in me—when I didn’t even believe in myself. From that time on my confidence soared! My attitude became so positive. I was on fire! His "wisdom of the watch" helped me become, by year end, the number one salesperson in his entire operation, and a lifelong friend as well.

Here’s what you can do:
  1. Who needs you to believe in them right now? A family member? A friend? An employee? A business associate? For you it could be a very little thing. For them, it could impact the rest of their life!
  2. Sometimes you have to change the rules of the game. Not every situation or person is the same. Think of how you can impact each individual you’re involved with in a way that’s best for them.
  3. Think back in your career to an event that impacted your life dramatically and if that person is still alive, go to their birthday party and say: “Thank you!” 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Be Grateful!

Thank you notes are one of the “little things” so few people take the time to do. We all know we should express our attitude of gratitude with a thank you note whenever someone does something nice for us, whether it’s a gift we received, a party we were invited to, a kindness someone extended to us. But how about a thank you note to someone who didn’t do something nice for us?  

That was a life lesson I learned many years ago—a lesson that has lasted well over four decades! Here’s what happened …

I was 20 years old and had recently completed a two-year course in building construction when I applied for a much-needed job as an architectural draftsman. The interviewer was the architect himself, Richard C. Baehr. He was very kind, thoughtful and, oh, so nice—I could already picture in my mind how wonderful it was going to be working for him!

We had a great conversation, but sadly, as the interview ended, Mr. Baehr looked at me and said, “Joel, you’re a fine young man—but you’ve had no experience and you’re too young right now. You won’t be getting the job.”  He then said that he was going to hire the seasoned pro he’d interviewed the day before.

I was so utterly disappointed I could hardly think. When I got home I told my mother what happened. In her wisdom, here’s what she suggested I do: “Why don’t you write Mr. Baehr a thank you note, and tell him how much you appreciated his time and honesty, and then you can say how much you still want the job, and if things don’t work out with the experienced draftsman, you’d be thrilled to take the job on a trial basis and prove to him that you can do the work.”

Oh, mothers are so wise, if only we listened to them more often!

And you guessed it —I wrote that letter of gratitude. Two weeks later Dick Baehr called me back. The “experienced” guy didn’t work out, and he was giving me the job. It turned out to be a wonderful, longterm relationship with Dick and his architectural firm, all because my mom taught me a great life lesson—write thank you notes—even to those who haven’t given you what you wanted or expected!

Who in your life needs to know about your attitude of gratitude? If you have an employer; how about starting out with him or her? Let them know how much you appreciate your job. If you work for yourself, how about a note to one of your employees, clients or customers? Or your minister?  Priest?  Rabbi? A teacher?  A neighbor? A loved one?

You can be grateful both for what you have—and don’t have! What counts is being grateful—and writing those thank you notes!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Your Sales Can Soar With TLC

  • What does your customer need & want?
  • What are their likes & dislikes?
  • What’s important to them and what isn’t?
From this moment on, stop thinking like you've thought before, and use TLC.
It means "Tender Loving Care" right?  No!  TLCThink Like a Customer!
Begin by asking yourself, How does my customer think?

Barnes & Noble Bookstores used to think like a retail book company. “Our customers love books so we'll stock lots of books in our stores and sell them. We'll get our market share in spite of other bookstores, online companies and discounters.”

Then they used TLC, and decided that . . . “Our customers really love to read! So let's create a store made to meet that need. A place to relax with a book in a big chair, drinking a specialty drink, listening to a piano playing softly in the background.” 

Shopping for books became enjoyable and fun. Sales soared!

Now—right now—Think Like a Customer—your customer—and watch your sales soar!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Making Employees Feel Important Creates Loyalty, Pride and Productivity

Many years ago Larry and I became acquainted through the Sales and Marketing Executive Club of Phoenix. Larry was what I call a "Corporate Angel." No, he didn’t have wings or a halo—he didn’t even have hair. Larry was short and stocky, yet when you met him, he made you feel good. Do you know people that when you’re with them they just make you feel good? 

From our first meeting it was clear Larry had a way about him that seemed to draw others to him. He wasn’t good looking in a physical sense—hey, he was short, fat and bald. That’s how he’d describe himself. Yet, he was so attractive because of his smile, his gentleness and the tone of his voice.

Through our relationship in that business club we got to know each other, and the more I got to know Larry, the more likeable he was. He would direct his conversation to you—not to him. Larry would remember your discussions from last time and build on them the next time. It was so obvious he was interested in others. You know the opposite type—the person only interested in themselves. The kind of person who says to you: “OK, I’ve been doing all the talking and telling you how great and amazing I am, now it’s your turn, you tell me how great and amazing I am!” That wasn’t Larry Palder!

As our relationship grew he hired me to come into his company, Palder Equipment, and conduct a series of meetings. When asked, “What do you want these meetings to accomplish?” Larry said, “I just want you to help my employees believe in themselves and know that their lives are their choice. I want them to be very successful.”

That was different. So often my clients say their meeting objectives are to increase sales, stop complaining and whining, work a full day, prospect more, reduce costs, increase profits, etc. Not Larry—his mission was to uplift people and help them. He was a Corporate Angel.

Prior to our first meeting, Larry set a time on a Saturday for me to meet him at his company headquarters. That was different too—since his business was closed on Saturday. We met, we talked and then he said: “I wanted you to come in on Saturday when all my employees weren’t here so I could show you around.”

What he showed me has never been forgotten. Row after row of private offices furnished with expensive desks, chairs and files. Thick, expensive carpet flowed from office to office. I asked: “Are these for your Sales and Corporate officers?” Larry put his chubby fingers around my neck, gave me a quick squeeze, laughed and then said: “No, these are my machine shop workers' offices.”

Shocked, I said: “What does Palder Equipment do?”

“We sell and service industrial machinery. My employees are mechanics, machinists and millwrights. I’m the sales guy.”

That’s right, he provided executive offices for a bunch of dirty, greasy, hourly workers—my audience and his company family.

Shocked I said: “How can these offices be so clean and neat?”

"Oh, that’s easy. When they leave the shop to do paperwork or look something up, they wash their hands and remove their work boots. They take great pride in their office. For most of my guys, it’s the only office they ever had. When I first built this new building and set up their offices, Saturday was a busy day around here.”

“Oh,” I said. “Working harder to pay off your building costs?”

Larry smiled, grabbed my neck, squeezed and said: “No-o, it was so busy those Saturdays with their family tours. They brought their moms, dads, wives, kids, and one guy even brought his entire softball team to see his office!”

Now I got it. Larry was so successful in his business because he treated his employees with such respect and dignity. In return they gave him 200% commitment and unflinching loyalty. No tool theft. No wasted time on the job. No policing their every action.

Larry Palder, Corporate Angel, had discovered a timeless truth about people and business. It paid off financially. He was very successful that way, and it paid off emotionally too. Larry Palder was a happy man.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stop Smoking Instantly When YOU Decide!

It was over 20 years ago that I learned the amazing power of these words:
“I just decided to ...”

During almost all my corporate seminars on change and improvement, I would ask the audience this question … "Is there anyone here today who smoked for at least 10 years, stopped smoking on their own at least five years ago, stopped instantly and never smoked again?”

In most cases a few hands would go up and I’d interview one or two people and have them share their story. Some of the stories were extraordinary! They told what motivated them to stop instantly a habit they had been chained to for at least 10 years. The reasons ranged from their doctor’s dire predictions of health problems, to their children’s pleas …”I don’t want you to die, Mommy! My teacher said smokers die of lung cancer. Please don’t die and leave me alone!”

After their description of the event that led up to their breaking of the habit, I’d ask, “So, as a result of that, what did you do?” It was startling to me that the vast majority of those sharing their story would use the exact same words to explain their actions. They would say: “After my doctor said that, I decided to stop” or “When my little girl asked for her birthday gift to be that I would stop smoking, at that very minute I decided to never smoke again—and I never did!”

Why such power in just two words? Let’s take them one at a time. The first word is the most important—“I.”  It wasn’t the doctor, the child or anyone else—it was the individual! Of course! The individual was the only one who could take the necessary action!

It’s the same with you and the things in your life you want to change or do—it’s up to YOU, not someone else. Real permanent change begins with the acceptance of personal responsibility—“If it is to be, it is up to me.”  Make that your motto and creed, and know that it’s you, and only you, who can and will make the improvement happen!

Next word —“decided” means “to reach a decision.” A decision is the act of making up one’s mind. It’s not wishing, hoping or trying! It’s a firmness and a determination that “I will” do something.

The brilliant philosopher Goethe said this: ”At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you.” Oh, how true! Just think back to your past commitments — those “I decided to” moments like going to college, getting a certain job, losing weight, stopping smoking. Once you truly “decided to” you found the resources, the people and the support you needed. In many cases they might have just seemed to magically appear. Well, not really magically…it’s just that universal force coming to the aid of those who decide to!

When those audience members told their life changing stories and said “I decided to stop smoking that minute and never smoke again,” it was over! The end! Decision made—no second thoughts!

My follow-up question proves this. After the audience applauded for each story, I’d quietly ask, “So how hard was it to stop a habit you’d had for so many years?”

The answers, again, were almost always identical. “Oh, it was almost effortless.” Now, you might say, “No way. You can’t just stop smoking cold turkey and not face a severe struggle.”

Again, I’d ask a follow-up question. “Had you ever attempted to stop smoking before that incident and then found you couldn’t stop?” Most of them had the exact same reply: “Oh yes, dozens of times…but that’s because I didn’t really decide to. I wanted to, tried to, hoped to, but only when I really truly decided to, could I do it.”

Now it’s your turn. Think of something you’d like to do, but just haven’t been able to do yet. Lose weight? Run a mile? Break 90 at golf? Learn to speak Spanish? Dance? Play piano? Be rich? Whatever it is, decide to do it!  

It’s not just saying those words, “I decided to” — it’s really meaning it and committing to yourself to do it. You CAN do it! Just decide to!