Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gratitude Isn't Just for Thanksgiving Day

      Hurricane Sandy totally destroyed her Breezy Point, New York home and she lost everything she owned. A roadside bomb in Iraq blew off both his legs and he lost his mobility. The lingering recession took the middle aged couple’s jobs, their home, their savings, and forced them to go bankrupt.
No doubt you’ve seen similar stories on TV, read about them in newspapers and magazines, and most likely you know people who in the past year have experienced devastating loss. You too may have lost something this past year. It might have been a major loss, or something as minor as your car keys, a few golf balls or a tooth or two. But whatever it is you’d classify as a loss, you can still be grateful.
Gratitude is the ability to focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost!
The woman on national TV, standing in front of her devastated Breezy Point home, was so filled with gratitude! She stood strong and smiled while expressing to the interviewer how grateful she was. Her family members were all alive, she said. Her neighbors had rescued them from the rising flood waters and got them to safety. Others were taking care of her now. “Oh,” she said over and over again, “I have so much to be grateful for!”
Yes, gratitude is your ability to focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost!
The soldier with no legs was shown in his wheelchair throwing a football to his young sons. He too looked into the TV camera, smiled broadly and expressed sincere gratitude to his fellow Marines who pulled him out of his blown up hum-vee, to the medics who stopped the bleeding, and to the doctor who saved his life. He said he was so grateful to be able to see his wife and kids again and to be there as his boys were growing up. “I lost my legs, but I still have my throwing arm. I can still be a Dad!”
Yes, gratitude is your ability to focus on what you have,
not on what you’ve lost!
And finally, that middle aged couple talking to a CNN reporter, spoke of their gratitude for the tiny apartment they now called home, for the used car a friend loaned them and for the part-time jobs they were able to find. Although it wasn’t even close to what they used to have, they both were so grateful.
So how about you?
What do you now have that fills you with gratitude?
Cicero, the wise Roman philosopher, said in 40 B.C., “Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others!”  How wise he was, and his words are still so applicable today.
Here’s what you can do.
1.   Just for the next 30 days, as you’re brushing your teeth (or tooth) in the morning, begin the day by looking in the mirror and thinking of what you can be grateful for.
2.   Then say out loud … so only you can hear it, “Today I’m grateful for …”
3.   At the end of 30 days see how this simple little exercise has made you feel. If it has helped you in a positive way, keep doing it! If not, then stop the gratitude expressions and start focusing instead on all the things you’ve lost … and see how that makes you feel!
Someone I know writes something in her journal every day that she’s grateful for. Her life is filled with wonderful things, amazing people and extraordinary experiences. She’s proved to herself that gratitude isn’t just for Thanksgiving Day. It’s for every day! 

You CAN Make it a GRATEFUL day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's Never Too Late & You're Never Too Old

“It’s never too late, and you’re never too old,” claimed world-famous physical fitness legend Jack LaLanne, and before anyone could say “Prove it, Jack!” he did. He was still doing strenuous daily workouts well into his nineties.
On his 65th birthday—the age at which many people retire and begin taking life even easier than before—Jack performed a feat that you might have thought only a young Olympian would attempt: he swam across Lake Ashhinoko in Japan while towing 65 boats containing a total of 6,500 pounds of wood pulp!
Sound pretty amazing? Well, what do you think of this? To celebrate his 70th birthday, Jack dove into 60ยบ water off Long Beach, California and swam one mile while towing 70 boats containing a total of 70 people. It took him 2½ hours to complete the task, and—believe it or not—his hands and feet were bound together!
At the age of 81 as he released a new fitness video, Forever Young, he said, “I feel no different now than when I was 21. I’m in as good shape now as I was back then!”
Amazing? Yes, especially when you consider how feeble many people are by then. But perhaps it really isn’t amazing if you believe, as Jack LaLanne does, that this is what all people are capable of. You included!
Here’s what you can do:
  1.  Set goals for yourself, so you don’t get old! Goals keep you looking ahead, rather than back.
  2.  Tighten your stomach muscles at red lights.
  3.  Run in place as you talk on the phone.
  4.  Eat less and less, not more and more. Choose healthier foods and snacks.
  5.  Buy clothes one size too small.
  6.  Collect pictures of super-fit people.
  7.  Do some physical activity every day. Walk up five flights of stairs. Bike ride to work or shopping. Jog home from work. Swim for twenty minutes. Take up a new sport.
  8.  Don’t grow old! Age is a state of mind, and you’re only as old as you think you are.
Ask yourself, “How old would I be if I didn’t know how old I was?”
  9.  Make a commitment today, right now, to attain, and then maintain, a high level of physical fitness. It’s never too late, and you’re never too old!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Secret of "Pandora's Hope"

You've probably heard the term "Pandora's Box" used as an expression. "Oh, it was as if he had opened Pandora's Box!" meaning to unwittingly unleash chaos or misery upon yourself or others.
Maybe you've actually done that very thing. You think something could be good, and then discover it's the exact opposite. Like the family that gets their young kids their first pet -- a six-month-old mutt from the pound that looks so cute and lovable -- only to find three months later, they've opened "Pandora's Box" and now have a nine-month-old 90-pound monster destroying their furniture, shoes and even chewing on the walls.
Chaos is a word often used to describe many people's lives today. Here's where Pandora's Box can help you. Yes, help you through the toughest of times, the biggest of challenges and the mind-numbing effects of change! How?
First you need to go back to the Greek mythology that created the story of Pandora's Box.  Here's the short version: The Greeks considered Pandora to be the first woman on earth. Zeus had her created and he told Pandora not to open a special "jar" she was given. Overcome by curiosity, she opened it. Upon doing so, she released all the evils it contained into the world. This myth is supposed to explain why evil exists in the world, and probably to blame woman for it!
When Pandora opened that jar and released all the evils into the world, she managed to save one thing inside -- HOPE. Oh, those wise Greeks knew that what the world needed to cope with and overcome evil was hope! HOPE is defined as "a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life."
You need hope in your life right now, today, this very minute! Whoever you are, whatever your age, your career or your circumstances, there is always HOPE.  
When the world says to you, "Give up, you can't win," HOPE whispers in your ear, "You can do it! Give it one more try, and if that's not enough, give it one more again."
My next door neighbor for many years was an F-105 pilot in the Viet Nam war. Tom Browning's plane was shot down, he was captured by the Viet Cong and held as a prisoner of war for over six years. He was held at the same time as Sen. John McCain and James Stockdale (who ran for Vice President in 1992).  All three of these men, along with so many others, endured unimaginable torture, deprivation and hardship.
Tom, who is now a Retired Brigadier General, explained that one of the main reasons they were able to survive their ordeal was that they never gave up the HOPE that they would be freed. The survivors had proved that hope is what will keep you going in the times of your life when you feel lost,   helpless and discouraged.
Shakespeare wrote, "The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope." Hopefully you're not miserable! But you may at times become discouraged and pessimistic, and feel, "What's the use?"  This is the time to think of Pandora's Box. In spite of all the evils she released into the world, HOPE remained safe inside the box, so it could help you in these challenging times.
I hope this gives YOU hope!
MAKE it a great day!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Being Responsible "To" Not "For"

Once You’ve Done Your Part, You’ll Rest Easy
You care about others! You want to help and serve others! You know that if you help others achieve what they want to achieve then you in turn will be rewarded—both in tangible and intangible ways. If that’s you, then your desire to help others might sometimes cause you to feel stressed out, worried and frustrated because those you’re attempting to help don’t always follow your advice. They often resist doing the things you know they should be doing for their own good.
The solution is to adopt the attitude and mindset of being “responsible to” not “for.” There’s a huge difference between those two responsibilities!  
Here’s an example: If you’re the parent of a young child, you’re responsible both “to” and “for.” That’s right. You’re responsible “to” provide your little one with food, clothing, shelter, love and a safe environment. You’re also responsible “for” their actions and behaviors until they grow up. But once they’ve grown up, the “for” goes away and only the “to” remains.
My wife Judy and I are the parents of two wonderful daughters. They’re married women with children of their own. We’re not responsible “for” them anymore! However, the responsible “to” them is still there and will always be there! We are responsible “to” give them love and encouragement, and our advice and honest input when asked for it. But what they do with that input is their responsibility, not ours. That way we feel comfortable, knowing we did our part—the responsible “to” part.
You can too, both in your personal and professional life. For example, in your business career, here are some things you’d be responsible to be doing:
  • Being prepared
  • Telling the truth
  • Putting your customer first
  • Following through
  • Being on time
  • Being a team player
  • Bringing passion & enthusiasm
  • Expressing gratitude
OK, you get the point. There are lots more we can name:
In Selling, as the sales professional, you’re responsible “to” your customer—to sell what your prospect/customer needs or wants at a fair price and “to” provide follow-up service after the sale. Yes, you show value, you close and you ask for the decision…but you’re not responsible “for” that decision—they are!
In Leadership, as the leader, you’re responsible “to” your team—to provide the tools, equipment and training they need to get their job done safely and efficiently. You’re responsible “to” reward them, praise them and encourage them. But you’re not responsible “for” their happiness, their sense of accomplishment or their job satisfaction—they are!
In Speaking, as the presenter, you’re responsible “to” your audience—responsible “to” be prepared, energized, focused on their needs, with a message that can help them. But you’re not responsible “for” how your audience members put those ideas into action!
Decide now to put more of your effort and energy into the responsible “to” portion and less into the “for.”  You’ll sleep better at night and enjoy life so much more.
I was responsible “to” share this timeless truth with you, and now that I’ve done my part, you’re responsible “for” its implementation in your life and your career!

MAKE it a great day!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A True Story of "Hippies" to "Helping Heroes"

Selling is helping!  It really is for some people. They have a sincere desire to use their products and services to help their customers improve something in their life, whatever that something may be. Here's a true story that shows how you can be as successful as you decide to be... especially if you embrace the "Selling is helping"philosophy.  

A chance look at a Facebook page recently triggered a memory in my mind going back to 1976.

Imagine it's 1976 and you're my invisible partner. We drive to a tiny store in what's called "the river bottom" a dumpy area between south Scottsdale and north Tempe, AZ. Two hippie looking young men in sandals greet us at the door under their sign "The Byte Shop."  One of their products is a computer hobby kit. Yes, computers were being built by hobbyists in those days. They were not yet going out to the general was mostly just the "geeks."  The owners of "The Byte Shop", Alan Hald and Jeff McKeever, were both visionaries. Oh, back then they weren't called that-they were most likely called "Hippie Geeks" or "Nerds." 

As you observe this first meeting of Alan, Jeff and myself, you too notice what was catching my attention-their passion and their commitment to succeed. What they wanted was to learn to sell even better. They wanted me to come in and do sales meetings for them and their handful of employees. They told me that if they could sell better they could help more people see the benefits of computers.

Since my approach has always been "selling is helping" we clicked. We agreed on a fee and a plan, and I immediately began to help them help their customers. We did lots of little meetings in that tiny river bottom store-and Alan and Jeff's little business began to experience amazing growth. Four years later they opened their first real store in Paradise Valley Mall. 

They renamed "The Byte Shop" to "MicroAge", took the company public in 1995, and had 6,000 employees doing over $6 billion in annual sales as a Fortune 500 company! Because of their passion for helping their customers understand the computer and its potential impact on their customers' lives, they were driven to succeed.

Now how about you? How much "helping" do you have built in to your business? Are you a believer that when you sell your products and services you're helping the customer? 

It's true, because when your prospects have a need or want that your products and services fill, you're helping them when you help them buy it.

How big do you want to grow? How much money do you want to earn? And more importantly... How many people do you want to help?

Here's what you can do... See selling as helping, even if it's a hassle sometimes. Be passionate about your commitment to help your customers solve their needs and wants with your products and services, and you'll be helping hero in your customer's eyes! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

3 Steps to Better Sales Meetings

"Oh, No! Not Another Meeting!"  
Think back to the last sales meeting you attended as a sales professional. It could have been as recent as today. Or, if you're now a sales manager or executive, it could have been decades ago that you sat in a sales meeting as a participant. In either case, you're probably very familiar with what happens. Either the meeting is terrible, or it's amazing! A recent survey by reported these statistics:
  • Only 3.8% of respondents rated their sales meetings as "excellent."
  • Over 79% said their meetings were not even worth attending!
How would your sales meetings rate?
In my professional speaking career and work as an executive speech coach and meeting consultant, I've attended over 2800 sales meetings. Sadly my experience mirrors the survey results above. Why are so many sales meetings generating the cry, "Oh no, not another sales meeting!?"  If you're a sales manager or an executive in charge of putting on meetings of any kind - sales meetings, employee meetings or management meetings - I can help you make them amazing! I've been doing it successfully for many years and now it's become one of my specialties. For example, here are three things you can do immediately. And if you're a Sales Professional, you can pass these ideas on to your Sales Manager. Here they are:

First idea, TLA ... 
That's an acronym for Think Like the Audience! Don't think like a sales manager. Think like the people in the seats. Management sees the big picture and thinks long term. Salespeople think, "What can I do today to make a sale?" 

One client had me attend their sales meeting prior to helping them improve. It was shocking to watch their CEO spend 27 minutes explaining the challenges of a pending IPO scheduled for five months down the road, and then the intricacies of the stock price, and then close with his passionate plea to cut back on their expense accounts. It was shocking because the 287 salespeople in this company didn't have stock options! An IPO was about as important to them as the weather forecast for five months down the road. And "expense account cutting" is the euphemism salespeople interpret as "cut back on spending to build relationships with your best customers and prospects."

Now do the math. Twenty seven minutes on the 4-hour agenda. Not that much, right? Hold on. You have to look at those 27 minutes times 287 salespeople! Now you have 7,749 minutes or 129 hours of potential selling time. Wow, that's a lot of wasted time! Next time you put an item on your agenda, multiply it by the number of people in the seats, and ask yourself this one simple question: "Will this help these people increase their sales?"

Here's your second idea... Increase/Decrease
What can you do that will decrease or increase something now being done, that in the mind of your sales team, they will see as helping them sell even more? Can you decrease paperwork, reports, inventory shortages, the number of emails you send? You know this, but it's often forgotten that the only real selling time a sales pro has that counts is when they are face-to-face or voice-to-voice with a qualified prospect. Anything you can do to decrease activities that don't support that, you'll be a hero in their eyes. 
Once you've decreased stuff, switch mental gears and think "increase." What can you bring to your next sales meeting that increases field training, building of sales skills, prospecting skills, product knowledge, awareness of marketing shifts, self-motivation ideas, presentation skills, follow-up effectiveness, customer service, etc! If it doesn't help them sell more, forget it!

And your third idea... Seek feedback 
Why? Because without getting feedback, even if you use TLA, and give them tools and ideas to increase sales, you'll never know how effective you really were. Oh, I know you're thinking, "We do send out an email after the meeting." Right, and if you're fortunate you'll get 35% back. You need 100% feedback and you can get it! Here's how you do it. Let's start with simplest first and move to ideal last. 

The simplest way is to provide a blank index card and prior to closing your sales meeting just say this:  "This meeting was designed to (state your objective). Your feedback is vital to helping make our next meeting even better. Please take that blank 3x5 card and write at the top your job title: Sales - Marketing - Support - Management, etc. No names. Below your title just write a number from 1 Low to 10 High, on how helpful this meeting was to you to increase your sales. Be totally honest. I really want to know! Now please pass the cards to the center aisle and my helpers will pick them up."

If you will do this you will have a baseline for your next sales meeting. It's so simple isn't it? OK, if you just agreed, how about doing the next step... adding two more questions for the 3x5 index card. 

"Everyone please take that blank index card you have and write four things on it. 
#1 - Your job title. 
#2 - 1-Low to 10-High on the overall meeting." 
Just like we said earlier, but now you add these two questions:   
#3 - "In just a very few words, what's one thing we could have done to make this sales meeting even better for you? Please skip requests for free beer or go to Maui. 
#4 - What was the best part of this sales meeting? Your best take-away? Again, in just a few words. I'll know what you mean!"

If you did this you would have such valuable information to help you improve, wouldn't you? 
OK, if you just agreed, here's the ideal way to get feedback. Have a pre-printed card with those four questions on the card: Job Title, 1 to 10 Overall Meeting, What to Improve and What was the Best? Take all those responses and summarize them by category. The numerical responses make it easy to average out. Get a final average score, let's say 7.16. OK, that's your beginning number. Your goal for the next meeting?  8.0+.  Use the responses to the last two questions to structure the content of your next meeting. And what if your attendees think the meeting stunk? At least you'll know what the stinking parts are, and you can fix them! Don't fear negative feedback! Use it to keep improving! Since 1974 almost every audience I've been paid to speak for (and that's over 2800 of them) I've used a similar feedback card. It's the best idea I've ever implemented in my own business.  

So, is that all there is? No, it's really just the beginning! If this has made sense to you, let me give you a list of many other specific ways I can help you make your Sales Meetings AMAZING! For example, I'll help you...
  • Create powerful meeting themes.
  • Add energy-boosting humor.
  • Generate audience participation.
  • Use a pre-assignment to build involvement & positive anticipation.
  • Make your awards & recognitions more meaningful.
  • Create exciting PowerPoint visuals using a little known technique I've developed.
  • Use stories to drive home your message.
  • Stay on time and end early.
  • Follow-up after the meeting is over.
PLUS, you'll learn...
  • A way to use your notes that's totally unique. (It's my invention.)
  • Five keys for using the room set-up to give you dynamic results.
  • Two things you MUST know to read your audience's receptivity.
  • How Bill Murray's movie "Groundhog Day" can change your career forever.
Contact me to find out EVEN MORE about tools, techniques and tactics that can help you... and let's get started!

MAKE it a great day!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

NOW... it's an unrepeatable miracle

NOW is a miracle. It’s also unrepeatable. But most people spend 58 minutes of every hour living somewhere other than right here, right now. They look backwards and live in the past, regretting lost joys and feeling guilt for things done badly—both of which are useless and debilitating activities. Or, they live in the future, which they either long for or dread. In doing so, they miss the miracle of NOW—this minute!

How about you? Missed any miracles lately?
  • Did you decide not to go swimming, even though you were at the beach, because you just had your hair done?
  • Did you buy the conservative navy-blue tie rather than the more debonair salmon-colored one because the navy wouldn’t show stains?
  • Did you stay off the dance floor even when the band played your favorite song just because no other couples were dancing?
  • Did you pout and make it a miserable day for yourself because your presentation at the staff meeting didn’t go as well as you hoped?
  • Did you tell your kids, “Later, I’m busy,” and continue brooding about that huge repair bill when they asked you to play with them?
We’ve all made mistakes like these and failed to live fully when we had the chance. But berating ourselves for it is also a waste of time. Far better to just grab the next moment before we miss that too! And when you grab it, hang on. Exhaust it. Drain it of its juices. Don’t give it back until there’s nothing left. Otherwise you might create your own version of a very sad story about a young man who was about to be executed for a crime.

At dawn on the day of his execution he stood on the bench in his prison cell, reached for the iron bars across the window and pulled himself up so he could see the countryside. It was spring, and as the sun edged above the horizon he saw his world as if for the first time. He was startled by the brilliant colors of the flowers as they were illuminated by the sunlight. He noticed the lushness of the fields, the rich smell of the freshly tilled soil, and the pleasant sounds of the town stirring to life.

Straining to hold himself up to the window, he continued to stare wide-eyed. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He knew he had missed this miracle countless times before and would no longer be alive to appreciate it. When the jailers came to lead him to the gallows, he was still clinging to the window with all his might, in awe of the sunrise on this spring day. They had to pull him down and drag him away.

The wonder of life had always been there, but he had been preoccupied with regret for the past and dread of the future.

Here’s what you can do:
1.  Spend a few more minutes of every hour fully living the unrepeatable miracle that is NOW.
2.  Work at your work, play at your play, shed your tears, enjoy your laughter. NOW is the only time of your life!
3.  See things in perspective…
   dive into that ocean and forget your hair
   buy that special tie, dress or outfit
   dance to your song and ignore others
   forget the disappointing presentation you made … just improve the next one
   take time with each of your children if you have them. From the day they are born, you have only 18 summers before they’re grown and gone. Think of it! Spend time with them NOW and see the miracle daily!

Monday, January 2, 2012

When You Answer These 7 Questions It's Like Having a Crystal Ball

Here's something you can do right now to make 2012 an AMAZING year!  You're already busy, of course -- but before time gets away from you, why not take stock of your priorities for the year ahead? We're not talking about New Year's Resolutions here! They don't work!  In fact, based on Gallup Poll findings, 24% of New Year's Resolutions are broken in the very first week! 53% are broken within six months! And get this, 92% are broken by year end!
As an alternative, as you visualize your priorities for the year ahead, here's an exercise you can do, and I think you'll find it very helpful. The exercise consists of asking yourself these six questions about last year:
1.  What was your biggest success in 2011?
2.  What was the best decision you made?
3.  What was the most important lesson you learned?
4.  What made you the happiest?
5.  Who had the greatest positive impact on you?
6.  What were you most grateful for?
Now I've got one more important question for you ... and the answer to this question will help you see things even more clearly in 2012. Here's the question:
7. If you could re-live 2011, knowing now everything that happened, and everything you did to make things happen the way they did, what would you do differently?  
Answering all seven questions is like having a crystal ball! Save these, and your answers to them, in a safe place. At the end of each year, answer them again. You'll find clarity and conviction to carry you through the year, as you accomplish whatever you decide is really important to you!  
And forget New Year's Resolutions! Instead, make a commitment to yourself that you WILL MAKE 2012 a wonderful year, in spite of change, in spite of conditions, in spite of circumstances!
Your life is your choice! What the New Year brings you is up to YOU!
MAKE it a great day...every day!    JOEL