Your Bio Was Intriguing, but Your Content was Incongruent
As a busy professional, I’d imagine you would agree with me that if your general opinion of meetings was published as a book, the title might be something like “Stop Wasting My Time”. Each week,
hundreds thousands millions of meetings likely occur around the globe. How in the world can you be sure the ones you choose to attend will be worth the time invested?
- Is it a “required” meeting? If this is a standing appointment, you may still choose to “pass” from time to time.
Weekly sales meetings are a good example. A well-run organization should appreciate that if you are not in the sales meeting because you are on an actual sales call with a customer or prospect, that is a good thing.
However, if the meeting is your quarterly or annual review with your boss to discuss your performance, expectations, or special project you are being asked to head up, then this one probably is a meeting you should attend.
- Did you call the meeting? Few examples in the world are more disrespectful than the one person who does not show up prepared (or, at all) for a meeting is the very person who called it. If you called it, you had most certainly show up (prepared) or respectfully cancel the meeting with plenty of lead time. [Trust me, the attendees will appreciate getting some unexpected time back.]
- Is the topic relevant to you? Take a look at the information regarding the presenter or the topic and decide if that message is relevant enough to your current projects, responsibilities or interests to take the time to attend. If it is relevant, and you believe you will learn something from it, I’d say your attendance would be worthwhile.
- Who else do you expect to attend the meeting? One of the best ways to get in front of a client, prospect, or influential person is to “happen to bump into them at a meeting” and learn you have a “shared interest in a topic.” One of my most fun meetings occurred on a Saturday morning, 28-mile bicycle ride when nobody else showed up except for me and the director of an economic development team. We showed up to ride bikes, but learned a lot about each other’s business, too!
- Geography If you live in a large, metropolitan area, the idea of “just across town” can literally mean an eighty-mile round trip, or worse- getting caught in a crushing traffic jam at least one-way of your traverse to attend the meeting. If there is a 60-minute meeting that requires me to spend an hour or more in transit when I have no other business in the area or the above questions are void of compelling answers, I will likely skip it, no matter how much I “support the organization”. It’s simply not the best use of my time.
Recently, a monthly group I have been recently attending (I even spoke to this particular group a couple of months prior) announced their program speaker. I went down the list above and determined that given the reputation of the speaker (he was quite credentialed) and the opportunity to network with a few people I expected to see there, that I’d make the 40 mile drive (one-way) “across town” to the meeting. The lunch was tasty (maybe I should add a “culinary options” question to the list above as sushi is a definite plus for this particular meeting). The conversation fed my creative brain with some ideas for my new program under development – another plus. But…. to say the featured speaker was running a little late would be an understatement. He arrived about 10 minutes before the scheduled end of the meeting.
As If That Wasn’t Enough…
The moderator for the event acknowledged the promised “running time” for the meeting and informed the late-arriving speaker he could still have 10-minutes to present. [Again, as a speaker who has traveled extensively, I understand that things happen. I was annoyed, but kept an open mind. “Let’s see what he can do with 10 minutes”, I thought.
Here Is Where He Lost Me
With great anticipation, and a hurried introduction, the presenter jumped right into his presentation. I suppose the elephant in the room was his tardiness. Without any explanation, he just started into his presentation….that he did not appear to tweak one iota. How do I know that, you ask? His opening statement…I mean he built it up as a cardinal rule for meeting speakers…was “Rule #1″…. He spent three minutes (30% of his time) touting (are you ready for it?) the importance of arriving early at every speaking engagement to build connection with his audience! If that wasn’t enough, he then paused (remember, he’s only been given ten minutes to present) to shout out an order to the restaurant employee quietly clearing the table for an order of coffee…”black.” I quietly packed up my notes, stood up, nodded to the meeting facilitator, and hit the door. What a hack! [I later learned he went straight into a sales pitch from there.]
I have been on the fence about this particular group for a while. I had made a specific point to attend, as this speaker had worked with some of the biggest names in the business. His materials touted him to be “America’s #1 Expert on Sales“….too bad I didn’t stick around to hear his pitch! [Note: He was there to promote an upcoming event to which he was selling tickets…I will NOT be attending.]
If you call a meeting – show up ready for it. If you attend a meeting – know why you are there. If someone wastes your time – question whether it is important enough for you to attend the next one. And, if you are ever the featured speaker for a meeting, make sure you show up early to build some rapport with the audience or stop wasting my time!
Set goals. Make resolutions. Change. Do something different. Each of these concepts have a common thread. They are all about altering behavior and establishing expecations. Remember, I don’t think goal setting works (well, sort of…read here).
Recently, the following quote was shared with me, and it sparked a conversation which got me thinking.
@LeadershipBEST: The best way to see Faith is to shut the eye of Reason ~ Benjamin Franklin
When I read this, I immediately honed in on the aspect of the words “Faith” and “Reason” were both capitalized. My perception of the quote was that having faith (from a spiritual perspective) was exclusive of being able to apply reason when explaining the “un-explainable” or something one does not fully “understand”. Dianne Reilly (@LeadershipBEST) and I had a pleasant exchange regarding the quote, and I learned her perspective of the quote was less about the religious aspect of faith and more about “acceptance” of topics that affected us in life in a more general sense. By being open-minded to her thoughts, I began to think about how the quote was truly relevant to us both, even while the implied meaning of the exact same grouping of words (the quote) appeared to mean something very different to each of us. (Thanks again, Dianne, for the great back-and-forth!)
A few years ago, I was working on a customer-retention project for a client who was incorporating a newly purchased product line into his existing business structure as a new division. The client and I agreed to a list of expectations, assigned various performance incentives to our contract, and set a course of action with a lofty goal of 95% customer retention.
The challenge we encountered, however, became a flash point upon discovery that I had relied on the implied quality of data, regarding the list of existing customers. Almost immediately, it became evident that there was a fair amount of missing data (phone numbers, addresses, and other customer specifics) which made it impossible to contact the customer (a metric we were relying on to trigger the performance bonuses). In my mind, to gauge the success rate to which we’d agreed, the base number used in the calculation should be adjusted to remove 1) a small group of specific customers the owner asked I NOT contact- as he wanted to reach out them himself, and 2) customers with completely missing data that neither a postcard, email, nor phone call were possible for contacting. Seems reasonable, right? Well, the client disagreed with my assessment. While we had agreed on the percentage, we were not explicit in discussing how to handle the poor data set in the calculation of that percentage. Though we both sought success, a dispute over the calculation of success ultimately led to the early termination of the project, when the client refused to pay out the incentive for the achieved 95% goal, based on his view on how the ratio should have been calculated.
The term “goal” is often used as a substitute for “expectation” or “desired outcome”. If you think about it, desired outcome is really somewhat subjective. Have you ever heard of a boss, team leader, or company owner who was upset when a “goal” was exceeded by 50%? How about when a boss consistently demands “more”, but shouts disappointment when the sales team turns in a result $1 greater than last year. They thought they hit the goal. Often times the boss had something else in mind. From the other side, what about the media reaction to a sports team who quite handily whips their opponent on the field? The superior team wanted to win (the goal) but often find themselves blasted by critics for being unsportsmanlike. Confused? You should be. Expectations, however, should be clear. By both sides. Every time.
How to Beat Your Goals Every Time
There are two simple ways to beat your goals every time:
Set your goals too low. Know what you are capable of (or worse, what you already know you will achieve) and set the bar right there. Doing this creates an artificial feeling of accomplishment that likely fills a short term desire of feeling successful, yet rarely delivers the long-term satisfaction and success truly successful people seek.
Focus on Changing Behavior-
To continually and successfully blow away your goals (and I’m talking about those big time expectations you have), the key is to focus on changing your behavior. Here’s what I mean:
Instead of setting an artificial goal:
- “I will beat last years number.”, or
- “I will lose 35 pounds this year”, or
- “Sell 20% more than last year”
Focus on activity-based goals, instead:
- I will log my food intake daily, focusing on making healthy replacements in my diet.
- Each week, I will meet face-to-face with two new contacts.
- Attend one professional association meeting a month. Already attend one regularly? Commit to attending a second meeting each month, even if it rotates among several organizations. Just get out there. (And stuff some business cards in your pocket, because you’re going to be looking for new people to meet up with in those one-on-one, face-to-face meetings!)
- Commit to show up for work (even if you work from a home office or a local coffee shop) 15-minutes earlier each day.
- Strive to work out (walk, bike, run, weight train, SOMETHING) 30 minutes a day, at least 4 days/week.
You get the idea, right? By focusing on what you can DO (what you can control), you will achieve lofty goals beyond your wildest imagination (what you can influence by taking appropriate action).
So, let’s start a discussion below about one or more of the new activity-based goals you will be focusing on, starting right now! Go ahead!
Stop Setting Goals
If you have been in business for very long, then you most certainly have experienced the typical “next year, our goal is to do more!” Or, “this year, our goal will be $X million dollars in sales!” [A number seemingly pulled out of thin air, or worse…a number simply a percentage greater than last year’s total.] This is precisely the reason you should never set goals. Let me explain.
“More” is not a strategy!
There is no creativity in goal setting today. Too often, what often gets construed as strategic planning, is not much more than wishful thinking. In short, people are lazy.
insanity- Taking the same action over-and-over again, each time expecting a different result.
Unhappy with the fact that the company’s sales results were essentially flat for a number of years, a company president shared with me once that “he wanted more”. Isn’t that exactly what conventional wisdom says a company president should say? In fact, it is exactly what that same company president had said in each of the previous five or six years…each time with the same result- roughly the same amount of sales as the year(s) before. Are you surprised?
Activity Alleviates Anxiety
Filled with desire to achieve a new result, do you ever feel paralyzed & uncertain what to do? Research indicates that learning occurs in four stages (Read: Unconscious Competence- A Lesson From Sesame Street). To first learn a new skill, or achieve a new result, one must first take a new action to discover that you likely don’t know what you don’t know- and you need awareness to turn that newly discovered knowledge into action from which you can learn. Once you took that first step, did the outcome bring you closer to or farther from your desired result? Adjust. Try again. It certainly beats the analysis paralysis which prevents so many people from experiencing a change in the outcome of their efforts. Do something, even if it is wrong!
Where SHOULD You Focus?
To achieve big results, you must have a vision. To have a vision, you must allow yourself to detach from your past failures and engage with an image of what your new success looks or feels like. Go ahead. Get a vivid picture of success. What would be different if you achieved success? How would it look? Feel? Smell? What would people notice most about you?
Now, before you get overwhelmed with the natural feelings of “but I don’t know how to get there”, simply bask in that vision for a few minutes. Hey, take an hour!
Welcome back! Feels good, doesn’t it? Now, write down a list of new actions (short term) that would lead you closer to that vision becoming your reality. Want a new job? Apply for a new one every day for a month. Want to lose those extra pounds you gained over the holidays…four years ago? Decide to go for a walk for 30 minutes every day.
Recent, widely-quoted research seems to suggest that mastery of a skill occurs once you have exercised that skill for 10,000 hours. Becoming an “expert” is a lofty goal. [For those counting at home that is spending 12 hours a day, every day, for 27 months; or by spending 30 minutes a day for nearly 55 years-if you have that kind of time.] No matter your level of commitment each day, proficiency in any skill only comes from experience. There are no shortcuts!
Focus on building new behaviors. Experiment with new behaviors and identify the correlation with your vision. As you take more and more deliberate action in the correct direction, that vision will begin to come into focus. Celebrate the small victories. Track your progress toward the greater desired result. Just don’t gauge how well you are doing with a pass/fail mentality. Focus on moving yourself in the right direction. The big, satisfying goal will just seem to “happen”.
ACTION: Share a big goal publicly with others as a motivator to keep yourself accountable. Take a minute and describe your big vision below. Even if nobody reaches out to you to check your progress, YOU will remember it was posted here and the discomfort of complacency will encourage you to take action each day.
If you’re reading this article at the time of it’s original publication, then you know the new year is upon us. The good news is, no matter WHEN you read this, your “next year” can start RIGHT NOW!
Three Basic Steps to Make This Next Year All Yours!
I don’t care what has happened to you up until this point. You shouldn’t either. And the people who have not met you yet certainly only know what they will see as you go forward.What I mean to say is that it is helpful to be mindful of the past, but it is time to let it go.
Before you can take your next steps forward, you have to acknowledge, accept, and let go of the missteps in your past. Most of them probably were not your fault, anyway. For those that were, take the time to understand what happened, why it occurred, and consider how you might have handled each situation differently to re-direct the outcome towards something more favorable for you.
Wait…put down the gun! That isn’t what I had in mind when I suggested you should do something different. This is the place where you give some serious thought to what you want, and how to get it. Here’s a checklist for you:
- Honestly decide what you want your future to look like. How will it feel? What will you do differently? Who will you surround yourself with? When will you turn those wishes into action? Write this all down. You’re going to need it.
- Set goals for yourself. Using the information you wrote down in the step above, begin to assign some dates to items you want to do, achieve, or begin.
- Take deliberate action. HINT: This is the step you have most likely skipped in the past. For example: Do you want to bike your first century (100 mile) ride? Schedule one on the calendar, register for the ride online, then add your training rides to your actual calendar, so you can track your progress and preparation. Or, perhaps you want a new job. Schedule time each week to peruse job postings, work on your resume’, network with real people who work at the companies in which you are interested, and apply for a few new opportunities.
If you’ve done the work to honestly assess where you have been (how you got there) and identified where you are going (set a course shaped by new, deliberate action), then this part is easy. Taking the steps to get out of the rut you are in so you can make this next year all yours is the hardest part.
Once you have created new habits, the fruits of those new habits will continue to creep into your life and the old, unfulfilled life you used to know will be long gone. Before you know it, your life will be full of so much satisfaction, joy, happiness and accomplishment…the precise definition of an abundant life!
What is ONE BIG ITEM you will be working to achieve this next year? Share it below!
What Do You Think It Is REALLY Like Behind Bars?
It’s been said that a good friend is one who would come get you out of prison, but a great friend will be sitting next to you. Recently, I had an experience finding me in prison with a whole bunch of new friends. And, in only one day, I learned some valuable lessons — many of which are easily overlooked by the majority of us on the “outside”.
Several months ago, a colleague of mine had to decline a meeting we were attempting to schedule because he “had to go to prison that day”. I stopped in my tracks. “What?”, I replied. He confirmed that, indeed, he was going to prison the next day…and he smiled. Yesterday, I volunteered to attend (and help judge) a business plan competition carried out by the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) at the Cleveland Correctional Facility in Cleveland, TX. It was a moving experience. Here are a few of the lessons I learned in prison:
Everyone craves connection.
When the volunteers walked into the room, we were immediately met with a huge cheer from the PEP participants immediately melting away any scenes I had previously recalled from Shawshank Redemption or an episode of Sons of Anarchy. Early in the day, I asked one of the long-time volunteers what kept him coming back. “Just wait until the end of the day. You’ll understand” was his reply. In just one day, after hearing pitches for 14 legitimate businesses and observing the interactions between the PEP participants and executive volunteers, the only differences I saw between the two sides were the clothes. Everyone in the room wanted to be successful. Almost all of them also mentioned their families. Nobody focused on the differences.
Mentors can learn from you, too.
The focus for our day was to select four finalists (from a pool of 75+ business plans) in a “Shark Tank” style contest ahead of the finals, which would be judged the following day. What I found amazing was the type of conversations that occurred by the judges AFTER the pitches were over. Rarely did anyone seem to care that the presenter was a convicted criminal, rather the conversations were absolutely centered on the business attributes of the presented plans. Many of the mentors even considered the fictional “investment dollars” as if it truly was their own actual dollars to invest, wrestling back-and-forth with how to allocate the money.
Skills are transferable, even across very different disciplines.
No doubt, some of the men whose pitches were delivered yesterday once ran their own criminal enterprises. But when you pull back the curtain, allow for time and healing to occur, create distance from bad situations and influences, underneath it all are many of the same skills someone would need to create a successful business. Skills like marketing, business development, strategic planning, customer service, and, yes, even a little bit of “hustle”. I don’t know of a single, successful entrepreneur who made it without a little bit of hustle.
When telling someone your story, remember…it is your story to tell!
Each plan I reviewed yesterday included some information about how that individual found himself in jail. In many cases, I’d venture to guess what happened to them would not be much different from some of the decisions you or I might have made in a similar situation. These men, however, over the course of a six month program, learned that their story was just that. Theirs. Every one of them owned their story. Most are heartbreaking to read or hear. Each of them knows that a leader is not defined by what has happened to them, but how they react, learn, and grow from that experience.
A few years ago, following some setbacks in my own life, I wrote a book called Powerful People Overcome Powerful Failures. It is a success journal in which the reader invests 5-7 minutes a day to help get their thoughts and actions headed back in a positive direction. In retrospect, my challenges were not near as steep nor did they come with the consequences found by the men I met behind bars, however, the journey back to a blessed, fulfilled life was still a process. As you consider the setbacks, failures and obstacles you may strive to overcome, just remember these four lessons I learned in prison and chart a course forward. Abundance awaits, no matter what you have come through!
Click here to pick up your copy of Powerful People Overcome Powerful Failures (also available as an eBook).
Are You Guilty?
Leadership is a tricky subject. Being a leader is often even more challenging. Throughout history, leaders of lasting, continually successful efforts are great facilitators of ideas. However, when “senior leaders” take credit where NONE is due, the chances of them maintaining a lasting, genuine, productive relationship with their work groups becomes increasingly slim.
All to often, weak “leaders” will ask a question under the auspices of being a real question, only to interrupt the first participant in the room who speaks up as if the question was intended to be a rhetorical one with “an obvious answer” that only they could have foreseen.
At that point, the “facilitator” has poisoned the opportunity to build a sense of safety and belonging, in exchange for a short-term, self-ego-stroking, momentary act of domineering that rarely results an any resemblance of a “team”.
What kind of leader do you want to be: a facilitator or just a corporate dominatrix? The choice is defined by your actions.
What is a #CONNECTip?
A #CONNECTip is a quick, hard-hitting concept to help you Create the Opportunity for New Normal of Energetic, Collaborative Thinking for success! Follow #CONNECTip on Twitter or add some of your own using the hash tag!
The value of your network is only as good as the relationships you have with the people in it.
Earlier this week, I saw YET ANOTHER friend of mine on national television. This time it was Shon Fuller, who is in a national ad for Wal-Mart. Last season, another colleague of mine, Michael Dorsey, shared his very personal battle with weight loss as a member of the Blue Team on Season 14 of The Biggest Loser.
Just yesterday, I reconnected with an old friend I hadn’t seen since either of us had moved to Houston from Tulsa, Oklahoma…he moved here SIX YEARS AGO. Finally, this morning, I ran across an article in CRM (Customer Relationship Management magazine) featuring Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work, and Play, the latest book by New York Times best-selling author, Mark Ostrofsky…who just happens to also be a member of my local chapter of the National Speakers Association for which I serve on the Board. And it hit me….
I know a lot of people. In fact, I am probably one of the people Malcom Gladwell was talking about when he discussed connectors in his popular book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Well, not specifically me, but people like me. I’ve heard more than once that if “(I) am not the guy, then (I) am definitely the guy who KNOWS the guy”. You can be “that guy/gal”, too, if you simply apply a little bit of effort and apply the truth about networking nobody wants you to know (but you should).
Here’s the Issue:
By the time you realize you might need to USE your network to help yourself, it is already too late to start building a relationship with them. See if these sound familiar:
- Remember that one person who hit you up on LinkedIn, has only 14 connections, you haven’t seen since junior high, and they just messaged you asking to help circulate their resume because they got fired…yesterday? Loser!
- Being introduced to someone at a cocktail party who suddenly thinks you have just been on your first date, believes you are “the one” and suddenly you find yourself being introduced to their parents that same night? Run, Forest, Run!
- Or, my personal favorite, the friend you like to hang out with that is simply unable to just be your friend without trying to get you to sign up for “an amazing, ground-floor opportunity” with the latest MLM flavor of the month EVERY TIME THEY TALK TO YOU. Sorry, man. I love you, but dude, let’s just go get a beer, okay?
What to do:
Networking IS important. And, yes, sometimes it would be prudent (even professionally respectful) to ask for some assistance with an issue your NBF (new best friend) happens to know something about. Here is the truth about networking, on how to do it right and how to add VALUE to your connections:
- When sending a connection request on LinkedIn please STOP using the boring “I’d like to add you to my network on…blah blah blah”, canned message and give them a personalized request that references something you talked about when you met them. Something like, “I like to stay connected with people who love fajitas and bicycles as much as I do. Let’s go for a ride sometime!” They’ll “get it” when the auto-formatted message has a button at the bottom to “accept” your request…and they will REMEMBER how they felt about you when you met, realizing you had something in common.
- Get to know them first – See if you can set up a coffee, breakfast, or simply a quick call to meet with them and learn more about what THEY do. Ask how you can help THEM expand their circles of influence, make a connection with someone in your network that would be interested in what they do, or just talk about coffee. Seriously. If you can resist the temptation to talk about business during your “get better acquainted meeting” eventually they will ask how they could help you—most likely increasing the chances they actually will!
- Keep in touch with them – Just because you met at a networking event seven years ago and haven’t spoken sense does not mean they will remember anything about you or why you even exchanged cards. Once in a while, forward something to them that relates to their area of expertise and ask a question or simply say “I thought you might find this of interest.” When you NEED that connection, it will already be deeper, even if they never respond to your messages.
- Remember that people inherently do want to help you – Just resist the urge to always be asking. The fastest way to get a referral is to give one. Try it!
When your phone starts to ring IN with offers to help or a need for expertise, you will know all of that pre-work was worth the effort…especially when people begin to send personal referrals.
Who knows, someone will EVENTUALLY remember that I have a strong desire to host a game show and I will get the call. Until then, let’s chat about how I work with professionals like you who want to build lasting, profitable relationships with clients so they can live the life they deserve on their own terms!
I know I didn’t email you back and I am not necessarily sorry.
Why you shouldn’t apologize, either!
How do you feel when someone you know tells you, “I’m not going to email you again, because you never reply to me, anyway”? I would venture to guess it makes one feel like you have been sent to “time out”! It does to me.
Recently, I have heard that from enough people to realize I may need to address the issue. At least, that’s what I first thought. And then I thought about it- see if this sounds familiar:
In recent history, have you:
- Experienced population growth in your household?
- Accepted a new job or role within your company?
- Offered to serve in a leadership role of a volunteer organization?
- Moved to a new city, state, or part of the country?
- Taken up a new hobby you really enjoy?
For many people, simply adopting one of the above suggestions would be a “game changer” for your priorities. The shift compounds exponentially when you take one two, three, or even ALL of the above. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed. If I were to speculate as to what has “suffered” as a result of your new (and very productive, satisfying endeavors) becoming a significant part of your life, I might guess your email might not be as important as it once was, along with less time on social media, dealing less with OPD (other people’s drama), feeling sad or lonely, and generally feeling less satisfied with life.
When you make significant activity changes in your life and shift your focus to yourself, many benefits surface. Most people report experiencing:
- Better health
- Stronger personal relationships
- Feelings of gratitude
- Increased satisfaction in the workplace, or even
- The joy of becoming a parent for the first time.
Taking deliberate steps to improve your own life doesn’t mean you should ignore your responsibilities as a friend, co-worker, association member or neighbor….but it IS okay to enjoy the fruits of your decisions and shake off that guilt for not returning ALL of those emails as quickly as someone else thinks perhaps you should have. The CONNECTion you build as a result of living a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life will far outweigh responding to the demands of others.
However, ignoring ALL of those emails could be detrimental to your business, so be sure to carve out a little time for them…You just don’t have to apologize for taking a little longer to respond.
Get active. Get healthy. Do something you WANT to do. Make good in the world. CONNECT!