The Best Thing About Being in Sales

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I’d be the first to admit that selling, or being in sales, isn’t for everybody. You have to like people, and not necessarily people with your same likes and opinions. You have to like a wide variety of people. Sometimes you have to find a way to build at least a working relationship with people who you otherwise might not even associate with.

If you’re going to be in sales you must be mostly self-motivated. The most motivated sales manager in the world will not be able to motivate someone that just doesn’t want to be motivated.

Professional salespeople can have a lot of freedom and they can make a lot of money. I heard a speaker say one time that sales “is the easiest low paying job in the world” or “the hardest, best paying job in the world.” It’s a salesperson’s choice!

The best thing about being in sales is that professional salespeople control their own destiny. There are many factors which can have an impact on the environment that you sell in; the economy, the fluctuating price of commodities, or some surprise activity of your competition.

It would be naive to suggest that those factors don’t matter but none of them, or even all of them combined, have as much impact as a professional salesperson’s attitude. That’s the reason I believe that salespeople control their own destiny, because they also have complete, 100% control over their attitude.

Now I know some stuff about controlling an attitude, or more accurately and honestly, about NOT controlling an attitude. It’s simply easier to be negative and staying positive is a battle we should fight often and continually. There’s really no secret to winning that battle, it’s just a matter of being aware that the battle exists.

Salespeople often face a frequent stream of negative information, feedback and issues. It can make some days such a challenge that the battle is more like a war. But how you react is still your choice, no one else’s!

As you move into the final quarter of 2012 and begin to look forward to a great New Year you may hear some rumblings, noise I like to call it, about the challenges you’ll possibly face in our 2013 marketplace. If I’ve learned anything in my years in business it’s that the future is pretty hard to predict. There are at least as many positive indicators as there are negative indicators for 2013. The people who focus on the negative ones will lose the attitude battle and that will prove costly to them in the coming year.

Losing that battle could lead to a self-fulfilling prophesy that no one wants and that no one can afford. Your success in controlling your attitude could be the single greatest contributor to your overall success, and not just next year, but every year.

So, as you plan your 2013, plan for a great year, commit to working the fundamentals of sales that work regardless of outside influences. Commit to doing all the little things that you know will make a big difference. Plan for big wins and maybe even a few small loses, and most of all, plan to avoid the “noise” and stay positive.

In 2013, plan to be the absolute master of your destiny, after all, it’s the best thing about being in sales.

What President Obama Taught Me

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Ok, I’ll admit right up front the title is deceiving. The President didn’t really teach me anything this week but I sure did learn a lot from writing a post about him.

The post was meant to be fun. It was just poking fun at some of his positions and they aren’t even really his positions because in the interest of fun, I may have embellished them just a bit.

I could and might, write the same kind of post about Mitt but that might be like kicking a guy when he’s down. It wasn’t a serious political statement but many people, many many people, sure took it that way.

So what did I learn?

I learned I should stay out of politics. I don’t think I have the backbone for it. There are way too many people that are way too passionate about it. Not only passionate but unreasonably passionate. On both sides of the aisle.

I learned that many people who would have agreed with the post jumped to conclusions. They clearly didn’t read past the first paragraph or the title before they began to rip me on Twitter and unfollow me. These are the people that don’t want the facts to interfere with their opinion.

I learned that some people are just, if you’ll pardon the expression, whack jobs. I had several people DM me to tell me they would unfollow me immediately for “blasphemy” and that God would see me burn in hell for talking against his holy son, Obama. I can only hope these people aren’t U.S. citizens with the right to vote.

Speaking of voting, a few also said I should be banned from voting for disagreeing with the President. I guess if we did it that way all the political commercials could finally stop. Again, I can only hope those folks aren’t U.S. citizens, if there are they should immediately study the constitution to learn how silly they really sound.

But here’s the best thing I learned. The United States, and the world for that matter, is full of reasonable people who can differ with someone’s opinion and not hate them for it. I received many tweets from people saying they didn’t agree with the post, didn’t like “the tone” of the post or just thought I was plain wrong but they also said they respect my right to say it.

That’s what the United States is really all about, smart, reasonable people can disagree and still get along. No matter who wins the election in November there will be no riots, no strikes and no violence.

Despite the over zealous people on the left and on the right, the majority, the vast, vast majority of people are well balanced, well meaning people.

That should give all of us, the world over, all the hope we need to persevere.

Why We Need President Obama

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As the U.S. Election Day edges closer each day we hear more and more about why NOT to vote for one candidate or the other. There really hasn’t been much said about why TO vote for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

Now I must admit I don’t know much about politicking, there must be some research that says it’s more effective to tear down your opponent than to build yourself up. Good companies would never market a product that way and very few professionals would ever attempt to build their personal brand by ripping on someone else. But like I said, I don’t know much about politics.

So I thought I would help the President out and on his behalf, share why the United States needs him for another 4 years.

First, the United States and it’s citizens have been way too cocky ever since the victory over the English back in 1770’s. We always thought we were pretty hot stuff and way too many Americans still think we are. Another four years of President Obama reminding the world and the United States of all our mistakes and we might just figure out that we’re really just a bunch of colonizing, money hungry creeps. We need President Obama to put us in our place!

Second, the money in the United States is VERY unevenly distributed. The people who work seem to have it all. It is extremely unfair that someone should have more money than me simply because they are willing to work harder than me. The United States is supposed to be the land of opportunity but that’s just not true. It’s only the land of opportunity for those willing to work to make an opportunity for themselves. That is just not fair. President Obama will take the money from people who work and give it to those who won’t. That really is the only fair way to divide the money; we can’t consider ourselves the richest country on earth when only people that work hard can get rich.

Third, why should anyone have to be a U.S. citizen to enjoy the rights and freedoms that young Americans fight and die for? In the next four years President Obama would have the time (and flexibility) to extend those rights to all people of the world. If we would all (at least those who work) be willing to pay a tax rate of 75-80% there would be more than enough money to support everyone who wanted to live here. I personally have no problem paying an income tax rate of even 100% if it means I can quit my job and live for free….. (Um, well maybe there are a few details left to work out).

Forth, President Obama knows about free. Whenever a new government program is offered up too many people ask “how will this get paid for”? Paid for? It’s from the government people, IT’S FREE! It doesn’t have to be paid for, it’s automatically paid for. I’ll never understand why people don’t understand that. In the next four years President Obama will work for all people to make even more stuff free. I don’t know about you, but I like free stuff a lot.

President Obama has shown us leadership the likes of which has never been seen before. If every freedumb lover votes for President Obama I’m certain he can be re-elected. With four more years and no more pesky elections to deal with I’ll bet we’ll all be amazed at what he can accomplish.

Delegate the Details!

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The higher up the leadership ladder you go the less detail oriented you should be. If that seems counterintuitive to you then you just might be a micromanager!

This is a clear example of the “what got you here won’t keep you here” kinda thing that many motivational speakers talk about. When successful people first start out every detail matters to them. They know that it’s not really the devil in the details; they know that their success is in the details.

The challenge for these detail-oriented people is that as they move up in an organization the very details that helped them move up are now blocking their view of the bigger picture they should be seeing.

These successful people have clearly learned a lot from the people above them but they missed one huge lesson – leave the details to the people who will follow you into leadership positions.

Great leaders are not detail oriented but they used to be. That’s how they got to be great leaders. What keeps them being great leaders is trusting the people they lead with the details. Leaders set the vision, they pass along the big picture and determine outcomes.

When they delegate they provide coaching and the required outcome. They provide an outline of rules, budgets and resources and then they get the heck out of the way.

Great leaders help build more leaders by allowing their people to handle the details. Effective leadership means letting your people make little mistakes so that when they becomes leaders they won’t make big mistakes.

If you’re a micromanager then you’re costing your organization a lot of money and you are limiting the growth of future leaders. If you’re the top leader in your organization then micromanaging is really expensive. It’s really expensive because you’re wasting your time and your time is more valuable than anyone else’s. If you’re really a leader then you should not be doing a single thing that someone who works for you could be doing. You should only do the things that only you can do.

If you’ve hired the right people, if your people are honest, have integrity and are good stewards of their time then trust them. The outcomes of their actions remain your responsibility but the details are not.

Trust yourself that you have the right people doing the right things. If you can’t trust your people then your people will not trust you. Without trust, there can be no authentic leadership.

With the details out of the way you can see what you’re supposed to see, you can see the future.

Do You Really Matter?

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Would the world miss you if you were gone tomorrow? Would anyone notice you weren’t around anymore? Would anyone care?

The answer to those questions, all those questions, is a resounding YES! Even if you have days you might not be so sure the answer remains a resounding YES!

You see, you actually have a wonderful life!

One of my favorite movies of all time is the Jimmy Stewart classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

It’s a holiday movie but it’s message is true every day of the year. You matter!

The movie is about a guy named George, he grew up in a small town but he had a big heart. He was constantly doing good for others, often while sacrificing his own wants and needs in the process. George was a good guy.

Well, through no fault of his own George ran into some major trouble one Christmas Eve (while protecting his uncle Billy) and his options dried up faster than an ice cube in the desert. He decided that the world, his family and his friends would be better off without him. His small life insurance policy could do more for his wife and kids than he ever could. In all his troubles he decided that not only didn’t he matter anymore, he decided that he never really mattered at all.

He decided to jump from a bridge into freezing water below and end it all.

What George had forgotten was all the people whose lives he had touched. All those people knew George was struggling and they prayed for him, they prayed hard.

Their prayers were answered when an angle named Clarence showed up. His mission was to help George “see” that he actually had a wonderful life. If Clarence accomplished his mission he would earn his wings, George would be just fine and everyone would live happily ever after.

Clarence earned his wings by showing George how different (and worse) so many people’s lives would be if he hadn’t been there. As it turned out, simple small town George mattered and he mattered a lot.

You and me, sometimes we need a Clarence. We need a Clarence to help us keep things in perspective. We need a Clarence to help us “see” what our struggles keep us from seeing. We need a Clarence to remind us of all the good things in our lives (even when most everything might not look so good ) and we need a Clarence to help us be certain that we matter.
Your “Clarence” might be a spouse or a parent. Maybe a close friend or a mentor. Your “Clarence” might even be you.

This much is certain, from time to time you are going to need some positive affirmation. You’re going to need to be reminded just what a difference you make in this world and in the lives of the people around you.

You need to know that you would be missed, you need to know that YOU MATTER because you most certainly do.

Why There Is Gridlock in Washington, DC

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If you’re a US citizen, or even a citizen of another country that is concerned about the world’s economies, you may have noticed that Washington, DC is a total mess.

I watch lots of news programs and read lots of new publications everyday. It makes no difference if it’s the “far left liberal” media, the “fair and balanced” bunch or the “far right conservatives”, they all have two things in common: they have a point of view to get across and they hardly ever tell us what’s really going on.

The gridlock in Washington is not caused by a difference of opinion. It’s not caused by opposing viewpoints. Differences of opinion and viewpoints are not only healthy, they are in fact a necessary ingredient of good decision making. It’s not caused by uninformed or uneducated people, I think the people that are sent to Washington are by and large, some very smart people.

The gridlock in Washington is caused by a lack of leadership, or more accurately, some very poor leadership. You can’t really blame one party over the other, there is so little decent leadership that there is plenty of blame to go around.

So why is it that these “leaders” don’t lead? Well, I have a few ideas on that!

First, and this is by far the biggest problem, they put their wants and needs above the wants and needs of the people (and country) that they are supposed to be leading. They have somehow gotten into their heads that their leading is about them. They are about as far away from the “servant leader” model as someone in a leadership position could be. Their “win at all costs” mentality hurts everyone that they are supposed to serve. Make no mistake, the havoc caused by the poor leadership in Washington is affecting everyone, no Republican or Democrat will be spared from this near total lack of leadership.

Second, they have completely forgotten whose money they are spending. A tax refund is not the government giving us some of their money, it is the government returning to us some of our money. The talk in Washington about giving us more money to spend by reducing our taxes is laughable.

Third, and perhaps the most maddening, they have completely forgotten who they work for. In case you have forgotten as well, let me remind you. The people WE send to Washington, DC to conduct the nation’s business on our behalf work for US. Imagine what would happen to you if your job required that you develop and implement a budget on an annual basis and you failed to do that for years. I know you probably can’t imagine a scenario like that because it would never happen, it couldn’t happen because you would have been fired after the first year.

These elected individuals in Washington, DC should at least have the decency to return their paychecks to the Federal Reserve. They didn’t earn it and I see no reason that they should keep it.

Almost all of them got themselves elected by talking about going to Washington to lead. That being the case we need to make sure we don’t dump all the blame on John or Harry or Nancy or even just Barack. They all claimed the mantle of leadership when they were running for office so they should all except their share of the responsibility.

So… call or write the “leader” that works for you and tell them to either start leading or get the heck out of the way and give someone else a chance. Remind them that it’s your money they are talking about, that they work for you and that it’s your wants and needs they should be considering.

We the People of the United States of America can no longer afford their poor, no vision, no compromise, no caring, no direction, no future, leadership. If they can’t lead then they need to go and go now!

Leadership Myths

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There are a bunch of leadership myths that are constantly floating around. People hoping to get into a leadership position believe them to be true. People new to a leadership position quickly discover they aren’t true and then flounder while they look for actual leadership truths.

From time to time I’ll “myth bust” in this blog and the first myth and want to expose is perhaps the biggest and most damaging too.

It’s the myth of the Leadership Position. Many people think that leading has to do with a position or title. Some, with military experience think it has to do with rank. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Leadership is about influencing others. Good leaders exert positive influence and bad leaders exert negative influence.

Leadership is about caring. If you truly care for others, then and only then do you have a chance to truly lead.

You must earn permission to lead those that would follow.

Let me give you an example of all three wrapped up in one true story. This is going to get long so my apologies up front.

My wife and I taught a college age Sunday School class for many years at our former church. I’m pretty sure we learned as much or more than the kids we were supposedly leading. But one “lesson” in particular has stuck with me for many years now.

There was a young man, just graduated from high school that joined our class. His name was Jeff and he was the poster child for Attention Deficit Disorder. I really wasn’t looking forward to him joining our class because he was a real character and I thought it would be tough to keep him focused on the week’s lesson.

It was. He was all over the place, we never really knew what he might do from week to week. But he clearly loved the Lord and we soon discovered that his antics brought a smile to not only our face but everyone’s in the class.

One day, Jeff told us that he would be leaving in just a couple of weeks because he had joined the United States Marines. I was more than just surprised and it was probably as close to moving to Canada as I’ve ever been. I figured if Jeff was going to be protecting our country we were in big trouble.

In what seemed like no time at all Jeff was back from basic training and preparing to ship out for combat duty in Iraq. I saw him at church just before he left and I really wasn’t sure what to say to him, so I just said something dumb about being careful over there. He responded with a rather loud, “I’m a United Sates Marine, bullets and bombs can’t hurt me. I don’t need to be careful, I just need to protect the guys in my unit.”

Well I figured those Marine trainers had given him a full dose of that marine stuff and that Jeff and his parents would need a lot of prayer.

Jeff’s tour was pretty uneventful, that is until his very last mission “outside the wire,” on his unit’s last patrol before leaving for the U.S., the lead vehicle in their convoy hit a roadside bomb. Their Sargent was killed and several others were wounded. Thankfully, Jeff was not injured.

Not long after that Jeff was back at church while home on leave. I joined a group of guys talking with him in the lobby and asked him how “it” was. His answer shocked me – he said it was no big deal. Except he said for the fact that “the Sargent” got his “fool head blowed off” on the last mission.

It was as if he had ice water in his veins. He had aged years in just those 12 months. His youth was gone and now he was a man.

I had the opportunity later than morning to talk with Jeff again, this time we were alone in the coffee shop. I asked him again how “it” was and with no one else around to “man up” for his answer was very very different.

He said it was terrible, that he had seen things he would never forget. He said that on every mission his Sargent was more concerned for his men then he was the mission. He said that the Sargent willingly took a position in the lead vehicle because that while that was the most dangerous place it was also the best place to be to keep his men safe.

Jeff had tears in his eyes now as he spoke about how every member of the unit wishes it was them that was killed and not their leader.

That Sargent was outranked in the unit, there were others higher up in the chain of command. But he had earned the permission to lead by showing he cared. He didn’t wait for the top leadership position to lead, he assumed leadership because it was the right thing to do and because he truly cared for his Marines.

But what about his influence? Well let me tell you about his influence on Jeff. (and I expect many others) I haven’t seen Jeff in a few years but the last time I talked to him he was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan for his 4th tour of duty. This time Jeff was the Sargent leading his Marines. I once again told him to be careful but this time his answer was completely different. He said he couldn’t be too careful because it was his job to get the married guys home safe. He would assume his position in the lead vehicle to protect the men he would lead into battle.

This poster child for Attention Deficit Disorder had become a leader. Influenced by a Marine that was killed protecting him. Influenced by a Marine that showed him what true caring looked liked. Influenced by a Marine that earned the right to lead without being in the top leadership position.

Influenced by a Marine that clearly didn’t buy into the “position” leadership myth.

You can lead today if that is what you want. Don’t wait for someone to make you a leader because they can’t. Only you can make you a leader so get busy and start earning the right to truly lead.