The Smartest Person in the Room

If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re likely in the wrong room. If you’re always the smartest person in the room you’ve got a big problem. 

 

Smart people work hard to make certain they invest their time with people smarter than they are. They also know that there are a whole lot of people smarter than they are. 

 

You may be the smartest person in a particular topic but that doesn’t mean you can’t still learn from other people. 

 

If you ever actually are the smartest person in the room then you had better find a different room or fill the room you have with smarter people. But it’s highly unlikely you’re really the smartest person in the room. Believing you are is a problem, it’s a problem because more than anything else that arrogance is an attitude issue. 

 

Believing you’re always the smartest person in the room is reflected in how you speak with, or more likely speak, at people. What you say will often come out with a level of snark that everyone notices … well, everyone except you. 

 

Believing you’re the smartest person in the room also affects how effectively you listen. Actually, it completely prevents you from doing anything that remotely resembles active listening. You may think you’re fooling people into thinking you’re listening but you are not.

 

If you’re a leader with the smartest person attitude you have an even bigger problem. The most effective leaders interact with their people in a way that makes their people feel as if they are the smartest people in the room. The least effective leaders interact in a way that leaves no doubt they believe their people are less intelligent than they are. That’s no way to help people grow. 

 

You can’t grow, professionally or personally, without people in your life who are smarter than you at times. Once you find those people listen to them, watch them and always be open minded about what they say and do. 


It may not make you the smartest person in the room but I’ll guarantee it will make you smarter. 

See More Success

Some people see more in a walk around the block than others see in a trip around the world. That first group of people also tend to be far more successful than the second group. 

 

The more you see the more you”ll know and the more you know the more you’ll understand. Understanding allows you to change the things you can and accept the things you can’t. 

 

The more you see the more you’ll see things that less successful people will never notice. You’ll see things from angles that most people didn’t even know existed. You’re perspective will change, sometimes frequently.

 

Seeing things from different perspectives brings them to life. It creates the curiosity needed to understand them. 

 

But here’s the thing about “seeing” more, it has very little to do with your eyes. Seeing more starts from your heart. It comes from being genuinely interested in other people and other things, even when those people are very different than you. Even when you initially believed those “things” would never be of interest to you. 

 

If you only associate with people who have similar beliefs as you, people who look like you, people who dress like you, then you will likely fall into the trap of thinking you’re always right. You could even believe you know enough that you don’t need to know anything more. 

 

You would be wrong on both counts. 

 

When you make the decision to consciously choose to “see” with your eyes, your ears, your heart, your brain, your experience and your compassion then you’ll begin to see many things differently and many more things for the very first time. 

 

You might notice people who you’ve “seen” many times but now you’ll actually see them. 

 

The more things you see, the more places you see, and the more people you see, the more success you’ll see as well. It takes a bit of practice and a lot of focus but once once you fully develop your “eyesight” it’ll be almost like you have x-ray vision. 


There will be no limit to what you can learn and that will almost certainly lead to greater success.


An Audit for Sales Success

I’ve never met anyone who completed their taxes and then said “I hope I get audited.” We all know audits are bad things, someone checking up on us or worse, trying to catch us cheating. Even if you did everything by the rules audits are still a royal pain. But audits do indeed serve a purpose – they let us know how we did or maybe how we are doing right now.

 

My grandfather always used to tell me that an honest person doesn’t mind being checked. I would add to that bit of wisdom that the most successful people check themselves.

 

Here is a short audit for sales professionals. The results (if answered honestly) will help you understand the areas you may want to work on to ensure your continued success. Keep in mind there are no right or wrong answers. Just score yourself 1 to 10 in each of the areas and then develop a plan to increase your score before you conduct the next audit. Here we go:

 

  • Your goals are clear, written down and you review them daily.
  • You have a reasonable product or service. You can understand why your target market would buy it.
  • You have a repeatable sales process proven to work in your industry.
  • You know how many people in your specific target market you need to speak with to get a sale. (You know your batting average)
  • You have a sufficient amount of people who look like your “ideal customer” in a target list that makes you reasonably sure you can make your number, month after month.
  • You know the specific task motives, maybe even a few personal motives of your target customers, and you know that your product or service can match them.
  • You have a general interest statement that works, reliably, to get people to say, “Tell me more.”
  • You have a set of information gathering questions that you ask to find out if someone needs, wants and can afford what you sell.
  • You spend most of your day (four to six hours) in selling and marketing activities.
  • You work from a daily, weekly and monthly plan and are reasonably organized and efficient.
  • You don’t work more than 50 – 55 hours a week.
  • You do what you say you will do for prospects, customers and your employer. (You MUST be honest here cause if you’re lying to yourself you’ll never reach your potential.)

So how did you do? If you answered honestly you now have some areas to work on as you continue to grow yourself and your business. 


If you didn’t answer honestly then no amount of effort will lead to success…. but at least you learned why your struggling

Habits of Sales Professionals

The best salespeople go well beyond creating satisfied customers to build loyal customers. They don’t merely hunt for transactions they look for ways to help their customers achieve their goals. They make a habit out of asking more questions than less successful salespeople. They know that without a complete understanding of their customer’s situation they may miss the opportunity to help. 

 

Time is one of a salesperson’s most valuable assets. But using it to maximum advantage is often a salesperson’s greatest challenge. Salespeople tend to be outgoing, talkative people for whom details are almost a form of torture. 

 

The most effective sales professionals make a detailed plan which includes a flexible work schedule that maximizes their selling time. The plan most often includes office time, planned at the beginning and end of the week, and at the beginning and end of the day. If you don’t have to be in the office then you should be Face-to-Face with a customer. 

 

Sometimes you must be in the office, but it is not the place to spend your prime time hours. Do “office stuff” as bookends to your selling day – either early or late. Make a habit of using your time more effectively and you’ll be making success a habit as well.

 

The top salespeople know that the little things make them stand out from the crowd. Writing personal notes to customers to thank them for their time, or to follow-up an appointment are good examples. They don’t need to be lengthy or complex, in fact they shouldn’t be. Just make them sincere and you will set yourself apart from the throngs of less professional salespeople.  

 

Along the same lines, leave a brief note on the back of your business card when you happen to miss your customer or they are unavailable. It’s so simple, but hardly anyone does it. And it means that your card has a better chance of being noticed among the many left behind by the throng.  It is a great habit to get into and it can make a huge difference in your results.


Sales is a people business, and creativity counts. When you develop the habit of allowing your personality to come through you automatically stand out from the crowd. If you’re truly a professional then that’s a good thing, a very good thing. 

A Word of Appreciation

One of the easiest ways to maintain healthy relationships, with anyone, is to show appreciation. When you make it a point to share with people how much you appreciate what they have done it separates you from most other people who don’t show enough appreciation.

 

I’d be willing to bet that someone in your life has done something for you that deserves a simple thank you or a bit of appreciation. It’s entirely possible, maybe even likely, that you’re already aware of that person and fully intend to show your appreciation. But intending to show your appreciation and actually doing it are two very different things. 

 

Here are a few ideas for turning your intentions into actual actions. 

 

Call at least one person a day, everyday, to thank them for something. This might take a bit of thinking at first but pretty soon you’ll see the opportunities to say thank you are nearly limitless.  

 

Send out five thank-you notes a week. As powerful as a spoken thank you can be a written one is ten times more meaningful. Yes, an emailed thank you works but a hand written thank you means so much more. Poor handwriting is no excuse, print if you have to but handing out or mailing a written thank you can have tremendous impact on the recipient.

 

Don’t wait for someone to do something for you to show appreciation. Take the initiative and do something for someone every day and don’t let them discover it was you who did it. This is harder than it seems and I think it’s hard because it’s human nature to want “credit” for doing something good or nice. But do what you do for others without the expectation of appreciation or payback. When you expect something back, that is not appreciation — it’s a barter.

 

When you are appreciative, it makes other people feel like they want to do more for you, even though that was not your agenda. When we fail to show appreciation, it makes others feel like they want to do less for us. It makes them feel taken for granted. That’s never good.

 

Someone in your life could benefit from a word of appreciation this very day. Can you guess who it might be? Don’t guess, just start passing out appreciation as if it were free. The fact is, it is free but it is the most valuable free thing you’ll ever see. A thank you doesn’t cost anything yet it can mean the world to people who don’t hear those two powerful words often enough.


Don’t wait to show your appreciation. Do it now because a word of appreciation just might make someone’s day.

Are You Persistent Enough to Succeed?

Almost all successful people, actually let’s get rid of the “almost” and say “ALL” successful people have one trait in common…they didn’t quit. They may have stopped once or twice, they may have gone backwards a time or two and fallen down fairly often. But they starting moving again, made up lost ground and picked themselves up (often with help) and persevered

 

There are plenty of examples of famous people who overcame severe obstacles on their journey to ultimate success. Abraham Lincoln failed in business, lost numerous elections and his sweetheart, and had a nervous breakdown. But he never quit. He kept on trying and became, according to many, our greatest president. 

 

Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book was rejected by 23 publishers.   

 

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.  

 

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded.  

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt was struck by polio but he never quit.   

 

Helen Keller, totally deaf and blind, graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, and went on to become a famous author and lecturer.

 

There are many more stories of well known people who overcame multiple hurdles to succeed. Even more impressive are the millions of stories about ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things through perseverance. What those millions of stories prove is that success can be achieved by anyone, literally anyone. That includes you! 

 

I love the story about the high school basketball coach who was attempting to motivate his players to persevere through a difficult season. Halfway through the season he stood before the team and said, “Did Michael Jordan ever quit?” The team responded, “No!” He yelled, “What about the Wright brothers? Did they ever give up?” “No!” hollered back the team. “Did Muhammad Ali ever quit?” Again the team yelled, “No!” “Did Elmer McAllister ever quit?” There was a long silence. Finally one player was bold enough to ask, “Who’s Elmer McAllister? We never heard of him.” The coach snapped back, “Of course you never heard of him — he quit!”

 

Quitting is easy, it’s also very habit forming. Successful people have made a habit of doing the things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. Less successful people quit, the most successful people wouldn’t even consider it. 

 

If you’re tempted to quit, or even give less than your best effort, think about the goal that motivated you to begin in the first place. Re-dream that dream and then keep going. 

 

If that doesn’t motivate you to keep pushing forward, then think about Elmer McAllister.


Now get to work!

The Power of Planning

Plans don’t always work. I was reminded of that fact when a friend was telling a story from his childhood. 

 

His family had a large dog but he wanted a hamster. His parents surprised him one day with a hamster all is own. The dog was overly “interested” in the hamster so my friend made a plan to keep the hamster safe and sound. 

 

His plan involved keeping the hamster in a box with a clothesline running through it. He would attach one end of the clothesline to one wall and the other end to the opposite wall. He was sure to hang it high enough so that the dog couldn’t reach it. He was at least as sure as a ten year old could be. 

 

He was pretty sad upon returning from school one day to find his beloved hamster in multiple pieces with the box laying nearby. I guess hanging the box five feet off the floor was just too enticing a target for a dog that stood 3-1/2 feet on all fours. 

 

As elaborate a plan as it was for a ten year old it just didn’t work out. 

 

So plans don’t always work but here is the good news…planning almost always does. I should say that planning almost always works, or is beneficial if…. you’re using a solid planning process. 

 

With that in mind here is an 8-step planning process I’ve written about before. I’ve used it for years as have many other successful people I know. It simply works.

 

Step one is to develop a clear and honest picture of your current situation. Many people don’t get to where they want to go because they have no idea where they are starting from. If you’re not completely honest with yourself in this step the rest of the process is likely doomed to fail. 

 

Step two is stating a very specific understanding and vision of your desired situation or outcome. Specificity is the key here, if your desired outcome is murky your results will be too. 

 

Step three is where the real work begins. That’s where you develop short, medium and long range goals. A short range goal could be a day, week or even a month. The longest range goals can be as far out into the future as you like but there must be an end date. Someday is NOT on your calendar or anybody else’s. Don’t mess around with this, the end date must be in your expected lifetime. (Yes, I’ve actually seen people set goals for after they are dead) Your goals must be specific, measurable, realistic, and timed. I repeat, someday is not a real day. 

 

Step four is where the actual plans are developed. What actions are you willing to take each day to get closer to one or more of your goals? What will you change to make it happen? (The only way something doesn’t need to change is if you have already achieved the goal) What are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your goals? 

 

One point I’d like to make here. I wrote what actions are you willing to take each day to get closer to your goals. It is my personal belief that no matter how busy you may have been on any given day, if you didn’t get closer to either a personal or professional goal you were not productive. Successful people do not mistake a busy day for a productive one and if you want to be successful then you shouldn’t either.

 

Step five is determining the investment you are willing to make to ensure that your plan succeeds. While you are determining the investment you’re willing to make don’t forget that every successful outcome likely requires two things, money AND time. Believe it or not the money part is often easier than the time part. I can’t tell you the number of times I made a plan to get in better shape. I set some goals, joined a club, wrote a big fat check and failed. I failed because I never committed the time to actually go to the club. After many expensive memberships I finally determined it just wasn’t a priority in my life. Don’t make my mistake, if you’re not committed to your plan then you’re not committed to success.

 

Step six is setting up your time table. Most people think this is only about deadlines. That’s a common mistake. Just as important as when the plan will come to fruition is determining when you will put the plan into action. I’ve seen many a great plan never implemented. If there are not specific action steps built into your plan, including the very first action you will take, then you may have a decent plan but your planning process is fatally flawed. 

 

Step seven is launching the plan. Put some air under its wings, take the first action you’ve planned and see what happens. 

 

Step eight is the follow-up step. Hopefully you have trusted people in your life that you have shared your plan with. Revisit your plan with them often. The fact that everything isn’t happening exactly as you planned doesn’t mean the plan was bad, stuff happens. The best news is your plan allows you to see where and how you’ve gotten off track, that makes it much easier to get back on. 

 

Very few plans remain completely intact throughout the process of implementing them. Don’t let the first hiccup derail your success, adjust, re-launch, and move forward. Repeat as often as necessary. 

 

My friend got another hamster, he used a nearly identical plan to protect it. The second plan merely included the addition of a ladder to hang the box higher. Work your plan as designed, adjust as needed, and you’ll go higher too. 


That’s the power of planning!