Advice for Those in Sales

If you’re still in sales (you make your living by what revenue you bring in for the organization) and haven’t moved into creating lasting value, then this post is for you.

Here are my suggestions for salespeople in our age of constant change:

  1. Stop thinking about yourself.  If you didn’t notice, it shows.  Your prospective and existing customers want you to think about them.
  2. Stop assuming that your doing me a favor by introducing your product/service to me.  Arrogance has only one reward-NO.
  3. If you are not creating real value (the customer defines this, not you), then start.  You find out by asking.  Knowledge flows when you do that.
  4. Make your customer a priority.  That means responding to their emails or phone calls on the same day they send/call.  When a customer doesn’t feel like a priority they leave.
  5. If you’re with a company that sees customers as a means-to-an-end, leave.  Customers will breathe a sigh of relief that they won’t have to deal with being treated like cattle.
  6. Learn the art of subtlety.  Listen to Puccini or have a glass of 2000 Barolo as a start.
  7. Stop seeing yourself as a salesperson.  Customers are tired of being sold.

We need more people willing to be striking and brilliant in the discipline of creating value, while generating revenue.  Anything less is robbery.


The power of genius comes when you realize that you must reinvent.  Maybe all these tough times come to prepare you for the next lifetime.

Your lifetime is made up of multiple lifetimes.

The Art of Listening

The April 25 Epic Living Hour radio show will focus on the art of listening.  I’ve found that listening is a key that unlocks places you’ve never imagined you’d have access to.  I’m not talking about everything profound, but the things that form your legacy.  For example, listening to a 7 year-old child who wants to tell you about the wonder of swimming in the summertime.  I had that opportunity yesterday, and I’m glad I listened. 

It also has to do with your career/business life.  Are you catching all that you should?  Is your hearing blocked by your focus on the material at-hand?  Is something or someone seeking your attention (full)?  Have you started to reinvent yourself today?

Diamonds (the most valuable things in life and work) will not scream for your fancy.  Diamonds are subtle and beautiful all at the same time.  You must listen to find them.  Tune in tomorrow at 12:30 PM EDT to learn more.  Details can be found here.

The below scene from The Legend of Bagger Vance will give you some further context (pay close attention to the part with Bobby Jones).

Waterfalls and Hideaways

Got a chance to getaway last week to a place I’d never been before.  It’s an area called Hocking Hills (southeastern Ohio).  I new it was a great trip, because when I got back to our city everything looked different.  I’m beginning to believe that a getaway/hideaway is measured by how the familiar appears upon returning.  Photos are below.







Why We Follow the Leader

In America we are in the midst of an election cycle that’s interesting to say the least.  The following is from an article I wrote last November.  I believe sets an appropriate tone.

I’m always fascinated by how leaders (good and bad) use words to get people to follow. It’s a very powerful reality when you think about it. What’s critical is why a leader wants you to follow. Often it is not the subject (global warming, quarterly profits, keeping a relationship going, etc.) at hand. Sometimes the leader will use certain words to connect with what motivates you. Sometimes the leader will only use words that they think you want to hear. Bad news is never far behind words used to please your itching ears. For example; “The plant is still viable and no shut-down is in the foreseeable future.”

Leaders and followers have one thing in common; both tend to wear masks. No where is this more prevalent than in the corporate landscape. When you have that much power and money floating around, you might as well call it a Greek Tragedy.  Some masks are used to hide scars that have been inside for years, while others are used to deceive. Regardless of the intent, masks are not a good thing.

Consider former Vice President Al Gore. Why does he want you to follow him on his crusade to save the planet? He has stated that it’s about the spiritual and the moral. Maybe it is…maybe it is something completely different. In a recent article on CNN/, Mr. Gore said it’s the single most important thing we (citizens of planet earth I guess) should be focusing on. You may agree or disagree, but you can’t deny the power behind the words he uses.

One of the greatest hungers plaguing us today is our desire for authenticity. We’ve become suspicious because we’ve been sold the bill of goods more times than we care to remember. Some have followed the road of cynicism, while others are still looking for this elusive bird.
No human becoming can know for sure what sits inside of another person’s heart (good reason not to be in the judgment business). So why not do some deeper looking before you decide to follow.

Here are some tips to act on:

• Ask the leader/leaders a lot of why questions. For example; "Why do you want this event/outcome to occur?" Then follow up with a why question to their answer. If the leader seems put off or disturbed (watch their eyes on this one), it might be a sign of insincerity.
• Don’t follow someone/something for fame and fortune. Those who do things for those two reasons are dwelling in the Land of Fake.
• Make sure your values/motives line up with the cause or leader.
• Look at the company the leader keeps. If they hang with devil, they normally will act like him.
• Seek the advice of someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth. What they say may hurt, but it could keep you from going over a cliff.
• Watch the body language. For example, observe the blinking of the eyes. If the leader blinks at a high rate, he or she might not be fully committed to what their speaking of.

Money Ain’t Your Friend

Money ain’t your friend.  Easy for me to say, since I’m working inside of a start-up.  You might think I’m about to rant about all my troubles with funding, accounts receivable and the like.  But that’s not what this post is about-at all.  Last Friday I wrote about Money and Security and I want to give you some more information to help your view of money.  And you don’t have to leave what you do in order for everything to be ok.  I writing to your eyes and the window it creates.

Money is a tool and should never be allowed to become your master.  It should never be allowed to become a part of your identity or sense of worth.  It should be a slave in the hands of a person of high character.

For the better of my soul and my family, I learned this the hard and root way.  The root way means the change goes so deep there’s no turning back.  By the way, the root way hurts.  Experience is certainly wonderful and yet cruel (feels like that at times).

In my days in corporate America I only turned away for a moment and I was hooked.  I was young, ambitious and very confident (a lethal mix).  When success merges in, it creates a dangerous love affair.  I wasn’t paying attention and very few in the organization loved me enough to say a single word.  Especially those who were enjoying the party my drive provided them. 

Part of my motivation in writing the book came from not wanting everyone else around or far from me miss the above.  The Secret (chapter) titled; Don’t Chase Success is most relevant here.  I know I can’t save the world, but I can (potentially) change the world.  If I didn’t feel this way I wouldn’t be waking up everyday doing MMA against Goliath.

So here’s why money ain’t your friend:

  1. If left unchecked/mastered, it will drive a wedge between you and those you love.  Money left to it’s own devices loves control and total loyalty.  That leaves no room for love.  My wife, during my days in corporate America, would softly consent when I said I needed to push a little further and higher.  I didn’t realize what I was trading.
  2. Money comes and it goes.  Bill and Warren have traded here.
  3. Money will tell you that small desires are far more important than dreams.
  4. When money becomes your identity, you begin to mask insecurities and pretend that a new this or that will make you feel better.  It will, but only for a moment.
  5. All of these dangers apply to the poor and rich.
  6. If you don’t make money the slave, it will turn the table on you…slowly.
  7. Destiny is compromised when money is allowed have it’s way.

You must understand that this post is about a choice.  You can change your view if you want to.  You want to, don’t you?

Money and Security

In our careers (especially in America) we've been given the false impression that money equals security.  In many ways, we've turned the impression into hyperbole.

Money can provide security-the temporary kind.  But it lacks the cement that so many want it to be.  How many times have you said to yourself; "once I pay this off" or "when the stock hits X, I'm going to cash-out."  Something in you just feels better and safer at the thought.  It's ok, we've all been guilty of doing this.  A natural hope to say the least.

Sadly, we give so much attention to security of the temporary nature, that we ignore the security that matters-and lasts.  Like the man or woman who complains of no career options, while three recruiters wait on hold.  Our pursuits inside our careers and out may be the main culprits.

Here are what I consider to be the pursuits that provide long-term security:

  • Your work.  Not your employer or business (for the entrepreneurs).  Your work goes wherever you go.
  • Love (the real variety stays even when you find yourself on the outs).
  • Your destiny.  Once you find it, I can say this from experience, your destiny will never leave you alone.
  • Perseverance.  The vital element of a no-giving-up mindset.
  • Faith.  The belief in the unseen.  The eyes that can see a better future.

The pursuits above will not be mastered overnight-in a career or life-and will create some short term pain.  But I am an endorser who is living out the reality.  Ironically, if you embraced the five pursuits above, you'd find all the money you need because your definition of value and security would be rightly ordered.

Go ahead and cross the Rubicon.

Help Me With Questions

Ed Batista has a wonderful post today on asking questions. 

It’s easy to forget in our age of fast marketing and quick hit wonders, that asking questions implies you have a desire to listen.  I once read a column by Marshall Goldsmith where he put a couple of individuals to the test on listening.  Basically, he asked them to be silent for thirty seconds and not think about anything.  As you would imagine, it was a difficult test to pass.  But it revealed how effective they would be at listening to another human being without being distracted by a competing set of agendas.

I believe you must examine your heart motivation to determine whether you’re truly listening. Leadership development, career development, and people development flow from this river.  If this quarter’s numbers are all you care about (your choice, good or bad), then either tell the speaker its not a good time.  Anything less is counter-genuine.

The idea is to be authentic in the moment, your speaker expects that of you.

Does an MBA Matter

In our hyper-competitive age, having an MBA matters.  I’m not saying that it truly matters.  I’m saying it matters to our culture.  Just like March Madness or the cost of oil does to many.  I have always believed that whatever education you choose should be fuel for your destiny.  Sadly, destiny doesn’t matter a lot for people caught in the whirlwind of competition and material success.  It’s more of an afterthought.

So, does an MBA matter.  I think it can if it is a part of the story that is your life.  Getting an MBA because it will increase your money-making power is not the best motivation.  I say that, knowing that many have obtained the degree for those reasons.  So if you’re considering putting in the time to obtain an MBA and don’t really have a vision for the future, then you may be placing your ladder on the wrong building.  Happens all the time.  More than you’d believe.

Here are some tips on how to value an MBA:

  • An MBA is only as valuable as the vision it supports.  For example, if you don’t have a vision about your career, then an MBA won’t help you.
  • An MBA should help you find a career made to last.  See Pinny Cohen’s piece on Choose a Recession-Proof Career.
  • An MBA should not be used to form identity.
  • An MBA is statement and not an entitlement.
  • Know your design!

You Don’t Need Oprah

First, let me say, if one of Oprah’s producers called/emailed me I would respond.  But in the end, you and I don’t need Oprah.  Do I have something against Oprah?  Not in the least.  It’s all about what’s the most effective way to leave a brilliant life behind you.

Kevin Kelly and Guy Kawasaki have some compelling arguments in support of the above.  Even as you may see them as source of your desire.

The following list will give you more insight on why you don’t need Oprah (or anyone of her stature and scale):

  1. Your DNA demands that you follow a path that is greater than one held (imagined) captive by an A-lister.
  2. Find the few and reproduce within that group.  Jesus had only eleven learners and look what impact they’re still having. 
  3. John Wooden is well into his nineties and look at the ripple he has created.  By the way, his impact was forged in a game…a game.
  4. Eaglepointe Winery has refined the art of "less is more."
  5. If you need fame and fortune to feel better about yourself, you should get out of the business of people.  People are looking for a future brighter than the one they have now, and for leaders who will point in that direction.  Go make toothpaste; people will use it a lot and they won’t think about you and your need for glory.
  6. Shooting for mega causes you to embrace counter-genuine behaviors.

Those who are authentically into what you are doing are waiting for you to provide true value.  Don’t forget about their power.