Tag Archives: success

Yep… your New Year resolutions are worthless.

It’s that time of year again where we take stock of our poor performance from last year and write down blissful wishes for what we want to make happen this year.

It actually a pretty worthless activity…

From joining a new gym to going to church more to drinking less — whatever you resolve come New Years has a 78% chance of ultimately failing.  That’s almost everybody!

I didn’t make that up.  That’s what a recent international study of almost a thousand people indicated.

Just like we have been trained to do nice things for people around Christmas even though we act like inconsiderate jerks the rest of the year, so we have also trained ourselves to pause ever so briefly at the beginning of each year to wish we could do a few things differently in the coming year.

And it’s a worthless waste of time for 8 out of 10 of us.

And while I am on the subject, why are we still talking about 3-year and 5-year plans when we can’t get this yearly thing figured out?  Seems like a bunch of silly nonsense.

Seriously, are we committed to real change? Real sacrificial “it hurts like hell” change.

We don’t even apply the same level of respect to our own goals as we do the dudes we watch on ESPN.

We respect an obsessive work ethic that makes an all star like Michael Jordan sink 100 free-throws in a row before leaving practice.  We marvel at the obscene practice put in by perfectionists like Tiger Woods who practice distance putting at 3 and 10 foot intervals for hours a day.

And yet when it comes to putting in a little more effort for ourselves, we tend to be the first to come up with excuses (good ones too).  And the older we get, the more experience we gain explaining why our failure was really a good thing.

Aren’t you tired of mediocrity?  Of being an “almost all-star”?

Are you willing to do something about it?  To change?

Are you willing to:

  1. Connect your goal with a larger mision in life… (turn “making more money” into “helping a small company flourish”)
  2. Construct your goal into a series of smaller monthly milestones… (turn big deadlines into a series of progressive tasks)

If so, you might be ready to see breakthrough this year.  This might be the year of YOU… ALL of the 22% who accomplished their annual goals noted that these two were the two primary drivers for their success — passion and planning.

It’s amazing what you can do when you really want something more for yourself.

You might just change the world.

The Ultimate Life Lesson…

Lips blue and hands shaking beyond human control, Carl Brashear struggled to find the next step up the side of the metal ladder to the wooden pier.  As he made it to the top of the landing, he staggered to a wooden bench to sit down.  His legs were no longer strong enough to hold him beneath the weight of a 200 pound brass diving suit.  No one had survived this long.  No one yet.

For the past 9 hours, he had searched the floor of the ocean for the couplings, brackets, and screws he needed to complete his task.  Against supernatural odds and direct opposition from the world around him, he had found deep within himself the power to continue.  Years later when asked why he fought so hard, he simple stated: “I ain’t going to let nobody steal my dream”

In 2000, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the telling of Carl’s story.  It ranks right up there with Rudy as one of the most inspirational movies of all time, Men of Honor

Which got me thinking about a personal quality that is often overlooked by those who want to be high performers — honor….

Honor can be a confusing concept.  I think of it less as a “knight and fair maiden fairytale” and more of the quite resolve that guides what we do.  It’s our own code of conduct.  The rules we set for ourself and how we do business…

Changing the world demands a code.  Without it you get lost in the noise of the critics and lose out to the temptations to chose shortcuts and the easy way out.

Here’s the harsh reality of our lives:

Most of us will quit too early…  Give up too soon!

We let our critics wear us down to the point that we convince ourselves that changing the world is no longer important.  We get tired of the friction of being different and acting different and decide that maybe the cause isn’t that important.  We start taking failure too personally and start living petty lives derailing others.

We let others steal our dreams and our souls.

And here’s another harsh reality:

It’s our fault we lost our way… We let this happen.

We gave in to the pressure.  We stopped fighting when things for too tough.  We traded acceptance for belief.

And now we need to change it.  We can recharge our honor system; invest back into our code.

So let’s do that….

(It starts with patience…)

Soren Kierkegaard, a danish philosopher said it best: “Patience is necessary… you cannot reap immediately where you have sown.”

You can’t build your honor system overnight.  You can’t.  There is something about living by a code that requires you getting a thorough beating.  An untested code is nothing.  You have to be tested (and many times over).

But the good things about honor is that you alone are the master of your destiny.  You control your responses to those around you — the critics, the fans, the rest of the world.

SO:

  1. Be honorable to you You are all you have in the world and as soon as you lose your sense of “you”, it all stops making sense pretty quickly.  Don’t lie to yourself.  If you put in 40% effort and failed then admit it and put in more effort next time.  If you try to convince yourself that 40% was really 100%, then you just trimmed your peak performance in a huge way.  The effects get worse and worse and eventually you will find yourself sweating just to contribute 10% of your old self.  Decide to be unapologetically honest with yourself and you will find that even when you screw up, you perform at consistently higher levels than you did in the past.
  2. Be honorable to your dream It’s hard to stand up when you keep getting pushed back down.  But the dream (your dream) is the most powerful force you know.  People live and people die.  Bad things happen and good luck too.  You can’t always control your immediate circumstances.  But you can always control your attitude.  That’s important.  Bad things can turn right around into amazingly good things almost overnight.  It’s hard but you have to remember your dream.  You can’t lose that part of you when it looks like the world is fighting against you
  3. Be honorable to your core values Don’t do bad things to other people.  I don’t know how to say it any other way.  It’s amazing how karma comes around at the worst possible time to take it’s “pound of flesh”.  If you make it a habit to take advantage of other people, you can expect that you will get your ass kicked eventually.  Let’s hope it’s not at the time when you are taking down the biggest sale of your life.  Earn karma points by giving help to others without asking for anything.  Just do it to be a delight.  When you do take an uppercut, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people wanting to help.
  4. Be honorable to your peers Admit when you make a mistake and apologize.  Nothing tests your code like having to admit that you were a idiot.  It happens.  What doesn’t happen a lot of the time is us letting go of our egos.  And that sucks.  You can’t be better — operate consistently as a high-performer, when you don’t take responsibility for your actions (even unintended outcomes)…  Own up.  Move on.  Don’t hold out on apologizing because you think your peers haven’t noticed that you screwed up.  Guess what?  Now, they not only think you’re an idiot but an as$%hole at the same time.
  5. Be honorable to your critics It’s OK to go down after you take an upper cut.  Let’s face it — you weren’t expecting it in the first place.  Right?  You thought everyone wanted to play nice and instead you find yourself flat on your back trying to clear your head so you can get back in the fight.  Take your time standing up (take the full 10 seconds), but when you get back up, don’t throw low blows.  Critics operate under one basic premise — trying to convince the rest of the world that everything you do is motivated by the “mania of an ax murderer” (or something close to that).  Nothing you do will be right.  So just know that and move on.  Don’t let it affect your code.  And whatever you do, don’t really do something legitimately spiteful on purpose.  That just feeds the addiction your critics already have.

Friends come and go and circumstance change every few seconds but you have to live with yourself longer than anyone.  Be cool with yourself.  Live with honor.  Sell without limits…

My roots in understanding the concept of honor came from my dad, who just turned 61 on Monday.  Everyone who knows him knows what I am talking about.  He set a high standard…

I remember one snow day where all of us kids had the day off because the schools were closed.  Pebbled ice covered the road about 2 inches with another 6-7 inches of powder snow on top of that.  I expected my dad to be home with us as most of the federal offices were on leave because of the weather.  Instead, he took 5 hours to make the drive into the office at the NSA.  I don’t really know what needed to get done that day, but my dad make the trek because it was important to him.  It’s the small things that define our code.  It’s the things that we are remembered for in years to come.

The Hardest Sale of Your Life

(also known as, 10 courageous ways to take down the bad guys and live a life of amazing opportunity)

I was in a conversation with a close friend last week about some serious matters when I just stopped everything I was talking about and simply summed it up by noting:

“You know? This is the hardest sale of my life”…

Have you ever been there? Are you there right now?

It’s a pretty incredible opportunity to really know that what you are engaged in RIGHT now is the fight of your life.

  • Understanding that nothing else you have ever done before compares to the challenge you are facing right now…
  • Realizing that when you walk away victorious from this challenge you will have won the biggest battle of your life…

It’s a do or die set-up.

A time when the fork in the road is a choice of harder or hardest. There is nothing easy about this — just a painful uphill struggle.

So what do you do if you find yourself in this opportunity? How do you handle the hardest sale of your life?

  1. You hold nothing back in your personal effort — The fight of your life demands the fight of your life.  You really have to lay it all on the line: mind, body, and soul.   And if there is anything else you have to offer, you need to put that in the game as well.   All!  Everything!  Every ounce of effort goes to winning this cause.  (And by the way, don’t confuse “almost” with “all”. One gets you close to the deal. The other is what helps you close the deal.)
  2. You don’t stop your analysis until you find real meaning — Things are never as they seem.  Winners today can end up the real losers tomorrow.  You have to keep digging into the “facts” of the case until you get the answers that no one else has.  Here’s a DEW favorite: “remember that it’s always what it’s not – at least the first few times around”.  That means that the standard answers you are getting from your prospect about timeline and budget are the exact opposite from the actual words that you are hearing.
  3. You are patient with results and refuse to over-react — Most sales people are their own worst enemy once they sense that they might not be winning the hardest deal of their life. They transform into irrational, paranoid super-sulky panhandlers asking for the prospect’s loose change. They stop thinking like the savvy business ninjas that got them into the game in the first place. You need to remember to be patient with the process. Put in place the “24 Hour Rule” ( i.e. No communication to the client for a full day after you sense bad news from a prospect.)  Use that time to find an alternative strategy that shows your care of the client rather than a hand-out attempt to beg for their attention.
  4. You ask for non-judgmental advice from a guru — A guru doesn’t need to be a world-famous author or the biggest hotshot in your industry.  Sometimes that guy is the manager who has been doing this for three decades and has seen a million different deals come and go.  Sometimes that guru is just an article written on a blog or your favorite selling magazine.  The key is that the advice has to be non-judgmental.  You are where you are and asking someone (at this point) how you could have done it “better” is a huge waste of your time and a real “downer”.  Talk about “next steps” from “right here”.  Ask for advice and you will likely get some solutions you would not have considered all on your own.
  5. You take time for physically tasking exercise — There is  nothing that compares to kicking ass in the business world like kicking ass in the gym.  It clears your mind and prepares your body for stressful situations.  The world-famous Mayo Clinic calls exercise “Meditation in Motion” and that seems to have been my experience running on the open road.   You need to be physically and mentally prepared for a potential beating and nothing helps you navigate the madness of your schedule like a regular session of body building.  Take 30 minutes and push yourself hard.  You’ll find new confidence returning just when you need it most.
  6. You consider the advantages of the “outrageous” — Sometimes you need to break out the “clown suit” and go for broke — I am joking 99.5% here. While you don’t want to be silly, there is some solid reasoning to asking the hard questions you were afraid to ask during the sales competition — like “we didn’t really have a chance did we?” or “we sure seemed to miss the mark with you guys, didn’t we?” or “I’m embarrassed that we were so so self-centered we didn’t think more about the value we should have been providing to you.”  When you get the answers to these questions, you might find yourself with some solid “behind the scenes” information to propose a winning counter-solution.  You have nothing to lose, so go for it…
  7. You reverse roles with your buyer and justify “you” — Think about how you appear to your prospect.  Are you a whiner? A bully? A loudmouth? A hot-shot?  A miserable time-wasting, arrogant asshole?  Who are you from the buyer’s perspective?  Consider that….   You can call yourself the superhero of value propositions, but if your prospect doesn’t get it, then you have failed – miserably.  Think about the words you are using.  How would you react if they were being “played” to you?  Reverse your roles and see how you look from the other side of the table…
  8. You manage personal distractions by eliminating them first — You can’t execute a masterful strategy while you have nagging side issues beating you between the temples.  Conventional sales books have all made the case for running after distractions after you do your core mission.  I totally disagree.  That’s a horrible process.  It doesn’t work.  Distractions are a part of life.  You have to manage these issues FIRST, before they threaten your ability to perform at high levels.  Don’t half-ass the hardest sale of your life by focusing part of our attention on something else.  Get the nasty stuff off your plate – or at least partly solved – and then go kick ass.
  9. You don’t ask if dropping your price will close the deal — At this point (in the middle of the hardest sale of your life) you are way past grovelling for a rock-bottom price negotiation vantage point. Don’t do it.  Double the value analysis of your offering.  Triple your support offering. But do not cut your price.  Customers want the best offer — not necessary the lowest price.  By providing the most VALUE (i.e. explained benefit to the buyer) you become the best offer.  And here is a question for you: Does a price drop really ever increase your odds of winning the deal?  Doesn’t it just make you more frustrated?  So don’t do it.  Force yourself to demonstrate value instead.
  10. You close the hardest sale of your life — You face down your demons, put in the effort, and at the end of the day you take a commission to the bank.  You close the deal because you want it the most.  Because you are willing to ask for help.   You wait patiently through the chaos, the client demands, and personal fears.  You close the deal.

That’s what you do.

You close the hardest sale of your life.

And why? Because that’s all there is to do.  That’s why you are in the game — to fight, to win…

I certainly don’t want to gloss over this idea. There’s more to this idea and it’s not for everyone.  It’s certainly one of those topics that is easier to talk about than to actually do.

That’s because deep down some of you think that winning is for someone else.  That you aren’t the one who can win.

But you are mistaken.  You are a winner.  You were born that way.  You can do it. You can win big.  You can close the hardest sale of your life.

Call me, I’ll help you.

Obsessively Searching for “Stellar”…

Many thanks to the dozens of you who have sent me kind messages over the last two weeks asking where The DEW View! had gone. 

Nowhere.

I just didn’t have anything shockingly inspiring to share.

I really do want to change the world not waste your time.

ALSO… this blog is getting a massive upgrade.  I am working on some new content at danielwaldschmidt.com for you along with my friends at Channel V Media that I am SO excited to share with you.  That should be coming to you at the beginning of the year.  It’s really going to be VERY cool.  I will finally have a platform to offer you so much more content…

Everything that I am working on falls in the general category of high performance.  It’s a curious thought.  How can you consistently perform at amazingly high levels?

……….How can I do that?

………………..How can you do that?

…………………………How can you hold you employees to that standard?

These questions are on my mind these days.  Frankly, I think it’s on a lot of your minds too — if your emails and calls are an indication of what you are thinking about these days.

Being amazing, awesome, stellar — whatever you call it — really comes down to three attributes that any of us can have.  It’s not a hard formula to understand.  Is is however a painfully hard act to live…

Here is what defines “stellar”:

  1. Desire — You have to want to be better.  This is where it all starts.  Without desire, you will quickly fall off the mark of consistent high performance.  It happens all time — well intentioned, passionate people giving up way too soon.  Their will is broken.  Their passion is quelled.  WHY?  They give up because they forget how bad they really want to be successful.  You need desire now more than ever.  With the gloom of global economic negativity in our face every day, desiring more for yourself is a must.
  2. Dedication — You have to focus your time on being a high performer.  You can’t just simply want to be amazing and it magically happen.  You’re life isn’t a David Blaine performance, it’s a battle — for your time and attention.  Daily activity toward your goal is the only way to be a consistent high performer.  Small things add up to big things over time.  They do.  With the dedication toward accomplishing small goals, you will find yourself doing huge things over time.
  3. Discipline — You have to train yourself to endure the bad stuff that happens along the way.  Despite the best plans and the most altruistic of ambitions, people and circumstances will rain all over your parade.  They will discourage you.  Many times they will deliberately try to hurt you.  You have to be ready to take a punch, get knocked out, and then stand back up and keep fighting — time after time after time.  No matter what happens, you have to have the discipline to reach deep within your soul and fight on.

Success is not usually an intellectual challenge.  It’s a mental challenge.  Desire, dedication, and discipline are not taught in the classroom.  They are a harsh reality of life.  You can be stellar.  You can find excellence.  You can be amazing…

How are you searching for stellar?

—————

By the way, if you missed the “Edgy Conversations” webinar I presented for Top Sales Expert International last week, click here to check out what 740 other people clicked on to see.  The video is about 60 minutes long and got some tremendous reviews from those who saw it live.  As a side note, there were a handful of the hundreds who saw this that thought I was a complete moron — so you know it has to be “spicy”…

(Illogically) Help Me Be Your Customer

chokeThink through the mind of your customer… and ask yourself if you are “illogically” wooing your customer.  Are you doing what no one else will do to make them successful?  Are you working to guarantee that your customer hits a home run by working with you?

It’s not logical.  In fact, it doesn’t really make sense from a “nuts-and-bolts” perspective.

But like anything, when you swing the opposite direction, you get a better perspective.  Instead of being illogically helpful, let’s look at being illogically awful.  Let’s look at the bad emails we send and see how we can make them better.

The endless onslaught of crappy emails has accelerated.  It has gotten serious.  For some reason, crazy sales people who need to have a strong Q4 all decided that they need to mass email the world in the hopes that we will magically take an interest in their nonsensery.

There is no interest in a relationship or learning what might be important to you or me.  It’s all about their email and how they have access to an amazing service that we “can’t miss out on”.  I want to drag them into my office, throw them on the floor and let them know this simple fact that they are overlooking:

We have thoroughly enjoyed not “enjoying” your service; and if your current care of us is any indication of your future care, then we are best served to not be your customer….. ever — for the sake of our health.

It is such a horrible experience to get these emails.  It’s like a sudden nausea that has me tasting a little stomach acid in my mouth.  I feel sick but my head’s not warm.  I just don’t feel well after reading this chicanery.

I had one such illogically awful encounter earlier this month when I received the following email in my inbox…

Email1

Of course, I was more than a little surprised and then annoyed at the premise of the email. (In this case, “annoyed” is a code word for “enraged”).

  1. There is no mention of my name in this entire email (I am not totally sure if she sent this to the right person…)
  2. There is value statement (I can’t figure out what really sets Melissa apart as being worth my time…)
  3. There is no call to action (I am kind of confused as to what logical action Melissa expects from me…)
  4. There is way too much content (I immediately start skimming because it “appears long and boring…)
  5. There is different color font in the email (I start wondering “why” and if there’s a special reason…)

So I emailed Melissa back.  And yes, I was in a funk.  My time had been wasted.  My intelligence had been insulted.  I was upset with myself that I had even given Melissa time in my busy day.  I was irate and so I shared my thoughts:

Email2

I just asked Melissa why being “illogically awful” was a reason why I should care. And not to be outdone or undeterred she let me know.  She wasn’t trying to woo me as a customer.  She was throwing data at me and hoping that I might be interested.

AWFUL!

Now you can gain access to thousands of developers.......

A truly “illogically awful” experience.  Melissa clearly did not want me as a customer.

A lot of sales books tell you that you qualify and don’t take chances with customers — that you do exactly what Melissa did:

  • That you refine your questions to only work with prospects who have money and time…. you get then give…
  • That you only build a relationship once you see that your prospect has something “in it” for you…  you prioritize based on immediate perceived value…
  • That you trade enough negotiable points and win a deal without taking any risks…. you never appear vulnerable or genuine…
  • That you explain all your moves logically in a “I always win” matrix… you need to appear important and in control…

But let’s not belabor the illustration.  We can learn how to be “illogically helpful” by doing everything that Melissa failed to do.

  1. Be personal — Start the email by calling me my name – my first name and leave off the “mister”….
  2. Be brief — Keep it to 5 sentences max.  If you need to tell me more, don’t…
  3. Be thorough — Tell me something you know I don’t know… and convince me you’re bad-ass…
  4. Be creative — Leave me wanting to hear the rest of your idea…
  5. Be different — Remove any buzzwords and industry “gibberish” that make me tune you out…
  6. Be inspiring — Combine what you want from me with what I care about.  I might actually get involved…
  7. Be important — Leave me good contact details so I can return your call or email and add you to my address book…
  8. Be neat — Proof read your email to make sure it is grammatically “mostly correct”.  Bad punctuation is distracting…
  9. Be safe — Don’t go nuclear on a random idea until we have a relationship. (i.e. politics, religion, etc…)…
  10. Be vulnerable — Admit it if you want help.  If you claim to have it figured out and don’t I lose respect…
  11. Be About Me — Rewrite your email if there are more I‘s and me‘s than you‘s.  You are writing to me so make it about me…

And here is the kicker: If you follow all the traditional sales rules (like Melissa did) you might never really ever lose a big deal.  You’ll never be in a position to question whether you made the right decision.  You’ll never have to take risks….

But you’ll never have the illogic to support yourself landing big deals.

The language of people

There’s a secret language that many of us don’t understand.  It’s deliberate but very real.  It’s hidden but in plain sight.  It’s how we work but rarely what we think about.

It’s called “humanity” and it’s the key to making the impossible very real.  It’s the difference between the unbelievable happening and almost “getting there.”

When you understand people you understand the possibilities.  You get to be a part of this language of “humanity“.

But it means your mission – your calling in life – is not about YOU:

  • It’s you feeling deep loss and quiet tears even when you’re told “I’m fine”…
  • It’s you reading the lines of worry on a tired face …
  • It’s you hearing the silent call for help when there is no sound…

It’s going on around you.  It was you yesterday and maybe today.

Chances are it’s your client tomorrow…

Stop Shouting at Me

1039171_52843470Since when did we as business people decide that having conversations was too much work?

Instead of discussion with our customers and the community we decided that SHOUTING at the world was the “latest and greatest” in sales-marketry…  That being annoying was a great replacement for providing value to the community around us.

(If you see the guy who switched the playbook let me know so I can slip him over the border into North Korea.)

I want a lifetime ban on boring HTML newsletters.  They just suck.

At least pretend to know my name.  I feel like the other side of a bad date.  Like I am being used for just another number in your “see my 10 gabillion readers” quest for encyclopedic  nonsensery.

And here is the ironic part about the craziness of your bad content:

I really want to be inspired by what you have to say to me.  I want to get a rush of adrenaline and nod my head at the end of each paragraph as you rock it out.  That’s what I want from our conversation.

Instead, you think that your fancy picture (which I have now officially deemed “Lame 2009 Clipart” or L2C for short) does a better job of telling me what you really want me to know.

Here’s another paradox:  We all hate the loud dude in the office who just won’t shut up (which is usually me).   But then we turn around become the sales people of the world who fight fearlessly for our loud and impersonal emails that just do the same thing.

We need to stop thinking about emails as sales tools and more as conversation tools.  If you wouldn’t kick down your customer’s door and start spitting sales facts in his face in person, then don’t do it with your emails.

Stop shouting….

Start sharing.