Are We All Salespeople?

salesmanOver the past few months, I have been contemplating and researching speakers that would be a good fit for the EO Argentina University in November in Buenos Aries. Our theme for the university is “Tango with the Unexpected.” As co-chair of learning, I am working to bring in people that will meet EO expectations, which are very high, and relate with our theme. One speaker I would like to bring in is Daniel Pink. However, given he is in such high demand, I am not sure we can fit into his schedule or he can fit into our budget.

Pink has written five books. I have read three of them and working on the fourth now, which is his current one: To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. Pink’s work is always out on the edge and really takes a look at ideas, ways of life and thinking, digging deeper to find new meaning or a different perspective. He did that with his book Free Agent Nation, which I read in the early 2000s, and with Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Nations. Then, he really hit a nerve with people when he came out with Drive:The Surprising Truth about what Motivates People. This work changed a lot of people’s minds. I did a blog on it, discussing how we should motivate others and had several findings that were unexpected.

I will provide a sneak peek into what Pink has done with To Sell is Human, because it holds a surprising twist on how we see people that sell, suggesting that every one of us is selling in just about everything we do. When Pink sat down and took an in-depth look at what he had done over a two-week period, he realized that within the conversations – emails, texts, calls, and meetings – he was trying to get people to part with resources.

Most don’t like hearing that they are sales people. Selling can be perceived as trickery and deceit. But as Pink describes, things have changed and that is not the world we can play in – not if we want to succeed in selling. Pink creates a discussion around how sales has changed more over the last 10 years than over the previous 100. Further, our assumptions about it have changed. We still have about 1 in 9 people engaged in sales today, and the other 8 of 9 are indirectly involved in sales. Pink says, “We’re persuading, convincing and influencing others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got. “

An interesting point that he brings up in the book is that as business owners, we are supposed to send our sales people out to solve problems. What Pink discovers is that it is more about going out and helping people to find their problems. That is different, isn’t it? He discusses that an effective way to move others is to uncover their challenges. For sales to have meaning, he gets into discussing that it needs to be made personnel and purposeful.

Is your approach to sales working for you currently? I will have to say that is has been a struggle for us. If it is the same for you, maybe a radical way of changing our thinking around sales is what is needed to make them better. Check out this short interview that Pink gave on his key discoveries for the book.

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Who's Driving?

Having been in business for a while I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what motivates people and what I can be doing to help increase their motivation. I wonder how they get excited about what they do or what outside forces motivate them to want to do more. I have seen the Carrot and Stick work, and I have seen when it did not push people to do better. This made me wonder if it was the people, the culture or other factors that didn’t follow the traditional Carrot and Stick model.

I’ve read some of Daniel Pink’s work in the past, but when he wrote Drive I was excited to see what he had to say about motivation and what drives people to want to do better.

The research says that what worked before is what he is calling Motivation 2.0, and is relevant in an industrial world of parts and pieces. This model isn’t so relevant in the newer Motivation 3.0, where knowledge and creativity are the output you are trying to motivate.

Pink says that these 3 elements are necessary for Motivation 3.0: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

When you have Autonomy, you have freedom in the task at hand, freedom in the time required to complete the task, and freedom within the team working together on that task.

When you have Mastery, people are in “flow” with the work they are doing. They do it with engagement, aspiring to a level of mastery, but knowing that it is hard work and will always be short of fully reachable.

When you have Purpose, there is a cause that is bigger than the individual; it allows the extra effort to be pulled out of people that goes beyond the effort for just a paycheck.

Check out this really cool video that really helps to understand these key points to Motivation 3.0: If you are a creative and knowledge based company, have you noticed issues around motivation? Could the incorporation of more autonomy, mastery, and purpose in your company help?

Choose to be Great with These 3 Behaviors!


In last week’s blog, I introduced the three core behaviors for business greatness as researched by Jim Collins in his new book “Great by Choice.” These behaviors include fanatical discipline, empirical creativity, and productive paranoia. Let’s take a deeper look at each of these, so we can have a better understanding of how to apply them in our own businesses.

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In the core behavior of fanatical discipline, Collins discusses how these companies had a relentless approach in implementing their processes and strategy. Collins describes “relentless” as “consistency of action, consistency of values, consistency with long term goals, consistency with performance standards, consistency of method, and consistency over time.” He then adds, “For a 10Xer the only legitimate form of discipline is self-discipline, having the inner will to do whatever it takes to create a great outcome, no matter how difficult.” These 10Xer companies operated on a completely different level of discipline than the average or even the comparison companies. They were fanatics about it!

In regards to the core behavior of empirical creativity, Collins shows that 10Xers would try things in the marketplace, get feedback, make changes, and get more feedback. They relied on this practice to make bold moves with less risk. He says, “By empirical, we mean relying upon direct observations, conducting practical experiments, and / or engaging directly with evidence rather than relying upon opinion, whim, conventional wisdom, or untested ideas.” I really relate to Collins analogy of firing bullets instead of cannonballs. Fire the bullets and make adjustments to be sure you zero in on the target. When you have a lock on the target, then you fire your cannonball.

When observing the core behavior of productive paranoia, the 10Xers displayed a sense of constant worry in regards to what could cause their demise in good times as well as bad. They worried, like Gates, that the guy in the garage would come out with something that would sink them. Like me, you may remember Andy Grove of Intel, a 10X company, coming out of the cover of Fortune with the title Only the Paranoid Survive.” Collins says, “They (10Xers) believe that conditions will – absolutely, with 100 percent certainty – turn against them without warning, at some unpredictable point in time, at some highly inconvenient moment. And they’d better be prepared.”

I have discussed many times in these writings how Efficience is working toward its BHAG by creating many products in the marketplace and observing the evidence of what works. Those are our bullets, and when the empirical evidence comes in, we will fire a cannonball. I expected this to be a core behavior, but the other two behaviors of discipline and paranoia found in the 10Xers surprised me. We will be working hard to step up to our discipline and paranoia going forward. How will you use these behaviors to be great?


Entrepreneurs Don't Care, Just Like the Honey Badger!


I kept hearing and seeing the slogan “The Honey Badger Don’t Care” in email jokes, on television, and from various people. You may have seen it during the college National Championship Game between Alabama and LSU. You may have seen the signs referring to LSU player #7 Tyrann Mathieu as the Honey Badger.

This all started because of a video called “The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger” by Randall (strong language; use viewer discretion). Given its popularity, you have likely seen it by now. If not, this video is really funny, but more importantly, it is a very intriguing story from an entrepreneurial perspective.


First of all, the video simply shows footage of a Honey Badger with voice over commentary by Randall that has gone viral (almost 34 million views). This has landed Randal a spot in the cartoon movie as well as a stuffed animal being sold with his voice. He also has a Honey Badger game app and has landed a book deal. The Honey Badger may not care, but Randall did. He cared enough to go out and take advantage of the opportunity he created for himself, turning something fun into what appears to be big money.

As I think about the slogan “the Honey Badger don’t care,” I see a mindset that an entrepreneur sustains when he or she is getting started. The entrepreneur don’t care . . . that he is unfunded, lacks experience in the marketplace, doesn’t have a team in place, doesn’t have any customers, is told he can’t do it, is not smart to quit his job, doesn’t have another source of income, and he still sees an opportunity and goes out there and makes it happen.

Now, you may be thinking that this was just a stroke of luck, and that this guy’s lottery ticket got called up. No, I don’t see it that way just as I don’t see the success of most entrepreneurs as luck. The real story is that Randall’s dad was a camera man for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and since the age of seven, Randall would narrate the films for the family when his dad would come home from these exotic trips. They would go to the zoo frequently, and he would tell stories of all the animals at the zoo. His big success came from living what he loved to do!

This is the case with most of us! We live in such a way that our passion and love for the things we do puts up in the path of opportunities that have not yet been seen, and then those that decide they really want it “honey badger” away working toward success.

What are you passionate enough about that that you don’t care what gets in your way and won’t let anything stop you?