Do You Get Naked with Your Clients?

1481330-red-mens-neck-tie-draped-over-the-back-of-a-black-office-desk-chair-isoI spent the past week in St. Thomas for my annual timeshare week. It is always a great getaway, and this one came and went with a lot of time at great beaches, meeting new people and doing some reading. I got to spend the night at Jost Van Dyke, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do. The time around Soggy Dollar Bar goes fast and you get dragged away, if you are there on a tour boat or take a ferry, just when things seem to be the most fun. Staying the night was a great way to relax and enjoy the new friends and amazing beach, and contemplate the opportunities the new vertical has for us at Efficience.

The reading I got to do was very insightful and gave me several ideas to help me with my business. It was the book that Jack Daly recommended at the Nerve conference recently as the best sales book ever, which is called Getting Naked, by Patrick Lencioni. It wasn’t what I was expecting, when it came to a book that is supposed to help you with selling. But it all came down to what we admire in people, and that is being real and humble. The book is told in a fable and it is a good read, with the format helping to make the points very clear.

What it comes down to, is that when the business consultant went in to do the sales presentation, it was actually a bunch of questions that dug into the business and the issues they were having. He gave away his advice, and did so without any commitment from the potential client. There was no priced discussed, unless the client asked the question. This was all about adding value and showing the prospect that he was there to help, and if they found his services of value, then they would engage said services. This went down to creating a successful practice without having to actually sell, at least in the traditional sense.

What is revealed from the fable is that people have three fears when selling. They are the fear of losing the business, the fear of being embarrassed, and the fear of feeling inferior. When you are trying to sell and protect yourself from these fears, it works to prevent us from building trust and loyalty with our clients. When you provide your services in more of this naked fashion, you are sharing humility, selflessness and transparency, which when shared does create a bond with others. This bond leads to a level of trust that builds real relationships with clients that last during good and bad times, and even when you charge more than the competition.

In the next blog I will discuss the three fears in more detail. In the meantime, are you being naked when you are working with your clients?

Do You Have Happy Non-Performers?

feet on deskI was excited to get confirmation recently that Rasmus Ankersen will be speaking at the EO Argentina University in November. I saw him speak at the EO India Conference a few years ago and his discussion stuck out in my head. Matt Stewart and I, as Learning Co-chairs, along with Joy Hayes and Leslie Baum at EO Global, discussed how he would be a good fit for our theme for the University of “Tango with the Unexpected.”

I have written about Rasmus a while back, with his research being very interesting on how to spot talent. He will share some of his new material with us. I found some of his recent blogs posts insightful and thought I would give a taste of what will show up at the University.

You would probably find it contradictory, as I did, that some of your happiest employees are your worst performers. Ramsus was looking at a study that said the lowest performers were even more likely to recommend your company over others in the organization. Wow! Does that make you stand up and say, “What!?”

Rasmus attributes this to a lack of managers’ courage to confront employees who are just not making it happen or getting it done. We seem to want to block it out and not confront their performance, thus avoiding conflict. This acceptance of low performance or ignoring it doesn’t serve any purpose, except to keep the low-performing person happy.

Does not managing these low performers serve the company, organization or other members of the team? We know the answer to that, but what we may not know is that this drags down the culture to accept lower standards. I just wrote a blog on how culture is the most important thing in great companies, so does this motivate owners and managers in dealing with low performers? Rasmus sarcastically asked the question, “Do you help people perform better or do you help them to feel better about performing bad?”

These universities are an amazing experience. This one was a little different for sign-ups, in that each region of the world was given different time zones to register. We signed up 415 members and have 160 on the wait list. Registration went as fast as 3 minutes, to up to 4 hours in other regions. This is a great experience to be on board, helping to create one of these amazing events.

Want Big Bucks? Think Elegant Organization

live-communityWhat is it about Facebook, LinkedIn, and Amazon that we can’t stay away from them? What makes them so valuable? Well the answer is elegant organization. Let me give you a little background to explain what this means.

Back at the World Economic Forum International Media Council, in Davos, Switzerland, Mark Zuckerberg was 22. He was asked a question by a big media mogul, inquiring what his secret was and how could the mogul’s publishing company start a community like Facebook. Zuckerberg just sat quiet for a second and, as everyone was waiting for the secret sauce, he said in his direct, geek way, “You can’t!” Then he just stared and, with everyone let down, he went on to add what the real secret was all about.

He said a little later that they were all asking the wrong question. You don’t start communities, they already exist and they are already doing what they want to do. He then said the question you should be asking is how you can help them do what they want to do better. That was it! If you think about Harvard, where Facebook was started, they were in a community doing what they wanted to do for more than 300 years. Zuckerberg just helped them do it better.

This story was told by Jeff Jarvis who was at the summit and wrote the book What Would Google Do? I had read the book a few years back. I decided to read it again after a recommendation by sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer’s list of “A Dozen Books to Own and Read – At Least Once.” I picked it back up and started to go through it and look at how I can apply things today. We are building a few mobile applications right now that have the potential to help people organize their communities in a way that makes them better and get more information out of the community.

If you are doing anything in the area of building web applications or in building mobile apps, or you have one already that is bringing a community together to be more organized, I would think this book would be helpful to advance your thinking on community organization and a lot of other principles that Google uses to be successful.

If you think about some of the companies that help with organization, in addition to what I mentioned above, several like Skype, AOL and Yahoo give us tools to organize collaboration. You get photo organization with Flickr. Wikipedia helps to organize knowledge. There are many other successful companies and when you think about it what they are doing, it is elegant organization.

What are you doing to make organization more elegant, to make your business better, for growth opportunities, and to realize the big bucks?

The Conference Effect

Barbara CorcoranComing back from an EO event will usually light a fire under you bottom to get focused, look at new opportunities, fix or add a process, or just be plain fired up about your business. When you mix it up with 450 entrepreneurs from mainly the east coast and hear from great speakers, you feel the surge of entrepreneur juices flowing through you. It was interesting the things I got out of the conference. So I thought I would share a few of the take-aways.

I have been hearing for years how culture is key to your organization! But going to one conference and hearing three of the key speakers state this with such conviction, it makes you perk up a little more. From Steve Gilliland, our first key note, to Jack Daly, the sales guru, and Barbara Corcoran, from ABC’s show “Shark Tank,” they all said that your culture is number one in having a high performing growth company. When you have a culture that rocks and the people want to be there and feel engaged in the company, then an environment for great things begins to form.

Jack Daly talked about three things an entrepreneur needs to have: having a vision, key people in key spots, and culture. You have a culture in your company, whether by design or not, and if you don’t implement the culture you want, then an unintended – maybe negative and unproductive culture – may develop. Jack also said that a positive, strong culture makes people get out of bed and want to come to work. An example of a great culture is Zappo’s. If you are ever in Vegas, go to the headquarters and experience the free tour. You will get a feel of an amazing culture.

Another take-away I had from the conference came from Jack. He said that if you are a small-to-medium business and don’t have a sales manager, one of two things will happen. You will stay small-to-medium, or you will go out of business. He added the CEO, the COO or the best sales person can’t play sales manager on a part-time basis. I think this hit home for a lot of people, given some conversations I had after his talks, and others like me will be taking steps to implement a sales management process.

The key note that really made me think about life and where I am now and where I am going was Steve Gilliland, who wrote the book Enjoy the Ride. His presentation was hilarious, along with eye opening and thought provoking. He asked if everyone made the same wage of say $2 an hour, where would you work? Would you still do what you are currently doing? I had an inner chuckle at this since I know I would be doing the same thing I am doing, given that I have done it many times over the years without getting paid at all. His focus was around having passion for what you do or it was a ride that you wouldn’t enjoy. Gilliland said, “Love what you do, love why you do it, and love who you do it with.”

This conference was very inspiring and beneficial from a business perspective, and I thank my friend John Bly for leading the charge to make this Nerve Conference happen. I will be discussing more going forward on building a culture by design and my experiences on what we are doing to make our sales process better.

Is Geo-Fencing on Your Map?

map pinsAs we continue to build mobile apps for clients, the advantages resulting from these apps are appearing limitless. I have been in Charlotte this week for the EO Nerve Conference. When I called for a taxi, they said that I can download an app that will send a taxi to me. Not only that, but I can follow the taxi’s location as it comes to pick me up. How cool is that? This is the new wave of location-based services that is getting more popular and will help create a lot of conveniences, marketing opportunities and productivity.

Chris Shaffer, our technology lead at Efficience, says “The convergence of technologies, such as GPS and mobile broadband, allows users to leverage resources in ways that were unthinkable only 10 years ago.” According to Shaffer, “Geo-fencing is one such feature that allows devices to become ‘location-aware’ by tracking through GPS or location-based services.”

We will devise a lot of new ideas and reasons to have this working for us in all kinds of situations. Geo-fencing has created a new source of information that will revolutionize the way we interact with the world around us.

When you have the app of your favorite restaurant, it will know when you cross the virtual fence that they will designate, say like 3 miles from them. Restaurants will have ability to send you a notification of the special dish they have tonight or some type of discount. You already love to eat there and they just entice you to come back to spend more money with them, instead of all the other options you may have.

According to a study done by Pew Charitable Trust, 58% of adults access the internet through their mobile devices, which has been a big conversion away from the desktop. Smartphones are allowing us to get info and make choices that we didn’t have the information to do on the fly before. We check prices, watch movie trailers, and read about competitor choices as we are making decisions to spend our dollars.

Those that are connecting with their customers this way will have more flexibility, since a marketing campaign can be day-to-day or week-to-week. It can be tailored to the data that customers choose to give us so that we can meet their direct needs. Small businesses with limited budgets will have a much better way to compete with the big boys who wield massive budgets, just by having access to this technology. This will be mainstream in the not-too-distant future, but those getting in first will have a competitive advantage to attract customer dollars and grow their revenue sooner.

What are you doing to be ahead of the curve and benefit from location-based marketing?

Beware of the “Dark Side” of Entrepreneurism

As someone with lots of entrepreneurial DNA in my blood, what getsimages me excited are the opportunities that rise to their potential with lots of upside. We are working on a project right now that has lots of potential, and I feel situations like this help to bring a team together to work on something that could have an upside beyond existing expectations.

Near the end of last year, a couple of guys came to me and wanted to talk to Efficience about an idea they had to build a mobile app. They wanted to provide a cool way to look at what people are doing out there and share their thoughts. After some discussion, they proposed that we build the app for equity in the company. This is a tough thing to do, because if you build something and don’t get paid, you had better make sure that you have enough income from other projects to keep paying the bills or you will soon be out of business.

We had experienced investing our resources in a few different projects and getting them out there. However, seeing them not being accepted in the marketplace, in any way, was frustrating. Lots of our profitability was eaten up in R&D around the next idea – hoping for something to go viral and make the big bucks. But it didn’t! Why should we try again? Well, 1.Because you can’t help yourself when it is in your blood and 2. Because if you don’t keep trying, you will never provide the opportunity to truly succeed.

Over time, I have been made aware of how chasing these opportunities can get you into trouble and open you up to the “dark side” of entrepreneurism, as was described by Steve Wynn at the 2007 EO 20th Anniversary Celebration in Las Vegas. He said that the need to seek out opportunities that may push you to put it all on the line for the next big thing is addictive and scary, but it gets the blood moving for those of us with the itch. Wynn did this when he started his casino. He put it all on the line and almost lost it all.

You may recall a blog I wrote on how entrepreneurs suffer from overconfident optimism – another area that can create blinders to the reality of your situation and get you in trouble. There are a couple of ways to deal with that, as I discussed in the blog, and they are doing a premortem and firing bullets that Jim Collins reveres to in his book, Great by Choice. The approach that we have taken is to fire a bullet and not bet everything on one idea or situation.

Having our business flow with processes that work on getting projects done and getting business in the door has to be done first. Then we can test out ideas that could be big, as in fire bullets but not bet the farm on one idea that will risk everything.

So my main point is that those of us that get caught up in the entrepreneur euphoria, just be aware of the “dark side” and the over-confident optimism that seems to follow, and take steps to rein it in before it gets us into trouble.

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.

Video Link:




Follow the Big Trends or the Small Ones?

I have talked to a lot of people about the big trend of mobile, the growth in this area, Imagehow it is changing the way we do business, and how if we don’t want to be left behind, we need to adapt. Some of this has a longer time horizon and some of it needs to be thought about in the short-term. The point is that this is a Macro trend that is happening and one that may be less of a concern than building your small tribe of followers that make a difference to the revenue and profits of your company.

Seth Godin’s blog on Macro Trends Don’t’ Matter so Much, makes a point that I agree with for the more focused, short-term aspects that drive your business. He says that the Macro trends, like internet subscribers some year in the future, or the number of Spanish speakers as a percent of world population, are not the key drivers to your growth and the group you are after. We could add things like, Who will have more in Apple’s IOS or Android’s platforms by 2020? What percent of the world total output will China make up in the next 20 years?

These trends are nice to watch, and some of you may want to think about it more than others. However, the key is that most companies and organizations need dozens, hundreds, or thousands to make a difference in their world. They don’t need access to all Spanish speakers, to all internet subscribers, or all those on Apple’s platform. What they need is the ability to spread the word among a tribe of followers that are like-minded and passionate about your unique “purple cow” offering.

This is where you what to really drill down into who your client is and what it is he wants. Robert Bloom, in his amazing book “The Inside Advantage,” gives us a step-by-step process for drilling down to the true look and feel of who your client is and what is unique about what you are offering him. Knowing your customers in this way will allow the laser-like focus to zero in on your tribe.

Finishing up in Seth’s blog, he says that the big trends are a numbers game, and that by realizing that, you are “treating the market as an amorphous mass of interchangeable parts.” You realize the micro is more important than the macro and that it is about the people – that we are individual human beings and we have names, desires, wants and interest.

What is your micro group that you are focused on?

Adding Context to Your Decisions

brain cogs (988x1024)When we look at the world, a lot of times we miss the aspect of context on how we look at things. This has importance in making business decisions of all sizes and shapes. This can show up a lot with people’s decisions and with how they look at their competitors and strategies.

I was reminded of this on reading Rasmus Arkersen’s recent post of the power of contextual intelligence. I have written about Rasmus before and his work continues to intrigue me. I first met him when he spoke at an EO regional conference in Bangalore, India, a few years ago. I wrote a blog about his work on human potential.

This recent discussion was on how Rasmus asked people which would be better to hire – an Apple or Microsoft sales person. He experienced most people would say Apple, because of all the hype on the products and Steve Jobs. But what if it was all that hype that made it easy for the Apple guy to sell more when the level of sales was not as high as Microsoft, but was due to a much better sales ability? This is the contextual intelligence that Rasmus is talking about when he says to look deeper and below the surface to learn how the numbers are achieved.

Anthony Robbins also talks about this in his discussions around metaprograms. He states that by understanding how people sort things, you can communicate better with them in the right context. According to Robbins, some people sort primarily by feelings or logical thoughts. Most of us know that, but did you know that some people can even sort by food? When their thoughts are focused around food, you may ask them directions, only for them to tell you to go down to the McDonald’s and turn there. Robbins says, “If you ask them about the movies, they will talk about the concessions stand. If you ask them about the wedding, they will discuss the cake.”

I also experienced this in my Investment days in what is called “survivorship bias.” This occurs when you look at performance over, let’s say, a group of mutual funds during an imaginable 20 years, and it looks good at an 8% return. What it doesn’t factor in are the funds that performed badly and were closed down or merged out of existence. If you added this in over that time period, you may have a percent or two lower rate of all those funds.

These all are examples of looking at the full context of a situation and getting a complete understanding of why something is what it is. This is what Rasmus says is contextual intelligence, and when all is fully factored, may help you make better decisions.

What type of decisions do you have ahead that may need a little contextual intelligence?

Riding The Wheel Of Life

As I come back from an EO Insignia and Quantum Leap conference in Park City, Utah, I carry with me some great experiences. This conference brings all the segregated forums together to have time to interact with each other and gain a personalized approach to the EO experience. Insignia is for people with 7 years or more in EO, and Quantum Leap is for those with $15-million or more in revenue. We get time with the large group as well as with our own forum, which includes a coach to take us through exercises.

Our coach, Phil Kristianson, incorporated some adjustments and tools worth sharing. One, the Wheel of Life, allows you to look at the key areas of your life and rate them by how satisfied you are with that area. These include family, significant other, health, career, finances, relationships, spirituality, and adventure or fun. See the form here and print it out and try it for yourself.

When you fill this out, you see the areas where you are lacking fulfillment in life and where you are fulfilled. With that awareness and some introspection, you can create goals based around the areas you should be focusing on in order to better your life. If you go around the circle and find it to be up and down like a roller coaster, your life may not be as balanced as you may optimally like. Thus, an effort can be made to balance it out.

These types of exercises help us to understand one another in the forum. We get to know each other and our areas of strength or weakness, so we can share experiences and changes to help one another in those areas. This is a key aspect of forum: to get help and see if you are being real with where you are and how you are getting where you are going.

How balanced are the areas of your life? Do you have a peer or peer group helping you strive to improve?