Your Gift

“Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift.”

–Eleanor Roosevelt

As of the time of this writing, there are 9 days, 16 hours, 10 minutes and a descending number of seconds remaining before Christmas.  Hopefully you are unlike me and have all of your gifts purchased and you’re ready for Christmas.  If not, I truly feel your pain.  In spite of the fact that Christmas comes on the same date every year, I find myself under self-induced pressure to get my holiday shopping completed.

This brings me to your gift.  No, I don’t have an official gift to give to you, but I want to use this opportunity to remind you of the great gift you must give yourself.  This gift is the understanding of what you hold in your possession.

Without getting too spiritual or too far off the beaten path, let me simply share this thought that will lead to my challenge to you as well as me.  In the Judeo-Christian tradition, when God created man, He breathed into man causing him to come to life.  In much the same way, it is my sincere belief that you and I contain the very breath of God within us.  Our souls are connected to a Higher Purpose, a Higher Identity.  We contain within ourselves the very essence of God Almighty.

With that premise in mind, what are you doing today that provides evidence of the Creator in your life?  What are you doing today that represents all of the purpose and meaning of God in your existence?

If you embrace the idea that you contain the breath of God within you, then you must also embrace the simple fact that you have been designed to be so much greater than the sum of what and who you are at this very moment.  You are designed to elevate yourself to a greater level than you currently reside at.

So here is my challenge – to both you and me…

  • Live Each Day with Purpose — Time is one of the elements we are a steward of and yet it is also one of the key things we abuse and take so lightly.  Each day is a day we get but never get back.  Every minute of today is full of purpose and the ability to make the most of it resides in our hands.  Commit to living today to the maximum.  Commit to making the most of every minute, every second of the day.
  • Commit to Excellence — The seeds of greatness reside within you and me, so it is imperative that we commit to excellence in every way possible.  Anything less than excellence falls far short of what you and I were designed for.
  • Commit to Investing into the Lives of Others — In my profession, I am blessed with the unique opportunity to daily invest into those I’ve hired.  My intent is to challenge each and every one of them to become greater than they were before me.  My desire is that they will be much greater, more whole as a result of my investment into each and every one of them.
  • Decide — Each day you fail to make decisions that will move you forward is a day someone else decides for you.  When we fail to make decisions, we leave our fate, our future, in the hands of others.  This is a misguided approach and indeed very dangerous.  Decide, commit, move forward.
  • Dream – Goals are simply dreams on paper.  What are your dreams?  What do you dream of doing?  Of becoming?  Of experiencing?  Live your dreams!

Today is your gift.  Your life is your gift.  What you do with your gift is up to you, but I hope and I pray that you will embrace your gift and enjoy it fully.

Enjoy!

Are You Serious?

“Generally speaking, investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you. They can run up huge deficits and the dollar can become worth far less. You can have all kinds of things happen. But if you’ve got talent yourself, and you’ve maximized your talent, you’ve got a tremendous asset that can return ten-fold.”

–Warren Buffett

Are you really serious about your career, more importantly, about your future and the future of your family?  If you are, you’re applying this advice from Warren Buffett on a daily basis.  If you’re not doing that, you’re simply lying to yourself.

I get a lot of lip service from those who say they want to be successful.  They claim to want to achieve, to reach for a better way of life, to be one of the best and yet they simply lie.  They lie to me and, worse, they are lying to themselves.

Your unwillingness to invest in yourself is what is keeping you in the ranks of the average, the mediocre.  If you’re struggling to get by, living the proverbial paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, then it’s clear you’re committed to average thinking.  If you’re simply hitting your quota and think you’re all that and a bag of chips, you’re committed to average thinking.  If you’re blaming your company, your territory, your manager or your competition for why you’re not succeeding or making the kind of money you should be, you frankly are average and I don’t need you around.

I’m ready from people who have the intestinal fortitude to step up and take personal responsibility.  These kind of people strap it on and take personal responsibility every day for their life.  Yes, life can be tough and there are a variety of obstacles you will face, but if you sit there moaning about how bad it is or how evil the government is or how greedy your company is, then you’re pathetic and you need to find a different occupation than sales.

However, if you’re truly serious and ready to take ownership of your life, here are some things you need to consider and put into action in your life:

  • Set Inspiring Goals for Yourself – Stop thinking like everyone else and create some inspiring goals for yourself.  Continuing to not design the future you desire is an indication that someone else is designing your life.  Identifying your goals and taking daily action towards their accomplishment is the ultimate first step to taking ownership of your future.
  • Make Drive Time Your Educational Time — Stop listening to the radio.  Whether it’s music (which Brian Tracy refers to as chewing gum for the mind) or talk radio (which is about sports or, worse, politics which is the worst negative thing to feed your mind), you’re wasting optimum learning time.  Pop in a CD or listen to an audiobook that provides educational content.  Listen to some sales training while you drive.  Whatever you listen to, make sure it’s a real investment in yourself.
  • Read — Yes, read!  Few people actually like to read and even fewer read material that is about improving their understanding of their profession.  It’s been said that the world’s top CEOs read an average of 60 books a year while the average person reads less than one.  And we fuss about the huge incomes these CEOs make!
  • Attend Seminars — Stop waiting for your company to make the investment FOR you and make it yourself.  If you invest in yourself by attending a seminar, you’ll take it more personally and actually listen and look for ideas to help.

These are just a few to get you started.  If you’re reading this blog, you are likely someone who fits the category of “serious” and I’d like to hear from you.  What is one thing you do consistently to improve your life, your career?

If you are reading this and you are NOT doing anything to invest in yourself, I want to know why.  Either get in the game or get out.  It’s been written that “You’re neither hot or cold, but instead you’re lukewarm, so I spit you out.”  Either get hot or cold, but stop being a lukewarm pansy and get serious!

Dress Like You Mean It

Imagine for a moment that you are scheduled for a job interview today.  How will you dress?  How will you prepare to present yourself for this important meeting?

Why do I ask this?

If you are in the profession of sales, and frankly every single one of us in sales in one form or another, you are interviewing for a job every single day.  On every sales call, you are interviewing for a job.  You are presenting yourself as someone desiring to provide solutions to the person on the other side of the desk and you close the transaction so you can get to work.  That, at it’s core, is an interview.

Every day you are interviewing for your next job.  Whether you work the front desk or are the Chief Executive Officer, every contact you make is a potential interview for the next step in your career.  The people you meet can often be those who help you in the next step in your career.

Your appearance matters.  It shows you care enough to present yourself in the best way possible.  It shows you mean business.  The fact of the matter is this:  Those who dress well garner the most respect.  They are paid more.  Their opinions are taken more seriously.  They get the promotion.  People who dress well tend to carry themselves in a much more confident manner than those who don’t.

Today, as I write this, it’s Friday.  It is the traditional day known as “Casual Friday” and many will head to work today dressed in jeans.  I don’t mind dressing in jeans; in fact, a good pair of jeans are quite comfortable.  But casual Fridays have devolved into a day where it seems anything goes.  The level of respect seems to go down.  The attitudes are more cavalier.  The work done is less than desirable, if done at all.

I recognize that it’s important to dress appropriately for the work you do.  I’m not suggesting that an oilfield worker dress in a dapper suit.  But the argument that you should dress down for your position is, frankly, disheartening.  Don’t dress down just to prevent people from thinking you are something you aren’t or don’t want to be associated with.  Be proud of who you are and the profession you’re in or get out.

I’ve had it said to me that “I don’t want to dress in a suit and be taken for a salesman” by someone actually in the profession of sales.  While I completely understand the negative connotations often associated with the traditional salesperson, let me be clear:  Get over yourself.  If you want to change the impression have of sales, give them something to aspire to.  Stop running from the preconceived notions and set the new expectation.  Create the new way of how people view salespeople by becoming the new “spokesperson,” the new model for what and how we should be viewed.

Stop wasting my time by showing up looking like you should do my chores.  Dress up and show up ready for real business or go home.

Why I’m a Pain in the Ass

It’s not a rhetorical point or even a question but rather a statement of fact.  I am, in fact, a bit of a pain in the ass.  Why?  It’s simple.  I awoke recently and realized that I am far more than the sum of my parts and that I’ve been giving the proverbial lip service to too many people, too many things.  It is time to change!

Since then, my daily life is transforming.  No, not in a sense that is earth shattering, but in some ways that are subtle and others in which I’m frankly a pain in the ass.  Which brings me to my point?  (Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and here’s his gift!)

Every morning at 4am I wake up.  “For God’s sake, why?”, you ask.  Because I have expectations of my life and I’m damn well going to get them accomplished.

  • I write my goals down — every single day
  • I write out my daily action play — every single day
  • I write a chapter in my next book — no, there hasn’t been another one yet, but this sounds better! :-)
  • I review my Power Schedule

…and I get to work.  I don’t have time in my Power Schedule to waste time.  I don’t have patience for those who would willingly or witlessly (unwittingly sounds too nice) waste mine.

So here are some suggestions if you want to work with me:

  • My duty is to my customer.  This includes even you, even though you’re not my customer…yet.  That being said, I will follow up.  I will be fanatical.  I will be inspired, persistent and consistent about you.  The problems you have in your business ARE my concern.  I have the solution to virtually every business problem (no lie), so it is my ethical duty to do everything I can to help you and your business.  I won’t apologize.  My only regret is when you won’t let me do what I know I (and my team) can do for you.
  • Don’t be late.  Vince Lombardi has taught us that if you’re not fifteen minutes early, you’re late.  So don’t be late.
  • Trivial gossip isn’t allowed.  I really don’t want the drama and, frankly, I just don’t care that much.
  • Let’s get busy!  I’m here to make the world a much better place and leave a legacy where I’ll be the focus of positive conversation for decades to come.  I don’t have a real big ego, but, yes, an ego nonetheless.
  • Be committed or get out!  I’m tired of individuals who give the proverbial New York nod but don’t really mean it.  I’m sick of people who “mail it in,” waiting for someone else to make their career change for them.  Get in, get out, or just get out of my way.
  • Be all in!  Similar to the last point, but also along the lines of the old football adage:  Leave it all on the field.  Your half-ass approach to work, to business, to your life is stupid.  If you’re not all in — if you’re not going to give it 100% or more every single day — why are you here?

By now you understand why I’m a pain in the ass.  It may be a bit extreme, but the point is simple:  As I near the 50 year mark in my life, I intend to leave an indelible mark on this universe.  Like Steve Jobs, I intend to “ping the universe” and revel in her glory as she pings back.

If you’re prepared to be (or maybe you already are) a pain in the ass as well, I’d love to hear from you.

Buckle up!  The world’s in for quite a ride!

My Little Black Book

I get questioned often about the leather journal I carry with me.  One of my reps even likes to chide me about looking like a preacher with my bible when I ride with her.  When I’m in my office, it’s most often open where I can keep an eye on it.  When I’m out on calls or traveling, it’s with me.  When I wake at 4am to kick my day off, it’s the first item I open and write in.

My little black book is less a journal and more my future.  In it, I daily record my goals on the left page and my action plan for the day on the right facing page.  As I go through my day, I add notes and reminders.  I add things to continue to work on and ideas that come to mind.  It’s both the present as well as the future as I see it; the future I am creating.  It’s what drives me to do what I do each and every day.

When NFL coach, Dom Capers, became the first Head Coach of the new team in the Carolinas – the Carolina Panthers – I instantly became a fan of his style and the drive he installed in the all new NFL team.  When interviewed in the paper, Dom was pictured in his office surrounded by hundreds of black journals on his shelves.  These journals, Dom pointed out, are his lifeblood, his past, present and future in coaching.  In each journal, he had recorded every game situation.  He listed what plays were called and what the result was.  While still a bit behind his time in an era entering the rapidly growing computer age of the 90s, Dom’s commitment to recording his efforts and using them as his guidepost for his future resonated with me.

When I had my recent health scare in September of this year, I once again returned to the little black book.  I am committed to achieving great things in the present as well as the future.  My little black book keeps my record of it.  These are achievements that are not for the faint of heart, nor are they goals that will bore me.  They are what drive me to reach for excellence in every part of my life.

As we enter this final month of 2014, many of you will be contemplating your New Years Resolutions — your goals and hopes for 2015.  Sadly, every day that passes between now and New Years are lost opportunities.  Why wait?  Why settle for New Years Resolutions when you can create a life changing roadmap for your life?  Why settle for mediocre goals and desires when you can create a life of destiny that transforms not only your own life, but the future of your family?

Here are a few of my goals.  I share them simply to provide an example of how to write them out and also to indicate the intense level of achievement I am seeking.  These are not your ordinary, casual New Years Resolutions; these are butt-kicking, take no prisoners, life-altering goals.  Rather than creating the traditional S.M.A.R.T. goals, I’ve instead created BHAG goals — Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals.

  • I am earning over $1 million a year in personal income
  • I have written and published five books
  • My wife and I are growing closer and stronger in our relationship every day
  • I have a foundation that supports the needs of my community
  • I have been elected to public office
  • I am well known and respected across the nation as the “go-to” guy for ideas and for getting business done

My goals are not intended to be your goals.  My little black book is my own.  But I challenge you to stretch yourself beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed possible and strive to make it a reality.  We are designed to be so much greater than we are and yet we settle for a mere 10% of what we are capable of.  And we too often seem content with that.

Well, I’ve called myself out and I’m calling you out.  Stop settling for an average, “normal” life, whatever that really means.  Raise your own expectations.  Put your stake in the ground and reclaim the destiny you were really created for and make your future something that future generations talk about with envy.

How Committed Are You?

We live in a time where commitment is momentary.  As long as you and I get along, I’m committed.  As long as you pay me what I feel I’m worth, I’ll continue to work for you.  As long as I feel cared for, cherished, and respected, I’ll stick around.

The grass is always greener on the other side.  It’s just a different type of “fertilizer” being used.  The challenges of any situation are common to the challenges in every other situation.  Different names, same results.  It’s time to commit and place your flag in the ground.

Commitment isn’t a commodity whose value shifts with time.  Commitment is, well, commitment.  It means:

: a promise to do or give something

: a promise to be loyal to someone or something

: the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

What’s your commitment level with your spouse?  Your company?  Your customers?

According to legend, when the Spanish Conquistador, Cortez, landed on the shores of Cozumel, he had the ships unloaded and gave command to his soldiers to begin their march towards the Mayan city to claim the gold and other riches.  As they made their way to higher ground, they looked back with terror as they saw their ships on fire.  Cortez desired 100% commitment from his men.  Knowing there was no escape without victory, Cortez raised the level of commitment from his men.

I’m committed.  Burn the freaking ship to the ground and move forward.  Either I am victorious or I perish, but either way, I will place my stake in the ground and I will be known for my commitment.

But it’s not just commitment.  Commitment by itself isn’t enough.  It requires that you give all of who you are where you are.  You must invest yourself in the outcome.  It means there are no options because you are committed to excellence and success — the very best — where you are.  No excuses.  No complaint.  Only commitment to be the very best, to create the very best, and to be the envy of all who try to follow you.

Stop living a mediocre life.  Stop performing at a mediocre, average level at work.  Step up and make a statement.  Make a difference where you are and impact all those around you.

Go big or go home!

Are You Hungry for Business?

On my way to the office this morning, I was listening to one of the books in my audio library – If You’re Not First, You’re Last, by Grant Cardone.  In his book Grant writes,

“You will never create a powerful, solvent, prosperous, and abundant economy with an attitude of arrogance.  You better have your best game face on when economies tighten up; people who are looking for reasons NOT to do business with you won’t tolerate any egotism… You cannot afford to make mistakes in these times.  Let your competitors act like they don’t need the business while you make it clear that YOU do.”

As I heard these words, I was reminded that we all too often miss the mark and don’t act hungry enough to want the business.  We call and leave a voice mail and then just wait for the call back.  We send an email and complain when we don’t hear back a week later.  We cannot – we must not — let prospects think we have so much business working that we don’t have time for them!

I know; you’re thinking right now that it’s frustrating that prospects won’t actively respond to you.  Get over it!  You and I are not why they are in business.  They have priorities and other projects — we are just another item on the “To do” list.

That being said, we must actively pursue our prospects.  We can’t give up just because they didn’t return our phone call.  We can’t write them off when they don’t pursue us as much as we’re pursuing them.

So what can you do?  Here are a few tips to prove you’re hungry and deserving of their business:

  • Contact, contact, contact!  When you call and get their voice mail, you MUST leave a voice mail.  I don’t care if it’s the 10th one you’ve left.  Mix up the message but make sure they know you reached out to them.  When you hang up, mail them a handwritten card.  Send them an email.  You want to be everywhere they turn.
  • Send something creative.
    • Have you ever sent a big red rubber ball to get someone’s attention?  No?  Try http://www.sendaball.com and add a written message to the ball and they will mail it directly to your prospect.
    • If you call at 9am and they don’t call you back by 11am — call again.  Keep calling.
    • Send a shoe.  Go buy a shoe at the local Goodwill and send it to the prospect.  “Now that I have one foot in the door, I’d like to bring the other with me to meet with you.”
    • Send a Starbucks card for $5 and a note suggesting that, while they enjoy a favorite beverage on you, think about other ways you can help them and their business succeed.  Ask for a meeting at Starbucks or for after they use the $5 gift card.
    • Drop by the office with a dozen donuts with a big red bow wrapped around the box.  Let the gatekeeper know it’s a special delivery for your prospect and it must be hand-delivered.
    • Send a card.  Sign up for http://www.sendoutcards.com and create customized, personalized cards to send to your prospects.

The bottom line is this:  Are you doing what your competition is doing?  Are you just sitting back waiting for the prospect to get off their seat and call you back?  Wrong plan!  Do everything — I mean EVERYTHING — you’re competition won’t do.  Go the extra mile and prove to the prospect that no one — NO ONE — wants their business as much as you do.  Not because you “need it,” but because you’re the best and only real solution to meet their needs.

Get hungry and start seeing some dramatic results!