How One Teacher Changed My Life

In honor of teacher appreciation week, I wanted to share with you all a moment with one of my teachers, Mr. Rogers, who had a profound impact on my life.

I was 14 years old and I still remember the discussion vividly. It was a discussion that forever changed my perspective of what I could and could not do.

It was the end of my sophomore year and I had been on the student council for two years.  He asked me into his office and told me that I did a great job over the past two years and that I should run for Student Activities Director.  I remember clearly telling him I couldn’t run, because I was only a sophomore and that I would be a junior next year; all the top positions in Student Leadership were Seniors. 

I’ll never forget him looking at me and saying, “So?” 

I said that I didn’t think any junior had ever held a top position on the student council.  Again, he challenged me. I said, “Ivan is DeterminedWhat do you mean – so?, I can’t run.”  “Why not?,” he said. “Just because it’s never been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I think you’d do great. You should run.”   I thought about it all night as I tossed and turned over whether I should break from the norm and run.

The next day I came in and filled out the forms to run for Activities Director. Low and behold, I ran–and I won. It was an amazing experience, knowing that I defied the odds and turned the tide for my felIow classmates who might be encouraged to run next year. I was the first junior to hold a top leadership role at the high school. 

At the end of the year, Mr. Rogers called me into his office again and said, “You did a great job this year. What are your plans for next year?” I said I wasn’t sure. He said, “I am – you should run for President.  I think you’d be just as great in that role!” I thought about it overnight and came in the next day and filled out the paperwork. I ran and won. 

That role laid the groundwork for the person that I would become as an adult. It provided incredible challenges and amazing opportunities to work on my leadership skills. I will always be indebted to Mr. Rogers for how he influenced me as a young man. He taught me to never accept something without first challenging and questioning it. It was this sentiment that has always pushed me to reach for the unreachable.

Using Your Passion to Sell Your Business

ID-100228591Are your referral partners excited about your business? Getting your referral partners excited about your business is one of the top ways to generate more referrals, and build your contact base more.

You’re probably sitting there thinking, “Oh, but nobody could be excited about my business. I do XYZ, and that’s boring.” Are you excited about what you do? Are you passionate about what you do?

Hopefully, the answer is yes – as a business owner, you should be excited and passionate about your business. That passionate you have for your business should show in how you describe it, and excite your referral partners. If you’re not excited about what you do, no one else will be either.

Think back to a time when you heard a motivational speaker, perhaps as a keynote at a convention or during a seminar. When you left the room that you heard the speaker in, was there an energetic buzz in the air? Were the other attendees excited about what they heard? Usually, the answer to that question is yes. But why?

Motivational speakers have an uncanny ability to share passion through their words, which increases their credibility and helps listeners remember their messages better. The very same end goals should be what you have in mind when educating potential referral partners about your business.

Increasing the excitement about your business can be easy. Take time to think about why you are excited about your business. What about what you do makes you look forward to waking up in the morning and going to work? Your personal challenge in networking is to have an extraordinary message that not only captures, but highlights, your passion and the essence of your business.

My challenge to you this week is to explain something about your business that excites you to a referral partner who may not have known about it before. See how they receive this information, or if they start to get excited, too.

Let me know in the comments below how that passion-fueled conversation goes!

The Power to Get Things Done

thepowerHow often do you hit a slump in productivity? Worse, how often do you know what you should be doing, but then fail to do it regardless? It happens to the best of us, but the good news is that this is entirely avoidable.

Steve Levinson, PhD, and Chris Cooper recently released a book titled The Power to Get Things Done, and in it, they tackle how to turn your good intentions into actions and ultimately results.

This is one of those books that I stand behind, because I really believe that strong businesspeople can benefit from the tools to help follow through. As I said in my foreword for the book, the ability to turn good intentions into action is one of the most valuable assets that anyone who is serious about achieving their goals can have.

For me, the most impactful tips of the book are the keys to maintaining follow-through mastery. Everyone has done it at least once – you work hard to perfect your ability with something, you reach a level where you are satisfied, and then immediately stop practicing because you reached what you saw as the pinnacle. The thing with skills, though, is that you lose your ability when you stop practicing, or striving for better. What this book teaches is to always have goals in mind, and to always strive for your goals – both valuable suggestions to all business professionals.

The Power to Get Things Done was recently released and is available on Kindle or in paperback.

What goals do you consistently set for yourself to help keep your productivity up? Share with me in the comments below!

The Pieces of Success

ID-10028822As so many of us launch into spectacular plans for the new year, whether those impact our businesses or our personal lives, there are a few things to remember when to comes to gauging the success of those plans. To truly be successful is to be in it for the long haul.

For the most part, your success is determined by your hard word, and by your choices. You can work harder than anyone you know, but if at the end of the day you make the wrong decisions, you will never achieve the success you want. So many people think that they deserve to be successful just because they work hard, but this is not the case. Hard work is simply a piece of the puzzle.

Many hard working people claim that they have “bad luck” when things turn sour, despite their efforts. In reality, it is poor choices that ultimately lead many of these people to why their hard work isn’t leading to success. This isn’t to say that every choice you make has to be a good one – to hold yourself to such a standard would be to set yourself up for failure. Instead, you need to make more good choices than bad ones, and minimize the impact of the bad choices by accepting them and fixing it quickly.

Becoming successful takes time and effort, and unfortunately many people want to get from point A to point Z without all of the challenges, lessons, and milestones in between. You cannot work hard and immediately expect the success that you think you deserve. Success is not an entitlement, no matter how badly we want it to be one.

I’ve said before that working hard is only the first part of success. Making good choices is the second part. It takes both to achieve success.

How do you motivate yourself toward long term success? Share with me in the comments below!

How to Become a Charismatic Introvert

ID-10066405I am a natural introvert. I know, I know. Shocking. It can be hard to believe that I might be a bit shy, considering how many dozens of times a year I get up in front of audiences and speak on a variety of topics. However, even an introvert is able to muster up some charisma and get in front of a crowd. To build up your own charisma, here are a couple tips you can try.

First things first, develop some interests. Read the news, listen to the radio, travel, watch speeches done by people you consider charismatic or by people who are leaders in your field. It is generally easy for people to talk about things that they find interesting, or things that they know about.

Another great way to build up some charisma is to go into your conversations with a positive attitude. Nobody wants to talk to a Debby Downer. Plus, if you act happier, you may even trick yourself into feeling happier.

Talking with hand gestures can actually help you feel more confident, as well, and come across in your charisma. The catch here is don’t overdo this, as it can quickly spiral out of control and cause you to seem a little scattered and off-putting.

Finally, your body language can do a lot when it comes to your charisma. Are your shoulders tense and bunched up toward your neck? Are your knees locked while you’re standing? Are you figditing? These are very obvious signs of being uncomfortable. Consciously work to control these, and you may just see your confidence and charisma skyrocket.

What steps do you take to build up confidence when speaking in front of strangers or large groups? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Using Your Unique Selling Proposition

uniquesellingOne of the biggest issues I see or hear when it comes to networking and word-of-mouth marketing strategies comes from the individual businessperson’s mindset. So often, people believe that in order to network successfully and set themselves up for the most referrals, they need to tell everyone who will listen (and some who won’t) everything that their business does. This misconception simply leads many to believe that by talking to everyone in the room, they’ll maximize their referrals.

This is not at all the case. What this actually does is bores your intended audience, and overwhelms them with more information than they could ever possibly remember.

The key instead is to come up with a unique selling proposition for your company, business or service, and use it when you network. Your unique selling proposition will be a brief summary of your business, the key word here being brief. You’ll want to share this description as concisely and as engaging as possible. Not only will your audience walk away understanding what you do, but if you have described your business in a compelling way, they’ll be more likely to remember you because you entertained them and kept them listening.

The biggest indicator of a good unique selling proposition is that it gets people to ask you more about your business, and keeps them genuinely interested in what you do. They should be short, sweet, and to the point, without being vague or misleading. Your goal is to open the door for a conversation, not leave any potential contacts confused.

What is your business’s unique selling proposition? How do you use it to get word-of-mouth referrals? Tell me in the comments below!

The Secret to Success

I do a countless amount of interviews each year, and one of the questions I get asked most often is: “What is your secret to success?”  In this video, I tell my personal story about my journey on the road to success and, if you are thinking the road was a quick and easy one–think again.  

I often tell people who are striving to achieve success in a snap that I am a twenty-year ‘overnight’ success.  In other words, there is no such thing as overnight success.  It took me twenty years of working diligently and consistently, day in and day out, doing the same things over and over in order to achieve some degree of success.  I firmly believe that the secret to success without hard work is still a secret.  However, there is a key idea which I talk about in this video that I learned through doing research for my book Masters of Success, and it can really help when it comes to attaining success.

What’s your take on the secret to success?  Are your ideas on how success is achieved different than the ideas I discuss within this video?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

How to Create a Spectacular Life

Last week, I posted a video where my friends and partners in the Referral Institute® and I offered our individual thoughts on how to create a truly amazing business.  Today, I’m following up that video with this one where the four of us talk about what it takes to create a spectacular life.

Watch the video now to learn about what each one of us views as an essential key in establishing the ultimate, ideal life which you have always envisioned for yourself.  We also offer specific, actionable steps you can take toward achieving your unique version of a spectacular life, so make sure to watch the video the whole way through.

After watching the video, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the ideas we shared, and we’d also love for you to share your own ideas on this topic within the comment forum below.  Thanks so much for watching–we’re looking forward to hearing from you!

 

How to Create a Truly Amazing Business

I recently had the opportunity to get together with my partners in the Referral Institute® (Eddie Esposito, Mike Macedonio, and Dawn Lyons) to discuss a really interesting concept: What exactly does it take to have an amazing business and a spectacular life?

So, we decided to do a couple of quick videos to share our individual ideas surrounding this concept.  In today’s video, each one of us shares both a key idea and a surefire action step (to implement that idea) which we believe are crucial in developing an amazing business.

What I really appreciate about our discussion here is that each of us contributes our own unique and specific piece of insight, so the gamut of advice shared within this brief video is actually pretty comprehensive being that there’s such an element of diversity within our individual comments.

After watching the video, please share with us in the comment forum below your own thoughts on what it takes to create an amazing business.  And, be sure to check back next week to watch the subsequent video we filmed which will address what it takes to create a spectacular life. 

Hard Decisions?–The Secret to Making the Right Decision Every Time!

When it comes to making big choices in business and in life, decision making can often be a torturous process filled with stress, worry, confusion, and fear.  When we’re trying to figure out what to do about something that’s going to greatly impact ourselves or others, it can be a really, really exhausting and difficult process.

In this video, I talk to my good friend, acclaimed entrepreneurial and business authority Sandi Stuart, about how to cut through grueling decision-making confusion and figure out the undisputed right decision every time.  I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this idea!  It’s one of those rare things that come along in life that are just so simple but SO surprisingly powerful!

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t in the world of big business where Sandi learned the secret to stellar decision-making. She learned this invaluable key when she and her husband were faced with a very difficult personal decision, and it turned out that executing one extremely simple process allowed them to rid themselves of the fear of regret and make the right decision in an instant.

Watch the video now to learn this simple secret to decision making that will help put an end to all the worrying and allow you to make powerfully positive decisions that will position you for success.

What are your thoughts about this decision making tactic?  Were you as surprised as I was to learn how simple it is?  Please share your feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Classic Video: One Simple Rule for a Winning Approach to Networking

I have been doing video blogs for quite a few years now and a while back it occurred to me that some of the videos I’ve previously posted focus on timeless topics that deserve to be revisited and not buried way back in the video blog archive.  For this reason, I decided to occasionally feature a “classic” video blog from my blog archive and today I am sharing the sixth one–”One Simple Rule to a Winning Approach at Netwoking.” In this video, I talk to UK networking expert Charlie Lawson about the Networking Disconnect which commonly hinders the success of many who attend networking events and mixers.

Charlie explains that the Disconnect can be avoided all together by following one simple rule that will get your networking approach and intent geared in the right direction.  I’ll give you a hint–it involves big fish and coffee. 😉

After watching the video, come back and comment about your experience(s) with the Networking Disconnect (trust me, we’ve all had some experience with it) and what you think about the advice Charlie offers in the video . . . looking forward to hearing from you!

Quantity Is Fine, But Quality Is King

Photo Courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the biggest misconceptions I’m aware of in regard to networking is the notion that it’s an “all you can eat” affair.  In other words, people go to an event, work the room in an effort to meet everyone there, and then judge their success by the number of cards they accumulate.  Although I see a certain superficial logic in that, there’s only one fatal flaw with this kind of thinking:  it assumes that the more people you meet at an event, the more successful your networking efforts are–and that’s simply not the case.  Instead, the quality of the connections you form is much more significant than the quantity of connections you make.

Businesspeople unfamiliar with referral networking sometimes lose track of the fact that networking is the means–not the end–of their business-building activities.  They attend three, four, even five events in a week in a desperate grasp for new business.  The predictable result is that they stay so busy meeting new people that they never have time to follow up and cultivate those relationships–and how can they expect to get that new business from someone they’ve only just met?  As one of these unfortunates remarked to me, “I feel like I’m always doing business but rarely getting anything done.”

I certainly agree that meeting new people is an integral part of networking, but it’s important to remember why we’re doing it in the first place: to develop a professional rapport with individuals that will deepen over time into a trusting relationship that will eventually lead to a mutually beneficial and continuous exchange of referrals.

When meeting someone for the first time, focus on the potential relationship you might form.  As hard as it may be to suppress your business reflexes, at this stage you cannot make it your goal to sell your services or promote your company.  You’re there to get to know a new person.  A friend of mine told me something his dad always said: “You don’t have to sell to friends.”  That’s especially good advice when interacting with new contacts.

This certainly doesn’t mean you’ll never get to sell anything to people you meet while networking; it does, however, mean that you’ll need to employ a different approach.  Networking isn’t about closing business or meeting hordes of new people; it’s about developing relationships in which future business can be closed.  Once you understand that, you’ll stand out from the crowd with everyone you meet.

When you’re networking like a pro and treating new contacts as future referral partners, you’ll absolutely blow away any competitors who still feel compelled to meet as many people as they possibly can.  Why?  Because when you call your contacts back, they’ll actually remember who you are and be willing to meet with you again.

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