Pillars of Business: Passion and Commitment

Let’s say you own your own business. You’re toiling away, working harder than you ever have because it’s something you LOVE–this business is your passion. But you feel yourself getting distracted; you sense the urge to cut and run. What do you do? Do you give in and find something else that isn’t quite as time consuming or difficult-or-do you stick it out and make this potentially the best endeavor you’ve ever sought out?

Three words comes to mind: don’t give up.

You can have as much passion as any entrepreneur ever has; but if you don’t couple your passion with commitment, you’ll never see the results you hoped for. You’ve heard me say, “Be a dog with a bone.” It applies well here-it means don’t let go. Hold on to that bone as tightly as you can.

But HOW do you commit? It’s true-it’s easier said, than done. I’ll tell you how-but it’s up to you to apply it to your own life, and your own business.

Treat Loyalty Like Royalty

In this video, my lovely wife Beth brings up a phrase she has often heard me mention in many of my presentations and in various conversations over the years–“Treat Loyalty Like Royalty”–and she asks me to explain what exactly the phrase means to me.  Beth goes on to reveal that she believes just as strongly as I do in the importance of treating people like royalty when they’ve consistently shown you loyalty and commitment in one way or another.

Whether they are employees or people you do business with, if you treat others like royalty when they show you loyalty, your ‘return on investment,’ so to speak will be beyond worth your efforts.  After watching the video, I’d love to hear about some of your experiences where you’ve worked with someone who has been loyal to you and how treating them very well in return has been well worth your efforts . . . or, also, how you worked with someone who you were very loyal to, how they treated you like royalty, and how it paid off for both parties in the long run.  Please share your story/stories in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

What Good Is Knowledge If You Aren’t Applying It?

Networking is simple; it’s just not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it and do it well… and people don’t! This is not a blog piece about the step-by-step process you need to employ to network effectively. No, this is more meant to get you to stop and think about all the articles, books, blogs, podcasts and audios that you have read or listened to yet aren’t following through on in regard to what you learned. This is a post aimed at helping you to discover what you should be doing rather than focusing on what you know (or should know).

I do presentations around the world talking about how to apply networking to your everyday life. Sometimes I have someone come up to me and say, “I’ve heard people talk about some of those things before.”  Hearing it for a year versus doing it for a year are completely different things. Success is about the “doing,” not just the “knowing.” In fact, I believe that ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice! The only thing more powerful is knowledge on fire.

 

There are so many things in life that look simple but are, in fact, not easy. Cooking is one of those for me. It always looks so simple. My wife can go into the kitchen and put a gourmet meal together in 30 to 40 minutes. Then I get into the kitchen and burn water.

Small repairs around the house–these things look so simple. Then I pick up a hammer and, well, it’s just not pretty. That’s when I’m reminded that I’m missing the “handyman gene.” It skips a generation in my family. My dad can fix anything. He’s incredibly capable with a toolbox. I’m not. When I was 17 he brought me into the garage and solemnly said to me, “Son, you’d better go to college, because you’re never going to make a living with your hands!” Good advice, Dad—thanks.

Golf. Looks simple, right? I’m not talking about professional competition, I mean just going out and smacking the ball around some grass. Looks simple. I’ve learned however, that it’s not easy.

There are so many things in our lives that look simple but are not easy. Networking is one of them. It’s a skill; a skill that takes commitment and effort to learn and apply consistently.

So I’m giving you an assignment (sorry, my inner professor is coming out). Your assignment after reading this blog today is to think of one idea in a book, article, recording–anything–that you’ve read or heard over the past year or so that you wanted to apply to your life but never got around to doing. Your assignment is to find that article, locate that “something” you wanted to do and do it within the next seven days. If it’s something you do on an ongoing basis, then find a way to incorporate it into your life and/or your business. All excuses are equal – just do it.  Also, please feel free to share the knowledge source (e.g., book, article, etc.) you chose to focus on in the comment forum below.  The only thing better than applying knowledge is sharing it.

Success is the uncommon application of common knowledge. You have the knowledge. Now apply it with uncommon commitment. It won’t be easy. But I assure you it’s simple.

7 Questions for Finding an Accountability Partner

Back when my son was a teenager, whenever I would ask him the dreaded question–“How’s that homework coming?”–I would receive the typical, teenage, roll-of-the-eyes response and the standard “I was going to finish it after dinner” answer.

Even if you don’t have kids, at one time you were a kid so I’m sure just about everybody can identify with this scenario.  Being held accountable for completing your homework as a kid was never fun, but let’s face it–when we’re held accountable for our actions, performance, and commitments it tends to heighten our awareness of what we are responsible for and what we have promised to do.

 

So it is with networking your business: accountability is important.  When you make a commitment to yourself to get out of your cave and attend productive networking functions, the reality is that sometimes other things come up and we forget those promises or push them to the back burner.  So why not find and accountability partner for networking your business?  That way, every time you commit to a new networking strategy, your accountability partner can keep you to the task.  Each week, perhaps by phone, meet with your accountability partner to identify your strategy for the week and because you have someone waiting to hear of your progress, you’ll be more inclined to focus on the task at hand.

To find the right accountability partner, ask yourself these questions:

1.  Who do I highly respect as a business colleague?

2.  Who would not be afraid to push me and keep me focused?

3.  Who would I never think of disappointing?

4.  Who is also interested in networking her business so that we can be accountability partners for each other?

5.  Who knows me–and my tendency to procrastinate?

6.  Who will follow through on this commitment to me?

7.  Who has the time to help me?

Think about it.  No one likes to knowingly disappoint someone else, and no one likes to waste her time or have her time wasted by someone else.  The urge to comply compels us to perform at a higher level and this leads to greater networking results.

Do you have a story about how someone held you accountable in a way that really benefited you?  If so, I’d love to hear about your experience so please share it in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Lead from “Among” Not from “Above”

Stewart Emery (Success Built to Last) was over my house a few months ago.  At breakfast one morning he told me about an interview he did with a well-known billionaire in the computer industry.  The billionaire shared an intriguing story with Stewart about an experience he’d had when the senior executives of a company interested in purchasing his company visited his office to discuss the possible purchase.

Stewart Emery

 

At lunch, the billionaire told the senior executives of the company he was negotiating with that he was going to take them to the Executive Dining Room.  They followed him to the dining room which was very nice but not extravagant.  But that wasn’t the big surprise.  The surprise was that the dining room had a buffet line.  Moreover, the billionaire walked up to the buffet line, picked up a tray, and stood in line behind everyone else.  The executives looked around the room as it filled up and they realized that this room was not an “executive dining room” but was the company dining room.  The boss stood there in line with all the employees.  He spoke to everyone.   No one was afraid to talk to him.  In my opinion, he didn’t lead by being above them; he led by being among them.  Stewart told me that the billionaire said the management team was surprised by the fact that he and all the executives ate with all the employees.  One of them commented that this would have to change.  For the boss, it was a test.  This was not the kind of company that he wanted to sell his business to.  The negotiation ended that day.

Companies have a choice.  They can move toward exclusivity in their organizational culture or they can strive, commit, honor, and embrace inclusivity in their organizational culture.

Sometimes when people meet me, they say that they are surprised that I am approachable.   I find that interesting.  I think they feel this way because sometimes we, as leaders, act in a way that people perceive as unapproachable.  We act “better than” to other people.  I believe people should be surprised when a leader is unapproachable, not when they are approachable.  The problem is that we live in a world where success sometimes creates a sense of separation (with both the organizational leaders and others).  One of the key things to embrace in a successful company is the sense that the boss, the owner, the senior executive(s) are, in fact, approachable.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  Please feel free to share any relevant stories and experiences you may have.

Networking Is an Acquired Skill

The Third Law of Notable Networking: Networking Is an Acquired Skill
(Click Here to read about the First Law of Notable Networking and Click Here to read about the Second Law)

Most people are not born networkers; they develop the skills through education, training, the right attitude, and long practice.  Any technique of value requires a commitment to learning how to use it effectively.  The next generation of business professionals will operate under a different model of management, in which networking will be an integral element.  Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn to network more effectively.  It is a skill that will only grow in importance.

Remember Will Rogers’ statement about being on the right track:  “If you’re just sitting there, you’re going to get run over!”  If you are active in a networking organization, you’re “on the right track.”  The key, however, is to take advantage of the opportunities that these groups have to offer.  This means you need to be an active participant in the networking process to get any substantive results.

Curiously, many people invest time in networking, but not in learning how.  This is like trying to play tennis or golf without lessons.  Sure, you can perform, but how well?  Simply attending meetings is not enough.  You need to listen to CDs, read books and articles, talk to people who network well, and most important, practice what you’ve learned.  This is no less than what you would do to learn how to play golf, manage people, or sell a product.

Always keep in mind that in order to develop a successful word-of-mouth-based business, you must attend every networking event that you can and practice, practice, practice!  Practice greeting people, handing out your card, asking for their cards, listening, excusing yourself, and introducing yourself to others.  If you have questions about what to do (and/or not do) in order to most effectively greet people, exchange cards, listen, excuse or introduce yourself, please let me know in the comment forum below.  I’m more than happy to do follow-up blog posts on any/all of those specific aspects of networking (as well as any other aspects you may have questions about). Thanks!

Not a Born Networker? Don’t Sweat It–You’re in Good Company

For the majority of the world, networking is an acquired skill.  Most people are not born networkers; they develop networking skills through education, training, the right attitude, and long practice. 

Any technique of value requires a commitment to learning how to use it effectively.  The next generation of business professionals will operate under a different model of management, in which networking will be an integral element.  Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn to network more effectively.  It is a skill that will only grow in importance.

It’s like a statement Will Rogers once made about being on the right track: “If you’re just sitting there, you’re going to get run over!”  If you are active in a networking organization, you’re “on the right track.”  The key, however, is to take advantage of the opportunities that these groups have to offer.  This means you need to be an active participant in the networking process to get any substantive results.

Curiously, many people invest time in networking, but not in learning how to network.  This is like trying to play tennis or golf without lessons.  Sure, you can perform, but how well?  Simply attending meetings is not enough.

You need to listen to CDs and podcasts, watch videos, read books and articles, talk to people who network well, and most important, practice what you’ve learned.  This no less than what you would do to learn how to play golf, manage people, or sell a product.

Attend every networking event that you can and practice, practice, practice!  Practice greeting people, handing out your card, asking for their cards, listening, excusing yourself, and introducing yourself to others.  In short, there are many skills to acquire and to perfect; you can’t expect to become a master after your first couple of visits to various networking functions.  With that in mind, consistently learn and absorb all you can about how to become an effective networker and make a constant effort to put what you learn into practice. 

Networking success is not about being a born natural . . . it’s about learning, practicing, and applying what you learn in order to become a master at networking.  Putting in the work to become successful at networking is sure to pay big rewards, not only in business but in life as well.

Do you have a story about how your time and effort in becoming a better networker have paid off in a remarkable way?  If so, please share it in the comments section.

What’s the Payoff for Developing an Effective Word-of-Mouth Strategy?

Developing an effective word-of-mouth strategy that results in a strong referral-based business takes endless time, energy, effort and, above all, commitment. The actions and steps necessary to create a successful referral-networking campaign are simple, yet far from easy; they take tremendous dedication and drive, and results can be a long time in coming.

So why should you put forth the time and effort to develop a word-of-mouth strategy for your business?  Because, if you commit to doing it right and don’t give up, the payoff can be unbelievably high.

In fact, many businesses have become so adept at referral marketing that they get most of their sales through referrals and spend little or no money on advertising — and they never have to place cold calls. Some of these businesses hire most of their employees through referrals, manage complex financing arrangements and even procure necessary products through referral contacts they have cultivated for many years.

But a referral-based business can reward you in ways beyond those measured in dollars. Dealing with people you like and trust is a better way to live and work than sparring with strangers all day long. You may even find the relationships you form with your referral sources more important than the dollars your new customers bring you. Such relationships are central to both the referral-generation process and the satisfaction you derive from your work.

So, the next time you find yourself doubting whether your networking efforts are really worth it, remember: If you don’t give up, and you continually devote yourself to working on making your word-of-mouth strategy better and better, the payoff can be enormous both financially and in terms of happiness in business and life.

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