4 Questions to Start the New Year off Right

With 2014 having just kicked off, it’s a whole new year and a perfect time to re-examine why you’re doing what you’re doing. You may think you know why you’re in business, but perhaps it’s been years since you gave it serious thought.

 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my business mission? — Beyond simply making a living, what are my long-range professional goals? Do I wish to become the standard by which my competitors are judged? Is it my dream to help make the world a better place?
  • Where is my organization going? — Am I achieving my mission? Am I making plans to accomplish it? How can I change policies, procedures or personnel to improve my chances of achieving my mission?
  • What environment is my organization operating in? — What are the social, economic and technological trends that affect the way I do business and my progress toward my goals?
  • What are my core competencies? — What do I like to do? What is it that I do better than my competitors? Is my business mission compatible with my values and aptitudes?

I’ve seen too many business professionals and companies make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Starting out with the fundamentally sound goal of finding a niche that will make them successful, they go astray by changing direction every time a customer or associate suggests a new product or service. The mission gets lost in a frantic scramble for business before the original idea ever gets a chance to pay off.

So, even if you think you know your mission, it will serve you well to pause periodically, analyze your business and, if necessary, refocus on your mission and philosophy.

If you found the questions above helpful in identifying where you and your business currently stand and where you’d like to go within the next year, I’d love to hear what you discovered.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Leverage Your Achievements to Heighten Your Success

Success may be a lasting accomplishment, but the thrill of success is transitory; much of the joy is the journey.  Once it’s over, we begin to wonder, “What’s next?”  This feeling of emptiness cues us to step up and get ready for the next level because success goes on as long as we keep building new steps.  We graduate from one level and, equipped with what we’ve learned, go on to new accomplishments in the next.  Each accomplishment becomes something we can stand on to reach higher.  We can leverage our success.

Small successes can add up to major leverage.  Each experience, each skill learned or honed, each new technology adopted multiplies the results of our efforts.  The achievements leveraged can be our own, or those of other contributors in a team effort.  Those who work alone against tall odds to accomplish what others might consider mundane achievements often end up amassing powerful capabilities.  However they are combined, the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts if used to full effect.

The resources we find most useful as levers depend on both our immediate and our long-term goals.  Many are specialized, closely identified with a particular field or profession or industry.  Trial lawyers, politicians, and motivational speakers cultivate forensic skills, the ability to sway audiences.  This is a vital resource that can be transferred from one project to another, even in different fields.  The same goes for marketing skills, management expertise, and most leadership skills.  The more success we have achieved, the more easily we can apply these resources toward achieving new ends.

As a lever, success is also portable to others.  We can use it not only to help ourselves reach our own goals but to also help our associates, friends, colleagues, family members, even worthy strangers reach their goals.  Success contains many valuable and transferable components: experience, skills, wisdom, insight, confidence, enthusiasm, energy, money, reputation, sometimes just the outsize influence of fame.  These assets can be mobilized in pursuit of different ends, including the needs of others.  All that is necessary is to choose a worthy goal and turn the momentum of success in a new direction.

Networking is a structured system for leveraging success and thereby sharing its benefits.  Helping others achieve their goals not only leverages a person’s success for the benefit of others, but also brings the leverage full circle: what goes around comes around.  Although it springs from an initial good given without expectation of recompense, an altruistic act for a network contact accrues social capital.  The benefits provided eventually come back to the giver.

The ultimate leveraging of success is the philanthropy of those whose accomplishments have made them rich and who look for ways to give back to individuals who have helped them and to the community that nurtured their success.  Their rewards come not in the form of superfluous money or fame but in the prosperity of those they help and in the goodwill and approval of the community.  This is success of a whole new order–social immortality.

No matter where you are in your success journey, it’s important to remember that the joy really is in the journey There will be plenty of times when we not only don’t immediately achieve the success we’re aiming for, we actually end up completely failing at what we were trying to do; and that’s when it’s crucial to keep in mind what Henry Ford once said–“Failure is the opportunity to begin again intelligently.”  In other words, the experience we get in our journey to success is truly invaluable and that experience is what will end up fueling our greatest successes.

Success is a topic that has so many different aspects and perspectives to it and I’d really, really like to hear the thoughts you have as a result of reading this blog post.  Whether you have a story about your journey to success, what success means to you, the experience you’ve gotten/success you ultimately achieved from a past “failure,” or how you’ve leveraged your success to help others, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks in advance for your input and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Selling Goals vs. Life Goals (Pssst…They’re Related!)

I can almost hear the groans now . . . “Another discussion about goal setting?–How boring!”  Well, boredom comes from repetition, and without repetition, masterful achievement is not possible.  Reading more, practicing more, and understanding more about goals bring this part of selling into a normal daily routine where it motivates and guides those who are masters in the field of sales.

Our lives are directed and pulled by conscious and subconscious desires, which when aggregated become our future vision.  This vision (whether to lose 25 pounds and be athletic or to consistently earn $10,000 commissions and be wealthy) is directed by our destination goals, but the more finite process goals help us get there.  Treat each daily detail as an important process goal to achieve, and indeed these small ones will accumulate so that ultimately our larger vision becomes our reality.  It is easy to derail our dreams by self doubt, other people, and external events, so the only way to keep the vision alive is to transform it into tangible, goal-directed behavior.

Most goal-implementation plans require getting other people enrolled in our personal program.  This is where person-to-person selling comes into the picture.  In this instance, selling means convincing other people to give us something they have in return for something we possess.  In a traditional view of selling, the buyer exchanges her money for our product.  But in the real world, every person sells continually–whether ourselves on a first date, our beliefs, or our knowledge.  If we sell successfully, we might achieve a goal of having an enjoyable evening date, public  recognition, or personal satisfaction as a return from our effort.

Setting the right environment to complete a sales transaction might include bringing flowers on the first date or artfully crafting a storefront window to allow those walking by a glimpse of the buying opportunities to be found inside the shop.  The sales trainer might say, “Your goal is to create an environment (a stage) that causes your customer to feel like a VIP taking delivery on his Rolls Royce.”  The sales process is a very social activity, one that creatively mixes the buyer’s goal of owning a solution with the seller’s complex goal of meeting company targets, earning an income, and personally helping the customer.  Learning this craft of goal satisfaction is never ending and forever challenges the master seller.

While I was working on the book Masters of Sales, a woman named Joan Fletcher wrote me and told me a noteworthy story about a very successful young salesman.  In spite of his sales awards, his corner office, and charismatic charm, he still felt he was just scraping the surface of success . . .

Even though dutifully creating written goals, his level of self satisfaction was low; until he realized that the big picture was not just about how much money he earned, or the big house, or the number of sales he hoped to close.  The big picture was his vision about what he truly wanted to achieve in all combined areas of his life.  Once he discovered this realization, his renewed selling accomplishments became directly tied to setting aside money for his daughter’s education fund, to have time to help coach his son’s soccer league, and to work in his yard.  Even with more personal goals than before, his sales results climbed higher.

The thing to always remember is this: Work goals, selling goals, and life goals are all intertwined and each one will always influence the others.  Now the question becomes: what do YOU truly want to achieve in all combined areas of your life and what are some ways you might make a conscious effort to streamline your work, selling, and life goals in order more effectively work toward your future vision?  I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share any/all feedback you may have in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

What Is Success & How Is It Defined?

No matter what we call it, we all pursue success.  We all have desires and strive to achieve them.  Our desires may be different from anyone else’s, and we may not consider achieving them to be “success.”  We look around and see people whose success we envy.  What is Jake doing with his supply of hours in any given day that puts him so far ahead of me in money, friends, and influence?  Why is he successful, and why am I not?  Why is he flying his own Learjet while I’m rattling around in this two-year-old Jaguar?  Why is she living in a new house and raising three perfect children while I’m still looking for a mate?  Why is that guy’s cardboard box so much bigger than mine, and where did he get that king-size shopping cart?

But without knowing all the facts, without being inside the mind of the other person, you can’t say whether that person is more successful than you.  Maybe he’s worth $100 million but is unhappy because his goal was to become governor by the age of 40 and he’s growing tired of the frenetic pursuit of power.  And maybe you are not as wealthy as you wanted to be, but on the other hand you’ve made it through great personal difficulties and are pleased to have kept your finances afloat and family intact.  Which of you is more successful?  Fulfilling any personal desire is success by any reasonable definition, and you’ve achieved some very important and satisfying goals.

The measure of your success is how well you use your productive time to achieve the goals that are important to you.  Not how you stack up compared to everybody else–but how well you’ve used your own abilities and resources to achieve worthy goals, however humble, for yourself and the people who are important to you.  Who knows?  That would-be governor may be watching you and saying to himself, “I’m a miserable failure.  When did I decide money was more important than enjoying my work?  Why didn’t I stay off the fast track and spend more time with my kids?  Why can’t I take it easy and enjoy life like George is doing?”

Dictionaries define success as the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.  But in real life, success is a slippery concept, especially when you come to your own personal definition of it.  Success is a relative thing and highly personal.  Many an exhausted high achiever has reached a lofty goal only to discover that it was a false peak, that the true summit loomed much higher.  Others have reached the highest heights only to find them barren and empty and then realized the only way down was . . . down.  Yet many a modest achiever has trekked through a lifetime of rocky trails and boggy swamps to realize, after all, what a glorious and rewarding trip it has been.  And the ex-addict who’s stacking lumber?  Every day on the job can be a victory.

So, now that you have an idea of how ephemeral this notion of success is, how do you go about achieving it?  If you’re looking for a generic formula, you won’t find it–there is none.  Success depends on timing, circumstances, situations, and–most important–your own perception of what success is.  Nor is there a mathematical standard for measuring when and how thoroughly you’ve achieved it.  There are many ways to measure success, but in the final analysis, it’s how you measure it for yourself that truly counts.

I’m curious . . . how do you personally measure success?  I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

The 2 Key Factors of Success

In this video, I talk about the two factors that I firmly believe are what make people successful in any situation–hard work and good choices.  The truth is, you can’t achieve success without both of these things.

People talk all the time about the necessity of hard work when it comes to success and though they’re one hundred percent correct about the importance of hard work, I’ve seen people work hard for decades and still not achieve the results they want because they consistently undermine themselves by making bad choices.

Think about one of your more important goals–are the choices you’ve been making surrounding that goal consistently contributing toward achievement of that goal?  There’s no better time than now to make a list of the choices you’ve been making in relation to your goals, examine the list, and decide how you can make better choices toward your goals moving forward.

Are there additional factors which you believe have helped you or someone you know to achieve success in aspects of life and business?  I’m always eager to hear new ideas and learn from others’ experiences and I know many of the people who read this blog share this desire to learn so please offer your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Is Your Path to Success Ignited by an Emotionally Charged Connection?

In this video, I talk with my good friend and partner in the Referral Institute, Eddie Esposito, about a very interesting concept he helped develop which I’ve never before mentioned on this blog site–Emotionally Charged Connection.

Many people are not conscious of their Emotionally Charged Connection, yet it’s the reason we get up in the morning and do the things we do every day.  It’s driven by the heart, not the check book or the head–there’s a big difference.  Once you become conscious of this Connection, you are able to understand and more effectively apply five important elements of success which we talk about in the video: Vision, Mission, Goals, Strategy, and Action.

After watching the video, if you’d like to learn more about ways to develop your emotionally charged connection with your prospective clients, go to www.ReferralInstitute.com and locate a franchise in your local area or call the Referral Institute main line and they will be happy to direct you to where you can get more information.

The Profit Puzzle of Business

I recently had several business associates ask me about finding a good model for a business plan that they can use for their franchise.

Being able to market your business is, to a large extent, based on understanding your business.  Understanding your business begins by creating a plan.  One of the best models I’ve seen is one that I have used and recommended for years.  It’s called the “Profit Puzzle.”  It was developed by a good friend of mine – Don Osborne.

Below are the key categories (or puzzle pieces) that Don uses in his system.  If you need, or want, to produce a business plan for your business.  I recommend you check out www.ProfitPuzzle.com.  Just remember – once you have a structure for your plan – it requires that you commit a fair amount of time and effort to actually complete the plan (the plan doesn’t complete itself!).  You have to do the hard work to think about what goes into each part of the puzzle.

Check out Don’s  categories below.  They are very thorough.

Using the G.A.I.N.S. Exchange to Connect More Effectively

Sometimes one of the most difficult parts of networking is getting the conversation started and really engaging people so they are genuinely interested in talking and networking with you.

In this short video, Penny Georgevich explains how to effectively connect with people by using the G.A.I.N.S. (Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, Skills) Exchange (also referred to as the G.A.I.N.S. Profile)–particularly when it comes to the are of “Interests.”

If you’ve used the G.A.I.N.S. Exchange as a tactic when networking, please share your experience with it in the comments section–how effective did you find it to be?

"New Year’s Resolutions and Networking"

A friend of mine, TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo at right), just wrote a great blog entry which contains some very timely information for many people across the globe and I’d like to take the opportunity to share it with you today as a guest blog.  Enjoy . . .

“New Year’s Resolutions and Networking” by TR Garland

In about 30 days, the majority of people around the world are going to be faced with the same thing we’re all faced with once at a certain point every single year.

No, I’m not talking about keeping a smile on your face while spending the holidays with your in-laws (wink-wink).  I’m talking about setting New Year’s Resolutions.

Every year, one of the top resolutions is to “get in shape.”  The truth of the matter is that most of us already know how to get in shape:

1.  Design a nutritional plan and stick to it

2.  Design a workout schedule and stick to it

3.  Track your actions and results daily and recalibrate if needed

The problem is, a large percentage of people don’t reach their goals because:

1.  They don’t write out a formal nutrition plan or workout schedule

2.  They don’t hold themselves accountable

In other words, life gets in their way.

So what can be done about this?  Well, there’s something about human psychology that pushes us to not let someone else down. Because of this, people who invest in a personal trainer to help keep them accountable tend to achieve desired results much more consistently than they ever would by attempting to get in shape on their own.

It’s important to note that this same concept holds true for business networking and referral marketing.

Many people are spending a lot of time networking by just chatting away with others and maybe grabbing others’ business cards.  By doing this, they then expect results; they expect that the people whom they’ve met and exchanged business cards with will eventually pass a referral to them.  This mindset is called being reactive ( . . . and hoping for the best!).  Being reactive is an employee  mindset or mentality that, in my opinion, gets placed into the same category as punch cards, guaranteed smoke breaks, assembly lines, benefits entitlement, and cubicles.  In other words, this mindset is something that isn’t really that viable anymore in today’s economic environment.

If you don’t believe me, look around and note which businesses are thriving and hiring.  I’m confident you’ll discover that the businesses which are doing well are those that do not have a reactive mindset and, instead, maintain an entrepreneurial mindset.

An entrepreneurial mindset is one that takes ownership and focuses on being proactive versus reactive.  Just like the “getting in shape” example above, being proactive and accountable in your business networking and referral marketing efforts is a sure-fire way to get results–plain and simple.

So, especially if you’ll be out attending holiday parties in the coming 30 days with your spouse, significant other, family, or friends, remember to be proactive with your networking efforts.  Go to each event with a purpose (in addition to your goal of having fun).  Don’t simply gather business cards, that’s not what I’m talking about.  Instead, set relevant and realistic networking goals and ask the person you went with to hold you accountable to your goals.

And, of course, there’s a time and a place for everything.  You need to respect the event you’re attending and if the environment doesn’t warrant you achieving certain networking goals . . . grab a celebratory beverage and some festive treats and remember, there’s always next year!

* TR Garland is a Referral Marketing Strategist for the Referral Institute® in Orange County, California where he is a consultant to top performers and entrepreneurs on maximizing their ROI/ROT from business contacts and networking.  Starting in 2011, you can follow TR for his tips, tactics, and techniques on effective networking at his newly launched blog located at www.BeABetterNetworker.com.

 

Success Is Not an Entitlement

Yesterday, I received a rather disturbing email message from someone berating me for sharing what he felt were some aspects of my success via my FaceBook Fan page (mostly relating to discussions about my business travel and corporate meetings I did from my lake home over the summer).   I have to say it brought me down a bit so I went to my library and picked up a book I wrote about 7 years ago called Masters of Success.  I read a piece in it that I wrote called “Success is Not an Entitlement” which I hoped would re-focus my mindset after receiving this vitriolic piece of email.

I’d like to share an excerpt from it with you here today in my blog.  I’ve updated some of the material in brackets.  The excerpt at the end about “being lucky” goes out to my email critic.  I hope everyone (including my critic) can see some value in this message.

Everyone wants some degree of success. We might want it in different forms, but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want to be successful at something important. This is good. I believe everyone is entitled to pursue success.

But success itself is not an entitlement.

Not long ago I was talking to someone I’ve known for years about my personal success, the growth of my business, and some other personal goals I’ve recently met. He said, “Man, you’re lucky! It must be nice.”

 “Yeah, I’m lucky,” I responded. “Let me tell you the secret of my luck.  First, I went to college for ten years. During that time, I started several businesses, and for the next [twenty five years] I worked really, really long hours.  Along the way, I mortgaged my house a couple of times for one of the business and I wrote [twelve] books.  If you apply that kind of effort to whatever you do, you too, can be just as lucky.”

 He laughed and said, “Okay! Okay! I get it!”

 Did he really get it? I don’t think so, because he hasn’t changed his behavior or started making different choices.

 For about twenty of my twenty five years of hard work, I didn’t feel very lucky or incredibly successful. It took time, effort, hard work, and decent choices before I felt a modicum of success. The problem is that many people want to go from point A to point Z and bypass all the challenges in between. They work hard, so they “deserve” the success they want.  And they tend to resent the success that other people have!!!

 Success is not an entitlement. It’s not a right or a claim that we should have. Yes, people have the right to pursue success, but that’s it. Success is most often earned, not handed over because you are entitled. If being successful were that easy, everyone would have the success he thinks he deserves. I think I was in my thirties before I truly understood and internalized that idea.

I’ve been trying to instill this wisdom in my nine-year-old son [now 17] by teaching him my “mantra of success.” [Years ago] I asked him, “Trey, what’s the secret to success?” He said, in a young boy’s slightly bored singsong tone: “The secret to success without hard work and good choices is still a secret, Dad. Can I go out and play now?”

OK, maybe nine was a little young to start the training. But maybe not.

————————–

True success is the result of hard work, period.  I love my business, I love helping people, and I’ve achieved a level of success doing both.  I am very grateful for my success and proud to have achieved it in a way that benefits others and helps them grow their businesses as well.  I am also very blessed to be able to open my home and a large part of my life to the people from my companies, and to give back to the world through the BNI-Misner Foundation

From time to time, I share comments about these things on my social media sites and true friends are most welcome to share in the positive conversation about these things.  If it troubles anyone to read about these things, however, I certainly won’t be offended if they unfriend me.

6 Ways Your Referral Source Can Turn a Referral Into a Customer

Let’s say that upon getting a business referral, you simply take down the name and contact information of the potential customer from the referral source. Sometime later, you call the prospect and introduce yourself: “Hello, Ms. Prospect, my name is John Businessman. Larry Source recommended I call you.  I’m an accountant . . .”

Handling referrals this way, as you might expect, gets minimal results.  Your chance of converting the referral into a customer will be greater if your referral source:

  • makes the initial contact with the prospect (his acquaintance) to assess her need and, if appropriate, alerts her that you will be getting in touch
  • sends the prospect background information about you and your business
  • lets the prospect know the nature of his relationship with you
  • gives the prospect a brief description and endorsement of your products or services
  • arranges to introduce the prospect to you
  • follows up with the prospect after you contact her.

Unfortunately, if you don’t ask your prospective referral source to do some of these things, he probably won’t–not because he isn’t willing, but because he doesn’t know how these actions could make a big difference, doesn’t have enough information about you or your business, or simply doesn’t know how.

Make it your goal to communicate to your sources the actions you wish them to take and then provide them with all the materials necessary to accomplish those actions. If you do this, I guarantee you’ll get better-quality referrals that will more quickly turn into actual business.

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