Mistakes

Why Make All the Mistakes, When We Can Learn from Others?

There are “tried-and–true” networking techniques that are so simplistic they seem that they cannot be really effective.  Many times, we try to re-evaluate, improve upon and complicate them.  Why make all the mistakes, when we can learn from others? An experience I had once while on vacation reminds me of how we try to make some things harder than they really are.

I was in Hawaii enjoying the surf when, unbeknownst to me, the water became thick with Portuguese Man O’War jellyfish.  Suddenly I felt a stinging sensation across my chest.  I wiped my chest with my right wrist and arm and lifted my arm up out of the water.  I saw the tentacles dripping off my arm and followed them with my eyes about 8 feet away to the body of the Man O’War jellyfish.   With mounting alarm, I shook the tentacles off my wrist back into the water and quickly swam out of the surf to the shore.

I ran up to the first hotel employee I saw, a cabana boy, who was serving drinks to a sunbathing couple just off the pool deck and urgently exclaimed, “I think I’ve just been hit in the chest by a Man O’War jellyfish!  What should I do??”

“Are you feeling any pressure in your chest?” he wanted to know.

“No, none at all,” I replied anxiously.

“Okay, okay, here’s what you need to do.  Go on over to the market off the lobby and ask for some vinegar and meat tenderizer.  You’re going to want to spray the vinegar onto your chest. Shake the meat tenderizer onto the same spot and rub it all around.  You’ll be fine,” he assured me.

Well, I must say that I was less than impressed with this bizarre advice.  He was entirely too calm and that was entirely too easy to be a real solution – not to mention that it was just plain strange.  I figured he was doing a version of “let’s goof on the tourist,” so I moved on to ask someone else for help.

I spotted a hotel employee standing not too far off and gingerly jogged over to him, urgently repeating my exclamation, “I’ve just been hit in the chest by a Man O’War jellyfish; what should I do?!”

He said, “Are you feeling any pressure in your chest?”  Oh boy, I thought, next he’s going to tell me to get some meat tenderizer!  I thought he was kidding, or maybe I was in a bad dream and just couldn’t wake up.

“No, I’m not feeling any pressure in my chest,” I reluctantly responded.

“Okay, then go over to the market off the lobby and ask for some vinegar and meat tenderizer.  You have to get that on your chest and rub it around and then you’ll be just fine,” he said reassuring.  I felt anything but reassured.

By this time, I thought that maybe I better find someone who might really know what to do.  I headed up to the lobby, thinking that the hotel manager would be a good choice to get a straight answer from.

There at the front desk was a mature gentleman wearing a badge that read: “Hotel Manager.”  Surely, I thought, this guy’s not going to “goof on the tourist.”  I walked up to him and repeated my mantra about the jellyfish strike.  He looked at me with grave concern and said, “Are you feeling any pressure in your chest.”  “No,” I replied, “I’m not feeling any chest pain.”  “OK, good,” he said.  “You need to go down the hall to the small market and get some vinegar and meat tenderizer and put them on one at a time and rub them thoroughly into your chest.”

Finally, I said what I’d been thinking all along… “You can’t be serious, right?”  This is a joke, right?”  “No,” he reassured me this was not a joking matter.  “You need to proceed to the store immediately and apply the remedy.”

Reluctantly, I headed down the hall to the store just knowing that they were all back there laughing at the goofy tourist who was actually going to do a self-imposed “meat rub” on his chest.  I was sure they had some barbecue grill going for when I returned to the lobby all slathered up with vinegar and meat tenderizer.

Entering the small market off the lobby, I  started my search for char-grilled products when I started feeling short of breath.  Suddenly, very quickly and forcefully, I began to experience a crushing weight on my chest.  Was I having a heart attack?  Great!  I’m having a coronary after wasting so much time talking to members of the hotel staff, who were trying to get me to rub meat tenderizer on my chest.  I walked out of the store and staggered to the front desk, which by now was very busy with new guests checking in to the hotel.  I made eye contact with the hotel manager and almost immediately, dropped to the ground, clutching my chest, barely able to gasp “Man O’War!”

What happened next was a total blur.  I seem to remember a small child yelling and pointing at me as I lay there in my bathing suit, gasping for breath.

“Look mommy, there’s a man on the floor.”  The mother said something about staying away from people who do drugs.  I looked over and tried to say no, not drugs – jellyfish! But all that came out was gibberish.

The paramedics rushed to the scene.  Finally, I will be receiving the medical attention I needed. After determining what had happened, the paramedic opened his life-saving kit and I knew he was about to pull out a defibrillator.  I made my peace with God and I braced myself for the big jolt.  Instead, he pulled out – yes, you guessed it – vinegar in a spray bottle and some Adolf’s meat tenderizer!  He then proceeded to spray the vinegar and then sprinkle the meat tenderizer on my chest, and thoroughly rub the mixture around.  Within seconds, literally seconds, the excruciating pain began to subside.  Within a couple minutes, it was almost completely gone.

What I thought was a big “barbeque joke” on the tourist turns out to be a well-known cure for some jellyfish strikes.  You see, the meat tenderizer contains the enzyme papain, which breaks down the toxin proteins and neutralizes them.  It sounds too simple to be really effective, but it is, in fact, one of the best things to do in that situation.

Thinking back on it, I am amazed at how many people gave me the solution before I had to learn the hard way.  Sure, who’s going to believe a cabana boy?  I mean, what does he know, right?  And the hotel employee – OK, maybe there’s the start of a pattern here but, I have a doctoral degree – I’m “smart,” and these guys have just got to be kidding me… right?  And then the hotel manager as well… OK, I admit it, at that point, there’s just no excuse.  Why did I not figure out these guys knew what they were talking about and I did not?

Do not make one of the biggest mistakes that people in business make. Listen to the people who have experience.  I assumed that I just had to know better… and the truth is, I didn’t know better.

There is nothing like experience.  It beats education every day of the week.  The only thing better is a combination of education and experience… or a willingness to learn from other people’s experience. There are many basic referral marketing and networking techniques that any good businessperson knows to be effective.  They don’t try to look for something more complicated or involved because they know from their own experience, as well as the experience of others, what works in business and what doesn’t work in business.

Throughout your life, you may read things that seem too simple to be effective. Ideas that you’ve heard before.  Don’t dismiss them.  Embrace them.  Although these ideas may be simple – they are not easy.  If it they were easy, everyone would do them – and they don’t!  Great networkers learn from other people’s success.  So, go get that vinegar and meat tenderizer and learn from other “masters” that sometimes the simplest ideas can have the biggest impact.

Could You be Making Things Harder Than They Really Are?

In business, there are endless opportunities to learn from the successes and mistakes of others who have ventured into the entrepreneurial waters before us.  So, why is  it that we often ignore the lessons we can learn from others’ mistakes and doom ourselves to making the same bad decisions?  People in business and sales do this all the time.  For example, there are tried-and-true sales techniques that are so simplistic it doesn’t seem as though they can really be effective so we write them off and try to reinvent the wheel.

Many times, we try to re-evaluate, improve upon, and complicate these simple yet proven techniques and all we’re really succeeding in doing is making things harder than they really are!  One of the biggest mistakes that people in business (and especially in sales) make is not listening to the people who have experience.  For some reason, they assume that they have to know better . . . and the truth is, they don’t.  There is nothing like experience–it beats education every day of the week.  The only thing better is a combination of education and experience . . . or a willingness to learn from other people’s experience.

There are many basic sales techniques that any good salesperson knows to be effective.  They don’t look for something more complicated or involved because they know from their own experience, as well as from the experience of others, what works in sales and what doesn’t work in sales.  If you’ve read my book, Masters of Sales, you may have read things that seemed to simple to be effective or you may have seen ideas that you’ve heard before.  The fact is, instead of being dismissed, these tactics and ideas should be embraced.  True Masters of Sales learn from other people’s success and remember that sometimes the simplest ideas can have the biggest impact.

Is there a simple lesson you learned from another business owner/entrepreneur which has helped you achieve success in your business?  I’d love to get a conversation going about this in order to share simple tactics for success and important lessons learned so we can all lessen our risk of making things harder than they really are.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

Networking Minus Follow-Through Equals a Waste of Time

Smart, enterprising businesspeople know the importance of networking and how it is a huge opportunity to increase word-of-mouth and gain business referrals. However, one of the biggest mistakes people can make is failing to follow through.

One of my employees recently told me a story that should serve as an important lesson to all of us on how networking without follow-through is nothing more than a waste of time.

Note: The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent . . . and the guilty.

My employee, whom we’ll call Winnifred (since she’d like to remain anonymous and it’s the most unfitting name for her that I can think of . . . well, aside from maybe Gertrude ;-)), was in need of a graphic designer to assist her with the creation of a website for her father’s business. She attended a local networking mixer where she met a graphic designer, “Blake,” who seemed excited about the project and claimed he could accomplish exactly what she needed at a very reasonable price.

They exchanged contact information and connected the next week by phone to discuss the project in further detail. Winnifred was pleased with Blake’s ideas and liked the examples she’d seen of his work. She told him he seemed like the perfect person to help her with the project and that she’d like him to send her a price quote as soon as possible.

A week went by and Winnifred heard nothing from Blake.  When she called him, he said he was working on a quote and gave some lame excuse about being busy. Another week went by and, again, nothing from Blake. Frustrated, but willing to give Blake another chance because she really did like his work, she sent him an e-mail and left him a voicemail saying that she would love to give him her business and was really anxious to hear back from him.

After two weeks went by without hearing back from him, Winnifred found another graphic designer. To this day, Blake has never responded.

Here is what blows my mind . . . I know for a fact that this guy, “Blake,” is still frequenting local networking mixers (which cost money to attend, by the way) trying to drum up more business. Yet when he had money practically sitting on the table in front of him, he failed to follow through. No matter what his reason was for not getting back to Winnifred–being too busy, too lazy or whatever else–he shouldn’t be out there networking if he can’t follow through on what he claims to be able to deliver. He’s wasting his time (and money) and, more important, he’s wasting other people’s time–which is earning him nothing more than a bad name.

The moral of this story: If you aren’t prepared to follow through, networking is no more than a big waste of time.

If you have a “Blake the Flake” story of your own, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to share your story in the comments section.

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