listen first

I’d Rather Set My Hair On Fire

Have you ever had a telephone conversation with someone while also catching up on your email or surfing the latest news?

Have you ever been on the phone trying to talk with someone only to realize they aren’t paying attention but are instead reading from the screen in front of them?

Nobody disagrees with the importance of really listening to each other. In fact, I’ve tracked it on Twitter and you’ll see that thousands talk about the importance of listening. If that is all true then why do so many people do just the opposite?

To listen – truly listen to someone you have to tune everything and everyone else out.

This is one reason I don’t understand why so many companies insist on having telephone conference calls that last for an hour or more. Most of them are usually scheduled for one hour and it seems like whoever is leading the call always feels the need to fill that time. As a result, the majority of the people on the call have a speaker or headset on while they read their mail, check out their favorite blogs, clip their nails and groom the dog. And, what is even more amazing to me is how many people have to attend these calls every day and sometimes multiple times.

Yikes! I’d rather set my hair on fire!

I know that’s easy for me to say but you get the point.

You’ve probably played the game where a group of people get together and someone leads off by whispering to the next person a statement that is written down. Then that person tells it to another and one-by-one the story is passed down the line. By the time the final person at the end of the chain states out loud to the group what they think they just heard the entire initial story has changed and often so much so there isn’t any resemblance to it.

If this can happen when you know you’re supposed to be listening imagine what the outcomes are of corporate decisions dependent upon team conference calls that last for hours where your attention is less than focused.

Managers love these kinds of calls.

Leaders detest them.

If You Can’t Sell It – Forget It

There are a lot of great ideas floating around. Megan or Paul will even help you create new ideas. I bet you have a few of your own right now. Are you going to do something about it? Or, will you just let it simmer on the back burner for a while longer?

Whatever you do I want you to know one very important fact that will make all the difference as to whether that idea comes to fruition or not.

You ready? Here goes.

It might be the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t sell it, you might as well forget it right now.

That might sound harsh but it is a fact. Think back to the last time you had what you thought was a great idea but didn’t pan out. I’ll bet you right now it didn’t work because you couldn’t sell it. You couldn’t attract others to follow you. Sure, people will tell you what a great idea it is but ask them to buy it. And, buy can stand for things like recommend you, help you, follow you, invest or actually purchase from you.

If they say “No” then you need to either rethink your idea or find out if you just don’t know how to sell it.

And, don’t forget – Listen First – Sell Later.

Listening Away Assumptions, Fear, and Your List of Shoulds

“How are you?”

“I’m fine. Never been better.”

How many times a day do you have that type of exchange with someone either in person, on the phone, or in email? It’s already happened to me a half-dozen times this morning. I always assume the initial question is a social greeting and not really a question. I don’t think most people really want to take the time to listen to me – to find out how I really am feeling. And, that’s okay most of the time.

A lot of people aren’t really fine right now. And, they have been better. You might count yourself in that group. You might be wondering if you’re really doing the thing in life that makes a difference for both yourself and those around you. It’s easy to wonder when you hear and see so much negativity around you. However, I’m here to tell you that with over 60 years of experience as a human being, I find that there always will be negative people, negative stories, and those who have given up on making a difference and want you to join them. Ignore them. Run from them.

Running your own business, working in sales, shipping a new project, and making a difference are all challenging not just for you but for all of us. Don’t let the experts tell you any differently. It’s hard work. That’s why it’s called work. But, it can be fun and rewarding and you can make a difference. I bet you already are making one with someone.

But, maybe you’re feeling dissatisfied and scared. It’s good to be dissatisfied otherwise we’d never strive to make somethign even better and scared is normal. You were successful at something before you started this new project, career, or business. What was it about you that allowed you to be successful in the first place? Are you doing what led to that success now? You might be harboring assumptions that are stifling you now. Do you have a list of “shoulds” that are holding you back. What could they be?

Now, please go find a quiet place, sit down and relax and then ask yourself this question. Or, better yet, sit with a trusted friend or two and let them listen to the answer.

The question is, “How are you?”

And, now, give yourself and them the honest answer.

Talk about why you’re dissatisfied, why you’re scared and why you’re worried you might now be doing the “one thing” that will make a difference. Or, maybe how you’re afraid of the idea of even doing one thing.

Listen to your answers. Write them down – especially the assumptions and the shoulds. Ask yourself if you’re trying to force things to happen. Are you focused on the right thing?

And, what is the right thing? I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not:

  • You!
  • Monetary survival
  • Proving something to someone else or proving them wrong.
  • Getting the award, the recognition, the trophy.

Focusing on these things will only lead to failure. I suggest focusing on one thing for the time being.

Focus on providing extraordinary value to the people you come in contact with every moment of every day. Ask yourself:

  • What kind of value can I provide for this person?
  • How can I make their lives better without consideration for my own agenda?
  • Who can I connect them with who will bring more value to their lives?

That’s it. One primary focus and three questions.

And, now will you do me a favor? Will you answer these two questions for me? You can do it in the comments or send me a private email but I promise you that I will listen.

How are you?

What can I do to help you get what you want in life?

Thank you.


If you are hearing a whooshing noise above your head this week it might be the sound of March quickly flying by. In fact, almost one full quarter of 2010 is in the books and now would be a really good time to take an honest look at what you’ve done so far this year to meet your personal and business goals.

One of the problems many small businesses and self-employed one-person firms face is the up and down of sales versus delivery. When you’re the person responsible for both sales and delivery it is easy to get into that kind of a cycle which is deadly to cash flow.

I’m guessing you already know that if you’ve been working at this for any time. So, what’s the answer? Here are a few to consider:

  • If you sell services stop selling your time (by the hour billing) and start selling the value you bring to the project. You can’t make more time and you’re probably already working plenty of hours. But, you can bring more value to projects and when you do then you deserve to be paid for the value you bring. The key is to agree with the decision maker as to what value you bring and how it will be measured. Then you can both agree on a price that is fair for both of you.
  • If you’ve grown and now have staff working for you then you can spend more time marketing and selling. Get out of the office and out with your customers and prospective customers. I’ve never understood people who have their largest lifetime investment in their business spending their time in the office. Or, worse, spending their time in the office micro-managing the people who are producing for them.
  • Hire the best you can find, pay them like they are the best (since they are) and get the hell out of their way. Now you can go do what you’re supposed to be doing and that is marketing and selling.
  • If you’re using some of the new marketing techniques like social media, blogging, etc., please develop a strategy around how you are using them. And, make sure you measure the results.
  • For all my life I’ve been amazed at how people just don’t follow-up. And, too often, they don’t even do what they promise. They will spend money on bricks, mortar, equipment, and stuff. They’ll spend money on ads, trade shows, and entertainment. They will hire a consultant to give them processes to follow and then they will sit back and wait for the money to come in the door. If you’re a small business owner and you’re only in it for the money, I think your chance at being exceptionally successful is slim.
  • You still have to do the work. And, I’m not talking about busy work. You can spend hours a day on Google or whatever on your computer. Unless that is part of your sales and marketing process and you complete the entire process, you’re deluding yourself.
  • Separate yourself from everyone else. Do it with the most extraordinary service, quality, speed, and products. Make it fun to do business with you. Make it an experience to remember. We had major storm damage in our home this past weekend. The first company to arrive to take a look at mitigating it arrived with flowers that are still on our kitchen counter. They are now on their 4th day of working for us. Nobody else brought flowers. I bet they spend over a $1,000 a year on flowers. They will more than recover that on this one job.
  • Stop doing business as usual. Forget what you did last year, the last five years or the last twenty-five. What are you going to do this year that is focused not on how much you can save on flowers but on what marketing and sales ideas you can invest in that will let you hit those goals you set back in January.

Freezing Lizard Brains and Cows That Aren’t Purple

My brain just froze! It has nothing to do with the weather (which is 15F) or the lizard (which you can learn more about here). At least I hope not.

Let me explain. For the past 3 days I have been immersed in:

  1. Trying out some sales and marketing software that really excites me with its potential for small business.
  2. Talking to as many people as possible about Linchpin and why they will want to read it.
  3. Creating a new video which will launch soon. Here is my channel. I'll let you know when the new video is up for viewing.
  4. Working with two new small business clients who want to change from their old style of marketing.
  5. Collaborating with friends and tribe members (those are synonymous) on ideas including at least 5 new eBooks.

So, I just sat down to write a post to you. And, that's when my brain froze up. I didn't know what to write about first or last for that matter.

Let's start with talking about businesses that want to change how they market. Maybe this is you or someone you know.

You've been in business now for a while and you're doing okay. You made it past that first five years. You know you can do better but you're finding that the way you found customers for all the years you've been in business just isn't working anymore. Yellow pages don't work. Print ads don't work. You tried telemarketing and it worked once but now there are Do Not Call lists and you know people don't want to be bothered by your commercial when they are home relaxing. You used to be able to send out a letter or a postcard and count on responses but now even that is drying up if all you're doing is interrupting people.

You're ready to try something different. You keep hearing about social media and Twitter and Facebook and wonder if that is the answer. You hear about blogs but don't know the first thing about having one.

Marketing has changed and it wasn't evolution. It was a revolution. So, how do you start using it?

Here's the bad news. It's a lot of work. Instead of telling your advertising salesperson to run a new ad you're now the chief marketing officer. You always were but a lot of you delegated that part of the job. You'll have to go back to school in a manner of speaking. Your gut is correct and there is a lot to learn. But, there is plenty of help. Books, videos, CD's, support groups, forums, blogs, vlogs, consultants, coaches and mentors.

Right now a blog is the foundation of the new marketing. Tomorrow (and I mean soon) it could be a video blog. You're going to have to learn how to create relationships with people not for the purpose of selling them something but because you have some important value to offer them in the way of solutions and education and more.

You've got to be authentic and if you're not good with people you'd better hire someone who is because that's a quality – an art – that is indispensable in this new marketing.

Yep. It is going to be a lot of work even if you hire a coach or consultant or find a mentor. And, if they tell you anything differently – run.

It's your choice. You can adapt, learn, and join us and hang on for the ride when you do.

Or, you can forget everything I just wrote and don't change a thing. You can try and milk it for a while but that cow is drying up. And, it sure as heck isn't a purple one.

Is 60 The New 50?

My friends tell me that 60 years old is the new 50. And, my engineer friend Charlie says that 60 only stands out because our society is base 10. I'm about to find out as I reach that milestone today.

I thought it was the perfect day to launch something new. So, I bought a harmonica and signed up for lessons. I hear that it isn't that easy an instrument to learn to play. But, that seemed like a good challenge for a sixty-year old. Plus, it's bound to keep my lungs in good shape.

My friends, Pace and Kyeli picked this day to launch their Freak Manifesto. There is even a free and extremely cool desktop background you can get there designed by Marty. Megan and Marty also designed the eBook. I heartily recommend that you visit the Freak Manifesto site and read and think about what Pace and Kyeli have to say. Then share it with your friends.

Meanwhile, another friend Seth Godin, has launched a new project called Brands In Public. It is a collection of dashboards for your favorite brands. I've written before about how you can track companies using Google Alerts so you can see what is being written on the web about them. This take that to a whole new level. It compiles and organizes a list of what is being said all around the web even on Twitter and YouTube, for example.


Lastly, I want to give my readers a gift today. If you haven't bought a copy of Listen First – Sell Later yet, here is an incentive to do so now. When you purchase a copy before this Thursday, October 1st and email me a copy of the Amazon or Barnes & Noble receipt, I will send you $15 in Water Cooler Bucks that you can use to purchase any future product or service from me. The book will cost you less than that.

I have several new products in the pipeline including eBooks, eLearning, and a couple of things that are still secret today. You'll be able to use the $15 Water Cooler Bucks for any of them.

And, I don't want to forget those of you who have already bought the book. Email me your receipt (Amazon and B&N will still have it if you don't) and I'll also send you $15 in Water Cooler Bucks!

Have a wonderful day. I'm off to have a sushi birthday lunch!

A Surprise From Seth and a Gift for You

I received a wonderful surprise this week when I discovered that Seth Godin had included my book, Listen First – Sell Later, in his blog list of books he likes.

So, here is a gift from me. If you don't already have the book and would like to read it for free, here is a link to a PDF where you can download your own copy. It won't cost a thing and I don't put you on any list. In fact, I won't even know you downloaded it unless you write a review of it at Amazon, which would be really very cool. And, the secret password you'll need to enter is LFSL2009. You can share it with friends.

And, if you'd like your own paper copy to hold in your hands you can get a copy through a number of stores including a signed one from me.

But, either way, please take the time to read Listen First – Sell Later. It's not just about selling. It's about life. You can read some reviews here from people who have discovered this.


How to Sell Toe Surgery and Other Important Things

I just got back from having a bit of surgery on my feet – actually both big toes to be exact. I've lived with ingrown nails on these toes for at least 40 years. I've learned to do my own kitchen surgery over the years and while it is always painful and sometimes causes problems, I've not done anything about having it professionally treated. In my mind, having the surgery outweighed the benefits. So, here am I bandaged up and looking at taking it easy for a couple of
days. No marathons anyway. And, for the time being, very little pain.

I went to see this particular doctor a couple of weeks ago because I
was having some foot pain. I had surgery when I was a kid for a club
foot correction and it left me with two fairly different feet. I started an aggressive walking program a couple of months ago and I was getting pain that didn't want to go away. I figured I might need orthotics to correct the problem. During the exam the doctor noticed the ingrown nails. By the time I left her office, I had scheduled an appointment for the procedure.

This got me to thinking. Why after all these years was I willing to do this? I've seen podiatrists before – usually to fix one of my kitchen surgeries. And, they all wanted me to return to have this exact procedure. The very simple answer might be that a good podiatrist sold me on the benefits. She tipped the scale and gave me enough reasons that I decided the long-term benefits would be worth the short-term investment of my time and discomfort.

Or was it that?

No, I decided it really wasn't all the benefits she told me about. I already knew them and had ignored them for years. Here's what really happened. And, it is the same thing that is happening with people that you want to sell.

I spent about 20 minutes with her during that first visit. And, by the time she got around to asking me about taking care of the nails, I had decided that I liked her and trusted her. We had each other laughing within the first five minutes. When is the last time you left a doctor's office laughing and feeling good inside because of how your doctor made you feel? She made a human connection with me. And, I bet she does the same thing with most of her patients.

People want to buy from you. But, they want to buy from an authentic, credible person who connects with respect and care. It doesn't matter if you're selling toe surgery, software, or bacon.

Establish Trust First – Sell Later.

Respect First – Sell Later.

Listen First – Sell Later.

Learn How to Recognize and Sell to the Four Personality Types

People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. Since we can’t pick or choose the “type” of person we are most likely to trust and like right away, we need to learn how to effectively with everyone’s personality style.” Learn how in this report and start increasing your sales right away!

Selling To The Four Personality Types