Hope, Courage and Inspiration from a Stranger by Waldo Waldman

This week was special for me. It was filled with hope.

Recently, I was engaged by a client (Superior Foods) to deliver a sales workshop and leadership keynote on Mackinaw Island, MI.  I arrived ready to do business and earn my fee, but left inspired for free and more alive.

I met a stranger who became a friend. Andy DeVries was his name. A very seasoned sales manager in his 60’s, we connected after my program and for some reason I felt compelled to get to know him.

In the time we spent together, Andy shared his story of overcoming a near death experience, and multiple medical challenges (including a liver transplant and a terrible motorcycle accident) that brought him to the brink of death. As a result of these challenges, Andy learned the value of family, friendship and the love of God – and how to encourage and serve people in his life.

Andy was so transparent, honest, and sincere.  I could have talked to him for hours.

He taught me so much. But what he taught me most was the power of hope.  Throughout his ordeals, he had people – mostly strangers – inspire him to keep fighting when he thought all was lost. From his nurse, physical therapist, pastor, and his family and friends…they gave him something greater than himself that pushed him to fight through his trials and tribulations – to eventually walk again and even play volleyball on the Senior Olympic team!

Now, all Andy wants to do is serve others.  It’s the focus of his life and the meaning of his mission. Nothing else matters.  And I truly believe him.

What a gift!

Every day we have a chance to inspire and to be inspired – to find greater meaning in the grind of our daily lives.  To find the courage and hope to press on and break through our fears and doubts that may be holding us back from taking our life to the next level. Even when we’re in the dungeon of despair.

Sometimes that inspiration can come from a loved one or friend.  But at other times, it can come from a stranger.

There are Andy’s all over the world and we bump into them every day.  They are often the unassuming ones. The ones at checkout counters, our workplace, on the other end of the phone line, and in the audiences of our lives.

Seek them out.  Ask them questions. Be interested in them.  Take your mask off. And let others feel safe to take off theirs. Give them hope.

You never know the gift you can receive after a deep, authentic conversation with a stranger.

What’s more, that stranger can also turn into a friend.

Be an Andy.

Consciously Creating Your Next Career Chapter by Debby Stone

Is the role you are in now the product of a well thought-out career plan or did you arrive at your current position through happenstance?  Have you ever given conscious thought to what you would most like to do?   If you could magically wake up on Monday and be doing something else, would you?  What would that something else be?

These are the questions our clients often explore with us during our coaching engagements.  When someone approaches Novateur for career coaching, we initially ask “how satisfied are you with your current role?  On a scale of 0-10 where zero is ‘I hate my job so much that I am going to quit as soon as we are through with this conversation’ and ten is ‘I love my job so much that I jump out of bed each morning and skip all the way to work,’ on average, what is your current satisfaction level?”

Most of the people I talk with say that they are somewhere between a 5 and 7, but you’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at the number who say that their satisfaction level is a 2 or 3 on that 0-10 scale.  When you were in school, was a score of 5 out of 10 or 70 out of 100 acceptable?  No, I didn’t think so.  In fact, I bet that any grade less than an 80% was disappointing.  That’s a “B” and anything less is “average,” “below average” or “failing.”

Given that we spend the bulk of our waking lives at work, why should any of us settle for average or below average satisfaction?  We work 5, 6 or even 7 days each week and put in 8, 10 and sometimes 12 hour days.  We check email constantly and worry about projects, deadlines and expectations.  If we are going to give so much of ourselves to our careers, shouldn’t we be striving for an “A” or a “B” at work?

I believe that those of us who have the education and the financial means to choose our work have an obligation to consciously choose to be engaged in work that is satisfying at an “8” or above.  When work is satisfying, we make a greater contribution, we feel more fulfilled and we have more energy left at the end of the day for the rest of our lives.  When we are satisfied in our careers, we can bring more of ourselves to work, to our families and to everything we do.

When I was younger, I often heard people say that they loved their jobs and I thought they were full of it.  At that point, I had not held a full-time job that I loved and did not believe that it was possible to have a satisfying career.  As I got older (and wiser) I realized that it is indeed possible to have a career that satisfies me, and as a coach, I know that it is possible for you too.  While no job or role is perfect, it is possible to find a career that regularly brings you satisfaction at an 8 (or better) out of 10 on the scale.

While some people find their ideal career path without a plan, for most of us, a concrete plan is required.  We need to look at our values, our goals, our strengths, our skills, our passions and our natural abilities.  And we do all that in the course of a career coaching engagement.  We also spend time considering the practical aspects of finding work that you love – from finances to roadmaps.  Once you figure out what you want to do, how do you get from where you are now to that new role?

I challenge you to consider your own current level of career satisfaction.  If you find that you are working in a role that does not satisfy you, I encourage you to consider consciously creating your next chapter.   Being pro-active about your career path is a bold step.  I hope you will act boldly and accept the challenge!

4 DEFINING STEPS TO BETTER LEADERSHIP DISCIPLINE by Lee Ellis

I really love summertime. But to be honest, it derails my sense of discipline. Perhaps it’s the additional summer activities or vacation time. This isn’t a guilt trip, but there are still worthwhile and sometimes difficult things that need to get done during the Summer, right? What can we do about it as leaders?

My Busy Summer

Recently, my wife Mary and I moved into a new home to get closer to some of our children and grandchildren, and this experience has challenged every ounce of discipline in my mind, body, and spirit. Moving takes an enormous amount of work to pack, unpack, and organize. In the process, normal productive habit patterns get busted, choices seem unending, and the complexity of technology changes, address changes, etc. is mindboggling.

I admit to having some characteristics of ADD, so staying disciplined is even more essential. This battle made me realize how much success hinges on being focused and disciplined in life and leadership.

The Value of Disciplined Training

Discipline is the backbone of military culture, and it was a critical part of my indoctrination and training into the service. Most veterans will tell you that the rigors of their disciplined, military experience were one of the greatest assets that they picked up as a member of the Armed Forces.

4 Steps to Better Discipline

Whether it’s a young Millennial or Gen Z or a seasoned Boomer, it’s courageously learning to do what we don’t want to do and doing what we know that we should do. Here are four helpful steps to better discipline –

  1. Recognize that choices become habits. Whether good or bad, the same choice done repeatedly becomes a habit. It’s just human nature. Be aware of your choices and how they affect your desires and goals.
  2. Protect your character. It will keep you on track and help you make more consistent, daily choices. Download the Honor Code if you need some guidance.
  3. Manage distractions. Whether it’s disabling notifications on your cell phone and computer to scheduling thinking and planning time on your calendar, these small changes can yield big results.
  4. Overcome Procrastination. From simple to serious, we all procrastinate about various things. Try doing a couple of things that you’ve been putting off (or dreading) and see the results.

My Challenge for You

Perhaps someday, I’ll do a blog about the crying need for discipline in the today’s culture—even good manners would help. But in the meantime, like most everything in leadership and personal development, the commitment to be disciplined has to start within—with me and you personally.

Have a fun Summer, but develop or retain those disciplined habits that keep you growing and advancing forward. Please also share your comments below—we’d love to hear your wisdom, too. LE

Mentors and Teachers and Books… OH MY by Kevin Clayson

I’m so very very thankful for mentors in my life. 

I have a variety of mentors in my life. I have people I pay to be my mentors. I have people who’s books I read, and who’s talks I listen to, and who’s podcasts and interviews I listen to. I also have friends, friends that have been successful in certain areas of their lives, and I consider them my mentors as well.

I have a lot of mentors, and I’m so very thankful for each of them.

Some of my mentors are a lot older than me. Some of my mentors are younger than me. Most of my mentors have had leaps and bounds more success than me, that’s why I consider them my mentors. But I also have teachers.

I’m so very very thankful for the teachers in my life.

I have people, every day, and in every way that teach me. Children teach me. My co-workers teach me. Our employees teach me. Our clients teach me. 

One thing I never ever want to be is someone who is stubborn and unteachable. I choose to be humble, interested and teachable, all the time, and in all things by every single person God puts in my path and in my life!

I unfortunately know people, everyday hardworking people, business owners, and every walk of life, who are UNTEACHABLE. 

These people have no desire to attend a seminar period, let alone another seminar, if by chance they’ve ever attended one before. They won’t read a book unless it’s from someone they perceive as a “somebody.” I see people like this who try to name drop, but rarely do I hear them knowledge drop from a place of true love and desire to serve. These people constantly wonder why they aren’t as successful as others they see around them. They are so confident in their knowledge of this life, and their ability to take on life, that they feel no more is required of them to become, or continue to be awesome.

There is one thing blinding this type of person from fully stepping in to the light God has prepared for them… EGO. 

Please don’t be one of these people. You will create a cycle of disappointment, failure, and sadness. You will likely lose hope, and you will feel that all is lost. Simply be teachable and willing to learn and invest in the opportunity to do so. Learn from the lowliest of these, but also seek to learn from those who have changed their lives and therefore may be able to change yours.

You see all of my mentors are teachable. Each of them invests significantly more each year in their own success, and in their own mentors and teachers and masterminds, than they ever ask a single person to pay them to be mentored or coached by them.

I like to hope that I fall in to the second category. I want to inspire, to teach, to mentor, to assist men and women the world over to live more extraordinary lives, then to give them the exact tools they need to live those lives, BUT I truly believe I lose the right to be a teacher, mentor, guide through life, etc, unless I’m investing significantly more, both in time and resources, than I ever ask someone to invest in me, my book, my product, my service, my information, my knowledge, my wisdom, etc.

So please pause for a moment and ask yourself, “when was the last time I loved and cared for myself enough to invest in my own potential, and in my own future?” If it has been recent, take a moment to feel tremendous gratitude that you are among a small percentage of men and women in this world that actually are WILLING to invest in themselves. If you are among these type of people then I know you are smart enough to never close the door on an opportunity to learn or experience more at any point.

If it has been a while, resolve to do SOMETHING today!! Buy a book. Buy an audio program. Buy a coaching program. Pay to participate in a Mastermind. Whatever you do, ACTUALLY invest some physical dollars in conjunction with your time. If you spend a lifetime seeking free mentorship, free books, if you choose to listen to a book for free on YouTube as opposed to actually BUYING the book from the author that worked so hard to get it to you, I can guarantee that your results will be significantly diminished over what they would have been had you decided to actually invest real dollars in that same book. I dare you to test it, and tell me I’m not right…. Go on… I DARE you 

Invest in yourself, and invest in your future. 

Do something… Be something… Learn something… and just watch how you will change the world!!

ALL YOU NEED IS (UNCONDITIONAL) LOVE: HOW TO STOP JUDGING AND START LOVING by Hal Elrod

The other day, one of my coaching clients said, “Hal, I need to work on being less judgmental. I don’t like how I’m always judging other people. Can you coach me on that?” Here’s what I told him, which I realize some my find controversial and many will surely disagree with… 

I am a recovering judge-aholic. Yes, it’s true. I used to spend far too much of my time and mental energy judging others, coming from the perspective of their way of thinking, believing, or behaving is “wrong” because it is differentthan how I think, believe, or behave.

 

This seems to be the way most of us operate, consciously and unconsciously judging other people based on their words… their actions… their opinions… their choices… their beliefs… their clothing… you name it, we judge it.

Then I started to read books about love — specifically, unconditional love. And my perspective completely changed.

I believe that the greatest blessing we have been given are the people we get to share our lives with, and our greatest joy is in loving each other, beginning with loving ourselves.

But if our love has conditions — or if we judge ourselves harshly because of our mistakes and imperfections, and if we judge other people before allowing ourselves to really get to know them — then I think we miss out on something extraordinary.  I think that there is an opportunity for us to experience infinitely more joy and love in our lives, but making a conscious choice to love more, and judge less. But how?

ALTHOUGH ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS… IT IS OUR INTENTIONS WHICH REVEAL OUR SOUL. 

It has been my observation that most of us make judgments about other people based upon their words and their actions.  We tend to deem what people say, and what they do, to be the truth about who they are.  Take a moment to evaluate whether this observation is true for you—do you tend to judge others based upon what they say and do?

Of course, we all do.

Consider this: have you ever mistakenly said something—in the heat of the moment—that you didn’t really mean? Maybe you even later regretted having said it, and wished you could take it back?

Of course, we all have.

And you have ever done something—maybe out of fear, anger, excitement or some other fleeting emotion—that wasn’t a true reflection of your character and who you aspire to be? Something that wasn’t in alignment with your values and who you are at your core, but was rather based on some momentary lapse of judgment or loss of control.

Sure, who hasn’t?

Would it be safe to say, then, that our words and our actions don’t necessarily tell the whole story of who we are, and who we are striving to become?

The possibility that I am sharing with you is that although our actions may speak louder than our words, neither one of them accurately portrays who we are.  I believe it is our deepest intentions, as well as our deepest desires, that speak the truth about who we are.

FOR EXAMPLE…

If a person lashes out because they’re insecure or feel their needs aren’t being met, and they really just want to be loved and acknowledged, rather than judging them based on their outburst, I’m suggesting investing the time and care to get to know WHY they lashed out, WHO they are beyond their emotional reaction, and WHAT they truly want. Once you know that, there’s really no reason to judge, but just to understand.

In relationships (particularly romantic relationships), I’ve found that this approach minimizes conflict, deepens your connection, and allows for real empathy and understanding.

So, if you desire to create and sustain optimal relationships with the people in your life—to experience true, unconditional love and to be loved in the same way—take the time to get to know people by their intentions.  The challenge is that this takes time, and it requires patience.  Sometimes you have to look really deep below the surface—five, six, seven layers deep—to truly know who someone’s heart and soul… but the rewards are priceless.

Question: How would your life — and your relationships — be enhanced with less judgment and more unconditional love? Please leave your comments and/or questions below, and I’ll be sure to respond within 48 hours…

3 Ways To Escape The Rat Race by Rene Godefroy

There are times when you feel like you are doing and doing without anything to show for your efforts. You are running the rat race.

It may be in your workplace, your business or relationships. Things are not progressing.

You look at your skills, degrees, and accolades. You have no evidence to back them up. If your life were a scale, your knowledge would weigh tons and your assets would weigh ounces.

So, what do you do? How do you stop going through the motions?

3 Ways To Escape The Rat Race

1- Gather And Store NEW Seeds

Have you ever seen how the squirrels are so busy during the warm seasons gathering seeds? Why? They are storing for the bad seasons when they can’t get out.

You need to do the same. In your case, I’m not talking about seeds. I’m talking about knowledge and wisdom.

Notice how I say to gather NEW seeds. It’s because I know you already have some knowledge. But during these times of unprecedented and disruptive change, you need to upgrade your mind. You need new skills.

Let’s face it. None of us were ready for this new world we are.

That’s why you must embrace change and pivot.

You cannot afford to be a dinosaur. You must renew your mind. You must become another you to deal with your current challenges. You have to start flooding your mind with new information.

Read Lots of Books.

Most people are not reading anymore. They prefer to either watch a short video online or read a blog post. The problem with that is not enough depth into the subject. And the information tends to be unorganized.

Let’s say you want to learn how to boost your self-esteem. You need to read a book that goes deep into the subject so you can take note and apply what you learn.

That said, I suggest you start reading personal development books. You want to start getting better so your situation can get better.

When you get better, everything gets better. Your business, performance in the workplace, and relationships automatically improve. It’s like magic!

Here are a few of the classic books on personal improvement I recommend:

Start with the following books:

Of course, I suggest you read my book Kick Your Excuses Goodbye. People from all over the world tell me how it transformed their lives.

Next, you want to start upgrading your current skills so you can stay relevant. Attend some seminars. Enroll in some online classes. There are many of them. Checkout www.lynda.com. There you can master pretty much anything you want.

Finally, get a coach or mentor. You are never too smart to get a coach. The best athletes in the world have many coaching. The billionaires and millionaires have coaches. The presidents of countries have coaches which they call advisors.

2- Protect and Defend Your Territory

As you begin to get better in every area of your life, there will be those who will try to deter and distract you.

I’m referring to the jealous people, the player haters, and the negative people in your environment.

Do not allow them to slow you down. Take an oath of allegiance to protect and defend yourself against those enemies. Don’t let them invade your territory

Think of it this way: If you work hard and save money, don’t let someone steal it. Your attitude, knowledge, and skills are your intellectual capitals. Protect them. Here’s how to protect them:

3- Clear Your Dead Stocks

Dead stocks are outdated merchandises in the retail industry. They diminish the value of the other merchandises. Therefore, they have to get rid of them.

It’s the same for you. You have friends and family members who are dead stocks. Get rid of them.

They are those who tend to put you down, discourage you, and make you feel less of yourself. Those people can destroy you physically and morally.

You need to surround yourself with cheerleaders, encouragers. And those who are fans. They are rooting for you. They want you to succeed. They are contributing to your wellbeing. They rekindle your spirit. They inspire you to dream bigger.

Simply put, do not keep around those you are barely tolerating. Make a list of all the people you spend time with and start checking off some names. Take a break from them to working on yourself and your dream.

CONCLUSION:

I’m not talking about hating or getting even. No. In fact, you should never badmouth anybody.

Be kind about the way you begin to get rid of your dead stocks.

When you are in a conversation, and the name of the person comes up, always say something positive and uplifting.

What I’m trying to convey to you is this: Your situation will never improve until you improve. Change your circumstances require personal change. When you change, everything changes instantly.

However, you need to protect the new you from predators and miserable people.

Why Technology Is Crucial To Building Relationships by Kristin Messerli

Savvy agents will connect better with millennials

Key Takeaways

  • There is no distinction between the digital world and the real world for millennials. Real estate agents must be active online to meet millennials in their world.
  • Millennials expect convenience in customer experience and will look elsewhere if agents are not willing to text or use technology.
  • Millennials evaluate several referrals before choosing one to interview. We will research you online before you know we have heard of you.

In December, Dusty Baker wrote an article for Inman indicating that claims concerning the use of technology to capture business in real estate have been overblown. But I would argue that the use of technology is critical in building relationships — especially with millennials.

Baker’s conclusions were drawn from the 2015 Profile of Buyers and Sellers report released by the National Association of Realtors. The report states that only 13 percent of buyers use technology to find a real estate agent.

It is easy to draw the conclusions Baker has from the way the data is presented in this report, but it is reflective of the industry’s deep chasm between providers and their customers.

Technology should not be considered a separate form of business development, though it might be used in that way. Rather, technology is integrally connected to every aspect of communication and business in today’s world.

For example, the majority of buyers chose a real estate agent based on a referral. So how are customers referring each other?

I often referred my real estate agent after seeing him post something on Facebook. Seeing his posts reminded me of his presence, good work and our relationship. Consumers also refer each another through text or email introductions, social media or Yelp page shares.

Why does someone choose to refer his or her agent?

As homeowners, we reflect on our purchasing process and how we felt about the experience with our agent. Although some agents can get by without using convenient communication, those opportunities will become more limited.

Millennials expect convenience in a purchasing experience, which is made possible by technology. We expect to text our agents questions about the process, special requests or meeting times and receive referrals for other service providers such as electricians without interrupting our meetings (or let’s be honest, bathroom breaks) with a phone call.

When I listed my home for sale, I received countless calls from real estate agents trying to get my business, none of whom, in my opinion, provided convenient information or communication.

They sent me long, boring PDF guides and left long-winded voicemails with inherent sales pitches. I was always appreciative of their outreach, but I was disheartened by how far they fell from impressing me with anything of substance.

I ultimately interviewed six agents and none of them texted me information or followed up with a text — the simplest and most unobtrusive form of communication. I rarely even listened to their voicemails.

Buyers and sellers are likely to have several referrals for real estate agents

Most people will ask around unless they have a close friend or family member who is a local agent. They will post on social media asking for a recommendation and will search on Yelp and Google. The initial recommendation is only stage one of the referral process.

The second stage is what likely seals the deal for an interview. We look at the agent’s website and social media presence to see what kind of person and character is represented.

If the agent presents a brand that seems relational and doesn’t come across as sales-y, he or she is likely to move on to the next level of the decision process. If educational information is provided with valuable insights, he or she might rise to the top of our list immediately. With access to seemingly limitless information and options, millennials want to choose the very best.

My comments might sound like a typical entitled millennial, but I want to be clear that I truly want the best for this industry. I believe that the experience of becoming a homeowner is transformative and builds strong communities.

My agent was invaluable when I purchased my home, and he will forever be someone who stands out as a guide during one of the most significant experiences of my life.

I want that for my generation, and I don’t want real estate agents or other industry providers to miss out on this opportunity because of a misunderstanding in communication methods and purchasing behavior.

Drawing such conclusions as “old boring practices still work best” is not only incorrect but it’s likely to further exacerbate the widening gap between the industry and consumers and perpetuate a growing sentiment that real estate agents are unnecessary.

Today, the industry must examine its views on consumer purchasing behavior as well as its worldview if it wants to resonate with modern consumers.

13 Ways to LIE to yourself by Dr. Jason Richardson

#13Ways To Lie

Below is a list of things we tell ourselves to tolerate the dissonance we experience re: Reaching and hitting our #goals, being more #happy, living more fully. The Ugly #truth is... the lies we tell ourselves become our reality. 

1. I am too old/young.

2. It's not possible. 

3. I am not ready. 

4. I will fail (or succeed?!).

5. I have no time/There is no time.

6. I am not good enough. 

7. I need to be realistic.

8. I need more money.

9. I have tried everything. 

10. "My" situation is different. 

11. My family is just "big boned."

12. I never win.

13. It takes money to make money.

If any of these sound familiar to you - either because you've heard them or said them - fear not. Our brains are designed to keep us alive and protect us physically, emotionally, and psychologically. 

Excuses are not results. Failure is okay. Losing is okay. Not stepping up to the plate, not playing all in, NOT entering the game, or even signing up is tragic! 

My mission is to help you reengineer your success by teaching you the language and actions top performers use in #sport, #business, and life. Once this is mastered, you will realize that the successes you want will come to you as soon as you truly begin to move toward them - and it begins with #BELIEF.

Strategy Sessions versus Coaching Calls by Dan Smith

I've recently come to the realization that coaching is not always effective. At least, traditional methods of coaching. Odd, coming from someone like me, but true. Years ago, I was a great coaching client. I was a little crazy, sacrificed a lot and did practically everything my coach said to do and had tremendous results because of it. However, for 99% of people that is not the case. And that's not a bad thing because the sacrifice are not always worth the reward. But then again, why have a coach if I wasn't going to do what he told me to do.

Picture a coach in football. He calls the play. The quarterback get the call and does what the coach says and runs the play. That's the role of a coach; To call the play. The role of the quarterback is to execute the play.

But what happens if the quarterback constantly did what he wanted? What if he ran his own plays and did not follow the coaches instruction? 

Coaching has become a HUGE catch phrase (and business opportunity) for many. Psychologists are even using the words "Life Coach" now more often than they do their highly respected professional designation. It seems like everyone and their brother is a coach of some sort these days. Here is the problem. Week after week the coach calls the play to the quarterback meaning the coach tells the client what to do. And week after week the client doesn't do it, or only does some very small fraction of it. And this pattern continues for a few months, or until the client's contract is complete, and the client leaves coaching. They leave with the feeling that they were not getting the results they had intended or realizing it was silly to be in a coaching program and not do what the coach said to do. It is not uncommon for a client to leave a coaching program with the feeling that they already knew what do and were not necessarily being exposed to any new ideas. But they also were not making enough progress for the cost. That scenario might sound very familiar to some of you reading this post.

Now lets talk about strategy. Here is the definition of strategy that I have come up with. "Strategy is a conscious and deliberate process. It's an intensive implementation system for insuring future success." That sounds a lot different than just doing 30-minute coaching calls every week to check-in and see if you did what you were supposed to do doesn't it? 

Here is the thing. When "coaching" first became a training tool more than 20 years ago weekly phone calls were all the rage. But you know what? So were fax machines. The industry has not changed in FOREVER. And that makes no sense. Now, there are a few reasons for this. The number one reason is that most coaching companies have dozens and dozens of coaches and hundreds if not thousands of coaching clients. It's impossible for them to do anything but weekly calls with that scale. But that doesn't change the fact that there are far more effective methods that just are not being utilized.

Back to strategy. Again. "Strategy is a conscious and deliberate process. It's an intensive implementation system for insuring future success." This is why I now consider myself a strategist, not a coach. I was done with calling plays and having my players not run them. And that is why I totally revamped my program. No longer was I going to do weekly calls to check-in and try to squeeze in some great ideas to implement. I decided I needed to be there for my clients and friends in a different, more effective and less conventional way. How? Start with two-hour meetings together to strategize and plan and prepare and calendar and game plan, not just once, but every other month. Six two-hour Strategy Sessions a year. Preferably in person, face-to-face, collaboration at the highest level. Sometimes a continent got in the way and we resorted to using a live, two-hour video conference option. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the two-hour sessions. They are AMAZING. But, it was much easier for me to just to weekly calls. Scheduling 25 two-hour intensive Strategy Sessions every two months took some serious planning and doing. And, it became quite obvious why no other coaching company did anything but weekly calls. It would be a logistical nightmare. BUT, I didn't need to worry about other coaches or schedules or anything of the sort. My company is and always would be just me. That gave me an opportunity. And, you know what? The planning and maneuvering and changing of my routine from the norm was totally worth it for the results I saw with my clients. We still do Strategy Calls, in between the in-person Strategy Sessions, but they are far more than the run of the mill weekly coaching check-in calls now. They have a purpose. We have a crystal clear direction to follow. A road map. A blueprint for success.

So, there you have it. How I view the difference between Strategy Sessions and Coaching Calls. What are your thoughts? Email me! Dan@ByDanSmith.com

Building a Relationship With a CEO? Woo the Inner Circle First by John Ruhlin

When building partnerships with other businesses, most entrepreneurs naturally target the C-suite leaders first. That's understandable: CEOs, after all, are the decision-makers, so naturally you and every other entrepreneur is going to clamor for a meeting with the top brass.

However, the problems you want to solve are not likely to be the same ones keeping those executives up at night. What's more, your constant calls and follow-up emails are actually a turnoff for CEOs. And your messages will probably just get buried in the 84, on average, other emails, that CEOs typically receive in a day. Getting the face time you need to close a deal is a challenge, all right.

This is why you should rethink identifying the “right people” to contact. Every business leader maintains a core staff that manages his or her schedule, advises on business decisions, coordinates events and acts as this leader's gatekeepers. For this reason, your only shot at landing a meeting with the CEO is to find an internal advocate who can prioritize the proposal and educate the boss about its value.

Your best strategy, then, is to develop a relationship with the company head’s assistant or a well-placed manager, to dramatically boost your chance of making a deal. And the best way to do that is to give thoughtful corporate gifts.

Related: For Entrepreneurs, The Gift-Giving Season is Year Round

Who are your allies?

Gifts are a great way to connect with staff members who work hard for little recognition. Depending on the organization, you might find the best allies in division heads or assistants, event planners or junior team members looking for ways to get noticed. Showing appreciation and respect for their time helps earn their trust and assistance.

Assistants make especially powerful advocates. They’re most likely to remember reps who send gifts or add thoughtful touches to their interactions, and they’re willing to reciprocate by getting proposals in front of decision-makers.

Internal allies can also spot the right openings and say, “Now that you’ve wrapped up that project, do you want to spend a couple of minutes talking about company X?” That will be far more effective than sending the CEO 10 emails or calling every other week.

To make these connections, use the following guidelines to establish relationships with key influencers:

1. Treat them with respect.

When building relationships, many entrepreneurs talk down to everyone except the head decision-maker, and that’s a big mistake. Employees in junior or administrative positions are far from insignificant, and treating the boss’ team badly all but guarantees that your deal will fall through.

Give gifts to event planners, administrators and other support staff at the same caliber as you would executives. They’ll appreciate it more than their bosses will (because these gifts are totally unexpected), and they’ll often want to reciprocate by helping you get your proposal through. Don’t overlook the people who surround your target prospect; they hold more power than you realize.

2. Develop the relationship.

It’s not enough to send assistants nice gifts every once in awhile. Be helpful, with no strings attached. Help them in their job searches, or offer to be a connector when they’re looking for new opportunities. I always oblige when clients’ assistants ask for recommendations. These people frequently act as bridges to the decision-makers in their next jobs as well.

I was once wooing an NBA team head for a potentially massive account. As part of my regular interactions with his assistant, I sent her a quality knife set as a gift. She spoke so highly of my company after receiving it that, seven months later, she opened the door to six other divisions within the team, and we landed a six-figure deal as a result.

Related: The 4 Stages of Every Relationship -- And Sales Funnel

3. Appreciate decision-makers’ families.

We all have someone in our personal lives who influences our opinions. So, establish relationships with other people’s personal influencers. I like to send a special subscription gift, such as a custom leather tote bag or handmade cutlery, to my clients’ spouses. They’re always touched that I thought of them, and that goodwill deepens my company’s relationship with the client.

Related: How to Win Face-Time With Tough Prospects

Surprising people with gifts isn’t just a feel-good strategy -- it’s sound business advice. When an assistant or spouse receives an unexpected present from a company, he or she develops a sense of loyalty to that brand. These people talk it up to the decision-maker and foster a positive association going into sales talks or negotiations.

So, in the end, CEOs may make the final decisions, but successful relationships begin with their inner circles.

7 STEPS TO PREVENTING EMPLOYEE FLAT-LINING by Vital Germaine

It's never easy to keep your team focused, motivated and performing at optimum capacity. Flat-lining at some point seems to be inevitable. How can you prevent this ailment that costs the US economy up to $550 BILLION annually in lost productivity? More simply than you think. 

Humans tend to flat-line when they become board and uninspired, be it at work or life in general. The sense of excitement and passion withers away through repetition and monotony. Corporate bureaucracy, leadership and culture are the guilty parties. Rigid corporate strategies, rules and tradition tend to stifle passion and motivation by slowing down the process of inviting and embracing the new, the different. 

HERE ARE THE 7 STEPS TO REVITALIZE YOUR WORKFORCE

1. DISRUPTIVE LEADERSHIP: The number 1 killer of innovation and employee engagement are controlling managers, rigid SOP's, un-defined cultures, and outdated strategies... "It's how we've always done it". By continually repeating yesterday's success formula, we plant the seeds of stagnation. Everybody within that static culture will disconnect from their original "why" and lose the growth mindset that keeps successful companies relevant and competitive. You risk inviting them to perform on auto-pilot. Keep them on their toes by consistently challenging them. Leadership must invite and inspire change.

 

WITHOUT BEING CHALLENGED WE STAGNATE, GET BORED, BECOME COMPLACENT.

The challenge is not in the form of peer rivalry and comparison, but rather healthy competition whereby they  mutually encourage and elevate each other's game.

Challenge your team by inviting them to find a solution to a problem - allow them to flex their creativity and decision-making muscles. Empower them with added responsibility. Empower them by encouraging them to express themselves and in turn listening to their ideas, suggestions and solutions.

Once you've inspired and empowered your team, get out of their way, relax and enjoy their success.

2. PERSONAL DREAMS: Also, connect their personal aspirations/dreams to the workplace so they evolve as individuals within your company - yes, you risk losing them as they pursue their own goals - but on the flip-side, do you really want their unmotivated and disengaged persona to stay and contaminate your culture, your brand and your customer base? 

3. AUTONOMY and INCLUSION: When you relinquish the reins and trust them with a project or the added responsibility, that project will feel like they own it. Ownership is powerful. They will carry that responsibility with pride because it belongs to them. They will nurture it like their own baby, filled with love, understanding, purpose, joy, commitment, passion, and fulfillment. 

4. COMFORT ZONE: Make sure that the challenge is not overwhelming, intimidating or simply beyond their ability - it will trigger a fight, flight or freeze response. However, definitely push them beyond their comfort zones. Give them the gift of control. Get management out of their flight path - take away the roadmap. Let them figure out what the destination is and how to get there. Offer support and resources when necessary. Sit back, watch them grow and fly without a net.

5. OBLITERATE THE BOX: As a former Cirque du Soleil performer, team captain and recently as a consultant and facilitator for their newly created corporate training platform called CIRQUE SPARK sessions, I learned many invaluable lessons from Cirque's philosophy. They constantly push themselves and their team members - they encouraged us to extend our vision beyond the existing horizon and ignore the limitations of the proverbial box.

 

6. RISK | EXPLORATION | FAILURE: The side effect is the exploration and discovery of so many more options and possibilities.  The freedom with which Cirque gifted its performers, allowed us to spread our wings, thrive and FLY WITHOUT A NET. They encouraged creativity: expression, exploration, risk-taking, and failure as an option. But without providing us the appropriate leadership, environment, tools and liberty (void  of anarchy and chaos), we would flatline, become disconnected, and lose our passion, drive and commitment to excellence.

This philosophy of empowerment inspired us to explore, learn, grow in confidence, and remain focused and committed to maintaining and enhancing the expected Customer Experience that is synonymous with the Cirque du Soleil brand. 

7. FUN: Bring it all together in an environment and culture that is fun. We learn more when having fun and are more receptive to change, growth and responsibility. Companies with fun, happy cultures experience on average 20% higher profits with elevated retention numbers.

Thank you for reading.

 

Why C-Level Executives Should Take More Meetings With Salespeople by Anthony Iannarino

Most of the time a salesperson believes they need to call on the C-Level Executive to create an opportunity or capture one; they are incorrect. They only need what I would describe as the CEO of the Problem, the highest level person who would care about the initiative they recommend. That said, it is always helpful to have executive support for your long term prospects, and it can be necessary to keep you aligned with your clients overall strategy.

What is missing from the conversations about calling on C-Level Executives is why they should be taking more meetings with salespeople.

  • Awareness: If you are a C-Level executive, you are so heads down busy, buried in your work—and your bubble—that you can easily become woefully ignorant of what it going on in the outside world around you. Not only do you need to know what your competitors are doing so as to not lose competitive advantage, but also what other companies in other sectors are doing, so that you can bring in ideas that haven’t yet been applied to—or even considered—in your space. Salespeople have clients, and this gives them first hand information that they can share with you.
  • Unfiltered Ideas: I know, you have people. They keep you abreast of what’s changing. Except when they don’t. This is the thing about filters: they filter. Your people have their own biases, and they have their own ideas about what should or should not be being pursued. You only see what comes through the filter, not what doesn’t. Good salespeople can help you discover what you may be prevented from seeing otherwise.
  • Conflicting Views: There are salespeople right now that have views about your future that conflict with your views. These are the views and ideas that are most valuable to you. If you want to be challenged, right or wrong, these are the ideas that most deserve your attention. While this digital transformation was occurring, booksellers, retailers, hotels, taxis, and all existing forms of media have been impacted negatively— only a few positively. You didn’t get to where you are by ignoring what bothers you, and you won’t get where you want to go without being surrounded by people who see the world differently. There are salespeople, scarce though they may be, to fill this role for you.

If you are a C-Level Executive, consider meeting with the salespeople who call you with ideas that you recognize are worth exploring. If you are salesperson and you want a meeting with a C-Level Executive, give them a reason to meet with you by having the business acumen, situational knowledge, and a point of view that’s interesting enough to say yes to.

THE WEIRD BUT IMPORTANT LINK BETWEEN STRATEGIC PLANNING AND CULTURE...by Randy Walton

Peter Drucker once famously quoted that "culture eats strategy for lunch!" I could not agree more strongly. This clever comment actually points to a significant and important connection between strategy and culture that may not always be obvious.

On the surface Drucker seems to be implying that culture is more important that strategy. That gets the strategists up in arms. However, I think Drucker is alluding to the fact that misalignment between strategy and culture will end up with culture subjugating strategy.

Why is this point important?

When we plan for the future in our business, envision new opportunities, dream about future outcomes, etc... we need to be aware of our human incentive systems. Those unspoken and often unconscious elements that drive the behavior of the people in our organizations. When we make plans that are not naturally supported by the reward systems in our business we are destined to see them come into conflict.

A classic example is when compensation is used to motivate a sales team to sell a new product. If the product is new, the sales cycle is different, or there is risk involved in promoting the product to existing clients it is almost axiomatic that the sales team will fail to effectively rise up to the economic incentive. Sales leaders are baffled. After all, aren't salespeople reward motivated players?

The failure here is that the social pressure to NOT FAIL almost always trumps the value of economic rewards. We know this is true because we live in a world where people continuously and consistently fail to take necessary actions to succeed, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. We don't make cold calls even though cold calls lead to opportunity. Rather, we avoid the pain of rejection and rationalize our behavior.

This misalignment of incentives and culture will crush the best plans on paper.

Want to succeed where others fail? Figure out what really, deeply, and emotionally drives your team. And then setup your processes and plans to take advantage of that natural wiring. It isn't easy to do, but when it's done, it's magic.

The Art of Goal Setting by Erik Wahl

The starting point for success is desire. Desire is much stronger than just “want to” it is the inner drive/strength that make your dreams come alive. Set a goal that is exciting to you. That serves as your alarm clock and makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning. Allow this goal to be your compass.

A compass is designed to help you find your way again

All goals are achieved twice. First, conceptually in your mind(visualization) & then physically in reality (execution).

Begin with the end in mind. Visualize a painted picture for what you would like to improve about yourself or to accomplish. Imagine something you would be personally proud to have mastered within the next 365 days and vividly envision what that feels like?….what does it look like? With whom are you most excited to share this accomplishment. The more detail you add the more real the goal becomes.

Research shows our resolutions often times fail because we did not anchor our goals into a painted picture that we believe in. Goals are simply a burden of check lists if the bigger picture is not in sight. If a coach simply requires her squad to run 50 sets of stairs, she may face resistance or opposition. But if the coach first paints an inspired picture for what it feels like to win the championship at the end of the season, the team embraces the hard work and enthusiastically bounds up the stairs.

Allow your goals to become your compass, not a map. Your “true north” pointing you to a destination. Life is dynamic. You may drift. You may stumble. You may lose your course. If you use a compass instead of a map you can get bumped off your trail but still auto-correct to find your groove.

Success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failure and setbacks only serve as motivation.

Be Unique! by Laurie Calzada

I love fruit stands! I love the smell of fresh fruit. I love knowing that I am getting food that is not factory processed. Most of all, I love purchasing from the local farmers.

This weekend, as I was travelling with a friend from San Jose to Los Angeles, I said, “We have to stop at a fruit stand so I can stock up.” Twenty minutes later, we pulled into a small gravel lot that said, “Fruit from your local farmers.” It was a quaint little stand that stood in front of what appeared to be a family farm house. We were warmly greeted by a young Spanish girl.

I immediately migrated to the berry section, and my eye instantly went to a carton of lush strawberries. I stared in amazement at the strawberry that was lying on top. As I showed my friend what I saw, I stated, “I have to have that strawberry… how unique!”

My friend was chuckling as I was like a little kid in a candy shop. I collected an array of fruit consisting of strawberries, blackberries, mangos, kiwi, lemons, limes, pineapple, and an array of different onions. With a warm thank you to the girl who assisted me, I paid for my items and returned to our vehicle. As I was placing the items on the rear floor of the car for our travels, my unique strawberry caught my eye. It made me smile as I once again thought, “How unique!”

As I was clicking my seatbelt, I thought, “That is how we should all be… intriguingly unique.”

Are you unique? Do you go with the flow, or are you comfortable just being yourself?

So, what does unique mean?

It means being a person that others admire…

It means not going with the flow “just because”…

It means not worrying about what others think or say about you…

It means not having to be accepted by someone else in order to love yourself…

It means not having to be like everyone else…

It means being content with who you are…

It means loving ALL of yourself, inside and out…

It means looking in the mirror and saying, “There is only one of me!”

I love being unique. Do you?

EXERCISE FOR BEING UNIQUE

Every time you see yourself in a mirror, say to yourself, “I love being unique!”

Live with passion,

Laurie Calzada -Author and Motivational Speaker-

Tone is Key! by Steve Shenbaum

gotivator-tone-key.jpg

Have you ever said something that sounded so clear to you, but nevertheless, it was misunderstood? The issue may not be what you said, but it may be how you said it and more importantly, how it was heard. For example, when a teenager comes home from school and walks in the house and mom or dad asks, “How was your day?” and that well-intentioned teenager quickly responds, “fine”, the tone of that answer could the difference between free time and discussion time. In other words, “fine” can mean so many things depending upon the tone with which that simply/complex word is delivered.

This is our chance to game the game. Let’s call this game, “Time To Be Pitch Perfect”. Challenge yourself for a day, in every conversation you have, to wait three seconds before responding. And in those three seconds, which may feel like an eternity, take that time to not only think about what you want say, but how you want to say it. Think of yourself as a secret conductor and embrace time, tempo and pitch as an integral part of your orchestra. Think of every healthy conversation as a well-orchestrated symphony and your job is to find the right pitch to compliment each movement.

As you slow down and become more intentional with your tone, reflect on any changes in your delivery. Did you sound different? How did this subtle change affect your interactions with others? Do you think your “symphony” was well received? Did you hear things from others that used to sound normal but now sound slightly or overtly “off key”?

If we focus on how we say things, take control of our tempo and embrace time as an asset, we all have a better chance to hear and be heard with more accuracy. And most importantly, with the right tone, we can improve our opportunity to be clearly understood.

Sound good?!

3 Powerful Life Lessons From a World War II Veteran by Shaunti Feldhahn

My husband and his whole family stood vigil by a hospice bedside last week. It was an honor guard for a great man as he stepped out of this life and into another.

My father-in-law was a simple man, yet his life taught some profound lessons. A man a generation older than my own father, but whose eyes had a permanently youthful sparkle. A man who volunteered for World War II, yet was a man of peace. A man born on a poor farm and who raised four boys on a small salary, but was one of the richest men I knew.

Here are three of the main lessons on life I learned from Bill Feldhahn, that we all need to be reminded of today:

Lesson #1: Courage is a Choice

Bill Feldhahn was an ordinary young American growing up in extraordinary times. As we were losing hundreds of thousands of young men and women in the European and Pacific theatres, he was working the family farm. So he was safe from the draft with a farm deferment. But his older sister’s husband was not. In 1944, when his brother-in-law was drafted, Bill took his place. He convinced his sister’s husband to stay home with her and their new baby. He traded his farm deferment for one of the most dangerous job in the flying forces: a tail gunner.

Years later, I asked my father-in-law how he had found the courage to volunteer during the most dangerous period of the war. Looking surprised at the question, he smiled and shrugged. It wasn’t courage, he told me, “It was just a choice. That’s what you do for family.”

It doesn’t matter that you’re afraid, he was saying. What matters is stepping up and doing what you know you should, in spite of your fear.

Today, far beyond the boundaries of war and military service, that lesson applies every day. I see it as my 14-year-old son comes forward to confess that he broke an important rule, knowing he will have some significant consequences. I see as a man steps up and marries the mother of his child, choosing the path of honor. I see it in a woman I know who quit a job she loved in order to stay home to care for a special-needs daughter.

Lesson #2: A Promise is a Promise

My father in law was a vow-keeper. After the war, he married his beautiful bride Roberta and vowed to care for her in sickness and in health. And he kept that promise. For 65 years, he worked to provide for her. First, during his professional years, as a real estate agent. As a deeply involved father to four boys. As a supportive husband who cheered her on as she decided to become a full-time teacher in her fifties. And much later, as a full-time caregiver.

As my mother-in-law’s brain slowly betrayed her over her last fifteen years of life, he demonstrated that true love is not always a feeling – it is an action. He gently cared for his wife through an intense season of treatment for colon cancer. And in her last years, as her dementia and physical ailments made her unable to care for herself, he became her full-time caregiver, doing ever more intimate jobs, and declining outside help.

As his sons pressed him to bring in others to help share the load, he shook his head. “This is just what a man does for his wife,” he said.

I’m sure there were many times of private anguish at the slow loss of his wife, and private frustration at the challenges of caring for her. But it didn’t change his actions.

When times get tough, whether with a marriage, a job or any other commitment, his example shows me the powerful impact of living up to your promises – not begrudgingly, but with willing compassion and care.

Lesson #3: Sacrifice Can Be Joyful

I think what impacted me most about Jeff’s father was his willingness to sacrifice for others. Joyfully. Not just for his country, or his brother, or his wife through so many years, but for anyone in his life.

When my husband graduated from high school, he and two of his brothers (who were all older) decided to open a restaurant together. His dad – again – stepped up.

Bill and Roberta decided to go into business with their sons, investing their entire life savings into the family business. Not for financial gain – as anyone in the restaurant business can attest, there’s no money in it! – but for years of togetherness with their sons.

Over the decades, in various cities, the boys owned family diners and pizza places. Jeff’s dad was always there, morning to night, grilling burgers, delivering pizza, clearing dirty dishes, doing maintenance, and mentoring his grandkids as they waited tables after school. All with a smile on his face, and that signature twinkle in his eye.

The restaurants always just barely scraped by – but it didn’t matter. Bill knew he was unlikely to get his life savings back. And indeed, he didn’t. For him, it wasn’t about the money. It was about being with his boys. Investing in their lives. Enjoying the journey.

For him, it wasn’t a sacrifice. It was a delight.

More than anything, that is a lesson I need to be reminded of today. When I face trials that are nowhere near as difficult as those of my father-in-law, I am going to picture the twinkle in his eyes. His memory reminds me to not just get through life, but to enjoy it. Dive in with full intentionality. Don’t let it get past you.

Truly, 92 years was a long, full life. But it was still way too few years with Bill Feldhahn. Yet I also know that our loss is heaven’s gain. And I’m sure those who have gone before us are appreciating the twinkle in his eyes.

THE SALES LESSON I LEARNED WHEN I RAN ACROSS CANADA by Sébastien Sasseville

Remember your first workwith? The first time your sales director spent a day on the road with you? You handpicked the accounts you would visit… selected your best customers and your best relationships. You stayed home the day before to clean your car, carefully prepared each call and of course, the stress kept you up all night.

I took a break from sales and keynote speaking to run across Canada last year: 9 months of running, 5 or 6 marathons per week through all 4 seasons and every weather climate you can imagine. Here’s what it taught me about sales.

I didn’t use anti-inflammatory during my run (7158 km in total). Not a single pill. For a runner, pain is data. I need to know what hurts, when it hurts and how it hurts. For example, whether my knee hurts before, during or after a run is telling me very different things about the injury. That data is fundamental to my recovery and selecting the right tools and techniques to get better and improve results.

A day with your sales director should be no different: don’t use anti-inflammatory. Do not mask any data. Be brave, feel the pain and take your boss to your worst accounts. Allow the environment to paint a real picture, the real state of your business so you can fix what needs to be fixed and improve outcomes.

The courage of collecting, owning and using real data will help you transform your sales.

As an individual, you’ll gain clarity on what skills and expertise you need to improve to fine tune your strategy. Let the environment define your development plan. As a company, your superiors will gain insights on where the business model is or is not efficient. They will go back to the office with a better comprehension of the ecosystem you are battling every day. Therefore, they’ll become more likely to equip the sales force with the tools it really needs to succeed.

It is often the accounts that are the most problematic that hold the key to transforming your business. But if you don’t go, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. So go ahead and make that next workwith count! The humility will go a long way, your courage will be noted as a trait of a leadership. But most important of all, you will fix real issues, the day will be spent learning, not pretending.

Are Digital Distractions The Worlds Latest Pandemic? by Randy Ross

Computers and digital gadgets have made our lives easier, more practical and efficient. But, over a relatively short period of time, our relationship with technology has moved from expanding our lives in mostly a positive manner to making some of us desperate to disconnect and unplug when trying to get things done.

Previously, we have mentioned how George R. R. Martin, among other successful writers and creators, writes on an 80’s computer disconnected from the Internet to avoid digital distractions. Perhaps that’s a strategy more of us should adopt?

The information revolution came without an instruction manual explaining the importance of remembering to be present in the offline, analogue world.

In the New York Times, Pico Iyer described the importance of logging off and the problem with constantly being connected — and even addicted — to the digital sphere, as research shows that slowing down and spending time in rural settings leads to improved cognition, greater attentiveness and stronger memory. Additionally, both deep thought and empathy rely on the inherently slow neural processes our modern, high-speed lives have little time for.

“All of a man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone” — French philosopher Blaise Pascal
Digital damage

Gloria Mark, Professor of Informatics at the University of California, described how allowing digital distraction is like playing tennis with our cognitive energies and attentional resources. However, our brains take a lot longer to switch direction than a tennis ball.

In her study, Mark found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after an interruption. Several other studies confirm that distractions completely derail your mental progress for up to half an hour after even the smallest distraction, self-inflicted or not.

In other words; you can add almost 25 minutes of lost time to your swift 30-second-scroll through Instagram.

Distractions don’t just steal time and hurt productivity. They have negative emotional effects in how they lead to higher stress and a bad mood, Mark found. Switching context and focus every five minutes also impairs deep thinking, work flow and creativity.

While many claims to be able to multitask and control distractions, Mozart is a rare, historically known exception able to work on several compositions at a time, management consultant Peter Drucker writes in his definite guide to getting the right things done. Bach, Handel or Verdi, on the other hand, was like most of us; unable to focus on more than one work at a time.

Now, think through how often you are interrupted at work. Or how often you feel the intense urge to check social media. According to this infographic, the average American employee is interrupted 56 times a day, only spends three minutes working before switching tasks and uses a staggering two hours recovering from distractions every day.

Students are not much better. A recent study of students in 26 US states by Associate Professor Barney McCoy, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. shows the level of distraction has worsened the last couple of years.

During the typical four years students spend in college classrooms, calculations based on the study shows that students may be distracted on average for “two-thirds of a school year.

People don’t waste time only on unimportant, thoughtless scrolling. The statistics also show that it takes an average of 16 minutes to refocus after handling incoming email — and that an equivalent to 10 IQ points are lost when fielding constant email. That’s the same loss of brainpower as when losing an entire night’s sleep.

 

A constant fear of missing out

In a study on the use of smart phones, Tor Wallin Andreassen, Professor at the Norwegian School of Economics, found that a widespread notification epidemic and fear of missing out (FOMO) leads to extreme use of phones and social media.

The average person checks her phone 150 times a day, Andreassen found, and explained the addiction with the fact that dopamine and serotonin are released from the brain’s wellness center when stimulated by for example checking social media. The sensation of wellbeing leads to the brain wanting more — and hence; you reaching for your phone over and over again.

The study does not only confirm that this kind of addiction affects social relations and interpersonal quality, it is further proof of how mobile phones and digital distractions ruin our ability to concentrate properly. Multitasking and interruptions lead to a hyperstimulation of the brain, and Andreassen suspects it will impair our memory in the long run.

But, as analogue life has become so passé it’s getting popular again, there are clear signs of countermovements in both the offline- and online sphere. Not only is there now a market for actual cell-phone cages priced at $60 and rather disturbing military-style boot camps for web-obsessed teenagers in the most wired nation on earth; South Korea, there is a flourishing amount of websites and apps blocking digital distractions and your irresistible urge to waste valuable time on social media.

These young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country [South Korea] believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace — Martin Fackler, the New York Times

Not only has universal internet use become a national issue in South Korea, compulsive Internet use has even been identified as a mental health issue in several countries, including the United States. Psychiatrist Dr. Jerald J. Block estimates that close to nine million Americans may be at risk for the disorder he calls pathological computer use.

While this might be a bit extreme, it’s a wake-up call to at least set your phone to silent and appreciate the possibilities a pen and a blank sheet of paper offers.

Now, while 80% of interruptions at work are considered trivial and 60% or less of time spent at work is spent productively, you’ve hopefully gained some valuable insight by reading this.

For us, the team developing reMarkable the paper tablet, these facts are relevant. What we want to do is not to develop another digital device that ruins thinking, but actually enhances it.

While computers and smartphones are fantastic at providing people with the latest updates from social media or news, they are equally terrible of helping people to focus. With reMarkable we are making a digital device that helps people to think better.

Yes, we know it might be overdramatic to call digital distractions a pandemic disease, but now that you know of some of the consequences, and when looking at the definition as it appears in the Dictionary of Epidemiology, one may start to wonder if it is exactly that:

an epidemic [disease] is occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people

 

The Beauty & The Beast of Sales Professionals by Gary Nielson

It is just one of THOSE days. It is hot, I mean really HOT! The kind of hot where your shoes are melting into each parking lot you walk across. You look at the clock and are shocked to see IT’S ONLY 3:00 p.m. You have been going to appointments and making sales calls for what seems like 3 days. Each appointment either stood you up, got rescheduled at the last minute, or was a total waste of time. Now, you’re sitting in your car. The air conditioning is blowing out air like you are in a laundromat. You feel each bead of sweat trickling down the small of your back. Then it happens–that thought– the one that says, “Well, it’s just not my day, I will start again tomorrow.” That my friends is the “kiss of death” thought and action that destroys all sales professionals.The Beauty of the sales profession is. . . Freedom. The Beast of the sales profession is. . . Freedom.  

In my 35+ years as a salesperson and a leader I have experienced and witnessed many of those days. It does not even have to be a hot summer day. They happen on cold, blistery days and even on beautiful, clear days. They just can become very hard days. We all go through them, but we do not all react the same when they do happen.

My message and plea is this, to find success in the sales world Do Not Quit on those days. Do not go home early or find a cool place to relax and call it a day. When I found myself in those situations I learned to make myself a deal and this was the deal. “Gary, you can call it a day once you have at least one success.” It does not even have to be a big success; it may simply be a new referral source you meet that agrees to a meeting with you and allows you to leave with a specific day, time, and place set. I just wanted to make sure that I never went home on a down note. Looking back now, I can remember that some of my greatest and longest lasting successes came to me on those type of hard days when I chose to push forward rather than “bailing out” on the day.  

I found that when I fought through the urge to quit early and kept going, while others were bailing out on the day, I got the reward. I realized that the top referral sources were definitely not “packing it in” early for the day, but were still working too. Guess what?  I had them all to myself.  As a builder of sales teams, offices, regions, and a company, I was able to also talk to those top recruits that I wanted because they were still hard at it, and I had them all to myself too. It is true what William Feather said, “Success is largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

Remember, successful sales people do not “bail” on hard days, but they “keep on keeping on.”  There is no traffic jam on the extra mile. And guess what else?  And this is what is really exciting, IT GETS EASIER!!  Heber J. Grant often quoted this truth, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing has changed but that OUR POWER to do has increased.” Just like any muscle that is used over and over increases in size, so does our mental capacity to achieve. Winston Churchill said it straight on,”Never,never,never quit.”  Each day you make successful results in a successful week, month, year and ultimately, career.

So, wipe the sweat from your brow, wipe the discouragement from your thoughts and today outwork your competition. Never end a day on a down note. Stay with it until you get that one success and go home on a winning note. Believe me, your family and friends will appreciate it too.