Blogging Every Day In May

Month 5 of my Dozen Months of Discovery is finishing up today and my challenge for this month was to write one blog article a day for the entire month of May, 31 days to be exact. As I write this post, this will be my final one of the month and I thought to share a few things I’ve learned throughout the month.

There are many people who write blog posts daily and have for years, for them this achievement is fairly pedestrian. I was originally going to learn the keyboard for this month but after a conversation in April with a friend and talking about sharing more of my message online, it became clear that a challenge like this would be good for me. I haven’t been consistent sharing my voice online besides my Podcast, which is mostly geared toward guest interviews. The written word is still very important on the internet and since I hadn’t blogged consistently in the past couple of years (5-10 posts a year), I wanted to challenge myself to get into a headspace where I can articulate my ideas into text and have to think through things more slowly versus just spitting off thoughts in my head while recording an audio Podcast.

With that, here are a few things I took away from the month:

Consistency is still the most important

This word has continued to pop up every month of the Dozen Months of Discovery and is a constant message shared with guests on the Just Get Started Podcast. Doing something once or twice is nice but putting the time and energy in to continually accomplish something takes more than just momentum; it takes discipline, prioritization, and grit. Whether it is a week, month, or longer or a different interval of time (launching a Podcast episode weekly), being focused on never missing this helps build the foundation to future success. One of the most glaring differences between anyone who achieved anything is putting in the work over an extended period of time. That has to be part of the equation.

You get better by practicing

Different than consistency, simply putting time into practicing something you are not great at improves that overall skill but it might help build others as well. For instance, I am not a great writer by any stretch but making a point to write every day helped improve my sentence structure, grammar, messaging, and most importantly my creativity. My writing has improved, even if just incrementally, but my creativity and observations flying around in my head were able to be articulated in a different way by making myself have to go through this daily practice. So keep practicing areas you are weak at. You don’t need to practice all of your weaknesses but weaknesses that might be essential to your overall growth, like writing, was something important for me to focus on.

Prioritize & Strategize

I’ve discussed the importance of prioritization before and when you have a challenge like this or anything that is important at the given time you have to make sure you understand where it falls on the priority list. It doesn’t have to be #1 but if this goal, however long, is important then you need to make sure it’s a priority or it’ll fall off early on when other “cool” things pop up and you’ll lose steam. Secondly, once you’ve recognized your priorities and have them listed, you need to strategize how you are going to fit them in during the day. Some days, I wrote my blog articles first thing in the morning while others I wrote right before bed at night. There are always a lot of balls to juggle each day and if you can think through what you’d like to get accomplished and the time it might take then you can make a simple to-do list to get these things done and block out the right time to do them.

Just Finish It

Everything prior is all leading up to the big takeaway, sometimes you just have to muster up the intestinal fortitude to get through “it” and finish. Some days get away from you and you might be tired but keeping your mind focused that you must keep the streak going can be enough to push you to the finish line. Remember, we all have bad days and we all have days that feel subpar but one of the most rewarding things you can do is finish whatever you had planned even when your tank is on “E”. That energy can propel you for multiple days going forward and be just the thing to pull out of your memory bank the next time you come across a tough timeline or situation and remind yourself that you’ve been here before and you’ve finished the race.

I look back at the past 31 days and it’s cool to see the great content I’ve put together, especially an 8-part series on a sales topic I had thought about writing for a year. Using this month as a motivator, I was able to complete those articles and will now be putting those together along with other content for a new Sales eBook in the coming months.  These 31 blog posts may do nothing besides additional content sitting on my website but I take away the fact that I completed another challenge (5 out of 5!) in my Dozen Months of Discovery and can use those experiences for future personal and professional goals I have going forward. Sometimes putting a timeline and line in the sand can be helpful and if you struggle to achieve certain goals you’ve had in the past then maybe this is the time to put that time constraint around it.

Every opportunity is a chance to learn and grow and I hope you’ve continued to do that for yourself this year and will set a new bar for yourself next time with the aspirations of exceeding your expectations once again.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

……..

If you’d like to listen to the One Mic Session on this topic check out the Podcast link here -> Apple Podcasts Audio Link

Blogging Every Day In May2021-03-19T10:42:23-04:00

Stymie The Stress

Business

We all deal with stress in our own way and I’ve found that most of the “dealing” is rooted in childhood behaviors and situations that are not going away any time soon. There is hope though that you can change those behaviors and become a person who can deal with stress much better or whatever challenges you’d like to overcome.

I got to thinking about this with a work situation today when I was trying to get some information to a potential client and was waiting on others to finish their side of it before I could send it over. 

In the past, I’d get anxious and be stressed out if things were taking a bit too long. I’d be checking emails or refreshing salesforce or whatever to help me cope and feel like I was at least checking and would be ready to pounce when needed. This was rooted in a lot of childhood issues I dealt with around wanting to make everything perfect because I was always fearful of being judged and not being good enough. I was always someone to go above and beyond in many situations especially when it was with people I didn’t know because of this need to make a good impression. Not a bad thing, I guess, but I’d get stressed and worry a lot. As I got older, this worry continued to transpire into my work and always having that fear of judgment in the back of my mind I’d bend over backward to get things done so quickly.

I still like to try and get things done quickly, that’s just how my personality is and I have a hard time sitting around when things aren’t complete. However, I recognized that it didn’t make any difference for (insert a given task) to be done 2 days earlier, for example, and therefore I became much better at prioritizing and staying patient.

What I have come to understand is that I need to prioritize very quickly the tasks coming across my desk and make lists / time stamps on when these need to be accomplished. If urgent, then let’s get it done but if not then don’t fret so much if it’s sitting there to do in a couple of days. This is where the patience comes in. One of my best traits I’ve learned as an adult and it transfers to many areas especially when dealing with stress and getting things done. It wasn’t always this way but as I prioritize things more clearly I don’t let my mind get cluttered anymore with focusing on it and I move on to the next important item.

The big step to make all of this possible was to address those feelings as a kid that I had to please others and look good in their eyes or I wouldn’t be worthy enough. Although I am continually working on this, I’ve all but conquered that tall mountain. My self-confidence is at a high level and I’ve come to grips that I’m not perfect and will never be. I’ve realized that if I am true to myself and the others around me that’s all that matters and I can hold my head high that I am living the life I want. Trust me, this took many years to work through and it’s a continuing process.

Here are the steps I’d go through and still do:

  • Sitting in thought and reflecting on my past
  • Have the self-awareness to recognize where I need to improve
  • Have the courage to make changes, slowly if necessary, to move in a better direction
  • Keep checking back in with myself and repeating this process to build a more solid foundation

There is no “easy” button, that’s for sure, but dealing with stress and anxiety and worry has been a big issue in the early part of my life and I made a commitment to change this, among other things. It took time and patience but I had a vision for where I wanted to go and trusted the process of getting better every day.

One last thought, I’d encourage a read of the book “Awareness” by Anthony De Mello as a starting point as it was a welcomed addition at the right time and helped a lot in these areas above.

I hope my story helps you in whatever areas you are trying to improve and please reach out if I can be a resource at all.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Stymie The Stress2021-03-19T10:42:24-04:00

Grab That Notebook

Business

I’m thankful that I came across an article a few years back where Richard Branson had mentioned that he carried around a notebook to jot things down from time to time because he didn’t want to forget them. I never really thought of doing that in the past. I’d have ideas, thoughts, observations, etc and they’d come and go without any real consideration if they could turn useful down the road.

I decided about 18 months ago to order a couple of notebooks from Amazon (here are the ones I got) to start this process and try to form a habit around carrying it from various meetings or writing it in when ideas pop in my head.

It’s been a gamechanger!

I write down all types of notes from meetings with mentors, business ideas, or just a quote I see online that piqued my interest.  Having these jotted down has helped me stop worrying if I was missing out on an idea but what it has done more than anything is to help organize thoughts that I had in the past and then reference them to see how I’ve grown. Things like what I thinking then, why was it important, what could I learn from it today that I didn’t learn during that time. It allows me to recalibrate in more real-time as I look at where I could have altered course or made a better decision.

This seems a bit old school with all of the digital options out there but just the feel of the pen and paper helps me remember things easier and gives me quick access since it is normally next to my computer or in my backpack. 

Simple thought and idea but I know I personally lacked this understanding and notes I wrote down on a scratch pad would get lost or I’d just listen to a discussion and never fully absorb all the main points. I’d loved to have looked back 10-15 years and see what I was thinking then.

If you are looking to organize ideas and have a roadmap from where you’ve come from then I’d encourage you to take Richard Branson’s advice and carry a notebook around wherever you go. I hope it helps you on your journey!

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Grab That Notebook2021-03-19T10:42:24-04:00

Consistency: Part 8 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Business

Consistencyconformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.

I’ve put consistency as the last ingredient on the list because it tends to be the final piece that makes all of the rest work together very well. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has had sustained success in anything they do including sales without being consistent in their approach and work ethic.

There are tens of thousands of examples of short term wins by sales reps or maybe even hitting or exceeding their quota in a given year but it is the consistent professional who time after time continues to chop away and stay in the ring long enough to get to the next round. A Rocky metaphor is apropos here. There are always going to be bad months or quarters but when you continue to hone your skills, build up your book of business, and bring the right attitude to your work then you will only continue to succeed.

It is the sales professional who thinks they have figured it out, has a few big whales padding their pipeline, or is arrogant about their current place on the team that ends up getting complacent and ultimately frustrated when others pass them. These are the folks that tend to churn out of organizations at around the 9-15 month mark when their “ramp” is over and they’ve been found out by the rest of the team.

Consistency allows you to do a few things:

Build Repeatable Systems

Having systems that you can go back to over and over again can only be useful when you are consistent in the way you work both internally and with potential clients. If you continually do a lot of the same things and build repeatable processes behind those then that can ultimately help you carve out some of that wasted time mentioned above. Repeatable systems might be crafting similar email templates that you can customize on the fly, document client information the exact same way (I used OneNote and the Description section in my specific Opportunity), or can ask similar/specific questions in client interactions. This helps make sure you are working toward the partnership in the right way versus missing key information from one call to the next. Building these types of consistent systems in place can do wonders for your productivity and partnership discussions

Create Sound Habits

When you are organized in your efforts and understand how your week generally flows it helps you put up barriers to corner your time and not let the “time robbers” get in the way of it. When you focus like this great habits start to take form like proper time for “pipeline hygiene”, prospecting time, administrative work, and ultimately more time to spend in front of potential clients working through great partnerships. Habits take time to build but if you put the right systems in place and then focus on how to tackle those and what new habits can help achieve better results like task lists, blocking time, batching emails, etc it all starts to come together nicely.

Keep Ahead of the Game

As I said earlier, you are going to have bad months and quarters (sometimes just bad weeks if you are lucky) but they are inevitable. If you don’t get complacent in your efforts and strive to out-pace projections then this can help set you up for success down the road and not get behind. If you have a few good months and try to coast through the rest of the year you are hurting yourself because since nobody can see the future you can’t predict if some of the partnerships you thought were coming in will actually come to fruition.  Get ahead and stay ahead and this can be beneficial in more ways than one.

Consistency tends to get thrown around a lot like a thing that everyone wants to get better at. I believe that building systems to narrow your focus on all the different things you come across in a given week needs to be prioritized in order to be consistent. When this takes form, you begin to week out a lot of the wasted time and can spend it on the right things.

Then it’s rinse and repeat. It’s not sexy but it’s effective. It generally is the people that are the least flashy and stay head down on their goal that tend to win in the long run. They know that staying consistent will generally beat out almost every other person in the long run when others get tired, complacent, unmotivated, or in a rut.

Consistency is a skill that can be learned and it just means to suck it up sometimes despite many barriers. Ultimately, once those minor barriers get worked out you have achieved a lot more than you thought you could and are that farther ahead.

Keep your head down and keep moving forward!

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Consistency: Part 8 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:04-04:00

Respect: Part 7 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Business

If you want to succeed in almost anything and you have to have others involved then having and gaining respect throughout the process should be a high-value focus item for anyone. In life, respect is so critical and as you get into a sales role when you are working directly with your peers and potential clients, it becomes extremely critical.

Respecta feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Internally:

Looking inside of an organization, I have found that respect has had a profound impact on being able to get things accomplished and arrive at a better place as a collective organization. When you are respected by others you are able to have your thoughts and ideas echoed and cheered for which might have a greater impact on helping them get adopted. Remember, this doesn’t always mean every idea will be great or accepted but it gives you more slack to be able to offer up those ideas and speak through them. I’ve often found that the most respected individuals also had the loudest voice because they spoke their mind, professional of course, and came at whatever situation it was with passion and exuberance. Others see this and get on board with the mission because they trust and respect you are also looking out for their best interest as well. As a sales professional, you are on the front lines with potential clients and hearing the good and bad about the company, industry, landscape of the market, etc and your voice has to be heard. However, if you haven’t earned the respect of your peers then it is going to be challenging to have your spot to share and have your ideas accepted.

How do you gain respect as a new sales team member:

  • Respect others and be graceful and polite in your approach
  • Speak up and share ideas – it still may take time to gain respect but often the new people have a fresh perspective on the issues they see so others are willing to listen. When you have your chance, articulate what you are seeing, be thoughtful in your approach, and try to present a solution along with the problem. Doing this early on will start to plant that seed of respect
  • Offer help – the easiest way to gain respect is to show you care. Help other peers when you see them struggle, listen in on calls and be interested in how others perform their job, ask other departments to shadow them to learn about their roles to make the relationship better, etc. 

These are just a few ideas but it is really simple. Come in with eagerness to learn and share and that starts to rub off on people. If you show you are a team player from day one then you gain instant street cred for being approachable and genuine in your dealings with your peers. If you act as you know it all and come in with all the answers, that won’t go over as well. Be mindful of the situation and the groundwork others have laid and try to build upon it and not tear it down.

Externally

I’ve mentioned other ways that respect starts to be gained in a client relationship. Honesty, Candidness, Punctuality, Humility, and so on. There is no secret answer here. It’s that you just want to be a good human being with good intentions and communicate in a way that helps your potential client get further ahead.

Being polite goes a long way. Simple things like:

  • Do you use their correct name or ask them the name they prefer (Mike vs Michael)
  • Do you interrupt or them off often
  • Do you regularly show up late for meetings
  • Do you avoid answering their questions and change course
  • Do you take forever to follow up on emails

These are a few examples but it’s basic etiquette. I boil it down to how you might act on a first date. You’re going to be your best self (i hope). Do that every time when working with a potential client. The more you do it the more it becomes a habit.

Remember, this should be an easy one to remember but it’s hard sometimes and that’s why I think these characteristics are so important to work on and improve. Respect is earned and by proving that you are an honest, trustworthy individual who is looking out for the potential clients best interest then you have the chance to build respect early on. When you gain respect, it opens up a new set of doors with the relationship.

More information gets shared, Your calls get answered or returned quickly. You are the first to know of any changes in timeline or scope. It makes it easier. 

It doesn’t mean you will earn every partnership, far from it, as there are other factors at play. However, wouldn’t it be nice to know if you didn’t earn the partnership and why very early after the decision versus emailing and calling a bunch to finally get a bland answer.

Focus on building the relationship early and often and the level of respect you receive from your potential clients will be in line with others in your organization even family and friends. That’s when sales get really fun when you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with a potential client and cut out all the noise that sometimes gets in the way.

Thanks for reading,

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Respect: Part 7 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:04-04:00

Punctuality: Part 6 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Business

Punctualitythe fact or quality of being on time

There are so many different paths to success that really knowing the perfect combination is going to be hard to pinpoint. The attributes I’ve laid out so far are what I have observed and experienced myself that are cornerstones to top-performing sales professionals. Punctuality is probably one that can be argued either way but I’ll share why I think it is paramount to any successful person, sales, or otherwise.

There is a great saying that goes, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I think it fits well into this example.

When you are on time it generally means that you are prepared and organized. If you are prepared and organized then one can assume that you are good at the work you do, thorough, and always follow-up through on expectations.

Those go a long way when serving your potential clients. They recognize the little things in your interactions with them. Politeness and punctuality are generally two of the most glaring. I’ll assume everyone knows how to be polite so we won’t focus on that here. Remember, selling is as much about the product fit as it is about a trusting relationship. You are an extension of the company you sell for and therefore if you are professional, polite, and punctual in all of your interactions with the potential client then they are going to assume that’s how the organization is run as well and they’d be a great long term partner to have.

The flip side, which I was reminded of just last week, is not where you want to be. I was on a first discovery call with a potential client and we had built rapport throughout and the conversation was fluid so when they brought up that they had been exploring some other products I made sure I pried in a bit more and here’s what came out.

Brian: That’s great you all are doing some exploration to see what’s out there, who have you looked at so far?

Potential client: Just one other one at this point…like Gov something..or you know I can’t remember their name exactly

Brian: (in jest) I guess they didn’t make a great impression then, huh?

Potential client: Oh you don’t know the half of it. We called and had a conversation and scheduled a demo of their product and then when the time came for it the sales rep didn’t show up. They didn’t send a message or anything. So we called in later to find out what happens and not only did they not have a good excuse they weren’t even remorseful for missing the call in the first place. Let’s just say they didn’t leave a good impression on us.

Going back to the dating analogy from a prior post, if you were to stand up a date and then not even feel bad about it when they called you do you think that relationship will progress anywhere? It’s disrespectful to the other person and shows that you are thinking about yourself more than them.

Besides scheduled meetings, being prompt with proposals, emails, etc are also very important. I don’t believe you have to reply the minute a message comes in but I like to at least get back to someone within a half of day or at worst by end of day. If the message comes in during the afternoon then certainly first thing the next morning. If you are needing to gain additional information internally prior to responding at least take a minute to acknowledge their email and tell them that you are on it and will return the message soon (or put a more defined time on it). This goes for proposals or other important documents. When you agree on a time then hold yourself accountable to that time (or earlier). It amazes me how simple this notion is but yet it can be missed without properly organizing your efforts.

I’ve written a lot about outward-facing activities when working with potential clients as it relates to these attributes but it should be noted that many of these, including punctuality, is extremely important when working internally with other teams. Showing up to meetings on time, being respectful of getting back to emails that ask for your guidance/insight, and completing tasks when your voice is needed are all things that show you care about the greater mission and are helping the other members of your team succeed.

Sales can seem like an individual sport but it generally takes a village to make you successful. Someone had to build the product, someone had to organize sales materials, someone had to define the ideal client that fits the product, someone had to sell and implement other partners before you so you had great references. Unless you have done this all by yourself, you need others around you to support your efforts and therefore it is important to show up for these types of activities or discussions even though it may not be your top priority. The company needs to hear your feedback in order to improve and it’s an opportunity for you to share your knowledge and help everyone get to the next level. 

Remember, A rising tide lifts all boats. Start by being on time.

Thanks for reading,

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Punctuality: Part 6 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:04-04:00

Persistence: Part 5 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Business

Persistence: firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

I have to believe that persistence might be one of the attributes of top sales performers that won’t be questioned on this list. It’s real simple. You must have the ability to push conversations and stay on top of people to be successful because when working with humans there are a lot of commonalities that take place no matter which type of potential clients you are working with.

I could mention a ton fo them but will settle on a few of the major ones:

When They Say “No” Right Away:

This one took me a little while longer to figure out but when you understand the human psyche it actually makes perfect sense. People have been sold to in every which way throughout their lives so unless they are 100% actively searching for exactly what you say you offer then sometimes the early “no” or “not interested” is a reflex reaction that they don’t want to be bothered right now for a numerous amount of reasons you may not know about. This is where having persistence coupled with the fact that you believe you can really help the client based on the information you have can come in handy.

I had this situation come up on many occasions and one, in particular, was back in 2015 when I received a message back from an email that the person was not interested in what I was offering. Fair enough but I had some notes from conversations with this company in the past and really felt that we could help them make a difference with their business. I wrote a very professionally persistent email back explaining why a meeting for 30-minutes would be well worth his time and explained what I thought we could discuss. Long story short, he replied back and took the meeting and two months later they came in as a partner of ours. It was a great fit for their needs at the time and was a great partner and “logo” for our growing company. It turned out to be a win-win all around.

When They Say “Call Me Back In 6 Months”:

This type of conversation happens all the time and is very understandable if you are in the shoes of the potential client. This particular problem you solve is not a top priority at this time and they tell you to contact them back in 6 months or so. Happens a lot, right? Partly, this comes down to good documentation and organization of your accounts but it also mixes nice with a little persistence. Sure, you can wait 6 months and nobody would fault you for it. In fact, you’d be doing better than most sales reps who never call them back at all. However, if you know this should be a higher priority for them based on knowing their business then make a point to reach out 2-3 times over the next 6 months. Not to “check-in” but add them tremendous value. This could be an invite to a webinar that’d fit well for their business case, asking if they are attending a conference in their area, or anything similar to this. It shouldn’t resemble anything other than purely caring for them to improve and trying to help how you can. The reason this approach is helpful is most likely even though the problem you solve is not a high priority it still may be talked about internally and you should be seen as an advisor in their eyes, which makes it fitting on why you would be sending over additional information.

The Potential Client “Ghosts” You:

This should never happen if you have built a trusting relationship early on centered around respect and candor. However, in the case this does happen, use patience to first assess the situation and come up with the various scenarios as to why you haven’t heard from them. After that, persistence tempered by patience will be the winning formula.

You don’t need to “check-in” regularly

You don’t need to say “Hope you’re okay, haven’t heard from you”

You don’t need to tell them you’ve left several emails/voicemails and are following up.

They received them. They aren’t returning them for several reasons:

  • There is no new news
  • The timeline has been pushed back
  • They are swamped with other pressing matters at the moment
  • They are having some personal life challenges
  • And so on…

I tend to lean toward the side of logic in most cases and it’s probably that they are really busy with their actual day job that they get paid to perform at or they have had some challenging personal life things come up. Either way, if you come off as a pest from too many follow-ups you will seem desperate and that will lower your stock value. Continue to provide value in the ways we mentioned above but instead of every other month maybe it’s every couple of weeks especially given the timeline you might be aware of from past discussions. Keep them conversational and continue to back up the points you’ve agreed upon are important for them. Remember, if someone wants to buy something they will. If they don’t, they won’t. The need to remind them you’re there doesn’t help your case at all and can only put you in a worse position once you do get back in touch with them.

There are so many facets to persistence in personal and professional life and I firmly believe that continuing to push through when the times feel tough because you believe in what you are doing will end up paying huge dividends in the future by strengthening your relationships and adding new partners to the mix that didn’t seem possible before.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Persistence: Part 5 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:05-04:00

Humility: Part 4 of 8 – The Evolution of The Modern Day Sales Professional

Business

humility: a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

There is no question that humility has to be one of the characteristics of the best sales professionals. Additionally, one of the sub-categories that are almost certainly in line with people who are humble is confidence. There are certain people that may not be confident in themselves and still be humble, but in sales I’ve found that the ones who are successful in their role often times have a nice balance of humility and confidence. 

Confidence is such a big key to being successful and setting your mindset on a positive track helps you get there much quicker. When you are confident in your ability and realize that you will continue to exceed expectations then it is much easier to be humble. The reason I say this is that if you look at someone who exudes confidence then most of the time (not always) they don’t need to be told “great job” or “you’re the best” or anything like that. They act like they’ve been there before. They generally are the ones who are consistent and expect those results.

Similar to this situation, look at how the top sales professionals act when they bring in new partners. I am not saying they don’t get excited or accept the praise, I am saying that they are much more humble because they realize the hard work it took to get there and they don’t take it for granted. They don’t get a big head about it and gloat because it’s not about an “I’m better than you” mentality. It’s that they are continuing to compete against themselves and try to get better at their craft. They are confident in their abilities but humble in their approach and that balance continues to be a winning formula.

On that note, let’s make sure we don’t forget the humility needed when working with potential clients. I’ve really been speaking about internal-facing interactions but I think that being humble during client interactions might be more important, actually, they have to be.

The potential clients you are working with are fairly savvy these days. They’ve used a lot of products and services and have a good tell that almost none of them are perfect. Neither is your product. We need to look at ways of communicating with the client that exude our humbleness while articulating what we can help them with and what we can’t. If we are saying we can do everything then that’s not only dishonest but also comes off as arrogant. 

We’re the #1 ____ , We’re the Top ____, We are the industry leader in ____

All of this type of fluff and the stories around it don’t make us sound like we are trying to help the client. They are self-serving and arrogant and if you’ve ever tried to buy something and heard this touted you’d know what I mean.

Let’s take the approach that “we may” be able to help the potential client as we continue to look behind the curtain and find out what they truly need. I think it’s wise to be confirming that “we can help you here” but “may not be able to exactly help there” and walk them through a potential future-state where they can envision what is the most important and what isn’t.

A piece of this is also the real possibility that you may not be a good fit and have to tell the potential client that. There is a mix of candor in that but I believe you have to truly be humble to get to this level of comfort passing up on what might be a great “logo” to work with and focus on the fact that the partnership may not be the best fit, for a number of reasons.

A lot of this continually comes back to one tried and true principle of sales. 

Are you trying to help the potential client or are you trying to help yourself? 

If it’s the former, you win every time, even if you don’t win the partnership.

If it’s the latter, you might win sometimes or maybe more than sometimes but in the long run, you will end up losing because your reputation will be stained and your network of people that you could have leveraged for referrals and otherwise will be shrinking.

Start with humility and try to go into each potential client call with that same air of humbleness while still maintaining your confidence and I’m sure that your calls will be much more pleasant, more trust will be formed, and you’ll have a better chance of holding your head high, win or lose.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Humility: Part 4 of 8 – The Evolution of The Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:05-04:00

Candor: Part 3 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Business

If you seek out the opinions and perceptions of others about who you are you will generally find a lot of consistency in those responses. If you can look at that objectively and take it for face value then it can be a true eye-opener to confirm the things you already knew about yourself or things that weren’t so obvious and you might want to consider working on to improve.

To that end, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly how I changed over the past handful of years but I knew I changed a lot especially in how I was speaking to all various types of people. I had one friend recently say that I had a great balance of “compassion and confrontation” which came off as very genuine and honest and they knew that I was trying to help.

That’s where I fell on Candor as a trait I believe has made me successful in sales and have seen this in many of the folks I have been lucky enough to be around in sales roles and otherwise.

Candorthe quality of being open and honest in expression; frankness.

I think it’s a 2-part equation to get there, though.

Growing up I remember hearing something on a TV show, and can’t recall the name of the person now, but I remember them saying that they don’t tell any lies at all and are completely truthful in most situations. When pressed, they added “I never have to remember my lies” and that clicked for me. I was sold. I’ve been that way ever since.

Am I going to sit here and say I haven’t lied, of course not, I certainly have at times but I’m not speaking about a “white lie” that we all tell to save a friend from embarrassment or our kids from the joys of Santa Claus. I am speaking about your communication of facts and information to the other people you are around, both personally and professionally.  What has always been interesting to me is that we get upset when others deceive us or lie to us but then we can turn around and do the same exact t thing on a call to a potential client.

Deceiving a potential client to “get the sale” always comes back to bite you in the end. That could be if you are setting up an early discovery call, product demo, or bringing in the business, deceiving at all levels is a bad practice. Listen, we all know there are a lot of bad actors out there and one of the reasons why sales get such a bad rap. Don’t let that be you.

Answer questions about what your product can do completely honestly and be proud that you were able to provide the client with the correct information to make the informed decision.  More times than not, that questions about features they need may end up not even being that important and they’ll appreciate your honesty in sharing the correct information. But if they needed that feature and you blatantly lied then that will be found out during implementation or early use of the product. 

Remember, whether you believe it or not, most people don’t think you have the perfect product because they’ve been scorned in the past so don’t front and act like its the greatest thing in the world. It’s good to have a few warts and it’s okay to share those.

And that is why this is a two-part equation. Honesty is great but when used with Directness, it becomes much better.

Being direct has always been a skill that I’ve struggled with until much recently. I grew up a shy, unconfident, and an out of place kid and always had a hard time expressing myself to others. Additionally, when having conversations that were highly important I tended to succumb to the pressure of it all and give in. I never pressed the situation, I never came back and asked the really tough question, I crumbled.  

My confidence grew slightly as I got on my own as an adult but I really don’t think the directness piece became a strength until just the last few years. I had the great fortune of being around a couple of key people that would shape the way I looked at interactions with others and how to communicate much more effectively.  One of the things I learned from them is how to take my honest approach to sales, coupled with the relationships I was building, and be confident that I could make the room awkward and be okay with it. 

That’s at least how I framed it. Being okay with the awkward silence or look by asking a very direct but needed question. Boy was this a tough task. But it was so needed and it was refreshing the more times I’d do it. Not thinking this would be the case, but people appreciated that I was asking the difficult questions and wanted to uncover all the issues even if they were difficult to talk about. The by-product of it was that I was also more respected when I left the room versus when I came in. My stock would go up in their eyes and merely because I was intentional about solving a problem, doing it in an honorable way, and doing it together.

For that to happen, you must inject honesty and directness into each and every one of your conversations or said more simply Candor.

The most important takeaway I want to share is that this might be the most difficult of all the attributes needed to be successful in working with potential clients. It generally is the most difficult because you may be good at one side of the equation versus the other. It doesn’t work so well that way.

As I shared above, honesty without candor is good in a way because you are giving truthful answers but if you can’t rephrase the question, pose additional prying questions, ask the importance of it all and do it in a way that comes of genuine, it can fall flat. If you take the opposite and just have directness without the honesty, then you may just come off like a complete a**hole. You haven’t shown that you are honest and trustworthy so therefore you don’t have the long leash to pry and prod deeper.

I’m not sure where I’d be without candor. It matches my personality so well but I didn’t realize I had it in me until surrounding myself with people who perfected it and helped me pull it out. That is why it is so important to listen to “top performers” on calls if you can. You are not so much trying to dissect what they say but how they say it and what the reaction is from the person on the other end. I can almost guarantee, if they are one of the top sales professionals, they have a tremendous amount of candor and you can too if you put in some time to focus on the simple equation.

Honesty + Directness = Candor

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Candor: Part 3 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:05-04:00

Empathy: Part 2 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Business

When I think of sales and interacting with people, I can’t think of a word that describes having a “client-centric” mindset more than empathy. This word embodies a mix of both emotional intelligence, social awareness, and the care factor that are all necessary to work with potential clients.

To make sure we are set on the definitions

Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Sympathy feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

Sometimes these get confused so I wanted to make it crystal clear. You certainly need to be sympathetic in certain situations that call for it but empathy is more of the “state of mind” that you can relate to what people are going through and put yourself in their shoes.

Here’s an example of a situation I found myself in:

I was speaking with a potential client and we were “late-stage” with the partnership discussions and we had a follow-up call scheduled to progress this to the final steps and get started. On that call, my “champion” shared that their boss’s spouse was gravely ill and this project was on hold for a little while longer until they could get back into the office and focus on this.

I could’ve asked questions like:

Do you have any expected timeline?

What else can I do to help move the project forward

Should I follow-up in a couple of weeks to continue discussions?

All of these would have been bad ideas because it doesn’t put the client first. Sometimes there is NO timeline. Sometimes the waters are muddy and hard to navigate through. That’s not just sales, it’s life.

The empathetic approach is to recognize that there are bigger things at play here, real humans are in pain, and this (insert whatever you are selling) is not the top of mind at the moment. 

It doesn’t mean it isn’t an important project or they don’t want to proceed. It’s that the timing has been shifted due to this unforeseen circumstance. 

Using this logic and stepping away from the situation and looking at it from a different perspective I did a few things:

  • I helped my “champion” know first and foremost that I fully understand the situation and this is definitely not a good time to discuss. 
  • I offered up myself as a resource in the comings weeks/months if they personally wanted to have conversations around process improvements away from the software
  • I acknowledged that there are too many unknowns to set any next steps and that I am going to put it in their hands to reach out 

This approach led me to continue our great relationship, solidify myself and my company as professional and “client-focused”, and earn the right to receive a follow-up when the times were right. I built that trust through empathy.

I’ve found that taking an empathetic approach into most of my conversations has provided me the mindset to help clients even more because I’ve already convinced myself they are likely underwater on projects, are stressed about their work, and their home life isn’t an A+. Part of this gets into Emotional Intelligence and social awareness but I still think it falls under the category of empathy. If we know our business better than anyone then we should know our potential clients and all that they are going through.

With that in mind, a couple of additional thoughts to consider in your client interactions.

  1. Be human and express you are also going through challenges as well which helps them reciprocate the empathy in a way
  2. Re-read your emails a second time and ask yourself “what is my tone and what am I trying to accomplish by sending the email this way?”
  3. When you hit roadblocks, don’t take it personally and try to uncover the true reasons behind it. It might not relate to anything you all have been talking about.
  4. Remember that you can’t fake empathy, your mindset and attitude help shape those CARE muscles and if you want to get better at this then you must change your focus and outlook on the process and your interactions with every potential client.

I feel that if I was stack ranking the eight attributes that I would put empathy as higher on my list of strengths because it’s just something I’ve always done and has been in my DNA since childhood. This comes a little easier to me but it’s also allowed me to recognize the importance of it has seen its impact over the years.

I highly recommend auditing your level of empathy, both personally and professionally, and seeing where you can turn the dial in a positive direction.

More to come on empathy as I’m sure we’ll weave it into the other core attributes because it is so important but hopefully this starts giving you some thoughts about the importance of it all.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Empathy: Part 2 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:05-04:00

Patience: Part 1 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Business

In Part One of this Eight-Part Series, I wanted to touch on what I feel is arguably the most underrated of all attributes to have as a sales professional, Patience.

I can understand why this is the case, though. For years the adage has always been to “sell, sell, sell” and “more, more, more” and it basically has been wired into our DNA that we aren’t doing enough and need to keep pushing harder. Although sales have changed drastically in the last decade, this mindset still exists.

It’s okay to move fast, there is nothing wrong with that as long as expectations are laid out but what causes a lot of issues is when we move at a different speed than the potential client and moreover when we try to push the accelerator when the potential client and we haven’t taken into consideration the true timeline of the potential client.

In any dealings with any human being, the quicker we can get to the right decision is always better. It means we can move forward to the next step and continue to grow. Nobody can argue that. I make sure I do that on (almost) every call with a potential client. We want to make sure we are on the same page in regard to where we stand. That’s fair. Where I messed up a lot early on with this is that if there is a needed break in the normal cadence or a timeline shift I might not have picked up on these cues and my “follow-ups” weren’t always on point. Luckily, I learned this early on and is still something I practice consistently.

You must not get happy ears when talking about the timeline and have to fully understand the next steps, future decision, evaluation process, or whatever other points on the map that need to be hit before a partnership is finalized. Patience is the secret weapon here. I’ve seen it all too often where we want to “get it in before the end of the month” and start to sound selfish and pushy. Generally, this has come with pressure from management to want to close business. This is where you need to really go with your gut. I’ve had this situation happen a lot. I always go with what I think is right. Except for a couple of times, and luckily I avoided disaster.

I’ll share a quick story that relates to this.

I was working a fairly substantial potential partnership that gave us the green light to move forward but had delayed multiple times due to internal hurdles. I had a great relationship with an internal champion and was getting fed a lot of intel so I knew where the hold-up might have been. In the meantime, they (my champion) was also dealing with a lot of challenges in their own role and things that had surfaced that were unforeseen.  He went dark on me for many weeks which was uncommon. I respectfully reached out a few times here and there not being pushy and understanding what he was up against. 

No answer. No response. Weeks piled up. 

After about 8 weeks passed with no response, I started to get pressure from my manager as our expected close date was approaching even though I had been transparent all along where things were at. He asked me if we should reach out to someone else there, my Champion’s boss, to get an update. I refused and pushed back knowing that person was mainly controlling the budget but not too involved in the overall choice. If we overstep my champion that could put a serious “knife in the back” feel to my champion and alter the partnership altogether.

I knew they were partnering with us and things like this just come up. After repeated pressure over and over I finally caved and said I would call his boss and try to get an update. Fortunately, the day I called he was out of the office and I decided not to leave a voicemail. Before I called back another time days later, I reached back out to my champion and fortunately received a response.  A little luck is never a bad thing.

But I was right. He apologized profusely for the lack of communication and shared what had been going on and how it’s been a nightmare over there due to some unforeseen business challenges with their organization. It wasn’t that he was trying to avoid me but he was just busy with his full-time job. We were all good and were able to proceed and keep the relationship going forward. 

Luckily, that situation didn’t hurt me but it confirmed a valuable lesson.

When you are a sales professional and are responsible for a quota you have to own that quota 100%. You have to do what is in the best interest of the client and yourself and trust your judgment all the way. You also have to remember that the person(s) you are working with has 40 other priorities to deal with on their end not counting personal life issues and things you have no idea might be going on. Having the proper level of patience shows that you respect their situation and that you have a relationship built on trust and communication, hopefully, established early on, and that wins in the long run. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and trying to speed up something that isn’t meant to be sped up can put you in a bad position. 

On that note, there is one other piece of the patience puzzle I wanted to touch on. The micro-side of patience.

The micro-side is something extremely important as well and it involves each and every interaction with a potential client. 

How many times have you received an email later in the sales process and just replied straight back to exactly what they are asking for? I bet the answer is almost 100%. 

But I’d suggest a different route. This is a great example of where patience can work in your favor. Why are they asking that question? What additional conversations have happened internally that posed that question? Does the answer, one way or another, change the direction? A question generally has much more meaning behind it and I always pick up the phone and try to get my potential client on a quick call to clarify. It allows us to make sure we are fully on the same page and we understand each other and it also recalibrates the next steps and timeline and confirms we are still in line with that as well.

Responding quickly just to get it done isn’t always the best approach and sometimes it takes additional time and energy to flush out a situation and learn the nuances and reasoning behind it.

This is most important when it comes to phone calls and the speed of your messaging, response to questions, and time on the phone. When you are trying to rush to just get through it you miss a lot of valuable information that is helpful during the partnership discovery.

Sales are like professional dating that if you build enough rapport and trust early on in the conversation you can go well past the intended endpoint. If things are going well, why rush through it. Be thoughtful, be insightful, ask deeper and curious questions, get to the bottom of something you don’t understand.

All of these things happen when you have a mindset focused on patience and an understanding that you are in control most of the time but the times that you aren’t you need to be okay with taking a deep breath and letting someone else lead even if it doesn’t match up with your expected timeline or path to finalizing the partnership.

Remember, patience is underrated so this might be one of the biggest areas you can find improvement in right away.  Start to think about areas in your entire sales process, both internal and client-facing, where you can start to leverage a more patient attitude and style and I’m confident you’ll start noticing a big change in the overall structure of your sales pipeline, relationships, and eventual partnerships.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Patience: Part 1 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:06-04:00

The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

Business

You don’t need me to tell you this but this is a TON of information out there on the sales profession and a million different opinions on what you should do and how you should do it. From prospecting new clients to navigating the sales cycle, to follow-ups and referrals, it’s borderline exhausting. It’s a big topic, I get it. But it can also be confusing for a lot of the new people that are trying to sell products whether you are “carrying your own bag” for an organization, are running your own business, or are pitching investors and gaining proof-of-concept in a start-up. I think there is an easier way.

I want to strip that all away for a moment and focus on the key characteristics that I feel are essential across the board for any sales professional to succeed. I’ve seen it first hand and it’s not complicated. It’s just logical and takes time to refine and sharpen. However, if you put the time into each and every one of these I am confident that you’ll be able to reach new heights in your career and start to understand the relationship element that is so vital in any partnership.

We are in a new era of sales with much more information out there for the buyer, and frankly, a much savvier buyer which I love. The reason I love it is because human interaction and relationships matter again. Honesty matters. Integrity matters. Respect matters.

I don’t think these things ever went away but a lot of software products were ahead of their time before the client could actually form an opinion and do thorough due diligence. Now, with much more information at their fingertips and the curve from innovators moving to the early and late majority there is more of a level playing field and buyers are back in control.

Times are changing and I feel this new age of sales is going to weed out a lot of those sales professionals that stick with the old way of doing it and fail to make the shift. You are going to have to have true empathy, you are going to actually put the client first, you are going to be professional and brutally honest in your responses when you can do something and when you can’t.

I think the hardest part about sales is all of the BS and bad habits people have learned for years that they try to wedge, fit, or shimmy into an already broken process. They drive to regurgitate what they learned in a book 10 years ago. It doesn’t work that way anymore. People are too smart. That all changes today.

I don’t have all the answers, far from it, but what I do feel I have uncovered is a clear path that new and old sales professionals alike can be cognizant of and continue to build on as they develop their “in-game’ skills. These are not tricks and tactics but the characteristics that will be paramount to future success. None of these should be a surprise but I hope they make you think a bit more about how you project yourself in your business dealings and where you can find areas to improve.

Here are the main areas I am going to focus on:

  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Candor
  • Humility
  • Consistency
  • Persistence
  • Punctuality
  • Respect

Over the next 8-part series I’ll break into each of these areas, share some personal stories, and hopefully get you to focus inward on self-awareness and how we can improve in all of these areas. Like a video game, we all have different levels of each of these, and some rank higher in certain areas than others. I expect you to be strong in some and weak in others. What is important is that we know we can improve in all of these areas and my goal is to get you to think differently about each and every one of these and how it applies toward working through partnerships in your sales career going forward.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:06-04:00

Can Your Motivation Be Forced?

Business

You can read a lot of articles and listen to many videos touting that motivation only lasts for a period of time and you have to develop the right habits to sustain consistency long term through an obsession to continue to put in the hard work. I don’t disagree at all. However, sometimes and maybe most of the time you need to be motivated to begin, and by doing that it leads to the next step. Don’t discount motivation because that burst of energy to get started down a path is extremely important to not only those beginning days but as you keep the consistency up long term.

As I sat back and thought about this more it occurred to me that some of the times when I’ve been the most motivated I was being “forced” into it. Either a challenge, deadline or similar made me have to just get started even when I might not be fully motivated to do so.

One time, in particular, came to mind and it was Senior year of High School. In one of the most favorite classes for all seniors who took it, Public Speaking was a course about getting outside your comfort zone and being able to speak up and at an audience of your peers. It was fun but very daunting especially for a lot of us introverts. Larry Hynes was our teacher and he was widely regarded as one of the best teachers in the school and knew how to keep the kids engaged throughout the semester.  He knew about using a motivation to make the kids learn.

Enter Invictus.

You all have probably heard the poem or parts of it at some point in your life.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me, 

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years 

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll, 

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

Well, Mr. Hynes used this poem as both an exercise in memorization and recalling that information when you were caught off guard and at your most vulnerable.  The kids didn’t take the task lightly either as this was a good chunk of your final grade to pass the class.

After handing out the assignment during the semester, Mr. Hynes would then catch the students in the weeks to follow and make them, right there, on the spot, recite the poem. He caught kids in football practice, on the bus, in the cafeteria.

He caught me in a Social Studies class. I remember being one of the last handful on his list he hadn’t gotten and the days prior I was nervous as all get out. But it made me motivated to practice as I did not want to mess up in front of whatever group I happened to be caught with.  I remember getting up and standing on my desk like a scene from Dead Poet’s Society and belting out Invictus confidently and articulately. At least that is what I told myself afterward as the embarrassment of the moment started to wear off.  Nonetheless, I memorized it and passed his test that day. 

But here’s something really funny, the lesson lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. Years after I’d randomly be thinking about that poem or the moment and was able to recite it without hesitation. 20 years later and it’s still ingrained in my soul.

Go ahead, ask me next time you see me. I’m confident I’ll ace the test again.

So that’s my point through this whole trip down memory lane. We all want to think that motivation has to come from within, and in a way, I guess it does when we are put to the test. However, that motivation sometimes comes from others around us and that’s okay too. You may not be remembering a poem years later but using the motivation to your advantage and seizing the opportunity can give you more confidence in your abilities short term and spark the path to new abilities, lessons, and experiences that help you continue your track of personal growth.

At the end of the day, remember, “You are the Master of Your Fate and The Captain of Your Soul”.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Can Your Motivation Be Forced?2021-03-19T10:42:24-04:00

Be Weary Of Advice Givers

Business

We all are looking, at times, for a second opinion to confirm the decision we are making is the correct one. It’s hard to go with intuition exclusively on every decision and we’ve been told our entire lives to look for mentors and individuals that can help guide us to the next phase of our growth.

Mentors are vital. But there is a problem.

“Advice givers” are everywhere.

You must make sure you are seeking out the right ones.

I have started to think about this more recently because I’ve been getting out to the golf course with my son and having the opportunity to become a coach once again. I was a PGA Teaching Professional for many years and worked with golfers of all ages and skill levels. I had a certain style to me that was unique and I related to my students and was able to help them get better, not just physically but mentally. Although I left the golf industry all together several years ago, the coach in me and my knowledge of the game didn’t.

Maybe that is why it pains me when I overhear someone on the range driving giving advice to another person. I can tell very quickly by watching one swing whether they are a good enough player to even understand proper swing mechanics or sequence one needs in the golf swing. Also, the verbiage and amount of information is another tale altogether. Generally, the player they are “instructing” gets frustrated and is most likely going to have that poor thought in their head for a while leading to more harm than good. 

This happens a lot in all areas of life, and we’ve all been there. We all want to seek out advice but figuring out on your own is far better than being led down the wrong path when the path is very unclear. When it comes to more difficult decisions you certainly need to have your intuition be a guide, but it’s also vital to have people that you trust and that have been down that road before share their insights to help you navigate a decision more clearly. And that is why mentorship is so important. Having a couple of mentors or coaches to lean on for critical advice can save a ton of time and money and get you in the right headspace.

That is why it’s important to choose advice wisely. But how do you do that? 

I’ll share a couple of questions I like to ask myself prior to getting a mentor or seeking advice from someone I know.

  1. Does the person giving the advice have the domain knowledge to be giving this advice? 
  2. In the time I have known them, have they been consistent in their approach and actions?
  3. Are they available to be able to mentor me?
  4. Do I trust them without any doubt?
  5. Will they provide me honest constructive feedback or sugar-coat to avoid hurting feelings (look at #2 to help)
  6. Do I walk away from conversations with them feeling confident and energized or confused and unsure?

These are some of the things I like to consider in the process.

As I said, I believe most of the decisions we make on a daily basis need no advice from anyone. We don’t have to post a question on Facebook or text, 10 friends, because the reality is that we are going to be biased and go with the decision in line with our thinking anyways. We’re human, It’s our nature.

But mentors should be pushing us to think differently and expose our “weak-minded” thoughts that plague us in decision making in order to help us grow stronger.

I believe everyone needs at least one mentor in their life at all times, sometimes more than one. I have a couple of people right now that are mentors to me and they been tremendous in their guidance. I’ve gotten lucky I guess but I’ve also used the questions above to vet them well prior to letting them into that deep relationship with me.

If you need any more guidance on this please reach out, but there are probably a few people you can already see as possible mentors in your life. Make sure they pass your sniff test, and after you’ve done a full vetting, remember to not overthink it and go with your gut if you feel they’d be a great person to lean on.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Be Weary Of Advice Givers2021-03-19T10:42:25-04:00

Next Gen and Chill

Business

I was sitting on a weekly “Community Coffee” Zoom call that the Next Gen group puts together weekly led by Rachel Gross, the Next Gen Director of Community. It’s an open forum for members to show up and have a collective discussion about almost anything. As we were having a debate around what people are doing to grow themselves, both personally and professionally, it reminded me of just how powerful a community Next Gen is. Here I was, around a mix of people of all different backgrounds, ages, and experiences but with the same common vision in mind – to surround themselves with a support system of like-minded people that are enthusiastic and inspired to change the world for the better.

I’ve been fortunate in many areas of my life for the opportunities that have come my way both as lessons learned from tough times or luck that just happened to work out in my favor.

One of those “luck” moments was the serendipitous introduction to Justin Lafazan, Co-Founder of Next Gen, to be a guest on my Just Get Started Podcast. Thanks, Bryan Wish for the intro!

Fast-Forward 18-months and the connections and life-long friends I have made from that single encounter could not be put accurately into words or probably an equivalent dollar amount.

I was able to attend their Next Gen Summit event in June of 2019, their signature event for their group of entrepreneur members, which totals in the thousands.

I’ve met countless Podcast guests through there, mentors, friends, and even have had the chance to provide guidance to members in need.

One member, in particular, Rich Keller has focused my mind on understanding who I am and the mission I have in life and has helped me discover my One Word, Navigator, which has been a key to defining that purpose.

Other members, Sean Casey and Nick Costelloe, Founders of Universal Dialect, have become fast friends and always have a couch for me to crash on when I visit NYC.

And Chau Mui, Founder of Ciaooo! Magazine has become a great friend where we can be a sounding board for one another with advice while always having the best intentions for the other in mind.

I have dozens of these examples from being a part of this group.

Throughout our lives, we come into new groups and leave old ones. We spend a little time with some and a whole bunch of time with others. We all have reasons for joining certain groups or being attracted to certain situations.

Mine was a community.

I haven’t had many great support systems in my life. Growing up as a middle child and having low self-esteem, I had a hard time fitting into a lot of groups and didn’t have a ton of friends growing up. As I got older and started to find my voice I found the best group of friends anyone could ever ask for. Guys that are still my friends 20 years later. But, as I started to venture into the entrepreneurial waters and tap into my mission in life, I was looking for a new support system, one that looked a lot different than any group I’d ever been a part of before. The Next Gen group appeared to be that fit I was looking for, even as an older Millenial like myself.

My expectations have been exceeded.

From their member-driven Facebook group, to live interviews with well-known Founders, to being one email or message away from making a warm connection to anyone, these folks have the goods.

Full Disclosure, this post was originally slated to be about great support systems, and maybe there was a flavor of that, but it’s also turned into a Next Gen Pep Rally of sorts, which I’d be leading the marching band in. The momentum behind this group, led by Founders Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella, is unreal and I’m so thrilled to be a part of the next phase of Next Gen as we come out of these unprecedented times and into a “new start” filled with optimism, innovation, and gratitude; all key characteristics of the Next Gen group.

I’d encourage anyone looking for a new support system in their lives, has the drive to do great things, and has the “go-giver” mentality, to look towards Next Gen as a place for you.

Go check out their website here: https://nextgenhq.com/

Hope to see you at the next Community Coffee!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Next Gen and Chill2021-03-19T10:42:25-04:00

Find The “Chip On Your Shoulder” 

Business

I believe anyone that ever wants to accomplish great things has a “chip on their shoulder”. I don’t see how you can’t in such a competitive world we live in. We all get slighted or past over from time to time and that should motivate anyone I would think. It definitely motivates me.

I was thinking about this recently while watching the wonderful docuseries on ESPN called “The Last Dance” chronicling the Chicago Bulls Dynasty with a focus on Michael Jordan and their 6th and final championship in that historic run.

There are many instances where we see Michael Jordan use his surroundings to fuel him when needed whether a news story, a player from the other team or his own team. He found ways to keep motivating himself to push forward. I believe in a way we all do this and we may not readily admit it but I think it can be extremely beneficial to our future growth. As long as it not used in any malicious or hurtful way, I think having it inside us to pull out when needed is vital.

I was thinking about this personally as it relates to growing my Podcast or personal brand. Very few people know who I am and what my mission is in life and fewer than that actually care.  That’s fine with me now but there was a time when I was insecure and needed the attention.

That dates back to my childhood and many of the struggles I went through in my family life and upbringing with the feeling I was never good enough or could never feel included in almost anything. That took a long time to overcome (still working on it in some ways!) and it was important for me to get attention, any attention, in order to feel I had self-worth.

And that’s where I’ve used the “chip on the shoulder” mentality to help me. I use that fuel from all of the years of being slighted, or laughed at, or not thought of as worthy of anything. It drives me to want to produce a better Podcast, or write better books, or continue to share my story. 

I’m not sure what your past was like or the moments in time you felt less of a person or were treated as such but don’t let those moments die off into a distant memory. Although sometimes difficult, with the right mindset you can use those moments to refuel yourself and keep adding logs to the fire when you find your motivation wavering. I have certain memories cornered away in my mind to use when needed and it’s made a big difference. There was a lot of pain I had to overcome from earlier in life and proving myself over and over again is just something that drives me. 

We are often told to let go of the past and move on but unless you grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth and never had problems then I think those painful lessons you experienced should go to good use and become the “chip on the shoulder” material that you can use to reshape your mind and grow to new heights.

I’m not sure what you want to do in life but just know you can do great things, you truly can, with the right mindset and perspective on the world. Keep driving toward your mission and the impact you want to have on this world and I hope you continue to stay obsessed with changing the world in a more positive way.

Thanks for reading,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Find The “Chip On Your Shoulder” 2021-03-19T10:42:25-04:00

4 Things People Should Do Before Ever Reading A Sales Book

Business

Before you go grab the latest and greatest sales book, understand you already have most of what you need to be successful at sales. You’ll learn a ton through experimental trial and error but I think a few suggestions below can get you started on an easier path as well.

In my opinion, I believe there are a lot of things early on that make sales hard for newer folks that don’t have to. 

There is:

  • Too much information – product knowledge, value statements, sales playbooks and frameworks
  • Too much bad direction – poor training, unproven sales templates, bad call scripts
  • Bruised confidence – Overwhelming expectations, high activity metrics, poor personality fit in the role

There are good intentions behind all of these, especially from organizations facilitating these practices, but oftentimes it comes in the form of misguided or misinterpreted information and that can cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for reps, especially new to the game. Now, throw in all of the sales books out there that sales reps are suggested as they start down this path. A lot of this information and the strategies or practices are outdated and what has worked for some that wrote the books may not work for all using its teachings.

I personally believe there are other things you can do first to help you get on your way and be a more well-rounded sales professional.

Learn How To Write

Most sales are done through phone or email so those are the two powerhouses, to begin with. This is not about “sales tactics” or anything like that. This is about proper grammar, word usage, paragraph length, bullet points, and all other things around professional writing. It’s vital because you will write thousands of emails and other documents in your career. Learn how to write in a clearer form and this will help when you start slipping in your sales language. Also, it translates well into your spoken word.

My Suggestion: First, I’d take a few writing courses online for free or jump on YouTube and type in How To Write Better.  It also doesn’t hurt to download the Grammarly plugin for Chrome as this will help instantly as you begin to type. Next, I’d look at the emails you write to people and which ones tend to get the most positive responses. Remember, the tone is very tough to pick up in an email so how you write can be taken in multiple ways if not structured correctly. That’s why I say positive responses. Also, emails tend to grab your attention from people. Are they short, bulleted, bolded, etc? Chances are, if they catch your eye then they probably will to your future clients as well. 

Learn How To Listen

Listening is hard and can be much harder when you are trying to think about the next question to ask without paying attention to someone. Stop that. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions and a gentle pause isn’t so bad. Being able to dissect a conversation and pick up the undertones of the language as well as the social awareness piece all at once is a masterful skill to have. 

My Suggestion: There are a lot of ways to do this and it could be as simple as turning on a Podcast to try and observe the conversation or you might call a friend or family member and interview them. Try to catch yourself when you lose focus and attention as well as when you start to think ahead too much and forget to stay present in the discussion.  It can be much easier to lose focus over the phone without someone watching you being visibly distracted so keep an eye on this.

Learn How To Learn

When was the last time you actually learned something new that you knew nothing about the topic beforehand? It’s a No for most people, too. However, the great thing is you can start today. Pick something you are curious about and learn about it. For instance, during my Dozen Months of Discovery, I learned Spanish for a whole month. My sessions with the tutor were really difficult especially the first few days but it got me attentive and feeling like a beginner learner again. You may even sign up to do a demo of a product you are interested in. Whatever gets you into the mindset of knowing nothing and then having to take in information for the first time.

My Suggestion: When you are demoing a product, think of the person on the other end that has no idea what your product does, how it could help them, or is able to visualize use cases to help a problem they might not even know they have. You have to do a great job of communicating properly and simply and your messaging has to help them come along for the ride otherwise you’ll lose them. By going through this prior, you’ll be able to anticipate the challenges the future client might have during the call and it will help you navigate better. (i.e- Slowing down, fewer mouse clicks, reiterating key points, pausing to ask questions and get clarity, etc.

Learn How To Get Uncomfortable

The best sales reps and leaders I’ve been around have taught me how important it is to “own the room” in any conversation. Sales conversations can get uncomfortable really quickly. You need to be confident in yourself and believe that the product can truly help the client to solve a problem they have. This is tough when you are new to sales because you get nervous or timid or fearful or (insert appropriate word here). Heck, even I have these feelings every now and then and I’ve been doing this for a dozen years.  

My suggestion: Figure out how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Put yourself into situations when you get really nervous or anxious and try to navigate yourself through that process. Even if it’s a big struggle, you’ve grown a bit and it will help you on the next try. This could be as simple as asking a person out on a date randomly that you see out somewhere, taking an Improv class, or signing up for a Public Speaking course. Many of these options cost minimal dollars and the experience gained is priceless. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deliberate skill practice and the beauty of all of these is that whether you choose to remain in sales or not, these are very transferable in almost any other career you go into.

So, think a bit differently as you look at a sales role. This can be valuable for anyone doing sales especially entrepreneurs or company founders and, yes, even seasoned sales professionals. You should always be looking to refine your skills and improve your communication and I hope some of this guidance will be a big help in your life.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions and I’m happy to be a resource.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

4 Things People Should Do Before Ever Reading A Sales Book2021-03-19T10:43:06-04:00

How Valuable Is Your Time?

Business

One of the things I’ve pondered recently is how much my time is worth considering the many competing priorities in my life and it always seems to be a balancing act of epic proportions to get everything done I need to get done. However, there are a lot of these items that I either don’t enjoy doing or feel they are repetitive and administrative and it’d be more beneficial to get help to complete them.

As I thought more about this it reminded me of several years ago when I decided to use a lawn care service to cut my yard, trim my hedges, fertilize, etc. I enjoyed doing it every now and then as it was my time to think but as my son was growing older I wanted to spend that 1 ½ hour normally set aside for yard work and spend it with him. So, that’s what prompted me to bring on German and let him do my landscaping.

I am using a similar thought process nowadays in regards to leveraging Virtual Assistants for many of these administrative tasks. I’ve found through sites like Freeeup.com and others like it there are many people looking for work and are offering their services for a fair price. In the past, I wanted to do everything myself as I thought I was “saving” myself money by not freelancing this workout. 

But now I’ve taken a different perspective on the situation and look at the value of my time as it pertains to my work and when the delta between these numbers is in my favor I will often side with the help to get tasks completed.

Here is what I am speaking about.  Let’s use a very simple example and this may be eye-opening if you’ve never done this exercise.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you make $100,000 a year working an average of 40 hours per week. And assuming you take a couple of weeks of vacation, let’s use 2 for easy math, that means you work 50 weeks for the year.

So, 40 hrs/wk x 50 weeks = 2,000 hours of work per year and divided by $100,000 = $50 / hour

That means your time can be equated to being worth $50 an hour. 

So, as an example, you need to get email lists together for a marketing campaign you are doing.  If that would take you 2 hours to complete (or $100 of your time) then you may be better off using a Virtual Assistant at $7-$10 per hour to complete the work while you spend your time using those 2 hours wisely to potentially increase your hourly rate, attract new business, or work on other projects that are important.

Virtual Assistants have become very common nowadays but it’s still something newer I am trying and many people have never even considered it. It’s definitely different handing over control of projects to people you’ve never or barely met but if you look at it as a professional situation and treat it as such you might be surprised at how it turns out.

My advice: 

Find a small project to start with that might take an hour or two and try this out. 

Make sure you give direct and clear details to your VA and I’d put everything in email and have it agreed upon prior to beginning the project.

You might find it works out well for you and frees up all sorts of time that can be valuable both personally and professionally.

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

How Valuable Is Your Time?2021-03-19T10:41:51-04:00

Why Everyone Should Start A Podcast Tomorrow

Business

Like it or not, Audio has been on a rise over the past several years and podcasts have taken a place near the top of content consumption. It’s no wonder companies like Spotify and iHeartRadio have made significant financial investments in podcasts and will continue to do so in the coming years.

So that begs the question you should be asking yourself, should I start a podcast?

The answer is almost certainly a yes and here’s why.

It’s How People Learn And Will Continue To Learn

With the growing distractions and short attention spans, people don’t always have time to read a new book and some don’t absorb the information as well as other mediums. In the past, you could basically listen to others teach something but you had to be in that physical location which made it expensive and time-consuming. With the invention of video, that added a new interactive layer to learning because you could now sit in the comfort of your home or office and get the same “in-person” learning without having to leave your chair.  However, there lies one problem, you must be viewing the screen most of the time especially if there are visuals like a presentation included. Since most people have access to a phone, watch, echo, or other devices besides the TV, they can now use that to multi-task and learn or get entertainment while doing other activities like yoga, washing dishes, running, etc.  The younger generations are always looking at ways to hack life and the access to podcasts has made it a clear path to do just that.

It Allows You To Stay Relevant

Let’s face it if you want to grow your own personal brand or business you have to continue to put out content and make it relevant to the audiences you are serving.  Since audio content is certainly a part of the future it only makes sense to start making your mark now. I look back to 2017 when I started my Just Get Started Podcast and would have never imagined the doors and relationships the podcast has opened for me.  Like anything, it takes time and consistency to build good content and the only way you stay relevant is to keep up with the times and speak about the things that matter today. With the world moving so quickly, content from a year ago may even be outdated in some regards. Furthermore, you can repurpose content in multiple ways to broaden the reach as people learn in all different ways. For instance, I can take this written article and turn it into a podcast episode and if I record with both audio and video I can now add this to YouTube or other social sites as video content as well. So, one piece of content can easily become three and many more if you break it down into mico-content.

There is No Better Time

The old cliche, “There is no better time than the present”, rings true in this situation. You obviously haven’t started a podcast yet, I’m assuming, but if you did then congrats and keep it going! If you haven’t, then consider all that could come from putting this content out there like gaining reach from other industry publications, reaching new prospects or clients, establishing yourself as an industry expert, networking with people who are where you want to be, and the list goes on for miles. I often hear people complain when they see others gaining notoriety or attention for their work and it’s followed up a lot by “They got lucky”. This is total BS as we all know. They received notoriety because they’ve proven in one way or another that they have a deep knowledge of a particular industry or domain and generally that comes from many years of experience in that field. Podcasting isn’t any different. Not only can you be seen as that expert by putting out great content you may be able to learn vastly more if you interview other like-minded people in that field on the show. Think of the immense learning you will have just asking them the questions you want to know. However, you don’t get here overnight. Imagine if you started a podcast a year ago and published one episode a week. You’d have 52 episodes to your credit and hours upon hours of thoughtful and relevant content. So, imagine you wait a year before you start after reading this and think about all you might miss out on.

I could go for hours talking about this and I’ll continue to share the learnings from my podcast journey in hopes that it helps you accomplish more on yours.

In the meantime, a good starting point is this eBook I wrote called The Bootstrappers Guide To Podcasting: How To Overcome The Fear and Just Get Started. It’ll give some real-world ideas of what to do to get off the ground quickly. Remember, this is what I chose to do but you may go a different path. There are so many resources (and podcasts) online talking about how to start podcasts so try to google some ideas as well.

Don’t hamstring yourself by overthinking as you can continue to tweak and refine it as you go along. So, read the eBook today and start to gather your thoughts but by tomorrow you should be energized and ready to start on this new adventure called podcasting!

If you had any questions I am happy to try and help and please send a message to me through my website.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

Why Everyone Should Start A Podcast Tomorrow2021-03-19T10:43:07-04:00

Keep Chipping Away

Business

I had a serendipitous conversation today that activated something in my brain which reflected on my time in high school woodworking. Yes, I took woodshop in high school and loved it.

I certainly wasn’t the best at measuring and cutting but I created some cool things. A Poker table with a beautiful Formica top. A breakfast chair that I believe my Dad still has in his house. I also made a Chalace with the lathe machine (it’s a machine where you secure a piece of wood and it spins very fast and you can chip away or sand down the object).  I still have that Chalace somewhere, too.

And that’s what got me thinking about this call today.

I want to have all the answers to the puzzle from day one. I want to know the direction and the destination. I like having the “knowns” of the situation. It helps me. 

But it’s not realistic.

Everyone reading this now is doing something very different today then they were doing 10-years ago. A different city, a different family situation, a different career/title, etc. We don’t have the playbook.

Life is like a game of backyard football, we mostly just improvise on the fly.

So that what got me thinking about my Chalace and the lathe machine back in high school woodshop. I had an idea of what I wanted but as I started to widdle the wood down it started to take a different form. Some spots I had to shave more than expected. Others were a bit harder and laborious. Sanding took way longer than expected.

I focused on the journey and experience of the process and had a “sort of” path to go down but nothing more. I didn’t know what or how to explain it then, but that is what I now call my “North Star”.

The North Star is your mission and vision of where you want to go but it’s just that, a vision. There is no flag in the ground saying “I’m going to be here at X date and be doing X”. Life doesn’t work that way. As long as you start down the path that is leading you toward your mission you’ll find your way. I think we all do, eventually.  When you look all the way back later in life it’s really the moments of the journey that are most memorable and rarely the finish line.

Just keep chipping away at you “Chalace” and don’t get so caught up in the finished product but put a lot of focus and attention on the process and experiences you are building through it now.

In the end, whenever that happens to be, the stories and the experiences that shaped them turn out to be your legacy, and reaching the finish line becomes an afterthought.

Keep Chipping Away2021-03-19T10:42:27-04:00

Writing A Book In 30-Days

Business

Well, I knew it would happen at some point and my impulses to jump on a new idea would shake up my Dozen Months of Discovery.

It’s actually a great lesson to follow your feelings and passion and don’t be stuck in a certain path just because that’s what was initially scripted.

Originally, when I planned out my twelve months I had April slated as a month where I was going to learn the Ukelele. Solid choice and it was going to allow me to be that “beginner learner” again like I experienced in March learning Spanish. However, as I spoke with a friend and editor of a book I had been thinking about writing, it was determined that maybe the best thing to do was to put a time window into play and just get it done because it can be very easy to procrastinate especially when writing a book.

So, I took a short look into the future and said “Adios, Ukelele, and hello Book writing!”.

Little did I know the path it would take me down.

As I rounded out March and already had some ideas and notes down for the book I intended to write, one focused on the Just Get Started mission, I stopped myself and really thought about the path I was going down.

This is where self-awareness comes in.

My mission is to help the next generations of our world through earlier self-discovery about themselves and the world around them. This book idea was geared toward that but I had a change of heart.

So, I pivoted and started writing a fictional book taking the elements of the non-fiction book I was going to write and turn it into a story about a boy learning entrepreneurship at an earlier age. I had the idea finally and started writing. I scripted out notes, had the plot laid out, and began on my way. But there was just one problem…I couldn’t stop thinking about rhyming.

See, I am already in the process of publishing my first children’s book called “Luke’s First Round Of Golf” and finishing up on the illustrations as I type this. I couldn’t help but think; maybe this is my “thing.” Maybe someday I’ll write a longer story but I love the rhyming aspect of children’s books, I always have. I love rhyming, in general, having been a fan of the greats of Hip Hop all my life. It’s in my DNA.

So, after a second pivot one week into April I began freestyling on this book.

What did I learn through this process

  1. Go with your gut, sometimes it is always leading you in the right direction
  2. If you are not truly invested in something, you won’t get your best work. Don’t settle for something you deem so important
  3. Be patient – some days you don’t have your best stuff. Even Michael Jordan had off shooting nights. 
  4. Hold yourself accountable to finish – There are a lot of ways to weasel out of things and put it off until later but later sometimes never comes. Get back on the horse and ride and finish what you started. Parkinson’s Law works well here “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

To listen to the audio version of this with some extra tangents and insights you can go here -> Writing A Book In 30 Days Podcast Episode or listen on any major podcasting platform you choose.

Writing A Book In 30-Days2021-03-19T10:42:27-04:00

Pain + Reflection = Progress

Business

I’ve followed Ray Dalio for many years and this is one of his cornerstones to a successful life.

Pain + Reflection = Progress

You need to go through bouts of pain and then add the element of reflection to the mix in order to grow to the next level.

As I pondered this more, I thought about my sales career and the sales professionals I’ve been around. We were always taught, as many in sales are, to find the “pain” with the prospect. Pull out the “pain” and you’ll be able to help them realize where you can help them.

But how many times do we take our own medicine? 

A virtual show of hands… How many people have figured out where their “pain” is in their sales process or career and worked hard to improve that area?

I didn’t think so. I’ve been bad in this department as well.

What we found that “works” is solid and we continue to use it over and over. Same pitch. Same play. Same song and dance.

When have we stepped outside that comfort and got really nervous or awkward or silly in order to improve? 

Maybe an SDR is struggling to get the right messaging on prospecting calls. When was the last time you did a role play and got really uncomfortable? When was the last time you actually asked a prospect what they thought of your approach? When was the last time…(insert your own curiosity)

Maybe it is someone that gets nervous with large groups in presentations. Instead of continuing down that road, have you considered Improv classes? Toastmasters? Volunteering at an event where you are thrust into speaking in front of people? Again, insert your own question here.

We are really good at getting to the “pain” of our future clients but have an extremely difficult time putting ourselves in that painful situation to improve first. 

It sucks but it’s the only way.

My question to leave you with is this…

What one thing can you do this week to feel some pain but know that it will push you forward to new heights?

Pain + Reflection = Progress2021-03-19T10:39:35-04:00

Lessons From A Legend

Business

I’ve had a ton of interesting experiences in my life, and some, where I made wrong choices and had to do things over or I made them harder than they probably needed to be. I hardly looked at the choices I was making, how I was reacting to them, and where I could improve. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, I wish I had laid the pieces out and tried to fit them together to unlock the mystery.

Then I hit what I have affectionately called my “Renaissance Period” in my early 30s. 

It has been a journey of deep learning and discovery filled with eye-opening lessons and revelations that have helped alter my path and set me on a more meaningful course for my life.

As I reflected and thought of the impression I wanted to make on the world, I was reminded of my grandmother, Nana Ro, as I called her. She was my everything and she taught me so many very subtle lessons that I didn’t realize until much later.  She had been through a lot. She had witnessed pain. When she was in her mid-20’s and with two toddlers at home, the love of her life and father to her boys got killed in a car accident. She didn’t find out until a day later.

She had several miscarriages later in life, worked 3rd shift to make ends meet, and raised five children along the way. She deserved to take a break every once in a while. She deserved to get waited on like a Queen. But she never once complained about it. She was the epitome of servant-leadership.

For the years I knew her it was extremely rare for her to do anything first or for herself, especially when her grandkids were around.

She cooked dinner, we ate first.

We wanted to watch a TV show, she turned the channel.

She cooked Christmas cookies, we always ate them first (and found her hidden spot in the downstairs freezer and raided that as well)

I wish I realized this all in my younger years. It wasn’t until this Renaissance Period and deep reflection that I realized (very luckily) that some of this rubbed off on me and a whole bunch more of it needed to be refined. It took some work to iron out the learnings and apply them to my life.  But here’s what I came up with. Simply put like Nana Ro would have done.

Feed others first that otherwise can’t feed themselves.

Translation – Many people, to no fault of their own, have a narrow view of the world, business, new technology, etc. and you have the opportunity to be the guide of information for them to open up a new way of thinking. You can help people help themselves by feeding their minds with creative ways of solving a problem or simply suggesting to them to ask the correct question to themselves to gain a new lens on the same situation. You need to do it with honesty and humility, however, as this is the way for people to start buying into those ideas but you have to let people be the hero of their own story and you are just the guide to get them to their destination.

Don’t be so polished and lighten the room up

Let the ego go! Nobody wants or needs the hard-ass and it doesn’t go over well anymore. I’m not saying to not be professional especially in business environments but try to be “business casual” in your encounters with most people. They’re human just like you and do you think they are as happy as they seem or don’t have 15 other things on their mind or even want to be at this particular job? So lighten up the room, have fun, be personable. It not only differentiates you from almost everyone else but you get more out of people that way. Being yourself builds trust and respect much quicker than putting on “a show”. Trust me, people can see right through the charade. Just stop it!

Bring a smile to everyone you encounter

Smile more often. Take the glass-half-full approach to life. There are a lot of bad times and challenging situations but you have a choice to make each and every day. You decide on the attitude you’re taking into your family life, your business, your workouts, and everything else that matters to you. Even though things may not be perfect, be the strong one that others can use for inspiration. I know it can be hard but looking at life through the positive lens ends up making it much easier and manageable. You somehow can breathe a bit more freely. The storm clouds seem to pass and the days just appear brighter. Trust me, it works, because I’ve tried it both ways.

Although I narrowed down to three bite-sized chunks, I learned so much from Nana Ro that I can’t put in one article. Some stuff I am still uncovering periodically as I reminisce about my childhood and the time I was lucky to spend with her. 

I miss my Nana Ro very much. She passed away in the Spring of 2019 and I think about her often. I think about her kindness and the love she projected out into the world and hope she’d be proud of my mission and the impact I am trying to make on the world.

I’d like to think it’d make her smile.

Lessons From A Legend2021-03-19T10:41:53-04:00

The Bootstrappers Guide To Podcasting

Business

Back in 2015 when I first began thinking of starting a podcast there were a lot of ideas in my head about what to do and how to go about it. After overthinking, making excuses, and ultimately failing at starting for two years, I finally took the leap and begun. Thus, the podcast name “Just Get Started” was born.

The reason, you might ask, as to why Just Get Started stuck with me is that I know there are a lot of people out there just like me. They have an idea and want to accomplish something bigger but for some reason, they have been pinned down by naysayers, fear of the unknown, and most of all, negative self-talk that buries your confidence and clouds your judgment. I want everyone to realize they have to take a different path than the norm to get more done then they have ever imagined. To do that, you must take the first step to overcome that fear and Just Get Started.

This won’t be a novel. This isn’t rocket science. There are a ton of great resources out there about monetizing podcasts, growing a following, and doing all sorts of crazy things with them. But, none of that matters until you start and I wanted to share one perspective on how you might go about it.

So, just like with what I struggled with, I wanted to give everyone some insight into what you might want to consider thinking about when beginning a podcast and some useful questions to ask yourself along the way. I’ll share a few tools I have used that have helped but in no way are the answer to every situation. A simple Google search would give you several options that may fit just as well and I’d encourage that. But don’t hamstring yourself with overthinking it. That’s what I did. Don’t make the mistake that you have to have everything figured out on Day 1 because you don’t.

This is not the end all be all guide to podcasting. I imagine, however, most people reading this are like me. They’ve listened to podcasts and enjoy the content and have always wanted to create their own but it seems like a ton of work and a lot of money that is needed to be spent to get started. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at all and that you can create your own very quickly and with solid quality for minimal to no money.

You can do it BUT if you are going to do it then you have to give it everything. You have to commit to it. There are a lot of people that have started podcasts that do 6 episodes and quit. If you’re going to take the time to set this up and go through the motions then I suggest setting a minimum bar for yourself. Do at least 20 episodes and call it “Season One” or something like that. Then, sit and reassess and make sure this is something you want to commit to further. If you get past that, you’re golden!

I hope you enjoy some of my insight into podcasting and what I have learned through my experience of trial and error and figuring it out along the way. The views expressed in this ebook are my own and from over two years of being in the trenches and knocking out episodes almost weekly. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of reading as I did of writing and sharing.

Let’s get it started.

To get the full eBook please go here and download for free – The Bootstrapper’s Guide To Podcasting

The Bootstrappers Guide To Podcasting2021-03-19T10:41:53-04:00

100+ Episodes and We’re Just Getting Started

Business

Do you know what these numbers signify?

880 Days…5,300 hours…100 People

The numbers above equal 880 days since I started the Podcast, over 300 hours of editing, over 5,000 hours of content, and over 100 Guests….and the Just Get Started Podcast is just heating up.

I didn’t realize the amount of time I’d take to get this far when I decided to begin. And as the great Jesse Itzler says, “I didn’t come this far to only come this far”. So I sure as hell am not stopping now.

The time investment never comes across the mind of someone determined to get outside their “fear neighborhood” and start something. Until I wrote those numbers above (and used a calculator to help) I never cared about the amount of time because all along the journey to achieving my mission was the most important. 

I balked on starting the Podcast for two years out of fear of what others would say and a poor self-confidence that I could even do it. 

I worried. 

I pondered. 

I battled myself. 

…But then I acted.

I built up this confidence, not in a single day, or a week, or even year but over a long period of time of consistent reflection and glances in the “accountability mirror”. I realized that maybe I could be the voice for others that have fear in their life. Those that have a fear to take the leap.

As Brene Brown once said, “I don’t leap for the perfect landing, I leap for the feeling in the air”. I thought that maybe I can be the invisible nudge they’ve need all along to take the leap.

And that’s why I began on this quest. 

And that’s why I continue to battle the doubt that creeps in and the imposter syndrome that looms too closely in the night. 

I know I can be their rock when life is holding the scissors in the hopes that the spark inside them fuels a bigger fire that can light the path for others in the future.

The numbers are irrelevant. The only ones I care about are the people positively affected by the message.

As long as that number is >1 then we’ve succeeded.

If you’ve read this far down then you get it. You feel the burn. You realize you have something deeper inside that yearns to get out into the world. You owe it to others to let it out. 

Life is too short to keep pondering. 

Let’s get started, shall we? 

I can’t thank everyone but a few quick shoutouts….

Thanks to Matt Heinz for being my first guest on the Podcast

Thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk for 9 years of being my “virtual mentor”

Thanks to Ryan McGuire for the great design work

Thanks to Rich Keller for coining my ONE Word, “The Navigator”

Thanks to Rob Munz for being the best Mentor and Friend anyone could ever ask for

…And Thanks to the Late, great Coach Larry Hynes for telling a young 18-year old that “You have incredible Pitch and Tone, You should be on the radio someday

Truly blessed. Truly Grateful.

Carpe Diem,

Brian

100+ Episodes and We’re Just Getting Started2021-03-19T10:41:54-04:00

Flexibility February and What I Learned

Business

This new One Mic Session is a recap of Month 2 of my Dozen Months of Discovery in 2020 where I chose to complete 1-Hour of Stretching every single day in the month of February.

Almost every day, I used a video online from Sean Vigue Fitness (link to video) which is about 40 minutes long and then I added 20 minutes of my own stretching exercises and mobility work to round out the hour.

Here are a couple takeaways I talk about in the episode:

  • Finding Your Balance
  • Ain’t Over Til It’s Over
  • Finish What You Started
  • Prioritize
  • Breathe & Have Fun

My challenge to everyone…For 7 straight days perform 30-minutes of stretching by using the video above, searching for your own through YouTube or an App you download, or just sit in some poses you know. It doesn’t matter. It’s that you are commiting to something and exposing your body to things that it needs which is activity and mobility so it can open up a bit more. Do you accept this challenge?

Report back to me or share your results with a friend and let’s pass on the good vibes!

Link to listen on Apple Podcasts – Listen Now

Or You can Listen on Any Major Podcasting Platform.

Review On Apple Podcasts

If you enjoy this episode I’d be grateful if you would leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts, if you believe I’ve earned it.  Thanks for listening!

Leave a Review

Flexibility February and What I Learned2021-03-19T10:41:54-04:00

The Surprisingly Simple Way to Make Sure You Start In 2020

Business

It’s a new year, a new decade, and a clean slate to get it all right this year. “This is going to be my year”, It seems is the type of thing we say to ourselves each orbit around the sun. Why will this year be any different? What have you learned in the past 12 months that will make you believe you can change?

We all have aspirations at one time or another to break outside of our comfort zones and explore new ideas or endeavors. Then fear sets in and the excuses start to flow on why we “Can’t” do it. Just like a butterfly that landed on your shoulder, it’s there for a second before the idea fleets from your mind. All too often, that isn’t the last time we think about it. It continues to pop up at random with no regard for the timing of it all and the longer it goes without being acted upon the fear generally turns into regret. A disappointment of what could have been. Arguably, one of the worst individual feelings one could have.

I have a hunch that as you are reading this there is something festering inside that you want to accomplish but for whatever reason, you haven’t taken the leap of faith yet. Whether it is the smallest action or the biggest idea we all know that overcoming the fear of starting can be quite challenging. Let’s try to get started on it before the chance of regret from not trying can even weasel its way in.

I think I have the key that will unlock that door for you. It might be quite literally the simplest action you can do but could end up being the hardest. Because it involves self-observation and accountability for your actions.

Think of all of the reasons or excuses you can come up with as to why you can’t get started. You can write them down or just think of a couple in your head. They probably seem legitimate and you may even be able to convince yourself there is some truth to them.

Now I’d like you to try something.

Simply change the “can’t” in the sentence to “won’t” and see how that sounds.

Here is an example:
I can’t go to the gym because I don’t have time.
I won’t go to the gym because I don’t have time.
Which one stings a bit more and why?

“Won’t” does sound a whole heck of a lot worse because it’s a choice. Can’t is final. Can’t has some boundaries. Can’t is a line in the sand that we are not able to cross.

But won’t, that’s a different story. That’s personal. That’s a direct reflection on you as a person, what you prioritize, and how you want to live your life. You are making the conscious decision to not do whatever it is you want to do. You are standing in the way of it happening. You are your own worse accountability partner.

This simple exercise on reflection can fundamentally change your perspective on what you are trying to accomplish and get you in the right frame of mind to accomplish it. I’m not saying it’ll work out every time and you may find instances where you confirm that this isn’t the right path. It’s okay if that is the outcome. However, most of the time, it will allow you to take a deeper look in the mirror and help you gain perspective on why you are scared to do this in the first place and what you would really lose (if anything) from trying.

We all have fear and doubt. We all overcomplicate things. We all worry about stupid shit that is ridiculous and mostly meaningless.
It is the perspective shift that is needed in order to overcome these obstacles and start moving forward. Please keep it simple and believe that you can do it. Once you alter your perspective and start improving your mindset it can open up a lot of doors you never imagined possible.

Now get out there and crush 2020!

The Surprisingly Simple Way to Make Sure You Start In 20202021-03-19T10:41:55-04:00

It’s Halftime…How Is Your Sales Year Going To End Up?

It wasn’t too long ago when everyone was at the same starting line. I don’t care what company you are at or how big your quota is. We all started from the big “goose-egg”. Sales, unlike many other careers, has very specific metrics to it. Generally, called a Quota, it’s a number the company gives you that in their estimation is how much revenue you should bring in for the given year. This number can be calculated a variety of ways and it depends on the company and their specific goals and projections for the year as a whole.

Bottom-line, You either hit it or you don’t. And all Sales reps know that going into each year.

If you’re not in Sales, that’s okay as some of the ideas I want to share can still help you think differently as you navigate a long year of work and goals that you want to accomplish.

For sales reps though, it’s pretty simple.

On the one hand, many are way behind there annual quota halfway through the year. We can come up with a number of reasons why but excuses don’t matter. Facts are facts. The numbers speak for themselves.

On the other hand, several are out ahead of the pack and well on their way to achieving and potentially overachieving on their goals.

And if you are wondering, there are a good chunk in the middle of the pack (like me!). On par and in a good position heading into the second half but still work to be done to keep pace.

So, 6 months in, which bucket are you in?

Here is the secret: it actually doesn’t matter which one it is. Because if life and sports has taught us anything it’s that there is still time on the clock. The game isn’t over yet.

Think back to the Super Bowl a few years ago when the Falcons were all but engraved the Lombardi Trophy heading into halftime. The scoreboard read 21-3 and Twitter was ablaze with reactions. That’s a stout lead especially when you are playing that well and the odds of relinquishing it are very small. Ironically, it’s a great metaphor for where we are at in the year and something all of us can learn from. Let’s observe some things that happened in that second half in hopes that it’ll help you attain your goals by years end.

Mindset is everything

Bill Belichick might be the best 2nd half coach we’ve seen in history. He is great at assessing the game and understanding where to make adjustments, if needed. However, the best thing he does (and he does this all season long) is to get his team to buy into the fact that the game isn’t over until it’s over. You must stay positive and level-headed through the good and the bad times. That consistency in mindset and focus on the steps needed to get back into the game is most likely the “X-Factor” that led to them making that historic comeback.

If you’re behind, remember what has gotten you there before. We all get into slumps but it’s the positive attitude and confidence that we can do it again that ultimately pulls us out of it. Stay focused and keep a level head and the good times will just be around the corner. If you panic and get frustrated, it will be hard to overcome future obstacles and maybe make you lose that partnership you had in your grasp because you got desperate or impatient.

Do Your Job

This is Bill Belichick’s classic mantra. Know your role and get your job done. Don’t let the noise and celebrations around you knock you off your perch. Think back to the Falcons and some of their biggest mistakes. They went away from what was working. They were running so well but yet late in the game they decided to call a pass play and had Matt Ryan drop back to throw which lead to a sack. That play-call kept them out of field goal position. However, The Patriots stuck to their game plan and never wavered. They knew there was time on the clock and they knew what made them successful all season long. It was only a matter of time before it clicked and they continued to chop away at the lead (which by the way ballooned to 28-3 late into the 3rd Quarter, if you remember.)

You know what needs to be accomplished to continue building value and guiding your future clients down the right path for them. Additionally, you can’t forget about the early part of the funnel and your prospecting efforts. You’ll win some and lose some but having a healthy and flowing pipeline will ensure that you have opportunities to finish strong. Now, if you’ve started out of the gate strong and are in a rock solid position, you can’t get complacent. You can’t think that you can take your foot off the pedal just because you’ve had a few good months. Things can change quickly if you don’t watch it. Don’t all of a sudden switch things up just because you’ve had certain results up to this point. Yes, some things may have to be adjusted but most of the time it’s small tweaks and not the grandiose ideas we like to think are going to be the difference.

Make Your Own Luck

Hey, we all need a “Julian Edelman type of catch” every now and then. I’ve noticed in my sales career we all get at least one of these a year, maybe more if we are opportunistic.  

However, you have to be in the right position to get those breaks. Are you creating enough pipeline? Are you building great rapport? Are you progressing partnerships forward? Are you bringing in the right people that are making the decisions? All of these questions help you get to a position where you can succeed and sometimes the timing just happens to be right.

That’s life, it happens, and you want to be on the right side of it but the only way you get there is to put yourself in those positions. Take a good hard look at your performance and where there might be one or two small tweaks you can make. If you were being honest with yourself, where have you fallen short? Where have you whiffed on some opportunities? Start there and make some subtle movements in the right direction. Maybe you have done zero call review or role play and need to get back to the fundamentals. It could be the “X’s and O’s” on your sales process need a retooling or slight shift. It could be something else. Like I said above, you don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Have some self-awareness and make some great halftime adjustments to put you back in the game.

Just like with Football, in the end there are two things that generally win out. Talent and Work Ethic. Some only have one, few have both. But either way you need to recognize where you fall short and what you personally need to do to crush your second half, whether you are way ahead or dragging near the bottom of the pack. As cliche as it sounds, the first half of the year “is what it is” and you have to remain hyper-focused on the path ahead and do what you need to do to get to that mountain top. It’ll be different than others around you. Don’t get sidetracked. Focus on yourself and your abilities and have the mindset that when you are ringing in the New Year, you know you’ve given it everything to make this past year the best one yet.

Carpe Diem,

Brian

It’s Halftime…How Is Your Sales Year Going To End Up?2021-03-19T10:43:07-04:00

A Tribe Called Next — The Evolution of the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

As a 1st time “Gen-er” (Is that a word? We’ll make it a word!) to the 5th Annual NextGen Summit I wanted to share a few key thoughts from the observation deck that might prove useful as you go about your day.

Before I jump it, let me take a quick step back. NextGen is a group of thousands of entrepreneurs that are looking to develop the next wave of innovative products and services to shape our future. It was started by Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella five years ago and has had a “rocket-ship like” trajectory in years since. 

Enter NextGen Summit. 

This is their premiere annual conference to get all of these people together and connect them with great speakers and mentors to help shape their businesses. My journey to the conference was a unique one. See, I’ve gone through a Renaissance period, if you will, over the 5 years to rediscover who I really am and what I want out of life. With curiosity as my catalyst, I decided to start a Podcast called Just Get Started 18-months ago to talk with entrepreneurs and others trying to be fulfilled in life. If it wasn’t for that initiative and subsequently being introduced and then interviewing the Co-Founder of NextGen, Justin Lafazan, I wouldn’t have had this incredible opportunity to even share.

If you were so inclined, here is the first episode I did of the Podcast back in November of 2017 that explains my journey a bit more and how I finally got the Podcast going – Just Get Started Podcast: Episode 1

If you didn’t attend NextGen Summit that’s fine. Keep reading. There may be a few gemstones I gathered from the conference that might alter your thinking a bit and help you on your way to become the superstar version of yourself. Maybe not, but at least you can get the pleasure of my “almost failed English class” writing style.

Find Your Tribe

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

A tribe is only as strong as its people and to make those people be harmonious you have to have great Chiefs. It’s hard to find better Chiefs than Justin Lafazan and Dylan Gambardella. There is no shock that this NextGen community has grown so strong. The passion and drive behind Justin & Dylan’s vision is what makes this event special. That resonates with people and it makes people want to fight to hold onto that feeling they get from attending this event. The energy, the kindness, the curiosity, the sharing. It’s so organic and authentic it almost sounds made-up. So that’s my first takeaway. Who do you associate with that makes you feel that you can accomplish anything? That makes you believe you can change the world? I’ll tell you what. I found that here at NextGen. I’ve never been so motivated and hyper-focused in my life and I know, unlike other times in my life, this feeling won’t burn out as the days pass by but smolder and stay hot as I go forward. That’s what having a great tribe will do for you. They’ll support you. They’ll believe in you. They’ll high five you when you win and hug you when you fail. As the famous quote goes, “The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”. I’ve never believed that more firmly than after leaving this event and excited for the opportunity to keep in touch with my new Tribe!

How is Your Brownie Different

“If you don’t have a seat at the table you create one.”  – Jesse Itzler

Jesse Itzler (@jesseitzler on Instagram) was a keynote speaker at the event and this guy literally brought the fire the entire session. I won’t give his bio here but go research him. Fascinating guy. I probably could write the whole article on him but one massive takeaway I gleaned was this, “How is your brownie different” (this is in reference to a story he told about pitching a business idea in school). 

The punchline is that you can speak about features and you can speak about service and all that bullshit but when you get down to the brass tax of it all you have to go above and beyond the noise and truly create something that is world-class and doesn’t just limp over the finish line but annihilates the world record. He wasn’t just speaking about business. Personally, what are you doing to create a different experience that is impacting you, your friends/family, and the world. Are you “cashing it in” most days or are you truly trying to be different?

This reminded me of the time I had the Founder of ActiveLifeRX, Dr. Sean Pastruch, on my Podcast and he gave a great quote. He says, “In order to be World-Class, you have to prepare to be un-relatable”. Jesse has done that. He’s thought differently about the world he wants to live in and has set his sights and goals about making an impact in a positive way. He said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table you create one.” Don’t settle for what everyone else around you is doing. If you want to be different, you need to act, think, and perform different. Set the bar high and make your brownie different!

Serendipity Is Real and It’s Spectacular!

“To be called on, you must raise your hand” – Kim Kaupe

(Okay, who got the Seinfeld reference?) I preach Serendipity. The reason I believe in it so strongly is that we have no control over it and yet we have all the control over it. How I got to the conference started long before I got on the plane to NYC. We don’t know what the next step will bring (I could die on this plane flight as I am writing this). Don’t worry, I didn’t. But you get the point.

It’s an opportunity to get outside the dreaded comfort zone and let the universe steer the ship a bit. As Brene Brown once said, “I don’t leap for the perfect landing, I leap for the feeling in the air”.

As an introvert in sheep’s clothing going up and talking to people is tough for me at times. But I met some incredible people. People that I never would’ve crossed paths with if I didn’t accept the invite from NextGen. Full Disclosure: I declined for scheduling reasons initially and glad I made it work out. Who knows what some of those relationships will transform into but it doesn’t matter. My life and hopefully the people that I met will be impacted in a positive way forever. Kim Kaupe (@KimKaupe on Instagram), Founder of the SuperFan Company, spoke about this in her keynote in relation to growing your brand and business. She said,“To be called on, you must raise your hand”.

Sitting on the sidelines and telling a story to yourself of why something isn’t going to work out might seem cozy and nice but it’s not the way you make a splash and it is certainly not the way your create your own luck. If we live in a bubble then truly serendipitous moments are very few and far between. It might be a safe life but what’s the fun in that? Here’s a secret: The “comfort zone” is a made up place. Have the courage to challenge that mindset and look at creating life-changing moments for yourself and your business and not only will you be more fulfilled but serendipity might just connect you with something or someone in a magical way you never could’ve dreamed of.

Come Out of Hibernation

“You have two lives. The second begins when we realize we only have one” – Confucius

Just like a bear hibernating from a long winters nap (literally some hibernate for 7 ½ months), we all have pounds of weight we need to shed. But in my weird animal metaphor I’m not talking about physical weight. A lot of time it’s the mental burden of negativity and the mind warp we’ve all been through for most of our lives that needs to be erased. We’ve all heard it. You can’t be that. You’re not good enough. You’re too young. You’re too old. Whatever. It’s a bunch of Malarkey. Once you accept who you are and what you’re about and why that is absolutely good enough you can start to finally move forward. Maryellis Bunn (@maryellis.bunn on Instagram), Founder of the Museum of Ice Cream, gave a passionate talk about the journey of learning and asking questions that shouldn’t stop when you reach adolescence but should continue on for your entire life. I was amazed when she explained that children ask around 125 questions a day compared to adults who ask only about 6. What happens to that wonder and amazement and imagination we all had? Society happens. That’s what. We become this comatose society of zombies that are following old rituals and habits that haven’t made people any more happy or more successful. So why do it? As Maryellis says, “We have become a society that accepts what is instead of questioning what it should be”.

How many questions are you going to ask about the world today? Shed your mental weight, start believing in yourself and start living a life filled with passion and purpose that is on your own terms.

There Is No Spoon

“You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” – Morpheus, The Matrix

Let’s be honest here. What I just wrote about won’t resonate with most. People will cast it aside with excuses of why they can’t do things and chalk it up to “that’s life”. They’ll go on with their day acting like each day before it. And that’s where this Tribe of NextGen-ers and others reading this are different.

You’ve had a choice. You’ve taken the red pill. You’ve become Neo…or Morpheus or Trinity or whoever you want to play in this adventure. Hell, you can be Agent Smith if you like to get down like that. But I digress. You’re already ahead because you’ve realized what most people never will. As the great Steve Jobs said, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again”.

The spoon only exists if you accept the world as it is and fit in that box. But that’s not you. There is something inherently different about you. You can’t explain it, I know. But don’t ever let that fire go. Remember what Rich Keller’s passionate talk was about. Just S.C.O.R.E.

Stand-out, Conquer Obstacles, and Reach Excellence.

Whatever you do, always keep that kid inside with wonder and imagination and curiosity to question the outermost realms of the universe and why this all matters.

Until next year. 

Carpe Diem,

Brian

So…what was your biggest takeaway from the conference? Leave a comment below and would love to hear what everyone enjoyed the most!

A Tribe Called Next — The Evolution of the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs2021-03-19T10:41:55-04:00

The Patriots Didn’t Take Off the 4th Quarter So Why Should Your Sales Team?

You know what’s funny? The same excuses prospects give to sales reps on why they can’t buy towards the end of the year…

  • Too busy
  • Head down focused
  • Holidays/travel
  • We’ll start fresh next year

…are the exact same excuses I’m hearing from sales teams when asked if they are continuing to learn and sharpen their skills.

Status Quo can be an ugly thing sometimes. Maybe the exact things that got you where you are (potentially behind your goal) are not going to magically help you when the pressure is on.

Enter the New England Patriots.

I wasn’t in the locker room at halftime of the Super Bowl or eavesdropping on sideline huddles but I can assure you the same things the Patriots did in the first 3 quarters to be down by an avalanche of points to the Falcons are not the same things that propelled them to victory. They game planned on the fly. They learned quickly from their mistakes. They took what the other team was giving them and strategized a winning outcome. They didn’t let their egos of “thinking they knew it all” come into play. They stayed focused on the end goal and pulled out all the stops to achieve it.

Why is this so relevant? Learning and adapting are hard for most folks. We are creatures of habit. But pushing something important off until “next year” or “until we close out the quarter” is a BS excuse. You must always be “sharpening the saw”. You must always be trying to improve.

Here are a couple easy things you can do by yourself or with your team right away…Make these MUSTS weekly. You can carve out 30-minutes somewhere on your schedule. I know it.

Action: Team up with another Rep. Record one voicemail and / or client call and listen back to it with them. Then switch. You can easily do this with the microphone on your phone.

Result: Having another Rep provide constructive feedback can help identify bad patterns, poor tonality, or even unprofessional slang you didn’t realize was happening. Building your self-awareness is extremely vital to improving your sales skills.

Action: Role play with another Rep on things you might be uncomfortable with. Prospecting a client, budget discussions, a top objection. Anything. You each play the role of the client and play an Easy, Medium, Hard scenario to get a feel for different scenarios.

Result: By practicing these beforehand it allows you to be more prepared and stay calm when these come up at game speed. That confidence shows in your voice and could help you articulate a better response.

Listen, I just rattled a few ideas off that have worked for myself and you may come up with your own that you find fun and valuable. The point is simple. Never stop practicing. Never think you know it all. Be vulnerable to feedback. All of this will reflect in your confidence and delivery on calls. More importantly, it’ll reflect more positively in your bank account.

What’s the best game or practice you’ve done with your team?

Brian

You can follow me on Twitter or Instagram at @ondrakogolf and I look forward to connecting with you further.

The Patriots Didn’t Take Off the 4th Quarter So Why Should Your Sales Team?2021-03-19T10:43:07-04:00

Follow the Patriots Playbook To Push Your Sales Team Over The Goal Line

Companies always talk about their “value prop” as why they are different in the marketplace. Literally, the definition is “an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers”. Sometimes they’ll tell you even when you don’t ask. It’s usually how they perceive their product or service and not necessarily the reason they are, in fact, different. A lot of the times their “value prop” is similar to their competitors. What I’m getting at is typical companies always think about their product or features first instead of the thing that usually is the determining factor of winning or losing…The People.

Think about it, if you’re in a very transactional business then we can assume customers are buying for price and then secondly for a small feature here or there. People are still very important even if a lot of the sales take place on a website and with little sales interaction. However, I’m speaking for larger more complex sales as it is the people you have interacting with the client that continually put you ahead of the game…not your product.

Think of the most dominate team in the NFL this century. (Full disclosure: I’m a 49ers fan). It’s not the 49ers, unfortunately. Of course, we all know it’s The New England Patriots. If we asked them what their “value prop” or “differentiator” was what do you think their answer would be? I’m betting it wouldn’t be “our defensive strategy”, “our play calling”, “our game video prep”. All, by the way, relevant and probably could be argued as ways they are better than the competition. But we all know the answer to this silly question. It’s Tom Brady. It’s Bill Belichick. It’s Bob Kraft.  It’s the people that are running their business that make all the difference. Think of your own business. Products probably have some similarities with competitors but if you have people that are energized and passionate about your clients…Boy, what a game-changer.

Bob Kraft may be the best CEO in the country. He knows when to get involved and knows when to stay out of things. He puts the right people in place and he trusts his team to make the right decisions and gets involved only when his expertise can be utilized. He doesn’t appear to micromanage or talk down to his team and think that he is “all-knowing”. As Steve Jobs famously said “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Mr. Kraft embodies a true leader.

If Mr. Kraft is the CEO, then Bill Belichick is the ultimate VP of Sales. He is full business when it’s time for business. Yes, He comes off short and cold to the media and even in-game when he looks the Emperor from Star Wars but have you ever seen a person more focused on the most important items all the while “clearing the clutter” on shit that doesn’t matter. He’s the ultimate master of prioritizing things that will help his team win and eliminating wasted motion from the day. And, if you talk to any of his players over the years there is an incredible amount of trust in him to make critical business decisions. Hell, he pulls out things from players few would be able to. They seem like they would jump in front of a bus for him, as well. There is no better in-game manager when the pressure is at an all-time high.

Bill Belichick is a magnificent coach and mentor.

Now, There is no better “Top Performing Sales Professional” than Tom Brady. The parallels are uncanny. First, let’s not forgot that Tom was a 6th round pick. Your top sales reps don’t always come in with a great resume or with a ton of experience. It’s great leadership that recognizes the intangibles and gets out of the way to let that person grow. They sprinkle in coaching when necessary. Tom is focused, driven, patient, and competitive. All traits necessary to succeed long-term and not be a “one-hit” wonder. In his profession, his health and fitness are extremely important and nobody could argue the preparation he puts into each game and each offseason. Now, I personally think health and fitness is very important to sales but I’ll save that for another article. However, Sales professionals must continue to “sharpen the saw” both in-game with clients and through role play or practice at other times. You have to be willing to listen and be vulnerable to feedback in order to keep improving and sparring with your colleagues is a good way to do that. Tom Brady isn’t the same player he was when he came out of Michigan. It took years of building a trusting team around him and being able to have self-awareness of his strengths and weaknesses. Tom is the best QB in football not just because he has incredible traits that help him perform physically but he embodies leadership traits in all phases of the game; the huddle, on the sideline, at practice; etc.

Tom Brady is the ultimate “Sales Pro”.

There are certainly companies that embody these same attributes but it’s always interesting to look at an obscure use case as it confirms the fact that successful people and businesses thrive in environments that allow trust and communication to be at the top of their core values and let the abilities of their team be exposed and broadened. I’ve spoken about leadership a ton and it has many sides to it. It shouldn’t just be used as an identifier for people running the organization. Truly successful businesses do a great job of identifying leaders throughout the company and putting them in situations they can succeed and where they can help other “role players” be the best they can be.

Start trusting.

Start sharing.

Start valuing your assets.

…The wins will start piling up.

Thanks for reading and look forward to hearing any feedback. Feel free to follow me on Twitter or Instagram @OndrakoGolf

Carpe Diem,

Brian

Follow the Patriots Playbook To Push Your Sales Team Over The Goal Line2021-03-19T10:43:07-04:00

The First Book I’d Give To A New Sales Rep

In my sales career, I have read many of the “top” sales books out there. Most, in my opinion, start getting boring and repetitive once you hit like chapter 3. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good ones that have helped me improve or provided some tactics, but most have been lackluster at best. With no disrespect, I think this is because I feel a lot of sales skills are learned over a lifetime from real world engagement and partially just pure DNA. Plus, long books bore the hell out of me so that could be a reason too.

Well, that got me to thinking…if I could only give one book to someone starting out in sales, what would it be?

I was having a hard time deciding the best answer to this question. Do I go with something like “The Challenger Sale” or maybe more old school like “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” But, people transitioning into sales need a book that gets them motivated and ready for the ups and downs that sales presents every day. And, as so often times it happens, I came across that book in such an unexpected place. Like we do almost every night before bed, my son and I read a book. My son picked out a book from his (ridiculously) large stack beside his bed and handed it to me. I took a glance and quickly glazed over the title and it read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” By Dr. Seuss.

Who has read this book? You may have read it when you were a kid (I may have) but didn’t realize its true existence until just a few short months ago. As I read over the words and curiously turned each page it became very clear that this book had to be written for sales.

If you wanted to read it, I am providing a link to a short youtube video of the book (I am a more visual person and personally the voice over by Jon Lithgow is solid) as well as a link to the text version. I’d certainly suggest to grab it from Amazon for your own collection.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go – Video Link

Oh! The Places You’ll Go – Text Version

I think this book does the trick for a few simple reasons:

1.   It’s simple. It’s how Sales should be. Filled with stories and Human to Human conversations. Organizations continually over complicate the shit out of sales these days with their data and metrics and constant change if “something” isn’t working after like 5 minutes. Go look at the top performers in most organizations and you will find people cut from so many different cloths. It’s because the innate ability is in the DNA of that person and not some tactic in some sales book. It’s why there are only a small percentage of sales reps that are top performers. They hang their hat on human characteristics to forge them ahead and not on tactics like “make X calls a day and you’ll hit your numbers” or say “THIS” when someone objects to something, etc.

2.   It’s direct and honest. You go through a lot of emotions while reading this book. You go through highs and lows, just like in sales. You also realize that a lot of the core skills you need to win at life help you win at sales; Persistence, Patience, Competitiveness, Empathy, and Going with your intuition. These, among some others, are what folks new to sales need to realize are the key to being a top performer. It’s like the old adage, “Fall down seven times and get up eight.” You just got to keep chopping through the forest and put in the hard work through the good and bad times.

3.   It’s not about tactics, it’s about process. Top performing sales reps rely on processes day in and day out and then focus on using their instincts when working with different partners in different situations. There are no tactics that consistently win partnerships over a given time but understanding a process that works for you and sticking with it. Self-awareness can be a powerful thing both in understanding who you are and what makes you work to the best of your ability. One example in this book of the “waiting place” reminds me of those times when clients go dark for a while. Some folks push and become pests while others understand patience is key and that the relationship built will keep this potential client moving forward when the time is right. The reason this book is so relate-able is that it can be viewed from so many different perspectives and also allows you to read it at different points in your career and garner different meanings.

You may think I’m crazy saying that a children’s book is one of the best books to prescribe to a new sales rep and that’s fine as you are entitled to your opinion. However, if you’ve never read it or it’s been a long time then I encourage you to give it another shot. Who knows, you may just pick up something useful. What do you have to lose? At worst, if you do have kids, it should be something you read to them and explain the deeper meaning behind it.

Remember, sales is mostly about staying motivated and positive. We all know that. The motivation this book provides in its simple verbiage is all people new to sales really need to get going in the right direction. Then, like I said before, innate ability takes over. It’s sales, not rocket science. The minute we start to realize this, the minute we can get back to helping our clients succeed. That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?

Appreciate hearing any feedback. If this wasn’t on your list to give to a new sales rep, what is? What’s your favorite book to pass along?

The First Book I’d Give To A New Sales Rep2021-03-19T10:43:07-04:00

How to Overcome a Creative Disrupter

In today’s fast-paced world, disruptions happen often, drastically changing the course of people and events. The same happens in the creative world: New leadership comes in, positively or negatively effecting the status quo based on personality, vision, or otherwise.

So, why is this important?

I attended an awesome creative conference in Austin recently and one of the questions posed to the group was this: How can your creative team weather new leadership and come out stronger on the other side?

Often when a new leader, say a VP of Marketing or CMO, enters an organization, it is in their nature to want to change things. From talking with many creative leaders, most of the challenges arise over miscommunication. It’s important for Marketing leaders to fully understand how your creative group is structured and the value you bring to your organization. But for many creative leaders, proving their team’s worth is challenging. See, marketing has analytics (“look how many clicks we got to our website”) and sales can undoubtedly show their performance numbers and contributions to the bottom line. But what about Creative?

Based on conversations with some great creative leaders, I’ve earmarked three important things you must do to turn this disruption into a success.

First, start documenting. Start tracking projects. Start tracking length of time projects take and even how much time specific tasks take in those projects. Additionally, start tracking marketing performance and how that engagement leads back to your team. If an email campaign you helped create generates “X” amount of dollars in sales, then document that. Not just showing what you did but how it performed can be the first big “ah ha” moment for a new leader, allowing them to see creative’s performance and value.

Second, communicate. Be proactive and set up a meeting or multiple meetings with the new leader to showcase what your team has been doing and goals for the future. Establishing trust and value early on is important to establishing your creative team as long-term strategic partners to marketing and the rest of the organization instead of simply order-takers.

Remember this: In any strong relationship, both at home or at work, you must have communication and trust—and without communication there can’t be trust.

Third, and certainly not least, you must be a creative LEADER. Sometimes that responsibility means you must stand your ground and fight for your team in the midst of decision- making you don’t necessarily agree with by new leadership. You need to steer the ship and be the compass for your team. If not, you’re like a boat with no direction. You’ll move where the tide takes you. Leaders have a great way of inspiring others to be great and sometimes a disrupter provides that perfect storm that allows creative leaders to be a voice in the darkness when others might be silent.

I hear from creative leaders all the time that proving their value and taking their rightfully-earned seat at the strategic table can be challenging, but with proper communication and data to back it up, you can win the day and become a voice in your organization that is looked upon and respected for many years to come.

How to Overcome a Creative Disrupter2021-03-19T10:39:38-04:00

Has Your Creative Team Crossed The Line?

For the past several years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help hundreds of creative groups throughout the U.S. and abroad think more clearly about their creative process, collaborate better with their internal and external partners and clients, and improve the quality and speed to market of their creative output.

After collaborating with so many teams, I’ve begun to take stock of the common challenges creative groups face. For me, among the most significant is the reactive approach many creative teams (even those at the most prominent companies!) are still taking to their role in their broader organizations. What I mean by this is that many creative teams still view themselves in the “service business,” whether that’s serving external clients, a larger marketing team, or their larger organization.

This idea of how creatives view themselves was definitely echoed during a panel discussion I was lucky enough to participate in at a recent conference for creatives in the sports world. There seems to be a strong consensus that creative teams are still not getting the “street cred” they deserve when it comes to their role in their organization—despite the fact that the work they do directly (and measurably) contributes to growth and revenue.

One problem of how creative teams are conceptualized is often deeply engrained in the fabric of their organizations. So, as a creative, how do you change it?

The key word in that question is YOU!

Don’t be a team that simply sits back and grinds the work out.  I’m calling on you, Creative Team! Who is going to step up and build relationships with other departments, clients, and stakeholders?  Who is going to change the tone of the conversation about creative teams? Who is going to cross the line?

I read a great quote from Simon Sinek the other day:

(If you don’t know who Simon is, you should watch his TED Talk on “start with the why.Brilliant and inspiring).

“Strong relationships, at home or work, are based on trust and communication.  But if there is no communication there will be no trust.”

Start by reaching across the aisle and form stronger bonds with the key stakeholders that you deal with every day—whether they’re heavy requesters or approvers of work, or just have high clout in the organization.  Then, take it one step further and talk to your peers who are collaborating successfully at other organizations.

Making a concentrated effort to “cross the line” will provide more transparency and accountability, foster better working relationships, and alter the way your creative team is viewed. Take it from someone who knows: Teams that do this are happier in their positions, less stressed at work, and not seen as “servants” but as what they truly are: skilled artisans and Creative Professionals!

I appreciate the feedback and thoughts on how your group might be doing this well or trying to improve in this area.

Thanks

Brian

Has Your Creative Team Crossed The Line?2021-03-19T10:39:38-04:00

The Creative Nirvana: Where Human Behavior and Technology Align

Do you know the definition of “Nirvana”? (No, not the “Smells like Teen Spirit” kind.) Nirvana means a state of perfect happiness; an ideal or idyllic state. For creatives, that state of perfect happiness comes when their team is running in perfect unison: Stress is low, inspiration is high, and deadlines aren’t only getting hit—they’re getting beat. If I mentioned that description to your creative team, wouldn’t they consider it the “holy grail”? If a Creative Nirvana could be reality, would you take it?

In today’s world, for that to even get close to possible, two major things have to happen:

  1. Human Behavior needs to be adjusted
  2. Technology must be embraced

To truly experience Creative Nirvana, you must take a deeper look at the overall process flow and uncover where valuable time and energy can be saved. While virtually all creative teams have embraced software like Photoshop and InDesign, and some have even adopted MarTech, many have still not fully utilized a major time and resource-saver: workflow automation. Now, unlike the chicken or the egg argument, human behavior must change first before any technology to improve workflow can even be considered. But let’s face it: Humans have a very difficult time changing. We are comfortable. We like familiar. That’s why in the general bell curve of adapting anything you have early adopters, mainstream adopters, and laggards. (You know laggards, the folks still using flip phones.) We are still on the early adopters phase when it comes to workflow automation.

So how do we encourage change? How do we make it happen? For starters, create a coalition or “strike team” of folks with similar interest in improving the status quo! You can certainly go rogue, like Jack Bauer, but remember the old adage, “there is safety in numbers.” Generally speaking, if the more vocal or respected team members announce there is an opportunity to change, then others will follow suit and want to join in.

Next, I’d encourage everyone reading this to audit their current processes.

Three questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is our current process truly efficient?
  2. How can our team work better together with what we have now?
  3. Is there a need for change and do we have time to invest?

If you can’t honestly and accurately answer these questions, then it’s probably too early to invest in technology. Without commitment from the entire time, you won’t be able to fully adopt a new solution. That can spell disaster to your group and ultimately slow you down.

Once those boxes are checked, though, it’s time to blaze the trail of change.

Of course, selecting software for your creative group can be an uphill battle. While most creatives are familiar with programs used to create assets, many lack a solution that supports their process for getting work assigned, completed, and approved. This hasn’t been as big of area to invest in because it is hard to quantify with the current manual processes. Many organizations think their creative team is doing great, when those in the trenches are staying late most nights, running around the office trying to get a final approval, or wasting hours on creating a month end report for executive meetings. It is exhausting and has to stop.

After you’ve decided your team is ready to bring in technology, ask yourself some key questions to determine which direction to go in.

What are the 3 most significant challenges your team faces? (ie Is client communication at key project milestones lacking? Do you fall behind on work because of a disorganized process? Are you constantly chasing “x” department for updates or approvals?) This will help when narrowing down the solutions that fit best for your challenges

What volume of work is your team responsible for? Break it out in to levels, like low, medium, or high? Identifying the volume of work is crucial to understanding what kind of bandwidth your team has to learn and ultimately fully adopt a new solution.

Do you have leadership buy-in? Obtaining buy-in from the decision-makers in your organization will save you time later in the process and keep momentum high. If leadership understands that a solution will have important implications for the team, then you will be able to justify dedicating time to searching and making a recommendation. Additionally, you save yourself time doing a ton of research then presenting the idea and it gets shut down. Technology is vital in today’s industry, but it’s important to be diligent about your process to ensure you can go full throttle (Charlie’s Angels 2) when it comes time to explore solutions.

Human behavior and technology can mesh extremely well when properly thought through and executed. It is important to embrace change and the opportunity to grow in any way possible. Always audit your processes and never be satisfied with how things are going. Strive to be that group that other organizations look at and say “Boy, how do we hum like them”.

The Creative Nirvana exists, gang. I’ve seen it first hand and it is glorious!

Are you ready for it?

 

The Creative Nirvana: Where Human Behavior and Technology Align2021-03-19T10:39:38-04:00

Well I’ll Be DAM’d: 3 Takeaways From The Creative Operations Track at Henry Stewart DAM NY

This was my first time at the Henry Stewart DAM Conference, located at the Hilton Midtown in NYC, and I came away with a few key learnings that were shared during the speaking sessions and panel discussions.  First off, I applaud the conference for adding the Creative Operations Track, which offered specific topics geared toward creative professionals and the struggles that they go through on a daily basis. I think it was a huge win. Any good conference leaves its attendees amped to implement some changes or foster new approaches to current problems when they return to the office.  I think DAM NY accomplished that.

Leading the session was Kevin Brucato, Vice President of Creative Operations at Prudential. To open the day, he posed this question: What role does Creative Operations play in the rapidly-evolving world of creative?

To answer that question, Kevin asked the group to focus on three simple words:Agility, Collaboration, and Visibility. I don’t know if Kevin has a crystal ball, but those three words continuously resonated throughout the day—in Panel discussions, audience questions, and breakout sessions.

  1. Agility: I heard a lot of chatter about teams needing to embrace flexibility in how they work. As creative teams become tasked with a higher volume of work, moving freely without barriers becomes more important than ever. One way to do this is by incorporating new technology into the ecosystem—leveraging solutions to bridge the gap where manual processes or inefficient legacy systems might be slowing teams down.
  2. Collaboration: Two types of collaboration were discussed repeatedly. First, collaboration with your team. Tons of attendees made comments and asked questions about how to get different disciplines on their teams working together—like print and digital, or marketing and creative. When teams operated in silos, it often leads to friction, extra work, and mismanaged assets. Secondly, collaboration with various business units and executives was brought up from more of a process standpoint.  Getting buy-in for different technologies, and then getting stakeholders to adopt them unanimously can be difficult.  Working closely with those stakeholders during the requirement gathering phases and even during implementation can be tremendous for added buy-in.  Another solution could be to compile a “strike team” of individuals who have been a part of the process from the beginning. It will be easier for them to “infiltrate” their specific departments and quickly foster organizational-wide adoption.
  3. Visibility: This term can mean a few different things, but at HS DAM, a lot of the discussions were around technology and metrics. Many teams struggle with accurate visibility of their teams, i.e. where are the roadblocks, and are they meeting in the right spot.  Getting insight quickly goes a long way to ensuring deliverables are met and on time. (Slightly tangential, but worth noting: Teams must understand their internal processes and how they run before choosing a solution to help workflow or digital assets, etc. Technology cannot solve human behavior, so understanding where your team is headed and what’s essential to get there goes a long way to ensuring you make the right technology selection.) Okay, getting back on track…Metrics and showing ROI for creative came up a lot. Teams want to know how to show what they do, and how well they do it. Metrics can help show accountability and where bottlenecks tend to happen, as well as provide KPIs and real-time insights into how the team is performing and where shifts should happen. As one panelists put it, nobody ever cares about metrics when business is running well.  It’s important to have the data and analytics behind what you are doing to showcase your wins and call out where improvement needs to happen to foster continual growth and development within the team.

Now back to Kevin’s opening question. Whether you attended the conference or are reading up on it afterwards, you’ve probably surmised that Creative Operations does, in fact, play an integral role in today’s creative industry by fostering agility, collaboration, and visibility. With the volume and velocity at which teams are running and the massive amounts of moving parts, Creative Operations is essential to maintaining order, encouraging innovation, but most of all, keeping it simple.

I appreciate any insight and comments on the topic or ways you’ve found that have made your team successful.

If you wan’t to engage more, you can follow me on Twitter at @ondrakogolf.

Cheers!

Well I’ll Be DAM’d: 3 Takeaways From The Creative Operations Track at Henry Stewart DAM NY2021-03-19T10:39:38-04:00

You Must Sweat The Small Stuff

As a Sales Professional, I love to cheer wins. I love to cheer new partnerships. I love when you can feel accomplishment for finding alignment and helping businesses or people out. However, I personally look at every new client I help bring on board very differently than others in the organization.

See, I’m in the trenches everyday. If you’re in Sales then you know what I am speaking of. Executives often look at numbers and metrics and the “wins” are short-lived in the “what have you done for me lately” world of sales. That’s fine. I get it. No issues whatsoever about it. But for my fellow Sales folks, it’s extremely important to analyze and digest the accomplishment. Understanding what happened in that entire sales cycle will help accelerate other deals and set you apart from the rest.

Many of you may have heard this statistic…80% of Sales are made on the 5th-12th contact with a prospect. That’s all well and good but I don’t focus on the number of contacts but the meaning behind each of those interactions. Have you put thought into that when looking back at your wins (and losses)?

Let me explain. Think of the last client you helped bring on board to your company. Now, unless you totally backed into that deal (which happens), there were probably a series of phone calls, emails, web meetings, etc. from the 1st time you ever spoke to that person until the deal was signed. (Heck, there may be even touches prior to you talking to them that got them engaged in the first place). What were those small things that happened to keep the client engaged, or let them know you were listening to their needs, or that you could help them? If you were just lobbing over useless crap then you probably wouldn’t have won that partnership now would you?

There is no “playbook” of the exact things to say or do at certain times. I don’t like books that tell you to say this exact line or that exact phrase or do this particular action and BOOM..a sale. Nope, that’s complete BS. It’s BS because every opportunity and every sale is totally different. We are dealing with human beings not robots. Different people, company size, urgency, everything!!! The way I write a follow-up creative email or call at the right time comes down to that specific client and comes down to who I am as a person. The phrasing/wording/delivery is my own. It can’t be replicated nor should it. So, if there isn’t an exact playbook for when to do things then what is there? Well, I think I’ve identified four key characteristics or mindsets, if you will, that can be very helpful when speaking or responding to a client. These are so simple you are going to fall out of your chair. If you’re conscience of these at all times then you are always laying everything on the line and being the best form of yourself for the client.

Be Yourself

People like people who don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself and let that be the standard you sell by. If you’re corny, be corny. If you’re direct, be direct. If you’re brutally honest, be brutally honest. I’ve found that by being yourself it allows you to never have to “fake it” or remember who you were for that client. I’ve never understood why some people try to be something their not. It comes off fake and can be read very easily by a client. You are not interviewing the client to be your best friend. You are helping them out by understanding their problems and needs and finding a suitable solution. It’s business.

Be Aware

Awareness can be very powerful. Recognizing where you are at with a client can help you ask the proper questions at the proper time and not miss your window for that information that may be vital in helping you earn that partnership down the road or knowing it is time to cut the cord. Don’t be too assumptive and make sure you hear it from the clients mouth before marking it down in ink. Awareness in sales can help you identify if/when you should follow-up with helpful collateral, call or email, be persistent or lay-off, or know when to stop overselling and ask for the sale.

Be Curious

It’s okay to ask questions and peel the onion back. If you feel you are not getting a direct answer or simply wanted more depth to understand a certain pain point then ASK! Having a general curiosity around someones business needs, timeline, budget challenges, etc. can go a long way to understand where you are at with a certain client or how you might be able to help them in a different way than you once thought. Plus,(if you’re genuine) most people like that you are taking an interest in what they need and it helps identify if there is deeper alignment between your business and theirs. It’s the little information you pull out by having curiosity that can ultimately lead to a tighter bond and solidifying a partnership.

Be Empathetic

The more you truly understand your prospects pains and can “walk in their shoes” then you have a wonderful opportunity to bond together and figure out the right solution. It seems that average sales people often try to solve the symptoms while top performers try to solve the root problem. The reason top performers can solve the problem is that they are looking at the solution from a different lens, normally a microscope instead of a mirror.

These are extremely simple and realistic to put into practice tomorrow. Most of you are probably doing these already but being consistent with them can make a big difference. It’s important to ask yourself each day if you are fully investing in all of the above. If you are then you will notice immediate increases in your client relationships and will get to the finish line much quicker. Whether you win or not, well, sometimes that is not always up to you.

I appreciate any comments and hope this has helped some of you out there.

Take care

Brian

You Must Sweat The Small Stuff2021-03-19T10:43:08-04:00

What’s the ROI of Gary Vaynerchuk?

Business

I hope everyone reading this appreciates the fact that we live in a very strange world (a good strange), and a far different world than just 10 years ago. I’m referring to the opportunities all of us have to quench our thirst for knowledge and explore the far reaches of the world from behind our digital screens. This has given us a chance to interact with people of all walks of life that the “small town” generations prior couldn’t even fathom.

I bring this point up because aside from some close mentors of mine I had growing up; I really haven’t had many in my adult life. I’ve utilized the resources I’ve been given in an “Internet world” to expand my personal knowledge and career growth by exploring individuals that I can relate to and gain inspiration from.

One of those individuals is Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee). Some of you reading this may have no idea who he is. Kudos to you for wandering onto the article and continuing to read it! As an assist, here are a couple of random quick links to some content Gary has put out.

A Day in the Life of Gary Vaynerchuk

Between the Clouds & The Dirt

2015 Keynote: Gary speaks at USC

Also, check out his website – https://www.garyvaynerchuk.com

Now, Let’s take a step back before we go forward.

In late 2011, I made the toughest decision of my life. I had gotten married and had a child on the way when I began to notice the golf industry moving in a direction that I didn’t like. It was at that point that I decided to make a career shift. I had learned a lot in sales & marketing from running my teaching business and had passions in those areas. I began to change the course of my life and focus on those. Emotionally, it was a tough move, as I loved the game of golf and loved making people better players.

Serendipitously though, it was at that time that I discovered Gary Vaynerchuk.   (Here is the first video that I ever saw of Gary –RE/MAX Keynote 2011) There were other people that I looked up to and found inspiration from but it was the passion, the confidence and the straight talk that got my attention. My thirst for knowledge was at an all-time high as I wanted to crush it in my new career and Gary’s knowledge of business, marketing, and people was just what I needed.

So, back to the present…As I was catching up on my #AskGaryVee episodes, I decided to sit in thought and ponder the amount of hours over the last 4 years I had invested into my pursuit of knowledge, solely from Gary Vaynerchuk related material.

Here was the math I came up with.

I had watched videos of Gary’s keynotes, random “in-your-face” ones, podcast interviews, and (as I am writing this) 127 episodes of the #AskGaryVee shoooow! In total, I estimate around 200 videos/interviews at an average of 15 minutes per video (very conservative).

If you do the math that equals roughly 3,000 minutes and when you mix in the blog articles, tweets, or Instagram posts in this equation, (crazy hard to estimate) but maybe double that number is accurate

6,000 minutes! That is 100 Hours or over 4 full days of content!

Well shit, you’d figure I’d had to learn something in that time, wouldn’t you?

It was awfully hard to whittle down to a few ideas but here are 4 key takeaways I’ve learned that have helped shape my career and could be helpful to you.

  1. Bet on Your Strengths

This advice actually came at a great time and it made me realize that I have some real awesome traits that I should go “All-in” on and make those even better. Surround myself with people that do things better in areas where I may be weak and built a solid team that way. I do see a lot of people stretching themselves thin because they want to be the “jack of all trades”. It was a turning point for me to hear that and it reminds me of a famous poem passage, Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

  1. Have Self-Awareness

I tried to write a few sentences to sum this up poetically but had a very hard time putting it better than the video below. Audit yourself and be honest with who you are as a person. That’s how you win.

I suggest you watch – Self Awareness

  1. Legacy is Greater than Currency

This is actually something important to me because it is not something I learned from Gary but was reinforced. I’ve been wired with this notion my entire life that it’s about the end game and about being a good person and actually giving a flip about people. I work hard to be the best I can be and make people better around me and I appreciate Gary’s reinforcement of this time after time.  You have to think big picture and your actions today will leave a lasting legacy tomorrow.

  1. Lifetime Engagement

When I was reading “Thank You Economy”, this idea came up a lot and it makes so much sense. You can’t just go for the jugular right out of the gate and expect to build lifetime engagement with people whether in business or your relationships. It takes time to build up trust and respect and that needs to be taken seriously. Gary’s quote of “Give more than you take, that’s how you win” applies very well here.   I’ve been more cognizant of it over the last few years and I’m amazed at the returns that come to you by continuing to engage through many mediums and being totally truthful and transparent.

I could probably sit here for hours writing all the things I’ve learned from Gary over the years but it’s a funny thing, a lot of the ideas are hard to decipher because I’ve put so many into practice and they have become a part of my daily life. That’s how you truly engrain new patterns or disciplines in your life; keep reinforcing them!

We should all feel lucky to be living in this time of great access. You wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn so much from so many great people. It’s pretty neat. I think about my career and where it was just a few short years ago and where it is trending and I am a firm believer that you never get anywhere yourself. It’s those mentors and thought leaders before you that provide insight and expertise where you may be still a little “green”. However, It’s your job to go seek that information, soak it in, and make it useful for your life.

So really, you may be asking, what is the ROI of Gary Vaynerchuk?

Well, my friends, for me that’s simple…It’s Everything!

Thank you, Gary!

Sign Up For The Newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Listen To The Podcast

Just Get Started Podcast

What’s the ROI of Gary Vaynerchuk?2021-03-19T10:43:08-04:00

Why Are We Still Using Out-of-Office Email Auto-Responders?

In sales, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to always be prompt and timely with your clients. If you are professional and transparent in your approach with each client then that helps maintain a strong relationship throughout the entire buying process.

One of the things that have always bugged me is Out of Office email auto-responders. You know the messages I’m speaking of that go something like “currently I’m out of the office on vacation and returning…if you need assistance…”

There may be some relevance to doing this with certain jobs, but in a sales role, I think it can hurt more than it can help. Let me explain.

In 2015, where most every working professional has their phone within arms reach 24/7, it is unrealistic to think that you are “off the grid”. Think about it, the nonstop workday exists. There is no longer the ol’ 9-5 “punch the clock and get out of here” business mindset. It is clearly becoming extinct because of the vast technology advances and access to employees whenever needed.

With that said, I’ve always learned from mentors that it is professional to get back to someone within 24 hours or less when they reach out. That’s something that has stuck with me to this day and it shows a respect and professionalism to the person that reached out, whether a new prospect or a client you have been working with for months.

It is imperative to respond to clients in a timely fashion even when you may be out of the office. If you have Internet access there is no reason you shouldn’t be responding with even a simple message just to acknowledge you received the email and you look forward to speaking upon you return. Not automated but an actual human message.

I’m sure I’ll hear the “I just like to unplug and put away technology” argument and that’s fine. I’m a big advocate of that but it doesn’t mean you can’t check emails right when you get up or before bed or while your catching some rays at the beach. The reality is that one lag in response or one missed step can be the difference between bringing on a great new client or not. It’s inches, not miles that make all the difference!

We can’t fight it. Technology is here for good. That brings the positives (like having this platform to express my thoughts) and the negatives. I’m not suggesting you need to sit on the phone for your entire vacation or neglect family or friends. It’s actually quite the opposite. Spending 5-10 minutes a day keeping in touch with your clients when they reach out will go a long way to continue to grow your relationships and help form new partnerships for your organization.

Next time you’re out of the office, which path will you choose?

Why Are We Still Using Out-of-Office Email Auto-Responders?2021-03-19T10:43:08-04:00

4 Reasons a 3-Year Old Could Run Your Business

I’ve had the opportunity to be around some very successful business people in my life and learned many valuable things in the process. The observations are fairly simple — massive differences in where they come from and their backgrounds and upbringings. No one being exactly from the same environment that would lead you to tell if they were going to be successful or not. What is glaringly obvious, however, is the stunning similarities in regards to the character traits and where those actually originated from.

Knowing the above, I’m amazed at how similar the traits of successful business people are to young children. Personally, I’ve observed my son do many incredible things (yes, biased!) and it’s apparent that his personality is well established even at such a young age. I’m sure if you are a parent or have been around kids a lot you can certainly relate. Lately, I’ve uncovered a few key characteristics from my son that closely resemble the same traits I’ve seen in those successful individuals.

#1 Curiosity

Whether it is figuring out how a toy works or his recent fascination with the earth, moon, and stars, he never stops wanting to know everything about everything. Once he picks up something new that he likes, there seems to be an endless flow of questions around that topic and a need to figure it all out. It’s fascinating to see his mind churning. Most successful individuals have this trait and they tend to not just snorkel at the surface but dive deep with the submarine and really explore to find the knowledge to a particular topic.

#2 Fearlessness

My son never appears to be afraid to make mistakes or clearly put his body in physical danger. He is determined to complete whatever his mind is set on without worrying about failing. If he does fail, he brushes off and is back at it again. Additionally, his ability to interact with other children and adults without being afraid resembles many successful people that have to interact with others daily or present to large groups of individuals often. It is extremely valuable to be comfortable in your own skin and have that “gift of gab”, at least I think it is.

#3 “Do it Yourself” Mentality

I miss the days when I would have to do everything for him. Those are fading fast. Now, he wants to try and do it all. Whether it is putting his jacket on, blowing his nose by himself, or the new fascination of standing up and going potty, he has confidence that he can get things done and enjoys the opportunity to complete that task. I think for most successful individuals it is that ability to go after everything you want and do whatever it takes to accomplish the task that propels people into the stratosphere of success.

#4 Delegation

Apart from wanting to do everything he can, cited in #3, my son is great at delegating. He knows when he doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to do something and isn’t afraid to ask. I don’t know how he knows but he knows. It might be asking us to read a book, finishing building his Lego blocks, or letting us put a band-aid on. I think this might be one of the most important traits of all that I have learned from other successful individuals. Focusing on your strengths and believing in others that have better skills where you are weaker is one of the key factors to scaling your success and building it for the long-term.

The moral of the story is this — too often we forget that the things that make us “Rock stars” in the world have been innate in all of us for a long time.

They’re simple. They’re pure.

It’s the fear of failure, lack of confidence, or maybe just being around negative people that seem to keep us down from reaching our goals.

Now, dig deep and find your “inner child” and go kick some ass out in the world!

You owe it to yourself, literally!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on twitter @ondrakogolf and I look forward to continued conversations!

Brian

4 Reasons a 3-Year Old Could Run Your Business2021-03-19T10:43:08-04:00

Have You Considered Adding “Fantasy Football Commissioner” on Your Linkedin Profile

As most Fantasy Football leagues are entering into their playoffs, I thought I’d share some thoughts around the interesting parallels I found between being a Fantasy Football Commissioner and skill sets needed at work. I definitely think Fantasy Football Commissioner needs to be added to your Linkedin Profile immediately! (mildly serious on this, of course)

As a Fantasy football veteran of over 10 years, I have witnessed the popularity of grow exponentially, especially in the last several years. I know there are some reading this that have been involved for way longer than I have and were “pre-internet” with their leagues. From office pools, to online fantasy gaming sites, to getting more people in the seats at sports bars, Fantasy Football has taken the NFL experience to another level.

Fantasy Football is the most played of all fantasy sports due to the popularity of the NFL, easy scoring set-ups, and a short season schedule. However, running any fantasy league can be challenging!

With the popularity, comes the challenge that someone has to take the lead and manage a diverse group of individuals during the season. Enter the role of the Commissioner. Having been a Commissioner for a few years now, I can tell you that some of the skills needed to do this are directly in line with what any organization would love to get with a future team member.

So…I thought I’d share my insights and I’d love any feedback if you agree or disagree.

You Are Well-Organized

There is no question that any fantasy league, especially Pre-Draft, requires you to be very organized and prepared. From the first time you see the “Sign your league up” email in June, it is “Go Time” with a lot of moving parts until the draft a couple months later. From getting everyone signed up, to collecting fees, and most importantly getting a draft date set. It is tall order for many and the ones that are well organized look like a champ to the other league members.

In an office setting I have learned that being organized is extremely important and ultimately helps stay ahead of the game and succeed time after time. I have rarely met a successful individual that is all over the place and not organized throughout the day. Have you?

You Work Well Under Pressure

During any draft there are going to be multiple curveballs thrown your way. I’ve had guys show up plenty late, internet connection issues, and the worst…the slow drafting team owner. It is imperative to keep calm in these situations when you are putting fires out all over the place.

In any career, you are going to be pushed to the limit and you have to keep a calm head about it. When pressured, it is the individual that can think clearly and quickly that will prevail more times than not. Especially in sales, if you cannot think on your feet and act fast you can completely lead your prospect down the wrong path and have the deal blow up right in your face.

You Handle Conflict Well

It goes without saying that trying to manage 11 grown adults is a challenge in itself. Now, managing 11 grown adults that often act like teenagers, that’s where it becomes a challenge. Anyone that is managing a fantasy football league knows exactly what I am speaking of. When poor trades get accepted or there is some “spicy” trash talk going back and forth it is the Commish that has to come in and lay down the hammer.

Being able to hear all points of view and come up with a sound judgment call that is fair goes a long way in both keeping talent in-house and ultimately landing better hires as you grow. Additionally, being able to be respectful to people that have opposing views and understand their positioning helps keep a happy workplace and grow your relationship with your team members going forward.

I could probably go on and on about other parallels between Fantasy Sports and Work, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Hopefully this lends some slight humor to your day but also gets you thinking about some creative things you could add to your resume or Linkedin Profile as a fun conversation starter!

I shared a few ideas of mine but what other ideas can you contribute to this topic?

Thanks for reading!

Brian

Have You Considered Adding “Fantasy Football Commissioner” on Your Linkedin Profile2021-03-19T10:39:39-04:00
Go to Top