New Stories Replace Negative Definers

We are the result of all our experiences and how we have processed these and, more importantly, how we continue to process these. 

Recently I did a psychometric test and was told that 20-40 minutes would be required. Having done many similar tests in the past I started with full gusto and sailed through the first section which was a fairly typical personality profiling batch of questions. 
The next section was a timed section on language comprehension. I ‘saw’ myself react to the concept of being timed - I am a teeny, tiny, tad touch competitive and have a slight tendency to rush unthinkingly when feeling under pressure. The quote “more haste, less speed” could have been written for me.” I then reassured myself I was good at English, took a breath and went through methodically. That section went well. 
Next section. Timed again. This section - maths. “I’m hopeless at maths. No use even trying here,” was my first thought as I looked at the question and just circled any old answer with little to no thought. I then remembered I was paying a decent amount for this test and the results would be shared with my team. The thought was enough to make me slow down, read the question and actually think. 

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Those little voices in our heads massively impact our confidence. They can inhibit you or enable you.

Oh, the best bit - it’s your head, your mind, your voices - you get to choose which ones you listen to and which ones define you.

“I’ll NEVER do that again!” Have you ever made a promise to yourself like that? At the time, in that moment, with those circumstances, that might have been a ‘reasonable statement’. Normally it is made to keep your future self safe. When training people to speak in public most have to overcome huge fears. 

Fears come from stories we tell ourselves. There are many acronyms for FEAR. 

Finding Excuses and Reasons
False Emotions Appearing Real
Future Events Appearing Real
Failure Expected And Received

The common factors in all of these is that fear is emotionally driven and sees the future in bad light based on historic knowledge and experiences. You can redefine your experiences and even redefine fear. 

FEAR = For Everything A Reason.

What can you learn from this experience? Where do you need to grow and stretch outside your comfort zone? People often look back to who they have been and project that forward to define who they are. 

When we learn to look at all experiences as opportunities to grow
into who we want to be we can approach everything with so much more confidence. 

You realise you can never fail again - you will either win or learn, and that is a recipe for a life far more deeply enjoyed, far more rewarding and satisfying - because, as I discovered in my psych test - we are all far more capable than we often allow ourselves to believe! 

Here's to your success!

3 C's of Teampower

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Here are three short exercises to share with your team to help them understand the importance of clarity, communication and commitment when working in a team.  Using these simple and practical illustrations, you can help them develop a mindset which allows them to adjust their practices and move towards successful practices both in their work and personal lives.

Clarity

Grab a pack of tiny waterpistols, and hand them out to your team. (You can choose whether to load them or not!) Give the following instruction: “Pick up your waterpistols and fire!” Notice how some fire will fire at you, some fire at their friends, a few fire at their enemies.  Rarely will any fire in the same direction. As the laughter dies down, without saying a word, draw a target on the board and repeat the instruction. Over 90% of the people will aim at the target.

What is your business aiming for?  Does everyone know and are they all aiming at the same thing?  When we have clarity in our objectives, it gives clarity to the work we do and why. Aiming to get better profits? Or to increase your turnover by 30%? One is a big goal, the other is much more clearly defined.  The more clearly you set the goal, the more clearly you can describe the outcome you’re looking for and the more likely you are to achieve it.

Communication

Give each of your team a piece of paper and ask them to follow these instructions.

Respond positively to questions, clarification or repetition of the instructions. (This encourages people to use feedback loops to learn!)

  • Draw a circle with diameter 5cm.  

  • Draw a circle in the centre of that with diameter 1cm.  

  • 45 degrees up and to the left of the centre of the inner circle, at distance of 1cm from the centre, draw a dot .  

  • 45 degrees up and to the right of the centre of the inner circle, at a distance of 1cm from the centre, draw a dot.

  • Beginning at the circumference of the outer circle, vertically above the left dot, draw a line on a 45 degree angle up and to the left of the circumference, 1 cm long

  • From the outer edge of this line, draw a vertical line down to the circumference of the circle.

  • Beginning at the circumference of the outer circle, vertically above the right dot, draw a line on a 45 degree angle up and to the right of the circumference, 1cm long.  

  • From the outer edge of this line, draw a vertical line down to the circumference of the circle.

  • What have you drawn?

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Usually, you will get vastly different pictures from the same set of instructions. People hear the same thing, but interpret instructions differently. If it’s that easy to mess up drawing a picture of a pig, think about some of the complex information that we sometimes need to communicate, and respectfully use the tools of repetition, questioning, slowing down and feedback to ensure you are being understood.

Commitment

Ask people to stand up and stretch as high as you can. Once they have done that, challenge them to stretch 10% higher.  Who gave their commitment to the first instruction?  Who gave more on the second instruction?

Find the things that motivate you to give that little bit extra and ensure you practice giving your all to the very best of your ability. You will find your ability increases incrementally in proportion to both the amount of effort and consistency of effort you put in.

Success comes from hard work and a can-do mindset. Clarity, communication and commitment are fantastic tools to get your organisation there a little easier and faster. Let us know how you get on using these exercises with your team!

Here’s to your success!

3 Tips Learnt from Fighting with Technology

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To update or not to update - the dreaded question!
Next dreaded question... How long do you attempt to fix the problems yourself before calling IT support?

I had successfully avoided the latest Windows 10 update following articles about a bug that deleted user files. Eventually though the time came when an update just had to be done and that was when the "Irrustratration" started (One of my favourite words for moments like these! I wrote an article some time back on this wonderful word my kids created  for those moments of intense irritation and frustration).

Two points of reflection for this blog: 1) The power of social media and 2) Lessons learnt

The first pain point was MS Word saving all documents as read only - after a few days of thinking I was going insane I jumped online and found a solution in the screeds of similar laments. 

It is so easy to share one's frustrations and in the heat of the moment people tend to vent flamboyantly. Social media gave a swath of thoughts, feelings, viewpoints and emotions on the latest update. Thankfully included in all that was some ideas suggestions and solutions! 

While you cannot stop people being people on the internet, you do have full control over the way you respond! You are in control of your actions and reactions - “play nice” as my Nana use to say! Your response will carry far more weight than a dozen frazzled rants.

Next pain point – our new printer would not print - many uninstalls and reinstalls later I called the service desk (and yes you are right - I should have called them waaayyyyyy sooner!)

The last time Windows 10 did an update I Iearnt to check the web for common problems associated with the latest update before pressing the update button. The learning for me this time around, was 3-fold:
1) Know where I add the most value to the organisation and work in that space most of the time - DO NOT spend time doing stuff where you are not adding value 
2) Don't waste time creating 'work-arounds'
3) Ask for help sooner

What is your top tip when facing IT frustrations?

If you need to look at a team event to review this year and plan for the year ahead do get in touch - we would love to facilitate the day for you!

Aim to Team Think not Group Think

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Having facilitated another company team day, I have had cause to reflect on what makes for an exceptional team. There are, of course, many factors. 

Team days are such an awesome way to help team members get to know each other more and work more effectively together. The opportunity to brainstorm possibilities and explore how to tackle challenges, utilising the whole team's knowledge, skills and perspectives, creates powerful buy-in and innovative solutions IF the team is free to express their thoughts.

Groupthink is a term coined by Irving to describe his influential theory of group decision making that he called groupthink. The idea is that groupthink is a kind of thinking in which maintaining group cohesiveness, harmony, conformity and solidarity is more important than considering the facts in a realistic manner.This can result in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making process and outcome. 

To get the most from a team, they need to feel safe to discuss, debate, agree and disagree. The enemy is artificial harmony. Team Think occurs when a team of people have an agreed common goal that they are committed to achieving. Team Think is characterised by a mindset that is eager to participate and collaborate. There is a sense of unity and the team sees and refer to themselves as a unit - “we” rather than “you and me”

Team Think is focused on adding value (contrasted with group think which is focused on the individual and being valued). One of the most powerful aspects of Team Think is common alignment to a clear goal - this allows the team to focus on the ‘prize’ as against the cost. 

The whole team needs to think right, if they are to act right and get the right results. This thinking, however, has to start at the top. Very broadly speaking Team Think has 5 key elements:

Team leadership - How the leaders think set the tone and creates the culture

Team identity - from this culture the team forms its identity. When the ‘team’ as a unit becomes more important than the ‘individual’ team members that make up the team the team can transcend to new heights.

Team purpose - Strong leadership and culture combine as core elements to build a strong sense of purpose. People need to know that they matter and that what they do makes a positive difference. People with purpose and on a mission will often outperform higher skilled teams.

Team prize - The purpose give people something to aim for. This sense of striving for a prize fires people up to give more, do more and be all they can be.

Team energy - When teams have the above elements they can create an almost self perpetuating energy that allows the to operate at higher levels and outperform their peers.

What could you do to enhance the latent potential inside your team?
If you need to look at a team event to review this year and plan for the year ahead do get in touch - we would love to facilitate the day for you!

TIME

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Time is personal. It is yours and you alone decide how you will use it. The word is made up of the personal words “I” and “ME” and, while others might tell you what to do with your time, you choose how much effort you apply.

Want to make the most of your time? You need to own it! Talk with words that show you know you have options and choices; allow your words to clearly show your decisive and deliberate choices. “I get to work” not “I have to work”, I choose to either spend or invest time.  

Central to time is the personal pronoun “I” – lets explore the 3 ways I reflects in time making decisions. There are 86400 seconds is a day. This gift is equally offered to all humans. The use of each precious moment in time determines the abundance or lack of ‘fruit’ for a day.

IRRELEVANT – how much time disappears in this black hole? The trivial, the unimportant, the scrolling of news sites and social media, the ‘deja vu meetings’ where the same discussions go around and no decisions are ever reached, procrastination, task switching, interruptions. The list goes on, taking precious seconds with it - sometime a few at a time and often in great swathes that leave days empty and drought ridden.

IMPORTANT – The area we like to focus in. People pay us to work here. We see fruit from this time that satisfies the moment and the current day. Time spent here appeases our conscience, gets stuff done, moves the dial forward.

IMPACTFUL – Time invested here feeds our soul. There is a deep satisfaction and joy found mining this space. Time here gives life purpose and meaning. We see the fruit. From making time to be with family and enjoying the growing relationship, to time invested in calling clients to find who needs your product and services – we intuitively know this time produces bounty. Not necessarily immediately but inevitably.

What’s planned for today? When we take count of the time that is ours alone to decide, when we review the use and give account to the person in the mirror staring back, will we make a Return On Invested Time?

5 Basic Sales Techniques

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In the world of business, the core activity is sales - without these there are no customers, no income and no business. Time spent to train your sales people well gives one of the best returns on investment any management can make. Run your sales team through these basic techniques and see how you can lift your game, serve your customers better, and get more sales.

See and hear your customer. Do role plays and/or observe people selling. Be aware of body language e.g. eye contact and stance. Notice how 2-way the conversation is. Be interested in them and why they’re there, more than in what you can sell them. Practice looking at them and identifying information about them that can help you to engage with them in a way that they’ll know you care.

Ask intelligent and engaging questions from outset. Eliminate “Can I help you?" or "Are you alright?" "Are you just looking?” and “Hi, I just touching base,” from your vocabulary and replace them with intelligent questions that will help your customers know you’re there for them. “What are you after today? A …. Or a ….?” is far more engaging. In business to business setting, going in with clear purpose to add value shows from your first question.

Know your products thoroughly - where, what, who, how, why and when of your features and the advantages of them. You’re the expert - they can research, but they’re coming to you for a real experience consultation - give it to them. Relate the features and advantages they are interested in and show them how they will be of benefit.

Make recommendations. Yes, it’s their choice, but they’re in your space to get help. Have an opinion and be able to show alternatives. Once you have gone through connecting and asking intelligent questions use your knowledge, skills and experience to make recommendations based on your client’s needs and wants.

Cross-sell on every applicable occasion. It is your duty to ensure your customer is informed and knows what is available. Don’t let them get home with the video camera to discover they need an SD card to take photos. Tell them what else they need so they can make informed choices.

Genuine interest, intelligent engagement and great product knowledge are basic areas of expertise. When your customers know your people are there to serve them, they will travel further, spend more and bypass opposition with identical product to work with you. Work as a team to constantly upskill in the core areas.

Create The Ideal Customer

Silhouette of Potential Customers - Create the Ideal Customer

Marketing is everything you do to promote your business. Done right, it grabs people’s attention, creates interest and stimulates desire for your product that leads people to taking action. The better you understand your market, the better you can serve them. Do you know who your ideal customer is?

Who are you best set up to serve? Don’t say everyone! As Seth Godin said, everyone is not your customer! Of course, businesses are generally willing to take whichever clients that come, but you should ensure that you know what your ideal client looks like.

Think of your best client right now. Write down their name. If it’s a business, write their name and the name of the person you deal with. Are they male or female? How old are they? What are the main products/services they buy from you? What problems do you solve for them (with your product? What other problems do they have? What is their average spend? How often do they use you? Do they have family? What interests do they have?

Repeat this process with your next best client until you have 5-10 “best client” profiles. The more detail you have, the better. Now look at the profiles, and look for the patterns - what is common? Begin to build a picture of your ideal customer. Find their likes/dislikes, interests, hobbies, places they hang out.

customer choices with ideal one identified

As you create this picture, you are identifying your target market - a picture of the “person” you are best set up to serve. Once you’ve identified your target market in this way, you can ensure that your marketing is effectively reaching towards that person.

Take This Sales Test

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Test The Team - Product Knowledge 
Ask your sales team to list all the products and services the company offers - most can’t or struggle to remember without prompting.  Next, run their sales figures on which products they sell the most of. No surprises for guessing that most reps fall into the 80/20 rule - 80% of their sales come predominantly from only 20% of the range offered. 

The surprise here for many reps is that their 20% is rarely the same as someone else’s 20%. There is overlap on the popular sellers but each rep has his/her favourite. Get your reps to share with the team why they sell what they sell. What pitch do they use? What features, advantages, benefits (FAB) roll off their tongue? What stories do they have? What has fueled their belief and passion of the product/service? (You want to unpack this because success fuels success.) 

Learn From The Best
Find the rep with the lowest sales of a particular product and get them to be the client with all the objections they have ever heard in relation to the product. Then have the top sales rep sell them this product while the rest of the team watches and learns. 

It is amazing how often you will hear “Oh wow, I did not know that!” “That is such a great story!” “Oh, I never thought about it like that”; etc. 

Knowledge Equipping Strategy
Challenge every team member to learn one new thing every day. Create a game where team members challenge each other with “Tell me something about our offering as a company that I do not know”. Knowledge builds on knowledge. Like pieces of a jigsaw they suddenly come together to reveal a true picture of what you a capable of offering a client. 

Make it a regular section in sales meetings to have team members share/demo/pitch a product to the rest of the team. Invite in suppliers to do the same - many will be delighted you asked and often have very comprehensive training. Video all these training sessions to build a knowledge library.

SOURCE: HOW PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE AFFECTS SALES
MIKE CLARK, APRIL 2017

Master the Monster - 5 Keys to Managing Email

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I am a huge fan of continuous improvement, and have significantly improved my life by applying the principles across all aspects of my life. One area, however, refused to be compliant. Actually, truth be told, it did not just lack compliance, it actually wielded a whip that had me sapped of energy every time I encountered it – which was daily. The monster?  My email inbox …..

Despite years (over a decade) of different techniques, approaches, methodologies I found myself drowning in an inbox that, on occasions, ran into the 1000’s.  I used to say to clients, “If I have not replied within 48hrs, please hit the fwd button and this will pop it to the top of my inbox and I will see you have fwd it and prioritised it.”  Besides admitting my inability to control my in-box all this did was increase the mail I received.

2018 was the year I drew a line in the sand. I saw a lovely quote in an article that said, “Email is other people's priorities for your day.” I laughed in despair. This year, with the help of Kiri, and the below 5 steps I have tamed the monster:

Empty your email – Do not use it as a to-do list. Only open mail you intend to deal with and then decide and act on it. End the day with an empty inbox!

Make folders. You can either have a full-on folder system or a simple one with: Processed, Awaiting response; Block Time work. Once an email is actioned – file it (rules can help with this)

Allocate time to check and clear – master your inbox, do not let it rule you. Use mailbox rules. Overcome your fear of missing out FOMO and unsubscribe from newsletters you do not read.

Involve your team to have block time to clear emails and ideally have an agreed company methodology e.g. Only put people who have to action in the “To” field and FYI in the “CC”. If appropriate, have a PA to help you stay on top of your mail.

Learn what works for you and work it! If you often have to take action on emails use a tool called followupthen  

Be radical and take action. This is not a monster that will tamed with half hearted effort – all or nothing.

Best of luck – here’s to your success!


Facing Challenge Utilising the Power of Resilience

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Life throws the most incredible challenges at us over the course of our days.  Without resilience, people are swamped, thrown off course and overcome by these challenges.  As you look around the people in your team, you know their faces, and in good teams, you will know the person behind that face, with some of the challenges and difficulties that they encounter personally as well as at work.  How resilient are they? How resilient are you?

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Resiliency is the ability to bounce back in difficult circumstances, the flexibility to bend with constant challenge but not be broken by it.  The picture comes to mind of a massive storm, with driving rain and wild winds. In the storm, the oak which has stood tall for dozens of years has many branches snapped off, whereas the tall grasses growing alongside it remain intact and unharmed in the wake of the storm.  The difference? The oak could not bend its branches, whereas the grasses could flex and be laid almost flat, yet bounce back upright as soon as the wind subsided. Resilience is the ability to keep on going and to bounce back, even after the toughest storm.

Resilience is characteristic of successful people - they seem to be able to use the challenges and setbacks that beset them as stepping stones to the next thing rather than allow themselves to be crushed by them.  What is it that enables them to do this, and how can we develop this characteristic in our own lives?

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A basic requirement to the development of resilience is challenge - reaching beyond your comfort zone to conquer things which you’ve not yet mastered.  Some of us have been thrown into challenging circumstances through no fault of our own - think of the dread challenges of cancer sufferers enduring treatment in the hope of conquering the disease; of longsuffering parents managing the pain of a critically ill child in the hope that their suffering be alleviated.  Others have unwittingly created our own predicaments - taking a position in a business where we end up having to work closely with someone of opposing personality; buying a vehicle which turns out to be a lemon and have continuous mechanical problems. Still others create difficult circumstances deliberately - yes deliberately.  Signing up to an exercise/health programme which will enable them to lose weight and become healthier and more able; taking a business to the next level by setting a goal for the team to increase the turnover significantly over the next five years.

One of the keys to resilience is our ability to see the problems as something to be worked through to a greater goal on the other side, as opposed to something which is happening that we have no control over and which will bring us no positive outcome.  Another key is our capacity to share our responses honestly with supportive people who have our backs, and can give us courage and perspective to work through the situation we are in. A third key is found in the mindset that no matter what, you will gain from this experience. This tenacious determination to find some good out of any loss, and be focused on that good rather than be consumed by the bad, is a key factor of resilience. You’ll find a fourth key to resilience in flexibility and adaptability - the ability to shift focus, develop new skills and use the resources available to you to keep on going.

The Wright brothers in their development of flight; Helen Keller learning to communicate with the world from a blind, deaf and dumb state; Kate Sheppard’s campaign to allow voting rights to New Zealand women, the two Steves (Steve Wozniack and Steve Jobs) creating Apple from their garage-based beginnings, Oprah Winfrey born into poverty to a teenage single mother - these are famous examples of men and women who display the characteristic of resilience.  

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We all face challenge - how can you work with what is within you and around you to transform this challenge into the stepping stone that takes you forward to a better place?  How can you shift focus to see the potential for good, and use that to armour yourself as you move through the difficulties? Are you working to develop deep relationships which respect, accept and encourage growth, so that when you - or they - are faced with the hard stuff, there are people who will stick together and support through it.  Do you deliberately allow manageable challenging circumstances to develop resilience in yourself - maybe by learning a new skill, or stepping into a new area of service?

Having a mindset which welcomes challenge comes more easily to some of us than others - and yet this mindset is often deliberately developed and key in the ultimate achievement of our goals.  If you are in a steady and comfortable period of your life, take what resilience you have and make it more - it will serve you in good stead. If you are in a particularly challenging period, focus more on the goals which sustain you rather than the problems which trip you up, while still seeking solutions to those problems. I don’t say this making light of the incredible difficulty that many people are enduring, but with huge respect and desire to make the path a little less steep and to give courage to continue taking the next step.  If there is any way which we can support or direct you to help, please do get in touch.

Here’s to your success.

SPRING CLEANING

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Select what you want to keep (and what you want to clear out)
Prioritise where you need to focus first
Rationalise what you need to keep and why
Inspect the systems and processes you are using to stay organised
No! You probably shouldn't keep it if you haven't used it in the last year
Get clearing quickly

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Clean up after you’ve done the clearing
Leave each area the way you want it to be before moving on to the next area
Educate the team on how to keep the area crisp and uncluttered
Allow for setbacks and act quickly to put things back on track
New layouts and systems should be clearly communicated
Initiate a daily check to help develop new habits and keep things organised
Nominate champions to care for areas
Give regular affirmations and celebrate success

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What Skills Do You Need?

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What is your greatest point of difference as a company?

Whenever I ask this question, inevitably I get a similar answer - the one thing people cannot copy. It’s not your product, or your systems, or your processes - it is your people and the culture that they create which enables them to be the best and deliver the highest quality of work. It is this characteristic that makes organizations stand out.

Are you getting the most out of your team?

Do you have a culture where people feel enabled and empowered to give the very best?

Do you invest in your team members and help them to increase their skills so that they are able to give even more?  When I ask this question with business owners and managers, one of the responses I often get, is that they are not sure who to develop and in what areas.  How do you select which team members you will invest in and develop and how do you ensure can you get a return on the investment in your people?

Firstly, whoever you choose must actually want to develop.  Some people are very happy just the way they are, doing what are they are doing and don't actually want any more responsibility or to do anything other than what they are currently doing.  This is, of course, their choice.

Secondly, it can really help to have a succession plan in place so that you know what skills you need to meet the growth plans that you have outlined in your business plan. Any business plan needs to have a people development section - it's who people bring the skills and the time which we need to grow internal capacity.

Thirdly, it can really can help your succession plan to create a skills gap analysis.  This is simply done by dividing your business into its relevant departments and then breaking down each task within each department and indicating which people are able to do that task unsupervised. Also, which people are able to train others to do

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that task and which people are able to do the task under supervision. One of the benefits of this exercise is that it can often show big gaps in skillsets within your organisation and your over-reliance on certain individuals in certain places.

Fourthly, it is incredibly motivating for your team to have a personal development plan created for each person. I strongly recommend that your PD plan includes both future goals for work and for home, as this shows people that you care about them as a whole person - they are not just what they can do for you in a work environment.

My final recommendation comes from years of working in this industry and it's simply this. Make sure training methodologies encourage people to cascade train after every training session. You can find out more about cascade training on our website: www.thinkright.co.nz/cascadetraining/  We find when people come to training with a sense of expectation, they pay more attention and they are actively looking for takeaway action points they can share with the team. This shared team approach helps people to take more action.

If you need any help in working out how to best develop your team to ensure you are maximising their engagement and enjoyment at work as well as their ability to produce well, please do get in touch.


How To Get What You Want

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A number of years ago, after listening to an inspirational message, Mike developed the daily practice of writing out his top ten crazy ridiculous dreams in life for the day.  At a period of life which most people would find incredibly challenging, he chose to focus on what he wanted to build - a solid family, a home and business, and a way to help people make their lives better are the broad areas that are covered in the lists he made.

The incredible thing about this small and consistent action, is that most of the things he wrote on his list were really a total dream - with not a shred of possibility.  Each day they were written without consulting the previous day, so they vary a little. And yet five years on, almost every single one is a reality.

Looking at life from an attitude of what you have and what you want to build, as opposed to what is hindering you and what you don’t have, changes everything.  This building attitude means that you look at things differently. Because you are always looking for what is good and positive about your circumstances, and where it will lead you, you have a more abundant mindset.  This focus on the positive and building means that you get to enjoy life.

An attitude of gratitude is developed by making the deliberate choice to focus on on what you have and what you want more of. There's a lovely poem which says:

Thank heaven for dirty dishes, they have a tale to tell.  
While other folks go hungry, we're eating very well.

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An attitude of gratitude means looking at every single thing and realising there are two ways to see it - positive and building, or negative and tearing down.  You get to choose what you will focus on. Be grateful for a needing petrol in the car because it means you have a car and access to petrol.  In business - be grateful for your tax bill because it means you made a profit. Be grateful for a customer who complains because they're talking to you rather than the competition and giving you the opportunity to improve. Be grateful for the number of calls that you've got to make because it means that there's an abundance of opportunity. Be grateful for all the skills you need to learn because it means that there are new ways to improve and serve customers.

If there’s something which is particularly niggling and pulling you down, sit down and write down all the things which are bothering you about it.  Having done that, deliberately shift your mindset and see how many things you can find which are positive and building from it. What is it teaching you?  How can you look at it differently? What positive options can you see? Are you learning perseverance, resilience, communication skills, creativity, management?  These are skills only learned through challenge.

When you are having trouble managing a person or situation, make it a point to always speak
to the positive in the situation.  Separating the problem from the people is a valuable skill.

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A few years back, we were dealing with a young man whose response to challenging situations was to sulk and get resentful.  This brought a tense atmosphere and made it difficult to work. We worked with him to develop the skill of negotiation - this meant that we were attacking the problem, not the person.  When the sulky attitude and lack of feedback was observed, we would invite him to share what he was perceiving as negative about the situation, and what other options he saw. As we consistently worked on building positive response, he grew in character and today is a real asset in his ability both to manage his workload and aspirations, and in the way that he affects the people who are working around him.

Mike has another mantra which is not uncommon in his conversation - he will always win, because if he wins (insert the game, the sale, the discussion) then he wins, and if he does not win, he learns.  Either way, he wins.

Look for the positive, grow your mindset, and here’s to your success!



Do You Care?

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Humans are designed with an innate ability to connect with other people. We are social creatures and we form our strongest bonds with those people whom we trust and who we know care about us. This element of care permeates all relationships including the ones we form in business.

I use the acronym CARE a lot and below is one of the expansions of the concept of CARE:

Connect on common ground. Before launching into an instruction or sales pitch “see” the person! Find something in common – be it weather, an event, sports results, hobbies, schooling, adventures, travel, kids – find a point of connecting. When I know that you see me as a person not a position or ‘just a number’ then I will be more responsive.

Ask questions to ensure understanding & answer questions to reassure and educate staff and clients. Genuine questions show you are interested in “me” – your team member, your client, your supplier. When my opinion is sought and my input is truly heard and acknowledged, I am far more likely to participate. It also helps when you take the time to ensure I understand by answering my questions and educating me as necessary (without making me feel stupid!)

Recommend actions once you understand the situation. Sometimes “care” is best shown by just listening. Sometimes people only want to be heard and sometimes they want to be helped. Discern the difference. If you are not sure, “Request” permission to put forward an idea, thought or observation.

Engage with people through to the end. Whether you have 1 minute, 1 hour or 1 day ensure you give the person you are talking with your focused attention. Giving someone your time but not your focused attention can often signal that they are not important and that you do not care.  When we focus on the person it honours them and shows that we value them.

Care takes focused time. Not necessarily much time. This is especially true when we do it right.

Who needs to know you care today?

Emotional Intelligence

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What even is emotional intelligence?  It sounds like the kind of thing my dad would have walked over the other side of the pub to avoid a discussion on, along with politics and religion.  It’s not the kind of thing a blokey bloke or your ordinary get-on-with-the-job working woman really give a lot of time to. As a topic which Mike often covers in training, I asked him some questions about emotional intelligence to share with you.

What is emotional intelligence?
Humans are social beings. Our interactions with people are very important to us. The measure of someone's intelligence, commonly referred to as IQ, is commonly known.  IQ is your ability to cognitively process situations you find yourself in, particularly involving people. However people don’t think and act purely from a mental processing perspective.  We add other factors such as feelings, filters, upbringing, culture, and beliefs, to name a few.

When you can see and understand yourself in light of these factors, you develop an awareness of self. Self awareness allows us to understand our feelings in the context of our whole-of-life experience, rather than just the present moment.  Understanding feelings means we can begin to regulate them. This enables us to proactively motivate ourselves and to see other people with empathy, developing social skills.

This collection of self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills is what we call emotional intelligence.  When you see the “whole person” as a collection of the above inside the current situation where you are meeting them, it allows you to understanding that the emotions they are expressing are not necessarily directed at you, and that you are not responsible for their actions and reactions.

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Why is Emotional Intelligence important?
People like people who like them, who are like them and who like what they like. Our ability to connect with people and to SEE them as a person (rather than just a role, position, personality type or whatever other filter our emotional experience has created), it determines our ability to get along with people.  People who have a high emotional intelligence are able to connect faster, build stronger relationships and optimise the output of people and teams that have to work together.

How does Emotional Intelligence affect people and teams in the workplace?
When teams have a low emotional intelligence, people tend to take comments personally, they have a higher conflict between different personality types, there is a tendency to ‘walk on eggshells’, there are culture clashes and much time, effort and energy is wasted in merely managing the people aspect of the business.

Teams with high emotional intelligence accept people more easily. People understand that they are not responsible for other people’s actions and reactions. There is generally greater harmony and understanding between team members allowing for increased cooperation and output.

How do you get better at Emotional Intelligence?
Self observation and self awareness leads to self improvement. Feelings are just messages to your brain. Feelings are not facts. When you pause to think about why you might be feeling something, it allows you to manage these feelings. When you can manage your feelings, you are then able to use the emotional energy in more productive ways.

An Example
When people are wanting public speaking training to stop the butterflies, Mike often shares this story.  Imagine you are 7 years old in class and your teachers asks a question.You stick up your hand enthusiastically and she picks you to answer. You answer the question and your answer is so wrong, the class melts in laughter. Even the teacher can't hide a smile which makes the class laugh even more - so much so a kid falls off his chair in laughter - creating more laughter. You wish the ground would open up and swallow you and you promise yourself you will never, ever speak in public again. 10 years go by and you get through school. Another 10 years and you get married and settle down. Another 10 years go by and at a family gathering you are asked to say a few words… you freeze in terror as the 7 year old in your brain screams at you “NOOOOOOO.

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They will laugh at you.”  Pausing and realising where the feeling is coming from, allows you to speak truth to yourself. “I am not 7. This is not junior school. They are not going to laugh at you.” It often takes time and repetition of the truth to bring emotional response into alignment with your current awareness, but as will all things, persistence pays off.  Knowing this allows you to develop the emotional energy to get the butterflies to fly in formation.

If you have any questions, please get in touch!

3 Myths About Sales Reps

One of the activities I’ve watched Mike carry out in sale training is a word correlation game.  He gets everybody to get their pens ready and to be ready to write down the first word that comes to their mind about a particular topic which he is about to share.  It can be a good word, a bad word - it can even be a swearword if it needs to be, just write the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the topic. Here it is…

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Common answers include pushy, sleazy, carshark, liar, talking, suit and tie.  This is a sad reflection of one of the most vital roles in all of business. Sales reps have a really bad rap because they are correlated to carsharks and door to door salesmen and the reality is that this is a myth.  Here are three top myths about salespeople - and their mythbusters.

Myth #1.  To be a good salesperson you have to be able to talk a lot.

Truth.  The most important part of sales is your ability to listen and serve.  Although salespeople are often talkative people, it is more because they like people and are interested in them than because it is key in the role.  The greatest salespeople know how to get the customer talking, and sharing the things which are relevant to the products and services they provide. All this requires is a genuine interest in people and desire to help them meet their needs - aka a great set of questions!

Myth #2.  Salespeople are sleazy and tell lies so they can get your money.

Truth.  Good salespeople are in their role because of a genuine desire to make a difference to people with the product and/or service they happen to be selling.  They know how it can change lives, add value, and serve you, the customer. They’ve seen the effect it’s had on dozens, hundreds and even thousands of other people, and they want to share that goodness with people who need it.

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Myth #3.  Salespeople spend most of their days drinking coffee and talking.

Truth.  Although many salespeople drink coffee, it’s not essential for survival in a sales role.  (Some sales reps might disagree with me on this point!) The coffee is a tool which helps find a point of connection with the client - sharing a coffee, the weather and current relevant news shows that you have points of connection and genuinely care about the person you are meeting with rather than just wanting to sell them something.  A good conversation has a number of elements which include genuine interest, points of connection and sharing information which the other person may not know and may be useful for them.

Sales starts in your head.  Your mindset determines who you bring to a meeting.  Do you see yourself as someone who is useful, helpful and willing and able to make a difference?  If you related to any of the myths up above, we encourage you to take a moment and think what other myths you really need to bust to help you have a positive mindset about the sales role.  If we can help in any of this space, give us a call. Here’s to your success!

What is Most Important Right now?

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What is most important right now?

“Time, if I only had time” is a wonderful line from the classic John Rowles hit. The older one gets the more depth and meaning this line has. Time really is such a rare and precious limited resource.

Do you tend to spend or invest your time?
How do you make the most of your daily allocation of 86,400 seconds?

How do you choose where you focus and what you pay attention to?

When training ‘time management’ to people, these are some of the the common questions that get discussed and asked. These have been asked and answered in various ways over the decades - from Eisenhower/Covey “Urgent/Important” quadrant to Rory Vaden’s “significance funnel”.    

At the heart of all these techniques lies two core questions.

“Where do you add the most value?” and then, knowing this, “What do you need to do right now?”

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Here is a simple calculation for you:

Total number of hours you work a week - focused hours spent working in the area where you add the greatest value = effectiveness ratio

I often find that when people do this the figure is far from desirable. It is amazing how easily time is frittered away. Other people's priorities for our time (often disguised in email), procrastination, interruptions and task switching steal our time. Mix into this the effects of Parkinson Law where work expands to fill the time available and it is easy to see why many people struggle to spend even half of their available time focused on the one area where they add the most value.

The much touted example of Perpetual Guardian illustrates this well. Upon observing the time wasted each day the offer was made to staff to work 4 days and receive 5 days pay if they could maintain output. Not only did they maintain output - they increased it!

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This is not really surprising. When you know you are due to take leave, how much more focused and productive do you get? Here’s a challenge - take the next 3 Fridays off and watch what you do to maintain effectiveness at work. Some of this will be harder work but, for the most part, it will come down to being a lot more focused on what is needed and making decisions quicker. There will also be less space given to distractions. 3 weeks is a habit forming length of time with the reward of 3 long weekends to help galvanise you to action.

Is it time you treated yourself?

Here's to your success!

3 Steps to Moving Forward

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The emails are building up in the background as I open our accounting programme to deal with the receipts that need reconciling.  My phone buzzes and I’m reminded that I need to send out that confirmation form to the client. As I pick up my phone to stop the distraction, I realise that I haven’t booked the travel requirements for the other client who is doing a similar course to the one I just got the notification about.  Distractions abound on every side, from within and without, and compete for my attention as I seek to do the next thing.

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How do you prioritise?

The first step in prioritising requires is knowing all that there is to do (or pretending it needs to be done).  When the world is whirling round in a haze of activity, demands and ever increasing noise, I find one of the most useful things I can do, is get the world out of my head so that I can focus on getting at least one thing done completely.  The trusty notebook by my desk is a scribble of yesterday’s organisation, and I turn to a new page, and begin to put down all the things that are fighting for space in my thinking and attention. I even put down the background noises - home and family stuff such as buy dogfood, or take a child to the dentist.

The second step is to look at all the things - some are important, some urgent, others can be stalled, delayed, even not done.  One thing - just one - is more important than all the others. I love Fridays, because my one thing on Friday is getting Learning BITES out to our people.  What is your number one thing? Put a big red square around it. Turn the page and begin a new list and write that at the top. The way you do it is less important than the action of choosing what is most important.  Once done, look again at the jumbled mess of things that were in your head, and choose what is the next most important thing. Continue this process until you have 3-5 most important things. I find this step enables me to have real focus on the first things, as it reminds me that I have prioritised other things, not just taken one and left all the rest.

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The third step is to set your list aside, and work on the most important thing.  Just that one thing. No distractions, no interruptions, work on it. A note here - it can be really helpful to make sure your “things in my head list” is broken down.  In the back of my head presently are the two twenty-first birthday celebrations coming up for our kids. I can write down Arrange 21st, but this is so big I’m scared to tackle it.  If I write down smaller steps such as Create a guest list, book a venue, decide on catering… these are more manageable.  In a work situation, Open emails and scan for important replies required is much more specific and manageable than Check emails. Keeping your focus on completing the one thing enables you to move forward.  

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You climb a mountain one step at a time.  These small steps take a little time at the beginning of a day, but save me a lot more in wasted and distracted time throughout the day.  They also enable me to be a lot more productive. What will you prioritise today?

Here's to your success!

Make It Easy

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Rush hour in Palmerston North is more like rush minute.  The swell of people going to work and parents taking kids to school slows one down by a few minutes, and even when brought to a crawl, the crawl usually lasts for less than a block.  Driving about Palmerston North is easy - no more that twenty minutes to anything you need to attend. It’s one of the reasons we live here - it makes our lifestyle easy.

 

What do you do which makes life easy for your customers?  In a world which is increasingly busy, time poor and pressured, those businesses who make life easier for their customers are the ones which draw more attention.  Businesses such as Frog Parking, which allows you to use your phone to pay for your parking, and stops that endless search for spare cash, or the unexpected holdup which means you don’t get back to your vehicle in the time allotted, have honed in on a need and created a product which makes life easier.


Do you look for the little things that make it easy for your clients to use you?  Products that are easy to find and buy on your website. (Ever been to a website, found exactly what you’re looking for and then not been able to find a way to purchase it?) Clear and readable information on pricing, content, capacity, process.  Most people know what they’re looking for and making a decision to buy is easier if they have all the information at their fingertips

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Clarity in price, delivery times and consistency in service. I cannot count the number of times our family would have called into McDonalds on a roadtrip because we know what we will get in terms of service and food, and in a full and busy life, it’s an easy decision.

Do you talk to your customers?  And listen carefully to their words? You cannot replace a few minutes of genuine face to face conversation for knowing your customers, their pain points and their sweet spots.  

Consistent and carefully constructed conversations with your people, with genuine interest in their lives will enable you to create way to make life easier for them and you.  Shopping for a ring for our daughter’s 21st, the variety of service between the dozens of jewellers we visited was huge. From those who scarcely noticed you’d entered their shop, to those whose careful questions helped them understand our needs and provide us with viable options to choose from.  Careful attention to conversations, looking for patterns and pain points, means you will have solid knowledge to provide the help your clients are looking for.

 

Is your buying process clean, clutter free and clearly communicated?  Processes are a work in progress and a gentle tweak, shift in perspective or lift in efficiency can make a tremendous difference.  The couple of extra minutes spent ensuring your processes are well taught and used can save you huge costs mopping up mistakes and caring for disappointed customers.

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Step back from working in the business and have a good look at what’s going on.  What could you work on to make it easier for your customers, or for your team?  It’s those little things you implement that make a big difference in the lives of your people.  

 

Here’s to your success!

 

Perspective Pays Dividends

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Attention to detail, big picture, small actions.  How many times have you seen words spoken, and been awed at how they’ve empowered?  Or similarly how they’ve caused havoc and hurt? Are your staff trained to manage words, tone, intention?  Do they see people in and around your business premises as a delight to encounter, or a nuisance who get in the way of their tasks?

I pulled into the carpark to drop my daughter to her dance lesson, thinking how grateful I was there was somewhere to park.  The shop to which the parking area belonged would be a good place to browse while I waited for the lesson to be over and see if I could find some new cushions for the chairs we had bought from them earlier this year.  My girl ran ahead, and I parked carefully between two other vehicles, seeing a man leaning over the railing of the shop behind. I got out of the car, and headed first to make sure our offspring was in safe space. I had not even locked the car when the man’s voice drew my attention. “Are you here for dance lessons? Can you park somewhere else? Can you ask the other parents to park somewhere else too.  It’s quite rude using our carpark.”

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His words were not wrong.  People can be so cheeky, and get away with as much as you let them.  It was the tone, and the mostly empty carpark that drew my negative attention. Feeling like a naughty child, I shifted my car to the empty park on the street outside the shop, and pondered my response.  I’m not buying my cushions in that shop.  I’m not buying anything in that shop ever again!   Childish?  Maybe, and I have the good fortune to be surrounded with positive people on a daily basis, so it was a fairly shortlived response, as I considered that the shop owners pay rates for and have ownership of the carpark and they can do whatever they like with who parks there or not.  

What struck me next was the short-term perspective of what difference this business ambassador could have made to my day, and in attracting me - and other customers - to use his facility, rather than turning me away. What other words that could have been used?  Would you like to have a look around the store while your daughter is dancing?  Were you planning to come in today?  I looked bad, but I had good intentions, and there was no effort to explore them.  

Then I looked at the opportunities that this business had to market to a whole people group. On the blank ugly wall, could they have advertising of the latest huge mirrors, which dancing girls would just love to have in their bedroom for practice?  Were they marketing to the needs of potential customers whose children might need furniture for their bedroom? Had they considered a people group who would be a ready audience to their marketing messages week in and week out by allowing their use of the carpark?  Even a notice tacked on the wall politely inviting dance parents to use the street carparks rather than the customers, would have been kind.

When Mike and I got married, we decided we would take our ten children on honeymoon to Samoa with us.  After several attempts to get a travel agent to help us with finding something which would work for the large group and multiple needs, we found a wonderful travel firm in Christchurch.  Nothing was too difficult for them. Their effort created a family memory and a bonding place which is a foundation everyone still remembers fondly and speak of years later. It was a challenging situation for the travel people to manage - but they made us feel valued all the way.

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As a result, when we travel, we use them.  And seven of our ten children are now adults, and any time they need travel, we recommend they use Steve.  Two of them have already used them in going on overseas trips, we used them again when bringing out family from UK. The Christchurch based business wouldn’t have made much profit on that initial transaction with us, but the loyalty and repeat business which they get is multiplied. We refer them constantly and speak highly of them at every given opportunity.

What is your business doing that is spreading the flavour of your team to the public around you?  What spills out of your team when a bit of pressure comes on? How can the actions you take be tweaked or honed to make a positive difference to all the people your staff encounter, and to create a lasting impression which makes people travel further, spend more and come back time and time again to you?  Take the big picture into perspective as you’re dealing with the day to day tasks, and you will reap the benefits.

Here’s to your success!