Dec 112014

Several years back, on the day of our company Christmas party, my mentor and boss Tom Hassey came into my office, sat down and said, “I hope the reviews go as planned tonight.” Shocked by his statement, I asked him, “Do you really plan to sit down and conduct annual reviews at the Christmas party?” As always, his response was priceless: “This is one of the few times during the year that I’ll be able to gather three very important bits of information.”

Tom would make every attempt to have a conversation with everyone, except for his direct reports. He would tell me, “I talk to you guys on a day to day basis, so I’d like to spend more time with them.” This was very important, because we had four levels of management, plus a full admin staff.

Here’s a recap of the how, where, and why Tom would spend his time at the Christmas Party.

  1. With the “open bar” at the Christmas party, everyone’s guard would be down, and Tom would be able to observe another side of how each employee would act during a social setting. If there’s someone who’s had a little too much “liquid courage,” this can make for some interesting observations, especially if Tom’s considering someone for a promotion or a visible position within the company.
    1. Lesson for me: During any social gathering that has an open bar, I have a rule that I never violate: I drink no more than two vodka tonics with a lime–after the first one, it’s water with a lime so no one knows the difference. I don’t want to draw attention to the fact that I’m drinking water.
  1. Tom would make sure to sincerely thank the spouses or significant others of every employee for understanding the time and travel commitment the job demands. He always told me, appreciation is always best when given in advance, the Thank You is a welcome sign of respect and understanding.
    1. Lesson for me: Pillow talk is very powerful; sometimes the most meaningful conversations are the ones just before you fall asleep at night! Make sure both the employee and the spouse understand that the effort to go above and beyond expectation is acknowledged and appreciated.
  1. Tom would never, under any circumstances talk specifically about business. He wanted to maintain the social aspect of the night; he would always start a conversation with what’s important to the employee/spouse. It could be family, hobbies, travel or anything of interest to that person. He had an to ability of making you feel that the conversation you had with him was one of the most important conversations of the night!
    1. Lesson for me: Take an honest interest in getting to know each employee on a personal basis. One of the most important aspects is, you must be sincere about your interest in others. This is done by keeping eye contact, and staying engaged in the conversation, and above all, don’t ever brag and talk about your own accomplishments.

Tom was one of my best mentors, because he taught me how important it is to take an honest interest in others.

As I’ve said before, Tom would always tell me:

If you don’t take care of your employees,

They will never take care of you.

Merry Christmas to all!!

Aug 072014

A little more than two months ago, I finished reading a book by Tommy Newberry called, “Success Is Not An Accident.” I enjoy reading books like this because I’m always seeking new and creative ideas for self-improvement. For me, this was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I must admit, I love reading motivating books and books that challenge me to expand my way of thinking. This book is more than just happy-feel good “motivating” talk. It is filled with tangible ideas and steps to help you find success in life.

Finding Success

What I like best about the book is the definition, or rather redefinition, of success. When it comes to defining success, most every other book I’ve read on this topic sounds the same, except this one. Success in business, success in your relationships, and of course, finding success by becoming financially free!

When we think of what it means to attain success, many think success is measured monetarily. There was a time I use to measure success that way. Additionally, I use to also think that you could not define success unless you could measure it. I’ve since come to rethink how to measure success.

In the book, Tommy Newberry ask the reader several questions that one may not have ever thought of. My two favorite questions just may be the hardest to answer.

Question 1:  If money was not an obstacle, what would you want to do for a living?

Question 2:  When you daydream, what is it you daydream about most?

It’s like the age old question, if you won the lottery, what would you do for the rest of your life?  BTW, both of these questions would take me a nanosecond to answer – anyway.

Success… It’s all about daydreaming!

There’s a reason you’re daydreaming whatever it is you’re daydreaming. I’m not talking about daydreaming you’re playing golf or fishing for fun every day—I’m talking about having a passion that when you’re daydreaming about it, or actually doing it, time just seems to stand still. Now, if you’re good enough to play golf for a living, stop daydreaming and pursue it!

Whatever you’re daydreaming about, the chances are pretty good that you have the talent and ability to do whatever it is. I think your dreams are connected to your talents, and your talents are God-given talents, which is why you’re daydreaming about it. Most people daydream about things they’re good at.

Using your talents.

This book helps you uncover your talents and challenges you to use them properly.  There’s an old story about someone who had some very special talents and hoarded them.  Their talents were wasted because they didn’t use them properly, so consequently they were taken away.

In the book, Tommy explains that you’ve been given certain God-given talents (or gifts) that only you have.  No one can do what you can do, and you can not do what someone else can do—you are uniquely qualified to do what you can do. When you’re using your talents, it’s not work, and it’s not a job… it’s a passion!!

Which is to say, you’ve found congruency!

If you’re looking to find or uncover your talents, let yourself do a little daydreaming.

Jun 132014

It’s been too long since I wrote my last blog, and I’m not sure why. Lately, I keep thinking, “where does my time go, and why I can’t seem to manage it better?” I could give you a list of projects and task that have occupied my time as to why I haven’t written one, but, why bore you with a list.

When my kids were younger, and if they didn’t finish a task or their homework I would ask them why not? Before they could answer, I would give them one of my many “patented phrases” which was, “there are reasons and excuses, before you answer, choose carefully!”

The fact is, I do know where my time goes, I just need to prioritize my time better.

How we choose to spend, use, or waste our time should be an area of concern to each of us. Neither one of us can go back and get an additional hour back if we wasted it. Yesterday is history, tomorrow doesn’t exist, so all we have is right now. So we need to make to best of every minute.

I don’t watch much TV, but If I watch a bad “sitcom” (or most any sitcom for that matter) I always say, “I want that 30 minutes of my life back so I can spend it more productively.”  But you and I both know I can never get that time back. Which is to say I’ve wasted 30 minutes of my precious time watching a bad TV show, and receiving little to no value.

So how do you manage your time? It seems that this is a really big deal! I did a Google search using the phrase “Time Management” and found over 1.6 million results!  I learn from Wikipedia what time management is: Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.

With that said, I can now assume that there’s another way to look at time, I can manage my time, or my time will manage me.  I would argue that, to some extent, all time needs to have some level of management.  The best way to manage my time should be focused on increasing effectiveness, efficiency and/or productivity. Is that to say, when I allowed time to manage me, was it spent sitting in front of the TV watching a bad sitcom?

How effective, efficient and/or productive can I be watching TV?  I’m sure it depends—not all TV watching is a waste of time, certainly not the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, or most any sporting event for that matter! There is a value to being entertained by the TV. I enjoy the entertainment value the TV offers. Unless I abuse my time by watching hour after hour of TV, it’s not a waste of time.

The real story here is, as the great philosopher Mr. Miyagi from the movie Karate Kid says; “Find – da – Balance”.

As are most things, balance is key to finding happiness.

Mar 262014

“It’s not about you” is the first sentence in one of the best-selling books over the last 10 to 15 years, “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. In order to be successful in your personal life, professional life, family life, or your faith life, it all comes down to this one concept: It’s not about you …

If it’s not about you, then who’s it about? Let’s look at the professional side of this concept. In the business world, many sales people have the reputation of being self-centered and projecting an attitude of, it’s all about them. Some of that comes with the territory of being successful in the business world. But, I think many times some of it stems from poor training and/or an unguided, a confused moral compass, or both. If any of these are not properly balanced then you could end up thinking that it is all about you.

As sales professionals, we are usually baited with the carrot of a commission/bonus structure as a motivational tool to drive us to success. The better the sales person, the higher the compensation; the higher the compensation the nicer the car, the bigger the house, the more lavish the vacations we can enjoy.

But what happens when you stop selling to “serve the customer” and begin selling to “serve yourself” and/or a certain level of living? When your focus begins to shift from the customer’s needs, to focusing on maintaining a certain level of living, then you may be headed down that dark and lonely path called self-centeredness. At that point, it’s easy to lose sight of who/what it’s really about, you or the customer?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Just don’t work for the fruits. Work instead to serve the customer; the fruits will come … tenfold!

In my world, you’ll never be the best version of yourself, unless you learn the value of service by serving others above yourself in everything you do.

Feb 202014

It’s been a couple of months since you made your New Year’s resolution, so, how’s it going so far? If you’re like most of us, the first couple of weeks …  days … dare I say hours, you were doing pretty well, right?  You were motivated and stuck to the plan, and it seemed like this time you were going to follow through.  But something comes up and you find yourself compromising your New Year’s resolution … what do you do then?  Here’s some practical advice I’ve found to stop you from falling off the deep end and back to your bad habits.

Whenever you set a goal or objective, or in this case, News Year’s Resolution, there will be a time when your resolve and commitment will be tested. When the time comes, and it will come, when you’ve skipped or failed to totally stay committed to your goal, think in these terms.

Lapse – Relapse – Collapse.  Let me explain.

I’ll use the example of the number-one New Year’s resolution, “I’m going to start working out.” Let’s say you’ve committed to working out at least three times a week.

  • For the first three weeks you stand by your commitment and work out three days each week.
  • Then week four comes along and you only have time for two workouts.
  • Then week five, you only have time for one workout, now what? Do you get started again in week six, or just quit?

You don’t have to be discouraged; disappointed, yes, but look at it this way.  In the fourth week you had a Lapse, because you only worked out twice. In week-five you had a Relapse because you only worked out once. Now it’s the moment of truth–how committed are you? Here’s your chance to fight through the temptation of avoiding a Collapse!

Start over, don’t quit! Week six, start working out three times a week again! We all fall into the lapse stages, and sometimes we relapse, but the true measure of your discipline is not to allow yourself to fall into collapse!

Remember, Lapse is okay; we all have them.

Relapse: not good, but you can get back on schedule.

Collapse: this is the test of your personal discipline and leads to the habit of quitting, giving up and throwing in the towel.

Fight through the temptation!