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Archive for December, 2009

The phrase, “You Go, Girl” has become one of those empowering statements that says a lot about women and about the support of their peers.  Over the years, women’s role in the workplace has developed so beautifully into this full-bodied reality, but the encouragement of fellow female workers has lagged behind.  It’s funny that the phrase is somewhat of a cheer; a typically female role, but it is so much more than that, it is the quintessential “Atta Boy” for girls!

Through all the advancements women have made since Rosie the Riveter came onto the scene, there are still times we are lead to protect our growth and fight to move forward one cheer or protest at a time.

While I have never felt slighted or “picked over” because of my sex, I have seen instances where an expectation for “secretarial” duties was inferred.  Once, at a planning meeting, and being the only woman, I was asked to keep notes for everyone.  I kindly deferred stating that my hand-writing was atrocious, which it is not; that was my protest.

Now let me state that ANY duty, secretarial or otherwise is not beneath me; my objection was being the automatic minute-taker.  That role was not even considered by most, if not all of my male counterparts…and I almost assumed the role myself, until I realized this may be an opportunity to take a stand. I’m not saying that the intentions of the room were even sexist; I was just making sure that they weren’t.

I’ve had three male assistants over the years.  I’m not “getting back” at men, however; they were the most qualified for the position.  I believe in that philosophy.  While I am female, Hispanic and short (not a protected class, but sometimes a factor), I will tell you that I have never gotten (or not gotten) a job because of those traits; it happened that I was often the best “man” for the job!

Now, back to the “atta girls,” and what I see as an opportunity to flourish exponentially over the next decade by empowering our sisters.  Not every woman had a strong role model or a healthy perspective of men growing up.  Not every woman has the confidence to take a stand or even believe in her own ability.  But EVERY woman can use a “you go, girl” every now and then to keep her motivated and on track.

So, beginning in 2010 if every woman of power made a concerted effort to encourage every other woman at every opportunity, the world would be a stronger, richer and more graceful place by 2020.  John Wesley most eloquently captured this thought in words, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as often as you can!”  I say to John Wesley, “You go, boy!”

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Winston Churchill gave it great perspective when he quoted, “It’s no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”  Doing what is necessary is different for everyone, but who determines EXACTLY what’s needed to do what is necessary?

Over the years I’ve concluded that what’s necessary means to, 1. be relentless, 2.  be open to change, 3.  keep it authentic to who I am.  Generally when all three of these elements come together, so does my plan…and that’s usually a good thing.

It’s funny because recently I’ve given two presentations to similar groups and the first felt very ordinary; not a lot of bells and whistles, but solid content that I knew in-side-out and backwards, but it felt flat.  The second, I spent so much time on perfecting and massaging that I just knew I’d hit it out of the park with my audience.  The affects were exactly opposite on both cases.  I was a little surprised, but instead of having my feelings hurt because the audience didn’t connect, I decided to remember that the first presentation was valuable to so many.

Not that you can have a one and one record and expect to succeed, but the point is that you should trust your content when it flows naturally; chances are THAT is the content people will respond to.  And given my recent feedback, that theory holds true.

What I learned from this is that trying too hard to please your audience can sometimes take you away from who you are to the core.  Not that you don’t have to work hard on a presentation, but you need to work from the place of confidence that you will deliver your best because what you’re saying and how you’re saying it is as genuine as the heart in your chest. Connecting with your audience in any transaction (presentation, sales pitch, community meeting) should be the utmost important objective, but what you say needs to come from your heart and your hard-working experience.

Ben Franklin said, “Well done is always better than well, said.”  I say to Ben, “well said.”  The proof is always in the pudding, if you’re telling someone what you’re going to do vs. telling them about what you have done…leading by example is always a better to rally a groups’ loyalty.

Also remember that sometimes what you might think is flat or listless may be very valuable information so don’t ever underestimate the power of what you have to share.  As in my case, the presentation I felt less excited about was the one that held the most practical advice for my audience and gave them real-life steps to achieve the same results.

The lesson here?  Keeping it simple and sincere just might bring more value to the table for someone who’s genuinely looking for a solution.

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I often use a DNA analogy when talking about the culture of an organization.  Typically, the culture is so embedded, so ingrained into its people that it’s much like our DNA is to our eye color and personalities.  It is the ONLY thing that sets us apart as humans—or as sales people—our unique DNA.

Changing the DNA in your workplace may be as difficult as altering it in your body…but not impossible.  Scientists have made genetic engineering a reality; and you can make corporate engineering a reality as well.  As an employee or as a consultant, doing extraordinary business as an individual can have an effect of change of cultural DNA within an organization beyond your wildest dreams.

Most companies have been doing things one way or the other for so long that it takes quite a shift to think and act differently.  If you happen to be the individual who comes into their lives and does things so uniquely that YOU are the only professional your client think abouts when they need your services, then you’ve begun the mutation.

A couple years back as I was teaching a course on being memorable in your business affairs I developed a human anatomy analogy that helps to convey this point about being extraordinary in your business; from the very core of your being.  Here are the basics:

Use your Head: Make a decision to be an expert.  Be the best in your field.  Be committed.  Make a conscious effort to be this person every day.

Exercise your Brain: Think ahead.  Be creative.  Make it your goal to create better experiences for yourself and the people around you.  Pay attention to detail and have systems in place that deliver—whether you’re on the ball that day or not.

Your Hair:  Don’t spend time pulling it out…life’s too short.  Let yours down every now and again and be a problem-solver not a worrier.

Your Face:  Don’t lose yours.  Stick to your principles and remember the importance of your reputation.

Use those Ears: Listen to your teachers—who sometimes are your customer & your co-workers.  Be present in your listening and interaction with them.

Use your Eyes:  Look both at the past and to the future.  Experience and vision are both necessary to succeed.  Look around you and pick up what you can with your eyes to keep you from using your mouth so often.

Use your Nose:  Make time to smell the roses.  Enjoy your career.  Sniff out the problem areas in your process and be willing to make them better.

Your Mouth:  Choose your words wisely. Think before you speak.  With two ears and just one mouth, we probably should talk HALF as much as we listen anyway.

All of these principles are ordinary, but what makes the difference is that your entire BEING as you interact with others in the organization causes change; change for the better.  As the list grew, so did the wholistic perspective, because when we are genuinely talking the talk and walking the walk, people are willing to invest in our story.

The most powerful salesperson is not good at selling anything, she is superior at being genuine to her core.  Her core that is laced with constant reminders of her constantly changing, positively charged DNA:

Your Neck:  Be willing to put yours out there—don’t get it cut off; but fight for what you believe in.

Your Shoulders: Again, be present for your clients.  Be compassionate—don’t be afraid to carry your share of the load.  Allow for a problem to rest on your shoulders.  Know the issues and always be a part of the resolution.

Use those Arms: Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves—and reach out to others—people notice when you do!

Your Hands:  Hold on tightly to your personal values and principles & your non-negotiables (things you’re not willing to compromise).  Don’t let go for anything or any amount of money.

Your Fingers:  Remember that we touch and affect people’s lives every day—good or bad.  And with that long sharp nail at the end—be mindful of where you point it—or the blame.

Your Heart:  Have one.  Make it the final decision-maker in all of your business affairs.  Lead your day with it.  Wear it on your sleeve if you want to.  Make your clients fall in love with you.  Touch their heart with yours.

Your Legs:  Are the means to progress and action.  Shake one and make things happen!

Your Feet: They hold shoes…remember to get into someone else’s every now and then.

And for my final anatomical bit of advice:

“BE” as in human BEING!  Be consistent!  Be valuable! Be intentional! Be present! Be genuine!  BE the positive change you see in your industry.

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A satisfied customer is not a loyal customer by any means.  I build brand and customer trust by being loyal to THEM and by NOT expecting them to be loyal to me!

How do I build customer loyalty?  I earn loyalty by giving it.  I do it one “D” at a time: Discover (what is important or of value to my customer), Decide (what their experience will look like), Deliver (what I set as their expectation) and Do It Again (it’s an ongoing process that changes and improves with feedback).

  1. (Discover)  First of all, you need to discover what your target customers find to be of value and which of those values drive them into buying and even further into being loyal.
  2. (Decide) Decide what your customer experiences will look like.  Brand your ideas internally.  Figure out how to deliver what you promise to your customers
  3. (Deliver) Everyone in the organization is responsible for delivering these experiences.  At EVERY encounter with every customer—EVERYONE!
  4. (Do It Again) Be willing to listen to customer feedback to improve the experiences.  Listen to the employees when they have feedback.  It’s an ongoing process that is never complete.

It truly is a process and each time you complete a transaction, you have more opportunity for feedback.  With every bit of feedback, you have the opportunity to re-DISCOVER, re-DECIDE, and re-DELIVER your business to the next customer.  With each experience you give, you get a new perspective on how you can make your business better.  This cycle makes the DO IT AGAIN part very important!

Let me share a few statistics to support this point:

  • 65% of your business comes from existing customers—over half of your business is repeat customers—or at least it should be.
  • It costs 5 to 10 times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.
  • 91% of unhappy customers will never buy again from the company or person that they’re dissatisfied with
  • 100% of your unhappy customers will voice their dissatisfaction to at least 7 other people
  • 68% of them left not because of price or product but because of attitude or indifference on the part of their salesperson

For any of you who have read the book, Raving Fans, you know that you don’t have a loyal customer until you see them out there waving your flag—wearing nothing but their loyalty.

Loyalty has to be intentional and designed.  YOU are responsible for creating memorable experiences for your customers.  No one else is going to do it for you—except maybe your competition!

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