Management Concepts

Thank You Steve Jobs: Why Join the Navy When You Can be a Pirate?

Posted on October 6, 2011. Filed under: Differentiated Messaging, Management Concepts | Tags: , , , , |

“Thank you Steve Jobs.”  This content with this hashtag froze Twitter today.  I daresay, since the launch of Twitter, nothing has prompted so many millions of people to tweet, to retweet, to have the need to talk about an event, as has the passing of Steve Jobs. In my own opinion, the world lost a brilliant individual yesterday. His passion for innovation, excellence, and development of the “coolest” products is felt by me everyone (yes, I’m a Mac) and will be felt for many generations to come. But what about him inspired so many people?  I’m bringing back a post that I first wrote about a year ago.  It, to me, sums up what I’ll take from Steve Jobs…to be proud of being different.  Read on and, in honor of Mr. Jobs, find what makes you or your company different and go for it!


“Why join the Navy if you can be a pirate?” It’s a quote from Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. Jobs is universally recognized for his brilliant planning, bold statements, and charismatic keynotes unveiling the latest and greatest Apple has. (If you’ve never seen one of his keynotes, Google them; they are pretty entertaining.)

But Jobs is best known for leading Apple from market flunky status to market icon status. His willingness to be a pirate in the marketplace, versus joining the Navy, has led to Apple’s reputation of innovation. What would Apple be if it had gone the path of the PC world…if it had given up and said, “‘Me too’ is a high-enough goal for us?” I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have had the raving advocacy, the market growth, or the investor return we’ve all witnessed. It would have become one in the masses or, worse yet, gone into extinction. Instead, it’s a household name.

What is the key to Apple’s success? In my opinion, there are several:

1. Apple wasn’t afraid to be different; in fact, it embraced its uniqueness and staked a claim in its market for that uniqueness.

2. The company looked for what made it different – innovation – and used that to its advantage as a differentiator.

3. Apple made a decision to live and breathe its differentiator in every part of its company and customer experience, from its products to its advertising to its stores and employees. Have you ever bought something at the Apple store? You don’t go to a cash register…your card is swiped on a handheld device! You don’t get a mandatory paper receipt…you get an email receipt! Even the normally-mundane purchase process is innovative.

Find out what makes you or your company different. Then determine how it helps your customers. Does your speed to market give your clients a competitive advantage? Does the insight you bring to the table put your customers in a better place to foresee market changes and proactively prepare for them? Whatever your differentiator, find it, determine how it benefits your clients, then use it to your advantage…in your communications, your sales conversations, your customer experience.

Arrgh! Go on, be a pirate!


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Six Lessons from Alan Mulally, CEO of the Year

Posted on July 19, 2011. Filed under: Good Habits, Management Concepts |

Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company is Chief Executive’s CEO of the Year. Congratulations Mr. Mulally!  Having navigated a pretty steathy turnaround of the company during the recession – without any TARP bailouts, mind you – he is now poised to grow the company in the better times we hope to see in the future. As I was reading Chief Executive’s article on Mr. Mulally, I came across six lessons that I think everyone in business can learn from him, regardless of your role in your company. Following are the six lessons, with my take on them.

Display courage in the face of adversity –  Each person has challenges in their jobs. Meeting those challenges with courage exemplifies not only the type of person you are, but your outlook and perspective, which become important factors in not only overcoming the challenges, but in overall career success. No one gets too excited about pessimism, but most people will choose to work with (or advance) someone who faces adversity directly and optimistically.

Focus is everything – Understand your priorities and get rid of anything that’s diluting those priorities. Focus your ideas, time, talent, and energy to those things that significantly matter in your business. You’ll see results faster.

Simplify – Messages can become too complex. Information overload does not make decisions easier; stating the bottom-line value does. Work to  make your message, your vision, your mission simple. The more you simplify, the bigger impact you’ll have.

Use the Outsider Advantage – When you’re deep into a project or business, you can lose sight of the forest for the trees. Ask an outsider to come in and provide a different perspective. That perspective might change what you’re doing, or it might validate your direction; regardless, it will definitely add value and dimension to your view and help you see things you may not have seen before.

Reward transparency and collaboration – Why are people so often afraid to say what’s really going on with the business or with their project? Being transparent demonstrates integrity; asking for help (or giving it) through collaboration spurs new ideas and a positive environment for teamwork. Let’s stop being scared to admit less-than-stellar situations and start seeking solutions.

Stay inventive during tough times – While most companies hunker down in the tough times, those savvy enough to take that opportunity to reinvent their products or businesses not only typically find better ways to do things, but also stay top of mind with their clients. Studies have shown over and over again that those companies that stay in front of clients during the tough times are more successful – more quickly – when the economy improves.

Though written for CEOs, you can apply these ideas to any position in any company. But don’t stop there, think about how these six lessons can be applied to your life – I think they work perfectly!

Here’s to better business and richer lives. Thanks Mr. Mulally!





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90 Day Sales Makeover – How do You Measure Your Plan?

Posted on April 29, 2011. Filed under: 90 Day Sales Makeover, Management Concepts | Tags: , , |

…this blog is a continuation of the six core beliefs in the 90-Day Sales Makeover.

Measure Your Plan

Have you heard the song “Seasons of Love” from RENT? It’s one of my favorite songs. The lyrics begin with:

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laugher, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

As Greg and I were developing the 90-Day Makeover, I couldn’t help but think of this song. You have 90 days…how are you going to measure those 90 days?  Or, if you were creating your own song,

One hundred twenty-nine thousand, six hundred minutes
One hundred twenty-nine thousand, six hundred minutes
One hundred twenty-nine thousand, six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure your plan?

In calls made, in confidence,
In prospects, in appointments set
In sales made, in renewals, in referrals, in income
How do you measure, measure your plan?

No matter what improvement plan you start, be it this sales makeover, a fitness program, or a house renovation, you have to determine what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to measure success. What are your goals?  What does success look like for you and this plan?

By setting goals and focusing the things you need to learn and accomplish each day on that day, you’ll be pretty amazed at your success in 90 days. But you can’t just wish success…you have to work for success. And in order to work for success, you have to know what success you’re working for.

So…the question is, how do you measure, measure your plan?


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90 Day Sales Makeover

Posted on April 18, 2011. Filed under: 90 Day Sales Makeover, Management Concepts |

As you might know, I partner with Greg Bennett to offer sales and customer experience consulting, coaching, and training. Greg and I are launching a new offering today – the 90 Day Sales Makeover. With this program, you work one day at a time, over three months, to radically change your mindset and improve your skill set, resulting in greater sales success. You don’t have to be a traditional salesperson to benefit from this program…the lessons you learn and habits you create are useful in any role in which you need to build a network, problem solve, and influence people.

Over the next several days, I’m going to be posting the core beliefs of this program. You’ll see guests posts from Greg in addition to my posts. If you’re interested in finding more, closing more, and keeping more (prospects and clients, that is), please contact us and we’ll chat with you about the 90 Day Sales Makeover. And now on to the first core belief.

Focus Only on Making Today Excellent

When you put your focus only on the day at hand, and on making this day excellent, you aren’t wasting time dwelling on the past and what might have been, or fretting about the future and what could happen to you.  You only worry about making today excellent.

How will you make today excellent?


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Spring Cleaning Your Business – 10 Things to Do

Posted on March 18, 2011. Filed under: Good Habits, Management Concepts | Tags: , |

I’m getting Spring Fever. The temperature in Denver was 70 degrees Wednesday and that did it – I’m ready for spring!  In fact, I might even do some spring cleaning this weekend…you know, take a good look at the closets, the cabinets, determine what I need and what I don’t, perhaps even file our 2010 bills (no, I haven’t gotten to that yet).

All this thought of spring cleaning reminds me that I should take a good look not just at my house, but also at my office and my business.  Is it time for your business spring cleaning too?  There’s no time like the present…here are some things to review:

  1. Look at your business plan. Perhaps you haven’t dug it out for a few months, maybe even several years. Are you hitting your targets? If not, why?  If so, what are your next milestones? Create next steps.
  2. Look at your sales projections. If you haven’t made them for 2011, get busy. If you have, how are you doing against them?  Do you need to step up the pace, keep going, set the projections higher?
  3. Look at your offering, whether product or service. Is it a relevant offering in today’s market? How does your competition stack up against you and vice versa? Do you need to add or lose any products or services?
  4. Find your offering’s sweet spot. Build a differentiated message around that sweet spot to be used in your sales and marketing materials.
  5. Systematize at least one WOW factor in your customer experience. Make it happen every time it should.
  6. Talk to your customers. Ask them how you’re doing via survey, focus groups, or just asking them when you see them.
  7. Thank each of your favorite customers with a phone call, hand-written note, or personal token of appreciation.  No form letters or cards, please.
  8. Thank your employees and your colleagues. Without these people, you probably wouldn’t be where you are today.
  9. Take a class or continuing education course in something you need to learn about your business. We all have room to learn!
  10. Get your company involved in the community. Enough said.

These ten things will take some time, just like spring cleaning your house, but they will pay back both professionally and personally.  Shake that winter dust off and welcome spring!



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The Trouble with “Just”

Posted on March 10, 2011. Filed under: Good Habits, Management Concepts |

Have you ever thought about the word “just?” We certainly use it a lot. “It’ll be just a second.” Have you got just a minute?” “It’s just $9.99!”

Yes, we use it a lot, but in working with prospects and customers, “just’ is a troublesome word.

Take how you view yourself.  Are you “just” a son or daughter? “Just” a friend? “Just” a colleague?  Absolutely not! No one introduces you as “just” someone.  You’re a son or daughter, a friend, a colleague. But how often do you find yourself thinking or saying, “I’m just a salesperson” or “I’m just a marketing manager” or “I’m just a worker bee,” whatever your role is. The problem with “just” is that it discounts you and your role and that is damaging to your wellbeing. It undermines your confidence and lessens you in your own mind. And when you believe you’re a loser, you give off loser vibes…it comes across in your actions and your voice, and others start to believe it too, especially if they don’t know you.

Let’s move on to your words and actions. Would you ever say, “I’m just burning down the house. No big deal…just burning it down. So call me when you can.” I’m thinking not. But many people are quite happy to say, “I’m just checking on that decision to move forward with the contract.” Or “I’m just calling to set an appointment.” Here again, the word “just” discounts everything you say after it. If you’re just calling to set an appointment, it must not be that important, right? If you’re “just” checking in to see if a decision has been made on that $1 million life insurance policy, you’re probably in no hurry to have a decision. At least that’s what it sounds like on the receiving end.

Try taking the adverb “just” out of your vocabulary. Then see what happens. It won’t be easy at first…we’ve all discounted our own selves and our actions far too long to make the switch easily. But listen to how bold it sounds when you take that one word out.

“I’m a salesperson.” “I’m a marketing manager.” “I’m a trash collector.” It doesn’t matter the role, hear how much more confident that sounds?  I once had a client who had hired me to create a corporate mission and vision for his company. I asked him, out of left field, what his personal vision was for his company. His reply, “I want this company to be a blessing to everyone with whom we work.”  Wow – that’s pretty profound and it made quite an impact on me! But how much different would it have sounded if he had said, “I just want this company to be a blessing for everyone with whom we work.” Hear the difference? The first exudes confidence and conviction; the second is kind of like a wallflower…nice, but ho hum. A huge difference by removing the dreaded “just” word.

The same goes for your prospect and customer interactions. “I’m calling to set an appointment.” Or “I’m calling to see if you’ve made a decision on that life insurance policy we discussed last week.” Now you’ve warranted some attention! A direct statement indicates you’re not messing around, you’ve taken the bull by the horns and you’re leading the process, whatever process that it.  And the funny thing is, people respond.

Get “just” out of your vocabulary and see the reaction you get!



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It’s All In Your Mind

Posted on February 25, 2011. Filed under: Good Habits, Management Concepts |

“Come on now, it’s all in your mind!” It’s a pretty common saying and it’s often said to bring us back to reality. But how powerful is your mind? 

The right mindset is critical for success in brand and customer experience. And that becomes even more important when sales are difficult, when customers are difficult, and when you’re so desperate to hang onto clients you’ll do almost anything to keep them.

Boy, it’s easy to see yourself as a victim in the atmosphere we’ve all lived through over the past two years. But that can be dangerous…it can become a downward spiral that reaches bottom only when you do. And the funny thing is, no one can get you out of it but you…because it’s all in your mind. What do you do?

Adopt a affirmation.

Tomorrow, instead of being a victim, take charge. Write or find a daily affirmation that builds you up and makes you responsible for how you view the day (and by the way, that view should be positive). Say it every morning and then throughout the day when you need to (because we all need to every now and then). Once you have that down, expand that affirmation to bolster your confidence, spur your action, and strengthen your commitment – in essence, whatever it takes to make the affirmation fit you perfectly. Keep saying it. Keep saying it. Keep saying it.

In 30 days, you’ll have created a new habit, a habit that will absolutely positively impact your success. Keep saying it and watch what happens! It’s amazing what your mind can do.


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