Monday, March 2, 2015

Single Bound be Gone

I am a self help junkie.  I went to a Robert Allen seminar at 21 and fell in love with the idea of pushing your way to success, proving everyone wrong by merely outworking them and leveraging the power of your good intentions.  I believe that Think and Grow Rich is a way of life, not just a bestselling book.  I see myself as an Outlier and have been living the mantra of early bird get the worm, outwork the competition and staying laser focused on my goals. 

All of this high intensity success speak has led to a somewhat obsessive relationship with my desires, a need to push myself, sometimes to utter exhaustion.  And yet, despite all of these legends (Napoleon Hill, Robert Allen, Malcolm Gladwell, Robert Kiyosaki) telling me to put my nose to the grindstone and delay gratification, I am finally coming to see another side of that coin.

MJ Durkin is a sales coaching professional.  He takes on organizations that are looking to increase their productivity and bottom line and trains them in technique, as well as something he calls, "inner game".  His specialty is network marketing enterprises.  I started with his coaching program about 4 weeks ago and am already discovering a completely different perspective on success and motivation.

MJ says, "

In order to attract more great things into your life you have to appreciate the ones you've got! Many of you keep focusing on what you don't have or what you haven't accomplished yet. That just shuts off the flow of abundance. To take your business to the next level you have to savor, relish and bask in even the smallest of successes. Most of you are too hard on yourselves!!!! Relax, enjoy, savor and let success find its way to you. If you want "effortless income" then let it be effortless!

Who would have thought that after all this time, the key to achieving your goals was to relish, bask and milk all of the small successes along the way.  I mean, it is so much healthier to be happy about getting halfway to your goal than to be stressed that you didn't get it 100%.  I mean, the "problem" with goal setting is that if you expect to have a 100% success ratio, you will be disappointed in yourself a lot of the time, sometimes to the point of losing faith in your own word and intentions, and that is a dangerous place to be.

I'm in an accountability group with some other reps and every day we update each other on our daily activity.  Usually, my posts look something like: 2/28 Affirmations done. Self Talk done.  Listened to 30 minutes of Sales Training audio (done).  Made 25 calls, set 3 appts, picked up 2#s.

But, this past weekend, after traveling across state lines, through boroughs meeting with clients and teammates and staying up late to nurse some under the weather babies, I was exhausted.  My post on Sunday was: 3/1 Affirmations done. Family time done.  And I was hesitant to post it.  I felt like I hadn't done enough to be worth mentioning.  I did nothing for my business that day, other than rest and prepare for the next one.  But, that too is something to celebrate.  I don't have to be stressed about what I'm not doing, but should instead be grateful for all that I am able to do and will continue doing as I progress towards my destination.

Most of us see our goal as a final destination called Success and end up stressing out every day that we take  a single step and don't land on the front door.  Instead, I am starting to enjoy the idea of success as a right of passage. Every day we rejoice that we are one step closer to proving our growth and worthiness to join the fold of those who came before us.

Day 16s reason my business is awesome: I don't have to stress the destination, but instead get to rejoice in each step along the way

Monday, February 23, 2015

The road less taken

Writers love the analogy of a path and a journey.  Everything in life, right down to life itself is a new experience that we live one step at a time, just like traveling down a new path.  But, as per any path, there are dips and turns that require us to decide which way to move next.

Robert Frost, in the infamous poem, The Road Not Taken said:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Of course, Robert's comments assume that 1) you have a destination in mind (know where you want to get to ) and  2) The unknown is more rewarding then the path of least resistance.

To that end, building a business is the ultimate journey.  A lot of people have businesses and even more people  have tried to start businesses, but as most people will tell you, most businesses fail, and fail early.  Bloomberg Business cites that 8 out of 10 small businesses crash and burn within the first 18 months.  With that kind of track record, why would anyone start a new business?  I think Robert Frost would suggest, that finding the less travelled path (the one that 2 out of 10 took) may be the way to go - if you want to have any lasting impact.

Sales guru, MJ Durkin would argue that just choosing the path is not enough however. Being creative and different is not enough to be successful.  You also need persistence.  I guarantee that the path that the 20% are on is not littered with wayfinding signs, daisies, and pit stops to replenish your food and water supply.  It's a hard, rocky road with sharp rocks and dangerous animals. But somehow, you do have to stay the course.

I had a rough week last week.  I made my calls.  I scheduled my appointments.  I hosted awesome Open House events.  And still, my results were not what I wanted.  So, I complained.  I whined about how "I am so great", and "this isn't working", and "why aren't I successful yet?"  And then I listened to MJ talk about moving in the direction of your desires.  My little tantrum was not a scheduled stop on my path.  And my stopping to complain about where I was, was the equivalent of saying I want to travel from Connecticut to California and then being  upset 9 miles into the drive that I was only in Pennsylvania. And in the end, that pit stop, did not get me any closer to my destination.

Yes, choosing the path is a big step.  But staying the course and remembering that you are on a journey is the lesson that is often easily forgotten.  Rome wasn't built in a day.  And no one expected it to be.  So why would I put that kind of pressure on my own business development?

Day 15s reason my business is awesome: Trailblazing day after day after day . . .

Monday, February 9, 2015

Evidence of things not seen

I had a conversation with a friend of mine last week around the topic of religion.  Specifically we were speaking about the distinction between begin religious and being spiritual.  I am a bit of a literalist when it comes to this topic as I see a religious habit as one that is done repeatedly, without thought to greater impact (a without fail mentality). This could apply to attendance at church or temple, a type of prayer performed by rote or any element of the ritualistic that tends to accompany some religious practices.  Spirituality however, has more to do with the connection with the soul, inner self, consciousness (whatever you call it) and that of the larger/greater Universe, God (whomever you call it).  

For many, it is far more attractive to be considered a spiritual person that it is to be regarded as religious.  Religion carries all of the negative connotations of war, zealots, fanaticism, antagonistic and at times terroristic activities.

Spirituality, however bears the badge of honor as the all accepting, welcoming piece of the world that we all possess and can tap into.  Spirituality is friendly.  It's faith without all the rules and regulations.  Everyone likes that.

In my journey to become a better salesperson, leader, entrepreneur, I have had more than one encounter where I have been told that what is required is that I become a modern philosopher.  People who succeed in my business are on the top of their game - exuding their best self all of the time.  Always positive, never doubtful, and most importantly they are supercharged with an overabundance of faith.  These people are business rock stars because they have worked so hard on their spiritual well being.  To be centered is to be balanced, happy calm - to know that even though you can't see the end that it is there, to know that even though you don't know how, a way will present itself.  It's calm under pressure, it's an inner peace and confidence in self that you can't imitate.

Some would confuse good businesspeople as being soulless, without faith. But attendance to the religious is not the same as faith.   Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1).  Faith is believing God loves you whether you go to Church or not.  A good businessperson has the most faith of all - for they believe in a way, a product, a service that will change the world - and believe in it so much, that they would risk their entire livelihood on that belief.  That's faith.  That's Immanuel Kant's double jump: believing even when rationale says you should not.

I can exercise my prospecting muscle, my presentation muscles, beef up my sales skills.  But the mark of the great is their undeniable and unwavering faith in themselves, their mission and their vision.

Day 14s reason my business is awesome: Only the faithful survive.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Night Lights

So I never played team sports growing up, not in the classic sense at least.  I danced in school and out of school.  I was in ballet at 4 years old, took tap, jazz, was on the hip hop competition team through high school and then was on my school's dance team and later captained the High School Drill team.  I spent a lot of time learning how to perfect my craft personally and then coordinated with other people who perfected their personal craft.  I could enter a competition as an individual or as a team, but as a dance team, you are still only responsible for your individual performance.  Dance is a visual and performance art. That's how I roll.

Now, being in a team centered business, I am finding that relinquishing power and responsibility to others is kind of tough.  Luckily, my husband played football in high school, and I love TV shows about high school.

I watched the entirety of the Friday Night Lights television series (5 seasons) over the course of a couple months. This is what I learned:

The QB (quarterback) is the leader of the team.  He calls the plays, he reads the signals and the whole team works to protect him.  Red jersey means you don't hit the QB in practice.

A good Running Back is also instrumental to your team.  If your running back and QB are best friends and have good rapport, you can make touchdowns in two ways- that's good.

Wide Receiver - They are good at following directions. If they are worth their weight, they always show up where you need them.

Team means you protect each other.  Team means you work together.  Team means you communicate when the play changes. Your successes are largely placed on the back of the Quarterback.  As a quarterback, you don't just have to coordinate with a team, you also have to call the play, be a leader and garner respect so that when you move, the team moves.  That's how you win football games.  It's not about personal best ever -- it's about collaboration 100%.

I get it.  A quarterback isn't the biggest guy, but he tends to be the most athletic OR the hardest worker OR the most respected.  He's the person everyone wants to work for and for that he has to be the role model. Being a leader isn't about being the best for you, it's about bringing the best out of your players . . . out of the team.

Day 13 reason my business is awesome: A would be ballerina can grow to be a QB

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Family Business

My full time gig is working with a group of high achieving schools in New York. One of the key components of any child's success is the involvement of the parents.  Schools make sure that every week, they hold a Community Circle, where parents and family members can come and see each class cheer for their classmates and themselves and or participate in some positive reinforcement based activity or competition.  There is a strong sense of "it takes a village" in those moments and they tend to be the highlight of any given week in a school building.  It motivates the kids, empowers the parents, reminds the teachers of their why.

Most industries in the business sector would not be keen on folks inviting their spouses or family members to come to business meetings or events.  In fact the idea of you working with or for a member of your family is looked down upon as favoritism and can be a huge HR concern.  (No one wants to get sued for being nice to their family).  For most, there is an internal struggle for where to spend your time (with your family or with your job).  So working professionals are constantly choosing one over the other.

For working moms this battle becomes a stretched out decision, impacting all aspects of life - pursue your career or start a family.  Rarely at the same time.  This truism forces women to take time off from their careers to raise a family, which slows their progression professionally. It takes them out of the workforce (slowing their accrual of retirement funds) and when they do return it's still for .80c/$1 compared to her male counterparts.  Family has never been part of the business world and for women it's actually seen as a pretty severe handicap.

The company I contract for in my own business has the opposite approach. With a foundation in financial education as the business' product, it's as though the idea of a community circle has lodged itself in the core business model.  They know that family is a motivator, a necessity of basic human relations and of high functioning teams.  People who don't have family, will manufacture one from their colleagues and close teammates. We hold meetings and trainings where spouses are encouraged to come.  They host breakout sessions for significant others to learn how to be supportive in the business both personally and professionally. Even at large conferences and events, you will find small children playing or sleeping in strollers because it is acknowledged that the primary motivator behind most businesspeople is the desire to provide for the family in a way that is bigger and better than they have been able to do it before.

Case in point, I went to a training event last weekend to learn how to grow my business.  In attendance: My husband, his mother, his sister, his cousin and both of our kids.  We ate together, we packed into a hotel room together, we learned together.  In a world where we are told there is no room for family in the work place, this is the only field I have found where family is the reason for the workplace, and they keep that ideal front and center.  God, Family, Business in that order.

Day 12s reason my business is awesome: Family Business redefined.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Smile- It won't mess up your hair

There is a doo wop group that rides the A train from time to time. They are actually really good.  They sing acapella and carry that kind of vibe that makes you feel like pan handling is one of the greatest treats New York has to offer.  Of course, they do want donations in exchange for a song, but if you have nothing to give, they always depart the car with "and remember, smile. Because it won't mess up your hair."  SO TRUE.

They say the best things in life are free.  Hugs are free.  Love is free.  Health is free (though healthcare is a work in progress).

Smiling is probably one of the few things that we have in abundance/unlimited supply and yet we hoard our smiles unnecessarily.  Dale Carnegie's Principle #5 from How to Win Friends and Influence People is "Smile".  Smiling builds instant rapport, and a way to connect with people without words. That means you can do it from across a crowded room, in the midst of deafening noise, with your hands tied behind your back.  It doesn't require any extra training - we know how to smile from the time we are infants, and if you have ever had a baby smile at you, you already know they are experts in the field.  A baby's smile melts your heart, changes your mood, and reminds you of what is great about humankind.

So why don't people smile more?  Are we afraid of looking silly? Do we not have enough to smile about?  Are we just plain old grumpy all the time?  I would hope not.  And if we are, smiling will probably cure those ailments. After all, smiling has been shown to reduce stress, increase productivity, better your mood, encourage trust, boost your immune system and make you look younger.  And the best part?  Smiling is contagious!!  That's right.  If you smile, all those benefits go viral!

So now, ask yourself, could I benefit from any of the upsides of smiling?  Do I need to reduce stress, increase productivity, feel better, look better, be better or form stronger alliances?  If the answer is yes, then get to it.  Or rather, tell your face to get to it.  I promise it won't mess up your hair.

Day 11s reason my business is awesome: The more you smile, the more business you get

Monday, January 19, 2015

Whenever, Whoever

We had an event at the office the other night.  We have been hosting women's seminars every month since November to build camaraderie and a degree of fellowship amongst the women in the office.  The office itself is a self proclaimed boys' club, so sometimes the women get lost in the mix, overshadowed by loud, inappropriate music, a lack of toilet paper and an air of condescension that tends to repel the "gentler" sex.

I always speak or do part of the presentation and the events have gradually grown in attendance and fun ratio to the point where no one wants to leave after we wrap.  We have food and snacks, wine. The male reps serve us for the night, helping us make sure everyone is taken care of.  It's a lot of fun.  One of the things I had the ladies do, was to close their eyes and imagine where they would be Wednesday at 3 pm if money were no object.  Some were on the beach, others were at a massage . . . together we painted a fantasy life to be envied.  No one said, at the office, checking email or in a meeting with my boss about x issue.  If given full reign of their schedule, these women were very picky with where they would be, what they would be doing, and who they would be doing it with.

Sunday I had 9 appointments on the books.  I knew half of them would reschedule or cancel on me, and I was right.  I did 2 appointments, 3 called to reschedule, 2 all out cancelled/flaked/hung up on me en route, and 2 no showed/forgot.  Today, Monday I was looking forward to staying in with the family, doing chores and preparing for the week.  I did one of yesterday's reschedules today and she was awesome.  Intelligent, cares about her community, well travelled and a self proclaimed goal setter and goal hitter.  I cannot wait to meet with her again to deliver her plan.

Another client also wanted to reschedule for today.  He's a loose acquaintance who I have offered my aide to consistently since we met about 2 years ago.  He has cancelled on me no less than 6 times.  This time, I think was the most inconsiderate as he was my last appointment for Sunday night (8 pm), it had been raining outside all day, and he texted me at 7 to cancel our 8 o'clock.  He also assumed that I would be available on Monday (today) to meet with him.  Granted, I did leave my family to meet a client earlier in the day, but the idea of cutting out more family time to meet with someone who had a record of disrespecting my time, was not something I was prepared to do.  So I didn't.  I told him I was not available (which was the truth). I cleaned my house and I tucked my kids in to bed.

There is nothing so satisfying as being able to 1) own your schedule and 2) be able to decide when you do business, and who you do it with.

Here's to living the dream and owning it.

Day 10s reason my business is awesome: I work with whoever I want, whenever I want.  Period.