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Book Recommendation: Beyond Measure

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A nice little book (100 pages) by Margaret Heffernan (former CEO of 5 companies) that highlights the big impact of small changes. To me it’s a book about corporate culture and how we can positively influence its development with little shifts.
One shift is to have more conflict.Now this might seem like a big shift to some but it can start small. As a major influence of mine, Patrick Lencione, likes to say on this subject, “What’s worse than conflict is no conflict.”
Do not be afraid to bring up opposing viewpoints on ideas. The workplace needs counterarguments. Some organizations will actually appoint a Devil’s Advocate for a meeting to ensure a different perspective is shared. Think of ways you can incorporate the steady advance of non-personal conflict in to the workplace.
Another idea that Margaret shares is to monotask. I have been a staunch advocate of this idea that we cannot do 2 things at the same time that require intelligence. This article on Forbes.com talks about a Stanford study that also supported the idea. You can expand on this concept and think about how to handle whole days. For example, Asana has days where meetings are not allowed. Guess what? Workplace productivity zooms on those days!
The last idea I will share with you here is to Go Out. Margaret avers that the best ideas come when you are out of the office. Jack Dorsey came up with the idea for Square by talking with a friend, not by having a meeting at work. Many CEOs say they came up with new thoughts on leadership by coaching little league. Expand on this idea by having people get out of their jobs and in to others. At Method they have people swap jobs for a period so they can see how another part of the company works. Now that’s bold. By the way, the company got started because two friends got together and talked about observations until they came up with an idea they could really get behind.

This book is packed with wisdom in its small footprint. You can learn more and get it at Amazon or learn by watching a video from Margaret here.

Speaking on Short Notice

There are times when you are asked to give an impromptu speech and you don’t want to turn it down. However, it can be a really stressful moment. Not to worry. In this new video I have 2 tips to help you do well even on short notice.

 

Managing Millenials

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Have you heard about Michael Vaudreuil? When the economy collapsed in 2008, it cost him his business, his home, AND his life savings. He took a janitorial job at Worcester Polytechnic Institute to make some money. There was more to it than that though. The Institute offers a free education to employees. Michael started studying mechanical engineering as a major along with psychology as a minor. Did you know there are nearly 75 MILLION millennials in the US? Apparently, the number of baby boomers is about the same. This means there are a ton of boomers managing a sea of millennials.

Is it a challenge? AbsolutelyI frequently get questions about managing them. I’d like to give you a few tips on managing millenials.
4 Keys to Understanding Millennials in the Workplace:
  1. They want plenty of opportunities to grow.
  2. They want coaching and collaborating more than managing.
  3. They want to see that your company is technically savvy.
  4. They want flexible job schedules and work environments.
I can see how any one of the four items above can be a challenge for a boomer manager, but don’t ignore the realities or you’ll be sorry! Trying to force fit millennials in to a boomer’s way of doing things can create plenty of FRICTION.
Want to know more about this topic? Here’s a good article that expands on it written by Michael Nick.

The 7 Top Sources of Stress

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Very interesting read in the September 2016 issue of Success: We feel the most stress from the 7 areas listed below. Think about what you can do to reduce stress in each area. This should have a significant positive impact on your life.

  1. Job pressure

  2. Money

  3. Health

  4. Relationships

  5. Poor nutrition

  6. Media overload

  7. Sleep deprivation

By looking at the list you probably agree that these are absolutely sources of stress in your life or the lives of those you love. I would like to share two ways to reduce stress in the number one category: Job Pressure.

Two Ways to Reduce the #1 Cause of Stress 

 

1. Create Margin in Your Schedule. This first idea comes from Tony Jeary aka The Results Guy (same issue of Success). Tony says to create margin in your schedule. That is, do not schedule your day completely. Leave open times in there during the morning and afternoon. That way you can take a breather when you need to or deal with something unexpected that will require your attention. When you are maxed out, stress ratchets up.

2. Do What You Love. When you love your work, most job pressure is healthy. When we strongly dislike our work, most job pressure is unhealthy and will affect us in the other areas of stress creation. This may be easier advice to dispense than follow, but you cannot say it is not possible unless you do not know what you love to do, which is a whole different source of stress.

 

Reading Recommendation

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Let us break from books for this issue and consider a monthly magazine. Are you reading Success? It is the definitive magazine for achievers and I read it monthly.

One aspect I really like is that each issue comes with a CD you can pop in to the car and listen to while you commute to work. This magazine and audio component is what you need to feed your head with on a regular basis as opposed to the news of the day, which is usually negative.

A one-year subscription is just $29.95 and it is probably worth 100 times that if you truly read, absorb and contemplate how to apply what you have read. If you start getting Success, you will probably find as I do that these magazines are not easily recycled. You can subscribe to the magazine here and also sign up for their weekly newsletter.

Watson Teams Up With Macy’s

If you have been in one of my sales training programs you know that I am very down on the future of salespeople who simply write orders and do not actually add value to the customer interaction. I call these workers, transactional salespeople.Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 2.09.49 PM

The huge numbers of transactional salespeople in retail environments is driving people to the web. Why get in your car to drive to a store when the workers there are more interested in their smartphones and co-workers than you?

There may be a new reality on the horizon for disengaged retail employees and that is exemplified by a new partnership between IBM’s Watson and Macy’s. Shoppers to participating Macy’s stores will be able to use a mobile web tool to get answers to common questions such as, “Where can I find Michael Kors handbags?”

Over time, IBM promises that Watson will get smarter and have even more information to help shoppers. They are trialing this new technology in 10 stores (the only California store participating is in Arcadia… boo!). In 5 of the 10 stores the web tool will be able to engage a store employee for further help. I guess they are still trying to keep humans in the loop. You can learn more about this innovative partnership between the two companies here.

If you run a retail environment you are seeing a glimpse of the future in this partnership. Salespeople who are phoning it in will increasingly be replaced by software and even robots leaving only the high performers who make shopping with them a joy.

One tip to connect with a customer entering your space is to compliment them sincerely on something you notice about them. This will lower their guard and make them appreciative. At that point they will be open to some natural conversation about what brings them to the store today and how you can help make it a better experience. Just don’t start with, “How can I help you?”

Did You Raise Prices This Year?

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The Wall Street Journal reported that prices for goods had fallen by 1.8% from a year ago while prices for services rose by 2.2%. It’s believed that a poor global market is causing goods producers to feel downward price pressures.

As wages pick up, providers of services may find they are able to raise prices due to less pressure from overseas competitors as compared to goods producers.

Consumer spending on services counts for 2/3 of all spending. If you are a service provider and have not raised prices in the past year you should at least seriouslyconsider doing so.

 

But How? One strategy is to send out an annual notice to clients in January stating that you have evaluated prices and costs and have decided to raise prices by x%, or will keep them as is. Even if you choose to keep prices where they are, clients will get used to the annual consideration of such a move. Therefore, they are less likely to defect if you do since this is a normal part of your business process. Of course, you should always be seeking to improve the service you deliver so price rises are not met with incredulity.

What Happens After That? Most of my clients who have raised prices (single digit percentages) have experienced minor customer defection. You may have more power than you think if you are providing a top-notch service. If you are a goods producer, it may be more difficult to raise prices unless you are highly differentiated and what you produce has growing demand.

Stories of Determination and Inspiration

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Have you heard about Michael Vaudreuil?

When the economy collapsed in 2008 it cost him his business, his home, and his life savings. He took a janitorial job at Worcester Polytechnic Institute to make some money. There was more to it than that though. The institute offers a free education to employees. Michael started studying mechanical engineering as a major along with psychology as a minor.

This past spring he graduated with a degree and started looking for work at 54. It wasn’t easy going at first, but then he got featured in a story on NBC News. That was all the exposure he needed. Now he’s working at Pratt & Whitney. You can see the story here.

What about Diana Nyad? 

When it comes to never giving up, you’ll have to put Diana Nyad at the top of the list. In 1978, at age 28, Diana tried to swim from Cuba to Florida. She failed. In 2010 Diana decided to try again. She hadn’t given up on the dream. She failed again suffering from an asthma attack. Later that year she tried and failed again having been bitten by a venomous box jellyfish.

You’d think that would be enough, but no, at age 64 she went after it again and did it! She swam for 53 hours over 110 miles of ocean.  The fact that numerous news stories say she did it without a shark cages tells you something. The next time you’re thinking about giving up on one of your dreams, think of Diana Nyad. You can learn more about her here.

Incidentally these stories of Michael and Diana remind me of the book I recommended in the last issue. That book was Grit. If you have not picked it up yet, put it on your list.

Book Recommendation: Selling From the Inside Out

I originally purchased this book a few years ago in support of a sales consultant and trainer I greatly admired. I started reading it earlier this month and found it to be outstanding. Selling from the Inside Out was written by Tom Redmond. He specializes in the insurance industry, but the book can easily be applied to salespeople in any industry.Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 2.01.55 PM

A few key points Tom makes really well:

  • Call reluctance. This is a major reason why salespeople don’t sell enough. He highlights 12 different forms of call reluctance in the book. Just for that

    content

    the book is worth buying.

  • Are they ready? When we’re talking to a qualified prospect interested in our products or services we should ask them directly if they are prepared to fire their existing provider. By asking this question they’ll know you’re serious about moving them to your company. This gets to how important it is to spend time with qualified prospects. A key reason salespeople don’t make their numbers is because they waste time talking to the unqualified or people not ready to move forward.

  • Recycled proposals. Don’t just cut and paste from old proposals to create new proposals. Just the act of doing that puts you in the wrong frame of mind to serve the new prospect in an entirely original way that suits their company. Don’t do it! Sure you can copy over some elements but get away from automating the process of churning out proposals. It will work against you.

The book is full of many other gems. Tom has a good sense of humor, too. You can grab this book for the incredibly low amount of just $19.95 from Amazon here.

Covered California Rates Going Up!

From the bad news for small businesses department comes this story. There are several carriers claiming that healthcare costs keep going up so they must raise rates for their plans that are offered by Covered Calfornia. So, although they raised their rates last year and this year, they now want to raise them by 13% next year.Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 2.00.04 PM

That’s 3x the increase of the last two years. Read more about it from the San Mateo Daily Journal here. I cover the health plan for one of my employees and hope to do so for the other one soon, but I have to say that a big hike in the rates next year is going to hurt.

If you have questions about health plan options, I highly recommend a chat with my broker, Julie Foster. She’s a whiz when it comes to understanding the overly complex and costly world of health insurance plans for businesses.