“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop” — Ancient Chinese proverb
Even if all your client communications are electronic rather than face to face, your attitude still comes through. Are you friendly? Are you approachable? Are you easy to deal with? Would you want to deal with you?
A great source of suggestions in this area is The Nametag Guy.
Here’s a question that you should clip out and tape to your bathroom mirror. It might save you some angst 15 years from now. The question is, What did you do back when interest rates were at their lowest in 50 years, crime was close to zero, great employees were looking for good jobs, computers made product development and marketing easier than ever, and there was almost no competition for good news about great ideas?
Many people will have to answer that question by saying, “I spent my time waiting, whining, worrying, and wishing.” Because that’s what seems to be going around these days. Fortunately, though, not everyone will have to confess to having made such a bad choice.
Happy Monday, and Happy New Years!
My little book club was lucky enough to talk with Kristy Kiernan, author of the recent book group favorite, Catching Genius. I’ve always wondered about overnight sensation stories like hers, so we talked about her path to success. Turns out Catching Genius is not a first novel… or a second novel… or a third novel. She had to work hard and stay at it through repeated rejections. We’re glad she did. Here’s Kristy herself, talking about the journey:
I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was five, but I didn’t get down to seriously pursuing it until I was thirty. I was thirty-seven before I got my first novel, Catching Genius, published. Over those seven years I had several opportunities to go back to work full-time, but I turned them down, certain that success was just around the corner. After every rejection I would look around our finances to see what else could be cut, and I was slowly running out of possibilities, unless we wanted to stop showering altogether. When, just before I started writing Catching Genius (the fourth manuscript I wrote), we sold my car, I knew I was at the end of my chances and I made plans to re-enter the workplace full-time as soon as I completed it. But fate was with me, and the book sold within two weeks of going on submission. I don’t regret any of the sacrifices. Even if I never wind up taking the New York Times bestseller list by storm, I still know that I did everything I could do to achieve my dreams.
We’re excited to see Kristy’s book do well, and we look forward to the next one!
PS> An aspiring cartoonist was sending work samples to prospective buyers. He was turned down a number of times. One company’s rejection letter even advised him to “find an actual artist to do the drawing.” He shrugged it off and kept going until he got a yes. His name is Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, and he’s now one of the top selling cartoonists of all time. In business, “no” means “keep trying.”
Well, it’s more like Monday Evening Motivation – I got back at noon today from running the Space Coast Half Marathon in Cocoa Beach and haven’t had time until now to get to this.
Take a look at these great motivational quotes from BNET’s Sales Machine. Maybe you won’t find something you want to tattoo on your arm, but I’m sure one or more are worthy of a Post-It™ note on your computer monitor or bathroom mirror.
Greg Mankiw quotes hedgie Mark Sellers instructing Harvard Business School students. Greg focused on the Mark’s comments that clear writing expresses clear thinking (and you’d better be good at clear thinking), but I got a lot more out of the transcript of the speech than that.
Sellers develops the idea of a “moat” as a sustainable competitive advantage and outlines the four economic moats. Anything which can be duplicated (such as technology) is not a moat; it’s a short term advantage. The moats he describes are:
- Economies of scale and scope (WMT, HD)
- The Network Effect (EBAY, MA, AXP)
- Intellectual Property (DIS, NKE,DNA)
- High switching costs (MSFT, PAYX)
He then develops the idea of seven traits of great investors that constitute sustainable sources of advantage. Again, things that can be duplicated easily (such as reading more books or getting an MBA) may be important, but they’re not sustainable sources of advantage. A very interesting speech.
Mrs. Thatcher used to say, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if all he had were good intentions. He had good intentions and money.” (If you haven’t this story in a while, you can read it here.)
Even if you can’t give $27.5 million, I’m sure you can make some room in your business budget to support a cause that’s meaningful to you. It’s a powerful way to influence the world around you in a positive direction.
One of the foundational steps in Stephen Covey’s prescription for self-mastery is developing a sense of honor which is so important to you that it becomes greater than your moods. So if I’ve made a commitment to do something, the fact that I don’t feel like doing it is irrelevant; I’ve promised it, and my sense of honor is greater than my moods, so I must do it.
But moods strike us still, and we need techniques for managing them. The advice of our grandmothers (well, my grandmother at least) was always,
- Get some exercise.
- Count your blessings
The folks over at The Positivity Blog have built out this advice a bit. Take a look.
BusinessPundit wrote a great post about selling for introverts. Now you may have started your web-based business thinking, “No more sales calls! No more sales presentations!” I’m here to tell you that’s the wrong way to think. Everything needs pitching. And you can build your business faster and make more money simply by realizing this, and putting some time and effort into getting better at sales. Like anything else, practice makes perfect.
Don’t just wait by your computer for websurfers to come by, hoping they’ll buy something. Take action! Make calls. Send emails. Give out business cards. Lean forward! Get out there and sell something!
- Focus on your Wildly Important Goals
- Create a compelling scoreboard
- Translate lofty goals into specific actions
- Hold each other accountable all the time
What differentiates a Covey book from the typical “execution” or “decision-making” tome written by some ego-driven CEO is Covey’s distinctively avuncular manner. Somehow it makes it easier to take the hard messages.
The timing of this was serendipitous, because I just had a chance to listen to an HBR Ideacast in which the authors of Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls were interviewed. They discussed how the decision making cannot adequately be evaluated in isolation. Instead, they argued that including quality of execution and follow-through would yield a more holistic measure of decision making effectiveness.