Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

This is a follow up to my blog last Friday on S.M.A.R.T. goals. I believe first and foremost you must have well written goals, which is why I shared the acronym with you first.  However, I believe to take your goals to the next level, to increase the chances you’ll accomplish each and every one of those, there is an additional step.

Allow me to elaborate. I’ve been setting goals with my wife since before we were married.  It started as something we just told each other on New Years Eve when it hit midnight, that was back when we still made it to midnight.  After we got married we agreed we should start writing them down in addition to sharing them, important step.  Then for many years on New Year’s I’d dust them off and we’d review what we did and didn’t accomplish.  I hope you caught that, we’d dust them off.  We never really looked at them during the year, and from what I observe there are a lot of people guilty of that.  You spend all this time thinking, writing, and sharing, then they disappear.  Maybe for a month, or two, or twelve.

It wasn’t until a few years back that once we wrote out the goals we established that I printed them and we both taped them on our mirrors. For me that was a difference maker.  Every morning I’d have those goals staring at me.  Every night before I went to bed there they were, taped to the mirror staring at me.  They couldn’t be ignored.  These are what I deemed as non-negotiable.  It caused me to ask the questions, “What am I going to do today to make these happen,” and, “What did I do today to help make those happen.”

I challenge you, take your goals to the next level. Have them posted somewhere that can’t be ignored.  It doesn’t need to be for anyone else, but somewhere you can ask yourself those two questions.



Weather it’s in your personal life, or business life, I think we can all agree having goals is essential.  However, I still see a lot of confusion around how to set those goals.  I learned the acronym S.M.A.R.T. a while back and thought I’d share.

The S stands for specific. The more specific you can be in your description of the goal the higher probability you’ll achieve it.  For example, instead of, “I want to be rich,” it can be, “I want to make $30,000 a month for the next 10 years by doing xyz.”  Some good questions you can ask to help, “What exactly do I want?  When do I want it? Where? How?”

The next letter M stands for measurable. Measurable means identifying exactly what it is you want, and how you’ll know when you reach your goal.  Instead of, I want to win a sales award.  It might look like I will run x number of appointments every week, to produce x amount of production each month, to win Salesman of the Year by January 2020.

The A stands for attainable. This is a tricky one, you definitely want to shoot for the stars but if you’re not willing to put the time, or effort it takes to achieve it, then it’s not attainable.  If you want to make a million dollars in 2020 but there is zero possibility of doing that in your current job and you’re doing nothing on the side to earn income, then that’s probably not an attainable goal.  You certainly want to stretch, but, no matter how hard I try I won’t be 7ft tall.  I’m 6’4 and done growing in case you’re curious.

The next letter is R, it stands for relevant. The main question here is, why do you want to reach it?  If your goal is to run your own business by December 2019, but it takes three employees to do that and you don’t want to be a boss, you may need to reevaluate your goal.  Think, why do I want to reach this goal?

The last letter, T, stands for timely. This means install deadlines.  For most people deadlines are what make you switch to action.  In sales it feels like 90% of the production is the last week of the month, so set some deadlines for your goals.  Be realistic and flexible, but you must have them.  Napolian Hill said this, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

I hope this helped, and please feel free to share some of your S.M.A.R.T. goals in the comment section below. Remember a goal not written down is only a wish.

2, 4, 5, 6, 9!

No, these are not the words to the newest Dallas Cowboys cheerleading routine.  These numbers make up the ladder of vibrancy.  I have the privilege of working with personal coach Dr. Erin Oksol.  She’s walking my entire office through Brendon Burchard’s book, @BrendonBurchard, “High Performance Habits”.

This last month we were working through habit #2, Generate Energy. That’s when Dr. Erin shared with us the ladder of vibrancy, which I thought I’d touch on briefly.

The first number is 2, it represents 1-2 breaks every hour. The breaks only need to be 2-5 minutes, but it’s a chance to refresh.  Get up, walk around the office, stretch, maybe a breathing exercise.  Just DON’T play on your phone, not the purpose.

The next number is 4, which stands for 2-4 healthy meals a day. Ignore Taco Bell or Jack in the Box, whoever advertises the 5th meal, you don’t need it.

Next up is 5, which is 4-5 liters of water a day. This is a tough one, but, she shared with us the number one culprit of energy loss is actually dehydration.  There are all kinds of water bottles out there to encourage you and keep track.

Almost there, next up is 6, representing 5-6 meditations a week. They don’t have to be long, but it’s a time to reflect on goals, get centered.  It can be prayer, yoga, whatever your cup of tea is.

Last, and certainly not least, 9. This stands for 7-9 hours a sleep a night.  Again, this can be a challenge for some people getting by with 6 or less and thinking, “I don’t have time to sleep.”  Well, you need to make time.  This is all about getting your body to peak physical, emotional, and metal, energy levels.  When your energy is at it’s peak, you’ll be able to perform your best, regardless of the task.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The world belongs to the energetic.”

Lead vs. Lag Indicators

As a sales manager, have you ever had to fire your top producer from the year prior and then found yourself asking, “What happened, they did so well last year?”. I would contend the answer lies in lead vs. lag indicators.

A lead indicator is a predictive measure. For example, in sales it would be number of prospects, or number of appointments. A lag indicator is typically output oriented. Again, an example in sales would be production numbers, or commissions.

In a typical sales environment we spend 90% of our time pouring over lag indicator reports. I’m guilty of this too, after all it’s how we’re judged, compensated, and rewarded in contests. However, we can’t change any of those numbers after the fact. I believe if we spent that same 90% of our time pouring over lead indicator reports we’d be better served.

If you’ve been in sales long enough you’ve seen someone pay that monster case. Their production numbers, lag indicators, are off the chart. We give them awards and plaques. But, what if it was just luck? What if looking at their lead indicators you saw month in and month out they only had one prospect. Yes, maybe that one happened to pan out, but, luck is not a sustainable business model.

Focusing our attention on those lead indicators, such as new names and new appointments will tell us so much more about how our sales individuals are performing. It will also help direct us were we can better train them, before it’s too late. If an agent is consistently running 20 appointments, or whatever the number is, yet closing nothing, we can focus our training on how to close, or run a better appointment. If they are consistently only coming up with 1 or 2 names a month we can focus on prospecting skills.

Yes, it is much harder to track, but, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. These are the conversations we need to be having with our sales agents. Shifting from, “What was your production?” to, “What was your prospecting, how many new appointments?” I believe this will take our agents to the next level.

Life Lessons from Lacrosse??

     No, that’s not me in this picture. In fact, I’ve never even played lacrosse. This picture is actually from my younger son’s tournament this past weekend, where his team won it all. You may be thinking, “I thought I was clicking on a leadership blog, not a sports blog.” Or, “Shouldn’t I be posting this on Facebook if I wanted to brag about my son, not a blog?” You would be somewhat correct, I did post it on Facebook. However, what you don’t see is the picture of my older son. They lost all three of their games on the first day of this tournament, and that’s where the lesson lies.

     If I had taken that picture of my older son it would be of a defeated, tired, head down boy. His attitude was one of frustration, discouragement, and doubt. He was questioning the coach, the team, and thinking about why he put so much hard work into this tournament. Much like many of us after failing at something. We start to question the team, maybe ourselves, the process, the decisions that may have led up to that failure.

     That night I sat with him. I explained, from my experience, character is not determined by how you respond when everything is going well. It’s really built on the foundation of how you respond to adversity. What do you say, and how do you act, when things aren’t going your way? All too often I see people tuck tail and run, or, start playing the blame game when things don’t go according to plan. I don’t quote Mike Tyson often, but he did say, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” My son had a choice. How would he respond the next day after he, and the team, got punched in the mouth? What would his character reveal about him?

      In case you’re wondering, I’m happy to say his character took a big step forward that next day in the tournament. He showed up early, excited, and head held high. He rallied around his team. Although the outcome wasn’t going to be what they hoped when they started, they still won the two games they played that day. Unfortunately, they didn’t win any trophy or medal. However, in my mind they walked away with something far better, character. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Open-Ended, Tie-Down, Porcupine

    What do all three of these have in common you may be asking? These are all types of questions identified in Tom Hopkins book, HOW TO Master the Art of SELLING. This is one of the best sales books I read over 13 years ago, and I still use a lot of what I read today. He identifies many more types of questions in the book, but I thought I’d explain these three and if you like them, you can read the rest for yourself.

Let’s start with the “open-ended”, this is the most common. It’s a type of question that can’t be answer with a yes or no response. It’s meant to elicit conversation and get the client to open up. Let me give you an example. A close ended question would go like this, “Mr. or Mrs. Prospect do you like your auto insurance?” There response short and sweet can be yes or no. A small tweak to make it an “open-ended” question would go like this, “Mr. or Mrs. Prospect what do you like or dislike about your auto insurance?” The answer is going to reveal a lot more about their feelings and how you should approach them next.

Let’s try the next type, “tie-down”. A “tie-down” question is one that’s worded so the prospect feels they are in control of the situation but either answer is perfectly fine to you. An example always helps. “Mr. or Mrs. Prospect do Thursday’s or Friday’s work better for you?” They are in control but, really weather they pick Thursday or Friday your fine with either.

Last one, my favorite name, the “porcupine”. It’s where a client asks you a question and you are unsure of the answer or how to respond; so, you throw the question right back at them. Imagine if someone threw you a porcupine, what would you do? Probably throw it right back, right? Again, an example, Mr. or Mrs. Prospect asks you why they need life insurance. You are at a loss for how to respond so you try the porcupine question. “Well Mr. or Mrs. Prospect, why don’t you need life insurance?” You took their question and threw it right back in hopes to get more information and formulate the appropriate response.

I hope these made sense and again if you enjoy these buy the book, it’s great. If you enjoy this blog so far please hit the subscribe button below and I’ll keep delivering what I hope is some good material.

Not Yet VS. FAILED!!!

I came across an article about a Chicago school a few years ago that started doing something really interesting. Students there needed a certain number of classes to graduate but instead of teachers giving them an “F” if they failed a class, they got a grade of “Not Yet”.

After that, the graduation rate skyrocketed.

The point was, by thinking in terms of “Not Yet” you can set up a path towards growth.

You escape the tyranny of “I just failed” and replace it with the hope of “I’ll get there eventually.”

Psychologists called the change in thinking the Growth Mindset and brain scans actually show a difference in the brains of people who think in terms of “not yet” versus “I failed”. In her TED presentation, “The Power of Believing You Can Improve”, Carol Dweck explains the power of “Not Yet”.

She talks about every time you push through a difficult experience or a failure and say to yourself “I’m not there yet, but I will be someday”  something inside of you changes. You grow in such a huge way that your brain actually gets rewired.

Success in business, and really life, is all about how you respond to failure. Success is not about what you have already achieved. I’m sure you can recount story after story of successful people that overcame adversity.

So today, when you fail or get told no, or when you have a rough weekend or don’t hit your sales goal, fight the urge to look at it as a failure. Instead, tell yourself “just not yet”.

Big changes can happen when you catch this mindset. It transforms the meaning of all your effort from failure to future success and it empowers you to get back on the treadmill of life and keep running.

Do you have a story you can share where this mindset paid off for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.