Business

I’m Not Your Friend

I freakin love relationships.  I love people. So why the title? Why the post about not being your friend? Let me paint a picture. (This is the part where if this was a movie it would do a ripple fade to another shot).
It’s a normal Tuesday, early afternoon.  You are just getting back from lunch and diving right back into the project that you had to take a break from. As you look up, you see a mountain of emails filling your inbox, and out of the corner of your eye you see a coworker coming over to talk to you about an issue they wanted your help with.  As all of this is going on, you hear a faint noise coming from your right… its the ring tone of your office phone. You don’t want to be a jerk and ignore it so you reach over and pick it up off of the receiver.
As you greet the other person on the line with a hearty hello and your name, what comes next isn’t unusual, but it is jaw dropping.  “Hey Paul, this is so and so from blank company.  I know its been a couple months or so since I last reached out, so I figured I’d call to see how everything is going and catch up.”  Like I said, not unusual, but it is jaw dropping.
All of us have experienced this, and some of us, myself included, are guilty of doing this jaw dropping action.  The exact words we use ourselves, or hear from the other line, may be a little different, but it all amounts to the same thing.  We have no relationship but  would like to shoot the s#!t and burn 15 of their minutes idly chatting.
Again, I am 100% about relationships, but I have begun to see the importance of being selective with those relationships and who I share my time with.  It’s also not that I don’t want to form new relationships, it’s just that I don’t want to idly chit chat with someone who is a complete stranger.
Whenever we call, whether it is a friend, and especially if it is a new contact, call with intention.  Call with a specific, not general, question in mind and if you can hear stress and frustration in their voice, give them an out.  I know this may seem counterproductive to sales, but if you are always calling and idly chit chatting you are not only wasting their time, but yours as well.  The strongest relationships I have, have started  over the simplest things, but those conversations where had with intention.
Remember, I’m not your friend, at least not yet, so please don’t pretend that we are.  Start calling people with intention and I promise those relationships will form.
Community

Pump The Breaks And Listen

I’m pretty sure it’s a universal law that we all love the sound of our own voice… I mean I know I do.  I love hearing my sweet sweet tumbra as I drone on about things I’m passionate about.  As true as this is, I also realize it is the worst thing for me to do to build relationships and really be able to share in people stories.
I have recently been challenged to shut up and listen, and I’m doing my absolute best to heed this advice.  Side story: One of my greatest fears is to have silence in a conversation. I mean I literally used to pray Proverbs 29:25 “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust in the Lord means safety” over and over again as a mantra.  I would pray that over conversations saying to myself that it is dumb to worry about silence or lack of conversation, and that I could trust that the Lord would bless our time and make it beneficial. I still deal with this fear to this day.
Back to the post:  I have had some great advice given to me that I believe will help me conquer the above mentioned fear and make me a better human being, father, husband, friend, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  To put the advice simply, it is to ask an intriguing question and to shut up and let the other person talk.  If I really want to go one step further, it would be to take a vow of silence for a day, or at a networking event, so I can give the other as much runway as they need to talk.  One last thing that I have started doing is bringing a little notebook and pen that I can jot down thoughts that come into my mind so I don’t have to interrupt.  Please, if we ever have the opportunity to talk, hold me to this.
A couple questions to end on.  Are you a fellow interrupter? Do you equally love the sound of your sweet sultry voice? If so, take up this challenge and start to listen more. Lean into the silence. Create better questions.  Learn to listen, actually listen, and give the other person the gift of hearing their own voice / talking about themselves and what is interesting to them.  When you give them this gift, it’s actually quite amazing how much you learn about them and figure out how you can both benefit from the relationship.
Community

A Thank You Note Long Past Due

One of the things I wish I would have realized a long time ago is that life is infinitely better together.  It is amazing how this simple truth escaped me decades ago and how it still seems to be an elusive concept to many who try to do life all on their own.
It was fourth grade and a I wrote a note that my teacher confiscated and brought to the student counselor.  From there my parents were called, my mother came to the school, shocked, and within a day or two I went to another counselor.  I honestly don’t remember much more of the event, probably because I have blocked it out, but one thing I do remember is that I felt so dang alone and empty.
In that loneliness I fell into reading and started devouring books as best I could.  There where a few in particular that really caught my attention and I would constantly go back to.  Those where the books by my favorite author Roald Dahl.  I am so glad I stumbled upon those books because they helped save me from loneliness and isolation.  When I read those books, my imagination would run wild. I would think and dream of characters and lands that were magical and where anything seemed possible.  I would get lost in those books for hours, turning page after page, being filled with wonder and life.  It was these books that brought me into a much better state of mind and that helped form my healthy thirst for creativity and books.
I never ever thought of writing Roald Dahl a letter to thank him until now.  As it turns out though, I wouldn’t have been able to write him one anyway, because by the time I discovered his world and words of wonder, he had already passed away.  Even so, I wanted to immortalize these words and say “Thank you Mr. Dahl.  Your words helped create a since of wonder and creativity and even made me realize that this world is one of pure imagination and full of amazing people with amazing stories.  You helped save me from some dark and lonely times and helped shape who I am today. I am forever grateful.”
Please, take this challenge I am about to give you some serious thought. I challenge you to handwrite a letter to someone who has impacted your life.  Let them know that impact they have had on you. It doesn’t matter if it is someone you have never met in person, just let them know.  If they are no longer on this earth, write a post on the internet letting everyone know what impact they had.  Please, take this challenge and spread some good, and don’t forget to let us know who it was and why you wrote them as well.
Business

I Am Not A Hunter

What are you great at?  I know if you asked me that question, I would say building relationships and sharing in peoples stories.  I love getting to know people for who they are and seeing how we can best partner up and help each other.  Not everyone is wired this way and that is what this article is all about, sorry outdoor enthusiasts or folks who love posts about gun regulations.
We need to fully understand what we are great at, which is part of our personal brand, if we truly want to  make the most sales and have the biggest impact.  If you find yourself as the proverbial “hunter” in sales, then by all means, go out and do your quick kills and bring that back to the “family” so we can eat.  If you are a farmer,  then understand you still have great value for the “family.”  You are playing the long game as you cultivate relationships.  You are the ones that have the opportunity to yield more than what you have “planted.” 
Please do us all a favor and be uniquely you.  Learn what you can from others and books, but apply that with your own personality, shake it up, and see what comes out.  If you want to have more sales, a giant impact, and know what opportunity to choose, first figure out what your great at and then do all you can to do more of that in your job.  Don’t try and be someone else.   Be you through and through and opportunities will start to come about.
Business

Make The Call: Grow your community and knowledge by genuinely caring about others.

Life is infinitely better together and I think that is something we can all agree on. As true as that is, it still seems that people are living their lives more and more in isolation and behind screens.  Let me encourage you to do something a little cray cray… pick up the phone and make a call.  I honestly don’t care to whom, just make the call.

Good, now that we have started to loosen up, I want you to do something really crazy.  What I need you to do is think about the people you interact with on social media or those you work with, but have only talked with through email.  Narrow it down to one person, and give them a call.  Don’t have their number? Doesn’t matter.  Reach out and ask for it.  Don’t make this some weird awkward hopeful date thing.  This is a you genuinely caring about another human being that you have done life with kind of a thing.

I have been able to do this a handful of times over the past couple of months and it has been such a great learning opportunity.  Here are just a handful of things I have learned:

  1. Know your personal brand. This gives clarity for the big and small decisions we’ll make.
  2. Patience, mixed with realistic expectations, is what will help you as you navigate business and the need to not only provide for your family, but also close deals and provide for your customers.
  3. Vague beginnings lead to chaotic endings.
  4. Culture is everything.  Make sure it is their from the beginning of your business and not something you halfheartedly add at the end.

These four brilliant nuggets of gold are what I have learned from others.  Please, do us all a favor and grow your network and community by authentically caring about others and getting to know them.  One last word of caution.  Don’t go into these conversations trying to dig out some brilliant life lesson.  Go into the conversation with some general questions and direction, but let it go where it goes.

Who do you need to call? What did you learn?