The Unremarkable Tax

“Advertising is a tax we pay for not being remarkable.”

          –     Roy H. Williams, The Wizard of Ads (b.1958), in the November 18th Monday Morning Memo

I quote Roy Williams and Seth Godin so much that I’m not even going to link them this morning.  If you want to know more about them and my history with them, just shoot me a comment below.  In the meantime, use The Google™ and lookup Roy and Seth.  Tell ’em I say “Hey!”

“Is it really a cost, or is it an investment?”  I had a boss once who trained us to ask that question, with a straight face and a relatively condescending voice, as if a business owner had never considered that question.  Honestly!  How do you spell “schmaltzy?”  (Oh, I just did…?  Never mind…)

Here’s the deal. If it ain’t remarkable, it’s an expense.  A cost.  Blown money, or at least under-utilized money.

If it’s remarkable though, that noise you hear inside your head is the figurative jingle-jangle of that figurative little bell over the door of your “store” and the cash register cha-chinging out bidness.

No one likes taxes.  Put enough time into your message to make it remarkable — and it will never remotely be like paying a tax.

Nothing Changed But Everything Is Different

“Isn’t it funny how day-by-day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?”

–     C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963), British (Irish-born) writer and lay theologian, as quoted by Mike Householder in Sunday’s Sermon at Lutheran Church of Hope

The Slow Fade

What’s not routine can seem absurd.  Pastor Mike started the sermon with clips from the Today Show™ as Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric referred to “Internet” with incredulous looks on their faces and tones in their voices.  Last week, Marc Benioff, the founder, and chairman of Salesforce, stated publicly that he no longer owns a computer and runs his $143 billion company solely from his smartphone.  Just 25 years after Bryant and Katie almost lost their minds over “violence@nbc.ge.com,” one of the most successful executives of our lifetime has leveraged “Internet” to not only dominate markets but to function in a way that is completely foreign to folks who genuinely believe that nothing changes day-by-day.

A 4-minute mile?  Ha!  Absurd.   The record for the mile run hadn’t changed for 12 years before 1954 when Roger Bannister cracked the 4:00-mark.  It was broken five times in the next ten years.  Once the barrier is passed, it might as well have never existed.

Internet and the 4-minute mile are public examples.  Privately, our habits and discipline may not seem to change until one day we wake up 20 pounds heavier or three shades grayer, look back and realize that everything is different.

It’s a “slow fade” that is faster and more contrasting than we perceive, in the moment.

Change Ain’t Necessarily Bad

It’s not that all change is bad.  Change is only bad when it’s going nowhere, or when it’s going somewhere detrimental. It can be pretty scary, however, when we remain unaware that it is taking place, regardless of where the destination might be.

Purposeful, planful change is where the magic happens.  What problem are we trying to solve?  What do we want “it” to look like on the other side of the change?  Are we facing a disruptive force in our market or complacency in our own strategy?

The fact remains that “change will only occur when the fear of change is overcome by the pain of remaining the same.”  If we’re not feeling the pain, we have to ask if we’re numb or if we’re dumb.  In either case, purposeful, planful change is our only way forward.  If we are aware of the pain, we can assess, prescribe and (here’s the crescendo!) either get ahead or stay ahead of the market.

The Ricky Bobby Theory

If you ain’t first, you’re last,” the fictional stock-car driver says in Talladega Nights; The Ballad of Ricky BobbyWhile true in the movie, and in any winner-take-all competition, it’s worth noting that it’s almost never true in business because when we retain 100% of the business we have, we’re ahead of the game from Day #1. When we keep what we have, and grow by a little, we’re growing.  We’re relevant.  We’re gonna be ok, at least for the foreseeable future.  Getting sucked into the first-or-last mindset, we can grow 20%, lose 30% and be toast by the end of the quarter, even if we’re not publicly traded. (That’s NOT a ding on Jim Collins… 

Momentum Is The Linchpin, Awareness The Constant

What Gumble and Couric failed to realize was that “Internet” had momentum.  What Salesforce’s competitors failed to realize was that Marc’s smartphone was better than their server farms, cloud or acquisition strategy.  What a large percentage of companies don’t realize is their day-to-day ceased being relevant quite some time ago, and soon, they’ll look back and realize that everything is different, and those moving vans out front are here to pick up their stuff and sell it on eBay.

If we have momentum, we’d better be aware of it, and figure out how to stand on the accelerator and shake-and-bake our way to the winner’s circle.

If we don’t have momentum, we’d better be aware and find a little shake-n-bake to grab some.

Nothing and Everything

Nothing may seem to change today, but something will.  And it will mean everything if we’re the driver of that change, the author of that strategy and “internet” to everyone else’s incredulity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intentional Communication

“Lack of candor blocks smart ideas, fast action and good people contributing all the stuff they’ve got.  It’s a killer.” 

–     Jack Welch (b. 193x), former chairman and CEO of GE — leadership mastermind

You’ve often heard me say “intent matters more than content,” and we also covered the risk in that approach last week, and how to make sure we use our words for good and not evil.

That said, as leaders, we simply must communicate intentionally.  GE was a juggernaut during Welch’s time because candor was table stakes to be in a leadership role.

So, Blog Dog, did you read this in one of your books?

No, but I am writing that book, based, in part of this topic.

I’ve been blessed to have a dozen or so great mentors and role models, and have learned and grown from their impact.  I’ve also worked for two of the worst communicators in the history of commerce, but man would they be a waste of a Daily DIff.  Instead, we’ll focus on the two best intentional communicators I’ll ever know; Owen Sullivan, the current COO at NCR, and Dick Chapin, an absolute legend in local broadcasting.

“Chap” (long “a”) was relentless.  If any of us who came up under Dick’s tutelage happened upon one another in an airport or a football game, less than thirty-seconds would pass before we’d be recounting, in imitation of his high-pitched, banty-rooster voice, the time that he said, “Heston!  Rosie! Coughlin! Hinrikus! What the _______ were you thinking?  I swear to God, had I known you’d ________, I’d have never put my radio station in your hands!  Now get out of my office and do the job the way you can, the way I taught you…the way you’ve done it before this colossal screwup!”

He could be intimidating, and he could make you feel two-inches tall.  But if he ever did, it was for about a two-second window of time, followed by a no-less relentless effort to build us back up and make us better.

Owen is spontaneous. If he thought we were cheating ourselves or performing at less than his expectations of us he could become Mt. Sullivan.  I will never forget the day that he thought my closest teammate wasn’t “on his game.”  With very intentional communication, he told us why he wasn’t going to accept whatever mistake _____ had made from any of us, “especially” my buddy, “who’s supposed to be the best of the bunch!”  As we left the Executive Conference Room, Owen said, “______, let’s go across the street and grab a beer.”  My buddy replied, “Owen, I’m not even going to like you again until a week from Thursday.”  Owen smiled that impish, Irish smile of his, turned to his admin and said, without hesitation, “Sharon, put me and ______ down for a beer, a week from Thursday.”

It was over for him. He had moved on already, and we learned that it should be over for us, too, except for that part about getting better because of it.  I haven’t seen Owen for about ten years, Chapin closer to twenty.  But to this day, if someone were to take a crack at one of them, they’d have to go through me, and about 90% of the rest of the folks who have had great careers because Owen and Dick are exceptional leaders and intentional communicators.

But, Heston, that must have been really difficult to work for those guys…

Um, no.  We knew exactly what we were in no matter what we were in, and we knew they were in it with us, fighting at the front, where the action was.

Were there difficult days?  You bet.  Did we face some brutal market conditions and pressure on our business?  Absolutely.  Did the pressure sometimes get the best of us?  Maybe.  Did we sometimes worry they’d become unhinged?  Yeah, if we’re honest, we did.  But there is one thing that I remember about all of those times more than any other.  Laughter.  We laughed loud and long, sometimes in the middle of an intentionally delivered a**-chewing.

And it permeated our teams.  We went after one another, intentionally.  We raised our voices from time-to-time.  Intentionally, and perhaps embarrassingly, but 100% intentionally.  We defended one another and lifted one another up, intentionally.  And we laughed our butts off, sometimes with each other, sometimes at each other, but always together, spontaneously and genuinely.  I bet I’ve laughed more in tough-topic meetings with Owen, Dick, Bill Clay and Randy Watson than during the rest of the meetings in my life, and God knows there have been too many of them.

Dude, your posts this week have been too long — what do you want us to take away from this one?

  1. Communicate intentionally.  Leave no doubt.
  2. Focus so much on expectations that not a second is ever wasted wondering if we’re working on the right things.
  3. Don’t make it personal and don’t take it personally.  If we can’t be real with one another, we have the wrong people in the room or on the team.
  4. Put the passion back in.  Milquetoast ain’t the stuff of difference-makers.  Build a team that wants a piece of each other, because they know those pieces add up to something special when we’re all on the same page.
  5. Build trust and respect as foundations for intentional communication.  Not ironically, the best way to build trust and respect?  Intentional communication.  (Saw that one coming, didn’t you?)

 

Let’s fix the single biggest problem in communication before it happens.  Communicate. Intentionally.  It will make a difference.

The Soundtracks In Our Heads

“Music is the melody whose text is the world.”

–       Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788-1860)

Indulge me here.  Music matters.  And I dare you to click on and listen to the songs below and tell me that they’re not all great songs.  I dare you.  There’s a comment section below.  Wanna have this conversation?  Let’s do it!

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Music…

When something really cool happens – the kids do something amazing, or She Who Birthed The Three and I have that awesome glass of wine, or I hit that “perfect” golf shot or something in nature catches my eye “just so,” there’s a soundtrack in my noggin that helps imprint it permanently.  By the same token, when I am in a tough spot – a difficult negotiation, a “crucial conversation” with a team-member or client, or a scenario where I really need to focus and “nail it,” – there’s a soundtrack in my noggin that helps then, too, if I’ll let it.

There’s almost always music in there somewhere for me, I guess.

If we listen for the “song cues” in day-to-day conversations, I wonder if there’s not some difference-making that will occur more effortlessly, more efficiently… Oh, and it’s impossible for me to hear Muzak® in an elevator without seeing, in my mind’s eye, the scene from The Blues Brothers where Jake and Elwood are riding up to the Cook County Assessor’s office…

Examples, Please!

Storytelling:  Yes, it is really long, but worth every second; Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacree

People who want to waste time on unimportant stuff:  BR-549’s Ain’t Got Time

When I’m tired but gotta get one across the finish line:  Toby Keith’s As Good As I Once Was

When dealing with people that just. Don’t. Get it: The Refreshment’s Banditos

When you know that there has to be a better way: Ben Harper’s Better Way

Those days that you feel like giving up:  Steven Curtis Chapman’s Take Another Step

Getting someone to deal with reality:  Shakey Grave’s Dearly Departed

When taking a risk, feeling the fear:  Molly Hatchet’s Flirtin’ With Disaster

When taking a risk, feeling the adrenaline rush:  Blackberry Smoke’s I Can Feel A Good One

When you just know they’re wrong:  Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s You Know You Wrong

When our belief is in doubt:  Cowboy Mouth’s I Believe

The boss / spouse / partner / client / coach / teacher / whoever else is mad at us:  Jason D Williams’ You Look Like I Could Use A Drink

When we’re feeling restless:  Jimmy Buffet’s Pacing the Cage

When we need to power through anything:  G3 Live’s (Satriani, Johnson, Vai) I’m Going Down

When we have to choose between good and evil:  The Steeldriver’s Reckless Side of Me

I could do this for weeks, but you get the point…

Somewhere in our noggins is a soundtrack, and it will connect with wherever we find it.  It’s as if music is the doctor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the music flow, as we cross another corporate milestone, and make something incredible happen today!

A Wax Seal, A Heart and A Hashtag

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and always reminded of them.”

–     Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862), American poet, essayist, philosopher and best known for his primary works; “Walden” and “Civil Disobedience”

I seal personal notes with a wax seal — An “H” pressed into freshly-melted Heston Group Blue wax.  It’s time-consuming and sort of a pain in the ass.  And it’s worth it.

Every note I leave my wife, kids, or closest friends includes a hand-drawn heart above and to the left of my signature.  It’s trite and quaint and every last one of those people already knows that I love them.  But it’s worth it.

A valued, trusted client of mine notates every communication with the same hashtag.  Hand-written, blog post, social media post, internal communication — heck, I’ve heard him say “hashtag get better every day” verbally.  Yes, you guessed it.  It’s worth it.

Heston!  What. Is. Your. Point?

We can be ordinary and not worthy of mention, or we can be remarkable.

Seth Godin wrote a book right before I first met him in 2003.  “Purple Cow; Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable” transformed my career and my life.  Seth signed the book, “Steve, Moo! From Seth.”

The book defines being remarkable as “worthy of being remarked upon.”

Still not getting it!  Focus, Blogger Boy! Focus!

Ok, look!  Drive across the USA and you’ll see a bazillion cows; black, brown or other boring cow colors…you get the picture.  But spot just one purple cow and the dinner-table conversation tonight is set.  “You will never guess what we saw today!”

All right, are you saying we should paint cows?

Pretty much, yeah.

Each day, we have multiple opportunities to become remarkable by displaying our figurative purple cows in plain sight.

We might use a wax stamp.  We might draw a heart by our signature or attach a clever hashtag.

Here’s the scary part.  Each day, we also have multiple opportunities to leave an indelible impression, and instead, we whiff, trotting out a plain-old brown or black cow that has a better chance of being dinner than being remarked upon during dinner.

“Sigh,” you’re thinking. “For crying out loud, dude, we’re busy!  We don’t do it on purpose!”  Of course not, but we do it, nonetheless…

We might use bad grammar, misspell a word.  We might slump our shoulders, show up three minutes late for a meeting, or not pay attention, even if we’re on time. We might miss a deadline.  Not only will those indelible impressions undermine all the wax seals, kept-promises, hearts, and hashtags, they’re also easily avoidable.

Alternatives to decorating bovines…

Download Grammarly.  Set your watch ahead or, better yet, manage your day so that you’re never late.  Read up, yes, study before each meeting and come better prepared and better informed than anyone else.  In other words, one lazy, careless or unintended impression kills all the work that went into painting our cow a lovely shade of Waukee Warrior Purple.

 

 

 

 

That’s up to you.  What will you do with this concept to make a difference?

Role Play

“Role-playing games are contests in which the players usually cooperate as a group to achieve a common goal rather than compete to eliminate one another from play. Role-playing games bring players together in a mutual effort.”

–          Gary Gygax (1938 – 2008), American author and game designer, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons

Wait!  Even though the post runs a little long today, I gotta get these three things off my chest first…

  1. I am at least a little panic-stricken about what a post titled “Role Play” might bring me via SEO.  Just sayin’…
  2. I know absolutely nothing about Dungeons & Dragons.  If you locked me in a dungeon with a dragon, I would still not make the connection.
  3. #2 doesn’t matter, because this statement from Gary Gygax is brilliant! He should have been a sales leader.

We play the way we practice…

If you’re in the business of selling for a living, your success will occur directly in correlation with how much time you and your teammates spend role-playing.  Lest we get into a “does not, does too” argument, I will resist dropping the mic there.  (Oh, man I am SO tempted to drop the mic…)

When a prospect objects because ____________, we risk being caught flat-footed and ill-prepared if we’ve never role-played the scenario.

The reason it’s a group activity with common goals is that participating with a group brings multiple perspectives, eyes, ears, brains, and voices to the scenario.  It makes our practice feel as much like the real game as we can simulate.  If a double-engine-stall exercise in a flight simulator works for pilots, why wouldn’t an off-the-wall objection role-play work for a sales pro?  (In both cases, by the way, we avert disaster by lowering the stakes, albeit with different carnage factors involved!)

When we recite features and benefits, our mouths work overtime while our brains take PTO…and our prospects check out!

I’m not saying we don’t need to know our products.  We also shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking our prospects care about them.  At. All.  Role-playing forces us off the script and into the world of “why did they say that?”

At the risk of role-playing in a blog post, let’s start with the script and move on to the stuff that changes the conversation; in other words, let’s role-play in a blog post!

Us:  “…and that’s why our widgets are the highest rated widgets in the entire widget world!”

Prospect:  “Seriously?  Do you think I give rat’s booty about widget ratings?  I care about one thing!  My costs.  No matter who made the widget or where that widget ranks!

Us (if we’ve never role-played):  “Well, duh!  You should!  I mean, cost?  Really? Why would that matter when you could have the top-ranked widget in your machine? And besides, our competitors just mark up other stuff to cover the real cost of their widgets.  Please-oh-please-oh-PLEASE buy my widgets!”

Prospect (if we said that):  “Get.  Out.  Now!

Let’s try that one more time, from the part where the client asked a perfectly logical question…

Prospect:  “All I care about is my costs.  Why do I care where the widgets rate?”

Us (when we’ve role-played): “That makes perfect sense.  Tell me, how do you factor the variables into your cost models?”

Prospect:  “Huh?” (Also knows as the “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” response…)

Us (when we’ve role-played):  “Does downtime get factored in as a cost?  What about reputation risk if the machine breaks down?  Are your customers sort of like you, in that they won’t always know (or care) what made it break — they’ll just want it to work?  Does time-to-market get measured in your cost model?  Our customers find they get their widgets a week sooner than other widget providers, because of the precise specs to which ours are manufactured. That gets them to market faster, and because of our customer-focused terms, their cash flow usually gets a nice bump.  So, shame on me for not making the point better earlier, but if the cost is your primary concern, I’ll bet you and I could put pencil-to-paper and figure out exactly where we come in — and I like our odds.”

But, Steve, we can’t imagine the conversation playing out like that!

It might not.  But if we’re just wanting to parrot features and benefits, the first conversation — the one that ends in “Get. Out. Now!” — is pretty likely to occur.

Speaking of imagining — role-play in sales training is about being ready, nimble, sharp and compelling.  It’s about bringing the players together in a mutual effort to make a difference.

Post-Script, featuring my friends, Tom and Tim

Tom Miller and Tim Luger are two of the best dudes with whom I’ve ever worked.  Tom called me one night from a nice restaurant, where he was celebrating with his wife.  “We were just talking about a decision we had to make, and she stopped in the middle and said, “Did you just Heston me?”  Tim and I were at a Packers game at Kroll’s getting a pre-game, 4,000 calorie meal  Tim’s significant other was weighing what to order.  Tim started to role-play the benefits of the burger vs. the chicken sandwich, fully hamming up the role-play.  She looked at me and said, “I blame you…”

It’s a way of life for us.  It’s how we changed the conversation and dramatically amped up our outcomes.  It’s how we learned and grew, together. Even though we no longer work together, we frequently connect to role-play scenarios, some professional, some personal.  Role-playing makes a difference for Tom, Tim and me and for every team-member I’ve ever worked with.

It’ll make a difference for you, too.

Drop me a note in the comments if you’d help with getting the discipline in place for your team.  Better yet, drop me a note if you disagree, and then let’s role-play it out!

 

 

 

 

On First Meeting

When I meet you, there are six of us.  There is the one I think I am and the one I think you are.  There is the one you think I am and the one you think you are. And, there is the one I really am and the one you really are.”

          –    Unattributed….I think it was Dr. Graf…so we’ll give him credit…

On Monday, I’m meeting some folks for the first time.  I bet we’ll all make some assumptions about who we’re going to meet and who we’re meeting when we do meet.  Doh!  Assumptions rarely lead to our best moments, do they?  For over 30 years now, I’ve noticed that the closer I keep this picture of “the six of us” in mind, the better the results from first meetings, and the relationships that subsequently evolve.

Oh, I’ve seen this before…

It’s easy to make the assumption that “we’ve seen this before.”  And sometimes, we have.  The person who _____________ must be like that other person that said that, after all.  Except, no.  On the other hand, I’ve seen The Blues Brothers before.  More than 100 times.  So, I really do know when Carrie Fisher is gonna try — again — to kill Jake and Elwood.  No matter how many first, introductory meetings we’ve had, though, we haven’t seen this one before.  Honor it by being completely in it.

You’re exactly like…

Nope. Sorry, you’re not.  You’re not even exactly like you were yesterday.  And I’m not either.  Heck, multiple times on Monday — and most days — we’ll flex between the one we think we are, the one you think we are and the one we really are.

Ok, so what’s the point?

Let’s be aware of all six people in the first meeting between us.  And let’s deploy every tactic and thought process we can to be the one we really are as often as possible.  We won’t get it perfect.  We won’t always be aware when we’re getting it wrong, but it’s worth pursuing.  More importantly, when I just look at and listen to you, with the belief that I want to get to know you as you really are, isn’t that about the best way I can make a difference for you, and, for that matter, for me, too?

Monday, I’m meeting some folks for the first time.  I can’t wait to get to know them, hopefully, for who they really are.

 

 

Path To Peace and People To Walk It With

“The path to peace requires courage, restraint, the willingness to listen, and an open mind.”

–     Roy H. Williams, “The Wizard of Ads” (b. 1958), in a recent Monday Morning Memo

Regardless of our path, it matters who we walk beside.

Today, The ‘Diff is a tribute to a handful of folks that make me better.  It also calls out a couple of tools that make a big difference for me (and thus, my clients).  I’d encourage you to check them out, ’cause I bet they’ll have the same effect for you.

Jodi Heston.  Mother to The Three, embodiment of tolerance and loyalty proved out over 21+ years and counting.  Better than I deserve, and Vegas won’t even put a line on how much better.  She’s the best event professional on earth.  Corporate incentive trips, association leadership, fundraisers, parties, recognition, you name it.  She’s creative, smart and gets sh** done, better than you knew you wanted it.  When I say “check her out,” I mean her work is worth a serious look.  If you don’t use Jodi, you’ll always wonder if your event would have been better.  And, yes, it would have been. Thanks for asking.

Seth Godin. I first met Seth nearly 20 years ago when we hired him to speak to clients.  I’ve read every post he’s made since that day, and 98.9% of them have impacted who I am and what I do.  

Marcus Buckingham.  In the late 1990’s a handsome guy sat next to me in First-Class on a United flight from Denver to Omaha.  He asked me, in a crisp British accent, 47 questions about the book I was reading.  It was a late Friday flight, and I was tired.  Stressed out, preparing to train some people on this cool book, I finally offered, as we deplaned at OMA — “Give me your card, I’ll send you a copy of the book,” thinking “since you’re so damned interested in it, pal.

“Oh, that won’t be necessary,” he replied in that perfect accent.  “I wrote it!”  DOH! 

Yep.  It was.  Marcus.  Freaking.  Buckingham!  Marcus was kind enough to have a few follow-up conversations and continue to write difference-making material for the next 20 years and counting.  His methods, philosophies, and approaches are foundational to leading well.

Roy, The Wizard, noted above. I’ve never met him, even though we lived a few miles apart in Austin.  Every Monday morning he connects me to a lot of the wiring that built my career, but that can get short-circuited by corporate hooey.  Read Roy’s book, Pendulum, for a compelling perspective on why we seem like we go through cycles in our society. (It’s because we do.)  Through Roy, I found Tim Miles.  Tim is a perfect blend of strategy, humor, Faith and common sense.  Again, I’ve never met him, but I feel like he’s right next door, and that he makes me better.

Oswald Chambers.  He died 102 years ago, but when I get it right, I start every morning with him.  And his Boss.  On days I don’t, I ain’t my best.

Patrick Lencioni.  Want to be a better leader?  Buy his books.  All eleven of them.  And then just do all the stuff he says to do in those books.  Oh, and don’t do the stuff he says not to.  There’s your MBA in bidness management, right there!  By the way, you could read all eleven of them in two weeks and not even have to stay up past bedtime.  They’re easy reads.  Easy in the way a 2×4 hits our noggin when we finally wake up and say, “Hmmmmmm…”

The Brothers Seeking Balance in MKE and The Iron Men in Austin, TX, along with the Friday Morning Crew in Waukee.  The band of Brothers and Knuckleheads with whom I’m closest. You boys know who you are, and I’d be toast without you.

The Harvard Business Review. Subscribe. Devour.  Contemplate. Debate. You will literally feel your influence and confidence growing.

The Bible. If you took away every other difference-maker on this list, this last one would be enough.  Thanks to the Author of this last one, though, I have the others.

Click some links and get you summa this stuff.  You have my word you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

Before We Have To, Otherwise It’s Too Late

“Change before you have to.”

–     Jack Welch (b. 1935), legendary business leader and long-time Chairman and CEO of GE

People love to bash Welch now that GE’s recent struggles have crippled the once-great company.  Bashing the man who built it is completely misguided and dopey.

Jack Welch set the standard for leadership development, succession planning, strategy and growth (legitimate, sustainable growth) during his time at GE.  The market changed a lot on September 11, 2001, and Jack was out of the role about a week prior to that.  He built an incredible enterprise, primarily by changing, before he had to.

“Change before you have to” is truer today than ever.

If we find that the market has moved such that we have to change, we’re probably too late.  If we’ve become less relevant, we have time, but not very much time.  If we’ve become irrelevant, we’re too late. Game over.  Turn out the lights when you leave.  Or, prepare for radical, mind-bending change, which sounds icky, even to a change-comfy guy like me!  When we’re relevant, aware, hungry and intent on leading — that’s the time to consider changes; big, small and in-between.

Human nature is to resist change.  The most-quoted line in the 15-year history of the Daily Difference is from my friend Dr. Tom Graf:

“Change will only occur when the fear of change is overcome by the pain of remaining the same.”

Leaders create an environment where success is the most likely outcome.  Where we can feel the pain of remaining the same before it becomes debilitating.  Leaders, Difference Makers, create an environment and an expectation for change — the kind that keeps us growing, learning, leading and making a difference for our clients, customers, loved ones — and for ourselves.

 

 

 

 

The Only Truth in Persuasion

“In persuasion, there is only one truth.  Theirs.”

–     Lee Hartley Carter  from her book “Persuasion: Convincing Others When Facts Don’t Seem to Matter” — as seen in the Branding Strategy Insider blog

And, for the 37th time, I am reminded that I should have written the danged book.  Sigh.

Lee Hartley Carter wrote it, though and she wrote it well!

Back in 2012, I began to focus, write and speak on this topic, but it was really implanted in my brain back in the ’80s.  Most of the traditional sales, negotiating and persuasion training programs were focused on getting what we wanted out of the deal.  At a Zig Ziglar seminar, I heard for the first time that we ought to help people get more of what they want.  In these times, that has gone from being a philosophy to a fundamental requirement for success in business.

People buy differently, and therefore we have to sell differently.  More research is available to clients, prospects, and customers today via The Google than they used to have in their entire procurement and research teams.  The idea that our story will stand on its own is simply outdated.  So, our story matters only in the context of theirs.

We talk often in this forum about the difference between truth and facts.  In matters of Faith, I believe there is only one Truth.  In matters of business, the same is true, as Carter captures beautifully in her book.  In business, however, the one truth has a lower-case “t” — and it belongs to the party we’re trying to persuade.  Period.  End of sentence. Beginning of book.  Check it out.  Tell Lee I sent you…