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Saturday: Balancing Family and Work with Zoning

September 17th, 2011

It’s easy to get consumed by your work and neglect your family. Communication with your spouse on both family and business objectives means that you are both in agreement on
the weekend.  Even though Saturday used to be ‘down time’ – there may be professional projects that simply must be accomplished.  Try to isolate time that does not compete with important family or social obligations.

We can do that with a Time Management application called ‘Zoning.’

Zoning is picking out a productive block of time for complete focus. Let’s identify the early morning hours of Saturday:

  • You bought the book on how to write a business plan, but there has been no time – until now.
  • Block off the three hours before anyone gets out of bed!
  • This will allow you to still have time for family and personal activities – with the sense of accomplishment that you are moving ahead with
    your goals!

Here is a sample schedule:

6:00 Read a chapter on market segmentation while you have a cup of coffee

6:30 Surf the internet to identify industry resources

7:00 Who Are the Market Leaders?

8:00 Where are the areas of opportunities?

8:30 Where is the one market niche where no one is focusing?

At nine, it’s time to move on with life and spend some time with the family. You’ve documented your progress and saved the document. When the time is right, share your progress with your spouse and thank your husband or wife for the support. This communication will show that you are serious about your new business, with a common realization that it is going to take a lot of hard work.  Zoning will help you balance both family and work as you achieve your dreams one step at a time.

 

 

Friday – “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend!”

September 16th, 2011

Back in the day – there was a band called Loverboy. They had a song that still gets airtime called “Everybody’s working for the Weekend.” Friday at 5 you can often hear this on F.M. stations – but I have never heard it on satellite radio.  For my sales activities, my week normally ends with filling out my expense reports and creating a to do list for the following week. In regular times, I would be whistling this iconic song and head to the golf course around 2 P.M.

But, recent economic developments have changed the possible meaning of this song.

All across America, I meet people who are working the weekends to make ends meet. Perhaps these folks want to pay off debt – or maybe they are trying to make the mortgage payment. Some are starting companies without the help of a bank. So literally, “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend.”

So like these fellow Americans, my work week is not over – just the end to my day job.

On the weekends, I’ve been building a new company:

  • Activities included getting organized as an S Corporation (Legal Zoom – it’s easy!)
  • Creating Web Sites (Use a professional – it’s not cheap, but well worth it)
  • Writing a book and producing an audio

At first, it seemed like a grind and a drain on expenses. Then, I took a more long term approach. If I just did two things each weekend, every month would yield incremental improvements, The investment was less because I was making small changes. Best of all – it’s tax deductable!

So yes, “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend” – and so am I.

Thursday is for Following Up

September 15th, 2011

You have stirred up so much activity this week, that someone is going to order, right? That’s true if you believe in following up on your activity:

  • When you send an e-mail or letter, you follow up with a phone call
  • If you finish a web meeting or live consultation, then you send a thank you note or text message
  • After you send a proposal by e-mail, you may want to follow it up with a phone call to make sure that it did not get caught in the Spam folder of your email application!
  • When you connect on social media, you may want to send a message on linkedin or facebook thanking your new contact!

One of the great things about technology is pop-up reminders:

  • You can put in tasks and follow up items that will pop up and remind you.
  • Most Customer Relationship Management software applications (Sage Act!, salesforce.com, etc…) have more detailed records with the reminders so you actually remember ‘why’ you needed to contact the customer.

Following up is good on any day – not just Thursdays. It shows people that you care and advances the sale. It also builds trust because buyers view you as credible and thorough. If you provide great customer service, you will win the business!

Whirlwind Wednesdays

September 14th, 2011

Whoever coined the phrase ‘Hump Day’ accurately described Wednesday. The middle of the week is so hectic that it’s like a whirlwind. These days often start early and include planes, trains and automobiles. There are proposals to present, objections/obstacles along the way and of course – negotiations. This is the life of a professional sales person. In this pace, the traveler can sometimes lose their way.

Like most men – I don’t like to stop and ask for directions. GPS systems are awesome for guys like us – but logic, maps and facts are not enough for the autonomous professional.

  • We have to use hunches, intuition and emotional intelligence to find our way in life, don’t we?
  • If we stand for something and strive for mastery at our chosen profession – then an internal compass takes over.
  • Values become more important than tactics
  • If you violate your ethics, there is tremendous stress.

The cliché ‘honesty is the best policy’ applies to professional selling. If a mistake has been made, escalate it immediately to management. Apologizing to the customer never hurts (except our pride) and the chance to make up for the mishap can solidify a relationship. There will be disappointments. We cope with these setbacks as we seek greatness in our chosen profession. If you screw up, don’t repeat the same mistake. Take corrective actions and prove to yourself that you can turn this weakness into strength.

Whirlwind Wednesdays are good days to take out the trash. Don’t forget to recycle!

Tuesdays are like salads, fruits and vegetables

September 13th, 2011

Tuesdays to me are a lot like salads, fruits and vegetables. Every plan that was laid out on Monday gets rearranged by customers, situations and clients. Sometimes you want fruit, but you get veggies instead. If you seek achievement, you will have highs and lows throughout the day.

Tuesdays are filled with meetings that include needs analysis and solution based presentations. It will include questioning, listening, technical analysis and clear communication. Concentration balanced with customer centric empathy can yield fruit. There are no guarantees – sometimes you seek peaches and get brussel sprouts.

The purposeful soul seeks accomplishment higher than work. Understanding that setbacks occur prepares us to overcome obstacles or to deal with the fact that we can’t control every outcome. Sometimes people undermine us and it is an opportunity for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is cultural and habitual. In our family, we all have made mistakes. Like most husbands, I’ve learned the words “yes dear” and “I’m sorry.” There are principles and preferences at work in our marriage. There are some things we don’t bend on and there are lots of compromises. Everyone has heard the phrase “pick your battles.” Principles are things you strongly believe in – not just things you want or have opinions about. Preferences are merely individual wants based on personality or situations.

Flexibility is often more an attitude than a strategy. Adjusting to other people – like to their tastes – is an example of being aware of the preferences of others. Being willing to switch restaurants is a good example. She may want salad – you may want steak. Will you adjust?

The real challenge to being empathetic – you know…. understanding the other person’s point of view… is that your own needs and wants can get ignored. So – you have to be assertive if someone starts walking on you. I like the phrase “do you see the word doormat on my back?” You have to watch your tone of voice as you say this – and yes, I get in trouble all the time!

Monday – Aspire to Greatness!

September 12th, 2011

Two leadership attributes are prioritization and organization. Here are some questions that I ask myself at the beginning of every week:

  1. What are my goals this week?
  2. What are the priorities?
  3. What needs to happen and why?

You may be a job seeker or the C.E.O of a major Corporation – but one simple truth still applies. Life without goals is a life without purpose. Purpose fuels motivation – so identify those goals and priorities early in the week. Then, make it happen!

There are action items that usually carry-over from the week before, so it pays to be organized with a task list.

  • This is a coping mechanism for busy people – because items can be put aside and ‘stored for
    later.’ Following up on important tasks means that you get to the finish line.
  • Tackling the most important priorities – or the most time sensitive – gets the week off
    to a smart, focused start.

In addition to professional accomplishment, there are
personal goals to reach as well. Most of us like to be good – or great at our
jobs. Monday is a perfect day to aspire to greatness. It is not enough just to be
motivated – we should reach the heights of our chosen profession.

Greatness at work should not be our only priority. One daily goal you might want to adopt is to
help two people a day.

  • I don’t count opening doors or general politeness – but some form of assistance or positive
    contribution.
  • It may be lifting a suitcase for an elderly person on a plane or
    an anonymous act that no one knows about – those are the best.
  • These positive acts multiply and after a year become exponentially thrilling to the
    soul. It also serves as an example to others who are watching you!

Start out each week aspiring to greatness! Being a leader
means setting your goals and trying your hardest. Set your priorities and use your
time wisely. Along the way – see how many people you can help. Your
contributions matter!

A Week from Sunday

September 11th, 2011

My wife and I took a walk to the historic home of Thomas Jefferson. A walking trail begins at the bottom of the mountain and winds through the beautiful woods, until you reach Monticello.

There is a plaque at the top that says “Thomas Jefferson loved and believed in the people.” I picked 9/11/11 as the day to begin this seven day article series to communicate this sentiment in my own way.

At Monticello, there are gardens, bridges and a large, ancient petrified tree that is hollow. As we were descending the trail, we noticed a father pushing two baby strollers.

  • My wife and I admired the man for taking on two strollers and exercising at the same time.
  • Then – the strollers became entangled and the young man was struggling.
  • We offered to help and he allowed us to push the stroller with one of his children.

At the bottom of the trail, next to the petrified tree – he introduced his family to us. What a privilege to be able to help someone and to meet a young family.

Enjoying Sunday as a day of rest with worship, family and relaxation is ancient, biblical and wise. We need a rested soul built upon a foundation of gratitude. Counting your blessings with humility sets the stage for a service mentality. Isn’t that what 9/11/11 is all about – people that sacrificed and served? As we look ahead – and stop looking backwards – we will need a spirit of common bonding, patriotism and entrepreneurial spirit – just like we had ten years ago.

The next seven days will be a trip outside of the wire and inside the mind of the professional sales person. There will be insights into the imperfect world of the salesman who wants to be your sales trainer. You will get a glimpse of a husband and his unorthodox methods. You will see where practicality overlaps the dream of launching a business. You see – I’m a full time sales person with a weekend American dream. This is my answer to economic uncertainty. Care to come along?

 

 
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