Accountability in the Pacific

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I’m about to start an incredible trip to Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.  I’ve lined up a series of great events with corporate clients and at public events including the HR Summit in Singapore.  There will be almost 4000 people at that event alone.  Another client, Public Mutual,  is a large financial services organization, but I’m only speaking to their top producers.  There should be about 1200 in the audience.  Did I say they were large?

It’s always exciting to speak in different parts of the world.  I enjoy hearing the reaction from the audience and getting feedback as to what they feel was most important in my program.

I look forward to posting updates along the way.

Are You Reinventing Yourself?

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Netflix has totally reinvented the DVD rental industry.  The storefront movie rental store has been pushed aside by a model of sending and receiving movies through the mail.  Now Netflix is moving their distribution to the internet by offering movies not only through your computer but also popular game sets such as Wii, PS3 and XBox 360.

What are you doing to reinvent yourself?  What are you doing to reinvent your business or the products and services you offer or the ways in which your clients engage your business?  We must all be accountable for our success.  Great leaders know that reinvention will be the bases for their next jump in growth and achievement.

Interview with Scott Jordan of SCOTTEVEST

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I had a fascinating interview with Scott Jordan of SCOTTEVEST.  He shared insights on how he has achieved success in building his business.  You’ll want to watch this and learn some of his innovative advertising ideas, how he has re-focused his brand for amazing success and to really get a feel for how a very successful person thinks about their business.

Welcome to my blog

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I’m kicking off my new blog today.  I want to share quick insights and ideas on personal growth, leadership, accountability and growing your business.  If there is something you would like to hear about, let me know.

I’ll also share regular video and audio here, from some amazing interviews with successful people and leaders around the world.  Ultimately, I’d like this place to be a resource for you.  It’s a spot you can come to for new ideas and a place you can share thoughts with others as well.  You will learn about personal and organizational growth and I will share ideas and techniques you can immediately put into action.

Enjoy the conversation, participate and share this site with others.  Together we can grow and achieve.

Check back soon for more content.

Are You A Game Changer?

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With the release of the new Apple iPad Apple Inc. is changing the game. Already Seaton Hall University has announced that it will issue iPads to all students this fall. In the past two months since Apple announced the impending release of the iPad, 22% of all new mobile application developers’ projects were based on that platform.

Apple is not only changing the game for their industry and with their competitors, but the devices they create are changing the game for other industries as businesses look to leverage and incorporate Apple’s technology moving forward. As you look at your business, how you work with your clients, and how you deliver your products and services, what have you done in the past two years to change the game? Ultimately every industry evolves. You get to choose whether or not you are the one driving that change.

Organizations that want to be relevant in their industry realize that they are responsible to be the ones changing the game. Accountable business leaders know that they must be on a constant search for ways to improve what they do. Maybe it’s time to evaluate all of your operational systems. Those systems would include sales, customer service, order processing, delivery, billing and all of the ways that your clients reach you either by phone, mail or the Internet. We must be constantly removing everything in the customer experience that gets in the way. At the same time, we must be looking for ways to enhance that experience and make it easier for our clients to do business with us.

Another way we can change the game is to incorporate other organization’s technology into our business practice. For example, you could create an app for the iPad that enhances the customer experience for your clients. Banks are offering iPhone apps that allow their clients to check balances, transfer funds from one account to another and pay bills right from their phone.

You could utilize technology to drastically overhaul your distribution system. You could create new products and new services that extend beyond what you have offered before. You could back up those products and services with warrantees that changed the face of your industry. You get the idea. It’s about innovation. It’s about thinking beyond what you’ve done in the past. Real game changers don’t just look for evolution they look for revolution.

Take the time to look at your business. Challenge your management team and encourage the people on the front line. Develop leaders who seek to be game changers. Drive innovation within your organization. Constantly be looking for ways to change the game and you will be more accountable for the success of your business.

Three Critical Traits Of Great Leaders

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While working with an organization’s board of directors recently we discussed the components of great leadership. Many ideas were expressed and it was an amazing experience discovering the differences and the commonalities between everyone’s views. In the end three traits stood out.

Vision

Great leaders have a strong vision. Their vision of where they see the enterprise is what drives their actions. A clear vision makes it easier for others within the organization to know where they are going.

The best leaders create a very compelling vision. The vision is so strong that it attracts other people to it. When your vision is clear and powerful people from within and from outside of your organization will want to be a part of making that vision a reality. It is this powerful vision that is part of the naturally charismatic appeal that most great leaders seem to possess.

Service

I recently saw a television show where the CEO of the company went under cover and worked on the front line. Not only did he learn all about the demanding jobs that his employees excelled at, he had the opportunity to speak with and connect to many people in the company. He learned about their personal lives and the goals they had. Upon returning to the C-Suite this CEO took steps to help the people he worked with realize their dreams. He paid $5,000.00 to sponsor a youth sports team. He gave $10,000.00 to help pay for someone’s wedding. He put one employee in a management training program and “fast tracked” that person within the company.

Great leaders look to serve others. Only by helping other people around us achieve their goals can we ever expect someone to help us achieve our goals.

Accountability

It wouldn’t be an article about great leaders and developing proven leadership skills if we didn’t talk about accountability. Ultimately great leaders fully understand what they are accountable for and make sure that they execute on their accountabilities. They realize that they are accountable to do the right things consistently, manage their space, manage the process, establish the right expectations and contribute to their relationships. Great leaders are focused and don’t make excuses when events do not turn out as planned.

I learned long ago that possessing only one of these traits will not carry an individual. To truly excel as a great leader and to develop the leadership skills necessary to drive organizational growth we must master all three traits and live them on a daily basis. Then, we grow as individuals and we are in a position to lead the growth of the enterprise.

No More Excuses…Make Accountability Your Competitive Advantage

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Some people achieve extraordinary things in life; others do not. The difference between the two groups lies in accountability.

True story: Early in the Minnesota Twins 2009 exhibition season, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire discovered a note on his desk from Justin Morneau, his star first baseman. It read: “Gardy: I forgot to run sprints after the workouts yesterday; I am fining myself.” Next to the note was a hundred-dollar bill.

Was Justin Morneau accountable because he was a superstar, or was he a superstar because he was accountable?

There are five accountabilities that when applied proactively can turn accountability from a consequence into your competitive advantage.

Right things: Be accountable for doing the right things. This means ethical execution of the activities that will actually support the goals you have chosen for yourself. If you are managing a team, you must model this skill by doing the right things yourself; you must then empower each member of your team to identify his or her own right things, and you must be willing to communicate about what’s working and what isn’t in an open, transparent way at all times.

New space: Be accountable for managing your space for new opportunities. This means being willing to step away from things that are working, even though they may be familiar, to make room for something that may work better. Yes, this is a risk, but it’s one that successful people take—because the return can be positive for the whole enterprise.

Process: Be accountable for managing the process when you hit an obstacle. It is inevitable that you will encounter adversities and setbacks when you pursue your goals. The question is, how will the adversities and setbacks affect you? Will they keep you from making creative new approaches to attain your goal?

Expectations: Be accountable for establishing the right expectations. The targets you set for yourself will have a huge impact on your actual achievement. How will you set the targets for yourself and your team? Will you set them based on what is familiar or what is possible? Will you set them too high, too low, or in that ideal zone where the goal is a healthy stretch?

Relationships: Be accountable for your relationships and your contributions to them. The human touch in any relationship is the “lubricant” that makes communication possible and empowers individuals, groups, and organizations to accomplish great things. Without accountability for supporting and contributing to the relationship, there can be no true leadership, and no effective implementation, at the group or organizational level, of any of the other accountabilities.

Appling the five accountabilities in your life and in your organization will allow you to create an accountability zone in which you are the center and creates a culture of accountability within your organization. Make accountability your competitive advantage.

Powerful Closing

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A very successful sales professional I know once told me that nothing happens until a sale is made.  Until a book is sold the book stores cannot afford employees, the printing companies cannot print anything, writers do not need to write, paper mills are quiet, trucking companies sit idle, and loggers aren’t needed to harvest any trees.  It all starts with the sale.

The oldest profession in the world really is sales.  Someone had to sell Eve on the idea of trying that apple!  Whether you sell products and services, your ideas, or your self, proven skills and techniques are needed to heighten your opportunity for success.  Although there are many facets to the entire sales process closing is often the focal point of those trying to improve, sell more, and make more money.

Closing is not simply a magical moment during the sales process where the sale is made.  Closing is something that is constantly in play.  Closing starts before you make your initial contact and continues long after the first sale is made.  You are always closing.  The very best sales professionals know that they must always be aware of their client’s needs, momentum in the sales process, and closing opportunities.  You must be prepared to close at any moment, because clients react differently and must be closed when they provide the opportunity and want to close.

I’ve seen far more sales people then I would like to recall get so wrapped in their sales presentation that they went right past a closing opportunity only to eventually lose the sale.  It’s not about your needs; it’s about the clients!

So what is closing?  I define closing the sale as the transition from discussing client needs and possible solutions that you can offer to actually beginning the process of implementing one of your solutions.  Your solution may be in the form of a product, or it may be in the form of a service.  Being able to get a client to move on your suggestion is what closing is all about.

Many people look for a specific phrase from their client in order to move forward.  Many clients will never say, “I will buy that,” or “Please send me two cases,” or “Here’s a check to cover the cost.”  They depend on you to read between the lines, to see their nonverbal cues, and to take initiative to move through this “transition” stage and begin delivering the benefits they will receive when you provide your product or service.

You will need to be confident enough to help the closing “transition” take place.  At some point you may say, “Based on the facts you’ve shared with me and the benefits of our XV1000 it looks like we can take complete care of your needs, what is a good time table for delivery?”  Here you are assuming the close.

The best way to go into a relationship is to assume that you will be able to solve a client’s problems or needs.  Your language is positive and you assume the sale right from the start.  The client knows you’re there to solve their needs, and you don’t let them down.  You are there to sell, and they are there to buy.  They just need your help.

Another way to approach closing is with what I call “The Perfect Close.”  Here’s how it goes.  At some point during your conversation you simply say, “If this were a perfect world, what would be the best possible solution to your insurance needs (you can insert any product or service area here)?”  Let your client speak and don’t interrupt them!  They will tell you just what they want and need.  Now all you have to do is give it to them.  If you can use this information to share your solution to fit, you have a sale.  After showing how your solution fits their needs and desires, use the power of the assumptive close discussed above to now move forward.  You have just closed the sale!

Closing is an art.  It is developed over time.  Closing is focusing more on the client, their needs, desires, words, and body language then on you and all of the benefits of your products and services.  Most sales professionals are too enamored with what they offer and their company and don’t focus enough on their client.  Most clients want to close earlier and you should not deny them that opportunity.

Focus on your client, assume the sale, find out what their “perfect solution” is, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!