Change… The Order Of The Universe

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In a theology class at a major university a professor told her students that each week they would study a different piece of ancient text. On Monday, the professor would give her interpretation of the text, and on Wednesday, one of the students would give their interpretation of the same text.The professor would then drill the student unmercifully. Students began to panic with the thought of being chosen. One Monday the professor presented her ideas and thoughts on the weekly text assignment. One of the students, Joe, took copious notes. On Wednesday Joe was called on to discuss the text. Joe presented the exact same interpretation on Wednesday as the professor had given on Monday. When Joe was finished the professor stood up and said, “That is the worst interpretation of this passage that I have ever heard!” Joe was bewildered. He said, “How could my interpretation be so bad? It was exactly the same as yours was on Monday.” “Yes,” said the professor, “but I have changed since Monday. I have grown.”

To be competitive today we cannot continue to do things the way we did them last year, last month, and in some cases, last Monday. Scientists have shown that our universe is constantly expanding. If the universe in which we live is growing, expanding, and changing, it would be naive to think that we can just sit still. Change is the essence of progress. Not only must we change to progress, but because so much is changing around us, we must change just to maintain.

So, we know that we need to change and change at a more rapid pace. The question becomes, how do we face change? How do we deal with change and use it as an ally? Below are six steps that will help you better manage the changes that are thrust upon you, and also help you create your own changes that will lead to significant growth and achievement.

Expand Your Knowledge Base

One reason that so many people have difficulties with change is fear. We fear the unknown. We fear what we are not familiar with. It is only natural to want to continue to do what we have always done. To address our fears it is critical to strive for continual education. As we learn and grow we will be best able to face our fears and try new things.

My daughter, Allison, loves to play soccer. At first she was reluctant to play with some of the older girls. After several weeks of soccer camp and intense training Allison developed excellent skills. Once Allison realized how proficient she was, Allison was willing to try competing against girls that were several years older then her.

By expanding your knowledge base you will gain new skills and techniques. You will naturally find applications for these skills over time. You will also gain an inner strength and confidence that will allow you to face and implement the changes you need and want to make.

Study Change In Others

Vicarious learning is the easiest and fastest way to learn anything. Learning from other people and their experiences is a trait of many very successful people. You can learn in many ways from studying changes that other companies make. You can see how change has worked for them. If it has been positive, you learn about the benefits that change brings. If they have struggled, you can learn what to avoid and increase the chances of your success.

When McDonalds went from only serving lunch and dinner to offering breakfast, that was a big change. McDonalds changed a significant portion of their business model. Due to that change their business had significant growth. Companies create new market niches with their changes. Sometimes, a completely new industry is born out of change. As you continue to study how other companies have changed you will be less adverse to change, and you will also gain insights and ideas that will make your changes results oriented and successful.

Seek Excellence Not Perfection

Some people are caught up in the trap of trying to be perfect. Since there is always some risk associated with change these individuals are less likely to try anything new and take the chance of being less then perfect. We can never be perfect. Even great baseball players strike out a significant amount of the time. But, great baseball players continually strive to improve, to be the best they can be, and to achieve great things. Excellence is achievable. Excellence is born out of a desire to grow and achieve. Change is a natural component of reaching for excellence.

Examine your activities. Are they structured to move you towards excellence? What one thing can you do today that will move you closer to the picture of excellence that you have for yourself? Try and put one activity on your daily planner that will help you achieve excellence. You may not notice any changes today or even this week, but over time you will see tremendous growth and many positive results.

Ask The Question

The question that you should be continually asking yourself is, “How can I do this differently?” You notice that I didn’t say, “How can I do this better?” I want you to create as many possible ideas for change as possible. After you create the ideas, then you can evaluate them for feasibility, potential of success, and significance to the growth and well being of your organization.

By continually asking yourself “How can I do this differently?” your mind will always be seeking the answers to that question. You will be amazed at the amount of creative change ideas you generate. Take the best ideas and look for ways to make them happen.


Communication is where so many organizations fall short. Environmental change, change that comes from outside of us, change that we don’t initiate ourselves, is the most difficult to deal with. Frustration comes from not being in control. Your team members need to be informed on what is happening. Everyone on the team should be educated as to the challenges the organization is facing, changes that are being forced on you, and changes that you are initiating. Get their input. Ask for their ideas. Train everyone around you to create and suggest ideas for change, and give them the responsibility, and the safe environment, to implement those ideas.

Nobody likes surprises. By working hard at keeping all the channels of communication open your team members will feel a greater sense of belonging on the team, and your challenge of change will be easier.

Start Small But Think Big

Infants crawl before they walk, and they walk before they run. Treat change the same way. As you look to implement change into your daily routine, look for small areas you can tackle first. Successfully implement small changes first and then move forward to larger and larger projects. As you discover the power change creates, you will find yourself actually seeking change ideas and people that can both create these ideas and implement them.

Sometimes we create change internally in order to establish a competitive advantage. Sometimes we face environmental change, changes forced on us by government, our competition, or other uncontrollable sources. When faced with environmental change, the key is to focus on our reaction, our response. Since we cannot control the source in that situation, focusing on it will only cause frustration and anxiety. Focus on what you can control. You can control your attitude towards change. You can control the changes you create and implement in order to deal with changes forced on you.

Just like the eternal expansion of our universe, change is a constant. Do you fight it, accept it, or seek it? Those who seek change create amazing futures, futures filled with opportunity for growth and amazing results. Be a change seeker.

Smarketing™ – Creativity Counts

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The American Heritage Dictionary defines marketing as: The commercial functions involved in transferring goods from producer to consumer. Simple enough. As marketers, we know it goes much deeper than that. To be successful, one must find ways to surpass just transferring goods. What adjective could accompany marketing to define what it takes to make marketing actually work?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines smart as follows: 1.a. Characterized by sharp, quick thought; bright. See Synonyms at intelligent. b. Amusingly clever; witty: a smart quip; a lively, smart conversation. 2. Energetic or quick in movement.

Alone, these words represent two different ideas. Together, they are a very powerful and useful business tool. Smarketing kicks the proverbial box that we’re always asked to think outside of to the curb and forces us to change the way we think about transferring goods to consumers. With the introduction of electronic media and the Internet into the business community, it is safe to say a billboard isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Smarketing, as I define it, is the creative application of organizational resources designed to produce dynamic marketing results. These resources are:

  • Technology
  • Time
  • Money
  • People
  • Information (Knowledge)
  • Fixed Assets

Below are two powerful Smarketing concepts.

Enterprising is a smarketing term for leveraging your database to generate passive bottom line dollars. In other words you can use the information you know about your customers to have other people and companies generate you profits!

Let’s say that you are in the remodeling business. You sell replacement windows and siding. You don’t install new roofs, or do interior work such as kitchens. You can arrange a strategic marketing alliance with a roofing company and an interior remodeling company. These companies would market their products and services to your customers and you would receive a commission for every sale they made to one of your customers.

Your customer list contains valuable avenues for business that maybe outside the products and services you offer. For example, if you are in the plumbing supply business and your customers are plumbers what other products or service do your customers need? The answers to this question would point you toward possible organizations that you can partner with to generate enterprising dollars that take little or no effort on your part to create!

Cycle Timing is a smarketing term for anticipating your customers regular product or service needs and then contacting them in advance to secure the business.

I get a hair cut every four or five weeks yet I have never received a phone call from by stylist to set an appointment. He waits for my call. The difference between my getting my hair cut every 5 weeks, 10 times a year, and every 4 week, 13 times a year, is $75.00 revenue to the stylist. If the stylist has 200 clients that would be a loss of revenue equal to $15,000.00 a year!

Some automobile dealers do a fair job of cycle timing by sending out service reminder cards. The only problem is they don’t accurately account for your specific driving milage history and sometimes a postcard just isn’t enough. A call would cement the process and garner a service appointment on their behalf. If the average dealer has 1000 service customers that drive an average of 15,000 miles a year the difference between getting an oil change every 3,000 miles, on a timely basis, or going 1000 miles over the recommended service interval is the difference between selling five oil changes a year and four oil changes a year. That translates into $20,000 lost revenue! This figure doesn’t include the additional service that would be sold when a customer brings their car in for the standard oil change.

Cycle Timing and Enterprising are just two smarketing techniques that will help you build your business and add profitability. Most companies have a limited amount of resources. It is critical that we leverage these resources, that we stretch our marketing dollars until they scream! Sure, if you have an unlimited advertising budget you can buy TV time during the Superbowl but most companies are not in that position. Ask yourself the question, “How can I more effectively use my existing resources to generate the results I desire?” This question will begin the process of leading you into the creative world of Smarketing.

A recent casino advertisement promoting their frequent guest card was giving away valuable gifts and bonus credits if you signed up for their free card and gave them your frequent guest card from the competing casino. The new casino was building their customer base and eliminating the competition. That’s Smarketing!


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Knowing exactly what business you are in may be the single most important factor in jump starting your marketing efforts. So often, companies see themselves as selling specific products or providing specific services. These specificities, in effect, become blinders on their vision and greatly limit the potential growth of their businesses.

Smarketing is all about creative marketing and leveraging organizational resources. In order to maximize every marketing dollar you invest, it is critical to fully understand what you do and for whom you do it. Marketing then becomes the process of transferring that knowledge to the market place and converting this knowledge, along with customers needs, into profitable business.

The knowledge of your core business activity can best be summarized in a Memorable Marketing Message™. This statement is comprised of two pieces of information:

  • What do you do.
  • For whom do you do it.

The memorable marketing message does not deal with how. The how can change over time as new opportunities present themselves. You don’t sell cosmetics. You help people enhance their appearance. You don’t sell software. You work with companies that want to increase operating efficiencies. You don’t book speakers. You work with organizations that want greater education opportunities for their employees and with companies that need assistance creating the best convention ever!

Most companies get trapped into the mistake of only dealing with the how. In analyzing your business, you should determine where your potential customer’s greatest pain is and then determine what you do to deal with or ease that pain. Removal of that pain, filling a need, is what people and companies invest in.

There are three critical reasons for developing your own memorable marketing message.

1. A memorable marketing message enables you to maximize your marketing dollars. — By thoroughly understanding what you do and for whom you do it, you are best able to get maximum impact for every dollar invested in marketing. Knowing your specific target enables you to advertise directly to people and organizations that can buy! Your direct mail pieces, TV ads, newspaper ads and other advertising vehicles are all focused on your specific what and who. This marketing focus or power will greatly enhance your bottom line results.

2. A memorable marketing message enables you to maximize networking opportunities. — Most people want help eliminating their pain and will be interested in hearing how you go about doing that. Let’s examine the printing industry. What would be your response when someone asks you, “What do you do?” Do you say, “I am a printer” or “I work with business people looking to increase their marketing exposure and earn more dollars from their marketing investment?” Which phrase is more limiting? Stay away from limits. All business people want greater market exposure and increased profits. Now you can tell this prospect the how. Your printing services enable you to deliver on this promise.

3. A memorable marketing message enables you to maximize possible revenue opportunities. — Take, for example, the railroad industry earlier this century. What business were they in? If you asked them, they would tell you that they were in the railroad business. They should have said the transportation business. Because railroad business was their mind set, when airplanes came along, the railroad companies ignored an opportunity. Airplanes have become the market dominate force in transporting people and are also incremental in mail and express delivery.

I would say that the railroads worked with businesses that needed to transport products to and from the market place and they worked with people who needed to travel. With this memorable marketing message, the what they did would drive their marketing and planning instead of the how they did it. The railroad companies are still a factor in today’s transportation business, but not to the extent they used to be or could be.

In our printing business example earlier, you can see that by not being tied into a specific how, you would recognize that printing is not all that you can do to increase your clients’ exposure. Maybe you sell web sites, either produced through your company or through a joint venture. The internet can increase market exposure and boost the bottom line. You see, now your creativity is freed to develop many hows to take to market.

By understanding what you do and for whom you do it, you create a powerful base on which to build your entire marketing program. Smarketing necessitates efficiency. Your memorable marketing message will help you create an efficient, yet powerful marketing attack as you begin to implement other Smarketing techniques.

I am Sam Silverstein. I work with business professionals who want to sell more, build their business, and increase income.

Quality Requires Measures

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Quality is required. There is no longer a question of whether or not to implement a quality program. You must have one to survive. Yet, many are failures. The question is why?

Quality is like any other business process. It must be managed to be successful. Too often, a business will spend all of its resources on the quality program (TQM, CIP, and other three letter acronyms) and nothing on managing for results. Management is where the good ideas get implemented. Management makes change happen.

Quality requires a process of change. Change is disruptive and therefore, humans will resist change except to reduce pain, in response to fear or for ego and greed. Measurement and rewards are the easiest tools we have to accomplish productive change.

The basic role of management is to move numbers. It does not matter if the numbers are customer complaints, return shipments or lost sales. Good managers move numbers by encouraging people to do the right things.

The first thing a manager needs to succeed is an understanding of “where we are” and “where we want to be.” The company’s leadership must establish the vision and supply support for management. Without clear direction, even the best managers will fail.

Next, it is possible to define what is to be measured and how? Given a quality goal, it is necessary to define how we can measure progress toward that goal. For example, one measure of quality purchasing may be the number of return material authorizations (RMAs) approved due to shipped product which does not meet our customer’s quality specifications. Now that we know what to measure, the next question is how?

Where is the best place to capture the information? Is it when the returned goods hit our dock? Or is it when the customer service organization issues the RMA?

Timing may be critical. Old numbers, long after the fact, are impossible to use meaningfully. Numbers must be available in real time if they are to support active management. Most numbers need to be available every work day.

The time must not only be fast, but it must be consistent if we are to measure our ability to move them. If we normally measure in the morning, and then suddenly switch to the afternoon, it will may skew the results and lead to mismanagement.

Next, a starting point is required. In many cases, starting numbers will be unknown until we attempt to capture them for the first time. The initial results require careful monitoring and analysis. It is important that the measurement and corresponding results are understood. Otherwise, decisions will be made where the results can not be predicted.

Finally, it is possible to set goals. Provide some leeway for the first actual measured period. It may take some experience to understand how fast the numbers can be moved and their consequences. Without guideposts, we might cause change without direction.

As a base of experience is developed, the managers need to have flexibility in establishing rewards and recognitions to encourage staff to make the goals.

For example, there might be rewards for any “picking team” with zero errors. This is important. It should not be for the team with the least errors, as that might imply that in a tie, everyone looses. It could also set up some unproductive competition to force other teams to have errors. Be careful. Improper rewards will cause harm. People learn to win within the systems that are given to them. Set your measurements and rewards carefully. They will affect the way people work and what they produce. Do not get surprised by the results of carelessly established policies.

Rewards for change must be made in public and be considered valuable. Some changes will require risk on the part of your employees. They need to know that their effort will be valued by the company before they are willing to risk anything.

In cases where reengineering has led to layoffs, it is difficult to get cooperation from a second department. Why should anyone risk their future by helping to eliminate their job? The only way around this is to reward those who helped with promotions or other tangible benefits that will encourage others to do the same.

The rewards and measurement must work together to invite actions which support the direction of the company and the expected results. Poor definitions in these two areas can have disastrous consequences for any organization where quality must be improved to survive.

Include front line employees in setting up goals, guidelines, and rewards. Everyone will buy into the program and have a higher level of commitment. Change is the essence of progress. Only with meaningful change can we improve as companies and grow into the future. New systems, better performance and accurate measurement of progress will ensure that quality change is positive and long lasting.

When All Goes Wrong In Paradise

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It looks great on paper. Tomorrow’s annual convention in Scottsdale is opening with a keynote speaker and all the fanfare of a Hollywood movie premier. One thousand of your association’s finest members have arrived. They are excited and chomping at the bit to get underway. Then you get a call in your room at 7:00 in the evening. It’s your speaker. She’s in Kalamazoo and can’t get out because of snow. What now?

We all have challenges, but when the ramifications effect hundreds or even thousands it’s enough to turn hair grey in a hurry. Seasoned meeting planners have the experience to deal with these challenges and you can learn these same skills.

Karen Climo, of the American Movers Conference, arrived on site at the hotel only to find out it had been sold and was now under new managment, begining that morning. “The entire sales staff was gone. The new management team was marching the former employees out the front door and had a trailer at the back door where they were hiring an entire new staff,” says Climo. “We wanted to go through a dry run of our program and no one at the hotel knew what was going on. Everyone we had worked with ahead of time had vanished. Lucky for us, everything was documented. I made sure that the new team had the latest version of what was supposed to happen at our convention and then went through the plan, step-by-step. There was no way they could fall out of it. Every minute was staged.”
Luck wasn’t really involved here. Karen not only had the foresight to stage the entire event, but made sure everything was documented. She also knew to arrive with copies of the entire plan. It is critical to always have copies of all contracts and correspondence with you on site. You never know when you will need to create a quick solution to a problem caused by miscommunication or a hotel staffperson’s short memory.

Cynthia Huheey, of the American Resort Development Association, created the ultimate closing awards banquet for her members. The banquet hall was divided into two sections and used a large curtain to conceal the surprise entertainment that would follow dinner and the awards presentation. When the production crew started to remove the curtain halfway through dinner instead of waiting until after the awards were given Cynthia went into action. “The crew chief just wouldn’t listen so I called his manager at home,” Huheey said. Cynthia went on to say, “most of the times that things go awry it’s because of miscommunication. I’ve enough experience over the years to know there is a way to fix everything. Sometimes you just have to do it a different way.”

Cynthia knew the value of having the home phone numbers of all the important players. She also had the confidence to know that there is always a solution. Don’t be married to the program or the process. Instead, be married to the results. If you keep that in mind, you won’t be too upset when you have to change something to solve a problem, as long as your atendees still get the great time you planned for them. If the cheese cake doesn’t show up and you have to substitute chocolate moose at the last minute, that’s okay. Remember, most of the time, the attendees never know the details anyway.
Marsha Rhea, of the American Society of Association Executives, has had challenges with speakers and their lack of preparation with using new, high-tech equipment. “Speakers don’t come early to test out high-tech equipment that they are using to show how ‘with it’ they are.” One time, Marsha had a speaker show up at 12:00 for a 12:30 program. He had a computer and a Power Point presentation only to find out that he didn’t have a copy of Power Point on the computer to run the show with. Quick work by Marsha produced a portable computer with the correct software. Then it turned out that the file wasn’t a Power Point file after all. The speaker happened to also have a video with him. Along with using the video, Marsha manually placed the overheads on the projector, which wasn’t on the stage. All was saved. “We now are thinking about requiring our speakers to show up a specific amount of time ahead of the program to test the equipment,” said Rhea.

There is no replacement for trial runs and testing out all the variables. Professional speakers, for the most part, know to arrive early to check out the room and equipment. Sometimes, industry experts need a little extra reminder about rehearsals.

By planning to the finest detail and then documenting everything, you will lay the foundation for a great program. Arrive early with your file of documentation in hand and an open mind. Changes may need to be made. Have back ups or sources for backup for your speakers and equipment. Things go wrong from time to time. It’s usually “when” not “if.” Seasoned meeting planners know there is always a way out and that paradise can be just around the corner.

V3 … the Power of Synergistic Leadership

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Values, veneration and vision are the three elements of quality leadership. Used individually, your organization can expect to see a minor impact. Used together, these concepts create a powerful synergistic force that can turn failing organizational environments into profitable and marketable companies. This synergistic force is the difference between the organization that will be going out of business and the one that will dominate and lead the industry into the next millennium. Using values, veneration and vision, you can create a synergy within your company that will enable your employees to achieve higher levels of productivity, better morale, improved customer service and increased profits.

To effectively implement synergistic leadership, a strong foundation must be laid. This foundation is based on understanding and mastering the concept of change.

Change is the essence of progress. Without a commitment to change, you cannot have any meaningful improvement in your life or organization. A great many people appear to resist change, but they’re really just disheartened by previously unfulfilled promises of change. What seems to be resistance is really fear of another disappointment. Improvement comes through altering, modifying and transforming. Old thinking will not yield new solutions. If you have limited thinking, you will have limited plans. Change involves an expansion in thinking. A commitment to change means opening your mind, realizing the need to make improvements in your habits and behaviors and being able to consider new concepts so you can have the creative plans necessary to achieve your vision. By opening up to change, all members of your team will be able to create the new solutions necessary to transform your organization into a market leader


Values are the cornerstone of all individuals and of any organization. It is critical that you first look to define and understand your own values, then look to define the organizational values. What is it that you really stand for? What are you willing to do to get new business? What are you not willing to do to get that new account? These questions must be answered before personal and organizational leadership can progress.

Quality organizations don’t change their values over time. They look for ways to change the application of a time proven set of core values. As industries evolve, product lines change, markets may change, customers may change, but a consistent core organizational value system will be your foundation of strength and long term success. Your values are the rules by which you play the game. It’s much easier to make a decision when you have a well defined value system on which to base your decisions.

Define your personal values and your organizations values. Dig deep inside and seek out what means the most. You will find a basis for strength and a foundation for implementation of synergistic leadership.


Andrew Carnegie once said, “You must capture and keep the heart of the original and supremely able man before his brain can do its best.” By first understanding what is at the core of the team members around you, you will be able to serve them and allow them to reach their fullest potential. You should not only recognize that there are differences among your team members, but also value those differences.

In many organizations, employees (your internal customers) don’t feel like they are part of a team. They don’t feel valued. They feel as if no one understands their goals, desires or ambitions.

The Council of Communication Management surveyed 705 employees in 70 companies of all sizes and industries. Here is what they found:

  • Sixty-four percent don’t believe what management says.
  • Sixty-one percent feel management doesn’t inform them well about company plans.
  • Fifty-four percent feel management doesn’t explain decisions very well.

Understanding each individual team member’s needs and values will enable you to serve them and create an atmosphere of trust and common cause. It’s really very simple … if you help your employees achieve their goals, they will help you achieve yours. Team members help other team members. It’s an unwritten universal law. Serve your team. They will feel the team spirit and help everyone on that team achieve higher levels of performance.

Veneration also means shaping the right work atmosphere. It is critical that we create a work environment that promotes creative thinking, an openness to change and rewards good effort. All fear must be driven from the workplace. Team members must feel as if they can try new ideas without the risk of persecution if they don’t achieve success. Only then will you unleash the power of all individuals and create an atmosphere that promotes growth.


Just as individuals need goals and a personal vision, every organization needs a vision. This is a unified picture of what everyone on the team is striving to achieve. The clearer the concept, the more likely your team will achieve their goal.

There are three elements inherent in a good vision. To create your company’s own vision, have your entire team answer the following questions. Then, begin boiling the answers down until you create your own organizational vision.

  • What do you do?
  • How do you do it?
  • For whom do you do it?

If you use these guidelines, you will be able to create a meaningful vision statement that will serve as the guiding light for your organization.

While on a fishing trip to Canada with my son Geoffrey, an interesting thing happened. Geoff and I were on our way forty miles down river to a base cabin to spend the night. On the way down, our guide pointed out a nest in the top of a tree and standing proud over the nest was a beautiful bald eagle. What a sight!

Upon arriving at the cabin, I mentioned the eagle to others in our group. One fellow stated that he saw forty-seven eagles on the way down the river. He was looking for eagles and found them. We were watching the shore and looking for animals visiting the stream for water.

More often than not, if you are looking for something, you will find it. If you are looking up, you’ll see eagles. If you are looking for something else, you will see that. Know what it is you desire. Look for it. Work for it. In the end, you will achieve your goals.

Values, veneration and vision do not achieve results. You do. It is your responsibility to take these concepts and apply them to your organization. The difference between management and leadership is this: Management administers past ideas, implements existing systems and maintains existing relationships. Leadership creates the future, with and through people.

So, the question I ask you now is: Do you want to be a manager and be in charge of the past or do you want to lead and create the future?

The Paradox of Change

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Where would you like to be in six months? One year? Two years? How do you get there? The first step is to clearly define what it is you want to achieve. The next step is to determine what you will have to change to get to where you want to be. Sound easy? Well, it can be.

If change is the catalyst that helps us grow and achieve at a higher level, then knowing what we want and creating the target is what activates the catalyst of change. I refer to these targets as primary desires. Once we recognize our primary desires, we can concentrate on figuring out what it will take to achieve them.

Although change is necessary for growth, people naturally resist change. According to Industry Week magazine, a recent survey revealed that 55% of all Americans remain resistant, even phobic, when it comes to taking advantage of technology in their everyday lives. People resist change because of a variety of reasons including:

  • Fear of change.
  • The uncertainty that change involves.
  • Trying new things is uncomfortable.
  • Difficulty with poor results until the benefits of change come.
  • People don’t want to lose control.

When Martin Marietta and Lockheed merged, Norman Augustine, CEO and Chairman of Martin Marietta, said, “These are Darwinian times in our industry. The failure to change is the failure to survive.” I believe that these are Darwinian times in all industries and all our lives and a failure to change may mean a failure to survive.


Change is scary, but people only accept change when they feel safe.

Recently in Richmond Virginia, the City Council felt the fear of change. After a seven hour hearing, the Richmond City Council voted to erect a statue of Arthur Ashe among the memorials to Confederate heroes on Monument Avenue. Mayor Young said, “We have grown, and it is painful to grow.”

Change offers new opportunities and new hope. Many times people are concerned when they are in the middle of a period of rapid change. The natural characteristic of change dictates that new opportunities will open up and those people that are poised to take advantage of those opportunities will far outperform those who are not.

Former manufacturing CEO John Mariotti, said, “The successful companies of the future will be able to react to change with incredible speed and flexibility by shifting their shape to create and deliver value better than their competitors – by being very good at what they do.”

The world in which we live today not only expects us to change, but demands it. By identifying your primary desires, determining changes you need to make to achieve those goals and then implementing those changes, you will achieve immediate results. Tap into the powerful force that change brings. Learn to manage that force and use it to create competitive advantage professionally and a richer life personally.

Embracing Change

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Change is the essence of progress and in order to have growth at work and in our personal lives we need to be willing to commit to change. However, change can only be initiated as the result of a primary desire. Lasting change is possible only when the need and desire for change is both understood and internalized. People will not change until they are ready to change. No one can force you to change. No one can start the process of change for you, except yourself. As human beings, we have the ability to change anything and anytime we want. Are you ready to change?

Many people are “too comfortable” to initiate change. They are too comfortable to risk failure. If we do today what we did yesterday, we will get the same results tomorrow that we are getting today, or worse. To achieve any level of meaningful improvement we must consider and implement change. In business, if you don’t improve, you will move back, because your competition will improve and pass you by.

Let’s say you want to lose weight. There are two variables that you can control, what you eat and how much you exercise. If you eat the same way today as you always have, and you don’t change your exercise habits, your weight won’t change. Now, let’s say you change the food you eat so that you are reducing fat and calories. Even if you don’t change your exercise routine, the change in food intake alone will change your weight situation. Likewise if you don’t change your eating habits but increase your exercise regime, you will burn more fuel and lose weight. Of course, the best thing to do would be to modify your intake and increase your outflow through a good exercise program. To maximize my performance as a runner I needed to lose some weight. I went on a low fat diet. Less than 25% of my calories were from fat. I also increased the frequency and length of my running workouts. As a result I lost 14 pounds!

It’s common and expected that people will try to stay in their comfort zone. This is an area where risk is minimal. Chances are not taken. Failure is not a consideration. This is where we’re “comfortable” and where we know we can “handle” almost any situation that comes up. Greatness does not exist in the comfort zone. The comfort zone is for people who are not looking to better their position in any of the seven major areas of life. To succeed in life one must recognize that “trips” out of the comfort zone are not only necessary but also required. Most people are afraid of change. However, it’s only through change that we can improve.

The space inside your comfort zone is finite, it is limited. The area outside the comfort zone is infinite, it has no limits. For example, if a runner can run a mile in seven minutes and always trains in his comfort zone, he will always run a 7-minute mile. Maybe he is happy with his time. If so, that is okay. All of his workouts will be similar, non-taxing, and he won’t test his ability. However, if he wants to improve, he must not only desire the improvement, but also be willing to leave his comfort zone so he can achieve long term success in running (his chosen area of desired success). By adding more difficult workouts to his training regime that push his limits, tax his respiratory system, jack up his heart rate, and increase the lactic acid in his bloodstream, he can improve and grow as a runner. His threshold will be raised and his time lowered. The change in the workouts may be somewhat uncomfortable or even downright difficult, but it is obligatory to improving performance and lowering times, which is the goal he established from his primary desires. The satisfaction of achieving his primary desire will be greater and last longer than the pain (price paid) he endured to achieve his primary desire.

The difference between the animals and human beings is that people have the ability to change. We can change our lives. We can change our surroundings. We can change our habits. We can change our future based on changes we make today! The salmon swim upstream every year at the same time. The swallows arrive at Capistrano every year at the same time. Grizzly bears crawl into their caves every year at the same time. But if you’re tired of your job, if you’re tired of your attitude, if you’re tired of your relationships, if you’re tired of your physique: if you want something better, you have the power to change and get what you want out of life. Human beings have the ability to change and to shape what they become.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you fulfilled all of your primary desires?
  • Is the comfort level of what you have now more important than the unknown of working toward your goals?
  • Will you be happy later in life if you haven’t put forth your best efforts to achieve your dreams?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” or you are unsure, then you should move forward by initiating change. Only through change can you break existing patterns and start new ones. By changing how you think and act, you can change your results. Apply this system both personally and professionally. By making changes in your attitudes and habits you will actually have a paradigm shift. You will be able to incorporate concepts and tasks into your plan that, before, you would have thought impossible.

If you have limited thinking, you will have limited plans. Change involves an expansion in thinking. A commitment to change means opening your mind, realizing the need to make improvements in your personal habits and behaviors and being able to consider new concepts so that you can have the creative plans necessary to achieve your primary desires. Make a personal commitment to change and growth will follow.

The Power of Choice

Sam Silverstein Articles 1 Comment

We become what we become because of the way we choose and will ourselves to think. Our choices affect our thoughts and our thoughts affect who we are, what we stand for, and the footprints we leave on this planet.

Throughout our lives, we are faced with a myriad of choices. We may not always recognize their presence, but, like it or not, we are constantly faced with the responsibility of choosing. There is no escaping this responsibility. Not deciding what to do or how to act in a given situation is, in itself, a choice.

Making choices also means accepting the idea that we are part of a bigger picture. We are not alone in our choices. Our choices affect not only ourselves, but the people around us. Our choices shape our actions. Our actions are received and interpreted by those around us. These actions shape the opinions and feelings of those individuals and, ultimately, the actions they take for or against our behalf.

Some choices we make, like our financial well being, will ultimately affect the members of our immediate family. As we grow financially, we are in a position to provide on a different level for those we love. We make choices regarding our values and how we balance our lives. These choices will certainly impact our family and friends. How you treat others professionally will impact the results your business team achieves. As you can see, the choices we make can affect a wide array of people in our lives.

To a great extent, our beliefs about ourselves and our own capabilities, as well as how we see the world and the forces at play in it, affect what we will find possible. These beliefs will impact our choices. Our choices will shape our actions and our actions will determine our results.

Our choices not only affect us today, but affect our abilities and our choices in the future. For instance, if you feel out of control in a given situation, you may choose to withdraw or avoid the problems at hand. This choice leads you to escape from a challenge instead of confronting and possibly overcoming it. The degree to which you avoid or escape from problems today impairs your ability to face, deal with, and grow from various challenges in the future. Choices you make today will prepare you for choices you will be faced with in the future. As the complexity of life evolves, one choice will build on another, enabling you to handle increasingly difficult situations.

An awareness of choice is the first step towards growth. It is critical that we understand the importance of our choices and also the value of the present. By focusing on our current actions, living in the moment, we develop a certain mindfulness and can apply ourselves to do the very best job possible right now! Clarity of mind allows us to recognize the choices at hand and deal with them in a positive and proactive manner. You can create the future you desire based on the choices you make today!

Selling The Invisible

Sam Silverstein Articles 0 Comments

I just returned from the winter workshop of the National Speakers Association. It is a great opportunity to renew friendships, share ideas, and hear the latest buzz. I had particularly been looking forward to the Saturday morning keynote, delivered by Harry Beckwith, the author of “Selling The Invisible.”

If you haven’t read Harry’s book, I strongly recommend it. Although a large percentage of our business economy is based on selling goods and services that you can’t hold in your hand, such as insurance, investment counseling, and other professional services, the principles are certainly relevant to physical products as well.

Harry stated that there are four main issues you must manage in order to achieve success in “Selling The Invisible.”

1. Price

Price is important, but not in the way you may think. Price denotes value. Therefore, if you sell at a low price, then your value is perceived as low. If you sell at a substantially higher value, then your value is perceived as high. People naturally desire to buy high quality.

Taking this concept further, studies have shown that a client will be intrigued by a 25 percent price difference. They see this price decrease as a significant saving and may justify a lesser quality in order to save the money. If your prices are 5, 10, or even 15 percent lower, then odds of making the sale do not increase. You will only be giving up profits.

If you want to use price to help convey value you must be more then 25 percent higher then your competition. Remember, price alone does not determine value. Your perceived value will also be conveyed through the level of service you deliver, as well as the other features and benefits of doing business with you.

2. Brand

What are you known for? What reputation do you or your company have in the market place? A brand is a promise that you make with the market. When someone chooses you and your service, they should know what they are going to receive.

Think of your brand as your reputation. Then the question is, “How do you grow your reputation?” If you work on developing and strengthening your brand, the value of your business will grow.

One way of conveying to the market place what you do is through stories. Don’t just tell people how great you are, how wonderful your service is, and the fantastic results you will help your clients achieve. Tell stories about actual experiences that your clients have had working with you. People relate to stories, and they learn from stories. Stories are believable, and are a very powerful way to make a point.

Use stories in your marketing efforts, and you will build your brand.

3. Packaging

How are you visually communicating with your clients? What does your office look like? How do you dress? Are your letters and other printed materials presenting the image that you should be sending?

Everything about you and your organization should present a great first impression. Your “packaging” has a direct correlation to your perceived value.

Look at your competition and the industry in which your work. What type of packaging do they use? How do they dress? What do their presentations look like? What is the quality of their web sites, printed materials, and any other collateral marketing materials?

Once you have a good grasp on what everyone else is doing, you are in a great position to determine if you are on the right track, or if you need to make any course corrections.

4. Relationship

What are your relationships with your clients and prospects like? Relationships are built over time and through service. When your clients call you, how long does it take for you to return their call? What type of commitment does this response time show your clients?

What do you sacrifice for your clients? Do you give them time, attention, and assistance? How do you welcome them when they call, or when you meet with them? What are you doing to show your clients the level of importance they hold?

These are tough questions, but the answers to these questions will reveal how you are building relationships, and they will identify possible shortcomings.

People like to be valued. We want to feel important. Invest the time and energy to make each client and prospective client feel important, and they will show tremendous loyalty to you.

Focus on these four areas, and you will be on the road to being accountable for your organization’s success!