Just recently I was invited to an event called F##KUP Friday at Dragon Co-Working in Rochester. This is intended to be a fun filled night with 3 different speakers sharing their experience in growing their own businesses. I love any type of event that brings business people together as it’s a great learning opportunity for me, as well of course networking at its best!
Eighty plus people in the room, seventy five percent of which I already knew so lots of scope to meet new people as well as have a fun, education filled evening. Ten minutes in and I have my first opportunity to experience an interesting belief system… I was speaking to an accountant and I asked had she ever thought about standing up and telling us about her mistakes in life and business; “No bloody way!” was her response. “Why not?” I asked. “I’m an accountant and I can’t admit to making mistakes in front of people! What message would that tell my clients and any prospective clients?”
Did she really believe that she was perfect in EVERY way and never made a mistake? Even more, did she believe that her clients thought that she never made mistakes? Let me tell you this… There is no one on this planet that hasn’t made a mistake. In my mind it is part of the learning experience and without failing we cannot grow. Yes, she is right that her clients wouldn’t want her to make mistakes with their accounts, however, admitting to mistakes and putting them right shows a level of humility and makes someone far more likable and real!
Onto the first of the speakers. Young Tom, 28 years old and he starts by telling us that he left school with zero qualifications and no real chance of getting a great job. Fortunately, his dad got him an apprenticeship with one of his friends as an electrician. Tom worked hard for the five years to complete his apprenticeship getting up at 5am, driving into London then home by 7pm five days a week. His apprenticeship finished he was now a fully qualified sparks and earning a good wage, although working physically hard for it.
Tom’s mate, however, was in sales and earning five times as much as Tom with half the effort, so at 22 years of age Tom moved into the sales business. Before long he was earning more money than he knew what to do with, new BMW , giant hot tub in his mums back garden, £200 shirts, £500 trainers, expensive holidays and with the Rolex his dad had bought him on his 21st birthday looked the part of the successful business man.
Tom then goes on to tell us that this is where he slowed down, stopped putting the love into the business because he thought that he had made it…. More money going out than coming in and it wasn’t long before he was in financial trouble. The business that he had built was slipping away because the effort that he had put in had diminished, he was taking his clients for granted and working a fraction of what he did when he had started the business. The BMW went, the trainers and the shirts had worn out, the hot tub, like his revenue stream had dried up! On top of this the hair on his head had considerably thinned! At 28 he was driving his mums 16 year old golf and rethinking his strategy!
He’s now started his own electrical company which is now thriving because he learned from the mistakes that he made previously and he most certainly will not repeat the same mistake, as in his own words “Everyone makes mistakes but only complete idiots make the same one twice!” I see this behaviour everywhere, especially within networking circles, people get busy so they stop networking saying that they are too busy to find the time to build the pipeline and look after the relationships that gave them the work to be busy with in the first place. Madness……
Toms final words to all of us were “When you are busy work even harder, and keep going!”
I was cutting my lawn recently and I noticed that the stripes that I had worked so hard to keep straight had a bend in them! As I was going up and down the lawn focusing all of my efforts into making sure that the front wheel of my mower was adhering to the wheel mark from the cut coming down the other way I hadn’t noticed that the stripes were gradually going off piste! The front wheel base being narrower than the rear wheel base meant that I wasn’t actually following a straight line but a slightly off centre curve!
Now this got me thinking about a solution to the problem of a lawn that wasn’t looking nice, stripy and perfectly square. (I hear you say sad bastard!) The answer was quite easy when I thought about it! It was to look at the end of the line I wanted to go along and not focus so close to the end of the bonnet so to speak!
By looking further ahead I was more aware of what was happening all around me and had a much clearer view of what needed to happen to keep the lines straight. I then thought that this was a lot like business and confirmed what I find all of the time that most small business owners don’t look far enough ahead. They seem to be too busy being busy and not planning anything for their business or life going forward.
We’ve all heard the expression too busy working IN the business to work ON the business. You may ask why is it that we spend all our time looking at things right under our nose but not seeing the big picture?
Here are a few tips that will help you improve your business and life by changing your focal point;
Set some goals… Even if it’s only small ones to start. At the end of every year I plan my next year with absolute precision breaking it down into quarters then months then weeks then days. Ok, it might not be precise at the end of that year, however I’m always a lot further ahead than if I hadn’t planned anything. After all, if you go into a railway station and ask for a ticket the first thing the ticket clerk will say is “Where to?” If you don’t plan it, it’s very unlikely to happen!
Put it in your diary… If it’s in your diary it’s more likely to happen. The amount of small business owners I meet that don’t keep a diary is astounding and they wonder why they haven’t got any money or their business isn’t growing. Putting things in your diary for the year is a great way to make sure that things start to happen, like HOLIDAYS! Part of my planning is six weeks work then a week’s holiday throughout the year. My wife and I plan the holidays, diarise them and then book with the holiday company, that way there’s no going back. I then work out the budget for them and that goes on the plan of what I need to earn that year.
Say what you do and do what you say… If you’ve booked it and you say you are going to do it, then make sure you do it. There are too many flaky business people out there that book things then don’t turn up because they’ve had a better offer. This behaviour destroys trust and says more about your integrity than anything else. If you only have this one rule in your life it will make a massive difference to the amount of referrals that you get. People like doing business with reliable people, so, if you say your going to do something, THEN DO IT!
Have a look for challenges… One of the most important aspects of good planning is that you can find out what challenges face you in the future. This means taking a bit of time to think about the tasks and wonder what challenges it could throw up. Doing this means that you can work out more accurately how long it might take you to resolve each one and be prepared. Hope for the best and plan for the worst!
Decide what’s most important, and ditch the rest… This may sound like a drastic measure to some, but it really isn’t. The day will quickly fill up with time-wasting activities if you aren’t careful. So, you must remember that being productive isn’t just about getting things done, it’s also about leaving things undone. The simplicity and efficiency of today depends heavily on the elimination of non-essential tasks. You must identify and focus on what’s most important to you, and then ditch as much as you possibly can of everything else. Have a look at my 3F’s video here!
So there you have it, you can focus on the front wheels and have curved stripes or look at the big picture and have a nice straight and stripy lawn!
Last Friday I was invited to do a business surgery at a local co-working group. What a fantastic opportunity for me to spend some time with these enthusiastic business owners and answer some of their questions about business and to hopefully help them on their journey to success. (Whatever that might look like for each of them).
Over the weekend I have been thinking about all of the subjects we talked about and thought I’d share with you my key learning points from the session.
Start living to your personal values –Rejections don’t matter in the long run, there will be people that rate you and those that hate you. Accept them and refocus your attention on what DOES matter. What does matter is how you see yourself. Always make a habit of staying 100% true to your values and convictions, regardless of what others think. Never be ashamed of doing what feels right. To help you implement this positive habit, start by listing out 5-10 things that are important to you when it comes to building your character and living your life. For example, Openness, Honesty, Fairness, Reliability, Self-respect, Self-discipline, Compassion, and Kindness. Having a short list like this to reference will give you an opportunity to consciously invoke and uphold your handpicked traits and behaviours in place of doing something random simply for the purpose of external validation. I see a lot of personal and company mission statements on websites and on the walls in offices I visit and the owners can’t remember what the values actually are. Your values should go through you like the writing in a stick of rock!
Move towards your goal every day – Have you actually set some life and business goals? If you don’t know where you are going how can you possibly move towards it on a regular and consistent basis? When a thought comes to mind, ask yourself if it’s helping you grow or holding you back. Take back control. Make the unconscious, conscious, and let go of what isn’t helping you. Letting go isn’t giving up. It’s letting go of any obsessive emotional attachment to particular people, outcomes and situations. It means showing up every day in your life with the intention to be your best you, and to do the best you know how to, without expecting life to go a certain way. Have goals, have dreams, aspire and take purposeful action, and build great relationships, but detach from what every aspect of your life must absolutely look like to be good enough for you. Just accept reality and then respond effectively. Focus on what matters what moves you forward today and let go of what doesn’t. At the end of each day ask yourself “Have I moved towards my goal or away from it today?” If it’s towards then do more of that activity tomorrow; if it’s away, then stop doing it!
You can’t grow if you don’t fail – It’s OK if you cock it up; that’s how you grow in life. Give yourself a break. Don’t give up. Great things take time, and you’re getting there. Let your mistakes be your motivation, not your excuses. Decide right now that negative experiences from your past won’t predict your future. If you are afraid of failing the chances are you will never achieve anything of significance. Look at things with a different belief, such as; ‘there’s no such thing as failure, just action and feedback!’ If you thought with every venture that you started there was only two outcomes, either you get the result that you wanted or you learnt a beautiful lesson, how much easier would it be to take a chance? Don’t worry about getting it right, get it going!
Everything is cause and effect – Do you remember at school being taught that every action has an equal and opposite reaction? Well, that’s absolutely true with everything in life and especially in business. If you don’t like the result that you are getting, change the action that you are taking. It’s absolute madness expecting a different result by taking the same action. An easy acronym for you to remember this is A.C.T. Take some Action. Consider the results, Tinker with the next Action.
Life is far too short to be wasting it making excuses, spending it with negative people or doing things that make us unhappy, so come on, make a decision to be in control of your life and choose to be happy on a daily basis.
Just recently I was asked to write a networking article for ‘Reverse the Tide’ Magazine about networking and here is the result that you might find useful if you, like me are a serial networker!
I was at the ABC Big Breakfast network meeting back in January and a business coach came up to me and asked how I managed to have my diary booked full of clients for 6 months in advance? I asked him how many network meetings he attended in an average month? He said 3 or 4 max, which at best is one per week! He then followed that up with saying that networking doesn’t work for him!
I told him that during a normal year I attend between two hundred and two hundred and fifty network meetings of one description or another and I have a process at each of those meetings. I also said that over 90% of my business came directly from networking or direct referrals.
He asked for some tips and these are seven that I gave to him:
BE CONSISTENT. It’s no good turning up to a meeting and then not going again for another six months. People do business with people that they know, like and trust and seeing you every six months doesn’t give them the opportunity to build that trust.
MARKETING BEFORE SALES. The amount of time we get cancellations at ABC Networks meetings because people say that they have to see a client! Really? It’s this mind-set that leads to a feast or famine business. Marketing is your sales funnel and without it the sales will dry up, so it has to be marketing before sales. If your clients can’t wait an extra hour in the mornings then that highlights other systemic issues in your business and would suggest a scarcity mind-set.
SUSPEND YOUR JUDGEMENT. Either consciously or subconsciously we are always making judgements and this is especially true at a network meeting. Your job is to be aware that you are doing this and STOP IT! Just because someone is dressed in shorts and flip-flops doesn’t mean they are skint or don’t know what they are talking about. Just because you don’t need a financial advisor at the moment doesn’t mean that they don’t know someone that could use your business. Stop judging and start connecting.
ASK DON’T TELL. If you are telling someone at a network meeting what you do, the chances are that they have turned off! Most people make a snap judgement about what you are saying and if they don’t have an immediate need they lose interest. When I’m asked what I do I always have a quick one line ready that includes the type of client I’m looking for, and then say “More importantly what do you do?” and I always finish with “How will I know if one of my clients is the right fit for you?” This shows that you are interested in them which will probably be a first.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU. Reverse psychology here. Most people that network are busy trying to get a sale and that equates to most people are busy resisting a sale! Yes of course in the long run that’s what we want, however, if you work on finding out all about them and how you can help them, the law of reciprocation will mean at some point they will do the same for you. I know it feels counterproductive, trust me, it really isn’t about you!
CONNECT PEOPLE. Make a genuine effort to connect people and keep them uppermost in your mind while you are out networking. My sole intention when I’m at a meeting is who can I connect this person to, and I always offer to connect them with my Linkedin connections if it will help them.
UPDATE YOUR CRM. As soon as you get back to your office or home make sure you connect on Linkedin,Facebook & Twitter and any other social media platform. I always send an email to a new connection thanking them for chatting to me and offering them a connection to my connections. I then update my CRM with the details I collected from them so that I always remember their name and business, when you meet them again and can remember their name they will definitely be surprised.
Overall, I believe networking is about turning strangers into friends and keeping the relationship warm just like you would any other relationship and that is why my diary is booked six months in advance.
If you would like to know more about the Psychology of networking have a look just here!
I’m getting asked more and more by various businesses to help build the leadership skills of them and their teams. Lots of companies tend to underestimate the importance of great leadership training, in fact one business owner said to me “It’s my business, I pay the wages so they should all do what I tell them to do!”
Another example was when I was at a personal training studio just the other day and one of the coaches had told me that they had had a strong lecture from the head coach (Also the owner of the studio) telling them that they all had to wear the same branded work wear. Guess what the boss was wearing? A random holiday tee-shirt advertising a beer brand! Incongruent or what!!
These are not isolated cases either, I’m seeing it demonstrated all over the place and this type of leadership (Command and Control) is doomed to failure in the long run.
So here are Seven great leadership strategies that you might want to try in your business. Have a go for the next month and then let me know what different results you get in your business?
1- Build your self-awareness…
“Leadership has got little to do with figuring it out and more to do with feeling it out. It is about being aware. Leaders aren’t born; they evolve and to evolve you must first be self-aware. To develop leadership skills, allow yourself to be open, honest, and real. Be confident, not arrogant. Confident leaders lead through values, vision, and vulnerability. Arrogant leaders lead through fear, blame, and ego.”
2- Don’t hide anything…
“Your team can tell if you’re hiding something. It makes them uncertain or suspicious, both of which you don’t want. Lay out the rules of the game as you see them with your team. Let the team know where they are; work on a plan to go forward. Keep individuals up to date on their status as it relates to the group. All this forces you to have and share your vision, which is what makes you a great leader in the first place.”
3- It’s not about you…
“Repeat the words, ‘It’s not about me!’ every day, as many times a day as you can. Don’t make your leadership about being in charge, being right, getting promoted, or looking the best. Make leadership about the cause of the organisation, serving the legitimate needs of those you’re leading, and not taking yourself too seriously. You’ll have people lining up to work for and with you and the results will follow.” Try this book!
4-Lead from the front…
“Leaders need to show, not just tell. If you want your employees to be punctual, make sure you’re there on time — or even early. If professionalism is a priority, make sure you’re dressed for success, and treat everyone you interact with (both in-person and online) with courtesy. Set the tone and your employees will follow it.” Be aware of the Alpha male syndrome!
5-Have a positive attitude…
“Great leaders have an upbeat, optimistic attitude that serves as a source of inspiration for followers. If leaders seem discouraged or apathetic, members of the group are likely to also become uninspired. Even when things look grim and your followers start to feel disheartened, stay positive. This does not mean looking at things through rose-coloured spectacles. It simply means maintaining a sense of optimism and hope when you are all facing challenges!”
6-Learn to trust…
“Trust is the foundation for effective leadership. Exceptional work requires a degree of creativity. Set the expectations, but don’t micromanage. Trust your team to follow through, be creative and to get the job done. Trust builds loyalty, dedication and brings out the best in people. During the most critical moments, the strength of a trusted team pulls together to get the job done!”
“The most important person for you to manage is yourself. Hire a coach, talk to a mentor, do whatever it takes to manage yourself effectively. You are your best friend and your worst enemy and you look back at you in the mirror. Gain control of yourself and your leadership ability increases. By trying to control and micromanage others it decreases!”
Are you planting Bananas & expecting to pick Cucumbers? In my experience life is all about cause and effect, do you remember learning at school that every action has an equal and opposite reaction? Call it what you like, cause and effect, sow and reap, action & reaction one thing is for sure we are all currently getting the results of the action we have taken in the past. So I’m sure that you, like me, will agree that if we want something different we need to do something different!
As a psychologist I am always looking at the Behaviour of my clients, and come to that, at a lot of the people that attend ABC Networks and what I see is people getting a poor result and then moaning about it… How crazy is that?
Psychologists are constantly trying to prove or disprove theories and a theory that I have knocking about in my head at the moment is this… Small business owners that are currently not generating enough money and would like to, fall into one of two categories…
1 – They don’t know what to do to.
2 – They know what to do but don’t do it.
If they don’t know what to do then that’s easy to fix; find out what you need to learn and then Do It Now!
The second group is somewhat harder to solve as they really do need to ask themselves why it is that they are not taking action on the knowledge that they have. For instance, do they really want what it is they say they want?
I speak to lots of small business owners and I’m amazed at how many people seem to have a different view of the sow and reap theory, for example they go networking don’t engage with people, they don’t get any business and then say that networking doesn’t work. They then try a different networking group, don’t engage again and funny thing is they don’t get any business again. Is this group 1 or 2?
This behaviour isn’t just restricted to networking events either, it happens in other areas of their business. A business owner I met recently was telling me about his current cash flow issues and how he gets ahead for a bit and then the same thing happens. I asked him what his systems were for collecting money from his clients and he said he hasn’t got time to put any systems in place because he is always chasing sales so he would have enough cash to pay his bills… Is this group 1 or 2?
One thing for sure is that it is absolute madness, to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result, it’s just like planting bananas and expecting to pick cucumbers! It doesn’t work…
If you are happy with the result you are getting, that’s great. If not and you want a different result, then do something different and if that doesn’t work do something different and if that doesn’t work do something different! Are you getting the picture?
First of all you need to know exactly what result it is that you want and then you need to measure every day what has worked and what hasn’t. Every day I ask myself have I moved towards my target or away from it. If I’ve moved towards it, great, I’ll do more of what I did. If I’ve moved away from it, I’ll change what I did, it’s really quite simple.
It doesn’t matter what we do in life we can’t plant bananas and pick cucumbers.
I was at an ABC meeting recently and asked the group what they would like me to speak about and I gave them a choice of Donald Trump or The Barn! All but one of them chose the barn, so, here is the same story for you…
Last summer my wife Sarah and I moved to the middle of nowhere in the Weald of Kent, it’s that quiet that the road where we live has grass growing in the middle of it. One of the attractions of the house for me is that there is a barn in the garden which is about 12m x 40m in size, the perfect man cave!
I had visions of a gym, pool table, cinema room and other boy type things. I started with getting the gym sorted and having a good area to train and all was going well when a client of mine asked if I could help him out with a favour by storing a little bit of his furniture?
Of course I said yes; now imagine my surprise when this articulated lorry turned up outside of my house… It blocked the road for nearly two hours while they unloaded all of the Rattan garden furniture which was stock that he hadn’t sold through the summer and wanted to store for next spring. The barn was full and had just about left me with a training area that was about 3m x 4m, tight was an understatement.
Like most things in my life I just get on and do it and look at the positives of any situation and thought it would all be back to normal come April.
In January two young ABC members challenged me and my mate Jamie to a little fitness competition, which in itself is great fun, however, if you know me you will know that I don’t enter anything half-hearted and I expect to win! So, we have five weeks to train for the competition on the 6th February. Training five days out of seven, three in my now confined gym space and two with Ross my personal trainer.
Two weeks into the training regime and Ross is off on his jaunt to Thailand with no consideration for me and this very important competition! (Just joking) Jamie and I decided to train together one a week at his place and once at mine. The first session at my place and Jamie walks into the barn and says “Bloody hell, this is tight, why don’t you move the stuff around and make some more room?” I said “No, I’ve looked and I think it’s about the best it can be.”
An hour later and some Tetris like thinking from Jamie we have moved all of this boxed up Rattan furniture into a completely new order and doubled the space for the training.
Now then, you might be saying what has this got to do with anything? Well, it reminded me that sometimes we can be too close to the problem to see the solution and sometimes to even see that there is a problem in the first place.
Maybe stand back from your life and business and look at where you are too close to see what you need to see to make the change that will give you the result that you are looking for.
Are you reinventing the wheel with your business? The first five years of my life were in a council flat in the East End of London, the only natural greenery I had seen was the river Thames (It was very dirty). Imagine what was going on in my head when my mum and dad moved us out to Sevenoaks and I saw grass for the first time….
Not only did I see grass, flowers and trees for the first time I came across the humble honey bee! I asked my dad what it was and he went into great detail explaining that the honey bee is the source of all food because without it’s pollination of the plants the human race would starve. This information started my lifelong fascination with bees.
Two years ago (quite a few years after the first bee encounter) I fulfilled that lifelong ambition of acquiring my first bee hive; little did I realise what a journey of discovery I was embarking upon. If I knew anything, I knew that I knew nothing about beekeeping and if I wanted to be the best beekeeper I could be, I would need some help.
One of our ABC Networks members had a stepson that had been keeping bees for ten years since he was seven, so I asked him if I could pay him to teach me, as we all know the quickest way to acquire a new skill is to learn from someone that’s been there, seen it and done it! He agreed and I’m now a proficient beekeeper.
Back to the present day and I have done with the bees what I do with businesses; I have ten hives and at the height of summer about one million bees. Growth requires different skills and trying to do things in a large apiary is like doing things in a large business, in order for it to be scalable we have to have a different set of systems and processes because we can’t do ALL of the work ourselves.
With an apiary once you have taken the honey from the frames you must clean the frames and prepare them for the next season, now, on average that took me about 15minutes per frame, 24 frames, in total six hours. As a hobby that’s great, but as a business with ten hives it’s a whole different ball game.
Realising that I needed help again, I went to a commercial apiary and asked how they cleaned up the frames at the end of each year. They showed me this very grand steamer and showed me how it would work. It was certainly an impressive machine, however it was more for the next stage of bee keeping to where I currently was, so I went home and designed my own. An old plastic dustbin, a new wallpaper steamer and some ingenuity and within half hour I had built my own steamer. Another hour and I had cleaned all of the frames ready for next year.
The lessons from this are two-fold; firstly, as business owners we should always be looking for better ways to do what we are currently doing and ultimately be looking for the best way to do it. Secondly, we can’t do it alone! Very few of us have an absolutely unique business and the likelihood is that someone somewhere is doing it a lot better than we are, so find out who they are and ask them how they are doing it and emulate what things they are doing better than us. Reinventing the wheel is time consuming and not necessary in most cases, so finding a inspirational coach or mentor is fundamental to personal and business growth.
About 2 years ago I was challenged to do 22 press ups for 22 days to bring awareness to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for British service men and woman returning from war zones. It moved me to find out that 22 ex-service men and women are committing suicide every day so I decided to give it a go. My mind-set was that if I could help raise awareness with my social media following and help save just one of those lives along the line then it would all be worthwhile.
I had to film myself doing 22 press ups every day for 22 days and then upload it to Facebook along with my nomination for someone else to take up the challenge each day. Those of you that know me will understand when I say I’m not very good at sticking to the rules, so I nominated six people to do the challenge instead of one. Two ex-professional footballers, two clients, my personal trainer and my best mate of 40 plus years, so you would think that there was a very good chance of them ALL doing the challenge.
Be ready to be surprised… Or am I just wishful thinking that six people that I’m quite close to would put others in front of themselves? Only one of the footballers and my personal trainer actually took up the challenge! To say I was shocked and disappointed would be an understatement and in my mind there can only be four reasons;
They can’t do 22 press ups!
They are worried what other people might think of them!
They haven’t got time!
They don’t give a toss about a cause bigger than themselves!
Their behaviour reminded me of this quote by Richard Bach from his book Jonathan Livingstone Seagull “Nothing happens by chance, my friend… No such thing as luck. A meaning behind every little thing, and as such a meaning behind this. Part for you, part for me, we may not see it all real clear right now, but we will, before long.”
As a performance psychologist I am very aware of behaviour and language patterns that people use on a daily basis and I know that about 85% of our daily actions are habit, so it got me thinking where else is this behaviour showing up in other areas of these four people’s lives?
Let me go through the four reasons and connect it with other areas of life;
They can’t do 22 press ups! Where else in their life or business are they not doing their press ups? In other words not doing what it takes to get the job done. I see lots of “Wantrepreneurs” that want the results in their business but are not prepared to do what it takes, they talk a good game but when it comes to actually getting down and doing the press ups they can’t do it because they haven’t been practising. My personal trainer can show me how to do a perfect press up, however, I have to actually do it. I may be able to show the “Wantrepreneur” how to make more money, but he/she has to actually do it! If you can’t do a full press up at the moment, do it on your knees until you can.
They are worried what other people might think of them! With the best will in the world we will only get 80% of the people to love us, which means 20% will hate us, and if the 20% that hated us loved us then another 20% would hate us just because that 20% loved us! Can you see the foolishness in expecting everyone to love us? Most people judge other people by their own standards and who’s to say that their standards are right in the first place. Trying to please everyone is fruitless journey which will never be achieved and stems from a low self-esteem and compounded by a compulsive negative habit pattern. This will have been learned in childhood from a perceived withdrawal of a parents love and continued in adulthood as the desire to please everyone. My favourite quote from Dr Wayne Dyer is “True happiness comes from being independent of the good opinion of other people!” If you or anyone you know has a low self-esteem then have a read of this book by Maxwell Maltz called Psycho-Cybernetics.
They haven’t got time! This may come as a shock to you… All of us only have 24 hours in each and every day. Why do some people get loads done in a day when others simply seem to struggle to do anything productive? It’s not about time management, it’s about task management. Those of us that get a lot done in our 24 hours tend to prioritise everything into a list and work on the things that make the biggest difference to our lives. Watching Eastenders or doing something to make my business better? I know what I’d choose…
They don’t give a toss about a cause bigger than themselves! Bob Burg has written a great book called “It’s not about you!” This sums up the purpose of life for me, life is all about how we can contribute to the greater good and focus on how we can help others less fortunate than ourselves. A lot of mental illness comes from being self-obsessed and in a lot of cases the route to getting better is to start helping other people. Just think, if each of us could help just one person each day what a better place this world would be? If you can’t help one person each day, start with helping one person each month, then each week. Whichever way you look at it, life would be so much better if we helped each other instead of using each other. A quote from the Dalai Lama “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used!”
There you have it, four tips for you and your business;
Do your press ups in your life and business!
Stop worrying about what other people think about you!
Task management not time management.
It’s not about YOU!
To the people that I have nominated for the 22 press up challenge and have taken it on thank you, I really appreciate you helping make a difference in this world.
To those that have done nothing with it I’d say this “You can make a difference or you can make an excuse!” What will you choose?
I’ve just had a week in Sorrento in Italy finishing my latest book. Sarah and I were sitting having lunch when this northern gentleman approached our table and said “Excuse me have you got a travel lion?” As he had a really strong northern accent I didn’t understand what he had said, however, Sarah asked him what was a travel lion? He replied “It’s the same as a normal iron but smaller that you take travelling!” Sarah said “No sorry” and the guy moved onto the next table and asked the same question while Sarah and I looked on and realised what he had actually said.
The people on the next table (From Newcastle) said “Yes, what would you like ironed?” At which point we just burst out laughing at our inability to hear what was actually being said…
Now then, this got me to thinking where else is communication lost on the recipient and where could we make sure that what we are trying to communicate is clearly heard…
How many times have you said something to someone and they were offended, only for you to say “Sorry I didn’t mean that, I meant this!” A lot of disagreements come from miscommunication in one form or another.
I once heard someone say “I’m responsible for what I say, not for what you hear!” and I think a lot of people also believe the responsibility lays with the other person to understand what is being said, however, I believe that great communicators have a plan and make sure that the language they are using is the correct one for the person on the other end…
Here are six tips for top communication…
Learn to ask great questions… Every question you ask should help you gather either facts or an opinion. Know which kind of information you need and frame your questions accordingly. Ask open questions, unlike simple yes-or-no questions, open-ended questions invite the respondent to talk and enable you to gather much more information. “What do you like best about this hotel?” is likely to generate more valuable information than “Do you like this hotel?” Another tactic is to ask a question in the declarative format, “Tell me about that.” People who won’t answer questions sometimes respond better to a direct order.
Practice your attention paying skills… When others are speaking are you really listening? We often confuse ‘listening’ with ‘being quiet’ but just because you aren’t talking while others are talking does not mean you’re really listening. Learn to turn off your own internal dialogue and truly tune into what others are saying. It often helps to repeat what you’ve heard so that you know you’re paying attention and they know it too.
Listen to understand… Steven Covey once said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Often we are waiting for the gaps, or the breaks, or when we think the speaker has finished or had enough time, so that we can add our piece of communication. A lot of the time we break the sequence of discussion, or add content of little value, or just say the same thing again. We listen to respond. We build our own ideas, not necessarily creatively building on the ideas of others. Our behaviours are less supportive and more directive. We miss messages, and opportunities. We just fail to listen. Our agenda not theirs. It’s not about you; it’s about the other person.
Be interested in what they have to say… One of the key aspects of effective communication is the ability to show genuine interest. What do I mean by genuine interest? I mean that not only do you act as though you care, but you really do care and listen to what people are saying. It is easier said than done. Especially when you just want to get the job done and you may not care about that person at all. If that is your case then face the sad truth: you are likely to be a poor communicator. Some people are more adept at this, they have more empathy and are more people oriented.
Learn to paraphrase… Paraphrasing is repeating in your words what you interpreted someone else to be saying. Paraphrasing is powerful means to further the understanding of the other person and yourself, and can greatly increase the impact of another’s comments. It can translate comments so that even more people can understand them. Perhaps even reflect the answers back to demonstrate that you are listening in a positive and constructive way. Remember what you have been told! It can be useful to make notes after a meeting – their children’s names, hobbies, points of particular interest. Showing an interest in what someone thinks and feels helps to build a relationship with the person. By asking relevant questions it helps to reinforce that you have an interest in what the speaker has been saying.
Remember their name… Dale Carnegie said “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language” Using a person’s name is crucial, especially when meeting those we don’t see very often. Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate. Take your time when you are introduced and make a conscious note of the name, my tip here is when you shake hands hold on for a fraction of a second longer and this will remind you to focus on their name.
So there you are, six communication skills for you to practice and if you do take action on what you have just read notice what a different result you get when someone asks you if you have a travel lion!
It never ceases to amaze me when I meet someone and they say to me networking doesn’t work.
A classic example of this happened last week when an ABC member (let’s call him Charlie) emailed me to say that he wouldn’t be coming to ABC anymore because he hadn’t had a single referral in 2 years and although he had made some good friends he didn’t feel it was working for him. Now the interesting thing here is I had referred two people to Charlie, one of which he didn’t contact and the other chose to use someone else.
I also connected Charlie with another client of mine who said that he could give Charlie between £40-60k per year in referrals as that was what he was currently doing with another company and was purely transactional with no relationship. Charlie had one meeting with my client and didn’t see him again or contact him or make any attempt to build the relationship. Another client of mine also connected Charlie with a great referral source and Charlie sent them a two page sales pitch.
So, my question is “Was it the network that didn’t work or Charlie that didn’t netWORK?”
If you are experiencing a poor return on your networking then here is my PACE method of networking that may help you get a better result…
P = Pre-judge…
A couple of years ago I was the keynote speaker at a London teaching hospital and I had to address 150 surgeons and anaesthetists. As I was the keynote I was last to speak and I had had a couple of visits to the refreshment table and attempted to speak to several of the delegates without much luck. I suspect it was because I was dressed in Flip-Flops, shorts and my trusty Tottenham football shirt. When I jumped up on the stage and took my place behind the lectern there were some very puzzled faces in the audience.
I started to tell a story about being summoned to court for a charge of assaulting a police officer; I described the setup of the court with the magistrates, police officer and the accused. When I stopped the story and asked the audience who thought I was the defendant and over 90% put their hand up to confirm my suspicion. Everyone of that 90% had pre-judged me because of the way I was dressed… They didn’t know that I was the chair of the magistrates or that I also had a PhD…
When you go to a network meeting and someone stands up to say their name, profession and pitch, most people will judge them and if they have no immediate need for that persons skill, product or service and will discount them, and what they have to say will generally not register in the memory banks.
What about that persons circle of influence? Everyone in business will probably know at least a couple of hundred other people, so when you pre-judge them you are also losing a potential two hundred other connections. When you pre-judge someone you stop a journey with a multitude of potential destinations.
The next network meeting you attend practice not judging anyone…
A = Attitude…
I had just launched a new ABC group in South east London and was just setting up when this quite large gentleman staggered in to the reception area and said “Oi, you, get me a chair!” So I obliged and found a chair for him at which point he said “Not that one, that’s too soft and no good for my back!” I found him another chair and asked him what he was doing here at this time of day? He said he was here for this ‘bloody breakfast meeting’ because people had told him that he had to network.
When we had finished the formal part of the meeting I was doing a small closing speech about ABC being not about making money for me as the network owner and was focused on making money for the businesses that attended and helping each other achieve our goals, at which point he interrupted and said “What a load of rubbish, nobody does anything for nothing!” Luckily, there were a lot of other members in the room that appreciated the value of helping each other rather than thinking “What’s in it for me!”
Yes of course we all network to increase our leads; however a bit of reverse psychology is what works the best. Think about it from the other way around. If you have an attitude of how can I help the other people rather than who can I sell to or what’s in it for me, the law of reciprocation will ensure you will get more referrals than you can handle in the long game! As Bob Burg says in his excellent book Endless Referrals“It’s not about you!”
My attitude at any network meeting or gathering of people is very much “How can I turn these strangers into friends?”or “How can I connect this person with another referrer?” Rather than “What’s in it for me?”
So the next network meeting you go to adjust your attitude and ditch the WIIFM and look to turn strangers into friends and friends into clients.
C = Communication…
I’m sure that you have been for a coffee, following meeting someone at a network group. I met a lady at the first ABC Ashford about 4 years ago and she asked if I would like to meet for coffee, which I duly obliged. We arranged a local hotel reception area and I turned up after her, she already had her coffee and as soon as I got there she didn’t ask if I wanted a drink she launched into telling me how wonderful her multi-level marketing product was and drew a diagram of how I could earn as much as I wanted to each month but the average was a £1000 for just 16 hours per week. She went on to tell me how I deserved a secondary income stream and I could will it to my beneficiaries in the event of my early demise.
Now then, as much as I would love to help people get a better deal on their utilities there was a fundamental flaw with her approach; she was TELLING me what she thought I wanted to hear. So I drew her a diagram of the multiple income streams that I already had and explained that I earned more from my book sales working zero hours than the £1000 per month for 64 of my precious hours that she wanted to steal from me.
The lesson here is that communication is more about listening than it is about talking. She didn’t ask a single question about me or my current circumstance, she was trying to sell me something I didn’t need or want. If she had asked me about what I did at the network meeting instead of trying to sell to me she could have saved a lot of time. If you ask better questions you will get a better response and if you are TELLING you are definitely NOT selling.
You will get a better result communicating if you ask some great questions and then listen with the intent to understand the reply rather than respond with your pre-arranged agenda. Two ears and one mouth that is how you should communicate listen twice as much as you speak and remember if you’re telling, you’re not selling.
E = Engagement…
Many years ago I had a gentleman come on my second ever Millionaire Mind-set course, unfortunately he was what I call a KIAC (Check the link) he thought he knew it all and didn’t implement anything that he had learned. It’s not about the information; it’s about the implementation! He had been networking for a while and had had very few referrals. He came to me and said “Ash, this networking malarkey really doesn’t work and I won’t be coming anymore.” I wished him luck and we parted company.
Imagine my surprise when 3 years later at ABC Gravesend he walked through the door and announced that he was back! I asked him what had made him change his opinion of networking and he said “I’ve read this great book and it says networking is the best form of marketing and I already knew all of the people I needed to know!” I asked him what the book was and he said Endless Referrals by Bob Burg… Funny that!! I had recommended it to him on the Millionaire Mind-set course 6 years previously.
I welcomed him back and he went to get a coffee and sat down at the table, he didn’t speak to anyone until his turn to speak. He stood up said he was a business coach and he could help everyone in the room grow their business and that they should all come over and see him during breakfast. He sat down, waited for the presentation round to end, got up, collected his breakfast which he ate in record time and then left.
He didn’t engage with anyone for the whole two hours; he pitched his business and expected everyone to go and see him afterwards (Which they didn’t) and then left as soon as he had eaten his breakfast. So once again he had learned nothing.
In order to turn strangers into friends we must engage with people, we must be genuinely interested in them which you can’t do if you’re not going to talk to them. Get in amongst the people and speak to them. I’ll talk to anyone anywhere; my mates take the proverbial when I talk to the doormen at the pub when we go and see Tottenham play. They may well laugh but I’ve turned those strangers into friends and one of them is now a client.
I’m going to indulge you in a little time travel back to May 1985. My second son Adam had just been born in February, business was booming, new Mercedes 280e in the garage and I was treating myself to an all singing and dancing lawn mower. A Honda with a Briggs and Stratton engine, 51cm cutting deck and multi-speed self-drive, all for the princely sum of £595 which in 1985 was a bloody lot of money.
Now I can hear you all saying “He needs to get out more!” and you’re probably right…
Fast forward to May 2016, thirty one years later almost to the day. The Honda lawnmower affectionately named Daisy was a bit like triggers broom, four new wheels, one new cutting deck, 5 new blades and a new engine (but she was original) finally bit the dust. It was on a tough uphill stretch that the front nearside wheel fell off! Gutted or what! On close inspection the supporting metalwork was now un-supporting rust work and definitely beyond repair.
Off to the mower shop I went and purchased the 31 year modern equivalent, which, funny enough was about the same cost. I lifted the box with said new mower into the back of the car and thought to myself “That’s surprisingly light!” On arrival home I carried the box across the lawn and into the barn for assembly, which took all of 15 minutes. The original took over an hour to put together if I recall. One pull on the starter cord and it burst into life; old daisy used to take six or seven hard pulls to even get her to cough a bit before she would slowly chug up to full running speed.
Out of the barn onto the lawn and the first strip cut… Easy! In fact so easy I was shocked. The complete lawn was cut in two hours, a full hour less than previously. No back ache, no cursing because the grass collection bag consistently fell off and only half a tank of petrol compared with one and half tanks. Why oh why hadn’t I bought a new mower earlier??
Now you might be wondering what this has to do with anything….. Well, it reminds me very much of our businesses and our life; where else are we holding onto old things that are outdated, inefficient and dammed right hard work? I see lots of business owners that hold on to old systems and processes, destructive habits and ways of doing things that cost them time and money. It’s because they have become so accustomed to struggling they think it’s normal.
Where are we holding onto old things in our personal lives? Stagnant relationships, wardrobes full of old clothes, attics full of stuff we will never use, thoughts and beliefs that are clearly holding us back and which clearly we refuse to acknowledge?
Sometimes we have to let go of the old things, thoughts and habits in order for us to experience the new things.
My challenge to you is each day for the next twenty one days let go of one old habit, belief or attitude that is just not serving you anymore and replace it with something newer, better more efficient or just different.