Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Don't Be Herb Tarlek

Remember Herb Tarlek from WKRP? 

Yeah ... if you go to a networking event ... don't be like him. 
Try this instead...

Find out more at

Referrals, Unicorns and Uglycorns

What do referrals have to do with unicorns?  And what the heck is an uglycorn?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Tracing it Back … Or Big Pink Diaper Truck Moments

Isn't it interesting how things develop in ways we never could have imagined? 

Your career, your relationship with your significant other, your business; they all seem to take on a life of their own. You do your best to guide how things go but in the end, things happen that cause changes you never saw coming. Some good, some not so good.

When you get the chance, it can be very revealing to think backwards through time and see how you got to where you are. Notice the events and people that had a hand in helping you create the world you have around you.

This thought came to mind in the form of a conversation I had yesterday. I was meeting for the first time with Teresa Kiyawasew, owner of Kiy HR Services (Check out her blog)   My intention was to research trends in the HR world for a presentation I am doing in the near future. The conversation was quite professional to start. Then this sentence came out of Teresa’s mouth, “…so really, as Human Resource professionals we feel …..Bwaaaahahahaha! A big pink diaper truck!!!!” She pointed out the window and I turned to see exactly that. A big pink truck with a giant yellow happy face and a description of how they were providing diapers for our world’s future. It really was a great truck!

From that point on though, our conversation was very different. We talked diapers, we talked kids, we talked dogs, we talked race cars and eventually we did get back to talking business. The business we talked was very different now though. Instead of just research for me, it turned into discussions of how we could collaborate. We had discovered, through all of that random conversation, that we had very similar values and styles and thought we may somehow be of benefit to clients if we combined our efforts. What was the event that caused all of that? A big pink diaper truck driving by!

I’m sure you have been in conversations that have taken an unexpected turn and traced it back to find the moment it happened. Try doing the same with the bigger parts of your life as well. What caused you to know you loved your spouse? How did you end up making the decision to study (insert whatever you studied here).

Do the same for your business if you are an entrepreneur.
  • What are some of the events that really shaped what your business has become?
  • Were they planned?
  • Did seemingly random things happen that gave you an idea?
  • What events forced you down a path you didn't expect to be on?
  • What people played a part in shaping your business?
  • Did you expect them to do that?

It is fun and very valuable to trace these events back. You can then give credit to those who deserve it and maybe haven’t received it.

Look for your “Big Pink Diaper Truck” moments and feel free to share them in the comments below. I would love to hear your story!

Monday, 21 January 2013

The World's Greatest Lie

A book was given to me a few years ago by someone who has been a very special influence on my life. She gave me The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I have read through this book 6 times now and every time it speaks to me in a different way. I have given copies of it to many people around me that I care about. Do I feel it is an important book? Yes. 

The Alchemist

One particular statement from the book has really stood out to me lately ...

“At a certain point in our lives, 
we lose control of what's happening to us, 
and our lives become controlled by fate. 
That's the world's greatest lie.” 

In my work I interact with entrepreneurs, in my volunteer activities I interact with children. It is so interesting to look at those groups through the lens of the worlds greatest lie. 

Children don't believe it, it is as simple as that. Especially small ones. They know that the world is wide open to them. That is why they are so eager to explore, to see and feel and taste things.  But as they get older, they hear the lie being transmitted round their world. They are told that opportunities are scarce and that they should pick a safe path through life. Although it may not be passed on with words, the adults around them give the sense that choice is something that few have when it comes to how their lives play out. So it is better to stick to the rules and live the life that our society shows to be "normal". 

Most entrepreneurs seem to have stepped around that lie. They know that they can forge their own future. It may be hard and they may be subject to criticism. Some who believe the lie may even see entrepreneurs as naive. But true entrepreneurs push on through all of that, knowing that it is all a lie and knowing that in the end, they make choices that determine how their life plays out.

Sometimes, though, the road gets so tough that the entrepreneur wants to give in to the lie. They know it isn't true but they are tired of the fight to build what their dream.  Living by the lie could be a relief. I am fortunate enough to get to interact with this step in an entrepreneur's life sometimes and I find the best way to remind them that they cannot fall into the lie, is to show them children. When they see a child's optimism and fire, it is a quick reminder of that explorer spirit that dwells within almost every true entrepreneur.

Watching people fall into the world's lie is sad, watching people overcome it is a delight. So I recommend 2 things: 
   1. Read The Alchemist
   2. Learn from children

Friday, 11 January 2013

Powerful Listening

The secret of many a man's success in the world resides in his insight into the moods of men and his tact in dealing with them.
J.G. Holland

No matter what your business is I can guarantee you one thing; 100% of your target market is human. As a matter of fact, I can also guarantee that 100% of your suppliers, partners, family, friends and contacts is human. Alright, maybe not 100% of your friends, I have a couple of friends who aren't human although they think they are (I'll let you take that however you want to). 

The point is, when it comes to your business (and much of your life) you will be interacting with other people constantly. Your skill in dealing with people can be one of the biggest factors in your success. Spend some time around a sales team to see proof of this. Often it is not the salesperson who knows the product the best that has the greatest results, it is the salesperson who understand how to communicate with people and make them feel comfortable. 

The funny thing is that when you look at most of the training material out there about how to communicate, it is focused on how to send information out. To have people feel comfortable with you though, it is just as important (if not more so) to know how to receive what others are sending to you. In short, listening. Truly listening to people will help you understand what they need and desire, but more importantly, it will show them that you are interested in what they have to say. If they feel that, they will want to do business with you. 

Here are some signs that you are truly listening:

1. While being spoken to your thoughts are on what the person is actually saying, not on what you are going to say next.

2. You wait for the speaker to completely finish what they are saying before you begin to speak. 

3. You can remember how the conversation flowed from point to point and see the other person's contributions to it as clearly as your own. 

4. Many of the times you speak will be open ended questions that encourage the other person to speak. These will never be "loaded" questions.

5. At the end of each exchange you could easily sum up what the person just said if you needed to (assuming the speaker said something that made sense.)

When you truly listen to what a speaker is saying you will be giving them that feeling that they are important to you. That what they have to say is of value to you and that you respect them. You will learn about who they are, what they can do and what they need. With these two pieces in place, you have a solid foundation for a valuable business relationship. 

The best business people are most often the best communicators. The best communicators are most often the best listeners. 

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of 
listening when you would have preferred to talk. 
Doug Larson

One of the most sincere forms of respect is 
actually listening to what another has to say. 
Bryant H. McGill