I'm a week behind on this but I still think it's important to discuss the "Gawker/Editorial resignation" issue that hit recently. Apparently Gawker posted an article about "a married male executive's futile attempts to hire a gay escort", as reported in The New York Times on 7/21/15.
Gawker's founder, Nick Denton, took the story down. Editors Tommy Craggs and Max Read, quit in protest claiming Gawker was founded as a media gossip site and had always covered the lives "unapologetically and often mercilessly" of the people who work in and run the industry. The Times then goes on to write: "The inflammatory post was now at the center of a debate over journalistic integrity".
I am NOT shooting the messenger here (NYT), but how can anyone even put the words "journalistic integrity" and "Gawker" in the same sentence? This is a classic story of a start-up that chooses a path, gains steam, grows up, and now answers to big time brand advertisers. Denton was quoted in the Times saying, "If the post had remained up, we probably would have triggered ad losses into seven figures."
Now the staff of Gawker is upset because Big Cheese Nick is compromising the integrity of the Gawker mission. "Nick has a long road ahead of him in terms of gaining back the trust of editorial employees," said Lacey Donohue, the executive managing editor of Gawker Media, "if he ever does."
We've already spent too much time on this but when I read stories that talk about "journalistic integrity", I get excited. Unfortunately with this one, I got bummed out.
1. Nick: Get a life.
2. Lacey: Get a life.
3. Tommy: Get a life.
4. Max: Get a life.
5. Brand advertisers who support Gawker: wake up, get a life.
6. New York Times who gave WAY too much space covering this: Get a life.
Like many boys, I played in dirt a lot when I was young. Guess that was a harbinger of things to come 'cuz I love dirt. Not enough to be a farmer, you see, but enough so that I want to deal with sticky problems. More importantly, I am attracted to people who have messy problems. Sales management problems. Selling problems. Communication problems. I love helping people who are dealing with those sticky, dirty business problems that plague us each day.
Many of you may have seen a change from me in the last few weeks. I've been much more "far forward" (to pull a publishing layout term) regarding my views and thoughts. I've created more content in the past two weeks on Twitter than I have in my previous years combined (and I've been on that platform since 1998!). ;-)
And, I'm using this blogging platform here more frequently too. (Let's not forget my hall-of-fame monthly newsletter, Selling.2.YES, soon heading in to its second year of publishing reaching a global audience!) All of my increased activity is thanks to a wonderful and smart, smart, smart social marketer named Jeanne Sachs (@jlsachs and here on LinkedIn). Jeanne taught me a few tricks and helped me utilize tools - including my brain - in ways that are necessary for success as a sole-proprietor. Jeanne's smart (did I mention that?), and I'm now back in charge of my voice.
Bottom line, I eat what I kill. Wouldn't have it any other way. I work in the dirt.
During my big coming out party on social media of late, I've been reminded there are many folks out there who are fantastically smart and do wonderful things. And I'm in awe of their achievements. Mostly I'm in awe of how sharp folks are in framing their talents, skills, and accomplishments. And promoting themselves. Many of them post beautiful poster headers on LinkedIn or Twitter of them in front of throngs of people, delivering content and inspirations that are, no doubt, provocative and valuable.
I can do that too.
But I love working in the dirt. Got a problem? Know someone in your org with a problem? I'm available.
How 'bout just for today we refer to me as Dr. Dirt. Love that!
Impossible, you say? I would have said the same thing awhile ago but I've been chipping away at this and will share my plan. (I'm not saying I've cracked the code, but it'd be great to have something against which to measure progress and growth other than the baseline revenue tracks we chart: "hey Cindy, did ya hit your number this quarter? By how much??")
Just as I have general rules of engagement for how I conduct skill development exercises (must be fun, relevant to the challenge/problem, regular/consistent, accountable, and measurable), I have thought of how I need to set up the Lightbulb Popping Formula....just made that up moments ago but let's see if it, and the acronym LPF stick. (Sounds good so far, of course I reserve all rights to it, and the right to change it, and the rights to what I change it to.)
How 'bout this to start:
1. the Pop has to be enduring. Rep learns a new technique, starts using it, KEEPS using it for...hmmm, how 'bout a month? Gets good results. (Of course, said rep wouldn't keep doing it if he/she wasn't getting good results.) 1 point for that but only if the technique is utilized over a sustained period.
2. the Pop has to be aligned with the behaviors the company establishes. This means, of course, that sales management has to define those good behaviors in order to credit them. 1 point for that.
3. the Pop has to truly be something new that the rep is doing. Can't credit reps for things they know. I don't like the invitation for ambiguity here any more than you do, but again, we gotta start somewhere on this.
4. Benchmarking: it only makes sense for an organization if you are rating everything inside of the company, and, against a point scheme that is assigned for each skill development session. So you'd say something like this, "...today we're going to study obstacle handling, and because that particular skill is so important, there are THREE points in play today to measure progress." At the end of the session, you grade everyone and keep your tally running for the measuring period - no less than a month, no more than a quarter.
Mind racing right now? Mine too. It introduces some sticky things to consider, but it's worth the conversation, no?
My Dad passed away a couple of years ago from a long battle with Parkinsons. The end was painful. The middle was painful. Obviously I want to remember my Dad in his prime, not of his struggles with a body that failed him in his latter years. He was stoic and proud to the end, which was admirable given the hell he was going through.
Dad was a proud businessman who built a nice life for himself. He was born with next to nothing and no support: a Mom who passed when he was 2, and a Dad who was a drunk and gone before 50. Dad could have drifted down the wrong road, but he did not. He claimed aunts, uncles, cousins, and a Jesuit education saved him.
Edwin Henry Hess, Jr., sold group health insurance plans to businesses for Connecticut General for 25 years before they merged with a company called Independent Northern Annuity. The C and G and I, N, A became...you go it, CIGNA. (That's how that stuff comes to be, btw.)
He claimed my Mom stunted some of his career growth and bigger "corner offices" by derailing his drive to get to HQ in Hartford, CT. She didn't want to leave San Francisco, he wanted to climb. Either way, a 25 year career in San Francisco wasn't bad..most of it was running the office there and calling the shots. The company moved him to Los Angeles for 5 years at the end so he could hit all his pension plan targets - yes, pension plans! It's a thing of the past but was pretty cool when it worked. The down side, of course, was illustrated by Dad's final years of "pain"...he hated being stuck and was bored for FIVE LONG YEARS waiting for his time to max out. Yuck. (Five years is a long time to waste being unhappy in your job, isn't it?) At least a few decades earlier he averted a move to Houston to "fix" that region...otherwise, I would have been an Oilers and Astros fan.....ewwwwww!!!!
Dad had some wins, and as we all do, some losses. He claims he sold the first ever group medical plan to these guys named William Hewlett and David Packard down in the Valley who were working on some tech thingie. Dad showed me a picture of the three of them together at a business function so I guess it was true. Dad even laughed many times over when re-telling the story of his buddy Donald Fisher who asked him for some money to invest in his new store on Ocean Avenue in the late '60s. Don told Dad he wanted to sell Levi's and LP records....LP stands for Long Play...look it up. (THOSE were cool.) Eh, what good would founders shares of The Gap have done anyway? (Fisher is only worth $3.3.....BILLION.)
During his 'out-to-pasture' LA years, Dad had me over quite a bit at his house in Calabasas, CA a short trip from my UCLA campus. He was obviously trying to repair a lot of damage caused by his MadMen years...apparently there are a lot of similarities between the lives/times of Don Draper and the guys who ran around selling group medical plans to the likes of H-P and Intel.
Just months after graduation, while sitting on his patio after a nice dinner, Dad shot the zinger across the bow.
"That was always the difference between me and you." Out of nowhere it came.
"Huh? Come again, Dad?"
"The difference....between us. (Long pause.) I was always the guy who WENT FOR IT HARD....REALLY GOT AFTER IT. (pause) You just aren't that guy."
Whoa. I sat motionless, wondering if my ears had betrayed me. His wife was off in the kitchen, but she couldn't help anyway. I was alone with an asshole who, while just starting to re-gain my trust after a nasty divorce and prolonged absenteeism during my high school years, shot me in the face. It might not seem like a heavy moment to you, but at the time, fresh out of college trying to find my way, I was traumatized.
At 21, I wasn't familiar with pyscho-babble sales manager motivation gimmicks. Decades later, I still wonder if this was a move by a resentful, bitter man of early career promise who had consumed 6 or 7 glasses of Cab and just let it rip, or from someone who was just trying to find the right message.
Either way, I can tell you this: today, I am ten times the achiever that man ever was. Ten times as professionally fulfilled as that man ever was. Ten times as successful (as measured by MY criteria) than that man ever was. And, ten times as capable of motivating and inspiring with grace, humility and respect. I am ten times the leader that man ever was.
But towards the end, he knew it. And he was really, really proud.
Happy Father's Day, Eddie. Thanks for the lesson. RIP.
While visiting with a client this morning, she told the tale of a Regional VP who had been recruiting new sales executives while representing the company as "a fair, just, great place to work where there are no surprises and goals are always set democratically and with management participation".
Well guess what happened on the way to Q3?
You guessed it. The Board got antsy and issued a number that was sky-high for Q3. Presto...Regional VP is betrayed and feels like she's been lying to her peeps.
The RVP will get through this, yet with some amount of pain and adjustments to be made. First, there is no business on earth that doesn't go through this, especially fast/emerging growth companies. The lesson is to be careful how you communicate to your team and your recruits. Use words very carefully. But most importantly, be realistic about life. Sometimes the quarterly numbers make you smile, 'cuz you know "you got this"! Sometimes a ton of brick falls on your heads. It happens.
Communicate with your team even more now. Be honest, yet know that in the future you're going to have to be more measured in how you talk (and think) about your business. Don't lose your enthusiasm, just gain some perspective and humility.
Up early this morning at 5 with a quiet house, I caught up on some trade reading and came across this quote from the famed media guru Michael Wolff: "TV was the wasteland. Now digital media is the wasteland. There’s nothing there. A deluge of crap. TV has gone in the other direction and produced these things everybody watches and talks about and become important signposts of the culture. So TV is upscale, and digital is downscale media."
Ahhh, Thanksgiving week...sprint for three days, party for four. Then, back to work and pooped!
That's how I played the game... in my youth. But the second I started managing people, things got more serious and I pulled in the reins a bit. I started drinking a little less of the clear stuff and drank more of the green stuff. And I fell in love with sleep.
The suggestions for good diets and regular exercise are everywhere, yet the third element of the Big Three, sleep, doesn't get talked about enough, IMO. So while I constantly hear belly-aching from friends about how little or bad sleep they get, the years of study by me conclude the only thing you need to know about sleep is...
1. Figure out how much your body and brain need every night, and then get it. DO NOT let anyone ridicule you because, "...yes, in fact, I DO need 8 hours a night". (Most people do need 8, btw.)
2. Go to bed at the same time every night, get up at the same time every morning...weekends included.
3. Big dinners and alcohol are definitely going to throw you off and you will pay a price...your DNA will dictate how much of a price.
Again my opinion here, but amongst the Big Three of high performance ingredients for Top Sales Performers like you, sleep by far gets me the best results versus diet and exercise. (But again, your actual miles per galloon will vary according to driving habits.)
Just last week I finally finished the September issue of HBR and found a great article on sleeping. It's titled "Just Thinking You Slept Poorly Can Hurt Your Performance". The title alone makes you want to read it, eh? In the article, Kristi Erdal points out something very interesting: If you've had average or high-quality sleep but are led to believe it was poor, you might see the same negative effects (of having a bad night's sleep). The article covers only two short pages discussing our perceptions of having a good night's sleep compared with the actual sleep we get. Interesting stuff.
If you expect to run fast and smart in today's highly competitive world, get your sleep because you'll need every ounce in order to beat your competition!
Happy Thanksgiving, now go take a nap!
The last 20 years of 'digital' in our society has brought so many great innovations...yet email is not one of them. Many of you will not argue this, and certainly those who know me are not surprised by my opinion. I used to think email was a great creation, but I changed my mind years ago after having watched years of 'user abuse' and witnessing a lot of damage in the form of lost productivity. (While I have certainly been implicated in the past regarding abuse, I am constantly attempting to reform and lead a good example.) Email confuses, drags things out, complicates communication, and otherwise reduces efficiencies in our work and lives. Until it doesn't...which takes thought and energy.
In moments when I day-dream for things I can't have, I close my eyes and urge God to issue an 11th Commandment requiring standardized testing to every individual who wants to use email. But alas, that's stupid...and folks aren't going to have to pass tests to have babies either.
Of late I've developed a new strategy pertaining to how I manage email - I don't. I don't manage email. This doesn't mean I neglect email, it means I don't actively think about managing it. My email boxes are just endless pits of white noise anyway, why attempt to control it?
So how should we think about our Email Problem? (In caps for emphasis!)
Simple. Don't consider 'email management' a real concept. If, like me, you want to be more productive and better at what you do, have more phone calls and face-to-face meetings and 'live less' through email.
I read a great post today on the HBR site from a guy named Anthony K. Tjan. Anthony is a highly credible venture capitalist, runs a successful firm called Cue Ball, has the brains, diplomas, etc., and he offers some really good tips about the subject that you may want to implement. Anthony would probably agree with me that we should acknowledge the counter-productive nature of email and how it hinders progress in the workplace.
The spirit of this post is to get us all thinking about utilizing tools - like email - in ways that help us become more productive, and not the other way around. This means we have to think hard about the way we work. And, to help those with whom we work to contemplate the process of work and what it means to be productive. For now, let's see if a few of these following ideas aren't helpful for you:
1. Turn your email off for specific blocks of time during each day and stay focused against the other work items which need your attention. (This means you're going to have to get very disciplined and organized with your time to focus on top priorities...you can do it!);
2. Instead of emailing someone, pick up the phone and make a call instead;
3. Use email as a utility device only ("are you free Thursday for lunch?");
4. Do not "converse" through email....never reply more than once to any email;
5. Activate an auto-response which says you prioritize phone calls and meetings over email: "Thanks for the note, call me at 917-207-5183 to get in touch with me right away as email is not the fastest way to reach me." (Or something like that.)
6. Turn your phone off when not working...better work-life balance can be attained this way which will only make you more productive while on the clock;
Hmmm, what else, what else??? There are probably tons more suggestions of ways we can make sure we stay productive without the email noose around our neck. I'm sure you have some ideas, too, so please send 'em along. This is an ongoing dialogue, of course, because email ain't going away, and God ain't issuing no test any time soon.
The classic call "The Giants WIN THE PENNANT, the GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT" rang through my head with glee last night as I watched my beloved San Francisco Giants win the National League Pennant for the fifth time, the third in the last five years.
The man who made the call famous was Russ Hodges, who called games for the Giants many years ago. On October 3, 1951, Hodges was on the microphone for Bobby Thomson's famous Shot Heard 'Round the World. It was Hodges who cried, "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"
I couldn't help but think about HOW the Giants won the pennant...and I reflected back to the night prior when I listened to the interviews in the Kansas City Royals clubhouse after they had won their pennant, the American League Championship. Everyone to a man said the same thing about how their coaching staff and teammates were incredibly organized when it came to preparation. And the same themes rang out last night as I listened to how the Giants talked about their win and their Manager, Bruce Bochy. The Giants claim that their Manager is incredibly prepared and they themselves come to the park with a seriousness that reflects their skipper's leadership.
Moving back to the boardroom, wouldn't it be great if we put more of a premium on "inputs" like preparedness? I use the word "inputs" to denote behaviors and activities that are the necessary steps which lead to results. However, described, the concept is the same: business today does not stress the nuances and things that go into getting desired results...but it doesn't have to be that way.
In a shameless plug for Core 6 services, I am proud to say that these are the types of things I stress when working with my clients. I've even devised a process called Performance Achievement Method which includes a set of criteria against which manager and individual contributor collaborate against to understand how performance should be measured on various "inputs". Included are items like preparing for sales calls, ability to manage internal communications and obstacles, proficiency at sitting quietly and thinking strategically about account problems and challenges. THESE are the behaviors successful sales executives excel at...despite massive pressures to drive revenue, drive revenue, drive revenue. (YES, driving revenue is the ultimate goal, but the PATH to that goal must be considered and planned carefully.)
Do you think Bruce Bochy says anything like this to his players, "hit a home run, hit a home run, hit a home run"??
Of course not.
Let's slow down. Let's be more prepared. Let's tend to the little things. And then we'll watch the good things happen as a result.
Go Giants! Go Preparedness!
The airline industry is excited about recent tech developments made in weather forecasting which will save them millions of dollars a year. It was recently reported by the NY Times that Honeywell is rapidly selling their new IntuVue 3D radar system into many airlines hoping the captains can see dangerous weather ahead and make adjustments en route to their destination. This, of course, means a smoother ride for us and perhaps, less delays.
Reading about this in the NY Times, I got to thinking about how we manage our careers for turbulence. Best I know, there is no such thing as an IntuVue 3d system that will spot trouble ahead for each of us. And, nobody is immune to what comes down the road. After all, a certain percentage of you will... (fill in the blank: get downsized, get fired, work for a jerk, lose your edge due to health issues, be forced to move to another town due to personal issues, etc, etc).
A career is long in many ways, but it has to be managed strategically or it won't be as long as you want it to be. The best time to start asking these questions is when you're hitting your stride...which for most of us is in our early 30s. Challenge yourself when you're doing well and getting traction, and you might have the fortitude and vision to make it through another 3 decades of growth and prosperity with only a few minor cuts and scratches.
In honor of you being the Pilot of your career flight, I came up with a few items which I'll share to add insight on how to look for turbulence.
1. Do not think you're immune to curve balls. You're going to make a bad decision on joining a company. You're going to work for someone who starts out nice but turns out to be unsupportive. You're going to work for a company that hits some bad times. You're probably going to get fired once or twice...it happens. It's called reality. Be prepared mentally.
2. Plan for bad weather. Cliche, yes. But oh so true. Of course you want the new BMW 4-series. Yes, you love those shoes that you saw in the window. Yes, going to Turkey in the spring with your bestie sounds great. And you should have all those things. But it should not be at the expense of stocking away some cash. Some financial experts say you should tithe 10% of your earnings to a "can not touch account"...some say you should have 3 months salary in the bank. I say all of that is way too conservative. Put as much away as you can above 10%. Money equals freedom and independence and you'll want to have time down the road to make some important decisions about who to work for at any given time. Money in the bank will buy you that time.
3. Talk to others about their career path. Learning about what a career path looks like in your line of work is really important. Talk to folks about how they got to where they are, but more importantly, where are they going. Listen. Consider. And then, you can make plans regarding job pivots that need to happen to keep you going forward.
4. Be open to honest assessments about your skill set. Look yourself in the mirror and admit what you're good and not good at. Also, survey your co-workers. Not just one or two, and not folks who will tell you what you want to hear, but those who watch and see with wisdom and experience. Take it to heart and do something about it.
5. Consider a professional to help you navigate the decisions and skill development issues you need to address. The more you are in control of your plan means the better your reality will be over the long haul.
Numbers 1 to 4 you can do on your own, when you're ready for #5, call me. I've developed a lot of talent and know how to make you feel good about it along the way. Cheers!
(If you want to learn more about the Honeywell technology, click here - but be warned it's slightly strong on the 'promotion' aspect).