Not much to say here, just watch this!
What we learn from watching top athletes like Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Lebron James, et. al, has never been so obvious...and fun. Many of us in business are sports fans and we watch on a couple different levels: the fun of seeing gifted individuals chase and hit balls, and, the fun of watching the strategy and determination of these physically gifted folks as they fight and compete for very large stakes. And we know the money is not what drives the top athletes because they have all the money they'll need; they're driven by trying to be the best.
It's the "drive to be the best" which is the focal point of this post. Training techniques and practice - the things we don't see on TV - are important drivers pushing these athletes to be their best. Let's look at a few examples, which most of us know about: 1. Tiger: friends and associates have witnessed his practice sessions and describe them as intense, focused and lengthy. According to Tiger's estimates, his practice sessions are from seven to eight hours.
2. Roger: he's a beast off the court. Check out this routine and you won't be able to get up for another scoop of ice cream.
3. What about roundball studs like Lebron and Kevin? Again, better put down that salami sammy and watch these.
UCLA famed coach John Wooden, and a huge idol of mine, preached 'fundamentals before creativity'. Coach Wooden believed the teaching of fundamentals, until they are all executed quickly, properly, and without conscious thought, was prerequisite to playing the game. Drills were created so that all of the fundamentals are taught to the criterion that players execute them automatically.
So what are the drills that you, the digital sales professional and manager, do to prepare for the most important part of your job? What does your training session look like to make you the best at performing when you're in the game? How do you practice the fundamental habits that illicit the results you want?
You can't expect to perform strongly in the game if you don't practice. And I know the keys to what 'practice sessions' need to look like for success in today's competitive environment. Good training/practice needs to be fun and challenging at the same time. But mostly, it has to be participatory because, if you're like me, you learn best by doing!
Gimme a call, I'll share my secrets with you.
Last night was a special night in the game of 'mental'. I tuned in to watch the Federer / Monfils quarterfinal match of the US Open expecting to see my favorite player of all time cruise easily, but instead, I was treated to one more lesson by the Master on what it means to be a Mental Giant.
I have been playing tennis for about 15 years and truly love the sport. I work very hard on all facets of my game and am pleased to state I have risen to a level of being highly below mediocre...but I swat at the ball with glee anyway.
I love playing tennis. I love talking tennis. I love watching tennis. And every year when the sun starts to dip a bit while the heat remains strong, I tune in as much as I can to watch the US Open. At the Open - and the other tennis majors - we can see the best of the sport at the pinnacle of their physical, AND MENTAL, prowess. While we stare in awe of their athletic abilities, what I now study most is their brains. And last night was a 'Super Bowl' type presentation of the best player's brain in action.
As mere mortals trying to understand how those we idolize think, we sometimes muse that "we'd love to see what goes on inside there". Well last night we did! Sport is the only thing I can think of that offers a direct view inside the brains of our idols because we see results - we see the results of decisions that are made (often times in split-seconds) and how it effects others. Sure, top musicians, artists and cultural thinkers are fun for us to study, yet they don't participate under the same amount of duress as do star athletes on big stages. Which brings us back to last night's match.
I'm sure you've heard by now, but Fed was down TWO MATCH POINTS in the fourth set against a younger, faster, exceptionally ambitious (and exciting to watch) Gael Monfils. Well of course you know how this ends: Fed won the match. He did it with guile, savvy, determination, and nerves of steel. (And extreme physical talent too.) But anyone watching that match would tell you that Monfils was outplaying Fed for most of the night.
So how did Fed do it?
His brain. When he was down, Fed did not allow his mind to dwell on anything negative. In the words of announcer John McEnroe, Fed has an incredible ability to forget the past and only see the potential of the NOW! There was no other way to explain how Fed fought through mental stress to turn defeat into a victory. Remaining resilient, resolute and aggressive while staying focused is an art form...and a winning combination in sports and business. Next post: taking this concept to the board room. Stay tuned!
(Here's a clip if you want to catch up on the match last night!)
"I gotta see your eyes, guys."
I know it's circulating like the flu in February, but if you haven't seen the clip featuring the Rhode Island Little League Coach Dave Belisle (or, like me, you want to see it again and again), then spend a few seconds with him here. You don't need to know the story line...just watch.
Obviously I'm a sucker for stories like this because my chosen profession is captured by Dave so very well: motivation, inspiration...and honesty. He had me at "I gotta see your eyes, guys." His respect and love for these young boys is so beautiful, it reminds me I could squeeze a little more of that Little League Coach in me when dealing with...ummm, little league boys?? (Hmmm, that didn't come off right...JUST WATCTH THE CLIP!)
An apology note to the world?
I am pretty sure I'm talking to nobody here but these are words that are heartfelt and I gotta get 'em out. The reason I don't think you're listening is that I haven't done much to promote a recent change in my career, so I don't expect anyone knows I'm here...yet. (Here launching Core 6, that is.) Obviously I've set up the obligatory web site (it's average, IMO, but serviceable), and of course a twitter account...and a bright shiny logo to boot! And while I continue to publish blog posts knowing nobody comes to my site, it's with the understanding that I am going to formally announce what I'm doing in September, when everyone's listening again. And then they'll all flock to this section and read my wisdoms of the past...and then of course, rose petals will appear on my stoop!
Yet the reason I write now is solely because of me...I'm not trying to market or sell or push anything. I just need to talk. Today's subject is loss, and the brief examination of how we feel about our media world and our "connectedness". Literally 5 minutes ago I walked by the TV during a Today Show episode and stood dumbfounded at how one particular marketer is promoting their "back to school" wares...I stuck around for a few more commercials and was equally dumbfounded...I know this is not news, but when did marketing and advertising get so stupid. Are WE stupid? Are we a stupid people here in this grand country of ours? I look around in my professional circles and see so many bright, earnest, and well-intentioned people and then I turn on media (ANY media) and just want to start writing apology notes to the world.
In my deep heart, I love media. I love magazines. I love good television. I love newspapers. I love good web sites. I love good web sites that bring stuff to my door in a day. I love how connected I feel because of media. And yet I loathe it too. And it is with that conflict that I live most days. I am a baby-boomer citizen of our grand capitalistic society and I'm proud of it. But I also feel the need to write those apology notes!
There's a guy I've been following named James Altucher and he writes some pretty good stuff...he wrote a column recently about how to deal with loss which of course, doesn't sound like it applies here but it does. We have lost something in our society as a result of all this "connectedness". There are so many good things that we've gained as a result and I wouldn't change it for anything, but I just think sometimes we need to slow it down and think more. Slow it down and talk more. Just slow it down generally. Most of the article to which I provide a link above does not at all refer to the theme of this post, it refers to losing cherished things in your life (people, friendships, good jobs, etc), yet when I read this verse from Mr. Altucher, I straightened in my chair:
"I wasted so much time worrying. Regretting the loss of a life I thought I was entitled to."
I don't want to feel entitled at all - AT ALL. None of us do. And yet, sometimes media promotes entitlement. Or rather, I allow myself to feel entitled and I blame media. (Yeah I know, I have nobody to blame but myself.) And marketers make me worry that I'm not "doing it right". So what's the loss here for me and us? Have we lost something we can't get back because of all this fancy schmancy technology? The majority of us will probably disagree with me yet I urge us all to think about this deeply. I LOVE technology, but I don't love being a human being and sometimes - a lot of times - I feel I'm slowly being replaced. I don't want to lose myself. None of us do.
Through these posts and my daily life here at Core 6 with my great clients, I will ALWAYS live to fight another day. Today, I leave you with more from Mr. Altucher:
"I lost that life. And found another. It's the gap in between that's the secret ingredient. Be gentle with yourself in the gap. Gentleness is what has worked for me now."
I read the following quote over the weekend and it hit me like a box from Zappos, which I received over the weekend too. (And we all know how Zappos thinks about the concept of Culture. ) Here's the quote to which I refer:
"'We value integrity" means nothing. But tell a story about a former employee who hid his mistake and cost the company thousands, or a story about a salesperson who owned up to a mistake and earned so much trust her company doubled his order, and you begin to teach an employee what integrity means." A woman named Annette Simmons wrote that in her book, The Story Factor.
I do not know Annette, but she got my attention because there's so much talk these days about building culture and also, defining culture and what it tangibly means. However, if you're like me, hearing folks in the Valley/Alley talk about C triggers a huge "CLICHE WARNING" or, Poseur At Work signal. Mostly, the talk is exactly that, just talk. There is a clear vapidness engrossing these start-ups regarding C because they don't define what it means to their business and daily actions. And certainly the appointment of their happiest employee as Social Chairman doesn't qualify as a commitment to Culture!
Culture is one of those things that most companies think they are addressing, and/or think happens naturally if they have a good product or service. Too often, developing companies miss the importance of good Culture because their product offering is driving most actions and decisions in the organization. I get that there are 63 other emergencies going on every day inside internet start-ups, but Culture is rreeeaaaallly important because it's the heart and soul of how a company creates accountability! Companies who think they need to focus first on P (product) and then worry later about C are missing it, and missing out!
Change stinks. No it doesn't.
Lately I've been feeling very uneasy about being asked to write one of those LinkedIn "Recommendations" on behalf of an associate. I think LinkedIn is an incredibly wonderful and powerful tool and use it often - can't imaging my professional world without it, in fact. Yet when someone asks me to write a "recommendation" for him/her on LinkedIn, I'm sorry to say, my friends, I do not want to participate. Personally, I think these reccos are stupid because they don't say anything real or genuine. It's just one big beauty pageant exercise and it offers no value because everyone follows the same protocol: get one of your best business friends to say something really nice about you, have them post it to LI, and presto, you're a Business Star! (A REAL recco is when people get on the phone and exchange specific information and CONTEXT about the candidate regarding the specificity of the role for which he/she is interviewing.)
Even though I realize we're all supposed to smartly promote ourselves online through various platforms and resources like LI, this "recco" exercise is akin to writing in someone's yearbook, and I think we're a little too old for that. I've done a few of these in the past for some folks, yet never felt comfortable and would write comments like, "Ed's a great guy, but if you really want to know the good stuff about him, just pick up the phone and give me a call." (Crickets.) That tells me I'm just honestly sharing here what you agree with: this feature wastes space and time. Now, I just won't go there anymore.
To all my peeps who actually DO want me to participate in advancing their careers, just call me and tell me who I can call on your behalf, and I will contact that person and frame your story in a magnificent, germane, and powerful way. There's a lot that technology can't replace...let's get on the phones, folks!
"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ok don't laugh, but my Mom used to say something similar to me. Perhaps she got it from MLK? Or perhaps she got it from her father, Al Ansara, who was an extremely proud, hard working gentleman who worked almost every day of his life until he passed at 93. Either way, it's something I'm especially in tune with because I consider myself a very proud person and was implored growing up by my Mom and my Dad on the maxim: "if you're gonna take time to do something, do it right".
Pride. Pride is a very, very strong motivator. Without pride, our social fabric and industriousness is diminished. Think of a world where we move slower, where we aren't willing and able to take the extra step, where we don't take action when we see another in need. Where we don't get off the couch. Think of a world where we care less. Or not at all. Not a fun visual.
What about pride in the internet industry? How are we doing on that topic today? There are so many good people in our digital industry, and so many bright people too; and there are so many good things happening in our world, yet I know there is room for more pride.
Where might you see it? You'd see it everywhere: you'd see more action being taken. True proactive action. You'd see more individual responsibility. You'd see more accountability, and certainly more integrity. You'd hear more people using the phone, refusing to hide behind email (and thus avoiding even more ambiguity and bad communication in our business day). You'd see more bosses talking graciously and honestly with those they manage, offering real direction and guidance. You'd hear less posturing and conjecture, and more sincere dialogue about challenges and how collaboration could be driven to solve them. You'd probably also see and hear less 'ego' and 'self-promotion'. You'd see more human interaction and more care and concern for each other, despite your title, despite your rank, despite of course, your gender, age or ethnic background.
This is not an impossible ideal to strive towards, it can start right now with a simple conversation - not an email - between you and someone important to you. We can pull it off. We've pulled off a ton of good stuff so far!
I read a short article recently in Sports Illustrated about a young girl named Charlotte Brown who became the first-known legally blind athlete to compete at the state track and field meet in Texas. (She's from Emory, TX.)
I sat dumbfounded while reading this article about her achievement in mid May when she cleared 11' 0" in the pole vault event to finish 4th at the meet. Have you ever tried to pole vault? It takes an IMMENSE amount of strength, confidence, athleticism, and GUTS. I mean c'mon...you run with a heavy pole extended in your arms down a runway, plant the pole in the PERFECT spot at the perfect time, then lean back and let the energy thrust you UP and over a bar that's up higher than what most of us would want to dive off at our country swimming hole. Charlotte can't see the box where the pole gets planted, she can't see the bar, or the landing pit. But by counting her steps and using a high-frequency beeping device that alerts her when she's near the box, she makes a literal leap of faith.
Her personal best was 6 inches taller than what she cleared at the TX state meet in May but of course, that's not the story here. The story is her guts, courage and faith. She comments, "I think our fears are illusions, they're not really real. We just think they are."
LOVE LOVE LOVE this girl.
I have carried a torn page from SI on this story in my wallet for a month since I read it and still haven't found the courage to try something similar...perhaps the situation will present itself, however, and I'll think of Charlotte and use her energy to empower me. You too, I hope.
It's my job to make you feel good....about yourself, about your selling career and about your life! Read on and add when the impulse hits!