A Written Goal Must Be Specific

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Most people have vague goals and therefore speak in vague terms. They say things like, "I want to make a lot of money." "I’d like to live in a nicer house." "I’d love to have a better job." What does that mean?

For example, what’s a lot of money? Everybody’s a lot is different, and the best part is: it doesn’t matter what your "a lot" is, what matters is that you know what it is. Only if you know what your "a lot" is will you be able to formulate a plan to achieve it.

A number of years ago, I was conducting a seminar in New York City. I asked the audience to give me their definition of success. I received the usual vague responses: money, power, recognition, fame.

I asked the person who said, "money," "Did you mean a lot of money?" He said, "Yes."

I then said, "What’s a lot of money?" He said, "Whatever will make me comfortable." I said, "What will make you comfortable?" He said, "Whatever will give me everything I want." "What do you want," I asked. He said, "A lot of money."

We went around like this for awhile until I finally had enough and said, "Give me a number, what’s a lot!!" He said, "Eighty billion dollars!" Now I had to admit, that’s a lot.

But watch what happened next. I said, "OK, you’ve got it. I’m going to give you eighty billion dollars. What are you going to do with it?" (There’s no motivation to get it, if you don’t know what you’re going to do with it. Why do think so many lottery winners go broke?). He said, "I’m going to spend it." I said, "What are you going to spend it on?" He said, "I’m going to buy everything!" I said, "How do you do that? Will you just back up a truck to Macy’s and say, ‘give me everything?’"

He said, "No, I’m going to buy the United States." I said, "STOP! Could you buy the United States for eighty billion dollars?" He said, "No." "Well then," I said, "is that a lot of money?" He said, "I guess not."

You see, it’s only a lot if it’s going to get you what you want. But if you don’t know what you want, how do you know what you have to do in order to get it? And, if you don’t know what it is, how do you know you didn’t already have it, but because you couldn’t recognize it, you just let the opportunity pass you by.

When you have a clearly defined goal, sense of purpose and direction, it makes it much easier to take advantage of the opportunities that come up simply because you’ve already defined, on paper, the ones you want to pursue.

When writing down your goals, please be specific.


Writing Down Your Goals: Let Me Show You Why

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I’m sure that over the years many people have lectured you on the importance of having goals and why you should write them down. I’d like to take that one step further and not just tell you why, but show you why. Furthermore, I’d like to show you in a way that will make it easy for you to relate to and understand.

Have you ever done the grocery shopping for your household? Do you remember the times you’ve gone grocery shopping with a written list and those times you’ve gone without a list: what’s the difference? Most people say they spend a lot more time and a lot more money without a list. They also tend to buy things they didn’t need and forget some of the things they did need.

So now, let’s sum up: when people head out on a project without a written, focused direction or plan, they end up wasting time, wasting money, taking on a lot of things they did not need and forgetting a lot of things they did need. Oh, by the way, did I mention anything about grocery shopping in that last sentence? No: but that sure could apply to most people’s lives.

Did you ever notice when you go grocery shopping with a list how the shopping just seems to flow? You go aisle by aisle and before you know it, you’re done. On the other hand, when you go without a list, you always seem to be running from one end of the store to the other. You grab something off a shelf, then realize you forgot something from the other end of the store. You can’t say, "I’ll get it later," because you’re afraid if you don’t do it now, you’ll forget.

Better yet, have you ever had a discussion with the peanut butter shelf? You know what I’m talking about: standing in front of the peanut butter shelf, you say to yourself, "Do we have that? I’m sure we ran out. No, no I think there’s a couple of jars in the cabinet. No I’m sure we ran out." Finally, you grab a jar off the shelf and say, "Oh what the heck, I’ll buy a jar!" Then you get home only to find…three jars of peanut butter from the other three conversations you had with the peanut butter shelf.

From surveys of the many audiences I’ve spoken to, the following are the results people observe when they go food shopping with and without lists:

  1. It takes people about 10 minutes to write out a shopping list
  2. It takes about 1.5 hours to do the shopping (including round trip travel and bagging, loading and unloading the groceries)
  3. People waste about 30 minutes extra time shopping
  4. They spend about $30 more than they would have

From this we can see that the willingness to take 10 minutes up front to develop a written, focused, direction and plan for something as unimportant as grocery shopping yielded these results within only an hour and a half (the time it takes to shop with a list):

  • A 30 minute savings in time or a 300% return on time invested (10 minutes)
  • A 300% return on your investment in time and $30 extra in your pocket within 90 minutes in something as unimportant as grocery shopping. Imagine what kind of return on your investment you could get if you did something like this for your life and career. That’s why you write down your goals!

8 Keys to Clear Communication

Over the past couple of days I’ve written about Why you need self-motivated people and How to Create Self-Motivated people. Today, we’re going to look at eight easy to implement communication techniques you can use to create a work environment that fosters self-starters, innovation, great attitudes and extraordinary customer service.

1. Study Other’s Needs: Not everyone is motivated by the same things. Treat each person individually (just as you would your customers: not all their needs are the same). Find out what motivates each one and find a way to help them get it.

Example; with the changing demographic of working mothers, flexible hours and the ability to work from home are more valuable to many family women (and men too) than money.

2. Expect the Best: When you expect the best from people and communicate the fact that not only do you expect the best, but have enough confidence in them to know you’ll get the best, you will be amazed at how often that prophecy comes true.

People will rise or fall to your level of communicated expectation. If you tell people they’re no good, or incapable of doing the work: surprise! You’ll get lousy work. But when you let your people know that you have lots of confidence in their ability to succeed, don’t be surprised when they’re successful. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3. Set High Standards: In the best run companies a certain amount of individuality is not only tolerated, but encouraged. However, as the leader, you are responsible for creating the standards and setting the parameters within which people need to work. There is no need for you to accept mediocrity. Once the parameters are set and people understand the boundaries, allow them to go in any direction they choose within those parameters and boundaries. You never want to squash creativity. Remember, innovation is a bottom-up, not a top-down phenomenon.

4. Create an Environment Where Failure is not Fatal: Don’t be one of those bosses who lies in the bushes waiting to pounce when someone does something wrong. What you will create is an atmosphere of fear and fear is a de-motivator. In that environment, people stop going the extra mile. Their only goal is to not do anything wrong for fear of getting yelled at. They stop coming up with good ideas and that’s when burnout occurs in an organization.

5. Recognize and Applaud Achievement: When you create an environment that encourages innovation, risk-taking and new ideas people will make mistakes; that’s how they learn. However, making the same mistakes over and over is not acceptable. Another one of your responsibilities is to point out mistakes and teach people how to correct them. Since there is no such thing as constructive criticism, you need to recognize and applaud their achievements in order to give them the incentive to listen to you and give you the credibility to point out their mistakes.

6. Use Role Models to Encourage Success: Most organizations are the same: 10% of the people are self-motivated high achievers; 10% of the people should be canned; and the other 80% are totally average. The best thing you can do as a manager, business owner or leader is to find ways for the middle 80% to interact more frequently with the top 10% than they do with the bottom 10%. Use your top 10% as role models and mentors. Let them run some of your sales, department or company meetings. Remember, high achievers like new challenges. They get bored easily; and the last thing you want is a bored high achiever.

7. Help Your People Build Winning Streaks: Set your people up to succeed, not fail. Give them tasks and assignments that emphasize their strengths, rather than their weaknesses. Create teams of people with diversified strengths. As a sales manager, team your best prospectors with your best closers. With new people, start by giving them tasks and assignments they can’t possibly fail at. Once you’ve built their confidence, gradually increase the difficulty of the tasks.

8. Stop Touching Everything: You hired these people, let them do their jobs. If you don’t think they can do it, why did you hire them? Besides, if you insist on doing the job of a staff person, why do you need that person on the payroll and why do you warrant an executive’s salary. It would sure save the company money.


Creating Self-Motivated People

In last week’s entry (Why you need self-motivated people), I wrote about the necessity of surrounding yourself with self-motivated self-starters. Now that we know we need them, here are some ideas on how you can install the self-starting generator in your people.

=> Treat Your People Like Customers : If you want to be able to deliver extraordinary quality, service, convenience and value to your external customer, you must first service your internal customer.

It stands to reason, if you treat the people who report to you (your internal customers) as you would like them to treat your clients and customers, your level of service and therefore your business, will increase.

=> Probe for Needs : In every Sales 101 class, we are told that if we probe for our clients wants and needs, find them and fill them on a consistent every day basis, we will develop long-term, loyal clients. It seems to me, if we do the same thing for our internal clients we have a good chance of developing long-term loyal employees or staff.

Most people are not self-motivated because they themselves don’t know what motivates them. They have no goals or plans for their lives or careers. Therefore, they’re working to help make you more successful, not themselves. A very demotivating force.

I’ve often had managers, business owners or executives say to me, "If I could only find the right button to push on this person." The problem is: It’s impossible to find the right button on someone who has no buttons.

One of your most important jobs as a leader is to help your people "find their buttons." You need to sit down with each of your people, individually, and help them put together a set of goals and plans detailing what it is they want to achieve out of their lives and careers, much like you do for your company, business or department.

Once this is done, the next step is to show them what they need to on the job in order to achieve their goals. Once people see how they can use their jobs as a vehicle toward getting them what they want, now they are, in essence, working for themselves. They’re working harder and coming in every day with a great attitude, because they understand that every day they come to work and do well, they’re getting that much closer to what they want.

=> "Just give them more money, that will motivate them ": I’ll say this one more time; money is not a motivator. No one ever wakes up in the morning and says, "I can’t wait to get to work today, because they pay me well." Money is not something that makes you love your job; it’s only something that might stop you from hating your job. Money is only a vehicle: it is a vehicle that allows you to live the type of life style you choose to live.

What’s really needed is for you to help your people define, "How they want their lives to look." Once they do that, they can figure out how much money they need to support that life style. Then it’s up to you, as the leader, to show them what they have to do to earn that amount of money. Now they’re not working for the money, but the defined life style the money will bring.

Now you have created a self-motivated, self-starter.

Tomorrow we’ll look at 8 communication keys you can start using immediately that will help to create the kind of work environment that breeds success.


Qualifying Your Prospects?

At a recent speech a member of my audience wanted to know if her salespeople should qualify the prospect before going on an appointment.

In theory, qualifying a prospect is a great idea. The last thing you want to do is waste your time seeing people who will never be able to buy from you. However, what goes on in the real world, far too often has nothing to do with theory.

As almost any sales manager or sales executive will tell you, in the real world the biggest problem with salespeople is: they don’t see enough people. If that’s the case, what the heck do they need to qualify for?

In way too many instances, salespeople use qualifying questions to talk themselves out of appointments. It gives them an excuse to not have to sell. It’s almost as if they reject the prospect before the prospect rejects them.

My feeling has always been: If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have enough appointments; JUST GO! You’re better off being in front of a prospect than sitting in your office doing nothing. Besides, let’s say you get there and the prospect says, “I’m not the person you should be seeing.” What’s the next question out of your mouth? “Who is?” Then after getting the right name, you ask, “Would you mind calling that person for me?” If they say “No,” just say, “Then would you mind if I called and used your name?” They’ll probably say, “Yes,” because you just let them off the hook.

When you are so busy and your appointment book is loaded, then start qualifying. Before you do however, formulate a client profile that spells out very clearly exactly the kind of clients and prospects you’re looking for. This helps not only you, but makes it easy for other people to send hot prospects your way.

But, if you’re not that busy, JUST GO! You never know where your next big client is going to come from.