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Sales is a Philosophy

Every business that fails to acquire new customers at some point will fail in business. The acquisition of new customers is essential to be the lifeblood or the pulse of any business growth, and there will always be natural wastage. So bringing new customers on board is incredibly important. In this article, I want to talk to you about a mindset focus, rather than a process focus, as normal. A simple shift in the way you currently see things or believe things may well have a dramatic increase or an impact upon you and your business. Lets look at sales–the acquisition of new customers, the winning of new business and understand whose job it is to do so. Who’s really responsible for the acquisition of new customers?

In every business that I’ve been involved in, before I got involved, there was a huge divide between the sales side of the business and the operational side of the business. Sales is the sales team’s job, and the operational team is there to deliver the activities and the actions that result in the product or service being created. For me, sales is a philosophy, not a department. Everybody sells. I want you to look at it quite simply–that there are two departments. One department is selling and the other department is selling support. Those are the two critical roles. People will fall into one of those two camps. So, the responsibility of everybody outside of the sales team is to support the sales team, be it delivering on the promises that are made, ensuring that the products and services are delivered in a way that is fitting with the explanation, and ensuring that the administrative processes that follow allow sales people to sell more effectively. Where you can get the two working coherently, you get massive uplifts in results. This has been crucial in the success of every turnaround project that I’ve been involved in. Turning around retail operations in major department stores, furniture retailers, or football retailers, have all come from creating this coherent response where everybody understands that they all contribute towards the sales process. If you’re building a business that looks to connect with its customers, where it has long-term relationships with these customers, everybody who is involved in any customer-facing role needs to be aware of how they impact upon the sales process.

Let’s look at this in a number of ways and see where people make an impact, so you can really understand and illustrate the point that I’m making to you. Number one is identifying new prospects. You have sales people on a regular basis looking to identify the next person they can speak to. In simplistic form, if you have a dream customer, a most wanted list or a prospect list, sharing that list with everybody within your organisation may well create an opening or an opportunity that doesn’t yet exist. You don’t know who knows who, but when you share stuff, stuff happens. The more people that know what it is that you’re looking for, the more chances you’ve got in finding it.

Let’s look again at another area that is usually impacted upon by other people in your business. The first impression on a customer or potential customer is incredibly important. When the phone rings, the way in which that phone is answered will set the tone and the expectation for how your customer believes your business to be run and what results they can expect from it. There’s a sales responsibility there for the people that answer your telephones.

The uplifts that I’ve enjoyed purely by looking at all of the areas where sales and sales support teams cross over are huge. Where we’ve made it work, we’ve seen an increase in revenue, in profits. We’ve seen no late payments from our customers because we’ve impacted sales skills upon our cash collection teams. We have no bad debts. We get preferential treatment from our suppliers because we stand out. We understand the impact and importance of managing great relationships with our suppliers. When favours need to be called upon that allow us to win new business, fulfill challenges and stand out from the crowd, our suppliers look upon us favorably because of the way they’ve been treated up until that point in time. We can increase operational efficiency, because our selling support teams are fully aware of the part that they have to play in supporting the sales team. So paperwork moves quickly, jobs get fulfilled quickly, stuff gets ordered quickly. Those are things that we’ve seen with clients in the past. We’ve seen improved staff product productivity when everybody is chasing the same rabbit. You can’t chase more than one rabbit. It’s remarkably difficult if you’re trying to chase too many different outcomes. Everybody pulling in the same direction will lead to far better results. You gain more free time when everybody pulls in the same direction and understands that they have a role towards the sales team.

Overall, what you really get is improved communication. In every area, people understand what their purpose is. Everybody is accountable for better sales results–not just one person. Look at everybody in your business and look at every process within your business. Does it support your sales process or does it hinder it right down to the delivery? One of the best examples I’ve got of the final touch with a customer is in furniture retail. We took time to train the delivery drivers on basic sales skills, how that delivery driver would act, what they would install, what packaging they would take away, and what lengths they would go to ensure that the customer was delighted. They knew what was expected of them so they could over deliver. We then helped them understand that they were the final part of the customer experience, so we said, “Let’s make it a good one.”

Let’s make sure they thank the customer for their business, are courteous and shake hands”. We even went one step further. We trained delivery drivers to ask for referrals and some of them got them.

You can get everybody pulling in the same direction. You can get everybody sales-focused, everybody focused on the task at hand of acquiring more new business. Your sales results will go up because everybody is pulling in the same direction and everybody is selling.

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Getting In Front of More of the Right Kind of People

Time and time again I stand in front of audiences full of Sales Professionals and business owners and ask for a show of hands to the question “Who would like more customers?” and see a room full of raised hands. When further questioned to how much more? the room responds with words like “Lots” or “As much as I can get.”

What continues to surprise me is that regardless of the size of the business, the number 1 challenge to sales people is that they just wished they could get in front of more of the right kind of people. I have literally stacks of proven ideas to get you in front of more of the right kind of people however it is the constant oversight of the basics that I see continually preventing us reaching the success we are all capable of.

We all want more business and we know that activity drives out results, however it is having a winning strategy that allows high levels of activity to deliver high quality results. Lets just take a step back and consider how being brilliant at the basics can give us the winning edge, stand out from our competitors and get in front of more of the right people.

1. Stop looking for a needle in a hay stack

Striving for more and having huge ambition are qualities that have fueled the sales profession since the start of time. This enthusiasm is also a huge barrier to us creating the opportunities that are available to us. Too many sales people are simply out striving for more, without having complete clarity for what more looks like. This results in any success being created purely from their massive activity levels.

Surely before you rush out into the market it makes huge sense to step back and decide exactly what your ideal customer looks like. As sales people we have the privilege of being able to choose our customers, the big mistake is that most do not execute that choice. I see every future customer as no more than a missing person. Instead of looking for anybody and everybody, get laser focused on exactly what your ideal customer looks like; to the point that you could describe them to a stranger like you would a missing person. Once you have that focused description in your mind you will see opportunity more often, get more of the right kind of customers and be more targeted in all of your activity.

The additional benefit you gain once you can explain each of your target markets is that you can utilise the support of others to help find them. Just like a missing person , you can describe them to everyone you meet and let them introduce you to people or opt in to be a potential customer themselves.

What I am not saying is that you will only deal with people that fit your perfect description but simply being more targeted on your activity means you get lucky more often. I view it as just like playing darts. Every time that you throw a dart you are aiming for something specific. You don’t always hit it yet each time you miss you still contribute to your score.

2. Asking for the one thing that everyone loves to give

What I have learnt about decision makers is that they are typically busy people, massively value their time and often have a significant ego. Given the fact that they are also often very well protected by gatekeepers; crafting the perfect message to catch their attention at the right time can be a huge challenge and mean that you never get your opportunity.

There is one thing that every important person loves to give and can allow you to be sat in front of the most guarded of people with relative ease. This simple technique has resulted in me winning appointments with countless CEO’s, Sales Directors, Celebrities, Sports Personalities and multi millionaire business owners. The technique in question is simply asking these people to share their opinion on something.

Very often we are simply looking for the smallest of opening to get in front of these important people and that gives us the chance to start a relationship and carve out an opportunity. Everybody loves to be asked for their opinion as it shows that you respect them. Keeping the remainder of your request vague triggers the emotion of intrigue and means that they have to see you just to find out what its all about. I am sure you all have something that you could seek the opinion of your most wanted prospect.

3. What I learnt from a fudge shop

A short while ago I was shopping in Stratford upon Avon when one of my little girls needed to use the bathroom. As the girls went off to use the ladies I was left doing the one thing that I hate the most; waiting. This resulted in me scanning the cobbled streets on a Saturday morning looking for something to occupy my mind when I was then surprised to see a small boutique fudge shop absolutely teeming with customers.

It was remarkably busy and was certainly the busiest shop on the street and I was trying to work it out. I was certain that all those people had not woken up that morning and made a special trip just for the purchase of fudge. I continued to watch and moments later the shop emptied and then out came an attractive girl with a tray of samples, stopping passers by and enticing them back into the shop. Minutes later the shop was full again and I had joined the crowd to see inside. A few minutes later I left the store £6.80 lighter with 3 bags of fudge.

This taught me a number of things. It reminded me of the ability to sell things to people that they had not already decided to buy, the power of creating a crowd but above all else it demonstrates that if you show people what you do as opposed to tell people what you do you attract far more potential customers. You see if the shop had a sign saying that it produced “The finest fudge in town” it would have attracted far less. It was the fact that it stepped out and demonstrated the quality of its produce that attracted the crowds.

4. Bin the brochure

Sticking with the theme of showing your potential customers rather than telling them what we do, it continues to surprise me why so many company brochures and websites do no more than tell the potential customer what is done. Lets be honest and ask ourselves how often the leaving of a brochure has resulted in a customer ringing us up at a later date being ready to take the next step?

If we want a tool to help us get through doors then it must be of value to the recipient; something that they can use, will be around a while and ideally demonstrates your expertise. In my business this is easy as I use my books and cd’s for this purpose but what could it be in your business?

Think about the challenges your target customers have and look to provide them with a tool that will help them overcome this challenge, show that you know your stuff and also demonstrate that they may need some help to overcome this. I have seen marketing companies use SEO guides, Engineering companies provide technical explanation guides, Catering companies provide useful tips on arranging your event and countless others. By demonstrating your expertise and providing something of value then when they realise they need your service you are the only company in question.

5. How a TV detective taught me something magical.

You may or may not be familiar with the television detective of the past called Columbo. He was famous for one set of words that he would produce as leaving a conversation, when the suspects guard was down and would allow him the chance to gain the key piece of information he needed to solve the crime. As he was leaving he would simply say “Just one more thing…” and it was this that allowed him to have the full attention of his suspect in a vulnerable position and ask the killer question.

We often find ourselves in conversation with either key prospects or people who could lead us to our key prospects yet find it difficult to get the conversation we would like. Just imagine how you could create “Columbo moments” in these conversations and then either introduce your key opportunity or ask for an introduction into the key person within the organisation you are prospecting.

6. If you don’t ask….

We all know how that sentence finishes yet quite often the reason that we are not getting the opportunities that we would like is that we are not asking for them. It is highly unlikely that we will gain more appointments with key decision makers than the appointments that we ask for. With many people looking to avoid confrontation and hide behind email and direct mail to gain the attention of their prospects you can achieve a lot by just picking up the phone. In doing so we must be precious of the fact that their time is precious.

We are looking to sell the appointment and not our product or service. Keep the conversation short, give as little away as possible and be certain that it is just a short meeting. The goal is to make it very easy for them to say yes. Ask for their opinion, say that the meeting will just be 10 to 15 minutes and then confirm that with the time you are asking for the meeting. By asking for a meeting at ten to the hour, quarter to the hour, ten past the hour or quarter past the hour you will have far better conversion rates than asking for appointments on the hour.

By offering just 2 dates that you are available followed by the words “when suits you best?’ typically brings an agreement to one of those dates or the suggestion of an alternative. Every way round you still get your appointment.

7. The missing ingredient

I am sure in the ideas that I have shared there are a number that you can take away and action to help you improve your results in winning meetings with decision makers. There is one simple quality that can quite often be the difference between success and failure. Once you have decided on your ideal target for a business opportunity, how hard to you try and keep getting knocked back before you give up? I have had the privilege of studying and interviewing a huge number of very successful people and learned a lot about what it takes to reach high levels of success. What I have learnt from countless “overnight success” stories is that none of them happen overnight.

The prizes worth winning never come easily and persistency, resilience and hard work are all qualities that are essential when knocking down challenging doors. People love doing business with those that want to work with them. Sometimes people will continually put you off just to test how much it means to you. That’s why its worth picking your prospects carefully and ensuring that you are prepared to see it out till the end and do whatever it takes.

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Daily Habits of Highly Successful People

Jump-Start Your Day. One of the first habits of successful people is they don’t hit the snooze bar several times before finally rolling out of bed and easing into their day. They hit the ground running!

Read and Reflect. Hitting the ground running doesn’t mean their life is a whirlwind of chaos and confusion. Instead, highly successful people invest the first hour of their day to lead their life from quiet.

Fuel up. Highly successful people eat food that taste great and is nutritious. Since they have a lot on their “plate,” they make sure the food on their plate fuels their body.

Work hard. Highly successful people work harder than others for two reasons. (1) They usually enjoy their work, so work feels more like play than work. (2) They know hard work beats talent every time talent doesn’t work hard.

Work smart. Successful people also work smart. They set goals. They prioritize those goals. Then they take steps each day to accomplish those goals. Focused work is one of the most important habits of successful people.

Don’t Complain. Successful people are not immune to bad things; bad things happen to all of us. What makes highly successful people so successful is they don’t focus on the event, but instead on how to best respond to the event. This is why their outcomes are often successful no matter what circumstances they face.

Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best routines you can establish in your life to become highly successful. You’ll be in better shape. You’ll have better energy. You’ll think better. You’ll be more positive. You’ll even be happier. (That’s why I do yoga and spin each day).

Serve. Contrary to popular opinion, highly successful people do not focus primarily on money. They focus on serving and giving because serving and giving creates value. Value often leads to financial reward, but successful people know the reason behind financial reward is value, so they focus on creating value and serving others.

Run at problems and decisions. Average people run away from problems and decisions. Successful people do the opposite. They run at them.

Invest in Yourself. Did you notice everything listed above is about investing in yourself? Yet highly successful people go even further to invest in themselves. When they really want to learn something, they look for ways to supercharge their learning. They attended conferences, take classes, hire coaches, and even join mastermind groups. Of all the habits of successful people, this might be the most powerful because of the principle of The Slight Edge.

Do you have questions or comments about the issues in today’s post, want to know how to apply them, or how to help others with them? If so, contact me at connie@pheiffgroup.com or CLICK HERE to schedule a 20-minute discovery call to discuss with you personally.


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David, Goliath, and the Investor Pitch

I had the distinct honor and pleasure of coaching five Hero Club entrepreneurs in preparation for their pitch at the C-Suite Network Investors Summit in San Jose on September 11-12th. It was an exciting event and helping people with great ideas, products, and services tell their stories in a compelling way is one of my favorite parts of the job.

All five CEOs were terrific, poised and articulate with a solid pitch and great visuals, and they all reported being approached afterward by interested parties; what more could we ask for? But in retrospect, one pitch stood out uniquely, and offers a lesson about overcoming the odds and expectations, and why you should never underestimate anyone – including yourself.

David Williams is the CEO and superintendent of Village Tech Charter Schools in Cedar Hill, Texas, just outside of Dallas. Various people I spoke to after the fact confirmed that, before his presentation, there had been a general wondering about why a non-profit, specifically a Pre-K – 12 school, was pitching in Silicon Valley. At best, most admitted preliminary assumptions of it being something of a charity case, like when the older kids let the little one play with them, even though they know he’s not in the same league. There seemed to have been minimal expectations for his performance. Perhaps not so surprising was the fact that David himself later confessed to having similar concerns leading up to the event.

David may not be alone. How many times have you anticipated an event or opportunity with trepidation, based on feelings or concerns of inadequacy, of not belonging? Sometimes there’s a bit of the “Imposter Syndrome” that creeps in when surrounded by other highly expert, highly experienced, and/or highly reputed people. It might also occur if you’re just generally not comfortable presenting to large groups, if the event is particularly high-stakes, or if it’s your first time in the spotlight in a new context such as a conference presentation, in the media, or in this case, an investor pitch. The enormity of the pressure to perform and succeed in the public eye is enough to make most people’s hands shake – even if only a little.

But to David’s credit, he rose to the occasion and proved that he was not going to let this Goliath of an event get the best of him. He knew what was at stake, and he knew how much he wanted it for his company, his school, his teachers and his students, and that was the motivation he used to prepare for it.

The biggest challenge was the need to shift from “teacher” mode to “business executive” mode. Knowing your audience and figuring out how to angle your point so that it speaks to their unique perspectives and interests is a critical factor in the art of persuasion, and one of the most common areas where people fall short.

When speaking to an audience of teachers and school district members – his comfort zone – stories of children’s experiences and anecdotes of their funny and heartwarming comments will successfully convey all sorts of implicit information about the success of a program. But to a room of business executives and investors, those stories are just the sprinkles on the sundae: added for a little color and sweetness, but of minimal substance. We had to shift the focus to problems and solutions, to data and dollars – a philosophical shift that makes most teachers’ stomachs churn with disdain. And the whole thing had to be done in eight minutes.

To me, the key to his success was the fact that he was able to adapt his content to meet the needs and expectations of his audience, while still remaining completely authentic, and true to himself, both in preparation and on stage. This is often one of the greatest challenges we face when we find ourselves in new contexts with unfamiliar audiences.

I know inside he didn’t like having to cut out some of his favorite stories, but we found a way to use a couple of them in ways that made statistics personal, and humanized the call to action. And David was already a confident and competent public speaker, so it was really a matter of applying those skills with a different focus, and convincing himself and others that he was a much of a leader in the business world as in the academic sphere.

Sure, there were investors there who weren’t interested in adding a brick-and-mortar enterprise to their portfolios. But it was clear by the end that he was the crowd favorite and had earned the personal and professional respect of everyone there. The little non-profit venture had set the bar for what everyone else believed an investor pitch should look and sound like. As I heard several people say with genuine admiration that day: “He killed it.”

The moral of the story is that even when you feel like you’re out of your element – or even out of your league – do not let yourself be intimidated by the Goliath. Seek whatever guidance you need to put the pieces together, and play to win.


Are you preparing a pitch, or do you have questions about another critical presentation? If so, contact me at laura@vocalimpactproductions.com or click here to schedule a 20-minute focus call to discuss it with me personally!


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It’s My Prerogative

I’m working with a new client who reminded me our emotions could quickly and easily derail our goals. Mix your emotions together and you come up with a lethal cocktail.

“There are four emotions sure to undermine our goals:

fear, uncertainty, doubt, and shame.”

~Michael Hyatt

Seasons of life change often. Each season of life brings new events. Such as job change, divorce, sickness, or something else. Our emotions are then subjected to fear of the unknown, shame, uncertainty of our abilities, self-doubt, and acceptance.

Before respectively earning the title of Unstoppable DIVA, I did not speak. I would avoid social interaction. My colleagues just assumed I was anti-social. If I did attend a social event, I would have a glass of wine to relax my nerves.

An event that derailed my behavior, its called divorce. Initially it was embarrassing and the shame consumed me. My self doubt and fear of the unknown was too much to bear at times. Everyone was looking at me, they knew about me. Or so I thought.


As I’ve come to learn, it’s human nature to have these feelings – these emotions. It doesn’t matter if I’m coaching corporate executives, entrepreneurs or speaking. These emotions are a common affliction.

There’s no manual or playbook telling us how to feel or behave. It’s our prerogative to make it up as we go along. The nerves of acceptance by clients when launching new products still creep up on me. When I speak I still get those butterflies in my belly. The truth is if you don’t feel that way, you’re clearly egocentric.

We will always endure these emotions it’s human nature. It keeps us real. Just don’t allow the emotions to derail your goals.


I came to realize when developing my programs I must focus on my audience. They want to know how I can help them, they’re not thinking about me. Everybody is infected by emotions at every season of life. When I realized I wasn’t alone in the divorcee club, I got out of my way, got out of my comfort zone and I felt better about me. The wart on my nose went away.

Socializing became enjoyable. Asking for dollars became enjoyable. Owning the title of UNSTOPPABLE DIVA became natural. I was stepping out and using my emotions to keep me on track to reach my goals.

Emotions could derail your goals. It’s up to you to keep your goals in perspective and overcome the negative influence around you. It’s your prerogative. Let’s Be Unstoppable Together.

Do you have questions or comments about the issues in today’s post, want to know how to apply them, or how to help others with them? If so, contact me at connie@pheiffgroup.com or CLICK HERE to schedule a 20-minute discovery call. I will be happy to discuss with you personally.


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Accountability: 3 Steps to Holding Yourself Accountable to Grow Your Influence

Click here to watch Accountability: 3 Steps to Holding Yourself Accountable to Grow Your Influence 

It’s not the skills and techniques you and your team learn that make you more influential.  It’s what you do with what you learn.

Accountability is the most difficult aspect of having influence Monday to Monday®.

This video will share with you three steps you can take today to avoid slipping into your old habits.  These three steps will keep you focused and disciplined to do the work of communicating with influence Monday to Monday® until it becomes ingrained in you. 

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The Hidden Value of Trust in Negotiations

“The Hidden Value of Trust In A Negotiation (DACA)”

When someone trusts you in a negotiation (you’re always negotiating), they’re more likely to believe what you tell them. Thus, there’s hidden value in trust when negotiating from a long-term perspective. Once trust is broken it’s difficult to regain it. Therefore, broken trust sets off negative ripples that can have unintended and unexpected consequences in the future.

Let’s look at the trust factor with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) as an example. The kids in the DACA program were brought to the US by their parents. In most cases, they had no input as to whether they would stay where they were, or travel to the US. They instinctively trusted their parents with that decision. Then, there’s the US government.

The US government basically said, if you register for the DACA program and abide by our requirements (i.e. check in every 2 years and make payment to stay in the program, go to college, serve in the military, stay employed, pay taxes), you’ll be OK in the US.

Some registered and some didn’t. Those in the DACA program trusted the government and abided by their mandate. Then, trust was thrust out the window. Those in the DACA program cried, ‘We did what you asked of us! Why are you going back on your word? We trusted you!’ Those that did not register for the program, if not stated out loud silently thought, ‘see, I told you so; you should not have trusted them. The government can’t be trusted. Now, the information you gave them will be used against you.’ The ripple that such a message sent to non-DACA members was, stay in the shadows and let the darkness protect you.

In the eyes of those in the program, the US government went back on its word and broke the trust it had conveyed. Suffice it to say, the ripples set forth from this situation will cause the government not to be trusted in future matters by different entities. They’ll mentally relate their situation to the resemblance of the DACA plight. That means those submitting information requested by the government will be skeptical at best and cynical at worse when contemplating a course of action that they should adopt. In essence, through the loss of trust, the government has made it more difficult for others to trust it.

If I tell you the truth, will you believe what I say and trust me? If my perception of the truth is altered in the future, will I be declared a liar? If so, what will become of our future negotiation efforts? Those are questions every negotiator needs to consider before and during a negotiation. That’s the hidden force that trust has on a negotiation.

When trust is the foundation upon which a negotiation is built, the truth becomes a happier companion in the negotiation. Therefore, when the truth as one knows it shifts, the shifting of the truth can still have believability.

Change allows you to embrace new experiences, and everything changes. Thus, what’s true today may be proven not to be valid tomorrow. Nevertheless, once trust has been established and nurtured by consistency, over a period of time change can withstand the onslaught of doubt and suspension. In so doing, even when your negotiations become difficult, you’ll have less of a challenge finding a path to success, simply because you had trust adding hidden value to your negotiation … and everything will be right with the world.

What are your takeaways? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

Remember, you’re always negotiating.

 “Without trust, failure awaits you.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator and Body Language Expert

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Do You Love What You Do?

How do you know if you love what you do for a living?

It’s a simple question that seems straight-forward enough, but it’s not always easy to answer. Many people would instinctively say something like, “I just know” or “I can just feel that it’s right” or “I definitely know the opposite – when I don’t love what I do.”

Those aren’t wrong answers, they’re just a bit vague. They are tied to emotions, which we know can be fleeting. And, frankly, they aren’t all that helpful. So if you’re not sure if you really love what you do or if you just want some validation, consider these two filters. They aren’t the only criteria, but they’re a good place to start.

You most likely love what you do if …

  1. It’s not just about you.

Real love – the type of love we talk about with Extreme Leadership – is others-focused, not narcissistic. So if you think you love what you do but it’s all about you, then you’re missing the boat.

Scott Krist, a trial lawyer in Houston, put it this way: “I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t have a genuine love for my clients, for the law, and for how I can help people rebuild their lives.”

He doesn’t mention winning cases or getting rich. There’s nothing wrong with those as motivators, but they can’t be the singular driving force, because those are self-focused pursuits. If you love what you do by focusing on others, the other things flow naturally.

Ryan Hulland, president of Netfloor USA, often sees this expressed as humility.

“For some strange reason, salespeople who don’t stay humble and think their customers absolutely love them never seem to do as well as the down-to-earth, likeable ones,” he said. The best sales people, he points out, are genuine, authentic, and live by the motto, “You have to love your customers more than you think they love you.”

  1. You willingly sacrifice for it.

When you love what you do, you are excited about giving your time to it. That doesn’t mean you don’t want to give your time to other important things. It just means you have an instinctive pull to invest time into your work.

“I don’t just meet with someone once in my office and then never see them again until their case goes to trial,” Krist said. “I’m talking to them and visiting with them regularly and becoming part of their lives while their case is in the process.”

It’s been said that where your “treasure” is, that is where you’ll find your heart. In other words, if you look at where you’re spending your time and money, it will show you what you truly love. Krist said he said he often gets to know more about his clients than “their closest friends or their doctors,” and that type of connection makes the outcome of the cases very personal to him. In other words, his “treasure” is tied up in knowing and helping his clients, which is a good indication that he’s doing something he loves.

What about you? Are you willing to sacrifice your time and money to pursue your work? And is it driven by a sincere desire to serve others, not just yourself? If so, there’s a good chance you love what you do.


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The Value of Vulnerability

The Value of Vulnerability

So often when the topic is leadership, qualities like gravitas, confidence and strength are extolled as desirable and even essential. But just as important are some qualities at the other end of the spectrum. Today I’m specifically referring to vulnerability.

We’re all aware of the importance – and sometimes difficulty – of being vulnerable in our personal relationships. Without it, love and intimacy are impossible. But a certain degree of vulnerability is equally as important for development of our professional relationships as well.

I worked with a client who was told by her supervisor that she needed to let people get to know her better; that as head of the department (for quite a while already), it would help overall team chemistry and trust. For someone who was working to overcome perfectionism and fear of making any sort of public mistake, this was daunting.

“How can I open up to them? I don’t know if I can trust them to see that side of me,” she said.

I replied, “My guess is that they probably feel the same about you. But here’s the thing: When you have two people who need to feel like they receive trust (or respect) before they’re willing to give it, there’s a stalemate. Eventually, someone has to ‘blink’ first, take the chance and give the other person the opportunity to demonstrate that they are trustworthy. That starts the cycle.”

But one way or another, the beauty is that you don’t have to trust them with your deepest darkest secrets or the key to the vault. Sometimes it’s just being able to laugh at yourself, or letting them know that you’re under the weather and could use their help that day.

Last week I got a frantic email from a client asking to have a strategy call the next morning before a high-stakes meeting that had just been organized. Understanding her situation and wanting to accommodate, I told her the truth: “Tomorrow morning the only slot that’s open is 9am, but in full transparency, I’m going to be in ‘mommy mode’ at that time, since I have to take my son” (who is 1 year old) “for a checkup at 10, so the nanny won’t arrive until 11. I can’t guarantee what mood he’ll be in or how long we can speak without interruption, but if you want to give it a try, I’m game.”

“I’ll take it,” she said.

So at 9am the call comes in – we coach via FaceTime, video included – and I answer, in a t-shirt with my hair pulled back, hoping she wouldn’t be daunted by my less-than-executive appearance. “I think we’re safe – he’s in his highchair and I’m feeding him breakfast, so he’s busy and happy for a while,” I told her.

My trust in letting my client see me this way was immediately rewarded.

“Oh, is he there? Can you turn the camera? I’d love to see him.”

I turned the camera so my client was face-to-face with the big blue eyes of my son, who stared back at her, mesmerized by the face on the screen. And then this high-powered CFO of a multi-billion-dollar company did the best thing possible: she launched straight into full-scale “peek-a-boo” mode.

My son burst into giggles immediately, and after a moment or two I turned the phone back to me. She had a huge smile on her face, and said, “That was the perfect antidote to the morning I’ve already had, thank you!”

From there we shifted gears and got down to business. We had each let down our guard with and I am confident that we both feel that the mutually shared vulnerability only served to strengthen our bond, both personally and professionally.

So once in a while, take a little chance: (metaphorically) play a bit of “peek-a-boo,” and let them see you.


Do you have other questions or feedback about vulnerability and leadership? If so, contact me at laura@vocalimpactproductions.com or click here to schedule a 20-minute focus call to discuss it with me personally!




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Know When to STOP Talking

Know When to STOP Talking

Usually I work with people to find the best way for them to talk to their audience and get to “Yes.” Today I want to focus on the exact opposite skill set: knowing when and how to stop talking.

If you’re like me, at some point or other you’ve had the “out-of-body experience” where you catch yourself rambling on, and your brain starts screaming, “for heaven’s sake, just stop talking already!” But you’re on a roll and can’t seem to stop the momentum.

Part of the reason this happens is because Americans are notoriously uncomfortable with silence, which quickly slides becomes “awkward silence,” is something to be avoided. That’s why there’s often a compulsion to fill silence at all costs.

In most of these occurrences, self-doubt is a major factor. Even if you were confident up to that point, something triggers a sudden insecurity, which you telegraph through your rambling.

With that in mind, let’s look at three contexts in which this situation is likely to emerge, why, and how to get yourself back under control.

Waiting for a response

The most common scenario is when you’ve asked a question or made a comment, and the other person doesn’t respond right away. You subconsciously fear that they didn’t understand what you’ve said, or didn’t like it and don’t want to answer it. So you rephrase, or qualify, or suggest possible answers to your own question, until someone finally jumps in.

In reality, sometimes people just need a moment to digest what you’ve said, especially if it is technical or an important decision. Be generous in allowing them time to think, uninterrupted, before they respond.


The second context is when you think you need to keep explaining something. Maybe your topic is complicated and you are speaking to non-experts or you might be speaking to people who are experts, which can be intimidating, so you feel compelled to share more to demonstrate your expertise. Or you might interpret their silence as disapproval, at which point you keep talking in attempt to qualify or justify your argument and persuade them to agree with you.

Ironically, however, in these situations, the more you ramble, the more it will likely dissuade your audience because you sound nervous rather than confident. In these cases, make your point, then just hold your ground – and your tongue. This indicates that you’re okay with waiting for them to break the silence. If necessary, you can always ask them if they are confused by something, or would like clarification. Knowing when to stop demonstrates confidence.

Scrambling for answers

Finally, rambling often occurs when you need to answer a question or offer a response, and don’t feel like you have time to think it through before you are expected to speak. The pressure is on, and the silence seems interminable as all eyes are on you. But rather than thinking aloud you as you try to figure out what you really want to say, try starting with something like, “That’s a great question; let me think about the best way to answer it concisely.” Who would deny that request, especially if the alternative is a rambling mess?

Here’s a final tip: Write a note to remind yourself to avoid these pitfalls, and look at it before you go into the next high stakes meeting. If you wait until you catch yourself rambling, it’s too late. Priming yourself with these reminders before you start is one of the best ways to project persuasive confidence and leadership.


Do you have questions or comments about the issues in today’s post? If so, contact me at laura@vocalimpactproductions.com or click here to schedule a 20-minute focus call to discuss them with me personally!