Book Summary of ‘Questions That Sell’ by Paul Cherry

If you want to succeed in sales, you need to get very good at developing true business relationships.

You do that buy understanding their vision for their business, their fears and motivations.

The path to get there is through great sales questions. In one of the greatest metaphors ever employed in a sales book, Paul Cherry calls great sales questions “truth-seeking missiles.”

When you point those missiles in the right direction, you will:

  1. Motivate your prospect to do the talking. Great questions help you get to the insight you need to close deals.
  2. Differentiate yourself from your competitors, who don’t know how to ask great questions.
  3. Demonstrate empathy for your prospects. By establishing yourself as somebody who will listen to problems and frustrations, you’ll create an environment where your prospect will share information they wouldn’t otherwise share.
  4. Facilitate a prospect’s awareness of their needs and help them come to their own conclusions. Your prospect must come to see their problems on their own.
  5. Prompt a prospect to recognise the importance of taking action.
  6. Discover how a particular company makes a purchasing decision, as well as whom the decision makers are within the company.

In this summary we’ll review the 6 types of questions you need to use in order to achieve your biggest sales goals.

Let’s get started.

  1. Educational Questions

Educational questions are designed to enlarge a customer’s knowledge.

Your prospects are cynical – and rightly so. They’ve spent far too many hours of their lives listening to sales reps show up and give dog and pony shows.

One of the best ways you can set yourself apart from your competition is to ask educational questions – by engaging your prospect in sharing information that’s relevant to their problems.

Here’s a template for asking an educational question:

“I read recently in an article from ___________ that ___________ . Tell me, how does that compare with what you are seeing?”

For example: “A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that 75 percent of technology companies use foreign developers to build out their platforms. One of the challenges seem to be the language barriers and laws governing foreign workers. How do you manage those issues with your IT staff?”

When to Use an Educational Question

There are 4 situations where an educational question will be very helpful:

  1. As a teaser on a voice mail to get prospects to return your call;
  2. At the beginning of a meeting to use as an icebreaker;
  3. When a sales conversation is stalled;
  4. When you want to breathe new life into an existing customer relationship.

Just make sure not to overuse this strategy. Cherry suggests that one educational question per meeting is enough to be viewed as a consultative seller.

  1. Lock-On Questions

Lock-on questions build on what buyers have told you, which allows you to extend the conversation and dig deeper into the issues they face.

The trick is to lock on to something that you believe will give you – as well as your prospect – greater insights into their real needs.

Here are a few examples:

If your prospect says “We have been trying to get this project launched for months now”, you might follow up with “I noticed you used the word trying. What has worked so far and what’s standing in your way?

If your prospect says “I’m looking for a partnership rather than a vendor who is just looking to peddle a product”, you might follow up with “Can you give me a little more insight into what you mean by partnership?”

If your prospect says “We’ve had a bunch of problems with our current vendor and we are looking for a new supplier”, you might follow up with “Can you share some of the specific problems you’ve been having?”

When to Use Lock-On Questions

One of the things to be aware of when you start using lock-on questions is that you run the risk of the prospect feeling like they are being cross-examined if you get too aggressive with them.

So, make sure that you use lock-on questions when the following conditions are true:

– You have good rapport with the prospect and you have demonstrated empathy toward them.

– You have a sincere desire to connect with the prospect.

  1. Impact questions

Impact questions are designed to explore the impact of the challenges the prospect is facing.

Once the prospect has articulated a problem that needs solving and gives you an example, it’s time to use that information to get the prospect to focus on the impact of the problem.

This is not an easy process, but the results are worth their weight in gold.

You are giving the prospect an opportunity to vent their frustrations (which everybody loves to do), and they’ve also relived their problem again and are now in a state to want to solve it.

There are a number of ways the problem they are facing could impact them. Here are just a few things it could impact:

– the company

– the prospect’s position in the company

– the prospect’s well-being

In most cases, customers have never taken the time to deeply analyse their problems, or calculate just how much it might be costing them.

With that in mind, here are some of the ways you might phrase the impact questions to get the wheels turning:

“What do you think the impact on your company will be if you decide to do nothing?”

“What impact do you think this problem could have on you within the company?”

“When you have this problem, how much do you think it will cost you to fix it?”

“How much time do you spend dealing with this problem on a daily basis? What else do you think you could accomplish if you got that time back?”

Once they start articulating the problem, they’ll probably start mentioning how it affects them personally. A common frustration is a problem at work taking them away from their family on nights and weekends. If that comes up, you might say something like:

“You mentioned losing time with your spouse and kids. Do you think that will change if the problem continues?”

If you can get your prospects to do a deep dive on how much their issues are costing them, they’ll come to the conclusion on their own that they need to fix it.

  1. Expansion questions

Expansion questions are designed to get buyers to enlarge on what they’ve already told you, giving you greater insight into their needs.

The idea here is that the more you get prospects to reveal, the more likely they are to buy from you.

For instance, if your customer gives you a story, or reveals their thought process, or gives you a peek into how their company makes decisions, the more likely you are to gain insight into how you can help them.

These types of questions begin with phrases like:

“Describe for me . . .”

“Share with me . . .”

“Explain . . .”

“Walk me through . . .”

“Tell me . . .”

“Could you clarify something . . .”

“Can you expand upon what you just said?”

“Help me understand . . .”

Here are some sample questions transformed from ordinary questions into expansion questions.

Ordinary questions like: “Who is the decision maker?” “When will you make a decision?” “What is your time frame?”

Turn into expansion questions like: “Walk me through your company’s decision making process.”

Ordinary questions like: “Are you satisfied with your current system?”

Turn into expansion questions like: “Share with me your level of satisfaction with your current system.”

Ordinary questions like: “Is price important to you?” “Is quality important to you?” “Is service important to you?”

Turn into expansion questions like: “Explain to me the criteria you use to ensure you’re getting the best value.”

  1. Comparison questions

Comparison questions get buyers to compare one thing to another. This is a very useful tool for getting more clarity on your prospect’s priorities.

These questions open up many avenues for discussion, including:

– Time: what has happened in the past, what is likely to happen in the future and how priorities might change over time.

– Decision makers: these questions let you figure out who makes the big decisions in the organisation.

– The prospect’s competitors: these questions can stimulate a dialogue about your prospect’s industry and how they differentiate themselves from their competition.

– Alternative choices: you can open the door to new solutions your prospects might not have considered before.

Here are some examples:

Time

Ordinary questions like: “What are your goals?”

Turn into comparison questions like: “Share with me what you hope to accomplish in the next twelve months compared with where you were one year ago.”

Decision makers

Ordinary questions like: “Who will make the final decision on this?”

Turn into comparison questions like: “Please explain to me how the decision making process for this project differs from past projects you’ve worked on.”

Competitors

Ordinary questions like: “Who are your competitors?”

Turn into comparison questions like: “Your customers have a lot of choices today. Tell me what you believe are the unique attributes that set you apart from others in your market.

Pains and gains

Ordinary questions like: “Tell me about what’s not working.”

Turn into comparison questions like: “Compared with what you’ve seen in other organisations where you’ve worked, explain to me the gaps you see in your current organisation.”

Market trends

Ordinary questions like: “How’s business?”

Turn into comparison questions like: “How’s business this year compared with last year?” Or, “How is your business compared with others in your industry?”

Vendors

Ordinary questions like: “What do you like about your current vendor?”

Turn into comparison questions like: “Describe for me the ideal qualities you look for in a vendor relationship and how that compares with your current situation.”

The point of asking these questions is that the answers come with information you can use as you determine exactly how you can help the prospect.

  1. Vision questions

Vision questions invite your prospect to see what they stand to gain through doing business with you. Ultimately, you want your prospect to come to the conclusion that you can help them achieve their goals, hopes and dreams.

Most vision questions have the word “if” in them. For example:

If we could eliminate that problem you have – the one that is costing you $2 million per year, what would it mean to you and your organisation? What would it mean for you personally?

Your prospects will usually freely share their explicit needs – things like cost savings, creating market share, and profitability.

But in order to truly get your prospect to open up about what they really want – their hopes and dreams – you need to understand their implicit needs.

They can be broken down into 7 categories:

  1. Success. This is the need to feel a sense of accomplishment when they come home from work. Prospects who often talk about wanting to “get the job done” or “earn more money” usually want to feel successful.
  2. Independence. This is the need to feel in control at work. Prospects who talk about wanting their bosses to trust their decisions are usually looking for the feeling of independence.
  3. Recognition. This is the need to feel valued as a team member. Prospects who talk about all the hard work they do, or about wanting people to listen to their ideas, are usually looking for recognition.
  4. Security. This is the need to feel like your job won’t be taken away from you, and the need to not look stupid in front of their team. Prospects who use words like concerned, worried, unsure and doubtful are often looking for a feeling of security.
  5. Stimulation. This is the need to feel challenged by your job. Prospects who talk about tasks they dislike doing or that all they do is “put out fires” are typically looking for a feeling of stimulation.
  6. Peace of mind. This is the need to feel like your areas of responsibility are taken care of. Prospects who ask you very tactical questions and seem concerned with deadlines are usually looking for peace of mind.
  7. Simplicity. This is the need to feel like life is easier. The more you can make your prospect feel like you will take care of their problems, the more they will have the sense of simplicity in their lives.

Asking questions that will allow your prospect to realise that their implicit needs will be met by doing business with you is the ultimate victory.

Conclusion

When you are able to ask the 6 types of questions you need to ask in order to get the prospect to envision a brighter future by working with you, there will be no limit to what you can do!

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more informationScreen Shot 2018-03-27 at 10.51.23

Book Summary of ‘Bold’ by Peter Diamandis

As Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler point out in their book Bold, this is the first time in history that you have access to everything you need to take on any challenge. As long as you are passionate and committed, you have access to the technology, minds and capital to literally change the world.

But as they would probably tell you, resources, passion and commitment isn’t enough. You need the right mindset. Actually, you need 8 of them and who better to learn these 8 mindsets from than from 4 of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time – Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Larry Page and Jeff Bezos.

Each of these entrepreneurs are self-made billionaires who started with nothing but an idea and a dream to change the world. With the right mindset, you can do it to.

Bonus Mindset: To become a billionaire, focus on helping a billion people.

Usually you get the bonuses at the end, but this bonus is so important that we’ve put it first. This one comes from Peter himself and he tells us that if we are going to make our own dent in the universe, that we need to think about creating a business that will impact the lives of a billion people.

This immediately eliminates thinking small from the equation, which is a prerequisite to becoming a billionaire. Do you know how many billionaires think small? Exactly zero.

1. Understanding the balance of risk taking and risk mitigation

Richard Branson has a reputation for being a business renegade. From the outside it would seem to most people that he takes on a ton of risk. After all, who gets into the airline business – a business where almost everybody loses an enormous amount of money – when they know absolutely nothing about airlines?

Richard Branson, that’s who.

But what most people don’t understand about him is that one of the phrases keeps near and dear to his heart is “protect the downside.”

When starting his airline, Branson bought one plane, and then negotiated the right to give the plane back in twelve months if things weren’t working out like he wanted them to.

So while they are taking bold bets and creating businesses that could potentially change the world, they are also actively trying to eliminate any and all risk that could “sink their battleship.”

2. Rapid iteration and ceaseless experimentation

Jeff Bezos has created one of the most successful business brands of all time by blending a ruthless focus on the customer experience, while at the same time rapidly iterating and experimenting with that experience.

As Bezos said in his 2014 shareholder letter,

“Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional. . . . We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right. When this process works, it means our failures are relatively small in size (most experiments can start small) and when we hit on something that is really working for customers, we double down on it with hopes to turn it into an even bigger success.”

One famous experiment that ended in success for Amazon was A/B testing their website experience, allowing users to check-out as guests instead of creating an account.

This one experiment alone generated an extra $300 million per year in revenue for the company.

Even the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet are constantly looking for ways to improve their businesses so that they can have a larger impact.

3. You need to have passion and purpose

Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, gave a talk at the founding conference of Singularity University, the school that Diamandis’ created with futurist Ray Kurzweil to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.

In front of 150 people attending the conference, he said this:

“I have a very simple metric I use: Are you working on something that can change the world? Yes or no? The answer for 99.99999 percent of people is no. I think we need to be training people on how to change the world.”

If you are working on something that you believe has the power to change the world, you can’t help have the passion and purpose you need in order to get it done.

4. You need to think for the long-term

Jeff Bezos did an interview session at one of their annual conferences, where he outlined his contrarian thinking about the long-term.

“What’s going to change in the next ten years?” And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: “What’s not going to change in the next ten years?” And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two—because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.”

This is a great insight, because it allows you to build a business that serves the needs of the marketplace today, while still allowing you the time and ability to innovate over time.

For instance, Bezos says that he knows that his customers want low prices, and that this is going to be true 10 years from now. And that they are going to want their packages delivered faster. So, Amazon focusses all of their innovation capacity on delivering on those things.

A great example is Amazon’s work on developing delivery drones that can get your order to you in less than 30 minutes.

That’s big thinking.

5. Always be thinking about the customer.

Like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson is also passionate about creating an incredible experience for his customers.

As they point out in the book, if Branson thinks that a particular service might benefit his customers, he tries it. For instance, Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to offer free seat-back TVs for each passenger, a cocktail lounge, a glass-bottomed plane and is certainly the first airline to offer stand-up comedians on select flights.

To Branson, creating a customer-centric experience is about getting every little detail right.

When you do this, he explains, customers will go out of their way to stay loyal to your brand. This is one of – if not the only – reason that Branson has been able to launch and invest in over 500 businesses that leverage the Virgin brand.

6. Using probabilistic thinking

Elon Musk has created 4 different companies with valuations north of $1 billion – Paypal, SpaceX, Tesla and Solar City. You know you’ve made it when they model a super-hero after you (IronMan).

Usually, when entrepreneurs are weighing a decision, they think about their likelihood of success, and if they are good entrepreneurs, they will try and protect the downside.

Musk adds an important nuance to this line of thinking – the importance of the objective. He says:

“Even if the probability for success is fairly low, if the objective is really important, it’s still worth doing. Conversely, if the objective is less important, then the probability needs to be much greater. How I decide which projects to take on depends on probability multiplied by the importance of the objective.”

SpaceX and Tesla is living proof of this thinking. When he started them, he thought they both had less than 50% chance in succeeding (in fact, they were both very close to bankruptcy at the same time), he felt that they were businesses that needed to be created.

So he went ahead and built them, in spite of the risk.

7. Being rationally optimistic

Larry Page wants more people to think about changing the world, but he also practices something the authors call “rational optimism.”

It means that you need to take a sober view of the facts, while still retaining your optimism about doing the impossible.

Page gives the example of when they set out to do simultaneous translation between languages, and to do it better than human translators could. The machine-learning experts they asked for advice on it laughed at them and said it was impossible.

But they forged on anyways, understanding that the technology we have available to us today was at a point where it would be possible – incredibly hard, but possible – to get it done.

Today, Google now translates between 64 different languages and in some cases do a better job than the average human translator and they provide that service, 100% free to the world.

8. Rely on first principles

One of the things that all great entrepreneurs have the ability to do is think in first principles.

Elon Musk gave an interview to Kevin Rose, and explained how first principles work when thinking about how to manufacture batteries – something critical to both Tesla and Solar City.

They thought about the materials that batteries were made out of – carbon, nickel, aluminium, some polymers and a steel can. By by-passing the battery manufacturers and buying the materials on a metals exchange, they realised that they could get the battery cost to levels well below anybody thought they could get them.

So whatever problem you are working on, question all of the assumptions built into it, and work the solution all the way through from beginning to end. You’ll find insights there that almost everybody else would miss – but probably not Elon Musk, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson.

So there you have it – 8 different ways to think based on the mindsets of 4 of the most successful entrepreneurs the world has ever seen.

Now, get your mind right and get to work.

Onwards and upwards!

P.S. I need a business coach/ marketing strategist (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more informationScreen Shot 2018-02-20 at 12.07.34

Book Summary of ‘Mastering The Rockefeller Habits’ by Verne Harnish

The Three Decisions and Three Habits

Over many years of working with successful entrepreneurs, and studying the life of John D. Rockefeller, Harnish boiled down their success into three simple habits and decisions.

The first habit is priorities. These are a handful of rules – some of which change, and some of which don’t (like your BHAG, for instance). You should have some for the company as a whole, and for each individual who works there.

The second habit is data. This is ensuring that the organisation has sufficient data on a daily and weekly basis to provide insight into how the organisation is running, and for what the market is demanding. Ensuring that everybody has at least one key daily or weekly metric driving their performance.

The third and final habit is rhythm – which are the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings to make sure that everybody is aligned with the short and long term goals with the business.

The decisions you need to make boil down into the following three questions:

Do we have the Right People? Are we doing the Right Things? Are we doing those Things Right?

Priorities: Mastering a One-Page Strategic Plan

As your company grows, it gets harder and harder to keep your team on the same page. The best way to do this, Harnish tells us, is to boil all of the most important things your company is focussing on into one page.

To follow along, you can download a copy of the plan here: https://gazelles.com/static/resources/tools/en/OPSP.pdf

It should cover the following items, most of which will be covered in more detail in the following sections.

Opportunities and Threats – list the five biggest opportunities and threats facing your organisation over the time frame you are considering.

Core Values – these are the five to eight statements that define the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” that inform all decisions made at your company.

Purpose – this is the reason your company is in business. Why you do what you do. As an example, Wal-Mart’s purpose is “To give ordinary folks the chance to buy the same things as rich people.”

Actions and BHAG – this is your 10 – 25 year lofty goal, similar to Kennedy’s legendary goal to put a man on the moon.

Targets and Sandbox – the target is where you want your company to be in 3 to 5 years. The Sandbox is basically your market – where you’ll play, the product/service you’ll provide, and your expected market share in 3 to 5 years.

Brand Promise – this is the key need you satisfy for your customers. It should be measurable.

Key Thrusts/Capabilities – these are the 5 or 6 things you need in order to reach 3 to 5 year targets.

Goals and Key Initiatives – this is what your company needs to achieve this year, and the 5 or 6 key initiatives that will help you get there.

Critical Numbers – this is where you should have one or two numbers – ideally one from the balance sheet and one from the income statement. It should represent a key weakness in your economic model or operations, that if addressed, will have a significant impact on the business.

Actions and Rocks – these are your quarterly action steps.

Theme, Scoreboard Design and Celebration – create a quarterly or annual theme to bring focus to the year and post your scoreboard where everybody can track your progress on the plan.

Schedules – determine when things need to happen. Unless activities show up on somebody’s weekly to do list, nothing gets done.

Accountability – this is where you identify which person is accountable for which particular activity on your plan.

Now that we’ve figured out what we need to be foussed on, let’s take a deeper dive into the most important areas of this plan.

Priorities: Mastering the Use of Core Values

Having a few rules, repeating them until everybody is sick of hearing you repeat them, and then making sure everybody acts in accordance with them, is how you create a strong culture.

It makes leading people much easier, generally leads to better performance, higher employee retention and better alignment across the company.

Once you have those core values, you should translate them into the quarterly Individual Performance Plan of each person on your team. For each core value that you have, each employee (and you) should be able to identify actions you’ll take to live it out.

Other things you can do include creating recognition awards for people who live out your core values, communicate examples of people living them out regularly, and make them a large part of your quarterly and year themes for the company.

Priorities: Mastering Organisational Alignment and Focus

Having too many priorities is the same as having no priorities.

In order to get your organisation aligned with your long term goals, you need to identify the top 5 priorities in your company and also clearly identify which of the 5 is the most important.

There are seven common leading priorities in fast-growing companies:

  1. Not big enough to compete in the market;
  2. Lacking a key player in a key role;
  3. Your economic engine is broken;
  4. Somebody else is controlling your destiny;
  5. You need a war chest to compete;
  6. You can’t raise money until you grow;
  7. You need to scan back or you won’t survive.

Once you’ve identified your top priorities, you should put them into your Management Accountability Plan. This will ensure that each priority is assigned to somebody, that you identify the actions that need to be taken and when they need to be taken.

Priorities: Mastering the Quarterly Theme

Now we start to focus on the nitty gritty of getting the plans into motion. You’ve probably been in a work environment where goals and priorities are set and then promptly forgotten.

One of the antidotes to this is to make sure your team has an emotional connection to the goals so that you generate commitment to them.

There are many ways to do this.

You could do it in a big and flashy way like Mark Moses of Platinum Capital, who once rode an elephant into a company meeting because they were launching an expansion campaign and he wanted his employees to “think big.”

Or you could do it in a more conservative way like one CEO who handed out watches to his executive team that had their three Critical Numbers engraved on them. Every time his executives looked at the time, they were reminded of the priorities and that “time was ticking.”

You can also create rewards for your employees to help further motivate them to reach the most important goals. As long as the goals are clear and they can see progress being made towards the goals, these types of group incentives work well.

Data: Mastering employee feedback

Hassles that continue to come over and over again cost your employees a lot of time. This is the kind of work that makes people hate their jobs. It’s also likely that these issues cost you a lot of customer and revenues.

The answer is to create a system of employee feedback to figure out exactly what these problems are and a systematic process to deal with them.

To get started, ask your team a three-part question: what should we start doing, what should we stop doing and what should we continue doing? Ask them to think about these questions from both their perspective and from the perspective of your customers.

Then, ensure that you are responsive to the feedback. Find some quick wins and cross them off the list. Make sure that your team sees progress being made on them so that they continue to provide input. It’s not enough to just make progress, they have to be able to see it.

Here are 6 guidelines to keep in mind as you continue to work through your employee feedback.

  1. Relevancy – is this an important issue for us to tackle?
  2. Be Specific – make sure to capture the details of each issue.
  3. Address the Root – look at the root issue, not just the symptoms.
  4. Focus on the What, Not the Who – focus on eliminating process issues. 95% of the time it’s a process problem.
  5. Involve All Those Affected – get everybody into one room to discuss and resolve the issue.
  6. Never Backstab – never talk poorly of somebody that isn’t present.

Follow those rules for gathering and dealing with employee feedback and you’ll be well on your way to eliminating your thorniest recurring problems.

Rhythm: Mastering the Daily and Weekly Executive Meeting

At the heart of Harnish’s system for growth are tightly run daily, weekly, monthly quarterly and annual huddles and meetings. He suggests that these meetings should all have specific agendas and should happen without fail.

Here are the meetings he suggests you should have:

The Daily Meeting

In a growing company, everybody should participate in a 5-15 minute huddle, daily. These huddles utilise three of the most powerful tools you have as a leader in getting team performance – peer pressure, collective intelligence and clear communication.

You should hold the meeting at the same time every day and hold it standing up which helps to keep the meeting short and to the point.

Your agenda should include three things – what’s up, daily measurements (data) and where are you stuck?

The Weekly Meeting

The weekly meeting has a different purpose and agenda. You should be focussing on strategic issues and it should last approximately an hour for executives.

The first 5 minutes should focus on good news stories from everybody.

The next 10 minutes should focus on the critical numbers in your business.

The next 10 minutes should be customer and employee feedback. Focus on the issues that continue to pop up.

The last 30 minutes should be a focus on a single big issue. It should be one of your large priorities for the month or quarter.

Finally, close with “one-phrase closes”: ask each attendee to sum up with a word or phrase of reaction.

The Monthly Meeting

The focus of the monthly meeting is learning. It’s a 2 to 4 hour meeting for the management to review progress on priorities, review the monthly P&L in detail, to discuss what’s working or not from a process standpoint and finally to do some training.

The Quarterly and Annual Meetings

Finally, the purpose of the quarterly and annual meetings is to review the progress made on the One-Page Strategic Plan.

The X Factor: Mastering the Brand Promise

The brand promise is the key factor that sets you apart from your competition. It’s the reason that your customers keep returning to you year after year.

This is the starting point for every other executive decision. Make the right call, execute on it and you’ll win. Choose the wrong one and you won’t.

The key here is to focus on customer needs. Not their wants, but their needs. And you need to fulfill their needs in a way that is different than the competition.

After you’ve chosen that brand promise, you need to make sure that you do everything in your power to execute on it and ensure that you can remove any bottlenecks or chokepoints that might get in your way.

It goes without saying that doing all of this is incredibly hard. It should cause you to sweat a little just by thinking about it.

Lastly, realise that everything changes with time, including your brand promise. If the market changes, or your customers needs shift, you need to be ready to respond with a new brand promise that fills that void.

Conclusion

There is a lot to take in with the Rockefeller Habits. Most of the information you’ll have heard before, somewhere, but putting it all together and executing on ALL of it is where the magic is.

Get started building your One-Page Strategic Plan and you’ll be well on your way to building a scalable, profitable business.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more informationScreen Shot 2018-02-12 at 15.03.00

Book Summary of ‘Breakthrough Rapid Reading’ by Peter Kump

Oscar Wilde once said that “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” Simply put, what you put into your brain makes an enormous difference in who you are and who you will become. So why do so few people actually read books on a regular basis after they are finished their formal education and get launched in the “real world”?

There’s no shortage of excuses, that’s for sure. When I tell people that I read a book a day, I hear all of the excuses in the book – most of them revolving around the lack of time to read. A book will sit on their nightstand for weeks.

However, there’s another side to the same coin here. Perhaps it’s because they just don’t know how to read fast enough. If you are willing to put aside the excuse that you don’t have enough time and learn how to double or even triple your reading speed, you might unlock a world of new possibilities for yourself.

In the next 10 minutes you are going to learn the skills and tricks that the world’s fastest readers use to gain access to more knowledge than you ever thought possible.

Understanding where you are today

If you are like me, you probably aren’t testing your reading rate on a weekly basis, if ever. So, just like any good exercise program, we are going to figure out where you are starting from, and where you want to go.

Grab something that you enjoy reading. It could be a novel, your favourite magazine, anything that has a passage that you haven’t read before and that is least 1,000 words long. Now, grab a timer and set it for one minute.

Remember to read at a rate that you find comfortable – this isn’t the final exam and there’s nobody you need to impress. The impressing comes later when you double or triple your reading speed.

When the timer is finished, mark the last word you read and count up the words. It’s a lot quicker if you figure out the average number of words per line and then count the total number of lines you read: (number of words per line x total lines read).

Now, find out how you stack up. Here are some broad categories across the general adult population:

Under 180 words per minute: you are a below average reader.

Between 180 – 240 words per minute: you are an average reader.

Between 240 – 350 words per minute: you are reading at an average college level.

Between 350 – 500 words per minute: you are an above average reader.

Above 500 words per minute: you are a superior reader. Now that we know where you are starting from, let’s figure out how you got there and what we can do to get you above that 500 word mark (and perhaps even up to 1,000!).

Two things that prevent you from becoming a speed reader today

Backtracking

There are two different types of backtracking in reading. Conscious and unconscious. Concious backtracking is when you read a passage of text and realise that you didn’t completely comprehend it, so you go back and read it again. This isn’t the most effective way to increase your reading comprehension, but there isn’t anything wrong with it.

However, unconscious backtracking is one of the most time-consuming reading habits of normal people. Have you ever read entire passages of text and then realised that you had drifted off to some other place and didn’t remember a damn thing you read? I sure have. In fact, the average reader re-read 15% of the material they are reading because of this.

Vocalising Words

There are 3 stages of reading “out loud”. The first one is the one you learned in kindergarten where you literally read the words out loud. We are going to assume that you’ve moved beyond that stage and can read a book on the train into work in the morning without annoying the rest of the passengers.

The second stage is subvocalising, where you are moving your lips but no words are coming out, which is usually learned in grade school as the first step away from saying words out loud. Again, we’ll assume you are beyond this point.

The third stage is another form of subvocalising and happens when you are still hearing the words in your head as you read them, even though you aren’t moving your lips. This is where most people end up and they usually subvocalise all of the words as the see them. Take a minute and read a passage right now to see if you are subvocalising.

Why are we subvocalising? Because we’ve been trained from an early age that we are only able to see and comprehend one word at a time, and that we must read them in a sequential order. Logically, this makes sense. However, like many other situations, logic places a very limiting belief on us that we never contemplate breaking out of.

Reading with a purpose and on purpose

If you are like me and most of the people in the world, you were taught to read one way for everything you read. Of course, you are going to read a novel you are reading for pleasure much differently than you will a business book that you are looking to learn a set of principles from, but there we go, reading them exactly the same way – one word at a time.

Why are you reading this, anyway?

The first thing you can do to combat this mistake is to be very clear about why are reading and exactly what you need to take out from it. If it is strictly for entertainment value, then you’ll be less worried about comprehension and speed and more worried about the atmosphere you set so that you can lose yourself in the moment.

However, if you are reading a business book that you want to apply to your life, you’ll be more worried about speed (so you can learn more, quicker), comprehension (so you understand what you are reading) and recall (so you can remember what you learned).

Understand how authors write

The second thing you can do is to understand how authors write. Fiction authors will often write in a way to keep you engrossed in the story and to keep turning the pages. They will also want you to keep from speeding ahead, so they typically don’t give you clear headings and chapter structures so you can create a roadmap before you start.

However, non-fiction authors will often lay out their books in just that way. Their books will be laid out in sequential order, usually with one concept building on top of another. Why is this important? For one thing, you can scan the material that you are already familiar with without giving up too much in comprehension and then read carefully the parts that are new to you.

Understand paragraph structure

The vast majority of the time, the main point of a paragraph will be in the first sentence of the paragraph. This means that understanding the first sentence in each paragraph is crucial in your understanding of the main concepts. This also means that you can read the rest of the paragraph much quicker because it is not introducing any new concepts, but adding context to the first sentence.

Techniques to Read Faster

The one thing that speed readers know that you and I don’t is that using your finger speeds up your reading rate dramatically. They use their fingers to guide their eyes because they realise one very critical thing: that we can see and comprehend more than a couple of words at a time.

There are a few ways to do this and you should work through them sequentially, only moving on to the next when when you are comfortable enough to push yourself further.

Underlining

The first technique is “underlining”. You can start by simply running your finger across the page as you read, underlining the words with your index finger. At first, this is going to feel odd to you, and you might get a few weird looks from strangers who haven’t seen this technique before. Once again, go and grab something that you haven’t read before and practice reading the material using your finger as a guide.

Now, start moving your finger faster. If you were reading at 200 words a minute, start using your finger at 300 words a minute. If you feel like you are starting to lose control and that you won’t remember a thing you are reading, that’s ok. Right now you are battling your tendency to vocalise your words and for the first while you will find it uncomfortable.

Dusting

The second technique you can use to read faster is dusting. Instead of using your finger as an underlining tool, now think about dusting off the page of the book with your entire hand, moving your hand back and forth down the page. I often read on my computer screen and this motion is very similar to the motion you’d use to dust of your monitor, so you should be comfortable with it.

Make sure to move your hand very quickly back and forth as you move down the page so that you are able to see the words through your hands, just like you are able to see the road ahead of you even when your windshield wipers are on at full power. Again, it is going to feel weird to read this way, but you’ll soon be reading at a much higher rate.

Circling

Now, we are going to move on to the circling hand movement, and combine it with the underlining movement we learned earlier. You’ll recall that the first sentence in a paragraph is the main thing to comprehend (usually).

So in this technique you’ll use your finger and underline the first line of the paragraph and then make circles through the rest of the paragraph on the way back to the left margin.

You’ll be sweeping the entire paragraph in 5 or 6 circles, taking in the rest of the paragraph in chunks at a time. At this point you’ll start to feel that reading at a much higher rate feels much different than when you started. You won’t be “reading” in the way that you were taught and lived most of your life – word by word. That’s ok, and you’ll get over that awkward feeling quickly.

Paragraphing 

Now that you are comfortable reading at a much higher rate, you can move on to the last stage we’ll cover here by using the paragraphing technique. You’ll start off by using the same first line technique as you did in circling, by underlining it from left to right.

Then, instead of circling the rest of the paragraph with your finger, you’ll drop down at least 4 lines and then bring your finger right back to the left margin. If the paragraph is more than 4 lines long, you can repeat the motion until you hit the end of the paragraph.

Reading Faster and Comprehending More

None of this means anything if you can’t comprehend what you are reading. Most non-fiction authors are attempting to build a mental model for you. However, they usually stop short of actually creating one for you. So, you’ll create one yourself.

The best way to do this is to create what most people would call a mindmap. You’ll start off with one concept in the middle of a page, then start branching off the sub-ideas as appropriate and making sure to keep related materials together.

So, as you are moving through the text, make sure to stop at points when you want to remember one of the concepts and make sure you build it into your mindmap of the subject. Although it is beyond the scope of this summary, you should try and make the mindmap as memorable as possible. The more memorable you make the concepts, the easier it will be for you to recall them at a later point.

So there you have it – a summary of everything you need in order to increase your reading rate to levels that you never thought possible. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

P.S. I need a business coach/ marketing strategist (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more informationScreen Shot 2018-02-20 at 12.14.10

Book Summary of ‘Instant Influence’ by Michael Pantalon

Would the ability to influence your customers, your work colleagues, your partner or even your children be valuable to you? Michael Pantalon wrote the book Instant Influence to do just that. He gives us a scientifically supported method that gets people to take action because they want to. In fact, it’s even possible to use the Instant Influence methodology on yourself. Spend the next few minutes with me exploring how you can be a master of influence.

Can you motivate anyone in 7 minutes?

Have you ever found yourself wondering why the people in your life won’t change, despite the numerous logical reasons you’ve pointed out to them? As it turns out, that type of persuasion rarely – if ever – works. As Pantalon tells us, people change because of their own reasons. That’s the secret sauce of Instant Influence –it helps people discover their own justification for doing something, even something they thought they didn’t want to do.When someone genuinely doesn’t want to change, change won’t happen. But even the most reluctant of us has a tiny spark of desire to change hidden within. Helping us find that spark can literally transform our lives.

How?

People take action when they hear themselves say that they want to. Get someone to tell you why and action to change is almost sure to follow. Pantalon uses this notion at the heart of his Instant Influence method and he extends it with the following four assumptions:

1. We are free to choose how we behave. 2. Other people can threaten that freedom by attempting to impose control. 3. We tend to react very negatively when our freedom is threatened, making us more resistant to the control being applied. 4. Our freedom can be restored by asserting self-determination and taking control ourselves.

The key point is how we frame our attempt to influence. We need to take the frame of our focus not our own. Our influencing conversation must contain statements such as:

“This is your choice, not mine.”

“It’s completely your decision.”

“You’re free to do whatever you want”

“I can’t make this choice for you – it’s up to you.”

All of these give power back to the influencee, brightens the spark and gives ignition to change.

Pantanlon’s Instant Influence method consists of six progressive steps leading to change. In challenging situations we may need to move through each stage. In other cases – having created the spark – the influencee takes control and accelerates the process themselves.

But let’s move step by step.

Step #1: Why might you change?

The first challenge we must meet is how to put the influencee in a position where they are able to visualise themselves in the desired situation. In most cases you will have identified what you want to change and what the desired outcome should look like. It’s not news to your family member who doesn’t have a healthy diet that continuing down that path might lead to health problems.

So you need to phrase questions in such a way as to challenge the influencee to see themselves in that scene. Instead of focussing on the negative behaviour, Pantalon suggests we look for desirable behaviour close to where we want to get to.

He suggests asking questions such as:

Why are you doing …..? (Where the focus is close to the target) for example, “Why did you choose salad today” for someone who wished to lose weight. Follow up with “Why would you do more?”

Pantanlon suggests we could focus on the past and ask: “Why have you ever[done the thing we’re talking about]?”

There are some questions we need to avoid especially as we have identified, those which sound like orders:

Why don’t you…? Why haven’t you…? Why wouldn’t you…?

Pantalon then suggests we use a technique psychologists and counselors call reflection. Reflection is the process of repeating back, or echoing, what the other person has just said, as if you are holding up a mirror to his words. We need to reflect back even the tiniest spark of motivation to help the other person see more clearly what it is he already wants. Having kindled the spark we need to give it more oxygen.

Step #2: How ready are you to change?

The next step starts with the deceivingly simple question: on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means “not ready at all” and 10 means “totally ready”, how ready are you to make that change? The goal of Step 2 is to help you and the other person gauge their motivation.

Pantalon suggests we don’t attach too much importance to the numbers. A low number doesn’t mean that they’re not likely to take action, nor does a high number mean that they are likely to take action. What’s important isn’t the number but the process of thinking about why they might want to do something.

We then move quickly to…

Step #3: Why didn’t you pick a lower number?

This is where the technique gets interesting. Why would someone who they think is trying to encourage them to do more ask why we didn’t do less? If somebody picks a low number, this will usually stop them in their tracks. Then they’ll start thinking of the reasons why they didn’t choose a “1” instead of a “3”.

This is where the person starts to uncover some real reasons why they are ready to change. The critical part is that the reasons for change are coming out of their mouth and not yours. They are no longer being told what to do and will now feel like they are ready to make a change because they want to. This is incredibly powerful stuff.

Step #4: Imagine you’ve changed. What would the positive outcomes be?

Here’s where we start to crystalise the benefits of change. We can suggest that the change has already happened and encourage the person to visualise the change in detail. Ask them what would be different in their life. What would they be able to do now that they’ve changed that they couldn’t do before?

If you feel like things are going really well, you can even ask them to give a deadline of when you think the change would be complete. Pantanlon’s research has shown that people are far more likely to change if they think of the upside of changing, rather than the downside of not changing.

Step #5: Why are those outcomes important to you

In step 5 we are getting close to visible change itself. But before then we need to once more take the frame of the influencee. Pantalon asks us to ask them to dig deep for reasons to make the change. The familiar Five Whys technique is of value here. Ask, “Why are those outcomes important to you?” and for each answer ask why.

By the time you’ve got to the fifth why, you’ve most likely reached a true personal reason, close to the heart of the influence. Don’t be surprised if they become emotional at this stage. It’s sometimes quite a journey. Invariably, the answers move almost magically from the practical and impersonal to the heartfelt and deeply personal.

Again, the technique of reflection is valuable. The influencee needs to hear back how you understand how they’re hopeful, what they want, why they want it and how they truly believe things could be better.

Step #6: What’s the next step, if any?

The final step no longer looks at the whys, but turns to the hows. “What’s the next step, if any?” Adding those two little words – if any – is another way to reinforce the other person’s autonomy: it’s still up to her to decide whether there will be a next step.Now you are ready for one final action.

Ask their permission to meet again after an appropriate time has elapsed to review progress and to re-commit to the change. As stated, it’s likely that all six steps may not be necessary. Taking a structured approach to encourage change can often be the trigger for the influencee to take control themselves.

Influencing yourself

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about influencing others, but you can also use the Instant Influence technique to influence yourself. Here is Pantalon’s self-influence process:

Identify a change you’d like to make or an action you’d like to take. Formulate it in terms of behaviour, not results.

Write down the first Instant Influence question (Why might I change?), and then write down your answer. Move on to the next step, writing down your answers until you reach Step 5.

When you get to Step 5, write “Why?” then answer. Repeat four more times so that you’ve asked and answered the “five whys.”

When you reach Step 6, choose a small, manageable step, and pick a time that you will check back in with yourself to review your progress and choose a next step.

Advice for applying the method

Start small. Keep looking for smaller and smaller beginning steps until you find one that feels safe or that you can at least visualise doing.

Allow for the possibility that any problem might have many different solutions.

Focus on action, not decisions. We often focus too much on the how when we really should be looking at the why. But sometimes the how is the problem, and acquiring skills may be all that’s needed to get the ball rolling.

Don’t judge or self-censor. Just be open to the process.

Prepare to be surprised. You will almost certainly learn something new about your own reasons for wanting something.

Trust the process. You may find yourself taking action almost without realising it, so don’t feel you need to force yourself.

Have you consulted an expert? Experts may be able to identify whether the problem is one of skill or will.

Motivation is like a seed that sprouts and begins to grow while still underground. We may know it’s there, but we don’t always trust that one day it will break through to the light.

Affirm the influencee’s right to say no. Affirm their ownership of the decision.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘Spin Selling’ by Neil Rackham

Neil Rackham starts his book Spin Selling with some key advice: “Don’t trust what top performers tell you.“ We could surmise this is so they protect their “secret sauce” and maintain their competitive edge. But Rackham tells us it’s not. By spending a significant number of hours, he and his team have pulled together the real reasons, and all the true information we need to take on board. Having spent time observing top performers, he has distilled their expertise into a methodology we can all use to better our sales: SPIN Selling.

Lesson 1: A sales call in four stages.

Nearly all effective sales calls can be broken down into four stages.

Stage 1: The Preliminaries – the warming up events at the start of the call.

Rackham tells us there is no better way of opening a sales call. Conventional wisdom says that if we can somehow tap into an area of personal interest of the buyer we can form a relationship more quickly and the call will be more successful. For example if there is a family photograph on the desk, talk family: if there’s a golfing trophy – talk golf. But this is all conventional wisdom. It may have worked ten years ago when the world was not as connected and people bought from people they liked (or knew).

Today in the connected and distributed world, this is far from reality. The problem is greater with large sales when the transaction consists of many interconnected discussions and evaluations of your product or service, many taking place when you’re not there. It’s hard to be liked by or known to everyone in that loop. Today we are more likely to hear, “I like ______ [enter your name here], but I buy from his competition because they are cheaper.”

Alternatively we could make an opening benefit statement: “Better performance is a key issue in your market today, Sir, and our product can increase that tenfold!” Again conventional wisdom, but it’s not effective. By immediately focusing on our perception of the buyer’s needs, we are running the risk of alienating them and having them put up barriers. Who are you to tell them what they need? Who are you to offer unsolicited option?

Rackham suggests the preliminaries, whilst needed to break the ice, are not as critical in the successful large sale. Instead, he suggests we should focus more on how long the preliminaries take. Too short and we appear overly keen and abrasive, too long and the buyer can get bored and disengaged. So timing is critical and time is precious. As a rule of thumb, Rackham advocates that it’s best to err on the short side: no-one has ever complained that a seller didn’t waste their time! Get in, focus on your objectives and get on to the more important stage: investigating.

Stage 2: Investigating – Where SPIN begins.

Use open questions to elicit fact. We’ve all heard that advice. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Structure questions so they invite description. Take a leaf from Inspector Columbo and ask questions and investigate. In essence this is the heart of SPIN Selling… but it’s not without structure. Rackham’s methodology for investigating breaks down into four types of questioning: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff (or SPIN).

Situation Questions focus on establishing facts. Finding out the background of the customer’s situation and what they are doing now. This is critical if we are to advance our opportunity. For a small sale it’s binary – there are only two stages: Sale or No Sale. For a larger sale there are two more intermediate stages: Continuation and Advance. The continuation stage is effectively permission given to keep talking. We may not be progressing rapidly, but at least we are moving in a forward motion and it’s not a termination of talk. The Advance stage is more positive. It’s the cue to “tell me more”.

So, the more effective situation questions we ask, the more successful the interaction with the buyer will be, and the better chance of advance. Situation questions get the buyer talking. Situation questions control attention, identify needs and give clues. Rackham warns us however that situation questions persuade while reasons don’t. Effectively, when we identify an interest in the buyer’s response, we should avoid jumping in with reasons why our products meet their needs. There’s more benefit to be accrued.

Problem identification is the second element of SPIN. A potential buyer who is 100% satisfied with the way things are, will not feel the need to change. Only when that level of satisfaction drops to 99.99% is there a chance of a sale. What we need to do is establish where there may be a problem, and from that problem, comes a need. It may start small with minor snags in the product or process , then develop into clear dissatisfaction and finally to a want, desire or intention to act. In each of these stages the problem is amplified and the need increases. That is the objective of this stage, to ask questions to identify the problem and grow its perception to the action level. Problem identification is key. Without clear definition of the need, there is simply no need to buy.

The third element of SPIN is Implication.

There are two types of need: implied and explicit. In the first type we find more complaints. “Our current systems doesn’t do X” or “I’m not happy with our product failure rate” are examples. In implied needs there is a problem but no real identification of how it can be resolved. This is not an issue to the SPIN seller. Indeed, developing implied needs is the key to breaking down 100% satisfaction, and identifying the chink in the armour which our product or service can resolve. We need implication questions. Implication questions increase the buyer’s perception of the problem’s seriousness. Implication questions tip the balance from the status quo toward the new problem-free scenario.

Rackham’s research suggests decision makers will respond favourably to a salesperson who uncovers implications. In essence, we are helping them see beyond the now and into the better future. But there is a negative side. Sellers who raise too many implications can make the buyer feel negative and depressed. If we make problems greater, we need to give a way out and that’s the fourth element of SPIN: Need-Payoff.

Need-Payoff. With implication things are a bit open ended. On the other hand explicit needs are more defined. “We need a faster system”, “We must have back-up capability”. These are explicit needs and point us, the seller, and the buyer in the same direction to problem resolution and sale. It’s in this area Rackham suggests that a great salesperson excels. When they hear implied needs they take notice and make the intangible tangible. They turn implied into explicit.

Basically, need-payoff questions build up the value or usefulness of the solution. Need-payoff questions focus the buyer on problems and solutions not problems and difficulties. Good need questions induce the buyer into personalising the benefits of the solution and with personalisation comes adoption. By asking the buyer to verbalise their thoughts we are effectively placing them as the “expert”…and everyone likes being considered an expert! This again, covertly moves the buyer to a positive decision, after all it was their idea – wasn’t it?

Rackham reminds us however, that for large sales many discussions on the viability of our product or service takes place without us being there. By focussing on needs when present, we align discussion to the buyer’s lens – their needs and their business – rather than to our product which perpetuates the need when we are not present.

Stage 3: Demonstrating capability.

In many sales transactions capability is demonstrated by informing the buyer of the features and advantages of the product or service. Better however – according to Rackham – to focus on benefits. So what is the difference? Features describe facts, data and product characteristics. They are merely statements, maybe of use in a small sale but effectively neutral in larger sales. Advantages show how products or services (or their features) can help the customer. These bring some positivity — but more so in small sales than larger. Benefits however, show how products or services meet explicit needs as expressed by the customer.

A major barrier that may remain at this stage of the sales transaction are objections. If we do encounter them then we’ve performed poorly in the earlier stages. Rackham says, rather than skilling up on objection handling – which is a regular focus of other sales training programmes – we should focus on objection prevention. Back to Need-payoff questions. Most objections are to solutions which don’t fit needs. The cure is simple, don’t talk about solutions until enough questions have been asked on needs. If objections are with costs then again there is a weakness in needs alignment. If the solution fully addresses a need, and that need is critically perceived by the buyer, money will be lees of an issue.

So the crux of demonstrating capability is to ensure the buyer embraces the advantages and visualises their use within their organisation. Again its personalisation – putting your solution in the center of your buyer’s vision.

Stage 4: Obtaining Commitment.

The journey is nearly over. We have three more activities to carry out. The first is to check that we’ve covered key concerns. In larger sales both the product and customer needs are likely to be complex. As a result, there may be areas of confusion or doubt in the buyer’s mind as commitment nears. Successful sellers take the initiative and ask the buyer whether there are any further points that need to be addressed. If none, then purchase is one step closer.

The next step is to summarise the benefits. It’s unlikely that the buyer has a clear picture of everything that has been discussed. Successful salespeople pull the threads together by summarizing key points of the discussion before moving to commitment. Finally, we need to propose a commitment. Don’t ask for an order. That is not proposing a commitment. It’s not what successful sales people do.

Successful sales people advance a sale. As a result of the commitment the sale will move forward in some way. (Remember the multiple conversations?). The commitment is the highest realistic pledge they are able to give. Successful sellers don’t push beyond this point. If an order is the commitment – well done – however one step closer is better than nothing.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘The Relationship Edge’ by Jerry Acuff

The Relationship Edge is a reminder that business always has, and always will be, about building relationships.

In this summary, we’ll learn what a valuable business relationship actually is, and how you can go about building them.

The payoff for following the principles you’ll learn in this summary and book are huge. Most importantly, you’ll have a systematic way to engage with people with whom you don’t naturally connect – people you meed for the first time, people you don’t know well, and people you haven’t connected with in a very long time.

What is a valuable business relationship?

Of course, it’s not enough to just build a relationship, because everybody . What we are talking about here are valuable business relationships.

The most valuable relationships, Acuff tells us, have lots of AIR – Access, Impact, and Results.

Access is exactly what you think it is. People will take your calls, answer your emails, and believe that any time with you is time well spent.

Impact means that you have you have an opportunity to influence the relationship in a positive manner, and vice versa.

Last but definitely not least, there’s results. Without it, you don’t have a great business relationship, you have some rapport or maybe a even a friendship. But not a successful business relationship.

When we have a valuable business relationship, people are proactively doing things to help each other succeed. It seems simple, but like in any pursuit, if you don’t focus on and master the basics, you’ll never succeed.

So that’s what a valuable relationship looks like, but that doesn’t tell us how to build them.

Building them includes mastering a conscious, systematic and routine process – having the right mindset, asking the right questions, and doing the right thing.

Of course, the process of building a relationship doesn’t happen overnight, and it will typically progress through six stages that Acuff calls the relationship pyramid.

The relationship pyramid

Here are the six stages, starting from the bottom of the pyramid and ending at the top:

  1. People who don’t know you by name;
  2. People who know you by name:
  3. People who like you;
  4. People who are friendly with you;
  5. People who respect you;
  6. People who value a relationship with you. This last step is your goal with any relationship you want to build to the highest level.

In any relationship you have you’ll probably recognise it at one of those stages. Before we move on to discuss how we can start moving up the pyramid, there are a few points to keep in mind.

First, movement up the pyramid doesn’t have to be sequential. You can’t skip any of the steps, but you can jump through multiple steps at once.

Second, it is a lot easier to move down the pyramid than going back up. Trust is a big issue in relationships, and once it’s gone, it’s tough to get back. So remember to continuously nurture the relationships that already have at the top of the pyramid.

Lastly, this process won’t work on everyone. Sometimes people just won’t want to have a relationship with you, no matter how hard you try. You need to learn to identify those situations, and move on when it it’s clear that you are up against a dead end.

Now let’s move on to the tools you can use in building a valuable business relationship.

Having the right mindset

Think well of yourself

As Acuff says in the book, to build any successful relationship, you must think well of yourself. If you can’t see yourself having a relationship with a high powered executive, you can’t have a relationship with a high powered executive.

Without the belief that you are capable of building relationships with the people you want to business relationships with, you won’t get very far.

Once we’ve got over that hurdle, we can move on to…

Think well of others

Zig Ziglar has a quote that is often repeated, and it’s worth repeating again here:

You can get everything you want in life if you simply help enough other people get what they want.

In order to do that, you need to have a genuine desire to help other people. If you don’t, the entire process of continuing to build relationships is going to burn you out, quickly.

Why? Because as Acuff says, relationships are built over time, and time is one of the most important elements of relationship building. Spending time with people is just part of the deal. The more time, the better.

Things that will make this better and easier for you when you spend time with people include:

  • having a natural curiosity about others;
  • focussing on others instead of yourself;
  • appreciating and understanding the other person’s points of view;
  • having a desire to make people feel important;
  • listening to other people because you want to hear.

For some people this just comes naturally. But it can also be taught. In the next section we are going to talk about asking the right questions, which will help you uncover information from people that will help you make a stronger connection with them, which will help you think better of them, which will make you want to spend more time with them, which will ultimately end with you building the relationship you want to build.

It all starts with…

Asking the right questions

The best way to make connections with people you are building relationships with is to find out what they treasure. As Acuff points out, if you know what and who people treasure, and you act on that information to show you know you care – they are much more likely to tell you want they need professionally.

The best way to find out what people treasure is to ask them questions. Lots of them.

Asking the right questions

Acuff lists out 20 questions you can use to get the ball rolling with anybody you meet:

  1. What do you do when you are not working?
  2. Where did you go to school (and how did you choose it)?
  3. Where did you grow up and what was it like growing up there?
  4. What was your high school like?
  5. What do you enjoy reading when you have the time?
  6. How did you decide to do [whatever it is they do for a living] for a living?
  7. Tell me something about your family.
  8. Where is your favourite place to vacation?
  9. What kind of vacation would you like to take that you have not taken?
  10. What community associations, if any, do you have time to be involved in?
  11. What sports, if any, do you enjoy participating in?
  12. What sports do you enjoy watching?
  13. If you could have tickets for any event, what would it be?
  14. How did you decide to settle in this area?
  15. Tell me something about yourself that would surprise me?
  16. What things would you really want to do more of, but don’t have time for?
  17. What challenges/issues in your work might I, or my company, be able to help you with?
  18. What is the most frustrating thing about being in your business these days?
  19. In your opinion, what two or three qualities make a top-notch [insert your job role here]?
  20. If all work paid the same and you could go around again, what would you do?

Of course, these are just some of the questions you can ask the people you meet.

If you want to create more questions, or make it easier to remember those 20, remember the acronym FORM. It stands for family, occupation, recreation, and motivation (as in what motivates them in life). Asking questions about those things will always get you to uncover the things that they treasure.

Asking these questions right

Once you have the right questions to ask, you need to make sure you ask them right.

There are two things you need to do in order to expect the questions to uncover anything of substance.

First, you need to create an atmosphere of comfort and safety. People will often feel more safe if you are open and share with them as well. For instance, after you ask somebody where they are from and they answer, you can respond by telling them where you are from and something about why you moved there.

Another technique for making people feel comfortable is to ask their permission to ask a question. For instance, you might say something like the following:

“Before I talk about my product, I thought it might make sense for me to ask you a different kind of question. Do you mind if I ask what you enjoy reading when you have the time?”

As Acuff points out, almost nobody will answer “no” to the permission question, giving you the ability to continue asking personal questions and building the relationship on a personal level.

The second thing you need to do is ask good questions. A good question doesn’t suggest an answer, and invites the person to answer openly and honestly.

When you transition from personal to business questions, the best questions are the one that gets your prospect to think differently about an issue than they did before.

Doing the right thing

As Acuff points out, relationships aren’t built on your mind-set or the information you gather, they are built on your actions. Ultimately, you don’t build them on what you say, but on what you do and how you do it.

One way to show that you value a relationship is to give inexpensive, unexpected and thoughtful gifts based on information they have shared with you. Let’s say that somebody told you that they really enjoy a particular author’s work. And let’s say that you happen to be at a conference where that author is presenting. You might suck it up and stand in line to get an autographed copy of the book to send to them.

But as Acuff points out, gifts like golf balls, pens or coffee mugs with your logo on them don’t count. Neither do things like dinner or taking somebody out golfing. Those things don’t show any special thought or care for the person you trying to get closer to – those are expected on thoughtless gifts.

Other things you can do to show you care about them is remembering important dates like their birthday or wedding anniversary, important family names, or special interests the person might have.

Being alert for when something relating to those things pops up, and acting on it in a timely manner, will go a long way in building the relationship.

Another thing that most people value highly in a business relationship context is access to people they view as important. So if you know somebody that the other person respects and looks up to, find a way to connect them to that person.

You can also remain alert to major events in their lives. Things like a marriage, promotion, or a negative event like a serious illness or business downturn stand out here. When it comes to the negative major events, most people turn away. If you are genuinely trying to build a real relationship with these people, being there for them in good times and bad are opportunities to bring you even closer.

Pyramid Hopping

Building relationships takes time and work. But sometimes there’s a path to accelerate the process, and it’s called pyramid hopping.

This is when you actively pursue contacts by leveraging the relationships you have with people on your Relationship Pyramid.

The higher you are on someone’s Pyramid, the stronger the endorsement you are likely to get when her or she introduces you to the person you are trying to connect with.

As Acuff says, it’s the difference between “I don’t know him very well, but I’ve been in some meetings with him and it seems like you two might have something in common” and “You need to meet Jerry because he can help you.”

Just like everything else to do with relationships, it works better if you have a strategy. The heart of the strategy involves three steps.

First, you need to uncover who has you at the top of their pyramid. You should have a pretty good sense of this already. But to be clear, it doesn’t include every one of your 500+ LinkedIn connections.

Second, you need to uncover who is at the top of those people’s pyramids. Those are the people you’ll most likely get a strong introduction to. This typically requires asking them specifically who they know in a particular field that you want an introduction to.

Third, when you ask for the introduction, you need to be as specific as possible about what you are asking for. The more specific you make your request, the more likely it is that you’ll get the introduction you are looking for.

Conclusion

As we continue to dive deeper into technology and tools designed to help us create connections with people, it’s easy to forget that we still need to build real relationships with people based on principles that work.

Building and maintaining meaningful relationships has always been, and always will be, critical to your success in business or your career.

So, as we wrap up today, think about one specific action you can take to climb your way to the top of the relationship pyramid with just one of your contacts. Do that, and then keep doing that every single day for the rest of your life.

Eventually, you’ll get to exactly where you want to go.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’​ by Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl was a remarkable man.

He was a prisoner in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany during WWII and lost his wife, father, mother and brother there.

Yet through all of the horrors he witnessed and the physical and mental suffering he endured, he was able to survive because of what he calls “the will to meaning.”

In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, Frankl recounts his experiences there and how we was able to use his theories – called logotherapy – to stay alive when most people were not.

In this summary, we’ll start off with a summary of his theories and then move on to how he was able to apply them during his time at Auschwitz and later at Dachau.

It’s one of the more powerful books I’ve ever read and I hope it has as big of an impact on you as it had on me.

Let’s get started.

Logotherapy

Logotherapy is considered the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy”, along with Freud’s psychoanalysis and Adler’s individual psychology.

At the core of his theories is the idea of will to meaning, compared to Freud who focuses on the will to pleasure and Adler who focuses on the will to power.

Essentially, the idea is that striving to find personal meaning in life is the most motivating and driving force in a person’s life.

“Logos” is the Greek word for meaning and so logotherapy involves helping a patient find personal meaning in their life.

Basic Principles

There are three basic principles of logotherapy:

  • Freedom of Will: Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
  • Will to Meaning: Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
  • Meaning of Life: We have freedom to find meaning in what we do and what we experience, or at least in the stance we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

Ways of Finding Meaning

According to Frankl, people discover meaning in life in three different ways:

  • Work: by creating a work or accomplishing a task.
  • Love: by experiencing something in life or encountering someone, through the quality of love.
  • Attitude: by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering” and that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.

Frankl gives an example in the book that illustrates his point perfectly:

“”Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now how could I help him? What should I tell him?

I refrained from telling him anything, but instead confronted him with a question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first and your wife would have had to survive without you?:”

“Oh,” he said, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!”

Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving and mourning her.”

He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left the office.””

Now let’s move on to discuss how Frankl applied his own theories to survive the brutal suffering inflicted upon him in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

Suffering and The Human Body

One of the things that struck me most about Frankl’s retelling of his experiences is his reflection on how tough and adaptable the human body actually is.

Upon entering the concentration camps, the prisoners were stripped of almost everything they held onto in their previous lives immediately.

Most of the people who had arrived at the camps did not make it past the first day. Those who looked sick or unfit for work were sent directly to the gas chambers.

Those who survived the first round of selections were about to find out what the human body and mind were capable of.

They were separated from their families, stripped and shaved from head to toe and any possessions they brought with them were taken from them. Then they were given a number which they had tattooed on their body.

Once they were in the camps they started to learn that much of what they thought they knew about the human body was not correct.

Here, Frankl recounts some of the punishment they had to endure:

“We were unable to clean our teeth, and yet, in spite of that and a severe vitamin deficiency, we had healthier gums than ever before. We had to wear the same shirts for half a year, until they had lost all appearance of being shirts. For days we were unable to wash, even partially, because of frozen water pipes and yet the sores and abrasions on hands which were dirty from work in the soil did not suppurate (that is, unless there was frostbite).”

Frankl goes on to recount that they were forced to live on very little sleep, very little food (a piece of bread and small portions of watery soup were all they got to eat), and work insanely hard day after day, week after week and for those who were able to find meaning in this unimaginable suffering, year after year.

Not to mention the mental suffering that was inflicted upon them. They walked around knowing that if they started to let their physical suffering show, they would be taken to the gas chamber to be put out of their misery. They knew that because they saw it happen daily.

(As a side note, it’s impossible to describe in a summary the full extent of the physical and mental horrors the prisoners would have endured. Find a book or do some research online to fully comprehend their experience.)

And yet, somehow, many of the people in the camps lived to discuss the experience. How? Why?

Frankl found that those that survived the experience somehow used the power of their minds to find meaning in the experience. If they held on to that, no matter how harsh and brutal the experience became, they could survive.

He tells a powerful story of how they knew that somebody had given up the will to live, and how they knew that, in quick order, that person would die.

If you were an exemplary worker, you would sometimes be given a reward of cigarettes. The cigarettes became a form of currency in the camps. You could trade in your cigarettes for extra servings of soup or bread and so, if you still had the will to live, that’s what you would do. A little extra calories went a long way in making you stronger and more fit for work, and thus, helping you stay alive.

Those who had given up would smoke their cigarettes and so, they knew that when they saw a fellow prisoner smoking, it wouldn’t be long before they were gone.

What allowed Frankl and many other prisoners survive was the will to live.

Let’s move on to cover the three different meanings of logotherapy and how Frankl used them all to survive.

Work

One of the things that Frankl did during his time in the concentration camps was to rewrite a manuscript that was confiscated from him upon his entry.

Of course, this was no easy task. He mostly had to keep his ideas alive in his head because there was no way the Nazi’s would allow him to rewrite it in full. The would simply confiscate it again and likely put him to death.

He was able to write portions of it out on scraps of paper he kept hidden and often imagined himself giving lectures about logotherapy and how he used those principles to survive the camps.

Thus, even though his current circumstances didn’t offer him any hope of ever seeing beyond the barbed wire fences surrounding the camp, he found true meaning in the suffering he endured. He knew that logotherapy would have the ability to help thousands or even millions of people around the world overcome challenges in their lives and he needed to survive to tell his story.

Love

One day, as Frankl was marching along with his fellow prisoners to their work site for the day, the person beside him whispered in his ear:

“If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That led Frankl to think of his own wife and also to contemplate that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire.

In the book he says the following:

“Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: the salvation of man is through love and in love. I understand how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.”

Love, for Frankl, was the ultimate antidote to pain. We’ll explore in the next section the idea that, no matter how harsh our circumstances, we have the ability to choose our response to it. Responding to punishment with thoughts of love was for him the ultimate coat of armour.

Keep in mind that it wasn’t the hope that his wife was alive that kept him going – it was recalling the love he felt for her.

He explains:

“I did not know whether my wife was alive and I had no means of finding out (during all my prison life there was no outgoing or incoming mail); but at that moment it ceased to matter. There was no need for me to know; nothing could touch the strength of my love, my thoughts, and the image of my beloved. Had I known then that my wife was dead, I think that I would still have given myself, undisturbed by that knowledge, to the contemplation of her image and that my mental conversation with her would have been just as vivid and just as satisfying.”

Our Attitude Towards Suffering

Let’s start this section with a quote from the book:

“If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.”

To put it simply, one day you will die and along the way you are likely to suffer quite a bit.

While none of us will probably endure the intensity of suffering that the poor souls in the Nazi concentration camps had to endure, we will all have periods of suffering in one form or another.

As Frankl tells us, in these moments we are faced with a choice. Suffering can either be a meaningful experience in our life, or we can let it turn into a bitter fight for self-preservation, forgetting our human dignity and becoming nothing more than an animal.

So what does it mean to “suffer well?”

Suffering well is an inner triumph. It was clear to every prisoner that life as they knew it was over. They were simply going to be worked to death in those camps, one way or another.

There was going to be no outward reward for “doing the right thing” for fellow prisoners. In fact, the only outward rewards were reserved for men who turned themselves into animals.

Those who were willing to beat their fellow prisoners were promoted to guards, which came along with larger food rations, more comfortable sleeping quarters and less demanding work.

However, that didn’t stop some of the prisoners from choosing to suffer well. Frankl tells stories of some prisoners walking around comforting the other prisoners, sometimes giving the weakest among them their last pieces of bread.

Their response to their own suffering, and how they found meaning in that suffering, was to find ways to alleviate the suffering of others, even if it was just for a moment.

Which means that, even in the darkest of our experiences, we have a choice in how to respond

Hope you enjoyed this summary. As always leave me a comment if you did.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing/ business prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. I will cover all start up costs for the right person. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘The Leadership Gap’ by Lolly Daskal

Lolly Daskal has seen it all in her years as an executive coach. She’s spent countless hours in boardrooms, executive suites and corporate jets. She’s helped leaders navigate both success and failure.

Through her work she has identified the one thing that separates the best from the rest – great leaders have the ability to rethink who they are. Many leaders get stuck because they rely on what has worked for them in the past, even when it is no longer working. Great leaders, on the other hand, are open to learning and growing to better serve the people they lead.

In her book The Leadership Gap, she introduces us to a system of seven archetypes that will help view yourself objectively so that you can identify the gaps you face as you work towards greatness.

You’ll see parts of yourself in each of these archetypes. We shift between them depending on the situation.

But you’ll also recognise yourself in what Lolly describes as leadership gaps. These gaps sometimes lead us to the “shadow side” of our leadership archetypes, ultimately holding us back from becoming successful.

Once you are able to see yourself objectively, you can start to create a path forward. That’s exactly what we’ll explore as we introduce you to each of the seven archetypes.

The Rebel

The Rebel is somebody who sees something that isn’t right in the world, and then does everything in his power to correct it. In a business context, you’ll notice them overcoming huge roadblocks to save project, or in extreme cases, a company.

When we think of rebels, we think of people like Rosa Parks and Elon Musk. They seem to ask themselves, “how can I push the envelope?” in every situation.

The rebel’s strength is self-confidence, backed up by competence. As Lolly points out, confidence alone is not sufficient. You need both in order to become great as a rebel leader.

The rebel’s leadership gap is self-doubt – in most cases, the irrational kind. Almost every high achiever faces some degree of self-doubt. After all, they are trying to do what other people would not, or could not, do.

When self-doubt creeps in, it leads to the leadership gap archetype called The Imposter. It’s the never-ending sense that somehow you will be “found out.” It’s the need for perfection, when you know that perfection is impossible. It’s comparing yourself to others, when you know that there’s always somebody better, faster and stronger.

Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to overcome this gap and find your inner rebel when you need it most.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  2. Remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfect.
  3. Make a list of your accomplishments to remind yourself that you are indeed capable of great things.
  4. Create an inner circle for support.
  5. Assess your skills and work on strengthening the skills that cause you to doubt yourself.
  6. Constantly remind yourself of the cause you are working towards. Self-doubt has a habit of disappearing in the face of a worthy cause.

The Explorer

The Explorer is somebody who knows when to rely on their analytical mind, but also when to rely on their intuition. In particular, they use their intuition to test the boundaries of what is known, and how things are currently done.

When we think of explorers, we think of people like Jeff Bezos, Sarah Blakely and Neil deGrasse Tyson. They seem to be always asking themselves, “what can I discover?”

The explorer’s strength is intuition. Intuition is knowledge based on experience, stored deeply in your brain, and available quickly on demand. Most people commonly refer to this as listening to their gut, but as Lolly explains, it’s a little more complicated than that.

The explorer’s leadership gap is manipulation. When people trust your intuition as a leader to guide them, it’s a slippery slope to use it to get whatever you want. Sometimes this leads to using intuition to manipulate others to gain their control.

When this happens, we end up with leadership gap archetype called The Exploiter. They will set themselves up as the expert in a situation even when they are not. They will withhold information from others, and they will often make threats to get what they want.

When you find yourself slipping from the Explorer to the Exploiter, there are a number of things you can remind yourself of to get you back on track:

  1. Look for opportunities to praise instead of prey. Don’t take advantage of other people’s weaknesses.
  2. Don’t make others give up something in order to serve your own self-interest.
  3. Mean what you say and say what you mean. The Exploiter will often say things other people want to hear, but aren’t quite true.
  4. Leverage your qualities as an Explorer – the power of self-assurance, the ability of persuasion, the capacity for decisiveness, and the quintessence of preparedness.

The Truth Teller

The Truth Teller is somebody who believes he owes it to the people in his life to be honest, open and sincere at all times. He will the tell truth when it serves others, even when he runs the risk of offending people.

When we think of truth tellers, we think of people like Ronald Reagan, Indra Nooyi, and Winston Churchill. They seem to be always asking themselves, “where should I speak up?”

The truth teller’s strength is candor, which one of the hardest things we can do. A research study at the University of Massachusetts showed that 60 percent of adults can’t complete a ten-minute conversation without lying at least once. So, somebody who can speak the truth in all areas of their life is a rare bird indeed.

The truth teller’s leadership gap is suspicion. Truth tellers can easily succumb to the suspicion that those around them aren’t telling the truth. Then, little by little, it becomes easier to justify not telling the complete truth yourself.

Ultimately this path leads to the leadership gap archetype of The Deceiver. Deceivers are remarkably charming (it’s easier to be charming when you’re not restricted to the truth), they are emotionally manipulative, and wonderful at distraction. They are also notorious blamers and never take accountability for their actions.

If you find yourself identifying as a deceiver, here are some ways to get yourself back on track:

  1. Learn to be flexible. Deceivers tend to see the world in black and white.
  2. Communicate everything – the path to the deceiver often starts with withholding information, not outright lies.
  3. Look for solutions, not blame. When you create a culture where solutions are rewarded and mistakes aren’t punished, the truth can be told by everybody – including you.
  4. Model your own high standards – don’t tolerate liars and cheats.

The Hero

The Hero is somebody who takes action while others sit on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to step up. They act in spite of overwhelming odds and opposition. They are willing to put their careers (and sometimes lives) on the line for a shot at greatness.

When we think of heroes, we think of people like Justice Anthony Kennedy, Malala Yousafzai, and J.K. Rowling. People like this seem to always be asking themselves, “where is courage needed?”

The hero’s strength is courage. Science doesn’t yet understand why people take on heroic tasks, but we do know that it’s an activity that has distinct characteristics. It is performed in service of others in need, voluntarily, with the recognition of the risks, and without expectation of external gain.

The hero’s leadership gap shouldn’t surprise us – it’s fear. A hero in one situation can be paralysed by fear in another. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “fear defeats more people than anything in the world.”

Fear can lead to the leadership gap archetype of The Bystander. Why? It’s easier to watch things unfold rather than take action. What you don’t realise is that when you are a bystander to an injustice, you make it easier to rationalise being a bystander as well. It’s contagious, and it’s destructive.

If you find yourself tempted to be a bystander in a situation that calls for action, you can close the gap by doing the following:

  1. Create a bias for decisive action. As Susan Jeffers says, feel the fear and do it anyways.
  2. Stand tall, literally. Researchers at Harvard and Columbia Universities have shown that practicing the “power pose” for a few minutes increases testosterone and lowers cortisol, making it more likely you’ll take action.
  3. Remind yourself that you are in control. You ultimately decide whether or not you take action

The Inventor

The Inventor is a visionary, constantly inventing new products, or improving existing ones. An inventor typically refuses to settle for anything else than excellence. They are experimenters, knowing that small bets pay off in big wins. They are also willing to fail in order to pursue those wins.

When we think of inventors, we think about people like Walt Disney, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Blake Mycoskie. They seem to be always asking the question “how can we make this better?”

The inventor’s strength is integrity. As Lolly says, in order to have integrity you need to know who you are, you need to know what you stand for, and you have to know what your code of conduct is. When an inventor has integrity, there is no stopping him.

The inventor’s leadership gap is corruption. Every single day you’ll face opportunities to let your integrity slide. The seven deadly sins – wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony are good places to start.

Once your integrity starts to slip, you are on your way to becoming the leadership gap archetype The Destroyer. Instead of making the world better with their ideas, product and companies, they serve their own purposes and make things worse.

Here’s what to do to close the gap if you find yourself tempted to let your integrity slip:

  1. 1. Look for the good, not the bad. A destroyer tends to focus on the negative in any situation, which makes it harder to stick to your code of conduct.
  2. Set high personal standards, and avoid the temptation to cut corners, even when others aren’t looking.
  3. Get to know yourself. Integrity is created and maintained through constant self-examination.
  4. Honour your commitments.
  5. Take responsibility when you fall short on your commitments.

The Navigator

Navigators know where to go, and they know how to bring people with them. They have a way of making the complicated simple, and the simple understandable. Even more importantly, they know how to navigate themselves.

When we think of navigators, we think of people like Michael Bloomberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Nassim Nicholas Taleb. They seem to be always asking “how can we get to where we need to go?”

The navigator’s strength is trust. They trust in their own ability to lead, and they also know how to build trust in those around them. Trust allows people to open up without the fear of being hurt. To take the appropriate risks without the fear of reprimand.

The navigator’s leadership gap is arrogance. When you have a high level of trust in your ability to navigate an organisation towards success, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you know it all. “I’ll just tell people what to do and they’ll do it” is something you might find a person like that saying.

This path ends up with the leadership archetype of The Fixer. As Lolly says, a fixer is a navigator that nobody trusts. The fixer feels the need to help save people from themselves instead of leading them. They micromanage.

Here’s what you can do to close the gap if you find yourself slipping into the fixer role:

  1. Learn to fix the fixer – start with fixing yourself.
  2. Be mindful of boundaries – don’t let yourself get swallowed up in other people’s challenges. Give them the opportunity to fend for themselves.
  3. Pay attention to communication, commitment, competence and character.
  4. Demonstrate trust by honouring, admiring, and appreciating those around you.

The Knight

The Knight is a loyal protector and defender with unwavering beliefs. Knights will stand beside you and serve you before they serve themselves.

When we think of knights we think of people like Mother Teresa, Herb Kelleher and Jill Abramson. They always seem to be asking themselves “how can I serve you?”

The knight’s strength is loyalty. Loyalty expert James Kane tells us that there are three specific things that determine whether or not we feel a sense of loyalty to another person, brand or organisation: (1) a sense of trust, (2) a sense of belonging, and (3) a sense of purpose. A knight taps into all three.

The knight’s leadership gap is self-serving. As human beings, we have a bias to serve ourselves first. One of the manifestations of that is to rationalise that what’s good for you is also good for others.

This often leads to the leadership gap archetype of The Mercenary. They have a lack of dedication to the cause, inadequate loyalty, and usually a shortage of competence.

Here are some ways you can get back on the path of the knight:

  1. Realise that thinking about serving others first is what ultimately leads to the highest levels of success.
  2. Pay attention to how people respond to you.
  3. Put yourself in other people’s shoes.
  4. Get to know the people around you – it’s easier to serve people you connect with.
  5. Be honest with yourself. You can’t expect loyalty from others if you don’t model it yourself.

Conclusion

Being a leader is tough, and you will almost always find yourself in times of darkness. But as Desmond Tutu once said, “hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

In those situations, you now have the tools to choose the light over the darkness by choosing the leadership archetype that the situation demands.

The rebel, explorer, truth teller, hero, inventor, navigator and knight are all inside you.

Make your choice, and make it a good one.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘10% Happier’​ by Dan Harris

Dan Harris originally wanted to title this book The Voice In My Head Is an A-hole.

Throughout his career as a journalist and reporter, he – along with most of us – found that the voice in his head started as soon as he opened his eyes in the morning and then, pretty much all day long, it heckles us with thoughts of the past and the future, much to the detriment of whatever we are doing in the present.

Though he didn’t find the path to enlightenment, he did find that a number of things he did – when done together – made him about 10% happier.

Where does 10% come from? Basically, what you are about to learn made Harris a much happier and more productive person, but he didn’t have a transformational experience that led him to a state of 100% bliss. So, finally, to explain why he now spends so much time focussing on mindfulness and practicing meditation, he says it’s because it makes him 10% happier. A totally unscientific number, but one that completely explains why he does what he does.

If you can quiet the voice in your head for the next 10 minutes, join me on a journey towards becoming 10% happier in everything you do.

The Voice in Your Head

One of the defining moments in Dan Harris’ career was when he had an on-screen meltdown. After years of nailing his on-screen time at ABC, he had a full-blown panic attack in front of millions of people.

It was the culmination of years of stress caused by the endless chatter in his mind. How many stories did he have on the air that week? What was the state of his relationship with his boss (the legendary Peter Jennings) right now? What else did he have coming up that might catapult him ahead of the other people vying for the plum jobs that were soon to open up?

That was his first step on the path to discovery. That in order to prevent that from happening again – which would surely be the end of his on-air career – he would have to find a way to quiet the voice is in his head.

He started to read books that he never would have even glanced at before, like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. He was intrigued enough about the ideas in the book that he tracked Tolle down for an interview.

The problem, Tolle said, is our ego. The ego is our inner narrator and it is never satisfied. No matter how many creature comforts we accumulate, how many gourmet meals we consume, or how many rungs we climb on the career ladder, it always wants more.

One of the biggest problems our ego presents is that it is a comparison machine. It is always comparing itself to others. That explains why we are always measuring ourselves agains the looks, wealth and social status of others.

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, it does all of that while thinking about the past and the future. As Tolle points out, we “live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation.”

Which is a real problem, because the only time that we ever have, in the literal sense, is now.

The biggest insight that Harris pulled from his time researching people like Tolle and scientists doing rigorous research on the human mind, was that your brain can be trained.

Happiness, therefore, is a skill.

Mindfulness

Once you get on the path to finding happiness, you almost always find your way back to the idea of mindfulness and thus, the precepts and ideas of Buddhism.

According to Buddha, we have three natural responses to everything we experience in our lives – we want it, we reject it, or we zone out.

Butter tarts – a fine Canadian dessert hard to find south of the border? Want it. Flies in the house because somebody left the front door open? Reject it. The latest celebrity gossip? I zone out.

Everybody has their own ways of reacting to things, but they all find themselves neatly into one of those three buckets.

However, there’s a fourth option beyond judging an experience that is even more helpful – mindfulness. Here’s a formula that one of the mindfulness teachers taught Harris, neatly tied together by the acronym RAIN: Recognise, Allow, Investigate, Non-Identification.

To walk through this process and see how it works, let’s pretend that you’ve just had a stressful experience, like getting turned down for an important promotion at work.

R: Recognise

The first step would be to admit that you’ve just had a stressful experience and you are in the midst of all of the emotions that come along with it.

A: Allow

The next step is to “lean in” to the experience. The goal with mindfulness isn’t to detach ourselves from the world, but to be fully present to it. Don’t resist the experience or emotions you are feeling. Let them happen.

I: Investigate

In this step we start to pay attention to how the experience is affecting us, in the moment. Start by examining your body. Is your face flush? Is your head throbbing? Is your breathing short and shallow? Almost every emotion comes along with clear physical signs – your job is to get familiar with them.

N: Non-Identification

In this last stage we consciously bring to mind the fact that just because right now we are angry and jealous at being passed over, it doesn’t mean that we are angry and jealous people.

Once you’ve gone through the RAIN cycle of truly being present to your experiences and feelings, you can finally let it go and move on to experience whatever comes next – like getting back to work so that the next time a promotion comes up, you get it.

As Harris continued his journey of discovery, he started to go deeper and deeper into what helped him become a happier and more productive person.

He boiled what he learned into 10 principles he calls The Way of The Worrier.

The Way of The Worrier

TWOTW #1: Don’t Be a Jerk

One of the great things about Harris’ job is that he gets access to interview people that most of us would only dream of breathing the same air as.

One of the people on that list is the Dalai Lama and one of the biggest lessons he learned from him was that putting ourselves first was a natural human tendency.

As it turns out, the Dalai Lama taught Harris, practicing compassion towards others will actually make you a happier person. Scientists performing brain scans showed that acts of random kindness towards others registered more in the brain like eating chocolate than fulfilling an obligation.

So, don’t be a jerk. Not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it will make you happier.

TWOTW #2: (And/But . . .) When Necessary, Hide the Zen

The Sufi Muslims have a saying: “Praise Allah, but also tie your camel to the post.” In other words, while there are plenty of practical reasons to be nice to other people, don’t let the world walk all over you.

This is harder than it first might seem. Combining a true inner peace while still getting things done in a cutthroat environment takes practice.

TWOTW #3: Meditation

Meditation has been linked to a ridiculously long list of benefits and is now being used to treat major depression, drug addiction, binge eating, stress among cancer patients, and ADHD.

The easiest way to get yourself on the mediation path are to follow the instructions that Harris was given when he first started.

First, sit comfortably, ensuring that your spine is relatively straight.

Second, notice what you feel when your breath goes in and out. Focus on one spot like your nostrils or chest. If you find yourself getting distracted easily, use a mantra like “in” and “out.”

Finally, whenever your attention wanders (as it inevitably will) forgive yourself and bring it back. What you are essentially practicing is (a) noticing when you are not being present, and (b) brining your attention back to the here and now so that you can be present.

Even doing this for a few minutes a day will make a noticeable improvement in your life.

TWOTW #4. The Price of Security Is Insecurity—Until It’s Not Useful

Some things are worth worrying about, and some things are not. Harris tells us that separating them from one another is one of your key tasks as you start your journey to become 10% happier.

This is where he departs from the wisdom of some of the gurus he learned from, and where you might find solace in the fact that you don’t need to spend your life in a state of bliss in order to benefit from mindfulness and mediation.

When you find yourself worrying about something, stop and ask yourself this simple question: “Is this useful?”

For instance, in business you are wise to be worrying about how to generate more customers or lower your costs when you need to generate more profit. Worrying about things that aren’t important and you can’t influence are things that you can leave to the chumps.

TWOTW #5. Equanimity Is Not the Enemy of Creativity

The quest towards happiness will not make you a blissed out zombie. There’s a myth that all creative people find their biggest inspiration in melancholy.

There’s no current research on this one way or the other, but an equally strong case can be made that once you are freed from useless worrying, you can channel your creativity more often and more effectively.

It’s a lot easier to come up with creative solutions to problems when your head isn’t filled with worry and dread.

TWOTW #6: Don’t Force It

Somewhere on your journey you’ll find yourself finding time for purposeful pauses, and realise that not everything can be solved through constant, unrelenting pressure.

Just like you can’t open a jar when all of the muscles in your body are tense, you can’t solve every problem in your life through sheer force.

TWOTW #7: Humility Prevents Humiliation

When the voice in your head isn’t busy worrying you to death, it’s busy telling you how great you are.

This causes you to make just as many bad decisions as worrying about things you can’t control. As a leader, this can very easily get in your way of producing the results you want to achieve.

So whenever you find yourself thinking those types of thoughts, follow the RAIN process and let them flow right through you.

TWOTW #8: Go Easy With The Internal Cattle Prod

The third main job of the ego (beside worrying and telling you how great you are) is to beat you up with self-criticism.

Many people are driven by their inner cattle prod, thinking that it’s the only way to achieve greatness in their business and life.

However, Harris points out that the people training in self-compassion mediation are more likely to do things like stick to a diet and quite smoking. Why? They are much better at bouncing back from missteps.

A much better approach is to learn from your failures than beat yourself up with them.

TWOTW #9: Non-attachment to Results

Have you ever found that life doesn’t always work out the way you think it should?

This is about coming to the realisation that striving for results is fine, but that the final outcome is out of your control. Do everything you can to succeed and then be fine with letting the chips fall where they may.

This ensures that when you fail (as you inevitably will), you’ll be able to dust yourself off and get ready for the next round.

TWOTW #10: What Matters Most

This entire list becomes a lot easier when you are crystal clear on what you want in your business and life. Instead of just following your ego – which always just wants “more” – get your head straight on what’s most important to you.

What do you really want?

Hope you enjoyed this summary. As always leave me a comment if you did.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing/ business prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. I will cover all start up costs for the right person. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information


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