Book Summary of ‘When Millennials Take Over’ by Maddie Grant & Jamie Notter

About every 20 years, a new generation enters the workforce. And, often, people freak out. Today, it is the Millennial generation (born 1982 to 2004). Back in the 1990s, it was Generation X, with their disrespect for authority figures and cynicism. Before that, it was the Baby Boomers with their long hair, protests and self-focus.

This has been going on for generations and generations. Each new generation brings a shift in values, so every twenty years or so we have to adjust to the newest generation that takes over the workplace.

Millennials are revolutionising the way we view business. The social internet is powerful, but it was never going to revolutionise management on its own. And that’s where the Millennial steps in.

Over the next several years, Millennials will ascend into management positions. And with that will come change. This book is a guide for leaders who want to participate in the revolution, rather than be run over by it.

After some research, Grant & Notter discovered four organisational capacities that we think will prepare organisations to be successful:

Digital: Digital is about perpetual and exponential improvement of all facets of organisational life using both the tools and the mindsets of the digital world. Millennials are the first generation to have only worked in a digital workplace, and they are used to being able to leverage that power. Digital organisations grow faster and accomplish more by focusing on the user, both internally and externally.

Clear: Clear is about an increased and more intelligent flow of information and knowledge that supports innovation and problem solving within organisations. Clear in the Millennial era is about leveraging transparency in systems to allow better decision making. Clear organisations make smarter decisions that produce better results.

Fluid: Fluid is about increasing and distributing power in a dynamic and flexible way. Fluid in the Millennial era is about systems that enable an integrated process of thinking, acting and learning at all levels of the organisation. Fluid organisations serve customers more effectively and are more agile in strategy and execution.

Fast: Fast is about taking action at the exact moment that action is needed. Fast organisations jump ahead of the competition by releasing control in a way that does not increase risk.

We’re optimistic about this revolution and about the future of business. And optimism, not coincidentally, happens to be a key trait of Millennials.


To get a better understanding of the future of business, we’re going to take a look at the past. The hype and the oversimplifications that dominate the conversation about generations have prevented us from seeing the serious implications that generational differences have for business.

Historians William Strauss and Neil Howe are arguably the most credible authors when it comes to generations. They have discovered a pattern about the generation cycle. According to them, once every four generations (about 80 to 100 years), there has been a major war that marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. The first major transition was during the Revolutionary War in the 1770s, then four generations later the American Civil War, and then the Great Depression and World War II.

If you skip ahead 80 years from the Depression and World War II, it is right now. If the pattern is correct, we’re due for a significant transition from one era to the next.

In the last decade there has been a lot of evidence that suggests our machine approach to management may not be around for much longer. Not coincidentally, machines are not very good at engagement or agility. The Internet will certainly play a role in the shift, especially with how we run our organisations.

Millennials are not the first generation to be frustrated with bureaucracy and hierarchy, but they are the first generation to have been given tools to get around them. Growing up in the context of great abundance, Millennials have a hard time in a workplace where they are expected to follow orders, wait for others to make decisions, and do things the way they’ve always been done. Millennials want to do something different.


Digital is the first of the four capacities because in many ways it is the most obvious characteristic of the Millennial generation. You don’t have to be an online retailer to embrace what it means to be digital, it’s more about the digital mindset. It’s about organising and working in ways that leverage and build off of what digital technology has made possible in today’s world.

A big part of that is personal service. The digital mindset enables a personalised focus on each customer, something that was impossible in the previous eras. Organisations that embrace this mindset will put the customer first when it comes to decision making and provide as much customised attention as possible.

Digital companies are also constantly improving. Innovation is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. Companies that embrace the digital mindset can innovate business product offerings, business models and even internal management processes with a sharp focus on continuous improvement.

Being digital doesn’t mean you need the latest technology. That can be a part of it, but it mostly means putting the user first, serving the bulk of your customers, and continuously innovating and improving.

Truly digital companies integrate these principles into the framework of their organisation. They invest more in technology. They focus on internal culture. They enhance their digital collaboration.

To make your organisation digital, try to enable these principles. Create space for experiments. Let your employees try new things without fearing punishment. Guide your employees and give them better feedback. Hire for culture fit and personal growth. Revamp your HR department. Have them focus on using a hiring system that gets better candidates and reliable data around technical and collaborative skills.

Some of these may seem obvious, but that doesn’t make them easy. The digital mindset is about a relentless focus on the user (both external with customers and internal with employees), the ability to personalise their experiences, and continuous innovation – unlocking new value through learning and improvement.


There is an assumption in management that releasing too much information will lead to chaos, mistakes, misinterpretations, inefficiency and an overall lack of coordinated effort. This can be true. The solution is to control the information.

Sharing information doesn’t have to result in chaos. For example, let’s look at open-source software. By sharing the code and letting people change it, the software actually became more stable. Making it open allowed the right information to make its way into the right hands.

This is the core of clear: making more information available to more parts of the system to enable better and more strategic decision making, thus improving results. Clear organisations start with the assumption that information is and should be available. From there, they sharpen the focus to ensure that the correct information ends up in the correct place, relying on the power of an intelligent, decentralised system rather than central control.

Millennials are used to having all the information they could ever want at the tips of their fingertips. They have always had Google. In the workplace, they are frustrated by the lack of information flow. We’ve all felt it. It’s frustrating feeling like we have little power and are missing out on opportunities.

There is no one perfect way to make your organisation clear. Clear companies have a few things in common.

They work out loud. The internal work that gets done is never private; it is transparent and visible. When everything is visible, employees will make better decisions about how to get the work done, without requiring any actual layers of management.

They bring clients into their system. The clients are in on the transparency as well. They help make decisions and assist with project management. By creating a system where everything is more visible – to everyone – it becomes easier to come to decisions in a collaborative way, in which everyone’s relative expertise is accounted for in sharing the decision-making load.

To make your organisation clear, you must define your company culture. Here’s our definition of culture: the collection of words, actions, thoughts, and “stuff” that clarifies and reinforces what a company truly values. Most importantly, culture is the way people work together.

Share your data and be clear about who makes what decisions. Lack of clarity on these issues is often a huge inhibitor to good decisions. Give everyone access. Millennials know that, to do a good job, they should be able to find the information they need inside their organisations.


Fluidity takes a look at the structure of a management system. Hierarchies have their purpose. They are efficient and coordinated, and they provide a key benefit that we cannot live without: they reduce the cognitive load. However, maintaining distributed authority doesn’t necessarily require the vertical nature of traditional management hierarchy.

One alternative to a hierarchical pyramid is a circle. In this system, people are organised based on the work they do and their domains of expertise. There are separate processes to deal with operational tensions (working in the business) and governance tensions (working on the business). This does not make everyone equal. It makes it more fluid.

It is not the lack of hierarchy or uniformity of decision-making authority that makes an organisation fluid. It is the ability to shift and morph those things to accomplish more. A fluid hierarchy learns how to shift decision-making authority and action to the individuals and groups who are best equipped to be successful given the context.

You can shift the power to those who have best access to the information or those who are closest to the customer, rather than always relying on the senior managers who may not have context-specific perspective.

The essence of a fluid hierarchy is a refined understanding of how a group of people can most effectively get done what needs to be done. “Managers” are valuable, of course, but they may not always be the best person to make every decision. Look at all of your team members as equally valuable.

A few things characterise a fluid organisation. They create power flux. They balance their expertise. Some employees have an expertise with customers, some with numbers, and some with finance. Give different employees different authority based on their expertise. Fluid organisations communicate well and thoughtfully – which is key to making a fluid hierarchy work.

To be fluid, your organisation must find its true mission. It must think beyond the profit margin. And it must be proactive. You need to look deeply at your organisation and your business model to understand what drives success and clearly identify how being more fluid does or does not connect to that.

Fluid hierarchies are more dynamic and flexible, which puts the responsibility back on the people to do a better job. The ability to confront and work through conflict, without any drama, is crucial to making a fluid hierarchy work. When decision-making is more fluid, your employees will be forced to figure things out on their own, and that will require smooth handling of conflict when it emerges.

Another key aspect to a fluid hierarchy is authenticity. Authenticity is when your external behaviour and the way you engage with others is very closely aligned with your deeper identity, purpose or even destiny. Authenticity is important because when your employees are confident that their coworkers are consistent, it will become easier to speak the truth, challenge each other and tackle the tough issues.


Fast is about speed. New technology is being developed constantly, and it’s almost impossible to stay ahead of the curve. In the last century, we’ve dramatically increased productivity and efficiency, but there’s always room for improvement.

The most important type of speed is the kind of speed that enables you to leap ahead when the context demands it. This is evident in the speed of social media growth. It took 13 years for television to reach 50 million people. Contrarily, by year 13, Facebook already had 1.2 billion active users.

Millennials are used to fast. And when they show up in the workplace, they expect this kind of speed. Millennials let go easily, while the rest of us hold on, and because of this, they’re always looking to the future. In order to leap to the next level, you need to let go of control. Giving up control is hard to do, but it’s worth it to make things go faster.

There are a few things you can do to make your organisation fast. To begin, try to build real internal and external relationships. With genuine relationships, you will gain trust. And with trust, it’s easier to give up control and gain speed.

The previous three attributes will help with speed as well. If you invest in technology and build a digital mindset, that will generate speed. If you get information where it needs to go, that will enable speed. If you give power to those on the ground, your organisation will become faster.

Get Out There

Digital, Clear, Fluid and Fast are powerful by themselves. But they will be much more successful when they are connected to a strong community. The transition needs human community to work, so integrate a community focus in addition to the four capacitates we discussed.

Furthermore, a strong and powerful culture will attract both the best customers and the best employees. And it will help you join the revolution.

Hope you enjoyed this summary. I help SMEs around the world triple their leads and double their profits. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video and book some time or email me at to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘To Sell is Human’ by Dan Pink

Put that coffee down! Coffee is for closers only.

If you don’t recognise that line, it’s from one of the greatest movie scenes of all time – Alec Baldwin giving the branch office of a real estate sales firm a dressing down in Glengarry Glen Ross.

He goes on to tell them that ABC stands for Always Be Closing, and that third prize in the sales contest is “you’re fired.” Classic.

It used to be that sales were all about the closer. About getting the customer to sign on the dotted line and move on to next prospect, deal secured, back patted. What matter was figuring out what a person needed and “solving” their problem by convincing them that you had what THE thing that would make the issue go away.

That held true when information was controlled by a select few, when you had to rely on a salesperson to educate you about the virtues of a certain product and trust that they knew what they were talking about – and perhaps more importantly, that they were selling it to you at a fair price.

As technology made information more accessible and allowed people to research, browse and buy goods and services online, the role of the salesperson shifted to that of the problem finder. People may able to solve their own problems these days, but that only holds true if they are addressing the right problem.

In his book, To Sell Is Human, Dan Pink talks about the way selling now requires curating the massive amounts of information out there to find the most relevant and clarifying pieces. It’s part of a shift in the sales world from a culture of “Always Be Closing,” to Pink’s redefined ABCs, “Attunement, buoyancy and clarity.”

He sees selling as moving others and today we are going to explore how you can do the same.

A = Attunement

There are three keys to reaching attunement, which in its simplest form means bringing yourself into harmony with individuals, groups and contexts. It’s about looking at things from others’ perspective and making your actions and outlooks gel with those of others.

First, Pink says you must increase your power by reducing it. He argues that if you go into an interaction feeling like the person with the lower power, you are more likely to try to see things from the perspective of the person you are dealing with. That will actually help you get inside their heads and move them more easily.

Those who feel powerful tend to anchor too much on their own perspective, and often fail to adjust to others’ vantage point. They end up with a worse read of the situation in front of them.

Second, Pink says you must use your head as much as your heart. He talks about looking at a sales situation from the other person’s point of view as a cognitive exercise he calls perspective-taking. That’s different from empathy, which is an emotional response based on feeling. But he argues that both are crucially important.

He points to one study that simulated the sale of a gas station where the highest bidder was still paying less than the sellers wanted. But both parties had mutual interests that could help seal the deal. One group was asked to consider what the other side was feeling, while another was told to imagine what they were thinking. The last group was a control group, and had only generic instructions.

The emphasisers struck more deals than the control group, but the perspective-takers did even better: 76 per cent came up with deals that made everybody happy. They were able to draw what they needed from the situation and the needs of all involved to come to clear solution that left everyone feeling satisfied.

It’s just as important to read the way people in groups connect and interact with each other as it is to see a scenario form one person’s perspective. Pink calls this mental map of how people interact “social cartography,” and he says it’s a helpful tool to make sure you don’t miss out on a key player in the group – or waste your time pitching to the wrong person.

The third and last principle of attunement is a physical one: mimicking. You’ve probably heard a million times that you should subtly copy the other person’s mannerisms while at a job interview, but Pink takes it a step farther, as a means to connect with people and create a sense of trust.

It’s a skill you should use carefully – if people sense they are being mimicked they’ll just turn against you. But strategic mimicking of speech patterns, affective responses or overt behaviours can deepen attachment and help your ability to move others.

It creates a sense that you are in synch with other people and makes you feel like you are both on the same page.

Pink says that taken together, all these techniques will help become a better salesperson, all while developing stronger relationships with customers you’ll have a better understanding of.

B = Buoyancy

Buoyancy, or the way to stay afloat in an ocean of rejection, is one of the essential qualities to moving others.

He sees three components to buoyancy, which apply before during and after any effort to move others.**** The first is self-interrogative self-talk before you attempt the sale. Dozens of books have pushed the idea of the pep talk, arguing that if you pump yourself up before a big event you’ll get a confidence boost that will allow you to succeed. Anyone will tell you that such positive self-talk is better than the negative kind, and they are not wrong. But an even better option is interrogative self-talk, because asking yourself whether you can or can’t do something forces you to justify the ways in which you can.

That provides you with a deeper confidence because it makes you draw on examples of times when you did succeed in a similar situation and calls to mind the skills you know you possess and can use to tackle a challenge or problem. It may also bring to mind the intrinsic reasons why you are pursuing a goal, which will automatically make you more interested in achieving it than if you were just doing it solely because of external pressures.

The second component is positivity. Think of experiences in which you were planning to buy a product and the sales people were either kind or impatient, created positive or negative emotions. Were you not more likely to want to purchase something from the person you liked and who was kind to you rather than from the one who made you feel bullied?

Pink cites an experiment that divided participants into three groups. They were told they were planning a wedding. They had an agreement with a catering company that was going to charge them $14,000 for the food, but suddenly the vendor came back to them saying the price had gone up. In one scenario the vendor was friendly, in another antagonistic, in the third neutral. The study found that those who heard the positive-style pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal as those who heard the negative one, even though the terms were the same.

Positivity requires you to believe in what you are selling, but it comes with a little twist. Too much positivity is not actually a good thing. It can make you delusional and keep you from the learning and analysis that comes with negative feelings. Some negativity is essential to keep you centred and allow you to get feedback on your performance.

The last component comes after the fact, and it’s what Pink calls the explanatory style. It’s the story you tell yourself to make sense of the way things worked out. How you think about your day and how you explain the worst parts of it can go a long way to determining whether you stay afloat.

If you give up too easily, think all failures are your fault and feel helpless toward what you think is a permanent circumstance, you will have a lesser chance of success than if you see rejections as temporary, specific and external. The right mix of those two world views can make you a realistic optimist – one that sees good things, but with eyes wide open.

If you put these ideas into practice, rejection may still sting, but you’ll probably find it a little easier to rise above it.

C = Clarity

Pink argues that the capacity to help others see their situation in different, more revealing ways and to identity problems they didn’t realise they had – or clarity – is one of the most important skills the “new” salesman must have.

And one of the most useful tools salespeople (or anyone) has to provide clarity is called framing.

Pink tells the tale of Rosser Reeves, an American advertising executive who made a famous bet with a colleague. The two men saw a homeless man begging for change with a handwritten sign that read: “I am blind.” He wasn’t doing very well, and looked discouraged. Reeves told his friend he’d be able to dramatically increase the amount of money the man collected by adding four words to his sign. The bet was on, and after speaking to the man, Reeves altered the sign. He sat back and watched strangers stop to talk to the man and fill his cup.

The words he had added were “It is springtime and,” so that the sign now read: “It is springtime and I am blind.” What moved people to help the man was the contrast those four words created. That contrast provided clarity to people who were now able to compare their reality with that of the man, and feel empathy.

It is why one of the most important questions to ask when seeking or trying to provide clarity is “Compared to what?” Pink describes five frames you can use to provide clarity to those you are hoping to move.

The first is the “less frame,” which says that framing people’s options in ways that restrict their choices can help them see those choices more clearly. Everybody likes options, but too much of a good thing may just become frustrating enough to make people walk away.

Next is the “experience frame,” which reminds us that people have stronger and longer-lasting emotions around experiences than material possessions. If you want to sell someone a car, you should emphasise the trips they will take, things they’ll see, friends they’ll visit and not the vehicle’s features. Customers are more likely to be sold on the idea if they can picture themselves living that life.

The “label” frame helps people define something by answering the “compared to what question.” It can put actions or experiences into context and outline what is expected, which tends to make people fall into line.

The “blemished” frame shows that if you bring up one negative aspect of a product after extolling many of its virtues, people are more likely to pick the “blemished” product than one that is purely positive. This seems to work best for people who are busy or distracted, and deemed to be putting in little effort into a decision.

Last there’s the “potential frame,” which suggests people are more interested in and intrigued by what someone might do than what they have already done. It’s the reason why good prospects are sometimes more exciting to a team than an established player, or why an up-and-coming designer catches everyone’s attention if she or he is deemed as “the next big thing.”

Pink offers one last tool on the way to clarity, and that’s an off ramp. He says you shouldn’t just point people in the right direction without giving them a roadmap to get there.

If you want people to move, or to buy what you are selling, you have to provide clarity on how to act as well as how to think. If you do that, Pink says, you will have little trouble convincing people to agree with you.


So there you have it – a primer on how to use the new ABCs of selling to get to where you want to go.

Good luck, and happy selling.

Hope you enjoyed this summary. I help SMEs around the world triple their leads and double their profits. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video and book some time or email me at to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘Succeed’ by Dr Heidi Grant Halvorson

James Cash Penney was born on September 16, 1875, on a farm in Caldwell County, near Hamilton, Missouri.

Sometime after that and before he died in 1971, he said this:

“Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk.”

James was speaking from experience. He started out his career as a clerk at a store called The Golden Rule – which he eventually bought out and grew into the department store chain J.C. Penney.

What J.C. didn’t point out is that there is a right way and a wrong way to set goals, and knowing the difference can, well, make all the difference.

I’m sure like me you’ve probably set many goals, in business and in personal life and, unfortunately not quite achieved them. Well, in her book, “Succeed: How We Can Reach our Goals”, Dr Heidi Grant Halvorson tells us anyone can be more successful in reaching their goals. Based on the findings of several years of research into goal setting she clears the mist and shows us paths we can take to finally reach these goals.

It all starts with Self Control.

Halvorson asks us to think back to the achievements in our own life—the ones we are most proud of. In all cases she claims – quite rightly – that we will have worked hard, persisted despite difficulty, and stayed focused, when it would have been much easier to just relax and not bother.

What we used was self-control – the ability to guide our actions in pursuit of our goal and to avoid temptation, distraction and other demands. Halvorson suggests self-control is much like a muscle. We need to work it, train it and not strain it.

Self-control is learned and developed and made stronger or weaker over time. If you want more self-control, you can get more. And you get more self-control the same way you get bigger muscles—you’ve got to give it regular workouts.

Why or What?

Do we really know what our goals are and are they set properly? Halverson suggests not. She suggests we are often not specific enough – and in the absence of a specific goal and in the wrong context we are doomed to fail.

Halvorson suggests when actions are difficult to accomplish, we will find it is easier and much more helpful to think in simple, concrete ”WHAT” terms rather than lofty, more abstract “WHY” ones. What we want to achieve rather than why we want to achieve it. We should forget about the bigger picture and focus on the task at hand.

However, when we think “WHY” rather than “WHAT” we are less vulnerable to temptation and more likely to take better control. So, since both the “big picture” WHY and “nitty-gritty” WHAT modes of thinking have their advantages and disadvantages, Halvorson suggests the best strategy is to shift our thinking style to match the goal we want to achieve.

She suggests for long term high level goals we should think “WHY” and for short term objectives we need to be more concrete and think “WHAT”. WHY thinking leads us to pay more attention to what Halvorson and her fellow psychologists call desirability information. In other words, how fun, pleasant, or rewarding will it be?

More concrete, WHAT thinking leads us to place more weight on feasibility information—whether or not we can actually do whatever needs to be done. How likely are we to succeed? Halvorson declares people who think achieving their goal will be hard plan more, put in more effort, and take more action in pursuit of their goals.

On the other hand she suggests people who think that reaching their goal will be easy aren’t prepared for what lies ahead of them, and can be devastated when their dreams don’t actually come true.

Consequently, she suggests the optimal strategy to use when setting a goal seems to be to think positively about how things will feel when you achieve your goal, while thinking realistically about what it will take to get there.

When we are thinking about taking on a new goal, we must also think about the obstacles that stand in our way.

The Wonderful Thing about Triggers

Halvorson asks: What aspects of our environment can trigger the unconscious pursuit of a goal?

In short she tells us that just about anything can unconsciously affect our commitment to a goal: works, images, sounds, anything related to the goal can act as a trigger. Maybe now those “motivational” posters you see everywhere seem a little less silly, right?

Halvorson discloses that studies have shown that the mere presence of something that can help you achieve your goal can trigger it. Walking past the gym can trigger the goal of wanting to work out in it. So how can we influence our unconscious?

Halvorson gives us the following tips:

Align the cues you create to your own lens

Know what is influencing you.

Know what you believe about your abilities.

Set up the right environment.

Good or Better?

Halvorson and her psychologist colleagues refer to the desire to show that we are smart or talented or capable as having a performance goal. When we pursue performance goals, our energy is directed at achieving a particular outcome—like getting an A on a test or reaching a sales target. We choose these goals because we think reaching them will give us a sense of validation and then we judge ourselves according to whether or not we are successful.

On the other hand, the desire to get better and enhance our skills is a mastery goal. When people pursue mastery goals, they don’t judge themselves as much by whether they achieve a particular outcome. Instead, they judge themselves in terms of the progress they are making. These goals are about self-improvement rather than self-validation about becoming the best you can be rather than proving you are.

So which is best?

Halvorson says when we are focused on getting better, rather than on being good, we benefit in two very important ways.

First, when things get tough we don’t get so discouraged.

Second, when we start to have doubts about how well we are doing, we are more likely to stay motivated because we can still learn. So if we choose get-better goals, we have greater success because we enjoy the process of getting better.

If we focus on growth instead of validation, we are less likely to get depressed because we won’t see setbacks and failures as reflecting our own self-worth and we are less likely to stay depressed, because feeling bad makes us want to work harder and keep striving.

Promotion or Prevention?

Halvorson tells us of another complementary pair of goal definitions.

When we pursue a promotion goal we are trying to gain something. When it’s about gain, we are going to be motivated both by high value and a high likelihood of success. In fact, the more valuable the goal, the more we care about our chances of success.

But when we are pursuing a prevention goal, we are trying to avoid a loss. It’s about being safe and avoiding danger. A high-value prevention goal is one where safety really matters and where failure is particularly dangerous. So the more valuable the goal, the more we see reaching it as a necessity.

Halvorson states to be optimistic is valuable, particularly in pursuit of achievements – promotion goals. Realism, on the other hand, is invaluable in pursuit of security or avoiding disastrous losses – prevention goals.

Making goals our own.

The greatest motivation and most personal satisfaction we achieve are from those goals that we choose for ourselves. Research has shown that when people feel they have choices, and that they are an integral part of creating their own destiny, they are more motivated and successful.

Providing a feeling of choice and acknowledging people’s inner experience shifts their sense of control back to them and makes them feel like they are in charge of their own actions. From her research, Halvorson states that it isn’t so much actual freedom of choice that matters but the feeling of choice. Choice provides a sense of self-determination, even when choice is inconsequential or imagined.

If a goal is internalised, we get increased motivation, better performance, enjoyment and an increased desire to work. We also avoid the hassle of having to provide controls or incentives to bring about the behaviour we are after.

Bringing it all together.

Here are a few strategies the author suggests we follow when we have established the lens of our goal.

Halvorson advises us when achieving our goal means doing something easy, straightforward, or familiar, we are probably better off focusing on a good, performance goal.

But what if they are not so easy?

Halvorson says we can benefit from changing our thinking from why to what. Literal what-do-I-need-to-do-to-reach-this-goal thinking is enormously helpful when we are pursuing challenging goals.

What about the distraction of doing something else? Overcoming temptation is hard. It usually requires a lot of self-control. Halvorson advises this is another situation where it pays to think of our goals in terms of why rather than what. Giving our goal a prevention focus is also an excellent way to beef up our resistance.

What if we need to get something done quickly?

Halvorson’s answer is a simple one although the task may not be—give our goal a promotion focus.

Which kinds of goals work best when we want to be inspired?

Halvorson suggests giving our goal a promotion focus can heighten our creative powers. So, too, can goals that are of our own making—goals that fulfil our basic need for autonomy. In general, goals that are autonomously chosen are much more interesting and enjoyable to pursue than those that are chosen for us.

What if we want to have fun along the way?

Halvorson tells us to try focusing on getting better, rather than on being good.

Be Prepared Redux

Ok, so now we know how to identify and set our goals appropriately, but beware, it’s still not smooth sailing. There are still barriers to overcome.

Halvorson suggests there are plenty of different mistakes we can make, but the one most frequently responsible for our troubles is that we miss opportunities to act in a timely manner. We are regularly given, whether we notice or not, opportunities to act on our goals, but in most cases when one arises, we chose to do something else.

Halvorson makes it clear that there is no strategy more effective for fighting off these goal blocking situations than making an If-Then plan.

Simply put when you find yourself in a situation (IF) then you carry out a goal attaining action (THEN).

For example: If I’m watching TV then I’ll sit up straight to help my posture. If it’s Monday morning, I’ll go to the gym before work to get fitter. If I’ve had a large lunch, I’ll have salad for dinner.

So it’s back to self-control.

Halvorson suggests we use the acronym H.A.L.T. to remind ourselves of circumstances where our self-control may drop: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. In each of these situations self-control is threatened so what do we do?

Halvorson tells us to resist. If we reach for the comfort food or activity it’s hard to get back on the wagon. Stopping before we start is an excellent strategy to keep our need for self-control to a minimum.

Secondly, she tells us to focus on how well we’ve been doing and to consider just how much an effect on that progress, falling off the wagon would be.

Thirdly, she says, whatever we do, don’t try to pursue two goals at once that both require a lot of self-control. In these situations it’s hard to decide which to do and consequently we are likely not to do either.

Finally, here’s her one last strategy for overcoming a total loss of willpower: we should reward ourselves for being good. After all, a reward celebrates success and success is a goal we are after, isn’t it?

Hope you enjoyed this summary. I help SMEs around the world triple their leads and double their profits. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video and book some time or email me at to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘Predictably Irrational’ by Dan Ariely

Have you ever wondered why people make the decisions they do? Given the data rich world we live in, you would expect that we would make rational decisions. Not so.

In his book “Predictably Irrational” Dan Ariely provides us with a number of examples of why we just don’t act as we should.

Humans rarely choose things in absolute terms. We don’t have an internal value meter that tells us how much things are worth. Rather, we focus on the relative advantage of one thing over another, and estimate value accordingly. Take Ariely’s example of TV’s in an electronics warehouse. Three sets are available for sale. One is priced high, one is priced low and one is priced somewhere in the middle.

Example 1: The Middle Makes Money

Now setting aside brand loyalty (and Plasma versus LCD), one TV is pretty much the same as another. So how do we decide which to choose? Who really knows if the Panasonic at €690 is a better deal than the Philips at €1,480? But given three choices, most people will take the middle choice. So guess which television the store prices as the middle option? That’s right, the one they want to sell!

We not only tend to compare things with one another, but also tend to focus on comparing things that are easily comparable and avoid comparing things that cannot be compared easily. In essence, introducing set C, the cheaper version and decoy, creates a simple relative comparison with set B (the one the store wants you to buy), and hence makes set B look better, not just relative to set C, but overall as well.

As a consequence, the inclusion of C, even if no one ever selects it, makes people more likely to make B their final choice. The same twisted logic applies for the expensive option, but in reverse. After all why pay more for something that you can get at a lower price! This is the problem of relativity we look at our decisions in a relative way and compare them locally to the available alternative.

Example 2: Anchoring – First Impressions Last

We’ve all seen the cartoon. The egg hatches and the chick identifies the first live thing it sees as its mother. Ariely wanted to explore if the human brain is wired like that of a gosling. Do our first impressions and decisions become imprinted? And if so, how does this imprinting play out in our lives? When we encounter a new product, for instance, do we accept the first price that comes before our eyes? And more importantly, does that price (which in academic lingo is called an anchor) have a long-term effect on our willingness to pay for the product from then on?

What Ariely set out to prove (described in detail in the book) was the existence of arbitrary coherence. The basic idea of arbitrary coherence is this: although initial prices are “arbitrary” once those prices are established in our minds they will shape not only present prices, but also future prices (this makes them “coherent”).

In other words once consumers are willing to pay a certain price for one product, their willingness to pay for other items in the same product category is judged relative to that first price (the anchor). So take care when setting out charges for your products or services.

While initial prices are largely “arbitrary”, once those prices are established in our minds, they shape not only what we are willing to pay for an item, but also how much we are willing to pay for related products. Price tags by themselves are not necessarily anchors, but they become anchors when we contemplate buying a product or service at that particular price.

Example 3: Self Herding: In with the In Crowd.

You’re walking past a restaurant, and you see two people standing in line, waiting to get in. “This must be a good restaurant” you think to yourself. “People are standing in line”. So you stand behind these people. Another person walks by. He sees three people standing in line and thinks, “this must be a fantastic restaurant” and joins the line. Others join.

Ariely describes this type of behaviour as herding. It happens when we assume that something is good (or bad) on the basis of other people’s previous behaviour, and our own actions follow suit.

When Howard Shultz created Starbucks, he latched on to this concept. He worked diligently to separate Starbucks from other coffee shops, not through price, but through ambience.

Accordingly, he designed Starbucks from the very beginning to feel like a continental coffee house. Starbucks did everything in its power to make the experience feel different, so different that we would not use the prices at Dunkin’ Donuts as an anchor, but instead would be open to the new anchor that Starbucks was preparing for us. The third place.

Ariely takes this further and introduces the concept of self-herding. This happens when we believe something is good (or bad) on the basis of our own previous behaviour. You’ve already made the same decision many times in the past, so you’ve “brainwashed” yourself that this is the way you want to spend your money.

You’ve herded yourself, lining up behind your initial experience and now you’re part of the crowd. Where else can we see this effect? Clearly with Apple. From the “must have” appeal of the latest gadget, owned by the in crowd, to personally replacing that gadget with the latest upgrade, self-herding has been key to their success.

Example 4: Zero don’t mean nothing.

It’s no secret that getting something free feels very good. Ariely suggests ZERO is not just another price. He claims ZERO is an emotional hot button and a source of irrational excitement. Would you buy something if it were discounted from 50 cents to 20 cents? Maybe. Would you buy it if it were discounted from 50 cents to 2 cents? Maybe. Would you grab it if it were discounted from 50 cents to ZERO? You bet!

Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE we forget the downside, FREE gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is. Why? Ariely suggests it’s because humans are intrinsically afraid of loss. The real allure of FREE is tied to this fear.

There’s no visible possibility of loss when we choose a FREE item (it’s free). But suppose we choose the item that’s not free. Uh-oh, now there’s a risk of having made a poor decision, the possibility of a loss.

Zero is not just another discount. Zero is a different place. The difference between two cents and one cent is small. But the difference between one cent and zero is huge! If you are in business, and understand that, you can do some marvellous things. Want to draw a crowd? Make something FREE! Want to sell more products? Make part of the purchase FREE!

Example 5: Ownership creates a false perspective.

Ownership pervades our lives and, in a strange way, shapes many of the things we do. Much of our life story can be told by describing the ebb and flow of our particular possessions, what we get and what we give up. Ariely asks: Since so much of our lives is dedicated to ownership, wouldn’t it be nice to make the best decisions about this?

Wouldn’t it be nice, for instance, to know exactly how much we would enjoy a new home, a new car, a different sofa, and an Armani suit, so that we could make accurate decisions about owning them? In his research he identifies three “quirks” of ownership.

The first quirk is that we fall in love with what we already have. Ariel postulates: Suppose you decide to sell your old VW bus. What do you start doing? Even before you’ve put a FOR SALE sign in the window, you begin to recall trips you took. You were much younger, of course; the kids hadn’t sprouted into teenagers. A warm glow of remembrance washes over you. This applies not only to VW buses, of course, but to everything else. And it can happen fast.

The second quirk he identifies is that we focus on what we may lose, rather than what we may gain. When we price that beloved VW, we think more about what we will lose (the use of the bus) than what we will gain (money to buy something else). As soon as we begin thinking about giving up our valued possessions, we are already mourning the loss.

Finally his third quirk is that we assume other people will see the transaction from the same perspective as we do. We somehow expect the buyer of our VW to share our feelings, emotions, and memories. Unfortunately, the buyer of the VW is more likely to notice the puff of smoke that is emitted as you shift from first into second. So where does this apply in business? We must look at the world through our customer’s lens. We must make sure we see it from their perspective and not to get upset if they call our baby ugly.

Example 6: Options are Costly.

In the context of today’s world, we work feverishly to keep all our options open. We buy the expandable computer system, just in case we need all those high-tech bells and whistles. We buy the insurance policies that are offered with the plasma high definition television, just in case the big screen goes blank.

Ariely speculates whilst we might not always be aware of it, in every case we give something up for options. We end up with a computer that has more functions than we need, or a stereo with an unnecessarily expensive warranty.

We are continually reminded that we can do anything and be anything we want to be. The problem is in living up to this dream. We must develop ourselves in every way possible; must taste every aspect of life; must make sure that of the 1,000 things to see before dying, we have not stopped at number 999. But then comes a problem are we spreading ourselves too thin?

Doors of opportunity open regularly and running from door to door is a strange human activity. But even stranger is our compulsion to chase after doors of little worth opportunities that are nearly dead, or that hold little interest for us. What we need is to consciously start closing some of our doors. Small doors, of course, are rather easy to close.

But the bigger doors (or those that seem bigger) are harder to close. Doors that just might lead to a new career or to a better job might be hard to close. Doors that are tied to our dreams are also hard to close. So are relationships with certain people, even if they seem to be going nowhere.

Choosing between two things that are similarly attractive is one of the most difficult decisions we can make. This is a situation not just of keeping options open for too long, but of being indecisive to the point of paying for our indecision in the end.

Ariely believes what we fail to do when focusing on the similarities and minor differences between two things is to take into account the consequences of not deciding. More important we fail to take into consideration the relatively minor differences that would have come with either one of the decisions. So what’s the relevance to business?

If we offer every bell and every whistle to our client we are presenting them with options to evaluate. Options that will detract from the decision to purchase. Information overload. Let’s make it easy to make a decision. Take 37 Signals for example. A highly successful technology company but one that offers stripped down solutions. Solutions that meet the key needs and key needs alone. Is your service or product a gilded lily?

These are only a few examples of our irrational decision making. The book has so many more that I suggest you make a rational decision and go out and buy a copy. If you do, you’ll find many more ways that understanding our predictably irrational behaviour can help your business grow

Hope you enjoyed this summary. I help SMEs around the world triple their leads and double their profits. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video and book some time or email me at to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod

It’s Your Time, This is Your Story

Know that wherever you are in your life right now is both temporary, and exactly where you are supposed to be. You have arrived at this moment to learn what you must learn, so you can become the person you need to be to create the life you truly want.

You are in the process of writing your life story, and no good story is without challenges. You have the ability to change – or create – anything in your life, starting right now. And this summary will help you do that.

There is nothing that says you have to settle for less than you truly want, just because everybody else does.

Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod builds three imperative arguments:

You are just as worthy, deserving, and capable of creating and sustaining extraordinary health, wealth, happiness, love and success in your life as any other person on earth. It is absolutely crucial—not only for the quality of your life, but for the impact you make on your family, friends, clients, co-workers, children and anyone whose life you touch—that you start living in alignment with that truth.

In order for you to stop settling for less than you deserve – in any area of your life – and to create the levels of personal, professional, and financial success you desire, you must first dedicate time each day to becoming the person you need to be, one who is qualified and capable of consistently attracting, creating and sustaining the levels of success you want.

How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days – which inevitably create a successful life- in the same way unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre mornings generate unfocused, unproductive and mediocre days, and ultimately a mediocre quality of life.

By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you ever though possible.

Our outer world will always be a reflection of our inner world. Our level of success is always going to parallel our level of personal development. Until we dedicate time each day to developing ourselves into the person we need to be to create the life we want, success is always going to be a struggle to attain.

The 95% Reality Check

Approximately 95% of our society settles for far less than they want in life, and never understand that they could be, do, and have all that they want. So, what can we do now to ensure that we end up in the 5%?

Step 1: Acknowledge the 95% Reality Check

It’s no secret that most people are living life far below their potential. Once we can acknowledge that, we can move on to the next steps.

Step 2: Identify the Causes of Mediocrity

To prevent mediocrity from happening to you, you must know what causes the average person to end up that way. One reason is because we carry our stress, fear and worry from yesterday with us into today. To move beyond your past and transcend your limitations, you must stop looking at your past and start imagining a life of limitless possibilities.

Another reason is that people don’t know what their purpose is. Choose a life purpose, anything you want, and align with it.

A third reason is isolating incidents. Realise that the real impact and consequences of each of our choices is monumental. Stop isolating incidents and start seeing the bigger picture. Everything we do affects who we become, which determines the life that we will ultimately create and live.

Another common reason is lack of accountability. Find someone to hold you accountable to what you do.

The next reason is a mediocre circle of influence. Research has shown that we virtually become like the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Who you spend your time with may be the single most determining factor in the person you become and your quality of life. If you are surrounded with lazy, weak-minded people, you will become like them. Spend time with positive, successful achievers and inevitably, their attitudes and successful habits will reflect on you.

Another reason is lack of personal development. Our levels of success will rarely exceed our level of personal development, because success is something we attract by who we become. Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development.

The last reason is lack of urgency. It’s human nature to have a “someday” mindset. Now matters more than any other time in your life, because what you do today determines who you will become, and that will always determine the quality and direction of your life.

Step 3: Draw Your Line In the Sand

Make a decision as to what you are going to start doing differently from this day forward. Not tomorrow, not next week, or next month. Today.

Your entire life changes the day that you decide you will no longer accept mediocrity for yourself. When you realise that today is the most important day of your life and when you decide that now matters more than any other time.

Why Did YOU Wake Up This Morning?

If you’re like most people, you probably hit the snooze button a few times each morning before reluctantly dragging yourself out of bed. Consider what you’re actually doing – resisting your life. Each time you hit the snooze button, and you think, “I don’t want to wake up,” you’re really saying, “I don’t want to live my life.”

The tone of our morning has a powerful impact on the tone of the rest of our day. If you wake up each day with passion and purpose, you will spend your day being passionate and purposeful.

For the most part, we need as much sleep as we believe we need. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell yourself you will feel tired in the morning, you will. If you don’t, you won’t. Experiment with this idea yourself, and then think about how many hours of sleep you really need.

The Five-Step Snooze-Proof Wake Up Strategy

Step 1: Set Your Intentions Before Bed

Your first thought in the morning is usually the last thought you had before you went to bed. So each night, consciously decide to actively and mindfully create a positive expectation for the next morning.

Step 2: Move Your Alarm Clock Across The Room

Moving your alarm clock across the room will force you to get out of bed and engage your body in movement immediately in the morning.

Step 3: Brush Your Teeth

Go directly to the bathroom and brush your teeth.

Step 4: Drink a Full Glass of Water

After 6-8 hours without water, you will likely be dehydrated, which causes fatigue. Rehydrate your body and mind as quickly as possible.

Step 5: Get Dressed or Jump In The Shower

Make sure to take the first steps to starting your day. From here, it requires very little discipline to stay awake for the rest of your morning.

The Life S.A.V.E.R.S. – Six Practices Guaranteed to Save You From a Life of Unfulfilled Potential

Silence is the first practice, specifically purposeful silence, which means you are engaging with a beneficial purpose in mind. This can be found in meditation, prayer, reflection, deep breathing, gratitude or many other things.

Affirmations are one of the most effective tools for quickly becoming the person you want to be. They allow you to design and then develop the mindset that you need to take any area of your life to the next level. Saying positive affirmations will immediately make an impression on your subconscious mind, which will transform the way you think and feel.

Visualisation refers to the practice of generating positive results in the outer world by using your imagination to create mental pictures of specific behaviours and outcomes occurring in your life. Visualise what you truly want – your major goals and deepest desires. Next, visualise who you need to be and what you need to do.

Exercise should be a staple in your daily rituals. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, exercise will boost your energy, enhance your health, improve your self-confidence and enable you to think better and concentrate longer.

Reading is one of the most immediate methods for gaining knowledge, ideas and strategies that will help you in all areas of your life.

Scribing is the last practice, and it means to write. Putting your thoughts down on paper will show you valuable insights that you wouldn’t otherwise see. Keeping a daily journal will help you gain clarity, capture ideas, review lessons, and acknowledge your progress.

These practices may seem difficult at first, but stick with it. They will change your life.

The 6-Minute Miracle

Everyone is busy. But everyone can find six minutes a day to become the person we’ve always wanted to be.

Spend your first minute sitting quietly in purposeful silence. Then, take one minute to think about your goals and priorities. Close your eyes, and take the next minute to visualise what it will look and feel like when you reach your goals. Open your eyes, and spend one minute writing down some of the things that you’re grateful for. Then, read one or two pages of a book that will teach you something new. Finally, stand up and move your body for one minute.

On days where you are pressed for time, this six-minute routine will accelerate your personal development. Anyone can improve his or her life. You have no excuse not to.

Customise Your Miracle Morning

The Miracle Morning is completely customisable. There is no limit to how personalised you can make this routine to fit your lifestyle and help you achieve your most significant goals.

Wake Up and Start Time

You don’t actually have to do Miracle Morning in the morning. There are advantages to starting your day with it, but if you cannot do it in the morning, you will still get many of the benefits.

When, Why, and What To Eat (In the Morning)

It’s best to eat after your Miracle Morning. If you feel like you must eat before, make it something light. Aim for foods that will fuel your body, such as fruits or vegetables.

Aligning The Miracle Morning With Your Goals and Dreams

Make sure your affirmations and visualisations align with your goals and dreams, and that they clarify what you need to think, believe, and do to achieve them.

Overcoming Procrastination: Do the Worst, First

One of the most effective strategies for overcoming procrastination is to do the least enjoyable tasks first.

The Miracle Morning On Weekends

Doing the Miracle Morning will make you feel more productive and fulfilled, so it is suggested to continue on weekends. See how you feel on days you skip it, and go from there.

Keep Your Miracle Morning Fresh, Fun, and Exciting

It’s important to mix things up and keep variety in your Miracle Morning. You can switch the type of exercise you do, or the meditation app you use. Adjust based on your daily goal.

The Real Secret to Forming Habits That Will Transform Your Life

Our habits create our life. Therefore, there is nothing more important than mastering and controlling them.

Habits are behaviours that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Whether you realize it or not, your habits control your life. So make the effort to control your habits.

Based on work with hundreds of clients, it seems that you can change any habit in 30 days, if you have the right strategy. Lucky for you, you’re about to learn the best strategy.

Days 1-10: Phase One – Unbearable

The first 10 days of implementing any new habit can feel almost unbearable. It’s painful. Many people don’t understand that this feeling is temporary. They think this is how it will always feel, so they give up.

However, if you’re prepared for the first 10 days – if you know they will be painful, but temporary – you can beat the odds and succeed. Push through the pain. Know that it will only get easier from here.

Days 11-20: Faze Two – Uncomfortable

The next 10–day phase is much easier, but still uncomfortable. It will require discipline and commitment to stick with it. Stay committed. You’ve already come so far.

Days 21-20: Phase Three – Unstoppable

The final ten days is where you positively reinforce and associate pleasure with your new habit. You’ve been associating pain and discomfort with it the first twenty days. These are the days that will make you feel proud and happy about your new habit, which is what will make you continue to do it in the future.

The Miracle Morning 30-Day Life Transformation Challenge

If you’re feeling hesitant, relax. It’s completely normal to feel that way. Especially if waking up in the morning is something you’ve found challenging in the past.

Take confidence in knowing that thousands of other people have already transformed their lives using the Miracle Morning.

It’s never too soon to transform your life. Commit to and schedule your first Miracle Morning as soon as possible (tomorrow!) and follow through.

Give yourself just 30 days to make significant improvements in your life, one day at a time. No matter what your past has been, you can change your future, by changing the present.

Hope you enjoyed this summary. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video and book some time or email me at to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘Extreme Ownership’ by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

“So, there I was.…”

According to the authors of Extreme Ownership, this is how every story told by a Navy SEAL starts off.

“So there I was, pinned down by heavy fire, with only two rounds left in my rifle”. You know, the type of stories that probably would have turned out differently if you or I were the protagonist.

As Jocko Willink and Leif Babin tell us, “The only meaningful measure of a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails.” So get ready to take a good hard look at yourself as a leader, and prepare to start thinking differently about how you control your destiny.

Principle #1: Extreme Ownership

This section starts off with a story about a mission that almost blows up in their face – literally. Due to miscommunication between the Navy SEALs unit and a Marines unit there was a “blue-on-blue”.

Which means that the Marines and Navy SEALs had mistakenly been firing on each other. One Navy SEAL took some shrapnel in the face, but miraculously nobody had been seriously injured or killed.

Situations like this aren’t taken lightly, and Willink thought that his career as a team leader could be coming to an abrupt end as a result. His boss and an investigating officer came in from another camp to dig in and find out what had happened.

Many things had gone wrong, and it would have been easy to point fingers at the people who had made the mistakes that day to try and escape the heat. But that’s not Willink did. He stood up in front of the group, including his commanding officer, and said:

“There is only one person to blame for this: me. I am the commander. I am responsible for the entire operation…And I will tell you this right now: I will make sure that nothing like this ever happens to us again.”

No matter what situation you find yourself in, you alone are responsible for the success or failure of your team. Period. If you do fail, you must accept full responsibility and then develop a plan to win.

As a leader, you not only take ownership of your role, you are responsible for anything that impacts your mission – including your people. If a person under your command is not performing up to par, you must train and mentor them. If they continue to underperform, then you must be loyal to the mission above all else and find somebody who can get the job done.

Principle #2: There are no bad teams, only bad leaders

If you’ve ever watched a video of Navy SEALs going through Hell Week (if you haven’t, hop over to Youtube and search for “Navy SEALs Hell Week”), you’ve seen them inside black inflatable rafts paddling through the ocean.

Each class of SEAL recruits are split into teams that compete with one another over the course of the week. Each team is given a leader, who is in charge of getting the best out of his men in gruelling circumstances.

One year, Babin recounts, one of the teams was winning each race (Boat II) and another team was consistently coming in last (Boat VI). So one of the instructors decided to run a little leadership experiment. The leaders of the two teams would switch boats to see if the lacklustre performance of Boat VI could be explained by a lack of leadership.

The leader of Boat VI was understandably excited, because he had been dealt a hand of lousy recruits and simply couldn’t win with such a weak team. The leader of Boat II wasn’t happy, but quietly went to work figuring out how to get them to perform at a higher level than they were used to.

Right on cue, Boat VI was spurred on by their new leader and started to win every race, with Boat II having to settle battling for second place.

This highlights one of the most important leadership principles you will ever learn – that leadership is the greatest factor in any team’s performance.

Principle #3: You have to believe if you want to win

The SEAL team the authors fought with was called Task Unit Bruiser, which was the same unit that Chris Kyle – author of American Sniper – belonged to. They had a fearsome reputation as being the most lethal fighting unit in the Iraq War, and possibly ever.

So when they were told that in order to run any mission they had to bring along Iraqi soldiers with them, they weren’t too happy. As Willink describes it, heading out into Ramadi (where they were fighting) was dangerous enough.

Imagine one day having another Navy SEAL literally watch your back as you complete your mission, to having somebody you don’t know with inferior training and questionable loyalty take their place.

Willink knew that if he didn’t understand and believe in the mission, his team wouldn’t tow the line either. And that might cost them their lives.

As it turns out, the reason higher ups had mandated that the Iraqi forces join the fight with the SEALs was that if they didn’t get Iraqis “on-the-job” training, they might not ever be able to complete the securing of Iraq. Without that, they might never go home.

So once Willink understood and bought into the “why” behind the mission, he was able to communicate the message with clarity and with confidence to his team. Once they understood why they were being asked to take on more risk and danger during their missions, they were able to move on and get to work.

The same goes for you in your role. If there’s anything that your are working on that you don’t completely believe in, you need to get that resolved – quickly.

As the authors note:

In order to convince and inspire others to follow and accomplish a mission, a leader must be a true believer in the mission.

Principle #4: Check your ego

Because of the need to sometimes blend in with the local population in the Middle East, Navy SEALs are known for growing beards and generally not keeping up a “disciplined appearance.” Unfortunately, they are sometimes also known for being arrogant.

The authors tell the story of one Navy SEAL unit being shipped in to work out of a base that was owned and operated by the Army.

They rolled into town wearing baseball caps, cutoff shirts and egos that Donald Trump would approve of. This didn’t mix well with the extremely disciplined routine the Army soldiers were required to follow. The colonel in charge of the base mandated this discipline because they were in the most dangerous part of Iraq, and any slip up in protocol, no matter how small, could cost them their lives.

Not only were these SEALs condescending to the Army soldiers, they weren’t interested in learning what the Army had learned running missions in Ramadi.

Ultimately, the SEAL group was asked to leave the base even though they were very capable and could have greatly helped their cause.

While belief in yourself and your team is crucial, having an outsized ego will only get in your way. It can cloud your judgment and get in the way of taking on constructive criticism.

As the authors point out, the most difficult ego to deal with is usually your own.

Principle #5: Cover and Move.

In the business world, when you hear the word “Teamwork” you might automatically picture some cheesy motivational poster with a group of people all rowing in the same direction. It’s very easy to dismiss the idea of teamwork as a bunch of you-know-what.

But in combat, you literally rely on the other people you work with to keep you alive.

When they find themselves taking enemy fire and need to get from one place to another, SEALs operate a tactic called “Cover and Move”. Basically it means teamwork. One section of a team lays down fire on the enemy while another section moves forward and takes some ground. Then the reverse happens so the team who was laying down the fire can get caught up.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that when your team encounters trouble that their first instinct is to work together to find a way out rather than pointing fingers.

How can you tell if your teams are working together closely or if they are just giving it lip-service? Pay attention to the off-hand comments that they make. If your sales team calls your production team the “order prevention department”, for instance, that might be your cue to dig a little deeper to get things back on track.

There are enough enemies outside of your walls to deal with, right?

Principle #6: Keep things simple

If you are going to accomplish your mission, your people need to understand the plan. Even more important, when things go wrong, your team needs to understand how to fix it. This is almost impossible if your team doesn’t understand the mission, or the strategy you are using to accomplish it.

Keeping things as simple as possible is the only way your team is going to be able to understand and execute. Why? Because your plan is almost always more complicated than you think it is. And no matter how well your plan is prepared, things almost always go wrong and decisions need to be made on the fly. If your team doesn’t understand the plan, it crumbles under it’s own weight at the first sign of trouble.

A great example of this in the business world is the commission structure you create for your sales people. If your team doesn’t completely understand how the work they do impacts their bonus level, you will never get the type of behaviour you are trying to encourage.

If your plan requires your sales people to pull out a calculator on every deal to understand what they are going to get paid on an order, it’s too complicated.

Principle #7: Leaders need to prioritise and execute.

When you find yourself in a situation where you are taking fire from all sides and everything seems to be falling apart around you, what do you do?

Relax, look around, and make a call.

No matter what is going on around you, your job as a leader is to keep moving forward by making the best possible decision, given the circumstances.

The authors give us a step-by-step plan for getting things done when chaos erupts. First, decide what the highest priority problem is. You can only solve one thing at a time, so start with the most important.

Second, in clear and simple terms, tell your team what you’ll be focussing on.

Third, create a solution to the problem, seeking input both up and down the chain.

Finally, direct the execution of that solution, making sure all of your team’s efforts are focussed there until the plan is executed.

Rinse, wash, repeat.

Principle #8: Decentralised Command

In order for your team to execute your plan, teams must be broken down into small and manageable sizes, making sure to decentralise command so that front-line employees are empowered to make decisions.

As human beings, we are not equipped to manage more than ten people at any one time, especially when problems come up and decisions need to be made quickly.

There are a few things that need to be in place in order for this to work.

First, senior leaders must communicate constantly and consistently with their front-line to ensure that the have the right information to make the right decisions. Your team must be crystal clear about the mission and strategy at all times.

Second, the front-line team must believe that senior leaders will have their back if they make decisions that are consistent with the mission and the strategy, even when they go wrong. It only takes one situation where a front-line employee doesn’t feel supported to grind decision making to a halt.

Lastly, like we’ve discussed before, the mission and the strategy must be simple so that you avoid the game of “broken telephone” that could easily occur with complex instructions.

Conclusion: The best leaders practice Extreme Ownership

Leadership always comes back to the first principle – you need to practice extreme ownership of whatever happens under your watch. There are many things you need to get right in order to be a great leader, but it all begins and ends with accepting 100% of the responsibility for the results that you and your team produce.

Are you ready to practice Extreme Ownership in your business and life?

Hope you enjoyed this summary. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video and book some time or email me at to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ’21 Days To A Big Idea’ by Bryan Mattimore

“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner.

There are simple yet powerful creative thinking techniques that unleash the creative potential of groups to help generate “lots of ideas.” But what if you don’t have the help of a group? The 21 Days to a Big Idea thinking program created by creativity guru Bryan Mattimore is designed to help individuals create a large number of ideas on an on-going basis… from which one or two might well prove to be the “Big Idea!”

The 21-day program is divided into four sections:

Discovering your passion

Five creative thinking strategies for discovering idea opportunities

Nine creative techniques for generating big ideas

Choosing and developing the best ideas

Even though the program is designed to be taken over a twenty-one day period by devoting about an hour each day of creative thinking time, it doesn’t have to be completed on consecutive days. Nor does it even have to be taken alone. It’s easy to form a “big idea club” with co-workers, friends or family to meet whenever you have an hour of time, maybe once or twice a month.

To get started, you’ll need a journal (your “Big Idea” notebook) to record your ideas. This will help you keep track of all the ideas that come out of creativity exercises you’ll be using in the program.

Day #1: Discovering Your Inventive Passion

Take a moment to think about how you hope to feel when you finish this book summary. What will you be thinking? What will you have gotten out of it? Be specific.

Now, take a moment to think about “a success footprint” for a new idea you want to create. Identify the characteristics of that successful idea that would make it a great idea, before you know what that idea actually is! For instance, you might ask, “What could my idea be worth?” “To whom might it most appeal?” “What’s could be its biggest benefit?” Or even, “Where, when or how might it work?”

Building a success footprint for an idea you’ve yet to create will not only help you judge the relative value of the new ideas you do create… it’ll also help you to persevere until you find that one big idea that meets your original “success footprint” criteria.

Day #2: Courting Your Passion

Create a list of arenas for new products, services, or business concepts you’re passionate about. Try to write down at least 30. Generating this many “arenas of passion” will help open the world of creative possibilities. Are you be excited about inventing a new children’s toy or game, household product or tool; a new service for artists, or non-profit to help retirees; an international travel shopping service or a time saving device for commuters?

Day #3: Finding the Right Stimuli

To push ideas to the next level – ask yourself, “What will make my idea both different from and superior to what’s currently on the market?”

Day #4: What’s Your Problem? The First of Five Creative Thinking Strategies

Find a problem that you want to solve. Since we know that quantity leads quality, try to come up with twenty different problems.

Day #5: Solving Problems… and Finding New Ones

Now, with your twenty problems, do your best to come up with some solutions. Sometimes addressing one problem challenge may help you solve another.

Day #6: Adapt an Existing Idea or Technology

Find one or more new technologies that intrigue you. List at least twenty capabilities, features, points of difference and/or benefits of it. Then, combine it with one of your arenas or passion to create a new product or service concept. For example, an Israeli inventor recently created a low-cost, waterproof bicycle made almost entirely out of a specially treated, extra-strong cardboard. What other inventions might you create with this kind of cardboard?

Day #7: Save Money, Save Time

Create a list of things that waste time or money at work or in your personal life. Pick one or two of these time or money wasters, and create a new product or service to address it.

Day #8: Facilitate Self-Actualisation

Watch a variety of online speeches, presentations, or YouTube videos from experts in one of your areas of passion. Then, based on what you see, hear, and learn, create at least one big idea for a new product or service that will help people “self-actualise.”

Day #9: Wishing for the Impossible… and Then Making It Real

We’re trained to be realists. But when adults can recapture the unlimited imagination of their childhood, breakthroughs can result. Create a list of at least twenty wishes. Push beyond the mundane or practical and wish for the impossible.

Then, look at your list and ask, “Is there a wish that can inspire a breakthrough new idea if I somehow made the wish practical or real?”

Day #10: Three Ideas in Thirty Minutes: The Questioning Assumptions Technique

The Questioning Assumptions technique is about uncovering possibilities for new ideas by questioning the assumptions we make about anything and everything in the world around us. So for example, if we question the assumption that a chair has four legs, we might come up with the idea for a “no-legged” or beanbag chair.

Pick an arena of interest and try to list at least fifteen assumptions about it. Then create three ideas for a new product or service inspired by questioning these assumptions.

Day 11: 20 Questions, One Big Idea

Generate a list of twenty questions to help you think about your creative challenge in a different light. Use prompts such as “How can ___,” “What are ___,” “How about ____,” and “If ____.” You may discover that the process of asking and answering the questions, you will create a new idea.

Day #12: Expecting the Connecting: The “And” Technique

Create five new products or business ideas by combining a word that represents an area of great passion for you with words that you find by opening a dictionary to random pages. Most new ideas are created by simply combining two existing things in a new way.

Day #13: Smart Move: Benefit Word Mashing

Invent a “big idea” in an area of passion by mashing it up with one of the following benefit modifiers: 1) smart/thinking 2) speed/quick 3) educational 4) informational 5) healthy 6) virtual 7) digital 8) futuristic 9) mobile or 10) growing/expanding. Example: What’s a “smart”… basketball, cooking pot, travel app, bicycle, lock, or fork?

Day #14: Transformation Transfer: The Idea Hooking and Patent Prompting

The Patent Prompts Technique can help you create a new idea by considering a wide variety of different, but related new inventions and technologies. Here’s how it works: Identify a challenge associated with the design or engineering of one of the new inventions you’ve conceived thus far. See if you can break down the challenge into two words. Search the United States Patent and Trademark Office database using these two key words.

Scroll through the lists of patents that come up from the search and look for inspiration.Hopefully, by reviewing other related inventions and technologies, you can find principles and mechanisms of action you can adapt (without of course infringing the original patent) to help you create more and better ideas of your own.

Day #15: Getting Hotter All the Time: Trend Bending

Keep looking for different stimuli to trigger your inherent connection-making ability. Use trend reports from the Internet and see if you can “bend the trend” to a specific area of interest. Ask “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of each of the trends, and you may discover a new business opportunity.

Day #16: Saving the Worst for Last

To use the Worst Idea technique, begin by writing a list of the worst ideas you can possibly think of in an area of interest. These ideas should be ridiculous, inappropriate, and stupid. After you make this list, see if you can turn these worst ideas into good ideas by: 1) doing the exact opposite, or 2) somehow using this worst idea, modifying it in some way, to inspire a good idea.

Day #17: Final Exam: Bringing It All Together

Combine the techniques covered in the past eight days: Wishing, Questioning Assumptions, Twenty Questions, the “And” Technique, Idea Hooks, Trend Bending, Patent Prompts and the Worst Idea Technique to create at least three entirely-new big ideas in one of your areas of passion.

Choosing, Developing and Selling Your Biggest Ideas With a wealth of big ideas you’ve created in the past seventeen days, it’s now time to begin to develop these ideas into marketable propositions for new products and/or services.

Day #18: A Simple Concept Development Technique: Billboarding

Billboarding enables you to create a kind of “elevator speech” for your new product or service by helping you identify the idea’s key benefits. Like a billboard you’d see on the highway, in the Billboard Technique, you’ll create a headline, a visual, and a tagline for your new idea. Here are the steps: Figure out exactly what your idea is. Consider how it could actually work and give it a name.

List all the benefits of the idea. You should be able to come up with five or six.

Pick the single most important benefit from your list and create a short headline that communicates the benefit. It doesn’t have to be clever, but make sure it’s clear.

Create a visual that communicates the key benefit, or one of the important features, of your idea.

Create a tagline with a reason someone should believe in your idea.

This exercise will help you be explicit about the benefits of your idea, so you can clearly and concisely communicate these benefits to others.

Day #19: Researching and Developing Your Favorite Ideas

You don’t have to spend a great deal of money in focus groups to gain critical insights into the market viability of your idea. Start simply by interviewing friends, family, and co-workers. You can also do low or no-cost market research with non-profits/charities, colleges or universities, or local clubs. Just make sure your research questions are designed to learn, not to “sell” anyone on your idea.

To gain added insights from your research, create prototypes, even rudimentary ones. It’s much easier for someone to tell you what they like and don’t like if you present them with something specific to react to.

Day #20: Business Building Techniques: Let’s Get Visual

To help you develop your best ideas, create a Creative War Room. Using a whiteboard, corkboard, or entire wall will help you visualize and organize all the components of your big idea in a single place. Think of your Creative War Room as both a creative problem solving and project prioritization tool. Fill your idea wall with everything from prototype drawings to names you are considering; from possible PR and advertising campaigns to new sales strategies. Committing your big idea to a physical space will make it more real, and help you generate that many more actionable ideas.

Day #21: Generating Selling Concepts: The Opportunity Redefinition Technique

How you plan to market and sell your product or service may be as critical to its success as the actual idea. The Opportunity Redefinition technique helps you generate innovative new sales programs by more broadly defining: 1) who’s doing the selling, 2) how and 3) to whom.

To do the technique, you simply create a variety different “who’s”, “how’s” and “to “whoms” – and then re-combine these words to create a new selling strategy.

For instance, maybe you assumed a traditional salesman would sell your product, but could the “who” be:

a broker, a client, a friend, a freelancer, an overseas agent…

Maybe you assumed “how” you’d sell your product would be with telemarketing but maybe it’s with:

in-person demos, late night TV ads, co-marketing, Google key words, as a premium, etc.

And maybe you even assumed you’d be selling your product to let’s say, retirees, instead of:

doctors, nurses, health insurers, a government agency, medical students, children of retirees, etc.

Once you have these lists, you then simply start mixing and matching entries from each list – three at a time – to create literally thousands of new selling strategies. Example: How do we get a broker to use Google key words to sell our new service to children of retirees?

With all the techniques summarised in 21 Days to a Big Idea, you should never feel you can’t create that next big idea to grow and improve your business… and your life!

Hope you enjoyed this summary. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please email me at and we can set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘Never Eat Alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi

There’s an old Chinese proverb that perhaps you’ve heard of it:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Well the same holds true for building your network.

Getting the Right Mind-Set

Here’s the rub: success in any field (but especially in business), is about working with people, not against them. Business is a human enterprise, driven and determined by people. We need each other and we feel a need to help each other.

We’ve all been invited to networking events. Those post-work sessions are often frequented by card ninjas playing top trumps with the other attendees. Ferrazzi believes real networking is about finding ways to make other people more successful. It is about working hard to give more than we get.

Real networking is also good for business. Building relationships is good for the companies we work for because everyone benefits from our own growth — it’s the value we bring that makes people want to connect with us.

Here’s the key to success in one word: generosity. And here’s Ferrazzi’s supplement: We’ve got to be more than willing to accept generosity. Often, we’ve got to go out and ask for it. It’s his belief that until we become as willing to ask for help as we are to give it, we’re only working half the equation.

A network functions precisely because there’s recognition of mutual need. There’s an implicit understanding that investing time and energy in building personal relationships with the right people will pay dividends. But it needs to pay both ways: win-win. Any other way and it’s binary. One winner, one loser. So step up and ask for help.

Where we once found generosity and loyalty in the companies we worked for, today we must find them in a web of our own relationships. It’s a more personal kind of loyalty and generosity, one given to our colleagues, our team, our friends and our customers.

Experience will not save us in hard times, nor will hard work or talent. If we need a job, money, advice, help, hope, or a means to make a sale, there’s only one surefire, fail-safe place to find them: within our extended circle of friends and associates.

So, before we ask for help, we need to know what we want. Ferrazzi suggests the more specific we are about what we want to do, the easier it becomes to develop a strategy to accomplish it and part of that strategy is establishing relationships with the people who can help us get where we’re going. Here’s his 3-step process to identifying what we want.

Step One: Find Our Passion

Most people don’t. They accept what they “should” be doing, rather than take the time to figure out what they want to be doing. Yet deep within each of us, there’s an intuitive knowledge of what we want most in life. We only have to look for it.

We need to look inside: without the constraints, without the doubts, fears, and expectations of what we “should” be doing. We have to be able to set aside the obstacles of time, money, and obligation.

We need to look outside: We must ask the people who know us best what they think our greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

Step Two: Putting Goals to Paper

Ferrazzi suggests we use what he calls a Relationship Action Plan of three parts.

The first part is devoted to the development of the goals that will help fulfil our mission.

The second part connects those goals to the people, places, and things that will help get the job done.

The third part helps determine the best way to reach out to the people who will help us accomplish our goals.

Step Three: Create a Personal “Board of Advisors”

Finally, even the best-conceived plans benefit from external help. It helps to have an enlightened counsellor, or two or three, to act as both cheerleader and eagle-eyed supervisor, who will hold us accountable.

Build It Before We Need It

Ferrazzi points out that the people who have the largest circle of contacts, mentors, and friends know they must reach out to others long before they need anything. The most important thing is to get to know contact as friends, not potential customers. The dynamics of building a relationship is incremental: one small step at a time.

Ferrazzi suggests that all around us are golden opportunities to develop relationships with people we know, who know people we don’t know, who in turn know even more people.

So step one in creating our relationship network is to focus on our immediate network: friends and family. Without a doubt they will know someone that might just be that magic connection. When making connections, people who are constrained by fear need to realise the worst anyone can say is “no”. We need to have the “guts” to face up to our insecurities. To help, find a role model and observe their behaviours. Pay attention to their actions and over time, adopt some of their techniques. Slowly, we’ll build up the courage to reach out by ourselves.

The Key Skills needed within our toolbox.

#1 Homework

Leave nothing to chance. Who we meet, how we meet and what the objective of the meeting is should be pre-determined. Research who they are and what their business is. Find out what’s important to them: their hobbies, challenges and goals. Pre-armed with this information we can step into their world and talk knowledgeably. Ferrazzi assures us their appreciation will be tangible.

#2 Take Names

The successful organisation and management of the information that makes connecting flourish is vital. Tracking the people we know, the people we want to know, and doing all the homework that will help develop intimate relationships with others can cause one heck of an information overload. So set up a working system to track the people you want to know.

#3 Warm the Cold Call

Ferrazzi gives us four rules for making effective cold calls:

1) Convey credibility by mentioning a familiar person or institution

2) State the value proposition

3) Impart urgency by being prepared to do whatever it takes whenever it takes to meet the other person on his or her own terms

4) Be prepared to offer a compromise that secures a definite follow-up at a minimum.

#4 Managing the Gatekeeper, artfully

How do we open the door? First, make the gatekeeper an ally rather than an adversary. And never, ever get on his or her bad side. Treat them with the dignity they deserve. If we do, doors will open to even the most powerful decision makers. Acknowledge their help. Thank them by phone, flowers, a note.

#5 Never Eat Alone

Ferrazzi believes invisibility is a fate far worse than failure. It means that we should always be reaching out to others, over breakfast, lunch, whatever. It means that if one meeting happens to go sour, we have six other engagements lined up just like it the rest of the week. He suggests we keep our social and event calendar full. We must work hard to remain visible and active among our ever-growing network of friends and contacts.

#6 Share Our Passions

When it comes to meeting people, it’s not only who we get to know but also how and where we get to know them. Ferrazzi suggests shared interests are the basic building blocks of any relationship. He tells us it is what we do together that matters, not how often we meet. When we are truly passionate about something, it’s contagious. Our passion draws other people to who we are and what we care about. Others respond by letting their guard down. Which is why sharing our passion is important in business.

#7 Follow Up or Fail

When we meet someone with whom we want to establish a relationship, we need to go the extra yard to ensure we won’t be forgotten. The fact is, most people don’t follow up very well, if at all. Making sure a new acquaintance retains our name (and the favourable impression we’ve created) is a process we should set in motion right after we’ve met them. And remember, it’s not what they can do for us, but what we might be able to do for them. It’s about giving them a reason to want to follow up.

#8 Connect with Connectors

We all know at least one person who seems to know everybody and who everybody seems to know. Ferrazzi suggests these people should be the cornerstones to any flourishing network. They are at the hub of many networks. The most efficient way to enlarge and tap the full potential of our circle of friends is, quite simply, to connect our circle with someone else’s.

#9 The Art of Small Talk

We’ve all struggled with that ancient fear of walking into a room full of complete strangers and having nothing to say. That’s why small talk is so important. Conversation is an acquired skill. If we have the determination and the proper information, just like any other skill, it can be learned. The goal is simple: Start a conversation, keep it going, create a bond, and leave the other person thinking, “I like that person”.

#10 Be Unique.

When it comes to making an impression, differentiation is the name of the game. Confound expectation. Shake it up. Ferrazzi assures us vulnerability is one of the most under appreciated assets in business today. Charm is simply a matter of being ourselves. Our uniqueness is our power.

And there you have it…some of the top ideas from the fascinating book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.

Hope you enjoyed this summary. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please email me at and we can set up a time for an exploratory discussion.

Book Summary of ‘Sales Growth’​ by Thomas Baumgartner

Marc Benioff knows a thing or two about sales. He visits and meets with thousands of sales executives every year in his role as Chairman & CEO of In the foreword of the book Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders, Benioff is surprised that there isn’t more rigorous research in the field of sales. Incredibly, he says, “MBA students can graduate without ever attending a class in sales.”

A team of global leaders from McKinsey’s Sales & Marketing practice led comprehensive research and interviews with more than 120 of today’s most successful sales leaders across a wide range of industries. The results led to Sales Growth, one of the first comprehensive books on the discipline of sales management.

Read this book and you’ll learn about five strategies that the world’s best sales practitioners use to create growth in any market.

Strategy #1: Find Growth Before Your Competitors Do

The first way to find growth before your competitors do is to look 10 quarters ahead to find out what the market will want.

There’s a well-known quote by Wayne Gretzky, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” In order to do this well, you’ll need to “surf the trends” and see where your market is heading. Of course, you will need to invest in the appropriate resources in order to take advantage of the demand when it hits.

You should be looking at technological, political, geographical, and regulatory trends. For instance, cloud computing is estimated to be worth $65-$85 billion by 2015, so one opportunity would be to target small businesses with a pay-as-you-go model for online software.

The second thing you can do to find growth before your competitors is to “mine growth beneath the surface.”

In essence, this is all about turning on the microscope to find small pockets of growth that collectively deliver real impact. For instance, a European telecommunications company broke down its 15 traditional sales regions into 500 micro-markets. This exercise made it very clear that it was under-investing in areas that were prime candidates for significant growth, and over-investing in areas where its returns would be much lower.

However, if you want to start analysing your markets in this sort of microscopic detail, your sales force will need assistance from other teams, including marketing, and even customer service in order to execute effectively. For instance, your marketing team might need to transfer some of its spend to markets where there is more growth opportunity.

The third thing you can do is to “find growth in big data.”

Making the most of big data means doing much more than analyzing the information contained in your CRM. It includes looking at data from your company, your suppliers, partners, and even your customers’ social media accounts.

When you start looking at all the sources of data in your decision making process, you find growth potential in unexpected places. For instance, a marketing executive at Google noticed that the colour of the links in the Gmail ads was different from the colour of ads on the Google search engine. The company tested 40 different shades of blue to see which link colour would generate the most revenue. The results were staggering. The winning blue collar added $200 million in revenue to Google’s coffers.

Strategy #2: Sell the Way Your Customers Want

How do your customers want to buy from you? The answer to this question is not as simple as it once was given the dramatic changes that the Internet and social media are driving

The first thing you can do to sell the way your customers want is to “master multichannel sales.”

This goes beyond the traditional understanding of multichannel, which typically assigns lower-value customers to low-cost channels such as the web and telesales, and directs bigger customers to more expensive channels, specifically, face-to-face direct sales.

In the new world of sales, leading companies understand that more important customers might have smaller needs that risk being unfulfilled because sales reps simply couldn’t afford to spend time on them. The implication is that you might consider pairing up an inside sales rep with each field sales rep. One company reaped a sales force productivity increase of 14% just from this simple change.

Of course, to master multichannel sales you also have to integrate online and offline experiences. The key here is to truly understand what your customer’s decision journey is. For instance, in the case of a car dealership, customers will probably want to research models and prices online, before they head in to the dealership for a test drive.

The second thing you can do to sell the way your customers want is to “power growth through digital sales.”

As the authors point out, more than two-thirds of all sales today involve some sort of online research, consideration, or the purchase. This proportion will only grow with time, and there are two specific ways to generate sales growth from this trend: optimise fanatically and get social.

Online optimisation is a huge topic with many facets. One of them is conversion rate optimisation through A/B or multivariate testing. A powerful example is this when upscale shirtmaker Thomas Pink learned through testing that adding product videos to its website doubled conversions compared to static images. You also need to start thinking seriously about investing in a great mobile web experience, as more and more people use their mobile device to shop online.

Getting social means that you need to start thinking about how you engage your customers and prospects through the various social networks. Although it’s still “early days” for many B2B marketers, the best performers are finding growth by running test campaigns through social media.

The third lesson the authors drew from leading sales executives was “innovating direct sales.”

This means doing things a little bit differently from your competition. For instance, sales leaders have found that by engaging customers early, and by not mentioning their products in these early discussions, they were able to generate higher levels of sales.

These early discussions instead focused on collaborative problem-solving of the customer’s specific business issue. Another finding was that companies who had more experts on hand as part of the sales process, sold more.

There are plenty of other options for selling the way your customers want: orchestrating direct and indirect channels, investing in partners for mutual profit, and selling like a local in emerging markets. If you want a more in-depth look at these elements, you can read more in the complete version of the Sales Growth book.

Strategy #3: Soup Up Your Sales Engine

“Souping up your sales engine” is all about designing sales processes that support your sales team.

The first thing you can do to turbo charge your sales engine is “tune your sales operations for growth.”

This means unearthing every opportunity to let your sales teams use more of their time to sell. That might seem simple enough, but if you haven’t looked at how your reps are spending their time lately, you might be in for a surprise.

A logistics company found that its sales reps were spending only 35% of their time actively selling. The rest of their time they were having to deal with other issues such as billing systems updates, internal communications and firefighting. Once the company understood this state of affairs, it implemented solutions to cut down on non-sales related activities, and voila – instant sales growth.

The second thing you can do to soup up your sales engine is to “build a technological advantage in sales.”

As the authors explain, putting the right insights into the right person’s hands at the right time can be enormously valuable. One company was able to help its reps automatically map their daily travel plans to enable them to make the best use of their time.

The technology looked at traffic patterns and the store hours of their retail customers and then automatically generated a map for them to follow. Not only did the reps not have to spend too much time mapping out their day, they were also able to travel much more efficiently and spend more of their time actually selling.

You should also enable your channel partners to take advantage of these insights. For example, Cisco developed communication tools for its own reps, and then opened them up to its channel partners so that they could take advantage of them as well.

Strategy #4: Focus on Your People

Of course, with all of this focus on technology and strategy, it’s easy to forget that we are also dealing with human beings. So, it makes sense that you also need to focus on your people in order to create sales growth.

The first thing you can do to is to “manage performance for growth.” There’s a difference between managing a sales team in the traditional way, and managing a sales team to engineer growth. To do the latter properly, you need to create a mindset shift in a few key areas.

First, you need to “coach rookies to become rainmakers” – as quickly as possible.

Traditional thinking was that “coaching” was a nice-to-have. Wrong. Sales growth thinking makes it a core competence of your team. Through the research the authors carried out, they found that a structured coaching program with weekly contact between the coach and sales rep was critically important. One industrial company has what it calls an 80/80 rule: sales managers are required to spend 80% of their time with their reps, and 80% of their variable compensation is tied to that coaching.

Second, you need to set the tempo of performance.

As the head of advisor sales at a US financial services firm says, “Great sales leaders run their operations with the precision of an engineering firm.” One pattern that emerged from the authors’ research was a high pace of reporting. Sales reps report to managers, managers report to executives, and the sales executives report to the CEO – every single week. Those calls are used to address issues and to put in place corrective actions.

Third, you need to recognise that it’s not just about pay.

Non-cash rewards can be a powerful incentive – up to four times more effective than cash rewards, if designed correctly. Even perks as simple as tickets to your team’s favourite sporting events can be a more powerful motivator than extra money in reps’ pockets. And, believe it or not, extra training for your team can also be considered a powerful motivator.

It’s one thing to create the mindset shifts we’ve just described, but it’s another to make them stick for the long haul. The authors found that it’s bolstered by going a level deeper. “Building sales DNA.” is critical.

The key to embedding these concepts is to encode the behaviour you know will be successful (such as those weekly meetings) into your team’s daily, weekly and monthly routines. After all, as the authors state, adults need to apply a new skill at least 20 times before it will stick.

The final item to pay attention to when creating long-term change is to give your middle managers a starring role.

Too often, companies underinvest in front-line managers, who can easily make or break any change effort.

Strategy #5: Lead Sales Growth

The final section of the book starts off with a great quote by Albert Einstein, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it’s the only way.”

The only way to generate the growth that you and your team are looking for is to drive it from the very top. As the authors point out, transformations of all kinds are two and a half times more likely to succeed if they have strong leadership commitment.

The most successful leaders focus on a few specific things in order to make this happen.

First, they challenge the status quo.

If there’s one thing that’s certain in your drive for growth, it’s that you’ll meet resistance from your team. By having the courage to insist that you and your entire team always challenge convention – always question the “but we’ve always done it that way” mentality, you’ll be ensuring the long-term growth of your sales team. Second, leaders galvanise sales teams.

You will need your team’s buy-in over the long run if you want your sales growth program to succeed. To get that, you need to paint a simple and compelling vision of the future. One CEO created a video highlighting the vision for the company that brought tears to their sales executives eyes (seriously). That’s the type of vision that you need to create. Lastly, leaders need to demand results.

Sales growth leaders know that in order to generate results, you need to be very specific about what you’re trying to achieve. First, be crystal clear on who is responsible for the growth plan. Second, be willing to move talent around to deliver results – ultimately rewarding those who produce results by setting them up to achieve even more.

Hope you enjoyed this summary. If you own or run a business perhaps you can reciprocate and help me?

I’m doing research for my next book based on my ability to perform a 45 minute business makeover. The framework is the fact I can find any small or medium size business a minimum of €10,000 in less than 45 minutes… without spending a cent on advertising or marketing. I plan to charge €2,000 for this service, and back that up with a written guarantee of a 10 X Return on Investment for the businesses that apply and that I hand pick.

My book will detail the process I use to find each business that money, and I plan to use the book to launch my marketing program worldwide. I’m looking for more specific case studies across industries to establish the credibility and legitimacy of the program.

If you would permit me to find you €10,000 in 45 minutes I won’t charge you a cent to do it. All I do ask is you give me written permission to use your results as a case study in my book, and if you like the results I get for you, perhaps provide me with a testimonial as well.

If this is something you would consider helping me with then please email me at and we can set up a time to speak.

Book Summary of ‘Great by Choice’ by Jim Collins


It’s 1912 and Raold Amundsden and Robert Scott are in a race to the South Pole. In a story seemingly designed perfectly to illustrate the difference between thinking that will lead to success and thinking that will lead to failure.

Amundsden’s team makes it to the South Pole first, and make it back alive to tell the story. Scott’s team, on the other hand, are less fortunate. They make it to the South Pole weeks later, only to find Amundsden’s team had planted a flag to mark the occasion. They struggled mightily on the trip back, eventually succumbing to the elements and perishing on their way back to civilisation.

The details of this incredible story seem to mimic the findings of Jim Collins’ research in his current book, Great by Choice. When Jim Collins wrote his best-selling book, Good to Great, he became an instant business hero. Executives from around the world aspired to be Level 5 leaders and focused intently on finding their hedgehog concepts.

But there was a question that remained unanswered: in a world that is increasingly in financial turmoil and constant change, how do you succeed? In a methodology similar to Good to Great, Collins and his team studied companies that were in industries where there was a constant state of change, and found that there were some companies that outperformed the marketplace by a significant margin.

He called these the 10x companies, because they all had outperformed their “industry index” by more than 10 times over the span of the study. In fact, on average, the 10x companies outperformed the marketplace as a whole by 32 times.

If it sounds to you like these would be some good companies to learn from, you’d be right. What Collins and his team concluded was that there were 4 main attributes of a 10x company – fanatical discipline, empirical creativity, productive paranoia and Level 5 ambition. In the following few minutes, you’ll find the keys to becoming more like Amundsden and less like Scott.

Attribute #1 – Fanatical Discipline

The first attribute of a 10x company is that they have fanatical discipline. Collin’s gives us the metaphor of the 20 mile march. Starting out on a cross-country journey, the metaphor goes, you’d be much better off walking 20 miles per day consistently than walking much more on the good days and much less on the bad days.

In business, the 10x companies realised that a similar principle applied – that you should do whatever you need to do in order to get results in the down years, and resist the urge to grow too wildly in the up years.

A great example of a company that has done the 20-mile march consistently is Southwest Airlines – the celebrated anomoly of the dreaded airline industry. Southwest demanded a profit from its business every single year.

For entrepreneurs, this sounds obvious. But in the airline industry, which was losing $13 billion per year, this is a remarkable thought. Even in the months after 9/11, when the industry was in shambles, Southwest was turning record profits.

They also excelled at the flip side of the 20-mile march, and controlled their growth in the up years. In 1996, for instance, there were over 100 cities who wanted Southwest to open operations there. Instead, they took a methodical approach and expanded to only 4 cities.

If you want to bring the 20-mile march to your organisation, here are the 7 elements you can learn from:

1. You should use performance markers to deliniate lower bounds of performance you are willing to tolerate. It should be difficult to achieve, but not impossible.

2. You also need to create self-imposed constraints to understand how much you are willing to grow in the good times. This should create some discomfort as well – there should be the feeling that you should be doing more and growing faster. It takes discipline to look at opportunities and turn them down – a lesson that Starbucks and many other fast growing companies learned the hard way.

3. These constraints should be tailored to the specific circumstances of your company and market environment. For instance, a web company has different growth challenges than a coffee chain. Setting those upper and lower bounds appropriately is critical.

4. These targets should be largely within your control to achieve. Could those other airlines have set up their businesses so that they achieved profitability every single year? Yes, but it would have took some significant planning and preparation like Southwest did.

5. You need to be thinking about the ‘Goldilocks’ time frame when setting these bounds – not too long and not too short. If you make the timeline too short you’ll be forced to deal with too much variability, and set it too long and will lose all its power. A year worked for Southwest, and something that’s a year or less is probably the range you want to be hunting for.

6. These bounds should be designed and self-imposed by you, and not by outside forces or circumstances. For instance, if you are in a public company, choosing a bound for what your earnings per share need to be every quarter would be a lazy choice driven by the demands of Wall Street. Choose a performance marker that is a true reflection of the underlying business instead.

7. Lastly, the march needs to be achieved with a great consistency over time. Hitting it every once in a while just doesn’t cut it. It’s the discipline to hit it time and time again that will determine your long-term success.

Attribute #2:Fire bullets, then cannonballs.

It’s a great metaphor for the process of creative experimentation and planning that seems to be popular with web startups, but I bet that will now also become more popular with the mainstream business community.

The idea is that if you were down to your last bit of gun powder, and had an enemy ship bearing down on you, you’d need to be judicious in your use of last reserves. Take it all and fire a cannonball, and the chances are that you are going to miss, and perish. But fire bullets first instead, and sooner or later you are going to find the right trajectory for your shots. Then, and only then should you load up the cannonball and take your shot.

Collins defines a bullet in the business context to be something that is:

1. Low cost – it shouldn’t cost you a lot of money to fire a bullet.

2. Low risk – the result, one way or another, shouldn’t have a major impact on your business.

3. Low distraction – it shouldn’t take much time away from the other major priorities the company has at the moment.

There are 5 steps to the process:

1. Fire a bullet. Make a hypothesis about a goal you are trying to achieve.

2. Assess whether or not you hit anything. Was your hypothesis correct?

3. Consider whether or not it’s worthwhile turning this bullet into a cannonball. This will depend largely on whether or not additional resources and money would lead to a big win for your company.

4. Convert it into a cannonball once you are convinced that you have calibrated the bullet correctly.

5. Terminate bullets that show no evidence of eventual success.

Attribute #3 – Productive Paranoia

It’s a great metaphor for the process of creative experimentation and planning that seems to be popular with web startups, but I bet that will now also become more popular with the mainstream business community.

Although Apple usually serves as a great example of creativity and hit products, the underlying story shows a great discipline in creating bullets, then cannonballs. It kept making investments in its’ “computer as the digital hub” strategy, first with the iPod, then iTunes as a platform and then the iPhone.

What the world saw as breathtaking innovation and big bets, Apple saw itself firing bullets and then turning them into cannonballs after they were sure that they were going to be a huge success.

All of the 10x companies seemed to be paranoid about something. But instead of acting like crazy people on the lookout for the next government conspiracy, they always have one eye out for the risks that could bring their companies down.

One of the things that each of the leaders of the 10x companies knew at all times was where their “death line” was, and they devised strategies for making sure they never got close to it. They knew that their company, like all companies, would run into a rough patch or ten along the way.

As the saying goes, you can afford to stay in business for as long as you can keep paying for your mistakes – once you cross the death line, that’s it. Game over.

There were 3 specific things that each of these companies did:

1. They had enough cash on hand to make sure they were prepared for any unforeseen events or bad luck before it happened. There’s a lot of bruhaha right now about the fact that Apple has tens of billions of dollars in cash reserves at the moment and that it’s an inefficient use of their money. But one thing is for sure – they are prepared for almost anything. And that economists and financial analysts for the most part don’t know what they are talking about.

2. They bound the risk they are willing to take on. Specifically, they pay attention to 3 kinds of risk – deathline risk, asymmetric risk (where the downside is much, much greater than the upside), and uncontrollable risk. Only when they were comfortable with the risk they were taking on, would they move forward with a plan.

3. They zoom-in and zoom-out. In zooming out, they would sense a change in the marketplace, determine how long they had in order to respond to the change, and then take the appropriate action. By zooming in, they would focus on the extreme execution of plans and objectives.

The big question that they ask themselves is “how much time until our risk profile changes here?” A great case study of this is action is what Andy Grove did when he found out he had cancer. As stunning as this would be for anybody, Andy did something that most people wouldn’t even think to do in this situation – he sprung into action.

He knew that he had months before any major decision needed to be made about what course of treatment to pursue, and he took that time to assess all of his options. He saw himself as the only person responsible for his health, and studied enough about his cancer and possible treatments that he could have probably passed a medical school exam. All the while running Intel.

That’s the hallmark of a great leader – truly understanding the timeframe in which you need to make a major decision, and then using that time to prepare yourself appropriately.

Attribute #4: Level 5 Ambition

Just like the leaders in Good to Great displayed Level 5 leadership (humility paired with professional will), the 10x leaders displayed a desire for their companies to succeed even beyond their tenure. The way they did this is through something that Collins calls SMaC. These are Specific, Methodical and Consistent operating principles as a recipe for success.

This is much different than core values or mission statements, because these are specific criteria for how they will run their company.

A great example of this was Southwest and how they ran their airline much differently than the other carriers. For instance, they only flew 737 airplanes so they could save costs and time by learning how to maintain and fly one model of airplane. They would remain a low cost carrier.

They would always have a high utilisation rate and low turnaround time for their aircraft. As Collins pointed out, Southwest only changed their SMaC by 20% over a 25 year period. That’s quite remarkable when you think about it.

And the other 10x companies operated in a similar fashion. By having a business strategy that was articulated and that could stand the test of time, they were able to focus their attention on the execution of these plans. Of course, even when the companies did amend their SMaCs, they did it with either empirical creativity or productive paranoia, only changing direction when they absolutely needed to, or when they could prove that it would be a home-run.

There you have it: everything you need in order to start your own 10x journey!

Hope you enjoyed this summary. If you own or run a business perhaps you can reciprocate and help me?

I’m doing research for my next book based on my ability to perform a 45 minute business makeover. The framework is the fact I can find any small or medium size business a minimum of €10,000 in less than 45 minutes… without spending a cent on advertising or marketing. I plan to charge €2,000 for this service, and back that up with a written guarantee of a 10 X Return on Investment for the businesses that apply and that I hand pick.

My book will detail the process I use to find each business that money, and I plan to use the book to launch my marketing program worldwide. I’m looking for more specific case studies across industries to establish the credibility and legitimacy of the program.

If you would permit me to find you €10,000 in 45 minutes I won’t charge you a cent to do it. All I do ask is you give me written permission to use your results as a case study in my book, and if you like the results I get for you, perhaps provide me with a testimonial as well.

If this is something you would consider helping me with then please email me at and we can set up a time to speak.

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