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Last week I contacted two different marketing companies about two different things and they approached the opportunity to do business with me in exactly the same way. I call it snob marketing. Snob marketing is when the sales person/consultant says something like, “We are very particular about the kind of people we do business with. You may not be for us.” Now, I know that that statement is designed to stir up an eager want in me. I am supposed to want to be considered worthy enough to have them take my money. Needless to say, it backfired and they really only managed to make my skin crawl.

Personally, I am only interested in whether or not a vendor is right for me. I think most customers and prospects feel the same way. I am not interested in trying to prove that I have what it takes to be someone’s customer. I’m not standing in line at Studio 54 and we are no longer living in the 70’s.

Why do sales and marketing people think they have to resort to tricks all the time? It seems pretty obvious to me that if you do anything to insult the intelligence of your prospect, you lose the opportunity to do business with them. It’s like the car salesman who makes the phoney telephone call to his boss to see if he can get approval for the price you are trying to negotiate. Then there’s the guy who tries to tell you his deal won’t be around for you later. I contend that if he wants the money (and he does), he’ll make the deal available!

Prospects and customers appreciate sincerity. The moment you resort to trying to pull the wool over your prospect’s eyes is the very moment you shut him/her down. If you genuinely believe you have a product or service that will help your prospect in some way, then say so. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I think we may be able to work together. Let’s meet and see if there is indeed a fit.” That opens doors. Telling your prospect that he/she may not be the kind of person you like to do business with is akin to erecting a 90 foot iron gate and slapping on a 120 pound pad lock!

Here’s the thing about marketing: any strategy you employ that works will only work for a little while. As soon as everyone starts to do it, it becomes completely ineffective! It used to be you could mail out a special offer and people would come running. Once everyone does that, it’s no longer special, is it? You always have to keep things creative and fresh. Here’s another example: free webinars are not as effective as they used to be. Why? Because everyone knows they are going to be sold something. Who wants to walk into that?

Honour your customers and prospects. You usually need them way more than they need you. Cut the crap and be honest with people because let’s face it: if a prospect waved a few grand under your nose, you’d probably hump his leg!

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I can’t stand cheap people. I don’t mind frugality, but I detest cheapness. Being frugal is not the same as being cheap. Frugality is simply being sensible with money, but cheapness is far more pervasive. It is a refusal to give, and usually people who have trouble giving monetarily hold back on everything else as well. Cheap people generally withhold affection, are not particularly helpful, they withhold information, are happy to receive but cannot reciprocate, rarely do favours for people and in my mind, are generally not very nice to have around.

In my book, Engaged for Growth, I talk about the Seven Virtues of Leadership (you can also view the Slideshare presentation of the virtues on this blog site). While all of the virtues are important, I have to say that I believe the virtue of generosity is the virtue which gives the leader the ability to leverage the most influence over others. Having a generous spirit is also pervasive. Generous people give their time, do favours for others, reciprocate easily, are helpful and supportive of others, and are generally warm and loving people.

Human nature is to want to do for those who do for you. We are socially programmed to reciprocate. For generous people, this is a no brainer. Cheap people, however, have a lot of difficulty with this concept and will always try to find ways to not have to reciprocate. They try to create loopholes that relieve them of their obligations. They make promises to give but change the criteria to suit their own needs. You cannot lead this way. Your colleagues and employees will not be able to respect you if you always do what is socially reprehensible. Most people find cheapness to be a distasteful quality. Cheap people cannot command respect, so don’t be cheap.

What should you give? Give fair compensation, give your time, give love, smile, give information and show people how to do things, buy someone a nice lunch, give sincere praise, give a referral, or give whatever you would like to be given. Just be generous and be sincere. Never give with the expectaion of receiving. That is not true generosity.

I belong to the “what goes around comes around” school of thought. I believe that treating people well brings good things into your life, and treating people badly, means you will receive bad karma. I try to do the right thing with people. I happily give a lot to people, and I will continue to give. This blog is a free gift for anyone who wants to learn and I am committed to posting informative and useful information to help people be the best they can be. It is my deepest desire to change the way employers work with their people and to enlighten those who want to lead. Leaders are models for others, and our generosity inspires those around us to be better. Failing to be generous means you fail to inspire. If you can’t inspire others, then you are not a leader.

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It may seem shallow, but we all judge books by their covers and we all create impressions of people based on what we see.  When people look at your appearance, they pass judgement about your income level, your education, your morality, your social status, your degree of sophistication, how successful you are and your trustworthiness.

How your employees perceive you will affect the degree to which they can take you seriously and that will affect the results you get from them.  If you come to work looking like you picked your clothes out of a pile at the bottom of your closet, that screams incompetence, and no one wants to follow someone who is incompetent.

Anyone who has had to hire people can tell you about the number of candidates that come through the door dressed like they’re going to a ball game or the grocery store. Managers sometimes think that because they are the boss, they can wear what they want, so they come to work with torn jeans, wrinkled shirts or stains on their clothes.

Never go to work looking unkempt or really out of style. It affects your credibility. A bad dye job or hair showing 3 inches of dark roots looks horrible. Not getting your hair cut, neglecting to shave or keep a neat beard says that you are a slob. Men with long nails and ladies who don’t wear any makeup to work create the wrong impression. Take the time to look after your appearance. Your employees will be much more receptive to whatever you have to say if you are not visually offensive.

I have seen bosses who regularly came to work smelling of booze from the night before. It’s hard to respect someone who shows no self-control in their life and doesn’t respect the work environment enough to come to work ready for the job at hand. Sorry, but no one is at their best when they are hung over.

If you don’t look right for the job, then you won’t be taken seriously, and you will have difficulty developing rapport with your employees and other co-workers.

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Not getting the results you want? We all get stuck from time to time as we struggle to achieve our desired goals. This happens to all of us and there are many sources for this problem that need to be analyzed if we are going to come up with an effective solution. Sometimes we stagnate because we are more focussed on the problem than the solution. Sometimes we are too close to the problem to really see the whole picture, and sometimes we are simply distracted by things that invade our mental space and occupy our time. I like to call those misaligned priorities because they seem to demand our attention but do not actually move us toward our goals.

Getting to where you want to be means remaining committed to your goals. I am a very goal driven person, and I get extremely frustrated when things don’t happen for me. Sometimes my tenacity bugs people, because I am like a dog with a bone. I absolutely cannot let go. When the voices around me tell me to let the goal go, I will still push myself to get there. I remember reading in Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich that one of the common traits of successful people is the willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. Whenever I think of that, I strengthen my resolve to keep going and try to find better ways to get there.

Doing whatever it takes means you need to ask yourself some different questions in order to find better solutions. One question I like to ask myself is, “What am I going to do today to bring me closer to my goal?” This question forces focussed action, and since nothing happens without action, it must drive you closer to achieving your goal. After that question, you have to ask yourself what your intended outcome is and examine whether or not the action will indeed bring you closer to your goal.

Another question I like to ask is, “Who can help me?” No one can be successful alone. Everyone who has ever achieved anything worthwhile had someone in their corner. Figure out which relationships you can leverage to get the kind of assistance you need. Before you do this, though, take the time to think of as many things as possible that will help you. For example, you may think all you need is a good business referral, but there may be some other things that could be even more valuable to you. Take the time to reflect on what these could be, then go out and find someone to help you.

Flexibility is really important if you want to achieve a particular goal. A goal may remain unchanged or may need to be modified slightly. Be prepared to modify both your goals and the way you think about your business or career. Ask yourself if there is something more or different that you could be doing. Does your market need to change? Does your product or service need to change? Is your approach inefficient? What do you need to do differently?

In developing questions to ask yourself, put a little pressure on yourself to come up with different questions and solutions each time. By doing the same thing day after day you will not create better results, so insist on changing it up. Only perform actions that produce something. If you can’t cultivate the results you want by repeatedly performing the same action, you must be prepared to do something else. For example, writing a blog requires you to perform the same action repeatedly and doesn’t necessarily produce immediate business results. What it does do, is cultivate opportunities. If no one is reading it, however, it is a waste of time.

Are your wheels spinning or turning? Are you stuck in a rut or are you driving on the road ahead? Try asking some different questions and if you need help, find a friend, a mentor or a coach who can push you to ask the right questions and develop great solutions.

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I had a book signing event at a prominent book store on the weekend. Since I am an author and an employee engagement specialist, I asked one of the store’s managers if he was interested in business leadership books. His response to me was that he was not interested in developing his leadership skills and that he just punches the clock and does what he is told. Later, when I was leaving, I stopped by his office to say good bye and he was chewing out one of his staff for goofing off while someone was on break.

So there he is; another disengaged manager trying to engage his employees by yelling at them for being disengaged. Good grief! Here’s a news flash: You cannot engage employees if you are not engaged yourself! Your attitude is contagious. If you are enthusiastic and interested in what you are doing, then your people will be more likely to embrace your enthusiasm as you try to connect with them on a human level. If you are barely interested in your work and “punch the clock” then don’t expect much more from your employees. Your disinterest is the model of behaviour they are following!

When I left the store, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of company would even want a guy like that on their payroll. Are they so desperate for managers that they have to resort to hiring people who have no drive, or is that hiring manager just as disengaged as he is? Hmm. Something to ponder…

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 I like Seth Godin. I subscribe to his blog and just today received his posting called The Paralysis of Unlimited Opportunity. It made me think about all the distraction we face in our work lives and wonder how many of us are compromising productivity due to a lack of focus. How many of us possess the drive, ambition, know-how and desire to succeed but are distracted by a million little nothings in our day? You know what I mean; web-sites, phone calls, text messages, family, and life in general. It is easy to get pulled in a million directions. How many of us spend too much time sifting through email that adds no value to our lives? Are you spending more time waiting for opportunities than creating them? Are you flogging dead horses even though you know you are not Jesus Christ and cannot give life to the dead? Is this the paralysis of unlimited opportunity or just the paralysis of having a distracted and undisciplined nature? Maybe you are just spending too much time tuning into the white noise of being busy doing nothing.

Here are some tips to help you get around this:

1. Know what you are working toward. Have a very clear purpose, write it down and decide what exactly you need to do to achieve this. Failure to do this will result in your swirling in a sea of white noise for eternity.

2. Turn off the white noise at the end of every day and make a list of priorities for the following day. Your day isn’t done until you’ve accomplished them and written out new ones for the next day.

3. Find someone to hold you accountable. Having a friend at work or even outside of work who can participate in this with you is very effective. Your friend should also be setting goals and reporting to you. You can’t meet every week and have none of your goals achieved; it’s way too embarrassing! Mutual accountability is great for helping you move things along.

4. Read books that motivate you. Filling your head with fluff will result in your being less productive. A commitment to reading or listening to books that inspire you to achieve more, develop important skills and increase your expertise will allow you to become much more productive.

5. Hire a coach. I do provide private leadership coaching to my clients, and it is not terribly expensive. There are many ways to access coaching with the technology that exists today. If all of the above isn’t helping you, consider hiring someone who specializes in working with others to enhance performance.

Taking action to  overcome your white noise will be the difference that gives you an edge and will allow you to be all that you can be. Do something. As Seth Godin says in his blog post, just don’t do nothing.

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I regularly play a training game with my clients, which demonstrates the power of positive feedback. I divide the workshop participants into three groups and assign three leaders. The object of the game is to toss a penny against the wall and have it land on a strip of masking tape placed about two feet from the wall. The leader of each team is given a separate set of instructions which must be kept secret. One leader is to give only positive feedback to their team mates, and should continually offer encouragement by saying things like. “Good try.” “Nice technique”, etc. The second team leader is to say nothing at all. He must allow the players to just toss away pennies and make no comments of any kind. The third leader is instructed to give only negative feedback. He must make comments like, “That’s terrible!” “What are you doing?” “You suck,” etc.

I have to say that every time I play this game, the results are always the same. The team who gets positive feedback always manages to get the most pennies on the tape. The team who gets no feedback does much worse, and the team that receives only negative feedback gets the worst score of all. Interestingly, that team tries really hard to win. They support each other and offer encouragement to each other. They shut out the team leader completely, physically blocking his view of their performance. They do this every single time! It’s fascinating, and people do this at work all the time.

Think about your experiences with negative managers. How did you and your co-workers cope? Did you all gang up and complain about him/her whenever you had the chance? Were there things you tried to keep your boss from seeing? How can you use what you know about motivation to build the power of your team?

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