Make a friend. Almost kill him. Start a business together.

I made a new friend. One day, we almost killed each other. Then, we spent that afternoon together in misery. Next, we formed a company to teach others to do what we had done — at work. You can do it too at your work.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Meeting:

Adam and I worked together once, years ago, on a project for two months. It was great. Won some critical acclaim. Was beloved by a small number of fans. And ultimately, it failed commercially. Some time later, we entered a competition together (along with some others) with a weekends’ project, had some fun, and won an award. I liked working with Adam. I thought there was potential for a friendship there, so I asked him on an adventure.

“Let’s go on a half-day canoe trip together, Adam. Something local. I’ll meet you at the river.”

On the trip, we almost killed each other. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“The mindset that improv training breeds is kind, empathetic, resourceful, observant, responsive, innovative, and resilient. Imagine for a moment that every boss you’ve ever had, every coworker, everyone who has ever reported to you was kind, empathetic, resourceful, observant, responsive, innovative, and resilient. Imagine what you could have accomplished together.”

Adventure:

We met relatively early in the morning at a gas station. He followed me in his car to the downriver site where we’d end our morning’s paddle. And then, we drove my car to the upriver site where we put the canoe in the water. After a couple of hours of pleasant, enjoyable calm flat water, punctuated by the occasional mild, short, fun rapids, we came to a bigger rapid, and pulled the boat to the bank to reconnoiter.

I hopped out, scrambled a ways down the bank, climbed up on some rocks and debris, and scoped out the rapid. It was fast, turbulent water, but the chute through the rapid was uncomplicated and clear of any major obstacles. I nodded, returned to Adam, and said, “Let’s do this.”

He replied, “I don’t know.”

“I think we can do it,” I said. “Bigger, but not harder, than what we’ve already done.”

Then I reminded him of a few key techniques for navigating the rapid successfully and what to do if we capsized (I was the experienced paddler in the boat), and we pushed off the bank.

The first half of the rapid was a thrilling, easy, straight shot. We came to the first of two slight adjustments we’d have to make before reaching calm water again, and Adam leaned right when he should have leaned left. We took on water. The boat rode lower, and within one second we were capsized. For a few seconds, I shouted instructions to Adam. “Hang onto your paddle! Feet downstream! See you at the bottom! Left bank!” Neither one of us knows if he heard any of that.

Disaster:

The next thing I knew, my ankle got caught between two boulders. I swung around head downstream, foot pinned, face up in the heavy water. And the torrent played me like a ragdoll. I could not free my ankle. I struggled to keep my face above the water. By trying to sit up, I could just manage to bring my face to the surface long enough to gasp a breath. I did this a few times. I hadn’t been pinned more than a few seconds, I think, but I was already becoming exhausted.

If I couldn’t free my foot, I would drown very soon. But struggling as I was to earn just three breaths, I was losing strength, and hadn’t made any progress toward freedom. I thought, “I’m going to die.” I thought of my unborn daughter growing up without a dad. So I took a breath, and gave in to the torrent. I went limp. My body did a horizontal impression of a car-dealership tube-man in the current.

I was resting.

After only a couple of seconds of that, I summoned my strength and did the hardest situp of my life. I managed the biggest breath so far, and — finally — to wrench my ankle from between the boulders that held it.

Seconds later, the rapids spit me out into the calm but swift water below. I thought, for the first time since being pinned, of Adam. I hoped he’d fared better than I had. I hoped too that he’d heard me say left bank. I swam for that bank myself, exhausted.

By coincidence or by design, Adam had also found the left bank. We found each other, and took stock.

Our paddles were gone. Our boat was gone. Adam had seen it destroy itself against a rock, turning inside out and wrapping around the boulder under the immense pressure of the water. Our food was gone. Hats gone. Almost everything was gone. Drinking water, gone. Adam’s shoes, gone.

I still had my wallet. Still had my keys. Both of us, somehow, had managed to keep our smartphones, and to keep them dry.

The phones turned on, but there was no reception. So we climbed a small but steep hill beside the river.We were somewhere inside Fort Lewis Army Base, and there were no buildings, or paths or other man-made anythings to be seen, even from the hill. The bank was impassable. The river too swift and cold to float the afternoon in. And we could not place a call. Google maps did, however, give us some slight indication of our location and of directions. We identified a possible road on the map and planned to walk there. It was not very near.

Adam’s shoes were gone, and his bare feet already hurt after the small amount of walking we’d done. I gave him my sandals and went barefoot.

Ordeal:

We tried to walk in the direction of the road or path that the map had indicated. It wasn’t easy to do. The forest around us was all but impenetrable. Every foot of progress was hard won through undergrowth and brambles. We zigzagged our way in the general direction we wanted to go by walking along fallen logs whenever we could. They provided paths through the bramble.

The afternoon became hot, and we wished we had water. We became quite fatigued. The landscape of small hills and valleys was difficult. The bramble nearly impossible.

Eventually, we reached my wife by phone and tried to describe the spot we were trying to reach — and told her it was within Fort Lewis. Could she call someone to meet us there — or try to meet us there herself?

We lost reception.

When we regained reception, we learned she’d gotten permission to drive into this remote section of the base to try to find us.

We pushed on. I lost my wallet, and spent some time and energy looking for it, retracing my steps a small distance. I could not tell where I had been, could not see my own path, so I gave up on my wallet, and we pressed on again.

Finally, we came in to a valley we believed our road ran along. But there was no road. So we pressed on, until…

Salvation:

I don’t know whether I saw or heard her first. Bless her, my wife had found our road, driven along it as far as she could, and then, when the road became impassible to the car, she’d left the car to find us on foot. She’d brought water.

Rejuvenated, somewhat, by the arrival of our rescuer, and by the rehydration, we quickened our pace and reached the car.

With the worst of the ordeal behind me, I decided and told Adam, “Now that we’re safe, and only in retrospect, that was kind of fun.”

“Not my idea of fun,” said Adam (a guy who’s run the Tough Mudder because that is his idea of fun).

Retrospect:

That’s when something began to dawn on me. “Not my idea of fun,” was the most negative thing Adam had said all day.

We’d stood on the bank of that river, nearly drowned, already exhausted by the ordeal in the rapids, with no way back to civilization, without water, and facing hours of greater ordeal in the heat of the afternoon. Adam had leaned left when he should have leaned right. I’d taken us into a rapid that I should not have attempted with Adam’s level of experience and confidence. We stood there on the bank facing trouble, but not emergency.

There were lots of conversations we could have had on that bank. Either of us could have blamed the other, shouted, pointed, and cursed. Either of us could have sat on the bank to cry. Either of us could have begun to marshal resources to support his own comfort and ease — to hell with the other guy.

Instead, we took quick stock of the situation, and began to think of the two person unit. Adam was fitter physically. I was more experienced outdoors. I had sandals. Adam’s bare feet were already hurt.

We strategized briefly. And we took immediate action to get the pair of us out of the predicament.

And the day went that way, each of us caring for the other, filling in when we could for the other’s weaknesses.

There was not a moment’s time given to sniping or to blame. We spoke occasionally of the fatigue and the dehydration, but neither of us complained. Instead, we kept the team apprised unemotionally of our slowly deteriorating state of strength and endurance. We took a moment to admire the beauty of a striking caterpillar posing on a tree trunk.

We disagreed about strategy often. At those times, we debated briefly, and one of us would defer to the other, and get completely behind the plan from that point on. We made errors that set us back. We adjusted, and still never pointed fingers.

Revelation:

We had each other’s backs, and we were united behind a single purpose.

I’d been considering a company dedicated to making work good for people. I’d seen how much ineffectiveness there is in many people’s work habits, and how many people feel beat down by work instead of fulfilled. Most people in our society don’t like work. I wanted to make a difference in that because I wanted my daughter to grow up in a culture where work is viewed as a grace and a privilege. I knew that tools and techniques from theater improv could serve to help people focus on what matters, to respond to others with empathy and purpose, and to take inspiration from the most seemingly trivial things — and therefore to like work.

Because Adam is the best improviser I know, I’d thought about asking him to join me in founding this company.

But it was because of who we were together in adversity, because of our focus on purpose, our willingness to keep going when it seemed we could not, because of the resourcefulness and commitment to purpose and team above all else… Because of those extraordinary qualities proven in a true trial of our temperaments, I knew two things.

Company Born:

First, I knew Adam was someone I could work with in the trenches. Come hell or high water, we’d be able to weather the rough seas of a startup.

Second, I knew that it was the improviser’s mentality that allowed us to maintain such equanimity, kindness, and resolve during and after such a trial. I knew we had something we could offer to the workplaces and to working-teams all over our country. And I knew we were already both experienced at teaching it.

Pair that with a life-long passion for developing leadership in myself and others… We were poised to change lives. We asked Rachel (who shares our mindset and devotion to developing it still further) to join us. She rounded out our team, and we started changing the world of work one team at a time.

Our Impact:

The mindset that improv training breeds is kind, empathetic, resourceful, observant, responsive, innovative, and resilient. Imagine for a moment that every boss you’ve ever had, every coworker, everyone who has ever reported to you was kind, empathetic, resourceful, observant, responsive, innovative, and resilient. Imagine what you could have accomplished together. Imagine the joy that would have filled your days. Imagine how you would feel on Monday morning, knowing you were heading to work to be surrounded by minds like that.

That’s why I have found my life’s work in changing lives, by changing work, by changing habits, by teaching improv dynamically correlated to the work you do.

 


"Culture Fitness" with Rebecca Clements - MGW #6

GUEST: Vice President of Human Resources at Moz, Rebecca Clements  https://moz.com/about/team/rebeccadclements

Rebecca Clements on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-clements

 

Human Resources’ reputation as being pain-in-the-butt rule-makers and rule-enforcers was a leading reason Rebecca Clements chose to cultivate a different kind of HR experience.

In this episode, Rebecca talks about the imperative of good culture in tech in order to attract and maintain talent from diverse backgrounds of experience.  And she tells us how she and her team do it?

“Culture is something that happens around you unless you are really intentional about it.

If you are intentional and use it as an advantage within the business, then all of your time spent on it will be worth while and set you apart from your competitors, attract people, and help your business be successful.”

What makes a company “culturally fit?”

  1. Clearly articulated values that everyone in the company embraces, wants to be a part of and upholds.
  2. Intentionality about how priorities are managed.
  3. Treat people well ? clients and co-workers. How you treat one will bleed into your behavior with the other.

She generously shares Moz’s value system called TAGFEE that every Mozzer aspires to daily.

 

Transparent:  Be willing to talk about it all: the good, bad, and ugly.  They have a commitment to share what didn’t work, without making excuses.

Authentic:  Bring your BEST authentic self to work.  People bring and share their stories.  They share at Lunch & Learns to offer personal insight.  They are encouraged to speak up and bring their set of experiences to the table.  Active disagreement is vital and encouraged in order to have all opinions authentically on the table.

Generous:  The company provides paid-paid vacations for employees and sabbaticals for employees after 5 years.  Considering the “Whole Human”.  They match charity donations. They demonstrate a generous mindset by being available with time, information and coaching/guidance.

Fun:  Positivity- assume good intent, “You have my best interest at heart and I have yours.”  They actively invest in team-building and building community.

Empathetic:  Empathy is key to decision making and solving conflict.  They seek to employ empathetic people to increase the quality of the work environment.  They talk about it, model it and celebrate empathy in their workplace.

Exceptional:  Being willing to choose unique, value-based marketing strategies or “give-aways”.  Offering professional coaching to all of their employees to help them through challenges and opportunities.   Anyone can pursue coaching for any reason at all.  They  know that if you are dealing with something at home or in the office, it will affect your work.  Offering ongoing manager courses for all levels of management or aspiring management to gain skills.

Yes, they even have a Team Happy:  Rebecca leads a team of 5 people at Moz whose mission it is to ensure happiness, productivity and to embody TAGFEE.

 

And, YES, they are hiring.  https://moz.com/about/jobs#listings

 

And, YES, they have an annual marketing conference called MOZCON coming up this fall September 12-14.  Get your tickets here https://moz.com/mozcon

 

Visit Mighty Good Work and The Yes Works at: TheYesWorks.com

Theme music by: Miguel Juarez

Midshow break music by : Allan Loucks www.TinEar.com

Check out this episode!


Never Say This In Customer Service

(Mind you, we’re all — yes, all — in customer service.)

esterday, I was on the phone with a company that’s been giving me the run around for way too long. Normally, I’d have taken my business elsewhere. But, because it’s my father-in-law’s health insurance, and part of his pension, I was locked in.

For years, I’ve been facing terrible customer service from this company. Multiple customer service “pros” have been failing to meet their company’s obligations. Finally, during yesterday’s call, I found myself speaking with a supervisor who knew how customer service was done. Carrie (the supervisor) was guaranteeing me this, and apologizing for that. She empathized with me about the long-standing problems I’d been having. She called the experience I’d had so far, “unacceptable.”

Things on the call with her were going well until I asked to be refunded for $40 of prescriptions I’d had to pay out-of-pocket because of her company’s failures. “I don’t have the receipt,” I admitted. Carrie was happy to offer a refund, but understandably needed the receipt to do so. Accounting will be accounting.

And then she said what no person in customer service should ever say.

“There’s nothing I can do.”

If I’m your customer, “There’s nothing I can do,” is the absolute last thing I want to hear from you. I’m looking to you for service. Don’t balk. Find a way to serve. Maybe you don’t have the authority to do what I’m asking. Maybe you have the authority, but not the willingness. Either way, if you determine that there’s something you can do to help, if you only find it, you will find a way. Offer what you do have.

On the call I was describing, I momentarily felt my hopes — finally rekindled by the first responsible and reasonable professional I’d reached after a year’s struggle — dashed by the simple statement, “There’s nothing I can do.”

But, I considered what I’d come to know about Carrie in the past five minutes of excellent customer service. I reached down deep and gathered what was left of my trust, and said, “Carrie.” (I’ve changed her name.) “Carrie, please don’t say that. After the experience I’ve had with your company, I don’t want you to say that there’s nothing you can do.”

She said, “I wish there was. You haven’t been getting the service you deserve. I’d like to give you a refund. I really would. But I’d need a receipt.”

“Thank you, Carrie,” I said. “Here’s what you can offer. I spend $10 with you every month on medications. You can take my word that the refund would be about $40, and you can offer me a credit for the next four months of purchases. You wouldn’t need a receipt to offer me that. Heck, you could offer me that credit simply for the inconvenience and hassle your company has been putting me through on a regular basis for years.”

“We could do that,” she said. She sounded relieved. I’d broken the fear that had caused her to balk. “I’ll credit your account $40.”

It’s Not True. It Degrades Trust.

Guess what. When you say, “There’s nothing I can do,” no one ever believes you. It’s the refuge of the frightened, the lazy, and the powerless.

When you or someone on your team says, “There’s nothing I can do,” your customer’s hopes are crushed, and they start to wish they’d never engaged with your company.

Whatever the reason you’re telling your customer, “I can’t help,” you’re shattering their trust and losing their respect.

Customer Service Alternatives

“I’m not going to do that,” preserves more trust and respect than, “I can’t.”

By saying, “I’m not going to,” you are naming a choice. I may not agree with that choice. I may not like it. But at least you’re being honest and courageous by giving it to me straight.

Better still, if you can’t or won’t do what your customer is asking, then ask yourself, “What can I do? What will I do?”

  • I can’t give you a refund, but I will give you credit.
  • I can ask my supervisor.
  • I don’t know the answer to that question, but I will investigate and call you within the hour to give you the answer.

Happy Side Effect

So, a practice of finding what you CAN do when you can’t or won’t do what a customer (or a colleague) is asking vastly improves customer experience. It can make the difference between losing a client and wowing a client.

It also improves employee experience and employee engagement. None of us likes feeling powerless. When we say we’re powerless, we feel powerless. Look for the power you have, find creative solutions, and you’ll feel powerful.

HEY, POLICY MAKERS!

Meanwhile, employers, give your employees all the authority they need to satisfy the majority of customer complaints. Your customers will be happy. Your employees will be happy, and engaged, and will stay on the job. And you’ll find you’re swimming in loyalty from both customers and employees.

 

 

_______________

Imagine your team operating with high-level EQ. Trouble is, reading an article doesn’t reliably change behavior. That’s why we created Adeptability Training for your team for a high-performance accountability culture that’s fun and fulfilling to work in. Want an Adeptable team?

Book a call today.


"Storied Leadership" with Jody Maberry - MGW #5

GUEST: Jody Maberry — http://jodymaberry.com/

Jody Maberry on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodymaberry

Jody Maberry Show (podcast): https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jody-maberry-show-helping/id1084178356?mt=2

Our stories are what set us apart. Your story is not the same as anyone else’s, and that gives you the power to connect, intrigue, and inspire others.

 

Some of us think we don’t have good stories, and wouldn’t know how to tell them if we did. “Good stories come to people who can tell them. When you look at life as a storyteller, you will find stories in nearly everything.” And with practice, and by tuning in to your audience, you can become good at it.

 

Why tell stories? Stories stick with people. They’re memorable. And, stories tie things together. Innovation results from tying unexpected things together. So, stories lead to innovation.

 

Whether you’re expert in a given field or not, your experience has something to offer to those who are. Innovation in a field often comes from the connections made by novices and outsiders.

 

People aren’t motivated at work just by the paycheck and benefits package. That’s just the fuel that allows them to spend their time in your organization instead of hunting and gathering. People are motivated to do extraordinary work by a fulfilling story. Story creates identity and satisfaction at work. Every business (as Disney says) is putting on a show. Story creates the roles for people. As employers, we can create an environment where the storytelling is about the value of the work you do, and how fulfilling the work you do can be.

 

Every story you tell informs every action we take. Change the story, change the experience. Each of us needs to be the hero of the story we’re in. Leaders can inspire and motivate those they lead by weaving a story in which everyone plays a critical role in achieving a goal that matters.

 

Our clients and customers are the heros of their stories as well. To serve them well, we must help them through the obstacles they face in their journey.

 

Be alert to the stories your company is telling, even when you are not speaking. Every aspect of your brand and behavior tells a story.

 

——

 

Visit Mighty Good Work and The Yes Works at: www.TheYesWorks.com

 

Theme music by: Miguel Juarez

Midshow break music by : Allan Loucks www.TinEar.com

Check out this episode!


Your Happiness, Your Job with Dana Manciagli - MGW #4

GUEST: Dana Manciagli — Global Career Expert: Speaker and Private Coach

www.DanaManciagli.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/danamanciagli

 

Over decades, Dana Manciagli amassed skills and insights into good work and career wisdom while working at such companies as Avery, SeaLand, Kodak and Microsoft. Now, she gives others the benefit of that wisdom as  an author, blogger, keynote speaker, career coach, and global career expert.

Earlier episodes of this podcast have focused on leadership’s role in great work in our companies. Dana Manciagli is here to talk with your host Aaron Schmookler about what each of us can do to insure that we’ve got Mighty Good Work.Reboot yourself by changing jobs, by jumping division to division, location to location, or company to company.

 

Here are a few highlights from our conversation with Dana:

 

Make choices! Don’t let your work happen to you. Be deliberate.

 

Figure out what you like, and pursue only what you like.


You can’t be all things to all people. Make choices. Sometimes they’re tough. You don’t have to get it absolutely right. Make a call and take action on it.

 

“What are you waiting for? You have a vision. You know what you want to do next. Why aren’t you doing it?”

 

Don’t rely on your boss to make you happy.

 

Ask yourself, “What was this week like? Did I do my best? Treat my people well? Make good choices?” Take regular accounting of your own performance against your own standards of excellence. Expect greatness.

 

There’s a lot of boss bashing out there. Stop bashing the boss. It only hurts your career.

 

Business revolves around relationships.

 

Rule #1: Build the relationship with your boss. There’s a “we factor” and you’re role in the relationship is equally important. It takes two.

 

YOU have tremendous power in yourself — through your choices — to have good work wherever you are.

 

Put in the work that it takes to enjoy work! Don’t be stuck.Take action to get to joy at work!

 

If you need a private job search coach, contact Dana through her website or through LInkedIn.

 

http://DanaManciagli.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/danamanciagli
Check out this episode!


Company Culture By Design

Company Culture Blueprint

Company culture ain’t a list on the wall. It ain’t platitudes spoken at team meetings. Company culture ain’t even a prevailing attitude that everyone on payroll adopts after they’ve drunk the company Kool-Aid.

“Want to create a productive, lucrative, and personally rewarding culture in your company? You can. Create the contagion.”

Gotta Understand What Company Culture Is

So what is it?

Company culture is the set of contagious behaviors and attitudes shared among the people on your team (and reflected in your clients and vendors as well).

It’s a system of beliefs and behaviors instilled into the zeitgeist of your company. Everybody’s doing it and steeped in it. The indoctrination began during recruiting. Culture is shaped by the stories we tell within a community. It’s the behaviors that have become habitual and automatic. Culture’s details are selected by reinforcement and by disincentives and by benign neglect. Company culture is the behaviors that people exhibit even when the heat is on, they’re under stress, and people are getting under their skin. And company culture can be shaped. It can be changed. It can be trained.

But it can’t be memo-ed. And it can’t be policied. And it can’t be employee handbooked. It is profoundly influenced by behaviors in the C-Suite. But, Company culture is not simply a top-down thing. It’s an all around thing. Think the C-Suite can’t have it’s culture slowly changed from the bottom? Think again. Culture, by its very nature, is definitively contagious. Think of a Grateful Dead show. Imagine Burning Man. Think of a Donald Trump Rally. The people in those environments don’t behave that way — for better or for worse — at home. They get swept up in a powerfully contagious culture wave. That wave is influenced by the behaviors and the stories that surround them.

Sold?

Want to create a productive, lucrative, and personally rewarding culture in your company? You can. Create the contagion. Behavior is contagious. Belief is contagious. Any person at any level can introduce a new contagion. Don’t believe me? What phrase or figure of speech do you use now, but that you didn’t before a co-worker started saying it in your presence. What stories are told in the break room that have you and your colleagues nodding or cheering? That’s an illustration of the contagion of culture.

Gotta Know What to Do

What are the behaviors that lead to a productive, lucrative and personally rewarding culture? Here are some:

  • Give feedback to your direct reports and peers that is:
    • Frequent
    • Specific.
    • Timely
    • Organic
    • Compassionate
    • Heavily congratulatory
    • Corrective when needed
    • Focused on the future
  • Contribute thoughts and ideas freely.
  • Respond to others thoughts and ideas by furthering the discussion (never shooting down).
  • Focus on purpose and on actions that need taking.
  • Observe and inquire about the non-verbal cues of others for greater clarity and communication success.
  • Observe and choose your own non-verbal communication for greater clarity and communication success.
  • Offer solutions, not complaints.
  • Welcome change while respecting tradition.
  • Speak about clients and coworkers with compassion and appreciation.
  • Replace time wasting conflict between people over who is right with effective conflict between ideas so the best ideas are found and forged.
  • Tell stories that cast others in a good light, and in which you are not a victim of circumstance.
  • Manage and supervise in ways that help your people manage fear — to feel less fear, and to act with freedom in the face of fear. We call this a “Got-Your-Back Culture.”

More than the sum

These are the behaviors that awaken the elusive SYNERGY we hear so much about. Synergy is not a mythical unicorn or a woo-woo concept from beyond the pale. Synergy is real. We’ve all experienced it.   And, it’s attainable. One way to get it… the skills and techniques of Adeptability Training correlated to the work you do.

______________

As G.I. Joe used to tell me at the end of each episode… “Knowing is half the battle.” The gap between what your people know, and what they do… fear. If you’d like to build fear-busting Adeptability culture in your company, click to book a call.


Whole Company Well Being with Dr. Laura Hamill - MGW #3

GUEST: Limeade’s Chief People Officer, Dr. Laura Hamill  — https://limeade.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-hamill-5972a44

 

According to our guest this week,the most important asset a company has is its people. And to be the best it can be, a company has got to consider, care for, and nurture this single crucial resource. When we waste resources, whether money, or time, or people, we pay the price.

There are real business reasons for companies to care about their employees. The big brands are noticing that.

  • Talent recruiting and retention
  • Business results as well from engagement

 

Organizational culture must be aligned with what you’re trying to do as a business. You can’t have goals and aspirations that conflict with other goals and stated values, or that friction will chaffe.

 

Culture is contagious. Behavior that happens leads to more behavior like it. You have to articulate what is the culture you want to have. You do have or will have a company culture, like it or not. Culture’s affects on the people and the business are so profound that you must be intentional about the culture you create if you want to thrive. Then, you’ve got to operationalize the culture you want to have. It’s got to be a part of what you measure, what you practice, and what you hold people accountable for.

 

Culture, because people don’t understand it, is often viewed as soft and unimportant. But culture is learned skills and habits, not a set of knowledge or instructions. If the culture is not universal within a company, and reinforced, then it holds no water, and garners no respect. Culture creation is never done. And keeping it on track requires feedback in every direction.

 

“At Limeade,” says Dr. Hamill, “We’ve created a culture of improvement. Each person is focused on improvement.”

 

She sees culture as a job benefit to manage, as a selling point in recruiting equal to health insurance and vacation time. It’s not something to leave to chance, or to create deliberately and then forget about it.

Check out this episode!


Ditch This Destructive Sales Approach Today

Most of the sales people I work with have the best interests of their clients at heart. They’re looking to make deals that’ll be great for all parties involved. But that’s not universal. I’m glad to say that the attitude I’m about to tell you about is rare and getting rarer. But it’s still out there, and it should be eradicated.

This attitude is bad. It’s bad for your relationships. It’s bad for your image. It’s bad for your business. It’s bad for your sales. In fact, I recently met a salesman who offered me an incredible deal on something I’ve been interested in for a long time. And, rather than give him the sale, I’d prefer to go without. By revealing this common sales approach, he lost a slam-dunk sale and a potentially powerful referrer.

The Setup

Last week at an event, I met two guys in sales. I learned from talking with them that they both sell group entertainment packages, each for a different company. Mark (names changed to protect the innocent) sells short, local cruises. He talked about the relationships he had with clients and prospects and about the experiences groups have when working with his company. He showed genuine interest in the work I do, and saw value in it for himself and his team. I’ll refer him business whenever I can.

John (names changed to protect the guilty) sells a thrilling, unique, and amazing ride-like experience to groups. I’ve known about the existence of his product for some time, and I have always thought, “I’m gonna do that. That looks fun!” At the end of our ten minute conversation, John failed to make one of the world’s easiest sales. He offered me the opportunity to do something I very much want to do. He offered it for free. A free thrilling, unique, amazing ride-like experience I’ve wanted to try, offered for free, and I will not accept his offer. I probably will never refer any business to him either.

Why?

At the beginning of our conversation, John told Mark and me the secret to sales. “The secret to sales,” he said, “is to make people feel obligated to you.” That’s the sales approach I’ve been talking about. I wondered immediately if he really meant that, and my improv training kicked in.

My job in improv is to make my partner look good. John was my partner in improv. I thought that statement didn’t make him look too hot, so I offered him an easy-shift alternative. “Yeah,” I said, almost as though I agreed with him. “Gratitude works for me. Express gratitude. Treat people in ways I’d be grateful to be treated. Offer whatever support I can. People respond well.”

“Gratitude, yeah,” replied John. “I guess it’s good to feel gratitude. Obligation, though. That’s the stuff. People feel like they owe you something, so they buy what you’re selling. Works no matter what.”

Ten minutes later, John gave Mark and me his card and offered both of us a free ride, “any time.” I want the ride. But I do not want a relationship where the currency is obligation. John had already pulled back the curtain to show the inner workings of his offer. It’s a spider web. He gives a free ride. He expects I’ll feel obligated to him for giving me something of value for free. And then, out of a sense of IOU, I’ll buy a group experience, and/or, I’ll refer others to him so he can sell them a group experience.

The thing is, I value relationships above all other resources in business and beyond. I’ll never send John business because I won’t deliberately expose anyone I care about to his spider web of expected obligation.

Relationships Matter

Obligation lives right next to resentment. When we feel obligated, that often leads us to feeling resentful of the obligation. “Crap. I’ve got to go do this thing for this person. I wish I didn’t have to.” By contrast, when we’re motivated by gratitude, the story we tell ourselves is different. “I’d like to go do this thing for this person. I’ll feel good to give back to someone who’s given to me.”

If I give to another with no expectations of obligation, then we are equals throughout the transaction, from beginning to end. The transaction is complete immediately after I’ve given. But the transaction stretches on with barbed hooks when I have an expectation of obligation. The transaction is only half complete after I’ve given, even if there’s no cash fee for my service. I’m left in a perpetual state of waiting, of incompleteness until you return the favor. I’ll exact my fee one day. And I’ll resent you if the return doesn’t come within my arbitrarily sensed frame of “right timing.”

Drop This Sales Approach

When I began this article, I expected my guidance would be, “Drop this “obligation” approach to selling. I realize now, as I close, that it’s bigger than that. The expectation of obligation is a symptom of a much bigger disease. The disease is viewing business and sales as a zero sum game. In a zero sum game, there is often seen to be a winner and a loser, but that’s not the only way of creating a zero-sum.

Here’s another zero-sum approach. If I give you something, then I am in the negative and you are in the positive. The world is out of balance until you right the imbalance by giving back to me. You owe me. If you owe me, I resent you. Every time.

A Giving Alternative

If I give to you with no expectation from you, we’re both increased. You’ve gotten my gift. I’ve got the reward of having made a difference in your day or in your life. And I’ve built good will in my community. On last week’s episode of our podcast, Mighty Good Work, guest Chris Free said that if you treat people in your community well, “they’ll call you when they need help. And sometimes… they pay you for that help.”

When you pour generosity into your community without specific expectation, then you find yourself in a community of gratitude and generosity. And, you’ve given people a sample of the value you have to give. It comes back.

In the world we now live in, of white papers and free webinars, and free-mium SaaS products, maybe this isn’t news. But not everyone is here yet in the win-win world we occupy. Sales isn’t zero sum. Win-win isn’t everyone sacrificing equally. The best business transactions elevate everyone’s position.We can both have the better end of the deal.

Be Equal

If John, with a genuine smile, had offered me a free ride, I would have taken it in a twinkling. And I’d have been grateful. He’d have lost nothing (one ride doesn’t cost much for them to provide). I would have gained a thrilling experience. He’d have the pleasure of giving. I’d have the pleasure of feeling grateful. And he’d have the added benefit that I’d be looking for opportunities to refer business to him. I’m a connector.

As it stands, I won’t refer him business, even though he’s made that same offer. His sales approach is toxic. And I won’t poison my relationships.

John’s not a bad guy. He just hasn’t learned to be equal. Business, sales, exists as an opportunity to increase everyone’s position all at once.


Serve Your Employees with Chris Free - MGW #2

GUEST: Rapport Benefits Group Principal, Chris Free — http://rapportbenefits.com/  

Chris Free on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-free-b337714

 

A theme that runs through my conversation with Chris can be summed up with a Richard Branson quote: “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of the clients.”

 

Rapport Benefits Group keeps winning “Top Place to Work” awards because Chris and his business partners take this wisdom to heart, and they run their buiness in support of their employees. I’ve talked to their employees. They love woking there. And the company keeps growing. Business is good.

 

Here are a few highlight points from our conversation.

 

Make sure employees are well respected and treated.

Your employees are the face of your company.

Take care of your employees and they will take care of your clients.

  • Practice flexibility and compassion
  • Time and space for the things that come up in life
  • Look at output over time from a given employee. Some days are up, some are down. It’s the aggregate that matters.

 

Longevity of employees leads to great client relationships

 

Loyal employees are engaged with their work. If your employee is worried about personal, at-home things, they’re not productive. Let them address their life in the timing of life, and they’ll produce.

 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often cited when looking at student productivity in school. It’s just as relevant on the job. Basically, if you’re hungry, or worried about your well being or that of your family, you’re not going to be able to focus on matters higher up the hierarchy — like writing a report or serving a client.

 

Chris told us, “We ask them about their goals. We help develop them to achieve their goals — career and non-career goals.” We want you to fulfill your life. As we do, you’ll perform for our firm.

 

Create a place where people think, “Maybe I don’t want to get out of bed and go to work today, but what if I miss something cool?”

 

You can foster great relationships with people whom you turn down for jobs — by referring them to jobs that’d be a better fit.

 

If you help people promote themselves out of your employ, you’ll have a brand ambassador for life.

 

Don’t create the environment for work that you’ve been disappointed by in past workplaces.

 

Set clear and accurate expectations.

 

Look for outcomes, not features.

 

How do you stand apart? Get out of the office. Get involved with people. Be in the community.

Cultivate a qualitative over a quantitative focus.

 

Theme music by: Miguel Juarez

Midshow break music by : Allan Loucks www.TinEar.com

Check out this episode!