Sunday, December 21, 2014

If This Were Easy...................

"Humans happen to be complex creatures living in a complex world, so why would we expect the answers to any interesting question to be simple?"

David Friedman is a science and business journalist and his remarks were quoted in a book about back issues. (Which I happen to live with on a daily basis, but you didn't come here to read about my troubles and woes.) During my morning walk those words kept coming into my thought process and it dawned on me after a bit, (I am sometimes not the sharpest tool in the shed)that we as coaches and consultants often forget  those words when we deal with our clients. We've turned into the pill pushers of the business world.

Don't believe me?  Analyze your inbox?

Look at every piece of mail that pertains to you as a business owner. Metaphorically speaking, set them up side by side. They all follow the same format or offer the same prescription don't they?  If you follow through and do what they suggest you and your business will be a resounding success.

"Humans happen to be complex creatures living in a complex world, so why would we expect the answers to any interesting question to be simple?"

A boss of mine used to say there are easy ways to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Here are three ways you (and I) should utilize in looking for a  business coach.

They listen, listen, and listen. Then........... they listen some more.
I cant  understand you and your business until I listen to you and your unique situation. No charts and graphs, no deep rooted soul searching, no magic. I sit back and close my eyes and I listen to everything you tell me. I want to be sure I'm the right person for you. I can only do that by listening to you tell me about your situation. It's your DNA

They ask questions. 
If I'm listening to you, really listening to you, then my questions won't sound like they are being read by a telemarketer sitting in a room with 1,000 other telemarketers. The questions I ask you should pertain to YOUR business.

They give advice.
If you were able to figure out where you needed to go, how you needed to get there and what was the quickest way to do so you wouldn't be paying someone like me. You pay me for my experience and my knowledge. Again, there is no magic template. Each situation is different and each situation requires it's own specific action. You will try, you will succeed and at times you will fail.

All of this starts with a conversation. It begs the question "Are we right for each other?"  An email wont accomplish that.

"Humans happen to be complex creatures living in a complex world, so why would we expect the answers to any interesting question to be simple?"

I'd love to listen, so if you think it's time to take the next step give me a shout.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why Wait?

"Well I guess we should enjoy the next week or so." The first voice said with a hint of resignation. 

"Why is that?" Asked a second voice. 

"The New Years Resolution people will be here soon. This place will be a zoo." Answered the first. 

In the back ground the Greek chorus murmured their ascent.

I was standing in front of my locker getting dressed after my morning workout and those voices migrated over the bank of lockers in front of me.

I can't say I could argue with the guy. I've been part of that gym for five years now and I've felt the same frustrations. Every year around January 1 we sit down at our desks or in front of our computer screens and we promise ourselves that the next year will be different. We begin a new diet, join a gym, buy a pair of good shoes to walk in............. My gym will hold an open house, offer a reduced membership rate and dazzle you with the promise that come spring break you too will fit into your vacation clothing. And every year right around Valentines Day things go back to a normal predictability.

Why do you think that is?

It's not about your moral fiber or character. It has nothing to do with self discipline or will power. You are not a "bad person."

Simply put' you are over whelmed.

Think about it a minute. You and I have lived "one way" for a long, long time and all of a sudden, because of a day marked on a calendar, we begin to deny ourselves and somewhere deep inside our minds and our bodies say something like, "Whooooooooooa wait a minute here."

So, we listen to inspirational music, play inspirational videos and "gut it out," until finally one day our bodies say, "That's it, I'm through with this nonsense." Then the whole downward spiral begins. We look in the mirror and play the blame game.

What if there's another way. I mean, why wait?

That's what I asked myself the day after Thanksgiving when my I had a hard time buttoning my pants. Why wait until the new year?

On top of being really good looking I read minds. I know what you are thinking. "This is the holiday season. Too much temptation, too many parties, to little time."

They still sell bananas, blackberries, pineapples and grapes don't they? (Those are my favorites.)

Okay I'm not going to moralize just make a suggestion or two. Things that are helping me weather the storm and stick to my goal(s).

Start Small
The day after Thanksgiving I set a goal for myself to reach by January 1. It was challenging enough that I'd have to work towards it, but very reachable so while I am required to change my habits, I'm doing so slowly and with purpose.

Start Now
If I make the commitment to start small it's easier to start now. I eased into my goal. My trigger food is french fries. I know if I eliminate them from my diet things go much smoother. That's what I did day one. I could go on, but you get the point. Starting small means I can start now.

A healthier life style is one of my goals but I have found with the people I work with this process removes a major stumbling block for them/ Take the bay steps and start small, start now and when you reach the first plateau, stop, and take a deep breath and ask yourself:

"What's my next success going to be?" 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

What's In Your Profile? More Than You Know.

Back in the old days delving into the back ground of a potential employee, consultant or coach was an arduous process at best. It meant a few hours on the phone or trying to track down mutual acquaintances and even then it was a flip of the coin. You had to rely on hunches and intuition and say a prayer that your "gut" was right.

But thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, who led the way with Facebook,  I know all I need to know about you, your habits and whether I am going to be doing damage control with a client or customer if I hire you or choose to do business with you.

What's maddening is that if I were a gambling person I'd say this is the millionth blog or article written about this issue and I am always surprised when I have to tell someone that their profile picture or some postings on their social media sites aren't really helping them in their career endeavors.

"Yeah well John, my profile is set to private so if you aren't a BFF you cant see what I am doing. "

True, but even private Facebook pages show your profile picture and depending on your settings they may show a bit of your profile page. And if your profile picture is inappropriate or provocative in nature I'm going to advise a client of mine to think twice about hiring you.

Let me give you two examples:

Candidate A is being considered for a position that has access to private and confidential information. She will be working with the organizations executives. Recently she lost a significant amount of weight and began working with a trainer. She was proud of her achievements  and I would have given her a thumbs up for her self discipline and dedication and would have put her in "please consider column" until I saw her profile picture and the comments that went with it. Candidate A was wearing an outfit that  left very little to the imagination. She set that photo as her profile picture.   Some were inappropriate and some were suggestive. To each comment Candidate A replied with either a heart icon, a hug icon or a smiley face. 

Candidate B is Organizational Development Coach and Consultant who is being considered for a six figure contract with a large company. His Facebook page states he is a body builder. It's his hobby and passion and from looking at his pictures you can tell he invests a lot of time in maintaining his physique. His profile picture shows him in a thong striking a pose. I'll leave your imagination to guess some of the comments concerning what he was wearing. His return comments suggested that some of his fans try to satisfy their curiosity

Playful banter between friends? Maybe. But if you remember nothing else remember that very little of your life is private any more. Do a Google search on yourself and if you are active in the G+ community you will find your most recent postings beneath a picture of yourself  in the right hand column.

Whether you are seeking a new job, a promotion or a new client it is and will remain a buyers market for some time to come. Employers and clients can afford to be selective. I know because companies often pay people like me to delve into peoples back grounds before they offer them employment or a contract.

Is it right? I think it's more reactive than anything else. Even if you aren't a football fan you know about the domestic violence issues the NFL has.  Don't give a hoot about the NBA? But you do recall the players who were suspended for bringing fire arms into the locker room a few seasons back. Major league baseball and the whole steroids issue? A celebrity had her smart phone hacked and the whole world saw photo's she said were private and taken for her boy friend.

Employers and potential  clients sit back in their chairs, scratch their chins and think, "Gosh, my business couldn't survive a hit like that. We'd go under."

Twenty yeas ago we used a telescope. Today we use a microscope.

We invest a lot of time talking about funneling traffic to our web sites and converting that traffic into business. At the top of every web page are those social media icons that lead the world to our inner world. They should be representative of who we are and what we think and believe.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no prude nor do I advocate censorship. I'm just practical. If you want to work in a certain area with a certain group of people then you have to adhere to their standards. It's that simple.

I suggest you evaluate your social media sites at least weekly. If you'd like a set of guidelines employers and clients look at drop me an email. Same holds true for employers of clients. If you'd like to know what you need to be looking for, I'll send you the same report.

BTW: Those examples I shared. They are true stories. I rearranged a few details to protect some privacy but the core of those situations is accurate. So is the fact that neither reached their goal of working with the people they'd applied with.

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Comfort Zone?

I am not sure what a comfort zone is, are you?

Mostly I use it as an excuse  to be afraid of doing things that I haven't done before or things, situations and people I cant control.

Thank goodness I'm the only one in the world  that acts like that, hey?

Julia Chapman is a 26 year old aquatics director. She has all sort of hardware after her name but the one that she is most proud of is the title of actress. Julia told me that when she was younger she saw a stage performance of To Kill a Mockingbird and decided that one day she, too,would like to be in a play. It really didn't matter how small or large the part was, she decided that one day she'd just up and do it.

Life has a way of getting itself between us and our dreams.  Julia forgot about her goal until a few months ago.A local theater workshop in the small town she lived in was putting on a play with a Christmas theme and she tried out for it. She thought she'd get one of those bit parts, as an elf or a part in a crowd scene. When the smoke cleared Julia was awarded the lead role. She had never acted in a play before.

Have you ever been in one of those situations where something totally unexpected occurs and everyone stands around a bit stunned and not quite sure what to say but they know they have to say something? So they say things like "Oh, congrats to you." or "Wow I bet you're surprised." Stuff like that. Everyone walks away going "Oh wow, I didn't see that one coming, did you?" 

Julia told me her biggest challenge wasn't learning her lines or how to block on stage. It was sitting in the theater studying her lines and having people sitting directly in front of her question whether she was capable of handling the role. Saying things like she was "In over her head."

I asked her if her confidence was shaken when she heard those things  and she told me she was bit anxious, she had over 200 lines to speak, but, no, it was something she'd always wanted and God dumped it square in her lap so it was up to her what she'd do with it.

God dumps a lot of things in my lap and I nod my head and smile and make all sorts of excuses like comfort zone issues, self assurance and the like. I thank him and tell him I'm grateful and then I make sure the boundaries of my comfort zones are still well defined and I go back to my life, all the while wishing things would be different.

Success isn't defined by what we know. Success is defined by looking at what we don't know, getting so scared we often pee our pants and doing it anyways.

Just ask Julia Chapman

Monday, December 8, 2014


No, I'm not talking about changing the way you think and live. Or maybe I am.

How much time do you invest in marketing, virtual or otherwise that doesn't turn into money in the bank? Oh, I know the mantra's.

"It's takes 6 months to a year of mining your social media initiative before you are going to see any real payback."

Says who?

I never studied business. I did study psychology as it relates to people and their behavior. There is a term called mental scotoma. Without getting all Dr. Phil on you it means you develop a belief or behavior that becomes a blind spot and you exclude any other belief or meaning.

Okay, that confused even me.

When my kids were growing up they'd run into the kitchen proclaiming "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!"

"Says who?"The answer?  "Everyone." 

Sooooooooooooooooo, the sky must be falling.

Why are you an entrepreneur? There are as many reasons as there are stars in the sky.

Is one of those reasons to make money and show a profit?

That's conversion. It's converting all your hard work and effort into dollars and cents. Depending on your business there are many ways to accomplish that. Which one is the best for you? I don't believe there is a cookie cutter approach.

The personal part of you business, the passion and motivation that put you into this crazy world we live in? That's where your process becomes unique.If that process is not converting into sales  there are three possible reasons

  1. There is no market for your business. 
  2. You are in the wrong market with your product or service (You are selling freezers to people who live in the arctic circle.) 
  3. The people you are paying to help you aren't doing their job. 

Sorry to be so blunt but  think about it. How much money do you fritter away on the "latest and greatest" program, process, webinar or book without showing any real return? I count myself among the guilty here. I have a whole folder on my hard drive ready to burst because it's full of those magic white papers and I even have written a few myself.

Why do I do it? For the same reason my kids believed the sky was falling: "Everyone said so."

The next time you get ready to max out a credit card on a program guaranteed to bring you success ask the person making their pitch to give you a rough idea of how long it might be before you see some real conversion from using their process. If you get one of those, "Well that's up to you, John." answers, you might want to utter a TYVM and put your credit card back in your wallet. If there is no potential for conversion into earnings why make the investment?

"Okay wise guy. How do I know?"

Excellent question. I can only speak for myself and my coaching and consulting business.

When I'm working with a potential client I make a 90 minute investment with them free of charge. I have some standard questionnaire I ask each one. That takes about 30 minutes. The last half hour we chat about life and beliefs and all that cool stuff like why they are doing what they are doing. It gives me an opportunity to discover if I am the person to help their business grow, prosper and show a profit. (There's that conversion thing again.)I set up a 30 minute appointment for a week down the road also free of charge.I put together a package of where I see myself helping them succeed and what it will cost.

What if it's not a match?

If after 60 minutes one of us feels pursuing a relationship is not in the cards, then I virtually shake hands and be on my merry way. Just like you, it's all about conversion for me too.Above and beyond any other indicator, conversion should be the deciding factor in each investment, real or emotional that we make.

I'd like to offer you the same opportunity. If you Click Here you'll have the opportunity to spend 60 uninterrupted minutes with me to talk about you and your business. It's my way of saying Thank You

As an added bonus. The first 10 registrants will receive a free copy of my new book One Brick at a Time, to be published in March of 2015