Thursday, October 30, 2014

Challenging High-Potential Managers To Become Great Leaders

When I read business books, I turn the corner of every page that has something I really like, want to remember and easily reference in the future.

Halfway into the 300-page book, Leadership Conversations, I had turned the corners of nearly every fifth pages.  So, you can see why I believe this is such a good book.  There is so much to learn from Leadership Conversations.  It's a must read for today's business leaders.  Leaders who are leading multi-generational workforces.  And, leaders who want the skills to get promoted and move up the corporate ladder.

Authors Alan S. Berson and Richard G. Stieglitz wrote the book because they believe that a leader's most powerful skill is the ability to hold effective conversations.
So, in their book, they detail the four types of conversations every leader must effectively master.  Conversations that:

  • Build relationships
  • Develop others
  • Make decisions
  • Take action
And, they provide real-world examples and tactical guidance for each of those conversation types.

Here are some of the book's gems:

The breadth and depth of how leaders connect with people determine a leader's ability to influence, and the greater the influence, the greater the alignment and results.  Leaders who effectively make those people connections:
  • Have a style and a voice that fit their organization and enable them to form bonds with their followers and ignite their passion.
  • Beget great followers.  Leaders learn their people's objectives and guide them toward achieving their full potential.
  • Address small conflicts to avoid larger ones later.  They know intuitively when things do not seem right, and promptly hold the conversations required to fix them.
  • Know that creativity cannot be forced.  They enable creativity in the natural flow of business by providing the time, the space, and the conditions for people to be creative -- then they cultivate the fledgling sprouts of innovation.
  • Celebrate their people. They are liberal with praise and realize that their personal success is rooted in their people's successes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How To Make Better Decisions

Many years ago, I worked with a person who could not make decisions.  Neither big nor small decisions. That indecisiveness paralyzed our business in many ways.

Unfortunately, the book, Decide:  Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example, had not been published.  Had it, I would have shared it with my co-worker.

  • Decide, published this past February, teaches readers how to make better decisions based on the real results they want to experience.

The author, Steve McClatchy, explains how to use the two forms of human motivation -- Gain, or Prevent Pain, to make more effective decisions.  For example, he demonstrates how inserting a Gain task in the middle of a Prevent Pain day can give you the energy you need to move forward and make the Prevent Pain tasks take less time through motivation.

Deeper into the book, you'll be reminded about not only the problems with procrastination, but also about the benefits of procrastination, and, if you are a procrastinator, how you can make better use of those benefits.

I particularly found useful the chapter on Managing Interruptions.   McClatchy explains that a typical day for a worker interruptions rob us of valuable think time and time needed to make effective decisions:
  • Interruptions by things that aren't important and recovery time - 28%
  • Productive content creation, including writing emails - 25%
  • Meetings (in person, phone, video, online) - 20%
  • Searching through content: web, paperwork, and digital communications - 15%
  • Thinking and reflecting - 12%

McClatchy is a speaker, trainer, consultant, writer, and entrepreneur.  He is the owner and Founder of Alleer Training & Consulting, a firm focused on helping companies and individuals improve performance and achieve maximum results. Decide is his first book.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Six Drivers That Maximize Employee Engagement

Overland Park, Kansas-based author Leigh Branham, along with Mark Hirschfeld, awhile back completed a survey of 10,000 employees in 43 states to better understand what separates a "best places to work" company from other companies.
What Branham and Hirschfeld discovered is that the best companies use six "universal drivers" that maximize employee engagement:
  1. Caring, Competent, and Engaging Senior Leaders
  2. Effective Managers Who Keep Employees Aligned and Engaged
  3. Effective Teamwork at All Levels
  4. Job Enrichment and Professional Growth
  5. Valuing Employee Contributions
  6. Concern for Employee Well-Being
Branham also explains that to get the best from your employees you need to re-engage them. You can learn more about how to do that in his book, Re-Engage.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Critical First Years Of Your Professional Life

A lot has happened since 1997 when Robert L. Dilenschneider wrote, The Critical First Years of Your Professional Life.  That's why, 17 years later he released a new edition of his best-seller.
  • "The book contains all the lessons you'll need to learn about functioning at work," explains Dilenschneider.  
His lessons are based on his four decades of experience in the work world, along with research and dozens of interviews with business experts.

The new edition of the book is particularly relevant today, because, shares Dilenscheider:
  • Not knowing the ropes puts you at a competitive disadvantage.
  • Times have changed, and there are fewer people in today's workplace willing to help you understand how the world of work operations.
Lessons in the book include:
  • You and Your Bosses
  • Working the Grapevine
  • Networking
  • Making Allies of Your Elders
  • Image
  • Having Influence at Any Level
  • Your Work and Your Personal Life
  • After a Setback
  • Mentors
Former Chariman and CEO of Lockhead Martin Corporation, Norman R. Augustine, says the book, "Offers practical advice on how young people can take charge of their careers and develop independently both the skills required to excel in any environment and the savvy to know when to move on."

Dilsenschneider explains that after reading the book, you should:
  • Gain self-knowledge
  • Feel empathy
  • Know how to present yourself well
  • Master how to retrieve information effectively and be informed
  • Be able to solve problems at work
The book is co-authored by Mary Jane Genova.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

New Books For My Fall Reading List

These are the new books I've added to my fall reading list!

  • The 27 Challenges Managers Face - Bruce Tulgan
  • The Front-Line Leader - Chris Van Gorder
  • Taking The Stage - Judith Humphrey
  • Predicting Success - David Lahey
  • Stacking The Deck - David S. Pottruck

Friday, October 24, 2014

Are You Spinning Your Employees In Circles?

A manager who can't make a decision or who can't make a timely decision will frustrate his/her employees. Equally bad, a lack of decision will impede the progress of the manager's team.

Some managers make endless requests for data as a way to postpone their having to make a decision. Employees end up spinning in circles, slicing and dicing the information far beyond what is truly needed for the manager to make a decision.

Some managers are simply afraid to make a decision in fear of making a "wrong" decision. These managers don't necessarily request needless data, but simply just never decide.

Successful managers gather the data from their employees, make any truly necessary follow-up requests (probing beyond what their employee may have researched/gathered on their own), and then make their decision...knowing that in virtually all cases most decisions are not black and white "right or "wrong," but are the best decisions made at that time for the current circumstances.

Good managers know that most decisions can be tweaked along the way as their teams carry out their tasks impacted by the decision.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Compliance And Risk Management In Today's Business World

Dave Yarin is a compliance and risk management consultant to senior management and directors of large and mid-size companies, and author of the soon to be published book, Fair Warning – The Information Within

Yarin follows and researches news stories regarding ignored warnings that lead to bad business outcomes, along with the social psychology theories that explain why these warnings were ignored.

This week, Yarin shared with me insights into compliance and risk management, his forthcoming book, and leadership.

Q and A with Dave Yarin

1. How does a compliance and risk management consultant help senior managers of large and mid-size companies?

Yarin:  There are two approaches; ideally proactive but also reactive when necessary. Proactively, a compliance and risk management consultant helps companies to set up world-class compliance programs that help to mitigate risk by ensuring oversight of the compliance function, educating employees, creating and updating written standards, investigating reports of non-compliance, and implementing auditing/monitoring activities. 

When an instance of non-compliance has already occurred, a compliance and risk management consultant can help the company to investigate the matter and assess liability, advise on appropriate responses and mitigation steps, and work with the company and legal counsel if necessary in litigation support and/or in communicating with third-parties such as the government who may be investigating the matter. 

Compliance and risk management consultants can also work with companies to assist with due diligence in acquisition transactions.

2. What is the typical engagement length of time with a company?

Yarin:  They vary. I've worked with companies on short-term engagements that may last a few months - for example in helping to strengthen a compliance program, or for several years when there is a government investigation or when serving as a monitor or advisor pursuant to a government settlement agreement.

3. After your engagement is done, who typically at a company is the person to act or lead action in response to a warning?

Yarin:  Typically, the Chief Compliance Officer, often in connection with legal counsel, is the person who leads action in response to a warning. Given this part of the Chief Compliance Officer's role, it's critical that his or her function be independent of other functions within the company (e.g. finance) so that he or she can investigate and respond to the warning thoroughly and appropriately.

4. What is an example of an ignored warning that led to a bad business outcome?

Yarin:  Let's take the recent experience with General Motors as an example. They had multiple warnings within the company for several years that they were using a defective switch within cars that could lead to terrible outcomes, yet they didn't act until it was too late, particularly for the individuals who died or were injured in car accidents resulting from the faulty switch. If you review the chronology and details of the matter, it becomes clear that the reasons for the lack of response to these warnings goes well beyond merely financial pressures.

5. What is the most prevalent reason warnings are ignored?

Yarin:  The most prevalent reason that warnings are ignored is that unfortunately, it's part of human nature that we're "hard-wired" to either ignore warnings or not act on them. Social psychology offers multiple reasons and support for why this is the case. Look at the social psychology called "the normalization of deviance." It basically tells us that if we engage in an activity or allow an activity to continue that we know may have a bad outcome, yet initially one doesn't occur, we're lulled into a false sense of security on this activity and will stop listening to warnings about it. It's at the heart of many of the most newsworthy disasters and bad outcomes that have occurred in the business world and elsewhere. It's almost as though we're "playing with the odds" until something bad happens. 

Another tendency is for individuals and companies to over-focus on one item (e.g. sales, growth) at the expense of other areas (e.g. safety, quality). The good news is that if companies recognize this aspect of human nature, they can incorporate activities into their business that can help to both listen to and respond appropriately to credible warnings.

6. What prompted you to write your forthcoming book, Fair Warning?

Yarin:  I remember back when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, and being horrified not only by the loss of the 7 astronauts, but also to learn that in the months that followed, an engineer at Morton Thiokol was warning his supervisors and NASA about the very problem that caused the shuttle to explode, yet nobody acted upon his warnings, despite his credentials and data that he presented. That story always stuck with me, but I'd see the same thing happen again and again; the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, the explosion of BP's oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico...and I searched for a reason why fair warnings continued to be ignored. Eventually, I came upon the social psychology theories that provided a deeper explanation to why this occurs.

7. Why does one not hear much about your type of consulting?

Yarin:  I believe companies have woken up to compliance and risk management consulting. Historically, businesses may have mistakenly viewed it as a cost with no ROI, but in today's highly-regulated world, and with the risks to companies constantly growing and changing, there is an increased appreciation of what good compliance consulting can offer to help a company.

8. Do you provide on-site speaking at companies interested in compliance and risk management?

Yarin:  Yes

9. When will your book be published?

Yarin:  I hope to have it published within the coming year.

Yarin lives near Boston, Massachusetts with his fiancĂ©e and two children. For more information please visit his website and follow Dave on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beyond The Job Description -- Interview With The Book's Author

Q and A with Jesse Sostrin
author of
Beyond the Job Description

Question:  What does the title of your book mean and what’s the truth about what employers really expect that is never written in job descriptions? 

Sostrin:  Beyond the Job Description represents two fundamental truths about the world of work. First, whether we realize it or not, our standard job descriptions only tell part of the story about the demands we face at work. In addition to the tasks and activities we have to perform, there are countless other challenges to getting great work done.  

The second meaning has to do with the need for all of us to stand out in a crowded job market and do what is necessary to stay relevant in careers that keep getting longer. To do that you have to go "beyond the job description" and identify unique ways to contribute increasing value to your team and organization. 

Question:  How can employees discover the true demands or “double reality” of their job? 

Sostrin:  Far too many people discover their “job-within-the-job” through trial and error over time (and they end up with the scars to prove it). With focused attention, the framework of six core questions I developed to expose the “double reality” of work can be used to look within your known responsibilities and pinpoint the vital purpose, value added contributions, and hidden challenges that – if addressed – can set you apart. 

Question:  What is the “hidden curriculum at work”? 

Sostrin:  A hidden curriculum exists anytime there are two simultaneous challenges where one is visible, clear, and understood and the other is concealed, ambiguous, and undefined.
For example, professional athletes master the fundamentals of their sport and excel at the highest level on the court or field of play . . . but they still have to learn how to deal with wealth, fame, and the many other challenges and distractions that come with professional sports.

And, when children enter school, they have to master the educational standards in their curriculum... but, reading, math, and science lessons do not prepare them for the peer pressure, social dynamics, and developmental challenges of youth that they inevitably face. In the same way, there is a hidden curriculum of work that we all encounter. 

Question:  What is the “Mutual Agenda” and why is it so rare for employees and managers to share one? 

Sostrin:  Individuals and organizations are stuck with each other. The reality is that you cannot have organizations without employees, and the role of individual employees is to align their contributions with the intended purpose of the organization. To succeed in the world of work you have to operate within the mutual agenda where these two factors intersect.

The mutual agenda defines this powerful space where individual goals and desired contributions overlap with organizational objectives. Individual contributors, managers, and senior leaders can discover the mutual agenda where their own career aspirations and hopes for a productive working life you seek can align with the specific needs of the organization. 

Question:  How can you pinpoint the “Mutual Agenda” and align your skills, interests, knowledge and passion to the goals of your team or organization?  

Sostrin:  Employees can identify the mutual agenda by first understanding what matters to them (it’s harder than it sounds). Discovering your “job-within-the-job” gives you a clear picture of your vital purpose and value added contributions.

Once you translate these into goals for the working life you want, you’re ready to bring your personal priorities to the table. Next, it is a matter of understanding the stated goals of the team and organization, then deeply engaging in ways that allow you to anticipate how those priorities may evolve.

Adjusting and continuously aligning your own hopes, passions, and talent with the evolving needs of organization can make you future-proof and give you a path toward a long, successful career.  

Question:  How can managers help employees achieve this? 

Sostrin:  Managers can help define the mutual agenda for their direct reports by investing time and attention into knowing what they care about. When there is a sever mismatch between individual contributions and team needs, the good employees will usually jump ship to find a better alignment, while the struggling employees may quit (and forget to tell you).
Specifically, when a manager helps an employee to carefully define and embrace their purpose, contributions, and capabilities, they deliver a supportive relationship that is itself the first step toward the mutual agenda.
Question:  As companies face change and disruption, how can managers keep their people aligned around the right goals and priorities as they shift? 

Sostrin:  To keep people aligned around priorities and key actions, Managers can use a straightforward framework to track three interrelated elements in real time:
  • Context
  • Goals
  • Gaps
Both employees and managers must know their context in order to understand the internal and external conditions, including how those emerging trends shift priorities, challenges, and opportunities. Managers must then define and communicate clear goals that are consistent with the context and that can withstand the pressure from shrinking resources and competing commitments to undermine top priorities.

And finally, managers must spot and work through the gaps between goals and obstacles. Integrating the CG2 sequence helps managers understand and influence their circumstances in periods of heightened ambiguity and intense change. 

Question:  How can the manager and employee relationship be improved and better aligned? 

Sostrin:  The number one reason that a person leaves a job is because of the poor quality of the relationship with their boss. This exemplifies the critical role managers play in reducing turnover and increasing the learning and performance of their team members.
Three things that every manager can do to improve the relationship they have with their team members include 

  • Paying attention to the hidden curriculum of work that employees encounter. Managers can use a common language to name the true challenges of work and create a culture of expectations, accountability, and support for team members to examine their “job-within-the-job” and to navigate its challenges.
  • Shift performance management practices to match the double realities of work. This means reorienting the way managers set and measure performance goals around the needs of the hidden curriculum of work®, and not just based on the standard job description (i.e. setting benchmarks, annual performance appraisals, compensation schedules, etc.).
  • Commit time, energy, and resources to the growth of their people. Managers must engage others to reveal their hidden curriculum of work® and empower them to meet its demands. Without active and consistent engagement from managers – including real investments of time and energy – there is no reasonable expectation that employees will sustain their own engagement over time.
Question:  How can managers help employees discover their “job-within-the job” and achieve the working life they want?  

Sostrin:  Once you acknowledge and fully embrace the hidden curriculum of work, you have no choice but to manage differently. The commitments and practices managers can apply include five key drivers:
  1. Establishing a supportive, trust-based relationship that balances the individual’s knowledge and skills with the true demands of their job and the goals of the organization.
  2. Creating expectations early and reinforcing them often.
  3. Making the hidden side of work discussible and investing time and resources into others’ processes of discovering their “job-within-the-job."
  4. Staying present enough to track their ongoing efforts and progress.
  5. Communicating early and often when expectations and accountabilities are unmet. 

Question:  What is the role of communication between manager and employee when it comes to navigating the hidden curriculum of work? 

Sostrin:  I have always believed that the driving purpose of a manager is to help their people understand and transform the everyday challenges that prevent them from doing their best work (and then get out of the way). With that definition, some of the commitments and practices managers can use to achieve it include:
  • Establish a supportive, trust-based relationship that places the quality of the employee’s working life at the center of importance.
  • Accurately assess the individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in relation to the requirements of meeting the true demands of their “job-within-the-job."
  • Work with the employee to define the mutually beneficial agenda, where their vital purpose, value-added contributions, and career aspirations align with the needs of the team and the overall goals of the organization.
  • Create expectations about communication, collaboration, and performance early and reinforce them often. 

Question:  What was the inspiration for your book? 

Sostrin:  I bumped up against the hidden side of work from day one, but it was my first management position where I confronted the “job-within-the-job” in full force. As a new manager, I found that for every moment of insight and success there were two challenges around every corner. The progress made on one front was just as quickly eroded by another unseen obstacle elsewhere.

Constant change from the world outside, combined with the unpredictability of people and circumstances inside the organization, kept me chasing the ghosts of issues that affected my team’s performance, my own contributions to the organization, and the bottom line. Most of the resources available to me, often in the form of workshops and training programs, failed to get to the root cause of these issues. 

For over a decade now I have been a cartographer of sorts, painstakingly mapping the ecology and terrain of work’s greatest challenges and helping leaders and their organizations to work differently in response to it. I put all of these insights and practices together so that others could decode their greatest challenges at work, and Beyond the Job Description is the result.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Leadership Blindspots

Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter (1118646290) cover image

"A blindspot is an unrecognized weakness or threat that has the potential to undermine a leader's success," explains author Robert Bruce Shaw.  "Blindspots are tenacious and can reappear, causing problems over a leader's entire career."

These blindspots can cause great harm when leaders fail to see what is right in front of them. Compounding the challenge says Shaw is that:
  • "People who are smart and self-assured are often very skillful at justifying their thinking and behavior--to the point of being in denial about their weaknesses and the threats they face.
  • One of the burdens of moving up is that the complexity of the decisions leaders face increases at the same time as their ability to reveal their vulnerabilities decreases.
Blindspots are both the result of individual traits and situational factors.  According to Shaw, there are 20 common leadership blindspots that fall under these four categories:
  • Self
  • Team
  • Company
  • Markets
Fortunately, Shaw's book, Leadership Blindspots:  How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter, teaches readers how to identify and overcome their blindspots.  He explains in detail why blindspots matter. And, then he teaches how to surface and overcome those blindspots, using examples, worksheets and other tools.

More specifically, the book shows leaders how to solicit feedback from those with insight about you.

And, it provides a list of actions for helping a leader build an all-important network of trusted advisors.

Robert Bruce Shaw

Among the 20 common leadership blindspots are:
  • Valuing being right over being effective
  • Failing to balance the what with the how
  • Trusting the wrong individuals
  • Failing to capture hearts and minds
  • Underestimating your competitors
To help you identify your blindspots before and as you read Shaw's book, take this online leadership blindspots survey self-assessment.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Grossman Offers Dozens Of eBooks About Leadership And Communication

When I seek advice about leadership and how to effectively communicate in the workplace,  I often turn to David Grossman.

Grossman helps leaders drive productivity and get the results they want through authentic and courageous leadership and communication.

Grossman’s work solves three business problems:
  • Minimize the downside of change where business could be stopped, slowed or interrupted
  • Maximize the upside of change to accelerate business results
  • Turn employee confusion, skepticism or apathy into engagement
Grossman is both a teacher and student of effective leadership and communication. He is one of America’s foremost authorities on communication and leadership inside organizations, and a sought-after advisor to Fortune 500 leaders.

He also offers for free via his website a host of ebooks about primarily leadership and communication.

“One of the most popular eBooks is the Top 10 Barriers Communicators Face: How to Get Your Leader on Board with Internal Communication, which came out this year," says Grossman. "I think it resonates with readers because it helps them (communicators) identify and overcome common barriers to effective communication that leaders construct in a practical and effective way that helps them get the results they seek," he adds.

Grossman offers more than 20 free ebooks and downloadable resources, including these:

Seven Ways To Delight Your Customers

If you want to delight your customers, then the book by Steve Curtin, Delight Your Customers -- 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary, is a must-read for you and your employees.

The book explains the seven ways for you and your employees to demonstrate exceptional customer service:
  1. Express genuine interest
  2. Offer sincere and specific compliments
  3. Share unique knowledge
  4. Convey authentic enthusiasm
  5. Use appropriate humor
  6. Provide pleasant surprises
  7. Deliver service heroics
"Exceptional customer service typically costs no more to deliver than poor customer service," explains Curtin.

For example:
  • How much does it cost to express genuine interest in customers or to anticipate their needs?
  • Does it cost more to display a sense of urgency or to pay attention to detail?
  • Do you pay your employees more to smile, to make eye contact, or to add energy to their voices?
Curtin reminds readers that:
  • Customers don't establish relationships with businesses.  They establish relationships with the people inside the businesses.
And, here are some of Curtin's recommended best ways to express genuine interest in your customers:
  • Offer personalized greetings
  • Use names
  • Practice assertive hospitality
  • Ask questions
  • Cosset
  • Anticipate needs
  • Remember preferences
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Display a sense of urgency
  • Solicit feedback
  • Offer personal farewells
  • Follow up on service
And, finally, when soliciting feedback, do so without marginalizing your customers' suggestions or sounding defensive.

Friday, October 17, 2014

How To Put People First At Your Workplace

According to a survey as reported in John Baldoni’s book, Lead with Purpose, more than 80 percent of those surveyed say that leaders can best demonstrate that they truly do put people first by:
  • Delivering intrinsic awards (comp time, bonuses, etc.) 
  • Offering developmental opportunities 
  • Providing timely recognition 
  • Promoting from within

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Characteristics Of A Best Boss

In their book, Rapid Realignment, authors George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky, reveal the most common responses from thousands of managers and workers when they were asked to think of the best boss they ever had, and then answer the question:
  • "What did that person do to qualify as your best boss?"
And, those most common responses were:
  • My best boss listened!
  • My best boss backed me up.
  • My best boss trusted me and respected me.
  • My best boss gave me feedback.
  • My best boss left me alone.
What else would you add to this list?  What did your best boss do?

October 16 is Boss's Day in the United States.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Seven Facts Of Business Life And The Five Levels Of Business Success

The fact is, if you are a budding entrepreneur, future business owner, or relatively “green” business owner, you need to read, The Facts of Business Life, by Bill McBean.

Because, in his book, McBean, a successful businessman with four decades of ownership experience, explains the essential Seven Facts of Business Life and the Five Levels of Business Success.

Being a successful business owner means more than knowing one’s industry and understanding the basic concepts of leadership, management, or motivation, according to McBean.
  • It means being able to master many areas of business, and knowing how each of these areas relates to and build on each other. It also means understanding how those areas change as a business goes through its inevitable life cycle, and how the owner must be prepared to change with them.
Fortunately, The Facts of Business Life provides readers with the means of achieving the kind of long-term understanding that is the key to true and lasting success. McBean explains what needs to be done to create success, how to do it, and when to do it.

As you’ll read in the book, the Seven Facts of Business Life are:
  1. If you don’t lead, no one will follow
  2. If you don’t control it, you don’t own it
  3. Protecting your company’s assets should be your first priority
  4. Planning is about preparing for the future, not predicting it
  5. If you don’t market your business, you won’t have one
  6. The marketplace is a war zone
  7. You don’t just have to know the business you’re in; you have to know business
And, the Five Levels of Business Success are:
  1. Ownership and Opportunity
  2. Creating your company’s DNA
  3. From survival to success
  4. Maintaining success
  5. Moving on when it’s time to go

Another gem in the book is McBean’s discussion about the essential five characteristics of great leaders. Those include:
  • Being flexible
  • Communicating
  • Having courage, tenacity and patience
  • Having a combination of humility and presence
  • Being responsible
Need another reason to read the book? Hear this:
  • “The sad truth is that less than 30 percent of businesses last more than 10 years, and most failures occur in the first few years of operations,” said McBean.
McBean is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta.

He began his career with General Motors of Canada Limited in 1976. After holding several management positions with GM, in 1981 he accepted a position with the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) as manager of a sizeable commercial lending portfolio.

Two years later, however, GM approached him about opening a new automobile dealership in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, and, along with Scotiabank, offered to lend him the required capital. Accepting the offer, Bill began his first business as a “start-up” the following year, beginning with ten employees.

Over the next decade, McBean grew the Yorkton business, which became one of the most profitable GM dealerships in the region.

Following his success in Canada, McBean was presented with an even greater opportunity in the United States. With his friend Bill Sterett, he purchased an underperforming automotive dealership in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1992.

Applying his business expertise, McBean turned the company around, increased sales revenue fivefold, and raised the employee count from 70 to almost 300; he also rearranged the local marketplace by acquiring a large portion of the market share from his competitors and by buying weakened competitors over a period of 11 years. During that period, the manufacturers he represented continually awarded him and his company honors for sales, service, customer retention, and financial excellence. Because of his company’s financial success and industry reputation, it attracted the interest of several major public companies and in 2003 was purchased by AutoNation, the world’s largest automotive retailer.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

John Jantsch Flips The Usual Sales Approach On Its Head

Author John Jantsch flips the usual sales approach on its head in his  book, Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar.

Today's sales superstars must attract, teach, convert, serve, and measure while developing a personal brand that stands for trust and expertise.

According to Jantsch:
  • Listening is the new prospecting.
  • Educating is the new presenting.
  • Insight is the new information sharing.
  • Story building is the new nurturing.
  • Value is the new closing.

Jantsch shared with me these additional insights about his book and selling:

1.  What will it take for a salesperson who has been selling the "old school" way for 15-plus years to master the new "Duct Tape Selling" style?
  • Jantsch:  Confidence that it's worth the work - Duct Tape Selling takes commitment and hard work to pay off, but that's what it takes to become a superstar salesperson.
2.  What is the meaning of the book title, Duct Tape Selling?
  • Jantsch:  It borrows from the metaphor so often attached to all things Duct Tape - simple, effective and practical - that's what salespeople have to be today to deliver value.
3.  What college courses should a student take to prepare for this new way of selling?
  • Jantsch:  Anything they can get their hands on in the vein of entrepreneurship - I'm afraid many marketing degrees are still jam packed with old school, consumer packaged brands thinking.
4.  What are some of the best ways for salespeople to network with other successful salespeople in their city?
  • Jantsch:  Don't fall into the trap of attending events or joining groups with other salespeople - go where your customers hang out and find ways to be useful there.
Jantsch is also a big proponent of perceptive listening.  "Perceptive listening is when you hear and interpret the words as they're said, but also consider what the person isn't saying, what she might really be thinking, and how she is acting as she speaks,:" explains Jantsch.