Thursday, December 30, 2010

WOW Someone!

When was the last time you were wowed by someone? Carolyn and I ate dinner at a restaurant recently that we hadn’t visited in over nine months. I must say our young female waitress wowed us with her kindness and her most pleasing personality. And she gave us excellence in service and attention.
I wasn’t impressed because she gave me a complimentary portion of food, but the overall experience of dining at Maddox Restaurant was above and beyond. It exceeded our expectations. She wowed us!

Have you wowed anyone lately?

Here are some ways you can wow someone in the New Year.

--Smile. Believe it or not, a simple smile now days can be considered a wow.

--Give extra attention to detail, particularly if you sense trouble or problems.

--Give something away. It could be a simple trinket, a small gift, a free month subscription to some publication, or a single stick of gum, but give something of value to the other person. You are simply saying “I recognize you. I appreciate you. I honor you.”

I once received a stick of Big Red gum in an envelope. The note from my friend simply said “you deserve the Big Red Award today.”  That was all it said. The gum was tossed long ago, after chewing of course, but the memory of that act of kindness lingers.

--Write a note of appreciation to someone. Make it a daily or weekly habit. Watch and see the impact this thoughtful act has on your personal relationships and business friendships.

--Send someone a book when you know they like that particular genre.

--Call someone on the phone simply to say “Hi. I’m thinking of you.” Your thoughtfulness in remembering is a remarkable thing and has enduring qualities.

--Remember someone’s birthday. That is a real WOW!

--Express words of esteem to someone. Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Wow someone with words … today!

What can you do in you your business or with your products to wow someone?


Be a WoW Factor today!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Story of Silent Night

In 1817, 25 year-old Joseph Mohr was assigned to the position of assistant priest at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria. As a lover of music since his childhood, Joseph was placed in charge of the music used at the small church and he even wrote poems and song lyrics for special services.

In 1818, during a particularly cold winter, Mohr was making last-minute preparation for a special Christmas Eve service that had been planed for months. Everything was in place, the music, the message, everything. But as he cleaned and readied the sanctuary, he encountered an unfathomable dilemma; St. Nicholas’ organ wouldn’t play. A frantic Mohr struggled with the old instrument for hours, making adjustments, fiddling with keys, stops and pedals, even crawling behind the console to see if he could find a problem. Yet the organ remained silent, its voice as still as a dark winter’s night.

Realizing he could do nothing else, the priest paused and prayed for inspiration. He asked God to show him a way to bring music to his congregation on the year’s most meaningful day of worship. His answer was found in events that had been initiated almost two years earlier.

In 1816, while assigned to a church in another village, Mohr had written a Christmas poem. The six unadorned stanzas were inspired on a winter’s walk from his grandfather’s home to church. Though he had shared the words with a few friends, the priest had never sought to have the work published nor attempted to come up with a melody to go with his words.

Digging Silent Night from his desk, Mohr read over the words two years later. Up until that moment the verses hadn’t seemed very important, but as he read them again, it was as if the Lord was tossing him a lifeline of hope. Encouraged by new and unfolding expectations, he shoved the worn paper into his coat pocket and rushed out into the night.

On that same evening, 31 year-old schoolteacher Franz Gruber was struggling to stay warm in his drafty apartment over the schoolhouse. Though he had once studied with a renowned organ master of his day, he now played organ only for St. Nicholas’ modest services. As he went over notes from one of his lessons, he heard a strong, insistent knock on his door. To his surprise there stood Father Mohr.

After a quick “Merry Christmas,” the agitated priest explained the problem of the non-working organ, and the last minute thoughts of their approaching Christmas Eve Service.

Father Mohr finally pulled out the poem he had penned two years earlier and begged Franz Gruber to “please write music to these words that can be easily learned by our choir. And, without an organ, I guess the song will have to be played on a guitar.”

They both glanced at the mantle clock. “But time is so short!”

Studying the poem, Gruber set to work. Father Mohr, feeling confident that God somehow had a special plan for this Christmas Eve, hurried back across the snow to the church, leaving Franz Gruber alone with his thoughts, a ticking clock, and a prayer for inspiration.

A short time later, the two friends met at St. Nicholas. There in a candlelit sanctuary, Gruber showed his new music to Mohr. The priest approved, and after learning the guitar chords, rushed it to the choir members who were waiting for their scheduled rehearsal. In very short order, Gruber taught the choir members the four-part harmonies to the last two lines of each verse.

Just after midnight, Mohr and Gruber stood in front of the main altar and introduced their simple little song. As they sang, they couldn’t have guessed that Silent Night! Holy Night! would be remembered not only the next Christmas in their small village, but almost two hundred years later, around the world.

(The source of this story is lost in time.  I do not know nor remember where I found this story.  If I owe anyone proper credit please inform me and I'll give credit.)  Merry Christmas One and All!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

When Love Was Enough At Christmas

In my past Christmas traditions giving and receiving gifts have always been a huge part of the whole experience. We were not considered a rich family by any means but there always seemed to be an abundance of presents under the tree and everyone, including me, garnered a large portion of gifts just for themselves.

My first taste of a decline in Christmas gifts happened in1990. This was my first Christmas as a single man after being married for a bunch of years. I celebrated with some of my family who lived in Dallas. I remember writing in my journal the sum total of Christmas gifts received that year: a lighthouse painting from my sister and brother-n-law, a shirt from my nephew and his family, and a gift certificate from my work place.

As I reflected back on Christmas ’90 in my journal I felt blessed, not wanting for anything and grateful for my life, my health and my family.

The year of 2008 was a serious transition year for Carolyn and me. I was faced with a declining market in real estate sales and forced to seek employment via other means. Money was tight for much of that year. When Christmas rolled around, we managed to spend a small amount of money on gifts for others in our family and a couple of close friends, but I had to break the unfortunate news to my wife that I felt we did not have any extra money to buy Christmas gifts for each other.

My beautiful wife Carolyn is a winner. She demonstrated such support when I broke that news to her and said some wonderfully reassuring words to the effect that “we will get through this, after all, we have each other.” I could tell she meant it.

I wondered how we would mark Christmas morning in a memorable and meaningful way without the excitement of exchanging gifts and all that goes with it.

and relationship by sharing a unique Christmas morning that is now a fond memory and will be cherished for a lifetime.

We got up Christmas morning, put on a large pot of coffee, lit a fire in the fireplace and sat side by side on the sofa in the shadow of our small but lovely Christmas tree. I read story after story about Christmas from a storybook we have in our family library.

There were times when we shed tears as I read, and I’ll admit it was painful and a bit sad at times, but we held tightly to each other, hand in hand, side by side, hearts united, and holding onto our love for each other. That Christmas, we discovered that our love was more than enough for any season.

Wow, a love that is enough.

What an incredible thought!

I hope you experience a love that is enough this Christmas.

-That love is demonstrated in the babe in the manger.
-It shows up in the joyful sounds of the season,
  both the secular and the religious.
-It shows up in the lights and bling of the decorations.

And it shows up in love expressed for one another.

Call somebody. Offer words of love.

There is enough love that unfolds in the Christmas story for all of us. Christmas is giving gifts for sure, but it is more you know. It is ultimately a love story.

               AND REDEMPTION,
                    AND HOPE.

The Giver of the gift has more than enough love for each one of us.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Hope

There are some things that you just know and understand deep down. I knew from the first moment that I met Carolyn that we would at least have a second and third date. I hoped for more, but I sort of knew that much.

I knew as a boy growing up in Tennessee that I could count on a new belt from my grandmother every Christmas. She never failed me, for as many years as she was alive and able to give gifts.

And then sometimes I had huge hopes for Christmas. Not certainties you understand, just hopes. I remember the year I hoped for a new bicycle. On Christmas morning, there it sat; red fenders, white seat, shiny and new. Wow! Oh, to be a kid again.

I know what Carolyn hopes for this Christmas. And I’m gonna do my best to meet and exceed her hopes, but don’t tell her. Shhhhh.

I know of others who have hopes and dreams for this year’s Christmas season. Some hope for reconciliation with a loved one. I pray their hope becomes reality.

I know a family that has a few more bills than bucks this Christmas. They are hoping for the miracle of more funds to fund their dreams and hopes.

Today I passed a man on a street corner. He appeared to be in his sixties. His sign said “Need a job or Groceries.” He is seeking a big helping of hope this Christmas. I hope he gets everything he has asked for.

Hope is one of the key words in the whole of celebrating Christmas. We all hope for something, don’t we?

-Retail stores hope for big cash register sales
-My granddaughter Adia hopes for some new doll that will complete her life.
-Greyson, my 3 year old grandson hopes for some kind of toy gun I suppose.
-I know a 22 year old young lady who is hoping for a sparkling ring to put on her left hand.

In the Biblical accounting of the Christmas story it was all about hope. The hope that was sought was in the form of a king wo would come, redeem and restore all wrongs and deliver oppressed people from their oppressors.

Instead, Hope showed up in the form of a newborn baby whose first night on earth was spent in a barn. Now that’s not a very elegant way for a king to be welcomed to this world is it?

But nevertheless He brought hope. And He still brings hope.

Hope for healing.
     Hope for encouragement.
          Hope for financial relief. .
               Hope for a mended heart.
                    Hope in place of loneliness.

Hope is the essence of survival.

It has been said that a person can live ...
Forty days without food
Four minutes without air
Four seconds with hope

Hope keeps your future alive.

What are your hopes for this Christmas season?

As long as you have hope life has meaning. With hope, we seem to be able to hold onto the threads of life a bit longer.

What better season than Christmas for us to hold onto hope. Embrace it. Picture your hope turning into reality.

Hold on to HOPE!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams

Close your eyes and tell me what you see when you dream of your future? What kind of work are you doing? Where do you live? What does your family life look like? What is your economic status?

Dreams are a good thing. Everyone dreams – some just take their dream to the next level. They dream in more vivid detail and dream on purpose. I want to be an on-purpose dreamer. Care to join me?

Here’s a quote for us to ponder:

“The soul never thinks without a picture.”

Paint your picture of your future. Use splashes of bright orange, yellows, beautiful blues, pink and rose. Paint to your heart’s content, but paint your picture for your soul’s sake. Use a big bold canvass to do your painting on. Make it enormous so that the whole world can see it and rejoice in your dream. Paint it and own it.

A wise man once said “Once I see it I will be it.” We see it first in our mind’s eye, and then we move in the direction of our dreams and our dominant thoughts.

But we have to create a clear image of the end result. That is what empowers us toward achieving the desired end.

Carolyn and I just returned from a vacation to Disneyland. I am struck with the creativity we experienced time and time again as we strolled the theme park and saw the sights that Walt Disney and his team of dreamers first saw in their mind’s eye, and then converted into concrete, plaster and paint.

They saw it first in their minds, and then turned it into reality. The same principle is true for you and I.

I love this quote.

“Only Those Who Can See the Invisible
  Can Accomplish the Impossible.”

Now, add the part about believing in your dreams and you are well on your way toward the accomplishment of those hopes and dreams.

It all starts with hopes and dreams. Then comes the doing. Dreams without action are like flowers without rain. They wither and die for lack of nourishment. Give your dreams feet and wings. Allow them to grow, run and soar to heights yet unseen, all because you dreamed and nourished the dream.

Can you spend four hours some morning on your dream? Go off by yourself, take a pen and paper, or your computer, get a nice cup of your favorite hot drink and sit and think about your dreams. I ask this question often: “What would I do if I knew I could not fail?”

The answer to this question will most likely give you a real sense of what beats inside of you a sense of direction for your dominant thoughts and desires for your life.

Whatever the answer is, write it down, live with it for a while, write down all of the possibilities for a dynamic life in pursuit of this dream, and see where your thoughts take you.

Live the life you’ve imagined.”

Go confidently in the
direction of your dreams.
(Henry David Thoreau)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Great Expectations

During my college days there was a phrase that we like to quote often. It went like this:
        "That’s close enough for jazz.”

How would you like a carpenter building your home to use that phrase?
     “Well, that window doesn’t close all the way, but its
         close enough. After all, we don’t get all that much
           snow and blowing wind up here.

Ouch! I’d be looking for another carpenter real soon, wouldn’t you?

Sir Henry Royce, of the Rolls Royce automobile fame, had the habit of stalking about his factory. One day he overheard an engineer speaking to one of the workmen. “That’s good enough.”

He immediately broke into the conversation. “It’s never good enough. That’s what we’re all here for —to make it better, and then to make it better than it is today. Never say it’s good enough.”

That’s quiet an attitude, isn’t it?

Maybe that is why a Rolls Royce is one of the most prized possessions in the automobile world still today. The name speaks QUALITY.

That’s called mindset.

So what is your mindset?
                    What is your attitude?

Do you expect people to buy from you?
Do you expect to get along with most people?
Do you have a “can do” mindset?

Sort of reminds me of the Bible verse “As a man thinks so is he.”

Earl Nightingale said it this way. “You become what you think about.”

Do you think win?
Do you think “successful outcome?”
Do you believe in YOU?

Do you hold high hopes for yourself, your self-development and your ability to seek a successful outcome?

Attitude is a choice. What are you choosing?
Where are you allowing your thoughts to take you?

Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity.

Hold onto Great Expectations.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

When It's All Over You've Only Just Begun

Have you ever come to the end of yourself before?

Have you reached a dead end and wondered what next?

“When it’s all over,
you’ve only just begun.”

Remember that.

I’ve lost in a few relationships.

I’ve had jobs that ran out.
     I've wondered "What next?"

Dead ends don't always mean dead ends.  Look for an opportunity to rebuild.

With every ending there is always a new beginning starting with your next step. Take it. Plant your foot forward and step into your new life.

“It’s not over till it’s over”, quipped Yogi Berra.

Yogi was referring to baseball. As long as there were innings left in the game, the team still had a chance.

How about this twist on Yogi’s thought?
If you’re breathing you still have innings left in your game. What are you gonna do in the next inning?

Are you still alive and breathing?
          Then you have the seeds of a new beginning.

Do ideas still pop into your head?
          Then you have the seeds of a new beginning.

"Every adversity, every failure
and every heartache
carries with it the seed
of an equivalent
or a greater
Napoleon Hill

My friend Ron is going through “stuff” right now. His boss is shutting down the business that Ron has so effectively managed for the last bunch of years. Is he discouraged? Not Ron.

I just got an email from him this week. Listen to the optimism in his note.

“The future is looking hopeful. I really don't know how to react other than to live in the moment, and enjoy what is such a breath of fresh air compared to the stress I've been living under these past couple of years."

Your setback could be
the launching pad
for your next great idea.

Remember …
When it’s all over,
you’ve only just begun.

I wish you Success in Your New Beginnings!

Friday, November 12, 2010


How is your follow-through? Do you have staying power?

In Og Mandino’s classic The Greatest Salesman in the World, he addresses this in The Scroll Marked Three. It states: “I will persist until I succeed.”

Every business and success minded guru that I read address this topic at some point in time. Our successes in life often come down to our staying power.

When I took typing in the tenth and eleventh grade my typing teacher taught me a great word.

The word was “PERTINACITY”.

It means “stick-to-it-ivness.“

For those of us in sales, we soon learn that often we have to ask for the sale somewhere between 3 and 5 times before we get the order. That, my friends is pertinacity.

There are dozens, hundreds, and thousands of examples in our world of people who have demonstrated this kind of focus. Thomas Edison comes to mind. He tried over ten-thousand different combinations for the electric light bulb before he found the perfect solution. He was asked by Napoleon Hill once what he would have done if he had not finally uncovered the secret.

His response was this. “I would be in my laboratory working now, instead of wasting my time talking with you.” Wow. That is focus and desire all mixed together. And a huge dose of pertinacity mixed in for good measure.

Read most biographies and you’ll see this inner core-principle in place. Athletes have it.  So do politicians and ministers.  Countless successful businesses demonstrate pertinacity.

I am a huge fan of Napoleon Hill. In a book published by his foundation titled A Year of Growing Rich, he states, “I have observed two of the most important facts concerning men and women who are successful in their chosen occupations and those who are not. The successes speak in the future tense of yet unattained objectives which they intend to achieve. The failures speak in the past tense of their defeats and disappointments.”

I referenced Og Mandino’s book at the beginning of this blog. One of the suggestions he makes for mastering the ten scrolls in The Greatest Salesman is to take each scroll and read it three times a day for 30 days. Then move on to the next scroll. Wow. What a huge commitment but what a marvelous demonstration of PERTINACITY. If you can stick to this commitment, you show a lot of the qualities that will lead you on to other successes.

I love this line from Beauty and the Beast. “Screw your courage to the sticking place.”

Develop Resolve!
Stick to it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Take Time to Sharpen the Saw

In Stephen R. Covey’s landmark best seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, his Habit #7 is entitled Take Time to Sharpen the Saw.

What does it mean to “sharpen the saw”?

This application comes from the wood cutting world. Lumberjacks know the importance of stopping every once in a while during their day to sharpen their saws. Saw blades, like most tools will lose their sharp edge and one will begin to work harder to accomplish the same measure of success. So, the wise wood-cutter knows the value in taking time out in their day to sharpen their saw.

Should we do any less? In all of life, whether in sales, management, bookkeeping, ministering, or picking cotton, we sometimes need to take a break, re-tool, and put a fresh edge on whatever it is we are attempting to do.

For some people it means simply taking a break from the day’s labors. For others it is literally re-tooling, or sharpening their blades.

For me, it is reading a great book in my areas of interest, or listening to audio recordings of current books that interest me. I gain some incredible insights when listening to the wisdom of inspiring speakers and writers such as Earl Nightingale, Denis Waitley, Zig Ziglar, and a great host of others.

Recently I discovered Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni. I just finished reading Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, and now I’m listening to the audio recording of this book. What a marvelous wealth of material. You really should read it if you deal with people on any level.

You see, by exposing myself to these individuals and their thoughts I sharpen my saw – I see things in a new light, or see new things altogether. I want to be a fresh thinker, a fresh and insightful writer and speaker. I want to be good with people and understand better how to relate to all types of people. That is why I spend my drive time each morning and evening listening to what these successful people have to say.

So, sometime today, stop and sharpen your saw. Dip into some wise persons words and see what they have to say to you that will stretch you and enlarge your life.

Keep a sharp edge!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Act In Spite of Fear

There are all kinds of fears that plague a person. If we listened to our fears, some days we would probably never get out of bed.

There’s the fear of poor health
  The fear of having an accident
    The fear of the sky falling
      The fear of an economic collapse

Experts say the fear of public speaking is the number one fear of all.

And there is the fear of fear itself, I suppose.

In every instance of fear that we face, we just need to do it! We need to act in spite of fear.

Denis Waitley, highly successful speaker and writer says, “FEAR stands for

That’s what it all boils down to.

So, what is it that we fear exactly?

I remember anticipating going to college while in high school. I looked at my brother’s college year books from past years and dreamed of the day I would set foot on campus.

When the day finally arrived I made the fifty mile trip, un-packed my stuff, then lay down on the bed in my dorm room. I felt this awful sense of fear and loneliness.
I was afraid of getting out and enjoying and exploring my new territory.
 I didn’t know if people would like me and accept me.
  I was afraid of making a fool of myself.
   I wanted to be Mr. Cool, Mr. Big Man on Campus.

But what if I failed?

Finally I had to face my fears, pull myself up off that bed, plant one foot in front of the other and begin the journey for which I had longed. I had to get out there and meet people and begin making friends. All it took was that first step. But I had to face my fears and just go do it. I’m so thankful I did just that.

For most of my adult life I’ve had this desire to write, but fear kept me from attempting it, and if I did attempt some things, fear kept me from showing them to anyone.

Before I had my first magazine article published in 1979, I almost abandoned it because of fear. I’m so glad I didn’t. I received a check for $22 for that first article. Wow! I was rich … for a day.

I’ve sung solos when I’ve been afraid.
I’ve given speeches when I faced fear.
I’ve been on job interviews when I’ve faced fear.
I’ve done lots of stuff in the face of fear. And I made it through all of them. I’m still standing.
I’ve grown and learned from every situation in which I’ve faced my fears.

And I am alive!

Some wise person once said, “Face your fears and the death of fear is certain.”

What fears do you face?
               What is the worst that could happen if you faced your fear and did it anyway?
                              What is the best that could happen?

Those are really the only two questions that matter when it comes to facing our fears, aren’t they?

Let me encourage you.

Act In Spite Of Your Fears!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Fourteen Most Powerful Words

We use words, we use body language, we use gestures, we use vocal inflection. In short, we use tools in our day-to-day human interactions. The more skillful we use these tools of our trade, sometimes the more successful we become.

So, for today, let’s focus on the words we use.

In a study conducted a few years at Harvard University, it was discovered that the following words were considered the most powerful ones to use in everyday human contact.

How many do you currently use?

How many are used in your company's 
sales and marketing literature?

Here’s the list.
You              Results
Money         Health
Save            Proven
New             Guarantee
Easy            Free
Love            Important
Discovery   Safety

Did you notice the word “sale” is not listed?

Neither are these words:
I, Me, My, Our, Buy Now, Deal, Discount,
     and a few more with which we sometimes pepper our

This week’s thought is short and simple. Use as many of these key words as you can every chance you get.

Write them

               Speak them

                              Use them.

Oh, by the way. Here’s a bonus. (That’s a good word!)

Here are three more that were added later, so I guess we should really call this the Key 17 List.

Because          Together          Advantage

What a timely reminder of The Power of the Right Word Spoken at the Right Time!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tools For Your Trade

Can you imagine a carpenter showing up for work without any tools in his vehicle or strapped around his waist?

Would a track star show up at the Olympics without her favorite running shoes and other critical apparel?

Of course the answer is “NO” every time.

We go prepared or we go home empty handed.

Here are some critical tools I want to share with you that just might make a difference in your work life.

Audible is a sight where, for a small membership of $14.95 per month you can download audio books. You are given one credit per month with your subscription, and that entitles you to one free download for every credit you accumulate. The nice thing is that the credits accumulate and you can build them up each month.  Look at some of the titles I’ve downloaded.

Aspire by Kevin Hall
Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni
Mindset by Carol Dweck
Good to Great by Jim Collins
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
25 Ways to Win with People by John C. Maxwell
Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell, as told by Denis Waitley
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

And so many others. I’ve had my membership for over three years and what a wealth of information I have in CD format so that I can turn my automobile into a Rolling University, as Denis Waitley and Zig Ziglar call it.

This is a tool that I can’t imagine being without in my business.

Check it out!

Books Books Books
Are you a reader? Have you developed this habit that all super-successful people attribute to their success?

Last week I mentioned five books I wouldn’t be without. Let me give you some others.

You can order any of these books by clicking on the following link.
Up-Words LifeLines Book Store

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (See Page 8 on LifeLines)
Three Feet from Gold by Greg Reid and Sharon Lecther, based on
     Think and Grow Rich  (See Page 2 on LifeLines)
Aspire by Kevin Hall  (See Page 1 on LifeLines)
The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill (See Page 8 on LifeLines)
Any Og Mandino book you can get your hands on
     (See Pages 8-9 on LifeLines)
John C. Maxwell has so many, you can’t go wrong with any of them
     (See Pages 2,3,4 on LifeLines)

Expose yourself – to the minds of some great and successful thinkers through these audio recordings books.

Strap on your tool belt!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, a very famous motivational and inspirational speaker, was fond of saying, “Five years from now you will be the same person you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Imagine that! Your major influences are people and books.

Well, guess what? I have four great books for you to consider. Notice I didn’t give you much to go on in the descriptive content of these books. Check them out on line, read some reviews and choose the ones that most strike you for this moment in time in your life.

If you want to add any of these suggestions to your personal library, click on the LifeLines Book Store link which takes you to my Amazon Associates link.  Add your selection to your cart and follow the instructions for checking out.  Thanks for your support.  The link is LifeLines Books

Aspire, by Kevin Hall. I first read this book in January 2010, and have read it twice more since then. It is such a great read that I can’t help but continually dip into this masterpiece. You need to check this out – NOW!

(Lifelines Page 1, Position 4)

Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni is a masterpiece of a story-book with some impressive business principles tucked neatly inside. The story-form is one of the best I’ve come across. It is one of those I couldn’t put down. I will read or listen to this book on audio CD at least once more this year yet.
(Lifelines Page 1, Position 5)

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a classic book, and one I highly recommend. These principles are timeless and practical. Nearly everything I know about relating to people is something I picked up first in this book.
(Lifelines Page 1, Position 6)

Og Mandino’s classic The Greatest Salesman in the World is truly a classic in every sense. The ten principles, or Ten Scrolls, are mainstays in the people and sales business and let me encourage you to follow the plan, mark out your calendar and actually follow Og’s plan for the ten scrolls. It will take ten months, but my-my, how it will impact your life in so many ways.
(Lifelines Page 1, Position 7)

Of course I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Bible. I try and dip into this in some form or fashion every day of my life. Sixty-six books, choice parables, interesting stories, life changing message.
(Lifelines Page 1, Position 8)

Earl Nightingale used to remind us to read for 30 minutes per day. I’ve heard John Maxwell promote this, Brian Tracy, and a great host of other men and women who have made their impressive mark on civilization.

Get lost in a great book tonight!

Who knows where we will find you?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Winning with People

We individuals in the people business either win with people or we seek other lines of work. I want to paraphrase what some famous business icon from by-gone days once said. “I will pay more salary to the individual who has the ability to get along with people than for any other skill he/she may possess.

The ability to get

along with people!

How do you measure up in this realm? What is your score?

Let’s look at a few skills one needs for succeeding and winning with people.
1. Look them in the eye.
Eye contact means acknowledgement. Acknowledgement means I see you, I recognize you and I value you. Ignore a person and you have just signaled that you don’t value them. People notice whether you notice them or not.
2. Use their name properly.
I have stressed this in other blog posts, but I can’t get very farm from this most critical skill. People love the sound of their own name. Get it right, remember it and you will go a long way in earning the right to be heard and to tell your story about the wares you represent.
3. Treat everyone with whom you meet with great respect.
They are, after all, worth knowing, worth your time and attention, and worthy of respect.

There is a man who used to come into a retail store where I worked. After talking with him for less than 30- seconds the first time we met I knew he had some mental challenges. He lived in an adult family home near my place of business, and he had a one-track conversation in every encounter. He would ask about some of the products we sold, express an interest in one particular item, and then, as an end of our conversation, he would say “I like rock music. I’m better than Elvis.” And he would walk away.

Every time he came in I had a choice to make. Would I brush him off, ignore him, belittle him? Or would I give him the courtesy of a smile, a greeting and a bit of attention. That’s all he ever demanded – a little bit of attention.

Remember Mary Kay Ash’s phrase – Imagine that every person you meet is wearing an invisible sign around their neck that says “Make Me Feel Important.”

More thoughts on this topic later. Digest, talk about these, and put them into action!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Can I or Can't I?


by the set of your sails.

Some ships head east, yet others head west, all from the same wind. The wind doesn’t decide to blow one ship in one direction and the other in the other. The captain of the ship determines in which direction he is going to go.

Same is true for you and for me as well.

Think of the sails as thoughts in your life. Are you harboring good thoughts? Are they steering you in the direction in which you want to go?

“If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t,
It is almost certain you won’t.

“If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will –
It’s all in the state of mind.

“If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

“Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late,
The man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”
(Walter D. Wintle - late 19th early 20th Century)

Sometimes, conquering is a matter of breaking down a task into smaller, simpler parts. Master those one at a time, slowly, successfully.  Then weave them together with the bigger puzzle pieces, the bigger picture, increase your speed, assure your accuracy, and in no time you have climbed on top of that massive goal.

Could you read War and Peace in the first grade?

As a ten year old, could you lift 200 lbs. over your head?

Probably not. But in time, bit by bit, you grew in strength and understanding and with consistency and purpose you soon developed the mental skills and physical prowess to read a large volume or lift a large weight.

There are a few terms that are tossed about in a lot of goal setting and self-development books that speak to what we are talking about.
-Definite Chief Aim

The winds may be blowing in my face, yet by properly setting my sails, I can head into the winds and make progress, though the winds of adversity blow toward me.

It’s all in the set of your sails. How is your sail set? How securely is your mind fixed on your objective, dream, goal?

The Bible offers this thought.
“As a man thinks, so is he.”

Dozens of thought leaders, philosophers and gurus have said the same thing in other ways.
“You become what you think about.”
“If you think you can, you can.”
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

I don’t know where you want to go, but I do know that if you set your course, determine where you want to be, give yourself a timeline, and do daily actions to move yourself along toward your goals, you will sooner or later reach your destination.




Pretty simple, right?

On paper, yes. Carrying through? That is up to you.

All I know is this …
Start where you are
to get to where
you want to go.

And begin today, whether you are ready or not.

Let’s go for a sail!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Power of Words

With appreciation to John C. Maxwell and his book Be a People Person, we find this great insight.

“The least important word: I.
“The most important word: We.
“The two most important words: Thank You.
“The three most important words: All is forgiven.
“The four most important words: What is your opinion?
“The five most important words: You did a good job.
“The six most important words: I want to know you better.

Let’s spend some time on these phrases.

Do people really care about what I think?

Denotes teamwork, companionship, joint effort, pulling together. Don’t you love it when your team says these things?
Look what we did!
What can we do?
Where will we be in the future?

Thank You
Sometimes this is the most under-used word in everyday conversations. We have the opportunity to say “Thank You” perhaps a dozen times every day. Do we?

All Is Forgiven
These are perhaps some of the most healing words one can hear.

Earnest Hemingway, in his short story The Capital of the World, tells the story about a father and his teenage son who lived in Spain. Their relationship became strained, shattered and the son ran away from home.

“Soon the father began a long journey in search of his son, finally putting an ad in the Madrid newspaper as a last resort. His son’s name was Paco, a very common name in Spain. The ad simply read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the Madrid newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you.” As Hemingway writes, the next day at noon in front of the newspaper office there were 800 “Pacos” all seeking forgiveness.”

What Is Your Opinion?
This phrase speaks of openness and that you want to include others in forming opinions and policies.

You Did a Good Job!
Don’t you just love an appropriately placed word? There are few five-word phrases that work as effectively as “You did a good job!”

I Want to Know You Better.
We are social human beings. We form groups, join clubs, all with the purpose of expanding our social network. When I get to know you better, you enrich my life and hopefully I will add value to yours as well.

Well, there you have it. Six word phrases that make a difference in our relating to other human beings.

Come, let us sit
for a while
and become friends.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I love to laugh! Some wise person has said “laughter is like jogging on the inside.”

Laughter is contagious. When I hear someone giving a genuine full-bodied laugh it often makes me want to laugh as well.

When my step-daughter, Ashley, was little, she had the most infectious giggle. She was full of life and laughter and she was going to enjoy every minute life had to offer. Her giggles made me giggle.

Ava and Grey

My granddaughter Ava is the same way. When she is with her cousins you can hear her above all of the others, laughing and giggling and having the time of her life. She lets it all out. I love that about her.

When my siblings are able to get together, we always end up telling family stories, laughing and reminiscing and enjoying our family history.

I’ve seen a rather large painting of the Christ figure throwing his head back and laughing a good old belly laugh. Can you imagine that happening?

I can.

God has more of a sense of humor than we might allow him, don’t you think?

Carolyn and I have enjoyed some amazing sunsets this spring and summer particularly. During and after every one of them we marvel at the beauty and majesty of this world of ours and savor the moments we can share together watching the sun go down.

Seems at times I can hear God chuckling to himself as he watches us enjoy his handiwork.

I think God goes around laughing at my newest grandson Eliot. That boy is the picture of life and joy, smiles and laughter. Just look at the expression on his face? You gotta love that about him. He doesn’t have a care in the world, except scooting that wheeled cart across the floor, learning to walk, gaining new feet and wings and loving life at top speed.

I think God laughed the other day as I was holding Carolyn’s hand. We were going nowhere in particular, just enjoying our day together, holding hands, being in each other’s presence and enjoying the moment. I’m pretty sure I heard a guffaw come from somewhere up there.

Have you heard God laugh with you? Have you ever felt His delight just because you exist? He never mocks us – oh no. He simply delights in us. He delights in what delights us.

I seem to collect friends who also enjoy a good chuckle or a snort. When my long-time friend Brenda and I get together on rare occasions we end up laughing at the silliest things. We’re just being ourselves, expanding our friendship one more notch, and loving whatever our curious minds find to laugh about.

I have two close college friends and if you mention the words “milk donuts” you will throw the three of us into spasms of giggles and hooting and hollering.

So, laugh more. Giggle – out loud. Snicker occasionally. Hoot if you want to. Snort and cackle and especially chortle.

It’s good for you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Are You Going to Give Up or Get Up?

What an awakening question. Everyone has ‘things’ that come along and knock us off our rocker. The real question is “Are you going to give up or get up?”

In December of 1980 I awakened to discover that a third of my back yard was missing. It had washed down into the ravine behind my home here in Seattle. I had no clue at that moment as to what to do. I wondered if my home was safe from sliding off into the same ravine, however, the bigger question was, “what do I do next and how much will it cost?” Of course I wanted to bury my head in the pillows and not surface for a few months, but I had to face reality. I chose to “get up” and do what I could to remedy my situation.

Here are some solutions for us to use when the wind gets knocked out of our sails.
1. Get a right perspective. What actually happened? What can you do about it? What will it cost to correct the situation? What is beyond your control?

2. Seek out the right people. Who can help you? Who will give you good advice? Who can point you in the right direction? Who do you trust?

3. Plot out a reasonable time line. “Reasonable” is the key word here. How long do you realistically think it will take to correct your dilemma?

4. What can I possibly learn from this situation? There are lessons in everything in life. We need to assess and process to help us gain a new perspective.

5. Remember, this too shall pass.

In the September 2010 issue of Success Magazine, John Maxwell said “It may not be your fault for being down, but it is your fault for not getting up.”

So, it’s time to respond.

Are You Going to Give Up or Get Up?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Real Wealth

What is your real wealth? Is it a dollar figure that you now possess, or hope to possess? Is it a particular possession that you have or you hope to have some day?

I just reviewed my notes on the book Three Feet from Gold by Sharon L. Lechter & Greg S. Reid.  This quote at the beginning of Chapter 22 grabbed my attention today.

“Remember that your real wealth
can be measured not by what you have,
but by what you are.”

So, what are you? What am I?

When I come to the end of my life, I hope these things can be found in the remains of what I leave behind.

P Michael Biggs was …
A loving man
An honorable man
A trustworthy man
A man of integrity
A man of morals
A man of truth
A good friend to many
An encouraging man

I have “stuff” in my life. I own two automobiles, I have enough cloths, we have plenty of food, I have a modest library and even a Kindle, we've taken a cruise, we’ve visited some lovely places on vacation. But all of this is just stuff to fill up our lives.

What am I at my core, my base self? What are you?

Today, I’m speaking to mankind, whether we are sales people, factory workers, mountain climbers, musicians, housewives, mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, or retired.

May we be found to be people of substance and worth just because we are human beings. Our legacy matters more than money, accomplishments, sales quotas, and awards.

What am I? I hope people find me to be an authentic human being!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Non-Verbal Communication (The Buzz-Word for Body Languge)

How you look overpowers what you say by a factor of eight!

Here are the facts.
Communication is …
7% Words
38% Tone
55% Body language

Most individuals use some 700,000 signals that they give off in day-to-day human interactions, and approximately 250 facial expressions. We are constantly giving and receiving verbal and non-verbal communication in every conversation, passing glance, brief smile and nod of our heads to another human being. Everything we do, from the way we sit, the amount of eye contact we use and even how loudly we speak all send verbal and non-verbal signals about us and our feelings. Our non-verbal signals produce either a sense of trust and interest in connecting with another person or they generate disinterest, distrust and fear.

Eye Contact: Look people in the eye. Avoid prolonged stares and glares, but give a solid look in the eyes for 2-3 seconds, break away and be sure and include every person in the party with whom you are speaking.

Be aware of your own eyes when engaging someone in conversation. Experts in body language and non-verbal expressions are in agreement that when a person visually recalls something, they look up and to the left. When they make up an answer or lie, they look up and to the right.

Hand Shake: If this is appropriate and acceptable in your work, attempt to keep the hand shake up-right. If you tilt the handshake to the left so that your hand is on top this is considered a power play in your favor. If the handshake is tilted to the right so that the other person’s hand is on top this is a power play in their favor. Avoid one-up-man-ship in something as simple as a handshake.

Body Stance: Be sure and use an open body stance, especially when speaking to more than one person. Include everyone in the group by facing them all. When I speak to a husband or wife, I make sure and position my body equally facing them both. So often I see sales people favor one person over the other in a two-person encounter.

Notice the position of your client’s feet when they are speaking with you. There is an axiom in studying body language that says “The feet point to where the body wants to go.” If you are engaged in conversation with a customer, yet their feet point away from you, there is a good chance that you don’t have their full attention and you need to re-establish control so that you can properly help your customer.

Body language speaks louder than words.

Success to you in your pursuits!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I once had it said to me, “You’re an accident waiting to happen.” Ouch. That hurt. I could have chosen to dwell on that comment and let it color the rest of my life, but at some point I made the conscious choice to move beyond those words and realize the reality that I was and am better than that comment and I wasn’t going to give it a foothold in my life any longer.

Les Brown, internationally recognized motivational speaker, once said, “Someone’s opinion of you does not have to be your reality.”

Thank God this is true.

But how often do we ruminate on past words that someone has offered in judgment on our lives and we have accepted those words as truth?

We don’t have to look very far to find people who will rain on our parade. Parents, siblings, in-laws, co-workers, and so many others sometimes seem willing and ready to take aim at our lives, our conduct, and our situations and offer judgments, pronouncements and opinions of what is wrong and what to do to fix our situation.

But what is the truth?

What is reality?

Maybe you have failed.
The reality is that you are not a failure.

Maybe you have made a mistake.
The reality is that your whole life is not a mistake.

Maybe you have had one or two bad relationships.
The reality is that you are still capable of reinventing your relationships, improving them and learning from your past mistakes.

Maybe you have been miscast into a job that didn’t show your best skill set.
The reality is that there is a job, a work that is perfectly suited for you. Go find it.

From this day forward…
-I will live an examined life.
-I will take counsel with those who have my best interest at heart.
-I will evaluate and improve my life every day.
-I will learn from every situation.
-I will read books that will enlarge me.
-I will learn the difference between reality and the opinion of others.

From this day forward, I will live the best “me” that I can. I will accept my good points, improve my weak points, and live my own reality.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Believe In Yourself

Many of us in sales have a constant struggle when it comes to attitude and belief, especially in our attitudes towards ourselves. We need reinforcement, whether it is from our sales manager or boss, books, motivational recordings, spouse or friend.

The book Three Feet from Gold has this pertinent little aphorism that we need to be reminded of from time to time:

People doubt their beliefs,
But believe their doubts.
Believe in yourself,
And the world will believe in you.
(Page 124, Three Feet from Gold)

So, how much do you believe in yourself?

There is a funny Shoe comic strip that relates to what we are speaking of here.

Shoe, the crusty old newspaper editor is pitching in a baseball game and his team is behind. The catcher comes out to the pitcher’s mound to have a chat with Shoe. The catcher says, “You just need to have a little faith in yourself and your curve ball.”

As the catcher returns to his position, Shoe mutters to himself. “That’s easy for you to say. When it comes to believing in myself I’m an agnostic.”

That’s the secret, though, isn’t it? Believe in yourself.

Brian Tracy loves to say and write these motivating words. "I like myself. I really like myself.”

I use the phrase “I approve of myself.”

What works for you? What do you want to believe about yourself?

It’s all in the state of mind.

Believe in yourself,
And the world will believe in you.

Try it today, on your next sales call.

I can do this!
I am capable!
I know my stuff!
I believe in ME!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Smile Says It All

There is an old saying that goes like this: “To have a friend, be a friend.” Your demeanor, your smile, your dress, your speech patterns all meld together in creating the composite of who you are and how you are perceived. Most experts agree that we have somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes to make a good first impression. Here are some tips for increasing your friendliness factor and making that great first impression on everyone with whom you come into contact.

Try this experiment tomorrow in your work place or wherever you interact with people. Smile! Smile at the people on your elevator, smile at your wife and kids, smile at the bus driver, smile at your boss, smile at your co-workers, and along with the smile offer a more cheerful verbal greeting.

I had the privilege of assisting a couple recently in my retail store. The husband was a nice enough man. He arrived twenty minutes before his wife. I attempted to help him, but he quickly told me he really needed to wait for his wife to arrive.

Wow! I was overwhelmed by her radiant smile when she came in. The first thing she did was smile a most dazzlingly beautiful smile and then she put out her hand, called me by name (which she got from my name badge) and said, “Hi, I’m Barbara. Thanks for helping us find the perfect mattress.”

Most customers I encounter avoid looking at me directly in the early stages of our interaction and I almost never get a smile of any kind. It becomes a game with me to see how quickly I can earn their trust and get them to like me, trust me, smile at me and open up to me.

So, our point for today is a simple one. SMILE! The smile on your face declares to the world that a caring, open individual lives inside of that smile and is so eager to help with what concerns you most today.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Importance of a Mentor

I heard Harvey McKay say once that he had perhaps over a dozen mentors. Can you imagine that?

I have had and currently have a few mentors in my life as well. Allow me to tell you about some of my mentors.
Jim Tharp taught me spiritual direction, discernment and some key fundamentals in helping form my God concept and my religious beliefs as they exist today.
Jim VanHook taught me the art of loving people and instilled in me the philosophy of “love the people.”
Denis Waitley helped me with my understanding of people and motivational aspects about the workings of the mind.
N Hill taught me about dreaming, planning and desiring in a good healthy way and then developing a plan for the accomplishment of such dreams and hopes.
Kevin Hall taught me the importance of words and their root meaning and how a life-word can help define one’s life.

I could name a few others mentors, but I believe you get the point.

Mentors can add tremendous value to your life and in helping you form your foundation, your sense of direction and some fundamental skills that will stand you in good stead for years to come.

I’ve had the privilege of mentoring a few people during my lifetime. I simply have passed on the key principles I’ve gathered from a lifetime of living and learning.

I believe a mentor has a right to be vulnerable to their mentee. He or she needs a taste of real-life work situations and you can best facilitate that by sharing a reasonable amount of the good and the bad. When I faced a crisis, I shared enough of the situation with them to give them a feel of the agony and processes I had to go through. My philosophy of mentoring is that mentoring is a finishing school, a continuing education opportunity and the more real-time experiences one can have the better rounded their lives will be.

Let’s examine the role of the mentor. It begs the question, “What is a mentor?”

A mentor is a guide, teacher, sculptor, advisor, leader, guru, nurturer, prompter, and life coach.

When I entered into those mentoring relationships I cared deeply about the individual and his and her growth both professionally and personally. One of the first things I said to each was this: “Here is a bit of advice I learned from a college professor that I want to pass along to you. It will change your life if you take this advice to heart. The advice is this: “LOVE THE PEOPLE.”

We, all of us, are ultimately in the people business and we can accomplish nothing without people. Genuinely, without shame and without reservations show love and respect for every individual with whom you come into contact. People can tell whether you care or not. Always care, genuinely and sincerely.

Using the ABC’s, lets cover the gamut of what being a mentor is all about:
Mentoring is applying what you’ve learned by pouring it into the life of another
Mentoring is being an example and being real
Mentoring is caring
Mentoring is daring and doing
Mentoring is explaining and expending energy and information
Mentoring is forging skill with experience
Mentoring is giving an opportunity for growth and development
Mentoring is giving up a part of you
Mentoring is helping one come to an understanding of his/her future career choice
Mentoring is honing skills
Mentoring is informing and instilling principles and philosophies
Mentoring is judgment formation skills
Mentoring is kindness
Mentoring is learning
Mentoring is molding
Mentoring is nudging
Mentoring is openness
Mentoring is preparing one for the future
Mentoring is offering quality instruction, conversations and life examples
Mentoring is responsibility
Mentoring is sharing, showing and it is serious
Mentoring is teaching and telling it like it is
Mentoring is understanding
Mentoring is vision
Mentoring is walking side by side, holding the light, showing the way along the path
Mentoring is extra time, work and attention to the facts that matter the most
Mentoring is yielding time
Mentoring is zeroing in on the essential

My mentors have enriched my life beyond what I could ever hope or dream. May you find exceptional mentors and may you have sense enough to listen, learn and then go and leave your own legacy with your own mentee.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dump It Out -- The Art of Creative Thinking

Have you had any fresh ideas lately for your business? Have you uncovered any new and exciting ways to sell more of the “stuff” you sell?

Here is one idea.

Lately I’ve conducted a couple of “Mind Dump” creative thinking sessions. They go like this: I’ll set aside an hour minimum, get in a spot where there are no distractions, including radio, TV, iPod, cell phone, and then sit for ideas. I work best with a computer keyboard under my fingertips, so I use that to capture my ideas. Some people work best with pen and paper. Use what works best for you. The main objective is to sit and see how many ideas you can generate.

I will usually list four or five starter questions to help direct my thinking, but I want to let my mind run wild for this time and there are no thoughts off limits. The objective is to capture as many ideas as possible. Other than the rule about eliminating distractions, there is only one other rule I would suggest. Do not criticize any of your ideas during this session. Just capture them.

I’ll begin with a few “thinking” questions such as:
--If I were my customer, what would I love most from my company?
--What added value can I give to my customer?
--How can I attract more customers?
--What else can I be doing, right now, by making a few slight adjustments?

By now I’m sure you get the picture. Just dump it out. Let the ideas flow, randomly and openly, and capture them with enough notes to establish the main ideas in your head.

I usually find that my best ideas don’t come at first, and that is why I have to dump them out and get the early ones down on my computer and out of my mind. As I review my list during this creative time I find that I start connecting the dots. I begin to put idea combinations together, and that is when it starts getting exciting.

That happened when I was attempting to come up with my tag line – “Offering hope, encouragement and inspiration one word at a time.” I had a dozen or more tag lines when in a flash this line came to mind, fully formed and ready to be claimed.

John Maxwell has a great little book out called How Successful People Think and in it he suggests even having a thinking chair, your favorite spot for generating ideas. Any time John sits in his “thinking chair” it seems his mind just shifts into a creativity and thinking mode. Try it. If it works for you, use it.

Now take action. Pick a date, pick your time, let those significant others in your life know what you are going to do so that they can support you and allow you the privacy you need, gather your idea capturing tools, create your thinking questions and let it happen.

If you manage a team of individuals, you might suggest that each person on your team spend one morning per month on this. Allow them time in the office, or allow them a “Work at Home” opportunity to get this done. You just might get some golden nuggets in ideas and fresh ways of looking at your business.

Think! Dump! Create!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

WOW Someone!

Everybody loves to be WOWed!. Customers love surprises that show them they are being considered. Wives and husbands love those special moments of “WOW” when the other mate totally surprises them for no reason other than love.

How can you and I add the WOW factor into our everyday business affairs? How can you surprise your customer with stellar service? What can you do to “Make Their Day” in a huge way?

Last Sunday night my wife made one of my favorite meals, just for me. It was meatloaf, mashed potatoes and salad. I’ve enjoyed a couple of left-over portions this week and the memory of being thought of and loved in that way has given me second and third helpings of esteem and good feelings. Sometimes, just knowing you are loved and thought of adds immeasurable blessings and good feelings that keep your spirits encouraged.

Here are a few things I’ve done recently to WOW someone.
I gave a man a couple of mattress bags for free when I could have charged $10.
I offered a discount to a lady for purchasing 2 lesser expensive beds without her asking.
I made French toast for my wife.
I sent a timely email to a long-time friend, out of the blue, just to say “You’re being thought of today.”

These are simple, random acts in and of themselves, but in some small way they made an impression on the recipients and I received some hearty words of appreciation and thanks.

Just yesterday, a husband and wife came back into my store and brought a birthday cake simply because they wanted to. My birthday was over a month ago, and my co-partner’s birthday was two days ago. They remembered and came back and honored us with this birthday remembrance.

What can you do today to WOW someone? Everyone likes to know that they are being thought of in a kind way and remembered.

-Have you read something on the internet that would be of interest to a business associate?
-Have you read a book that someone in your sphere of influence should know about?
-Can you remember someone’s birthday and send an appropriately timed card to let them know you thought of them?
-Can you connect two friends of yours who need to know each other just because you thought they should get together?
-Can you take a plate of cookies (chocolate chip w/walnuts, please) to someone just because you want to brighten their day?

When we add value to people within our sphere of influence, it strengthens the relationships, and reminds them that they are not alone. There is life outside of our daily mundane problems and it’s nice to be reminded of that from time to time. It is also another way of saying to them “You are important.”

WOW someone today!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Please and Thank You!

How rare it is today to hear a well-placed “Please” or “Thank You”. Peter Drucker, Management Expert and God-Father of some of our foundational management principles that still endure today, says “Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization,”

He goes on to say: “Please” means ‘I respect you,’ and ‘Thank You’ means ‘I appreciate you.’”

Robin Sharma, successful author and business expert says, “To grow your relationships and lead the field, manage your manners so people see that you strongly value them.” Robin Sharma
From The Deeper Your Relationships, The Stronger Your Leadership.

Earl Nightingale, business philosopher with the golden voice, once wrote an article for Success Magazine and called it “Thank You Mrs. Jones.” In it he promoted the importance of always remembering these critical social graces of “Please” and “Thank You.”

My wife needs to hear “Please” and “Thank You.” So do your kids, your parents, you boss, your neighbor – Everyone should be extended this courtesy.

The point is this: Say the words, express the thought. Show good manners and lubricate your human interactions in all of life.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What We Need to Understand About People

When it comes to understanding and working with people there are two principles that we all should keep in mind.

1. Everybody wants to be somebody. Everybody wants to be regarded and valued by others. (John C. Maxwell in Relationships 101)

Mary Kay Ash says it this way: “Imagine that every person you meet is wearing an invisible sign around their neck that says “Make Me Feel Important.” If we can find effective ways of valuing people we make great strides in our relationships.

It is reported that John Dillinger, the famous outlaw from the 1930’s era, once ran into a farm house while being pursued by the local law enforcement officers and said, “I’m John Dillinger. I'm not going to hurt anybody, but I wanted you to know that I'm John Dillinger.”

Even a notorious person such as John Dillinger wanted to feel like somebody I suppose.

The second principle is this.

1. Nobody cares how much you know until he knows how much you care. (John C. Maxwell in Relationships 101)

How can we show that we care? The principles are simple and have endured the ages.
Show genuine interest in what they are saying
Use Eye Contact
Focus on the Person Speaking
Always believe the best in people
Always expect the best from people
Repeat back significant words and phrases to show understanding and interest

The word above all and in all is this – RESPECT!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Top Ten Things Every Great Sales Person Knows

1. Smile. It starts before you greet your customer. Everyone loves a smiling face. Give your customers your best smile and watch what happens. More often than not they will give you a smile in return.

2. Know Your Product. How much do you know about your product line? Are you prepared to compare and contrast your varying products if you sell multiple lines and varieties of items? Can you point out advantages and benefits? Prepare, prepare, prepare!

3. Listen to your customer. Listening skills are critical in the sales process. Your customers will give you all kinds of clues as to exactly what they are seeking and it is your job to listen to what is being said especially to what is said between the lines. When selling mattresses I had to listen between the words for the exact product my customers were seeking. It is a good idea to repeat back to your customer, using their own words, the exact words you heard them use.

4. Use Eye Contact. Appropriate eye contact is critical in selling face to face. If you are serving more than one person, be sure to look each person in the eye at some point during the transaction.

5. Remember their names and say them correctly. Everyone loves the sound of his or her own name. When you remember your customer’s name you just paid them a high compliment. When I encounter an unusual name that is not familiar to me, I’ll often write it down and spell it phonetically so that I can say it back to my customer correctly. Use their name. A person’s name is their most important possession.

6. Know your systems. How well do you know your company policies? What is your return policy? Can you smoothly and quickly process an exchange or refund for a customer? Can you perform a simple ink cartridge change on the credit card machine? Knowing your systems, your computer, and your company policy are some of the most important skills you can develop as a sales person. You efficiency in these areas is just as critical as your ability to ask for and close the sale.

7. Let the customer engage with the products. When you can get a customer touching an item or holding a pair of shoes, your success in selling that product just increased. I watched this happen countless times when I served as a department manager for a large music store in South Carolina. Every time I could put something as simple as a CD into my customer’s hands they would more often than not walk out of our store with that purchase. When I sold choir robes, it was important for the customer to feel the quality of the fabric as I explained the differences in the materials we were comparing. We love to touch and feel. Use it to your advantage in selling.

8. Watch for buying signals. Common buying signals are: tugging on one’s ear, asking about price, asking about delivery, asking about technical data, reviewing facts about the product you covered earlier, asking about warranty, sometimes a quickening of the pulse or a small bead of perspiration on the upper lip, asking how long this price is honored, and more. The secret to successfully closing the sale when you start sensing buying signals is it stop talking, answer only the questions being asked, and otherwise keep your mouth shut. Don’t talk yourself out of a sale.

9. Ask for the sale. There are dozens of books on the market today that offer great tips on closing sales and they all offer their own hot list of closing techniques.

10. Confirm the order, review the receipt and give them your heartiest appreciation for the purchase and for their trust in you.

Good luck and remember, every person you meet is wearing an invisible sign around their neck that says, “MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT!”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How Is My Serve?

I once had the reputation of being one of the better ping pong players in my home town. Every summer I would hang out at Little Park on the lower grounds of the county library next to Little Pool and play endless ping pong games. There were only two or three kids and one adult, Coach Shelton, who could usually beat me at my game.

Somewhere along the way I learned how to serve a great dancing curve ball that only the experienced players could handle. At times, I could predict with great accuracy exactly where their return shot would land on the table, if it landed on the table at all. What fun that was.

When one of the better players came along who could handle my serve, I would then change my tactics with short shots, right hand corner, left hand corner, inside spin and anything else I could think of to give me the advantage.

But it always came back down to the serve.

So, how is your serve? How is my serve?

Here’s the application.

The question is not “what can you do for me?” It is “What can I do for you?” I constantly ask myself: “How can I serve others better? What can I possibly write about that will encourage and inspire and offer someone hope today?”

Do I value people? Do I cherish and guard the divine within each person I meet? Do I hold out the possibility for greatness to exist in every individual?

Everyone is great at something. Sometimes we have to dig a little to discover exactly what that greatness looks like.

How is my serve?

Am I serving you in a way that betters your life, encourages you, and lifts your spirits? Do I cause you to see your own uniqueness and the possibilities that are inside of you? Do I act in a way to lift you up and cause you to like yourself, or do I point out your faults, your short comings and your inadequacies?

How is my serve?

Do I communicate clearly with you?

Do I speak to you as an equal or do I use a tone and demeanor that puts you down, causes you to feel less than respected or small and inadequate?

Do I look you in the eye when we talk? Do I allow you an equal share in our conversation, or do I over-talk you?

How is my serve?

Do I respect you enough to show up on time for our set appointments? Do I return your phone calls? Do I send notes of thanks and appreciation just because? Do I honor you by recognizing you as a fellow human being with wants, desires and needs as well? Do I see that you simply want to be recognized and made to feel important?

Do I nurture your nature? Do I esteem you? Do I allow your uniqueness to come out, or do I try to make you conform to my way of thinking, acting and living?

John C. Maxwell offers a quote in The 21 Indispensible Laws of Leadership that I really love.

John’s original quote is: “You’ve got to love your people more than your position.” My revision is “You’ve got to love your people more than yourself and more than your idea of what they should be, do, or become.”

John goes on to say, “The truth is that the best leaders desire to serve others, not themselves.”

There is a Bible verse in Mark 9:35 that states, “he who would be great must be like the least and the servant of all.”

Wow! What a nice serve.

Now, let’s go grab a cup of coffee and mull some of this over?

By the way, I’ll buy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

To Shine or Not to Shine

Kim Zoller at Image Dynamics
//, says 55% of another person's perception of you is based on how you look. And this includes your shoes.

Every time I polish my shoes I feel better about myself, about the image I portray and I seem to walk a bit taller and with a more assured step in my gait.

When people meet you for the first time, whether just in passing on the street or in a face-to-face relational experience, the other person is taking in everything, and I mean every thing, about you. They are judging you on your smile, the cleanness of your clothes, the lack of wrinkles, do your clothes match and make sense from a style standpoint, and a myriad other tell-tell factors you may have never thought of.

So, how shined are your shoes? Does this matter to you? Why or why not? My friend and co-worker Steve always came to work with his shoes highly shined. That has so impressed me and I still remember even though we haven’t worked together for 25 years. Knowing Steve, this is still a key element in preparing for his day.

Some professionals in the dress-for-success mindset say that if your shoes can’t be shined then you are wearing the wrong shoes. What is the norm in your business environment? What should you do about the norm? Are you going to go along with this mindset, or are you going to raise the bar a notch and begin wearing a more appropriate footwear?

It’s all about presentation – image.

Clean them. Wipe them down. Shine them if possible.