I love watching the Olympic Games. I marvel at the feats these athletes are able to accomplish. I applaud and cheer them on from my living room couch as though I was their personal coach. I hold my breath when they jump from the balance beam, fly over the high bar, run for the finish line, or stretch their fingertips to touch the pool’s edge first. And, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit I get a lump in my throat each time I hear our national anthem play at the award ceremonies. These athletes and these Games remind us what’s possible – they remind us about striving to be the best possible version of ourselves.
The accomplishments of Michael Phelps over the last several days – indeed, the last 16 years – have been amazing. And, believe it or not, some people are still debating whether he can now be considered the best Olympic athlete ever. Really? With all due respect to the debaters, only a person who has never pursued (and achieved) a goal of excellence at least once in their life would shortchange the deserved accolades for Michael Phelps. Conversely, those who have ever committed themselves to the pursuit of excellence (in any area or focus of life) will tell you Phelps is the best – not just for the records he has broken or medals he has won, but for his personal commitment.
When Phelps was just a kid, he watched the swimmers in the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta and dreamed of being a champion. He liked swimming; so, he decided he would be an Olympic swimming champion. From that day on, he made a commitment to be the best swimmer he could be. And then began the daily practices and countless hours in the pool. Michael swam before school and after school. He swam on Christmas, on his birthday, and all through the summer vacations when other kids his age were at the beach or the movies. Just four years later, at age 15, he competed in swimming at the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. He didn’t medal that first time out – and he didn’t give up. (It should be noted that while it was Michael who was in the water every day and who was pushing himself hard every day, he will be the first to tell you he did not do it alone. He has expressed gratitude for his supporting family, his coach and everyone else that helped him along the way.)
The best of the best are those who block out or work through all the inevitable distractions, the discomfort, the temporary setbacks, and even a failure or two to focus on realizing their dreams. Remember: the distractions and failures are only temporary and provide valuable information – the secret is to remember your goal, re-set your focus, and try again. It takes courage to get back up or get back in the water. Everyone from around the world was watching Phelps in that first race last week when he finished fourth! But, Phelps didn’t give up; he knew in his soul what he needed to do.
Deep down in your soul you know what you need to do to be the best version of yourself. You know what you need to do each day to be the best at sales, to be the best team leader, to be the best at whatever you’ve chosen for your life. I’m currently reading an interesting book. (This book, by the way, was given to me by two different clients!) The book, Younger Next Year, Chris Crowley/Dr. Henry S. Lodge, Workman Publishing (2004), is about exercising some control over your aging process – the key words being “exercise” and “control.” These authors outline how we can control not only our physical condition as we age, but that we can actually extend our life through exercise. The two things we can’t control or change are gravity and the fact that our bodies will eventually wear out and decay with age. That’s simply the design by our Creator. However, these authors are telling me that with exercise I can add years (maybe 10 to 20) of living without the so-called normal aches and pains! Now, who wouldn’t want that? Maybe that question isn’t as pertinent to a 20-year old. But, I’m not 20 and I am asking myself this deep, soul-searching question: Why not do what I need to do to add years to my life expectancy? It is the same reason you don’t become the best version of yourself at whatever you choose. For the record, I’ve made my choice to exercise daily and go for those extra years – a choice that made me and Mary, my wife, happy.
So, is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympic athlete of all time? London Olympic chief Sebastian Coe says no. So what. It really only matters what Phelps believes about himself. So, what about you? I truly believe you are the greatest at whatever you choose. Make your choices to be your best each and every day and then do what you know you need to do. When you choose to have the dedication, drive, and determination, then you’re there and you have it. Go full with confidence and be courageous!
Recently, Steve Wynn, of Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas, talked to his stockholders about the value of basics to business success. Mr. Wynn advised that when you’ve done all you can do and in fact there’s nothing left to do, then you go back to the basics of good business practices. Only this time, you do the basics better. I’ll take business advice from Mr. Wynn any day of the week.
A short time ago, as I was driving home from the Las Vegas airport, I sat at a stoplight about a hundred yards from the end of the runway thinking about Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) and a line he often used in the locker room: “Excellence is achieved by the mastery of fundamentals.” At that very moment, my car began to shake and the level of noise was almost deafening. Overhead, an enormous US Air 747 was coming in for his landing. It felt and sounded like he was only about ten feet over the top of my car and I swear to you he was so close, I could see several of the passengers waiving! I even ducked (a little) when it looked like his tires were going to come right through my sunroof! Of course, they didn’t and the plane landed without incidence – not just because the pilot was good at flying a monster of an aircraft, but because he was even better at one of the most basic fundamentals of flying: the landing!
If you’ve created your plans, put those plans into action, crossed all your t’s and dotted all your i’s and still feel like real success is just not happening, you’ve got to be asking yourself: What the heck else can I do? When you can honestly answer that there’s nothing left to do, then you go back and do the basics again. But, this time, you do the basics better. I’m not talking about clever new techniques or installing new technology – just the opposite. We all started in our respective businesses with a basic understanding of what it takes to make that business successful. I’m saying that doing the basics better is the one thing we all can do right now without writing a check for a new machine or juggling more employees. Business in today’s market can get sort of rough; I’m challenging you to keep it simple by going back to basics.
Sometimes, by the time we’ve gotten up the proverbial ladder, we’ve forgotten some of the fundamentals that got us here, and that’s when things can start to go wrong. There are fundamentals that will always remain true, such as:
- In medicine: stop the bleeding and solve the problem. Oh, and washing your hands is a big one!
- In law: solve the problem by understanding legal precepts and precedence and then conveying that information in a clear and persuasive manner. It’s amazing how persuasive an attorney can be when she knows the answer before she even asks the question!
- In the grocery business: carry and sell the inventory that your customers want, and fresh is always best. In sales: never lecture the customer, show them what you want them to know, and ask for the order.
- And my favorite, in football: move the football without losing the football!
When Mr. Wynn said “do the basics better,” he was asking his people to exceed the customer’s expectations in every aspect, but without tricks and gimmicks. The Wynn Resorts are perhaps the nicest, most posh resorts on the Las Vegas Strip with a reputation of incomparable service. At a Wynn property, every single person on staff understands that better basics leads to being unsurpassed, unrivalled, and unequalled. Yes, Mr. Wynn you have it right: nothing left to do but the basics.
Several years ago I took flying lessons in Tacoma, Washington. My lessons included lots of studying in a classroom and at least ten hours in the air with the instructor. One Saturday, we were practicing takeoffs and landings called touch-and-goes. I did this maneuver three times with the instructor riding along in the right seat. I did it perfectly each time. On the third time we landed, the instructor asked me to taxi over to the office. I did as he asked, stopping the plane in front of the instructor’s office. He opened his door, turned to me and said, “Jim, you’ve done a great job mastering touch-and-goes. This time, do it on your own.” He instructed me to taxi back out to the runway, do three more takeoffs and landings, and then come back to the office. After that, he got out of the plane, closed the door and walk away keeping his back to me. He never said goodbye or good luck. He just said go do it.
Scared out of my pants, I taxied out to the runway practicing the basics as I had learned. That day I was an expert at solo flying a Cessna 150, and how do I know I was an expert? I did the basics to perfection and am here to tell you about flying by myself. At that moment there was nothing left to do but the basics. When the instructor knew I was competent in the basics he empowered me to go solo and be an expert that day.
Remember when you first started your career? You did the basics like give your business card to the waitress at Denny’s and told her if she ever needed a doctor, lawyer or a new car or what ever your profession was to call you. Then, your life and work got busy and somewhere along the way you began dropping some of the basics. Don’t let work get in the way of incomparable customer service and achieving even greater business success! If you feel out of alignment, go back to the basics. Only this time, knowing what you know and with your experience, you do the basics better. No gimmicks, no tricks, just keeping it simple – like looking both ways before you cross the street.
This past weekend I lost a mentor, a teacher and a friend when Lou Tice passed away. Lou Tice of the Pacific Institute had a gigantic impact on my life. If you know me and/or have worked with me, whether you knew it or not, some of what you saw and heard was because of Lou, and maybe even a little like Lou!
I had the good fortune to work for Lou for about ten years in the 1980s. There are hundreds of stories that I could share – out of context of time and place, some would make no sense other than they made a difference to me and who I am today. It was truly an honor to work with him and learn from him. Lou was the first person to explain to me about our self-talk. He explained it in such a way that I was able to change my self-image and let go of the negative thoughts that do no one any good. He pushed me to be a better version of myself by not allowing me to be mediocre, but instead to strive for extraordinary. He was the best teacher I have ever seen or experienced. I facilitated so many of his programs that I could actually mimic his actions and speech patterns, including some of his body movements. If you’ve had the pleasure of listening to and watching Lou you might remember how he used to hold his hand on his chin like Jack Benny – I do the same thing!
One day Lou called me to his office. I just knew I was going to be fired. It was a long walk and yes, I know how to manage my self-talk; but I just knew (or at least I thought I knew) this was bad. When I walked into his office he stood up and reached out to shake my hand welcoming me into his office. Well, if you’re going to get fired, a handshake is not the usual or appropriate greeting. Lou followed the handshake with a glowing and heartfelt appraisal of my performance thus far, and even added that he hadn’t been sure in the beginning that I’d make it. I was a little surprised at his initial doubts, but knew Lou wanted the best people working with and for him. Then he asked me to travel to London England as his guest. He was pushing me to expand my comfort zone. Again! Lou expected all of his people (co-workers, employees, even friends and family) to grow and continually reach new heights.
I walked out his office that day bumping my head on the ceiling! My self-esteem had grown to a whole new level. His belief in me empowered me to be the best version of myself. I tell this story often in my keynotes or classroom to illustrate the importance of leaders mentoring others to continually find ways to build your people up. My career has grown, and continues to grow, as a result of that one experience.
I am very thankful for the opportunity to have worked for and learned from Lou Tice for many, many reasons, not the least of which is my lovely wife Mary. I met Mary in one of the many “Investment in Excellence” programs I facilitated over the years. It was against company policy to date a customer, but when I introduced her to Lou, he just smiled.
I truly work each day of my life to raise the self-esteem of the human race and will continue to share what Lou has taught me. I am convinced each one of you will do the same as a result of the impact Lou Tice had, and will have, on you.
How do you respond when someone asks: How are you? Or, how’s your day?
Are you a victim and let people know it? Do you describe how lousy you feel or how crappy your situation is? Or, do you take the opportunity to communicate happiness and share positive energy? One type of response will inspire people to want to get away from you as fast as they can; the other type of response will inspire people to find (and spread) joy. What message are you conveying? With just a simple answer to a simple question, you have the power to affect everyone you meet. “We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” (Ronald Reagan, 1911 – 2004.)
The other day I was standing in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s, patiently waiting my turn. I like shopping at Trader Joe’s – I like its business model and the general positive attitude of the employees. But, this time it was different. As the checker began scanning my groceries, I asked him how he was doing and about his day? He responded that he would be great – just as soon as he got out from behind his work station. He said that people always complain to him about how hard their life is; he tells them they are the lucky ones because they are on that side of the counter.
I was shocked, not so shocked that I didn’t remind him he was lucky, and should feel fortunate to have a good job. Nope he said; you're the lucky one for being on that side of the check-out stand. My gut told me to get away from this guy as fast as possible; he was a negative drain and would try to zap me of all my energy. Trader Joe’s typically has very upbeat people on staff; but here was one guy poisoning the experience for me and, I’m sure, everyone before me and after me.
I shared this experience with my friend (also a client for 20 years), Jim Ross of Horizon. He smiled and asked, “Jim, do you want to know what I learned from a very wise man once?” I had no idea where he was going with this, but I admire his leadership and positive outlook on life, so I asked him to go on. “When someone asks me how I am doing,” he said, “I respond with just one word: unbelievable.” Indeed, just a few minutes earlier he had said that very thing to the hostess who had shown us to our table. That one-word response caused her to smile. That short, but powerful one-word exchange changed her perspective and attitude and suddenly we became a couple of VIPs. All because of what Jim had said. The amazing power about the word “unbelievable” is that people don’t know if you’re having a bad day or a good day. It is so unusual of a reply most people just assume it is positive.
So, I decided to test this theory. WOW! People treated me differently. Most people stopped what they were doing, looked up, and smiled. One simple little word made a gigantic difference in how people treated me, which begs the question: What if we all said our day was unbelievable? If you know me, you know that I can’t (and wouldn’t) leave it at that. I am now challenged to look for and find the unhappiest people at the checkout stand (or anywhere, for that matter) and wait for them to ask me how I am. My response, with the volume turned up a little: UNBELEIVEABLE, how about you? I almost always get the positive response I’m looking for. Go figure, you and I can’t change everyone, but we can make a difference.
Learn more about top Las Vegas motivational speaker and executive coach, Jim Jackson.
A few days ago, my wife and I took a tour of the Zappos corporate office and call center in Las Vegas. You see, next week I will be taking a group from Hope Baptist Church of Las Vegas (a client of mine) on the same tour and the advance visit was part of my homework. I wanted to prepare some questions and thoughts for Hope before we take the tour.
Wow! I was blown away with the excitement and energy from the people at Zappos. At every work station, down each hallway, and around every corner the workers created an environment that was simply refreshing. These people had a level of passion that I have rarely seen in all my years as a business performance coach. Everywhere we turned, we were met with energy. Sometimes it was delivered personally by Zappos personnel and sometimes with words and pictures. I saw words of encouragement as big as a banner and some as simple as a hand-written note in the stairwell.
Zappos is real clear as to what their brand is and how each person plays a significant role in making (and keeping) the Zappos vision alive. Each employee owns the Zappos Ten Core Values. It all starts in the first interview: they hire for the values first before they hire for any skill set. Zappos management is up front with their mission. Their belief is if you don’t have the Ten Core Values as your own set of values (that’s before you walk into their plant), then it really doesn't make any difference how strong your skill set is, Zappos is not going to hire you. It’s that important.
In fact, they are so committed to the Ten Core Values that at the end of the four-week training, should you be lucky enough to make it that far, they will give you $3,000 to leave the company. Zappos figures it is cheaper to pay $3,000 now than to go through months with an employee who does not have passion for the values. WOW!
Throughout the tour, every single Zappos person greeted us as if we were family. They were proud to showcase their work area to us, they genuinely were glad we had stopped by. By the way, these tours go on all day, every day and there is usually a waiting line for the tours. How many of you have people lined up to take a tour of your operation because they want to learn why you’re so successful? None? Are people lining up to learn why your people are so happy and just feel wonderful? Probably not. Unfortunately, most businesses that have attained a level of success work just as hard to hide that success as though someone could steal it from them. Not Zappos; they open their doors, invite you in, and give it away.
The marketing department was amazing. Up on the wall were the personal and professional goals of each individual for the world to see. Think about that for a minute – it’s one thing to tell yourself your dreams and aspirations, it’s quite another to share that with everyone. (Ever told someone you were going to quit smoking or go on a diet?) They had each person’s personal and professional goals for the year painted on the wall as this picture shows. I asked them why? One word: accountability. First to hold that person accountable for their goals and second to hold the company accountable in helping the workers achieve their goals. When the workers achieve their goals, the company achieves its goals. WOW!
But wait, there’s more. At the end of the tour, they gave each of us two books. The first book, 2010 Culture Book of Zappos, was created by all the employees about why they love working at Zappos and how the values are lived each day. It is about an inch and a half. WOW!
The second book is Delivering Happiness; A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by their CEO, Tony Hsieh. Tony gives you the steps to create the culture you desire for your own business. WOW!
The next morning in my email I received a thank you note for taking the Zappos tour with a 20% discount coupon. They even took our picture sitting on a King’s throne that boldly announced the person in the chair as Zappos royalty. They celebrate us by posting the photo on their Web site. WOW!
I used to think I knew what WOW meant; but I just experienced WOW like nothing I have ever experience before. I get it now.
Zappos Ten Core Values
1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More With Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble
I was reading a Business Review the other day and discovered that, apparently, not achieving your goals is normal. Okay. If that’s the test for normal, here’s what else is normal: everyone gets sick, everyone gets fat, and everyone is in debt. The only thing I can conclude about Business Review’s survey is that all of the people they questioned were the kind of people who make choices not to realize their goals.
I’m sure you’ve known someone like that – maybe you’ve made a choice like that once or twice. These are the same people who make a New Year’s resolution and then immediately declare “I don’t know why I make resolutions, they never work out or come true.” These people have their reasons (excuses) for why resolutions don’t work out.
Here are the Top Ten Excuses for Not Achieving Goals:
10. It is not my fault; I really tried; someone else tripped me up.
9. I’m not the problem, they are. (See #10, above.)
8. Ran out of time; there are only so many hours in a day.
7. I am only human; I’m too old.
6. Sometimes, it’s just too hard; who wants to fail anyway?
5. I never hit my goals; you can’t change history.
4. It is human nature; no one hits all of their goals all of the time.
3. Lunch foiled my health plan; everybody else was doing it. (See #10, above.)
2. I was just hoping I would get close; some is better than none, right?
1. Life got in the way of hitting my targets.
None of these reasons/excuses are true or some (all?) of these reasons/excuses are true. Which is it for you?
None of these reasons/excuses are true, but all of them are dangerous. By giving just one of these reasons/excuses even a nanosecond of space and time in your thought process, you are telling your subconscious mind it’s okay to give up. Game over. Say sayonara to your goals and adios to your dreams of a better you.
You’re willing to give up your power to the calendar or a clock? Really? You’re going to let some imaginary age barrier stop you? You’d actually quit your path and deny your God-given talents and dreams because of a perceived moment of phony embarrassment or because of some act that happened in the past and is over now? Really? Do you understand how stupid that is?
And, while we’re at it, who the heck are these “they” I keep hearing about? There is no one between you and your choices, unless you put them there. There is no one else stopping you. There is no “they” or “yah, but” or “almost” when it comes to you and your choices.
There are only two places you can be in life. You are either getting the results you want or you are using reasons and excuses for not being the best version of yourself. Hitting your targets is a choice. What is your choice? After reading the Business Review article I realized that I hang out with some pretty amazing people. I choose success and my friends choose success. I know people who hit their targets each and every day; and they think it is normal. High performance people believe they will hit their targets constantly. And on the rare occasion when they aim but miss the target, they ask themselves “What do I need to do differently when my outcome doesn’t work out the way I planned?” And then they go out and hit their target.
What are you telling yourself you want? What is your choice, what’ll it be?
Learn about top executive coach, Jim Jackson!
From now on, I want you to call me by my new title: Ref (short for referee). That’s right; I’m going to start calling the balls and strikes, and then count you out. I alone will determine when you’re out of bounds or your time has run out. If, in my opinion, you fail to run fast enough or fail to run in the allotted time or within the prescribed boundaries, you’ll be out. I’ll decide when you’re up, if it’s still your turn or if you should sit out a few rounds. Whatever I say, goes; you must accept whatever I rule.
Trust me; it will be much easier this way. I’m taking all of the decision-making out of your hands and, in return, no one will blame you if you never hit another home run or score anything, anywhere. So, don’t trouble yourself with ideas about where you want to go or what you want to do with the rest of your life – I’ll let you know because I know what you’re good at and what you stink at. Don’t worry your pretty little head about such mundane things as success or goals, or whether or not you’re doing the right thing with your life because I’m the one making the calls here. And, for Pete’s sake, don’t try to “learn” from your past in order to “prepare” for the future – you can’t see the “big picture” like I can. You just leave all of that scary stuff to me, the Ref.
If this sounds silly to you, congratulations! You recognize that no one can tell you if you’ve got another at-bat or if you’re out of the game unless you allow them – no one but you. Oh, and maybe God, but then I’m pretty sure if God says you’re out it means you’re dead!
If, on the other hand, you’ve got arguments and/or excuses proving there really are times when life hands you crap and that’s just the way life is sometimes, then congratulations to you too. No amount of positive instruction about goal-setting or guidance in structuring and recognizing your successful accomplishments will convince you that you’re in charge of your own decisions. But, who cares? So, congratulations . . . you don’t get a vote in your own life and you don’t matter.
That’s exactly how absurd it is when you say something like “I can’t sell widgets in this economy; people just won’t buy right now” or “this is the wrong time of year for widgets” or, one of my favorites, “I’m really good at this, but my team is bringing me down.” But, like the Ref said, it’s not your fault!
Hogwash. Whether you step up to the plate or not is entirely up to you. Whether you get a hit or a miss is entirely up to you. And, if someone else on your team strikes out or hits a home run it has absolutely no bearing on your strengths and abilities. Can you hear me alright?
Your time here on this planet is what you make it. Your success at work or at home or in your relationships is only what you make it. Life is not a football game; you’ve got as many downs as you need or want, it’s your decision. Your work environment is not a baseball game – if you strike out one, two or even three times, you get up and try it again until you get it right. It’s your decision to succeed or quit. Comprende?
And here’s another thing. Have you ever watched a football game and noticed how safe the offense plays at the beginning of the game? The offense gets four chances (downs) to move the ball ten yards. If they don’t make the ten yards in three downs, and in order to avoid turning the ball over on downs, they will kick on the fourth down hoping to get the ball back later and try again to score.
That all changes as it gets late in the game. You won’t see a team take the risk of keeping the ball on fourth down until very late in the fourth quarter and only if they are behind. In other words, only at that point does the need to score outweigh the risk of turning over the ball. That’s when they “go for it.” Interesting, isn’t it? What if they played every down as though it was late in the fourth quarter?
We don’t have a limited number of quarters or downs at work or in life; but, what if we did and what if you played to win in every quarter like it was fourth down with two minutes to play and you were behind? Many companies and/or teams focus their attention on attaining certain targets early in a period. Everybody is fresh and eager at the beginning of a promotion. However, as deadlines approach (the dreaded fourth quarter) many team leaders will switch to survival mode by pulling back resources and playing it safe so as not to lose – they kick the ball assuming they won’t get the needed yards.
Leaders in outperforming teams will actually take greater risk in every quarter and be more likely to experiment by changing up the plays or re-arranging key players or whatever it takes. The leaders and teams who win are the ones who “go for it” no matter what the risk – they run the play and pick up yards or keep swinging until they make it to first base.
Whatever you decide – how many at-bats you have, if you’re running fast enough to win, or whether you want to win at all – at least have the courage to make your own decisions about your own life. When you start making excuses or playing it safe, you hand over the whistle and allow someone else to be your ref. It’s your decision.
Now, I need something from you. I get the feeling that all of you are just sitting there in front of your computer asking me to feed you advice. Hey, this is my life’s work and I’m happy to give you whatever I’ve got and to work with you one-on-one anywhere, anytime. But, come on folks; give me something back. I want to hear from you. I want you to tell me what’s happening where you work and live – what’s working for you and what’s not working. I want you to give me feedback. So, don’t just sit there like a bump on a log, tap out a response in my blog. Are you the one who jumps at the chance to run for extra yards, or would you rather kick the ball and hope for something better if time permits. I want to know what you did and how you did it when you decided to go for it!
Learn about top Las Vegas motivational speaker, Jim Jackson, here!
How to Make Your Goals a Reality
What do you want your 2012 to look like? Maybe the better question is: How much control do you believe you have in what happens in this day, this week, or this New Year? Here’s another good one: What is your self-talk saying to you right now about which or how many, if any, new levels of achievement you will reach this year?
Self-talk is the equivalent of setting and then controlling your life according to your internal GPS. GPS is nothing more than navigation, guidance, and control. Navigation tracks your current location (knowing where you are); guidance uses the navigational data in plotting your targets (knowing where you’re going); and, control is your command center (your brain), which accepts the navigational data and target information to create and effect change. Incidentally, GPS doesn’t care if you’ve traveled a road before or if you were successful or not; it simply lets you know where you are now and how to get where you want to go next.
Self-talk is the key to everything we do, how we do it, when, where and why. Self-talk determines what we accomplish. Self-talk controls the direction you move in all areas of your life. Self-talk is what propels you to new heights, or stops you from reaching just a little bit further than you did last year. And, unless you’re aware of it, self-talk is usually stealthy. In less time than it takes to read this sentence, your self-talk can shut down the exciting (and sometimes urgent) messages of direction from deep down in your soul.
How we live our lives – everything from improving our health to making money or from trying new hobbies to dealing with spouses – is guided, influenced and/or directed by self-talk. Even as you are reading this right now, your self-talk is evaluating what you are reading and making judgments. Maybe you are telling yourself that somehow you’re different, that other people have all the luck, or that you’ve really tried “____________” (insert your special demon, i.e., losing weight, making more money, etc.) but it just didn’t work for you in the past. That is a self-talk statement that is not true; but, unfortunately, it has become your truth because you have repeatedly told yourself so. Listen carefully: we move toward what we are saying to ourselves. Our internal GPS determines where we are, where we need (or want) to go, and how we can get there from here. We all talk to ourselves all the time. We are always telling ourselves what we can do and what we cannot do: right or wrong, good or bad. And, that’s a gift!
I could go on for pages and pages talking with you and explaining how your self-talk is the key to self improvement and it's your gift to accomplishing whatever you desire in 2012. But, I’ve got a better idea. In my first book, Power to Change, starting on page 41, I explain in detail how to master your self-talk – that you are, in fact, already a master of your self-talk. Read this free download section on how to manage your most powerful tool in accomplishing your 2012 objectives.
You move toward whatever you are saying to yourself, so why not chose to step it up and achieve some awesome outcomes? I promise you: nothing is too big, too good, or too far away for you. Everything is within your reach. You are your self-talk and you own the tools to create some amazing results in your life.
One bad customer (or bad experience) can lead you down a negative path and damage your customer service, if you let it.
It’s good to have relationships you can count on whether it’s your neighborhood grocery store, your bank, or the airline that takes you to family every Christmas. Of course we want their businesses to excel, but we also count on them to at least desire our business enough to treat us fairly and with respect. Here’s how it works: you give me a good deal or good service and I will continue to give you my business.
Businesses institute all kinds of policies and limitations, and enough rules to choke a horse for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of a prior bad act or experience that had nothing to do with you. Recently I was dealing with a new vendor and needed them to ship the product (my books) overnight from the east coast to Texas. I butted heads with the company because they absolutely wouldn’t make such a shipment until my credit check came back satisfactory – a credit check that would take three days! Maybe some knucklehead had stiffed them on a shipping fee in their history and now I couldn’t get my product overnight unless I paid cash (and lots of it). One bad apple . . .
Have you implemented some rule or limitation in your business thinking you’re protecting yourself from any risk or loss all because of one bad apple? No returns after 30 days. No credit to students or persons without a certain or spotless credit history. No need to believe a customer is serious if they are under or over a certain age. No warranty unless the customer can prove the defect or damage was from the factory and not the customer’s fault. Believe it or not, there is a name for this: it’s called customer profiling and is taught and supported by those in the world who believe one bad apple means all apples are bad. The effect of such fear practices sends a loud and clear negative message to your revenue stream: the customer. I am sure your intent was/is to protect your business; but your business is nothing without loyal customers. You need to determine what message your policies are sending, how they are shaping your customer service culture -- and if they may ultimately be killing your customer service!
Speaking of customer service . . . We have all heard the story of the Nordstrom clerk taking back a tire when Nordstrom obviously doesn’t even sell tires! How many times do you think they have been burned on returned items that were not even purchased at a Nordstrom store? I’ll bet a lot. And yet, they haven’t (and won’t) insert a new policy to “protect” themselves from cheats. Instead, they coach their people that the majority of customers are good people, and those customers are the ones that keep their doors open. By the way, the Nordstrom company policy (since 1901) has remained the same: offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value. And since 1901, this culture of customer service has served them very, very well.
Another case in point: Apple, Inc. Sure, Apple has had huge technological ideas and sales. And, while it may be true that innovation brings in the new customers, it’s the exceptional customer service culture that keeps them loyal to Apple. Just the other day, my MacBook Pro had a small problem that I couldn’t fix. I took it in to the Apple Genius Bar where one of the experts, after giving it his best, admitted he couldn’t fix it either. He then offered to send it out promising it would be fixed and returned to me in one week. I explained that his solution wouldn’t work for me because I had a keynote in two days in front of 500 people and I needed my MacBook for the presentation. He didn’t say it wasn’t their policy to help me; he just went to his manager and explained to her the situation. Here is how he and his manager solved the problem: they gave me a brand new (and more powerful) MacBook! How cool is that? I was so impressed and excited at how I was treated, I told all 500 people at the keynote how Apple made their event better. That’s 500 more people in one day who now view Apple favorably. How’s that for a return on customer service?
I should tell you that I originally started writing this article because I had two negative experiences with vendors in the last 30 days. Each of these vendors had implemented restrictive policies as a result of their bad experiences with other customers. In other words, they brought new negative restrictive polices into our relationship through no fault of mine. I was pissed at them and thought they deserved a little bad publicity. I was even going to name names, but I won’t. Here’s why.
A couple of days ago I started working with a new marketing team, The Cadence Group, to promote my new book Cool Conversations. After discussing my needs with Amy, the owner, she informed me that I didn’t need to pay her until she met and exceeded my expectations. In just those few minutes, Amy treated me as a valued client. She offered me, the customer, her best possible service, selection, quality and value. And guess what? That is exactly how I want to treat her in return: I want to pay her right now!
You get what you give. You attract positive when you give positive; and, conversely, you attract negative if you talk or give negative. It was in thinking about positive businesses like yours and The Cadence Group, who value their customers, when I changed my mind about trashing the vendors who pissed me off. You reminded me of my choices, and I chose to take the high road and remain positive. By the way, I also decided to find a new shipping vendor on the east coast who values my business!
Have you ever met someone you thought was bigger than life? Maybe it was a movie star, a sports celebrity, or someone you had always idolized as a kid. Sometimes we put celebrities and heroes up on pedestals and treat them differently. And then, when we meet them, we find out that they’re just as normal as you and me. But, once in a while if you’re lucky, you get the chance to meet a real superman. How will you know? They will actually make you feel like you’re the celebrity! That’s what it was like when I met Joe Frazier.
I first met Mr. Frazier in the 1970s in Seattle, Washington. I expected him to be aloof, distant, and full of himself – after all, he was one of the greatest boxers of all time. Frazier was none of those things.
First, a little background. In the mid-70s, I had started a boxing company called World Promotions. We put on three fights at the Seattle Center Arena. Our company gave Pinklon Thomas his first three professional fights. (Pinklon went on to beat Tim Witherspoon in 1984 and become the World Boxing Council’s heavyweight champion.)
Joe Frazier was in Seattle for other business when I called him and asked if he would help promote our events. He didn’t even ask who was fighting, he just said meet me at my hotel and tell me what you want me to do. When I walked into the hotel lobby, Joe was surrounded by his team of handlers. I introduced myself and he greeted me like I was an old friend.
After we shook hands, Joe said he wanted to walk while we talked. And, this part I’ll never forget: his team started to walk with us – you know, to take care of any needs he might have. He turned to them and said stay, this is about Jim and me. We walked for about an hour talking about sports and life. At the end of our walk, he asked me what I wanted him to do. Just like that. He gave me radio time and pictures with the local newspaper. I know without a doubt his involvement made a big difference to the attendance at our events. Thereafter, I followed him as much as I could like any other fan, through articles and on television.
About 20 years later I was playing golf at the Heisman Trophy Annual Golf Tournament in New York. Every Heisman Trophy winner who was alive and could make it was there. The main event speaker was Joe Frazier. Joe arrived after the golf tournament in a black stretch limo. There must have been 50 people waiting to talk to him including TV announcers and many of the Heisman winners. When Joe got out of his limo everyone applauded the champ. I was in the back of crowd. I was just hoping to make eye contact and hoped he would remember me.
Joe wasn’t out of the car more than two minutes when he saw me and headed straight for me. He walked right by the various sports figures and announcers. He held out his hand and called out my name, “Hey, Jim Jackson.” It truly felt like we were old friends, and I believe he felt it too. We sat and talk for more than a half-hour without one interruption. It was the second time Joe Frazier had made me feel like I was the celebrity.
Today is sad yet a special day. Today Joe Frazier, a famous man who was also a legendary boxer, died of liver cancer. A legend, a great champion, and a good friend has passed on. Joe made our time together bigger than life. Good night, Smokin’ Joe.