Sunday, April 22, 2018

Words of Wisdom from the ages.

Words of wisdom from the ages

One of my more popular keynote presentations of the past few years is where I share the wisdom from the ages and its impact on life and business today as we live it moment by moment. For each custom presentation, I select twelve words of wisdom (quotes) from my list of over 4000 accumulated one’s going back more than 3000 years that are relevant to current challenges and opportunities we all face today in some way.

After a brief discussion of the message from the author’s quote, I ask each member of the audience to consider each item in terms of their present-day business, relationship or life situations.  Thought I would share one of the keynote’s messages to an audience several months ago.

Why not ask yourself the question for each quote – what does this mean to me and why and/or how?

Self-trust is the first secret of success.”  Emerson

The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.”  T. Merton

There is more to life than increasing its speed.”   Gandhi

 Face adversity promptly and without flinching, and you will reduce its impact.”  Churchill

 If you are not ready today you will be even less so tomorrow.”  Ovid

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as to what direction we are moving.”  O.W. Holmes

 The important thing is to never stop questioning.”  Einstein

The road to triumph is built on adversity.”  Ovid

 The wise will always reflect on the quality not the quantity of life.”  Seneca

Well done is better than well said.”  Ben Franklin

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do.  So, throw off the bowlines.    Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream and Discover while you still can.”  Mark Twain

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

Abe Lincoln

Why not ask yourself – What did one of these (or several) mean to me?  What do I need to change, start, let go of etc?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Four missing ingredients in most organizations

There are four missing critical ingredients in many of today’s organizations; Recognition, Appreciation, Validation & Fun

Tim Connor

You might be shocked at how few organizations today regardless of their size fail to create and maintain a culture that gives employees the recognition, validation, and appreciation they need and deserve to enable and motivate them to higher performance and increased motivation. They also fail to foster a fun environment that helps reduce their stress, burnout, and negativity.

After working with hundreds of organizations over the years (no disrespect intended to any of them) as a trainer, consultant, speaker or coach I can tell you unequivocally that every organization I have worked with regardless of the number of employees, industry or business model - lacked to some degree one of these four vital ingredients to a degree that in some ways hurt the organization’s growth, market share, competitiveness or overall effective functionality.  A few things to consider.

Why are these so important?

What is the cost of not having them?

Why do many organizations lack them?

How can you put them back into your culture?

Why are these so important?

Everyone needs to feel valued as a human for what they do, who they are, who they are becoming, what they are learning – get it – we all need validation of some kind especially from people we like, love, respect or work for or with.  This validation can take the form of appreciation, recognition, compliments even just being noticed or acknowledged by many people. One of the biggest weaknesses of many managers, business owners and executives today is that they have created and/or are maintaining a culture that lacks real and honest appreciation and recognition or their management style has taken the fun out of the business for just about everyone.  Without these four elements, I will guarantee that your employees sooner or later will lose their passion, motivation, and effectiveness negatively impacting your organization in many important ways.  Not to mention that your best employees will leave.

What is the cost of not having them?

Unmanaged stress is one of today’s biggest contributors to poor employee performance.  Too many employees just have too much on their plates or management’s expectations are causing them to circle the wagons and isolate themselves from others and even lie or misrepresent their performance. In today’s low unemployment market, I will guarantee that employees who don’t feel adequately appreciated or recognized will leave and head to a competitor or supplier sooner rather than later.

As a word of caution – increased wages or income do not make up for a lack of these four elements.  It’s been proven again and again over the years that most employees want these more than a pay raise.

Why do many organizations lack them?

I could go on for pages with this one, but I’ll keep it short. There are five simple causes of any organization failing to include these in their culture or environment;

Management style is heavy top-down rather than bottom-up.  Management is ego and arrogance driven rather than filled with humility, compassion, and consideration of others rather than self.  Management is driven by revenue rather than service relevance.  Management is all about self-gratification rather than sharing and giving.  And, management creates rules, policies, and procedures, guidelines etc. that benefit the organization rather than taking into consideration the employees. that Got it?  Every organization that lacks these four ingredients is a heavy top-down driven organization.

How can you put them back into your culture?

Well, if you are still reading - this one is simple really.  Just look at the previous item differently.  If these are missing from your culture remember that culture is created top-down but lived bottom-up.  So, if any or all four of these elements are missing or not working in your organization - you gotta start at the top and ask – why are they missing?  How am I responsible?  And, if you can handle reality or truth – why not ask yourself or your employees a few more?

Yes, there are numerous ways to improve these or increase their positive impact on your organization’s performance, but they need to be tailored to your employee profile, business model, history, expectations and market reputation.

Obviously, a hospital will integrate some of these differently than an association or government agency and employees who work in construction will see some things differently than a non-profit or technology organization but in the end without these four regardless of your organization – you will lose business, employees and market share – sooner rather than later.

Want some help with any of these?  Let’s chat.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Time - you have less left than you think.

Time – you have less than you think.

Tim Connor

A recent study I read said that if a person lives to age 90 they get 4680 weeks of life.  A different study stated that the average lifespan of an American today is 77.3 years.  Ok, I’m doing the math – so if you are 40 +/- you have approximately - 1900 weeks left to live.  And your point Tim is, other than being morbid?  Just a quick question – are you living as a spectator or creating a legacy that touches life and others in a significantly positive way and that you will leave behind many people who will smile when they think of your life while you were here?

Curious about this simple concept and the number of days?

OK, let’s say you make it to 77 (the current average lifespan) that’s 29,000 days.  You are currently 50 – what’s left for you - 30 years or about 9500 days.  Trust me – that’s a flash of time considering this year seems like it just started and its already April.

Tim, where are you going with this?  In a hurry?  Laugh!  OK, at least smile!

Two brief points I’d like to make.

-You can’t manage time.

-Today matters.

You can’t manage time. An Interesting concept when you consider there are millions of people every day trying to improve their time management. And many of them attend time management seminars to learn how to better use time.

I challenge you to manage the next minute!  Can’t do it.  Time passes.  When you are doing what you like or are with people you enjoy time seems to speed by.  When you are doing things you hate or are with people you don’t like time seems to creep by very slowly.  The rate of time passage does not change. Your perception of passing time does.  Time management is a misnomer.  If you are having trouble managing time I’ll be you are having trouble managing:

-people -resources -decisions -procrastination -success -failure -emotions -feelings -problems -attitudes and so on.

The inability to successfully manage any of the above will result in a “time management” problem.  To improve your time effectiveness, you must improve one or all of the above. A myth - we all wish we had more time?  Believe that?  Let me ask you, do you think the average person with a life-threatening disease wish they had more time?  Who really wants more time? Does a five-year-old think about time passage?  Do you really think the average teenager is worried about getting older?

We all get twenty-fours a day – regardless of whether you are happy or sad, alone or surrounded by friends, wealthy or broke, sick or healthy – etc.  Want more time? Forget it.  One day you will breathe your last breath – will your last thought be – I wish I had done; more?  Less?  Better? Sooner?

Today matters.

Why do so many people take life for granted assuming that they will have all the time they need to do all the things they want, visit all the places they desire and accomplish all of their goals and plans?   Why do so many people squander their present moments or settle in life for an unfulfilling career or relationship?  Why do so many people during their life waste thousands of hours reliving old mistakes and failures, bad decisions and unfulfilled dreams?

Why do so many people want more or better but refuse to try or choose to remain stuck?

I don’t have a clue.  I have done a few of these many times myself.  What you choose to do with the time you are given is up to you because it is your life and it too will be very short in comparison to the time that man has walked the earth or will walk the Earth for centuries to come.

Life is short and the older you get the faster it moves.  Once you hit fifty trust me, the hours, days and years will fly by and there isn’t a thing you can do to slow them down. 

All you can do is put as much life as you can into the days, weeks and years you have. Years ago, one of my best friends passed away at age forty-one.  I have had several mentors and heroes who made it well past ninety. Who is to say how many years each of us will get?  Who has a contract with God that says you will make it to the ripe old age of one hundred and as spry, mentally alert and healthy as you were when you were in your teens?  No one.  Each day is a gift.  Each moment is a blessing.  If this is true, why do so many people whine and moan about stupid stuff and the quality of their life?  Don’t like something – change it, fix it or delete it. Sure, I would like to have more money, be better looking, enjoy excellent health, but guess what – sooner or later life happens to all of us. No one sits around in their twenties planning their life thinking OK, let’s make sure we include divorce, failure, bankruptcy, cancer, career disaster, discouragement, loneliness and any number of negative circumstances in their future.  But in the end, we all get our share of both good and bad stuff.

Some people leave legacies of love while others leave legacies of despair and hate.  Some people leave having given more than they took, and others leave having taken more than they gave.  What will be your legacy?  How will you live each of the precious moments you were given? 

So, friends, live today because before you know it, it will be your time to say good-bye. 

You are here for a little while and then you are gone forever.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Givers or takers - who wins in life?

Givers or takers – who wins in life?

Tim Connor

At first glance you might assume that takers do better in life, get more and achieve greater success and even wealth than givers.  However, depending on how you want to define these four outcomes consider; givers live longer, are healthier, impact others in a more positive and lasting way, get sick less and have greater inner peace and happiness and takers have the opposites of all of these.

So, let me ask you – if you could choose which of the above group you would be in as you go through your life and its years and circumstances – what’s your decision?

Well, maybe you need a little more information before you decide – OK consider the following.  Let’s look at three major life areas – careers, relationships and longevity.  Sorry I’m not including money as I have learned that most of you know or have learned that money can buy travel, stuff, position, power, influence and convenience but it can’t buy longer life happiness, health and spiritual contentment.  I know, we could argue these points for hours, but let’s save that for another time, for now - I just want to stick with the title - who over time wins in life – givers or takers?

First let’s define each of these two groups;

Takers – it’s all about them – what they have, what they get, what you owe them, what they deserve, their position in line, they shouldn’t have to wait for anything, they were put on this earth for you to serve them, they are always right, their time and agendas are more important than yours – had enough or should I go on?  OK, they don’t have to say thank you or show appreciation, their goals, needs and desires are all that matters.  Before I leave this group – one thing I have learned is that takers don’t see themselves as takers – they actually see themselves as givers because their self-definition is – I am – kind-hearted, caring and thoughtful – sorry folks that ain’t you and not even close.

OK, how about givers – they tend to put others first, they sacrifice time, effort and even possessions when others are in need.  They don’t judge who deserves what, when, where or how – they give of their time, their effort, their care and their compassion even to strangers.  They don’t judge, blame or get even.  They don’t keep score and they always show appreciation even in the smallest ways.  These folks according to research get sick less, live longer, are happier and have greater inner peace.  You might ask – can givers be wealthy?  The difference between givers and takers is not money.  There are poor takers and extremely wealthy givers.  Money is not the measuring stick between these two groups.  The one thing that separates them is their life outlook.

For givers life is about service, sacrifice, sharing and leaving a legacy of love.  For takers it’s what I have, what I deserve, what you owe me (again not talking here about money) and what I can control.

Takers in business tend over time to lose respect, loyalty and even staying power.  Takers in relationships tend to over time spend more time alone.  Conversely givers tend to have more real friends, not just acquaintances, better and happier relationships and more satisfying careers.  Takers tend to have more conflict and tension in their lives while givers enjoy greater peace and contentment, even solitude.

During my life and global travels I have known many people in both camps including clients, friends, relatives, customers, employees and neighbors.  Recently I decided to consider who of all of these people I have known have had the greatest influence on my life and its circumstances and outcomes – the givers I have known or the takers.  Got a guess who have had the greatest positive influence and the greatest negative influence?

Well, if you’re not sure – the givers have helped me the most and the takers have taught me who to avoid – a lot more but it’s kinda personal.

How about you – first of all do you see yourself as a giver or a taker?  If you asked several people who would be honest with you which group they would put you in – what would most of them or even all of them say?

Which group do you tend to have in your inner circle?  Which group do you tend to get along best with? Which group have helped you the most or taught you the most? Which group do you tend to spend the most time with? Which group have you tended to attract into your life?

Enough with the questions – let me close with a recommendation.  Years ago, I read a great book by Evatt called – Givers and Takers.  Let me summarize one of the key premises.

Givers tend to attract takers into their life because they need people to give to.  Takers tend to attract givers because they need people who will give to them.  The worst relationships are two takers, a taker working for a taker, a taker buying from a taker and/or a taker married to a taker - got it?  Why – because they never get what they want no matter how hard they keep trying. The best relationships are two givers – two spouses that are givers, two friends that are givers, a giver employee working for a giver boss and why?  Because they both get what they want or need but it’s not because they ask for it, deserve it or want it but because they both give to give not to get.

So – are you a giver or a taker?  No – not what you think you are because it’s how you want others to define you – what are you really?  If you are a taker – got the courage to admit it?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Selling and The Four Agreements

Selling and the four agreements.

Tim Connor

Before I get started, if you have never read the best-selling book, The Four Agreements by M. Ruiz, I urge you to buy it today and spend the next few days devouring his very wise counsel.  Off all the books I have read during my life this is still one of my all-time favorites.  So, what do the four agreements have to do with selling?  First the four agreements are;

-Be impeccable with your word.

-Make no assumptions.

-Take nothing personal.

-Always do your best.

Let’s look at what these simple concepts (they may be simple, but they can have a profound impact on the quality of your life) have to do with selling as a career.

-Be impeccable with your word. Essentially this agreement deals with the integrity of your word or what you say, how you say it and when you say it.  When you lack this integrity, you will tend to say what you feel is in the best interests of your ego or your need to succeed, look good to others or even be accepted by others.  Selling is not about words but building and maintaining trust and when your words lack integrity or authenticity you will tend to send mixed and even wrong messages to others. Not a great way to succeed in any profession – especially sales.

It is often difficult to always be impeccable with your word as we all have a variety of agendas, needs and desires we want satisfied or filled. There are also numerous situations and circumstances that can be totally out of our control, like; distribution, finance department, customer service, product quality etc.  But if you want to maintain relationships grounded in trust this agreement is the foundation of all four agreements.

-Make no assumptions.  We all make assumptions.  We make them to satisfy our own fears, needs, objectives or agendas.  An assumption is nothing more than an expectation of what you feel will happen, should happen, you need to happen, is happening or happened from your own very personal and yes prejudiced perspectives.

When you make an assumption and you act accordingly you will set yourself and your client and customer up for frustration, disappointment and often regret and even disloyalty.

When you assume your prospect likes your product or service because they said so and you don’t follow-up with affirming questions you are assuming they are telling you the truth or the whole story.  When you assume that someone is not interested in your product or service because they are difficult to connect with, again you are assuming something that may be true but is not grounded in evidence but a guess on your part.  If you assume a client is happy with their purchase because they don’t tell you otherwise, this is a setup for disaster. Making assumptions in selling are a recipe for personal failure.

-Take nothing personal. We all have egos and we all have needs and expectations about how others should treat us, respond to us or communicate with us.  It’s common for someone to take a simple comment, email or even text message from another person in the wrong way or even be hurt by something that was communicated that was not meant or given with a hurtful intention but was interpreted in that way.  We take things personal because we want and yes, many people even crave, acceptance by others.  As a result, we tend to avoid people who we feel do not respect or honor us and our experience, knowledge or even our just being alive.

In sales taking things that others do, personally, will cause you to spend a great deal of personal time reflecting on your weaknesses, failures, problems or inadequacies.  Everyone has a right to their own opinions, interpretations or assumptions about you but keep in mind just because they have them doesn’t mean they are right or even a close description of us.  One of the major areas where these impacts salespeople is in the area of rejection.  When you are rejected the general first response is to take it personal.  This is a mistake.  Yes, the person may be rejecting you, but the point is, this rejection is coming from their frame of reference or their reality or impression about you and not the reality – who you really are.  To take others actions or words personally is to give them power over you - who you are, what you believe, how you behave etc.   

-Always do your best. Doing your best is often a function of a variety of factors.  If you are tired, stressed out, living in discouragement or are fearful of some situation - these mindsets will influence your ability to do your best.  If you feel insecure or you have low self-esteem you will tend to not do your best.  If you have a need to please others more than please yourself – you will tend not to do your best.  Doing your best doesn’t mean perfection or even doing it right or according to someone’s else’s expectations, needs or agendas - it means simply doing the best you can with what you have, know or believe.  Doing your best today doesn’t mean you won’t do it better tomorrow and doing your best doesn’t mean that what you do will always please others but doing your best allows you to look in the mirror and smile and say to yourself – I did my best - and mean it.

Doing your best in sales simply means that you always perform as well as you can regardless of how new you are to the profession, how much disappointment or previous failure you have experienced and always giving the best you can to every prospect and client.  If you haven’t read it - read it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Re-invent or become obsolete and history

Is it time to re-invent or transition your business? 

The world is a different place than it was in 1980.  If you have been in business for more than twenty years and are dong things they way you did when you started or even just five years ago – beware – times are changing faster than at any time in history and it’s only going to get worse do you have a choice – circle the wagons and keep doing what you have been doing for years or let go of conventional wisdom, sacred cows and traditional thinking and reinvent – yourself, your business, your association, your church – everything – or accept being left behind and losing everything.

Over the years I have worked with many organizations who for whatever reasons, decided that they needed to re-invent itself in order to remain a competitive and profitable enterprise in the marketplace.

During the same period, I have also observed hundreds of organizations that obviously needed to re-invent themselves but for whatever reasons failed to do so.  Let’s take a brief look at five of the critical areas that will have an impact on this process and will determine whether your re-invention is an exercise in futility or a successful transition.

What do I mean when I use the term - re-invent/transition?

Re-invent, re-discover, re-new, start over, begin again – the terms do not matter, what does are the attitudes, values, prejudices, opinions, expectations, fears, needs, desires and values of the owner or senior management who will ultimately drive the process.  Having said that, to me, when an organization needs to re-invent itself, for whatever reason, it implies that what was or used to be, is no longer working, effective, profitable or competitive.  It is time for one or more new: policies, strategies, structures, methods, procedures, expectations, rules, behaviors, leadership, direction, focus and even employees –  and probably all of them.

When is the right time to re-invent/transition your organization?

My experience tells me, that, the pain for management or the organization has to be significant enough, however this pain is manifested, before executives or management becomes willing to set a new course and transition its organization.  Unfortunately, because of; arrogance, ignorance, ego or all of the three, many organizations either never do it or recognize the need far too late and become just another business statistic or illustration of a bad example in some author’s book.  The time to re-invent is before you need to.  The time to do it is every year - at a minimum and maybe even every month.  Better to regularly condition your employees for consistent constructive and positive change and growth than to try and turn a battleship (your organization) around in a small harbor in twenty minutes with a less than motivated staff because they are not ready, equipped, motivated or interested in doing so.

How do you re-invent/transition your organization?

Let’s see if I can summarize one of my all-day seminars here in just a few sentences.  If you are not willing to seriously embrace, at a minimum, each of these steps, I recommend you save your money and let the market place decide your ultimate fate.

1)    You must be willing to let go of the day-to-day details that will drive this process.

2)    You must lock your ego and your prejudices and expectations in the closet.

3)    You must be committed to see the process through to its conclusion, no matter how long it takes or what it costs.

4)    You must empower your management team to implement and inspect the transition process - you can’t do it alone and still run the business. If you can you have bigger problems than this transition, believe me.

5)    You don’t lose your tradition al or fundamental values.

6)    You must trust your employees to pull the transition off.

7)    You need to lead the process, not manage it.

8)    You need to accurately assess your; willingness to change, let go, delegate, empower and live with the consequences.

9)    You should hire an outside resource to ensure that the above items are adhered to.  Your employees are not going to do it all without some impartial guidance and/or creativity.

10)You need to be an encourager and a champion of this process in both easy         and hard times.

11)  There’s a lot more, trust me but you would be amazed at how few organizations can do most or even in some cases any of the above.


Who should be involved in the re-invention/transition process?

This one is easy - anyone who can contribute ideas, reality, information, inspiration, creativity, value, feedback, accountability, integrity or support to the process and I mean everyone.

What will the new organization look like after the re-invention/transition process is complete?

It’s anyone’s guess.  In a rapidly changing world it is becoming increasingly difficult if not impossible to accurately forecast future outcomes. All you can do is remain flexible, open, receptive and willing to make change your partner and the partner of your organization.

So, it’s a choice – stay stuck and hope you survive or reinvent and get ahead or at a minimum stay with the trends and the curves ahead.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Failure to have an exit strategy is stupid.

Exit Strategies or is it Time to Pull the Trigger

Tim Connor

I can’t tell you how many times I have observed clients; develop new products, create new policies, acquire other companies, expand to new market areas and promote certain people when these were destined to fail either dramatically over time or shortly after the new decision was made. Or, people make a decision not feeling sure of the outcome as planned or hoped. Very little in life always turns out the way we want, need or hope or even feel we deserve and why? Well, folks it’s called – life.

Sooner or later some of our initiatives personally or in our career or business will fail.  Nothing in the future is guaranteed.  The major question is however – if we embark on this – something new – what are our chances of success or failure and how will the critical aspects involved impact the outcome?

You would be amazed at how many decisions for doing something new or different are made every day by millions of people who lack an exit strategy in the event things don’t turn out as they planned or hoped.

Before I share a few insights let me share that during my life and career I can’t tell you how many things went wrong or ended badly - whether a new enterprise, a new product, a new marketing approach, starting a new relationship (business or personal) or as simple as on a few occasions just buying a new product.  Been there?  If not I’ll bet you are either in denial or you are just sitting safely in front of your TV day after day.

What is an exit strategy?

Some people might refer to an exit strategy as a Plan B or even C but I’m not referring here to approaches that keep you involved in the same journey or direction but of letting go of the plan or strategy completely and moving on.

Yes, sometimes all that is needed to make something work is a new approach or change in some of the details but in the end consider the possibility that the plan is not working because it is a signal that it is time to let it go and move on to something else or new.

An effective exit strategy should be in place as a part of the original plan that have benchmarks in place that tell you if they are not being met you have two options – change the plan or end it.  Ending it is never easy especially if you have your ego vested in it from the beginning and this is far too common when people can’t let go when it’s obvious they should.

Please keep in mind I’m not giving you permission to quit or move on too soon without adequate effort, commitment, resources having been invested but there are times when it is time to let go.  I’m also not suggesting that you shouldn’t start something new that you are not sure will end as planned – but that there are times when throwing more money, time, resources or people at an initiative is naive or just plain stupid.  So how do you know whether or when you should keep on keeping on or pull the plug?

It depends on three factors –

Do you have the continued resources to see this through to the end no matter what the outcomes or how long it takes?

Do you have the commitment to see it through regardless of the pain, disruption or disappointment you are experiencing or may in the future?

Do you have the confidence, courage and will to see it through regardless of the uncertainties along the way?

Why do you need one?

Starting anything without an exit strategy in place before you begin just sets you up for frustration, stress, disappointment or anxiety assuming that your plans or effort will achieve their desired results.  This is just plain crazy and how do I know?  I’ll bet during your life, business or career you have ended something to late or wish you had pulled the plug or maybe not even starting it knowing what you know now.  Therein lies the problem – we can’t guarantee outcomes – we can only plan, work and hope but in the end there are always circumstances we can’t control. An exit strategy just gives you the timing, approach or reasons as to when to end something.  Without this I will guarantee you will invest too much of something trying to make it work and let’s face it – some things just don’t work.  The question ultimately is – how much and what are you willing to lose if it doesn’t work out the way you need it to, to be ultimately a successful enterprise, decision or action?