Monday, December 27, 2010

We're Lost, but Making Great Time!

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result." Albert Einstein.

This is the time of year when most people will ponder their accomplishments and setbacks for the previous year...for about 3 minutes. In reality, most people will spend more time planning what they will wear to a New Year's Eve party than what they would ultimately like to have their life look like in the new year. Often times many people will "Just keep tryin'" at the same old grind, and will expect a different and better result. Keep in mind that this is NOT giving up and changing direction when you are driving toward a goal but you have not realized it yet.

Here are a few ideas to get you rolling:

1. Get just a little silly and pumped up. People make decisions based upon emotion, then back them up with fact. Why would you be any different? How much passion and excitement is in sitting down thinking, "Damn goals!" Not a whole lot. Play some of your favorite music, meditate on what it will look like when you are living the goals. Jack Canfield talks about holding a "Come as you will be" party where people dress and act like they are 5 years in the future, having accomplished their goals.

2. Embrace the growth process. One of my goals is to become very fit for the new year. I realize that the early mornings, sore muscles, and time invested will not always be fun. It will be part of the growth process.

3. Model others! Why would you want to reinvent the wheel? If you are wanting to accomplish something, chances are someone else has already done it. They have also probably overcome more serious obstacles than you have to get there. Study them, talk to them, or send them an email. I frequently get emails from aspiring speakers and authors who want to create successful speaking businesses. I ALWAYS give time to these people who are willing to reach out.

4. Be grateful. No matter where you are in life, someone else has it worse. The other dynamic is that it is neurologically impossible for depression and gratitude to live in the same plane. Take a moment to be grateful for what you have and those around you.

My hope is that you will not only read this article, but will act upon it. If you improve your world by stretching beyond what you previously thought possible; you would not only change your reality, but the reality of your kids and everyone around you!

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How Dare You Be Happy!

One of the things that I am amazed by is when people come up to me after a speaking event and say, “I don’t mean to brag or want to make anyone feel bad, but things are really going good for me right now.” I usually respond to them by saying something outlandish like, “How dare you be happy! Don’t you know that there are kids starving in Africa?” As if having a bad attitude solves anything at all, let alone world hunger problems.

Why do many people feel guilty about feeling positive? We can blame negative attitudes on everything from negative programming in schools, poor home life, and the media. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “Successful people are lucky, just ask any failure.” If you think about it, successful people often put in amazing amounts of blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention their money) with the hopes of creating something that they can call their own. They bust their butt for years, only to earn the right to have people call them “Lucky.”

Life is not a zero sum game. Just because you are having a great day, doesn’t mean that someone else’s day needs to be equally bad. Life if what you make of it. The pie is not only “so big”. There is more than enough to go around. Whether it is financial, physical, relationships, or anything else; you deserve nothing but the best. Surround yourself with those people who lift you up, not tear you down.

If you are wanting to enjoy a “Mental Cleanse” for this time of year, I’d encourage you to check out The Shef’s 10 Day Challenge by clicking here. It is your life, celebrate it by living it!
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Monday, December 20, 2010

Catching a Shark!


For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Monday, November 15, 2010

Proof That There Is an "I" In Team!

There are many overused clichés in society today. Without a doubt the world of professional speaking is filled with speakers who will repeat great sayings like “There is no ‘I’ in team.” I would submit to you that great organizations are built with people who take ownership of their actions and positions at work, therefore creating the “I”.

I was keynoting a couple of conventions last weekend in the San Francisco area. One of the beauties of my industry is that often times I can bring my fiancée or one of my kids along for the ride, and then we can extend our trip by a few days to enjoy some vacation time.

My fiancée and I checked into the Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf and were immediately greeted by the doorman who helped us with our bags and told us how glad he was to see us at his hotel.  The front desk employee, Liz, was equally as friendly and asked us about our interests. She went on to explain that when guests visit her in San Francisco, she likes to offer suggestions that may be a good fit for their interests.

What pushed me over the edge and impressed me beyond all else was when we were enjoying a glass of wine in the lobby with the other guests as part of the Argonaut’s Manager’s reception which occurs every evening. The woman who was pouring the wine came up to Shelly and I, and after filling our glasses, told us that she had opened the hotel several years ago and that business was fantastic. Actually, most of the guests returned to stay at her hotel when their travels brought them to the City by the Bay.

What we were witnessing was not some kind of training or a forced activity; it was part of the culture within the fabric of the hotel. Just like a hotel insisting on consistent bed linins and décor, the most obvious fixture in the building was the people working within the hotel.

Here are a few simple things that you could do today that will help you create the “I” factor within your business or organization.
  1. Empower people to make decisions, and leave them alone. Realize that they will make mistakes, but that is how they become stronger.
  2. Hold regular meetings that take no more than fifteen minutes from start to finish. It may sound crazy for me to suggest a short meeting, as I’m frequently paid to facilitate meetings; but many organizations fall into “Meetingitis” as a mask for a lack of productivity and action.
  3. Listen to your customers and your employees, regardless of their position. Great ideas don’t care where they come from.
 In today’s cynical marketplace, consumers are eager to do business with organizations that recognize and appreciate them. As for me, I will definitely stay at the Argonaut again! 


For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dramamine Bagel and the American Dream

I never know what to expect when I step into the back of a taxicab. I am literally rolling the dice on whether the cabbie will be talking on the phone in some foreign language for the duration of the ride, whether or not I get to smell the native food dishes that have been consumed in the car, and whether or not I would regret my decision of not putting on a motorcycle helmet prior to getting in the vehicle.

I was recently traveling to Dallas, TX to speak at a sales convention. It just so happened that the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys were playing on the day of my arrival. It also so happened that the Texas Rangers were in the playoffs and would soon to be going to the World Series. Why is this factor important? All of the rental cars were at least $250 due to the increased demand. While I typically love having a rental car when I’m in a city, I couldn’t justify the expense to my meeting planner. I decided that I could just take a taxicab to meet all of my transportation needs while I was in the Lone Star State. This journey will provide you will several key tips that will help you not only grow your business, but will help you build a solid base of return customers.

As I deplaned, I grabbed a bagel from one of the airport delis. As much as I don’t like to eat on the run, I also am very aware of what happens to my mental acuity when my stomach is empty. With my briefcase slung across one shoulder, garment bag across the other, and my bagel in hand, I stepped out into the warm Texas morning.

I hired the first cab that came across my path and climbed into the dilapidated minivan for my 20 minute journey to my client’s office. After I gave the driver the address for my destination, he promptly took off out of the airport. After about one mile (as we were weaving in and out of traffic) he began to enter the destination on his phone to get the directions needed. We were now traveling down the freeway at 80 miles per hour in a minivan which smelled like bad Indian take-out food, and I had a driver who happened to rationalize texting on his phone while my life was in his hands.

This driver was so jerky in his driving habits that I began to feel like I had just gotten off of a roller coaster. I will spare you the gory details about how he got lost three times while en route to my destination which was only supposed to be 21 minutes from the airport with traffic. As he deposited me at my destination (only 58 minutes later!) He tried to ask for $70 cab fare. I am a fairly generous person, but I am not stupid. I retrieved my bags and settled the fare (much less than $70) with him and went on with my meetings for the morning.  Needless to say, I would not recommend him.

I phoned Carrollton Taxi upon the conclusion of my meeting, and was desperately hoping for a better experience while yet another stranger transported me to my hotel. I walked outside the building and saw a luxuriously appointed Town car and driver waiting for me.

I really hoped that I didn’t mistakenly call a limo service! The driver introduced himself as Thomas and helped me with my bags. When I sat in his clean, comfortable leather seats and gave him my destination, he promptly entered the address into the navigation system (while still parked!) and told me it would be about a 20 minute ride. Thomas inquired about what brought me to Dallas, how long I had been speaking, and about my family. I reciprocated, and began to build a fantastic rapport with him. He told me that his father had just become a naturalized American Citizen only minutes prior pulling into the parking lot to pick me up! He then carried on about how great America was and how he started the company several years ago with a focus on service. Today, Carrollton Taxi has seven luxury cars and a loyal customer base of over 4,000.

This story of a man enjoying the American Dream can also impact your business in the following ways:
1. When in doubt, offer a few simple luxuries. Whether your assistant asks guests if they would like a water or coffee while waiting in your lobby, or you place a continuous focus on getting to know your clients, people are much happier when they feel well taken care of.
2. Keep things simple. I was working with a banking client recently who told me about their 5G technology approach to customer relations. They make things so simple that someone in the Fifth Grade could understand them.
3. Stay in touch! I like to make a few notes after meeting someone that makes them stand out. I will often refer back to them when I have an opportunity to talk to them again. When I called Thomas to verify a few facts for this article, he not only recalled the hotel that he dropped me off at but he also remembered a few other details. This creates customers for life!

In today’s overly cynical and competitive marketplace, you cannot leave the “little things” to chance. Those little things add up to amazing accomplishments over time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to grab a box of Dramamine, a bagel, and a motorcycle helmet. Time to call a cab and head to the airport!

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will Your Business Pass The Family Guy Test?

I must say that Stewie Griffin from Family Guy is an absolute genius. I realize that it may seem a tad crazy that I'm pulling business and motivational lessons from this hit Fox television series, but we must look for inspiration and innovation anywhere we can find it! For those of you yet unfamiliar with Stewie Griffin, he is menacing toddler who is highly observant, cynical, has high expectations, manipulative, and vocal. In other words, he is probably a lot like 90% of your customers.
Like most toddlers, Stewie wants the world and his parents to cater to his every need. Unlike most toddlers, however, he has quite an extensive vocabulary to express his desires. (Come to think of it, he also is rather fascinated with world domination as well.)  How do you discover what your customers desires? While there are a number of ways of trying to figure out what people really want, many of them tend to be rather time consuming and expensive. I prefer a bit more of a grass roots approach to this essential business need by simply asking them.  "What product or service would you enjoy that we don't currently offer?" is usually simple and sufficient.
Stewie has a number of pre-conceived opinions regarding nearly everything. However, they are not always based in fact. Keep in mind that your customers may have a negative opinion about a product or service because their great aunt Ethel told them something ten years ago. I'm not slamming Ethel, but sometimes just as you may need to challenge a toddler's opinions, everyone's opinions need to be challenged as well.
The Family Guy star, Stewie is also very vocal. He will share his experiences with people around him. Most two year olds are quite easily coached. Most clients are also easily coached. Why not ask them for simple introductions to people that they know who may enjoy your product or service. A third party testimonial and introduction is far more valuable than any other piece of marketing that you could invest in.
Some say that business is complex. I would challenge you to remind yourself that business can be simple and rewarding.  A great way to approach opportunities is by starting with a clean slate. Take my 10 day challenge by clicking here. It is free, and it can help lay a great foundation for your business and personal successes!
It is amazing what great life lessons that you can learn from Family Guy!

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Say It With Sales

Momentum is a crazy thing. 283 years ago, Isaac Newton told us that an object in motion tended to stay in motion, and an object that habitually sat his butt on the sofa eating potato chips tended to stay put.
If you are a runner or habitual exerciser, you can identify with the idea that when you are actually moving and regularly working out, you have a burning desire to keep working out. If you get derailed due to an injury or illness, it is much harder to get back on track.

If you are in sales and are in the habit of telling X number of people about your product or service, it becomes second nature. If you are not making sales calls on a regular basis, you manage to find time to gripe about the economy, the compensation plan that your company has you on, the attitude of the consumer, and everything else under the sun!

My friend, Gary Schmidt, ran a very successful sales organization. When his team would tell him about the great things that they were going to do, he would respond by saying, “Say it with sales.” If they were talking about how tough things were, he’d respond by saying, “Say it with sales.”

Whatever position you are in currently, you most likely made an appointment to be here based upon your actions and decisions 90 days ago. What you eat, the books you read, the number of calls you make, and your personal development habits all play a huge factor in your happiness (or lack thereof) right now.

Here’s a thought: If you are not where you want to be, why don’t you choose to do something small every day to work toward that goal. The difference won’t be immediate, but the result will be amazing.

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Friday, September 10, 2010

Are You a Leader, or Do You Just Like the Title?

Have you ever worked for a great leader? Have you ever worked for a poor leader?  Some people are genuinely interested in helping others and building up people who will ultimately succeed them; yet other "leaders" are more interested in the nameplate on their desk and the title on their business card.

My friend, Greg, and I were talking the other day about this very subject. Greg is a very successful leader at a local university. We had gotten to know each other while he was working for a credit union client of mine. This company is a great company and allowed Greg to lead in a way that he saw fit. The results were staggering. He positioned the credit union to be the leader in the community within the particular market that he was targeting. Prior to that, he had come from working at a large department store chain where his boss would scrutinize every move. When he would delegate duties to his assistant to maximize his use of time and effectiveness, Greg's boss would chastise him for not doing the work himself. Keep in mind that Greg was not shoveling all of his duties to his assistant. He was merely trying to be as efficient as possible. That boss clearly did not have a leadership mindset.

Here are a few thoughts for you to ponder if you are in a leadership position:

1. Do you need to be involved and seen as being involved with every step of the business, or are you more interested in showing others the valuable skill-sets necessary to grow into a position like yours?

2. Do you spend time with the top performing people in your organization or do you focus on the poorest performers? (Keeping in mind that new staff members typically will need a bit more attention)

3. Are you more interested in adding people to your organization to build a following, or are you interested in multiplying the number of people who are drawn to your organization because of the leadership strengths which you have taught those around you?

The network marketing industry is a great example of how great leaders can achieve great things. Companies like Advocare, Amway, Mary Kay, Avon, Send Out Cards and many others have realized terrific growth in recent years because of their ability to offer a quality product or service as well as a legitimate opportunity. Anyone can enter the business for a few dollars, and build a strong business by merely multiplying their efforts. While weak leaders will try to be involved in each presentation that their downline(when someone enrolls someone else in a business, they are referred to as a "downline") is performing; a strong leader will realize that based upon the potential audience or prospect's personality, another person may be a better fit to help with the presentation. The best part is, when you help develop other leaders, you succeed as well.

No matter what your industry or vocation, remember that leadership is a skill just like any other. All skills need to be developed. There will be ups and downs, but ultimately the leaders who persevere are those who experience the most joy and longevity.

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

There's a Storm Brewing

For whatever reason, we have had thunderstorms that have hit between 3am and 5am for the last several mornings. Despite the best of intentions and a desire to sleep a full night, the storms often make themselves known.  When I'm out in my kayak and see weather brewing on the horizon or a flash of lightning; I take the appropriate action and paddle towards shore.

Sometimes there are storms in the business world that companies ignore, often to their demise. Some examples include:
1. The recording industry thinking that downloaded music is a fad.
2. Video rental stores thinking that Netflix and Redbox won't affect their market share.
3. Any business hoping to attract a Generation X or Y client who has a website that was designed in 2001.
4. Any business that thinks their customers are loyal and won't be swayed by the competition's marketing efforts.

Just like a small rumble of thunder in the distance, your customers will ask for things that they want. Instead of trying to defend status quo, listen to them. Maybe you notice a competitor or another business using some savvy marketing practices. Model them!

Sometimes storms pass, other times they last a while. One thing is for sure; they always have an impact on the area that they pass over. Don't let your business get washed away because you are not observant. For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Swift Kick to the Wallet

I just received a note from one of my coaching clients last night. She was telling me about the lack of speaking dates on her calendar. I offered a few suggestions and told her that I expected a report of her results within 24 hours. She ended up booking 2 speaking dates. Regardless of if you are a speaker, author, or just want to achieve better results in any area of life; follow this system:

1. Get a coach or trainer. A huge mistake that a lot of people make is that if they find something that doesn't work that well, they do more of it expecting different results. Whether it is a personal trainer who shows you that you are off by 3 degrees on doing a bicep curl, a golf coach who teaches you to bend your knees just a tad more, or a business coach who teaches you the 2 crucial words that can make your offer irresistible; you can leapfrog the learning curve by leveraging the experiences of others.

2. Practice the new technique and expect it to be uncomfortable. New things take a bit of getting used to.

3. Push yourself, and find an accountability partner. This person can be your trainer or coach. It could be a spouse or friend. I have a "Nag list" that my coach requires me to report to her twice per week. This allows me to accomplish a heck of a lot more than I would if I did not have that accountability.

We are living in an age of ever-changing technology, expectation, and aptitude. Tap your passions, discover a way to market it, and Always Better Your Best!

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Drift Throught Life..Get Hit by a Barge

video
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pancakes or a Poke in the Eye

Last weekend, we were craving whole grain pancakes that are offered at several national restaurant chains in our area. When we entered restaurant #1, there was no one at the hostess table or the cash register. I understand that this was a Sunday morning and that it is one of the busiest times for breakfast.

While we were patiently waiting with others who had come in after us, a woman hurriedly rang someone up on the register and ran off to somewhere else in the restaurant. There was no "Welcome to our restaurant, we will be with you shortly," greetings or any other type of recognition. When we finally were able to get our name on the list she said, "There is a 15 minute wait." I understand that people need to wait in line at restaurants, but the absence of a greeting turned us off and we left for their competition.

When we entered the Village Inn restaurant, they were just as busy, but the manager greeted us warmly and informed us that it would be just a few minutes before we could get a table. The server we had was excellent and tended to our every need. The manager also popped by our table just to make sure everything was to our liking. We were thrilled with the experience and will gladly go back again soon.

What does this have to do with your business?

1. A smile and a warm greeting is one of the easiest and cheapest openers to any relationship. Keep in mind that you pay a lot of money to get people to come into your place of business, or for your phone to ring. Invest the proper amount of time with the "Director of First Impressions" so that the foundation is set for a good experience. If after the proper training they still turn people off, start working on a separation process.

2. Listen and fill the needs of your clients. I often hear people say things like, "He is a great talker, he could sell anything!" Actually, show me someone who is a great listener and I will show you someone who will be far better in sales than someone trying to work a "canned" pitch.

3. Ask people to buy. I don't know why this is so hard for some people. Zig Ziglar refers to salespeople who don't ask for the sale as "Professional Visitors." Even though we were stuffed from our breakfast described above, our server still offered to send us home with a pie. The worst thing that people can do is tell you "No" they can't shoot you and eat you.

Enjoy the sweet taste of success!
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is Your Business Suffering from "World Cup" Syndrome?

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last month, you are probably aware that the world has been going absolutely nuts about the World Cup. Whether or not you were one of the fans who found themselves glued to the television to catch any part of the tournament; you were undoubtedly aware of the economic impact of the tournament.

I'm not talking about the billions of dollars that were generated in South Africa, who hosted the event. Rather I'm talking about the impact of lost productivity in many countries who literally shut down for a matter of days to view the World Cup.

One study suggests the German economy, Europe's largest, loses more than $8 billion in productivity, about 0.27 percent of gross domestic product, during the month long tournament. Surveys in Britain predict output losses there of $1.5 billion to $2.3 billion.

What does this mean for you and your business? Perhaps you and your staff spend 30 minutes at the beginning of the day checking Facebook or other social media sites. Perhaps you are prone to answering a ringing phone, even when you are in the middle of a project. You may even engage in idle chatter or water cooler talk throughout the day. An hour here, an hour there...pretty soon you find yourself with projects not done and no more time left in the day.

Here are a few tips that I have found useful in ridding myself of "time vampires":
1. Return calls and check voice mail at certain times during the day. Obviously if you are in retail, this does not apply, but my outgoing message says, "I check my messages at noon and at the end of the business day. I will get back to you as quickly as possible. If this is an urgent matter, please text or email."
2. Schedule "Blow off" time. This time can be a bit of a mental break, a chance to catch up if you are off schedule, or it can allow you to mentally shift gears when switching activities.
3. Delegate, delegate, delegate. I can't tell you how many times I have found myself spending an hour trying to figure out a computer problem, plumbing problem, or some menial task when I could have and should have delegated the duty to someone else. If you don't have a staff, find someone to handle some of the non-revenue producing activities for you. Sites like Elance and oDesk offer people who would love to tackle your time wasting activities for a few bucks.

I hope this helps you add a few more hours in your day.

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Face Your Challenges Head On!

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.comor call our offices at 1-800-863-2591. video

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chicken Wings in the Morgue?

Have you ever been at a restaurant where you felt totally unwelcome? I'm not talking about the kind of ignoring that happens when a place is totally slammed with customers; rather an atmosphere where people don't really care if you spend your money there.

The other day my friend, Tony, and I decided to visit a well known restaurant in Madison, WI. I won't divulge the name of the establishment, but I will tell you that they serve chicken wings...and they have a city located in New York as part of their name. We were eager to catch up and do some solid masterminding over an ice cold beverage. Not only were we not greeted when we walked through the door, but I wound up having to go to the bar to purchase our drinks. It was pretty obvious that the service staff was more interested in their conversations and text messaging than they were in helping to gain revenue for their establishment.

After about 20 minutes of masterminding and brainstorming, Tony and I began to wonder if we had some kind of plague or third eye growing out of our forehead. Perhaps we were on the set of Night of the Living Dead. No one had even said "Hello." At that moment, we decided to visit one of my favorite sushi hot spots named Wasabi.

We were greeted by everyone within seconds of entering, and shown to our table. The server was very gracious and pleasant and she was genuinely happy to provide us with a memorable experience. Guess which place will be around 6 months from now?

Here are a few lessons that you may apply to your business to help create great experiences for your clients:
1. Train the "Director of First Impressions." This can be a hostess, administrative assistant, or anyone who is the first point of contact for your customer. This person is often overlooked and under-appreciated, yet they set the foundation for the experience that people will have when they do business with you. Take care of them.
2. Check in on your guests. No one likes to look around to find their server. It is your job to take care of your guest.
3. Communicate with people if there was a mistake. A simple "I'm sorry we took so long to serve you, but we are a bit short staffed tonight." Would have cast a completely different light on the experience which I described above.

There is nothing like helping people create a fantastic experience. Many businesses spend barrels of money to get people through their doorway, but they neglect them when they are there. The easiest and most cost effective way to grow your business is to take care of the customers that you already have. I hope that you and your staff will continue to live with an "Always Better Your Best" attitude!
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.comor call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mountain Dew = Marketing Do!


Can a group of heavily caffeinated young people help pave the way for your business and branding success? Only if you look behind the surface and pay attention to the real message. This morning I was enjoying my morning Diet Dew and listening to the radio. The "Dewmocracy" commercial came across the radio letting me know that "I could be part of a crucial moment in history...helping to choose the next permanent flavor of the Mountain Dew." I'm sure that this "historic" moment pales in comparison to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or marching on Selma, but I have always been fascinated by the unique and provocative ad campaigns that my favorite soda churns out.

Here are 3 crucial ways that this ad campaign ties into your business and your career:

1. Understand what is important to your clientele. Most Dew drinkers are 12-30 years old. That makes them part of 2 pivotal generations: Generation Y and Generation Next. These generations DEMAND to belong to something. What better way to belong to something than to be one of 3,200,498 votes that is on store shelves.

Why not create some kind of promotion within your business where people can vote for their favorite product or service within your business? Whether you offer 3 unique styles of necklaces that people could vote on, a favorite new logo for your business, or a tee shirt design; people will gladly offer their two cents.

2. Capture your client's information. It amazes me how many businesses pay huge money to get their phone to ring, doorbell to chime, or email inbox to ping. Yet they don't capture the client's information. The Dew Crew takes things a bit further by asking not only your contact information, but also offers to show you (via Facebook) what your friends thought of each flavor.

This is NOT about picking a flavor. It is about tapping into the primary communication style of your target market. I highly doubt that someone marketing dentures to senior citizens would utilize social media as their primary communication method. Different vehicles are much more effective when reaching an older demographic. If you are not that web savvy, find a high school or college age student to help you out with getting your presence out on the web. It doesn't matter how it gets done, it just matters that it gets done.

3. Keep in communication with your clientele. If you are not in front of your prospects at least every other week, your competition is. Don't let them get away. Whether it is an email magazine, articles that you write for industry publications that your target market reads, or simply sending a random card to your clients; you need to stay on their radar screen!

If you open your eyes and ears to what is going on around you and implement a crazy campaign or two, great things are bound to happen!


For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.comor call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Have You Stepped UP?

Enthusiasm is so essential for success in any endeavor. No matter what your goal, ambition, or dream may be; the chances of it becoming a reality is nill if there is no excitement to propel you forward.

When people are ready to do whatever it may take to succeed, when they are willing to take that final step; that is when the world takes notice. Don't just ponder and get ready to get ready. The above clip was shot at a banking convention I spoke at in Atlanta, GA this week. ENJOY!!
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.comor call our offices at 1-800-863-2591. video

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ukulele Lessons and Success

One of the greatest things about speaking at conventions is that I get to travel to various parts of the map. Friends that have moved away whom I have not seen in years are a bit easier to visit when I happen to have a speaking engagement in their area. Last night I was treated to an amazing evening with my friends, Cleve and Michelle Gaddis, and their 4 daughters. They happen to be in the Atlanta metro area which is where I'm speaking this afternoon.

While we were driving to their home last night, Cleve and I were discussing the "return on investment" of extra curricular activities and children. Cleve's oldest and my youngest are roughly the same age, and we can identify with the expense of time and money of these activities.. The activities may be sports, music, theater, or any other thing that helps a child identify a unique outlet of talent.

When we walked into Cleve's home, I was treated to a ukulele serenade by their 4 daughters and his wife Michelle. They were rolling through old songs and new songs and it was amazing! After dinner, we watched the video editing talents of yet another daughter. These top shelf quality music and family videos that she created on their Mac certainly put the old carousal slide shows of yesteryear to shame.

Then we moved on to more music. I grabbed a guitar, 2 girls grabbed their ukuleles, and everyone was having a great time. As his two youngest daughters began to fall asleep, I looked over at Cleve who was grinning from ear to ear like the proud father that he is. I reflected back on the conversation that he and I had en route to his home. While some parents bemoan the seemingly endless series of checks to write for baseball, drama, class trips, piano lessons, and the like; the investment pays off in spades.

Even if you can't carry a tune in a bucket, throw a football farther than your big toe, or have no idea why your kid is so excited to be in front of a camera; remember that the investment of time that you spend now will pay off for years and years to come!
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.comor call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Raise My Taxes!" = "Raise My IQ!"

One of the leading news stories last week was depicting thousands of public union people in Illinois screaming "Raise My Taxes!" in hopes that they would continue to receive a paycheck. In today's day of governmental redistribution and the near outlawing of capitalism at breakneck speed, I feel it necessary to point out a few flaws of the event depicted above.

1. You are asking to take some of your money, send it to a bureaucracy, and hope to get a chunk of it back. They are calling this "Security." Would you encourage your 5 year old running a lemonade stand to take their proceeds and send it to the state who has 4-5 people paid to process the money, then hope to receive a few pennies back? I think not. Bureaucracies are expensive and inefficient by definition.

2. The protesters are handing all of their personal power over to someone else. Too many people forget that until about 100 years ago, nearly everyone in the United States was an entrepreneur of some kind. If you needed more money, you found an extra job, or helped out on someone's farm. I know several teachers, firefighters, and other municipal employees who have lucrative second careers in real estate, network marketing, and other jobs to help augment their incomes. Find a hobby, a passion, or an interest, and discover how to turn that into a part time income.

3. Understand that we live in a society that (currently) allows us to freely pick our occupations. If you own a store that sells a product and 100% of your revenue comes from a certain type of client, what would happen if that client no longer had money to pay for your product? You would do something else.

When you remove flexibility from your lexicon of skills, your opportunities in life are terribly diminished.
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.comor call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Flaming Christmas Tree

Last night my son, Alex and I were finishing up some yard work. We can burn yard debris in our community and had amassed quite a huge pile of stuff ranging from an old Christmas tree to dried grass that was raked up earlier in the day yesterday. When we burn, we make sure that the conditions are right. It can't be too winds (otherwise we would have a huge fire!), it can't be too wet, and I do my best to burn when the neighbors don't have their windows open. The conditions were perfect last night and we grabbed our lawn chairs, a couple of smoothies, and a glow in the dark football and headed out to the fire pit.

Once Alex touched the flame to the grass on the pile, it only took 20 seconds or so for the fire to start growing rapidly. The heat was so intense that we needed to sit about 15 feet back from the fire. Within 20 minutes, the entire pile which had started out standing about 30 inches tall was reduced to nearly nothing.

How does this apply to you and I?
1. If you have a stack of stuff that consistently gets shuffled from one location to another in your office or home, take care of it. Do it, delegate it, or dump it.
2. Sometimes things have a purpose at a specific time in our lives, then they are not needed anymore. The Christmas tree was beautiful in December, but it had outlived it's usefulness. What things do you need to purge?
3. Have some fun. Sometimes we focus too much on the "got to" areas of life, and need to look at them as "get to" opportunities. Just as we enjoyed the experience of being around the fire, you may be able to turn your project into a fun event.

Life leaves us lessons every day. What we do with them is up to us.
Always Better Your Best!
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sell an Experience, Not a Product

I was captivated by an article that I read this morning featuring Ford CEO Alan Mulally. When Mulally took over the reigns at Ford, the company was at the edge of the cliff along with the other US automakers, peering down the well of bankruptcy. Unlike his competition who leaped into bed with the government (which is kind of like taking money from the mob), Mulally insisted on making Ford great again.

Let's take a look at a few things that allowed Ford's stock to rise 700% over the last couple of years:

1. Be cool. Many businesses sell products that they like, not necessarily what the customer likes. Ford recognized a need for technology and sleekness. By using sync technology, they effectively created a 4000 lb. smart phone and the unique experience that goes along with it.

The same can be said for colleges who listen to their customers (students). Many institutions seek to please their unions and faculty first, and then let the students know what they will be left with. Kaplan University has a great ad campaign where they reassure you that you can learn at your pace, using your preferred method of learning, and will even actively work at placing you in a job in your preferred field. Why? That is what their clients demanded!

2. Streamline. Ford had 97 models when Mulally took over. Now they have 20. Don't try to be a "Jack of all trades and a master of nothing." Work on doing something exceptionally well and you will stand out. When I started my speaking career, I also owned a vacuum cleaner business, a janitorial company, a health chef business, and was a speaker. I thought that people would be impressed at the diversity of my interests. Instead I found myself having a hard time focusing on 4 completely unrelated ventures. When I placed 100% of my focus on helping people via delivering meaningful messages of motivation, and business took off. What can you lose in your business?

3. Ditch the naysayers. The board at Ford was stuck in their ways when it came to integrating technology into their vehicles. You cannot ignore the importance of constantly refining and researching unique features and benefits to owning your product. They fired the board and replaced them with people who were a bit more open minded. Who do you bounce ideas off of when it comes to your business? Your parents, your cousin Eddie, and people who don't know a thing about your business?

I would encourage everyone to be a part of a mastermind group. This collaborative group allows you to share ideas and help each other out. You won't always like what your partners will say, but you will love the result!

As you begin your day today, ask yourself, "How can we create a great experience?"

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Spent $500 to Slap You In the Face!

I am fascinated by realtors. They are in a profession where nearly everyone should use their services, yet some people try to save a few dollars and do things on their own. My rule is: hire people who enjoy doing what you would have to really work at. The experience, connections, and efforts of many realtors allow you to leverage your time for more enjoyable things (like doing what you do best!)

Real estate professionals invest thousands in their licensing, continuing education, and marketing their name. With all of that being said, I just have to share an experience that I had this weekend. We are currently looking for investment property and noticed a home not far from ours that is owned by a very motivated seller. The home is listed with a very well known realtor who has been in the business for quite some time. I told Shelly that I would stop by the the open house last weekend and look at the property.

Upon entering the home, I noticed it was clean and well lit. The realtor walked toward me and instead of introducing herself and asking a bit about me, this person handed me a flyer of the MLS listing and told me that I could just look around. Whether or not the property would have fit into what we were looking for is irrelevant. The inconsiderate manner of the realtor was like a slap in the face. Keep in mind that I am not a thin skinned guy who needs a hug from someone when I enter an open house, but I was amazed at the waste of money and time that this individual exhibited. Most realtors will invest $500-$1000 (at the very least) in time, advertising, and opportunity cost to market a property. My hope for this person is that I happened to be the exception, not the rule in terms of her behavior.

When I speak to realtor groups and ask them how much an average client will make them over the course of their career, the answer is usually $40,000-$75,000. The top producing realtors who I know are people who are genuinely interested in people. That quick 10 second introduction, the follow up card, the smile can pay enormous dividends.

Here are a few tips from the top producers:
1. Introduce yourself to any prospect and find out a few things about them. The "small talk" that some people don't think they need to waste time doing are usually the subconscious factors that prospects evaluate when determining whom to do business with.
2. Be helpful, but invisible. This can apply to a salesperson or a restaurant server. I love frequenting restaurants where the server makes sure our drinks are full, plates are cleared, but they are not feeling the need to sit down next to us and show us pictures of their kids.
3. Follow up. Most people in sales are absolutely terrible at this! Drop a "nice to meet you" card in the mail. I also recommend sending a quick email thanking them for their time.

Hopefully these tips and this story will keep you practicing an "Always Better Your Best" business philosophy.
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

When Driving a Racecar, Don't Look Back!

We were out with some friends yesterday evening and I was visiting with a friend of ours named Mike who had recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas. When I asked him about the highlights of the trip he said, "Driving a race car on a NASCAR style track!" He proceeded to tell me about driving in excess of 140 miles per hour and the rush associated with it.

"They secure your helmet to the back of the seat so you are pretty much forced to look forward at all times. You can't care about what is going on behind you, you just have to look ahead always." said Mike. That got me thinking about how important the power of focus is when you are flying around a race track at 150 mph. How many times do we go through the race of life focusing on what is going on behind us, and all around us?

We cannot control the events that have occurred in the past. The past relationships, successes, failures, and dreams. What we can control is where our focus is right now. Learning from the past is good, but if you are living in the past it makes it impossible to move forward.

Life moves quickly, enjoy the ride!

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What Can YOU Do?

I have visited with a number of business owners, community leaders, and members of the media today regarding the House passage of the Health Care Reform Act. While the vast majority of small business owners are going into "freak out" mode with the prospect of 30-60% tax increases, I encourage everyone to redouble your efforts on pursuing your success.

People don't usually get paid to freak out or to worry. (Rush Limbaugh, James Carville, and others excluded) Focus on growing your businesses and careers. Your economy is much more important than THE economy.

1. Rekindle an old business contact to let them know you are still alive. (A client of mine did that this morning and was pleased to hear them express interest in their product line)
2. Read. You never see a Barnes and Noble next to a "Buy Here, Pay Here" car lot. Reading is muscle building for your brain.
3. Exercise. The late Jim Rohn said, "You can't pay someone to do your push-ups for you!" Do a little something every day to keep your belly at bay!

Always Better Your Best!


For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Disabilities or Different Abilities?


Last night Shelly and I attended Branson's end of season wrestling banquet. Awards were given, stories were told, and the coaches were thanked. The highlight of the event was when the mother of a boy on the team came up to thank everyone on behalf of her son.

While you wouldn't expect someone's mother to speak on behalf of their son in high school, it is important to realize that her son, James, is autistic. Many children with autism dislike being touched and are anything but social; yet James enjoyed a fun season. Her comment to the coach and his teammates was that James has "different abilities". The coaches and kids embraced James as the fellow teammate that he was and pushed him to do his best. While he did not win many matches, he tried his best and enjoyed the experience. When the banquet was over, many people were touched by her kind words and were also grateful for the kindness and belief that the coaches and team possessed.

That got me thinking about how many times I have seen people try to get some kind of "special" treatment because of this condition or that condition. They invest 100% of their energy on lowering the bar of expectation for themselves instead of pushing themselves to grow. I have had the privilege of working with people who have looked at a perceived disability as a different ability.

My favorite author, Vince Flynn, is dyslexic. Yet that has not stopped him from writing 12 best selling books. My friend, Roger Crawford is missing the lower portion of one of his legs. That has not stopped him from helping people discover their possibilities by speaking all over the world. The world is full of examples of people who have made a decision to embrace life as a participant, not a victim.

The story about James Plavak is not only a great lesson because of what he decided to do; it is a great lesson about what is possible for all of us to do when we embrace the strengths and possibilities of people who have abilities which are different than our own.

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Friday, March 12, 2010

20 Years or 1 Year x 20?


How many times have you heard someone say, "I have 20 years experience in this business." While they may have worked in that particular industry for 20 years, chances are their career path looked like this:
- Year One- Worked their tail off. Learning everything they could, reading everything, growing their value.
- Years 2-20- Lived with the "Been there, done that" attitude. They know everything, have done everything, and don't have to read some silly stuff, attend silly seminars, or listen to silly audios.

People wonder why their incomes and their careers have stagnated. Perhaps they should consider the importance of constantly sharpening their life skills, job skills, and value. We cannot control everything that happens in this world, but we can control a lot of our world.

Be part of the 10%! I had an opportunity to meet Brian Tracy the other evening. One of the alarming stats he shared with us is that only 10% of people will seek outside learning experiences. Brian was one of the speakers and authors who I studied very early in my speaking career. Isn't it amazing that 10% of people seek outside learning opportunities, and roughly 10% of people are financially independent? Think about it....
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Go On an "Excuses Diet"

Yesterday, I was visiting with someone who saw me speak a couple of weeks ago. She is part of a large direct sales organization that sells products via home party. We were visiting about her business and she mentioned that she would like more parties on her calendar. "I just want to purchase some of the new inventory that just came out, then I will book some parties and show the new product." she told me. She did not have the extra money lying around to purchase the new inventory but had quite a bit of last year's product on hand. I recommended that she put some parties on the calendar, sell the inventory that she had, and then book additional parties in the future to show the "new and improved" line.

She was committing a huge mistake that sales professionals make every day. She was buying into the "I will when..." line of thinking. "When the kids start school, are done with school, we have new product, have discount product, Saturn aligns with Venus..." You get the picture. There is no substitute for activity. No matter what product or service you are selling, you make an appointment to be exactly where you are today 60 days prior. If you want to be busy and flush with business 30-60 days from now, I suggest you pick up the 300 lb. phone and start setting up appointments. Ask past clients to do business with you again. Ask people for introductions to help you grow your business.

It is very easy to buy into excuses instead of activity. Keep in mind that most people who agree with whatever excuse you may be buying into are not making the kind of money you would like to make. Go out there and go on an "excuses diet!"
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just 1% Better

I was watching a great businessman, Alan Wiess, this morning talking about the importance of constant improvement. What most people try to do is improve their lives 300% overnight and are disappointed that they can't do it. Then they give up. Alan recommended trying to improve 1% every day. At the end of 72 days, you are twice as good! (Kind of like compound interest, I guess)

Always Better Your Best!
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Favre Factor


I was one of the 100,000,000 people who witnessed last night's Superbowl. One of the greatest things about any Superbowl is the advertisements. Watching Brett Favre accept an MVP trophy in the year 2020 at the age of 50 was just hilarious!

Then I thought about the brand and expectation of Brett. What would happen if your business enjoyed the same expectation from the marketplace as he does. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom for you:

1. Expect to be around for a long time! I purchased a camera from a large electronics store a couple of years ago, along with the extended warranty. 9 months later, the store went out of business. This is a huge fear of any consumer. Even though millions of people don't watch you on television each week, it is important to be out in your community. Whether you communicate via attending events, sending email magazines, or blogging; make sure that you are making your presence known.

2. Be flexible. Brett Played most of his career with the Green Bay Packers. His contract forbid him from transferring to the Minnesota Vikings, so he went to New York for a quick stop over. What do you do when someone tries to shoot down your original plan? Will you give up, or find a way to make it happen? Keep in mind that it is much easier to accomplish what you want when you have a number of people helping you. Blabvertise your goals to everyone who will listen!

3. Take quick action. Brett is known for his bullet-like throwing style. The longer that the ball is in the air, the greater chance the opponent has to catch it. Are you taking quick, bullet-like action? If you put together one marketing campaign that doesn't work, take a step back, tweak it a bit, and launch something again. Marketing does not have to be expensive, but it is priceless.

While you may not need to play professional sports to learn lessons that will help your business, you can learn success recipes from any industry and apply them to your world!For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Work On Your Business, Not In Your Business

"I'm so busy! I have x and y and z to do today!" screams the busy entrepreneur. The interesting thing is that he will probably say the same thing the next day, and the next week, and the next year; unless he works harder on the business than in the business.

I am a big fan of delegation, yet it was one of the hardest mindsets to embrace. Most entrepreneurs will say something to the effect of, "No one cares about my business the way that I do. I need to do it myself." While that may be true, those are words coming from someone who does not own a business, but a job. Don't get me wrong, I'm not making the point that an entrepreneur should develop "manageritis" and not hustle to grow his business. Let's keep in mind that any entrepreneur makes the most money marketing their business.

I understand that if you are a plumber, you technically only make money when you are doing the plumbing work. However, if you focus and plan on marketing your plumbing services via networking, referrals, and the like; you may stumble upon relationships that can provide additional streams of revenue that you would not have realized while your head was under a sink.

My challenge to you is this:
1. Invest 30 minutes today to share your business with someone. If you do not have top of mind awareness with your prospect base, you will flounder. Don't want to talk to friends about your business? Get over it.
2. Nurture a relationship with other business professionals in your community who you may be able to help. For example, when I owned a carpet cleaning business I regularly sent business to an air duct cleaning guy. He also sent me carpet cleaning clients.
3. Track your marketing efforts. What gets tracked gets done. This can be mailings, phone, internet, or in person. Just know how well your efforts are producing a return on your investment.

Remember, you are responsible for your economy. Regardless of what the media, other people, or colleagues may say; there are people out there who would love to hire you!
For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

But It Was So Cheap!


"The sweet taste of a low price quickly fades as you realize what you bought did not meet your needs." This was a saying that countless successful businesses have drilled into their sales organizations. What most people may not realize is that there is a sale made every time. Either the salesperson sells the client the product or service, or the client sells the salesperson their objection.

When was the last time you were glad that your purchased the lowest quality tool, television, or dental service? I firmly believe that quality pays, it does not cost. Here are a few tips for increasing your effectiveness in dealing with a price objection:

1. Demo, demo, demo. Get your product in the client's hands, help them visualize what their business would be like if they did not have to deal with the headaches that your product or service will remedy.

2. Listen. God gave you two ears and one mouth. Unfortunately, many salespeople have a chronic case of diarrhea of the mouth. They won't shut up! Listen to what your prospect is telling you, then help them find the solution.

3. Deal with the price objection up front. There will always be someone who offers a similar product or service for less money than you. Always. Sell benefits and quality. This is also a fantastic place for you to show your prospect client testimonials.

4. Ask for the business. I don't know why many people are afraid to ask for the business. After all, the customer can't shoot you and eat you; they can just say "No." That positions you in the exact same place as you were when you walked in their door.

Beware of people who only sell based upon price. The cost associated with going with the least expensive option is usually far more expensive than the investment of a quality product!

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Crucial Warnings for Your Business!

Shelly and I were enjoying a bit of relaxation time over the Christmas holiday. One evening, a commercial came on for some new miracle drug that can help people stop smoking. This commercial had all of the standard pharmaceutical staples: silver haired people walking, laughing couples, and some great testimonials from the actors about how this drug changed their life. The interesting piece of this advertisement was that out of a 90 second commercial, 60 seconds were taken up telling you about all of the potential effects of the drug.

Everything from skin disorders to sexual dysfunction to mild psychosis (really!) and everything in between! Needless to say, the advertisement did little to get me excited about their drug. If I were a smoker, I can't honestly say that the benefits would outweigh the risks of taking this drug.

That got me thinking about the "Warnings" that many entrepreneurs listen to throughout the day. Do you have a question about how to proceed with a business opportunity? Why not ask my family and friends who have no clue about business. Interested in buying a piece of investment property? Why not ask the people you know who are not investors.

Be very aware of the conversations that happen between your ears. 2010 can be your best year ever if you create a fertile environment for your dreams to grow. Create a personal board of directors who you can work with that will keep you accountable to your goals. Napoleon Hill talked about the power of the mastermind in Think and Grow Rich. This group of 3-5 people can help inspire, motivate, and at times tick you off. However, they are a necessary tool for anyone who wants to be successful in business.

Stop listening to the "can't do" crowd and start listening to the "can do" crowd.

For more information about booking The Shef for your next event, visit http://www.theshef.com
or call our offices at 1-800-863-2591.