Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How To Change Yourself (It is not easy!!!)

I want to make some big changes in 2016, but it is not easy to recreate yourself and to actually implement a new direction.

Self-realization and creating real "do-overs" is hard on so many levels.  Behaviors and points of view get ingrained and making adjustments is difficult.  Most people are quick to publicly announce the flaws of others and want those to be fixed, but few put the spotlight on themselves.  This internal examination can sting, so we prefer to focus elsewhere.

The blind spots are the worst part.  I try to examine myself, but one simply cannot see your own shortcomings (and it is not fun to find the flaws).  When others say things (to my face or behind my back) I try to accept it as input information.  My desire is to be slow to anger and fast to forgive towards other people and to see if there is anything I can learn from in their critiques.

In dealing with professional and personal challenges the last few years I have become aware of areas I would like to improve.  I really have a deep desire to be more effective at my work and in life and to serve the people I encounter.  There is hurt inside when you know you have failed in some manner.  

A difficulty in taking on personal change is that you cannot do it alone, and yet others are not really able to help.  Most people in your life will not realize the change.  If they do you will not always appreciate that they do see your efforts as positive.  Too often when people have judged you and have an opinion, they will not give you a second chance.  

For me, in seeking personal growth, it is clear that I must get the validation of my efforts from inside.  If I expect others to congratulate me for my efforts then I will be constantly disappointed.  The motivation for my change must be 100% inside.

This process, to be successful, means I have to be surrounded with others who seek to grow and change.  The people you associate with have a huge impact on the person you become.  I have been fortunate throughout my life to have some people around me who exemplified support and encouragement.  But I have also had some relationships that were toxic.  An inventory of who you spend time with is paramount to success.

In reading about change, most who write about this are clear to point out that you will have times when you slip back into old patterns.  Being a human being is not easy, and ego and emotions cloud the whole process.  I am guilty of this, and I need to get over myself.

I am launching the "Cool Things Project" in January.  This group coaching program is a spin off from my "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" podcast, and am seeking to facilitate and ongoing group of individuals who are sharing this path to make positive change in their lives.  I am hoping as I work to better my own journey, I can also be someone who creates a community of people who will be a support system to all involved.

I am excited about 2016.  Challenged, but excited.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Goals and Other "Cool Things"

Each year I take some time between Christmas Day and New Years Day to contemplate my goals.  I have always been a goal setter (with some positive results in achieving them, too), and as I prepare for 2016 I am newly motivated to go for the big accomplishments.

Getting older has taken away some of my youthful optimism, and over time I have had less enthusiasm for chasing my dreams.  Working for myself has left me bruised and feeling alone, and that has taken a bite into my soul from time to time.  But that is about to change.  There are so many things that I am ready to accomplish, and getting back that spark for achievement is on the top of my list.

In conversations with other "solopreneurs" there seems to be common feeling of isolated in your efforts.  There are a limited number of people you can talk to about your career aspirations.  Too many do not share the internal drive to do what it takes in business, and that is why I have found identifying supportive friends and creating mastermind groups to be so important.  One needs to find their "people" who share similar interests.  When you are surrounded by people who are dismissive of your inner-self and do not share your goals, it makes the journey much more difficult.

My first goal is to launch the "Cool Things Project", a group coaching program that is spinning out of conversations with listeners to my "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" podcast.  Many solopreneurs have shared their feelings of wanting to share their internal ambitions within a supportive environment.  I have talked about this group for months, and it is time to take action, even if there are only 3 members in the launch.  Getting a group of people to have regular conversations about their goals, efforts and successes in business will have a positive impact in all I do (and it will serve others, too).

With so many goals in 2016 and the need to excel, I have to also make my health a major priority.  Eating right, sleeping, and more exercise are all part of the plan in the new year.  As I close in on 50-years-old I want to ensure that I am taking care of myself.  Being clear that youth was wasted on being young is the first step for my new path.  I am excited to have the life experience and perspective that come along with a half-century on this planet, but must be realistic about the downside that comes with those years.

I have a longer than usual list of professional and personal goals in 2016, and this is going to mean changing many things I do in my day-to-day life.  Change is not easy and takes a lot of personal commitment.  These new directions mean I must work hard, but I will also have more fun and discover the success I so deeply desire.

How about you?  Feeling stuck?  What are your goals to get beyond the blah situations and achieve your full potential?  Settling for the middle is so not okay in 2016.  Get your goals on track and let's do this. 

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Saturday, December 26, 2015

How To Have Fun

As a speaker my job is to make sure that my audiences learn and have fun during the presentation.  Conferences in general have become cookie-cutter experiences and no longer are the places people come to learn. They need fun to make the experience real.

The same is true in our daily lives.  Life if cookie-cutter for too many people and in my work I am having more conversations with people who want to get out of the rut of dull.  

I can relate (can you?).  Responsibility, mortgages, career pressure, families, saving for the future, and all the things that exist for most grown ups can get in the way of having fun.  Whether at a conference or simply on a Tuesday, fun does not always happen by accident.  We must be conscious of making sure we get more of it in our lives.

In 2016 I am committed to getting out of the "rut of dull".  I am seeking people who will help me create more joy each day. Gone are the ways of old that allowed mundane to rule the day.

Here are 5 tips to have more fun that I am trying:

1.  Recognize you need fun.  It is easy to let the pressures of life take over.  If we are honest that we want more fun in our lives the initial feeling can be the dread of how little fun some of us tend to have on a daily basis.  By making fun a priority and seeking it out you will be more able to recognize opportunities when they arise.

2.  Be less judgmental and jealous of others.   Judging others and jealousy are a daily pastime in our culture.  We see what others do and we either look down on their life or covet it.  Social media has made this worse as we now are peering into the worlds of other people constantly.  If we have to be viewing others, we are best rewarded by smiling and moving on instead of getting caught up in comparing and contrasting our lives. 

3.  Invite friends to play.  To get more fun activities you often have to be the person who plans the gatherings.  All opportunities come from people, and opportunities for fun are multiplied when you are around the right friends.  Avoid the jerks but get close to the ones that will help you discover more fun.

4.  Do something creative.  Draw, dance, sing, write, etc...  do something that gets your creativity flowing and let that jolt of insight carry over into your work, family and community activities.  We forget that most kids love to be engaged in creative play, and as we get older we drift away from these things that may just translate into fun.

5.  Don't worry what others think.  This is hard, and held me back for years.  I was worried what others would think about me if I did certain things.  I cut our a lot of fun because it seemed weird.  Too bad,  Let your weird side out and make fun happen everywhere.

The older we get the easier it is to forget that fun should happen, Just like I try to work with meeting planners to ensure they are playing up fun in their events, I like to see people find more fun anywhere they are and no matter what they are doing.  Some of the people in my life had held me back, and once I was honest that I needed new friends, I started to seek out people who brought more fun into all social situations.  

While I am not saying you should "fire your friends", seek out new associations that will expose you to more adventure and lead you to fun.  Life is too short to forget the joy in each day.  Discover people who will help you have better days.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wear Your Best You

Find best in yourself and wear that on the outside.

We all have made mistakes at some point.  Bad choices, wrong turns, failed business attempts, words said in spite, etc....  But these do not define you.  Too often we believe that other people see us for our faults, but over the long run people see us for what we choose to put out in front.

I am not saying hid your flaws, as my experiences have shown me that people who cover every blemish are not real to themselves or the rest of us.  Embrace the hurdles you have cleared and be proud of growing and learning from the troubles and tribulations of your past.  But also leave them to the side.  Let your soul shine with the pride of what you have done that is awesome.

Long ago I got over being worried what individuals thought or said about me.  It turns out that when you are successful, or even actively pursuing success, there will be others who will resent you for it.  They will seek out your mistakes and go out of their way to tell others.  You cannot stop these people and you should not even care.  

When someone shows they are a petty jerk who wants to undermine the people around them, simply find ways to detour around them.  If you have to come into contact with toxic people, be very polite, but do not waste your time in trying to get on their good side.  Just be the best you that you can be, and wish them well.  Do not get sucked into their web of jealousy and gossip, as they will lure you in with talk of others, only to get close enough to throw you under the next bus that comes along.

I have learned the hard way the going toward self-improvement is a lonely journey.  The majority of the population is not seeking to better themselves, and your efforts to expand yourself make them nervous, jealous or just pissed off.  Don't be held back by the medium.  The middle is not acceptable for people who long to do more.  

Surround yourself with people who say it is okay to talk about your dreams, goals and aspirations.  Find your circle of people that are on a similar path and find ways to push and lift each other along the way.  

When those bad days come up and you feel like a failure, remember that some of the most successful people throughout history have overcome obstacles.  It is those dark days that show us we desire and expect more from ourselves.  Those hours where we have all wanted to roll up in a ball and sob are just the training ground for being prepared to shine at a later time.  It is okay to feel lost, but never forget that the feeling is only temporary.

Push through and show the world what is the strongest parts of you. Don't worry about the past problems you faced, as over time your reputation will be the best foot you put forward.  The naysayers and haters will eventually move on to an easier target, as they know when they are beaten. 

Nothing speaks louder that your finest actions.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Choose Your Words Carefully

People say nasty things that hurt those around them far too often.  I see this happen regularly, and it has me thinking about the words I choose when talking to others.  I would never want to be dismissive, hurtful, snarky or otherwise mean.... yet when we let worlds fly feelings can get hurt.

I have become very aware as I listen to people speak.  I am trying to always be conscious that words have meaning.  Even when we do not intend to harm a relationship, it can happen.

Pay attention to what you say and how you say it.  Think about how your words can be interpreted by those you speak with on a regular basis.  The more I focus on this for myself, the more I recognize how common it is for people use words as weapons.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

7 Tips for a Professional Speaking Career

Recently the number of calls I have received from people who want tips on starting a career as a speaker has skyrocketed (I got two today).  Clearly the business of professional speaking has become more popular lately, and individuals from all walks of life are interested in sharing their expertise (and wanting to be compensated for their efforts).

The speaking business is an amazing field.  I have made some of the best friends of my life with other speakers, and the helpful nature of many successful speakers is unparalled in any industry. I am honored to have earned my living as a full-time speaker for nearly seven years (part-time for four years before that), and am grateful to all the people who have shared their thoughts and ideas with me.  

Countless speakers and meeting professionals have guided me on ways to improve my practice, and that is why I always take the time to help others who call and seek my advice.

I am writing this blog post as a "pre-call reading" for those who want to know more about the business.  I hope these tips are helpful.  I am happy to chat with anyone who is committed to getting into speaking as a career, as long as they promise up front they will respect the business and those who work in the meetings industry.  There are too many who think "speaking" is a way to "get rich quick" (it is not),... or who are "too busy" to help other speakers. If you want to get into this industry, commit to referring other speakers all the time.  I offer referral ideas to every client.  

Cavett Robert (Founder of the National Speakers Association) advised generations of speakers to not look at each other as competitors.  He is famous for saying:
"Don't worry about how we divide up the pie, there is enough for everybody. Let's just build a bigger pie!”
Here are Seven Tips for a Speaking Career: 

1.  Know the difference between being a "Public Speaker" and a "Professional Speaker".  While speaking skills are very important to having a career in the business, it is not enough.  The "gift of gab" does not equal earning a fee.  To be paid well and consistently you have to be committed to the industry of speaking.  This business looks like one thing from the outside and something very different from the inside.  Study the business.  You would not found a bank without learning the industry, why do you think you can wing it here?

2.  You need a good website and video.  Those who hire speakers are accustomed to working from referrals.  Hiring a speaker is a scary thing, as we who present at a conference set the tone for the whole event.  A bad speaker can ruin a meeting.  But few meeting organizers use a Google Search (or any other online speaker matching site) to select speakers.  They ask around for ideas and ask peers who they have used recently.  Then they check them out online before calling.  If you do not have a website and video that properly showcases your talents, you might never hear from them at all.  

Some will tell you that you need a good brochure or "one-sheet", but most of my clients simply go to my website.  

3.  Have a topic people want and position it in a unique manner.  Many people get excited about a topic around a personal passion that has little commercial value.  They think a unique concept is what meetings are seeking.  While it is easy for each of us to get excited about our own ideas, that is not enough to get paid to share your concepts.  If nobody has a budget for your topic, you not only have to sell them on why you are a great speaker, but you have to sell them on their spending money on something they may not understand.  Ask yourself how your talk will help the person who is hiring you and how it will impact their audience.  Does this match up with the goals of the organization paying the money?  Don't know?  Find out.  Study the business and see who has similar topics and identify the type of clients who are hiring them.  

4.  Speak.  Stephen King famously gave advice that you become a writer by writing.  Same is true for speakers.  Speakers speak.  Don't worry about the money, focus on getting experience and feedback. Legendary speaker Roxanne Emmerich once said to be great you need to give 300 speeches.  I concur.  Now that I have delivered over 500 professional talks in my career, I am way different (better) than I was at number 100.

5.  Be honest.  Do not try to be something you are not.  Lately everyone calls themselves a "speaker" and I see many people pretend to have more experience as part of their marketing.  I believe there is a stage for everyone at every level, but if you try to leapfrog (without a legitimate reason) you are hurting yourself, your audiences, and your clients.  I learned this over a decade ago when I accepted a keynote without enough experience for that particular audience.  I was just okay, but this audience was accustomed to more experienced presenters.  Nobody was happy, and if I had been honest with myself and the organizer I would have had a different outcome.

6.  Make friends.  If you want to be a professional speaker, hang around with other speakers.  This does not mean stalking the celebrities hoping they will throw you their crumbs.  I am talking about developing real friendships with peers at your own level and growing up together in the business.  Get to know working speakers and create mutually beneficial relationships (that means help them succeed, too).  If while promoting yourself you are not finding opportunities to refer other speakers you are missing the boat.

7.  Be ready for a long road.  Success as a speaker takes time.  While some people brag on their fast-track in the business, most of those people burn out or become "yesterday's news".  A multi-year speaking business is about more than a trendy topic with lots of PR and social media.  You need to be focused on building a long-term reputation and serving the whole meetings industry.  Meeting professionals are hard working people that often are too busy to notice any one speaker who is trying to sell themselves.  But over time they hear your name and take a look at what you have to offer.  One recent client told me she saw me speak 10 years earlier, and only now was she ready to hire me.  That is a long sales cycle, but I plan to be here for 20 more years, so I am cool with that!!!

My experience has shown that doing these things will help you more than reading a book or attending a get rich in speaking seminar.  I could not have done it if I had not joined the NSA and learned from people who were willing to share ideas without charging me for their insights.  If you hire a coach, be sure they are earning a living in today's marketplace, as things are changing fast in the industry. 

If the above was helpful, leave a comment and let me know.  Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you have other questions.  I am all about a bigger pie.  If you want to commit to helping the business of speaking (and the meetings industry) all along your path, then I want to know you!!!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Millennials Like Face-to-Face Networking

Networking and maximizing connections at live event is a topic I have presented on for ten years.  All opportunities come from people and the meetings industry is unmatched when it comes to bringing people together.  Live events are so important to professionals of all ages.

Over the years many have asked me how networking has changed as the Gen Y / Millennial generation have come into work force.  I do not think it has changed.  Networking is simply about creating long-term and mutually-beneficial relationships between two or more people where all involved find higher levels of success.  These actions do not know age, gender, race or religion.

Fast Company magazine had a great article in December 2015 called the "8 MYTHS ABOUT MILLENNIALS AT WORK THAT NEED TO DIE".  This wonderful piece, written by Stephanie Vozza, shows that over time the media has created a false image of what it means to be a Millennial. My own interaction with young professionals is that they simply people (not that different at all). 

Yes, they grew up with the internet and cell phones, but their hopes and dreams are the same as all young people who have come before them. 

My favorite part of the article was Myth #2:
While millennials are more heavily immersed in technology and know how to better utilize it than other generations, Harrington says that doesn’t make them people-averse. 
"What was interesting was when we asked how they found their most recent position, instead of saying ‘social media’ like we expected, the number one answer was that they were referred by a friend, relative, or another connection," he says. "They are using the tried-and-true method of networking."
When I speak at events, it is the younger generation who most resonate with my message.  Some unexperienced organizers worry about hiring me if they have Millennial audience members (thinking the young will rebel against tips that involve live conversations), but those are the people who get most excited about my message of building lasting business connections.  These young professionals are hungry to improve face-to-face networking skills, but too often their superiors are not providing them with the knowledge and training they desire.  Too many are assuming prefer the digital route and are ignoring the real needs.  

While the tools we use to communicate have changed over the years, what motivates people in forming relationships is not really all that complicated.  People do business with those they know, like and trust.  A "like", "link", "share" or "follow" is not the same as a real friendship, and the Millennials are very clear on the difference. 

We all need to give these young professionals a break and not profile them by lumping them with what the "experts" have told us about their preferences.  In talking with clients who have special training for young "high potentials" in their workforce, they have come to put NETWORKING as a "must have" topic in their training programs.  

As the next generation ages into higher levels of their careers, they are discovering those who are the best connected (and who actively work to build their connections and personal brands) are getting promoted.  This is a smart group of people who are clear that honest relationships are their ticket to more success.  

I predict we will see a lot more articles that will talk about Millennials and networking, as it is real and it is happening all over the place every day. 

Check out the whole article on Fast Company Magazine's Website.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Monday, December 07, 2015

Get Out of the Middle in 2016

Connie Podesta and Thom Singer

December is a great time to reassess your business plans and to invest in learning and motivational activities.  It is hard to improve if we keep doing the same things that have us caught in the middle.

I spent the weekend at an advanced seminar for people in the professional speaking business.  The "Kick Butt with Class" event was hosted by Connie Podesta and Ford Saeks, both of whom have stellar reputations in our industry.  They provided a good forum for learning, idea inspiration and networking that was fast paced and full of content that will change what I will do in the new year.

It is common for people to get caught up in doing their work and fail to invest time in reviewing their basic business assumptions and activities.  Many people become complacent when they reach a certain level of success.  They are capable of achieving more and being in the top tier of their profession, but their life gets limited when they become content with the high-end of mediocre.  They know they are doing good enough, and knowing they are above the average allows them to slow down on innovation and drive.

Not everyone has a need to get to the top, and for some the middle is the right place for them.  However, this is not the right fit for so many who are stuck.  They want to take their career to a higher level, but they have no idea how to reset the course.  Doing this alone is hard, and for me the key has always been to be associated with people who are making things happen at in their own lives.

Having peers critique your current business is scary.  While I was not grilled at the seminar I attended, some of my fellow participants experienced the "though love" about their marketing messages, websites, speech titles, etc...  Seeing them find "ah ha" moments made me examine everything I am doing to grow my business.  

The idea of being on the "hot seat" has become common for me, as my threeyear participation in an ongoing advanced technique mastermind group means that several times a year I allow a select group of other speakers to help me discover my strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.  These colleagues know everything about my business, and they will not allow me to get comfortable in mediocre.  They challenge me to take actions such as set higher goals, change my website (coming next month) and to re-tool my product offering.  Over time we have become a very supportive group of friends (we did not really know each other when we began).

Are you feeling caught in the middle?  What will you do to in 2016?

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, November 27, 2015

Can Anyone Be President of the United States?

A vivid and very weird dream last night work me up with a jolt.  I was seeking the Democrat Party's nomination for President of the United States and was debating Hillary Clinton on live television.  

The debate was a big deal, with a fancy stage (we were to be seated in giant chairs, each next to a small table with a glass of still water, no ice, of a brand I had not heard of that the former Secretary of State requested).  She was quite specific. The venue was a performing arts theater with bight lights and a huge blue curtain.  It was oversold with people standing in the back of the room and the world's press corps all in attendance.  The moderator was a Katie Couric lookalike (or maybe it was Katie?). 

Before the debate started Mrs Clinton and I hung out back stage and she was questioning how in the world I had ever made it this far in the race.  She asked me why the American people would choose to vote for someone who was just an average person without fame or experience in politics?  She was really nice, a bit shocked to be at this point in the race with some person whose credentials included being a professional master of ceremonies, keynote speaker and story teller (although that seemed normal to everyone else in the dream). 

Apparently I had come out of nowhere in the polls and knocked out the other contenders in the early voting states. The remaining states would determine the nomination, and Mrs. Clinton wanted to lock this up quickly and bury my campaign.  She had demanded the debate take place.  While very polite to me, she felt there was no way I could have anything to say on television that could be impressive to the voters.

My wife and kids sat in the front row giving me smiles each time I answered a question.  They were so supportive. I won the debate and my opponent stormed away as Katie Couric announced I had been the victor, as in my dream it was common for the moderator to announce the winner on the spot.  I waved as confetti dropped (real debates are not instantly called by TV news personalities and followed by a balloon drop and a marching band).

Then I woke up.  It was similar to one of those scary dreams where you are chased or falling.  I have no intention of entering politics nor do I think I could beat Hillary in a foreign policy debate.  I am not seeking any party's nomination for the presidency.  Yet in a strange way the dream was empowering.  

I decided to write this post on my blog, but since I do not usually share odd dreams, this piece stands alone as some open window to my head. Sorry for kicking your butt in a fake debate in a dream, Mrs C.  And why did the brand of water matter so damn much?  (I don't recall anyone ever taking a drink).

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #137) - Karen Jacobsen's New Christmas Album

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

My friend Karen Jacobson has just released her first Christmas CD, Destination Christmas.  The album is full of original and classic holiday tunes, and I recommend you download these songs to get you ready for the season.

Many of you know Karen's voice from your GPS and Siri.  Yep, she is The GPS Girl.  I have known her for a few years through the National Speakers Association, but had no idea she was such a talented singer / performer.  It is common that we know people, but never really know all their talents.

Wait, you are stuck on my mention that Karen is the voice of your GPS and Siri? Yes, she gives directions in over 400 million GPS and smart phones around the world..  (before meeting her I had never thought about the fact that someone had to record all those words that Siri says).  She has a great voice for telling you where to turn your car, and she can sing!!!  

Karen Jacobsen is a speaker for organizations that want to both entertain and inspire their people to perform in a world class fashion, and "Recalculate" when things do not go as planned (I find it clever that the title of one of her most popular keynotes is "Recalculating").

When I saw that she had released a new Christmas CD I knew I had to share this on a "Cool Things My Friends Do" post as week #137.  I am also going to ask her to be a guest on the "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" podcast in the next few weeks so she can share her story with my podcast audience.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, November 23, 2015

Live Event Networking Is Based on Pre-Conceived Opinions

The next time you attend a conference or other live event, go in with the intention that the other people who are present are amazing souls who can help you learn and find opportunities.  Do not pre-judge them and do not fear that anyone is wasting your time.

Also take the point of view that you are a person capable of bringing life-changing value to someone in the room.  Seek ways to build meaningful long-term and mutually beneficial relationships.

All opportunities come from people, and too often we miss out because we fail to connect with others.  Our pre-conceived opinions of others and ourselves hold us back.

What can change if you meet the right people?  The whole world can change.

Have fun.


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Learning From Lost Sales Opportunities

As a keynote speaker who was selected to give over fifty presentations this year (and 600 speeches over my career), the "no's" can still be disappointing.  Sales is the hardest part of any career, and the ups and downs of selling can be interesting. As a career sales person (before I was a speaker), I am okay with rejection.  You will not win them all, and to get to success you have to have some losses. 

However, in this business there are times you talk with a meeting planner and you get excited by the vibe of being part of their conference.

After having booked many speakers on the planning side and having been a speaker for nearly a decade, I fully understand how these things go. I am the first person to say that choosing a speaker is hard work for a committee and if I am not the right fit, I never worry about it.... as I know the attention that planners and committees put into finding the ones that can have the right impact on their audience.  

About once a year I lose a deal that makes me sad.  It is usually because I enjoyed the personality of the people on the committee or the planner and want to work with them in making their conference more engaging.  

"No" is so final, and most groups do not revisit the same list of speakers the following year, so a loss can seem so final. While not all deals make me sad if I am not selected, sometimes the loss is my fault (usually that I did not do a good job of painting a visual picture of the committee as to who I can impact their event).

Take loses in stride and make notes about what you could have done differently.  In working with clients who want to increase sales I am shocked how few analyze their lost sales.  Too many move on without reflection. To improve your sales you must be relentless about learning and accept your failures.  Discovering your strengths and weaknesses has to be a lifetime commitment and part of every deal (win or lose).

Recently I had a loss that stung (it happens once a year, so it was bound to show up).  Having researched this unique industry I was sure that my message would have "wowwed" this audience, but alas it wont happen in 2016.  Yet I learned so much exploring their business area that I found some new ways that my keynote can have an impact on the retail sector (something I had not thought much about in the past).  The enthusiasm I now have to work with local independent retail clients is exciting and this experience will allow me to change up how I position parts of my message about being engaged in your community.

So is a loss a loss?  Not if you can learn from it or you discover new markets who will benefit from your product or service.  Inspiration and information are powerful tools that sales people should be uncovering in every lost opportunity.  Don't cry about a sale that goes to a competitor, make it your muse.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Is Automation Is Leading To Impersonal Communication

In our social media crazy world, we have many tools that allow us to automate our communications.  While productivity is awesome, it can lead to stale and impersonal exchanged and sometimes hurt feelings.  

Automation tools are not necessarily bad.  Finding ways to manage the huge amounts of information that comes and goes from our lives is a great idea, but we must be aware of the consequences. 

Too often the tools that make our lives easier can complicate things for others.  There is a fine line between efficiency and being rude in how we engage.  It is easy for others to misinterpret intention when we automate.  And not all of these tools are ideal for everyone.  What a busy executive or celebrity does online is not always the best thing for everyone else.

Recently I head from someone that they have outsourced 100% of their Twitter communications.  Their assistant not only does their self-promoting tweets, but also carries on conversations as if they are the person.  That just seems wrong.  Additionally the person bragged that his own daughter held an ongoing Twitter conversation with him and never realized she was not actually chatting with her dad.  While he saves time by never being on Twitter, I am not sure that is really what is intended with "social media".  Is that social?  Or simply a form of outbound advertising?  And as readers of someone's Twitter, do we feel cheated if they are not involved?

Another person's email auto-responds with instructions on how to best communicate with him.  While this person is a highly sought after business leader whose time is limited, I misunderstood what his message was saying, and thus think I offended him in my response to his auto-response.  I do not receive as many emails as this person, so I am not being judgmental about his methods.  However, I do not think automation is the best way for every person to reply to all communications.  

(Note, the person I am referring to is the most generous executive I know when it comes to giving of his time to others, and in his case this high level of automation is necessary.  My point here is I misunderstood what he was saying, and I assume it is easy for others to jump to assumptions from this type of message....not that he was wrong for being automated).

I have warmed up to the idea of scheduling tools, as they seem to make it easier for busy people to schedule their time.  These are great for those willing to meet with others, and for those with podcasts who have large numbers of guests to get on the calendar.  I still prefer to talk to people and find a convenient time for a meeting, as I do not do so many meetings that it is unmanageable to figure out my calendar.  While I admit I am not as efficient as I could be with every action, I am just me being me.

How we communicate impacts how we build relationships. No matter how technologically advanced we become we cannot automate friendships.  People have feelings, and those influence our connections to others.  We misinterpret what we think people are saying, get our feelings hurt, and form opinions about others.  This can be worse in a world of typed communication, as without the face-to-face interactions we have less to go on when making snap decisions.

So automate in our digital world, but remember that there can be negative side effects.   Automation is not going away, so as we do it more often, I think we just need to be aware that communication is a two way street.

What do others think?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Monday, November 02, 2015

Your Lawyers Are Not Gelling

Law firms (and other professional services businesses) are leaving money on the table.  They do great work in one area of the law, but their clients are utilizing the services of their competitors for other problem areas.  

The lack of cross-selling has been over discussed and it is so common that many firms have given up on trying to find a solution.  There is still a lot of talk internally about "Cross-Selling"... but few expect they will ever capture the revenue they are knowingly ignoring.  Instead they put their heads down and just chase more individual billable hours.

In my work with hundreds of lawyers it is clear that the cross-selling problem is a cross-gelling problem.  Lawyers to not talk about their firm's services, besides their area of expertise, because they do not have strong relationships outside their practice groups.  Often they do not understand the value their partners can bring to their clients, and sometimes they simply do not even like the people who work inside their own firm.

You want your firm to start capturing the cross-selling revenue that seems so illusive?  You have to get the whole team together on a regular basis and have real hard conversations.  If your partners do not know, like and trust each other then each year's distribution check will not reach its maximum potential.

Working with firms to get them to do this is hard.  We cannot just hold hands and sing campfire songs.  The whole firm must buy into new acceptable behaviors and be willing to part ways with high performing partners who are jerks.  The no-jerk rule is hard for law firms, as the think they cannot replace the revenue, so they let the toxic partners stay put.  Year over year the situation stays the same, and without discussion about the elephants in the room there will never be any change.

Networking is not just an external activity that is done when a lawyer is worried about finding their next case.  Networking the creation on long-term and mutually beneficial relationships where all those involved find more success than they would alone. This is just as important inside the firm as it is outside.

Is you firm lacking on its cross-selling success?  How is your internal gelling?  There are ways to get your internal relationships on track, and once people build honest friendships with understanding of their partner's business, promoting them becomes easy.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, October 19, 2015

What To Do After A Potentially Life Changing Encounter

It is hard to know for sure, but I believe I had a transformational experience.  Although it only happened 72 hours ago, my encounter with three big-thinkers challenged me at the core.  My year-long quest to change my mindset has yielded little, but since this gathering I am operating at a different level.

Before a trip to New York to speak to a business conference I reached out to an interesting person who I had interviewed on my podcast.  She seemed smart, nice and approachable while also being a person who was open to meeting new people.  Not only did she agree, she invited two others who she thought would spur conversation.

At the breakfast I had an overwhelming feeling that I was in the presence of three individuals who had the mindset that I have been seeking in my own life.  Each were overwhelmingly successful in different areas, and the way they see the world, business, and success was at obviously at a high performance level.

Clearly one of these things was not like the other.  While I have achieved some great things in my career it does not compare with the resumes of my fellow breakfast club members.  Halfway though the 90 minutes I realized this was no longer a social call, but instead I was seated at the feet of some people who could inspire me at a core level.

Two of the people are high performance business coaches, and one has a group program that is within my budget (the other guy charges $20K for a day of his time).  I wanted to hire all of them on the spot, but realized that was not about to happen because of the financial commitment.  I also realized that while everyone was so genuinely nice, there were no instant friendships happening that were going to lead them to becoming my personal mentor.  

This potentially life changing encounter got to me even before the plates were cleared.  My mind was racing and I wanted to save this moment in my brain.  I looked at the walls of the room, the table, the faces of those around me, and tried to burn the image into my mind.

After the handshakes in parting, I felt that some amazing ships had just passed in my night.  It was 10:00 AM as I exited the restaurant, and there was a sense of being alone in a crowded city.  For just over an hour I had a seat at the big kids table, and now I did not know if I could ever return to my own past acceptance of mid-level existence.

The question is "what now"?  I have listened to podcasts these people host and episodes of other shows where they have been guests.  I read their blogs, and other online IP.  I want to move to this next level, but not sure how to take the fresh motivation and change the mindset.  Results will come in the ways I think and act.

A piece of advice I tell my own clients is that you have to take action.  Just thinking, wishing and hoping is not enough. Study alone cannot cause change.  I know that it is easy to fall back into previous patterns, and being stuck in a rut is never the best place to reside.

Has anyone ever had an experience they knew could create a paradigm, and yet did not know what to do next?  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cool Things My Friends Do (Week #136): Think Big - Act Bigger with Jeffrey Hayzlett

Each week on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.

I am late on getting this "Cool Things My Friends Do" released, but I cannot hide the kudos for this book.  It is a MUST READ for everyone, especially those who listen to my podcast, as you know the topic of re-invention and raising yourself to a higher level of production is a theme I believe matters to all in a world full of mediocrity. 

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, former CMO of Kodak, author, speaker, prime time Bloomberg Television host and is the chairman of the C-Suite Network.  I know Jeffrey from the National Speakers Association, and have spent time chatting with him at several conferences (and he has been a guest on my podcast).  Jeffrey is one who always gives his time to anyone, and has been a bit of a silent mentor to me since I met him last year.

Recently he released his second book, Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless.  In this book he empowers business leaders to tie their visions to actions, advancing themselves past competitors and closer to their business dream. Drawing upon his own business back stories he sharing examples from the many leaders featured on “The C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett,” Jeffrey imparts ten core lessons that dare readers to own who they are as a leader and/or company, define where they want to go, and fearlessly do what it takes to get there—caring less about conventional wisdom, re-framing limitations, and steamrolling obstacles as they go.

Being a consumer of many business and life-related books, I can tell you this one is an awesome inspirational read.  I am so happy to have this book and Jeffrey featured as week #136 of "Cool Things My Friends Do".  Check it out.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, October 04, 2015

7 Tips For Better Team Meetings

Team meetings often suck. The reputation of bad company meetings is so cliche that many companies have stopped having end of year meetings or new year kick-offs to motivate their employees. They skip the meeting to save money and not take people out of the field, but no meetings are a bad idea, as shared experiences build relationships. Over the last decade people are less satisfied with their jobs, do not feel their employers are investing in them, and have less loyalty.

Is there a connection Maybe..

Motivation is a word that get a bad wrap. Many people cringe at the thought of motivational meetings that are meant to encourage their team. People say things like "you can't motivate others", or "motivation doesn't last". Yes in high dollar industries and sales oriented companies there are often team meetings that are designed specifically to motivate. So why does it work for high performers, but not the regular folks? Or is it that without motivational exercises, people get stuck in mediocre?
People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.
Zig Ziglar
As we enter the 4th quarter, now is the time to look at planning your company meeting. It need not be expensive to be awesome and to have an impact. Here are 7 tips to make your team meeting awesome:

1. Have a stated purpose. Do not host meetings for the sake of hosting a meeting. Begin with the results in mind, and let your staff know why you are going to have this gathering.

2. Include stakeholders in the planning process. Get people from different parts of the company to be on the organizing committee and let their teams know they are part of the team that is working to make the meeting meaningful.

3. Have an outside presentation. This may or may not mean hiring a professional speaker, but an outside point of view can often get people talking. Professional facilitators exist because they do provide value to meetings, but often you can get a vendor, customer or friend of the boss to present to your team.

4. Have an agenda and keep on track. Meetings that meander and run long suck the excitement out of the crowd.

5. Be interactive. Nobody wants to have the whole day of a team meeting be a series of lectures. Let your employees get involved and participate in the discussions.

6. Include some fun. A team meeting should involve some bonding activity before, during or after the business portions of the event.

7. Have action items and accountability. A main reason meetings and motivational messaging fails is once the day is over nobody ever keeps the conversation going. Be sure that this meeting is on purpose and that purpose continues after the event ends.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

***Thom Singer has special programs for team meetings.  Call today to learn more.  512-970-0398

Friday, October 02, 2015

Selling Professional Services

Selling is hard.  This is why the top companies in the world pay their sales people very well.  Selling is the oldest profession, and to do it well means that there is always a job waiting for you. Smart leaders are always seeking proven sales professionals to add to their company.  The best business leaders cherish those who can sell.

Professional services firms face a problem that their partners (lawyers, accountants, consultants, engineers, etc...) are often doing double duty as the sales people.  If you look at sales oriented companies, the selling team gets the new clients on board, and other people deliver on the work.  But in a services firm the practitioners often has to do both.  This is what it is, and will not change anytime soon (although the largest accounting firms figured it out twenty years ago that having a top tier sales team was the best solution).

To be successful at selling professional services you must accept your role in sales.  Too often lawyers (and others) try to hide behind their work product.  However, being a "good lawyer" is just the ticket into the stadium.  It does not guarantee you will play on the field or win the game.  

Clients expect you to be good at your job.  Heck, they expect you to be great.  So thinking your work is your competitive advantage is a path to mediocre numbers.

The first question I ask those in a service profession is "what differentiates you from your competition?".  Do you know?  Can you clearly articulate the points of differentiation?  Bankers always answer this question by saying "We are a relationships bank".  They are so proud of this statement, but is it really different if all your competition claims the same unique selling position?  Most have no legitimate answer.  

To be able to describe what makes you different and to believe the words in your soul takes time.  This is not an exercise you can complete in an hour long coaching session.  And your answer could, and should, be morphing over time.  This is serious stuff, and yet regularly ignored.

A mistake that is made by those in professional services is that they spend little to no time thinking about sales, business development and their personal brand.  They lament their leading competitors who are winning the game, but they do not examine what those people are doing behind the scenes.  Assumptions are made all the time, but no research or actions are being taken. 

Oh, and social media is NOT selling.  There is a lot of people talking about "social selling", but for the those who are really finding success, social media is an add on to their success, not the basis of it.  Most professional services firms need to get their people focused on old-fashioned prospecting.  This means attending live events and meeting people and then using the phone to get on the calendar to have real conversations.  Even in our social media crazy world, the way people make most decisions still comes down to the human-to-human relationships.  People do business with those they know, like and trust.

CRM systems are great, but they will not bring you more business.  A mistake made in many businesses is they mistakenly think the system is key to sales success.  My friend Jim Pancero has been a sales trainer for over 30 years and has seen all the changes in sales over the decades.  He says that we need to remember the original CRM system was a 3x5 card (and they still can work today).  I remember in my early days of selling that I had a plastic box filled with information on index cards.  Computer programs are more efficient, and allow those inside you company to access this information, but sales still come from people making calls on live prospects.  Emails and tweets will not drive your bottom line.  Gathering information and repeated calls to prospects is how you win new business.

Professional service firms also rarely do sales training or any type of inspiring motivation for the vary people who need to sell their product.  The largest sales oriented companies do a great job of educating, inspiring, and providing motivational materials for their people, but law, accounting, banking, engineering and consulting firms rarely invest in these skills.  These firms do "partner meetings", but rarely bring their whole team together for an annual "kick off" to make sure everyone is aware of the annual goals.  I find professionals cringe at the idea of sales skills training, yet the best sales people look forward to learning new ways to do their job.

Selling professional services is difficult, but not impossible.  The first step is to embrace the need for a culture shift inside a company.  The firms that have real leadership are making changes.  I see law firms that are telling partners to learn to sell or leave.  Wow, that was not said a decade ago.  Other firms are creating training and coaching programs for younger associates and working to get all of their staff engaged in developing new business.  

What have you seen professional services firms do lately that is driving their sales numbers?

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#Eventprofs --- Take Your Conference Content to a Podcast

An exciting part of my work lately (as "The Conference Catalyst") is working with associations that want to take their conference content and use it to create a podcast.  There as so many ways to do this, and each group has different needs, but the cool thing is how affordable it can be for an event to morph content into the world of iTunes and Stitcher.

For some time I have been adding interviews of key stakeholders at events (speakers, board members, attendees, vendors, etc....) to my client offerings.  Early on I would use these high content chats as episodes for my own podcast: "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do", but now clients can create their own on-going shows that are branded around their own association, company or the annual event.

Do you want to explore creating a podcast for your organization?  It is neither difficult nor expensive to create your own show. As podcasts continue to grow in popularity, now is the time to capture your audience.

Call me anytime an we can brainstorm ideas.  I like it when bold and entrepreneurial meeting planners want to chat about creative conference ideas.  They don't need to be my clients or ever hire me to have a call.  I learn so much from chatting with meeting professionals that I am happy to share ideas and see where the information goes.  So often people do not reach out, for fear of bothering people... but if you want to chat up this idea, I promise it is not going to bother me!!! 512-970-0398.

I believe that a great conference can lend itself to becoming the foundation for an ongoing podcast that will keep your audience engaged all year long. This is an interesting concept worthy of exploration!!!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Advice To Myself Thirty Years Ago

If I could build a time machine and go back to college... what would I suggest to the me of the past?

This question has been on my mind lately as I watch my oldest daughter navigate her journey as a college freshman.  She is doing great and is better qualified for the real world than I was at her age.  Yet I so wish I could consistently give her advice each day, but I know it is best to let her navigate her own path.

Imagining there was a method to communicate with the me of 1984, as in Brad Paisley's song "Letter to Me", what suggestions would I share to myself?

Five Tips I Wish I Could Give To Myself 30 Years Ago

1.  Don't worry so much about what others think.  No matter what is going on in your life, the reality is people are not paying nearly as much attention as you think.  Even the people closest to you are not judging you.  Your friends care about you and the rest of the people do not care.

2.  Think bigger about everything.  The world is really your oyster and there are so many opportunities to create an awesome future.  But do not sell yourself short, you have more potential than you understand at this point.  Don't wait until you are nearly 50 years old to realize the mark you can make on the world.

3. Take more risks.  Go for it... no matter what "it" is.  Your youth is the perfect time to take chances, and it will only get harder to embrace the scary stuff when you get older.

3.5 Bounce back from failure.  If you try for things, sometimes you will not get what you wanted.  That is okay.  You will get other things.  Take some time to feel bad, and quickly move on to your next adventure.  There is a Japanese proverb that says "Fall down seven times, get up eight".

4.  Cherish the people around you.  Older relatives and mentors will be gone from this earth sooner than you think, and your peers will go their own direction in pursuit of their dreams.  Let the people around you know they matter all along the way.

5.  Save 10% of your income from the beginning.  You will hear this advice many times in your life, but you wont do it.  All I can say is you will later wish you had been smarter with your money.  

6.  Always give a little more than you promised.  Over deliver in every interaction you have with people.  Tell them five and give them six.  It matters.

While I cannot go back and teach these lessons to myself, maybe one person will read this advice and take them to heart.  How cool if this blog post could impact one younger person.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Contemplate the World -- But Don't Expect Easy Answers

40 Tips To Re-Invent and Re-Launch at Age 40, 50, or Beyond. (Tip #18)

Outside on a beautiful day working at a coffee shop can bring all sorts of serendipity.  A random exchange with a stranger lead to an hour discussion about "taking back your life".  You never know what power comes from saying "hello" and where the conversation will take you.

The topic of "re-invention" is a popular one.  My new friend had just turned 50 and was is clearly a seeker of additional meaning in his life.  In Austin, Texas you can meet any variety of characters, and Richard was no exception.  Richard is a banker who no longer liked the world of high finance and he was taking a break to imagine his future.  

He had given the last three decades to others, his bosses, parents, wife and kids, etc....   He was quick to share that he hardly remembers his own purpose of self.  He is not unhappy, or confused, but he knows that his time on earth is limited and he does not want to waste the second half.

I can relate. I understand the need to find yourself again from time to time. My own life is full of questions as there is a desire to have more fun and achieve more success in my business.  I want to try new activities (thus the 108 story "Sky Jump" off the Stratosphere in Las Vegas), but not looking to start over (I love my family and career).

Contemplating your life is an important ongoing step.  Go on a retreat or sit on the banks of a lake and ponder the world.  Ask yourself who you would be in a your perfect scenario and weigh that against the reality of your life.  You cannot always have what you want, and disappointments are common, but if you do not know what success looks like, you will miss it time and time again.

Next you have to have a goal.  Without a goal you will drift.  Goals makes it easy to move forward when tough choices appear (simply ask: "Which action brings me closer to my goals?").  Create a plan for how to improve you situation and break it down to the smallest of actions needed.  Baby steps still move you forward.

Richard and I shared a moment of mutual understanding, but we came up with no answers.  He joked that it was good to know that being "seeker" is about the journey, not necessarily the destination.  I pointed him to my other writings on this topic and my podcast.  I even offered to have him as a guest on my show when he is ready to share his story.

Staring out at the lake is peaceful, but does not always bring the answers I desire.  I wish living a life's journey was easier, but it is complicated.  

If you read this and feel you connect with this meandering message.... reach out and let me know.  I think it is better to know you are not alone on the path.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, September 21, 2015

Leaders Do Something

Live your dream.  

Too many of us followed a path that has lead to jobs that pays the bills.  But I believe we can, with effort, find a way to follow our dreams.  I like to think I have done that.

Real leaders, when faced with adversity, find a new path. When some problem appears in the path they build a bridge, tunnel under, or drive around.  The other option is to sit down and feel sorry for ourselves, but that leads to mediocre.

I met a gentleman recently who is pursuing his life-long dream to become an actor.  He is 35 and for 20 years followed a safe path and became a teacher.  His parents, and society, told him a traditional career was a better way for a family man. While he wants to continue to provide for his wife and kids, he does not want to grow old with regrets.  He looked up a few months ago and decided he had to try his hand at professional acting.  He took his first acting class six weeks ago and tomorrow has a call-back for a major television commercial.

This guy is my hero.  

Waiting and wishing is not going to get anyone closer to their dream.  Actions are the key.  You have to lead, even if you have no followers.  Being a leader has nothing to do with others always being on board.  You have to lead yourself first. To get to live your passion you have to do the things that take you to your goals.

Do something.  You need not succeed all at once, but you have to build momentum.  Know what you desire and find small things that can help you get clear about how to go for your future with real intention.

However, bad things will happen along the way.  Everyone faces adversity and the best people get knocked down.  It is not what happens, but how you respond to situations that sets up the future.  I relate well to the Japanese proverb "Fall down seven times - get up eight".

I write this blog post in September 2015 as Carly Fiorina rises in the polls in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary races (this is not political support for Ms Fiorina).  She was let go from Hewlett-Packard in one of the most public CEO firings in history, lost a daughter to drugs, and failed in a bid for the US Senate.  And yet today she is running for president, and gaining traction.  She did not get here by accident.  She is doing things.

Opponents focus on our failings.... but many who are at the top have dealt with hard times and done whatever was needed to rise up again.  Harvey Mackay wrote a book in 2008 called "We Got Fired" where he profiled some of the most successful people in our society who had bounced back from very public failings.  I love this book as it is a reminder that we just get up and find a new route to the top.

The people I admire get over disappointment quickly and create something new.  They are people of action.

Have A Great Day

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thom Singer and the SkyJump at Stratosphere in Las Vegas

Get out of your comfort zone and try things that seem like you would never be able to do them.  This jump of 855 feet was scary and awesome.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Friday, September 18, 2015

Don't Settle For Mediocre

40 Tips To Re-Invent and Re-Launch at Age 40, 50, or Beyond. (Tip #17)

Don't live for mediocrity.  Find creative ways to expect awesome and make them happen.

Recently someone told me their organization could not afford awesome, so they would make decisions based on price and are happy with meeting budget constraints.  Their association wanted to proved "Good Enough" to their members.  It sounded so wrong... but we all do it.  Money is a real constraint, but we forget that there are often other solutions than what we first see.

I have done this (settled for "good enough"). Heck, I will do it again.  But I am now more conscious of finding creative ways to get what I want in all situations.  This sometimes costs more money, but often it just takes discovering alternative options.

The older I get the less patience there seems to be in my soul for "settling" for mediocre experiences.  I am working to raise the bar of what I expect from myself, and this is not easy.  At 50 years old there seems to be a lot of habits formed, and many opinions that I have wedged in my brain.  To take re-invent myself I have to be diligent and constantly reassessing my actions and beliefs.

Where is mediocre living in your world.  Be honest with yourself and look to see if you can tweak how you behave and see if you cannot move the bar closer to awesome.  It is not magic, but it can happen with intention.  

Commit to seeing the areas where you are not living up to your highest potential.  Be honest with yourself and don't let your past shortcomings make you sad.  They are what they are.  It is what you do today and in the future that matters now.  

No change can come without honestly identifying your current place in the world.  Too often in my own life I have rationalized my failures and continued to live in the same routines.  This only produces similar results.  When I have taken the biggest leaps are when I see the dumb-shit things I have done and work to not do those again.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Sales is Hard - But You Gotta Keep Selling

We are all in sales, and that means sometimes you lose deals - even opportunities where you feel you are the right solution.  If you are not losing some of the time you are not talking to enough prospects.

In our "social media crazy world" there has been a lot written about using social media to sell, but for most industries that not going to get you to your quota.  Few people buy important services from a social media "like", "link", "share" or "follow".  While many can and should use social media to help grow their brand (if their clients and competitors use social media), I work to remind sales professionals that selling is still a belly-to-belly activity.

I recently was referred to a company to present a seminar to a team of sales people.  They were seeking a motivating message for a sales team in a blue collar industry.  I got the impression that they face a lot of up-hill battles, and needed a kick-in-the-pants.  I researched the company, and while I do not work often in their industry, their organizational profile excited me and I was confident that I could have a lasting impact on their company and their sales people.

The decision maker did not return my call for several days, and when I finally reached him he told me that I was not the right fit.  While I am not going to "wow" every prospect, I was not used to being dismissed without a conversation.  He was so adamant in his opinion that it caught me off guard.   I asked if he minded telling me why, and he replied "I looked at your stuff and you are all about social media the internet to sell (oh how I wish it was that easy), and that is not what our industry is about".

Duh.  Of course his industry is not about that (I don't think most industries can succeed by "Social Selling" alone).  I am positive about the internet tools we use in our modern times, but my presentation would have guided his team back to the basics of relationships selling.  It would have been highly interactive to get them talking about the issues they are facing.  For the team to get anything from a motivational talk they would need to discover their own reasons for doing what they do on a daily basis.  This clarity, plus accountability, were my plan for the class.  

The owner saw that my keynote is called "Connecting with People in a Social Media Crazy World".  The message of my talks are for professionals who will meet their sales through human-to-human engagement. He apparently mistook "Social Media Crazy World" to mean I would want his sales people clicking away via the internet.  That is not my message.... that is crazy!!!

When I tried to explain where we had a miscommunication, he was silent.  I tried to see if he was willing to chat more about the goals of his sales meeting, but his mind was made up that I was not the right fit for his meeting.

The conversation ended abruptly.  He did not want to re-consider, and I could tell he had gotten annoyed with me for trying to resurrect the sales discussion (which is what he should want his own team to do when facing adversity).  I decided to walk away.  I followed up with a nice note and a copy of my book, but I wrote this one off as a learning experience.

I am confident if this prospect and I could have started over that we would have found common ground. He is hungry to get his team motivated, and I share this goal.  We both want to see them bring in more sales and find more satisfaction in their sales career. But he did not want to talk any more.  The disappointing part for me personally was I had taken a strong interest in his company and was excited by the opportunity to have an open discussion with his team about the economic factors that are facing their industry.  The world is a complicated place, and sales is not getting any easier.  I was a 100% commission sales person for much of my career, so I know what it takes to be successful in a world where you live by your quota.

In sales you cannot win them all, and your first impression is a lasting one. My prospect had a strong idea (a wrong idea) of who I was, and he was not going to change his mind.  It is okay, that happens. 

Sales is difficult.  It seems ironic when I lose a deal for sales training (is it Karma that I could not win the deal if I can't sell sales training?).  However, when you are in sales, you brush off the loses and keep prospecting.  

My desire is that this guy will read my book and remember me for future team meetings.  This year's meeting is not meant to be, but the best sales people know that "NO" only means "Not This Time". 

Motivation alone is nothing. To get a team motivated means identifying reasons for a desire to keep doing something. I know what my reasons are, and thus it is easy to keep going.  I hope his team finds their reasons.

Tomorrow is a brand new day to go sell.  Remember, we are all in sales -- so get to it.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer