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Stop Arguing with What Is.

“If you pay attention,” writes Byron Katie, ”You’ll notice that you think thoughts like this dozens of times a day:”

“‘People should be kinder.’  ‘Children should be well-behaved.’  ‘My neighbors should take better care of their lawn.’  ‘The line at the grocery store should move faster.’  ‘My husband (or wife) should agree with me.’  ‘I should be thinner (or prettier, or more successful).’” 

“These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is.  If you think that this sounds depressing, you’re right.  All the stress that we feel is caused by arguing with what is.”

My coach and colleague, Steve Chandler, recently wrote this about Katie’s words of wisdom:

“People new to The Work [Katie’s approach to problem solving] often say to me, ‘But it would be disempowering to stop my argument with reality.  If I simply accept reality, I’ll become passive.  I may even lose the desire to act.’  I answer them with a question: ‘Can you really know that that’s true?’  Which is more empowering?: ‘I wish I hadn’t lost my job’, or ‘I lost my job; what can I do now?’”

“This last question captures the essence of coaching,” Chandler continues.  “Coaching honors reality.  It treats reality as pure opportunity.  Clients usually come to a coach with a severe case of disapproval of reality.  They want life and other people to be different.  They are living from the outside in instead of the most powerful, creative way: from the inside out.”

As a coach, I view part of my work as showing my clients that reality is on their side.  Reality is not the problem.  Our thoughts about that reality are the only problem.

When we feel rejected if someone says “no” to us or hangs up on us, that feeling comes from the thought that there is some meaning to their reaction—a meaning that relates to us: “They didn’t like me.”  “I was awkward.”  “I’m no good at this.”  We might also be thinking, “People shouldn’t do that—it’s rude and hurtful.”

But these thoughts deny the reality that people do hang up on us…for reasons that usually have nothing to do with us personally.  These thoughts are, as Katie says, arguing with what is, and causing us stress and pain as a result.  These terrible feelings come from thoughts that aren’t based in reality.

Stop arguing with what is, and figure out what to do about your reality if you don’t like it.  Contact me so I can help you find the empowering view of—and approach to—the things that are causing you stress.

If you want what isn’t yet, don’t kick and scream; just keep REACHING…

Do YOU Belong in UNDEREARNERS ANONYMOUS?

A colleague of mine recently drew my attention to Underearners Anonymous, a “Twelve Step Fellowship of men and women who have come together to help themselves and one another recover from underearning.”

The website identifies 12 Symptoms of Underearning, many of which are recurring themes for the clients I work with.  A few of these symptoms fit ME perfectly, as well.

I want to focus on one of them today:

Undervaluing and Under-pricing—We undervalue our abilities and services and fear asking for increases in compensation or for what the market will bear.

——————————————————————————————

After three years in practice, Nora, a therapist, was still charging her clients the same amount she had charged when she first started.

Nora’s issue was not about what people could afford—it was about not understanding the great value her clients received by working with someone as empathetic and insightful as she.  So I offered her a way to quickly double her income…I told her to double her fees for all incoming clients.

Having convinced herself that the issue of fees was about the market, Nora protested.  “If I raise my fees,” she complained, “No one will work with me.”

I finally convinced Nora to try raising rates slightly for existing clients and increasing her fees to one-and-half times the old rate for new ones.  She called me after her first meeting with a new prospect.

“They didn’t even flinch when I told them about my [new] fee schedule!” she exclaimed.

Nora also informed me that none of her existing clients had complained about the small increase she implemented with them.

Last November, Brett, a financial planner who invests and manages his clients’ portfolios in exchange for an annual percentage, was still charging a fee way below those of many advisors who had half his experience and skill.

“I believe that those guys are grossly overcharging their clients,” he told me.

“But their clients are happy to pay their fees, because the cost is still a very small percentage of the assets being managed,” I replied.

“And,” I continued, “considering your training and expertise, YOUR services are worth at least as much as theirs are.”

I got Brett to agree to have two conversations: 1) To tell existing clients that the fee he has been charging them is much less than most investors are paying; 2) To charge new clients a significantly higher fee.

Last week, Brett and I figured out that this small change had added 30% to his income for 2012.  And none of his new clients had raised any question about the cost of his services.

Take a look at the Underearner Symptoms and contact me if you’d like to overcome them.  I’ll help you to stay earning, and to keep REACHING…

Field of Dreams

Whatever you think of Kevin Costner, he is the star of one of my favorite movies (which, thankfully, also features James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta).  In Field of Dreams, Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, hears a whispered voice that tells him: “If you build it, they will come.”  Against the advice of all family members and friends, and at risk of bankruptcy, Kinsella travels thousands of miles in search of answers and invests thousands of dollars to carve a baseball field out of his cornfields, so that specters of deceased ball players can become a money-making spectacle.

Many coaches teach their clients Law of Attraction—that we all can “tap into the Universe” to “attract” what we want.  They tell us that by wishing for it, being open to receiving it, visualizing ourselves having it, and then behaving as if we already have (or merit) it, it will come.

But this “Field of Dreams Myth” neglects an important aspect of Kinsella’s story.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve personally witnessed dozens of cases wherein someone wanted something miraculous so badly that it was practically dropped into his or her lap—seemingly, simply by believing it would happen.

But in each of those cases, just like Kinsella’s, there was a second key element: they built it.  They prayed and visualized, but they also worked and fought for what they wanted.  And while it’s true that the specific actions they took may not have been direct causes of their ultimate results, being in action was a necessary component of their successes.

Periods of doubt and disagreement are part of the human experience, especially when you’re after something BIG.  When you are going through desperate times, try reaching for one of the proactive solutions below:

1. Free yourself from “shoulds” and respect the needs that increase your own sense of worth.  Find out what you want, and value it.  Then, take actions designed to take you where you want to be.

2. Set achievable goals first.  I believe that people who set unrealistic goals can reach those, too, but start by establishing goals you can realistically achieve, and then work step-by-step to develop your fullest potential.

3. Talk to yourself positively.  Your subconscious hears what you tell yourself.  Is that whisper saying, “I’m an idiot,” or is it reminding you that “even very bright people make mistakes”?

4. Separate your reality from your emotional baggage.  For example, you may feel stupid, anxious, and hopeless about a project, but if you think about it, you’ll conclude you probably still have the ability and ample opportunity to accomplish something with it.

5. Take chances.  Expect to make mistakes, hit roadblocks, and upset others, and don’t be disappointed when these things happen.  Feel good about trying something new and making progress.

6. Face and solve problems and conflicts.  If you run away from problems you might be able to push through, you threaten your greatest goals.

7. Leverage your strengths, and accept your current limitations—for now.  You can work on those limitations, but don’t let them lower your opinion of yourself.

8. Trust your own opinion and hard work.  Entertain feedback from others, but depend on your own values and actions in making decisions.  When you assert yourself, you enhance your sense of yourself, learn more, and make a greater difference in your life and the lives of others.

No matter what you yearn for, be patient.  If you build it—even if you have to start up from the ground—it will come.

And remember that a good coach can be your whisperer.  If you need one, contact me.  Choose to listen to any voice you wish, so long as it inspires you to take action.

If it moves you, heed the words of Governor Romney’s concession speech, and give it your all, leaving “everything on the field”.  Or, choose to hear the words of President Obama’s victory speech:

“[H]ope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep REACHING…


As If Your Life Depended on It…

I pushed too hard the other day.  Or did I?

I was trying to get Janis, a relatively new financial services representative who works at a branch of a large insurance company, to take the last available seat in my workshop program.  I had offered her help with the tuition, and she had committed on the phone to joining me.  But several days before the program, she wrote to me explaining that she had run into a problem:

I’m having a huge reversal right now.  Just lost 11K in premium on Tues.  I will have to forfeit at this time and get back to the phones this week.  My apologies.

I sensed desperation in her email.  In my mind, I saw this moment as a critical one—as the perfect indication that Janis should be in my program, even at a further-reduced rate.  I asked her to call me by 4pm, but she didn’t call.  So, I wrote:

You didn’t call me back yesterday.  My sense is that you’re panicking—it seems Life or Death.  You clearly need help and I want to give it to you…If you have any interest in continuing in this career, without burning out, call me today and commit to getting help.

Okay, so my last bit of language was a little strong.  Here’s what she replied:

I’m slightly put off by your tone when you say, if I want to continue in this career then I will commit to getting help.  My dear, if I don’t succeed in this career, then it was a stepping stone and a foundation for something better.  I am wise enough to know that this career doesn’t define who I am, my character does.  I have a greater purpose.  Working here is just seasoning to a pot.

I loved her thoughts, so I responded with an apology:

I did not mean to put you off, and I apologize for speaking as strongly as I did.  Thanks for the explanation.  I did think I was hearing panic, but from your note I can see that it was just temporary disappointment and a lot of determination.

But then, I thought about how she responded to what she had viewed as a crisis.  What had I missed?  Her immediate answer for her setback was to be COLD CALLING into the night.  While cold calling can get you some business, the whole point of my workshops is to teach better ways of getting clients.  Janis’s decision not to participate virtually doomed her to continue using a far less potent approach.

Here’s what I could have been helping Janis learn to do:

1. Start with people she knows already.  At its best, cold calling involves not being able to reach most of the people you call and succeeding in making appointments with fewer than 10% of those you actually reach.  Rapport is harder to establish because there’s a higher level of wariness on the part of the prospect, so converting someone into a client is a difficult challenge.

Calling someone you already know, or someone who has been introduced by someone you know, gives you a significantly higher chance of setting an appointment and of converting prospects into clients.

Instead of grabbing a list and frantically making call after call, Janis might be doing much better if she SLOWED DOWN and thought about who she could invite to the office one day, or who might be able to introduce her to someone she would love to help.

2. Tell people who she wants to work with.  You can identify individuals you want to work with.  If you know one well enough, contact him or her and say so yourself.  If you don’t, contact someone who does know him or her, and ask for an introduction.  Studies have shown that even people who are reluctant to give referrals to a professional will be happy to exercise their “influence muscle” to make an introduction to someone who has requested it specifically.

3. Use social media.  Facebook and LinkedIn will give you the names of people your closest friends and associates know.  Use those names for ideas about whom you might want to meet by introduction.

4. Life or Death.  I could have asked Janis to explore this question: If your life did depend on getting a new 11K Client this week, what would you do?  Janis’s current career choice may only be “seasoning”, but if she really thought about and harnessed what her panic seemed to demonstrate, she would wrangle new clients light years more quickly than she ever could by simply going “back to the phones” again and again.

For most professionals, it is possible to use their “inner circles”—and a balanced sense of determination—to find and create new clients more effectively than through cold calling.  If you can commit to improving your tactics and your mindset when it comes to your career, contact me for help, today.  I’ll leave my doors open past 4 pm…especially for my local friends who may still be amidst real crisis.

So even if I’m pushy, don’t confuse me with that hurricane.  Reach out, and keep REACHING…

The results you’re getting right now in your career—and in your life—are exactly the right results…of the systems you’ve created.

If you’re not making or saving enough money, if you feel overwhelmed, or if things are just too hard, it is not because YOU are flawed—it’s because the methods you’ve implemented, by which you do your business and spend your days, are perfect at yeilding these effects.

Through most of my young-adult life, I had a flawless system for being broke.  It worked simply and fully, just as it was designed: Earn money, spend more than you earn; earn more money, spend more than that.  Earn even more money, spend even more…and so on and so on in pristine functionality.

The system I designed for being broke worked perfectly.  It gave me precisely the result it was designed to create.

If you want a different result in your life, you have to create a new system—one that will get you that result—and start to use it.

For the past few months, I have been working with Burt, who I wrote about at the end of August.  To recap, after our second or third session, he called me concerned that the new work we were doing was not going to be effective.  His worry had been spurred by members of his peer group, who were encouraging him to stick to the systems they all had been using.

“Burt,” I asked him, “Are any of the people in your peer group making significantly more money than you are?”

“No,” he responded, “One of the reasons we all meet is that we’re all at about the same level.”

“What if all of the things you’ve been doing up until now got you all to that same level, but no higher?” I posed.

The systems he and his peers had learned were perfect for the results they were all getting.  As I pushed forward with Burt, I encouraged him to see that if he wanted to get to a higher level, he needed a different system.

Once we started creating better systems for delighting existing clients and acquiring new ones, Burt’s business began to grow beyond those of his peers.  He had his best August earnings ever, followed by a fantastic September.  October already appears to be another month in which he will beat the goals he has set for himself.

Since I coach professionals to be comfortable asking for referrals, last week, I asked Burt if he was ready to introduce me to his peer group.

“Not just yet,” he replied.  “I want them to see how far ahead of them I’ve gotten first.”

If your business systems are perfect for getting you poor or mediocre results, and those aren’t the results you want, let me help you design and implement a system to replace the ones you’ve been working with for far too long.

Keep IMPROVING, and keep REACHING…

The “No” Game.

“I know it’s crazy,” exclaimed Barry, a young financial advisor in New Jersey, while on the phone with me.  “I want to be in this business and I want to be successful, but I can’t bring myself to make the phone calls I need to make—and if I don’t, obviously, none of that will happen.”

Barry proceeded to tell me how many hundreds of calls he’d initiated over the past few months and how discouraged he had become.  He acknowledged that if he didn’t start reaching out to people again, he would have no choice but to find another line of work, and insisted that changing careers wasn’t what he wanted.

We discussed how the best people for him to approach would be his “warm market”—the people he knew already—but how he was especially terrified about calling them.

“I’d much rather cold call,” he insisted, and although I view cold calling as a last resort for most professionals, I conceded that it might help him to at least start with some activity there.

“You’ve made plenty of cold calls before,” I remarked, “So what’s stopping you from just picking up the phone and making more?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, “I just feel like I can’t pick up that phone for anything.”

“Then maybe you’re approaching these calls the wrong way,” I suggested.  “Make it a game—your need for a client is making calling so stressful, it’s no wonder you can’t bring yourself to do it.”

“What if the goal here was not to get an appointment, but to collect NOs?” I continued.  “How many NOs could you collect in a day?  Make it a game, just for today.”

Since he wasn’t doing much of anything productive in his current funk, anyway, Barry agreed he could give up just one day to play our little “NO” Game.

Now, we had to give the game some structure.  We decided to make it a bit like baseball, so that Barry’s challenges were as follows:

1. Break up the day into innings.  Make 20 calls, then take a break and reward yourself: a walk around the block, some peanuts and crackerjacks; a cup of coffee or a lunch break.  Then make 20 more calls, and continue the call-reward pattern throughout the day.

2. Keep score.

~Every “dial” (do we still call them dials?) would be a swing.

~Every “connect” (an actual conversation—however short) ending in a “NO” or a “not right now” would be a hit.  (Hits are what we’re looking for.)

~Every “Yes”—an appointment to see a prospective client—would be a Home Run.  (Great if you can get them, but we’re only really after hits.)

At the end of the day, Barry had made 109 dials, had connected with 27 people, and had booked three appointments.  In baseball jargon, he was batting .248 and already had made 3 home runs for the season.

Much more importantly, Barry was ready to play the game again the next day.

Author B.J. Gallagher coined the phrase “Yes lives in the Land of No”.  But until Barry was willing to play the “No” Game, he was stuck in No-Man’s Land.

If you’re stuck wishing for Yeses but scared to face the Nos, isn’t it time you reached out and had a conversation with me?  Your success is in your hands.  Batter up…and keep REACHING…

It’s Just the GREAT POTOO!

My friend and fellow coach, Jason Westlake, took six executives deep into the Amazon last month for an unforgettable coaching/jungle experience.  He spent several weeks before the group arrived working with scientists in a remote area that has been barely touched by civilization.

Here’s how he described his first night there:

I slept by myself in a small tent about 200 feet into the jungle along a trail.  There was nothing but thick brush around me, and I couldn’t see to the nearest tent.

I couldn’t get to sleep, and at around 3 am, I heard a horrible ugly growl that lasted at least six seconds.  And the sound was close.  I went through every animal I knew in my head to try and identify the sound, but the only thing I could think of was a big cat, like a jaguar.  The growl made my spine tingle.

I prayed that it would go away.  But I heard it again 10 minutes later, and then a third time, and then a fourth, over the space of only 30 minutes.  By the fourth growl, I was ready to fight the jaguar.  I was ready to face my death.

In the morning, I got up and told all the scientists my story about the growl.  They replied, “Oh, that wasn’t a jaguar. That was just a Great Potoo.”  ”What’s a Great Potoo?” I asked.  They replied, “It’s a night bird with a wide mouth and a horrible growl that sounds like a large mammal.”

I have often faced a situation where I was to give a presentation to an audience I imagined as a room filled with killer jungle cats; or where I needed to call someone who was ready skin me alive.  As I came closer to the moment that I would have to make that presentation, or that phone call, I envisioned embarrassment, stumbling, and stuttering—circumstances I viewed as being far worse than death.  When the moment finally came, though, I found I had only been up against the Great Potoo!

Those growls we hear in the night are rarely vicious jaguars.  Contact me, and I’ll help you to see that the ones you hear come from Great Potoos, as well.  Or, let Jason take you on your next brush with reality.

Whatever your adventure, keep REACHING

Don’t PLEASE People; SERVE People

In his recent Harvard Business Review article, “The End of Solutions Sales,” Matt Dixon reported the results of a study of 20,000 salespeople around the world.  The study grouped salespeople into five distinct profiles:

1. Challengers: These are salespeople with a provocative point of view that they’re not afraid to share with a customer.  They push the client beyond his or her comfort zone to make sure they are getting what they need.

2. Relationship Builders: These salespeople are out to take care of whatever a client needs.  Their goal is to make the client happy, and to avoid creating stress at almost any cost.

3. Reactive Problem Solvers: These salespeople are more focused on post-deal execution than they are on getting the next deal signed.  As a result, clients love them.

4. Lone Wolves: These are the prima donnas of sales.  If it weren’t for the fact that they meet and exceed their sales goals, they would have been fired long ago.

5. Hard Workers: These salespeople show up early and stay late.  To them, sales is a numbers game, and you need to work long and hard in order to build the numbers.

The researchers found that while all of these profile types are capable of being top performers, the profile with the most top performers was actually the first group, the Challengers.

Interestingly enough, the Relationship Builders came in last.  They constituted the smallest percentage of top performers in the study.  Those who did especially poorly were trying—but failing—to sell those same “disruptive” (uncomfortable) solutions toward which the Challengers pushed their clients successfully.

“But,” I hear someone saying, “YOU preach relationship building!”

So, here’s the distinction: Building relationships IS important.  But “Relationship Builders”, as Dixon identifies them, go beyond rapport.  Their drive to build the relationship includes a drive to PLEASE a client, even if doing so doesn’t SERVE the client.  When it’s time to recommend action, for instance, they say: “Whatever you want…”  They go so far out of their way to avoid confrontation and stress that they avoid telling the client what he or she ought to hear.  When truly serving someone means urging him or her to do something that will be uncomfortable, clients tend to prefer the attitude of a Challenger.

Based on the results of Dixon’s study, more people want to work with a professional who says, “Here’s what we need to do,” than with one who says “Which one of these options are you most comfortable with?”  Since people want to deal with an expert, think of the attitude you’d prefer your doctor to have in a time of crisis.  ’Bedside manner’ is important, but if she believes that surgery is your best option, you won’t want her to try and reduce your stress by telling you about all the other ways you can handle the problem.  You’ll want her to firmly help you make the most appropriate choice.

Build great relationships with clients, but serve them by being truthful about what the right solution is—even if hearing your recommendation might be stressful.  Being firm about the solutions you recommend will increase your business.  When it comes to your advice, don’t be a people-pleaser—it will come across as weak, and—the study shows—it will ultimately cost you clients.

Talk to me about helping you be a Challenger who also builds great relationships by contacting me today.  Better still, if you’re a financial or insurance professional, join my 100 Days to $100K program on October 20th.  Stop pleasing, start serving, and keep REACHING…

Which Pony Would YOU Buy?

The story below is from an article (by Jay Abraham) that my coach and colleague, Rich Litvin, shared with me just the other day.  I’m passing it on to you this week because it’s a great illustration of a concept every professional should understand.

___

A farmer wanted to buy a pony for his little daughter.  There were two for sale in his town.  Both ponies were equal in all aspects.

The first salesman told the farmer he wanted $500 for his pony, “Take it or leave it.”

The second salesman was selling his pony for $750.  But the second man told the farmer he wanted the farmer’s daughter to try out the pony for a month before the farmer had to make any purchasing decisions.  He offered to bring the pony out to the farmer’s home along with a month’s worth of hay to feed it.  He said he’d send out his own stableman once a week to show the little girl how to groom and care for the pony. He told the farmer the pony was kind and gentle, but to have his daughter ride it each day to make certain they got along together.

Finally, he said, that at the end of 30 days, he’d drive over to the farmer’s place and either take back the pony and clean up the stall, or he’d ask, right then, to be paid the $750.

Which pony do you suppose the farmer decided to purchase for his daughter?

___

Unless your service seems to a prospective client to be no better than that provided by a lower-priced competitor, he or she will NEVER make the decision to hire one of you on price alone.  Show up powerfully when you pitch, and you’ll be worth the higher price.  Pony or no, your service is part of the package you’re selling.

If you’d like some help packaging your products, contact me.  Broach the upper limits of what you can offer, and no matter what your price, your clients and customers will keep REACHING…

CONNECT…BUILD RAPPORT…OFFER YOUR HELP

“I don’t want to cold call,” Robert, a financial advisor in Michigan who I’ve been working with, began.  “But I don’t know how to fill my time.”

We were discussing Robert’s second career, which he has told me that he loves, but for which he just hasn’t been finding enough clients.

“Let’s start with the people you already know,” I advised.

“Well, I know a lot of people who could use my help, but I haven’t spoken to some of them in years,” Robert exclaimed.  “And a lot of the ones I’m closer to are avoiding me now because I think I came across as too high pressure when I started, and it really turned them off.”

“That’s two different groups,” I told him.  “The second one is going to take some time to rework, so let’s look first at the ones you haven’t yet spoken with.”

“Well, they taught us to just call them up and offer to sit down with them,” Robert offered. “But I’m not comfortable with that.  How would I be able to convince them that I care about them if I called them up out of the blue after five years to ask for an appointment?” he asked.

An easy way to ask someone you haven’t had contact with in a long time if she might be interested in working with you is just to tell her that you wanted to reach out to everyone you knew and that you included her:

Rather than making a dozen calls to total strangers like a lot of advisors do, I decided I’d prefer to call people I actually have some connection with who might be ready—or are already working on—investing for their futures, and who might want some professional help.  You were one of the people I thought of.  Would you be open to discussing your situation with me for a couple of minutes?

But this approach was way too “salesy” for Robert, so we discussed the approach I actually prefer.  It’s much slower, but I feel that it’s also much more effective:

CONNECT>>>>BUILD RAPPORT>>>>OFFER YOUR HELP

CONNECT.  Think about where your relationship is with someone.  Could you call him?  Could you email her?  Could you Friend him or her on Facebook or add them on LinkedIn?  Then, start to move the relationship forward to the point where you can meet with them—for coffee or to see their businesses, or whatever.

BUILD RAPPORT.  Once you’ve connected and have started to engage, you will come to know your old contact better, and he or she will come to know you again.  Inevitably, the discussion will turn to what you do for a living.

OFFER YOUR HELP.  Once what you do is out in the open, there are many simple ways to suggest that you’d like to offer your professional help.  Here’s one of the simplest:

So that’s the work I’m doing, and I really enjoy it.  Have you ever worked with anyone who does what I do?…

Whatever service you provide, if you want help offering yours, contact me now.  If you’re a financial advisor or insurance professional, take a look at my 100-day Client Magnet Workshop Intensive, starting with an all-day workshop in the New York City area on Saturday, October 20th.

Whatever you do, keep REACHING…

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