REACHING…

Over a decade of Sandy’s weekly written articles on strategies and motivation for your business and your life.

VIOLA DAVIS on “Imposter Syndrome”

Do you suffer from it, too?

Shortly after winning her Oscar this past Sunday, actress Viola Davis (who has also won Emmy and Tony awards) told ABC News that she sometimes feels like she has “Impostor Syndrome”.

“It feels like my hard work has paid off, but at the same time, I still have the Impostor, you know, Syndrome,” Davis said. “I still feel like I’m going to wake up and everybody’s going to see me for the hack I am.”

Several years ago, during a teleconference where motivational author Josh Hinds had interviewed me about my work around fear and limiting beliefs, listeners got to hear one attendee, Matt (not his real name), tell us that he was about to receive an acceptance of his offer to work with a big, new client.

“How do I deal with the feeling that I may have oversold them,” he asked, “—that I’m not really capable of delivering what I promised?”

“My wife calls what I’m going through ‘imposter syndrome’,” Matt continued, “but whatever you call it, it is really making me feel like a fraud, and as though that at some point, they’re going to figure it out.”

Imposter Syndrome describes that collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in the face of information that indicates that the opposite is true.  It is the feeling that you are not really competent; that you are only posing as someone who is competent.  It often hits professionals at the worst time—when they are negotiating an exceptionally large contract.

Josh and I both came to Matt’s aid.  I pointed out that Matt should tell himself that it is okay to have this fear.

“Instead of trying to fight it,” I recommended, “acknowledge that it’s there—that it’s okay to be afraid—and take steps to do what you need to do to get rid of it. Be the expert you told them that you are.

I explained to Matt that the first step anyone takes in order to become an expert at something is to declare that he or she is an expert.  Then, he or she needs to “walk the talk”.

“Get whatever training, materials, and books you need to make what you told them true,” I advised him.

Josh and I both also pointed out that Matt needs to trust his clients’ gut opinion of him.  “Believe that they have thoroughly considered your credentials and background,” we coached.  “If they have more faith in you than you do,” we told him, “Then you need to borrow theirs.”

Like Viola Davis, many of us have a gap between what our abilities are and what we perceive that they are.  While it sometimes works the other way, usually our abilities are greater than our perception of them.  If you’re feeling the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome, more often than not, your inner critic is undervaluing you.

If the feedback you’re getting is overwhelmingly positive, trust in your clients’ perception of you!  If you’re still afraid, acknowledge the fear, and contact me for help getting over it.  Move into your best self in spite of the syndrome, and keep REACHING…

Clean Out Your Attic…Forgive Someone

Last year, I did not take my own advice, and I lost my temper with a vendor. I suggested that a price was too high and the vendor, Erica, went ballistic in her email response, saying, essentially, “How dare you question my price after working with me in the past?”

My response was less than kind, and it ended our relationship abruptly.


I know, I know. I would counsel my clients not to lose it, but I did. That ended our relationship…Until December. Two weeks before Christmas, Erica called me and apologized for her part in our little mishap. I accepted her apology and gave her my own.

That incident made my holiday a better one.

Erica’s call somehow reminded me of cleaning out an attic. It’s unpleasant, dusty work, but when it’s done, you feel as if you have more room to grow–more space to grow into.

Clean out your attic now. Start this New Year by forgiving some of the people who wronged you last year–not to make you a better person (although it might do that); not to bring you closer to heaven (although it might do that); not for the person who wronged you–but to get rid of the “stuff” you don’t need that may be keeping you from growing.

To be truly focused on what we want to accomplish, we need to let go of the junk in our attics–carrying around anger and hurt undoubtedly clutters our minds, working against us.

So, follow Erica’s example, not mine. Call someone to apologize for your part in a misunderstanding. Call someone who knows you’re angry or upset about something they did or said. Call someone who doesn’t even know why you stopped calling him or her, and tell them it’s okay.

Then, get back to pursuing your dreams.

In the meantime, keep REACHING…

Resolutions DON’T WORK. Create a BUSINESS PLAN This Year!

In college, my roommate Jack announced his big New Year’s Resolution—to finally stop smoking.  He was a long distance runner and was seeing the toll his habit was taking on his performance.

By mid-January, however, it was clear that his resolution was was not to stop smoking cigarettes, it was to stop buying them.  Every time he felt the urge to smoke, he asked to “borrow” a cigarette from one of my other roommates.  By February, his resolution was forgotten.

Resolutions don’t work.  Think about the thousands of people who sign up every year with a local health club, resolving to go a minimum of three times a week for the year to finally get in shape.  The owners and managers of those clubs love this time of year because they know that by February, most of those people will have stopped coming on a regular basis, but they’ll have to continue to pay on their contracts until year’s end.

As you’re reading this, financial and insurance professionals everywhere are making 2017 New Year’s Resolutions to make more calls, or to make and keep more appointments—to make more sales.  But by the end of January, those resolutions will most likely have been forgotten as well, and these professionals will be back to the habits of 2016.

This year, create a real, detailed, working Business Plan.
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The difference is in the details.  Resolutions fail because they are the expression of a wish—something you want to try to accomplish. They don’t include details, planning, an analysis of where you are and what needs to change, smaller process goals and periodic milestones.  These are things that go into a Business Plan.

If you want to move from the incremental growth of 2016 (if you had any growth) to exponential growth in 2017, a resolution won’t cut it—but a written, detailed, working Business Plan will give you a fighting chance.  I’m not talking here about the kind of business plan that someone prepares for investors, I’m talking about something that will make 2017 your best year ever.

Here’s what you need to do to create a Business Plan:

1. Determine what your Mission for the year will be.  What’s your ultimate goal?  How many new applications do you want to open?  How much more do you want to add to assets under management?  How much more money do you want to earn?  How many people do you want to help so that they can retire comfortably when they’re ready?  What’s your “burning desire”—as Napoleon Hill called it—for 2017.

2. Identify your Sales and Personal Goals.  What are the smaller goals that fit into that Mission?  Do you need to get healthier to improve your available energy to meet the Mission?  What Sales Goals will be key performance indicators?

3. Analyze what’s working for you, what isn’t.  In the business world, this is called the SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  What are you good at that you can leverage, and what opportunities are out there that you can take advantage of?  What will hold you back—internally, and in the world around you?  You’ll need to address all of these.

4. Choose the client you will build your Plan around.  Your ideal, target client should be clearly defined before designing your Plan around this prototype.

5. List and schedule the activities that will get you there.  Starting with the end in mind, figure out what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly, to accomplish your Mission by the end of the year.

6. Set Milestones.  Where should you be at the end of every month?  Know where you are now and adjust what you need to adjust to get where you’re trying to go at each checkpoint.

7. Have someone other than you hold you accountable to stick to the Plan.  Most advisors—most people—aren’t sufficiently disciplined to hold themselves accountable.  Give someone a copy of your Plan and report your progress to him or her, both when you’re on track, and when you’re not.

For a limited time, I’m offering a zero-cost webinar training: CREATE THE ULTIMATE 2017 BUSINESS PLAN.  When you register, you can download the Business Plan template that we’ll be talking about.  If you want 2017 to be exponentially better than 2016, join me.

And always, keep REACHING…

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Don’t PURSUE Clients, ATTRACT Them

Do you pursue clients, or do you attract them?

While both methods of finding new business work to some degree, finding the right prospects through attraction is a lot more fun and–for professionals and entrepreneurs who provide individualized service to their clients–it’s usually more effective than finding them by pursuit.

Attraction methods involve drawing prospective clients to you: People who relate to you, people who have an interest in what you have to offer, people who share your values and beliefs, and people who believe…in you. If you do it right, the people you attract are your ideal prospects. It’s a natural, comfortable, professional, and self-perpetuating process.

Pursuing clients, on the other hand, means spending a great deal of time and money on efforts such as social media advertising, e-blasts, or casting a huge, expensive fishing net of direct mailings to catch the next great client. One of the problems associated with this method is that people are so inundated with marketing messages that repeated mailings and advertising are necessary before someone will actually respond. This means more and more expense.

When the growth of your business relies on pursuing prospects, rather than on attracting them, the effort to find new prospects through these same methods is continual. If you stop the pursuit, the flow of prospects stops, too.

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Attraction, on the other hand, has just two self-sustaining components:

~Being “attractive,” and
~Giving your target clients an opportunity to connect with you.

Being attractive. By being attractive, I don’t mean having an attractive appearance, although you do need to have a professional appearance. An easy way to understand this is to ask what kind of people you are attracted to–in the business sense. Who do you enjoy being around and working with? What character/personality traits do they have? What is it about them that attracts you?

Some traits are universally attractive: personal integrity, having a life purpose, and passion, for instance. People want to be around a person who is clear about who he or she is and what matters to him or her. Such a person is often viewed as a leader.

If you want to be attractive in business, become clear about what matters to you, and then work to develop a clean and concise way to let others know what that is.

Giving your target clients an opportunity to connect with you. There are a number of ways to give others an opportunity to be with you. Most of these involve getting out of your office and interacting with them. That means going where your prospective clients can be found, talking to them, and letting them know what you are all about—not just as a professional or business owner, but as a person.

Attraction methods include serving your clients on a level that makes them want to tell others about you, and learning to ask them to connect you with more people like them. It also includes speaking and writing about what you do.

By sharing about yourself, you allow others to understand who you are. Once people see who you are, you will attract the ones who relate best to you.

In the meantime, keep REACHING…
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Boo! Serve, Surprise, and Delight

Growing a practice or a business is way easier than most professionals and service entrepreneurs make it out to be.

Their problem is that they’ve been taught that they need to be frantically and furiously networking, buying and then contacting members off of “hot lists”, writing press releases and making public appearances, and bombarding social media outlets to get their brands “out there”.

All of these practices may have some value, but the most powerful and too often overlooked way to grow a professional practice or service business is to focus first on the clients you already have.  You do this by serving them with all of your ability and in every way you can, and by surprising and delighting them along the way.

If you make your interactions with your past and existing clients as powerful as they can be, they will want to tell stories of their interactions with you to other people.  Fiercely loyal working relationships begin with providing unparalleled service.

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Great service starts with making “good lemonade”.  In his now-out-of-print 1998 children’s book, Good Lemonade, author Frank Asch tells the story of a boy who starts out with a busy lemonade stand because he offers a better price (with lots of discounts) than his competitor, the boy up the street.

The boy up the street is charging more for the lemonade at his stand.  As the summer days roll on, however, the higher-priced competitor is becoming busier and busier, and fewer people are coming to the less expensive stand.

In the end, our little boy visits his competitor’s stand and learns that the lemonade there is simply much better than his.

How’s your lemonade?  Are you giving your current and past clients enough personal contact?  Are you serving them in every way you can?  Are you doing your best job for them?  These are the minimum standards for great service.

SURPRISE AND DELIGHT

Clients tell stories about you when you do special things to show you care, such as:

~Calling them on their birthdays
~Knowing when their anniversaries are and surprising them with timely gifts
~Sending them articles or books that you know they’ll find interesting or helpful
~Bringing their kids face-painting kits on Halloween or pies on Thanksgiving
~Remembering their favorite flavors of ice cream
~Bringing chew toys for their pets
~Stopping by or calling for no reason at all—just to see how they’re doing.

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In my past life as a lawyer, I would arrive at a real estate closing with a bottle of champagne for my clients and present it to them when all the papers were signed and the money had finally changed hands.  Not only did I delight my clients—who came back to me again for other reasons and who referred their friends and associates to me—but sometimes I also delighted the people on the other side of the transaction, who would hire me the next time around.  Was it just so they could get a bottle of champagne at their closing, or had they seen how well I worked with my clients all along?

I remember one realtor saying, I should have thought of that!”  (And she should have.)

If going out of your way like this seems too much to fathom, remember that there’s a huge difference between doing things so that your clients will think you’re “a nice person”, and doing things to acknowledge and value your clients as human beings—to thank them for their continued relationship with you.

Make an effort not only to serve, but to surprise and delight your best clients, and they will tell stories about you to their friends and associates.  Those listeners may just want to have good stories to tell about their service provider, as well—and they’ll know where to find one the next time around.

Learn to send chills with your spookily-good service, and keep REACHING…

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Register for My Webinar Today!

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Take advantage of my 17 years of experience working with financial and insurance advisors at all levels by attending my webinar: How to Triple Your Qualified Leads in 30 Days

If you want more clients with less stress and without spending a lot of money, you’ll want to tune in NOW!

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And don’t forget to join us for our PowerMinutes Coffee Break!

TODAY, November 1st
And every Tuesday at 10 AM Eastern.

Get answers to your questions about prospecting, sales, marketing, time management, practice management and more.

Just grab your brew and come to http://sandyschussel.com/conference

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Want more info?  Email issues?  Please, contact me here!

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Focus on Where You Want to Go–Not the Wall!

If you’re racing toward a curve and you focus on the wall you don’t want to hit–you’ll probably hit it.

Race car drivers like Scott Dixon and Jimmie Johnson know that whether it’s a wall or a wreck in front of you, your focus needs to be on where you want to go, not the obstacle.

This idea has been on my mind lately as the news focuses on America’s political circus. One thing people tend to forget about politics is that you can’t have a show without an audience. The discord becomes a spectacle because people are focused on the drama, rather than on facts and forward movement.

Informed citizens, on the other hand, take the view that they play a part in how the country will shape up, and they know that if they pay attention and contribute wisely, they’ll have a positive impact. They’re looking at where they want to go–not at the “wrecked” political system.

My purpose here, however, is not to give you political advice. It’s to show you that while external events beyond our control–like political crisis or accidents on the racetrack–do throw roadblocks in our way, the people who continue to have successes are the ones who focus on where they want to go and how they can get there, not on the mess right in front of them.

I hear struggling professionals focused on their walls every day:

“Voting this year will be a lose-lose.”

“Recruiting for new salespeople is impossible.”

“No one is buying [my kind of service] right now.”

When you focus on where you want to go instead of the wall, what you say sounds more like this:

“I’m doing all I can to decipher the facts and vote wisely.”

“I’m speaking to more and more people and strengthening my recruiting skills.”

“I’m finding ways to add value so that people buy [my kind of service].”

Don’t hit the wall or become part of whatever wreck is on the road in front of you. Focus on where you want to go, and you’ll have a lot better chance of getting there.

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So keep your steering sharp, and keep REACHING…

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Register for My Webinar Today!

3-leads

Take advantage of my 17 years of experience working with financial and insurance advisors at all levels by attending my webinar: How to Triple Your Qualified Leads in 30 Days

If you want more clients with less stress and without spending a lot of money, you’ll want to tune in NOW!

_____________________________________________________________________

And don’t forget to join us for our PowerMinutes Coffee Break!

TODAY, October 4th
And every Tuesday at 10 AM Eastern.

Get answers to your questions about prospecting, sales, marketing, time management, practice management and more.

Just grab your brew and come to http://sandyschussel.com/conference

_____________________________________________________________________

sandy09

Want more info?  Email issues?  Please, contact me here!

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Give ‘Em a Pickle!

In 1973, at the age of 46, Bob Farrell sold his 55-store ice cream business, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors, and became a motivational speaker. Some time before that date, he had received a letter from a customer who was very disappointed.  She had asked for an extra pickle with her meal at one of his stores, and had been charged for it.

Farrell promptly sent the woman an apology and began teaching his staff to “Give ‘em the pickle!” Bob died last year at the age of 87–but to the very last, the former ice cream king was talking about this principle.

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Farrell defined “pickles” as those extra-special things you can do to make customers happy. In one business, it may be walking a customer over to an item she’s looking for rather than just pointing. In another, it may be a handwritten “thank you” note in every order shipped. The trick in any practice or service business is figuring out what the particular pickle is for your particular clients, and then to make sure they each get one as often as possible.

Farrell’s Pickle Principle contains four main concepts:

  • Service: Farrell said serving others must be your number one priority. You work in a noble profession–whatever profession it is–so be proud of what you do and where you work.
  • Attitude: Every day you get to choose your attitude. How you think about your clients is how you will treat them. “In a way, you’re in show business,” Farrell told his audience, “so play the part!”
  • Consistency: Clients return because they like what happened the last time. Set high service standards and live them every day. Tea on a silver platter twice–but not the third time–can rattle a client.
  • Teamwork: If you’re working with a team, commit to providing service through together. Look for ways to make each other look good while you’re serving your clients.

Always give your clients or customers a pickle, and keep REACHING…

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THE POWER OF “1”

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Back next Tuesday, June 21st—
PowerMinutes Coffee Break is up and running!

Every Tuesday morning at 10 AM Eastern
I’m hosting live, 15-minute *cups of coaching*…

Get answers to your questions about prospecting, sales, marketing, time management, practice management and more. Nothing is off limits!
No registration required!

Just grab your brew and come to https://zoom.us/j/7120346888

or join us by Phone: (646) 558-8656 or (408) 638-0968, Meeting ID: 712-034-6888
or by iPhone One-Tap: 16465588656,7120346888# or 14086380968,7120346888#
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Power of 1

One of my coaching colleagues, James G. Butler, shared a story a short time ago about how much fear can cost you:

At the Seattle airport, James was in the security checkpoint lineup, where the wait was likely to be over 2 hours long. James had showed up with plenty of time.

Another man, however, was booked on an international flight to Germany and had showed up with only 45 minutes to get to the gate.

After a failed attempt to sweet-talk the security guard in the first class line, that man found himself behind James on the regular people’s line. As James saw it, the man’s only option was to ask everyone in the normal line if he could to go in front of them.

But he wasn’t doing it.

Even though over $1000—the cost of having to rebook—was on the line, the man told James that he would not ask 300 people if he could advance ahead. It was clear that he was afraid to ask so many people for their help; afraid of putting himself in the vulnerable place of possible rejection, over and over and over. In that moment, he was paralyzed by his fear.

James suggested that he did not have to ask 300 people for anything. He just needed to ask one person at a time. He was letting the enormity of the entire journey cripple him from starting with just one step.

James asked him if he was willing to just ask one person at a time, and the man acknowledged that doing it that way sounded much easier. He asked the person in front of James if he could move ahead, so that he could make his plane. And then he asked the next person, and the next…

James watched the man as he made it to the front of the line in 10 minutes flat, now certain to make the flight.

The lesson here is simple: REMEMBER THE POWER OF “1”. When you’re overwhelmed, or fearful about the enormity of a goal or project, focus on one tiny part of it. Do one thing. And then do one more.

Instead of compiling a list of 50 people to reach out to, think of one person and reach out to him or her. Then another. Then another. Before you know it, you’ll have contacted 50 people.

Use The Power of “1” to change your view of the tasks that overwhelm you, and little by little, keep REACHING…

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Your Need Is the Ugliest Thing

“I most certainly did not need a lecture!” Marie, an internet consultant, wrote me this week.

Last week, I had asked for proposals for help with an internet project I’m working on, and Marie had been the first to respond.  Her email had specifically addressed my request and was filled with enthusiasm, and she appeared to have experience in both of the areas in which I needed help.  Each of the other consultants who responded only had skills in one area or the other.

When I spoke to Marie a few days ago, we got a little more into the details of the project, and I told her that I still wanted to talk with the three other experts who responded, but that I would get back to her after my conversations and after reviewing her detailed proposal.

Marie then called me on Monday to make sure I had received the proposal, and to find out if I had reviewed it.

Yesterday, just one week after our initial contact and two days after her follow-up call, she wrote:

I’ve yet to hear back from you, so I guess it’s safe to assume you’ve decided on hiring someone else.

Regardless of your intention, a note like this conveys a neediness and negativity that can make a prospective buyer of your services run for cover.  There were several good reasons why Marie didn’t hear back from me this week.  What basis did she have to assume I had gone elsewhere?  Was her intention to “guilt” me into reassuring her that I hadn’t made a decision yet, or to decide to use her?

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Upon receipt of Marie’s note, I could have: (a) decided that the negative, needy tone was a turnoff and simply made Marie’s message a self-fulfilling prophecy, or (b) ignored the negative and needy tone.  But because my work is helping professionals get more clients (something about me Marie needed to know), I chose option (c), to tell her how her letter might appear to a prospective client:

…It’s a giant and negative leap to assume that because a week has gone by, I’ve decided to work with someone else.  A better approach might be to ask if there’s any way you can help a client decide.

I haven’t made my decision yet–let’s talk again next week!

Marie’s response is above.  She also said,

Perhaps we would not be a good fit after all.

When you’re trying to attract clients, your need for their business is the ugliest thing you can show them.  Perhaps I shouldn’t give my advice where it hasn’t been requested–a good lesson for me!  But perhaps the reason “we’re not a good fit after all” is that I was right about my sense that Marie had shown me that her need to have another client was more important than my need as a prospective client.

By the way, had Marie understood why I was giving her advice on dealing with prospective clients, it would have shown me she completely understands the work I do, and she would have surely had the job.  She could have disagreed with my interpretation of her email, or on my tone, and we might have discussed it–but none of that can happen now.

Marie wanted more clients…but she didn’t want help.  If you do want to attract clients to your practice or service business, welcome help, be gentle, assume the best, and keep REACHING…

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Success Is a Choice

Almost everyone knows that to succeed at anything, you need:

  • A clear, specific goal
  • A step-by-step plan to reach that goal
  • Immediate and massive action on the steps of that plan
  • A willingness to persist until you reach the goal.

If you’ve read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich or are familiar with Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, you know that you need to put out into the universe your desire to make your goal a reality.  But you also know that you can’t just wish your way to what you want; you need to be taking action, too.

In the course of my coaching and training work, I’m asked a lot of questions about the basic principles above.  For instance:

If we’ve all heard these things before and we “know” them, why are so many of us no closer to where we want to be this year than we were last year?  Why are some of us actually further behind?  Is it because this stuff only works for a few people?  Are we not doing it right?  Is luck an essential element that some of us just don’t have?

For a long time, I believed that people didn’t get what they wanted–and professionals didn’t have the practices they wanted–either because
(1) they didn’t know what to do or how to do it, or
(2) they knew how, but were afraid to do it.

My friend and mentor, Steve Chandler, started our relationship by sharing an even more fundamental reason with me: they haven’t decided to pursue it.  Whether or not they know what to do or have fears about it, they simply haven’t chosen it.  They haven’t made the commitment to get past their fears or to learn what they need to learn.

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Of course, the hesitation to make that commitment might itself be caused by fear, but then, they haven’t made the commitment to take steps to overcome that fear.  So, while most people know how to be successful (however they define success), they are, in essence, choosing not to be it.

Which choice are you making?  I hope you commit to your own success, and keep REACHING…
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