Over a decade of Sandy’s weekly written articles on strategies and motivation for your business and your life.
There is a Maasai tribal village in the African Savanna that has the incredible ability to bring on rain every time it does its rain dance.
Each year, as the Dry Season drones on, the landscape turns from lush greens and golds to a shriveled, blighted grey-brown. The rivers shrink until nothing is left but their bone-dry cracked beds and the lakes turn into little more than mud puddles. At some point, as the water supply is becoming dangerously low, the people of the village gather to do a rain and fertility ceremony—in large part, to hasten the oncoming of the Rainy Season.
The dance these villagers perform is virtually indistinguishable from the dance performed in the surrounding Maasai villages. They use the same rhythms, the same chants, and even the same movements.
But the results of the ceremony in this village are remarkably different. While the rain dances the other villages perform may appear to bring on rain every two or three times they are done, in this particular village, the dance manages to bring on rain one hundred percent of the time—on every occasion that it is performed!
Anthropologists, meteorologists, and other scientists took note of this seeming phenomenon—which links the desires and actions of a people to a physical change in their environment—some time ago. Researchers came to the village in teams to study what was occurring.
The only thing the experts found, however, that might account for the difference between these villagers’ ability to generate rainfall and the more random results obtained by those in the surrounding villages, was that while in the other villages they do their dances for three days straight, or five days, or even nine days, in this village, they dance…‘til it rains.
You could argue that there’s nothing *special* about dancing ‘til it rains when you know that at some point it will rain. But conversely, if you know for sure that at some point you will have the success you seek, maybe there’s no great *sacrifice* in keeping at it until you get it.
If you don’t believe that at some point, if you work hard, you will have the success you want, you’re also almost 100% certain to be right about that. Anything you actually want in your career or your life that you don’t already have requires three commitments from you:
(1) A burning desire to have it. This means more than just wanting it; it means wanting it at a level of commitment that you’ll do just about anything to get it.
(2) An unwavering belief that you will have it at some point, even when other people tell you it is impossible. Think of all the dreamers who were told that it would be impossible to create what they wanted:
For Christopher Columbus, it was the belief that he could sail due West to reach the Far East.
For The Wright Brothers, it was the belief that they could create a sky filled with heavier-than-air flying machines.
For Nelson Mandela, it was the belief that there would someday be a multi-racial, democratic South Africa.
(3) A willingness to “dance…‘til it rains”. Mandela “danced” in prison for 27 years before his seasons changed, but when they did, they brought growth to his whole land.
If you’re not happy with your career or some other aspect of your life, ask yourself which of these three commitments is missing from your daily ritual. If you have the burning desire, and the belief that what you want will happen, all you have to do is dance, and dance, and dance, and keep REACHING…
‘Til It Rains,
In my book, The High Diving Board, I discuss Seven Paralyzing Fears, including the Fear of Rejection.
Fear of rejection—of having someone say “no”—stops people from asking for help, support, money, a date, a job, a referral, or a sale. Victims suffer what I call “Fear Factor” symptoms, including these:
They become tongue-tied…Their paralysis makes it impossible for them to pick up the phone…They’ll actually avoid the person they want to ask for help, going as far as walking across the room, or leaving it altogether…They break out in a sweat at the mere thought of asking for what they want.
But while the Fear of Rejection is very real, it is extremely rare that asking for something actually results in rejection. If you ask someone to refer you to a business acquaintance, and he or she says “no”, you could tell yourself that you have been rejected…but in reality, nothing has changed.
Did you have a connection to the person you wanted to contact before you asked? No!
Did you have a connection to that person after you asked? No!
Did your business—or life—get worse? No. It stayed the same!
Next time you’re paralyzed by the Fear of Rejection, ask yourself this question:
“If the person I ask says ‘no’, am I really in any different position than I was in before?”
If the answer you give yourself is “No, my position would be unchanged,” remember to ask for what you want.
In the meantime, keep REACHING…
*Image courtesy of Buzzle.com.
A Guest Blog by Andrew Chymych
My friend and colleague, Andy Chymych, provided me with his article about slogans that I wanted to pass on to you this week. Take Andy’s challenge below and create your own slogan. Then, live by it. If you want, I’ll help you craft one worth living by, so that to your fullest, you can keep REACHING…
In 1981, I had the distinct pleasure of graduating high school and entering military service. At that time, each of the five branches of the US Armed Forces had a recruiting slogan to market their particular branch and mission, and to motivate young people to join and serve their country in the branch of their choice.
The Marines’ slogan was “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” They were offering us an opportunity to feel pride—in the lives we lived, in our accomplishments, and in the contributions we made. They were telling us to have more courage than the average person and to always be faithful to a cause.
Then there was the Coast Guard slogan: “Always Ready.” This was about hard work—the hard work of being prepared and developing and having the right mindset. What you’re thinking right now is what you’re creating right now, and you have the power to create your own outcome.
The Army’s slogan was “Be All You Can Be.” Have you ever said to yourself, “There’s got to be more to life than this”? The Army’s message was not to sell yourself short; to discover the true you and your call to greatness; to experience living at your full potential. Do something amazing! Be more than average! Don’t settle for anything less than what you were created for. Do the best you can. In the Army, greatness was not a choice; it was a destiny.
The Navy had an interesting one, too: “It’s Not Just a Job, It’s An Adventure.” In other words, your commitments don’t have to be a struggle; they can be liberating. You should be doing what you love. I read something that said if you look at opportunity like a job, you’ll be paid like an employee. If you look at opportunity like a business, you’ll be paid like a business owner. If you look at opportunity like a sport or a game, you can be paid like a professional athlete. Make your life so adventurous people will buy tickets to come see it.
Last, and not at all least, was the Air Force, where I proudly served from 1981-1992. Our slogan was “Aim High!” Don’t aim somewhere in the middle, and don’t aim low. Most people fail because they aim too low, and many don’t aim at all. Why not reach for your dream? Set your goals high. Someone once shared with me that I should shoot for the moon because even if I miss, I’ll land among the stars…and that’s not bad at all.
I believe that if you can dream it, you can do it. I challenge you to create your own slogan and then live by it. Believe in yourself and in your abilities. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Why not make it a great one?
Andrew Chymych is the founder of World Class Thinkers, LLC. A resident of Arizona, Andy incorporates his love for motivational speaking into his work as an insurance agent.
Once again, I was inspired by a recent article written by my friend and colleague, Steve Chandler, leader of the Wealth Warrior Movement.
Steve was responding to a question from a business/life coach who was afraid to reach out to someone he perceived as a “powerful person”—beyond his ability to benefit, or to attain as a client.
The advice Steve gave is the same I give my professional clients who are afraid to go after the “whales” in their target markets, telling themselves they have nothing to offer such wealthy, influential people and making the excuse that the biggest fish are probably “all set”. Here is my adaptation of Steve’s response, as it might pertain to financial and insurance professionals:
YOU are powerful, my friend. People would NOT be paying you fees and entrusting their financial futures to you were you not already powerful for them. YOUR power is not in question.
I would question whether THEY are as powerful as you think. How do you assign them power? According to past income? Years of experience or notoriety? I don’t see power in them at all. Not compared to you. Can they call forth checks when someone is disabled or dies? Can they match your ability to understand and keep eyes on financial markets? Can they think on their own of legal ways to minimize their taxes? Not even if their lives depended on it. Who’s more powerful than YOU here?
So “powerful people”, “whales,” or “elephants” are stories made up by you that get placed between you and these people—and so you have a hard time contacting the little girl or boy inside one of their bellies, needing help with his or her finances, and terrified of making a mistake. Why? Because you’ve thrust a “Story of Power” in between the two of you.
There’s a cardboard cutout of your prospect that you place between you and him, and by doing that, it’s hard to connect with the real person who may very much want your advice.
NO ONE is powerful (in the intimidating way you think that they are).
So focus on the work you do best and the SERVICE you can give anyone. Remember your value, and stay with that. And don’t get lost in the personalities at play. Or in a comparison of who, between the two of you, is more successful, has more prestige…or any of the nonsense we superstitiously assign to each other.
Just keep being a person—a powerful person—helping another.
And, of course, keep REACHING…
My thanks to David Ward, a colleague who helps lawyers grow their practices, for this week’s hypothetical, which applies to all professionals:
Imagine that a law were passed today, to take effect in three months, prohibiting you from purchasing and using lists, outlawing advertising or promoting yourself on social media, banning seminar-hosting or writing about what you do—a law mandating that all of your business would have to come through existing clients.
Imagine further that under this law, you could serve your existing clients all you wanted, and if they referred you to a friend or family member, you would be permitted to take on that prospect as a new client—but that would be the only way you were allowed to bring in business.
What would you do during the next three months, until the law took effect? What would you do after it took effect? Would you continue to have success, or would your business fail?
First, I would imagine, you’d want to do everything you could to grow your existing client base through whatever means were available during the next three months. What steps would you take that you hadn’t been taking already to quickly expand your client base?
At the same time, you’d want to strengthen your relationships with your best clients. If there were ways in which you hadn’t yet served them, you’d want to start enacting those types of services immediately—even if the extra work would not generate any immediate income.
You’d want to let them know how important they are to you, by astonishing them with just how thoughtful and giving you could be. After all, once our imaginary law were to take effect, they’d be all you’d have to work with.
Could you survive and keep growing your practice solely on additional and repeat business from your current clients, and their referrals?
Of course you could!
Even if you only had 15 clients right now, you could make your practice work—unless all 15 were hermits, with no interest in helping anyone they’d ever known.
When you had finished serving each of your best clients in every way you could, you could safely ask them to introduce you to people who weren’t already getting the same kind of support and attention. One introduction from each of 15 people would give you 15 new, highly qualified leads. Five introductions from each during the course of the year would give you 75 highly qualified leads.
This is all very figurative, though. Or is it?
What would happen to your practice right now if, instead of focusing on cold calling people from targeted lists, or on doing seminars or increasing social media efforts, you made your primary effort to upgrade your relationships with your best clients and to parlay those relationships into great introductions?
Make your own new law today: throw away your chilly “lists”. Start stretching further the warm, rich resources that are right in front of you, and keep REACHING…
*Image courtesy of tweakyourbiz.com.
“What’s the main reason your calls and emails are not getting returned,” I asked a group of advisors recently.
Hands shot up throughout the room.
“Value,” one of the advisors responded back. “They’re not getting enough value from the call or the email.” Heads nodded throughout the room in agreement.
But the answer was wrong.
People aren’t returning calls or responding to emails because they’re not “getting enough” CURIOSITY.
In the old days of manipulative sales, some trainers taught their people to leave a message that sounded like it got cut off:
“…My number is 555-1234. The reason that I’m calling is [indiscernible noise, then click].”
The idea, of course was to arouse enough curiosity to get the sales-victim to call back.
But this was just wrong on so many levels. I wrote an article a while back blasting a tactic that some financial representatives and their managers were applauding: an advisor leaving a message confirming an appointment for “later today” that she hadn’t actually made with the prospect. Her effort did get the prospect to call back—to ask that he never be called again. I DEFINITELY DO NOT CONDONE THESE METHODS OF CREATING CURIOSITY.
Unfortunately, for those of us attempting earnest service, there are three types of calls that aren’t being returned:
1) Cold calls
2) Calls to referrals, or people you know or have met but who aren’t yet clients
3) Calls to existing clients
Cold call messages are rarely returned, but they are 100% certain not to be returned if the message you leave is generic. Many advisors don’t leave a message at all—but you’re there already, so why not try? Leave a message that might peak his interest:
“Mr. Jones, I’m calling because I have some ideas to help people who are worried that they might not have enough money to retire. If this means something to you, please call me back at _____. I promise that I won’t waste your time.”
Calls to people you know, but who aren’t yet clients, need to genuinely spark the same Curiosity Factor:
“Joe! I’ve been thinking about the conversation we had at John and Mary’s party last week and I have a couple of ideas for you. Give me a call if you can…”
Finally, calls to a current client that aren’t being returned suggest a less-than-satisfactory relationship. Here, it’s not usually about curiosity any longer—it’s about improving that relationship, or firing the client. Still, sending a hand-written note hinting at some ideas to further improve his/her situation might create just enough renewed curiosity to generate a response.
If you don’t have the interest of those you want to work with, light a genuine spark, and keep REACHING…
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been busy producing material that you may find useful.
Two weeks ago, Postema Marketing Group sponsored a Webinar I presented called Making Client Referrals Easy. The entire program is now available on YouTube, just by CLICKING HERE.
This week, Sabrina-Marie Wilson released my interview on her acclaimed radio show “Abundant Success”, and it’s already getting lots of attention. It includes my personal story about leaving my “safe neighborhood” and overcoming my fears. You can listen to, or even download, the podcast on iTunes by CLICKING HERE.
In my coaching work this month, several of my clients have been talking about the stress of trying to balance their family lives with their work lives. In my articles, I write a great deal about FEAR, but I more rarely snag the opportunity to write about a related, but equally insidious monster: GUILT.
Years ago, I was helping a child psychologist who ran a busy private practice, made rounds at a local hospital daily, and made himself available to testify in all sorts of court cases. During one of our conversations, he mentioned that he himself had five kids.
“Five kids?” I gasped. It seemed to me that this must be a guilt-ridden man, whose excessive work with neglected children had to have fueled a certain degree of his own family’s neglect. “How can you possibly manage to give them the time you know they need with a schedule like yours?”
With true calm, the good doctor explained to me that the first appointments he put on his schedule each week were with his family—in blocks of two or three hours each. “I’d like to give them more,” he told me, “but I take comfort in the fact that I treat my appointments with them as being my most important.”
“I don’t allow interruptions—except for dire emergencies—of my family time, just like I don’t allow interruptions when I’m working with a patient. When I’m with them, I’m with them one hundred percent. I don’t feel guilty about not getting work done. When I’m working, I know they’re in my schedule, so I don’t feel guilty about not being with them.”
Like the doctor, most of my clients who struggle to balance family and work time are in practices for themselves. Unlike the doctor, most have somehow chosen to be their own worst possible bosses. These bosses could give them more time with their spouses and children…but they don’t.
In his book, The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber points out that most of us go into our businesses backwards. We don’t start by figuring out what kind of life we want—what Gerber calls our “Primary Aim“—so we are forced to accept whatever life our business or practice pushes us into.
You don’t have to work 70 hours a week to be a successful professional. Thirty-five hours—or even four—could get the same results, if you are focused. Fear and guilt can affect this focus. The fear often comes from being overwhelmed by the number of steps we see on the way to the success we picture—from forgetting to focus on just a few steps at a time. The guilt usually comes from not having clear boundaries set around our family and work time. Here are some ideas to keep things from getting muddled:
- Decide where you want your practice—and your personal affairs—to be in the next three years, and write each down in as much detail as you can.
- Just as the doctor did, create a Master Weekly Schedule that starts with your family time and time off. Leave open spaces for all of the things that might pop up during the week. Then, put blocks of time into the work portion for: a) the things you need to do on a regular basis, b) three important projects, and c) thinking and planning.
- Honor your family time as if it were a major professional commitment. Make “appointments” with your spouse and children. When you are on work time—barring emergencies—be on work time. But when you’re with family, be truly with them, so there is no guilt.
You can design your work and professional life around the personal life you want. If you want a sense of how balanced (or imbalanced) you may currently be, take a look at the “Wheel of Life” on my Free Resources page. Before you know it, you’ll be doing the things you need to do and feeling much better about where you are and how you’re spending your time.
If you’re already doing what you love and making separate time for those you love, keep that pesky guilt beast at bay, and just keep REACHING…
*Image courtesy of tech.co.
At the beginning of his classic self-help book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill tells the story of R. U. Darby and his uncle, who went out to Colorado from their homes in Maryland to strike it rich digging for gold.
After finding a carload of ore, their mine ran dry. They dug on for a few more weeks and then quit, selling their rights, their equipment, and their maps to a junk man.
The junk man consulted an engineer to take a look at the maps, and after digging another three feet, struck one of the richest veins of gold in Colorado history.
In their book, 100 Ways To Motivate Others, Steve Chandler and Scott Richardson call what Darby and his uncle did throwing the “Quit Switch”. The gold-diggers threw the switch just three feet away from incredible wealth.
Every day, I speak with professionals who have either thrown the Quit Switch or have one in hand.
“Asking for referrals never worked for me.”
“I tried doing seminars a few times, but they never did anything.”
“I tried running my own practice, but it was just too hard.”
“You can’t make a living as a [financial advisor, insurance agent, small town attorney, realtor—you insert the category]…Well, I know some people do, but I can’t.”
It was difficult, or it wasn’t instantly successful…throw the Quit Switch!
It was going along, but too slowly…throw the Quit Switch!
NFL Coach George Allen said, “Most people succeed because they are determined to. People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit.”
If your career or practice isn’t where you want it to be, stop thinking that you know when to quit. You may be only three feet away from your vein of gold. Don’t throw the Quit Switch.
One of the points Napoleon Hill makes in his story about Darby is that the junk man was smart enough (or humble enough) to call in an engineer (an expert) to look at the mining maps. That option was always open to Darby and his uncle, but they either didn’t think of it or they ignored it, and they chose to stop digging instead.
The only real question is: Do you want to be successful in this career or not? If you do, get the help you need to succeed. Don’t wait until you feel it’s hopeless and you already believe you have no choice but to give it all up.
In other words, if you really want it, swallow your pride, and keep REACHING…
Many professionals complain about the long hours they work. For some, at least, all those hours are being compensated. These professionals are moving and shaking because they want to make as much money as possible—even at the cost of family time, recreation, and often, their own health. It’s difficult to be sympathetic about their complaints, since their situation is a choice.
But many professionals are plagued with long days and long workweeks for which they are not being adequately financially compensated. Some of these people are simply not charging enough. They have priced their services at a low rate, believing this to be the only way they can compete in their market. They have not learned how to create value for clients so that they know they deserve—and then, can request and receive—better compensation.
Still others in this latter group may be confusing attendance at the office with productivity. They feel “busy” at work, but hours are spent each day performing tasks that aren’t actually making them money. Someone in this situation may spend an hour or two each workday involved in non-business conversations. Maybe there’s another half hour or so spent trying to resolve computer issues. Then, there are those lunch plans with someone he or she already sees every day…
Don’t confuse being present with being productive. You may spend an hour and a half at the gym or health club, but how much of that is talking sports, waiting for an exercise station instead of using a different machine in the meantime, and “resting between sets”? You could even count washing your socks—which is something you do have to do in connection with your workout—but none of this time really counts.
“The only time that counts is the time you spend with the weights,” says Corey, a financial services sales manager I work with. “You do have to wash your socks, but you can’t count that time.”
When you’re selling and providing services, the only time that counts is the time you spend face-to-face or on the phone with clients or prospects. If you’re not doing one of these things, you can’t claim you’re working a twelve-hour day. You may be at the office or on the road for that much time, but a lot of that time, you’re just washing socks.
Some experts call the time you’re actually performing income-generating activities “green time”. If you’ve been feeling that you are working long hours and not making enough money for the time you put in, try this for a week: Write down everything you do, all workday long, every day, for all five-to-seven workdays. Don’t change what you do, just record it. Then, go back and see how much time you’re actually spending “with the weights”—that is, how much of that time is actually green.
If your green time is six to eight hours daily, and you’re putting in ten-to-twelve hour days, too much of your time is being spent on socks. If this non-productive time is somehow work-related (follow-up phone calls and paperwork someone else could be doing for you), get some help. If it’s not work-related, either accept the fact that you’re at the office longer by choice, or choose to save non-work matters for after hours.
Another financial advisor I’ve worked with greets everyone in his office in the morning, and then spends the next 8 hours on green time. He makes it known that while he’s unavailable during the day to discuss pleasantries, at 6 PM, he’ll be happy to go for a beer with anyone who wants to spend time with him.
Stop the load of socks, and make room for green time instead. Once things are really shaking for you, keep REACHING…
A few years ago, I presented a teleseminar for advisors throughout the U.S. on referrals.
During the live Q and A, Paul, an advisor in the Midwest, expressed frustration with his efforts to grow his practice by asking for introductions.
“I ask my clients about people they know who could use my help,” he told us, “But it feels awkward, and then my clients get all awkward and put me off.”
“Who gets awkward first?” I asked him.
“Well, I guess I do,” was his response, “But it’s because I know that they’re going to be uncomfortable.”
“Did it occur to you that maybe they get uncomfortable because you’re awkward, and your discomfort actually triggers theirs?” I asked.
“I never considered that,” he admitted.
We then went through 3 Steps Paul could use to take the discomfort out of the act of asking for referrals:
1. Start your client meetings by giving your clients (verbally or in writing) an agenda, that includes as the final item a discussion about friends, associates, and family members you might be able to help. Don’t surprise a client with a sudden request at the end of an appointment to talk about this important subject. If a client is going to be uncomfortable with this agenda item, let him or her tell you right at the beginning, and spend a few minutes either then or at the end discussing why this item makes him/her uncomfortable.
…The last thing I’d like to talk about this morning is some of the people in your life who you would want to have my help. I’d much rather be working with someone you want me to work with than someone whose name I took off a list somewhere. We’ll talk about some of the people you have in mind, and, if we decide it makes sense, we’ll figure out the most comfortable way for us to get in contact…
2. Always ask about the value you’ve given them—either on that particular appointment, or in your professional relationship over time. Ask him what he got out of your meeting, what he learned, and what he will get or has gotten out of his relationship with you. Ask him to tell you something specific that he found particularly helpful. Then utter the magic question: “What else?” Keep getting feedback until he can’t think of anything else, and then direct him to the ideas that you wanted him to find helpful, and ask if he did.
Did you find our discussion this morning helpful?…Was there one specific idea that you found particularly useful?…What else?…What else?…How about when I explained…
3. Now, you can ask them about people they know who could be helped in the same way. Remind her that this was one of your agenda items and ask who came to mind.
Mary, I’m glad you found the work we did here today so helpful. The last thing I promised you we’d do this morning is discuss some of the people you care about who might want the same kind of help, and decide whether it would make sense to arrange an introduction—and how we would go about that. Who is the first person who came to mind?
Speak with confidence, I told the group. If you don’t feel confident, act as if you do. Paul admitted that part of his problem was that he had not practiced being firm, clear, and self-assured when he brought up the subject of referrals…and practice is essential.
If you want to attract more clients, put talking about the people in your clients’ lives on your appointment agenda and get it out into the open, right up front. Act assuredly, and keep REACHING…