mission

What Are You Seeing?

When you look at your practice (here you can also insert “business”, “career”, or “life”), what are you seeing?

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Is there a picture of how you want it to be?  A compelling vision that drives your work and interactions with people?  Are you on a mission to bring your message or your help to more people–seeking clients for your cause?  Is your mission to help your clients–or your loved ones–in more ways, even if this only means making more money so you have more time to give to friends and family?

In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill tells us that nothing happens in the absence of a “burning desire”, which would lead some people to say that to be successful, you must be passionate about the results you want to achieve.

But my coach and friend, Steve Chandler, warns people that “passion” is too overwhelming a concept.  If you make a commitment to grow, you can be passionate or not; it’s keeping the commitment that makes it happen.

On opening day of Disney World in Orlando, a reporter remarked to Roy Disney, “It’s too bad Walt didn’t live to see this.”

Roy is said to have replied, “Walt saw it first; that’s why you’re seeing it now.”

What’s your Disney World?  What are you seeing?  Will others get to see it, too?

Have you made the commitment to make it happen, or is it just something you’d like to see happen?  Take a few minutes this week to think about and write down what your Disney World looks like.  See it.  Then, if you really want it, commit to it.

Don’t forget that if you need your “vision” checked, you can hire a coach.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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Don’t Throw the “Quit Switch”

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.

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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.

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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…

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Even a DOG Can Do It…

My fellow coach Amir Karkouti shared a story with some of his colleagues recently that I want to share with you now:

Some time ago, a team of scientists took a dog and put him in a cage where the floor had a very mild electric current running through it—just enough to make the dog a little uneasy.

As soon as the dog was put in and felt the current, he bolted out of the cage through the open door.

They returned the dog to the cage and this time shut the door.  A week later, when they opened the door again, the dog had no interest in leaving.  He had become accustomed to the discomforting cage.

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While the dog stayed sitting there, with the electric current running through the floor, the scientists brought in another dog, and opened an adjacent cage with an electrified floor.  As had originally happened with the first dog, as soon as the second dog felt the current, he jumped right out.

Here’s the fascinating part: Seeing the second dog bolt, the first one suddenly realized that he, too, could leave the dissatisfying space he was in and, after a few seconds, again ran through the open door.

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Only after seeing the second dog escape did the first dog remember that he didn’t have to stay in that less-than-happy place.

Most professionals find themselves in a dissatisfying cage of their own: not earning enough money, being overwhelmed by work, being otherwise unhappy in their situation.  But, like the first dog in the study, after awhile they become “comfortable” with being uncomfortable, and they make no big moves to change the current.

In my book, The High Diving Board, I refer to what most people call the “comfort zone” as the “safe neighborhood”.  Staying where you are is not necessarily “comfortable”.  Sometimes it’s downright UNcomfortable.  But it is familiar.  And because the unknown—stepping up your game, hiring a coach, etc.—might be more uncomfortable, you stay where you are.

With humans, even seeing someone escape from his or her cage doesn’t always inspire us to leave our own.  That requires a decision—the decision to get out.  Once you’ve made the decision, knowing what to do becomes much easier.

If you’re in a cage of your own making, or feel that you’ve ended up in someone else’s, don’t wait until you’re in so much pain that there’s no choice but to leave, or be there forever.  Make the decision to do it now, and then find the help you need to run free.

Hey, even a DOG can do it.  So if you’ve been stuck, pick a new direction, and just keep REACHING…

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SERVE, and Grow Rich

My friend and colleague, coach and author Steve Chandler, recently wrote this:

“Most people try to move toward wealth in embarrassing, clumsy ways.  They have cynicism programmed into them from an early age.  So they want a course called Manipulate and Grow Rich, or Network and Grow Rich or Win People Over and Grow Rich.”

“They see companies like Apple, Amazon, Nordstrom, Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, and Google, and they think ‘I need a big, clever idea like that!’ or ‘I need diabolically opportunistic branding and positioning!’  When that doesn’t work, then they think it’s time to suck up to powerful people…polish some apples and lick some boots!  Why?  Because it’s Who You Know that makes you rich!”

Yet all the while, there is a spirit that runs through all radical wealth creation…and we’ll keep it simple by calling it service.  All the individuals and companies I have worked with in the past 30 years revealed to me this underlying truth: wealth comes from profound service.”

If you’re working on your Business Plan for 2014, make sure it includes serving your clients profoundly.  If it does, this will be a great year for you.

To get specific, here are a few of Steve’s (and my) tips:

1.  Stop Pleasing and Start ServingAs children, we are conditioned to please.  “Were you a good girl, today?” Daddy asked, and what he meant was: Were you sweet, passive, obedient and not too vocal about your opinions?  Never did we hear him ask: “Were you bold and powerful?”  Or, “Were you courageous?”

Adults were the people with the money and power.  If we pleased them, we’d get that ice cream or that allowance.  As a result, too many of us learned to default to pleasing.  We want our clients to think we’ve been a good little boy or girl, so if we think there will be resistance to what we believe serves them best, we choose what will please them instead of what we believe they should do or have.

If we served instead pleasing, we would astonish our clients, instead of simply being “a nice guy”.  We would be making a real difference in another person’s life.

2.  Create Agreements, Not Expectations.  We become anxious because a client or prospect hasn’t done what we think they “should have” done.  Expectations belong in the recycle bin, along with ideas like a “no” answer being a rejection.  To fully serve and grow rich, you don’t need those anymore.  In fact, they will slow you down and give you a life of disappointment—even causing nagging and persistent feelings of betrayal.

If you want a client to do something, create an agreement.  Agreements serve because they are creative collaborations that honor both people.  They are like a co-written song.  Expectations, on the other hand, live and grow in us like cancer.  Nothing good can come from them.

3.  Don’t tell a client she’s wrong.  Proving that your client’s or prospect’s view or understanding about the world is wrong—no matter how ridiculous her opinion might be—is not serving.

Listen for the value in what she is saying before you respond.  Recognize the merit, and acknowledge that you see it.  Agree with the “objection” rather than trying to overcome it with a humiliating argument.  Instead, agree with her, and find a way to “reframe” how she’s seeing it.

“I understand that you don’t believe in life insurance, and if I saw it the way you’ve explained you do, I wouldn’t believe in it either.  What I do believe in is making sure my family has money at the most critical time that I won’t be able to help.  If we didn’t call it ‘life insurance’, wouldn’t that be something you’d want your family to have?”

Make 2014 the year of profound service, and it’s bound to be your best.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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Don’t Forget the Most Important Person

If you’re like most people, you found yourself juggling all of the things you had to do this past month, including social obligations and gifts galore, and you may have left someone very important off of your list by mistake…YOU!  If you could have anything in 2014, what would it be?  And why don’t you have it yet?

When we don’t have what we want, we tell ourselves stories about why we don’t.  These stories usually involve our circumstances: Not enough time, not enough money, not enough education, the wrong kind of education, etc.  Or, they involve the people in our lives: Friends who don’t understand us, spouses who are overbearing, children who are demanding, sick parents, etc., etc., etc.

I often upset my workshop attendees and clients by calling the people or circumstances we blame for holding us back exactly what they are—excuses.  Not having money, time, or training may make getting what you want more difficult, but people whose circumstances are far worse than yours have overcome these obstacles by the sheer force of their commitment.

Make Time

A simple “resolution” you can keep this month is to commit to giving yourself an hour’s worth of time to figure out what you want and what’s keeping you from having it.  During that time, ask yourself these Five Questions as part of a “SWOT” Analysis:

1. If you and I were to meet three years from now, what is the absolute minimum that will have to have happened in order to allow you to say your life is terrific?

2. What strengths do you already have that you could leverage to get you there?

3. What weaknesses will you have to acknowledge?

4. What opportunities can you take advantage of that will help you along the way?

5. What are the hardships and obstacles you’ll need to overcome to get to that point?

If you do this analysis before the end of the month, you can make plans you will keep for the New Year.  Make time for yourself, and you’ll be able to maintain your holiday spirit all year round, even as you work hard to keep REACHING…

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CONCEIVE It, BELIEVE It, ACHIEVE It!

A few years ago, I was asked to give the keynote address at the Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration of Princeton Toastmasters.  I decided to speak about Napoleon Hill’s discovery in the 1930s that the wealthiest and most successful people of his time were all following the same Simple Success Formula:

If you conceive an idea for something that doesn’t exist in the world today—an invention, personal wealth, fame, the success of your business, or anything else—and you believe it is possible, and pursue it with passion, it will become a reality.

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe,” Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich, “The mind can achieve.”

Or, stated simply: “Conceive It…Believe It…Achieve It!”

Thomas Edison conceived that electricity could be a safe, economical source of power for lighting homes and stores, towns and cities.

Andrew Carnegie, the original “Slumdog Millionaire”, conceived as a boy that even a starving orphan could rise through the restrictive societal structure of his time to become wealthy and influential.

Both of these men conceived it, believed it, and achieved it.

In 1993, an unhappy lawyer who had spent a year battling cancer and complications from treatment that left him disabled and bankrupt conceived of an idea for a career—as a speaker, coach, and author—that was nothing like the one he thought he was chained to for life.  He dreamt of helping other professionals who were struggling—or completely burnt out, as he had been—find their true calling and success.

But for years he didn’t believe what he had conceived, so nothing happened.  A full five years later, in 1998, it was having joined Toastmasters, and having built confidence as a motivational speaker, that helped him believe in the reality of his dream career.  The belief became so powerful that soon, nothing could stop him.

Now, over 15 years later, I visit firms and organizations throughout the country doing what I love.  I coach individuals who are going through equally challenging life and career transitions as I once experienced.  And I’ve written two books and countless articles, sharing the lessons that I’ve learned with an audience wider than I could have imagined.

The main one is this: You can have anything you want…You can be anything you want…You can do anything you want.  If you conceive it and believe it, you’ll achieve it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help to find the right track and to keep yourself on it.  Until you conceive of doing that, or until you believe you can, keep REACHING…

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Client Retention: They Changed Their Minds!!!

After two visits—a total of six hours—advisor Marianne had gotten an enthusiastic “thumbs up” from her new “almost clients”—a young professional couple with small children—to prepare a financial plan for them.  The plan would specifically include some much-needed life insurance.  There was no doubt the mission was going forward!

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But a few days later, just before Marianne’s scheduled return with her specific proposal, the couple called to tell her they had decided to hold off on doing anything.

“I needed that sale,” Marianne complained to me during our coaching session.

“And that’s probably why you lost it,” I responded.

Our need is the ugliest thing we can show prospective clients.  If they believe that your need to make money is more important than your delivery of the service they would be hiring you to do, they’ll back away.  Retaining you or buying what you have to offer has to be their idea, not yours.

Even when—especially when—you need the “yes”, make sure that your prospective clients sense only your devotion to bringing them the best and most appropriate service.

Blake, an attorney in Michigan, wrote me last week about his problem in getting prospective clients to engage his services.

“I find out what their situation is,” he writes, “and then I explain very carefully what I’ll be doing for them.”

“Then they ask about price.  I tell them my hourly rate, which is competitive, but they say they want to think about it…and then, I don’t hear from them again.”

Professionals like Blake often don’t spend enough time developing a relationship with their clients, customers, or patients.  They know their work.  They know how to diagnose problems, and they know what the most likely solutions are.  But they don’t know what their prospective clients really need: someone to hear them out; sympathy, empathy, and validation.

Here are some suggestions that might help you “close” more clients:

1. Ask more and better questions.  “Situational” questions are essential for you in order to enable you to do your work, but they have relatively low value to a prospective client who already knows his or her own situation.

How does the situation make him or her feel?  Why does he/she feel that way?  What result would this person like to get from working with you?  How will that make him/her feel better?

These kinds of questions don’t necessarily add any information to your business stats, but they help you to create a bond with your new client.

2. Find out if they’re committed to change before you talk about fees.  Ask if she’s receiving value from the discussion and if she has any questions for you.  Ask if she’d be interested in working with someone who could alter her status quo.

3. Find out what is causing them to hesitate.  If he says, “Let me think about it,” find out what he agrees with and narrow down what his concerns are.  Does he have reservations about your abilities?  Is he looking for a better price?  It’s okay—and important—to ask these questions.

If you want more clients to say “yes” and stick to it, start by making sure you spend the time to ask compelling questions, and base the solution you offer directly on their answers.  Whether it’s in asking for the sale or asking for introductions, make it about themnot about your need.

If you want help learning better ways to ensure that prospective clients become actual clients, contact me.  In the meantime, let them change their minds, and just keep REACHING…

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If You Really Want It, Don’t Back Away

COME TO PRINCETON IN OCTOBER
AND BECOME A REFERRAL MASTER

If you’re a financial or insurance professional, join me on Saturday, October 19th for an all-day
Mastering Client Referrals Workshop.

Boost your year-end sales and start 2014 on a roll.  For details, take a look at

https://sandyschussel.com/mcr-workshop

Register by Friday to take advantage of the Early Registration Discount.  Or call me at (609) 454-3810 and we’ll talk about whether this program makes sense for you.
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Most people don’t really understand what courage is.  When I ask them to define it in my workshops on Overcoming Fear, the answer I often get is “the absence of fear”.

But this answer isn’t accurate.  While there are a few seemingly fearless fighters, most military personnel will admit, when you ask them, that they were afraid much of the time they were in the field.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s action in the face of fear.  These brave people risk—and sometimes sacrifice—their lives, but not without fear.  They do what has to be done, despite the fear.

Wherever I go, I find professionals and entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses or advance their careers.  These are people with all of the technical skills they need to be successful, but they’re still, somehow, not getting what they want.

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Either
(1) they don’t know how to get it, or
(2) they know what they need to do, but they are allowing their fears to hold them back.

Other times, more simply:
(3) they haven’t yet decided to make the change.

If you feel like your practice ought to be growing, but you’re just stuck, start by recognizing that one, both, or all three of these factors might be at play.  If fear is one of them, understand that it’s okay to be afraid when it comes to stepping into sales and marketing and other “dangerous battlefields“.  Admit that you are afraid.  But don’t respond by backing away.

Ultimately, the fear itself can’t hold us back from having what we want and need in our businesses or lives—how we view fear and our learned response to fear are the real threats.  We feel the “fear factor”—the butterflies in our stomachs, the rapid pounding in our chests—and the little voice in our heads warns us: “It’s not okay, back away.”  And we obey.

When we were children, this response probably saved our lives many times.  We’d feel those feelings when we came too close to a hot stove or stepped into the street.  But as adults, if we so much as think of picking up the phone to make that prospecting call, or attending a networking event, or making a presentation—our “back away” response keeps us from doing what we need to do.

The good news is that if we learned this response, we can unlearn it and replace it with something better:

“It’s okay to be afraid, but if this is my goal, then I have to do it.”

Battle Call
Mel Gibson in We Were Soldiers (2002)

If you can get past the fear on your own, do it.  If you can’t, decide to hire someone who can help you, or contact me to take a step in the right direction and back onto the playing field.  No matter what you choose to do, if you have a mission, keep REACHING…

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Learn This “Secret” from Victoria

“It seems like you’ve already got nearly as many clients as you can handle,” I declared to Victoria, a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) who had just started working with me.  “So, how can I help you?”

“Well, the truth is, Sandy, that none of them have any money,” she confided.

Victoria is 27 years old and has managed to grow her practice to its current level by giving terrific service to small retailers, most of whom are as young as she, and are either just starting out or within their first two years in business.

These clients are often struggling and can barely afford basic accounting services.  Invariably, after working with her, Victoria’s satisfied clients recommend her to their budding-entrepreneur friends.  While she is grateful for their loyalty, she is frustrated about starting work with still more struggling small-business owners.

I explained to Victoria that you can’t attract what you want into your life—clients or anyone or anything else—unless you have a clear picture of it that you can share with people.  “It’s hard for you to make the kind of living you want on these small clients,” I acknowledged, “but who do you want to take on as a client?”

Victoria thought for a moment and then replied.  “Well, I do like to work with ‘Mom and Pop’ business owners, but I wish I could be working with some that are larger and more established.” 

“Then tell your clients that that’s who you’re looking for,” I challenged.

“Just like that?” she asked.  “I don’t know…”

Two days later, Victoria called me.  With excitement rushing her words, she related a conversation she had had with one of her small-business clients just the day before:

“I was finishing up paperwork with Tom, and he told me he had recommended me to a friend of his who had just opened a deli.  So, I thanked him for the referral, but then I did what you told me to do.  I said ‘Tom, you know I always appreciate your faith in me and will always take good care of anyone you recommend me to, but I do my best work with people who already have bigger, more established businesses.’
Tom’s wife, Marie, happened to be walking by while I was explaining this and said, ‘Why don’t we send her to see my uncle?’  Well, Marie’s uncle owns a large, well-known furniture store the next town over.  And, I have an appointment to see him next week!”

Victoria’s accounts knew she wanted more clients, but they all thought she wanted more clients like them.  Victoria learned that people don’t know what you want until you tell them, and asking for what she wanted resulted in her landing exactly the kind of client she was hoping to reach.

If I can help you learn how to get more of what you want, contact me to talk about how we might work together.  I’ll let you know if your concerns would make you the type of client I can currently serve best.

Ask for what you need, and whether or not you get it right away, keep REACHING…

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Focus on the SERVICE, NOT the STANDINGS.

Two years ago, Karen became a “Top Ten” representative out of the several hundred agents at her financial services firm.  She received a certificate, a $15,000 bonus, and a great deal of attention from her peers.

Last year, she barely made it into the Top Thirty…

In January, Karen called me for help.  “I didn’t do anything differently this past year than I did the year before,” she told me.  “Maybe it’s the economy,” she continued, “’Cause it just seems like fewer and fewer people are saying ‘yes’ to me.”

“When you made the ‘Top Ten’ two years ago, were you consciously pursuing it?” I asked her.

“Well, no, actually,” she responded.  “I was totally surprised by it.”

“What were you focused on, then, that year?” I continued.

“I guess, my total focus was on helping as many people as I could in as many ways as I could,” she explained, with a note of pride in her voice.

“Well, did your focus change this past year?”

There was silence on the other end of the line.  After what seemed like minutes, Karen responded:

“I wanted to make it to the Top Ten again, and I guess my focus was on that, and not really on helping anyone,” she realized, “But would that really have made the difference?  I was helping people, either way!”

“There’s a way to find out,” I hinted.  “Start focusing again on helping as many people as you can in as many ways as you can, and see what happens.”

Karen called me a few weeks ago to let me know she had already made it back into the Top Ten, but that she was no longer focused on either getting there or staying there.  Her focus was, once again, on what got her into the Top Ten in the first place.

“But what about the economy?” I teased.

Karen laughed.  She knew that this had been a lame excuse for her slip from great standings to less-than-exceptional service.

Stop worrying about your standings, your income, or the number of cases you’re opening, and instead focus your energy as Karen has remembered to do: on serving.  If you do, you’ll undoubtedly find the personal success and satisfaction you’re after, no matter what your numbers are.

If you’re having trouble with your focus, contact me, and I’ll help you get back in [the front of the] line.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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