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Personal Improvement

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DRAW Them a REFERRAL DIAGRAM!

“I found a new way to talk with clients about referring me,” Ryan, a financial advisor, once told me excitedly on the phone.  “I use a diagram!  I’ll show it to you.”

Ryan emailed me a little while later with this:

Of course, I was interested, and I called him back right away to have him explain how it worked.

“First, I draw a circle in the center of a yellow pad, where you see the ‘Joe W’, representing the client,” he started.

“Then,” he continued, “I draw circles surrounding the first circle for people they’ve already referred to me.  I thank them for the ones that worked out and tell them that these referrals are happy; I also point out the ones that didn’t work out, explaining how it just wasn’t right for whatever reason.”

“Finally,” Ryan exclaimed, “I ask them who’s missing from the chart!  I say, ‘Who haven’t we talked about yet?’”

Ryan told me that the client at the center of this drawing, Joe, looked at the chart and said to him, “I wonder why we never talked about my niece, Barbara, and her husband.”  He gestured to the open circles on the page.  “Add Barbara in there.”

Ryan was very proud of his piece of “referral technology”—and so was I!  I went on to suggest to him that any time a client or prospective client volunteers information, his next response should be a magical question—either “who else?” or “what else?”  Once Joe volunteered Barbara, for instance, a “who else” could identify another person for Joe and Ryan to discuss, and with whom Ryan could go on to arrange an appointment.  Asking  “who else?” again might have brought to light a third—and then even a fourth—potential client for Ryan.

Most professionals are terrified of the referral conversation and they either avoid it entirely or approach it so awkwardly that it doesn’t end up working for them at all.

Tim, one of my current clients, told me earlier this week that he was uncomfortable “switching” from being a professional to asking for referrals.  The goal, I told him, is to be a professional while asking for referrals.  There shouldn’t be a difference.  If you’re helping someone by providing a service, why not offer the same service to someone else in his or her life who might also really need your help?

If you have your own method of talking about introductions or referrals that works for you, please share it with me, and with the other professionals in your life!  If referrals aren’t yet working for you, contact me now, and I’ll let you in on a few of the ideas that have worked for me and countless others in my network of clients and colleagues.  No matter what strategy you implement, one technique is certain: ALWAYS be sure to keep REACHING…

Sandy

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…

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.

SERVE

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!

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!

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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

_____________________________________________________________________

sandy09

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…

_____________________________________________________________________

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!

Sandy-Signature.jpg

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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Choose to Make Time for YOU

I received this letter recently from a real estate broker:

Dear Sandy,

Perhaps you can do an article on finding time to make appointments with yourself and your loved ones; that is, the ones who aren’t too busy?

When and why did this happen?  We have more “time savers” than ever before, but there is no need to look for storage for this ‘saved’ time.  On the contrary, we could use one more day added to our present 7-day week.  Perhaps that could be our personal day.  I am feeling very stressed and my patience is stretched to the limit, which I know is affecting my work.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way…

Annette

me-time

Here’s how I answered her:

Annette,

While my focus is on helping salespeople and professionalsmake more money, the time issue is one that comes up often in my work.

But it’s largely a ‘made-up’ issue.  I’m hoping this never happens, but what if you needed to take one day off each week for some medical treatment like dialysis or to spend it with someone you really cared about that was seriously ill?  Would you be able to do all your work the rest of the week and still take that day off?

Most people say they’d find a way, and that yes, if forced to, they could do it.  So, it’s not impossibility that keeps us from taking a day off to recharge our batteries; it’s a choice we’re making.  And most of us make the wrong choice.

Our best ideas come from slowing down and taking time to think.  Our greatest bursts of energy and productivity come after we’ve taken some time away from what we end up calling the daily ‘grind’.  (It shouldn’t be a grind; it should be a joy—and one of the reasons it’s not is that we don’t step away from it enough.)

Start with scheduling a half-day a week to do whatever you like: get that massage, have lunch and dinner with  friends.  Don’t answer your calls; make some alternate arrangement.

Tell me how that feels after a month.  I know it’s counter-intuitive, but you’ll eventually start making more money by taking structured time off than you do now by working around the clock…

If you run your own schedule, you don’t need an extra day–you need to make the decision to take time for yourself.  Try it as soon as possible, and tell me what you think afterwards.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

Lost A Big Client? Be an Action Hero!

I’VE JUST LOST MY BIGGEST CLIENT! Edwin, a management consultant I coached many years ago, blurted out on the phone one day.  “What am I going to do now?”

Edwin’s one client provided him with half of his six-figure income. The loss was, he told me, through no fault of his own and at the “worst possible time”. He spent the next few minutes moaning about how he wouldn’t be able to pay the bills and how difficult it would be in this economy to replace a client like that one. Finally, he asked me for coaching.

I could relate to Ed’s situation personally. Throughout that decade, most of my own work time was being devoted to training and coaching for one financial services company with more than fifty offices and hundreds of associates throughout the country. Most of my income was coming from this work and my time for anyone else was extremely limited.

Edwin viewed the loss of his largest client as a cause for panic. It showed foresight that he had retained me as his coach to help him grow the other half of his business just a month before this, telling me that he had a sense he had become “too comfortable”. It may have been simply that he’d had a sense that his relationship with that one large client was coming to an end. But now that it had actually happened, he was moaning woefully about being without that income and having no way to immediately replace it.

“It may be true that you have no way to immediately replace it,” I agreed, “But do you believe you will eventually replace it?”
“Well…yes, eventually,” was his reply.“What has to happen for that income to be replaced?” I asked.
“Obviously, I have to get out and get more clients,” he responded, and he began to talk about all of the things we had put in place already, and about new ideas to get his practice growing. By the end of that year, he had come very close to matching his income from the previous year.

Action Hero

Events in the story of your life often turn out differently than you hoped they will. When they do, you have a choice: You can either take on the role of Victim and rant against the cruel powers that brought you to this terrible place, or you can choose to be an Action Hero, creating ways to solve the puzzle with which fate has presented you.

Edwin started out that phone call playing the Victim, but ended our conversation as an Action Hero.

A few years after that, I parted ways with the investment company that had provided the bulk of my income and to which I had given so much of my time for so many years. I instantly thought of that conversation with Edwin. I never liked the Victim role–even though I’ve occasionally played it extremely well–so, in my story, I chose to play the Action Hero right then and there. All I had to do was focus on what I had and what I wanted, and keep REACHING…

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Dare to THINK of What You’d Do

Most of us let our fears get in the way of doing what we love.

Seventeen years ago, I was so afraid to let go of my law practice and pursue something I loved, that I honestly believed I simply didn’t know what I loved.  This is the reality with which many of my clients first come to me.

“What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?” I asked Frank, an engineer who was recently laid off for the fifth time and who has become very unhappy with his profession.

“I honestly don’t know,” Frank responded.

“Is it possible that you have ideas about what you want to do, and that you’re just afraid to take a good look at those ideas?” I queried.

Frank responded all too quickly that he simply didn’t know.

“It’s not about being afraid of anything,” he insisted.

But the likelihood is that, long ago, Frank banished his ideas about what would make a great career and a great life–as he saw these things–to the place of the “Unspeakables”.  He hid them away and “forgot” them, so he wouldn’t speak them, think them, or even see them anymore.

Tell Story

But what is so dreadful about just having a dream career or a dream life–not even necessarily acting on those dreams–just having them?

After years of studying my own fears and those of the many clients who have consulted me for help with theirs, I’ve learned that the simple act of acknowledging a dream gives rise to tremendous fear: A fear that acknowledging it in any way might lure you away from your “Safe Neighborhood”.

The Safe Neighborhood is the life you’ve created for yourself, including the people you associate with, the places you go, and the security of your daily routines.  These could all be altered in some way if we were to pursue our dreams–so it’s best not to have them, we think.  I discuss the concept of the Safe Neighborhood (and why I don’t see it as a “comfort zone”) in my book, The High Diving Board.

Leaving our Safe Neighborhoods might put us in unfamiliar territory.  We might fail, and become the laughing stock of those very people we are depending upon to hold us close where we are.  So, yes–simply thinking our Unspeakables induces incredible fear.

The dilemma, though, is that if we’re unhappy (or uncomfortable) with our current situations, we ought to be looking in our secret corners, or outside the walls of our Safe Neighborhoods.  Instead, people usually stay stuck in the middle, frustrated and unfulfilled:

They stay where they are in their jobs, rather than even think of changing careers or starting to work on their own;

They reach a plateau in the growth of their businesses and can’t bring themselves to think about what’s needed to take these further;

They lose their jobs–jobs they hated, anyway–and apply again for the same jobs at new companies, because they can’t bear to think of careers that would make them happier.

If this sounds like you, there are some great exercises on pages 43-48 in The High Diving Board that can help you, but you can start today by simply taking some kind of action to do something you love.  Sign up for that course in Italian, or that course in photography, or that ballroom dancing class, and watch what happens as you expand the borders of your Safe Neighborhood.

Let those Unspeakables out of the dark, and keep REACHING…

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Embrace. Your. Genius.

There’s a conjecture I like that we were all born geniusesEinsteins, Mozarts, and Picassos—and that somewhere along the way, many of us lost that heightened quality.

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I’m not saying that we’re all duds now, nor that we all had perfect IQs back then.  I’m referring to “genius” as that special spark or talent—in anything—that’s far beyond the norm we’ve come to accept.  One of Webster’s definitions for genius is a person with “a peculiar, distinctive, or identifying character or spirit.”

If you have a child—or niece, or nephew, or grandchild—who is two to four years old, you know that yours is a genius; but in a way, all of them are—and, most likely, you were one, too.

Maybe your genius had something to do with art.  You could see dozens of people and places in the green crayon swirl you worked so passionately to create.  Or, maybe yours had to do with flowers.  You spoke to them, and they spoke back and told you their troubles, and you helped them grow.  Or, maybe it was about insects.  You catalogued thousands of them using your own proprietary system.  But somewhere along the line, you became socialized.  You learned that what you were a genius at was not very relevant at all.

Imagine Miss Crabtree, gathering her kindergarten class for story time:

“Albert!  Stop watching how the light moves through the window to the floor.  It’s story time right now.  Please, join the circle…Wolfgang, you too!  Stop ringing those different sized toys against the desk to see how they sound…What’s that Pablo?  Yes, that’s a very nice picture of…your mother and father?  Oh, it’s just your mother…Very good, but next time, try to give her just one face.”

So, we grew up to become accountants, advisors, lawyers, managers, and consultants, going through our adult lives with a feeling that we’ve forgotten something.  And, of course, we have.  We’ve forgotten that we were geniuses—or even what we were geniuses at.

Once in awhile, though, there’s a glimmer of recognition—and somewhere deep inside, we do remember.  Oddly enough, instead of embracing whatever it was that made us geniuses, we push it out of our minds.  We’re afraid that allowing it in, at this point, will somehow disrupt our lives.

The next time you feel that spark, though, do something wonderful—and unusual—for yourself.  When that flash of recognition is triggered, take some small step toward embracing your childlike genius.  Buy that telescope, or that guitar, or those oil paints, and play with them.  Maybe you won’t be an Einstein or a Mozart or a Picasso, but you might find some joy and fulfillment that you’ve been missing.

In the meantime, bring the spirit of play to your work, and keep REACHING…

100th Birthday Party: Your Mission Statement

“I know I don’t want to do this anymore,” Erica, a financial advisor working for a large firm, complained to me during our first call together,“But I just don’t know what I do want to do.”

“Erica,” I responded, “Imagine you’re at your 100th Birthday Party.  Gathered around you are all the people you love and who love you—your children, your grandchildren…maybe even your great-grandchildren.”

100th Birthday

“One of your great-granddaughters has just asked you to tell the story of your life,” I continued.  “What do you want that story to be about?”

“I don’t know,” Erica persisted.

“Well, what do you want to be remembered for?” I pressed.

“I want them to think I was adventurous—maybe eccentric,” Erica began.  “I want them to think I was a good Mom,” she continued.  “I want to be able to tell them about my travels.”

Erica was beginning to enjoy the game.

“I want to be able to get away when I feel the urge—to have some kind of work that doesn’t tie me down to an office like I am now.  I could work from home, pick my own hours, and make house calls, or rent some space if I needed to bring some people to me.”

By herself, Erica had switched the conversation from how she would like to be seen and remembered to what she wanted her life and her work to look like.

“Would that work be in the financial field?” I asked.

“It could be, I guess—at least in the beginning,” she responded, “But I might want to write something and maybe try to sell some things on line—helping people manage their own finances—or helping other advisors to cope or change, like I’m doing.  If I had a business selling things like that, I could be helping people, and earning money even while I traveled.”

In a matter of minutes, with the help of the 100th Birthday Party Game, Erica had found direction and was working on her Mission Statement.  (This exercise can be completed in detail with the help of my book The High Diving Board: How to Overcome Your Fears and Live Your Dreams.)  One of the best things you can do for yourself is to sit down and write out your own Mission Statement.  What do you want to stand for?  What do you want to accomplish?  How do you want to be known?

What’s the story you want to be telling at your 100th Birthday Party?  Writing a Mission Statement will help you live your life on purpose.  All you have to do is make sure that everything you do each day is in some way connected to the mission you’ve chosen for yourself.

I hope to see you at my 100th Birthday Party.  In the meantime, keep REACHING

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