Let’s talk movies. My father loved the “lone hero” characters played by Gary Cooper, who faced off with all of the bad guys virtually solo in the 1952 movie High Noon.
To my dad, Cooper represented the idea that action heroes had to find their way by themselves. Dad believed that strong, successful people don’t ask for help—and while he was always quick to help others, he found it almost impossible to ask anyone to help him.
I loved my father, but he died broke and broken. And I believe that a large part of the reason for this was his view on what it takes to be successful.
He had missed one of the main points of his favorite Gary Cooper movie. Cooper’s marshal, Will Kane, asked everyone in town for help—they were just all too afraid to stick their necks out. In fact, soon after the movie’s release, veteran “lone hero” John Wayne was publicly infuriated that someone had actually made a Western wherein a marshal asked for assistance. Wayne found a counter-vehicle for himself in the 1959 film Rio Bravo, in which he played a sheriff who didn’t ask anyone for anything.
Personally, I’m a fan of the 1992 movie My Cousin Vinny, with Joe Pesce and Marissa Tomei. In the ending dialog, Vinny becomes upset when he realizes that he didn’t succeed all on his own. His fiancé, Mona Lisa Vito, mocks him:
You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all your cases, but with somebody else’s help, right? You win case after case, and then afterwards you have to go up to somebody and you have to say, “thank you”. Oh my God, what a f*cking nightmare!
The moral? Keep trying, but STOP trying to do it yourself.
We all recognize that athletes have coaches. That’s where the idea of professional and life coaching comes from. But we are stuck with this archaic view that it’s okay for them, and not for us. They have special needs, and we don’t. Do you accept this view?
If not, find someone who you’d want to let help you. We spend our lives trying to convince other people that we have our acts together, but it’s an achievement to be able to say, “Here’s what I don’t have and here’s what I think is holding me back. Can you help?”
Whether it’s an assistant, a coach, a therapist, or a friend or loved one you never quite let in all the way, make it your hero’s mission to ask him or her for what you need. Often times, you don’t need more information to get things done; what you need is more application–an extra set of hands on the challenges of your career, practice, or personal life. And the motivation to get it all done is often most accessible when you’re working with a teammate, partner, or colleague.
Asking for what you need is courageous–and essential. Please, don’t end up like my dear old dad did. Choose to voice your needs to someone–anyone–who can help you accomplish your dreams.
In the meantime, keep REACHING…
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.
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.
When you look at your practice (here you can also insert “business”, “career”, or “life”), what are you seeing?
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…
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 Serving. As 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…
Every week, I try to provide you with a message of value—either to keep you motivated, or to help you hone your skills to get more clients—or for whatever else you want in your life. Today’s message has an almost Shakespearian relevance:
“To Do” or “NOT to Do”…That is the Question!
During my workshops, when I ask participants to describe their biggest challenge, “Time Management” is often ahead of getting or keeping clients. But since we can’t really manage time—only our activities—thinking in this way can get us stuck in an approach-avoidance tango—with ourselves. So, this week, I want to see if I can shift your perspective.
If you have created a traditional “To Do” list that is now 31 pages long and leaving you feeling overwhelmed, throw it out! Or, at least, put it away in your drawer for a moment.
Before you do, however, pull from it the Six Things you believe are the most important and put them on a sheet of paper that you can keep on top of your desk (perhaps, pin it right next to that Memo to Self: Learn to Let Go!).
Prioritize those six things—and only those six things—from most important to least important, and only then, begin working on Number One, taking it as far as it can go. Tomorrow, maybe move on to Number Two…and so on.
In the early 1900s, the industrialist Charles Schwab paid consultant Ivy Lee $25,000 for this one idea. At first, Schwab did not believe that ignoring his huge list and focusing on just six things could possibly work. After a month, however, he was excited to find he had finished more projects in those four weeks than he had in any previous month. Try this strategy for just one month, and see for yourself.
While you’re at it, make another list of things “Not to Do”. As my colleague David Ward describes:
“You have unlimited choices. But you don’t have unlimited time…As you choose what to do, you also choose what not to do. The word “decide” means to “kill the other option”…If you want to accomplish great things, you must focus on great things and let go of things that are merely good. Give up good to go for great.”
A “Not to Do” List might look something like this:
1. Check my smart phone.
2. Turn on my email client.
3. Go on Facebook.
4. Reorganize my files.
5. Be hard on myself.
Remember: this is only for now. Set the hours between which you choose to abide by your “Not to Do” List. Then, schedule in the time slots when you’re allowed to break the rules, and put this “Not” list back in your drawer for the evening. Suddenly you’ll feel like you’re Managing Time. Your story about your own ineffectiveness will change.
You’ll be thrilled with how much less you Procrastinate when it’s one of the six items on your new “Not to Do” list.
If you need help simplifying what To Do and Not to Do, contact me. In the meantime, do what you can to keep REACHING…
With fewer than ten weeks to go in 2013, I’ve put together a list of the most effective ideas for my financial advisor friends to boost their holiday sales. Even if you’re not a financial or insurance professional, I know you’ll find at least some of these ideas useful.
1. Keep your schedule filled with appointments. If your goal is 8 appointments, don’t “try” to keep 8—keep them. If you need to fill your time slots with existing clients, turn those visits into referral opportunities.
2. Look through the information you’ve taken from existing clients to determine if there’s any way in which you haven’t yet served them. Maybe you need to discuss converting an existing term policy, or increasing their 403(b) contribution. Maybe you haven’t discussed long-term care with them. Is there a client who wouldn’t be helped by increasing his or her monthly contributions into retirement savings? Find out!
3. Use the holidays as an excuse to surprise and delight them. It takes a little extra time and few extra dollars, but the rewards can be incredible: a face painting kit or a barrel of pumpkins for Halloween, a fresh baked pie or a bowl of homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.
4. “Up” your offers. A client who needs $300,000 in life insurance might agree to $500,000 if given the option. A client who can put aside $300/month for investing might be able to stretch that to $500, if you explain the benefits. Just ask. If 1 in 4 prospects says “yes”, your year-end numbers will increase dramatically, just like that.
5. Ask for referrals as a way of helping someone start next year with a bang.
“Joe and Betty, thanks for letting me know how helpful I’ve been to you in getting your finances in order and in building toward the retirement you want. With the end of the year coming, I’ll bet you have at least a couple of friends who might like to get a new start on their financial situation for the New Year and may want the kind of service you’re getting. Who comes to mind that could use a hand?”
6. Ask for referrals as a way of giving a gift!
“Joe, how about giving your friend you mentioned the gift of a session with me to talk about his finances? It won’t cost him anything and I won’t pressure him to work with me if he doesn’t want to, but you’d be giving him an opportunity to get something life changing that will last…”
7. Focus on reaching out to people with whom you already have a connection. How many people attended a seminar or gave their names to you at a Home Show who you couldn’t reach right afterward, so you then just dropped those leads? Instead of cold calling people you’ve never met, revisit those “failed” contacts, starting with the most recent. If you can’t reach someone by phone, try a quick email, or drop a short message on social media. If you do connect, those people who you have met at least once are far more likely to agree to make an appointment with you than total strangers are.
8. Slow your fact-finding interviews down. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you’ll turn more first appointments into [first and] second appointment sales if you ask more questions, especially about consequences of acting and not acting. It’s not good enough to ask how someone feels about a million dollar insurance need. Dig deeply into the consequences of not having that insurance in place. (If they can’t keep the house, where will they live? Is that okay with them?) Then, make sure your presentation addresses the consequences that they brought up in response to your questions. (This will ensure that they can stay in their house, at least until the kids start college.)
9. Keep your need out of it. You have numbers you want to reach, but the days of the “Contest Close” have long passed. Do they need your help, or not? Is what you’re offering them the best thing for them, or would something that gets you a smaller fee actually be better for them?
10. When it comes to services they need, don’t please your prospects or clients, and don’t sell to them, serve them. If they’re telling you that they’re going to put off applying for the insurance they need, and you believe that the delay does not serve them, tell them passionately that they’re wrong. Be proud of being in sales, but don’t sell, and don’t put having them like you above doing what’s best for them.
*Image courtesy of Mint.com.
For most advisors, the Fourth Quarter means a year-end blitz to improve their production numbers, hours billed, and company or office standings. Realistically, there are only a few ways to do this:
The majority will focus on the first of these, squeezing in as many cold calls, workshops, and client-appreciation events as they can. They’ll rush around, becoming exhausted and frazzled—but not necessarily maneuvering themselves into a better position—by the time the holidays hit.
Many top producers, however, will slowly and meticulously examine their top clients’ files to see if there are more ways they can serve them, planning out their referral discussions, and looking for ways to surprise and delight them enough that these advocates will tell their friends and family members about the magical experiences they are having. More business from existing clients and more quality referrals—without the frazzle and exhaustion. Their Strategy is Simple:
1. Serve them. Set appointments with your best clients. Review their files first to see if there’s any way you can help them that you aren’t already—whether it will produce immediate income for you or not. If they need an introduction to an accountant or a good podiatrist, serve them by being the source.
2. Use the holidays as an excuse to surprise and delight them. Fortunately, while the upcoming season may feel like crunch time, it also presents some great opportunities to get your clients talking about you. The first of these opportunities is actually Halloween. Just think of all the ghoulish possibilities!
Do your best clients have children who will be dressing up? How about investing in the Klutz Face Painting Book? It comes with easy-to-remove face paints and detailed instructions for creating characters. Or, pick up and deliver some great pumpkins and bring them to their homes.
For Thanksgiving, find out if your best clients will be traveling and, if not, order them a wonderful pumpkin or apple pie from a local bakery or pie company. Hand-deliver it a day or two before the Holiday—or on Thanksgiving morning.
Two years ago, my coaching client, Don, was invited in to meet his financial client’s family when he showed up at the door with pie. In the presence of her relatives, his grateful client announced how much she enjoyed doing business with her advisor—how much they had accomplished and how much more they would have to do. A few days later, one of her guests contacted Don about starting to work together.
If pies aren’t your thing, be creative. It’s about astonishing your clients in a way that gets them smiling about their relationship with you and raving about you to the people they know. Brainstorm with your team. Is there something unique and special you can do to show them how important they are to you?
3. Talk about helping their families and friends. With another financial year coming to a close, do your clients have friends or family members who might need your services? If you can specifically identify someone in their circles, ask about him or her. If not, ask them if they know someone who might need your help before the quarter’s done.
You can still go ahead and make those cold calls, book those workshops and events, but put your emphasis on existing clients—the people who already do business with you and will be joyous to rave about you to those they love. If you need more tips on serving up the right surprises, contact me. Either way, keep delivering what you do best, and keep REACHING…
GIVE SOMEONE THE GIFT OF SELF/SALES HELP
Send someone a thoughtful and thought-provoking gift this season:
Autographed copies of my books, The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. I’ll even include a personal note that you can customize. There’s no extra charge for the signing, nor for holiday gift-wrapping. Simply click here to order the 2-book package, and make sure to edit the Gift Options and/or Add a Comment or Request to let me know your needs.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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…
“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…
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.
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…