Posts filed under ‘Service’

Focus on the G.O.O.D.

Life can be hard, and when it is, it’s easy to get down, lose perspective, feel overwhelmed, even depressed. It may be the poor choices and bad behavior of others, or perhaps our own. Financial, medical, or emotional, strain can also send one for a loop. Life is full of challenges, presenting ample opportunity to shrivel and shrink, lash out, or simply give up, but the results of any of these are sure to bring nothing but more despair.

For BEST results (sounds like medicine?), consider a better choice with an outcome guaranteed to bring greater peace, satisfaction, and success: Focus on the G.O.O.D.! Just looking for the good that surrounds us is by itself good advice in good times and bad, but what I’m suggesting here is to simply focus on the G.O.O.D.: Gratitude, Others, Opportunities, and Doing.

Gratitude – The happiest people I know are the most grateful! Even in the darkest times, there is so much to be grateful for. When your head hurts, be grateful you have one! When the house is messy, be grateful for being surrounded by others. An empty fridge means you have a fridge! A challenging job means you have income. There is ALWAYS something or someone to be grateful for, and just the act of focusing outward (instead of inward on yourself) at all the good that surrounds you, puts things in perspective and changes your attitude from one of scarcity and woe to abundance and wonder.

Others – As Albert Schweitzer put it, ”The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” The very act of focusing [outward] on others and their needs shifts the focus from oneself (inward) and one’s problems. You cannot focus on two things at a time. By centering your efforts on those in need your life takes on greater meaning, purpose, and satisfaction.

Opportunities – No matter where you are, there are opportunities to improve your situation…especially when times are tough. Life is all about learning, growing, and improving, and there is no finish line for any of these. Some of the most inspiring examples of living a full life come from those who appear to have had “nothing” to work with, yet have accomplished amazing things! Opportunities are everywhere!

Doing – “Action is the antidote to despair.” These words wisely penned by Joan Baez are among the truest when it comes to turning things around. Sitting and staring at your problems only makes them bigger…if not worse. Attacking them, or anything for that matter, gets the mind working and the blood flowing, shifting your focus away from the problem to something, more worthy of your efforts.

It is best always to focus on the G.O.O.D., but especially when things aren’t going so well. The most effective people understand and practice this; and the most effective leaders guide their teams to do the same!

Lead on!

Cliff

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June 3, 2016 at 9:01 am Leave a comment

Leading [others] to Greatness

William Shakespeare wrote “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”  While I don’t know about the “born great” or “thrust upon them” parts, we have all seen people who achieve greatness by sheer determination and effort.  But even for them, greatness didn’t have a chance without one fundamental ingredient even more important than the others.  Faith – a belief that it can be done, that it can be reached, that it can be achieved…is the FIRST ingredient of greatness.

Without faith, nothing happens. Without faith that the light will come on, no one would flip the switch. Without faith that there’s promise in the day, who’d get out of bed? Without faith that obstacles can be overcome, no one would make the effort. Without faith that one can achieve great things, who would even try?

Faith in oneself and confidence in one’s abilities are prerequisites for striving for greatness in anything. So where does that faith and confidence come from?  Some would argue that there are those who are born with the drive, but certainly they are the minority.  But for most, and behind every champion, there is a special spark – a friend, a parent, an example, an idea, a feeling that somewhere in the champion’s life helped them to see their potential and gather the faith necessary to carry them to success.

And THAT is where you as a leader come in. Leadership is about helping others discover their potential. As Bo Bennett put it, “A good leader is one who can tell another how to reach his or her potential; a great leader is one who can help another discover this potential for him or herself.” THAT is your opportunity…as a leader, a parent, a friend – to help others see…and believe in their potential! Here’s how…

FIRST, You must believe in their potential. The good news is that all human potential far exceeds our wildest imaginations. We were all designed to reach heights higher than we can envision. The human body, mind, and spirit are limitless when the blinders of life’s experiences and the opinions of critics are ignored. Those you lead are better than they know!  SECOND, help them catch the vision – to “see” their own success and potential in their mind’s eye. Paint the picture. All things are created twice – once in the mind and then in reality.  THIRD, encourage them, support them, and expect them to succeed.  FOURTH, while you can’t remove all obstacles from their path (and shouldn’t), you can make sure you aren’t one of them. Your pure desire for their success will be an unseen strength along their journey.  And FINALLY, always be the example you would hope they’d have. You may not be expert in the thing they are striving to become great at, but your example of being true to the things you do believe and strive for makes all the difference to those, seen and unseen, that are following you…and yes, they are watching!

Leading isn’t always easy, but few things are as rewarding as making a real difference in someone else’s success!  Doing the hard thing is what makes life great. Doing the hard thing is what makes you (and others) great!

Lead on…

Cliff

May 28, 2014 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

The CMO in You!

One of the many hats the manager of any wholesale distribution branch wears is that of “Chief Marketing Officer” (CMO) for his or her location. Marketing is a crucial part of any operation’s success, but so are many other things…so it requires a thoughtful and effective approach.

So what is “marketing”? In its simplest form marketing is everything you do to put your product in the hands of your customers. By that definition, everyone in your store and every activity that touches the customer can at least loosely be considered part of your marketing mix.

The purpose of marketing (inspired by Sergio Zyman) is to sell more stuff, to more people, more often, for more reasons, to make more money.   But what exactly does that mean? Let’s break it down:

More stuff – Selling more stuff means selling a wider variety of your product portfolio AND a larger quantity of the things you sell to any given customer. You sell a wider selection of SKU’s by doing things that draw attention to new or different items or product categories. After observing your customers’ buying patterns you can offer new and different options, add-ons, or complimentary items. Also, as a true business partner you should always be looking for ways to help each customer build his or her business by broadening their offering! You can sell more (quantity) by reminding customers at each transaction of the commodities they should have a deep inventory of to ensure they don’t have work stops. Also, by drawing attention to sale items and promotions, you can sell more per customer visit. Finally, through creative merchandising you can accomplish all of the above objectives much more effectively.

More people – The more people that enter your branch and place orders, the greater are your sales. The more people you reach with your messaging, offers, and promotions, the more there are that will enter the branch and place orders. The more people in your marketing database, the more people you will reach with your messages. The more time and effort your branch spends on researching, finding, and entering prospects into your database, the larger and better qualified is your database. It all comes down to awareness. Will you sell more by reaching twenty or two hundred and twenty? Another way to reach and influence the masses with little effort and no cost is through social media. Use it wisely to increase your reach!

More often – Service sells.  If you and your staff are known for excellent service you will see your customers more often.  If you are not, start there!   But merely serving well when customers enter your doors doesn’t necessarily, by itself, maximize your opportunities to sell more often. By showing greater interest in your customers’ operations, activities, and projects you can ferret out more opportunities to supply more of their work. Also, by scheduling deliveries and route sales together you can create more convenient opportunities for customers to buy what they need with less effort. By leveraging the services your company offers and the data you are normally capturing you can sell more per job as customers consolidate their purchases with you and only you. Finally, by being the most helpful, friendly, and fun supplier, your customers will feel like they’ve missed out by not stopping by!

For more reasons – So you serve well and offer more services and benefits than your competitors.  You know it, but do your customers?  And if they once knew do they still remember?  Once informed, are those reasons to shop with you top of mind with your customers every day…every transaction? No more than are all your best attributes and best efforts always in your spouse’s or significant other’s consciousness every moment. They need to be reminded – not of all the great things you’ve done, but what you can do and will do to make their lives easier. By continuing to serve well, but also by pointing out the list of advantages you provide at every opportunity and by offering them up in context at the right moments. By so doing you provide ample cause for customers and prospects to bring you their business!

To make more money – The more you sell, the more you sell it for, and the more often you sell it, the more your company makes. The more your company makes, the more YOU make!

Lead on, CMO!

Cliff

April 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

Data and Caring do Mix

I’ve been a customer of Roadrunner Sports for over twenty years.  They’ve always provided me with excellent service – during the early years with a catalog and over the phone, later via the web as it evolved, and still later in person in their stores.  I think what’s always impressed me is that in every transaction they’ve made a sincere effort not just to service my needs, but first to understand my needs…by getting to know ME – how often I run, how far, and where.  Am I prone to injury?  Do I race?  What brand of shoes do I favor?  Finally, when I’m in their store, they do an in-depth analysis, using a treadmill, hi-tech video, and pressure plates, to be able to make shoe recommendations customized for me and my needs.  Now THAT’s selling!  Notice all the asking, listening, and observation!  Great lessons!

Now, after 20 years they have a LOT of history (data) on me!  You’d think that they’d know me like their own family, but there ARE hundreds of thousands of me and thousands of them, so realistically I’m just a number…but a number with lots of data attached!  I DO get postcards and emails throughout the year, most of which contain general messages to all customers, but some are targeted to ME, based on my most recent shoe purchases.  My shoe is on sale, or is in danger of going out of production (the “endangered shoe” list), or a similar or complimentary product is on sale.  Good, targeted use of data, yes, but nowhere even close to where they could be.

I imagine a day where when I call or walk through the door their systems will identify me and present staff with everything  (data wise) they need to help fill my needs…and sell me what I need to meet those needs.  Or, through intelligent data use, they could send me a reminder four months after my last shoe purchase to remind me that it’s time to save my legs and feet with another pair.  I’d like that!  The data’s there, the system just hasn’t caught up….but I am certain it will.

I believe most companies worth their salt will get there as well!  We all have mountains of data, and we’re learning to “mine” it better and better all the time.  I believe we will learn to mine it, present it, and use it to help us better understand, better serve, and better sell customers the products that will help them be successful.  But I wouldn’t wait for that to happen.  Instead, adopt an attitude of genuine interest in your customers.  What kind of work do they do, what do they use, what do they like…or dislike?  Create a mental profile (data) of each customer and then present, rather than just react when they visit your business.  Most B2B businesses’ advantage over Roadrunner is that we see the same faces with regular frequency, so creating a mental database is relatively easy.  You’ve probably experienced this with the better places you shop or eat, where the waiter or clerk knows you well enough to anticipate and better, accurately direct you to things similar, but better than “the usual”.  Makes you feel good…even important!

Yes, the day will come when much of this will be automated!  This is good and a bit sad; Sad, if we let “systems’ do not only the thinking, but also the caring for us.  Data and caring do mix, and when used together can produce magical moments for customers.  So, take every opportunity to ask, listen, observe, building a mental database, and then present your customers with solutions that will make them feel good…and important!

Lead [and sell] on!

Cliff

February 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

“Stuff” Happens!

Life’s not easy!   Just when things seem to be going along just fine, “stuff” happens, throwing us off course.  Weather, traffic, illness, other people’s decisions or actions, the economy, accidents…  What’s a person to do?  There’s really only one good choice…

The real challenge in life isn’t the “stuff” of life, but how we deal with the “stuff”.   The key is to let principles, the things we believe in…down deep, not our conditions or circumstances dictate our responses.  The good news is that we do have a choice.  In fact, next to life itself, the greatest gift any of us enjoy in this life is the freedom to choose.  Unfortunately, many people give up this gift, placing it in the hands of their circumstances, surroundings, or other people to decide how they’ll respond.

Habits 2 and 3 of Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” are: (2) Begin With the End in Mind, and (3) Put First Things First.  Effective people live with a clear vision of who they are and what is most important.  They are principle-centered.  They carry their mission in their hearts, and make decisions based on the mission or vision of who they are and who they strive to be.  They respond to  “stuff” based on this vision…placing even conflicting decisions (and principles) in proper order (putting first things first).

Great leaders are great because of their ability to live habits 2 and 3.  Those who depend on great leaders do so out of trust and confidence in their leaders’ vision and dedication to keeping it all in proper order…unfailingly.  Unfortunately, for every principle-centered person there are many more whose decisions are short-sited – based on immediate return or satisfaction – without regard for the long-term consequences.

During the the 9/11 crisis, many companies’ computer systems were disrupted.  One bank in particular lost partial control over its ATM machines.  The problem was that the machines couldn’t monitor the account balances, leaving open the possibility that account holders could withdraw far more than they had in their accounts.  The bank had a choice – shut down the system completely, or take the risk and continue to provide service at at that difficult time.  They took the risk, and sadly, there were many – the short-sited and un-principled – who cashed in on the circumstance, withdrawing many thousands more than they owned.

After all was said and done, over 4,000 people were under investigation in the “theft” of over $15 million.  Contrast the above example of the un-principled, with that of the true-to-life, principle-centered hero…Ascension Franco Gonzales, an unassuming immigrant dishwasher in Los Angeles.  The L.A. Times reported:

 “On a lonely evening beneath the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles, Ascension Franco Gonzales had the kind of moment Mexican songwriters put to music and transform into myth.  The ballad, or corrido, would tell the now familiar tale: how on August 27th an armored truck lurched, its back doors flipped open, and out tumbled a bag containing $203,000.  And how Franco…picked it up.  And how he gave it back the next morning.  Franco, a boyish 23-year-old with a self-deprecating sense of humor, was waiting for a bus when the $203,000 fell to the street.  “There wasn’t another soul around”.”  The next morning, Franco stuffed all the money into a laundry bag and met police officers at a local park where he promptly turned the fortune over to them.  He asked only one thing: “can I have my laundry bag back?”

Now the cynics of the world wouldn’t be surprised to hear Franco comment, “Everybody says I’m an idiot…”  Everyone that is, but his proud mother who still lives in Mexico, and thinks he is wonderful.  You see, Franco is the “vision” of a “good son”…he knows who he is, remaining true to his principles, and keeping all things in proper order and perspective regardless of circumstances.  Good sons make good people…good citizens…good leaders. They are “highly effective” people.

You’ll be happy to know that Franco was rewarded, although no reward was expected, for his honesty.  However, I’d be willing to bet, based on what we know about Franco, that the gleam of the $25,000 reward will have faded long before the glow of self-respect and inner peace from living his principles.  Principle-centered people believe in the “always” principles of consistency and integrity.  They understand that principles are not subject to ircumstances, but rather that circumstances must be subject to principles.

Yes, “stuff” happens.  But the “stuff” that happens to us isn’t really all that important…it’s what happens within us that really matters.  As leaders (of both yourself and others) you are many many times more effective when those you serve observe your unwavering commitment to principles and priorities…always – never depending on the circumstances.  Such consistency breeds immeasurable trust and confidence, and ensures cooperation and team spirit.

So the next time “stuff” happens…

Lead on…

Cliff

November 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm Leave a comment

An Attitude of Gratitude

Have you ever noticed that the happiest people you meet are also the first to say “thank you”, and that the most frustrated, selfish, and cynical rarely acknowledge or express gratitude?  Why is that?  Is it because happy people have more to be thankful for?  I don’t think so.   I believe theirs is an attitude of gratitude that is born out of a unique perspective of wonder and contentment.

According to a recent national survey, more than half of all Americans don’t expect to receive a thank-you card or note after giving a gift.  Unfortunately the age-old custom of sending thank-you notes and cards has nearly been forgotten.  The survey, commissioned by the Society of American Florists found that most people don’t even expect an in-person [verbal] “thank you”, a phone call or even an email “thanks”.  How sad! 

Now, don’t misunderstand…I’m not suggesting that we as doers and givers should be seeking recognition and gratitude from others; that’s not the point.  The point is that we as a people are gradually drifting into a state of thanklessnessIt is a problem, especially in a country where prosperity and plenty have given Americans more material blessings than any people, at any time, in history.  People who don’t show gratitude are less likely to treat others with respect.  They are more likely to be rude and insensitive and show a lack of regard for everyone but themselves.  They are more likely to lie, cheat, and steal…and to complain that they are “entitled” to what others have.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day – the one day of the year when many pause to consider all that they have been given.  Some even call this time of year “the season for giving thanks”.  But gratitudereal thanksgiving – knows no season.  It is not an event that we “do” and then set aside for the rest of the year.  Real gratitude is a character trait of people with real characterGratitude indicates an attitude of humility (the opposite of Pride–the first “deadly sin”) and acknowledges one’s dependence upon others.  I cringe when I hear people say “he’s a self-made-man”, and worse when I hear of people who they themselves think that of themselves.  None of us are self-made.  None of us are successful by our own merits…no matter how challenging our lives may be.  There is always a friend, a parent, an advisor, an author, an employee, a customer, a teacher, an inspiration, or an artist that leads us to achievement.  I work for a guy who understands this.  He’s the CEO of one of the best wholesale distribution companies in the country.  Yet every day as people leave work and he hears the “goodbyes”, he calls from his corner office “thanks for the help”.

The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to commit to developing an attitude of gratitude at all times and under all conditions.  To look for and recognize the blessings and gifts that just come to us.  To always thank others for help, for things, for ideas, for anything we can find an excuse to express gratitude for.

At a time when people are “thanking” less, what an opportunity to set ourselves apart.  Commit to sending one thank-you card a day to a customer, or looking for one thing to thank an employee for each day. As we do, wonderful things will happen to us as individuals, to those we thank…just watch…

Lead on………..    Cliff

November 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

“What Did You Do for Someone Today?”

Jack grew up in very humble circumstances in the hills of southwest Virginia.  He was one of seven children of a Methodist minister and a stay-at-home mom.  Every day as the family sat at dinner, Jack’s father would ask each child in turn, “And what did you do for someone today?”  This caused each child in the family to consciously go about each day looking for some way to help others…so they could give a good report each night.  From this experience, as the children grew and matured an interesting thing took place.  Their motivation changed from needing to report well, to each of them developing a sincere desire to help and serve others.  We all know from personal experience the reward and good feelings we enjoy as the result of personal sacrifice and service; imagine the effect on Jack and his siblings after years of this practice!

So, what ever came of Jack?  Well, he became a doctor.  Makes sense doesn’t it?  But that’s not all!  Inspired by his father’s vision for his children, Dr. Jack McConnell went on to accomplish much more!  He directed the development of the tuberculosis tine test, participated in the early development of the polio vaccine, supervised the development of Tylenol, and was instrumental in developing the magnetic resonance imaging procedure, or MRI!  He also created the organization “Volunteers in Medicine”, which allows retired doctors to provide free medical services to the uninsured.

Dr. McConnell has left a significant and lasting mark on humanity all because of a sincere desire to help others, instilled by the inspired vision of a father.  I am sure that Jack’s father wanted his children to be good citizens and to serve their communities, but I am even more certain that his ultimate objective was to help his children come to understand the joy and peace and warmth that come to those who learn to selflessly serve others.

As we each look for ways to grow and improve, we might well give thought to adding a degree of “service” to our personal goals and objectives.  There are opportunities all around, formal and informal, and in every community.  Find an organization, a church, a cause, or just someone in need, and get to work helping.  At a minimum, go about each day looking for some way to help someone!  If we would all do this one simple thing, and teach it to our children to do the same, imagine the collective good, and the lasting difference it would make…in the world and in our lives!

Have a GREAT day…..serving!!!

Lead on…

Cliff

September 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm Leave a comment

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