Pedal Through The Sh*t

20 Jan

Last summer I shared the below experience with my sales team.  As those who have worked for me they have come to expect the Monday morning email.  I try to draw from my experiences, or things that I’ve read, to help coach and inspire the team.   I hope this helps you in the year ahead.

My 7 year old daughter had been slow to have interest in learning to ride a bike, as she rides her scooter everywhere.  This past summer she finally decided it was time to learn. It was an experience of ups and downs, but after an hour she was able to ride around our entire block, which is about a mile.  The whole experience was relatable to our day to day at work.

Screenshot 2020-01-20 05.35.34First, she took some tumbles as we started, at one point busting her finger open on one of the falls.  While we had a little blood she was determined.   She got back up and we went again.  I know sometimes we have rough days and we fall but the key is not to focus on the fall, it is getting up and doing it again.  As I told her each fall is a learning experience that you can file away so it doesn’t happen again.   We should all look at the deals that don’t close and try to understand why it didn’t work, or what we could do differently to make sure it doesn’t happen again.   We all are moving fast, but really try to understand where you missed to help make sure it doesn’t occur the next time.  Sometimes the deals you lose can be a better learning experience than those you win.

The next thing we learned was how to pedal through the sh*t.  After we finally figured out how to ride on the straightaway the next step was taking the corners as we rounded the block.   This was a hard learning experience as it took some time to figure out how to make the sharp turn.   I continued to share with her that if you pedal through the corner it will be easier.  The challenge was she would end up on the grass and it is much harder to pedal on grass than pavement.  She had to work hard to get through the thick grass and at times the tree roots that were sticking out on the grass.  At times we get in the thick sh*t at work.  The key is to pedal harder.  That might mean looking for another piece of data, pushing a little harder on finance or yield, or make one more call or get another advocate at our customers.  It’s not easy but it will help you through the thick grass.  

The last thing we learned was coasting, which was an unnatural feeling for my daughter.  We shouldn’t do this often, but at times we pedal hard and uphill and it is okay to coast briefly.  We all need a recovery period.  If you can give yourself a little break take it, and enjoy the ride.

The last thing we worked on was braking, which is something we rarely do when we ride, and something we rarely do at Amazon.  So don’t hit the brakes often, and keep pedaling through the sh*t.

We enjoyed a full summer of riding our bikes together.   I look forward to teaching my other daughter this summer how to ride, so we can all pedal through the sh*t together.

IMG_1609

Here’s To Failing in 2020

7 Jan

Screenshot 2020-01-07 07.37.37

I shared the perspective below with my team a few weeks ago, but it really had me thinking about how we assure we are maximizing our potential in 2020.

First, I’ve talked about the power of publishing.  When you think or say a statement around an improvement or goal you’d like to accomplish the chance of failure is much higher than when you write it down.  In fact people who write down their goals and share them are 2X more likely to follow through.  This is why I share my “Fast Forward” document with my team each year.  It is a written document that is read as if it is January 2021 and it outlines my accomplishment that I hoped to have achieved personally and professionally.

I 100% expect that I will fail on some of my goals and that is okay.  I was reading an article talking about how failure is the driving force behind some of the most successful people we know.  We all have heard how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team and went on to be the greatest basketball player ever in the NBA.   Sorry Lebron fans.  In similar fashion Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper company for “lacking imagination” and “having no original ideas” and finally the Beatles were rejected from Decca recording studios because they didn’t like their sound.

The easy thing to do is to set pragmatic goals and feel really good about yourself, or as one of my sales people calls it “shrink to greatness.”   I would challenge all of you to establish goals that are big, game changing and could impact your life.  This could be personal or professional.   I have my aspirations that I’m working on and will share in the coming weeks.

So here is to failing in 2020.

Screenshot 2020-01-07 07.35.31

3 Life Lessons from Jay Seideman

18 Dec

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 5.51.24 AM

I don’t know if I will I will ever forget the moment I heard about the death of a friend, and former manager, Jay Seideman.  I was washing the dishes and one of my kids was trying to get my attention.   I didn’t really believe it, I thought someone had bad information.   Unfortunately, it slowly came to reality as I received other notes with the same news.

I’ve thought about Jay over the past 10 days as I play with my kids or when we are joking around the office.  I’m extremely grateful for the short time I had working with Jay.  I thought about how you honor or “carry it forward” for Jay.   I thought of what Jay taught and how I can live what he taught me.  Based on the Linkedin messages and Facebook posts I’m not the only one that he impacted.

I think the best way to honor Jay is to teach and inspire those around me with the wisdom and levity Jay provided.   I shared the below with my sales team earlier this week and I hope to carry Jay’s lessons with me personally and professionally for the years to come.

The first thing that Jay taught us that we work too hard to not have fun along the way.   He brought humor and levity to the workplace and often used himself to generate laughter.  He didn’t take himself too seriously and as smart as he was, and all the success he had, he exhibited tremendous humility.   Jay was always the guy that could see when you were having a rough day and pull you aside, take you to lunch, or ask you to grab a cup of coffee to just chat.  He was one of the most positive people that I was around.  He always found the good in the bad and made you think about things in a different way.

The 3 things that I will carry forward from time with Jay are these, and I hope for some of you this is a good reminder, or an opportunity to look at things differently.

  1. Have fun, we all work too hard to not enjoy our days.   Find some fun in the day, make time for your teammates, and find laughter
  2. Be a Friend. When you see someone having a tough day, offer to grab lunch, get a coffee or just talk.  I know we are all busy but take time for one another, pick each other up.
  3. Look for the Positives.  Celebrate the wins, learn from the losses and look for the positive

Tim Mahlman, a friend who I worked with at both Yahoo and Aol, and is President of the Oath’s Ad Platform, had this to say about Jay in the AdExchanger article.

“His belief in doing what’s right made him unafraid to say what he felt.  He always knew how to motivate me, and he knew how to pick me up when things were not going well.  He lived by the belief that anything is possible if you want it badly enough.”

Couldn’t be truer.   You will be missed Jay.

Wisdom Acquisition is a Moral Duty

9 Jun

Slide1Recently I had the chance to watch a documentary on HBO about Warren Buffet.   I’m enamored at how grounded he is, and amused how simplistic he has made his path to becoming so wealthy.

As with all great leaders he relies on his great people around him.  Charlie Munger has worked with Buffet for decades and in a speech he outlined 10 ideas that allowed his success in life.

One of those ideas is “Wisdom Acquisition is a Moral Duty.”  To dig a little deeper, to him this means becoming wiser  is your moral duty, not something that you do just to advance in life.  It means that you’re hooked for lifetime learning. Munger says he constantly sees people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines, they go to bed every night a little wiser than when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.

Based on every article I’ve read about leading sales individuals, curiosity is always listed as one of the top 3 traits.  This story mirrors that to perfection.  As we continue to grow, think about how you can strive to grow.   Do you have industry friends that have found success and can learn from?   Are their people in other industries that have a unique perspective?  Look for those opportunities, an others, to grow.

Personally, I rely on a many friends and mentors, but my favorite is an Army Ranger friend who helps me understand how they lead, learn and develop.

 

Let Perseverance Be Your Engine And Hope Your Fuel

1 Jun

let perserverance be your engine and hope be your fuel

I was reading  the Chicago Tribune a few weeks back, yes I still read the paper.  They had a good piece on a former Cubs players (Matt Sczur) who talked about Hope and Persistence and how it drives him.  As I was thinking about this I thought these 2 things  can help us move our personal and professional life forward.  Persistence can provide results, while hope pushes us to take the next step.

If I hope to reach a goal but give up trying whenever I face a problem, I will never reach any goal worth achieving. If I work hard at something every day but don’t have any hope that I will see results, I will soon get discouraged and abandon the effort.

Persistence is defined as “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.”

Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

Sczur was consistently sitting behind more experienced players and couldn’t break the everyday lineup even while continuing to put up good numbers.    In the article it talks about how Szczur kept a rock in his locker at Wrigley Field, a reminder of a parable — “the Stonecutter” — he learned from a priest while playing football at Villanova.

bigstock-Stone-Sculptor-21145889-520x332

The story goes after trying to break a stone by tapping it repeatedly, the stonecutter finally cracked it with a tap.  It was a lesson in perseverance. The stonecutter realized the collective taps were what really did it, not the final one.  Sczur always had HOPE, not a wish, of being that everyday player, and now with the Padres he is doing just that.   With hope and persistence we can be successful.

3 Sales Lessons You Can Learn From The Military

25 May

Military

As we approach Memorial Day it had me thinking about all those that served.  Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who have died protecting all of us.  While I have not served, I enjoy exploring American history and the leadership lessons from our Military leaders.  My respect for the Military has led me to one of my favorite charities, the Fisher House.

The Military has provides many lessons that sales  can learn from.  A friend of mine of 36 years has served our country for almost 20 years.  He has served in many capacities and for the last few years has worked in a very specialized area.

We’ve discussed over the years how they approach missions and how they prepare. He shared that working as a team they identify what success looks like,  based on the higher-ups directive, and they discuss the tools and personnel needed to be successful.   They write it out and walk through the plan.

So as I think about how this applies to my life.  I used to ask my team, “What does success look like in this meeting?” as we walked or entered a meeting.  95% of the time the seller will know what success looks like.  In many cases we had other members of the organization joining the meeting in a specialty capacity, and many times they did not know what success looks liked for the lead sales individual or we discussed it on the way to the meeting or before we walked in.  The timing was to late and unorganized.  We’ve adapted our plan to be more successful by clearly defining goals and understanding the tools needed at the start of every week to help guide our conversations and develop the story prior to the meeting.

As I’ve read articles on books of great leaders, another area we can adopt as a sales culture is post-mission analysis.  We are all guilty of jumping back into the day when the meeting ends.  We are all short on time, but taking 5-10 minutes with the team to discuss what worked, what didn’t, and how you would do it differently, can help as you get ready for the next sales call.  Use your agreed upon “Success” as the guide and see if you accomplished what you hoped.

3 Things I Learned

  1. Collaborate with the team to come to an agreement on what success looks like days before the meeting.  Write it down and send it out to all involved.  Our team starts every Monday with defining success for our meetings and the tools needed.
  2.  Understand who and what is needed to drive the outcome you have agreed upon. This doesn’t mean bringing 10 people to a meeting or delivering a 60 page PowerPoint to get your point across but it can create clarity.
  3. Perform a post meeting analysis to identify what worked and what didn’t work to create success moving forward.

In no way does sales come close to the work that our Military does for us.  While success and failure for us means winning or losing investment, for our Military success or failure can be measured through life and death.

Thanks to all those who served and if inclined check out Fisher House.   It’s a great charity and 91% of all donations goes to the cause.

About Fisher House:

FisherHouse_Logo-300x289.jpeg

Fisher House Foundation, Inc. is an international not-for-profit organization established to improve the quality of life for members of the military, retirees, Veterans and their families. The Foundation builds comfort homes at military and VA medical centers and gifts them to the government. It assists with the coordination of private support and encourages public support for the network of comfort homes known as “Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Houses.” It works to educate and inform the military and Veterans’ communities, their families and the general public about Fisher Houses and provides necessary support to individual Fisher Houses as needed. Other quality of life programs include scholarship programs, a grants program for volunteer organizations with innovative plans for quality of life projects, the Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs and individual assistance to members of the military and their families during a crisis.

5 Sales Lessons from Dr. Seuss

18 May

Dr Seuss

In March my daughters celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss all week at daycare and I learned 2 things after reading these books over and over.  First, all the books by Dr. Seuss have real world application and are insightful (Not just “Oh, The Places You Go.”) and second, we have way more Dr. Seuss books in our house than I could have ever imagined.

A couple insightful things I learned along the way:

“I meant what I said, And I said what I meant…An elephant’s faithful One hundred percent!

Horton Hatches the Egg – this is straight forward, be the partner that follows through and commit to what you say and you put yourself ahead of 40% of your industry competitors in sales

“I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true  that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.  And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch. You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.  And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

Oh The Places You Go – your job will not always be easy and un-slumping yourself is a challenge but you will work hard and get out of this “waiting place.”

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

The Lorax – Get involved and make people around you better.  Be the doer

‘The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! – Continue to learn, curiosity is your friend.  Wisdom is a gift

Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-am! And I would eat them in a boat! And I would eat them with a goat. And I will eat them in the rain.  And in the dark. And on a train. And in a car. And in a tree. They are so good so good you see!

Green Eggs and Ham – for those not familiar with the book Daniel tried to convince Sam to eat Green Eggs and Ham and through curiosity and persistence Sam does try them, and finds out he likes them.  If you believe that you have a solution that works continue to asks questions and get our partners to try our solution.

While I enjoyed the books, after reading many of these for the 10th time it starts to really sink in how applicable this is to my life.

2 Lessons My Mom Taught Me About Sales

16 May
Entire Family

The head of the clan front and center as she should be

Get Out of the House – I grew up outside of a small town in what most people called the  “country” with no cable TV and the day was what I made of it.  I remember one summer my parents had finally given in and got us an Atari, yeah that ages me.  My mom was getting upset as the summer passed by and I sat there playing pong and pac-man.  One morning I woke up and the Atari was gone.  My mother had put it away for a couple days.  My mom told me to get out of the house and go do something.  So I did, I went for a walk in the woods, went fishing in the creek and messed around with my buddy in the neighborhood.  I slowly forgot about that Atari and enjoyed that summer.

Lesson:  Get out from behind your screens.  Go talk to clients, co-workers and industry friends.  Most of sales is face to face or over phone.   

Believe in Yourself –  I was not an easy kid for my parents.  I pushed everything to the boundaries and to be honest I was a little lost at times.  While I was a in college I had gotten into some trouble, like most college kids.   I’d lost direction and I remember my mom sitting with me and talking to me about redirecting my energy and effort.  She talked about the times that when I focused in the right areas and the changes I made to other people and the impact I had.  Most of all she told me to believe in myself and live the life I wanted, not the path I was on.

Lesson: When things are bad believe in your method.  We all know the “Right” thing to do and if you focus on that and not let bad habits spiral, things will correct themselves.   

The Future of Retail is in the Store

17 Feb

The Future of Retail is Inside the Store

Do you remember that first time you walked into an Apple Store?   How could a retailer have a store with a handful of tables where you can play with the products?  Every piece of that store is made to increase sales output.  If you decided to buy a product you didn’t stand in line at checkout.  An Apple employee would use his phone or another piece of technology and run your card right there on the spot.  Now Apple is continuing to change the market with the new Town Square store that is being tested in San Francisco.  The experience they’ve created is so powerful that just this weekend my 5 year old spotted the store and immediately asked to go inside.  She loves the experience as much as most consumers.

While the hockey stick growth of e-commerce continues with the National Retail Federation reporting that 12% of sales in Q4 were online or non-store most retailers still see somewhere between 80-90% of sales occur at physical location.  In another report by Quarterly e-commerce for Q3 they identified that only 8.4% of sales were occurring online.   Every retailer is looking for ways to bring you into the store and then increase dwell time, basket size or close rate per consumer.

While marketing is still a key component to driving consumers into store, the experience at locale is increasingly important in capturing the consumer and increasing loyalty.  This is why most retailers are working to solve the omnichannel  marketplace.    Brands that are already doing this are Warby Parker, Birch Box and Bonobos.   This new approach to retailing gives customers access to samples and an experience in a store that is unique.  It also provides valuable research to these clients.  Just recently Anthropologie announced an experiential new format that allows for consumers to touch and feel and then buy online, mimicking some of these smaller companies in a larger format.

Consumers still want to touch, taste, and feel the product which increases the opportunity for a relationship with the consumer.  In the past 2 years I’ve purchased multiple appliances all at Best Buy because I could feel it, see it and experience it.  In addition Best Buy matches Amazon prices so if something goes wrong with these products I know I can walk in and talk to a customer service rep.

So retailers need to continue to evolve the in-store experience and measure the impact on the business.  Neiman Marcus Group, Nordstrom Inc. and Under Armour Inc. are among 140 retailers that have signed on with ChargeItSpot allowing consumers to charge the phone while they shop.  We all hate that dying phone feeling so consumers are actively shopping at these stores and they are seeing sales lift of 29% according to the study.

Retailers should market the product and build a moat with the experience.  In a world of “Me Too” products, and in some cases the same products, it becomes a race to the bottom.  To stand out make your store one of the stores that consumers want to walk in and increase the bottom line.

The top 5 wireless ads: T-Mobile outspent AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in TV advertisements in July

25 Aug

FierceWireless has partnered with TV advertising measurement firm iSpot.tv to bring you a monthly snapshot of the wireless industry’s advertising spending.

In July, the nation’s wireless carriers spent an estimated $183.4 million on TV advertising, down $450,000 from June. T-Mobile led the way with 23.2 percent of that total, taking over the lead held by AT&T in June. T-Mobile’s spending was spread across 12 different ads shown a total of around 6,000 times.

But AT&T came in a close second with 21.2 percent of July’s spending. AT&T’s spending was spread across 14 ads shown a total of around 10,000 times. Verizon Wireless came in third with 19.8 percent of the total; Verizon was third in June also.

Here is a breakdown of how much each carrier spent to show TV ads during July:

Although T-Mobile spent the most money during July on TV advertisements, Verizon spent the most on any single ad. Verizon spent $21.4 million across a range of channels and TV programs during July to show its “Magnificent Geese” spot. Sprint’s “Followers” ad followed with $20.5 million, and T-Mobile’s “Mobile Without Borders” was third with $14.5 million.

Here are the top 5 ads for July in terms of total spending:

  1. Verizon “Magnificent Geese” ($21.4 million)
  2. Sprint “Followers” ($20.5 million)
  1. T-Mobile “Mobile Without Borders” ($14.5 million)
  1. AT&T “Life Simulator” ($14 million)
  2. T-Mobile “Never Settle for Verizon” ($12.3 million)

Almost $80 million of the spending by wireless carriers in July on TV advertisements went to the Big Four broadcast networks (Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC), with TNT breaking into the top 5 with $6.8 million.

And what TV shows did the nation’s wireless carriers pay to put their advertisements into? That statistic generally tracks alongside the nation’s most popular TV shows, but notable examples of the most popular TV shows among the CMOs at wireless carriers included America’s Got Talent with $7.2 million in total spending by wireless carriers, followed by American Ninja Warrior with $5 million, and the 2015 MLB All-Star Game at $4.1 million.

To obtain its data, iSpot.tv said its proprietary technology tracks TV commercials, movie trailers and show promotions across the top 111 networks in real-time. The company’s software constantly watches these networks, using proprietary audio and video fingerprinting algorithms to automatically identify and extract TV commercials, movie trailers and show promos. On the digital screen, the company tracks 710.2 million explicit interactions with TV ads across 101.5 million unique consumers per month. These interactions include video plays, searches and social activity. The company also analyzes online views across YouTube and iSpot.tv, searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo! and social activity on Facebook (including Facebook private) and Twitter.

iSpot.tv said it tags over 40 different dimensions of metadata, including brand, agency, actors, products, songs, moods, URLs and other pertinent data, to create its results.