Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Success Begins in Your Mind by Tom Hopkins

A strong positive attitude is one of the most important traits a sales professional can have. Most people who fail in business fail because they don’t know how to keep their attitudes positive on a daily basis. They start their careers learning and practicing the basics, honing their skills, and end up making lots of money. Then, they go into a slump. They will stay in their slump until they go back to the fundamentals, until they return to doing what they get paid for — accepting failure and rejection without letting it stop them.
The key to success is handling failure.
Handling success does not come naturally to most people. It is an acquired skill. Some of your emotions tell you to sulk and avoid any situations in the future that are likely to put you in line to feel the pain of rejection again. Other emotions tell you to get more out of life for yourself and your loved ones. Concentrate on what you have to gain, and learn how to change your attitude toward rejection.
There are five concepts that have helped me move forward in all areas of my life. Memorize them and recall them when you’re rejected or have failed to achieve what you wanted.
1. I never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience. Every sale that doesn't close is a learning experience; every challenge you face is a learning experience. Look at failure and rejection in a different light — as a learning experience.
2. I never see failure as failure, but only as the negative feedback I need to change course in my direction. Outside a restaurant, I once saw a gentleman who’d had too much to drink to try to unlock his car with the wrong key. No matter how many times he tried, the key didn’t work. After I’d talked to him into taking a taxi home, it occurred to me that sometimes we keep trying to make the wrong key unlock the door to success; keep using techniques that don’t work in our selling endeavors.
It takes some stick-to-it stamina to keep calling the hundred potential clients you have to go through to get your next sale. And, while you’re doing it, you’ll have plenty of learning experiences, plenty of chances to change course in your direction to make your technique more effective.
3. I never see failure as failure, but only as the opportunity to develop my sense of humor. Have you ever had a traumatic experience involving a selling opportunity? Three weeks later, you finally tell someone about it and suddenly that same event is hilarious. The longer you wait to laugh, the more that failure will hold you back. Make a determined effort to laugh sooner, and learn the trick of telling a good story on yourself.
4. I never see failure as failure, but only as an opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance. Every time you present your service to others and they don’t make a decision to "own," at least they've given you a chance to practice. Many people don’t realize the importance of this. Appreciate the opportunity to improve.
5. I never see failure as failure, but only as the game I must play to win.Selling is a game. Life is a game. Both have their rules. Over the years, I’ve discovered that a single rule dominates every situation: Those who risk failure by working with more people, make more money; those who risk less failure, make less.
If you risk failure, sometimes you will fail. But every time you fail, you’re that much closer to success. Success demands its percentage of failure.
Work with the five attitudes toward failure and rejection. What counts isn’t how many transactions fall out, how many people hang up on you, how many things don’t work out, how many people go back on their word. What counts is how many times you pick yourself up, shrug off the failure, learn from it, and keep trying to make things come together.

There are challenges and obstacles in business, but they are all temporary if you take control of your thoughts and develop the right attitude. I believe that winners are winners because they’ve learned to fuel their success drives by overcoming failure.
Wishing you greatness in selling,

Tom Hopkins

P.S. - In case you missed my last article, I sent you a little gift. You'll find it here>>

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”

- Napoleon Hill

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ask the Expert: Unlocking Potential: From Underperformer to Asset

Ask the Expert: Unlocking Potential: From Underperformer to Asset -

In the article, Unlocking Potential: From Underperformer to Asset, we examined a dilemma that many employers face. You hire an internationally educated professional who has the right skills, degree, and workplace experience, but who under performs without explanation.  This is where Business Edge, a bridging program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, enables and empowers skilled immigrants to move back into jobs where they can fully utilize their skills, education and professional experience.  Read the article.
There are also other strategies that employers can implement to assist their immigrant talent in performing better. In this series we are posing questions to HR experts to provide insight into getting the most out of diverse talent.
Assume Sarah’s employer recognized cultural barriers were linked to certain performance issues. What interventions could her employer have made once the poor performance was perceived? 
By Sabina Michael, Program Manager, Business Edge 
The first step in a situation like Sarah’s is for the manager to provide timely feedback. Too often internationally educated employees such as Sarah receive their first form of real feedback’ in the form of a termination notice. This is too late; and it represents a situation where everyone loses.
Delivering feedback, however, is not a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Managers who work with internationally-educated professionals (IEPs) need to recognize that different cultures understand and perceive feedback very differently.
In Canada, professional settings are often characterized by indirect communication. Thus, if a manager is delivering feedback to an employee from an indirect culture, they might deliver it in a method fairly similar to how they would for a Canadian-born employee.
If, on the other hand, the IEP comes from a culture where the communication is very direct, the employee may struggle with indirect feedback. They may find the ‘feedback sandwich’ difficult to decode, and therefore miss the point completely. A manager should strive to give direct feedback in order to clearly convey the message. Focus on the content of message, rather than on non-verbal cues such as body language, intonation and register in speech.
Further, it is critical to set clear goals and concrete deliverables. Employees are then able to understand and focus on the key deliverables. Managers should allow for frequent check-in meetings to provide employees with the opportunity to clarify questions and review performance. Additional support from a mentor, coach or ‘cultural buddy’ would also be of great help.
The manager and IEP alike should keep the following in mind. Each should strive to increase their understanding of the other person’s perspective before jumping to conclusions. And each should address cultural issues in an open, honest way before they become insurmountable. Sarah’s case is one where everyone loses. Described here is a situation where everyone comes out ahead.

More Resources

Video – Integrating Talent Video– Reward and RecognitionCultural differences can influence the effectiveness of performance feedback in a diverse workplace. The effects of these differences are highlighted in the fourth installment of Integrating Talent, a training video created by TRIEC that follows the fictional experiences of the skilled immigrant Tarek and his employer MetroCan Technologies.
Roadmap – Manage PerformanceIn this section of the Roadmap learn how to set goals, outline expectations and provide regular feedback to help skilled immigrant employees perform effectively.
E-learning course – Performance ManagementThis course examines the role of cultural norms in performance management and leadership.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Most Powerful Habit You Can Imagine by Bruce Kasanoff

Last year, I set out to come up with a single sentence that could guide both my career and personal decisions. It turned out to be,
Be generous and expert, trustworthy and clear, open-minded and adaptable, persistent and present."
Only after months of living by these words did I realize that all these elements came down to a single powerful habit, which is to start every interaction by thinking: help this person. Let me explain...
Generous means to start every personal interaction with three words in your head: help this person. When you answer the phone, when someone knocks on your door, when you get introduced to a new colleague, your first instinct should be to help that person. Yesterday I was driving my 14-year-old son back from a school event and I made an observation about the event that wasn't entirely positive. His response was, "How is that helping this person?"
That quick exchange taught me two things. It's not enough to say you are generous, you actually have to work hard every day to live that way. I'm trying hard, but it is challenging, I admit. But more importantly, I learned that my son now has these words in the front of his mind, and that is a very good thing.
Expert means to be talented enough in certain areas that you can help others in a meaningful manner. This is where many people completely miss the mark. The main reason to become a expert is not so you can make more money; this attitude will limit your potential. The main reason is so you can help more people, more often.
Trustworthy means to be someone others turn to both in times of need and of opportunity. In such moments, other people are especially vulnerable and they need to know you will not only respect their confidentiality but also deliver on your promises.
Clear means that you fully understand your role is to be someone who helps with a purpose. You aren't just a Good Samaritan; although your first thought is to help others, you also have a set of goals to achieve for yourself, your family and your organization. You make it easy for others to understand these goals. In this way, you will have the time to help others and still be able to accomplish what you need to do.
Here's a really tough one: open-minded means that you are willing to help people you initially might find unworthy of help. Yesterday at an event, a woman pushed right past my colleague and I - who were patiently waiting to talk with the host - to capture his attention. At first, my thoughts about her weren't too kind, but as we again waited our turn, it dawned on me that her behavior was perhaps generated by anxiety or a pressing need, and that she was probably in such a state of tunnelvision that it never even dawned on her that we were waiting. People in this state are the ones who need help the most.
Adaptable means that you are not just a helpful person with a hammer, trying to pound everything into better shape. When one approach doesn't work, you are willing to try others. Don't just tell someone, "Here's what I'd do in this situation." Think hard about the best strategy for helping them, given their personality, preferences and position.
Persistent means to be serious about helping others, and not just superficial. I'm not simply suggesting you start holding the door open for more people; I'm suggesting you become a force who helps other people in a substantive way. The people who need help the most won't be helped by a ten-second gesture.
Present means to pay attention to the people around you so that you can spot those who are struggling, confused or uncertain. Most of us try to put on a good face, and you need to see past the superficial layer of daily life.
ADD ALL THIS UP, and you become the type of person others love to have around them. You become someone who listens, who is genuinely interested in others, who is capable and dependable. Who you are - and how you approach the world - will change.
And now comes the personal payoff: you will be dramatically more capable of achieving your own purpose.
If you can remember and live by this sentence, you can achieve anything you set your mind to do. Anything.
Be generous and expert, trustworthy and clear, open-minded and adaptable, persistent and present."

You can also download my free guides at, or read my book with Michael Hinshaw Smart Customers, Stupid Companies. On Twitter, I'm @NowPossible.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Keep Your Name Off That Layoff List

Keep Your Name Off That Layoff List

A very important meeting is held, and you’re not invited. At this meeting, a senior leader announces that since targets were not reached, 150 managers will be laid off, and the purpose of this meeting is to create a list identifying exactly who those people will be. The key question for you is, “How do you keep your name off that list?”
In the 1960s Melvin J. Lerner described a psychological phenomenon called the “just world hypothesis”: People want to believe that bad things happen to bad people. After downsizings, for instance, it’s common for the survivors to believe that only the poor performers were fired.
But is that so?
To begin to answer that question, we gathered a substantial amount of data from one U.S.-basedFortune 100 company after it had gone through an organizational downsizing to see if we could identify factors that might predict which people were most likely to be let go.
One factor that wasn’t very predictive, it turned out, was a history of good performance reviews. Only 23% of those who were laid off had been given a negative review the previous year. The implication is that the other 77% who were asked to leave had no clue this was coming.
But when we examined the 360-degree assessments for the previous two years of all those who’d been let go and surveyed their managers to ask why, we found a very consistent array of problems, all of which were apparent in advance. Specifically, we were able to identify six factors that should have raised red flags. Everyone who’d been laid off shared at least two of the following:
  1. They were not viewed as strategic. Many of the unfortunate 150 had not been working in roles that provided them with opportunities to create new strategies, and as a result colleagues rated them very poorly on their strategic ability in the 360 assessments. As a group, those who were downsized rated, on average, only in the 32nd percentile on their strategic ability – that is, worse than two-thirds of their colleagues. This is a factor that they might have rectified before it was too late, since they all had received feedback about their strategic ability in the previous two years. What stopped them? The picture that emerges is of leaders who worked hard but were too heads-down and narrowly focused on immediate operational, technical, or functional issues. Many of these were people with valuable technical or functional expertise. But the sad fact is that when times are tough, what most organizations need most are leaders who can create a winning strategy that will ensure competitive advantage.
  2. They failed to consistently deliver results. Here, too, 360 feedback predicted problems: Those who were terminated were rated, on average, in the 37th percentile on delivering results. These were the people who over that previous two years had had missed deadlines, had committed to projects they hadn’t delivered, or had set the bar too low for others. While they perceived themselves to be working very hard, they looked to everyone else in their 360 evaluations like they were running out of energy and losing effectiveness over time. Some had reputations for not working hard; the older ones in this group appeared to their colleagues to have started their retirements early.
  3. Their ethics or integrity had been called into question. This was not a common problem, but whenever it existed people were let go. These ethical lapses covered a wide range, from failure to comply with company policies, to inappropriate comments to or relationships with co-workers, to financial improprieties like moving excess funds from one budget year to another by generating fictitious invoices. These were indications, for the most part not of outright dishonesty but of poor judgment.
  4. They had (very) poor interpersonal skills. Many people with weak interpersonal skills had been promoted based on their technical ability and then were not able to improve their social skills enough to succeed in their new roles. As a group, those laid off averaged  in only the 37th percentile in the 360 evaluations of their relationship-building and people skills. Many were viewed as weak leaders who were unable to influence others and foster necessary change. Some were difficult to deal with — or even hostile, volatile, angry, combative, and unable to manage their impulsive behavior. Some were described as creating a psychically toxic work environment. Why had the company waited for a downsizing to get rid of these obvious candidates? Keep in mind that many of these people were also described as brilliant.
  5. They were resistant to change, both  personally and organizationally. In our global database of 360 feedback from 35,000 leaders, we’ve found a strong correlation between managers’ willingness to ask for and respond to feedback and their overall leadership effectiveness. What’s more, we’ve found that the willingness to ask for advice and respond to feedback declines over time (that is, older workers in our database tend to score lower than younger ones). In general, the worst leaders assume that they’re promoted because of their brilliance and all they need to do is keep on doing what they did in the past. But the best leaders continue to look for feedback and to find ways to improve. So it did not surprise us that many of the managers who were let go at this company were described as resistant to change and inflexible to new approaches in their 360 reviews.
  6. They had lost sponsors or support. Over half the managers who were downsized indicated that they had recently lost the support of their sponsor. So in that fateful meeting where was no one to speak up for them. The lesson here is clear. Not only do you need to ask “Who will be your strong advocate?” but it’s important to have more than one.
That last factor is clearly political, and its pervasiveness suggests that everyone should be a little bit paranoid when layoffs are in the offing. But generally speaking, our research with this company offers up some strong evidence for the just world hypothesis, since none of the unfortunate 150 were laid off for that reason only. Everyone was let go for at least one, and generally more than one, justifiable reason.
What these results also suggest is that positive reviews, and even promotions, can bring a false sense of security. The disparities between the positive performance reviews and the negative comments on the 360s reinforce our longtime findings that it is your strengths that get you promoted – but also suggest that in uncertain times you should take a second look at your flaws, which may leave you vulnerable to being laid off.
If your organization were facing a cutback today, would be you prepared and certain your name wouldn’t appear on “the list”? We welcome your thoughts.

Jack Zenger is the CEO and Joseph Folkman is the president of Zenger/Folkman, a leadership development consultancy. They are co-authors of the October 2011 HBR article “Making Yourself Indispensable,” and the book How to Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success by Magnifying Your Strengths (McGraw-Hill, 2012).