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Scrabble

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scrabble

You can call it volunteering if you want but I just call it “an old fashioned whoopin’ that keeps on giving”

It’s true I’ve been known to head to the local Sr. Center and um… volunteer to play scrabble with some of the folks that hang out there.   My objective is twofold:  give of my time and talent to these wonderful folks and of course, to win.

Scrabble is a great game. It’s a great game for anyone.  It keeps the mind sharp.

Let’s all agree to that helping drive interest in the playing of Scrabble is a good thing – especially at a Senior Center.  Let me make an argument that it’s even better when I do it.   Scrabble in my hands for a mere hour a week, is a series of important life lessons for all of us.

 

  • Losing never gets old.  Chances are overwhelming that you will lose to me.  (Ok, well 2 weeks ago was an exception – but I’ve got my eye on you Betsy).  There’s no age when losing should stop.  Life is funny like that; the only time losing stops pretty much is when you’ve given up trying something or are no longer literally getting in the game.  My trouncing you is therefore, good for you.
  • Chi is good, really good.   Chi is a word that means vital internal energy.  Good chi is exactly what you want in your Senior Center and exactly what you want in Scrabble.  With me as your Scrabble guide, you’ll get vitally energized when you learn that you can spell “chi” for immense points in two other ways with just two letters as in “xi” and “qi”.  What fun!  When I did this for 31 points, Kathy shot me a look and then spewed out  two other choice letters tied together that I can’t mention, but nevertheless, this is a teaching moment!  – Teaching never grows old, even if we do.
  • Without rules there’s Chaos.   Just because we may have a little more life experience doesn’t mean rules get lax.  I have a lot of personal rules about Scrabble I think are endearing and truly in the spirit of the game.  One rule is that you should never put down a word that you cannot use in a sentence.   Nancy disagreed when I asked her about “el” and then slammed down her 4 page print-out of acceptable 2 letter Scrabble words and said “That’s stupid-  it’s a word! But to make you happy, how about you shutting the el up?”  Funny now but she’ll think about it later and realize how much I’ve taught her.

 

This week at my suggestion, we’ve added a Scrabble trophy for the winner of the weekly matches. The winner keeps it for the week, snapping and posting photos of you and your trophy around town.  A nice incentive to work hard every week and improve your game I say.   My Scrabble mates liked the idea but suggested if I win, to take a photo of myself and the trophy at the end of a long walk on a short pier.

Not very nice but chi is chi baby– bring it on!

 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

April 2, 2014 at 8:57 am

The 4 Best Sales Pick-Up Lines Ever

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bar

The 4 Best Sales Pick Up Lines Ever

 

Want to get a date with your prospect?  Want to see if you make those sparks fly?  Or maybe you want to date your current customer and move into a deeper more satisfying relationship.

Pick up lines work great.

My favorite one in college (worked darn near every time) was when I sauntered up to an unsuspecting attractive young lady at the bar and said   “I can play Lionel Ritchie songs on the piano, you wanna hear some? ”

But I’ve grown and realized that pick-up lines aren’t just for your love life.  They’re for work too.

Here are my top 4

“I know people just like you, in fact I spent the weekend in Vegas with hundreds of them” – This one is always good; you’re smart about their business – you went to a trade show in their industry and bragged about it.  You’ll be fun and a good listener.

“You may not know this, but I’ve been watching you..”.   Creepy?  No, not at all.  You’ve been watching them on social media, maybe read their posts or blogs.  You might have even read their financial reports.  You’re the type that makes people and businesses feel special.  You’re a nice talker, not a stalker.

“I’m learning about the most entrepreneurial and successful people,  do have a minute for me to interview you?” This one is always great.  People like to help people and especially if they can talk about themselves too!  You’re sure to get some time and maybe even for way more than a minute!

“Do you believe in love at first sight or should I show you that again?”   Great line to use In your presentation when you are super proud of your stuff –  your product or your solution.  It is very contagious and attractive to be proud so be proud!  You’ll have prospects fawning all over you.

 

 

 

Till next time,

Truly Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

March 26, 2014 at 11:05 am

Big Whoop

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big whoop

Big Whoop

 

  • You have a new dry cleaning store that also provides a unique pick up service?  Big Whoop.
  • You have a new service that writes blog posts for your business so you don’t have to?  Big Whoop.
  • You have  loan acquisition product for my bank that is cheaper than my current partner?  Big Whoop.
  • You have all in one online and offline marketing product suite?  Big Whoop.
  • You have an online fraud prevention product that is tablet friendly?  Big Whoop.

*****

  • Big Whoop cuz’ I wash and iron my own dress shirts.
  • Big Whoop cuz’ I don’t blog on my business website.
  • Big Whoop cuz’  the pain of switching to you blinds me just thinking about it.
  • Big Whoop cuz’ I don’t care what you have my business is small.
  • Big Whoop cuz’ I am very careful.

We spend a lot of time focused on why clients and prospects should choose us.  So much time.  So much time it is often sickening.

We need to spend more time on why clients and prospects should even choose at all.

Big Whoop is what you never hear your client say but what they often think.  Let’s be honest, most businesses and consumers are getting it done today, somehow or some way.

Your job is to get them to think change, to want to change, to inspire or scare them into change.  Get them to think differently.  Get them off the status quo.   

Status quo is ten times the enemy your competitor ever will be.  Go focus on that. 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

March 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm

There’s Something About The Plastic!

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Cat

My Cat in a rare moment not licking plastic

There’s Something About The Plastic!

“There’s something about the plastic!” is a hilarious phrase around our house these days.  And I think there’s an interesting business lesson to it as well.   Let me tell you why.

I have a cat.  I like cats.  My cat likes plastic.  I like plastic too.  But not like my cat.  My cat would lick plastic all day long if you let him.  Plastic bags, plastic wrappers, plastic sheet protectors, empty plastic zip lock bags ( his fav) or pretty much anything plastic including the Tupperware kind of stuff.   I have no idea why.

My son’s friend Jamie heard me incredulously exclaim (after seeing the cat lick a zip lock bag for an hour) how crazy it is that the darn cat licks plastic all day long and Jamie shouted “That’s what all cats do!!” He said it with the obvious tone that he knew the answer as to why they do.   I leaned forward and could not wait for the answer – I needed to know!.  And then Jamie said…. “There’s something about the plastic!”  

That was it.  He had no idea why either.   And that’s why we all collapsed on the floor laughing and why the phrase now is spoken, texted and emailed randomly among us for last 6 weeks especially when someone texts or says something worthy (unworthy)..   “There’s something about the plastic!” is the label we put on something said that brings absolutely nothing new, interesting or valuable to the conversation. 

There’s a bit of that that goes on at work too eh?   Here are 6 of my favorite phrases (often shouted out ( like Jamie did)) that mean nothing or are just plain let downs.  I have been guilty of a few of these myself for sure.   Please feel free to add yours in the comments section!

  • We tried that a few years ago, it worked great.”  [And why is it not still here? Usually heard in a brainstorm meeting]
  • “Just gotta get people to offer it more. ” [usually in a sales meeting- we all know it’s more complicated than that]
  • “There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this” [usually followed by silence.  Thanks cpt Obvious.]
  • “We need better leads” [ I’ve been on all sides – selling to feed my family, sales management & training and I can say never in my 25 years have I seen where that is true – it’s how you work the leads ( or better, make your own) that matters ]
  • “People need to be retrained” [OK –so this hits home today in my role but seriously- it’s a rare day that folks need “retraining” – what they really need is” re-selling” of the content by a leader or  “re-coaching” or “re – holding people accountableness-ness”
  • “We have to prioritize this with everything else.”  [Guilty am I here at times on this but think about how often we really hear it. And how “future tense” it is. Worthless.    And usually it never does get prioritized because that means something needs to be “de prioritized” and that is courage not enough of us have in excess.  ]

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Written by Mark McCarthy

January 16, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I Am Joe’s Goals

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moleskin black

I Am Joe’s Goals

It’s my favorite time of year!  I miss Joe.  It’s been a while.

This year is gonna be a great one I can tell.  A Moleskin notebook baby, it’s Moleskin!   Joe actually went to Barnes & Noble (like really walked in a brick and mortar store) and purchased this here fancy schmancy,  jet black paper journal to write me down in.  

There I am all smilin’ and stuff – that’s me right here on the first page ready to go!

                                                                      “My Goals 2014”

Here we go!

Um.  He stepped away for a minute I guess…

While I got ya – let me tell you about last couple of years – what a ride!  Last year I was on his IPad.  That was pretty awesome slipping and sliding all over the place getting blown up and then minimized like a 5 times a day (at least in the beginning).  But by February zoom!; he’d swipe my butt every time he’d see me and I’d go screeching off to my right like at 100 mph into darkness again, again and again.    After a while I was buried in a sea of other Apps.  Not fun.  I was not front and center like this Moleskin journal.  This book is all for me baby, nobody but me.

The year before the IPad thing I was on some yellow legal paper he bought and that was cool. But I got confused when he started carrying me around to meetings.  At first I thought it was good cuz’ it seemed like he was looking at me a lot (like he should) but then he started like writing loads of stupid meeting notes under me ( that he never looked at again mind you) and then started writing numbers down just below our 5 goals for the year that had nothing to do with the goals!  The last thing I remember was he drew this flower thing right through our goals that became a dragon that became a wizard with a dog or something and then I heard this massive tearing sound and I just blacked out and started tumbling and tumbling and then…but here he comes… that’s a story for another day….

OK here we go…he’s starting to write me down for 2014! 

“Be a better father”

“Earn more money”

“Lose 25 pounds”

Oh poo.  What the heck are those?

Joe!  Joe! Joe!  Will you never learn?   My Goal friends at Club Dead (It’s where Goals go to die) tell me the great stories about the Goals that don’t come back starving and looking for some late year bloomers to pick them up in February.  They say they hang on because their original owners because they write down “why” they want to be a better father, why they want make more money and why they want to lose weight in great detail!  AND that you have to write out the real steps and timelines you want to achieve to reach each of these goals.  AND that you have to look at these every day, set a target to achieve something each day towards each of these goals and mark your progress.  

I’m guessing Joe; if you don’t do these things the same results are going to happen to us which has been for the last few years at least, mostly “nada” for our goals. There is so much room here in the journal; you’ve got to take the time to do it!

Shoot, he just closed that cover on me.  I hope he heard me.  I like the promise of this journal but if he doesn’t get better at writing me out – I’m heading back to Club Dead.  Again.    

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

January 7, 2014 at 9:19 am

Amp It Up: Prefacing Questions

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amp

Amp It Up: Prefacing

Asking questions in sales, service or support is important.  There are a million theories, books and articles on what questions to ask. 

I don’t care about any of that today.

I’m going to give you 3 powerful tips however that will amp up the results of your questions and they take all of less than 3 seconds in a tactic I call Prefacing.

Each of these is additive in that if you apply just one tip, you’ll get better results than you do today with your normal questions  but  if you do all three – watch out, you’ll see amazing results immediately.

Preface #1: “I always ask…” Begin with “I always ask..” as a preface to your question of the customer or prospect.  Let’s pretend you are on software sales –   “I always ask business leaders if you see enough data on a daily basis to measure the health of the business…” Or let’s say you sell online marketing “I always ask owners where they think the best social media place to be to drive business.” Whatever your purpose is in asking the question is fine.  But prefacing it with “I always ask” makes you sound like you’ve been there before; that you have experience, that this is not your first rodeo.  In less than a second you’ve built some credibility in the minds of the listener and that psychologically will result in a more thoughtful answer by the recipient. 

Preface #2:  Add an Affiliation:  Remember this is additive – so for example “I always ask the CFO’s of Consumer Financial organizations if they see enough data… Or “ I always ask my HVAC folks where they think….”;  This addition is incredibly powerful – not only are you credible already by adding  “I always ask” but now you’ve imparted in just one more second,  that you know something, have talked to, have hung out with people like them in their world or in their industry.   You’ve talked with CFO’s (and even better talked with CFO’s in financial orgs) or you’ve talked with HVAC owners and understand what is happening.  Immensely powerful – your questions now have an even better chance of getting thoughtful and deep answers which translates into better sales service and meaningful conversations.

Preface #3:  Put a Number on the Questions:  This too is additive so in our examples let’s take it to the 3rd level, “I always ask the CFO’s of Consumer Financial organizations these 3 questions about visibility….”  Or “I always ask my HVAC folks these 2 questions about where they think the best place is…”  The theory is simple and powerful.  Placing a number on the questions helps lower time tension.  People are busy.  When you articulate the number of questions you are going to ask in a particular space then the listener knows when it will be over and in essence will stay focused for those questions and give you great information.   Not articulating a number can lead to that self-talk of “When will this be over?” or other distractions.  Prefacing with the number of questions needn’t be limiting.  You can easily move on to other subjects with for example “I always also ask 2 questions of HVAC folks about how hard it is to get paid quickly….”

Are the types of questions you ask important?  You bet.  Does everybody forget or not even think about the value of Prefacing a question?  Without a doubt.   In my opinion prefacing is as important as any aspect of questioning.

Here’s the beauty of today’s post.  It’s easy.  It’s less than 3 seconds of your time.  If you are in sales, service or support as a pro or perhaps a leader, or you are a business owner, consultant or entrepreneur looking to get better conversations and more business; print this thing, spend a few minutes wrapping your head around and go to it – you’ll be amazed at what you get in return.

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

December 12, 2013 at 10:07 am

You’re Doing It Wrong

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wrong

You’re Doing It Wrong

Duh.  Sad part is at some points in my life (and some more recent than others) I’m guilty of every one of these.

  • Coaching to “gaps” first.  Neurological and observation data proves coaching to strengths first and more often than coaching to gaps, results in better performance.
  • Thanking a customer for calling.  How silly.  Welcome them, Greet them or Wow them and then Thank them (profusely) for the business at the end of the call.
  • Nobody has ever asked anyone, in the entire history of the world, for more PowerPoints to help them learn something. But we keep on giving.
  • If what you bring to the sales or service party is the exact same thing that can be found on your website, brochures or catalogs, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Thinking that in this global, democratized and highly connected world that the real selling is over when they “sign on the line that is dotted”. Au contraire – it is just beginning.
  • Time snobbery.  Obsessing and devaluing content, books, blogs and videos if their origination date is more than 6 months old. Newer is not always better or different or smarter. Quit it.
  • 8 days and near 24/ 7 hours spent in a war room to fix a run of bad performance and just 8 minutes on a conference call celebrating landing a large client or exceeding performance for the month.
  • In your office.  All day.  On the phone.  And you haven’t seen a manufacturing floor, the call center, some customers, suppliers or a lunch with a department in months.
  • Asking a question of a client or prospect that has no apparent immediate benefit to them to answer.  That’s just not smart.
  • Reading this post and agreeing (or not) and just leaving it there.  Pick one, two or six that resonate with you and make a plan and execute upon it today.

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

December 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

Plan Ahead (and Behind)

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Plan Ahead ( and Behind) 

It’s always a risk to see my mug on video first thing in the morning – but here are two short ones to jump start your day with messages about planning.

The first one can help you like, today.. 

This next one can help you like, forever…

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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2 Videos, 3 Minutes and Grow The Business

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Two very short videos today.  One about doing something way better than the phrase “How I can help you?” and the other about the power of not always having the answer!  Take the 3 minutes and apply right away.  Business growth ahead! 

 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Written by Mark McCarthy

November 15, 2013 at 8:40 am

Simple Remote Love

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neon clock

I have a ManCave.   Yep, I do.

It has cool signage like “Eat Bacon”, “Hydrate with Beer” and has an awesome neon clock.   It also has a classic table hockey game, a framed Jaws movie poster, a nice TV and of course, the DVD Tommy Boy (the Holy Schnieke edition). 

But what I love most about the ManCave is the TV remote control.   It’s so… simple.

I don’t have a sound system like surround sound or a sound bar in the man cave.  I have just the TV/ Cable and as such, just the one remote.

What a joy to sit back thinking of bacon and barley and when I want to turn the volume up or down—I just use the remote.  The one remote.  The simple lonely silver remote that turns on the TV, the cable, changes the stations and controls the volume.

Remote controls are by their origin, the birthplace of simple 40 years ago but as you all know, they have become anything but that (don’t tell me about the “universal remotes” out there—I’ve tried those—they don’t do it all no matter what you say).

Upstairs it takes no less than 4 remotes (TV/Cable, Sound, DVD & the TV Standard (to change Input)) to manage wasting hours and hours of your life you will never get back (upstairs is where stuff like “Bridezillas” and “Sex in the City” reruns play). 

Last night in the ManCave during the Red Sox game (Go Sox!) I turned to my wife (she is permitted into the Cave with advance notice) during a commercial break and said “Don’t you love that you only have to use one remote to do everything here?”  She about jumped off the couch and said “Like you would not believe!” She continued with “It’s so simple..I love simple..”

And that’s the lesson today.   In an effort to simplify we often create confusion, frustration and stress.  It’s great to have social media sites simple to use to keep us connected but to have like 11 of them where you need a bloody presence to get through your work or personal life day is maddening.  It’s great to have smart phones glued to your hands but the chargers, the connections, the storage, the email boxes and the updates are maddening.  It’s great to have a quadrillion websites with information, education and tutorials, testimonials, ratings, opinions and pontifications but figuring out which of these quadrillion you can trust is maddening. 

Every one of us I suspect longs for something simple that just plain “works” today.   Something you can find, something you can trust, something that is simple to use and something that doesn’t make you feel like there are 7 more things just like you I have to go check out or “I’m not doing it right”.    

If you can do for a business or consumer what my remote control in the ManCave does – you’ve got a winner. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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Written by Mark McCarthy

October 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm

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