Stumped

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stumped

Stumped

Nobel Prize winning Psychologist Daniel Kahneman said  “The remarkable thing about your mental life is that you are rarely ever stumped.” 

How interesting.  This little quote has roiled around in my head for a month.  Can’t shake it.

Think about how true it is.   Heck, I’m gonna do this or I’m gonna do that.  Or goshdarnit, I’m going to do nothing!  Bottom line is most of the time,  I know what I’m gonna do.   And most of the time we make judgements and decisions in a flash and rarely are stumped or stuck in a quandary.

I read Kahneman’s quote in the Heath Brothers latest book called “Decisive” ( big thumbs up from me). The book has some compelling methods to help us all make better decisions of course ( if we ever allow ourselves to be stumped) but that’s for a later blog or two.

Lets just chat a bit about the stumped thing.  Stumped is what I think we should be more of.  Here’s why:

  •  When was the last time you talked to a prospect, did some great discovery, built credibility and commonality, talked pain points and said, ” You know, you’ve given me some things to think about and I’m not sure exactly what the best thing to do is, let me get back to you in a couple of days.”  Answer? Never.  You’re in sales, you’re never stumped and you and I both know it. 
  • When was the last time you launched a project to tackle a problem and didn’t  pretty much have the answer already embalzoned in your brain about what you think is the right solution?  Way less than you think.  You’re not stumped.  No Never.  Not you. You can, like nobody else, see the future clearly.
  •  When was the last time you didn’t judge, label or categorize someone you just met because you were so comfortable with “waiting and seeing” what this person was really about?  Not often enough.  You’re never stumped when it comes to giving an opinion on the new person even if you just give that opinion to yourself.

The you here is me ( and yes, likely you too). 

I’ve pitched an idea or a solution well before I knew what I should really do – I should have been stumped.   I’ve launched a project ( just this week as a matter of fact) tackling a problem that I am brazen enough to think I already know the answer to, until my LEAN mentor smacked me upside the head and said “You need to be stumped in the beginning for this thing to work.”  I’ve judged someone in just 20 minutes of conversation and another in probably 30 seconds – and did it not long ago either – both are awful things to do.  Not fair and frankly, stupid.   Stumped is what I needed to be there and always. 

Not being stumped can get us into trouble; that’s the message here.  Conversely,  being stumped can do some great things like impress the hell out of a customer and get them the best help possible.  Being stumped can get your problem solved better because you didn’t presume you knew the damn answer.   And being stumped is certainly the best way to treat people you meet all the time and to get the most and the best out of that relationship.

Stumped ain’t bad.  Stumped is good.  So all you people out there with the answers ( and that means you too McCarthy) quit talking to me, I gotta work these things out like I don’t have any idea. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

 

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Horrid Phrases

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problems

Horrid Phrases

Don’t know if any of you fly a lot.  I kind of do – at least of late.  At the airport,  there is one phrase gate agents of a certain airline sometimes say ( actually proclaim over the loudspeaker) that just crushes me.  It’s horrid. It makes me instantly hang my head in depression.  It ruins my flight, my day and my mood immediately.

“Our flight is completely full today..”

I’m not a small man; (thankfully not ready for the seatbelt extension just yet) but Lordy, when you hear that phrase, thinking about getting into and sitting in those seats and aisles built for middle schoolers, is now horrid on a grand scale. 

I think there are some other horrid phrases agents of many industries say these days that can give that same kind of instant feel of dread and depression.

OK, let’s see what they did here..”.  Are you kidding me?  As soon as your client with a question hears “they”, the horridness kicks in:   Oh my, you are not in charge.   Oh my, I’m gonna have to talk to someone else.   Oh my, I’m talking to an idiot with no authority.  Oh my,  this place is so big, I’m never going to get the answer.

Can I have your phone number in case we are disconnected?”   It’s 2011! The only disconnections are when someone does it on purpose.  Your client or prospect is in the horrid zone immediately:  Oh please, you want my number to pester me at dinner or in a middle of a meeting to sell me something with your silly outbound program.   Oh please, now I’m in your database and all I had was a darn question.   Oh great, they have crappy phone systems with disconnect issues, can’t wait to do business with them.

Mark”, “Mark” , “Mark”  Yeah that’s right,  my first name.  You say my first name more than twice in a conversation on the phone or face to face and a horrid sickness overcomes me and your customers too:  Oh I get it,  someone trained you to use ” the customer’s first name” often in your calls- that feels genuine!  Oh I get it, you are as slick a sale rep as I’ve ever seen – you make me wanna take a shower.  Oh I get it, you think using my first name a lot makes us like family or brothers and I will buy your stuff- lol!

 

The thing about horrid phrases is the emotions they elicit have staying power.  They linger.  They stick. They can even leave a lasting impression about you or your company as a brand that is as uncomfortable as seat 28B. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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The Laminator

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The Laminator

This is the actual machine pictured in Kansas City.   

It has its own cubicle The Laminator does, right outside the Site Leader Dale’s office.    Really it does.  It is the only thing on this desk right near the front door.    And it deservedly has this space all to itself because of all the good work it does.   

The Laminator’s work was plastered everywhere in the KC facility I visited.  Laminated Certificates were hanging from the shelves, the monitors and the walls.  For some folks, they even hung from the ceiling. 

I sat with some employees for a bit that day.   A few had evidently received many certificates from The Laminator and I was kind of surprised by the care in which these were displayed and hung in their cubicle spaces.

I commented to one person I was talking with who had a dozen or so in his cube and said “Wow look at all of those…” and with what I admit was more pride than I expected,  he grinned and said “ Yeah, pretty cool eh?”

The other folks I sat with seemed similarly proud of them.   Dale’s center had a pretty good vibe and I couldn’t help but think this emphasis on recognition had something to do with it.

Flying back home that night it got me thinking about that darn laminator and how we need more of those around these parts.  But of course what I really walked away with is how important it is to recognize and be recognized. 

Sure some of us,  we tend brush the need off with comments mostly to ourselves like “Who cares” or “It’s no big deal” or “People know they are valuable”   but if we are honest – recognition is a big deal.     If we are honest, we do look twice at that email from the boss that says “good job” or “great point”.  If we are honest, we do look at the comment from the blog reader or the person that liked your status update.  If we are honest, we do smile a little inside when we get a little public recognition be it your name called out in a meeting or yes, on a certificate for all to see. 

The Laminator knows this.  The Laminator is as honest as they come.  A little heat, a little plastic and Voila! – it’s a shot in the arm for someone.   There are dozens of other ways to recognize people and I’m sure Dale and his team is using more than just The Laminator. 

But here’s a thought – if you have an empty desk and a need for a bit more acknowledgement of good people and good work, fill that space with a laminator.  It does a darn good job. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark

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A Wii Bit of Advice

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It was a blast.  It was nerve wracking.  It was mentally exhausting.  

And there was a lesson to be learned.  

Strike One.        Strike Two.        Strike Three.   

No baseball here, those strikes came in the first three frames of Nintendo’s Wii Bowling.    Cool.

Bowling alone on the Wii gaming system in my basement “Man Room” Saturday, little did I know it would be a night for the history books in the ol’ McCarthy homestead.

Strike Four.       Strike Five. 

Five strikes in a row.   Don’t think I’ve done that before.  If I did, it was never in the first 5 frames out of the gate, that’s for sure.   I’m not going to lie to you and say that I don’t ever bowl with the Wii;- I have.   Not that much though, and not for months now.

Strike Six.      Gulp.

I’m feeling pretty good right now.  I know exactly what I am doing.  I am holding the controller in a special way with my hand held high but slightly cocked to the left.  I know that on my backswing, my hand is brushing within an inch or two of the Christmas tree because I hear the jingle of the ornaments from the breeze my arm swing makes.   I’m taking a perfect and consistent half step forward toward the TV and with a jagged sharp twist of my wrist just at the right time – I am giving the ball a wicked left hook right into the pocket. 

Strike Seven.           Strike Eight.  

Holy Jimoly.      Gulp.  Gulp.   

Strike Nine.

I am standing, just staring at the screen; looking at the 9 strikes in a row.  Wow.   I admit I am perspiring a little as I realize I am on a course with destiny.   Am I going to bowl a perfect game? A perfect 300 game?  There are websites dedicated to bowling the perfect 300 game in a Wii.  It is not at all easy to do.   Is it possible for me to get 12 strikes in a row?

Deep breath…..hold controller up high, angle to the left……press the “B” button…….

WAIT !  I yell to myself silently…..   This is no good……….  I am alone. 

What good is bowling a perfect game without a witness?   What good is playing golf by yourself and getting a hole in one if nobody sees it but you?   What good is making the half court behind the Subaru, off the garage “nothing but net” basketball shot if you don’t have someone there to see you do it?

“Boys!  Boys!”  I yelled upstairs.  “Come downstairs, you have to see this!” 

Both came running.  I showed them what was happening; The 9 strikes in a row; The perfect game in progress.   I knew I was taking a big risk bringing attention to myself.  My timing will certainly be off now.  But at least I have witnesses.  Maybe I can do this and these two 13 year olds will see electronic bowling history made before their eyes.

Strike Ten.

Would you believe it?    I was more shocked than anyone.   I did not lose my touch.  I had the special grip, the swing back, the breeze, the stride, the twist and of course; the 10th strike.

Two more to go.   I smiled; nodding my head while simultaneously showing the boys my special grip on the controller.  I then pressed the B button and swung my arm back……

Into the Christmas Tree……..aaahhhhggghhh…………and only…. nine pins fall down……

 

I picked up the spare and ended with a 289. 

Crushed though I was having missed the perfect game of 300, it was the best I’ve ever done and I think it might have been worse if I had rolled a 300 and there was no one there to see it.

So what’s the lesson learned by this story?   It’s simple.   Everyone’s big event is better with someone special there to see.

When the anniversary date comes for your 10 year employee, be there when the gift and the certificate are presented; it makes a difference in the experience.   The “drive by” a week later acknowledging the date just isn’t the same.

When the results come in on the sales contest on the 3rd business day of every month; don’t post the winner on the wall or email the results to all.  Stand by the winner’s desk, wait for her to arrive and share the news aloud for all to hear.  She’ll remember that feeling and that moment far better than the memory of opening a congratulatory email message.

When the promotion is approved, the new program launches, the degree is acquired, the first presentation is given and other big moments in a person’s work life happen perfect or not, having witnesses first hand makes it all that much better.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.

Mark