How do you know if you never try

Everybody has limitations. Some are physical, others are psychological; some are emotional, others are financial. No human being is perfect, no one is without difficulties. There is nothing easier than to say, “I have this problem, so I can’t possibly do this, that, or the other thing.” But, suppose the universe says, I’m not interested in “can’t.” I want to see what you can do, because you can do more than you think.
It’s true, you may fail. You may not be successful in what you set out to accomplish — but that’s no reason not to try. Perhaps other people will see you struggling and come to help. Perhaps your initial efforts will allow you to see another approach to your task. Or perhaps you will be the recipient of a miracle.
“I can’t, don’t ask me” isn’t an option — for how do you know if you never try?

Ethics and Integrity

A recent study performed by the Institute of Business Ethics found that companies displaying a ‘clear commitment to ethical conduct’ consistently outperform companies that do not display ethical conduct. The director of IBE, Philippa Foster Black stated, “Not only is ethical behavior in business the right thing to do in principle, we have shown that it pays off in financial returns.” Part of your commitment as a business leader is to create and maintain the processes and a culture that dictates ethical behavior. Ethical behavior is not an easy path, nor is it a path taken without thought and consideration. As a leader, decision with value connections will be presented frequently. Examples could include employees stealing from the company, doing personal business on company time, modifying accounting records, or extending a customer discount that was not earned, etc. Clearly defined organizational goals and clearly stated organizational values are integral to your ability to make the best decisions and take the right actions. As you deal with different types of situations you are being evaluated very closely by your team. As you lead by example, you become a champion for the organization’s commitment to ethical behavior. As you look to enhance the ethical policies and processes within your company, take into consideration the following five principles.
• Be trustful: Recognize that customers and employees want to do business with an organization they can trust. When trust is at the core of an organization, it is easy to recognize.
• Meet obligations: Regardless of the circumstances, do everything in your power to keep commitments and obligations to employees and customers. An incredible amount of trust is built when an organization honors its commitments. If unforeseen events stand in the way of meeting an obligation, immediately communicate the challenges and work together to find resolution.
• Reevaluate all documents and materials: Make sure all department and organizational documents and literature are clear and precise. Make sure they don’t misinterpret or misrepresent.
• Have documented processes: Every organization is structured differently. However, having documented processes and policies on how your organization interacts with customers and employees is critical. If processes are properly documented there is no question what a product or service should be or whether a customer exception falls within the acceptable guidelines. Take a hands-on approach to all accounting and record keeping as it will allow you to end an inappropriate action in a timely fashion.
• Be respectful: Treat employees and customers with respect regardless of differences, positions, titles, ages, or diversity. Always treat others with respect and courtesy even if you agree to disagree.
Successful implementation of these five principles becomes a leader’s daily commitment and responsibility. Oprah Winfrey said it quite simply, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to ever know whether you did it or not.”
Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation

Where Good Ideas Come From: A Must Read Book

Where Good Ideas Come From: A Must Read Book

By Verne Harnish “Growth Guy”

There are a handful of authors whom I suggest business leaders read everything they write: Jim
Collins, Pat Lencioni, Malcolm Gladwell, and Steven Berlin Johnson – the latter likely the lesser
known of the group.

In fact, it is one of my best-read mentors, Reade Fahs, who first turned me on to Johnson’s work,
hammering me for not having read Steven Johnson’s earlier book Emergence: The Connected
Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software.

In essence, it’s “emergence theory” that describes precisely how a Google, Facebook, or
Wikipedia can achieve in a few years what it’s taken other enterprises decades to achieve in both
scope and scale. And the lessons learned can be applied to any business to help it scale faster.

Johnson’s latest book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation builds
on Emergence and debunks many of the myths around innovation. More importantly, he
explores in depth why some environments squelch new ideas while some environments seem to
breed them effortlessly. Again, all companies can take a lesson or two from Johnson’s
discoveries to increase the number of important ideas it generates, the lifeblood of growth firms.

Connect vs. Protect

As Johnson so eloquently notes: “If there is a single maxim that runs through this book’s
arguments, it is that we are often better served by connecting ideas than we are by protecting
them…they (ideas) want to complete each other as much as they want to compete.”

Over the years I’ve encountered numerous inventors and potential entrepreneurs reluctant to
share their ideas for fear they would be stolen. In reality, the likelihood is high that someone else
is also pursuing the same innovation and that the person who shares their idea with the most
people is going to garner greater input and thus create a better idea faster.

Do your promotion and incentive systems encourage information hoarding or sharing? Do the
people with the most information tend to win in your company and thus are reluctant to share
what they know with others? These people systems must be adjusted to support knowledge

Liquid Networks

Much of the success of sharing an idea is related to the size, diversity, and quality of one’s
network. This is why certain cities and environments are better at stimulating important
breakthroughs than others.

People who make a conscious effort of having lunch with those in another department or division
will dramatically increase the odds of a better idea. People who purposefully surround
themselves with friends of diverse backgrounds and interests also do better.

Notes Johnson, “it’s not that the network itself is smart, it’s that the individuals get smarter
because they’re connected to the network.”

Physical Location

And if this diverse group of people have a place to meet, the likelihood of a great idea emerging
goes up. Johnson highlights the research of Kevin Dunbar, a psychologist at McGill University,
who actually watched scientists work to determine how their “greatest hits” were discovered.

Recalls Johnson “the most striking discovery in Dunbar’s study turned out to be the physical
location where most of the important breakthroughs occurred.” Rather than occurring in the lab
as a lone scientist hunched over their microscope and stumbling across a major new finding,
Dunbar found the most important ideas emerged during regular lab meetings where a dozen or so
researchers would informally discuss their latest work.

“If you looked at the map of idea formation that Dunbar created,” describes Johnson, “the
ground zero of innovation was not the microscope. It was the conference table.” Therefore,
even with all the advanced technology of a leading laboratory, the most productive tool for
generating good ideas remains “a circle of humans at a table, talking shop.”

3M’s Innovation Center in Austin, TX, is the finest facility I’ve ever visited, designed
specifically to encourage new ideas. A key lesson all firms can take from their design is to
create a single centralized area of break rooms and restrooms encouraging the kind of shop talk
Dunbar’s research found drives new ideas. This is particularly important when a growing firm
moves to an additional floor in a building. Close off one set of restrooms and break rooms and
require people to bump into each other on the other floors.

Slow Hunch

The biggest good news, bad news revelation about breakthrough innovation is that it’s a lengthy
process. The idea of a “Eureka moment” is less of a momentary event and more of a slow,
iterative, and grinding process over time, often consuming a decade or more of effort focused on
solving a particular problem.

The good news is that you’re way ahead of anyone else in your industry if you’ve already
invested this kind of time and effort; the bad news is if someone else has beaten you to the
punch, starting a decade ago. For Apple, their design brilliance started with a calligraphy class
Steve Jobs took in college almost four decades ago.

To paraphrase Steve Jobs, I’m always amazed how overnight successes take a helluva long time
i.e. it’s never too late to get started!! Surround yourself with a diverse group of people with
whom you spend a lot of talk time discussing important ideas – and keep pounding away until
you discover an innovation that changes the world (or at least your company!).

“Try Not. Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

“Try Not. Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
Many people are familiar with Yoda, a very wise Jedi Master from Star Wars, who was charged to train Luke Skywalker in how to use his “force.” This quote is from the scene where Luke was trying to mentally, by using his “force,” pull his plane from the muck of a swamp. Luke told Yoda he would try and he failed.

A very influential mentor of mine used to say time and time again. “There is no A for effort in business.” I grew up like many with the belief that trying my best was good enough. However, I have learned in 25 years of business that there is a strong connection between these two quotes. “There is no A for effort” really means it is all about the results you achieve and it is not about the attempt and to Yoda’s point, trying is merely an attempt.

In order to accomplish results and excel at what you do, you must have the skills but more importantly you need to believe you can do it. Trying is a self-limiting belief. After Luke attempted and failed, Yoda used his “force” to save the plane. Luke watched in amazement and when Yoda was finished, Luke said to Yoda, “I don’t believe it.” and Yoda’s response was, “That is why you fail.”

Belief is powerful. When you believe you can achieve something no matter how challenging, big or small, you will commit to do what is necessary to make it happen. You will learn what you need to learn. You will commit whatever time is necessary and you will seek out qualified assistance when needed. Because your belief is so strong you will access whatever resources are necessary to make it happen and you will cross the finish line victorious.

An attitude of trying will never propel you to take the extra step because your measuring stick of “I tried” gives you permission to walk away based on what is believed to be a good enough effort. People and businesses often fall short due to this simple but powerful belief. I mentioned earlier that belief is powerful. Therefore whether you believe in mediocrity or results, you will achieve what you believe.

Yoda also told Luke to “unlearn what you have learned.” If you are used to “trying” unlearn your way into a new belief of achievement. Here are some ideas that may help you.

Use positive affirmations and say them multiple times a day.
Surround yourself with people who will positively reinforce your plan and push you to excel.
Align with a coach to hold you accountable to your personal development.
Find a mentor who has accomplished similar results to what you are looking for and become a sponge.
Become a voracious learner.
Surround yourself with positive messages.
Disconnect from the naysayers in your life. Your success has nothing to do with their ‘I tried and can’t’ attitude so don’t let them hold you back.
Luke finally got it. So, when will you?

Tammy A.S. Kohl is President of Resource Associates Corporation. For over 30 years, RAC has specialized in business and management consulting, strategic planning, leadership development, executive coaching and youth leadership. For more information visit or contact RAC directly at 800.799.6227.

The Basis of all Sales

In order to engage in the sales process we need to understand how people make buying decisions. An effective seller is one who helps people to achieve their goals. In the words of Zig Zigler, “The more you help people get what they want, the more you’ll get what you want”.

First, it would be useful to understand the difference between marketing and selling. Marketing is everything that happens before someone identifies himself or herself as a potential Prospect. This can be in the form of websites, brochures, trade shows, networking, cold calls, or anything that puts someone in front of a prospective Prospect. It is best done in the world of Suspects (a Suspect is anyone in your target market). That would include anyone whom you believe may be a possible Prospect.

What is a Prospect?

A Prospect is a Suspect who:
• has a need for your product or service
• is able to afford your product or service
• is able to make the decision to buy it.

The Buying Process.

Every buyer must go through the Buying Process, no matter how simple or complex the sale. The Buyer makes a decision on how to buy in the following manner:
1. YOU: The buyer must first decide that you are someone with whom he can see himself doing business. You look like her expectation of someone from whom she will buy.
2. YOUR COMPANY: Your company is one he has heard of and trusts. In the case where there is very little to distinguish between you and your company because you are your company, this distinction may become blurred.

The important issue here is that price is the fourth area on which you must compete, and it is not relevant if they have not “bought” you, your company, or your product or service.

The Sales Process

While your Prospect is going through a Buying Process, you, the seller, are going through the Sales Process.
1. Introduction
2. Gain favorable attention
3. Needs assessment or fact finding
4. Presentation
5. Gaining Commitment
6. Follow-Up

After you have found yourself in front of a Prospect and have introduced yourself, you begin the process of gaining favorable attention. It’s nice to comment on the elements that you and the Prospect may have in common, but more importantly, it is useful to demonstrate interest in the Prospect’s situation.

Who knows more about the product, you the, seller, or the buyer? The answer, obviously, is you, the seller. Who knows more about the buyer’s situation, you or the buyer? Again, obviously, the buyer.

You must ask the buyer enough questions until you can answer the question. “If I were the buyer, would I buy my product or service?”

When you can answer that question in the affirmative, your job is easy because the first Rule of the Universe is:

“Most people when given the same information will come very close to the same conclusions.” *

So why don’t they come to the same conclusion? The answer is that people have different backgrounds, conditioning, prejudices, and communications. The solution? Ask questions, share information.

The truth is that no two people can have the exact same information, but nevertheless the Rule holds. If we are disagreeing, we obviously have different information. Your job as a seller is to share information. How do you do this? You continue to ask questions. Either the buyer will see what you see, and buy your product or service, or you will learn more and discover why not. This is not selling. Rather, it is true information sharing. You, the seller, moves from the position of seller to that of trusted advisor or assistant buyer.

At this point it is useful to remember the structure of Goal Setting in the questioning process. You must ask the Prospect “what are your goals?” “What are you trying to achieve?” When the Prospect answers, you, the seller, ask, “if you achieved that, what would be the benefit?” When the buyer answers, you ask again, “what would be the benefit of that?” You need to ask this at least 4 times. The first time you will receive what might be called a politically correct answer. You need to get an emotional answer. After you get the answer to the benefit question, you must ask”if you don’t reach your goal, what would be the negative consequence?” Again, you must look for an emotional response. After you have asked these three series of questions, you then ask, “What is
keeping you from achieving that which you really want?” “What are your obstacles?” When the Prospect answers this question, your response is to ask,”if I had a way to help

* as quoted by Ray Overdorff

You achieve that which you said you really wanted, should we continue speaking with each other?”

All you have done is to have qualified the Prospect as to need.

Another wonderful benefit of this arises when we revisit # 2 and #3 of the Selling Process. What happens when I demonstrate interest in you? You have a ‘more favorable impression’ of me. You like me better. When you have a more favorable impression of me, isn’t it more likely that you will give me better responses in my fact finding? Of course. This continues indefinitely and builds a better and better relationship between buyer and seller.

After you have determined what the seller really wants (“need”), you must either then or before then return to the definition of a Prospect. You need to ask the question, is this person able to buy what it is you would like to help her buy? Can he afford it? If you have done a good job in the questioning process and she really is a prospect, price will never be a problem. I will go one step further and say that price is never the problem. If someone is truly a Prospect and there appears to be a price issue, it is not price, but rather perceived value. Whose responsibility is it that the Prospect sees the value? It is your responsibility as the seller.

Finally, you need to ascertain that the person with whom you are speaking is in fact a decision maker. You do this by asking something like, “if we were to agree that this product or service is for you, are you the one that will make the final decision?” If the person says no, do not attempt to complete the sale, but rather the new sale becomes how this person leads you to the real Prospect.

If all of these things are done correctly, you can then move to step #4 of the Selling Process and only present that which the Prospect said he wanted and move to gaining commitment and completing a successful sale.

Six Rules To Keep In Mind

1. Most people when given the same information will come very close to the same conclusions.
So why not?
People have different backgrounds / conditioning / prejudices / communications.
Solution: Ask questions, share information.

2. Most people want to do a good job.
Most people don’t know what is expected.
Most people don’t agree because they are working from different information.

3. It’s very difficult to look good in a bad system.

4. Most people are willing to change.
Why don’t they change?
They need to see the benefits personally and professionally.
Most people can get excited if they know the value and WIIFM, and are shown how to change.

5. Everyone wants to be somebody.
Organization needs to create an environment where people can be somebody. The key is
involvement   – as involvement increases:
a. Higher sense of Satisfaction
b. Higher sense of Responsibility
c. Higher sense of Commitment
d. Lower frustration / Higher quality

6. Everybody needs a coach.
A mentor helps them to achieve there potential. (Sports as a metaphor)