Aliveatwork's Blog

A Nudge … Towards Greatness?

Recently I attended the National Speakers Association (NSA) Annual Conference in Anaheim, California. For those of you who don’t know NSA is an organization made up of some of the world’s best professional speakers.

Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Les Brown, Dr. Norman Vincent Peal, and Og Mandino are just a few of its legendary members.

As I sat listening to some of the current greats in the business, I found myself in a state of awe and fascination. Not necessarily because of the words they spoke, but more so by the delivery of those words … precise, accurate, perfectly timed, perfectly pitched, and eloquently spoken.  I saw myself as a student sitting at the feet of the masters, watching their magic unfold.

During a breakout session, one of the speakers from the main stage asked his audience why we chose his particular session. One of the audience members replied, it’s because you seemed relaxed, easy going, non-rehearsed, and not as polished as some of the other speakers while you delivered your message on the main stage.

The speaker replied, it has taken me 30 years to perfect my speaking, I have spent a lot of money on speaking coaches, mentors, theatre coaches, and worked extremely hard to be able to present that way, so please don’t think that it was easy or unintentional.

And that had me thinking:

Am I working as hard as I need to in order to be great … in my business?

A mentor and friend of mine by the name of Nido Qubein once said, “We are so busy being good that we don’t take the time to become great!”

3 Questions:

  1. Are you continually learning and studying how to be a great leader, sales professional, or whatever your chosen profession might be?
  2. Have you become comfortable being … good enough but not great?
  3. What action do you need to take in order to take your business or your life to a level of greatness?

Inside each and every one of us is the seed of greatness. Sometimes it just needs a little nudge in order to break through the surface and begin the journey upward towards its destiny … consider this a nudge!

Giving Away Your Power … It’s In The Bag!

Over the years I have had my fair share of “memorable” experiences especially when it comes to traveling and airline security.  Being dark complected and having a shaved head, I have on more than one occasion found myself  in the “randomly” selected security line with my new best friends, Raj, Cheng, and Chakor.

Most recently, while traveling over the 4th of July holiday weekend,  I had the opportunity to experience the infamous (let’s make a 95 year old cancer patient remove her diaper – aggressively pat down a 6 year old girl – but let a Nigerian National with an expired i.d. and a expired stranger’s boarding pass through security) workings of the TSA.

While going through the security line this time, I put my liquids in the same one quart bag with a zipper that I have used to travel over 100,000 miles without a hitch with security … until this weekend. This time the TSA agent behind the x-ray stopped me and stated that it was not a one quart zipped lock bag and that I was not allowed to proceed.

I replied that it is a one quart bag and has an actual zipper. She then called her supervisor over who explained to me that it is not a zip-lock bag it is a bag with a zip-per and to “put him out.” As I was escorted “out” I tried to explain myself to the extremely polite female TSA agent who said “Don’t give me any sh*t, if you don’t like it talk to my supervisor.”

I worked my way to the airport information desk and asked for a one quart zip-lock bag and headed back through security. This time I was directed to go through the full body scanner. To say I was upset would be an understatement …  I was seething with anger as a rush of resentful ideas and actions began flooding my brain.

It took a good 5 minutes for me to come to my senses and realize what I was doing …

I was unconsciously giving away my power. What power? The power to decide if I was going to be happy or angry or If I was going to be joyful or resentful.  As if being resentful would change the TSA Supervisor or impact HIM in anyway.

Someone once said that holding onto resentment was like taking a poisonous pill and waiting for the other guy to die!”  I was not willing to die or allow someone else who might have simply been having a bad day to ruin mine!

5 Questions To Ask Yourself:

  1. Who controls your feelings?
  2. Do you allow others to determine your level of happiness, joy, or peace?
  3. Do external factors control your internal sense of worth or value?
  4. Do you take the actions of others as a personal assault against you?
  5. Are you free from resentments or do you relive old scenes or injustices over and over again in your mind?
3 Things To Remember:
  1. We are the only species on the planet that has complete control over what we  think and yet so many of us believe that it is the external events or things that happen in our lives that determines our level of success or happiness.
  2. Nothing … absolutely nothing anybody does is about you. It’s about them  so don’t waste your time or energy trying to rationalize their behavior by asking “How they could do this to me  or why did this happen to me or yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah!”
  3. No one absolutely … no one can take your power away from you unless you give it to them … and why on earth would you ever give your power away to a complete stranger or anyone else for that matter?
Oh yes … and one last thing to remember … in Cleveland … a bag with a zip-per that locks … is not a zip-lock bag!

Hey Mr Postman … Listen and See!

P.O'd at the P.O!

Monday of this week I sent an audio CD on managing your energy via the U.S. Post Office to one of my clients.  Tuesday, I found the same envelope that had I dropped off at the post office the previous day in my mail box with a stamp on it that read “Returned For 43 Cents Additional Postage.” This, on top of the $1.28 cents I had already paid.

Why? Because they couldn’t  bend the 9 1/2″ by 11 1/2″ padded envelope that was stuffed to the brim with one small  5″ by 5″ audio CD. And why would you need to bend it I thought to myself?

Well let’s just say at that particular moment in time, the envelope wasn’t the only thing that was a little bent!

Walking back to my office, I envisioned going down to the Post Office. And then I remembered my last visit. There I was standing in line behind 25 people watching multiple post office workers walking around or sorting mail while just one worker waited on customers.

When it was my turn to be waited on, I brought up the issue of poor service to the person behind the counter. What I heard next shocked me. She told me that Postmaster at this location does not allow more than one line open regardless of how many people are waiting. Then she added, “It’s only going to get worse!”

There must be a better way!

Once I was back in my office and  after a little research, I compressed the audio file from iTunes and uploaded it to a free service called You Send It. Next, I typed in the appropriate email addresses and hit the send button. Within 2 minutes I received a confirmation of delivery. I called the client to let him know that he had an email with an attachment waiting for him in his inbox.

It was then I realized that this process took less than 5 minutes and my client could learn how to start increasing his effectiveness while he was driving home … TODAY!

Meanwhile … back at the Post Office a Postmaster and her colleagues are on their way to extinction because they do not understand two basic business principles … take care of your customers and stay ahead of the competition. So that got me thinking …

3 Questions To Ask Yourself:

  1. Are you holding onto to people, processes, or policies, that prevent you from providing an extraordinary customer experience?
  2. Has technology left you and your business behind your competition … because you’ re afraid to embrace change or the unknown?
  3. Are your customers being inconvenienced because some of your employee’s have a personal agenda or a misaligned belief?
Everyday 1000’s of customers are deciding to stop doing business with a  particular company. The reasons are usually the same … poor service, poor product, or poor value. Are you giving your customers reasons to stay?
Remember: It’s much easier and far more cost effective to keep a customer than it is to find a new one!
Here’s a few resources to help:


Arrogance … The Death of a Leader!

You know one … you’ve worked for one … you are one?

God I hope not!!

How would you know?

10 Things Arrogant Leaders Arrogant Do:

  1. They put their needs before the needs of their people.
  2. They make irrational business decisions based on their emotions and how they feel.
  3. They take everything personal.
  4. They attempt to control everything and everyone.
  5. They believe that people are in their lives to serve them.
  6. They’re the first one to point the finger of blame and the last one to take ownership for their mistakes.
  7. Their actions are incongruent with their words.
  8. They slow the development and growth of others so that they get ahead and stay on top.
  9. They talk big and play small.
  10. They play small because deep down inside they are small.
The good news is that just like Extraordinary Leaders … they always, always, always …. reap what they sow!

The Power of One

The Power of One

“Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.”  – Bryce Courtenay (Author of The Power of One)

Sometimes we get caught up in the more is better syndrome and that more will make us happier. And yet, it seems that there is something deep down inside of us that reminds us that less is more … but how much less?

Have we lost sight of the of the extraordinary Power of One?

Perhaps it is that one simple act of kindness we take that could transform our life or the life of another?

Maybe it is that one idea that’s been percolating in your brain. Yes, the one you have pushed down many times before, but it keeps percolating to the forefront of your mind. What if that … was the one thing that could change your business or the world? How would you ever know … unless you took action?

I am learning that truth, real truth, lies in simplicity and that the more I over think, the more I complicate things, the further I move away from the truth.

The truth is that you already know the power of one on a deep level and yet … you haven’t taken the time to implement, reflect, or sit with it!

So what if you did?

What is the one thing you could say, the one thing you would do AND when would you do it!!!!

Change … an About F.A.C.E.

Life and it’s circumstances continuously offers us opportunities to change. Change might means that we need let go of the past and move forward. It could mean that we need a  new perspective on an old problem, a new idea, or simply the willingness to change by trying something different. Regardless of the change that may need to take place in our lives, the fact is that each of us deals with change in a different manner.

The good news is that we have choices in how we F.A.C.E change. We can:

  1. Fear it –  We can run, we can hide, we can pretend like it’s not happening and that we don’t have to change.
  2. Accept it – We can agree that it’s there and that maybe, possibly, someday, we might have to adapt … or not.
  3. Challenge it – We can confront it, fight it, and try to convince ourselves and everybody else around us why it     doesn’t apply to us or why we don’t need to change.
  4. Embrace it – We can wrap our arms around it and look for the gifts that this new opportunity might bring us.
So which do you choose most frequently? Do you find yourself clinging to the past, hoping that nothing will change? Or do you lean so far into the change that you can’t go back?
A few questions …
  1. What would you do if you could not fail?
  2. What if you believed that you were so powerful that you could change your life TODAY!
  3. What if you made a decision to not just F.A.C.E. change but actually embraced it?
Now wouldn’t that be something!

Work Life Balance: All Work and No Play …

I’m sure most people have seen the 1980 film by Stanley Kubrick entitled, The Shining. The story, written by Stephen King, is a psychological thriller about a writer who takes his family to an isolated hotel to be the caretaker in the off season. It will also give Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) some much need time to work on his writing.

At one point in the movie Jack’s wife stumbles across his manuscript which is comprised of line after line of this sentence, All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well you can guess what happens next and the insanity begins.

Here’s the point:

Sometimes in our striving to be successful we lose site of those things that bring a sense of balance to our lives. We push ourselves to continuously do more, accomplish more, or be more yet we never take the time to occasionally pull the plug on our “work brains”  so we can recharge the batteries.

A mentor of mine used to say if you don’t stop occasionally to put gas in the car eventually you’ll run out of gas and you’ll be stranded.

10 Signs You Might Need To Stop And Put Gas In The Car:

  1. You’re family is crying when you come home from work … not when you leave for work.
  2. You would rather work late than go home to be with your partner, spouse, or kids.
  3. You’re family is going on vacation … without you!
  4. You wake up at 2:30 AM and decide you need to send an email to clarify some point you made to someone earlier in the day.
  5. You wake up at 2:30 AM and decide you need to send an email to ANY one for ANY reason.
  6. You have so much vacation time built up that you could literally take 3 months off and not skip a paycheck.
  7. You walk in the house one day after work and your spouse asks “Who Are You?” And then you realize your in the wrong house!
  8. You come back from a long business trip with a Teddy Bear for your little boy and you find him upstairs in the bathroom … shaving!
  9. You have this sudden desire to start typing “All work and no play makes Jack, Tony, Bob or any other name a dull boy (girl)!
  10. You come home from work one day and find that your family has moved out … when you track them down they tell you that they moved out … two weeks ago!

Okay so maybe you chuckled a bit and on a more serious note … you will be far more productive over the work year if you pause to fill up your tank and give the engine a rest. Besides their is no job, position, title, or amount of money, that can replace the your family especially your kids. Sad thing is some people never get this until they lose them (physically or emotionally).

Providing for your family is half of the equation … being with them to enjoy it is the other half of the equation … Stay Balanced!

Do You Remember Follow the …

… Leader?

Yes, it was a game many of us played when we were kids. The rules were simple, just do what the Leaders does. If you don’t do exactly as they do, you’re out of the game, the last person standing wins and they’re the new leader. Sounds simple, sounds like a fun game … when you’re a kid.!

Then you grew up, went to school, and probably stopped liking what your Leaders told you to do. You graduated, got a job, and eventually you moved into a Leadership position. Now you’re the Leader!

The only problem is that nobody wants to play your game. You might be telling you’re people what to do, but they simply don’t do it. Or they don’t do it exactly the way you want them to or exactly how you would do it.  They’re not playing nice.

Sure you can blame your people, You can make it their fault, you can say they’re poor performers, poor listeners, they don’t understand, or they SIMPLY DON”T GET YOU!

Maybe they don’t  … and maybe the real issue is that … you don’t get them!

Some Leaders believe that just because they have a Leadership title that people must do what they say. But wait a minute you shout “That’s right, those are the rules, YOU HAVE to play the game and I AM the Leader … I was the last person standing, I’ve been here the longest, I won!

Say it ain’t so Joe!

Okay, IT AIN’T SO!

People will follow you when it’s their choice, not because they are told to follow. You have to earn their respect and it doesn’t get handed to you when you get a promotion or a new title. If you’re people don’t follow you it’s quite possible that you’re not giving your folks a reason to follow you and here’s the tricky part … they want to follow you!

Most people want to know that their Leaders is looking out for them. They want to know that their Leader respects them, appreciates them, and see’s the value that they bring to the bigger purpose of the organization. That’s what Extraordinary Leaders do!

There is an old saying that says if you want something you must first be willing to give it away!

5 Things You Probably Want As A Leader And How To Get It:

  1. If you want people to listen to you … you first have to listen to them.
  2. If you want people to trust you … you first have to trust them.
  3. If you want your people to value you … you first have to value them.
  4. If you want your people to be honest with you … you first have to be honest with them.
  5. If you want your people to respect you … you first have to respect them.

So are you willing to give to others what you want for yourself?

If so, I guess you’re ready play Follow The Leader … otherwise, you might find yourself in a bad game of Hide and Seek!

Ship It!!!

Today I was trying to order a DVD Television series set from a large online retailer. While I was searching to see if they had it, the computer automatically filled in the title  and the category of Movies and Television.

Perfect!!! Just what I’m looking for, so I clicked on it and up came 3 items … none of which was what I was looking for. I tried spelling it differently, five different ways, hyphens, numbers, and still … nothing.

So I tried my search in All Categories to look for this DVD set which should have come up in the Television & Movies Section and up it pops on the screen! Perfect!!! Hit the Add To Cart and Proceed to Checkout.

I read the screen … Usually ships in 1 to 2 days and then it says …

Estimated Delivery Time Following Shipment: Standard 4 to 14 business days

Well is 4 or 14? So I look for the upgrade the shipping button to expedite my shipment because I need it for Valentine’s Day. Nope … nowhere to be found!

So I can’t upgrade the shipping? Really? What if I want it sooner than 2 weeks?

3 Thoughts Followed:

1st: Why are they making this so hard to do business with them?

2nd: Should I call them and tell them I am frustrated?

3rd: Close browser and shop some place else … BINGO!

5 Questions To Ask Yourself:

  1. Do you make it hard for your customers to do business with you?
  2. Do you think your customers will take the time to tell you why doing business with you is difficult?
  3. Are you losing business or have you ever lost business because it was easier for your customer(s) to buy a similar product some place else?
  4. Do your customers ever have to wait too long for an answer, an order confirmation, shipping information, or to receive your product?
  5. Have you ever thought that if you were your customer you would buy from someone else?

If you answered yes to 1 or 2 questions, you have some serious problems that you need to fix before it’s too late. If you answered yes to 3 or more of the above questions I’d be surprised if you’re in business for too much longer.

Customers don’t want to wait, they don’t want to tell you what’s wrong with your business, they will buy where it’s easy.  And last if you wouldn’t buy from you … what makes you think anybody else would!

When a customer places and order … SHIP IT!!


A Golden Rule of Selling – Don’t strike out with your customers by making your pitch all about YOU!

Over the last week I have received 15 unsolicited emails, yes that’s 15 with a capital F,  from a company called Fast Pitch Network. Below is some of the text:

Invitation to Join the Fast Pitch Network – You have been recommended by one or more colleagues to join one of the fastest growing professional networks on the Web today.

Of course this raised a few questions in my mind: Recommended, really … who was it? Did they recommend me 15 times? Is the reason your opt out doesn’t work because you’re concerned that I am missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime? Is this email about helping me or this email all about YOU?

3 Things We Can Learn From This?

  1. Instead of ignoring the needs of your customers LISTEN to them, especially your prospects … I mean really listen to what they need –  don’t go in with a canned presentation!
  2. Ask great questions that help you to understand your client, their business, and where they have their biggest opportunity to grow.
  3. Figure out how you can help them grow and don’t do it by shoving your ideas or your products down their throat!

The truth is that people don’t buy from companies or sales people that don’t listen and believe the customer is there to serve them!

The success of social network companies like Facebook, Linked-In, and Twitter didn’t come from harassing their potential customers into climbing on board. They grew because they attracted customers who saw the how their products or services added value to their lives and their businesses.

The same holds true for you! You will be more successful as a sales professional  if you concentrate on new and different ways to provide more value to your clients!

And as far as The Fast Pitch Network goes … 15 strikes … are you serious? – YOU’RE OUTTA HERE!!!