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Business Lessons Learned By Being A Klutz

FOOTLOOSE

As we kick off 2015, I decided to share with you the most powerful life and business lessons I learned in 2014.

I must say these business lessons were learned in the most unexpected place and from the most surprising people.

Perhaps one (or more?) of these “aha’s” will resonate with you and help you make your 2015 more productive, prosperous, and gratifying.

It all started with a friend nagging me into going country line dancing for the first time. Although I love to dance, I never really cared much for country music. Plus, I snobbishly thought line dancing and two-stepping was a little on the crass side.

My first time out, I was like a fish out of water, looked like a total klutz. Yet, from that first song the band played (and what a band!) and watching all the line dancers and two-steppers, I was HOOKED!.

But…

I couldn’t remember the line dance steps to save my life.

People would ask me to dance and when they realized I had two left feet when it came to the two-step, they not so politely ditched me!
Did I give up with my tail between my cowboy-booted legs? (It was tempting)

Not!

I really wanted to become good at this kind of dancing so much…

I just kept going.

 

Doing Whatever It Takes

Kind people taught me and tolerated my inexperience.

I watched YouTube and practiced the line dances at home.

I counted out the two-step every where I went — slow slow quick quick around the dining room table and in the street at the end of my jogs.

I took line dancing lessons and practiced 2-3 times a week.

I even drummed up the courage to go dancing alone when my friends wouldn’t go.

I kept going and learning even when I looked very very foolish.

Eventually, I got pretty good at line and two stepping.

Fast forward 3 months:

Now, I get asked to dance quite a bit.

I’ve lost 4 pounds just because I am working off a lot of calories.

And my happiness factor has multiplied at least 3-fold.
It’s hard to worry and complain when you’re having so much fun!

Taking a two step lesson at the renowned Cowboy Palace

So what did I really learn about business and life on the dance floor?

  • Never give up.
  • Be willing to look like a fool in order to learn a new skill. It’s so worth it. (I made so many new friends and even a fabulous new business prospect).
  • You learn a helluva lot about people on the dance floor.
  • Ask for help. Good people are all around you to help you improve.
  • Improving is the important thing -not being perfect.
  • Practice practice practice.
  • I’m always going to need to take lessons in order to maintain what I’ve learned and to go to the next level.
  • Everyone starts out a beginner. It’s OK not to know how to do something.

Aren’t all of these so true about business as well?

So, I ask you:

What have you been avoiding doing (even though you’d love to do it) because you’re uncomfortable with not knowing how to do it or fear about looking foolish?

I invite you to give that up.

Don’t let discomfort stop you any more.

 Victory is the reward received for being uncomfortable long enough to reach breakthrough.

It might be dancing, knitting, singing, public speaking, playing tennis, painting, or even networking.
Make 2015 your year for being very uncomfortable and ultimately your most rewarding year ever.

Have You Been Naughty Or Nice… To Your Vendors?

respect

 

Robert sat in the reception area of his top prospective client, and took another look at his watch.

His prospect was 20 minutes late for their meeting.

They had set up the meeting to review the engagement letter Robert had submitted to him 3 weeks ago.

Mr. Prospect had been largely unavailable and had left 2 of Robert’s emails unanswered after their last meeting with Robert even though he had said he was ready to move forward and approve the engagement letter.

He told Robert he was “sorry” but he was so busy at this time of year. Robert felt “lucky” to get this face to face meeting with Mr. Prospect. But now, here he was, waiting and worrying that Mr. Prospect would rush him through their discussion once he finally got into the conversation.

Fast forward 18 months.

Mr. Prospect calls Robert. He has been released from his firm and is looking for a new position. Perhaps Robert can keep him in mind for any positions that may cross his path? After all, he is working with many of Mr. Prospect’s former competitors so he will probably be the first to hear of any openings and opportunities.

How eager do you think Robert will be to help Mr. Prospect in his new job search?

The word “vendor” may have 6 letters but it is often spoken like a four-letter word among professionals.

Most business owners and professionals think long and hard about how they treat their clients.

But… 

When was the last time you thought about how you  treat your vendors? 

Have you been naughty or nice to them this past year?

When I was in my corporate management role, I was admittedly thoughtless about my vendors and learned a painful but oh-so-valuable lesson.

My boss found out about my leaving vendors waiting for long periods of time, not returning their phone calls promptly, and leaving their quotes and proposals dangling.

Rightfully, she gave me a lesson I never forgot. You see, she made me feel how my vendors felt when I dissed them.

Now, that I’m a vendor to my clients I can tell you how wonderful it is when they honor and respect me, and conversely how unpleasant it is when they are thoughtless, unavailable, uncommunicative, deceitful, and downright rude. It isn’t personal, true, but unpleasant nonetheless.

Here are some top ways you can easily fall into the trap of under-valuing your vendors, and the cost to you and your practice or business:

1. You don’t return their phone calls.

2. You leave them waiting for appointments or cancel repeatedly.

3. You don’t give them valuable information that can help them provide the best service and pricing for you.

4. You aren’t straightforward with them. You leave them thinking you do want to do business with them when you really don’t.

5. You pit one vendor against another simply to reduce pricing. I’m not talking about  fair and square price negotiating. I mean you just kick the tires of one vendor to help you reduce the fees from another.

6. You ask for proposals you have little or no intention of reading thoroughly or considering.

7. You bring unexpected and unannounced attendees into meetings with them and thoughtlessly throw an entire new dynamic into the conversation.

8. You are not the real decision maker but lead them to believe you are.

If you (or any of your staff) have engaged in any, or perhaps several of these practices, consider this:

 How it would be for you (or them) to experience this kind of behavior?

 And the cost to you?

Well it may seem like no skin off your nose – now. After all, you really are busy, or distracted, or don’t  need them at the moment.

But vendors have a way of changing roles and positions, as professionals do these days.

Your vendor today could wind up being your prospective client tomorrow, or your new boss, or the owner of a company you really do need services from, or someone who can tell others about your bad behavior that could damage your business or your career.

People may not remember what you tell them but they will always remember how you made them feel.

– Maya Angelou

‘Tis the season to think about whether you’ve been naughty or nice.

You’ve got a terrific opportunity to make things right (or “righter”) with them in 2015.

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