Clients

How To Get Everyone To Return Your Calls.

How To Get Everyone To Return Your Calls.

Most people don’t return calls. And if they do, they pick a time when it’s impossible for you to answer them (I think they strategically pick these times).

5 Ways to Heat Up Your Motivation.

5 Ways to Heat Up Your Motivation.

This time of the year, most businesses tend to power down a bit (not all mind you) and it give us time to plan for 2018. Bad idea.

You Can Be The Best You Can Be.

You Can Be The Best You Can Be.

I came up with a simple and powerful tool the other day. I was standing in my office in front of a large Post-It notepad sheet with a red sharpie in my hand (red delivers intention!) — and the ideas just flowed.

You're Not Charging Enough For Your Services.

The other day, I came across an old contract when I worked at <confidential> from a famous consultancy called <confidential> in NYC. The contract was signed prior to my employment and after 2 months, I fired the consultancy based on their incompetence with the project. I was amazed with the short and cavalier agreement and the associated fees for each service:

  • Project Management: $39,800
  • Creative Development: $45,025
  • Website Development: $57,350
  • Audio Production: $8,550
  • Testing & Delivery: $27,350
  • On-Site Production: $98,580
  • Electronic Mail Campaign & Fulfillment: $5,875
  • Recording Studio & Equipment Rental: $15,885

The Grand Total? $298,415 for approximately 2 months work building a simple web site with six hour-long webcasts. Oh by the way, the price doesn't include any changes/additions, overtime, hosting, travel expenses, or technology. That's extra. (I get the feeling they came up with the number and worked the financials back into logical groupings — again just a feeling)

Three-Hundred-Thousand-Dollars. Granted, the agreement was dated 2000, so in today's dollars, we're talking over $400K to build a simple site.

But I present this contract to you to illustrate one simple fact:

MOST PEOPLE DO NOT CHARGE ENOUGH FOR THEIR SERVICES.

Why? You're afraid of losing clients and scaring away any potential prospects.

Guess what? GOOD! You don't need to work with them! It's time for you to fully understand the value of your services and to get a better idea what the market will bear. What would happen if you increased your fees by 50%? 75%? or 100%? I know what would happen . . . it happened to me:

  1. You would have less clients. You can then spend more quality time with your current client base.
  2. You would have higher paying clients. People who are probably more successful.
  3. You would have clients who are serious about working with you. You will be working with people who play better tennis, so you'll have to bring your 'A' game.
  4. You would have clients you really want to work with. Charging more allows you to be picky and not just take anyone.
  5. You would begin to build a long list of clients who demand your services.

Are there lines around the door when HTC releases a new phone? No. How about Apple? Absolutely. You need to be the Apple of your industry.

At first it's scary. Clients will bolt, they will complain. But new clients will appear and start telling their friends.

As an example, I have a client who was charging some of her clients $100-$125 per session. After much prodding on my part, she is now charging $200 per session, and her clients are telling their friends — and her appointment book is overflowing with new clients. (By the way, she just hit her all-time yearly revenue goal in 2016!)

I also coached another client who was feeling unappreciated in their current role. They have been delivering key improvements to the company for over five years (most making the annual report). But for some reason, they received no raise, promotion, or accolade from management. They tried to inquire, but were rebuffed time and time again. Ultimately, I had them look outside of the company and within a month, they had a brand new position at a bigger firm with an increase in pay of 20%.

Raise your prices with chutzpah and the clients will line up at your door.

P.S. I'm not a hard-liner on this. I do coach two pro-bono clients every month. So there.

Stand Out From The Crowd With The Right Communication Skills.

I've invited Erin Ardleigh, President of Dynama Insurance and one of the best professionals I know, to give you a few tips on successful communication in business: I say “insurance salesperson”… You think, let me guess, “pushy”, “slick”, “fast talker”. Maybe you think of the stereotypical, unrelenting salesperson, such as Ned Ryerson, the schoolmate turned insurance salesman intent on selling life insurance to poor Phil, Bill Murray’s character in the film, Groundhog Day.

Well, I have to admit, I’m an insurance salesperson. As the founder and president of an insurance brokerage, I have to contend with the negative stereotypes that many people have about my industry. In my uphill battle to distinguish myself and earn my clients’ trust, I’ve found that communicating clearly and effectively is crucial to my success. I’ve worked with Jayne Latz of Corporate Speech Solutions to improve my elevator pitch, public speaking, and overall communication skills. Here are the tools that have helped me the most:

1. Listen, REALLY Listen. This sounds simple and obvious, but so few people truly do it. I try to start a meeting by asking a few questions, listening to the other person and learning what is important to them.  I love to hear my clients’ life stories – how they built their businesses and what their kids are up to – and they love to talk about their passions. Listening helps build a relationship, and lets people know I’m not there just to push a product at them.

2. Speak Clearly And Slowly. In my industry, there are a lot of product names, technical terms and acronyms. It’s easy to confuse a client with all of the ‘lingo’. My team never uses acronyms, even if we think the abbreviation is obvious, because we want to be certain that our client understands us. For example, long term care insurance is never just “LTC”. We speak slowly when using technical terms and give our clients time to write notes, if they like.

I’ve traveled extensively, and it’s made me realize just how quickly New Yorkers speak! When I’m talking with someone that speaks English as a second language, I am mindful of the speed of my speech and the enunciation of my words. I’ve adopted the same approach with clients, since insurance really does seem like a foreign language to many people!

When addressing a room, Jayne taught me to always take a slow, deep breath first, to smile, and to pause and count to three after saying my name and before saying my company name. I want my audience to hear my name and company name clearly so they can follow up with me!

3. Be Aware Of Your Body Language. If you’re focusing only on your speech, you’re missing a big part of effective communication. Most of us have distracting habits that we are not aware of: some people put their hands in their pockets, or nervously click a pen, others sway while standing and speaking. Having Jayne film me while I gave my elevator speech was an eye opener. I have the habit of using my hands a lot while I am speaking. Jayne helped me to use gestures to accentuate my message rather than distract from it. I make sure that my message is consistent, through both verbal and non verbal communication.

In business, we all need to communicate effectively, which takes training and practice. I think every business owner would benefit from communications coaching. (Having an amazing executive coach like Rich Gee doesn’t hurt either!) I, for one, am committed to continually improving my verbal and non verbal communication skills.

Now, if only I could bump into Bill Murray!


Erin Ardleigh is the President of Dynama Insurance, an independent insurance brokerage that emphasizes transparency and education as part of the insurance planning process.  Dynama Insurance offers life, health, disability and long term care insurance as well as complimentary reviews of existing policies.  www.dynamainsurance.com

Jayne Latz of Corporate Speech Solutions is an expert in communication skills. For over 25 years she has worked as a speech-language pathologist, professional speech trainer and coach and has co-authored two books titled, Talking Business: A Guide to Professional Communication and Talking Business: When English is Your Second Language.  www.corporatespeechsolutions.com

If You Aren’t Fired With Enthusiasm, You’ll Be Fired With Enthusiasm.

“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.” – Vince Lombardi The funny thing is, it happens ALL the time. And people wonder . . . ‘What Happened?’:

  • I went to work every day.
  • I was there on time.
  • I did what they told me to do.

It’s all about PERCEPTION. I know I’m going to get a lot of flak for say it, but it really comes down to how your superiors, your clients, your colleagues, and your team perceive you.

You can be the hardest working individual. The smartest. The fastest. You might be the only one on the block who hits their numbers.

But when the chips are down, you are shown the door. Or the client cancels their contract.

Here’s a little secret: It’s how others perceive your ENTHUSIASM.

  • Are you a cheerleader? Are you positive (and not negative)?
  • Do you take on your responsibilities with gusto?
  • Do you deliver them on time AND let others know about it?
  • Do you BRAG?
  • Do you ask for more work?
  • Do you help your boss/client with their burning issues?
  • Are you constantly thinking outside of the box?

It’s not only your enthusiasm that makes a difference, it’s how others feel, encounter, and experience your enthusiasm.

My son was told by his teacher one day to add more ‘pizazz’ to his class presentation. “Go outside of the box – make it memorable.” So he did — he thought of ways to make it more engaging and fun — and he got an ‘A’ on it. How can you add ‘pizazz’ to everything you do? (by the way – he now adds ‘pizazz’ to everything he does).

Take a second and think of the most enthusiastic people you know. You know — the one who hits their desk on Monday with a smile, dives right into their work, always has a positive thing to say about the company AND never gossips.

How is their career doing? Are they on the hot projects? Do they have a 'ton' of clients? Are they invited to the cool meetings? Are they asked out to lunch by upper management? Are they asked to speak at major functions?

They probably are.

Today’s homework: How can you add just a little bit of pizazz to your job today?

Do You REALLY Know What The Problem Is?

John lost his job a few months ago. And for some reason, he has no idea why he was let go instead of someone else. In addition, his interviews are not panning out and he's getting nervous about his available prospects. The clock is ticking. Mary is having a hard time communicating with her new team. For years, she has been an exemplary manager. But for some reason, her new team is not engaging and sometimes petulant. Projects are floundering.

Karen's business is not 8 years old and has been growing year after year. For some reason, it's been hard for Karen to stay focused on key areas of the business. And it's hurting her bottom line. Her bookkeeper is beginning to notice.

I run into clients like John, Mary, and Karen all the time. And I'll be honest, most of the time coaching them WORKS. But every so often, I get a client where there is a major hidden obstacle which eludes us. My coaching is affected and the client is frustrated.

That's where Rich Gee Diagnostic Insight™ comes in.

Rich Gee Diagnostic Insight™ is one of the quickest ways to gain a clear picture into your current and past obstacles, whether they are technical, social, or emotional in nature. This insight can be used to develop appropriate coaching recommendations to Move You Forward.

We Identify YOUR Needs

The combination of proven assessment techniques and live professional evaluations provide a wealth of knowledge about an individual's style of work. What are their values, what drives them, and what are the real obstacles standing in their way. With this understanding, appropriate coaching modifications can be put into place.

We Clarify Barriers To Entry

We will examine your social and professional functioning in light of your current and future milestones and goals. Using this information, we can develop effective strategies for managing people, stress, understanding relationships, controlling impulses, and getting focused at the job at hand.

We Personalize It For You

Rich Gee Diagnostic Insight™ will be tailored to meet the individual needs of your situation. Rich will use a combination of selected assessments, evaluators, and key resources to help you get a better understanding of what drives you and how we can move you forward ASAP.

LEARN MORE HERE >>

 

 

Good Service vs. Bad Service - A Parable.

Once upon a time there was a coach. He woke up every morning at 4:30 AM and worked until 5 PM. Some days he worked at his office in Stamford — some days he worked at his home office.

Some days he coached all day long with wonderful clients — some days he was on the road connecting with old and new friends to build his business.

During these wonderful times, this coach would make a small detour and pick up a few foodstuffs for his family (it's the least he could to to help his ravishingly beautiful and infinitely smarter wife).

This day, he stopped off at a supermarket, let's call it Supermarket 'A'. Everywhere Rich went in Supermarket 'A', if he saw an employee stocking the shelf or walking by, they would greet him with a smile and ask if they could help him find something. Many times, they would comment on an item he was purchasing and offer positive comments on how to use it. The store was clean, well-stocked, and had a homey, comfortable feel about it.

Supermarket 'A' provides a station where one could sample new foods and most of the time, the offerings were incredible where the coach would just have to buy the spotlighted item. And today he would do just that.

The best part of this coach's visit was checking out. First, there were three registers open and one of the employees immediately caught the coach's eye and asked, "Ready to check out? I can take you over here!". As they unloaded his cart and scanned each item, they engaged the coach in conversation about some of the items he was purchasing and how his day was going so far. They profusely thanked the coach for bagging and encouraged him to fill out a ticket (a drawing for a free gift certificate) because the coach brought and used his own bags.

With a hearty good-day from the Supermarket 'A's employee at the register, the coach had an extra spring in his step rolling his carriage to the car.

The next day, the coach had to stop at another supermarket, let's call it Supermarket 'B'. Everywhere Rich went in Supermarket 'B', his aisle was blocked by multiple large, wheeled pallets full of boxes. The employees unpacking the boxes all had a unique air that the coach would describe as 'depressed and angry'. They rarely moved out of the way, grunted when they had to and filled in each aisle making travel a torture course for every shopper. Each aisle was dirty and the lighting resembled the inside of a refrigerator — blinding, florescent white.

When the coach reached the pharmacy to pick up a prescription (no worries - it's an allergy) — he had to wait in line (5 customers deep) and watch the pharmacist work behind the counter, answer phone calls, and ultimately step out and assist the next customer. Where it should have taken the coach 2-3 minutes to complete a simple pick-up transaction, he was in line for approximately 12 minutes. That's a long time to spend standing in line. Honest.

Finally, when it was time to check out, there were only three (out of 15 registers) open and all three had lines 5-6 people deep. The coach chose the self-checkout register, scanned his frequent shopper card to get normal pricing on his items, and began to unload, self-scan, and pack up his items in his bag. Guess what? Three items in, the scanner encountered a problem and required a manager to login, reset, and allow the coach to purchase his five items. Unfortunately, there was no manager to be found, so the coach had to wait until one appeared from their break.

With a hearty FU from Supermarket 'B', the coach had an extra slog in his step and rising, burning anger in his neck rolling his carriage to the car.

All kidding aside, what's going on here?

  1. One establishment gets it, one doesn't (or just doesn't care).
  2. One has engaged and enthusiastic employees, and one doesn't.
  3. One has the layout and logistics of selling food nailed, and one doesn't.
  4. One had a comfortable, homey feel and the other a dirty, clinical atmosphere.
  5. One had reasonable pricing and great quality, the other high-prices and questionable quality.

Now you might ask, why does the coach shop at Supermarket 'B' and not all the time at Supermarket 'A'? Proximity and convenience. 'A' is far away and takes 30 minutes of drive time. 'B' is five minutes away.

There are a number of lessons to learn here today:

  1. Availability and convenience do play a major part in consumer's choice. Time sometimes trumps quality, service, and price.
  2. The way you treat your customers, with even the simplest of transactions, impacts their shopping experience. Bad employees do hurt you.
  3. Even though people want choice and change, they also like consistency. They don't want to be inundated with 100's of items. Make it easy and simple.
  4. Making customers wait should be avoided, not embraced by your organization. Even DisneyWorld makes waiting fun.

What's the moral of the story? The coach should (and will) plan out his shopping each week and endeavor to hit Supermarket 'A' on a regular basis.

 

Is Your Competition Waving As They Pass You?

On with one of my oldest clients this morning and came up with a spot-on analogy about a lot of organizational management today: Your company is a ship on the open sea and your mission is to navigate and guide it into port.

Your captain (management) wants you to take it in slow and steady, so they hit their schedule perfectly. They don't want to expend any more fuel, any more people, or take a chance by accelerating the ship to get to the port faster. It's the way they've done things for years and they are not changing.

Unfortunately, you're guiding the ship and you're seeing all of the competing ships (and some speedboats) passing you by in the night because they are going faster and using innovative techniques and strategies to beat you.

But the captain doesn't see this, because they're sleeping. But you do — and you tell them everyday that the ship needs to go faster and to develop innovative techniques and strategies like your competition.

The captain disagrees. "Slow and steady will get us into port on-time and on-schedule" (and the captain will be rewarded by management with a healthy bonus if this happens).

But you know the competing ships (and speedboats) will hit port way before you do, unload their cargo, sell their wares quickly, and be off before you realize it.

In addition, when they pass, they are making bigger waves that affect your ship's progress. But the captain maintains a slow and steady approach.

They are NOT LISTENING.

And you're seeing the future of your industry happen RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES.

And you're not part of it. You're a spectator. And the competition is EATING YOUR LUNCH.

Sometimes, the captain doesn't notice until it's too late — and then — and only then — they want you to accelerate. But it's too little, too late. And when you tell them, they get mad.

WHAT DO YOU DO? My ADVICE:

Don't open up the throttle — but you should subtly 'click' it forward just enough where management doesn't notice (at first), but where you begin to catch up, pace, and sometimes pass the competition. Add a resource, accelerate the deadline, increase the scope a bit, start a small skunkworks in the basement — but do something.

Also — EVANGELIZE your perspective and strategy all the time. You might be ridiculed at first — but after the competition beats you — you can stand there with a huge 'I told you so' face. They might listen to you next time.

You might get into trouble if management ultimately uncovers what you're doing — but no one was ever fired for doing the right thing and taking a small chance to advance the company forward.

And if you are reprimanded or fired, it makes a great story to tell when interviewing with the competition!

P.S. This happens ALL THE TIME. Think of Kodak, Blockbuster, and Nokia to name a few. What others can you think of?

Are You Crushing It Every Day?

“Love your family, work super hard, live your passion.” - Gary Vaynerchuk, from Crush It! Great words from Gary in one of my favorite books (I require all of my clients to read). He is spot on with this one.

See how he constructs the quote — Family — Work — Passion. Not the other way around.

Unfortunately, many of the C-Level clients I coach work it the other way and find they're not happy, they have a shitty marriage, they never see their kids or their kids hate them, and their only passion in life is putting in mucho hours on the job. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Yes — you've got the three M's — Money, Mansion, Mercedes (or Maserati) — but deep down, you're not happy. Something is missing and time is running out.

So here goes — you can have all three — it's just how you look at them AND how you prioritize them. I am currently working with the CEO/Owner of a top engineering firm and we're currently spinning the sequence around to help him enjoy the benefits of his labor. He's built the organization from the ground up and now it's time to enjoy life!

NUMBER ONE RULE — Family Comes First. No exceptions.

I'm not saying to fill up your calendar with family-oriented activities and let work suffer. Within reason, try to start your workweek by making time for your wife/partner, kids, friends, etc. If there is a baseball game, a romantic dinner, a morning run, hiking at the park — make sure it is recorded and blocked off on your calendar FIRST.

Again, within reason — I understand you work for a living. But taking a vacation day once in awhile is fine, even encouraged. Leave work early to catch your son's or daughter's soccer game. Come in late because you took your family to an early breakfast at your favorite diner. You know, the one where you all sit together with no TV, no smartphones and just eat and talk.

ACTION: Get your assistant in your office right now and start blocking off your calendar. TODAY.

NUMBER TWO RULE — Work Super Hard. But work smart.

I know you work hard. That's how you got to your position in the first place. But what got you to the captain's chair probably won't help you stay happy there. You worked hard, put in the thousands of hours of blood, sweat and tears. You made all the right decisions (and a few stinkers). You made the right connections with the right people. YOU HUSTLED.

Now it's time to sit in the captain's chair and start delegating even more. Don't act like Captain Kirk and accompany the away team on every mission, stay on-board the Enterprise and direct your resources in strategic ways. What got you here isn't going to keep you here for very long without compromising your home life, your happiness, and your health. You're not getting any younger either.

ACTION: Look at all your meetings and start culling them down by 10%. Stop reading every email/text that comes in. Have your assistant monitor your information flow and decide what get priority. They're the gatekeeper — ensure they guard the gate.

Cut down on one-on-ones with everyone — start to develop a sharper pyramid reporting structure with very few people touching you (no more than 5-7) Remember the Godfather? He had three direct reports — his Consigliere (who died - morte), and two Capos — Clemenza and Tessio. That's it.

NUMBER THREE RULE — Live Your Passion. But find what your REAL passion is.

Too many C-Level executives hit the big show and start to abuse the passion that got them there. They forget the fun, innovation, excitement and give in to boredom, politics, and hitting the targets for their buddies on the board. The world becomes pedantic and the passion flows out of them.

They try to make safe decisions and safe moves, and impact their business, their organization, and their customers. They prioritize their bonus, their safety, and their reputation over what's really important. I know it's hard, but sometimes you have to sacrifice the temporary pleasures to fully engage with what really matters. It's not all money (and if you believe it is - READ THIS - another mandatory book I recommend to C-Level clients).

ACTION: Sit down and assess what your real passions are right at this moment. What gets your motor running? What gets you excited about life? What motivates you to do GREAT work? You need to re-establish a connection with your passion and make sure you fill up your enthusiasm gas tank every day.

Are you crushing it every day?

"No excuses. Make it happen." - Rich Gee

POST YOUR QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS BELOW

Your Communication Skills Stink.

If you pare down your job or business — and take away all the extraneous stuff you do — the most important part is COMMUNICATION. Simple, two-way and CLEAR communication. I give you information and I get your response. You tell me to do something and I tell you when I can get it done. I explain the merits of my products and services and you buy. And on and on and on.

Here's the simple fact — it's not as easy as it looks. In fact, some people tend to screw it up most of the time and wonder why they are being listened to or why their people or clients are not doing what they've been told. Do you find yourself saying:

  • "They just aren't listening!"
  • "Why are my clients checking out?"
  • "Why do I tell my team one thing and they do another?"

If you catch yourself saying these and other choice phrases — you might need to tighten up your communication style.

Communication is a very complex process. When you communicate, you need to keep a sharp eye on the person you are communicating to. Why? There are so many signals where you need to modulate your communication to ensure they are understanding what you're saying.

Communication is made up of two competing spheres:

  1. Facts & Information (F&I) - this is the 'what' of the conversation. And usually where you do a good job of transmitting.
  2. Emotions & Feelings (E&F) - this is the 'why' of the conversation. And usually where you do a bad job of transmitting.

To communicate effectively, you need to better balance the two. Most of the time, we spend 80-90% of our efforts in F&I and 10-20% in E&F. Unfortunately, in certain situations, you need to increase your E&F — but you don't — and this is where communication breaks down.

Why does this happen? Because communicating facts and information are easy — you just blabber away. Emotions and feelings take a certain amount of restrain — you have to ask questions, listen, and react to the other person's feelings and emotions. And that's hard for most people. It's the EQ (emotional quotient) of the conversation.

The bottom line — if you take the E&F into account and speak to it — your communication success will increase exponentially.

But how do you bridge that gap? Three steps:

1. Bring Them In.

Bring them into the conversation. If you find you are doing all or most of the talking, STOP. Start asking them questions, get their side of the conversation, issue, or situation. Then paraphrase what they said to ensure you are listening correctly, and then ask more questions. We tend to blabber on without a care about the person we are speaking with. One of my favorite phrases to use is "Tell Me More". If that fails . . .

2. Ask Them A Permission Question.

Pause and then ask one of these permission questions:

  • May I offer a suggestion . . . ?
  • Can we further explore . . . ?
  • Would it be alright if . . . ?
  • With your permission, can we . . . ?

These permission questions immediately stop the conversation, reverse it, and allow you to better understand what's going on in the head of the person you're speaking with. If that fails . . .

3. Tell Them A Story.

One of the best ways to bridge the gap between Facts & Information and Emotions & Feelings is to tell a related story, example or scenario. It adds weight to the conversation and allows the person to visualize and mentally illustrate what you're talking about.

Each of these steps allows the speaker — YOU — to better communicate, bring the client or team member into the conversation, and hopefully deliver better, faster and more clear communication to whatever you do.

POST YOUR QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS BELOW 

How's Business? You Need A Business Coach.

You've got a business. It might be doing well — it might not be doing so well. If you hire a business coach, they tend to focus on a specific area of your business — your marketing, your financials, your staff, etc. They focus in on your 'pain point' because it's their specialty. If you go to an ear/nose/throat specialist, they will pinpoint your sickness within your ear, nose, or throat. But what you really need is someone who brings it all together. Who can help you view your entire business and help fix what really needs fixing.

That's what I do. The other day, I ran a cool program called Wordle, a free web program which takes a paragraph/page of writing and transforms it into a word cloud. I took a combination of my web bio and my business acceleration page and developed my first word cloud found at the top of this page.

What words immediately stand out?

  • LOVE
  • BUSINESS
  • PEOPLE
  • CLIENTS
  • HELP
  • FUN

I love what I do. I've been a coach for almost 14 years. As a FULL-TIME coach, I work with many businesses to help them figure out what their next steps will be. In fact, I just celebrated 10,000+ hours coaching — if you want to see what that means, click HERE.

I am a business coach. Not a 'life' coach, or a 'financial' coach, or a 'marketing' coach. I am a business/career coach who helps people with their business life. If you want a blankie to keep you warm, look elsewhere.

I am people- and client-oriented. I am not off running multi-marketing junkets — I coach people. Serious people. I spend time with my clients to ensure they succeed. Ask me about Lifeline calls — my clients love them.

I'm here to help. I worked in corporate for over 20 years and found my direct affect on impacting people in a positive way was diminishing. So I refocused it on directly helping people by coaching. I've been put on this earth to help as many people as I can.

Finally, I want to have fun with my clients. Too many things in life are boring and too serious — I want to make the process more fun.

Are You Feeling Guilty At Work?

I'm feeling guilty today. The funny thing is . . . I shouldn't. Every Tuesday, like clockwork, I attend my networking/sales team meeting with approximately 50 people.

It's called BNI (Business Networking International), a worldwide organization where businesspeople meet to learn about their services and deliver hot referrals (CLIENTS) each week. I find it powerful for my business (it delivers 40-45% of my clients each year) and wouldn't miss it for the world. In fact, if you have a business or a product to sell, BNI is THE place to go to increase your bottom line.

What happened?

Today, I'm missing my weekly meeting. I had to double-book a client over my meeting and could not schedule it for any other time this week. They HAD to meet at this time. And I did ALL the right things a BNI member should do:

I notified the leadership team of my absence.

I replace my open spot for the week with a great substitute who will do my commercial.

I let the visitor host team know of my sub so they could list them on our weekly roster.

And I did it all on-time, prior to our meeting.

I still feel guilty. I feel that I'm letting my colleagues down even though I've taken all the steps to ensure my absence is covered this week. Why do I feel guilty?

I feel like I'm letting my BNI colleagues down.

I feel that I'm missing out on something good.

That regular burst of enthusiasm I receive from attending will not be there this week.

Honestly, I shouldn't feel guilty. NOT ONE BIT. Why? Guilt is all about the PAST. And guess what? There's nothing I can do about it. NOTHING. It's in the past.

I've made a decision, I've prepared my absence — I've taken all the steps to ensure I shouldn't feel guilt about missing my meeting. So it's time to confront my guilt and realize I have to live in the present and move on from this 'fake' feeling. Why?

It's holding me back — I'm focusing on something that really doesn't matter.

I'm expending mental and physical energy towards a belief that is not true.

I'm not focusing on the present or planning for the future. This is where I can make serious progress towards my goals.

So the next time you feel GUILTY, remember it's all in the past and there's nothing you can really do about it. Take that guilt and repurpose its energy into the present and future. You will find yourself working faster, better, and with more enthusiasm.

Guilt is a mechanism for us to remember past mistakes so we don't repeat them — don't let it paralyze you.

I'D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR GUILT AT WORK. LET ME KNOW BELOW.

Top 10 Reasons Why You're Not Getting A Job.

As a business and career coach, I run into so many different people every day. I attend conferences and events, I run workshops and webinars, and I host team masterminds for all types of professionals. And guess what? When I talk to the unemployed, I've heard all the excuses why you don't have a job. Here are the top ten realities of your job search today:

1. You're waiting for the phone to ring or the limo to pull up to your house and whisk you off to your new position.

This is my #1 pet peeve when I host job-search workshops. People say they are busy, they're sending out resumes, but the reality is they are mentally waiting for a knight in shining armor to whisk them away to a new cushy position. Guest what . . . it's never going to happen. NEVER.

Unless you're a recently fired CEO with massive connections to firms who want to hire you and subsequently ruin their company, no one is going to call and no one is driving up with a black stretch limo. Once you realize you are on your own and only YOU can change your situation, it's time for a mental ass-kick to get your head on straight.

What To Do: You want an mental ass-kick? Start listening to motivational speakers to keep your mental energy level up and constant. Check out Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Jeffrey Gitomer, and my favorite Bennie Hsu at Get Busy Living Podcast. He's the best!

2. You rarely go out.

You get up at 9 AM, you probably don't take a shower, you get dressed in your old geriatric Adidas sweatsuit, and sit in front of your laptop. WRONG!

What To Do: Get up at 5 AM, go for a walk/run outside, take a shower, and get dressed in real clothes. You don't like it? TOUGH. This is your workday and for the next 8-10 hours, I am your drill sergeant and you will deliver 110% looking for a job every Monday through Friday. Set up a schedule which takes you outside every single day. Meet people for coffee, hit the library, go to the gym, walk around the park. Strike up conversations with people — you never know who you will meet.

3. You check the web for postings, send out a few resumes, and watch Ellen, Rachael, and Jerry the rest of the day.

Unemployment is not a vacation. You have to attack your job search like any project you've ever delivered at work.

What To Do: You have to:

  • Focus on the marketplace - What companies are doing well? Where are the growth areas? Who are the movers and shakers?
  • Analyze your attributes against your competition - Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on YOU. Figure out how you leverage your strengths and opportunities.
  • Develop key targets to go after - Analyze your commuting radius, find out all the potential industries and organizations within your circle, and begin to make a hit list.
  • Execute - Go after each one incrementally in a cascade pattern to ensure you are not inundated with tasks, but your search is progressing in a healthy fashion.

4. Your industry has changed.

You actually thought people were going to buy slide-rules FOREVER. Yes, that's right, you're industry is changing. And guess what? Everyone's industry is changing. Some are morphing into other forms, some are merging, many are shrinking, and a lot are just plum going out of business. If you thought you could keep your job or profession for 30 years, I have a DeLorean to sell you.

What To Do: Figure out where your industry is going and either stick around for the very bumpy ride or jump off at the station for the next train. Get to thee library, my dear young minstrel and start understanding what is really happening in the marketplace. Read the WSJ, Medium, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Inc, and Foundr. Also meeting with industry luminaries doesn't hurt either.

5. You're too old.

Where did the time go? You were having so much fun as an executive in a corner office working on strategy and mergers, you never saw the axe coming for you until it was too late. Now you're 55 and no one wants you. Let me rephrase that — no 20-year old in HR wants you. The minute they do the college graduate math in their head (or on their calculator), your résumé is flying faster than a 767 into the circular file. And the funny thing is you keep doing it.

What To Do: Stop repeating something which doesn't work and expecting something different. You have to get out of the HR/Recruiter trap and move up the ladder and meet/engage/schmooze the hiring managers. Go to industry events, reach out to them via LinkedIn/Twitter, and google their name to get to know them. Then reach out and try to meet them.

6. You're too young.

Where did the time go? You were just in college wowing them with your 4.0 GPA and now no one will take your calls because you have no experience.

What To Do: It's time for you to get some experience! You need to call in every chip on the poker table of life and have them connect you with possible paid intern/entry level positions. Let's get real — you might have a little bit of knowledge, but your don't have the experience to hit deadlines consistently, run a meeting, handle an angry client, manage a boss, or run a complex project. You have to take a small hit position/salary-wise and build up those talents before you really hit the big leagues of life.

7. You're unrealistic about your position and your salary.

"Look, I was Vice President of Strategic Initiatives with a yearly base salary of $275K. Why doesn't anyone want me?"

What To Do: There are a finite number of positions out there which might fit your position/salary requirements, but you will never find them in time. I know, you might run into them, but most likely, NOT. You have to be a bit flexible on the Who/What/Where/How Much in the current marketplace. Try to broaden your scope and see what else is out there. It might not be a VP position, or one drowning in strategy. It might be a bit lower than $275K a year — but then again, it's higher than the $0/year you're pulling in now (great tax benefits though).

8. You have a glass-half-empty mentality.

No one likes a whiner. I just spoke with a prospect this week who could not stop talking about all the bad bosses and decisions they've made in the past 10 years. The first rule of your job search: Never, ever, say bad things about your past. Not only does it cloud anyone's opinion of you, it brings your mental state down into the basement.

What To Do: Start imagining what life would be like if you had that wonderful position RIGHT NOW. Where would you be? Who would you be working with? What would you be doing? How would you get there. Stop thinking and feeling guilty about the past and start preparing for your glorious future. Get your head half-full immediately.

9. You're afraid of Thinking Big and reaching out to the real power-brokers.

No one is going to think big for you (except me). You hamstring your search and actions by being risk-averse. You're afraid of rejection and will never put yourself in a position of actually touching key movers and shakers in your industry. No . . . you will continue to interview with 20-year-old HR reps who text more than they think and wonder why you don't have a killer position.

What To Do: Get a piece of paper and write down what would be your PERFECT job. Now actualize it in your universe — find those companies who fit the bill and reach out to the key people who run those positions. The funny thing is . . . these same people are always on the lookout for new talent. You're just not putting yourself onto their radar.

10. You've given up.

You've tried again and again to get a job offer, an interview or even a solid connection and it seems the cards are stacked against you. It's been years since you've worked and you're draining your savings account to keep your household afloat.

What To Do: You can always try again. Take a different tack, work on an alternate strategy, reach out to new people. In fact, I just worked with a client who was unemployed for two years and within three months, he had a number of offers and took an incredible job. You never know where your next break will occur.

Free image provided by iStockPhoto.

5 Easy Ways To Give Great Customer Service.

I ordered new running shoes from Zappos the other day. If you've ever ordered from Zappos — you'll know they sometimes don't have the best prices. But they do deliver the best customer service.

When I say "CUSTOMER SERVICE", it isn't specific to business owners. If you work in corporate, CUSTOMER SERVICE is critical — you have CUSTOMERS above you, along side you, and below you. When you work at an organization, it's formal Human Resources name is "interpersonal communication".

To survive, you need to keep your customers engaged, happy, and wanting more of your products and services. So without further ado — here they are:

1. Deliver WOW during the whole process.

From the initial screens, to the multiple angles, to the highly-descriptive videos Zappos makes you feel right at home choosing your merchandise. Everything is clear, and open and they really don't try to hard-sell you. In addition, they promote their core values at the bottom of every page to let the customer know what philosophies are guiding every business interaction.

When I say WOW, I want you to look at everything you do for your boss, customer, or client. At every juncture, how can you do a little bit better? How can you elevate every touchpoint and anticipate their needs? How can you reach out and make every interaction more streamlined and pleasurable?

2. Make the customer feel special by personalizing the process.

Zappos remembers ALL of your purchases. A year after I bought a pair of Merrell Jungle Mocs, I received an email to let me know it's been a year and if I'd like to buy another pair. Although my pair is in good shape and I didn't need another pair just yet — the thought of receiving a card is impressive.

When was the last time you reached out to your current client base to remind them of a service or product? How about a new service or product? How about a simple card appreciating their business? You can do almost anything and make the customer feel special.

3. Be responsive. 4. If something goes wrong, ask questions and listen. 5. If you screwed up, give them a token of appreciation.

I had a slight snafu with one of my orders — I ordered it on the regular Zappos site and not the VIP site (we order a lot of shoes). The end result — shoes I thought were arriving that day were delayed by a few days. On the phone, the Zappos representative was helpful and was able to expedite the shipment. In addition, they sent me an email with a $25 credit to apply to my next purchase. WOW.

If something goes wrong — fix it immediately. Don't wait for it to 'go away'.

First, you need to be instantly accessible to allow your clients to access you. All of my clients have a direct line to me — so they can either call or email me. If it's an emergency, I get back the them ASAP. If it's just a question, 24 hours is fine. But I am there — they don't sit in my inbox for weeks or are relegated to my voicemail for eternity. I get back to them. And they can access me instantly.

Second, if there is something wrong, ask questions and then LISTEN. Most people try to fix the problem without listening to the entire story. Your customer first and foremost want you to empathize with their situation. So your job is to ask questions for clarification and listen to them until they run out of steam. Then empathize with them — "I'm so sorry to hear that happened." or "Let's see what we can do to solve your problem."

Finally, if YOU screwed up — apologize and give them a token of appreciation. A discount, a gift, flowers, take them out to lunch, whatever. A small token of acknowledgement and a gift will not only go the distance, they will be your customer forever.

13 Simple Tips To Get Highly-Qualified Referrals.

When you run your own business, it's hard to keep the sales funnel healthy and moving with new referrals, prospect and hopefully, clients! Most people forget about REFERRALS. Why? 

  • You hate to ask for things from other people.
  • You don't want to come off as someone who NEEDS referrals.
  • You know it sounds like begging for clients.
  • And many, many  others.

Bottom line — to run a successful business, you need constant and regular referrals.

To get those . . . YOU NEED TO ASK FOR REFERRALS.

I've linked to one of my most requested articles: Get Referrals NOW™ — 13 simple steps to start a referral flood to your business.

Each of the 13 steps have a dedicated action item to get you on your way to highly qualified and powerful referrals.

Some of the best steps:

  • Review your past referrals.
  • Be referable.
  • Train your troops.
  • Reward your referrers.

This report will radically change your 2013 business.

Check it out HERE.

10 Tips To Recover After A Crisis.

When life knocks us for a loop, we tend to roll with the punch and stay down. If you know boxing, you only have 10 seconds to get back up before the fight is over. That means you need to get back up ASAP and realize there will be light at the end of the tunnel and wallowing in our own misfortune will not get us there.

Your Communication Skills Stink – Part Two.

Last week, I covered why communication is so important to business. Speaking with your clients, team, peers and boss are all critical to your success and are usually the nexus of problems when things go awry. See Part One here. If you break down the structure of communication, it really is the transmission of information. You say something, I respond. I say something, you respond.

It's a 'Give & Take' relationship, but sometimes the signal lines can be bad. The wires are compromised. Emotions get in the way.

And this can happen in a millisecond. It's probably happened to you — you are speaking with someone and suddenly — they shut down, they get an angry look on their face, or they bite back with venom. It's all happened to all of us — we chose the wrong word, or focused on the wrong example — and BAM! We get hit right in the nose. And it hurts.

Especially when communicating information. When selling to a prospect, instructing a team member, or speaking with a superior, one needs to be SO careful — here is the architecture of the conversation.

On one end is IDU — I Don't Understand. On the other is YDU — You Don't Understand.

IDU is the state where the person begins to shut down because you are speaking about a subject they don't know or understand. You are talking OVER their head. When it happens, the person starts to feel inferior or incompetent and they shut down.

YDU is the state where the person begins to get angry because YOU don't know or understand their situation. You are talking PAST them. When it happens, the person starts to feel angry or contempt for you — they begin to interrupt or sit and stew with anger.

IDU is on one end of the spectrum and YDU is on the other end. Your job is to remain in the middle with your communication, giving them info while ensuring you don't venture in IDU or YDU territory.

And the way to ensure this doesn't happen is to:

  1. Watch for physical signals. They might start looking away or looking angry or impatient. They might not respond immediately or come back with a response that sounds frustrated or angry. On the phone, listen for typing or clicking — they are not listening, they are multi-tasking.
  2. Ask questions along the way. Like: "Are you with me so far?" or "Am I speaking too quickly?" or " Do you want me to review any aspect of what I just covered?" or "Do you know this already?" This gives the receiver a chance to better understand the information and will quickly take you out of the IDU/YDU area.
  3. Paraphrase their response. When they do respond, paraphrase what you just heard. This will quickly take you out of the YDU end of the spectrum.

Communication is so critical for your success — make sure it is TWO-WAY!