Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's Not About You

Sometimes what we need most is the advice we give to others.

Over the years, I've counseled numerous individuals and companies on effective sales and marketing techniques.

A central theme is, "It's not about you." 

Meaning, if you want someone to see value in what you have to offer, they need to see the value for them.   Not how great you think you are or God help us, what year your company was founded, or some bulleted list of what you "do."

It's about taking the time to understand where your target is now, what motivates them, and where they need/want to be.  And then, very clearly connecting the dots between where they are now and that ideal point.   Done the right way, it should simply become obvious along the way that your amazing solution is exactly the right thing at the right time.

The last part about "connecting the dots" is crucial but often overlooked, especially when we're so excited to just jump to the TAH DAH!    We're already drinking the Kool Aid, but though our target now knows they are thirsty, they don't even have a glass.

So, why is that I could get some stranger to spend a million bucks on complex business services, but I couldn't get my own kids ready and out of the house on time in the morning??

Seriously.  The morning chaos was enough to turn me into a crazy person.  (No comments from the peanut gallery.)

At some point, it hit me.  I'd been making it about me.   How hard I work, how late I'm going to be, how I've already asked three times, and how annoyed I will get.  If someone...   doesn't... put... their... shoes... on... NOW.

Yes, my kids love me and they are polite, considerate kids overall.   But, at ages seven and twelve, it's so not about me; especially when it's early and they are tired and overwhelmed with starting the day.  If the TV is on or the IPod is in hand, forget it.  I may as well be talking to the wall.

So here's the new morning plan which seems to work much better:

When I wake them up (or get them started if they are already awake), I do so with verbal and physical kindness.  I focus on their feelings, i.e. comfy, tired, hungry, overwhelmed.    We sometimes forget what it's like to be a kid and all the things they worry about.    Taking just a couple extra minutes to overtly express the love and happiness they need can change the entire course of the day for everyone involved.

Then, I gain agreement on the ultimate goal:  To get out of the house at a specific time so that they can be on time for school, get to lockers, see friends, and generally feel good about starting the day right.  Again, it has to be about them.

I help connect the dots between where they are now and that goal of being on time for a happy day.  Simple steps:   1.Clothes  2.Breakfast  3.Teeth   4.Hair   5.Shoes   6.Coat  7.Bags 

When my daughter was younger, we actually had a "Get Up & Go" board which outlined these steps.  It worked really well; no idea why we stopped using it.

I'd like to say there's no TV or IPod in the morning but I've actually found it to be a good incentive.  Again, I'm thinking about what they value and using it towards the goal.  You could call it "playing dirty" but it works.  Humans by our very nature are motivational creatures. 

So... next time you are struggling with your powers of persuasion, personally or professionally, see how you can switch your positioning.  Make it about them and connect the dots.

Good luck!

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

10 Life Balance Commandments

Every journey begins with a first step.  Or a first blog post, as the case may be.

I remember when I first thought about the idea of blogging.  My sister and some of my friends were already "bloggers."  They were cool.  I was jealous.  For a long time, I was still just "thinking about it."  Waiting for the right time.  Or more time. Something.

Then click.  One letter typed on my little laptop. One word; one sentence; one post.  No time at all.

Like so many other things in our lives, starting was the hardest part.  And yet, so easy.  One click. 

So for anyone lurking out there who has been thinking about blogging and wanting to do it I say, "Go for it!"  You know who you are.  Really, what are you waiting for?  We're not getting any younger here people.  

To commemorate my first blogoversary, I had summarized some key messages from my blogtabulous first year.   Charlton Heston style.  Minus the beard.

Two more years later, I can think of a couple more but these all still really resonate with me.  And, given the need to actually practice what I preach, balance this week requires an encore presentation.  I reserve the right to addendum.


1. Thou shalt make myself a priority.   Life balance is about having the mental, emotional and physical strength to be able to do it all.  It's not about doing everything in just the right way.  It's about being strong enough to handle anythingTrue life balance is internal.

2. Thou shalt step outside the comfort zone.   Growth almost always involves the unknown. Go for it.  Parents, we need to let our kids step outside their (and our) comfort zones too.  Not easy, I know.

3. Thou shalt put out what I would like to get back.  Energy attracts like energy.  If we want health, happiness and prosperity then these things must be reflected in our thoughts, words and actions.  If we obsess over "sick, sad and broke" we get more of that.  Along the same lines, remember the saying, "If you meet more than two jerks in one day, chances are pretty good you're one of them." 

4. Thou shalt laugh.  I hope this one is self-explanatory.  Laughter really is the best medicine.  

5.  Thou shalt meditate and pray.  Regardless of individual spiritual beliefs, we all need time to reflect and be at a purposeful place of peace and gratitude.    When people ask me the #1 thing which keeps me sane in the face of everything I must handle in a given day, this is it.   And no, "Meditation" is not a new varietal of wine.

6. Thou shalt not treat every situation as "life and death."  Some of us are facing very serious challenges, I know.  Yet most of the things we stress and obsess about are not a matter of life or death.  We give transient issues way more power than they deserve.  Being a sensitive person myself, "Is this life or death?" is a litmus question I ask myself early and often.

7. Thou shalt control only that over which I have control.  This one should be easy but  is just so damn hard for some reason.  Here's a quick tip:  If it's another person, place or thing - we don't have any real control.   I know, I know. As a recovering control freak myself, this was hard news to me too. 

8. Thou shalt find gain in change.  The automatic human response to change is to perceive loss.  Keep this in mind when the crazy buttons start going off during any kind of transition.   It may be less about the actual event and more of a gut reaction.  Talk it out or write it down.  What are you afraid of losing?  Is that a justified fear?  What are you gaining?  Do those benefits outweigh the loss or fear?

9. Thou shalt deal with the crap.  Commandments and crap don't usually go together but I've got to keep it real.  That's just how I roll.  We all have things we don't want to think about, do, and face.  Maybe it's debt, fat, drama, projects, messes, etc...   Each person has their own "big turds."   Worse, these things have a way of getting bigger and stinkier without attention.  Bite the bullet and face the big turds.  Oh, it will suck in the short-term but you know it will be a HUGE relief afterwards.

10. Thou shalt believe in myself.  Increased confidence brings increased capacity.  Personally, I spent almost half my life believing that I wasn't good enough or that I was just really weird.    Old paradigms take work to shift.   The bottom line is that the love comes from the inside out, not the outside in.  I know it's corny but you must love and believe in yourself.   Let other people think what they want.   (Remember the whole "can't control people, places and things" bit?)

So now I know that I'm weird.  But, I also believe that weird is the new beautiful.

Carpe diem,

PS:  The photo included in this post is one I took from my kitchen window.  One of my faves!

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Questions? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

For those of you old enough to understand the Bueller reference, thank you for indulging me. I couldn't resist.


Happy 3rd Blogoversary to me!

The "holiday" was actually last month but it's been a little hectic lately. Funny how time flies.   Since most bloggers stop writing after the first few months, three blogging years is akin to dog years. 


This year, I thought I'd do something different and open it up for questions, then post an enlightening entertaining Q&A piece based on your requests.

So, what do you want to know? Life balance tips? Parenting advice? Stress relievers? Sales strategies? Vegetarian recipes? Fitness tips? Something about me? This is where being a bit of a "jack-of-all-trades" may actually come in handy.

Send your questions on any topic you think I *may* be able to cover (or you find generally entertaining) to or post them in the comments box below.

Ask away!

Carpe diem,

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Saturday, March 3, 2012


Thank you so much for the incredibly warm response to my recent post about my dear old' dad.  He sure was "a good egg."  Ah, another common daddy-ism, typically said in the context of, "I don't care what anyone says about you,  I think you're a good egg."

It's a strange thing to lose a parent.    Stranger still to lose both.   

This is my new "status" upon the passing of my mother last week.

Once again I am reminded of the tesseract.  One minute you have parents.  The next, you don't.  Everything that connects you to your biological beginnings is suddenly lost somewhere under an uncomfortable wrinkle in the universe.   Surreal.

I may have already shared that my parents divorced when I was two years old.   It's hard to comprehend that they had been married for eleven years.  I struggle to think of anything they had in common.

Often divorced parents are all about unified fronts, shared parenting styles, and consistency.  "We need to do this for the children," and all that. 

In my case... um, not so much.   Don't get me wrong.  It was pretty amiable, despite the fact that dad's second wife was nearly two decades younger.  Oh, and she was my mother's sister.   Ah-yup.

The divorce magnified the differences between mom and dad to create two completely different worlds.  I'll have to write more about it all someday.  Naturally I'll also need to decide who will play the "young me" in the movie version.  It will definitely be a comedy. 

If there was any one thing that was equally safe, even sacred in both worlds, it was education and books. 

Daddy used to emphasize the process: learning how to learn, exploring, and leveraging wisdom.

From my mother I gleaned a bright, almost mischievous passion for words.  Upon discovering that I had circled every word "the" in her gilded Great Books of the Western World, she simply told me to try "and" next.   Then, she sent me on a wild goose chase through the fifty or so books to find the word "erroneous."  I was four years old.

By age seven, I had written my first illustrated storybook, The Sad Flower.  (Oy vey, a child psychologist could have had a field day with that one.) 

My passion for reading and writing was the one thing which was nurtured equally by my mother as well as my father.  The united front.

Yet, I have to thank my mom for the unique emotional connection.  I write because I love it.  She gave me that. 

I will picture her up above with a giant, glorious collection of books surrounding her.  Or more likely, she is charming Tolkien, Thoreau, and Gibran themselves in a room filled with smoke and laughter and words.


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