Iced Coffee, No Ice

“It already has the ice in it”, says the waiter as he puts down the glass of coffee.

It’s my favourite restaurant at the beach, where I like to sit and work in the mornings.

I look: no ice, just coffee. I touch the glass: it’s warm. Very clearly, this coffee is not iced, even though iced coffee is what I asked for.

“Yeah”, he says, “we’re no longer buying the big icecubes, because we had an icemaker installed. These new cubes are so small, they melt away when the coffee pours over it”.

Baffling. I mean, I’m all for reducing costs and optimising operations, but if it is at the expense of customer experience, something isn’t right.

Now, I don’t know if the owner is a penny-pincher, or if he’s simply been bullied into buying the icecube machine by some overzealous hospitality equipment salesperson, but if a customer has to ask for extra ice, it doesn’t bode well for the future of the restaurant.

Which is a real pity, because the place is generally excellent, the food is high quality and the owner is a nice guy who treats his staff well. I want them to stay in business, they deserve it. But this way…? Not a good sign.

Reducing costs is good. Optimising for profit keeps a business healthy.

But a business exists by virtue of customer love, and there’s only so much you can do to reduce costs.

The moment customer experience becomes less important than profit, you’re either on the road to failure, or to becoming one of those unpleasant companies that treat customers like cash-dispensers on legs.

And without customers, a business is nothing.

So keep ‘em happy. Delight the people who give you money. Profit will follow.

Cheers,

Martin

“That’ll Be 75 ‘Likes’, Please” – Said Nobody, Ever

It’s nice to be popular, but when the barista rings up your order and you tell him “I’ve got 100.000 followers on Instagram!” he might be impressed, but his reply will still be “2.95, please”.

Likes, followers, social sharing: it’s nice, it can be useful too, but in the end, playground popularity doesn’t pay the bills.

I’ve written about it before, but David Newman in his book ‘Do it! Speaking’ put a fine point on it (I’m reading the book because this year I want to get serious about public speaking).

Says he: “An audience values an experience. A market values expertise”

And: “An audience wants your autograph. A market wants to give you their signature”.

(Interestingly, very recently I experienced the difference firsthand: I went to a lecture on a topic I’m interested in, but the speaker didn’t really do it for me, and the content of the lecture was too superficial for my taste. So, I’d never buy the speaker’s book, or hire them for a talk… in that room, I was part of the audience, not part of the market).

And sure, of course your market lives inside, is part of, your audience.

But if you focus your business and marketing activities on growing your audience instead of finding the right market and the right way to appeal to them, you’ll be spinning your wheels.

So if you look at your business operations, and the projects you’re working on, and your plans for the year:

Are you looking to build your audience, or your market…?

Also: do you want help, building your market?

Cheers,

Martin

Before You Rush Into Action

Thinking gets a bad rap – and in many cases, justly so. This when we get stuck up in our heads and start overthinking things.

But if you want to do or build something, it’s good to spend time thinking it through.

After all, as my former abbot likes to say: “Humans are profoundly irrational creatures”.

For example, there’s a tricky hairpin turn in my street, and right between the two directions, there’s a 1-foot high little brick wall. A few times a year, a driver takes the turn too narrowly and drives over the wall, leaving broken bricks and rubble. A few days later a worker shows up to dutifully repair the damage, until before too long, history repeats itself.

All it would take is a little thinking: “Huh… apparently people don’t SEE where the little bit of wall is. What if we’d build that wall a few feet higher? Or, what if we put a simple pole on the end of it – that means people can’t avoid
seeing it, and it would guarantee people won’t take the turn too narrowly!”

But apparently, town hall has a budget for rebuilding damage, but not for actual practical thinking.

What about you? How often do you leap into a project, only to find out later that had you given it some thought, you’d have done it differently, or later, or not at all?

Helpful questions, when you’re about to do something and you want to make sure you’re getting it right:

What’s the opportunity cost of this?

Have I proven before that I can do this, or is my passion only based on optimism and confidence? (Also known as ‘uninformed optimism’ – the realm of rabbit holes and red herrings).

Should I talk to someone and get a reality-check?

What, actually, would my plan look like from the outside?

If I were employed and I’d present this to my manager or CEO, would they OK my plan?

What attitude is required of me, in order to make this work?

Which skills will I need, that I don’t have yet? Can I learn them as I go, or would it slow everything down?

Do I have enough time, patience, and grit, to see this through to completion? (unfinished projects are super costly).

If this goes wrong or doesn’t work, what would be the first, second, and third culprit?

If it’s me who screws this up, in which ways would I do that?

Which assumptions am I making about the work involved and the results I’m projecting… should I challenge these assumptions? (Hint: if anything is being assumed, the answer is always: Yes, challenge the assumption).

If I execute on this plan, will I get demotivated because of elements I’ll try to avoid at any cost – in fact I’m even avoiding thinking about those things right now?

Note that I’m not recommending you start overthinking: what I’m getting at is spending some time – and 10 minutes is often enough – to properly, coldly, logically, think through something.

And then, once you’ve challenged assumptions and thought about worst-case scenerios, and adjusted your plan to make sense… that’s when you launch into execution with all the passion you’ve got.

When you work, do it from the heart.

When you plan, it’s best done from the mind.

Holler if you’ve got a plan or project, and you want to talk to figure out if you’ve got it built properly.

Cheers,

Martin

How to Make It Much More Likely You’ll Actually Get the Job Done

A quiet Sunday, and I’m having coffee at the beach with friends.

“I don’t get it”, she says. “I keep telling myself that this weekend, I’ll get stuck in and do this or that big job I have. And I always end up procrastinating on it and doing something else. But I resolved to do it, with all the intent I have – so why don’t I do it?”

There’s a university full of psychologists who could make a fortune answering that question, but in the end, the why isn’t relevant.

More relevant and more useful is asking ‘in what way do I need to show up, execute, or perform, so that the job can get done?’

Consider:

If you say “I’ll get it done this weekend” means you saddle yourself with an amount of work, time-spend and exertion, that you can’t completely measure or schedule for. Too many moving parts, no telling how much energy you’ll have or how much you’ll actually need…

So the moment you show up to do the job, your subconscious gets overwhelmed and poof goes your motivation, and hello Netflix.

If you want to get a job done, don’t impose a ‘done’ on yourself.

Instead, decide to spend time working on it, with the specific attitude and type of focus required to do that job.

Process instead of outcome – and the attitude you’ll need to bring in order to perform the process best as can.

This weekend, I wanted to knock my projects & tasks back into shape. And so I didn’t say “I’ll sort Todoist out”, but instead my intent was:

“I’m going to spend time like a strategist, and give my most top-level mindwork to planning out my weeks and months, and making sure all my projects are sorted properly” – and yep, that worked.

‘Complete a project’ isn’t a very good goal. It’s an outcome that results from a goal that describes your way of operating… so when you want to get stuff done, choose not the goals, but the version of you (and the behaviour that version brings) that can make the goals real.

Cheers,

Martin

If Questions Are the Answer… (Stop Asking How)

Asking questions helps, creates clarity, gets you answers.

But to get quality answers, you need to ask quality questions.

I remember when I was 10 or so, trying to work out maths problems and asking my teacher how to do it, and she replied: “You’re asking me to do it for you”.

Asking people how to do something is actually a low-quality question.

The only person you should ask ‘how’, is yourself. Asking it from another, is a way to disempower yourself. You put the onus of finding a solution on the teacher, but it’s much better to put it on yourself.

One of my coaches, when I ask him ‘how to do thing A or B’, will throw the question back at me.

And if I then say ‘I don’t know’, he tells me the penalty for saying ‘I don’t know’ is $10.

A strong and effective way to force me into finding my own answers.

From my experience, some of the most powerful and effective questions to ask yourself, are all formulated so as to make you fully responsible for finding the answer.

“How do I solve for xyz?”

“What can I do to change this (or create that)?”

“In what way is my attitude an obstacle in this issue?” “What shift in my behaviour or habits will lead me to an eventual breakthrough?”

“Which belief do I cling to that keeps me stuck, and what new belief would I like to put in its place?” “What skill can I learn that helps me achieve result X?”

That’s the kind of question that actually helps. Especially if you ask yourself.

Of course you can also ask them of others – teachers, mentors, peers, coaches.

But be careful who you ask, and question the answer.

Because if someone proceeds to answer the question, it’s their answer and not yours. Which might help, but it can also send you into the weeds.

The best kind of help, is the kind that pulls out the answer from you.

Enter the world of coaching, where answers are triggered, not given.

If that’s what you want, hit reply and let’s talk – let’s see if we’re a good match.

And if not, at the very least, develop a practice of asking questions of yourself.

The right kind, the type listed above.

And for best results, journal your answers. It’s the best way to get out of your head, and access your deeper levels of intelligence and insight.

You have a lot of answers in you. Just make sure you ask the right questions, so as to bring them out.

Cheers,

Martin

Much, Much Better Than New Year’s Resolutions

Now that the holidays are over and all the talk about the new year and resolutions has died down, let’s talk about something that actually works for creating change and growth:
Implementation intention.

Because if you’ve ever had another slice of pie, whilst telling yourself that come January, you’ll be on a diet, you’ve probably noticed that resolutions don’t work. I mean: no gym is as full in use in January, as the number of people who sign up for membership in December. QED etc.

The problem with resolutions is that they go against the way our brain works.

When you eat now and decide to diet later, you’re giving your future self a problem. Today hedonism, tomorrow diet…? Hell no. And thus, making the resolution is in itself a way to ensure you won’t keep it. You can try to enforce today’s decision on the person you are tomorrow, but the moment you do that, your subconscious rebels.

Implementation intention though is different. And it’s simple, elegant, and effective.

And to put it to use, simply take some time in the morning, and reflect on what you want to do today, what might get in the way, and what you’ll do if that happens.

In other words: you visualise the best-case scenario, and then the worst-case scenario, and then you build solutions into your plan, for when things go wrong.

And the simplest way is to use the IF / THEN format that pogrammers use.

In other words: simple process-rules.

IF: it’s a new day
THEN: take some time to reflect and plan, before jumping into work

IF: planning is done
THEN: close FB, IG, mail, airplane phone & set a timer for 20 or 40 or 60 minutes ofuninterrupted execution

IF: I’m feeling tired and tempted to go onto Facebook
THEN: close laptop and go for a walk/call a friend/do a few pushups/make some tea

IF: listed tasks are done
THEN: review calendar and todo-lists – and then take a break

See how simple and powerful it can be, to pre-define triggers, the actions that they cause, and solutions for when things break down?

Now obviously, planning your implementation intention doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get everything done. Sure you wrote the ‘programme’, but you’re not a computer, and you won’t always follow your own rules.

But once you have them, and you know what the rules are, you have a course, a compass, by which you can measure your performance.

And if you find that you deviated or slacked off, you can go back to your rules and re-commit, or revise them.

IF: didn’t stick with the plan
THEN: stop executing, sit down, review & improve plan

Right?

So here’s where implementation intention differs from resolutions.

A resolution is a decision you make once, and then it’s meant to keep you on track ongoingly, based off that single decision.

But for any change to happen, any order or discipline or progress to be made, decisions need to be made again, and again, and again.

You don’t ‘go on a diet’ – you decide each day, and with each delectable morsel that shows up in your day, to stick with the diet. Decision, decision, decision, over and over again.

You decide – with intentionality – on what you’ll implement and how, and you keep deciding over and over.

So, now that you’ve seen your resolutions dissolve like a whisp of smoke the way they always do… implementation intention is what will actually get the results.

Good luck, and let me know if you need any help.

Cheers,

Martin

Ten Rules for Ethical Selling, #5: Never Sell Without Permission

Nice people don’t force others into things. It’s not how we work.

But, if you’ve ever seen a potential client go cold right when they seemed about to say yes to your offer, it might just be that the other felt forced.

This can happen even if you have no intention of pushing an issue, if you’re completely OK with either a yes or a no, and you’re as non-pushy as can be… the other can still feel like something is being decided *for* them, instead of *by* them.

This is how many sales break down, and it’s really easy to prevent:

Ask for permission.

Oh I know, they teach you about the ‘assumptive close’ – “So let’s book our first meeting in and then deal with the contract”.

And in some cases, that works. Very often though, that one small move can give the wrong signal, and make the buyer feel as if they’re not the one making the decisions here.

And if integrity matters to you, clearly you want the buyer to make the decision.

So how do you prevent giving that wrong signal, and make sure that the buyer feels confident and in control?

Ask for permission.

“Do you want to book the first meeting in?”

“Would you like me to tell you about the programme?”

“Would it make sense to meet again and discuss working together?”

“I have an idea that might help – do you want me to explain what I have in mind?”

Hardcore sales trainers will probably snub their nose and call me a softy, but whatever. I hope they enjoy their polyester suits, as much as I enjoy hearing clients say ‘yes’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘take my money’. (yes, someone actually bought whilst saying that last one).

Point is, you’re not the boss of your buyers. They are.

And the slightest signal that ‘you know what’s best’ will set off all kinds of warning signs and alarm bells in them.

But if you ask permission to ask for a sale, or to explain a programme, you’re giving the other person reign and autonomy. “Your decision – do we proceed?”

Not only is this the right, integrous way to sell, it’s also highly effective, because when a buyer steps in fully self-motivated, they sell themselves – and you’ll agree that that’s a more fun than trying to ‘convince’ or ‘persuade’.

Cheers,

Martin

How to Not Try, and Actually Help People

It’s kinda cruel, how we’re wired.

The more someone else struggles or suffers, the more we feel it and the more we want to help them, make things right – but in far too many cases, we get the opposite result… and it’s only down to trying too hard.

For example, you’ll know that I’m very hot on meditation. It’s a wonderful thing, I’ve done it for 25 years, it’s done me tons of good, has scientific backup as to positive effects…

And yet, you rarely hear me talking about it here, or in general.

Until someone asks me – then I’ll talk for hours. But until that moment? Probably not the best time, yet.

But if I know how good it is… shouldn’t I promote it more? Be vocal about it, recommend and urge and suggest?

Well, no. Because that would mean ‘trying hard’, and the problem is that today you might be swayed by my recommendation, and try it, and because the choice was made because of my clever pitch and not your own inner pull, you’ll likely find it a disheartening experience and give up. Trust me, I’ve seen this hundreds of times since I started, 2,5 decades ago.

And then you might consider yourself ‘not fit for meditation’ or vice versa, and never get back to it. Or maybe you’ll try again in a decade or two, which is a long time to not meditate.

So by trying too hard, I would risk putting you off your own course. Much better to help those who want change, or meditation, or growth or whatever, and who want to start it now.

Self-motivated, self-inspired. It’s the best way for anyone to step into change, and the best way to help with that is by helping the other find their own solution, and not imposing our own good ideas on anything or anyone.

Now back to opening lines: the more we care about someone, and the more we hurt seeing their struggle, the more important it is to give the other space for wanting change or help, instead of proffering our help and suggestions before that person is ready.

It goes completely against our mind’s direction, because we know – our minds know – that we can help, that there’s a solution, that if only they’d listen…

But the mind will have to suck it up, because the more we try, the more wrong it is in its conviction.

Go ahead and try, helping someone who isn’t ready yet… has it ever worked? Most likely, you ran into resistance and objections, and the other person’s process didn’t speed up, no matter how hard you tried. Could even be that things stalled or slowed down, or maybe the conversation got difficult… or maybe you’ve been on the other side, where someone just wouldn’t stop trying to fix things for you and didn’t give you space to even think. All because of ‘trying too hard’.

Pay attention to the gut-wrenching feelings of grief and compassion and pity at seeing another person’s struggle, and when you notice them: check yourself.

Be available, ready, present, but be careful not to hamper the other’s process by inadvertently getting in the way.

If you really want to help, create a space and a conversation that enables the other person to seek and find their own inner pull, and avoid trying too hard to help.

Which, incidentally, applies to all kinds of relationships and conversations: spouses, children, vendors, team members, clients and prospects.

No matter who it is: the harder we try to help, the easier it is to help less. But now you know what to look out for…

Cheers,

Martin

Making Time for Our Most Important Roles

I often talk about ‘the suits we wear’ – the different roles we play depending on the context we’re in, or the task that’s at hand.

One of the fastest and easiest ways to create a sense of purpose, achievement and well-being – and to actually make results happen – is to get very conscious of these roles, and get very deliberate and intentional with them.

Because there’s a ton of them that we use – suits we wear – throughout our days: the seller, the writer, the listener, the bookkeeper, the courier, the self-carer, the student…

This can be either massively helpful, or dreadfully destructive, and the difference lies in intentionality.

Because most of the time, we jump from one role to the next as the situation seems to demand – like we’re multitasking our way through different ways of operating and showing up.

And that switching from one role to the next, that’s very costly in terms of our mental and emotional energy.

And, it slows us down because with each switch, we need to adjust and settle in, which can easily take 20 or 30 minutes.

Switch three of four times in a day, and and you lose an hour or more of your day – and most of us are switching all the time… no wonder we feel so drained and ineffective at the end of a day!

So to get the most out of all you got, consider the three main roles, and plan time for each:

There’s the Maker, who executes on tasks, gets jobs done, checks things off. That’s the creative, productive role, the one that produces output and tangible assets.

There’s the Strategist, who analyses the status quo, assesses the playing field, and who creates and schedules plans, develops hypotheses and tests in order to improve operations.

And, very importantly, the Strategist lays out the work for the Maker, who loves that because the Maker doesn’t want to think, plan, or decide – the Maker just wants to know what nail needs hitting next, so that he can get on with it
and get jobs done.

And then there’s the third main role, which I’ll call The Performer, though that’s not an ideal label.

But the Performer is the one who shows up, delivers a talk or a pitch, who publishes videos and articles, who writes books and teaches and coaches and trains:

It’s the public-facing side of your brand and business.

Each of these core three roles need attention, and space blocked out in your calendar.

Because these roles are essential for building and growing a business – for anything in life that you want to achieve, really.

I mean, you’ll never catch that flight unless you spend at least some time, and yesterday’s dishes tend to not get done unless we call in the Maker.

That’s why I like to see these roles as distinct identities I can step into, and I make sure I plan time for each of them.

And if ever you find yourself struggling, or annoyed that things aren’t working, ask yourself:

Is my Strategist getting enough time, and doing a good job?

Is my Maker supplied with outlined workplans, and given time to make things?

Is my Performer (or Artist, or Teacher, or Coach, or whatever is your ‘show-up’ archetype) getting out there enough, and am I creating enough time for him/her?

You’ll notice that each question includes ‘time’, and you’ll likely find that one or more aren’t getting dedicated, intentinally planned time, but instead are being given the scraps of the calendar.

Switch that up, block out time for that role, and watch what changes.

Should bring interesting results, so let me know if you anything cool happens…

Cheers,

Martin

Business Growth, Made Simple

Ever notice how easy it is to complicate things?

We decide to grow our business, choose an approach and a plan, and before we know it there’s endless todo-lists, multiple areas of attention, several projects simultaneously under development, and a feeling of overwhelm that creeps up on us like thunderclouds on the horizon.

When in reality, growing a business can be very simple, even if that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

That said, the simpler things are, the easier to handle they are.

So if you want to grow your business in 2020, here’s a simple (heh) rule of thumb to guide you:

Create incremental growth in three core areas:

1: More potential clients

Plenty of options to make that happen: Social media posting, speaking gigs, workshops in your area, host webinars, organise an online summit, run FB ads… whatever is easiest (sic) for you in order to increase visibility

2: Higher conversion rates

Lots of people don’t pay attention here, and that’s costly because every potential customer who finds you or contacts you, has incurred a cost in your business – either in terms of time or money. The more people you can enroll, the more efficient your business becomes.

So ask yourself: what can I change in my branding, my site, my activities, my communications, so that more people sign on? (Hint: getting better at enrolling helps here, and my LEAP Ethical Sales Training makes you lots better).

3: Increase value per customer

I’m not saying you should supersize your customers, and unless you’re MacDonald’s I doubt your customers ‘want fries with that’.

But, there’s a good chance that a buyer will want an add-on when they buy from you, or perhaps after working with you, there’s another programme or course that would help them.

Except many business owners wrap up client projects and move on to finding more buyers, which that means you’re leaving money on the table – and it means that you might be underserving your buyers.

Sure, you’re not going to foist an upsell on anyone… but what if you can provide or do something that would delight a current customer, after their first stint with you?

Well, if you don’t offer it, nothing will happen. But if you do offer it, what might happen is that they buy, which brings the total lifetime value of that customer up.

So here’s some questions for you:

Do you think you could generate 10% more potential clients, next year? Can’t be too hard, can it? Only 10%….

And, could you raise your conversion rates by 10%? Probably yes, right?

And then, what if across the board you could raise the average customer lifetime value by 10%… could that be done? Very likely, yes. Again, 10% isn’t that much.

But if you apply the 10% growth across all three areas, you end up with a total of 33% growth for your business, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

AND it’s something that most businesses can attain, AND it’s a super simple, testable strategy: 10% across three areas… what could be simpler?

So if you want to grow in 2020, do it the smart, simple way. Increase prospects, increase conversion rates, increase customer LTV, go for 10% in each area.

Simple, manageable, and a nice way to stay clear of overwhelm.

Want to chat and work out a few (simple!) ideas to help you grow 10% in each area?

Let me know…

Cheers,

Martin

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