Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Wrapping Paper

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on December 25, 2009

I’ll spend more time looking at this than anyone else

That was my thought yesterday as I meticulously wrapped a Christmas present for my wife.  I ran some quick estimates and figured out that while it took me about 8 minutes to wrap the gift, it would probably only take my wife about 10 seconds to unwrap it.  Then, the wrapping paper that I so carefully cut, taped and folded will be tossed on the floor, and all of her attention will rightfully shift toward the present inside.  If my estimates are accurate, the ‘prep to open ratio’ is about 48:1.

Why even wrap it then?

The answer is an obvious one to those who have ever dabbled in the art of gift-giving.  I could even make a reasonable case that wrapping the gift is what actually defines it as a gift (at least in the husband-giving-to-wife scenario).  The point?  Presentation is EVERYTHING.

What’s your gift?

You have something to offer.  You get up each day and go into the world with an opportunity to influence others, to leave your mark, to offer a gift.  Maybe some things you do are similar to the things I do:

  • Make presentations or give speeches
  • Answer phones
  • Blog, Tweet, Engage
  • Make sales calls
  • Create value by listening first
  • Ask for help
  • Impact the outcome of meetings

Whether or not these actions translate into a valuable gift depends on how much I prepare, read, practice and pray about them.  If I do these things without ample focus and preparation then I’m not giving a gift…I’m just doing my J-O-B. (not good)

It’s only a gift when it’s wrapped

And wrapping takes time.  It takes more time than anyone else will spend thinking about your little project or business idea.  A fantastic 10 minute presentation could take 5 hours of your time, and you’ll be lucky if your audience actually gives you 5 minutes of their attention.

So why bother?  Why bother putting in so much more effort than what people will notice and applaud?  Because your gift keeps on giving.  Your preparation sharpens your saw and causes you to become more valuable.  You read a book to learn a concept that helps you navigate through your situation, but the knowledge gained stays with you beyond your immediate needs. You spend hours preparing for a meeting, but your efforts pay dividends as the participants absorb your ideas and begin to act on them.  If you give a 10  minute speech to 100 people, are you not actually influencing 1,000 minutes?

A gift that is valuable will be amplified upon it’s delivery…BUT it’s only a gift when it’s wrapped.

…and any action that is not a gift is just noise.

I believe it’s worth it

It’s worth taking 48 times longer.  It matters that I read more, listen more and practice more.  Excellence does not occur naturally.  I believe that taking the time to wrap our gift is what allows the world to receive the value we offer.  I believe that when we take the time to prepare and focus on our contribution, the biggest gift is actually to ourselves, because the preparation changes who we are.

Next year we all have a chance to give more and thus become more.  You can start wrapping your gift over the next few days by thinking about your goals for 2010.  Then prepare, practice & pray…and when you’re done, put them in writing so you can look at your gift, and so you can remind yourself why it matters that we spend the painstakingly tedious time to wrap.

Merry Christmas.

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Why did this happen?

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on December 17, 2009

When Communication Breaks Down

I just read the Inc. magazine column by Joel Spolsky titled ‘When and How to Micromanage‘.  It’s a great read for all leaders and especially relevant if you’re in the event business.  Spolsky tells the story of a recent engagement he was keynoting where the execution of several critical components with his production slipped through the cracks.  Somewhere between his original vision for the event and the actual event production, there were major communication breakdowns.  I see this happen often in the event business…there are just so many moving pieces.

Five Whys Exercise

Spolsky offers a fantastic problem solving technique to ensure the breakdown won’t happen again.  I’m stealing this tool for my own proverbial shed, because I think it’s a fabulous way to get to the root of the problem for any event, system or process.

Excerpt from Spolky’s post:

Five Whys is a problem-solving technique developed by Toyota after World War II to improve its manufacturing process. The idea is to ask “Why?” five times to get to the root of any failure, so you fix the core problem instead of the symptoms.

One problem [at our Austin event] was that we couldn’t switch video fast enough. Why? Because we were using a cheap switch purchased at an office superstore. Why? Because we assumed the venue operators would provide a high-quality switch, which they didn’t. Why? Because the venue didn’t have our list of AV requirements. Why? Because we didn’t get it there in time. Why? Because Carsonified didn’t yet have a standard checklist of procedures for each conference: what to do one month before, one week before, one day before, etc. Solution: Better checklists…

WARNING: ‘The 5th Why’ might point to you

When I read this technique I thought this would be a great thing for our live events team to use.  Just for fun, I quickly took several broken communication scenarios that have occurred recently with my team and I ran them through the ‘5 Whys’ test…

Guess what, every time ‘the 5th Why’ was my fault!

Dang it.

Reality Check

Small business owners are notorious for blaming their organizations shortcomings on their employees.  I cannot tell you how many times I hear business owners say something to the effect of, “If I could just get my team to behave, then I could take my company to the next level.”  One of the foundational pillars Dave Ramsey teaches our EntreLeadership attendees (mostly business owners) is that YOU are the biggest problem with your business; not your team, not your vendors, not your customers, YOU!  The good news is that YOU are also the solution.  You can do something about it.

What do you think?

Are you willing to ask ‘Why?’ 5 times even if it means your own mistakes will be revealed?

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Give like no one else

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on December 15, 2009

Dave Ramsey pulls out all the stops!

Last week was a good week to work for Dave Ramsey.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re all pretty dang good, but this week ushered in a spirit of giving and Christmas joy like I’ve never seen in 6 years of working here.

Most business owners wouldn’t dream of approving this ‘expense’:

  • On Monday morning, Santa Claus hijacked our staff meeting and brought an entire catering crew with him.  We had a fabulous breakfast of carved ham, egg soufflés, fresh fruits, muffins and a whole spread of tasty breakfast treats
  • Santa left a present under the Christmas tree for each team member (~300 and growing).  Each of us received a nice ornament and gift certificate to our selection of a few local restaurants or A Moment’s Peace day spa
  • Dave rented out a local theater, shut the company down a little early on Monday, and took the whole team and their spouses to see Blind Side. (Great movie.  True story. Inspirational. Go see it.)
  • Tuesday was just nuts.  To say our group is competitive would be a major understatement.  So when Dave announced there would be a prize for the department whose area best represented the Christmas spirit, it was ‘katie-bar-the-door’!  The entire placed looks like Santa’s village and the decorating festivities went completely over the top
  • We had a great devotion Wednesday morning lead by Mercy Ministries founder, Nancy Alcorn, and yet another breakfast feast was to follow
  • While we ate breakfast, our Director of HR, Rick Perry, gave everyone a Camelbak water bottle stuffed with gift certificates to Dick’s Sporting Goods, Fleet Feet, and movie tickets
  • On Friday, Dave catered in lunch for everyone and had a local high school choir serenade us with Christmas carols while we ate
  • Dave shut the company down early Friday afternoon and sent everyone home with a spiral cut Honey Baked Ham.  Mmmm.
  • Saturday morning Dave rented out a movie theater AGAIN for everyone to take their kids to see The Princess and the Frog
  • The week culminated on Saturday evening with our company Christmas party, and it was full of surprises, gifts, entertainment, cash, and stories that will be told all year long.  My favorite part?  Dave announced that he’s now paying for our gym memberships!

Wow!  What an awesome week and an incredible place to work.  In the midst of all of the internal giving Dave has also been giving back to our customers through our ’24 Days of Giving’ initiative.  We’re half way through it and we’ve already given away thousands of dollars, iPod touches, Amazon Kindles, and so much more!

When in doubt: Give.

Dave Ramsey is one of the most generous people I know.  I know him well enough to confidently assure anyone that his giving is sincere and is from his heart.  The added benefit to being generous to your team and your customers, though, is that they learn to trust your intent.  When your team sees that your intention is to bless others it makes them want to work with more focus and energy.  It’s easy to rally around a cause that benefits more people than just the guy at the top.  Buying from a generous organization feels better than from a corporate empire that doesn’t have a soul.

Is your company generous?

Giving doesn’t have to cost you a lot, but it needs to be intentional.  Even if you don’t have ‘Ramsey type resources’ you can still dramatically energize your team by blessing them with your time and creativity.

What is your company doing to give back this year?

Share your ideas and inspire other leaders!

What Matters Now: Get the free e-book here!

Posted in Business, Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on December 14, 2009

Seth Godin just released a stellar resource that compiles ideas from today’s top thinkers and leaders including one from my CEO and mentor, Dave Ramsey.  You can read this e-book for free in the viewer below or by downloading the .pdf here.

View this document on Scribd

Are you herding buzzards?

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on December 10, 2009

EntreLeadership Makes a Measurable Difference:

Mike Disbrow is a client of ours, and he attended the EntreLeadership Master Series event a year ago in Cancun, Mexico.  Mike’s company offers high end selections of horse stalls and horse fencing systems for farms and barns…they do fabulous work.  Mike was already doing very well before I met him, but I was thrilled when he told me that this past year has been his best year ever because of principles he’s implemented from Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership event.

  • In 12 months Mike’s company has paid off 1.2 million in debt
  • He has increased his retained earnings from 50k to 300k
  • He told me that everything about their organization is running so much better

Wow!  When I asked him what has made the biggest impact for them he told me that he had a buzzard problem.  You see employees in a small business are either eagles or they’re buzzards.  Eagles soar to new heights and bring energy to the organization.  Buzzards feed on dead stuff and attract other buzzards.

Great Question to Ask Yourself:

At the EntreLeadership event, Dave Ramsey teaches a great lesson titled ‘Team Math: Hiring & Firing’.  There’s a place in this section where Dave challenges our group with this question out of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great:

If you wouldn’t hire them again today then why are they still working for you?

Mike told me that he really took this to heart, and he had to make some tough decisions about buzzards that he allowed to stay on his team for too long.  The buzzards were bringing down the moral across the entire organization.  Mike told me that it was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do to let people go who had been with him for years, but it’s made all the difference in the world to the energy level for the eagles on his team.  Mike had to make a tough call but I applaud him for serving his team well by leading them to a better place.  Thanks, Mike, for giving me permission to share this story.

Take Away:

Firing someone should never be comfortable for a leader, but there are times when the best thing for vitality of the organization is to get rid of the buzzards.

Have you ever been on a team that improved once the buzzards left?

What if you’re not Tiger Woods?

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on December 3, 2009

Jesper Parnevik gave a public statement yesterday apologizing to Tiger Wood’s wife, Elin Nordegren, for ever introducing her to Tiger.  Parnevik, talked for a while about his feelings of disappointment in Wood’s recent personal decisions that have now been unveiled in the public eye.

I think there is something interesting in Parnevik’s following comment:

“It’s a private thing, of course, but when you are the guy he is, the world’s best athlete, you should think more before you do stuff.”

I understand Tiger is in the public eye and he should embrace personal responsibility, but when I heard Parnevik’s statement I couldn’t help but ask myself this question:

Is personal responsibility something that should simply scale to our level of influence?

Or to ask it another way…If I’m not the world’s best athlete should I think any less before I ‘do stuff’?

What do you think?

Still looking for work?

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on December 1, 2009

Your suit and tie don’t cut it anymore

It’s no secret that there are more people around these days who have been unemployed for a while, but I feel like I’m hearing this phrase too often:

“I sent in my resume, but I still haven’t heard anything back from them yet.”

In real estate, when there are more houses than buyers we call it a buyers market.  When there are more job candidates than jobs, it’s an employers market.  Employers have enough resumes right now to bind their own phone books.  Just sending in a resume and hoping for your phone to ring isn’t going to cut it right now (and probably never will again).

Do something different

If you know someone who is unemployed, I would encourage them to do everything Seth Godin suggests in his post about unemployment.  If you are unemployed and you haven’t done this stuff yet, what exactly ARE you doing with your time?

A good friend of mine is still on the hunt for his dream job, but he is working diligently with an incredibly positive attitude.  Recently he told me about some of the books he’s reading and how he just finished taking the Strengths Finder test so he can better talk about the value he will offer a potential employer.  My friend has even taken up a few part time hourly positions that I’m sure have challenged his pride somewhat.  He’s the kind of guy I want on my team though.  I have a lot more respect for him than someone who is waiting for the perfect job to fall in their lap, all the while making excuses about how tough it is out there.

If you were hiring right now, what other activities would you appreciate seeing an applicant doing while they are on the hunt?