Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Business advice from a math teacher

Posted in Business, Personal Development by elephanthunters on May 20, 2010

Mr. G

There wasn’t a seventh grader in the world who wasn’t scared of Mr. Garcia.  If our memories are crystallized in direct proportion to our fear, then I must have been especially afraid the day I walked into his classroom for the first time.  I remember every poster on the wall, the layout of the room, the notes on the chalk board. I can almost smell the pencil shavings that seemed helplessly out of place below the broken, wall mount pencil sharpener in the back of the room.  I sat next to Rachel Wilson.  She was scared too.

Mr. Garcia’s reputation preceded him.  Not only was he our math teacher, but he was the Jr. High principle, and a marine to boot.  I remember crying when I went home that night because Mr. Garcia told me that I would need a red pen for his class, and all I had was a red pencil.  His persona just seemed to carry an intimidating amount of weight.  There are many things I remember about Mr. Garcia, but one thing I will never forget is the speech he gave that first day of class to a room full of budding, naive seventh graders.  He told us to listen very closely, because over the next hour he was going to give us everything we needed to know about how to succeed in the seventh grade.  He went on to give a series of speeches, well, actually it was all one speech, just rehashed about 40 times.  This was the message:

Students! Know where you are going. Have what you need. Be on time.

If you can do this, you’re going to be just fine.

Not just for seventh graders

Looking back now, I realize that Mr. Garcia was actually a very caring and compassionate man.  I suppose it is possible for a seventh grader to over dramatize the appropriate level of fear to experience when meeting a new math teacher.  Little did I know the nugget of advice Mr. Garcia gave me that day would become one of the most useful tools in my journey through life.  This mantra is simple enough for a seventh grader to understand.  Be in your seat when the bell rings isn’t really that complicated.  However, it’s amazing how many grown ups still haven’t ingested these simple truths into their approach to life.

  1. Know where you’re going. You have to know where you’re going before you can get there.  I’ve always set goals.  I haven’t always hit them, but as long as I can remember I’ve set them in each area of my life.  I’m certain that if I skipped this step, I would have very few accomplishments to show for it. If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll still end up somewhere – you just won’t be the one driving.
  2. Have what you need. Knowledge is everywhere for the taking.  In our world today, there are no excuse for being unprepared.  Telling the teacher you left your book in the locker might not have been that detrimental in the seventh grade, but you don’t get many second chances on legitimate opportunities when your 34 years old.
  3. Be on time. Not just on time for work each day.  On time for life.  Wayne Gretzky spoke of his strategy to skate to where the puck was going to be, instead of where it is.  When opportunity arises, it’s too late to prepare.  In other words, you better know how long the walk is to the next class down the hall before you stop to chat with your friends.

Take a look at anyone who is consistently struggling to move forward in life, and chances are they’re missing the mark on at least one of these key pillars. I’m thankful for the Mr. Garcias in my life who took the time to mentor me, and teach me life lessons before I even understood what they were.  We can never fully appreciate the sacrifices people like this make, so that we can become something more than we ever would have on our own.

Kick the week off right

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on April 12, 2010

shoot for this:

not this:

The dreaded ‘M’ word

“Our meetings are held to discuss many problems which would never arise if we held fewer meetings”

Ashleigh Brilliant

Sadly, this is often true.  However, I propose that meetings themselves are not the culprit as much as the  lack of  purpose, leadership and effective communication IN the meetings.

Someone does it right

Here at The Lampo Group (more popularly known as Dave Ramsey’s company), we start every week with staff meeting on Monday morning.  In many organizations, staff meetings rank in popularity somewhere between root canals and waiting in line at the DMV.

Our staff meetings are actually pretty fun as far as meetings go, not to mention extremely valuable.

Dave’s philosophy on staff meeting is all about over communication.  He’ll often remind us, ‘We do these weekly meetings so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing’.  Around here, it’s kind of like the last minute pep talk in the locker room before everyone runs out on the field.

How’s it work?

Dave typically leads the meeting, and asks each department leader to stand and update the group on  key things going on.  Team leaders will share or call on someone on their team to share:

  • Victories, wins, high points, brags on team members
  • New team member introductions
  • Prayer requests, updates on things we’ve been praying for
  • Information to be aware of that might benefit the group i.e. upcoming media appearances
  • Drawings for hockey tickets, other  fun giveaways, awards and recognitions

Where to start?

Our EntreLeadership clients will often ask me how they should start implementing a staff meeting in their business.  Here’s a few tips to get started:

  1. Do it Monday morning: If your set up allows for a staff meeting at the beginning of the week, this is the best time to schedule it.  It sets the tone, and gets everyone’s mind engaged right out of the gate.  Make it mandatory for everyone to come.
  2. Keep it brief: We rarely go more than an hour.  If everything has been covered after just 20 minutes, we finish up and go to work.
  3. Make it fun: This is a great time to recognize your team and their accomplishments from the week before.  Catch people doing things right, then praise them in front of the team. This is a great way to define what winning looks like without having to ‘lecture’.
  4. Be personal: As a leader, you have a tremendous opportunity to share how you’re processing things that are going on in the company.  Maybe a certain area is struggling, and you read an encouraging quote or article that helped you see it in a new light.  Share this with the team – they appreciate seeing you humanity.  Just be sure that it’s not presented in a way that’s pessimistic.
  5. When in doubt, share. Don’t assume everyone on the team observes things that seem apparent to you.  You may feel like some of the concepts you’re sharing are elementary, but your team will appreciate being included.  Teach them to think like leaders.  Help them understand how the organization works.  Over time you will notice them taking on a greater sense of ownership in their work.

What works for you?

I’d love to hear some techniques and ideas for better staff meetings.  What’s working for you?  Please leave a comment with your favorite meeting tip.

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

Hate Meetings? 5 easy tips to make them worth attending

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on November 25, 2009

Meetings are typically viewed as a necessary evil.  Most people absolutely hate meetings.  So be a change agent, do something about it…be the hero that brings life and energy into your organizations meeting culture.

I highly recommend Patrick Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting.  It’s full of great ideas on how to approach meetings and how to break them down into either strategic or tactical agendas.  Lencioni will show you how to get buy in from all the players in the meeting and how to ensure that the meeting results in productive activity every time.

Here are 5 ideas on meetings. Add them to your business tool belt along with all the great content put forth in Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting.

When in doubt, invite

It’s a sinking feeling to hear about a meeting that you were not invited to if the subject matter in that meeting was even remotely connected to your roll in the organization.

  • Get ALL the players in the room.
  • If their relevance to the meeting is questionable, then give them the option to attend or the option to leave early if they feel like it’s wasting their time.  People will appreciate being included.

Plan for follow up meetings

  • If the meeting is strategic (vs. tactical), make it clear to the players in the meeting that the goal is to cover information which is relevant to everyone in the room.
  • Avoid fostering a meeting environment where ten people become bored listening to two people go back and forth about an action item that involves only those two people.  This happens often, and it’s one of the top reasons that people hate meetings.
  • Action items involving a few people simply need to be discussed in a follow up meeting to keep creative energy flowing in the group.

Somebody please lead!

The worst meetings I’ve been in have occurred when the attendees of the meeting did not have a clear understanding of who was leading the meeting.

  • The meeting leader’s job is to to ensure that all of the players give input (not to talk the whole time).
  • If you are the meeting organizer then by default you are the leader of the meeting, but if someone else is going to lead then the organizer needs to open the meeting with their endorsement of the meeting leader and then let them take over.  Set the meeting leader up to win.
  • If you are the meeting leader consider having someone else introduce you/your ideas or endorse you to add credibility.

Meet before the meeting

  • If you know there is going to be some tension or controversy in the meeting then identify your allies ahead of time and meet with them to let them know how they can best support you in the upcoming meeting.
  • Meet with the players who will be in opposition to your agenda and ask them what their concerns are.  Let them know you’re going to consider their concerns between now and the upcoming meeting, and that you hope the meeting will offer a solution that they are content with.
  • You will be amazed at how doing these prep meetings will increase the buy in and the chemistry in the room when everyone meets together.  Our tendency is to just show up and start shooting from the hip.  Don’t do this.  You will be frustrated with people when the meeting is over.

How long?

  • The meeting will always expand to occupy the time allotted.
  • Think about how much time is really needed to have an effective meeting and remember that follow up meetings are encouraged.
  • You can always schedule another meeting but once the time is set it’s extremely rare that a meeting will take less time than scheduled.
  • Consider using odd time segments like 12 minutes or 40 minutes instead of the standard 30 minute or 1 hour blocks.

When in doubt bring lots of candy to the meeting.

For more ideas on how to have better meetings, read my previous post about meetings or check out Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership events to get the tools for building a team, increasing communication and hosting more productive meetings.
Tagged with: ,

You don’t deserve the touchdown dance

Posted in Business, Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on November 23, 2009

A Rare Breed

There are many casualties in the high stakes games of selling and small business leadership.  It takes a tremendous amount of tenacity to thrive in an environment where personal responsibility is your only bail out plan.  As small business owners and sales people we work tirelessly, betting on the hope that one day our dream will come to pass if we commit our lives to the principles of success mapped out by those who have gone before us.  Sales people and business owners are far too familiar with the feelings of defeat, fear and stress that ensue early in our journey toward success.

Our survival tactics are fueled by information.  Knowledge is the currency of entrepreneurs and sales tycoons.  Acquiring the tools for effective communication and the perspective to stay motivated in the face of adversity are the two greatest reoccurring hurdles between us and our dreams.  So we rally together.  We read books, attend conferences and continuously scan the horizon looking for the next piece of advice or encouragement.

Our Struggle Toward Success

Keeping our goals in front of us, we stumble forward and try to learn from our mistakes.  Fighting.  Dreaming.  We welcome the opportunity to be refined by our experiences.  As my friend Tom Ziglar says, “We embrace the struggle”.  We learn how to serve our customers and sell to them in a way that is not manipulative.  Then we earn enough money to find ourselves in a place where we are no longer desperate for new business and so our customers gravitate towards us even more.  Our customers then become our fans and start bringing us their friends and family and our momentum grows.  The snowball starts turning over faster and faster until we look up one day and realize that we have become successful…we are finally winning!

This is the day that we have been running towards for countless years and now we have arrived.    This is the day that the spotlight is on us as we revel in all of the work and energy we have put forth to get to this point.  This is the day that the gratification finally surpasses the painful sacrifices we have made.  This is the day we dreamed about, and this is the most dangerous day of our lives. If we are not careful, this is the day that we forget how we got here because we are too distracted with the trappings of our success.

How DID we get here?

We like to take credit for our success and point to all of the books we read and events we attended and the extra hours we put in, and to some small level, these things have a bearing on our destiny.  The bulk of our achievements, however, are rooted in the efforts of other people in our lives that helped us along in our journey.  None of us really get to win on our own.  Any level of true success is always a team effort.

  • Who are the players on your team?
  • Who built the product that you sell?
  • Who was it that gave you that book or audio recording that ended up being a hinge-pin resource for you to take the next step toward your goals?
  • Who invited you to that conference or networking event or gave you some encouragement when you were down?
  • Who are the people working diligently behind the scenes to produce something of value for you to offer to your customers?

I would contend that there are no self-made-men.  We all pull energy and ideas from our friends, family, team members and customers.

The Temptation

The problem with being a successful small business owner or sales professional is that we are usually the one holding the ball when it crosses the goal line and we start to think this means something about how great we are.  After all we get the credit for scoring the touchdown.  We get to do the victory dance and the crowd chants our name when we score the game winning goal.

What about the team?  What about the guy who just blocked for us and is laying on his back on the 20-yard-line holding his busted knee in sheer agony?  Is he not the real reason we are here?  We have to do our part and become more so that we are ready to receive the pass for a completion, but it’s the unsung heroes on our team that allow us to win.  Without them I am just a guy with a little bit of passion and a dream.

Take Away

When we start to achieve success in business it will be our name that the masses will adore, but we must never forget that it is our team that has brought us here.  It’s the players in our lives that have gone before us and taken hits on our behalf that we owe the credit to.

I’ve been guilty far too many times of doing the touchdown dance…it’s easy to do when you just scored a game winning goal.  I regret every time I yielded to that temptation.  I’m learning to recognize the value of the players around me who take the hits and do the heavy lifting.  In reality I didn’t score a goal at all…my team scored a goal and I just happened to be touching the ball when it crossed the line.

The EntreLeadership Story: Atlanta Simulcast

Posted in Business, Personal Development by elephanthunters on September 24, 2009

This was a fun little behind the scenes vignette that we did last weekend from the Dave Ramsey Live Event simulcast from Atlanta, GA.

Chris LoCurto interviewed me about the EntreLeadership story and how the EntreLeadership Master Series event has come to be one of the premier training resources for small business owners today.

Shameless plug disclaimer: This isn’t really value added…more of a commercial.  Still fun though.

Is your protein retarded?

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on September 11, 2009

protien

Cancer is growth

There is a special little cluster of exactly 393 amino acids located on the short arm of chromosome 17 in our DNA.  This important protein known as TP53 can activate DNA repaire, induce cell growth arrest, and destroy cells that are damaged beyond repair.  Basically, sparring all the medical jargon this protien helps regulate uncontrolled cell growth (AKA cancer).

When TP53 experiences a retardation the cell loses it’s ability to control growth and reproduction.  Cancer is simply unbridled reproduction of cells that don’t have an ‘off switch’.

Uncontrolled growth is deadly

One of my small business clients recently confided in me this unnerving reality about his business:

“I used to think that all my business needed was massive growth, but now that I’m experiencing it I can’t figure out how to put the breaks on because I can’t identify what caused the growth to begin with.  I’m kind of scared.  I feel like I’m running down hill out of control.”

When is the last time you preformed an assessment of the TP53 in your business or organization?  Are you in control of the growth or are you just riding a wave and hoping you don’t fall off?

Here are 3 reasons why growing quickly is overrated:

  1. Growth requires more growth. Landing a massive account requires us to max out our systems in order to produce for that account and eventually take on more personnel, equipment and other overhead to service the clients demands.  This is dangerous if you end up in the position of making a desperate hire that brings a buzzard into an eagle culture.
  2. Growth does not equal profit. I talked to a client recently who informed me that his gross revenues are up 300% this year and his personal income is at an all time low.  He’s working really hard to feed the monster.
  3. There is a significant correlation between slow, controlled growth and long term stability. Building a house without a foundation would eliminate  a step and save time, right?  Going through the effort to pour a foundation is vital for the longevity of a house and it is imperative for a successful business.

Summary:

  • Give yourself permission to be the slow, ugly, tortoise…he beats the hare ever time.
  • Keep your TP53 in check; left unattended it will destroy you.
  • Take some time this weekend to write out your growth plan for Q4.


He can use my card

Posted in Business by elephanthunters on August 17, 2009

My family is taking a trip to NYC soon and my Dad is working with a tour guide to help plan our trip. I’m a triathlete and in an effort to stick to my training regiment I asked my Dad to see if the tour guide knew of a lap pool close to our hotel that I could pay to use.

Here was the tour guide’s response:

“I am a member of New York Sports Club. I can let Daniel use my card to get into the 49th and Broadway club where there are lap lanes- 18 yards long. He will just need to call and make a reservation under my name, Matt K., for Thursday Night, any time Friday, or Saturday morning. 212-977-8880, ask for the pool and give them my name. He will be using my personal card.”

WOW! Now that’s going above and beyond.

I wonder how many times we have opportunities to ‘wow ‘ our customers in a given week.  It’s not too hard…it just takes a little intentionality and treating them the way you’d want to be treated.  If I had to guess I would wager that Matt’s company is not participating in the recession.

Great Monday mornings happen when…

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on August 17, 2009

I don’t recommend scheduling sales calls on Monday mornings. My week is more productive if I use this time to plan and prepare for the things to come. Just like a marathoner needs to fuel up before a race we tend to preform better when we reconnect with our goals and our team first.

On Monday mornings I like to:

  • Meet with my teem about anything on the table for the week ahead
  • Read some blogs that are inspirational and motivate me. (Put gas in the tank)
  • Review my goals and modify actions for the week that have a bearing on my goals
  • Look over my calendar and clarify/delete/modify appointments based on priorities and relevence
  • Make sure my desk and work area is free of any clutter that could distract me from being efficient that week
  • Walk around and connect with the people on my team in person.  Compliment them, ask about their weekend, let them know if I can do anything to help this week that I’m here for them.  This is huge!  This sets the tone for any email/voice mail/text they get from you for the rest of the week.  In a digital age it’s imperative to establish rapport in person with your core team each week before you start firing off task heavy emails and meeting requests.

It’s tempting to just roll in to the office and start returning voice mails and emails and have a completely reactive approach to catching up on everything from the weekend.  If you’ll just take a few hours to set your week up then by the time you get to Thursday you’ll have twice as much done as you would have otherwise.

“Luck favors the prepared.”

People are assets, not obstacles.

Posted in Business, Personal Development, Selling by elephanthunters on August 11, 2009

I walked out of a meeting yesterday frustrated.

I had this thought:

“Things take so much longer to execute now and move so much slower than they used to.”

(this is a lie but the thought occurred nonetheless)

The project seemed simple: Send out an email and let people know about a promotion that we are going to run.  5 years ago the execution time from when the project idea was born to implementation would have been about 2 hours.  Yesterday in this meeting I came to the realization that no matter how much I tried push for a rapid launch this same project will take about 2 weeks.  It takes longer because of what my immature paradigm would deem ‘all the stupid processes we have to go through now to get something done’.

The reality is that this project could not have even been pulled off 5 years ago.  At best I would have written an email with a few links in Outlook, blind copied the recipients, fired it out and hoped for the best.

This project today will be a beautifully crafted piece of marketing genius including HiDef video, graphics, a dedicated web page, content edited by professional writers, email tracking, administrative follow up, celebrity endorsement and a marketing plan overseen by an accomplished  MBA/project coordinator.

All of the sudden it hit me that what we lose in ‘speed’ we more than gain in quality which ultimately is a gain in speed.  Yes it takes longer but we’re running faster and we’re reaching more people with a higher level of excellence than ever before.

Growing with a company is challenging.  I’m learning to appreciate what new team members bring to the table instead of complaining about how their new position complicates our process.  I’m learning that together is better.

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”  – Ryunosuke Satoro