Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Communication in the drive-through

Posted in Business, Selling by elephanthunters on June 9, 2010

picture of drive through speaker

The power of the guy with the headset

There are few things more affirming to me than the voice on the other end of the Starbucks drive-through speaker system.  When I place my order for a tall black eye, and the voice in the speaker repeats my order back to me, “that’s a tall black eye, coffee with 2 shots, right?”, all of the sudden I feel a sense of peace come over me.  I breathe a little easier knowing that they heard what I wanted, and that they’re in control.  I think this happens because our minds have been trained by poor drive-through service experiences to approach that speaker with a sense of trepidation.

I used to think I was the only one who dealt with this, but I’ve started to realize that almost everyone suffers from DTSAS (drive-through speaker abuse syndrome).  You can observe the symptoms of this condition by simply rolling down your window, and listening to the person in the car ahead of you placing their order.  You’ll notice someone suffering from this condition usually yells at the speaker the entire time they’re ordering.  They also talk slowly and over annunciate, often interjecting ‘did you get that!?’ every few seconds.

Here’s the quintessential expression used by DTSAS sufferers: “Can you read the whole thing back to me? I just want to make sure you got it”

Why do we do this?

We just told them what we wanted, and they process orders like this hundreds of times a day, right?  Why all the stress?  I think it’s because we crave validation.  It just takes one experience of asking headset guy to hold the pickles, and then biting into that juicy burger moments later, only to be struck with that undeniable vinegar ridden flavor to develop cynicism toward all drive-through speaker people on the planet.  Spending money is emotional, no matter how little the amount.  We want to feel good about our purchase; we want to be confident we’re getting what we paid for.  I love it when the guy with the headset just volunteers to read my order back to me.

What’s your validation process?

If our emotions go through this cycle in the drive-through, then how much more important is it for us to affirm our customers when they give us their money for OUR product or service?  I make sure each of our customers receive immediate confirmation of their purchase with a follow up email detailing the transaction, and an explanation of the next step so they can begin to shift their emotions from slightly nervous to extremely excited.  This is especially important when we’re selling tickets to an event – we have their money, but they don’t receive the product for several months.

I think validation is underrated.  We enjoy buying good products, but we want proof that we bought so we can start getting excited about it.  If the guy at the drive-through doesn’t read my order back to me, I’m not completely sure they won’t hand me an order for the car behind me.  When I ordered my iPad, I received an email update every 2 days regarding the status of my order – I loved it – and I told my friends about it every time I received an update.

If you have a product or service that ships later than the payment is processed, how do you validate your customers to keep them emotionally engaged in the transaction?


Make time for connecting in person

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on April 23, 2010


Yesterday Jack Groot and his wife came by the office for an impromptu visit. Jack owns JP’s Coffee & Espresso Bar in Holland, MI, and he’s a huge Dave Ramsey fan.  I visited with Jack a few months back about our EntreLeadership Master Series event, and I mentioned to him that if he’s ever in the Nashville area, I’d love to show him around the place.

Well, Jack decided to take me up on the offer.  He sent me an email yesterday morning saying he’s in town and he asked if they could swing by for a tour.


I’d like to say that I replied immediately saying “Sure! Stop by whenever it’s convenient for you today…I’ll make the time.”

I didn’t do this.  I waited.  I stalled, semi-unconsciously hoping that I could divert the inconvenience, and still somehow save face with Jack.

I accidentally listened to the resistance. My lizard brain (selfish & scared) told me that I was too busy:

Daniel, you don’t have time.  They’ll understand. They probably knew it was a long shot anyway being so last minute and all.  You have obligations.  This is one of the busiest weeks of your whole year right before your really big, important, complicated event.  You have plenty of legitimate excuses, so just tell them that you hope to catch them next time.

See, that’s the only thing the lizard brain offers:

  • Excuses
  • Reasons to not
  • Places to hide

I decided to punch the lizard brain in the face:

“I’m making this way to complicated”, I thought. “These guys are here all the way from Michigan!  Who am I to tell them I don’t have time for a short tour?” I adjusted my schedule, and arranged to host Jack and his wife.

I used to give tours more often, but now our company is big enough that we have official ‘tour people’ so I haven’t given one in a while.

But, at one o’clock I met Jack and his wife in the lobby, and what started out as another task on my list for the day, quickly became an energizing experience for me.  As I told the stories about everything we’re doing around here, my emotions caught up with my brain, and I felt a new sense of pride in my work.  This is my team.  These are the guys I fight with.  Here is what we do, and here is why it matters.  For a solid 45 minutes I found myself selling 2 strangers on why our company is awesome.

Connection happens in person

I sit at a desk with a keyboard and a phone most of the time.  So there’s something magical about face to face connection with your customers.  I’m really glad I decided to make time for my new friends.  Are they going to buy my product now?  I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that I got to spend quality time engaging two other fabulous human beings who have their own story to tell.  I can’t put a price on the time spent with them, and I wouldn’t sell it if I could.

Can I suggest something? Give tours!

Make your people give tours.  Tell the story.  Whatever this means in your company, find out a way to show people what you’re doing.  It doesn’t’ matter if you have 2 people or 200, if you work in an office building or on a construction site, if you work in accounting or in sales:

Just tell the story, and don’t ever assume they know what you’re doing.

Doing this will keep you connected to the mission like nothing else can.

My new goal:

Give a tour at least once a month.  I’m going to make time to show people around the office whether it ties in with a deal I’m working or not.  It does something for me that is too valuable to miss out on.

How do tours work at your place?  What do they look like?  What do people tend to comment on when you give them?  I’d love to hear about it!

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.

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?

Tagged with:

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

Before you speak

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on November 12, 2009

We are in Cancun, Mexico this week for our EntreLeadership Master Series event.  Over 100 small business owners and leaders from around the country have gathered here to learn from Dave Ramsey on how to build and grow a business more effectively.

I was challenged today by one of our guest speakers, Dr. Michael Easley, during his special bonus session this morning.  I tend to talk too much and my experience says that most sales people tend to overtalk.  Dr. Easley asked 4 simple questions that we should consider each time we are about to say something:

  1. Is it kind?
  2. Is it true?
  3. Is it confidential?
  4. Is it necessary to share?

If not then we should really think hard before we say it.  I’m going to work on applying this from now on.

Un and Re Employed

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on September 9, 2009


  1. To be unemployed means you were employed and now you’re not
  2. Being unemployed is better than never having been employed to begin with
  3. If you have never been employed then you are just ‘trying to find work’…this is a journey for some I suppose
  4. If you are unemployed then you are simply in the process of becoming re-employed, and you will, because with the character that you’ve gained recently you’re more valuable now than you’ve ever been
  5. Stay employed, employ yourself, or get re-employed but don’t ‘try to find work’.  By definition if you’re unemployed you’ve already found it at least once

Some will say this is semantics or a play on words and it doesn’t help them get a job.  Some will see this as a paradigm shift.  I probably wouldn’t  hire the ones who say it’s semantics.

P.S. If you’ve never worked…this just means you’re lazy so please stop making yourself feel better by saying that you’re unemployed.  Unemployed is a distinguished title for people who know how to work and are simply in the process of becoming re-employed.

Here’s how I almost died the other day

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on September 4, 2009


I wasn’t familiar with the road I went running down this week (mistake number one).  As I was enjoying the soothing autumn air and letting Ray LaMontagne coax me through the pain in my tired legs, I suddenly caught a glimpse of something fast and fur-covered out of the corner of my eye.

“Oh crap!”, I thought.  “Some four legged beast is about to enjoy full meal of Tardy steak and Brooks Trance running shoes for dessert!”

I don’t know what kind of dog it was.  I do know it was big, fast, and it had teeth that would make a Husqvarna chainsaw envious.  I pulled out my iPod ear buds in time to hear this beastly creature growl and then bark and then ‘scream-bark’…yes, he was literally screaming as he sprinted toward me,

“Come here fat boy. I’m going to kill you and eat you!”

I panicked.  This demon was closing in fast, and I was doomed.  I kept running, and I started flailing my arms, yelling, and kind of skip-jumping in a way that would make a bystander think he was observing a wrestling match between an octopus and a bull horn on a conveyor-belt.  My diversion tactics were futile, in fact, I think they actually enticed this crazed animal even more.

Just as the death monster was preparing to lunge through the air toward my jugular vein, and I was beginning to make my peace with The Lord, I heard a loud voice yell,

“Hey, get back here!”.

Suddenly the storm clouds that had been building diminished, the sunshine broke through, and my life un-flashed before my eyes! The Dalai of this hound dog’s Lama had spoken!  A very large man wearing nothing more than a very small pair of overalls uttered four magic words, and it was all over.  The pooch tucked his tail, whimpered, and began to strut back toward the man in the tight overalls.

“Don’t worry about him. He couldn’t hurt a flea”,

Overalls Man assured me.

“Thanks” I thought. “Maybe you should tell him that.”

Take away:

As I began to jog back home I started to wonder how many times have I been like that dog?  How many times have my intentions been completely playful and pure yet my actions were perceived as threatening and scary?  I have a dominant personality style and I tend to justify my flippant actions with the fact that I care about people deep down inside and I’ll never hurt anyone…at least not intentionally.  People should just know what I’m thinking, right?  Wrong.

When I don’t slow down and acknowledge people in the midst of charging the hill and getting things done I loose my biggest ally, trust.  Perception is reality.  My intentions aren’t good enough.  My actions are what communicate whether I’m a viscous killer or a trusted friend.

I have a lot to work on in this area of my life.

Proverbs 15:1

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”

Read this ASAP to get free Chick-Fil-A

Posted in Business, Selling by elephanthunters on September 3, 2009

Chick-Fil-A free sandwich deal.

One of my associates at the Chick-Fil-A corporate office sent me an email today with this ad.

Here’s the 5 things I love about it:

  • They’re giving me free food
  • They picked a day that is memorable and that I’m likely to be available to take advantage of the offer.
  • They’re communicating to me with pictures: [you]+[t-shirt]=[sandwich] so I don’t have to read to get the message, only to clarify the message
  • They give me options to put a reminder on my calendar.  I use Outlook for everything so I clicked the link and in 5 seconds the reminder went right into my preferred method of organization
  • The deal is only good for one day so it creates a sense of urgency because it’s an event

Everything about this ad makes it easy for me to tell friends “Hey, I heard Chick-Fil-A is giving away sandwiches on Labor Day and all you have to do to get one is wear a t-shirt with your teams logo on it!” and so I will…

If you’d like the original email:

  • to try out the calendar feature
  • to send to your marketing guy for a great example of how to sell your product
  • or to forward to your friends

Just email me at daniel.tardy@daveramsey.com and I’ll send it to you.  (I’m not smart enough to know how to make the image in this post do it automatically)

Manipulative Selling

Posted in Selling by elephanthunters on September 2, 2009

Really good sales people can also be really good manipulators.  We have a way of painting word pictures and asking leading questions to position our product or service as something that the prospect would almost feel stupid to turn down.


I’ve learned to never trap a prospect although it’s very easy to do and sometimes even works.  They feel violated when they are trapped.

Here’s an example of trapping:

  • First you ask: “Mr. Smith you can see how my product can save you a lot of money can’t you?” Of course the answer is yes if you’ve made a decent presentation.
  • Then you follow up with: “Mr. Smith I’m sure as an educated man you appreciate the value of saving money anywhere you can don’t you?” Of course he’s going to say yes…if he doesn’t it means he’s not an educated man based on how you positioned your question.
  • Then you trap him with a question like this: “So Mr. Smith you’ve basically admitted in your own words that to not purchase my product would be a foolish decision, haven’t you?” WOAH – Awkward! Wrong! Please don’t do this! Ever.

This may seem extreme and silly to a mature salesperson. However, even subtle and crafty trapping carefully woven in to a presentation gives sales people a bad reputation and cannibalizes their credibility.


  • If a prospect ever feels that saying “No” is an undignified answer then you have abused your roll as a salesperson.
  • Selling is not trapping people so they feel guilty if they don’t buy, but it is serving people with information that educates them on the value of your product or service.
  • As a general rule of thumb avoid asking leading questions.