Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

Losers, Leaders & Chameleons

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on August 27, 2010

Good news: You’re probably not a loser

Most people aren’t losers.  Losers cause problems, have frequent breakdowns, lash out and are easy to write off.  Losers behave in ways that are unacceptable.  You can’t keep your job if you’re a loser because showing up late every day is unacceptable behavior.  So most of us do what is acceptable, or to put it another way, ‘what is permissible’.  Permissible is fine because it’s better than unacceptable, but the problem with permissible is that it’s usually not beneficial.

Permissible vs. Beneficial

It’s easy to settle for permissible because that’s what most people do.  Permissible is normal; it’s also the lowest common denominator of acceptable behavior.  Leaders are never concerned with what is merely permissible.  Leaders ask, “What is most beneficial?”

It’s permissible to show up at work right on time; it’s beneficial to be early (and sometimes stay late).  It’s permissible to watch TV; it’s beneficial to read a book.  You won’t go to jail for using a credit card, but there are many more benefits to paying cash.   While it’s certainly permissible to complain when you have a legitimate excuse, has anyone ever thanked you for doing it?  Probably not.  This is why we always see an inverse correlation between leaders and complainers.

Why do we settle for permissible?

We settle because we fear awkward.  It’s awkward when your friends come over and ask “Hey, how come you don’t have a TV?”.  It’s awkward when you tell your coworkers you’re not going out because you have to get up early and go to the gym.  We settle for permissible to avoid awkward situations.  Most people would prefer to be the social chameleon.  Blending in is comfortable.  The fear of awkward keeps us from embracing the most beneficial behavior.

The leaders I know and respect are obsessed with growing the gap between what is permissible and what is beneficial.  Leaders push past the fear of awkward to accomplish the very best.  Anyone who leads the room in sales will tell you that it’s awkward to be rejected dozens of times each day, but that it’s the only way to close a deal.  On every team you will see an enormous gap between the behaviors of the second string and those of the starting line up (even though everyone is wearing the same jersey).  The biggest difference between the guys on the field and the ones on the bench is their familiarity with awkward experiences like pain, sacrifice, failure and rejection.  This is what makes them leaders.

What area of life do you find it challenging to grow the gap between permissible and beneficial behavior?

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Make time for connecting in person

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on April 23, 2010

Invitation

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.

Hesitation

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!

Challenge: No TV For A Month

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on April 2, 2010

What would your life look like if you gave up TV for a month?

Seth Godin recently challenged me to give up television altogether because there are so many other things better than TV.

I was already on the verge of doing this, but his post on this idea gave me the gumption to go ahead and pull the plug.  So we called the satellite company and cut it off.  All the way off…no basic cable, no major network channels.  Zero TV in the house.

And I’m still breathing

Not only has life gone on without TV, it has improved.  A lot.  I discovered that I was spending more time watching TV than I would have cared to admit.  I suppose most people talk about TV consumption the same way they talk about debt:  “I don’t have any debt…just a car loan and a few credit cards.”

Since we cut off the TV:

  • My wife and have have had more conversations
  • I have read more non-fiction literature than I ever have in my life
  • I took my daughter on an impromptu walk to the creek
  • I sat on my porch and watched the cars go by
  • I bought a high end stereo system, and gave my iTunes playlists a makeover

It’s changing me.  It’s making me better.

The Challenge

Give up TV for the month of April. After the big dance is over on Monday night just unplug the TV.  You don’t have to cancel it altogether, and if you hate it after a month, then just turn it back on…at least you’ll be able to say you tried it, and it wasn’t for you.

Why Not?

  • The weather is getting nice
  • College basketball is over
  • Major networks are starting to air reruns
  • There’s so many great things to do with your time

If you’re in:

Leave a comment on this post.  Commit.  You’re going to be tempted to read this and think – I don’t have to comment to do this…I’ll just do it on my own.  No you won’t.  You have to tell someone.  If you don’t comment here, then at least tell someone you know that you’re doing it.  Knowing they’ll ask you about it later will keep you committed to your goal.

I’ll check in and ask you to report occasionally on how it’s going.  I already heard one great story from Chris Mefford about his kids playing together more and having meaningful conversations after he recently cut off the TV. Dino Evangelista told me his family has been TV free for a year, and it’s the best thing he’s ever done.

I want to hear about all the great stuff you’re doing instead of TV.

Invite some friends…start a movement!

Retweet this, email it, talk it up!  Let’s put together a case study of how much meaningful productivity is increased for one month when a bunch of change agents get together and take action on a simple challenge:  Pull The Plug.

Already TV Free? Leave an encouraging comment for someone who’s not sure they’re ready to take on the challenge.

Update: 4/8/10

For you golf enthusiats…I guess this is cheating a little bit.  But it’s not technically TV, and it still falls in line with being an intentional consumer.  At least you won’t be tempted to leave it on all night when it’s over.

I’m sure I just lost some points with the wives who made their husbands get on board with this.  Sorry.  At least it’s over in 3 days.

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?

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.

Mix it up

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on September 22, 2009

trail-running

I run a lot.  Not a whole lot by most people’s standards, but definitely a lot for a 210# guy with a desk job.  My M.O. is to go out and pound the pavement for 2-4 miles with my iPod and my heart rate monitor; same routes, same pace, same music mix…but today I did something completely new.

A buddy of mine, Bill Hampton, talked me into doing a 4.5 mile trail run in Percy Warner Park.

I didn’t really know what to expect, and it’s probably a good thing, because parts of this trail made me feel like I needed a climbing harness and a rope.  It was  muddy, slippery, rugged and fast.  We were leaping over logs, dodging under branches and shuffle-stepping to avoid stumbling down 150 foot vertical drops  just inches away from our feet.  It was dark and wet.  It was hard.  I yelled out a few ‘war cries’ and got Bill to do the same.  We got lost but we kept running under the theory that “all these trails have to come out in the same place, right?”.  So it added a couple miles and we were ticked- part of the adventure and drama.

With about a mile left to go I told Bill, “This has to be the biggest release I’ve had all year”.  I felt alive and free.  The last time I felt this way when I was running was….hmm, not sure I’ve ever felt that way.  Running had become boring.  I had no idea that mixing it up like that would take it from vanilla to exhilarating in just one work out.

The point?

Doing the same thing in a new way defeats the boredom.  It’s easy to get bored with selling and running a business so mix it up daily.

  • If you normally make phone calls sitting down, then try standing up all day
  • If you drive the same route to work every day, try leaving 30 minutes early and take a new CD and a new route
  • Bring breakfast in for your whole office one day and tell them you appreciate them
  • Stand on your chair in a meeting and ask people a thought provoking question (I’ll never forget when Tara stood up on her chair on her first day in staff meeting to introduce herself)
  • Give a high five to everyone you see for a whole day
  • Take a walk on your lunch break
  • Sit on a ball
  • Sit on the roof during your next conference call
  • Play the Rocky Theme at your desk until one of your coworkers makes you to turn it down
  • If someone is in your office having a meltdown, dump water on your head and tell them to chill – they will laugh – and then they will chill
  • Throw up a rock fist every time you close a deal

Don’t be afraid of cheesy.  Cheesy beats boring every time.  Mix it up just for the sake of mixing it up.  Take a risk…leave the pavement behind.

more resources on trail running

Un and Re Employed

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on September 9, 2009

unemployment

  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

dogbite

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”