Daniel Tardy: License To Sell

How far have they already run?

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on August 1, 2010

I’m training for a 1/2 Ironman…

I logged 7 miles before the treadmill timed out.  I suppose there’s legislation that requires fitness equipment to limit the amount of time one spends becoming fit.  This particular treadmill had a governor set to shut the machine down after 60 minutes.  I still had 4 miles to cover so I reset the machine, changed my iPod playlist over to ‘Songs for Suffering’, and drudged on.

Pain

The air was warm; I was drenched in sweat from head to toe.  The lactic acid built up in my legs from a long week of training was arguing with my will to finish strong, and the determined fire that burned in my eyes when I started was quickly fading into a desperate grimace.

Insult

After a quarter mile into the new segment of my run, I was joined by a fellow weekend warrior who took his place on the treadmill next to mine.  We made eye contact, he nodded, then glanced down at what appeared to be a measly ‘total distance’ reading on my monitor and flippantly commented:

“Wow. Didn’t take you much to work up a sweat, did it?”

After internalizing a few comments I wanted to make in return, I acted like my iPod was turned up too loud to hear him and just kept running. “If he only knew…”, I thought.

Perspective

As I settled in to finish my run I began to wonder, “How many times have I done the same thing to other people?”  Not in the gym, but in life.  I tend to criticize others without knowing everything they’ve been through.  Too often I focus on what has yet to be achieved instead of applauding people for the valiant efforts they’ve already made.  It’s tempting to hold people accountable to standards that are only achievable within the limited context of what we see.

I’m learning there is always more to the story.

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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.

What’s up with ‘Serving You’?

Posted in Personal Development by elephanthunters on March 24, 2010

This is my email signature:

Serving You,

Daniel Tardy
Director of EntreLeadership Promotions
www.EntreLeadership.com
Direct: 800-983-3385
Twitter: @DanielTardy

Serving You

A lot of people ask me why I write ‘Serving You’ instead of Sincerely, All The Best, Thanks, or any other ‘normal’ valediction.

This particular complementary close reminds me that these Latin words are penned inside the front cover of my journal:

Inservio Deus. Inservio Populus. Prosequor Integritas.

Serve God. Serve people. Pursue integrity.

This is my goal.  If I can focus on these three things, then everything else in my life is just a smaller supporting part of this focus.  I am not naturally inclined to serve.  I actually tend to be quite selfish.  My actions rarely reflect the intentions of this goal…that’s why it’s a goal.  It pushes me out of my comfort zone.

When I write an email and read the phrase ‘Serving You’, I see it with a question mark on the end:

Serving You?

  • Am I really serving them?
  • Should I rephrase something?
  • Should I save this as a draft and send it tomorrow (or not at all)?
  • Is THAT word really necessary?
  • Should I add some courtesy phrases and put a little more thought into this?  Maybe even ask how their day is going?

I tend to fire off emails with a healthy dose of cynicism, laziness and a general lack of service.  If I’m not careful they just become a task that needs to be eliminated from my inbox.  This little reminder pops in front of my eyes 50 – 100 times a day, and each time it challenges me to lean away from my self centered perspective and back toward my goal of living a life of service.

I have not arrived

There are plenty of times I hit the send button prematurely without processing through all of this in my mind, but since I started including this line in my signature, I’ve seen my character slowly shift toward a spirit of humility.  Not to say that this technique itself has caused the change;  it’s certainly not a magic formula.  I just find that reminding myself daily of how I want to live helps me to focus on the goal.

What tricks do you use to remind yourself of your goals?  Different things work for different people…I’d love to hear any techniques you find to be helpful!

A little game this Sunday…

Posted in Business, Personal Development by elephanthunters on February 5, 2010

Lot’s of buzz right now about football.  ESPN has a full line up of commentators with tons of stats and opinions about this years Super Bowl match up between the Colts and the Saints.

Question:

If you had to bet your life on it, which commentator would you want to teach you how to throw a football?

Answer: None of them!  They don’t throw footballs for a living, they comment.

To get the best advice on throwing a football I want to get on the field with Peyton Manning or Drew Brees.  They have thrown thousands of passes under pressure and they are PLAYING in the Super Bowl.

Who are you listening to?

There are thousands of commentators in our lives.  We often give them too much credit because they’re loud, marketed, and have lots of compelling data.

We tend to put to much credit on the ‘what’ before the ‘who’.

Be aware of WHO wrote the book or blog you’re reading.  Pay attention to WHO is teaching the event you attend.  Be careful of WHO’s opinion you adopt as your own.  Whether it’s business advice, spiritual mentoring or lessons on how to be a great father, I want to learn from the guys who are on the field when the game clock starts.

Shameless Plug:

This is what I love the most about Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership event.  Dave is teaching from experience.  This is rare as far as training events go.

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

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?

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.

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.

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

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”