Getting the word out…

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For some, this is the holy grail of marketing.

If only more people knew what you know.

If only they were aware of what you have to offer, of the work you can share.

Perhaps you can get more people to click on your video, read your tweet or see your Instagram.

Alas, awareness is not action.

Everyone reading this is aware that Peru is a country. But that doesn’t mean you’ve visited recently, or have plans to go soon.

Everyone reading this is aware that turnips are a root vegetable. But knowing they exist doesn’t mean you’re going to have them for dinner.

Awareness is important, but it is insufficient.

Action comes from tension, desire and fear. Action is the hard part.

The danger of starting at the very top…

When making a b2b sale, the instinct is always to get into the CEO’s office. If you can just get her to hear your pitch, to understand the value, to see why she should buy from or lease from or partner with or even buy you… that’s the holy grail.

What do you think happens after that mythical meeting?

She asks her team.

And when the team is in the dark, you’ve not only blown your best shot, but you never get another chance at it.

The alternative is to start in the middle. It takes longer, it comes with less high-stakes tension and doesn’t promise instant relief. But it is better than any alternative.

Starting in the middle doesn’t mean you’re rushing around trying to close any sale with any bureaucrat stupid enough to take a meeting with you (or that you’re stupid enough to go to, thinking that a sale is going to happen.)

No, starting in the middle is more marketing than sales. It’s about storytelling and connection and substance. It’s about imagery and totems and credentials and the ability to understand and then solve the real problems your prospects and customers have every day. It’s this soft tissue that explains why big companies have so many more enterprise sales than you do.

You don’t get this reputation as an incidental byproduct of showing up. It is created with intention and it’s earned.

True professionals don’t fear amateurs…

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Professional farmers don’t begrudge the backyard gardener his tomato harvest. That’s silly.

And talented mechanics certainly don’t mind the antics of the Car Talk guys (or their listeners). Sooner or later, if you need a real mechanic, you’ll find one, and if you don’t, well, that’s fine too.

A few years ago, typesetting, wedding photography, graphic design and other endeavors that were previously off limits to all but the most passionate amateurs started to become more common. The insecure careerists fought off the amateurs at the gate, insisting that it was both a degradation of their art as well as a waste of time for the amateurs. The professionals, though, those with real talent, used the technological shift to move up the food chain. It was easy to encourage amateurs to go ahead and explore and experiment… professionals bring more than just good tools to their work as professionals.

The best professionals love it when a passionate amateur shows up. The clarity and intelligence of a smart customer pushes both client and craftsman to do better work.

Gifted college professors don’t fear online courses. Talented web designers don’t fear cloud services. Bring them on! When you need something worth paying for, they say, we’ll be here. And what we’ll sell you will be worth more than we charge you.

If you’re upset that the hoi polloi are busy doing what you used to do, get better instead of getting angry.

The power of zero spend..

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Sometimes, boundaries help you make tough decisions.

If you build your company with the policy that you’ll never run an ad, it makes it even more important that you build a remarkable product–you’ll never be tempted to compromise and try to make it up with hype.

Same thing goes for organizations that refuse to pay bribes. By eliminating situational decisions and grey areas, it changes strategies from the top down.

Or perhaps you’re not willing to pay overtime, regardless of the emergency, regardless of how late the project is… it makes it far more likely projects won’t be late, because they’re designed to ship without emergency…

Rigidity is rarely your friend, but well understood boundaries make decision making a lot easier.

Thank you, Zig…

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One of our great teacher Zig Ziglar died last week. He was 86.

Thanks for teaching me how to sell and why it mattered.

Thanks for reminding me how much it mattered to care.

Thanks for telling us a fifteen-minute story about Johnny the Shoe Shine Genius, so compelling that I flew to the airport just to meet him.

Thanks for 72 hours of audiotapes..

Thanks for making goal setting so clear.

Thanks for elevating the art of public speaking, and making it personal, not something to be copied.

Thanks for believing in us, the people you almost never met in person, for supporting us with your voice and your stories and your enthusiasm.

Thanks for teaching so many people, people who will continue to remember you and to teach as well.

You’ll be missed.

When everyone has access to the same tools…

…then having a tool isn’t much of an advantage.

The industrial age, the age of scarcity, depended in part on the advantages that came with owning tools others didn’t own.

Time for a new advantage. It might be your network, the connections that trust you. And it might be your expertise. But most of all, I’m betting it’s your attitude.

World’s Simplest Management Secret….

Forget what you learned in those management books. There’s really only one way to ensure that everyone on your team excels.

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Management books have it all wrong. They all try to tell you how to manage “people.”

It’s impossible to manage “people”; it’s only possible to manage individuals. And because individuals differ from one another, what works with one individual may not work with somebody else.

Some individuals thrive on public praise; others feel uncomfortable when singled out.

Some individuals are all about the money; others thrive on challenging assignments.

Some individuals need mentoring; others find advice to be grating.

The trick is to manage individuals the way that THEY want to be managed, rather than the way that YOU’d prefer to be managed.

The only way to do this is to ASK.

In your first (or next) meeting with each direct report ask:

  • How do you prefer to be managed?
  • What can I do to help you excel?
  • What types of management annoy you?

Listen (really listen) to the response and then, as far as you are able, adapt your coaching, motivation, compensation, and so forth to match that individual’s needs.

By the way, a savvy employee won’t wait for you to ask; he or she will tell you outright what works. When this happens, you’re crazy not to take that employee’s advice!

Unfortunately, most individuals aren’t that bold, which is why it’s up to you to find out how to get the best out of them.

And you’ll never get that out of a management book.

There is no one-size-fits-all in a world where everyone is unique.

The best way to get unstuck…


Don’t wait for the right answer and the golden path to present themselves.

This is precisely why you’re stuck. Starting without seeing the end is difficult, so we often wait until we see the end, scanning relentlessly for the right way, the best way and the perfect way.

The way to get unstuck is to start down the wrong path, right now.

Step by step, page by page, interaction by interaction. As you start moving, you can’t help but improve, can’t help but incrementally find yourself getting back toward your north star.

You might not end up with perfect, but it’s significantly more valuable than being stuck.

Don’t just start. Continue. Ship. Repeat.