Strive For Excellence

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A friend sent me an amusing story about working for the “Average Company,” which she’d read in Simple Tools and thought it was worth passing on. Now I’m doing you the same favor, because if you are getting bored with striving for excellence or settling for just doing a pretty good job, you may want to apply for a job here.

At the Average Company, the corporate vision is:

“To be no worse than any other company.”

The value statement:

“The greatest labor-saving device of all is tomorrow.”

It gets better. The corporate motto:

“You don’t have to be really good to get by.”

And the sales goal:

“To match last year’s sales goals, if it works out.”

My favorite is the management philosophy:

“To not make a decision is to make a decision.”

The law of averages tells us that, eventually, everything evens out. You have a few good years, you’ll probably have a bad year here and there. Most companies, if well managed, can weather the storm and come back strong and healthy. Those that don’t survive probably just got a little lucky in the good years.

If you work for the Average Company, you know that sometimes things work out better than others. You try, but occasionally circumstances are out of your control… or are they? I’m of the opinion that you make your own luck.

“The harder I work the luckier I get.”–Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s

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Passion: The Prime Mover

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I recently came across a terrific description of a salesperson…

and it’s from the 1940s. Aside from the sexist language, a sign of those times, I think it’s still right on.

During a convention of Chrysler sales managers in Los Angeles–back when Chrysler was an auto superpower–Harry G. Moock, a company vice president, issued this description of a salesman:

“He has the curiosity of a cat, the tenacity of a bulldog, the friendship of a little child, the diplomacy of a wayward husband, the patience of a self-sacrificing wife, the passion of a Sinatra fan, the assurance of a Harvard man, the good humor of a comedian, the simplicity of a jackass, and the tireless energy of a bill collector.”

What can I say…? I’ve always been a Sinatra fan.

A salesperson without passion is just an order taker.

If you’re in sales, you can have a great product, a tremendous territory and a fabulous marketing campaign, but if you don’t have passion, it’s hard to make a sale. When you have a passion, you speak with conviction, act with authority and present with zeal. When you are excited and passionate about a product–or anything for that matter–people notice. They want in on the action. They want to know what can be so good.

There is no substitute for passion.

If you don’t have an intense, burning desire for what you’re doing, there’s no way you’ll be able to endure the long, hard hours it takes to become successful. 

 

 

Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter for more tips on business, sales, leadership, networking, negotiating and life.

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There's No Education Like Adversity

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Life is not a steady ascent.

It doesn’t go straight up… a lot of lumps and a lot of bumps… a lot of throttling up and a lot of throttling down. I have never yet met a single successful person who has not had to overcome a little or a lot of adversity in his or her life.

One school of business studied 400 executives who had made it to the top and compared them to 400 who fell by the wayside during their careers. The idea was to discover how those who became successful differed from those who didn’t.

Education was not the key factor, because some high school dropouts were running companies while some MBAs were slamming into dead ends. Experience? Then those at the top should have been older, but that wasn’t the case. Technical skills, social skills and dozens of other career-related variables were examined as well. Those factors didn’t provide the explanation either.

What was the only quality that consistently distinguished those who made it from those who did not?

They persevered.

Adversity will come to every person at some time. How you meet it, what you make of it, what you allow it to take from you and give to you, is determined by your mental habits. In short, you have to take the cards that are dealt to you in life–and make something of them.

You can train your mind to face life’s toughest challenges, and it is especially important to develop this habit before you actually need it. Adversity can actually be a positive thing, even though it certainly doesn’t feel that way when we are facing it. Adversity is what defines us. It is easy to have a great attitude, a strong work ethic and a positive outlook when things are going great. But how do we stand up during tough times?

Consider the following phenomenal achievements of famous people who experienced severe adversity:

  • When Bob Dylan performed at his high school talent show, classmates booed him off stage.
  • Walt Disney experienced both bankruptcy and a tragic nervous breakdown, but still made it to the top of the mountain.
  • Sir Walter Raleigh wrote the Hostorie of the World during a 13-year imprisonment.
  • Martin Luther translated the Bible while enduring confinement in the Wartburg Castle.
  • Dante wrote the Divine Comedy while under  a sentence of death and during 20 years in exile.
  • Handicapped by a crippling disease as a baby, Helen Keller was not able to see or hear during her long life, yet she became a famous author and activist known for her charm and wisdom.

Mackay’s Moral: Adversity causes some people to break and others to break records.

Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter to hear more about some of my real world experiences and the lessons they’ve taught me.

 

 

 

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Trust Your Hunches

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My favorite Peanuts character, Charlie Brown, is on the pitcher’s mound psyching himself up: “It’s the last of the ninth. The bases are loaded. there are two outs, and the count is three and two on the batter. If I get him out, we win!” At this point, Charlie is surrounded by his friends and teammates who are shouting, “Throw him a fastball! Throw him a curve!” And so on.

All alone on the pitcher’s mound, Charlie thinks to himself, “The world is filled with people who are anxious to serve in an advisory capacity.”

Decision making is jungle warfare at its worst. Choose well, and you are a hero. Make a bad choice, and your career could be over. Sometimes the choices are so dicey, the options all look alike. Or as Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

After you’ve done all your homework, when making decisions, I’ve found that you have to trust your gut. Deep down, your gut is likely to know what’s right. Keep track of what instinct tells you to do. It’s amazing how often expert advice sides with your gut.

Psychologist Joyce Brothers advises, “Trust your hunches…They are usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.”

Mackay’s Moral: Don’t be afraid to make a decision. Be afraid not to make a decision. 

Learn more about my new book, The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World

Click here to help me spread the word about my new book.

If you already bought my new book, make sure you download or request the hard copy of my new Network Builder for FREE Here.

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Rain Can Make Your Parade

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Retired Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy is a master of helping those around him visualize victory. He’s been that way ever since his high school playing days, which is one reason I worked so hard to help recruit him for the Minnesota Gophers, where he was a college gridiron star. In fact, I was extremely proud when Tony wrote in his blockbuster 2007 book, Quiet Strength, “Harvey, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.”

It’s no surprise that his quarterback Peyton Manning is a big believer in practice and preparation. You might recall the constant, relentless, sidewinding rain at the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami between Indianapolis and the Chicago bears. The terrible weather was ideal for the Bears’ running game, but the conditions looked bad for Indianapolis, which plays in a 60-degree indoor stadium.

However, just the opposite happened.The Bears turned the ball over five times and quarterback Rex Grossman bobbled two snaps, losing 10 yards on one to kill a scoring drive. Indianapolis recovered the other fumble. Manning encountered no such game-changing calamities. Why? Every season Manning practices the “wet-ball drill” with the starting center, currently Jeff Saturday. Manning fills a bucket full of water, grabs a football and heads out to the field. He dips the ball into the bucket and practices snap after snap.

Manning said his center hates the wet-ball drill, and he admitted getting a little bored with it himself. But they still do it every year. When asked about the infamous wet-ball drill in the raucous Colts locker room after their Super Bowl win, Saturday laughed and said, “Not my favorite drill. But it paid dividends tonight.

When you visualize, anticipate negatives and how you will overcome them. Then create a practice plan that makes your response instantaneous. At every meeting I hold with my managers, we end with the same exercise. We go around the room, and I ask, what are you going to do to fix the problem? What matters isn’t that a customer pounces on you with an overwhelming objection, for instance. What matters is that you’ll deliver an unbeatable answer with utter confidence when that objection comes sailing at you.

Mackay’s Moral: Anticipating catastrophe is the surest way to avert it.

Learn more about my new book, The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World

Click here to help me spread the word about my new book.

If you already bought my new book, make sure you download or request the hard copy of my new Network Builder for FREE Here.

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So You Aren't Johnny Depp...

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Do you lack the dazzle of Angelina Jolie’s lagoon-blue eyes or the regal command of Meryl Streep’s screen poise? Come up short on George Clooney’s suave or Daniel Craig’s rippling abs?

Well, you don’t have to rate first billing to be billing first.Call attention to your strengths, recognize where you fit in the team, and you’re guaranteed to shine.

When actor Karl Malden, born Malden Sekulovich, dies in 2009, the New York Times hailed him as “the uncommon everyman.” Malden frequently shared credits with the likes of Marlon Brando and George C. Scott. With an epic schnoz, Malden knew he could never command center stage, but he swore he would run the last mile “to be #1 in the #2 parts I was destined to get.”

So it was in On the Waterfront and Patton… and he was second to no one in a string of high-credibility endorsement ads for American Express

Decide where your psyche fits in the cast and shine. That may mean:

  • Be known for your reliability and steadiness of vision.
  • Remain the unflappable source of judgment in crisis and turmoil.
  • Execute the impossible when logistics degenerate into spaghetti.
James Mason, another stellar silver-screen #2, once said, “how do I wish to be remembered, if at all? I think perhaps just as a fairly desirable sort of character actor.” Hollywood and the critics remembered him their way when his colleagues nominated him for three Oscars and three golden Globes.

 

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The Mackay Elite 8: A List of Life Changing Sales Books

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I’ve consulted top salespeople, sales trainers and booksellers, and all concur that these volumes belong in ever serious salesperson’s collection. All are currently in print and readily available; they appear in no particular order below. These authors have inspired me over the years. I know they’ll help you too.

 


 

Learn more about my new book, The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World

Click here to help me spread the word about my new book.

If you already bought my new book, make sure you download or request the hard copy of my new Network Builder for FREE Here.

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Big Cats: Rarely In The Bag

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Oil magnate John D. Rockefeller once opined, “I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”

I’ll never forget watching the broadcast of The David Susskind Show some years ago. He had on three guests who were self-made millionaires, in their mid-30s. Each had averaged being in a dozen different businesses before hitting it big.

History abounds with such tales of perseverance. Theodore Geisel died in 1991 at the age of 87. Before he died, he wrote 47 books that have sold more than 100 million copies in 18 languages. What most people don’t know about Dr. Cat-In-the Hat Seuss is that he didn’t write his first book until he was 33 and it was rejected by 28 publishers before Vanguard Press picked it up.

The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it–so fine that we are often on the line itself and do not know it. How many people have thrown up their hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success?

 

Learn more about my new book, The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World

Click here to help me spread the word about my new book.

If you already bought my new book, make sure you download or request the hard copy of my new Network Builder for FREE Here.

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Trust Is A Must

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People in business don’t have to like each other, but they do have to trust each other. At MackayMitchell Envelope Company, we don’t tolerate anything less than honest negotiations and delivery guarantees.

An envelope is a very standard commodity. Sure, the paper, the glue, and the size can vary. The end product can probably be duplicated by a hundred companies. But nobody can match us day in and day out, job after job, envelope after envelope, smile after smile. Our customers know we’ll do what we promise. They’ve even occasionally forgiven us for an honest mistake because they know we’ll make good on our word.

We also don’t do business with vendors who are less than up-front. It could eventually affect how we deliver to our customers, and we don’t like to lose customers. Our sales force wouldn’t stick around for long if we made their job harder. Can you blame them?

Ethics are not remote, pie-in-the-sky considerations. Every time you’re tempted to short quality standards or fudge a delivery date, it can have ethical consequences. 

Mackay’s Moral: Mark Twain put it well when he said, “I am different from George Washington. I have a higher, grander standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie, but I won’t.”

Learn more about my new book, The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World

Click here to help me spread the word about my new book.

If you already bought my new book, make sure you download or request the hard copy of my new Network Builder for FREE Here.

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Without A Goal, You'll Never Score One

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I once heard a math teacher announce an unusual dream at a school assembly: “I hope you all fail,” he said to an audience of high school seniors eager to go out and conquer the world. “Because if you don’t, you haven’t set your goals high enough.”

Betting by without setting goals is the ultimate way to shortchange your life. It’s not a way to failure. It’s the definition of nonstarting.

Evangelist Robert H. Schuller describes four kinds of people:

  • First come the cop-outs. These people set no goals and make no decisions.
  • Second are the hold-outs. They have a beautiful dream, but uncertainty makes them afraid to respond to its challenge.
  • The dropouts are third. They start to make their dream come true. but when the going gets tough, they quit.
  • Finally, there are the all-outs. These brave souls know where they’re headed and do what it takes to get there.
It all starts with goals: Winners make goals. Losers make excuses.
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