Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The importance of wisdom

Posted May 2nd, 2010

So, today I finished the most difficult block of classes I've ever taken. More difficult than training to shoot in the Navy, more difficult than learning how to fuel a ship in the middle of the ocean 300 ft apart and transferring 300K gallons of fuel for our ship.

Today, as I looked back over the past 9 weeks of hell... I mean math, I realized that how I approach school is NOT the way I approach business and leadership. Which is a problem for me. I am a firm believer in the "6 P's of success". Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Production. courtesy of Don Hislop (my history teacher in high school). Well, this math class I should have followed those 6 P's better. I will pass the class... barely.

Here's what I learned that translates directly to being a leader in your company:

1. patience. This is probably the most vital part of any repertoire for a leader. Having patience in front of clients and employees shows confidence. It shows your staff that when times get tough, you as a leader becomes more focused. Not angry (at least visibly), not frantic, but cool, calm, and collected. Employees appreciate this in a leader. It shows them that they need to follow suit and that running around like a chicken with their heads cut off gets noresults.

2. Perserverance. The ability to "keep on keeping on". More often than not during the past 9 weeks, I was ready to pull out my hair. I knew that if I just threw my hands in the air and said "I can't do this", then honestly, I wouldn't be able to finish the class. When in a leadership position, showing people that even when good ol Mr Murphy sticks his nose in our business and tosses a wrench in there, we can still move on shows clients and employees that your resolve is rock solid. Hopefully then encouraging them to keep on even when they feel as if they are defeated.

3. The end result isn't always indicative of the effort put in. While in this math class i'm going to barely get a passing grade, it isn't for lack of HOURS behind the computer and countless trees cut down in my attempt to scribble down problems and solve them. I worked my ass off during this class. the grade I get is not indicative of the effort I put in. Same in business. Sometimes, projects fail. that brings on the last item.

4. Failure is not fatal. A favorite author of mine is Richard Marchinko. He was a Navy Seal for most of his career. He lead many groups into battle and in my opinion, is the epitome of a leader. His best quote is "I will not punish you for making mistakes, I will punish you for NOT learning from mistakes" I've coached, I've been a leader in business, I was a leader for a group of young men in the Navy. WE ALL make mistakes. Its what we do when those mistakes happen that sets us apart.

Lastly, being a leader isn't about being perfect. However as a leader we need to strive for perfection every day. We will never be perfect, but as long as we give it our all, that's all anyone could ask for.

Legal, Logical, Ethical

Posted April 11th, 2010

These are the three words I tell my staff when making a decision regarding anything about our Non Profit Organization. These are words that every manager should tell their staff. Today, I saw one of the best examples of doing the Ethical and Logical thing. The legal thing isn't pertinent in this particular post.

There are two movie theatres in my area called Prime Cinemas Anderson and Red Bluff. They have a fan page onFacebook for both of their theaters. The management at Prime Cinemas chose to warn parents that the movie"Kick Ass" wasn't really a movie for those under the age of 18. They urged parents to watch the movie first before just dropping the kids off to see it.

Now, this may turn some parents away from allowing their kids to go see the movie. However, the most important thing that the management did was simply tell parents "Hey, we respect you as customers, and instead of having the kids pay money and then you parents get upset, we'd rather not make the sale and have happy customers". THAT my friends is the epitome of good business. I enjoy going to this theater in both Anderson and Red Bluff. The staff appear happy to be working their and I've never walked out saying to myself "I'll never come back". Rather I have always walked out of a movie looking at the rest of the movies that I want to come back and see. This business has my vote for customer service and professionalism every day of the week. Whether they are in a small town or a large city, their business ethics will keep them in business for a long time to come.

Here are the comments from this post:

Damen said...
Yeah, the theater in Anderson is awesome! And there are some movies that they have chosen to show there that no other theater in our area played! I think that the people in charge there are right on and I appreciate all they do!
Rod Hayes said...
As a former employee, I can vouch that the staff IS as happy to be there as you infer, and that the management does everything it can to ensure an honest relationship with the community. Very cool that you gave them some recognition

Nice manager or Mean manager?

Posted February 22nd, 2010

So, you just got promoted and your prior peers now see you as a boss, but still one of them huh? Two words to sum up this situation? IT SUCKS. Ok, there, got it out of the way.

It's never easy being the boss when it involves people you once called peers or co workers. Some might say "I know more than you and YOU got the promotion". Well, if you do know more, how come I got it and you didn't? or "You just got the promotion because you know how to kiss ass". OK, let's go with that one for arguments sake. IF I did know how to brown nose, it would only get me so far. IF I did brown nose, who was doing the work? and if your answer is "well, I guess you were doing the work but that means you were brown nosing" then, obviously someone has some green eyed issues. And the best response is this: Why should YOU have this job over ME? Odds are, most people just want to see their lips flapping but don't think about when someone will call them on it.

I experienced all of these things when I got a promotion in the Navy. The guys I used to work side by side with were now working for me. Another person got a promotion at the same time as me but we had drastic differences in our leadership styles. His was the coffee cup claw and a pointed finger like this:

You see, I was never a fan of the wagging finger when I was part of the gang that was getting down and dirty. I was never a fan of the boss who would micro manage us to death. I wasn't a fan of the boss who would whip us constantly to get a project done and then take all of the credit for the job well done. I also wasn't a fan of the manager who barked orders and automatically thought they were gods gift to the world. With that being said, here's what I was a fan of....

My approach was more like this:

I was ALWAYS a fan of the boss who would help out and get dirty (when they needed to) OR stayed away and let us do our job. I was a fan of the boss who when received accolades said something along the lines of "well sir/ma'am, without my team, it wouldn't have gotten done." I was a fan of the boss who sure deserved the promotion but didn't wave it around saying "Look at me, I'm important". They kept doing their job and let me do mine at the same time.

So here's my two cents on the nice manager or mean manager.... If you got the promotion, Congratulations! now get back to work. Remember that your team is what makes YOU better. It behooves you to have a team that is aspiring to have your job (because they made you look good and got another promotion and promoted one of them along the way). If your team wants to butt heads with you time and time again, call a timeout and ask them directly "What do I do that makes it difficult to work together?" or ask your entire team "On a scale of 1-10, rate me. If You don't give a 10, what can I do to make it so?" This strategy kills three birds with one stone. You get a depiction of what your team thinks about you, how to make it better, and a team that realizes you want to be better for them.

So when confronted with that time when your staff seems to be butting heads with you think about this: If you are a jerk, will they respond in the same manner? If you act politely and with respect, will they return the favor? Is this disagreement worth the time and energy? is the "Juice worth the squeeze?" and ultimately this is the best rule. YOU are the boss. You do get paid more to be the boss. That means making the hard choices. But you can still make the hard choices and still be the Nice Manager.

Remember, you can attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

An interview with my mentor

Posted April 6th, 2010

Being the Nice Guy Salesman, I've had some great teachers in my life who taught me what sales, business, and customer service were all about. I had the opportunity to work for Stan Morgan in 2004 and 2005 when he started his business Winners Ink & Toner. Stan has been a salesman and business owner his entire life. He told me of his early years being a full time student in college and working two jobs to stay in school. You don't see people work that hard these days.

Stan taught me about perseverance. I remember a few months into learning how to be a salesman I said in an exasperated voice "I've worked so damn hard but can't close a deal!" He replied "It's like farming Justin. You need to sow those seeds and let them grow. But you also need to water them and give them fertilizer." This was his parable about how to follow up and make sure the customer remembered you. He said "If you keep following up, the customers will start to come in droves." He told me that in mid February, and March 2005 was my best month working for him.

So, without further ado, here's a bit of the interview I had with Stan. I hope that all of you aspiring salespeople can grab something from this. There's bits of good information for sales managers as well!

1. What age did you start your career as a salesman? 27

2. Which job as a salesman was your favorite? And which was your least favorite? Selling stocks and bonds was my favorite. Least favorite was selling business forms.

3. What tool, tip, or trick is the most useful that you use? The telephone. For me, the telephone is still the best medium to use in the sales process.

4. How do you overcome objections from a customer if they are not happy? Continue the discussion to ascertain what the customer is objecting to. Once the point is discovered, I address it to be able overcome the objection.

5. What is your definition of “customer service?" I define it as "good customer service." Good customer service means going out of your way to make sure your customer is always satisfied with your service and/or product(s).

6. If you had one choice of a company to do sales for (other than your own) what would it be? Another business similar to mine. I get real satisfaction in selling inexpensive quality products to save money for my customers

7. Is the customer “always right? No, but there is a way to handle a circumstance with a customer. It just depends on what the circumstance is. Once it is determined we work around the customer's objections until they are made to look right.

8. Whenever you were a manager of other salespeople, what method for teaching or inspiring worked best for you? Having a daily sales meeting and providing ideas for each sales person on how to tackle the day.

9. What would you tell a salesperson who is facing a slump in sales, or is new, and feels as if they just aren’t seeing any results regardless of how much work and effort they are putting into the job? I would ask the salesperson to work with me at his or her work station. Then I would give the salesperson. A critique on is or her work. I would also make some sales calls myself to see that my salesperson gets what I am recommending.

As you can see, working with and for Stan showed me what the essence of customer service was. When he talked about the customer being right or wrong, he mentioned working around the customers objections. He doesn't mean ignore them. He means acknowledge them and work together with the customer to find a resolution.

I prided myself in handling the most difficult of customers working for AT&T Wireless. The ability to take those customers and turn them into the most loyal of customer comes directly from the teaching of Stan Morgan. He's old school business in all the right way. I wish every sales person had the chance to meet someone of this caliber in their lifetime.

Here's his contact info if you are interested in doing business or possibly learning some sales magic from him:

Stan Morgan


Thats what I'm talking about!!!

Posted April 1st, 2010

Nothing makes me happy as much as good customer service. couple that with a great product and you have a million dollar business. Insert business Yama Sushi. I've traveled the world in the Navy, and experienced cuisines that I will never forget. However, the experiences at Yama Sushi have been the best to date by far. As much as I wish I could get compensation for writing this, it gives me just as much satisfaction to write about how GOOD they are.

Here's why: Every time I go in, they know my name, know the 2 types of beverage I want and simply ask which I want, and they also pay attention to the food I eat most often and offer those up to me when I arrive. Now, I'm not related to Mr. Trump, and my last name isn't Hilton, and I'm certainly not the President of the USA. However, when I go in there, I feel like I AM!

My mom, aunt, and grandma all worked in restaurants or as bartenders at one point in their lives, and they all taught me one very important lesson when it comes to leaving a Tip. If the service is great leave at least a 20% tip. if it is horrible and is deserving of a bashing on Yelp, then the tip should be a penny. I've never spent more than $30 there, but I've always left at least a ten dollar tip. I'm not rich, but I think those who earn it deserve it.

I could wax ecstatic for days about how good this place is. Honestly, quit drooling and just go try it for yourself. Afterwards, bring me a honey prawn please. I'm hungry!

What Business is about in the USA

Posted November 11th, 2009

Being in business isn't easy. Anyone that ever said business was easy was lying or running a scam. However, there have been countless numbers of people who said business was fun. It is.

The previous posts I was starting to feel as if customer service had fallen by the wayside, and companies were just out to make a buck and forget about the customer. Today I realized, there are three BIG companies who are making quite a statement about how they feel about doing what's right.

These three companies are Home Depot, Applebee's, and Outback Steakhouse. Today, for Veterans day, Home Depot is offering veterans a 10% discount on purchases. Applebee's is giving a free entree to servicemembers and Veterans. Outback is giving an entree as well.

If you use twitter either for business or for pleasure, a simple search for #militarymon would show you just how much chatter is going on right now. The simple fact that those three businesses are doing this for our heroes is probably the best and least expensive advertising those companies could have ever done.

So here's the question to ponder. Do you think these three companies did it as a means of good PR, or do you think the members of the respective board of directors thought this was good business? I would put good money on it, they saw it as just good business.

So today, if you are an owner, manager, or sales rep, see what you can do to offer a deal to a veteran. I promise the freebie you give today will make you money tomorrow and the day after.

Wish I could blog about something else.

Dated August 3rd, 2009.

Honestly, Im normally a very upbeat kind of guy. I don't let things bother me often or for very long. However. one thing that always gets under my skin is bad customer service. Don't get me wrong, I've made plenty of mistakes in my career as a salesman. BUT, whenever I did, I took the proper measures to fix my mistake.

This past weekend was not the case. My wife and I found a table for our son at a local baby store. It is your typical "mom & pop" shop, and offered many second hand items. The table we wanted was purchased, and was promised to be delivered saturday evening around 6. 9:30pm rolled around, and we got a call saying they would deliver it yesterday morning by 9. We didn't even get a courtesy call saying they couldn't make it.

SO, this morning I called and told them that I didn't want the table anymore, and would be by to pick up my check. They said that their policy was all sales were final. I may be wrong, but my understanding of a complete sale was money given, and product delivered. So, if the table wasn't delivered, how then was the sale even finalized? After speaking with the store manager, she told me that they would offer a store credit (which i said no thank you) and she replied that was the only thing she was willing to do.

I said I would call her back with my decision. In the meantime, I called my bank and put a stop payment on the check, and as a courtesy to them, I called and told them I had stopped the payment. I also told them I would return the two toy trucks (worth $5) on thursday when they were open again. All I heard was a click of the phone.

So, again in this economy in a small town like mine, how can a company continue to do business like this? Is there a magic genie somewhere that is giving them money in leu of the sale they lost? Because if there is, I sure want to open a business and get some free money.

The really sad part for this place (Kids Playz) is that my wife and I had other items we wanted to purchase. But, during the initial visit, the young woman at the counter seemed perturbed at the fact we were interupting her time on myspace while she was at work. We ended up walking two blocks to another kids store, and purchased the same items that were available. again, bad customer service caused a missed sale for Kids Playz, and a great sale for the other store (Two Peas In A Pod).

Here is the information for Two Peas In A Pod in case you would like to see what they have.

Two Peas In A Pod
905 Walnut St
Red Bluff, Ca 96080

Update: Two Peas In A Pod unfortunately went out of business. HOWEVER, there is a new store in town called Dandy Lions. Their shop and service is great!!! Here's how to contact them:

340 Hickory Street
Red Bluff, CA, 96080
Phone: 530-527-7755
Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm


Man in the Arena

To start off, my favorite inspirational speech has always been "The Man in the Arena", written by Theodore Roosevelt. Here it is:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

To all of you nice guy/gal salespeople out there, follow this, and see how incredible you can become!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Proud to be an American

Proud American-

I have the freedom of speech and my opinion. As do those whose opinions I don't agree with. I have the right to worship any god I choose without fear of persecution. I have the right to serve my country in the armed forces; I have the right to serve my country in a public office.
I am proud to be an American because I served my country for four years defending these rights. I live in a nation where if a member of our armed forces is killed or wounded in combat, our nation fully supports their family in every way possible. I am proud to be an American because I have the right to vote.
I am proud to be an American because on days like Memorial Day and Veterans day, I can stand next to a fellow veteran and cry as we mourn the losses of those who have gone before us and give them due respect.
I am proud to be an American because in Red Bluff, I was born and raised to bleed Red White and Blue. I stand up, remove my hat, and cover my heart or stand at attention when hearing Taps or the National Anthem. I am an American because during those songs, I get choked up and silently thank God for giving me the right and privilege of being an American Citizen.
I am proud to be an American because I can and will teach my son what it means to be an American; so generations to come will know how awesome it is to live in this nation we call the United States of America.

Happy Independence Day!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Pink Ribbon time cuz I love the TaTas

For those of you who know me personally, it isn't difficult to know that I won't hesitate to do something goofy or out of the norm in order to bring awareness for a cause I support. This week appears to be no different.

Lets back up a little bit... last week, I posted about a local DJ who was raising money for the Shasta Womens Refuge. Well, yesterday that same DJ showed up in downtown Redding, and set up camp. He said he wasn't going to leave until he raised $9,470 for his charity. This morning, a few ladies were talking with this local DJ. They said that the company that donated the most would get a professional photo shoot.

Well, Of course I had to go check out and see which businesses had donated thus far. When I got there, the ladies from Hanna and co were still there. I found out that there are three ladies who each have their own specialty. Melissa Bechtel owns Split Endz. Allison Elliot is a makeup artist who has done makeup for people like Rachael Ray. Jessica Hanna is the owner of Hanna and Co.

I mention Melissa, Allison, and Jessica because I told them how I am always looking for ways to bring more attention in my own little way to fighting Breast Cancer. My aunt and Grandma fought Breast cancer when I was in grade school. Luckily they both beat it. Last summer, one of my clients was diagnosed with breast cancer and in support of her, I kept my head shaved while she endured chemo and radiation. And just recently, a teacher of mine in high school was diagnosed with Breast cancer. That bomb has hit many places near to me, and luckily, no one has lost the battle to breast cancer. However, this is a rare story.

And so tomorrow, I will be giving my hair over to them. I'm afraid they have other ideas in mind. But, alas its for a great cause. Stay tuned, I am more than sure videos and pictures will follow.

For now, if you would like to help support Breast Cancer research, you can support a local by the name of Donna Jesmer as she works to raise money for her walk in San Francisco on July 11th. Click here if you would like to donate money for her walk.