Monthly Archives: September 2011

How to get what you want

In a previous post we started talking about loyalty.  The question remains, how do you get other people to be loyal to you?

The answer is no secret, but it is also not an easy thing to do.

The best example of an analogy I can think of comes from my experience in sales.

Within the “sales world” there are these things called “leads groups” where sales people of many industries get together with the primary purpose of getting leads for each other. They generally limit it to one person per industry so you don’t need to compete with someone within the group (i.e- there is only 1 real estate agent and 1 account per leads group).  The goal of the group is pretty clear: bring salespeople together to give each other more business through referrals.

This one regional sales manager peer I previously worked with used to train salespeople in our organization of the importance of joining leads groups.  When he was a salesperson he would get more than 100% of his quota from there referrals each month.  The reason he received so many referrals was because he made it his goal to become the best “referrer” in the entire group. He worked hard to find his fellow group members.  No matter whether they were a lawyer, dentist, florist, or freight company, he found them leads.  Then what happened….?

Leads started to trickle in, and soon he could barely keep up with all the business other people were referring to him.

Where is the loyalty cross over?  If you want others to be loyal to you, you need to work hard for them.  Find ways to “have their back” and make them look good. If you are loyal to them first and your actions back it up, they will come around and be loyal to you.  In my previous role as a regional sales manager my teams had a tendency to start of the year slow (really slow!)… but I would work hard to remove obstacles that hindered their ability to sell and focus on how to make each one (individually) successful while leveraging the entire team… ultimately my teams would see the hard work I was doing on their behalf and that led to two things, (1) a “win one for the gipper” mentality where they wanted to perform better so I looked good and (2) we ended up finishing the year #1 in the state (or entire country).

Take a genuine interest in others (boss, peer, direct report, friend, neighbor) and work to help them fulfill their goals and objectives.  In doing that you will have more people on your side.  J Paul Getty once said, “I’d rather have 1% of the effort of 100 men than 100% of my own effort.”  Well said. Leverage the power and loyalty of many and you can accomplish more than you could on your own.

Mr. Biz, OUT.

Katy Perry has it wrong

In Katy Perry’s recent #1 hit single Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) there is one of her lyrics that really stuck out to me. It really stuck out because it was completely wrong.

In the midst of waking up the morning after a drunken party she sings, “pictures of last night ended up online, I’m screwed.  Oh well!

I think most of us have heard about the damage pictures, videos and other content that shows us in a “less than ideal” light can do (socially, but especially professionally). If for some reason you haven’t heard this message before, LISTEN UP (and even if you have heard it, a reminder never hurts).

Expect that anything that is posted online about you will end up in the hands of those that you do business with. It could be a potential new boss that you are interviewing with, a prospective client that you are selling to, or a co-worker that doesn’t like you for some reason and is looking for dirt.

This rule also applies to things that may have happened back in college.  Many people just think about the pictures/videos/posts that have surfaced since graduation. This is a mistake. Even though you may be “all grown up” and mature now, there is no way that picture of you doing a keg stand in Cancun during spring break your senior year can help get you promoted or further your career. Go back into your Facebook/MySpace (for those who still use it)/Twitter/Blog accounts and make sure they are as squeaky clean.  One simple rule is that any picture that has you (and/or a bunch of people around you) holding an alcoholic beverage of any kind shouldn’t have you tagged in it.

I have heard more stories than I care to admit  where someone was going to get hired and after an internet search by the firm they were interviewing with they were no longer a candidate (or something similar to that).

Katy Perry’s “oh well” attitude in the lyrics is NOT the mentality we should be taking.  Monitor pictures people tag you in on Facebook (and un-tag yourself), if someone posts something on your wall that is inappropriate, take the post down. If someone writes something bad about you in a forum or article, contact the author and ask for the opportunity to comment/respond.  If they won’t give you the chance, use any forum or outlet you have to respond yourself.

All that said, “Last Friday Night” is still a pretty catchy song that I sing along to whenever it comes on the radio.

By no means am I saying that we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves (on Fridays or any other day of the week), I just encourage you to remember to keep on eye on how you are portrayed online; it may not be the impression you want people to have of you.

Mr. Biz, OUT!

To work from home, or not to work from home… that is the question

Just for fun I figured I would offer some thoughts on a choice that a growing number of employees have… should I work for home?

“Telecommuting” (as many refer to it) can provide many benefits from less time wasted commuting and fewer “co-worker related” distractions.  You don’t have to worry about going to a restaurant to eat, you just need to walk to the kitchen… and you don’t even need to get all dressed up.  There is a lot of flexibility that I like.  You may need to take care of a personal matter for an hour but then you can also work longer into the evening if necessary, which can be hard to do in the office (ever notice how in a lot of office buildings the lights have a timer that make them automatically turn off at 6 or 6:30pm?)

On the other hand, there are many “non-work related” distractions when you are at home… like the TV shows sitting on your DVR or that one on-demand movie you had wanted to see but didn’t get a chance to watch over the weekend.

I think the following really sums it up well:  http://theoatmeal.com/comics/working_home

Bottom line- working from home can be great but it is important to keep in mind the famous words of the philosopher Aristotle, “moderation in all things.”

Too much working from home and your social skills (and hygiene) may suffer.

Mr Biz, OUT.

My Stupid Mouth

While successes are great, true lessons come when you mess up.  There is a reason that learning something “the hard way” is generally where the lessons that really stick with you come from.

A recent mess-up reminded me of the song by John Mayer called “My Stupid Mouth.” While he was referring to saying something stupid to a date, my verbal slip was to my boss’ boss, the VP (yikes!).

I was leading a conference call with my entire team, my boss and his boss, going through the final readout on a project we had been working on.  A few minutes before the meeting my boss mentioned that his boss was thinking of making him permanently move across the country so they could work in the same office.  To make a long story short, during my presentation to my VP I referenced how it was important for my boss to interface with leaders from other business units (all of which were in the office on the other side of the country), somewhat supporting the idea my VP had.

I didn’t see it myself, but one of my team members said my boss cringed when the words came out of my mouth (and he mentioned my mistake the moment the call was over).  Naturally I didn’t say it on purpose, but it was one of those moments where I realized my statement didn’t come out right as I was saying it.  That was only strike 1.

After the meeting I immediately apologized, saying that I didn’t say it on purpose. Later on when our team went out to lunch I referred that we should start a campaign to ensure my boss didn’t have to move… the lighthearted statement did not go over too well with my boss.  That was strike 2. The truth is (and rightfully so) that my boss was worried about having to move (or affecting his job by not moving) and I made things even worse, especially since my boss entrusted me with some sensitive information. I hurt that trust.

I decided to avoid strike 3 by keeping my mouth shut after that.

The question arises, how should I have handled the situation?

Obviously, avoiding screwing up in the first place is a start.  It is important to realize that part of everyone’s job is to make their boss look good; doing this will serve you well. If your boss realizes this (which should be the case if you make to consider who your boss will be when you are choosing your job), then they will reward you when it comes to bonuses, promotions and the best projects…. But the truth is that it is near impossible to avoid screwing up, so the key is to mitigate the damage.

Generally the best way to mitigate the damage is to apologize sincerely, clearly and immediately.  From there, don’t do what I did, which is bring the subject up again (and especially don’t make a joke of it). After the incident, don’t continually bring the mistake up and do everything in your control to make sure you do not make a mistake like that ever again.

Time will tell whether my blunder will lead to my boss having to move (I sure hope not), but I definitely learned a good lesson (the hard way).

Mr. Biz, OUT.

Don’t be a cocky idiot…

Let me make one thing clear…. as a young professional you don’t know it all (and as a young professional myself, by transitive relations, neither do I).  After working for a few years (although some of us are faster than others), you realize that you don’t have all the answers and that experience really is a good thing.

Someone should probably pass this message on to Aaron Levie from Box.net

Take a look: http://gawker.com/5835878/26+year+old-founder-says-hes-way-smarter-than-25+year+old-founders

Besides the name we share (and a certain level of respect for what he has accomplished with his company, including raising $113 million in VC money), I don’t see too much to applaud in terms of his mindset.  While I would like to think his statement was taken out of context, experience with some peer young professionals has told me that he just may be delusional.

Mr. Levie, who had 2 internships (one 4 months and the other 3 months), all of the sudden feels he understands how all businesses work compared to people a year younger than him that have “no context for the enterprise.”  7 months doesn’t give him much more of a “context” to understand the issues of “real workers.”

Recently I moved up to the General Manager level of the Fortune 10 company I work at.  While there were times when I thought I understood it all in lower level positions, once making this transition I REALLY realized that I definitely did NOT (and I am in enterprise strategy).

Mr. Levie made two cardinal mistakes that many YPs (young professionals) make, (1) he had the attitude that he knew it all and deserved to be respected and admired after only a couple of years in the working world and (2) he decided to be vocal about it.

If you see yourself starting to think the same way Mr. Levie thinks, take a step back and put things into perspective… and more importantly, don’t tell a reporter that is how you feel.

Bottom line, don’t be like him.  Realize that you don’t have all the answers and don’t run your mouth about how you are so much better than people with only one year less of experience.  Value your experiences and look for lessons out of each one, they will definitely help you later in your career.

Until next time, Mr. Business, OUT.

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