Roy's Blog

May 21, 2018

How to get in the right mindset for success?

How do successful people do it?

It’s not luck or serendipity.

Successful people generally do not fall into a bucket of poop and consistently come out smelling like a rose; it might occur occasionally but that’s about it.

People who are consistently on the top of their game and who outrun everyone else have a deliberate game plan to do it; a game plan that is focused on creating and unleashing the energy they need to consistently bring their “A” game.

They have their plan mapped out in their head and they play it out every day in the field; their plan is a natural expression of who they are and they execute it involuntarily.

The energy source for each individual varies according to their specific makeup;
my energy and drive has always come from constantly looking for opportunities to BE DiFFERENT from others in everything I did.

Different way

My intent was not to necessarily to be better than someone else — relying on a comparative like “better” is a slippery slope because it relies on the judgement of the person observing what you did — but to do things with my own personal twist that would surprise whomever was witnessing my actions with the result that they would notice me in a crowd of my peers and colleagues.

My BE DiFFERENT action plan became second nature to me; I lived it every moment of very day.

These steps were the essence of my approach…

Ask yourself how the task at hand can be done differently

Before undertaking a project or responding to a request from your boss, consciously ask yourself “How can I do this differently from how others might approach it?” Generally, the crowd approaches tasks the same way; they apply common, textbook problem solving approaches to provide the answer to the problem they have been asked to solve.
They consult the experts; see how they recommend performing the task and they attempt to do it in the prescribed way.
My mindset was always to balk at the normal way a task might be accomplished and look for a “different box” style of achieving the desired result. It’s not the easiest way to attack the challenge you’ve been given, but it’s the right way.

Look for little things

Being different isn’t necessarily about making a quantum leap between the common prescribed method and how you decide to tackle a job.
In virtually every task I was given, it usually came down to a number of little differentiators between my work and how others performed their task. Rarely did I surprise my boss with a silver bullet.
Some “little thing” examples include:
— providing more rigorous analysis than what was required
— producing a report with more visuals than numbers
— personalizing my findings to reflect the special attitudes of my internal client
— getting buy-in from a broader set of cross functional stakeholders than was expected
— utilizing a project management structure that included high currency individuals from the departments depending on the results
— having a celebration when a project was successfully completed; buying dinner
— publicly recognizing the high achievers to the organization so they had the limelight

Little things

Resist the temptation to copy best practises

When someone says to me “My solution is based on sales best practises”, my eyes glaze over and I feel like taking a nap. I’m not looking for a solution-of-the-herd mentality; what I want to see is a result that is the expression of the person’s individuality .
I want to see creativity with a healthy dose of risk taking — a best practice solution is probably less risky but offers little in terms of an innovative mind set and will NEVER surprise anyone.
So, follow best practices at your own peril. It will secure your position in the herd and help you blend in with everyone else — a mindset for success will never come a copycat mentality.

Be contrarian

One of the simplest ways to exercise your BE DiFFERENT energy is to consider doing the opposite to the way you expect others to go.
If you expect the crowd to do a quick and dirty evaluation of a particular course of action, “go deep” and evaluate it from several alternative perspectives.
If you expect others will present their plan as the product of their individual efforts, choreograph your presentation to include stakeholders who will be the beneficiaries of the plan.
The point is, always be asking yourself “What if I did a 180 and go against the flow?”

Keep the pressure on yourself

It’s really easy to lose momentum on anything these days when you are pressured with conflicting priorities, more demands of your time than hours available and the increasing expectations of leadership — it’s easy to lose your way.
I had a ritual that I performed every day to keep my energy source alive and well even though chaos surrounded me. My mantra was “FEEL DiFFERENT” and I repeated it to myself every morning.
I know it sounds corny but it’s essential to discover some gimmick that will keep your thinking straight when things over which you have little or no control constantly toss you about and try to force you from your game plan.

The right mindset for success is probably different from one person to the next.

For me, it is based on the energy I get from trying to BE DiFFERENT from everyone else.

To be honest, some days it works better than others but over my 30+ career and my personal life it has served me well.

In fact, I have four amazing grandchildren who I am sure see their Papa as a bit crazy and different; I hope they never lose that perspective.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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8 simple steps bright people can follow for success
How to turn a service nightmare into a sales win
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  • Posted 5.21.18 at 04:21 am by Roy Osing
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May 14, 2018

8 simple steps bright people can follow for success

Success doesn’t come easy to a young professional these days.

Fewer opportunities. More intense competition for the few jobs that exist.

These actions will increase your chances of having a rewarding and successful career.

Forget about your education

Put your academic pedigree aside. Your credentials won’t help because most people vying for new roles also have a healthy education portfolio.
Yes, you need a strong educational background to play the career game but winning takes much more. Turn down the volume on your degree — what you know — and turn up the volume on your the practical accomplishments — what you’ve actually delivered. This focus approach will put you ahead of others who will continue to rely on their MBA to get them ahead (and it won’t).

Get it done

Find a “done it” mentor

Discover a mentor who has actually done something to guide you. There are many potential mentors out there but choose one who has demonstrated practical success in execution and implementation.
Success is a function of delivering results not achieving excellence in pondering over possibilities. Seek guidance from people who excel in getting stuff done in the real world complicated with uncertainty and unpredictability.

Follow the strategy

Get intimate with the strategy of the organization you work for. You will draw attention from the career decision makers if you are delivering on projects that directly relate to strategy. Know how your company intends to compete at a detailed granular level, and determine what your specific role is to make a noticeable contribution.


Do three things

Focus your energy on the critical few things that matter to advancing the strategy of your organization. Organizations can lure you into chasing many things that can be unproductive. Don’t get sucked in. Prioritize a handful of things to achieve and resist the temptations to wander.

Separate

Separate yourself from the crowd

Be clear on who you are and how you are different from the crowd around you. The world is full of people who “look the same”; you need to find a way to break away from this commonness and be distinguished.
Develop your personal brand that defines your uniqueness and live it everyday.

Build a killer résumé

Keep your resume up to date and make it available to others when the right opportunity arises. Always be on the hunt for your next move but ensure it doesn’t interfere with performance in your current position. Avoid using boilerplate templates; make your CV look different than anyone else’s.

Do the unexpected

Be comfortable to step outside your “job description”. Get known as a person who does what it takes to deliver results and who is unafraid to go beyond what is expected of them. Do the right thing not the “correct” thing.

Get on with it

Avoid pondering and “just do it”. Success is determined by the number of tries you make so don’t let thought process get in the way of acting. A corollary to this is to accept imperfection as necessary to deliver constant results. Nothing is perfect and why you are seeking it you’re not EXECUTING.

There is no silver bullet to success.

It’s the result of doing a few simple things consistently and with passion and tenacity.

Get going.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
How to turn a service nightmare into a sales win
Why frontline people really hate the word “corporate”
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  • Posted 5.14.18 at 04:26 am by Roy Osing
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May 7, 2018

How to turn a service nightmare into a sales win

My assistant burst into my office with a horrified look on her face!

The General Manager of one of our premier hotel clients in Vancouver was on the line and wanted to speak with me IMMEDIATELY.

My EA warned me that he was going ballistic.

So angry

Apparently we had somehow put his entire communications network out of service earlier that morning and he had been “in the dark” for at least 3 hours.

I was the executive leader for business services at the time, and he chose to escalate the service breakdown to my office.

I took the call of course and listened to his concerns. He “wailed” on me with wild abandon. He couldn’t contain his anger; he screamed and let it flow.

He wanted my head!

His demands were quite simple. He wanted to be compensated for the lost business he suffered by virtue of having no communications service and he wanted it taken care of fast.

I told him that I was extremely sorry for our screwup (exact words) and that I would take care of this right away.

I called my sales director who was going apoplectic over the situation and asked him if there was a ”secret desire” the GM had that we could satisfy and perhaps turn things around.

The sales guys had done their job and discovered through the GM’s assistant that he had been coveting an antique telephone for his office credenza for quite some time but had never make the decision to buy it. For some reason this particular type of phone was almost a fetish of his; an itch he had never scratched.

Armed with this information, we executed our recovery plan.

Our recovery plan

First, I got a cheque cut for him as my way of responding to the business he had lost during the service outage. There was no way I wanted to get into a negotiation of exactly how much business he thought he lost.
My strategy was to preempt that whole process. (Important side note: I didn’t tell our lawyers what I was up to as they would only tell me that I SHOULDN’T do it because it would be tantamount to admitting that we were in the wrong. REALLY?)

Next, I contacted our installation folks and asked that they get the specialty phone the client wanted and join me at his office within the hour.

Deco phone

Finally, cheque in hand, I headed to his office with my sales director riding shotgun.

About an hour and a half after his call to me our team arrived at his office.

This is how it played out.

At his office

I apologized (again) for our shabby treatment and handed him the cheque as restitution for our sins. Right away I could see him “come down” from his emotional peak. “It’s ok” he said. “Mistakes happen”.

I then asked the installation team into his office (with his permission of course) with the object of his affection and asked where it could be installed. He could not contain himself when he saw the phone.

Suddenly our meeting was not about the egregious way we screwed over his business that morning. And it wasn’t about whether the cheque actually was sufficient to recover his lost business (which by the way we were not obligated to do by law in any event).

The conversation and energy in the room was channeled to the actions we took to recover from our blunder rather than the blunder itself.

The meeting ended with our sincere apology (once again) and an offer to do more to atone for our sins if he thought more should be done.

He was quite frankly delighted with where we ended up; we could do no more for him.

This sales tale ended miraculously; it couldn’t have been better.

Forever

A fan forever

After the service incident and our recovery, I heard stories from other clients who recounted how this GM told the story of our service OOPS! and how amazed he was at how far we were prepared to go to make amends.

This client never left us in spite of what we did to him.

In fact his loyalty to our organization intensified over the ensuing years.

The morals of the story

1. Always apologize (endlessly but earnestly) regardless of the circumstances. And NEVER quote company policy or “it was beyond our control” reasons that caused the service disaster.

2. Don’t consult lawyers or anyone else; don’t ask for permission; do the right thing to serve the customer’s best interests;

3. Act quickly to remedy the offence. You don’t have much time before the customer leaves screamimg how crummy your service is to one and all.

4. Charge sales with the role of discovering customer secrets which contain the power to recover from the inevitable client screw over;

5. If done correctly, a mind blowing recovery actually build loyalty and turns the victim of the offence into a raving fan who tells everyone they touch how great you are.

P.S. This is not an isolated story illustrating the power of service recovery. Over my 33+ year career I have used the strategy to build remarkably successful sales organizations.

Brilliant recovery when you screw a customer over always works.

Try it and see.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
Why frontline people really hate the word “corporate”
Spectacular new ideas have a strong social purpose
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  • Posted 5.7.18 at 02:30 am by Roy Osing
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April 30, 2018

Why frontline people really hate the word “corporate”

I believe that frontline people “rule the world”.

They control the customer experience and live the brand of an organization every moment of every day. If customer transactions go well, loyalty is created; if not, loyalty is destroyed.

Frontline employees are always on the receiving end of customer “Why questions” — “Why don’t you add this type of draft beer?” or “Why did you take spaghetti and meat balls off the menu?” Or “Why do I have to wait so long to get a customer service representative on the phone?”

Rule the world

These are tough questions to answer, because frontline people are rarely given the answers in the detail they need to satisfy a customer’s query.

Leadership, for whatever reason, generally chooses not to share the details on matters such as product line selection, pricing rationale, credit rules and customer service policies with customer contact employees.

They think either that the frontline doesn’t need to know the details or that they can figure it out themselves.

I once asked a teller at a Credit Union why I should do business with them and not a bank. She was startled with my question and said “Because we share our profits with our members, and banks don’t” — not a compelling answer.
The truth is it wasn’t her fault; she wasn’t given the appropriate answer by the leaders who should be supporting her efforts. And so she was left to improvise and invent the answer herself.

This leaves the frontline in the untenable position of not being able to answer questions that customers have.

On more than one occasion, “It’s a corporate decision” is the answer that comes back to me as the reason a particular decision has been made. They know the answer sucks but that’s the truth to them because they have been left out of the loop.

And, of course, this does nothing to assuage the customer.

Frontline people hate having to use the “corporate” reference when engaging with customers; they feel incompetent and regret not being able to satisfy the customer.

But they have no choice because it’s the only answer they can give.

Leaders must make informed frontline employees a priority; here are four actions to make it happen.

Promote the frontline’s importance

Elevate frontline employees to the top of the “need to know” funnel. Effective customer engagement creates loyal customers and long term profitability so why would you not want to equip frontline employees with every tool they need to satisfy and dazzle customers?
And communicate what you are doing throughout the organization so everyone knows the cultural change being made.
Beats me why they seem to take the back seat to other groups when it comes to getting the information they need to talk to customers.

Determine their information needs

Ask frontline people — strike a frontline panel to help — what the top 10 questions customers ask them for which they have no answers.
And take their questions verbatim. Don’t allow some staff person to translate them into what they “really mean”, because all this does is allow their bias to enter the equation to distort the frontline truth.
Feed the questions back to the panel and ask for sign off before providing answers.

Modify the management performance evaluation plan

Rate managers’ performance in part on how effective they are at providing the frontline with the information they need. Ask the frontline to rate managers; they will provide honest input.
As president of the data and internet company, I implemented a report card process that had customer service reps rate my management team on their ability to equip them with the info they needed to serve their customers.
The first report card rated managers poorly; improvements in subsequent rounds were seen as action plans were implemented to address the shortfalls.

Report card

Engage the frontline in systems design

Who better to determine what information systems look like than the people who use them? Unfortunately this is rarely done.
Yes, we stipulate that systems designers determine the requirements of all stakeholder groups, but the frontline teams are not given top priority.
Frontline supervisors are asked along with managers in finance, inventory control, marketing and business development but frontline employees — those actually engaging with customers — generally aren’t given the chance to input directly to what the system should look like.

To deal with this issue, I created cross functional teams of frontline people who had the final say on how information systems that affected the customer contact process should be designed. And they were given top priority stakeholder status; others came after the needs of customer engagement were recognized.
This action did two things: first, it demonstrated to the rest of the organization that frontline needs were the top priority to support our serving customers strategic game plan and second, it showed frontline people themselves that their needs were paramount.

Informed frontline employees is THE essential ingredient in not only building a base of loyal customers, but also enhancing employee engagement.

Simple stuff and a competitive differentiator.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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Spectacular new ideas have a strong social purpose
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  • Posted 4.30.18 at 04:29 am by Roy Osing
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