I’m Not the Expert…I Just Care! Keys to Success

One of the things that you see all over the place as you explore how to be a success in any field is the idea that you have to insert yourself as being the expert in the field.  I work with IT for a large university, mentor small businesses, and in the fitness field as a personal trainer.  I am constantly growing and learning in all areas of relevance so that I can be the best that I can be.

If you are looking to grow your name at a break-neck pace, then inserting yourself as “the expert” might be the way to go.  But you might also be proven to be just another person claiming to know more than they actually do.

One of the things that I emphasize is to provide the most value and knowledge to the people that trust you.  I encourage people to approach their business how they would want to be treated by the companies they choose to work for.  Don’t be like the cable companies and telephone companies setting up deals to get people to switch to you.  Take care of the people that have been with you and reward longevity.

The same holds true with being an expert.  Focus on becoming an expert in your one-on-one relationships.  Focus on providing the value to the people who already have chosen you.  Constantly grow in the areas that they need to develop.  Most of the people that you work with are going to have very specific needs to reach their goals.  Increase your value to them, by focusing your talents and efforts on making sure they know that their areas of concern are the very issues that you are devoting yourself to growing.

Let them know that your goal is to stay on top of the latest trends that will help them with their specific needs.  For example, if someone is looking for a coach or trainer.  I like to sit down with them and ask about what their goals are.  From there, I will talk to them about setting up a basic program for their general health and well-being.  From there, I take pre-existing knowledge and incorporate it into their training to meet their specific goals and explain exactly why I am introducing and training them the way that I do.  The next step is to grow my knowledge base in the areas of helping them and sharing that knowledge with them.

I am not the expert in my space, but I am the expert of my people.  If you want to be successful, you have to give people a reason to stay with you.  That generally comes not from how much you know, but in how you develop your knowledge and make it personal to them.

I see too many people that want to be the expert and expect to have huge client basis just because they have inserted themselves as an expert.  For me, that is not the best path.  If you only have one client, be an expert on their business and their needs.  Give them a reason to talk about you and refer you to others.  Your business will grow if you devote your time to the needs of your clients first and foremost.  They are telling you what is and is not important to know about.  Focus on them, they are the one’s that need your services…and they need it now!

 

Authenticity in Work

After writing and posting the previous post, I am devoting this entire week to the importance of authenticity.  I took a rather simplistic approach in the first approach and received some solid feedback.

Thank you for replying and emailing me.  I appreciate it!

So today, I wanted to just touch on the importance of authenticity in our companies and in how we go about our daily work life.  Then Friday, if you are so inclined, the faith workout this week will focus on what authentic faith looks like.  There you have it a week sponsored by becoming more authentic!

I need to use that word a little more often – let’s be authentic!


 

There is a huge reason that businesses and teams fail.  They just are not authentic.  They go after the wrong customer (and going after every customer is going after the wrong customer).  You cannot be all things to all people and still be true to yourself.  You can treat all people well, and show them the respect they deserve, but you cannot be all things to all people and be successful.

Part of being authentic with your business as a whole is knowing what you stand for, what you represent and what is going to truly be something that represents you.  If you create something that is not you, then you will hate it.  There is no amount of blood, sweat and tears that will make you love something that does not accurately represent you.

I am sure that many of us have left jobs because something was off.  I am sure many of us have stayed in jobs because we needed to put food on the table, but we also kept our eyes open for something that was more in line with who we were at the core.  Authenticity in your business is important to your customer as well.

I work as a personal trainer and a small business adviser.  It is what I love to do.  When I have my trainer hat on, I only work with people that I know I can be authentic with.  This means that I have had to tell people that I would not work with them.  There are times when I have had to do this because my skillset was not adequate for what they needed to accomplish.  Other times, our values were drastically different and we just would not click and be as honest with each other as would be necessary to have a successful partnership.

When I work with a small business to help them get started or moving in the right direction, I start with finding out who they are and how their product or services fit within who they are.  Then we start cutting and removing everything that does not line up or connect with their authentic self.  We work on interacting with the customers on a real level and adding meaning and value to the products and services.

We stop trying to be something we are not.  Your business has to come from this place or your customers will see right through it.  Greed, sadly, is an authentic trait.  If the quest for money is all that drives you, you will probably find money, but I am not sure what else you will find.  I would hope that money would be a secondary bonus as your business grows to represent the authentic you.

If you do not run your own business, authenticity is dying in the workforce.  People just don’t know how to be real and own who they are.  An authentic employee is a blessing to have.  They are comfortable with who they are.  They are willing to stand up and be themselves.  They know what drives them and what terrifies them.

For me, an authentic employee or co-worker is that person that actually appreciates their job and work because they know it represents them.  They are also able to answer the question “why” without much hesitation.  They understand their motives and are not scared to put it on the table.  And when they mess up, they own it.

I want authentic people on my team.  I don’t want yes men and yes women.  I want people that know themselves and are not afraid to let that person out and into the world.  All of our jobs and businesses would be in a better position if we quit trying to be the same and were just our authentic selves.

More than likely we would find ourselves in better jobs that we enjoyed because we quit trying to be something we are not.  Our teams would accept us and better know how to relate to us because we are not hiding behind our masks of insecurity and doubt.  Our relationships with peers and customers would be stronger because we are not trying to guess who they want us to be, but rather they already know who they are dealing with.

Don’t be afraid to bring authenticity into your business…your customers are looking for you!

Should I Lower My Prices?

I sit in many a group that deals with issues that face all small businesses.  I get it, you want to keep your doors open and if you are a service-based business, you need the clients to keep walking in.  I understand that.  I know the fear that you face when you hear that a company that does that exact same thing is opening within 5 miles of you.  You freak out.

They are running a special.  They are selling their services for 75% of mine.

What do you do?

Take a minute, breathe and think about it.  What runs through your head in those moments?

One of the thoughts that runs through our minds, out of fear, is the idea that we should lower our prices.  We have to stay competitive or everyone will end their time with us and go to the new, shiny place just 5 miles away.  I hope that before you make that plunge you think about two very important things.

  1. Do you provide the same, more, or less value than the new place you are not competing with?
  2. What are you NOT doing that would cause your current clients to leave?

Through many of the books, podcasts, and other business resources that I have access to, dropping your prices only makes sense if you are admitting that you offer an inferior product than the other person.  If you look at it with a critical eye (and not an over-inflated sense of value), can you truly say that you offer more to your clients, then why would you even think about or worry about dropping your price?

Keep your price relevant to YOUR value, not the prices of a competitor.  It is a race to the bottom then if everyone wants to undercut everyone else.  It is a slippery slope that ends with people out of business.  Everyone is out of business, not just you.  Set your prices based on the value you provide.  If you have superior talent working for you, that increases your value.  If you have more programs that are of high quality and unique, that adds value.

Clients want access to that value and are willing to pay for it.  If someone is basing their decision on cost alone, that is probably not a client you want.  I can guarantee you that they will not be taking the time to refer anyone to you.   Those people who base everything solely on price are not who you build a solid business foundation on; they should not be the core of your business.  They are the ones that will leave when the next deal comes to town.  Loyalty is a foreign term to them.

So should you drop your prices?  I wish I could tell you yes or no, but all I can honestly tell you is that you need to look at yourself with a critical eye and see what you are offering.  If everyone is providing more than you for less, you might have to explore lowering the price to be competitive or you have to up your game.  Start finding ways to add value to your offerings that no one else is.  Find opportunities to not be cookie cutter and the same.  Start seeking ways to be different.  Find a different crowd to cater to, find your niche, be the business that focuses on philanthropy or some other area that gives you a unique selling point and perspective.

And second…and almost as important…FOCUS ON YOUR EXISTING CLIENTS!

I cannot tell you how crazy I think it is to spend all your resources and energy on the clients you do not have already.  I sit back and see all the switch for free ads and laugh.  Why are you spending all your time going after people who are content?  How many times do we see (and I have been guilty of this) specials for new clients only?

How do you feel when you see that as someone who has been a paying user of that service for years?  I’m looking at you cable and satellite companies!  Switch now!  Leave your tribe!

I would encourage you to take care of the clients you currently have and spend less time worrying about the one’s that you don’t!  Do you know their birthdays’?  Do you know when they have a major life event?  Do you reward them for being a loyal customer and sticking with you, even when you had some growing pains?  Or do you rely on ads to bring in new people you have to convince should be using your product?

If you take care of your current members and clients, they do the selling for you.  They bring in people that are already wanting to buy your services.  You do not have to convince them, you simply have to continue to be you.  They expect the same treatment and service that you are giving the person who referred them.  And since you are already crushing that relationship, it should not be that hard!

But we do not do that.  We focus on the other fish out there in the sea and neglect the ones that we have already caught.  We neglect the one’s that are already putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.  So we work harder than we have to…dropping prices so that we have to have more clients to reach the same goals.

And I will not even touch on what happens when existing clients hear about the cheaper rates…because we all know they love paying more for the same thing.

Start thinking about your business from the perspective of the value you provide and charge accordingly.  Be able to back that cost up and own it.  The people who get it and understand that are the people you want.  Take care of them and your business will grow.  Be patient, and enjoy the ride.  It is worth it!

You Have Permission to Succeed

This past weekend, I celebrated a birthday.  It was great, and I am not worried about being another year older.  Life moves on and there are amazing adventures ahead.  You have adventures coming as well.  We both do.  We all want to be better, do better and change something. It might be our career, our finances, drop some bad relationships and trade them out for some new ones.  I do not know what it is, but you have a right to do that.

The point became real to me this weekend as I was going for a drive.  My wife purchased me a weekend at a cabin in the woods for a writing getaway.  I chance for 3 days to spark imagination, queue curiosity or get my thoughts in order.  It was a perfect gift for me because I am a person that puts my family first.  Weekends are recharge as a family time.  No matter how much I want to lock myself in a room, or how many times, I have been told “Go write!” there is always something that pulls and tugs at me and says no.

So I do my writing daily on lunch breaks and edit in little breaks here and there as the day allows.  This gift, though, was permission to disconnect from the family for a little bit.  This gift allowed me to give myself permission to be ok being disconnected from everything and focusing on my writing.

We all need to feel this.  We need to know that it is ok, to chase our own dreams and focus on our hopes and goals.  We need to know that it is ok to be successful.  So often we get in the trap of feeling like we are not allowed to succeed when we see all those struggling around us.  Why?

Why don’t you deserve success?  It doesn’t mean that you do not still have empathy for others.  Success does not make you bad, or evil…it makes you successful.  That’s it.  If you want to help others, you have to be successful…somehow.  You have to give yourself permission to chase after those things when your heart and your head don’t always agree.  You have permission to succeed…and fail!  You have permission to learn and be great!

So stop beating yourself up over wanting more.  Go put in the WORK!  You have permission to eat all the fruits of your labor.  Get out there!  Work!  Succeed!

Coaches Are Everywhere! Are You Coachable?

This might turn into a rant, but I will try to keep it pretty low key.  Everyone out there that has found this blog or any other blog out there that they use for motivation wants to be better.  They want to get better in all areas of life.  They are seeking out some sort of motivation or lessons that click with them and help them to grow.

That is cool.  I get it.  I am glad you stumbled onto this site and hope that in some way, I can help you out.  I am a pretty open book.  With that being said, we all have to be better about being coachable.  We all have to stop thinking that we know everything there is to know about life.  I watch my various feeds on social media, people watch, and look around with an open mind as often as I can…and fail a lot to keep it that way…and see that we all are really good at giving advice, but really bad at taking good, quality, corrective criticism.

We will look around and acknowledge that the world needs to be more accepting, grow up, change, but we seldom look in  the mirror and really accept the truth that some of that change has to start with us.  We have to be open to being wrong.  We have to be open up to the truth that we all have dark spots and skeletons in closets that we want to ignore.  We have to be willing to ask those closest to us for advice on what we need to work on and not react when they are honest.  If they are speaking the truth, and we usually know when they are, we have to accept that.

We do not get bent out of shape when our trainer or coach in the gym tells us we are not keeping our back tight on a deadlift, or makes us watch a video or our bad technique on the clean.  Truth be told, we get mad when they let us continue to lift without saying something, but when it comes to who we are as people, that is a no-fly zone.  It is a zone that we protect and guard and wonder why relationships start to falter and live gets chaotic.

I know this reality all too well.  I am one of the best at building walls around my life.  I am one of the best with the excuse “I’m doing the best I can”…and that is an excuse for me a lot.  It is another way of saying, “leave me alone…accept me for who I am.”  And I get that, but I have recently learned that trusting someone to be real with me is about them not accepting anything less than what I CAN be.  The advice and criticism they give me are not because they do not love me, but rather it is about the reality that they do love me and know that I can be more.  When I open myself up to the critique, like with my lifts, I am only setting myself up to be better and get better.

So my challenge in the new year is to accept the criticism as they come…listen, learn and grow. Here’s to making this world a better place, starting with me.

Goal Prep Wrap-up

We are approaching the end of this years look at goal setting and prepping for the new year.  If you have not done so, take a minute and read part I and part II of this series.  After reading and putting the steps into practice, you should have a nice new goals journal with a few pages filled and a refined set of goals for the near, long and in between terms.  There really is only one step left before you go out and actually attack those goals.

Make a plan for success for each goal

Of all the steps this will be the most critical for you to actually achieve your goals.  Look at each of the goals that you have and put down the actionable steps that you need to be successful.  For some of the goals, it might be as simple as going to a website and filling out a form or putting a note up on Social Media about what you are looking for.  Other goals will have several larger steps that need to be broken down.

What I am saying is nothing new, and most people just need to hear it again or be reminded.  The trick that I would add to the equation is to add in steps for if you fail at some point.  Decide what you are going to do or how you are going to handle rough spots now.  If one of your goals is to clean up your diet, how are you going to build in points to diverge?  How are you going to handle ice cream movie nights?  Build in a plan, that allows you freedom to stumble, so that you do not feel that you have failed.

A simple but effective example that I have seen, using diet as an example, is that there are no rules on special occasions.  If invited and attending a wedding or other special event, those are the nights that you can enjoy whatever you want.  Sorry, but a simple date night, usually does not count.  But having a plan sets you up for more success that just trying to will your way to victory.

So there you have it, the beginning of your goal journal has some writing on it is started.  Now you have all the pages left in the journal for your journey.  Use those pages for whatever you want to as you travel down your path.  Write about your successes and your struggles.  Track your progress, write what inspires you.  Share with yourself what works for you and what doesn’t.  No matter how many of the goals you cross off the list you started with, you will learn about yourself and that will set you up for success for far longer than just one year!

Start with a Clean Slate…Goals in the New Year

I write something about goals every year.  Like most people, I see the start of the new year as one of those rare chances to have a clean slate.  That is to say, when the year ticks over to read 2016, I can safely say…

I haven’t messed up this year

And it’s not a lie.  It is not a false statement but rather a challenge to see how long I can maintain that status.  I have learned over the past year one big thing, and that is, that in order to have a strong and successful 2016, I need to prepare for it starting now.  I actually need to start cleaning the slate now.

So how are you going to get prepared for the changes that you want to make in the new year?

First and foremost, I recommend that you go out and buy a journal that is devoted specifically to your goals and the process you are taking to achieve them.  In fact, I recommend you buy a nice journal for this purpose, think of it as investing in your own success.

New journal = New Opportunities.

The second thing that I will recommend is to take a little time getting to know how you tick.  What motivates you, what leads you on a path to success and what doesn’t?  If you are someone like me, then you are going to need to figure out how to build accountability into your goals.  Based on the work of Gretchen Rubin, I am probably a pretty solid “Obliger”.  That simply means that I am more likely to succeed when someone else is counting on me.  I work best with deadlines and clear expectations. If you want to know more about her Four Tendencies, take the quiz or buy the book. (I bought the book on iTunes and listened to it.)

For example, knowing that I am an Obliger, I now post my workouts to my followers in the morning with a statement that I will post my results after I complete it.  I have created a system when I am accountable to them.  If I did not do this, I probably would not work out or I am more prone to allow someone else’s problem cause me to push back my workout.  You can get this same accountability simply by joining a gym with a friend and committing to meet there at the same time.

The biggest thing though is to start taking a little time to know what will most likely make you successful.  Once you know a little bit about how you tick and how you react in situations, you can move into the next phase of breaking the goals down.

I recommend that you take the time to break your goals down into short term, medium term and long term goals. It is a simple method to measure success and accept that changes and accept that success does not happen overnight.  That is a really good start to your goal writing process.  There are several more steps that I recommend, but I will save those until tomorrow.  For now…take the time to:

  • Buy a new Journal
  • Figure out how you tick (what do you need to make successful habits)
  • Write out your goals
  • Break them down into three categories (short-term, medium-term, long-term)

And if you need help…ask!

When Letting Go is Good…Business Basic

It has been a while since I wrote something that is 100% solely focused on running a business.  This tidbit of advice is like many things, powerful, simple but not easy.  It is my attempt to pull in the advice of several of my mentors, Zach Even-Esh, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Bob Burg and John David Mann.  

This piece of advice is simple.

If you want to succeed you have to help people find the right product, even if it is not yours!

The first part of that is pretty straight forward.  And most people would stand up and say…I do that.  I help people find the right product.  Most people chase customers and try to find new and creative ways to get them into their doors.  But most of us tend to live in the delusion that our product is the best and that it meets the needs of all people.  That if we can “sell” them on us, then we are good to go.  We live in the world that a sale is a sale is a sale and we need lots of sales.  But do we really?

All of the people listed above will talk about things such as finding your niche, finding your tribe, building your brand and identity, and providing more value to your customers experience and they all fit together into a nice, neat package that includes being willing to direct your customer to someone else.

Why would anyone say no to a sale?

That is the ultimate question, right?  We all have bills to pay, employees to pay and lights to keep on.  Why in the world would I want to turn someone away?  The answer is that by simply selling to them, you are not selling your true product and they are not getting what they are looking for.  As Seth Godin would say, you are trying to pull someone from another tribe into yours.  This will not end well for you.

If you promise a product that does X, Y, and Z and cannot deliver, guess what your reviews will look like?  What do you think that customer is going to tell their friends about your product or services?  How many people will you lose because you tried to fit that square peg into your round hole?

And from the other angle?

Let’s say you direct that customer to a product that is exactly what they are looking for, how are you viewed?  If you asked that customer for a simple review, don’t you think that they would give you glowing praise because you cared?  What do you think happens when their friends ask them about your business?

Their response, hopefully, transitions from one of, “they told me they did this; but lied” to one of “they were honest with me that their product wasn’t the best for my needs, but cared enough to help me out.  They might be a good fit for you.”  You are still getting positive feedback in spite of not making a sale.  The image and perception of your business is one of caring and not one of making the sell at any cost.

It is hard, though.  It is hard to not get caught up in the quest to make the sell because we all see the looming bills and challenges, but I challenge you to make sure you are growing your tribe the right way.  I encourage you to be willing to say no and help people find the best product for their needs.  I encourage you not to change your standards in order to make a sell.

Care about the customer and sometimes, that means letting the sale go.

#WatchThis

I am a fan of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and goal setting.  I have recently been taking the time to teach the 7 Habits informally to some friends and am willing to do it to anyone that is interested in it.  One of the habits that they talk about is defining a personal mission statement.  As I was discussing this with my group, one of them put me on the spot and asked if I would share mine.

Out of a knee-jerk, quick-witted response, I said:

Watch This!

That was it.  Two words, but then I stepped back and realized that it was actually a fairly, short, sweet, honest and true statement.  For me, that is my personal mission statement for the upcoming year.  It will be simple and follow me around.  #WatchThis.

It is not a statement out of arrogance, but rather one that says, I am not afraid to put my life out there for others to see and ultimately to judge.  I am going to be me, and I am going to welcome people into my life and let them see it.

I am a person that responds to accountability to others and tends to put personal wants on a backburner, so I am creating accountability.  I am taking everyone on this journey and holding myself accountable to al of you.

Watch this means, that I am not going to hide who I am or be afraid to develop things that are 100% me.  I am not going to make someone else’s dream happen while mine sit on the back burner.  I am going to do both!  I am going to help others and myself.  It is time to take that step.

Write a book…#watchThis

Start a business…#watchThis

Complete the Spartan Trifecta…#watchThis

Get Stronger….#WatchThis

Eat Better…#WatchThis

Share my Struggles…#WatchThis

That journey is about to begin…all you have to do is sit back and #WatchThis

yoda...there is no try

You Just Don’t Know…Until You Do!

I have worked with hundreds of athletes.  I have watched tens of thousands of lifts, successful and unsuccessful.  I have helped people trudge through their personal struggles and fears and have loved every minute of it.

I have watched as people have stared at me with that look in their eyes, telling me that they are going to fail and they are right.  They fail because they have told themselves that they will.  They do not believe that they can accomplish the lift, the task, or conquer the problem.

They look at it and say that it is just too much.

And I ask them, constantly, why are you afraid?

“Because I might fail.”

And there is that word.  That word that I am growing to hate more and more each day…might.  Might is five-letter word that defeats all of us far too often.

I might fail…but I might not.

And so we accept it.  We accept the failing, we accept the missed lift, the lost opportunity and the not so perfect day…all because of what might have happened.

Cue the Yoda memes and the Batman slapping Robin meme backup.  Might is not a result.  For my fellow Yoda fans, try is not a result.

I tried…is a cop out.  If you say you tried, you are probably really saying, I didn’t succeed.  The bigger question is not about success and failure, but did you stop?  Did you learn?  Did you grow?  Are you willing to fail again?  Is failure what is really holding you back?

What if success really has that grip of terror on you?  What if when I asked why are you afraid you answered me honestly…Because I might succeed.  Then the expectations go up.  Then people want to see me do it again.  If I get a PR, then the next time, I better at least match it.  I got a pull-up, a muscle-up, a handstand walk for 30 feet, a best selling book, a platinum record, start and sell a multi-million dollar company…and what happens that next time you try?

Will people expect more of you?  Want to see you fall from grace?  Will you let it get to you?  Will you get out of your own head and give yourself the right to succeed again?

So I ask again, “Why are you afraid?”

You’ll never know until you…do!