April 2012

Do-Over Redux

1 comment

Being wrong chafes the ego yet often leads to a greater right. Nowhere has this been more true in my own life than my failed ten-year marriage that ended in 2007. That decade of futility saw two amazingly stubborn people persist in a relationship that neither wanted to admit was fated from the start. Only when gut-wrenching honesty prevailed was I able to admit that not wanting to be divorced was a terrible reason to remain in an unhealthy and incompatible marriage. I had forgotten one of the greatest lessons of my childhood, that’s its okay to call a do-over when something does not work as I had hoped.

In a little over a month’s time I get to initiate one of the most significant do-overs in my life, thus far, as I marry Holly in New York City’s Central Park. Being fully conscious of the opportunity this do-over represents, I’ve chosen a highly compatible partner who meets the list of needs I have for a quality relationship (for those of you who know me the fact that I had a list for selecting my mate should come as no surprise). This opportunity makes me grateful for my previous mistakes since, without those, I wouldn’t have the insights that have helped me make better choices the second time around.

How can a do-over mindset serve your life and your company? Here are three steps for accessing those do-overs we did as kids:

1. Whether it’s an overly difficult customer generating little to no profit or a relationship filled with drama and strife, accepting the fact that something is not working for you is the first step. Acceptance does not mean you have to like the situation or even your original choice. It merely requires an acknowledgement that the status quo no longer works for you.

Marcus, the CEO for one of my West coast clients, knew he had erred with one of his additions to his leadership team. Rather than wanting to admit he regretted the hire, he kept finding ways to try and fix what was unfixable, especially since this was the third person within two years who failed in the role. The breakthrough moment came when I was able to get Marcus to acknowledge that the hire was a mistake and to accept that nothing was going to change that. As he put it to me, that was the “freeing moment” as he could now move on to step two.

2. Ask yourself what are the possible ways to initiate a do-over. Engage colleagues at the office for work-related do-overs or friends at home for those on the personal side of life.

I am often the sounding board for possibilities, so Marcus bounced different ideas off of me during one of our meetings. Within 20 minutes, he had two workable plans for making a better hire and removing the ineffective executive from his team.

3. When you find a possibility that you believe will work do it, right away. Life is about progress, not perfection. Even if your do-over is less than perfect, better to be headed in a new direction than stuck in the same old rut that you know doesn’t work. Most of the time you’ll find that your do-over creates either a better result or requires just a bit of fine-tuning over time to achieve a significantly improved outcome when compared to the previous set of circumstances.

Marcus hired and onboarded a new leader in under five weeks, calling this the easiest hire he’d ever made. “Amazing what happens when you get over yourself, accept mistakes, and call a do-over,” said Marcus.

Kids are masterful at learning from mistakes as they take risks, make mistakes, yell “do-over,” and then try again. So join me and let the kid in you come out more often as life happens. While I may not convince Holly that I should yell “do-over” as part of my vows, I promise I’ll at least be screaming it in my head.

Scott WintripDo-Over Redux
read more

Don’t Be Like Obama and Romney

No comments

Had enough of political pandering? Whether it’s the President, the presumptive Republican nominee, or any of the typical cadre of elected officials, today’s politicians are masterful at telling each audience what they think they want to hear. This people-pleasing mentality may work to bring in contributions but does little to elevate the discussion as to what is truly good for the whole of the country. While frustrating to watch, their examples are illustrative as to how not to communicate with your customers. It takes tremendous courage, for example, to tell someone that, based upon your informed perspective, what they what to achieve will require greater spending or different choices. Your insightful opinion, as another case in point, on errors in their hiring or growth strategy may not be popular, yet, provides input that can make their circumstances better and lessen errors that drain time, energy, and profits.

As politicians keep pandering, you can focus on proselytizing valuable information that will help people and their companies create better outcomes, higher profits, and sustained success. When you do this, financial contributions to your business, in the form of revenues, will flow in freely with no pandering or spin required.

Scott WintripDon’t Be Like Obama and Romney
read more

You’ve Got Nine Seconds

No comments

If you’re talking in more than nine second soundbites, you’re wasting your words, losing the attention of buyers, and positioning yourself as just another long-winded person trying to make your case. From soundbites on broadcast news to politicians delivering provocative statements to posts on Twitter, we’ve become a society that consumes information in smaller and smaller chunks. According to research at the University of California, the incredible shrinking soundbite has gone from 43 seconds in 1968 to a mere nine seconds today. As a result, when you communicate, especially when selling, you need to choose your words carefully while delivering them with impact, passion, and enthusiasm. Not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re an outgoing person whose default factory programming as a human being is to share your gift for gab.

In many instances, less is more and this is certainly the case when you commit to being masterful in conversation. This starts with a belief that what the customer has to say is always much more important than anything you have to add to the conversation. When you speak, your questions must be provocative enough to evoke a thoughtful and detailed response, and when it’s time for you to comment, it’s at these moments that being a “soundbiter” will have listeners hanging on to your every word, wanting to understand and retain the valuable things you have to say.

Becoming an effective soundbiter begins with three simple steps:

1. Listen to how people communicate in person, on the telephone, and via television and radio. Pay particular attention to those that capture your attention while keeping their comments brief, noticing how they convey their ideas through their selection of words and use of volume, tone, and inflection.

2. Conduct a personal debrief after conversations you have with others. Pick statements you made during the conversation and develop alternative ways you could have made your remarks in more of a provocative soundbite fashion.

For example, in response to a prospect saying they’ve had bad experiences in the past when working with companies like yours, the long-winded response could be:

“I’m so sorry to hear that. I often hear this about our competitors. It’s unfortunate that they give our industry a bad name and a tarnished reputation. I know as a consumer myself that these kinds of previous experiences make me incredibly hesitant to go down that path again. I’m sure if you give us a try you’ll find that we do things differently and, as a result, you’ll change your opinion about the value you can receive.”

The soundbite alternative becomes:

“That’s exactly why you should work with us. Three of our recent new customers had the same complaint and have volunteered to provide references as to how we are different and better than other providers.”

3. Strive for progress, not perfection, by using select conversations as an opportunity to practice saying more with less words. Personal conversations are a safe and easy place to start.

Scott WintripYou’ve Got Nine Seconds
read more

Simple is Sustainable

No comments

Politicians in the United States continue to perpetuate highly complex policies that are anything but simple. Taxation, energy policy, and campaign finance reform are just few examples of how masterful Washington is in its propensity towards complexity in governing the country. While there is often talk of simplification, talk has not become results as policies have become more convoluted with each administration. The U.S. tax code alone has expanded to more than 72,000 pages!

Governments are not the sole offenders as businesses of all sizes promote complicated methods and practices. Companies that embrace simple strategies and tactics have proven their ability to achieve sustainable growth and profits. From Southwest Airlines’ mission of “wheels up” that focuses their employees on quick turnarounds of each plane to Zappos empowering their team members to solve customer problems, these companies exemplify the power of simple ideas that promote nonstop growth and perpetual profits.

To assess which aspects of your business model can benefit most from simplification, answer these questions:

1. Do we have a core mission, guiding everything we do, that can be stated in just a few words?

2. Can each key process be distilled down into three or four actionable steps?

3. Are our branding and associated marketing messages simple yet provocative, using words sparingly?

4. Do our salespeople consistently exceed their activity quotas as a result of the simple approach we employ?

Armed with these answers, the simple solution to improving those areas needing attention is to make one small improvement each day. As you do, you’ll more easily sustain these changes as these improvements add up to fully refined process that are simple, sustainable, and contribute to the growth and increased profitability of your firm.

Scott WintripSimple is Sustainable
read more