Monday, July 28, 2008

The 9 questions in search of answers

Recently we’ve been having some amazing meetings with Thought Leaders within large businesses or public sector organisations. I call these Thought Leaders with Influence.

They often say to me But, we are not thought leaders…Seriously though, they are.

Sure, they may not sell their expertise as conference speakers but they often speak at conferences. They may not get paid to coach individuals, but they are doing it all the time in their day to day jobs.

In my mind, the influential Thought Leaders who may be the head of Learning & Development within a corporate or, the project manager on a major project, are just as much a Thought Leader as the rock-star conference speaker.

Your senior partner could and should have a book published. They all share the same fundamental issues. It’s only the commercialisation of their ideas that differ.

It seems to me there are 9 fundamental questions you need to be able to answer well, in order to establish yourself as a subject matter expert in any field. Think of this as your initial Thought Leaders curriculum.

  1. How is it relevant?
  2. Do you know how others think?
  3. How can you be persuasive?
  4. What do you know?
  5. How do you communicate?
  6. How to sell what you know?
  7. Who are you?
  8. What do you do?
  9. Who needs that?

Each of these questions, as simple as it sounds, has a whole amount of learning and depth attached to it. I thought that in this would be the first of a 10 part series where I will walk through the questions & the Thought Leadership Development Matrix.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's closer than you think!

Distribution and marketing expertise is a challenge. Experts know they have great ideas to share if only they could get to people who need them. Right?

The market you are looking for is closer than you think.

Winston Marsh, a Thought Leader on marketing, has a great saying which he repeats often; "There is more business 5 minutes from where you live than you could ever need". And yet we all travel around looking for business in far off places.

I think this is true not only of business, but also ideas. Your next great idea is 5 degrees off what you are currently doing. We go through this convoluted process of identifying target markets and creating new ideas, when a slight adjustment in what you are currently doing may be all that's required.

Here are some examples:

  • You are a chiropractor who wants to be a public speaker. Start offering bi-monthly seminars to existing patients and friends. Plus, offer an annual membership for the 6 seminars rather than individual tickets.

  • You are a business coach who wants to leverage the one-on-one sessions so you can make more money. How about setting up a quarterly catch up? As people move on from one-on-one they can join a 90-day group forum - kind of like a catch-up club. This gives you client continuity and becomes a fabulous marketing tool to invite potential new clients to.

SO why don't we do this more?

Maybe 1: We don't find the above suggestions as exciting as something far off.

Maybe 2: We can't really procrastinate on any idea as easy to implement as the above two examples. We like to create bigger ones so we can claim to be working towards our goals but not actually having to realise any of them. (A bit dark I know, but it's amazing how clever we are.)

What do you think? Why don't we act on the easy ideas that sit in front of us?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It’s a question of priority

What’s important in your life?

There are three simple things we need to get more of what we want in life.

1. We need to know what we want
2. We need to know how to get it
3. We need to remove any blocks to getting it

List out what’s important to you- say 16 to 21 key people, things or activities. Then transfer each idea to a Post It Note. Stick these in your diary or personal planner.

Ask yourself if, in the last 30 days or so, if you believe that thing (one of 16-21) got what it deserves. If yes; good, check in next month. If no; then get to work listing the specific actions you need to take to turn it around.

It’s your life and your in charge. If you keep what’s important to you front of mind, you are more likely to do what it takes to get more of that in your life.

You know what you want. You know what it’s going to take to get it. So get on with it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Better Thinking and Better Conversations

When I conceived the idea of Thought Leaders, this was my primary driver.

The business plan was basically built around two ideas:

  • Better thinking creates better conversations
  • To do business we like with people we like in places we like

I suggest that as a Thought Leader you do the same thing! Get really clear about what you want from your time away from family. Set some boundaries and then ensure that you detach any limiting beliefs around what these mean.

For example, we have a rule around Family First. This was put in place predominantly as an antidote with the prevalent view that to achieve entrepreneurial success in a start up you have to give up your life. We decided that this was not going to be true for us.

  • You get to do the same thing with your own success planning.
  • You get to make the rules up.

Take a few moments and try this simple 3 step process.

STEP ONE: Decide what you want.
(e.g. Increase turn over and add to profit over the next 12 months)

STEP TWO: Consider what may be a cost of achieving this.
(e.g. Have to spend time away from family)

If the cost is unacceptable, build an operating agreement into your culture and business philosophy that allows you to avoid the negative cost of achieving your success.
(e.g. be smarter at achieving success by forcing my work hours into a 4 day week finished by 6pm and only travelling 4 times a month)

It's your life, you get to make the rules up!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy to talk about it

Work with people you like - talking about things you enjoy.

I learned this the hard way when I wrote my first book. In a way, that first book was a summary of the career I had just had. By the time it was published I was kind of moving on from the topic. With hindsight, that’s not the smartest move.

Consider this…

Any positioning work you are doing right now should be centred around what you want, not what you have already received.

Will you be happy to discuss your book for the next 2-3 years or are you kind of over it?

You have to like who you’re with and what you are doing with them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ask for the business!

Nobody sells anything. Selling implies you can convince someone to do something against their will and through your talents as a sales person, push them into a purchase.

What a total load of ego centric tacky 80’s sales rubbish!

People buy things, full stop!

I believe my customers are switched on and intelligent. They don’t need me to qualify them, or handle their objections. They qualify themselves based on the responses they make to invitations to partner in their success.

So, what you need to do, is forget about selling and simply start asking for more business. Provide value up-front and earn the right to work for your customers and clients.

Go out today and ask some more people to do business with you. Here is the key to selling. Find someone who wants what you have and ask them to buy it. Anything else is an over complication and a sales procrastination.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How to like more people than what you do

It’s hard in a group setting to like everyone you work with. I’m not sure you should even try. What I do know, is that the people that I have the most __charge__ with (the ones who seriously push my buttons) are the ones I have the most to learn from.

Here’s a thought!

Rather than running away from them, try exploring why you are so disturbed about them. What in their behaviour has you so riled?

Once you have identified that, you can start to explore why.

More often than not, you either have a version of that same behaviour or its opposite, playing out in your world. The fact that their behaviour bothers you suggests you care in some way.

At least with this perspective, dealing with difficult people is a personal development opportunity rather than a block at work.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tap your growth potential

Five years ago, I stood on stage, in front of close to 3,000 people where I earned $5,000 (x). A few days ago, I stood on a different stage of around the same number and earned $50,000 (10x).

So, what’s the difference…?

  • This time I believed exponentially more in the value I could provide.I believed
  • This time I was genuinely in love with and respectful of my audience. I respected
  • I committed myself to investing time, money and attention to new skills.I learned
  • I invited people to share value and walked though my offer.See point 1, I asked
  • I created an outcome in my head – a goal. Did all I could to make it possible for that goal to come true. I prepared

I was aiming for 20x. Not disappointed in the outcome, yet keen to learn how to close that gap.

How is your growth going?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Target People You Like

I’d like to propose an anti-opportunity idea. Rather than focussing on people who have a need, why not first focus on people you want to hang around. This seems obvious and quite a simple idea – but it is rarely considered.

We tend to focus on who has a need and then start figuring out how to sell to them. My problem with this, is you might end up talking to a target market you think you should work with, rather than one that lights you up.

If you want to be truly remarkable, you need to take every advantage you can.

One effortless competitive advantage is to have a true and sincere desire to be with your target market. I love experts, entrepreneurs and innovators – and so Thought Leaders was born. Every day I get to spend time with people I like, talking about things I like. It doesn’t get any better than that.

So who do you want to be around? Then focus on what they need that only you can provide.

Happy matching!