Extra Points – Opportunity Knocks

View from Central Park

Opportunity Knocks….

As you are receiving this week’s Extra Points and reading it, I am somewhere in New York City. My guess is Barb and I are having breakfast somewhere in Times Square. We are in The City both for business and pleasure. On Tuesday, we spend the day with my professional mentor, Alan Weiss. I am undergoing an “immersion” day with him that will likely leave my head spinning and overwhelmed with ideas and projects. That’s one of the reasons I brought Barb – to help me stand back up! I am excited because these days with Alan are always extremely valuable to my growth professionally and personally.

I am also here to have a small vacation with Barb. We were supposed to be in New York last year to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Life happened – my dad got sick and passed away; my mother moved in with us; and business and other adventures made it impossible to re-schedule. So it is. But, opportunity often does knock more than once, and when the option to meet Alan in New York “knocked,” we answered!

Two morals to this story – First, opportunity knocks more than once. In fact, opportunity knocks every day numerous times and probably wonders why nobody is home. Are you prepared to answer it? Second – Find ways to mix work and pleasure whenever you can. As Alan says, “You don’t have a personal life and a professional life. You have a life. Get on with it.” There’s no rule that says you have to split these up. Find great places and open the door to opportunity when it knocks and take advantage of your time.

Opportunity may knock often, but you can’t make up for that lost day. Make every day a great “at bat!”

This week’s quote – “The good old days weren’t always so good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”  American philosopher Billy Joel (he can also play the piano pretty well)

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Off to the Big Apple

I am heading out for New York to meet with my professional mentor, Alan Weiss. It’s my turn to jump in the “total immersion” pool. I have a ton of new “irons” percolating in the fire and I need help to get them moving in the right direction. You can’t be brilliant by yourself.

The timing is right. I’ve had a terrific first quarter, but the game is just starting for the year. Forward momentum is crucial for business. When I coached basketball, my biggest in-game concern was always momentum. I always substituted and made changes based on who had the momentum, which can change in an instant. In fact, we had specific practice drills to emphasize momentum. It was that important. It’s that important for your business, too.

What are you doing in the 2nd quarter of your game to build momentum, not just try to maintain? The end of halves are vital in basketball games, and in business games.

Alan Weiss and me

If you’re not careful and become complacent, you’re in danger of having the pendulum swing. It becomes really hard to turn it back, and requires effort, time, and often money.

I hope you will be keeping track of me as I bounce around the Big Apple. I am happy to be taking Barb for her very first trip. Pictures, posts, and surprises to follow on this blog right here! Stay tuned!

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Rock Star

This week’s focus point – Being a rock star

I always wanted to be a rock star. I think I still do.

I was reminded about this on Friday when Barb and I went to a concert by Hotel California, a tribute band to the great 70’s rock group, The Eagles. These guys were very good, a lot of fun, and had the house rocking all night. I found myself singing to every song, which apparently I’ve never forgotten. These guys (at least for this night) are rock stars.

We spend a lot of time dreaming about being rock stars, when in actuality we probably already are in what we do. If not, we should start dreaming about that!

What’s it take to be a rock star in your business? What does it actually look and feel like? How will you know?

You need to become a thought leader; top of mind in your industry; and someone who keeps the house rocking in your world. This is more than “customer service,” which may be the most over-used phrase in business. It’s about completely delighting your clients; rising above expectations; and being the first choice when they need something you do. Are you there now?

Don’t dream of being a rock star; get out on stage today and rock the house!

This week’s quote – “We do not see things as they are. we see them as we are.”  Anais Nin

With my wife at the Hotel California concert

Extra Points – Sign Your Work

Sign Your Work…

The great artists always sign their work. Throughout the ages, artists of all abilities proudly display their name to give credence and accountability for their masterpieces. It’s what they stood for and who they were.

In today’s technological age, a large number of people who comment on newspaper articles and blogs hide behind an avatar. Like the famed wizard in Oz, they are able to conceal their identity so nobody knows who they really are and thus they avoid any condemnation of their own. I see this on a regular basis as a school board director. I’ve never minded a contrarian viewpoint; I just want you to stand behind your words with your name.

In business and in life, have the courage to stand behind your work and your words. It can often be difficult and sometimes result in consequences you don’t like. But at least you can be taken seriously and respected for putting your name on the line. Have an opinion; be collegial; be compelling; and be honest. And most of all….

Sign your work.

This week’s quote – “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day, you shall begin it well and serenely.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Customer Service

Customer service.

Customer service is a really overused term in business. Many business people cite “customer service” as a reason to do business with them. Well, everybody thinks they have excellent customer service. The reality is that customer service is all over the board. Here’s a positive example…

This past week I bought the new iPad. I walked into a packed Apple store at Bellevue Square and was immediately found by a sales associate. He took down exactly what I need and within minutes had the iPad in my hand. He ushered me over to a table where he handed me over to a guy named Kaz. Kaz literally helped me open the box, set up my iPad and sync everything from the iCloud into my new device. Within 15 minutes, I had purchased my product; had it completely set up and ready to use; and walked out feeling like I received everything I needed. Yes, that should be considered a given, but how many stories do you have of poor communicating, waiting longer than necessary, being ignored, or simple ignorance of product.

Your business, regardless of the size, offers “customer service.” What you need to understand is that customer service isn’t a concept, it’s a culture. What’s your culture on customer service and what does it actually look like to others?

This week’s quote – “People who don’t think probably don’t have brains; rather they have gray fluff that’s blown into their  heads by mistake.” Winnie the Pooh

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

What Does Tiger Woods & Top Producers Have in Common?

Hole #11 - Harbour Pointe Golf Course

Tiger Woods is arguably the most skilled golfer of all time. At the writing of this article, he won for only the second time since his infamous personal meltdown brought him back to earth. Regardless of his personal behaviors and choices, there is no doubt that for a period of a dozen years, he was not only the best golfer on the planet; he was the best at his craft in the entertainment industry (athletes, actors, singers, etc). And, Tiger Woods had a coach.

The fact is that Woods and other top line professional athletes like Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Serena Williams having coaches, goes unnoticed and with no fanfare. It’s a given. Singers have voice coaches. Actors have acting coaches. Dancers employ coaches. Coaches and mentors are considered essential to develop skills and accelerate growth and development.

Let’s take a closer look at Tiger Woods and what coaching has done to enhance and accelerate his career…

Shortly after Woods won his first Masters title by a landslide, he went about developing a new swing. He hired a new coach and set the wheels in motion to “reinvent” his swing and his game. Fans and analysts thought he was crazy? Why fix something that is so not broken? The end result is that Woods became even more dominant and more consistent. The coaching had vaulted him past being really good and into legendary status.

After Tiger’s personal life fell apart in front of the world and injuries forced him to miss needed practice time and rounds, he set out again to “reinvent” himself again. Armed with new coaching, he set the stage to work on his game. After his recent win and momentum, he may be nearing the lofty heights he had set for himself. The only way he could get there was with a coach honing his enormous skill; holding him accountable; and offering new strategy and technique for his age and physical limitations.

In business, the top executives and “rainmakers” all use coaches. Why? For the same reasons that athletes, actors, and dancers do. To challenge, motivate, cajole, and improve their craft. The irony is that the top 1% of income producers use executive coaches and mentors like Marshall Goldsmith, Patricia Fripp, and Alan Weiss; while the vast majority of professionals who struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis don’t invest in themselves through coaching.

You can’t be brilliant by yourself. Athletes and other celebrity from the entertainment world have always known this. Kobe Bryant employs five new coaches every summer to help him improve his game, even after multiple world championship rings and Most Valuable Player trophies. Woods has hired new coaches to hone his game in an effort to return to the greatness he once had. Both Bryant and Woods know that no matter the length of time you have in the “game,” you are never too old or experienced to learn. In fact, it’s those that are most ready to learn new things and be “coachable” that continue to get the most out of their talent. The most effective rainmakers in the insurance industry are beating the tar out of their competition because they use coaches and mentors.

Here are 5 reasons you need to consider using a coach…

1. Skill development. In sales, your skill set needs to include powerful use of language, visioning, overcoming objections, and fighting through gatekeepers, to name a few. The solutions are not always evident and a strong coach will guide you through strategies to create and enhance these skills. Practicing conversations and interactions is a lost art among most insurance pros. In my experience, the majority just “wing it.” Coaching will speed up the success rate of these communications and deliver quicker results.

2. Feedback. When I coached high school basketball, my teams and I would watch game film. The video never lied. My feedback to them was invaluable because I would point out areas of weakness and areas of strength to work on. How do you know you did something well (or not) without an objective voice?

3. Feed Forward. Executive coaching guru Marshall Goldsmith coined a concept called “Feed Forward.” Feed forward is about creating solutions in the future and forgetting the past failures. Once we’ve acknowledged our mistakes, then coaches provide constructive “to do” strategies to hasten development. Feed forward comes from observation and compelling questioning that peels away at the onion to reveal real barriers to progress. This can only be accomplished with a trusted coach.

4. Sounding board. Sometimes you just need to let off steam. You need an ear to vent to; someone to simply listen. In most cases, bosses, sales managers, and spouses are not good options for this. A coach is a safe place to vent anger and frustration; as well as a place to celebrate successes.

5. Accountability. From den mothers to drill sergeants; teachers to athletic coaches; parents to pastors; we’ve all had someone keep us accountable. In your business life today, it’s harder than ever to find that accountability partner. A coach takes on that role and without baggage or excuses, holds you to the things you know you need to do to be successful. As with a sounding board, those other important people in your life are often ill equipped to objectively be that person; or will let you off the hook too easily.

Bottom Line

You can’t be brilliant by yourself. Everyone needs a coach. In the entertainment world, coaches are often less skilled than their mentorees; yet have a unique ability to ignite their talent and get them to perform at their maximum capability. Coaches in business elevate their mentorees to the same level of success and help them thrive personally and professionally. Not employing that kind of help is not only foolish, but also selfish. Think of all those who could be helped, yet never will.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and be coached takes immense self-confidence. The financial and time investments are usually dwarfed by the return of increased revenues, more discretionary time, and improved life balance.

Tiger Woods utilized coaches that ranged from his own father during his childhood; to his coaches at Stanford; to multiple big name golf coaches like Butch Harmon and Hank Haney. If a guy like Tiger Woods, who may be one of the greatest competitors of all time, can be coached, why wouldn’t you?

The reality is that insurance professionals, who overlook being coached because they think they can do it on their own, usually never reach the apex of their talents and thus fail to earn the income and life they could have realized. Those insurance pros that accept the challenge of being coached will reach greater heights in their career and enjoy the fruits of that success both professionally and personally.

The first tee is right this way. Are you ready to play?

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved