A few years ago, I had the opportunity to be a passenger in my friend’s Porsche 911 as he demonstrated how fast going from zero to 60 MPH in less than 3 seconds feels. And I will share with you that it was quite exhilarating.

In late 2020, I was reminded that I would be turning 59 years old this year. And then it dawned on me, I would be turning 60 in 2022. Simple math right. Where has the time gone — I mean sometimes it feels like I went from 0 to 59 years old in 3 seconds too. And then I remembered a famous quote by Michael Altshuler,

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

Michael Altshuler

When I realized that I had 60 weeks to go until I turned 60, I knew I could no longer be a passenger, I had to get into the cockpit and take control over what happens next. With that inspiration, I wrote out my “60 to 60 Success Plan for Life.” The plan was built around one primary question,

“How do I want to arrive to the party when I turn 60?”

I will share with you that as I developed my plan, I solicited feedback from family members, friends and advisers. And although my personal plan was a “60 weeks to 60 years old” plan, I had people ask me to help them with their “30 weeks to turning 30 years old” plan, “42 days to turning 42 years old,” and someone who wanted help with a “30, 60, 90-day success” plan that had nothing to do with reaching an age milestone, and everything to do with making changes in their life that would help them to succeed personally and professionally.

Here are the elements of my 60 to 60 plan that I shared with others. You will recognize activities, concepts, and attitudinal adjustments around the things that I either wanted to change and would commit to change, or new strategies that would help me execute against my plan and reach my desired goals…

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If someone were asked to recall the last thing that you had ever said to them, what would you hope those words would be?

Famous last words are not just for the famous, and they are also not only limited to the dying. We all have something to say these days, don’t we? And our famous last words may not really be our final last words, they might just be our last words for now.

We know what this sounds like when we are in a disagreement, one of us might say something like, “That’s it, end of conversation.” The last words. It’s not that the last word has to be contentious either, no, far from it. The last words could sound like, “I love you too.” And those are much nicer and warmer last words.

If we were to think back on a few of our most recent conversations, we might be able to relate to this as we can probably recall exactly what someone said before we parted company, ended a telephone conversation, or signed off on an email or text. Now, if we take another minute to imagine how others are reflecting on the last thing that they heard or read from us, would we be satisfied with what we said, or would we want a do-over?…

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“Play ball!” As Major League Baseball celebrates another opening day this week, there will be 15 ceremonial first pitches and 15 official first pitches. Whether we are baseball fans or not, we all understand what the first pitch is and how we typically see a celebrity or local hero invited to throw that first ceremonial baseball before the game gets underway.

The pitcher of the home team will have the responsibility of throwing the first pitch to officially start the game. They have worked hard in the offseason and spring training. And they have studied their opponent’s lineup, coming up with a game plan with their coaches and catcher to determine which pitch to throw to each batter and in each situation.

However, the first thing they must do is get that first pitch in play as adrenaline and anxiousness compete for the athlete’s mindset and physicality.

Odds are strongly in the pitcher’s favor that the first pitch of the season will not be a home run. Their primary goal is to toss a strike or put the ball in play for an easy out. Early confidence builders are always helpful in any sport, and in anything we are doing in life.

Now let’s think about the other side of this…

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One of the things that I have learned many years ago is that we should never assume, that at any given moment, the person we are speaking with or communicating with does not need a word of encouragement or appreciation. And whether we are in the same boat or not, receiving a little positive feedback never hurt any of us, has it?

Just imagine for a moment that someone we work with, maybe a customer, or even a close friend who we know and trust, said to us, “I think that you are tremendously amazing.”

My guess is that it would probably feel pretty good. That one statement, said in less than two seconds, could be a game-changer to anyone who receives such an impactful message.

Just like offering kindness, giving a well-deserved compliment costs us absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, most times providing sincere praise provides a huge return of appreciation, loyalty and trust. Notice the word sincere. When we share with someone our gratitude for their friendship, guidance, service or presence in our lives, it must be because we are truly grateful and because they are, tremendously amazing.

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What do we tend to enjoy more, remembering our greatest hits, our “best of” moments, or our bloopers? It seems like most of the people I asked preferred to reflect on their greatest hits and most significant accomplishments. However, there were also many people who shared that they love to laugh, even when it means laughing at themselves. They completely enjoy their flashbacks of mistakes, gaffs, and harmless miscues of life.

We all have a replay button for our lives. It’s what we choose to rewind and replay, and what we want to repeat, or perhaps, avoid repeating in the future.

I think it is a fantastic idea to look back on past successes, especially as a way of reminding ourselves of the good things we have accomplished and what we are still capable of achieving. I also am a big believer of looking back in laughter. Those times where we innocently tried to say something and used the wrong words, made a silly analogy, or know that we uttered something outrageously wrong. Others laughed with us, and we still laugh at ourselves today…

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When it comes to building long-term relationships with clients, it’s very similar to building long-term friendships. In school, children are encouraged to make new friends by talking with others, inviting them to play, and being “nice” to them. In many business situations, clients often become more than clients. They become friends…not necessarily the kind you would invite to non-business gatherings, but people you truly care about and who care about you.

There is a feature in a local newspaper where readers are invited to review their favorite restaurant. The articles are wonderful publicity for the restaurants. One of the key elements I see repeated is that patrons know the names of the owners, hosts and/or servers. And, many of the restaurant workers know something about them as well. They know if the guests prefer coffee or tea with breakfast. They may even remember their favorite meal, asking if they want “the usual.

Put yourself in the seats of those guests for a moment. How would it make you feel to have your favorites automatically placed before you without having to explain your preferences? It would make you feel at home or as if you’re at the home of a good friend…someone who knows you well and wants you to have what you want. That type of response is the ideal when it comes to serving your clients’ needs and it can be created no matter what your product or service is.

You may think you’re in the business of selling automotive services, home remodeling or repairs, printing services, financial services, tutoring or signage, but you’re not. Even if your products are sold only to other businesses, the business doesn’t make the buying decision. A person does. You are in the people business. Learning to make people feel important and cared about will help you make both the initial sale and long-term sales over the course of your career.

Maybe you sell tires, not breakfast. Even so, you should introduce yourself to each client and give your name. Use your clients’ names in conversation during the sales process. Inquire about the use of the vehicle. Does the client have young children or a teenage driver? If so, safety will be an important issue to discuss with them. Do they have a home where some off-road driving is involved? Or, do they travel for business and need highway tires? All of these answers help you lead them to the best choice for them. Keeping a record of their answers will help you build long-term relationships.

No matter what your business is, every client should receive your best care during the sales process and after. During the initial sale, get them talking and take good notes. Enter the information into your client database. My colleague Harvey Mackay has a long list of details he requires his salespeople to gather about clients over time. This includes not just information required to do business, but a few personal details such as birthdays, whether or not they’re married, children’s names, and whether or not they have pets. That information is used to make contacts and to start conversations with clients after the initial sale.

People like to do business with people who are like them, who demonstrate that they care about them beyond making the sale, and who keep them in mind when something new that might be of interest to them comes along. That type of treatment makes clients feel important. They come to rely on businesses and salespeople they know they can trust to have their needs and interests at heart.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

There is a popular statement among business professionals, owners, and salespeople, and it is based on the book by Rick Page titled “Hope is Not a Strategy.” In this context, hoping to grow our business or hoping that we will make a sale without a solid strategic and tactical plan is true.

Hope is not a strategy.

However, there are times where hope is the absolute best strategy and approach. The business owner without hope to better serve their customers or community will settle for the low-hanging fruit and more than likely accept mediocrity from themselves, their employees, and the products or services they provide. The salesperson who only focuses on making a deal, with no focus on developing winning relationships is likely operating without the proper context of hope. Hope in business and in selling eliminates a “One and Done” or “One Hit Wonder” mentality.

Conversely, the business owner, the salesperson, and each one of us who has hope, works with hope, and lives with hope, is more likely to move from the simple practice of “hoping” and into the planning, doing, and achievement required to reach our dreams and goals. Hope drives change. Hope adds the “will” to our “skill.” Hope powered by encouragement creates a completely different mindset…

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A nagging and recurring elbow injury had finally forced my hand to seek medical attention. After meeting with an orthopedic surgeon, the diagnosis was more than tennis elbow or bursitis, it was a situation that would require surgery to fix.

With surgery come the pre-operative exams such as blood work, chest X-ray, and EKG. Additionally, medical clearance was needed by my primary care physician. I also needed to have a negative COVID test within five days of surgery. No problem, I can take care of these things easily. As is my nature, my attitude was great, and I was ready and motivated to have the surgery.

Having completed almost all the testing requirements, I still needed to have my COVID test. No worries, just one more box to cross off the list of pre-surgery to-dos. I signed in and waited for my name to be called. As the nurse greeted me, she asked me how I was doing. That’s an easy one I thought, as I answer this question about a dozen times a day. My answer, borrowed from my good friend Jerry Nazzaro, is always, “Great, couldn’t be better if I tried.”

Her response, “Well then, why don’t you try?”

Her answer was so simple, so direct, and yet took me a little by surprise. You see, I have been responding to that question for so many years in the same way and typically people either smile or reply with something such as, “That’s awesome, I wish I felt that good.” But never, “Well then, why don’t you try?”

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A friend of mine had recently posted his frustrations about someone not thanking him for allowing them to merge into the traffic ahead of him. No wave, no thank you, they just moved on and into the flow of traffic. Have you been there? Have you found yourself more agitated these days, letting some of the simplest annoyances become major irritations?

Have we found ourselves dancing on a wire, a thread, and ready to snap? Probably more so than we would like to admit. I know that for myself I started noticing the little things. The small stuff was beginning to get to me. Yup, I was on edge and maybe even dancing on a wire.

What I appreciated most about my friend’s post was that he posed it as a question, asking people if they ever felt the same sense of being disrespected or under-appreciated when allowing other drivers to merge into traffic. My first response to his question was a simple, “Nope.” And then I thought about it more, placing myself as both the driver giving grace to another person and then as the person receiving the grace to merge into traffic. Would I be agitated and irritated? Would I be grateful and appreciative? How would I have demonstrated either?…

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“There I was, alone in the kitchen, 30 days into the New Year and my personal goal of shedding 25 pounds by the summer. Working from home has been a gift and a struggle. Like most, the ease of slipping into comfortable routines and working on my own schedule is a gift, especially managing work and a family. My hours, my time. However, the other thing that became too easy was finding a little snack between meals, or even an extra treat at night. Hence the 25 pounds I now need to lose. When I read your article this week about ‘The Power of Accountability,’ and the idea of having accountability partners for different aspects of your life, I thought what a great idea. And then it hit me like a box of hidden Girl Scout cookies falling on my head. Before I go in search of any accountability partner, I need to start by looking in the mirror. I need to hold myself accountable before I ask anyone else to hold me accountable, because Mr. Norton, accountability by any other name is still accountability. Thank you, and I will email you again as I shed these pandemic pounds.”

Rebecca

Each week as I read and respond to the emails from our community, I find myself feeling that all of you wind up motivating and inspiring me with your stories of personal achievement. And thank you Rebecca for the inspiration for this column…

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