Posts tagged - Arizona law

We all are salespeople

I wanted to go to law school, but knew for sure after an interview with Pitney Bowes. The interviewer asked me to sell him widgets. I never tried to close the deal, so you can imagine the result of the interview. In addition to thinking law was interesting, I thought I was going into a profession that didn’t require selling. I was wrong.

In law you can sell or not. But if you don’t, others will control your destiny, not you. It is the same in many professions and businesses. It is the difference between leaders and others.

I learned to sell through sheer force of will and the help of many great mentors. All these years in I continue to listen to others to try continuously learn how to do it better.

So set goals and takes steps if being better at selling will improve your career. If I can figure out, so can you.

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Know who we are because you need a network to succeed

That’s right. You need to know others to succeed. You need to know and have guides or mentors. You need to know your peers. You need to know your competition. And you need to start knowing these people from day one. Or if you did not start then, start today!

There are many ways to go about this. You can network with others alone or at events, collecting business cards and email addresses. You can build your online and social media presence. These methods can be the first introduction people have to you and what you are about.

And this takes work. It takes effort. It takes learning how to reach people. If you don’t know how, it is like making phone calls without a phone book; You may get someone to answer, but it will be treated like a wrong number, not helping you move forward professionally.

So get to know us because not only is it important over time, but it makes life more interesting.

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The 2016 version of why it is time for an annual “checkup” for you and your company

Over the past few years many of you probably read my blog regarding having a checkup for you and your business. This does not involve the doctor, but it does involve all the other professionals in your personal and business life. Since that time, I decided to make this topic an annual tradition. This is based in part on the range of feedback I receive every year.

Some of you said “What a great idea. I am definitely going to do that.” Other said “Sounds like a good idea, maybe I will look into that.” Most of you were busy with the holidays and all that it entails, and probably ignored my advice. To be honest, any of these responses is okay and ignoring my advice may not have had detrimental effects to you or your business.

The point of the advice is that you only know what you know. If you do not check in with your professionals and, for example, make sure contracts or your estate plan remain enforceable and up-to-date, that is where the risk comes in. For example, I always check in with my accountant at the end of the year to ensure that all is right with taxes, i.e. to find out whether my wife and I need to send the IRS a check before the end of the year.

This year I had a reminder related to a different item you should check in on annually, auto insurance. My wife and I added a teenager to our auto insurance. Yes, yes, I knew it was going to have a significant impact on our premiums. And it did. Luckily, before I could call to ask my insurance person to shop the policy around on rates for policies with similar coverage, he did so and we already have switched insurers.

With the time constraints of life, it is sometimes hard for me to move beyond the higher-level checkup, but when I do I usually end up with some benefit. Unfortunately, in our time-crunched world, the question of who to check in with at year end is expansive, from your estate planning attorney, to your investment person, to your insurance person, to vendors you may use such as a yard or pool maintenance company, or your cell phone carrier or your Internet provider. You may be surprised what a company will do in lowering monthly costs to satisfy a current or longtime customer. Try it and see what happens.

I know, I know, who has the time? None of us do, which is why the choices yours. Are your contracts up to date? Did you pay enough estimated taxes or withholding? Are you paying the cleaning service at your office or your lawn service for your home too much? The choice of what professionals to consult, what costs to check or compare and what services to put out to bid is yours. Choose wisely!

And for those of you seeking a reminder or who did not see it in years past, here is my original blog post on getting an annual checkup:

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where you are personally and professionally. This can be checking in with your personal accountant to make sure you have withheld/paid enough taxes during the year or planning for deductions to planning for large corporate expenditures on things such as upcoming projects, planned corporate initiatives or planned equipment purchases. But the one thing that is a constant is that we all should be doing this.

In the past I have mentioned why it is good to sit down with various professionals you or your company work with just to check-in, be they attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, financial planners, investment professionals, etc. The list depends on you and your business.

This does not have to be a formal appointment unless you think that is appropriate depending on the nature of the planned conversation. Instead, it can be you offering to buy them lunch or a drink. The point is the better the professionals you work with know you, the more they are able to make recommendations aimed to benefit you or your company.

So don’t wait, start making plans today to meet with these people this year, or at least first thing next year. We all are busy this time of year, but if you take these actions it will help you now and in the future.

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You are known by the company you keep

The people you associate with help determine your future. They matter when people think of you. We all know people who have a business partner or spouse most people don’t like or merely tolerate. If that is you are you self-aware enough to know, to admit it to yourself? If so, what keeps you with that person that regularly turns off others? And, yes, I understand emotional, mental or financial pain may be the reason.

That is why the choice on the front end is so important. Choosing who to work with or start a business with is as important as picking a spouse or partner, and vice-versa. Don’t be blinded by flash; substance matters in the long run. These types of choices are the biggest in life because they affect so much in your world. That is why choosing who is in your orbit should matter so much to you. If it doesn’t, it will show to others, color how they think of you and likely negatively affect your opportunities.

And I know people can change, but, think about it, changing into the person others do not want to be around doesn’t happen overnight. You are much better off choosing wisely at the beginning. If you do, the greater chance you have to avoid a painful split in the future, let alone the effect that person can have on your reputation. And business divorce is as painful and messy as a divorce from a spouse.

So keep good company and choose those who will matter and figure prominently in your professional and personal life carefully.

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Seek out and heed advice

You can go it alone, but why? We all need help and guidance. You need to have people to go to with questions, to bounce ideas off of and to sound out ideas. It may be a mentor, a friend, a co-worker, well you get the idea. The key is to have one or more people who you trust to advise you and who you will listen to and consider what they say.

You are thinking that is obvious. But is it? Think about who this may be in your life. Do they advise you and take positions that don’t always agree with you? Because that is who you want. You want someone who is honest with you and tells you what they really think.

And while I indicate to heed that advice, maybe the better instruction is to listen well, consider the advice and then decide how to proceed. That is why you need to seek out advice from people you trust, will listen to, respect. Sometimes this means speaking with more than one person to obtain different perspectives on the same idea or issue.

If you do not have these people in your life, start by finding one. Look to your friends and acquaintances, competitors, professionals. Who you should be seeking out depends on you and your needs. But if you find one or more of these people it will help you work through thoughts, ideas, issues, etc. better.

Give it a try and you will see!

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Two people. One conversation. Did you make sure you both left with the same understanding?

We hear and read a lot about listening fully, i.e. listen to what is being said instead of thinking of what to say next or in response; pay attention. This is easier said than done, which results in many people having a conversation and unknowingly walking away with differing understandings of what was spoken about or agreed to. This can lead to many issues, wasted time and work, and erode trust between the people who were part of the conversation.

This goes for conversations in person or by telephone. The other person on a call may be driving, surfing the Internet or otherwise not fully listening. Of course the result is the same that differing understandings may result, which then takes time (and money, because time is money, even if it is your personal time) to resolve the resulting issues and (hopefully) to get on the same page.

To avoid the issues, let alone the time it takes to resolve the issues, you need to trust the other person in the conversation understood what you intended, but verify. That’s right, it is the old cliché “trust, but verify.” The best way to do this is to ask the person you are speaking with to repeat back to you their understanding of what you just said. This will allow you to know they understood you, didn’t understand you or were not listening to you. Hopefully the result is the opportunity to leave the conversation on the same page with no misunderstandings.

If they cannot tell you what you just said because they weren’t listening to you, well, that is a subject for another day…

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Seize the Moment!

If you have my attention, blow my mind. Impress me and make me want to know more or invest in you or spread what you have shared. Opportunities are everywhere, but you need to treat them like they can be life altering.

This can be something general like just being nice to everyone. Was that millennial dressed more casual than you think she should be and seemingly on her phone too much a slacker or a tech innovator with a company more valuable than you can imagine. It is impossible to know and judging people on dress and looks will hurt you in today’s world. Talk to someone and see what happens. Worst case you cut the conversation short. Best case is the sky is the limits.

This can be something more specific like getting an audience with someone you really want to meet. Do you mumble and stutter trying to get your thoughts out or did you plan for the presentation or conversation? Practice a presentation, many times. Plan the conversation and possible questions in your head. Maybe practice this too so you can work out answers and what you want to say. This can help you hone your answers and not talk too much. Delivery counts.

Sometimes a certain opportunity only comes along once. Will you be ready??

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Do you manage expectations?

This is so important. In fact, I will venture to say its everything in business and in life. There are three possible outcomes with expectations: (1) exceed expectations; (2) meet expectations; or (3) miss expectations. Two out of three possible outcomes help you maintain clients, customers and business, while the last one likely will lose business or damage relationships.

It is better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver. An example of this is when I tell a client I will have draft or project complete by a certain date. If I deliver it before the date I told them I have exceeded the expectation I set for them. If I deliver it on the date I said I met their expectation. If I get it to them after that date, I have missed their expectation, which I was in control of when I gave them the date originally. I know where I want to be when I have set the expectation and we all know what we think when someone else does so, such as when your car will be ready when in the shop to how long a doctor’s appointment will take.

And expectations in other areas, such as cost or fees, are incredibly important to manage. If you tell a customer a number or range, the cost better come in under or up to the number or within the range. Go under and you are a hero. Go over and you are a goat. You will be left making excuses for the cost and probably will end up cutting your bill. If you know the cost is going to be more than what you quoted, call them the minute you know and explain why. And get direction on how or if they want you to proceed. If you don’t, you do so at your own peril.

Sometimes things happen for innumerable reasons and you know you will not meet a deadline. What do you do? You call your customer and let them know, right away. And you then reset their expectations with a new deadline you believe you can and will meet. Having to reset expectations once in a while likely won’t harm your business, but if you make it a regular practice you do so, again, at your own peril.

So manage expectations well and you will have better client and customer relationships. Don’t, and you likely will have less client and customer relationships to worry about.

 

 

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Success Does Not Happen Overnight

“Overnight success” is a cliché we all are familiar with. But in the real world most overnight successes have put in their time and you don’t even realize it. For instance, most people look at the Beatles as an overnight success. Actually their rise to the top took approximately five years, thousands of hours of practice and hundreds of live performances. To think they didn’t put in the time and sacrifice to get to the top is shortsighted and wrong.

Their first UK number 1 was in May 1963 and their first US number 1 was in January 1964, but John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met in 1957. Thereafter, Lennon asked McCartney to join the Quarrymen, who, other than Lennon, were not very good musicians. In 1958, after lots of practice and many shows, George Harrison joined the group. By 1959, only the three future Beatles remained in the band.

In 1960 they renamed themselves the Beatles. After that they went to Hamburg, Germany for a good amount of the time between August 1960 through December 1962. During that time they lived in one cramped room with a bathroom down the hall and practiced for endless hours each day, while playing clubs at night. They put in hard work and sacrificed to improve their skills. Obviously it worked for them.

You are asking yourself, “okay, but what does this mean to me?” It is this type of investment in and commitment to whatever you are doing, whether alone or in a group, that gives you the best chance to succeed in any field. I could have told you the same story about entrepreneurs, professionals, etc. from every industry, but the Beatles work because everyone thinks their success was immediate when it wasn’t, and don’t realize the time and energy they invested in themselves leading to that success.

And that is the usual route. Hard work doesn’t guaranty success, but it gives you a much better shot. So plan your strategies for your business, career, networking, marketing, whatever you are doing, regularly and think long term. Ask most successful people you know and you will get a good story about what it took to reach where they are and that they continue to try to improve, because staying on top of the mountain is as hard as reaching the summit.

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Be on time

Be on time. Yes, it is that simple. Everyone’s time is valuable. We all have one more thing we can do before walking down the hall for that scheduled meeting or leaving to make it on time to that lunch meeting. What this really boils down to is that we all need to honor our commitments.

When you show up late you are saying “what I was doing is more important than being on time for you.” If it is worth scheduling, it must be worth showing up on time, right? If not, then you need to question why you scheduled the meeting. Sometimes it is not your choice and those above you require you to attend yet another meeting you think is a waste of time.

If that is the case you should think about what you are saying to your superiors by showing up on time or not (or not paying attention such as checking your phone…). If you are not showing up on time you may on purpose or by mistake be sending a non-verbal message about what you think. And that may stick in the mind of your superior and will it affect your ability to move up through the ranks in the future? Do you want to take that chance?

Like him or loathe him, Woody Allen has a great quote on this: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Again, it is simple: be on time.

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