CULTIVATING TALENT

I love talent.

I love to see it in people who know that they have it and genuinely enjoy sharing it, and I love to see it in people who are just discovering that they have it and are figuring out how to harness it and to make it pay off. As a manager I believe that one of the most daunting challenges of having talented people on your team is helping them to identify and ultimately raise their “ceiling”.

A “ceiling” occurs when a person internally, and sometimes subconsciously, decides that what they are currently achieving is “enough”.

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to John D. Rockefeller who, when asked “How much is enough?” Replied, “Just a little bit more.” When people stop trying for the “…little bit more” is a good indication that they have hit their ceiling.

Off the top of my head there are 3 things that can create a ceiling.

1. A Lack of Gratitude

Grateful people look at life differently. It’s so cliche, but grateful people are “Why not?” people versus the ungrateful people who tend to just ask “Why?“. Ungrateful people tend to be proud, believing that all they achieved is due wholly to their ability, and conversely all that they have not achieved is the result of someone else’s failure, or just bad luck. It has been said that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. A lack of gratitude in a talented person can often equate to a false sense of self-worth, and being bereft of a healthy sense of humility.

Grateful people tend to be “givers”. They understand that it is all luck, and that the good things in this life and the bad things in this life 99.9% can of the time be traced back to a relationship. Abraham Lincoln was quoted saying, “For a man to be truly happy, a man must learn to be truly grateful”. He said this in the midst of the worst national crisis the United States had endured to that time, the Civil War, and while grieving the loss of his son.

When people start looking around for someone to blame for their circumstances they have hit their ceiling.

2. A Lack of Focus

I was listening to a commencement speech given by the comedian Tim Minchin in which he gave the room full of graduates 9 tips for having success in this life. My favorite tip that he gave was to be “micro-ambitious”.

Paraphrased; don’t spend your life chasing dreams so big that you miss the beautiful, shiny things that the good Lord often puts in your periphery just to see if you will notice.

My daughter is a student at university, and while she is working everyday for an academic accomplishment that is 4-5 years away (if her mother and I are lucky), when she and I talk each day I challenge her to teach me what she has learned. She enjoys learning; acquiring knowledge, however it could be easy for her to [just] do what it takes to pass each class because that is what is required to achieve her degree. If that was the case then our daily talks would reference the distant future; and no one has a guarantee that they will have a “distant future”. I want my children, and my employees, to look at what they have the opportunity to accomplish today, and when “today” is over, I pray that they will have a story to tell me about what they were able to achieve today, whether it matches their “big dream” or not.

I am convinced that having one big dream that takes a lifetime to achieve is not healthy. You spend the majority of your life working to realize that one dream, and then you die. What about the little dreams along that way that got ignored because you were focused on the horizon? There is nothing wrong with looking to the horizon, but the horizon can be an imperfect point of reference for our daily lives.

3. A Lack of Scholarly Pursuit

When was the last time you turned off the television and read a book? What is wrong with learning a new language or skill? The one thing that I find that I enjoy most in the people that I am fortunate enough to interact with everyday is discovering what they are trying to learn at the time.

“What are you reading?” is a question that can tell you a lot about the person you are asking.  With all the accesses to all the different ways that information is conveyed today, I know that when I see someone carrying a book it’s pretty significant because reading is deliberate. When I am watching television, I am often also playing on my phone or tablet. This is not possible when I am reading a book.

Even at my advanced age (49 years old, as a matter of fact) and with 25 years working in my field, I try to be diligent about constantly expanding my mind and base of knowledge. My friend and I were together consulting and training in a big organization, and in this dynamic people are often quick to give us their qualifications. One manager within this company was talking to us during a break and in the course of our conversation he stated, “I have 20 years experience…”. When he walked away and my buddy and I were by ourselves, my friend said to no one in particular, “Some people have 20 years experience, and some people have 1 years experience 20 times.”

We all have friends that are very successful and accomplished. By understanding their appetite for knowledge and continued personal growth it is easy to tell the difference between the ones that have “arrived” and the ones that are still on their journey.

  • David Simpson
  • dscarguytx@gmail.com
  • (469) 939-0410 Cell

10/10 Reflections

I used to hate my birthday, and I can’t tell you why but with the advent of social media I love my birthday now.

I love hearing from people that I typically only watch from afar throughout the rest of the year, pausing to give the occasional “like” or encouraging word to let them know that I am there (so I don’t feel creepy). Sometimes hitting the “Like” button for me is like the gratuitous throat clearing when you have come up behind someone doing something they didn’t intend for anyone to see, or something that was meant for someone else.

Seems like a lot of people on FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc… occasionally forget that everyone can see and read their posts. Sometimes I think it’s the equivalent of a person sitting in their car at a red light picking their nose; they know they’re in public but they just don’t care.

I love my birthday because it’s a day when some people that don’t get mushy any other time of the year will take the time to tell me that I mattered to them at some point, and in some way. I love when my kids call me and say, “Who is so and so…” after reading a post about some training I might have offered, or some advice I might have given, or a time when I was just able to be there for someone. What greater legacy could I leave my kids than a dad who tried to make his world a little better, one relationship at a time?

I received several of those mushy messages this year, and there were some tear-jerkers.

I am proud of the fact that my wife and I are occasionally able to make a small difference in the lives of the people we come in contact with. We’re not superstars, but we do love people and that seems to make us exceptional, which isn’t as great as it sounds because caring about others should be the rule not the exception.

I figured out early on that I had my choice of epitaphs, “Helluva car salesman”, “Couldn’t sing a lick”, or “Cared about people”. I didn’t come by this particular value of “caring” on my own, and I definitely wasn’t born with it (I don’t think many of us are).

I was adopted into a big family that was itself pretty well thrown together, but man did those people love each other. And they loved me, even though I was a jerky little kid with a smart mouth and 0-sense of propriety, discipline, or self-control. Being adopted I was given a name different than the one I was born with, but I was never treated as anything less than a Simpson. I really do feel like I owe it to my parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles etc… to honor the name that I was given, and I believe that means doing everything in my power to insure that when people hear that name it means something positive to them.

Every time my phone beeped on my birthday with people taking the time to reach out and let me know they were thinking of me, every time I read a message from a friend or acquaintance, I thought about the massive amounts of kindness and grace I’ve been shown in this life, and how thankful I am for the people who have loved me in spite of all the reasons they might have had not to.

As Jan and I sat at dinner that night, reflecting on the day, Jan made the statement that it was a “best day”. I believe that our best days are definitely the ones where we are reminded to be grateful. If my 10/10s going forward are like this one, I think the days of loathing my birthday are behind me.

In the Fog

Burying his mom was the hardest thing he had had to do since…well, since burying his dad 25 years earlier.

Now, 6 days post-funeral he is back in the office.  He thinks to himself, “Things seem so clear…” but everyone around him is thinking, “His head is not quite right yet.”  And why should it be?  6 days ago he stood beside his brothers and sisters as they lowered the matriarch of the family, the most constant and consistent part of their lives, into the ground alongside their dad.  Things were different.  They were orphans now.

He has been about his work since his return, glad to have the distraction however there is no escaping those moments when he is alone with his thoughts.  Thoughts that don’t just creep up on him, they rush his mind like an invading army of Huns.

He is solid; mentally, emotionally, spiritually tough.  The way his mom was.  One of the traits that they had in common.  One of the many.  Mom was caring, but transparent.  You knew that she loved you, but you also knew what she thought about you, your friends, your choices…  That integrity, the fact that right or wrong you knew where you stood with her, was a turnoff to some but he had always found it refreshing.  He thought to himself, “Mom’s integrity, dad’s charm.  A golden combination.”foggy-cemetery-01032017

He hadn’t been sleeping well since the funeral, but he found himself feeling well-rested.  Since mom died on Christmas Day, the year-end business that had to be done was a week behind so there was some stress in his world however, he found that in spite of the presence of stress he wasn’t necessarily “stressed”.  This had not been the case just 7 days ago.

So now he is wondering if he is in a fog?  Nah!  He knew the difference between “intensity” and just being “tense”.  He is aware of his circumstances, he knows what needs to be done and what has to be done, and he knows the difference.  He knows you can maintain your “edge” without being “edgy”.

Clarity of mind and purpose; this was his meditation each day, and he felt as clear about where he was and where he was headed as he had in a long, long time.

But he also realizes that you can achieve clarity within the fog.

  • Big Wave Davedavid on Sea-doo
  • Trainer-Mentor-Coach
  • (469) 939-0410 Mobile
  • dscarguytx@gmail.com

Have a Plan?

worst-of-2016

No matter how your 2016 went (or didn’t go) the question we all have to ask ourselves is, “What is my plan to make 2017 better than 2016?”

Maybe your 2016 was a matter of being out-performed by the competition.  Maybe 2016 could have been better if you had anticipated some critical changes to your industry or the market, and had been better prepared.

Maybe 2016 is a blur for you because you weren’t paying attention for one reason or the other.

Regardless of how you feel about your 2016 if you don’t have a plan for 2017 you are probably going to get more of the same.

We’re not talking about making New Years resolutions, we’re talking about figuring out what “success” is going to look like for you in 2017 and developing a strategy for realizing that success.

  1. Where do you want to be at the end of 2017?
  2. What do you want to have at the end of 2017?
  3. What do you have to do in 2017?
  4. What do you want to do in 2017?
  5. Who’s assistance is necessary for your success in 2017?
  6. Who do you need to get out of your way in 2017?
  7. What obstacles are in your way in 2017?
  8. What advantages do you have on your side in 2017?

Hope is not a strategy.  If we are going to get what we want, live the life that we want, have the relationships that we want in 2017 we are going to have to have a game plan.

Not only do we have a have a strategy, we have to have the skills necessary to execute that strategy, so part of our plan for 2017 needs to be ways that we intend to sharpen our skills and abilities.

Essentially, we have to figure out what it takes to get what we want and do those things every day.  We can’t take a day off from living into our purpose and executing our plan.

  • Big Wave Davedavid on Sea-doo
  • Trainer-Mentor-Coach
  • 469-939-0410 Mobile
  • dscarguytx@gmail.com

JANUARY 1: LESSONS LEARNED THROUGH DRAMATIC CHANGE

There were many changes for the Simpson’s in 2016.  At the beginning of the year I was the Regional Sales Manager for GM Financial; the finance arm for General Motors.  I was responsible for 187 dealers across 5 states and 5 area reps.  The job entailed a lot of travel and being in a different car dealership every day.  When I accepted this position my strategy was to build relationships with my dealers that would result in an opportunity to eventually become a General Manager.  With my territory being the Midwest, I anticipated my opportunity to be a GM to be somewhere in the Midwest as well.

At the end of the Summer last year both of my kids left to go to their perspective colleges, so Jan and I effectively became “empty-nesters”.  Having raised our kids to this point in their lives ran parallel to Jan and I achieving this point in our lives where we could accept the right position at the right dealership regardless of where it was in the country.

I flew to several dealership interviews from one side of the country to the other, and once I had made up my mind of where we were going and who we were going to work for things moved pretty quickly.  I packed everything I needed and left Jan in Dallas to get my kids off to their colleges and to pack up our apartment in preparation for a relocation.  I arrived at my new store on a Friday morning, and by 11:00 I knew I had made the wrong choice.

A week later I got on an airplane and flew back to Dallas.  Before I left the dealership parking lot I made a phone call and accepted another GM position in another part of the country.  I called Jan from the airport with the news, “Don’t stop packing, but we’re going someplace else.”  I spent the next week helping Jan pack and the next Sunday I was on another airplane headed to our new opportunity in Maryland.  That Tuesday I started my next new career at my current store.  Walking into the conference room to meet my new staff, I knew in an instant that I was home.

In the 4 months since I accepted my current position, the store I manage has made a 180 degree turn, Jan and I are closer than ever, my kids are learning how to be self-sufficient, and I am finding things out about myself that I could not have learned in any other context.

figure-playing-basketballThe first day of the new year is a great time for introspection and reflection, and looking back I am so proud of the way Jan and I have embraced this new road we are on.  I am thinking this morning of the lessons that I learned along the way.

 

 

  1. Don’t lose focus on your goals, regardless of your circumstances or your geography
  2. The most important asset in any ones life is the quality of the relationships we make along the way
  3. We are capable of more than we think we are if we focus our efforts on our strengths and passions, and are willing to do the work and invest the time
  4. A person is never too old or too stuck to reinvent themselves into the person that they know that they can be
  5. Making a mistake is never fatal, staying in those circumstances becasue it’s easier than risking another mistake is the reason most people are dissatisfied with their lives

 

  • Big Wave Davesimpson-seadoo
  • David Simpson
  • Trainer-Mentor-Coach
  • (469) 939-0410 Mobile
  • bigwavedave@oictraining.com

BE A PRO

It is so cliche to try to compare sports to business, but in the case of sales there are a lot of parallels.

I am sitting here watching the Cubs play the Cardinals, and the Cubs are shredding the Cardinals pitching.  It is the top of the 2nd, and it is 7-0.  The Cubs are hitting all the way through the lineup, and that got me thinking about how baseball players, especially in the National League where the pitchers are in the lineup and get an at-bat, baseball players are professional hitters, just like a salesperson is a professional seller.

steps of a swingThis I know from my experience around the game of baseball; depending on the coaching philosophy a baseball players swing is 3, 4, 5, 6 and sometimes even 7 steps.  As a matter of fact, as players become more advanced in their abilities a lot of times coaches will take a player who had a 3-step swing and make it into a 4 or 5-step swing.  This makes it easier to isolate places in the swing that need work.

Do you think a baseball player ever skips one of the steps in their swing?  Of course not, they are professional hitters.  Why then do sales people skip steps in their sales process, if they are professional sellers?

How ever many steps there are in your particular sales process, make sure you stick to it and execute every one of them.

Performance Selling

I do a lot of “stand up” training for dealerships, and I was thinking about how communicating in front of a room (which most people are terrified of) has a lot of parallels to communicating to a single customer.

1.  Credibility is everything

If you don’t have credibility when dealing with a customer on the showroom floor, you might as well give them a card and turn them loose.  They aren’t going to buy from you, and if they do it will be because your manager has intervened with, “How cheap do I need to sell this vehicle to make this make sense?”  Likewise, my credibility in front of an audience has to be established early, or I end up speaking to the backs of everyone’s smart phone.  Lou Holtz says that customer’s have to answer 3 questions about a sales person before they will make a decision to do business with them.  Those 3 things are, Do you know what you are talking about?  Can I trust you? and Do you care about me?

Whether I am speaking to an audience of 1 or 1,000 for me to be successful, they each need to be able to answer “Yes” to those 3 questions.

Microphone-on-stage2.  You have to have good timing

The best stand-up comics are good at what they do because they have good timing.  They respond to their audience, and they space the jokes and the punchlines appropriately.

A successful sales person has good timing as well.  They respond to their audience, and they don’t try to force the “punchline” (the close) on the customer too early.

There are a lot of little closes in a sales transaction, before there is the big one.  There is closing that I am the right sales person to help the customer achieve what they are trying to achieve.  There is closing the needs-analysis conversation, then the product presentation and demonstration.  The timing of those closes has to be perfect, or at some point the customer becomes disconnected from the sales person, or the process.

I had a sales person who rarely ever had to negotiate.  When this person brought me a deal, it was a deal.  I asked him once how he was so successful closing on the first offer and he told me, “Some sales people close the customer on paper, I just don’t go to paper till the customers are closed”.  He timed his closing right so he didn’t have to negotiate; it wasn’t a matter of “if”, it was a matter of “when”, “how” and “how many times”.

3.  You have to close with impact

Simply put, if I get to the end of a performance or the end of the sales process, I need to have earned the right to ask for commitment.  This means that the previous 1, 2 or 3 hours had to have been spent building value in me, my message and my conviction.  For these things to be true, I need to have been in touch from the start with what my audience/customers expectations were, and I should have spent the balance of my time meeting those expectations.

Credibility, timing and impact are 3 things that effective communicators have a handle on, whether they are communicating with an audience in a stadium or a customer in a showroom.