Monday, January 19, 2015

The Best Way to Ensure We All Get Along

I’m a big social media user. I particularly enjoy Facebook because in my opinion it’s more personal than all of the other social media sites I use. I like that I can get to know people in a much more intimate way and that they can get to know me, too, because I’m the same guy on Facebook that you’d encounter if we sat down to share a beer or had coffee together.

While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed not too long ago, I came across this picture and quote from the rap artist Eminem.

In case you had a hard time seeing the quote here it is again, “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.”

From what I gather, Eminem has grown immensely as an individual. Having seen a segment on 60 Minutes about Eminem years ago, I believe that’s partly due to him becoming a father. The intent behind his message is good – Accept me and I’ll accept you in return. The world would be a much better place if we saw that in practice more often.

However, you and I, Eminem, and every other person, can be more proactive to make this mutual acceptance and respect become reality. You see, according to what Eminem said, he is waiting for others to treat him nicely, then he’ll do the same to them. In other words, he will reciprocate their kindness. Eminem is responding to the principle of reciprocity by giving back what he receives first. Most people live by this principle of influence. If someone respects them they will respect the other person. If someone is kind to them they will be kind in return.

A more effective approach to ensure we all get along would be becoming an influence of change by being the first person to act. In doing so, you engage the principle of reciprocity and others will feel some obligation to treat you the same way. How much better would everyone be if Eminem and other prominent people went out of their way to be kind first, to show respect first, and to help first?

What about you? How might your family, workplace and life be better if you were the first one to willingly give what you’d like from others?

Imagine for a moment that you have a fractured relationship. You believe the other person is at fault and they believe you’re at fault. Usually the truth is somewhere in between and each person bears some responsibility. What would happen if you stepped to the middle first and said, “Regardless of what happened, I should not have said (or done) X. I want you to know I’m sorry.” It’s very likely the other person will soften his/her position, would fess up to some wrongdoing, and apologize in response to your first move. The relationship may still be somewhat fractured but it’s on the mend and at least has a chance of going forward.

Perhaps you want respect from coworkers. The big question would be; do you give them respect? If not, start going out of your way to do so, then see how they respond. Whatever it is you want from others, be the first to give because it engages reciprocity and you’re likely to get the same in return.

The principle of liking can help build or strengthen relationships and so can reciprocity when it’s engaged sincerely. It might require swallowing some pride from time to time, taking the first step to say, “I was wrong” or “I’m sorry,” it could entail letting go of anger, resentment or hurt. But in the long run you’ll be better off letting go of those things and probably much happier restoring relationships and getting what you desire in return – kindness, respect, love, and so on. What’s holding you back from taking the first step?

Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ardbeg Scotch and The Green Bay Packers: What do They Have in Common?

“There’s a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch.” If you saw the movie Inglorious Bastards, you might recall that quote. A good friend introduced me to scotch a little over a year ago. I’d never tried the drink before but was willing to give it a try when he brought a bottle to my home. It turns out Jane and I both liked it…a lot! It’s less filling than beer, doesn’t make us sleepy like wine, and there’s an amazing variety of different scotches to choose from.

This post isn’t about the virtues of scotch or an attempt to convert anyone. Rather it’s about an interesting marketing ploy. There’s a well-known scotch called Ardbeg, which boasts a very peaty flavor. The distillery first began producing whisky in 1798 but eventually closed its doors in 1981. Limited production started up again in 1989 and continued through 1996. Full production resumed in 1997.

When I bought my first bottle I noticed the distillery had an Ardbeg Committee, which I could join if I was so inclined. Out of curiosity I decided to fill out the paperwork. Eventually I received my committee membership. A few persuasive principles were at play here:

First, they shared a compelling story about the history of the distillery. People are drawn to stories, particularly those that have to do with overcoming adversity. Ardbeg’s long history, closure and reopening made for a compelling story.

When I became a committee member the principleof consistency was engaged. We like to behave in consistent ways so it’s only natural a committee member will probably buy more Ardbeg than some other brand.

Not all scotch drinkers are committee members so the exclusivity taps into scarcity. I’m not a committee member for any other scotch so it’s special community for me and the other 60,000+ committee members.

This is an example of very clever marketing to revive a once struggling brand and build loyalty. The approach reminds me somewhat of the professional football team The Green Bay Packers. Unlike all the other pro sports franchises, the Packers will never leave Green Bay because of the business decision of an owner or group of owners, as has occurred with many other NFL teams. You see, the Packers are owned by the fans. Their stock has no appreciating value, pays no dividends and cannot be sold or traded like other stocks but all the fans care about is this – they are all part owners of one of the most storied franchises in all of football.  More than 110,000 people own nearly 4.8 million shares.

Maybe you don’t want to own the team, just go to the games. Season tickets for the team have sold out every year since 1960! Currently there’s a waiting list of more than 81,000 names to become a season ticket holder! This is Green Bay, Wisconsin, not some big city or exotic get away destination, and people are registering kids at birth to get tickets. Green Bay fans are … fanatical!

A good product isn’t always enough when it comes to making the sale and that’s where persuasion comes in. How you talk about your product or service and how you position it makes a BIG difference. Limited availability (scarcity), and a sense of belonging and community (commitment) go a long way toward impacting our decisions and behaviors. So take a lesson from Ardbeg and the Packers and see if you can create something special for your customers and prospective customers when it comes to you and your product or service.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Influencers from Around the World - Beware of the Bogus Authority

To kick off the New Year, our Influencers from Around the World series starts with Sean Patrick. Sean is originally from Dublin, Ireland, but now resides in London where he works in sales and sales management. You can connect with Sean on LinkedIn or Twitter. Sean also owns a sales training and coaching company, SPT (Sean Patrick Training), Ltd. Always thought provoking, I know you'll enjoy Sean’s point of view on “authorities” and their content.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Beware of the Bogus Authority

I’ve just finished a well-written book by Georgia attorney Loren Collins called Bullspotting. It was a nice segue from another brilliantly written piece by Massimo Pigliucci called Nonsense on Stilts. As you can probably tell, the book attacks the nonsensical logic behind some of today’s content that craftily bypasses the critical filters of its followers, making absurd claims believable. 

Ironically, the author himself was a proponent and follower of such people who disseminated misinformation. This got me thinking about how dangerous it is when we open up to pseudo-authority. This isn’t just a phenomenon that exists on the fringes; it is everywhere.

In business, we have the same problem but not quite to the same extreme. Misinformation is like a mind virus that quickly infects those who really need information to back up their status quo. We’re living in a time where content is everywhere; it’s like drinking from a fire hose. What kind of misinformation am I referring to? Half-truths mainly, or tactics that worked for the author on one very lucky occasion but are now claimed as a breakthrough. 

There’s also the other kind, the kind where we think we know about a subject because we read one article or in some cases, the first couple of paragraphs.  Our ability to contaminate information further has to be taken in context. Our ability to recall accurately goes through a process of bending, shaping, remodeling until we think our warped view is exactly how we saw it. And bogus authority figures really know this sharing of half-truths is immensely powerful, so we can dot the lines ourselves as part of the journey to finally agree with the author’s claims.

In business a client base is like a portfolio of investments and treating them as such will create long term of value and recurring revenue. Our job as salespeople is to go deep and create ongoing change and help clients solve their next problem, and the next and so on. We strive to drive results with practical solutions and provide serious impact continually on the relationship. 

Great sales people earn higher fees via commissions because of their ability to create huge impact and provide value. One of the key areas in providing value is overcoming the hurdle of misinformation that clients buy into. As I noted above, most people who consume so much information on a daily basis fail to employ quality control.  

Over the years as a coach, one of the misdemeanors that some of my clients were guilty of was dining out on so-called authoritative content on sales topics and stuff that overlapped into self-development. What the information consisted of mainly was of brain candy quality. 

The kind of content I’m referring to is the stuff that isn’t earth shattering (but is marketed as so) and if you sat and thought long enough you’d probably have come to those conclusions without any help from the author…and you would have dismissed them!

As people who sell, own a business, or provide professional services, it’s up to us to engage the client in a way in which we become the authority and the go-to-favorite of the client. We can achieve this by proving concept, demonstrating value, helping a client take ownership of a problem by providing deep insightful information that is contextually relevant to their most pressing problems.

Focusing on conversations that move things forward are essential in setting boundaries and prove to the client that we have a proprietary approach in getting grounded and having more clarity in aligning themselves with their key priorities.

In this age of content creation and re-creation, we are deluged by pure nonsense most of the time or at the very least someone’s biased, one-sided view on matters. This is dangerous if we fail to act objectively. Thanks to the internet, everyone is now an “expert” and we sit there in a glassy eyed daze agreeing with what’s being presented to us, largely because it passes through our filters --  but only if we let it.

Sean Patrick

Monday, December 29, 2014

PAVE the Way to Success in 2015

If you’re like many people then you’ll be making New Year's resolutions in a few days and if you’re like most of those same people you’ll be breaking your resolutions within a few days. According to one study, more than half the people who make resolutions are confident of achieving them, yet barely more than 10% do so. That’s amazing because most resolutions are good ones! Here are a some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions: 

  • Spend more time with family
  • Lose weight
  • Begin exercising
  • Quit smoking
  • Quit drinking
  • Get organized
  • Get out of debt

The list is admirable so why are these goals so difficult to achieve for 90% of us? There are probably as many reasons as there are resolutions and dwelling on them wouldn’t be as beneficial as giving you scientifically proven ideas that can help make 2015 a year of positive change for you. Around this time every year I share an influence technique that can help readers PAVE the way to success in the New Year.

In the study of persuasion there’s a powerful motivator of behavior known as the principle of consistency. This proven rule tells us people feel internal and external psychological pressure to act in ways that are consistent with their prior actions, words, deeds, beliefs and values. When we act in consistent ways we feel better about ourselves and other people perceive us in a more favorable light.

There are four simple things you can tap into in order to strengthen the power of consistency in your life. These simple ideas will help you PAVE the way to success because they'll dramatically increase the odds that you’ll follow through on your New Year’s resolutions.

Public – Whenever you make a public statement, whether verbally or in writing, you’re putting yourself and your reputation on the line. The mere fact that another person knows your intention and might ask you how you’re doing is often enough motivation for people to follow through.
Recommendation #1 - Share with another person or group of people, your New Year’s resolution and ask them to hold you accountable.
Active – You have to actively do something. Merely thinking about a resolution, just keeping it to yourself as some sort of secret, will lead to the same results as people who don’t make any resolutions. In other words, nothing will change. This came to light in a study with a group of students who wanted to improve their college grades. One group was asked to write their goals down, one group kept their goals in their heads, and the last group had no specific goal whatsoever. As you can imagine, the group with the written goals succeeded, with nearly 90% of students increasing by a full letter grade! With the other two groups the results were identical and poor. In each group fewer than 1 in 6 students improved a full letter grade. It’s worth noting, they were all given the same study materials so they all had the same opportunity to better their GPA. 
Recommendation #2 - Make sure you have to take some active steps. It could be as simple as buying a book to help you learn more about the changes you’re hoping to make or writing them down. 
Voluntary – This has to be YOUR goal, not someone else’s goal for you. If you’re trying to do something – quit smoking, lose weight, get in shape – it’s not likely your motivation will last if someone told you to do it. The goal has to come from you because if it’s forced on you it's not likely your willpower will last long. Samuel Butler said it best when he wrote, “He who complies against his will is of the same opinion still.” 
Recommendation #3 - Make sure it's something you really want to do of your own free choice. 
Effort – It was already noted that you have to actively do something. In other words, making the commitment should require some effort on your part. The more effort you expend setting up your goal, the more likely you are to succeed. Something as simple as writing down your resolution can make a difference, even if you don’t share it with anyone. But, taking the time to share it also fulfills the public requirement, which gives you more bang for the buck! Robert Cialdini puts it this way, “People live up to what they write down.” 
Recommendation #4 - A little more effort, like committing pen to paper, will increase your chance for success significantly. 
So to recap the four recommendations: 
Public - Share your resolutions with others. 
Active - Make sure to take some active steps.
Voluntary - Make it your goal. 
Effort - Commit pen to paper. 
None of what I just shared is new but I'm guessing many of you haven’t tried the PAVE approach before. If you've failed at your resolutions in the past then give this approach a try. If you fail again you’re no worse off but this different approach might just be your key to success in 2015. Good luck and Happy New Year to all of you!

Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.