If you’ve watched one series of Ohio State Football this year, you’ve no doubt noticed that the offense is having some struggles. After getting embarrassed by Oklahoma, all of the Buckeyes faults have been exposed and I see an average season ahead of them for one reason; they don’t play to their strength. I understand that not everyone is a rabid Ohio State fan so let me assure you that I have a point here. The Ohio State University Buckeyes are a running team. They’re built for dominating the line of scrimmage and picking up yards on the ground. They feature two excellent young running backs and a quarterback with talented legs but a questionable arm. When they line up and run straight ahead, there are few teams in the country that can compete with them. Until they get cute and try throwing the ball around, trying to take advantage of their speed and pick up big chunks of yardage on single plays. Then they’re a below average unit that’s easily defended. Their strength is running the ball but they don’t always play to it. In this misfortune, they’re just like a lot of people I know in business who also do not play to their strengths. Who instead of grinding out what they’re good at, try to get cute and improve what they don’t do nearly as well. For Ohio State, this is the recipe for an average season, for the rest of us, it leads to an average life. Just like the Buckeyes have been going into games with a plan that doesn’t allow them to do what they’re great at, a lot of people I know start every day with a poor game plan that puts them in a similar situation. I know speakers who are frustrated because they aren’t speaking and writers who are frustrated because they aren’t writing. They fill their day with work that takes away from their ability to focus on what they’re great at and almost like Ohio State trying to throw deep on first down, they end up behind. Contrast this with Alabama. The nation’s number one team knows who they are and what they do well. There’s nothing cute or fancy, they just show up and work at doing the things that make them great. It doesn’t take a great fan to see the difference. The first step to being great is knowing what you’re great at. The second step is doing it and the third step is the hardest of all; to stop doing what you’re just good at and get back to step two. In order for Ohio State to salvage this football season, they’re going to have to get back to running the football. If we’re going to break the bonds of average in our lives, we’re going to have to get back to doing what makes us great. Until we do, like my favorite team in Columbus, we’ll have to live with disappointment.]]>
If there has been a single book that has shaped my worldview, it would be an unlikely biography that is the part of a larger series. In 2002, Robert Caro published The Years Of Lyndon Johnson Master Of The Senate and on its face, it isn’t a self-improvement book, but what it is, is a case study in power. A case study in how to find it, how to get it and how to use it. It’s my favorite book for a lot of reasons but mostly because it paints a clear picture of a colorful and misunderstood man who for all of his flaws was able to overcome tremendous odds to do great things. Hated by both liberals and conservatives, Lyndon Johnson was a master at a game most people never understood but thanks to this great book, we’re able to learn the lessons for ourselves.
Establish CredibilityWhen Lyndon Johnson got to the United States Senate in 1949, he got there by one of the slimmest margins in American Election history winning his election by 87 votes. Everyone questioned his legitimacy both inside his home state of Texas and in Washington where he was laughed at as Landslide Lyndon. No one would have guessed that he would be running everything about the place in five short years. LBJ became a powerful force because he carefully and studiously established his credibility. First, he showed up to work. Taking care to be prepared and engaged in his committee work he impressed the Senate’s old bulls with his work ethic. Next, he impressed even the most hard boiled politicians in the capital, for whom politics was life, by being the most informed person they had ever met on the subject of politics. When he spoke, people listened because he was loaded with credibility. What I take from this is that if we are to establish our own base of power, we have to first establish our credibility. We have to not only work hard, we have to establish our credibility as hard workers. We have to not only be an expert, we have to establish our credibility as experts. There is simply no substitute for credibility when it comes to building our power.
Make People Feel ImportantProbably the greatest skill that marked Lyndon Johnson’s life was a rare ability to make the people around him feel important. When he was still just a young congressman’s assistant, he got so close with the powerful Sam Rayburn that he would astound congressmen by kissing the dour old man on the head. As a congressman, he was so charming that President Franklin Roosevelt allowed him to announce his candidacy for his first Senate race from the White House steps, which is a pretty big deal for a Junior Congressman. This skill carried him into the Senate and suited him well in a venue with only 96 men to get to know. He wasted no time using it with some of the Senates greatest names; Byrd, Connolly and most of all, Russel. Zig Ziglar once said that we can get everything in life we want if we can just help get enough other people get what they want. In a world where power is a currency is valuable as cash, making other people feel valued and important might be the most important skill we can ever learn. When we make others feel important, they transfer that feeling to us and it’s that feeling that helps create an aura of power about us when we enter a room. If we help enough other people feel important, we will, by doing so become important. Lyndon Johnson is one of history’s most colorful personalities and most misunderstood figure. Hugely arrogant and deeply insecure, he was a great man with great flaws. I am in no way suggesting that anyone should follow his path to power, but when it comes to learning where to find it and how to use it, there is simply no better manual.]]>
Last year at this time, I posted a blog called the Backside of Thirty. I wrote that post about my 36th birthday and the feeling of frustration related to starting fast and being stuck. Since today is my 37th birthday, I thought it appropriate to revisit that post and discuss how different things feel after another trip around the sun. Last year, writing that post seemed to be a turning point for me. My work on City Council wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as it had once been and I began taking steps to move on. I realized that while I enjoyed my United Way work, there was a lot more that I wanted to do and more that I wanted to contribute. Last year I felt trapped and stuck in the wilderness. A year can make a big difference. The biggest step that I’ve taken in the last year has been to truly commit myself to my craft. While I do a lot of things, I consider myself to be a communicator first. In the last year, I have focused heavily on getting better. I read more than I ever have. I write more than I ever have and I’ve found new ways to put myself in front of an audience. This commitment has given me what I sorely needed last year at this time and that’s the feeling of accomplishment. Giving myself targets to hit and constantly striving to make sure that I do has put me back in control. I’ve bet on myself and more often than not, I’ve won. That’s not to say that this last year has been easy. There have been a lot of early mornings and late nights writing blog posts, recording videos and working on keynotes, but every one of those days has been more than worth it. This is the price I pay for chasing a dream and it’s never too high. The lesson in all of this is that if you feel trapped, stuck in the wilderness or just plain unhappy, commit to what you love. Don’t walk away from your paycheck, but don’t turn your back on your passion either. The gift I gave myself this year has been to join the Slash/Economy. To not wait until everything was perfect or until I had everything, to just commit and start. Since taking this step, I’m a year older, but most importantly, I’m a year happier and I have myself to thank. D it for yourself, because trust me, if I can do it, I know that you can.]]>
Whenever I ask people about their number one resource, most of the time, they respond with money. Some really clever people will say time and even more clever people tell me its energy. All three of these are vital resources, but the number one resource for anyone in the persuasion profession is credibility. Consider for a moment why it’s so important to be credible: it’s the basis of influence, it speaks even when we’re silent and in many ways, it lays the foundation to acquire more money, time and energy. Our credibility is our number one resource, so how do we build it? Here’s where it starts:
Always Keep Your Word, Even To YourselfIt should go without saying that if we want to be trusted, we should be trustworthy. This starts with keeping our word once we give it. When we develop a reputation for being someone that always comes through and does what we say we’ll do, we have instant credibility. It’s also really important that we keep our word to ourselves because it will increase our confidence that’s a cornerstone of credibility.
Be InformedIt’s not enough to know our company and what we do. That’s expected. How well do you know your competitors and your industry? More importantly, how well do you know your customer’s industry? Being in control of the facts and knowing about the world around us is critical to maintaining our credibility. The good news is that it’s never been easier to stay informed with online magazines, blogs, and countless books. To stay credible, we must stay current and to stay current we must study. This is probably why the average CEO reads more than 60 books a year compared with the single book that most Americans read. Being informed is vital to our credibility.
Be EnergeticHigh energy and enthusiasm can make up for a world of sins. Want to be seen as someone that can get the job done? First, don’t look tired. To not look tired, don’t be tired. Manage your diet, get enough sleep and get passionate about your future that you become an absolute hair on fire ball of energy. People will notice and will perceive you as a person on the climb. High energy people are deemed more credible because we are naturally drawn to them. Raise your energy and raise your credibility.
Avoid Credibility RobbersThings like gossip, tardiness, and dishonesty can rob us of our credibility. When we gossip, people initially like to be in on the secret, but they will eventually wonder if we’re airing their dirty laundry to others and begin to question our trustworthiness. When we’re late we show a disrespect for others and when we lie, even about small things, it steals a part of our credibility that we ca never get back. Don’t allow your credibility to be robbed, stand guard against the thieves. Credibility is our number one resource and our number one job should be to grow and maintain it. It gives us power with people, it speaks when we’re silent and it leads to more money, time and energy. Keep your word, stay informed, be energetic and avoid the robbers and you’ll have more than enough to crush your goals.]]>
This weekend, we as a nation will celebrate our independence as 241 years ago, our forefathers, after much debate, signed our Declaration and declared us a free and independent nation. You may have heard of this, it’s kind of a big deal. This weekend I will celebrate my own independence as well because one year ago, I launched this website and began to take this blog seriously. While the rest of my family was enjoying our long weekend in the sun, I sat hunched over my computer stressing about what should go where and how I would phrase things. Even though I had no experience with WordPress and even less with writing code, I poured myself into creating something. From this experience, and the year that has followed, I’ve learned some things and I would love to share them with you.
Starting Is The Hardest PartIt took me literally months to get the courage to start my real website. Sure I had played with the free Google Sites websites, but this was different. This was actually making an investment in myself and my idea. It was scary and it was hard. I found every possible reason not to start: it’s expensive (it’s not), I don’t know enough, no one will read or care about what I have to say. I had thought of every reason why I shouldn’t start and those reasons paralyzed me. It was when I just started that things started coming together. It took me two days to get everything put together. It took me six months to start. This is ridiculous and has been a lesson that I keep in mind whenever I think about beginning something hard.
I Can Figure It OutHave I mentioned that I know NOTHING about web design? I mean, I really had no experience at all about creating or designing a website. Once I decided to actually start, it became my job to figure it out. No one was going to do this for me, I had to get to work. I asked people for advice and researched endlessly. I tried, I failed and I tried again. So may times, we never even start because we have this belief that we don’t know enough, or that we don’t have the skill but in reality, just because we don’t know it today, or have the skill when we start doesn’t mean that we can’t figure it out along the way. My experience taught me that I can figure it out and if it’s true for me and WordPress, it’s true of most any other situation too.
Consistency Is KeyIn the year since I’ve launched this blog, I have posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a new video uploaded every Tuesday, no matter what. I have been relentless consistent and I’ve done it for a very real reason; I’m not a good writer. As you read through my posts, you will catch spelling errors, misused words, grammatical errors and other things that I’m not very proud of. I work really hard to correct them, but they’re there. What I am proud to say, is that there are a lot fewer now than there were when I started. By being consistent, I continue to improve and while I will never teach an English class, I am able to deliver my message because I work at it. Consistency really is key. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been a year since this site launched. I know it’s still not perfect, but I keep working at it. The lessons that I have learned in this year though carry over to every other area of my life and I’m positive that if you put them into practice, you will see results too.]]>
Have you ever been ripped off? Have you paid for something and didn’t get any value for your investment? if you’ve lived longer than a year on this planet I’m sure it’s happened. Sometimes it’s a mistake and other times it’s deliberate, but we have all had those experiences when someone chose to take profit before they offered value and chances are good, we never gave them the opportunity again. If it’s happened to you, it’s happened to them too. This is why I truly believe that those of us in the persuasion profession MUST focus on providing value before we think about collecting a profit. This might mean trials of our products, it might mean free educational sessions, or it could mean simply working for free, but if we establish value first, profit will follow. A couple of years ago, my parents bought our family a set of very expensive livestock scales as a Christmas gift. It was great to have them in our barn…until they stopped working. We tried to call the people that sold it with no luck. We attempted to contact the manufacturer with no luck. It looked as if we were getting ripped off. No one was happy. Because we needed the scales to work, out of desperation, I called a local vendor after seeing one of their trucks in the drive through at McDonald’s of all places. The guy I called came right over, looked at our scales and spent two hours restarting and re-calibrating them and when he was done, they worked…for now. I was over the moon with excitement. I was willing to pay him whatever he wanted for his time that day. You can imagine my surprise when he told me there was no charge. he worked for two hours on a hot day for nothing. Talk about demonstrating value. While he fixed our scales, he gave me a price on a new set and let me know that although he had fixed what we had, for now, they were eventually going to break again. When that happens, who do you think I am going to buy my next set from? There’s no question as to who will get my business: The gentleman that focused on value before profit. It was a brilliant marketing strategy because he’s thinking long term. Eventually, he will win. In keeping with lesson this taught me, let me make an offer to you. I want to coach you. I want to help you stand out and get noticed. I want to guide you to a breakthrough with your communication skills, your image, and goals. Let me demonstrate my value. For the next month, text any time (my number is 419.235.5028) and I will help you with whatever you are struggling with for free. Want to shoot a video? Cool! Let me help. Working on a big goal and need a fresh set of eyes? My attention is yours. Want you millennial son or daughter out of your basement so you need them to nail their next interview? I’m one short text away. Let me demonstrate my value and I promise you, you won’t feel ripped off.]]>
[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdVUxmQoRwk[/embedyt]If you aren’t using video, you’re missing out. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s effective. Text me and we’ll spend an hour together getting you ready to use it effectively to get known, liked and trusted.]]>
As I was scrolling Facebook this week, I saw a sponsored post from a “guru” giving me nine steps to quitting my job and living my dream life. I couldn’t help but laugh a little bit because it seems like a great ploy, but I also couldn’t help but feel sad because I know there are people who really are waiting to quit their jobs to live their dreams and I know that they don’t have to. The myth that we can only do one thing, or that living our dreams is unattainable is a model that just doesn’t fit anymore. We don’t have to decide to one or the other, we just have to decide to do it at all. I say all of this because it’s impossible to live our dreams if we’re constantly worried about making our mortgage payment. I would argue that its best to keep the security of day job while finding the fulfilling work that we desire. We should join the Slash / Economy and it can be done in three, very hard steps.