Posts Tagged ‘curt’

What if this was meant to be good news?

October 25, 2012

Einstein once said that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity, which is the inspiration for the following question.

Many years ago my brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a devastating situation with absolutely no recourse. While many of us would have gotten stuck in the pain of the situation, my brother saw things differently. He looked at the news he had been given and asked himself, “What if this was meant to be good news?” He knew he couldn’t change what had happened to him, all he could do was change how he interpreted the situation. My brother chose to believe that the cancer that had invaded his body was there for a reason. Armed with this passionate belief, my brother shared his story with everyone who would listen. He visited churches across Canada; he spoke to friends and strangers alike. He spoke of hope, awareness and the bountiful life he would lead in Heaven. He opened hearts and healed old wounds; he gave back life to people who had been dying inside! He moved countless people with his story of seeking out a greater purpose.

When my brother passed away he left as an accomplished man, someone who had lead his life with meaning and shared his pain so that others could heal in theirs. I still think today about the awesome lesson he taught us. How he looked at a devastating situation and how he asked himself, “What if this was all meant to be good news?”

Think about your own business, where could you apply this lesson? If a new competitor moves into your market space, a new technology threatens your existence or your VP of Sales resigns, how would you handle the news? Too often in most companies panic sets in, pessimism and skepticism are a natural and common reaction. However, what if instead of panic you were to look for the underlying opportunity in the cards that have been played.

For example, what if a new competitor was in fact moving into your market space? How could you turn this into good news? Here are some ideas:

You could leverage off their branding and awareness activity to build your own name.
The new competitor could cause your other competitors even more pain and distraction therefore allowing you to take an even bigger step forward?
This new competitor could help reinforce the significance of your product or your market sector therefore leading to more people wanting to buy what you sell.
You could learn new ideas, new ways of positioning and new insight from a new competitor.
A new competitor could reinforce to potential customers just how complete your solution is.
You could welcome this as a wake up call and start connecting more with your own customers.
What are some of the other possible benefits that would support the belief that a new competitor in your industry could in fact be good news?

Every company needs a strategy for turning the low points in their business into good news? What could you do to reshape your interpretation of the world as it has unfolded for you? What new beliefs could you have? Shifting your thoughts from negative to positive can give you a whole new view of the situation, a whole new perspective of what lies ahead. Shifting your thoughts can turn a negative stranglehold into an empowering view of the future!

BRAINSTORMING IDEAS

List as many ideas for the following questions …

  1. What are the current aspects of your business that you have been treating as bad news?
  2. How could you shift each of these situations to be considered good news?

Spend a few minutes and think about this, share your thoughts with others and explore the possibilities that will uncover themselves.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
www.curtskene.com

Advertisements

When Was The Last Time You took Time To Dream?

May 3, 2012

Dreams imageDo you remember the stories of how the Wright Brothers dreamt of putting a plane in the sky and how they celebrated their first flight which was less than 100 yards?  Now today we are putting planes into outer space travelling an unprecedented 28,000km an hour.   How about Roger Bannister who dreamt of achieving the impossible of running a four minute mile?  Roger had a dream that others laughed at but once achieved it was quickly surpassed.  Bill Gates had a dream of putting a computer on every desktop, a farfetched vision when you think about the fact that computers took up a small room at the time, now in my home alone we have five.  My point is dreams are the fuel that sets us on a journey for creating something brilliant.  So my question this month is, what are your dreams and what are you doing to make them come true?

Let’s agree that dreams are massive undertakings that are going to take all that you have in order to succeed.  If dreams were easy then they just wouldn’t be dreams!  Living your dreams is about letting yourself see a world of possibilities and letting go of all the old history that says you just can’t do that.  Dreams are there to inspire you to do great things.  Dreams are about evolutionary living.

So do only great people dream or do dreams actually make people great?  I personally believe that dreams don’t know how to discriminate against us yet we can often discriminate against living our dreams.  We convince ourselves that we don’t deserve a better outcome so why would we ever dare dream? 

Customer Testimonial
“Curt is simply brilliant and his message is brilliantly simple!” 

I remember taking my kids to see the “Bucket List” and then asking myself what dreams do I want to achieve?  The first thing on my list was to play on stage with my son’s band and if you heard me on the guitar you would know what a dream this will be!  But it’s that dream that still has me picking up my guitar and strumming out chords in preparation for the big day.  I also remember watching “Pay It Forward” and witnessing Trevor McKinney endeavouring to change the world by paying forward on acts of kindness.  What amazed me most was this was a dream that moved the world yet it was so simple to put into place.  My mission of “Simple thinking that changes lives” was inspired by this movie.  I also have to confess that I often get teary eyed watching Extreme Home Makeover because the thought of stepping into a stranger’s life and making a massive difference is undeniably a dream come true.

So what about living your dreams isn’t that what you should be doing?  I can hear you now… are you kidding?  Have you seen my bank account?  Do you know how much crap I have to do?  When in heck would I find the time and money to live my dreams?  Dreams belong to those who don’t live in my world.

The funny thing about dreams though is they really can pick us up often at times when we need it the most.  Think about it, when was the last time you read a “dream come true” story where the leading player had a perfect life?   Most dreams start from very humble beginnings.  The purpose of dreams is to give us the reason to believe in our future, especially when we have stopped believing in ourselves.

So this month give yourself the gift of dreaming.  Pick a future that you deserve and start creating a path to make it a reality.  The more we dream the less opportunity we have to think about all the things that could possibly get in our way!

Here’s to you and all your dreams!

Looking for a Great Keynote for your next event?
Curt Skene delivers over 75 rapid-fire insights on how to find more business and create more opportunity in his fun and informative keynote “Master  The Marketplace!” Visit www.curtskene.com

Are you aligning with customer expectations?

February 5, 2012

Fair or unfair everyone sets expectations of people they meet in business and or life.  Expectations are influenced by corporate title, education, industry association, family ties and many other things.  My point is before you and I ever meet there’s a pretty good chance I already have an expectation of what I expect our relationship might be like.

Working with Microsoft I saw first hand how quickly expectations were set.   I quickly became a Canadian thought leader not because I was brilliant but because people set expectations through my connection to Microsoft.  I became brilliant through association.  The challenge was I needed to live up to a very tall order!

Today because of my active coaching schedule I meet many senior executives who I have set high expectations for long before they ever meet me.  I expect marketing execs to be pretty darn brilliant at communicating their worth.  I expect CEO’s and VPs to have a clear strategy about how they are going to lead their people (and more importantly themselves) in doing great things.  I expect sales reps to be doing deals regardless of the economy because they are deal makers (not order takers) and be very clear deal makers create opportunity when little exists.

So honestly I am a little disappointed in the world today because it seems many have forgotten about the expectations they need to be living up to.  It’s almost like they feel greatness is owing to them so just bring it on.

Customer Testimonial
“Curt, our managers needed to hear your message!  It gave them a great sense that they can be competitive in this marketplace.  Almost everyone said they felt well armed to tackle their duties thanks to the rapid fire ideas you gave them.  I personally thought your mix of humour and straight shooting made this session fly by in a positive and enlightening way.” – V.P. Caressant Care

Now I am writing this because I am passionate about helping you do great things and the best way I can help you is by aligning your world with the expectations people have for you.  This month I need you to ask a really tough question and that is, are you aligned with your customer’s expectations?  Are you exceeding the great things people already expect of you, if not what needs to change immediately?

I want you to have fun with this question because investing in your future will reap you more pleasure than pain.  Ask, do you need to be investing in new intellect because the world is evolving so quickly?  Do you need to be pushing the envelope in your thinking because traditional thoughts will quickly go unnoticed?  Do you need to be upping your game because walking to opportunity is the kiss of death when you are running a race that is only going to get faster?

You may as well face it, we all set expectations for others and they set them for us.  The secret to success is exceeding those expectations well before the benchmark is ever set.  I am not exempt from this rant.  I have things I need to be doing right now to deliver greatness on the stage because clients expect me to be a great speaker.  So I am off to ponder what I need to do and put on socks because apparently, so I have been told, my clients expect that too!

Looking for a Great Keynote for your next event?
Curt Skene delivers over 75 rapid-fire insights on how to find more business and create more opportunity in his fun and informative keynote “Master  The Marketplace!” Visit www.curtskene.com

Second Best Also Deserves A Chance!

January 24, 2012

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to meet Canadian Olympic rower Alison Korn. I remember asking her, “What was it like to row in the Olympics?”  She said, “It’s funny, even though we practiced for years, we never found the passion and energy until we saw the finish line.  But when we knew that we were one thousand metres from the finish line and all that we had worked for would be lost, we found more passion and energy than we ever thought possible.”

I remember that race. They went from fourth to second and narrowly missed winning the Gold.  Why is it that teams who have struggled the entire game monopolize the final five minutes?  How come they couldn’t figure it out for the first fifty-five?  It’s because they didn’t see their finish line.  Professional athletes need the clarity and finality that the finish line provides them.  A finish line is that point of no return that you can shoot for.

In our world, the goal is to attract and keep great people, but I find myself wondering:  are we giving our employees a clear target to shoot for? In essence, do our employees know what it means to be great?  Do they know what the expectations are and do we give them the room to exceed them?  Maybe instead of attracting great employees we need to be focusing our attention to grooming great employees.

“Congratulations! Your keynote was a great hit.  Out of 8 speakers your reviews clearly defined you as the highlight.”
Ms. Laurie Campbell, Conference Chair, E2E Conference

Basically, I believe there are three types of employees out there.  There are those who get it, those who want to get it, and those who are there just for the ride.  For the employees who get it, their abilities are natural, their skills are instinctive and our role is to clear any obstacles and stand out of their way.  On the other end, for the employee who is just there for the ride, our role is to prompt, prod and motivate but quite frankly I seldom, if ever, have seen these people turn into our star performers.  So this leaves us the middle, the employees that want to get it but just can’t do it on their own.  I believe we need to spend most of our time working with them.  These are the employees who want to make a significant contribution, who want to overachieve but for whom it just isn’t as instinctive for whatever reason.  This is where I believe you can find real gold!

As managers, I think one of the things we do to confuse employees is have them chasing too many targets. Sure, we create goals and objectives, but over the year we let too many other “priority one” initiatives land on their plate.  Am I the only one who has had a boss that believed everything in the business was priority one?  In the end, we water down our potential performers by having them focus on way too much.  If we want peak performance we have to give them the clarity of a finish line and remove many of the other distractions.

Another challenge I find in managing this middle tier is confidence.  Quite often they have the skills but lack the confidence to go out and take self directed action.  They are often waiting or seeking approval.  One of the best things you can do is encourage them to take a risk.  Encourage them to step out on their own and take the initiative.  Encourage them to think and do what’s best for the business.  Because this group is naturally risk adverse, you will seldom see them take on too much risk.

Finally, you need to consider the team dynamics.  Are you giving as much publicity and promotion to this middle group?  I often find that, in most organizations, all of the attention goes to the “stars,” the ones at the top.  The problem is you end up alienating others along the way.  Our role in coaching peak performance is in balancing the amount of attention and promotion we give.

Think about the roles and expectations you have defined for others.  While they may appear clear to us, remember it doesn’t come as easily and naturally for everyone.  Give more guidance on what it takes to overachieve.  Also, try taking the time to segment your team and focus more attention on the employees in that valuable middle group.  In the end, their contribution will be invaluable.  Remember that every company needs a balance of performers.  While it’s important to attract and keep great employees, it’s also critical that we groom and coach new ones.

We need our stars. But we also need our second and third stringers.  In fact, if you think about it, the teams that win championships are often the ones where there is less focus and expectation on the stars and more emphasis on developing the team.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is a professional business speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out more at www.curtskene.com

If you had two minutes for your perfect customer what would you say?

October 25, 2009

A few months ago I had the opportunity to speak at a large consumer trade show. Before my talk I was walking around the show floor trying to understand their business more (and hoping to spend some money too!). As I looked at all the booths I noticed one in particular. At this booth they sold “painted” plates and I remember thinking to myself that they were really nice plates that were likely brought in from overseas like everyone else does. Not that a plate from another country is bad it was just my assumption that this booth was likely just like everyone else. As luck would have it I ended up speaking with the business owner and he told me that each plate I had been admiring was actually hand painted in Canada by a single artist in Alberta. In fact, as we spoke he constantly came back to this same compelling point of difference. In the space of ten minutes he likely mentioned it 5-6 times. I finally looked at him and said, “If I was your perfect customer and I agreed to give you two minutes of my busy day what would you say to me?” He looked at me and said, “All of our plates are exclusively hand painted by one artist in Alberta.” I said, “Great!! Show me how you communicate this powerful message in your booth.” He walked across the booth and pulled out a flyer and handed it to me. I said, “WOW you are making a few big assumptions aren’t you? One, you are assuming that I will enter your booth. On top of that you assume that I would be interested enough to stop and have this conversation with you. If I don’t, I completely miss your compelling point of difference, don’t I? The look on his face said it all. He knew I was right. If his selling value was all focused around a single artist designing every plate he needed to communicate that message in everything he did. He needed to communicate it in the name of the store, in the advertising and in the way the products were displayed. He needed to ensure that message jumped out at people. We spent the next 30 minutes redesigning simple things that would allow him to clearly communicate his message… “one Canadian artist, hand drawn, every plate is exclusively unique.” We designed a place for the artist’s photograph. We changed his slogan and we even turned some of the plates over so people could easily see the single signature on each and every plate.

I share this with you because my chance encounter that day really got me thinking about the question, “If you had two minutes with your perfect customer what would you say to them?” If you know the answer, great! If not, you better set aside some time to think about it. However, once you know the answer start asking/challenging yourself on how you communicate this important message in everything you do.

At Microsoft we called this our eight second elevator pitch. The idea was, what could we say to someone in the span of eight seconds that would get them to say, “Stop… I want to know more.”

So how would you answer this question? Would you even know what you wanted to say if the perfect customer came along? Is your message compelling enough for people to want to notice? Does your business communicate your perfect message in everything you do? More importantly, ask yourself does your message resonate from a distance. You see, most of us can do a reasonable job selling our value if we get close enough to the customer.

The challenge is getting the opportunity to get that close. As the world gets busier and time gets shorter you need to have a strategy for the customer to start seeking you out. Your message of value has to jump right out and stop them in their tracks.

If I go back to my story, I was very busy that day. This show was huge and my time was extremely limited. I wanted to spend money but I really needed someone to reel me in because every booth was becoming a blur. In your industry chances are there are lots of people who sell what you do. But no one does it quite as uniquely as you. At least you hope! This month take the time to capture the essence of what you stand for and then figure out how to communicate it loudly and clearly in everything you do.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
www.curtskene.com

What are your customers most unhappy with?

October 25, 2009

This month’s article really came as a fluke. Here I was looking up famous quotes on the Internet when I stumbled upon this quote from Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” * It took me less than a second to realize Bill was right!

When was the last time you stopped to think about what your customers might be unhappy with? What part of your service would they like to see changed? Its sad, but often times most of their problems can be resolved so easily. What do you think would happen if once a month you met with your team and found one service shortcoming and you corrected it?

Many times we find that the reason our customer is unhappy is because there is a simple misunderstanding between the way we think they want to do business and the way they really want to do business. We think they want to work with us between 9am and 5pm and they need us available 24 hours a day. We think ordering off the Internet is a good solution and they don’t have access to outside websites. Whatever the problem is, if more than one customer has it, you need to be concerned!

So, do you really know what makes your customer unhappy? Who in your organization is listening and looking to find out? Are you searching for trends to understand if others are unhappy too? Finally, who is taking action to make sure these customers become happy? One word of warning though, don’t wait for your customers to tell you they are unhappy. Most customers never do, they just leave you!

At Microsoft, in order to ensure we were able to anticipate our customer’s needs, we had an expressions that stated, “We are a company that eats their own dog food”. This means that long before customers ever used our products, we were our own customers. If we didn’t like the way it worked, if we found it too difficult, if it broke too often we would let the Product Management group know and they would start finding resolutions. The idea was, if we didn’t like doing business with us, we knew our customers wouldn’t either.

One last thought. An unhappy customer can easily be your happiest customer, it just depends on how you go about to solve their problem. Customer research has shown that companies that take customers complaints to heart and take action to correct the situation, build strong business relationships that endure very tough times.

This month, ask yourself, “What are my customers unhappy with?” Make a plan to correct some of their concerns. It won’t take long and it will make a world of difference. Its a sad reality, but somehow with all the hustle and bustle we are all attending to, we seemed to have forgotten we need happy customers to stay alive!

Brainstorming Ideas

What are my customers most unhappy with?

  • Which of these things are easy are easy to fix?
  • Which of these things are strategic to our business to fix?
  • How can I anticipate my customer’s needs better in the future?
  • ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    What did you learn today… and how will you use it tomorrow?

    October 25, 2009

    My niece was staying with us for a few days and she had just finished her one-hour of devotional reading for the day. Just by chance I met her in the hallway and I asked her, “What did you learn today and how will you use it tomorrow?” You see, I know how important her commitment to devotional reading is, but I also know that there is a difference between reading for the sake of reading and reading for the sake of learning and growing. I was pretty sure that I had surprised her by my comment but she got a chance to return the surprise. About one week later I went to our mailbox and there was a letter from her. I was most intrigued because in her 19 years, I think maybe she had written two or three times. I stared at the envelope and wondered what it was that she had written. Here is the essence of what the letter said…

    Dear Uncle Buck,
    I didn’t know what to say to you that day but you got me to think about what I was really doing. I realized, you were right, if I was really going to make a difference, I needed to stop going through the motions and start asking everyday what does this all really mean to me? I find now that my daily devotional is having more meaning and I am starting to see signs of how it is really changing who I am…

    I tell you this story because I wonder how often we go through the motions in our business. How often do we get customer feedback that goes nowhere? How often do we observe new ideas or find new approaches that never get implemented? My niece learned a wonderful lesson that day. She learned the importance of asking, “What did I learn today and how will I use it tomorrow?”

    Can you imagine how quickly you would grow, both as a business and a person; if you stopped to ask this question every day? What do you think would happen if you took just 5 minutes after meeting with a customer and you wrote down everything new that you learned about them and how you will apply that knowledge to future activity? What do you think would happen if at your weekly team meetings everyone was asked to share one thing that they had learned in the last week and provided examples of how they were going to use their new knowledge?
    In this world of constant change, knowledge is a critical success factor for getting ahead. This month I would like you to think about all the new knowledge you capture everyday and how you will start applying it in your life so that it makes a difference. I read somewhere that if you learned one new thing about your area of expertise every day, you would be a “genius” within two years. Do you think customers are attracted to industry geniuses? You bet they are! Do you think your margins will improve if you are the industry genius? You bet they will! Do you think your relationships will flourish and grow if you commit yourself to learning a little bit more about the people who mean the most to you? You know they will!

    Five minutes a day is all it takes to lead you to greatness!

    Brainstorming Ideas

    1. Ask what did you learn today?
    2. Ask how can you apply this knowledge to be better in what you do?
    3. Ask who else would want to know what you just learned?

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    What tough decisions do you need to make?

    October 25, 2009

    LETTER TO EDITOR – BURLINGTON POST (DEC 7, 2004)
    I remember reading a wonderful article in your paper a few years ago about the “Mayor of the Burlington Beach ”. While I know she wasn’t really the Mayor she sure acted like she was. I had the opportunity to meet her myself many many years ago. While our relationship never went as I had hoped it would, I know she was a lady who lived for the water, lived for tranquility and lived for making our beaches a little more spectactular for all of us to enjoy. I recently learned that the “Mayor” passed away in early November. She was young, heck at 72 years old she was still wearing bikinis. I can’t pretend to know her well, it has been twenty eight years since I last saw her, but I have heard from many in these last few weeks how she touched lives with her spirit, her drive and her passionate desire to keep the beauty of nature alive. Yes, I also heard that she was a lady that never minced words and she fought bitterly if anyone dared to wreak havoc on the splendor of her beaches. Yet, I wonder if maybe some of us, myself included, could learn from her passionate resolve. Upon learning of her passing I took the time to walk the beach; I just wanted to learn a little more about the place she called home. The “Mayor” was right; it really is a wonderful place. Maybe just maybe, I will throw aside some of my appointments, forget some of those never ending “to-do’s” and take my own family on a wonderful walk along the Burlington lakeside. We could laugh, we could sing, we could even tidy it up and yes, we could think about the “Mayor” and the wonderful lesson she left us all, “Death is not about dying, it’s more in fact, about learning to live!”

    Ada Alice Skene June 29th 1932 – November 7th, 2004

    In my new program, LifeLessons, I talk about the important decisions in our lives and the importance of taking control and making them. I never did call my Mother again, and I will live with that decision forever… but what about you, are there decisions in your life that you need to be making?
    Making a tough decision is probably one of the hardest life skills for any of us to master. No one can really teach us. There is no scientific formula or structured process, the tough decisions need to turn us inside and allow us to seek out guidance from our heart and soul. They really don’t teach you anything like that in Business U.

    No action in your life will happen unless you decide to make it happen. You will never have full control unless you decide to take full control.

    This month, I hope you take some time to make the tough decisions in your life. They won’t be easy to make but I gaurantee you, you’ll be better off for them. I remember at the age of fifteen, deciding it was time to go. I wouldn’t wish that kind of decision on anyone, let alone a fifteen year old kid but I knew, I needed to leave. Now at forty two years old, you won’t ever catch me saying I was happy making that decision but I will always tell you that I am better off for the decision I made.

    I always said I would be there at the end and I am proud to say I was. It wasn’t easy stepping back into a life I left twenty eight years ago. But I can tell you that for me, it was the right and honourable decision to make. Quite frankly, it’s not easy writing and sharing this with you but if just one of you makes a decision, and that decision changes your life then the awkward pain I feel right now will be well worth it.

    Here’s to your decision, whatever you decide.

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    How can you shift their playing field?

    October 25, 2009

    SPECIAL NOTE: As you probably know, I am passionate about helping people “Master their Make It Happen Mindset” in their Business, Career and Life. If you know someone who could use my expertise please feel free to forward their name to me (and this newsletter to them).

    A couple of months ago I was having lunch with a friend that I worked at Microsoft with. We were talking about what made Microsoft so successful in their marketing and what we agreed on was that Microsoft was a master at shifting the playing field to suit their needs. Think about it, Microsoft Word took away a 90% market share lead from WordPerfect, Windows NT took away a 70% market share lead from Novell and Windows Explorer took away a 90% market share from Netscape. Were Microsoft products that much better? No. Microsoft was a master of shifting attention and changing the landscape. Instead of focusing on wordprocessing Microsoft focused on the integrated suite of Office products, instead of having a network discussion; Microsoft spoke of the Windows Open Service Architecture (WOSA) and instead of discussing browsers Microsoft targeted the seamless desktop where the browser was the operating system and the operating system was the browser. In a product to product comparison there is never a clear winner but when Microsoft shifted the playing field no one else could compete with them. So this leads me to ask, how can you shift your playing field?

    Are you finding yourself focused on a product/service comparison and struggling to create a sustainable difference? That can be very painful process. I like the way Harry Beckwith expresses it, “Your opportunities for growth often lie outside the confines of your current market. Fighting within these confines, particularly in mature markets, causes you to spill too much blood and money.” It’s true, you are setting yourself up for a losing battle. So are there ways for you to shift your market position by bundling in other services so that others can’t compete. Ask yourself, what do you (and your company have) that no one else has access to? How can you shift it so that you are in a world all on your own?

    Years ago when Crest and Colgate were fighting the cavity battle Close Up came out and said their toothpaste will get you more dates. Yes, your teeth may fall out by thirty but by then you’re married so I guess that’s ok. Many times when you look at your competitor’s strength you can find their weakness by becoming the opposite. Coke had one hundred years of tradition so Pepsi became the choice of a new generation. Hertz was the number one car rental company so AVIS focused on being number two and trying harder. Ask, where is your competition dominant then look to the opposite. A large company can’t be the little one that cares.

    Another question I like to ask is how can you go against industry tradition? What can you do that no one else is doing? Can you offer different hours, a different mix of service or a different level of expertise? Often times we get set in doing things exactly like everyone else. Note: Remember if you are going to be different you may have to help your customers “unlearn” the way things used to be.

    Finally, have you considered ways to create more of a niche business for yourself? Recently, I have started to brand my sales training so that it is focused entirely on Engineers and Consultants. While there are tons of sales training programs out there the Effectivation one is the only I know of focused on this market. In response, Watson Wyatt, McKesson Canada and Gartner Lee have all endorsed this program as their national standard. Why? Because we are experts in helping engineers and professional service organizations sell. How can you position your business so that you have a distinct new advantage?

    This month take time to look at your business and ask are you spilling too much blood trying to be a clone of everyone else. Is there a way to position yourself differently in the customer’s mind? It’s true you may lose some market opportunity by making a shift but isn’t 100% of something a lot less painful then fighting to get a little bit of everything? I tend think so…

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com

    Where’s your finish line?

    October 25, 2009

    finish_lineI had the opportunity to meet Alison Korn a number of years ago when we were working on a video for Microsoft. Alison was a Canadian Olympic rower and I asked her, “What was it like rowing in the Olympics?” She said, “It’s funny, even though we practiced for years, we couldn’t find the passion or the energy until we saw our finish line. But when we knew we were a thousand metres from the finish and that everything we worked for would be lost, we found passion and energy that we never thought we had.”

    I remember that race. Alison and her partner went from forth to second and they narrowly missed winning the Gold.

    How is it that the losing team often monopolizes the final minutes of a sporting contest? They know if they don’t get the puck in the net, the ball in the hoop or score that last minute touchdown, everything they have worked for will be lost. Why they didn’t figure it out earlier in the game? They just didn’t see their finish line.

    I know that most of us have goals and objectives and we write them down faithfully every year, but do we treat them like a finish line or do we allow ourselves to defer them, reschedule them or forget about them completely? A finish line is permanent; it’s the stake in the ground that doesn’t move. It’s that point of no return that gives us power and authority to do better than we ever thought was possible. For most of us we need the finality of a finish line to open up and really make things happen. We see it in business all the time, a sales rep waits until the last quarter and then starts pushing themselves in order to achieve their quota. Companies allow their accounts receivable to get wildly out of control and then they scramble, trying to collect it all in one day. Relationships that have failed for years try to repair themselves in the final hour to avoid breaking up. We put off buying life insurance until we are old enough to believe we actually just may die some day? My point is, if we don’t have that point of finality few of us ever move forward.

    So where are your finish lines? Do they even exist? Are you treating your goals and objectives with the “finish line” discipline that you need? If you watch successful companies you will notice how they create finish lines long before they are forced upon them. They are proactive vs. reactive when it comes to achieving the things that are important to them.

    One of the reasons we drift away from achieving our goals is because the target is too far out in the distance and it is hard for us to create the urgency we need. Have you considered breaking down your goals into smaller manageable chunks that you can focus on now instead of sometime off in the distant future? One of the unique characteristics of our brains is that it works in the here and now. Your brain doesn’t know how to work in future tense. People who are “going” to start losing weight are still fat and will likely stay fat until they say I am losing weight now.

    The pain pleasure principle states that we are attracted to pleasure and we avoid pain and when the two come in conflict the avoidance of pain will win out. This is why we need to commit and set finish lines. If we don’t we defer, postpone and put off until we are cornered and trapped.

    This month take the time to go through your goals and commitments and start defining your finish lines. When will you do it and will you commit to it? Great runners spend their whole career focused on the finish line. However, here’s an interesting twist, a great runner knows that the finish line is really only the half way point and if they really want to win the race they need to be accelerating when they cross, not starting to slow themselves down.

    ABOUT CURT SKENE
    Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
    www.curtskene.com


    %d bloggers like this: