Posts Tagged ‘In2win!’

Show them the numbers!

November 26, 2012

I remember standing on stage, speaking to 300 people on how difficult it is to demonstrate our hidden value.  My point was most people don’t trust what they can’t see and for us to prove our worth we have to make it visible.  I really thought I had this group convinced when one person stood up and said, “Curt, if people don’t trust what they can’t see, why does three quarters of the world believe in God?” Well, I will tell you I had a divine intervention; I looked back and said, “I think God has a better sales team!”

Think about it. There are two times in your life you adopt religion: first, you are cultured through those you trust, or second, you come to a point in your life (i.e. crisis) where you see how life would be different with God in it.  It’s now five years later and I still believe that this is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned, and I believe this simple lesson is the foundation on which powerful employee relationships are built. Employees need to see how their life will be different with you, the employer, in it and they have to see how the company’s life is different with them in it.  Employees want to appreciate what they do, and they absolutely need to know that what they do is appreciated.  So how can you make their contribution visible?  I say take the time to show them the numbers.  Let them see, first hand, how they make a difference.

When I was President of ExecuTrain Canada, I made a decision that every employee should be invited to review our corporate financial statements and learn the basics of how their involvement impacted our performance.  What happened was that we started to see employees take ownership for managing their business and making great decisions.  Even though our business was struggling, they could see how their commitment and efforts were moving us in the right direction.  For example, when the employees saw the huge amount of money we had tied up in accounts receivable, everyone made a commitment to collect the money that was rightfully ours.  Every week we reviewed the numbers, we strategized new ideas, and the employees got further excited about the difference their contribution was making.

Our business was in very bad shape. We were trying to fend off bankruptcy. But because the employees could see how their work was making a difference, we were able to keep them focused and motivated on the task at hand —  surviving.  By letting your employees see under the hood and truly understand the challenges and opportunities of the business, you can also improve morale.  When employees are not given access to information they tend to fill in the blanks on their own.  Their thinking can often be very different from reality.  This can result in employees distrusting senior management and, more importantly, distrusting what is being communicated to them.  In fact, according to a study by Discovery Surveys, just 53 percent of employees believe the information they receive from senior management.

So let me ask you, are your employees invited to participate in a financial review?  Do they understand where and how their contribution impacts the business?  Are they empowered to suggest ideas that could help to reshape the business?  I am always surprised by how many businesses keep financial performance a secret.

Stephen Semple, president of Thinc Strategies, a Toronto based management consulting firm says that employees today want to be tied to clear actionable results.  He also says employers need to minimize performance review surprises by communicating clear expectations throughout the year.  He says that surprising employees during their performance review is a great way to lose trust and deflate morale.  He wholeheartedly believes tying performance back to financial or objective business indicators is the best way to open communication.
At ExecuTrain I created a very simple one-page report that allowed our management team to see the basic business indicators all in one view.  The report contained more than just numbers. It looked at financial performance, customer metrics, employee satisfaction, business process and investments in R&D.  It contained all of the indicators against which our business performance was measured.

This month, take the time to educate your team on the numbers.  Show them clearly how they can make a difference in the business.  Create a one page scorecard that shows them these numbers.  In the end there are no surprises, and you may just be pleasantly surprised to find your employees showing more ownership and taking more responsibility.

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

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A Place Called Holland…

November 3, 2012

It’s like this… When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michalangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes and says, “Welcome to Holland.” “Holland?” you say. “What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. So you go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” The pain of that will never go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things about Holland.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

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

Do you have a song in your heart?

September 7, 2012

This week as I prepare to take my son Jonathan to see KISS in concert I thought what a great time to talk about the power of music and the impact it can have on your life.

I have to tell you I could write a rock opera with the songs that play in my mind all the time!  Don’t laugh music is great therapy no matter what’s going on in your life.  Music can energize, sooth, motivate, stimulate, calm, strengthen, you name the emotion, music can take you there instantly!  For me, if you live with a song in your heart you always have a safe place to call home.   If you have pressure or need to prepare for an important meeting try using music to change your mood.

On days when I am speaking I am often humming “Start Me Up.”  In fact, it would be very rare for me to not wake with that song on my mind.  Music has that wonderful way of pulling you out of the moment and giving you the confidence to launch forward into a better and more powerful place. Personally, I sing all the time, not well, but I sing nonetheless.  I truly love being at the beach looking out at the water and singing at the top of my lungs.  This summer I rode my bike in the early hours listening and singing to my list of the ultimate tunes.  Everyone one has their own special relationship with music and I am here to remind you to take the time to connect with the songs in your world.   

So this month instead trying to write philosophical dribble drabble I thought I would share my philosophy in the spirit of song and share  just a few that have shaped who I am.  You can check them out on YouTube.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BruEmB7_1ok

For me, dreaming is where it all begins because if you can’t imagine your future you will never get there to enjoy it the way you want.  This song has been on my 8-track, cassette tape, record player, Walkman and I-pod since I was 15.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQN87SEXKds

I often speak of the power of reflection, just taking time to be one with your thoughts and to give yourself permission to process them and let go of those things holding you back.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19JN50bLKjY

I had the honour and great fortune to be in Australia when this song was released for the first time and became a mega hit (and Australian anthem). If you listen to the words and take them in then nothing can or will stand in your way because you truly are the voice!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xg39uu-dlo

Call me philosophical but making today a great day really is your choice.  I have a brother who died at the age of 41 who would trade with you any day if you ever lose sight with that idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHDoiG2Bax0

On one of my last days at Microsoft I said goodnight to one of the co-op students.  I never did see her again as she was killed instantly on her drive home that night.  What a bitter reminder to never take for granted the things that make you sing out loud, so kiss your kids, hug your spouse, tell a stranger something to make them smile and always remember that the things you love dearly can disappear quickly with no opportunity for a proper goodbye. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aSbKvm_mKA

Just imagine marrying the girl of your dreams, aging 22 years by her side, testing every limit you can possibly imagine and still being able to lay beside her each and every night extremely happy with the decision you made.  I still sing this song with as much passion and enthusiasm as I did on the day we married.

This is your life go sing it proud!

What if you simply decided to start believing in you?

March 12, 2012

Do you know how many people tell me they are broken?  Oh I can’t do that – there’s just no way!  Then they come up with a million reasons why it’s ok to accept their mediocrity.  I am sure you have heard them all before… it was my parent’s fault, it’s because my company fired me, I had a tough life, the kid’s used to laugh at me, I made poor choices, I wet the bed, my spouse left me, the babysitter dropped me on my head!!  It really doesn’t matter because there is always an excuse to be had.

So my question this month is what if you changed all of those excuses into a burning fuel for living your life with a new brilliant purpose?  What if you simply decided to start believing in you?

Since last May I have had the honour (and I do mean honour) to meet hundreds of amazing people who through little fault of their own have faced the adversity of a job loss.  Now I would never suggest that being fired is a cakewalk but more times then not job loss is a brilliant beginning to a new world of amazing opportunity.

Honestly, what you do tomorrow is now your choice.   In fact, you can decide right now to start living your dream.  But here is something that I really can’t figure out.  How come people can place all the blame for their reality on themselves but any success they have is quickly directed to someone else.    That math simply doesn’t work out.  Wasn’t it Isaac Newton who taught us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Therefore it would only make sense that if you are capable of failure then you are just as capable of success.

Here’s another piece of trivia… Did you know that long before man ever adapted to using language our subconscious was developed as the protection mechanism to ward us from pending danger; its primary purpose was to sense danger and lead us away from it.  However, once man learned language the role of the subconscious diminished but it has never stopped gathering data and performing its duty especially in times of uncertainty.  So today when people face uncertainty the subconscious mind revs up and fills us with thoughts designed to protect us.  Stuff like… oh you can’t do that, that is too risky, they’ll never want you, maybe you are dumb.  This is all natural and part of our design.  People who achieve great success use these thoughts as feedback loop and give it some input but not total submission.  Your subconscious is a just a friend with a perspective that may just be different then yours. .

This month I want you to look in the mirror and see your real beauty.  It’s tempting to see the ugly but so powerful to find beauty in whom you are and what you have achieved.  Do yourself a favour and write down all of those wonderful successes you have achieved and celebrate them for what they are, “footprints of the indelible mark you are leaving in the lives you touch.   Here’s to fuelling your future with passion and purpose.

Curt Skene is a successful keynote speaker and sought after career coach who has helped hundreds re-invent themselves and their career.   His gift is telling you the things you need to know that will make a big difference in your success.  Check out his free career coaching community at www.mastermindset.ning.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

Breathe

May 19, 2011

I wrote this for a special friend.  I hope they listen!

It takes but a moment, yet it gives you a lifetime.
It refreshes, cleanses and restores your perspective.
It clears your head when thoughts grow foggy.
It calms your nerves when all else caves in.
If you took but one piece of advice, it would be always to breathe.

It’s like walking on a fresh spring morning, where flowers blossom and beauty abounds.
It’s the secret in life that’s so often forgotten.
Trust me on this one and enjoy every breath you take.

Breathing is the celebration of ones mortal existence.
It’s like filling your body with a fresh new beginning.
Breathing gives you the right to take a step back and soak it all in.
It affords you the time to set your mind right.

So do me a favour and please do it for me.
Take a moment right now to enjoy all that God gave you
Just stop what you are doing and just take time to breathe.

Written by: Curt Skene (image provided by http://beckyjanedavis.com/)

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

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 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


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