Posts Tagged ‘NLP’

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

What if you stopped trying so hard?

September 3, 2012

The Law of Reversed Effect is very simple, it states the harder you try to force something the more difficult it becomes to do.  Simply put… you can’t force natural progression just because you want to. 

For example, how many times have you tried to force a relationship only to find the other party starts to drift away?  How many athletes have tried to force themselves back to greatness only to find they get worse?  How many times have you tried to find something only to have someone else walk in and find it right away?  My point is trying too hard often has the opposite effect.

I was reminded of this law recently when a good friend (and client) landed their dream job.   They were dedicated, diligent and trying very hard with no success.  Oddly enough this opportunity came out of the blue the moment they stopped trying to look for it.  It may not make any sense but trust me the law of reversed effect is at work everyday.

So are there areas in your life where you are trying too hard?  Are there areas in your business where you are trying to force the natural progression of a situation?  Are you trying to force something and notice that it’s drifting further away? Here’s my advice, first… get very clear of what you want and why you want it and lock that vision deep in your subconscious, second… take a deep breath, third… step back and focus your attention on something else, forth… BOOM my bet.. there it is!

“Curt Skene was the opening keynote speaker at the Canadian Institute of Management, Toronto Branch’s “Developing Professional Excellence” conference. As the event manager I was thrilled with Curt’s performance. He was the perfect kickoff speaker. His energy, knowledge, enthusiasm and sense of humour was infectious and set a positive tone for the entire day.”

Mike Aoki, Event Manager, Canadian Institute of Management (Toronto Branch)

I know I can’t force myself to write, I have to be inspired by something.  When I do try to force it, look out writers block here I come!  So I step back, take a walk, play with the kids or go to sleep then I come back (sometimes at very weird hours) and voila it’s all good now.

I will admit it can be scary to step away because thoughts of “what if I miss it” can fill your mind.  But remember the old adage “If you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s yours and if it doesn’t, it never was!”

So this month I want you to take a giant leap and just stop trying to make something happen.  That doesn’t mean stop doing the “right” things, it means stop doing things just to try to force the natural flow of how the world is about to unfold.  If you are trying to land a new job or big contract continue to plant seeds but at the same time have the confidence to step back and open yourself up to other opportunities that you may not have considered yet.

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

Is it Time You Fixed The Leak?

July 20, 2012

 Years ago I owned a motor boat. While it was a lot of fun, there was one small problem; it always leaked!  I would continually take it to the Marina and ask them to fix the leak.  They would take the boat apart and start throwing more rubberized goop around the suspected leaking area.  Every week I would go in and every week they would add more goop and every week I still had a leak!

After many tired attempts the Marina owner suggested that instead of trying to fix the leak I should simply buy a pump that was designed to clear out the water faster than it came in.  His rationale was that boats inherently leaked and the pump would mask the problem.  Luckily, I never bought into his strategy and I told him in no uncertain terms I wanted him to fix the leak once and for all!  The owner sensing my displeasure took an even more thorough look at the leaking problem and came back with a long solemn look.  He told me that in doing his inspection he put his finger through the transom (back wall of the boat).  He noted that it had severely rotted away and we were very lucky that the transom hadn’t collapsed under the stress of the weight of the motor.  In reality the boat should have sunk with us in it!

The moral of the story is it doesn’t matter how much goop you use or what excuses you make to mask a problem, fix it right before it comes back to haunt you.  I still think of us out on the water with our two-year old daughter and five-year old son and wonder what we would have done if the boat had sunk.

While at Microsoft I had the opportunity to tell this story at a company wide gathering because Frank Clegg, Microsoft Canada President, was a big believer in fixing things the right way and I thought my boat story was a brilliant example.   While Frank was a big believer in continuous improvement he worried that if we simply continued to throw goop (in the form of $$ and resources) we would become fat and complacent like many of our competitors.

So thinking back on this story gets me thinking if there leaks you need to be fixing?  I think about the number of sales reps who are busy making calls but fail to ask if these calls are netting the results they need?  I have an expression that says it doesn’t matter how often you clean the window, if it’s still dirty you haven’t done a thing!

In my coaching business I spend a lot of time looking at the leaks in people’s lives.  What are they doing and is it netting them what they need.  Time management is a huge place to find many leaks.  Just how effective are you with your time?  I also look for the high gain activity that will (and can) net the best results.       Then I break down the activity so that I can start to find where any potential leaks might be.   Finding a leak is always about breaking down the one “big” activity into small measurable chunks and making sure each piece is contributing the kind of return you need.  The challenge is most people measure activity and give little attention to the results.  People can network for hours yet receive few introductions or leads in return.  People often ask me how many calls do they need to make and the answer is always the same… as many as it takes to get the results you need!!   The secret is when you move your focus from activity to result it makes it much easier to isolate where potential problems may lie.

This month take a look at your life and any potential leaks you might have.  Stop the insanity of fooling yourself just because you are “busy” and get ahead by creating a process driven by results.

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

Why Not Be a Player?

January 30, 2012

This month I gave myself a tough assignment; I made a commitment to go out and have fun. I had a busy month ahead, and I made it my mandate to find time to play. Do you know what?  I had a very productive month, one of my most productive ever. I think as our world grows busier we lose focus on the importance of creating playtime and the positive benefits it creates for our work environment. We tend to think that the busier we are, the more we are getting done, but I have found that the incredibly successful people take plenty of time to play. 
 
One of my favourite mind laws is called “the law of reversed effect.” This law states that the harder we try to do something, the more difficult it becomes. It is the root cause behind writer’s block and an athlete’s slumping performance. It’s harder to do things when you are trying to force yourself. You have likely experienced the frustration of not being able to remember something you absolutely know you should. In fact, have you noticed that when you stop trying to remember, it comes back to you? The same thing holds true for performance: if you want to encourage and promote great performance, don’t push so hard. Stop trying to make things happen and you will often find it becomes easier to do.

Curt you had everyone riveted to their seats, the feedback has been great and I have heard from all 220 delegates that you were the message we needed to hear!  Thanks for the great work.”
Jerry Engels, President, Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada
 
This month, I had six public speaking engagements in ten days, and two of these talks were brand new programs. While most people would lock themselves in their office and prepare, I did the next best thing. I went for a run. I like running. It makes me think better. By the end of my forty minute run, I had a very good conceptual plan of the first speech I needed to write. I find that when I let loose, my brain takes me to places that I can’t seem to get to when I sit at my desk. In this particular case I was able to take a so-so piece of my speech and turn it into a powerful closing segment that has taken my speech to a new level. By taking time to play, I bettered my business. When was the last time you went out and played, all in the name of bettering business?
 
In my pursuit for fun, I sat down with Barb Elaschuck, Director of Corporate Wellness at the Sports Club of Canada (www.sportsclubs.com). Barb told me that more and more companies are coming to SCC to play. She says it strengthens morale, reinforces life balance and reduces stress. She also told me how companies are creating corporate challenges among other business partners and creating fun events that build more synergy across both organizations. While I was there, she shared an interesting study that showed how companies with active health programs have ten times better retention than those without. While the study was dated, I believe the results probably still hold true today. 
 
When it comes to playing, I have always been convinced that companies need a better quality of playtime. So I called on Chris Iliffe and Dave Hyde, co-owners of www.trythat.ca, to learn more about the adventures and experiences they offer corporations that want to play more. While I did not know much about their company, their adventures sounded different and fun. They said that instead of talking about their business, they wanted me to experience it first-hand. For an exciting three hour period, I put on my jumpsuit and became an F18 fighter pilot, challenging others in a dog fight high in the virtual sky. What was interesting was how my team came together even though I was a complete stranger to all of them. The game forced us to work with each other, watch each other’s back and anticipate what our partners would do. I found myself wondering who wouldn’t want to teach these skills to everyone in their organization.
 
Sometimes, even when we play, we can learn so much. Now I should be clear, I am not a fan of teambuilding exercises that get you to build a boat out of two pieces of cardboard, a roll of string and a four leaf clover, but I really got into this real-time game where I was working with a retired Air Force officer and the rest of my team to plan a mission to take out the enemy. It was realistic and fun. I realize that not everyone finds being a fighter pilot interesting. Dave told me that they learned the hard way that you can’t force employees to have fun; if you really want to make a difference, you need to give them the freedom to choose the adventure of their choice. I like planes, you like spas. Everyone should have a choice. That’s why Trythat created their voucher program — so that each employee can customize the best experience for them.
 
Whatever your challenges are this month, make sure you take time to play. You will strengthen your focus, explore new ways of thinking and improve your employee retention. If you haven’t got time for an all out adventure you may want to check out www.inmyhands.ca. Irene and her team will bring in their onsite massage chairs and give everyone a restful and relaxing massage. Not quite a margarita on the beach, but it’s coming close in these busy, stressful times.
 
Special thanks to The Sports Clubs of Canada (www.sportsclubs.com ), TryThat (www.trythat.ca) and In my Hands (www.inmyhands.ca).

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

What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten?

December 12, 2011

Undoubtedly at this time of the year I think about gifts.  Not about giving or receiving but the gifts I have been blessed with in my life.  I am fortunate to have love and able to give love each and every day.  I am blessed with the gift of humour that can instantly make strangers smile and bad days ring happy.  I have the gift of being able to feel the world quickly and deeply which makes it easy to make a difference in the lives I touch.  I have the gift of a best friend who has been in my life since I was 15 years old and even with all the things she has done for me she would be the first to tell you she hasn’t done enough.  I have all sorts of memories that life has given me from the wild “I can’t believe I survived” to tear filled moments of welcoming my kids into the world and the unbelievable gift of having these memories so clear in my mind. 

Tonight as I sit here listening to “Christmas Shoes” I am reminded I have the amazing gift of life, family and friends surrounding me everyday.  But the biggest gift and the one I want to bring to your attention is the ability to see every life experience as a gift in some way, shape or form.  Sure my sense of humour gets me in trouble and sometimes yes there are times I wished I wasn’t so emotional.  It’s true I absolutely have lost at love over the years but I am thrilled to have loved at all.  Yes both my wife and kids can drive me crazy but I look at them daily and want nothing but to be more like them.  There is nowhere in my life would I ever ask for a “do over” because life, mine in particular, has been the best gift of all.

I was inspired to write this because a dear friend of mine was talking about gifts and how difficult the whole gift giving process can be.  I know her well enough to say that any purchased gift would pale in comparison to the gift of friendship she gives those she loves every day.  I know too my wife struggles with what she should get a husband that buys himself too much as it is.  The answer my dear is nothing because just having you lie beside me every night is the only gift any guy could ever want.

So this year as you celebrate your holidays please take some time to recognize all the gifts you have and all those gifts you give just by being you.  God has given us plenty of gifts, no doubt your family has added to the pile and now with awareness, appreciation and those dear to you, you can open your heart every day to many of the spectacular gifts that lie ahead.

Thanks to all the gift givers in my life.  The generosity, spirit and passion that you have given to me have the potential of making this the best Christmas ever.   

Curt Skene is a motivational speaker and career coach who makes his living offering simple thinking that changes lives!  If you are looking for inspiration and insights in a very obtainable, hey I could do that kind of way, then hiring Curt is your answer. 

What do you regret?

July 4, 2010

Let me ask you, do you have any regrets and if you do what are you going to do about them?

While most of you won’t know this, in the last 6-8 months I started to write this blog as a form of a rant towards the different people in my life. The person I am writing about always knows the entry is about them but no one else usually does. It’s my hope that my writing helps them and it’s often a great thinking experience for me. This entry is no different other than the fact, the deserving recipient of my own timely advice is none other than myself!

To start off, I have always believed one should never live with regret. Whatever you do must always begin with the question, “Will it lead you to regret?” We all must be accountable for our actions and decisions and know that a lifetime is a long time to live with the pain of the regret we may cause ourselves. I remember when my brother was going in for cancer surgery and my father wondered if he should fly out to Calgary to be with him. All I said was, “Dad are you going to regret flying out there to find out he is ok?” Then I asked, ”Will you regret it if you stay here and he is not?” He flew out that very same day.

If you think about it, regret is a funny thing because not only can you regret something you did, you can just as easily regret something you didn’t do. So if one is truly to live without regret in their life, there is a fine balance of power between, the action and inaction you may take.

For me, it’s never easy to admit fault or error especially when you know you have others who look up to you, put trust in you and hold you so dear. But its part of the process and it opens the door to forgiving yourself for the regrets you may have.

Whenever you regret something you can always catch yourself asking why. Why did you do it? Why did you let things turn out that way? You can rack your brain for hours and days trying to trace your steps and think about how you could have done things differently. You can pray for a different outcome in hopes you can reverse history and take the pain away but in the end things happen because we are all human and it’s the human in us that makes regret so real. I will be the first to admit I am not perfect. I will go even further and say I can sometimes fall well short. In my life I have made career, money, relationship and business decisions that I will always regret. However, one thing is for certain, I will never regret being who I am as I am clear that more days than not I live with brilliance, integrity and a caring compassion for changing this world.

I wish I could say why people do things that they would later regret. I honestly don’t know the answer, sometimes I am sure its greed, sometimes it may be fear and many times you may be too plain stupid to think about the magnitude of your decision. You can also regret that you don’t regret what you have done. I know for me, many ask if I ever regretted leaving Microsoft or working on my own and the answer is never. It was a choice I clearly made. Whatever your regret might be, it’s most important that you forgive yourself and allow that regret to subside so you can carry on.

I know that as soon as you start to regret anything then that alone indicates it’s already history and you can’t take it back anymore. All you can really do is carry it forward in the context of a lesson learned. How you choose to let regret shape your future is the powerful question you need to really ask. I meet so many people who live in anger and pain because of what they regret but the past is the past and always will be. However, there is nothing saying you have to stay the same course and that you must always do what you have done. As humans we are the adaptable species so we can take our new knowledge and make better decisions.

I am sure I am not the only one who has regrets for what they have done or maybe didn’t do. As smart as I might like to think I am, everyone including me, is more than capable of shooting themselves in the foot once in a while. However, when I find I am living with regret I simply remind myself to hold my head high, look to those I love and those who I may have hurt and let them know I will be smarter and wiser because of the lesson learned in my regret. I do hope they hear me, I do hope they believe me and I do hope they know I will never regret for a moment the decision I made when I invited them in to be an important part of my life.

Final Thought:  Regret for something you did is tempered by time but regret for what you didn’t do is almost always inconsolable.

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


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