Dave Lindsey: How ‘focus = growth’ for rapid business expansion involves the ‘main thing’

Dave Lindsey, founder, Defender Direct

Dave Lindsey, founder, Defender Direct

You will never get it all done!

My first job out of grad school was managing one product line, no people and a “to do” list that was a mile long.

I remember breaking down to my dad one night, who at that time was a bank executive who managed multiple divisions, hundreds of people and a lot more responsibility than I could ever comprehend. I was beyond frustrated working 70+ hour work weeks yet I couldn’t manage to get everything done, and my to-do list kept growing!

That’s when Dad gave me some of the best advice that I have ever received. He said, “David, they don’t pay you to get it all done. They pay you to get the most important things done.” Wow! That simple phrase changed my life.

Let me clarify by saying that some jobs, entry level specifically, do warrant the employee to get everything done; all phones need to be answered, hamburgers cooked, etc. prior to leaving for the day.

But as we begin to move up the ranks of responsibility we don’t want to take this mentality with us. When we are managing people, places or things, the options of what we spend our time on grows exponentially. We can conduct training, print a new catalogue, go to a meeting … the list goes on and on.

 

Learn to focus

So many options and requests on our time and soon, we find that we can never get it all done. This is why it is imperative that as we grow in our positions, we learn to focus on the right things.

The power of prioritization is undeniable in terms of your future success and in order to be exponentially successful, you must learn how to differentiate time management from prioritization.

Peter Drucker says it best: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Don’t waste your energy just crossing things off your “to do” list. Instead, spend some time prioritizing. Then pour your energy into the projects and tasks that you have deemed to be the most important things to complete today.

In the early days of Defender, I was a young entrepreneur obsessed with thoughts about how I could grow our business. As Defender grew, our team members were presented with new opportunities everywhere we turned.

While sometimes it was hard to turn away from an opportunity to sell what was presented as the “next big thing,” early on I took a step back to really evaluate our business. Every time we said yes to a new idea or product, it meant more training, more options, more complexity.

 

Stay in focus

Success does create more and new opportunities, but that means we must stay focused say no more often! Otherwise, our team and focus will fragment and slow us down.

I hear so many stressed out business leaders say, “But it’s all important!” However, by definition, if everything is important, then nothing is important.

If you want to be the leader of a high performance, fast-growth business, then your No. 1 job is to figure out what is most important and to “keep the main thing as the main thing.”

Still, today I divide my to-do list into A,B,C and D priorities and every morning I write my top three A priorities on a Post-It note, which I carry with me throughout the day as a reminder to keep me focused.

If each day I can get my top three most important things done amongst the chaos of life, I figure I’ll have a pretty successful life.

Remember, there will always be more things to do than there is time to do them. You’ll never get it all done and your “to do” list will never be empty. Let this philosophy release you from the stress of trying to get it all done and put that new energy into getting the right things done today.

No Languishing in Legal Lament: Turning Tables on the Traumatic

Kevin Daum

Shakespeare said, “First kill all the lawyers.”  At first glance this seems a tad aggressive but for most people the last thing you look forward to is someone showing up at your door with a subpoena.  Regardless of whether a lawsuit is business related or personal the thought of engaging an attorney for protracted litigation can drive fear into a person’s heart.

Not only is there emotion and argument to contend with, but the shear unknown of exorbitant fees being charged to you at hundreds of dollars per hour with no end in sight is enough to terrorize anyone.  Even most attorneys, particularly litigators will advise people to avoid litigation at all costs.

I have been involved in two lawsuits in my 46-year lifetime.  The first required me to do most of my own legal work.  It resulted in the other side dismissing with prejudice after I showed the plaintiff’s attorney his own ignorance by demonstrating his client had committed fraud, which he had missed, even though the signs were obvious.  That one cost me $29,000 in non-recoverable legal fees just to demonstrate what I (and everyone else) knew from the start.  The problem is that many attorneys such as this one believe they are right and often righteous even when they are not.

Last year I engaged in my second lawsuit.  This time it was my divorce after 24 years of marriage.  Although things started amicably, emotions were high and I soon found myself on the receiving end of a New York matrimonial attorney who happily made his living off the misery of others.  Now certainly there are plenty of situations where people need someone to represent them as an advocate, but more often than not, attorneys like this one will charge ahead to spend a retainer without fully reviewing the case.  I am pleased to say that this attorney stopped his useless crusade once he had used up twice my ex-wife’s retainer and realized he had a losing case that was not going to yield him any more money. However the emotional and financial damage he inflicted on his client was a shameful example of the challenge of dealing with lawyers and based on Shakespeare’s 400-year-old quote, is nothing new.

As one who recoils from the mere mention of lawsuits, I learned a few things from my bout with this divorce lawyer that are worthy of sharing.  Since I finished my divorce without hiring counsel to defend against him and ultimately came out with a settlement agreed to be fair by both sides once he was gone, these should be tips that will help to keep more money out of the pockets of lawyers who don’t have their client’s best interest at heart.

Don’t Be Bullied

Attorneys are trained to be aggressive.  Law school is a brutal and competitive atmosphere where only the strong survive.  Don’t let their aggressive tactics and blustering ramp up your emotions to the point where you lose sight of truth and fairness.  Lawyers are people too and you can stand up to them and take the high road.  Law is not rocket science.  You can do the basic research and work without spending thousands of dollars in many cases. Take an intelligent active role in your defense even if you have counsel representing you. (This saves you money by the way.) Once you learn the law you can attack on your own behalf.  I wrote many emails showing this attorney where he was wrong and negligent bordering on malpractice.

Tell the Truth

If you are in the wrong then settlement is probably your best approach, but if you are legitimately right then stand up for your defense and provide the facts as they occurred.  In both my cases, I stood by the truth and the law without any manipulation or legal shenanigans.  That allowed me to maintain consistency and moral superiority, which helped with my confidence in beating both attorneys.  My motivation was truth and their motivation was greed.  Truth is a better foundation for a sustainable battle.

Maintain Your Sense of Humor

This is how you take a traumatic experience like litigation and turn it into an Awesome Experience.  Trauma never actually seems as bad when you are in the middle of it.  Rather than letting my emotions get the best of me, I turned to humor.  In my many emails to the attorney spelling out the law and facts, I used a tone filled with irony and humor.  I even sent him lawyer jokes.  I found ways to catch him off guard and take him off his game.  Although it irritated my ex-wife, I focused my barbs and jabs at the attorney.  Ultimately I showed him that I was fully prepared to demonstrate the ridiculous nature of his actions and that in litigation I would be likeable and paint him as the nasty evil villain.  The emails I sent had some of my funniest writing to date. Writing them helped me keep my cool and express my anger in a productive way.  If you don’t take your opponent or yourself too seriously you have a better chance of keeping a clear head and seeing the opportunities for success.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help keep the attorney’s away or at least prepare you for the day the subpoena shows up.

1. How can you have a basic understanding of the law related to your job and business?

2. How can you easily document facts that relate to potential legal issues at your company?

3. What are your first five steps should you receive a business or personal subpoena?

4. Where are you vulnerable in your dealings by not being truthful?

5. What are your top 3 favorite lawyer jokes?

I am happy to say that there are more and more attorneys building successful practices on litigation prevention and civil resolution.  Even in the contentious matrimonial world a young New York lawyer named Daniel Yaniv has built a fast growing practice based upon uncontested divorces for less than $1000.  Hopefully this is a trend and the remaining self-serving, greedy attorneys will be left to move on to join their colleagues in the other profession where they seem to thrive… politics.

KEVIN DAUM is the principal of TAE International and the author of the Amazon #1 Bestsellers “ROAR! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle” and “Green$ense For the Home: Rating the Real Payoff on 50 Green Home Projects” both available at www.AwesomeRoar.com. He is a speaker and provides marketing consulting. Reach him at [email protected]

Battle-ready

Why do we complicate things that are so simple? Blocking and tackling is still blocking and tackling. To be good at anything requires a lot of practice and hard work.

But that is not how most salespeople see things. They don’t want to practice; they simply want to show up for the game, strap on a helmet and go to battle with the other pros.

That’s a recipe for disaster.

Consider the story of the Green Bay Packers. On Dec. 31, 1967, Vince Lombardi led his team onto Lambeau Field for its third consecutive NFC championship game. It was Lombardi’s second shot at the Super Bowl, and across the field he faced a difficult opponent, the Dallas Cowboys.

The temperature was cold, about 12 degrees below zero, and the field was frozen solid. With seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys led Lombardi’s Packers 17-14. Do you think for one second that Lombardi let his players think about the conditions rather than about their one last chance to win?

Of course not. Instead, Lombardi did what he always did — made his team suck it up and play to win. He was tough, and his team knew it. He always expected them to give him their best — on every play.

Lombardi’s discipline was legendary. That, along with his motto — “Winning is not a sometime thing. You don’t win once in a while. You don’t do things right once in a while You do them right all the time.” — earned him a place among the best leaders in history.

Your philosophy for success should be no different from Lombardi’s when you consider your sales team — the managers and salespeople — and why they often fail to do what it takes for your company to win.

The job of your sales managers is to train their staff and bring their players to a higher level of performance. The more field time they have — being on the playing field or in the field to observe the salespeople — rather than simply standing on the sidelines watching the players practice or play the game, the better they know the strengths and weaknesses of their staff.

The lesson is simple, even for a Fortune 100 company — don’t just stay in the office and tell your players to come by after the game to let the coach know if they won or lost.

So why do salespeople typically fail when it comes to game prep?

There are three usual suspects, any of which can damage your company’s ability to close deals.

First, do all the members of your sales staff like their jobs and the company? If not, encourage them to quit or let them go. Salespeople, like football players, need to buy into the team program and the leader’s vision in order to be successful.

Second, have you trained your sales staff properly to make enough calls each day to have the numbers work? Regardless of how many times you’ve heard it, it’s worth repeating — the more calls you make, the greater the number of orders you receive. Do you think Louis Gerstner’s sales staff at IBM is trained to sit by the phone and wait for prospective customers to call?

Finally, have you educated your staff to ask enough questions to find out the wants and needs of prospective customers? Like blocking and tackling, this is a skill that requires practice all the time.

You, as coach, are ultimately responsible for instilling a culture of good work habits among your sales managers and their staff. Those habits are only noticed on the field of play. That’s why it is your job to observe your players and keep them focused on giving you their best every day on every play. Your company’s future success depends upon it.

As for the Packers on that bitterly cold day, quarterback Bart Starr ran the old quarterback sneak across the goal line to give Lombardi and his team the win. They went on to defeat the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II.

Is your sales team ready to deliver the same type of win for your company?

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of two best selling books, “Can I have 5 minutes of your time?” and “Lip Service.” He can be reached at www.halbecker.com.

Difficult decisions

Running a business is never an easy job, particularly when the decisions you make have the potential for controversy.

Employees look to you for leadership, but your decisions can be taken personally, particularly in the area of benefits.

The issue of same-sex marriages has come to the forefront in recent months, and business leaders and HR managers could be facing the dilemma of how to shape their benefits programs to meet the needs of changing employee demographics without coming across as uncaring.

It could be a difficult situation. Offering benefits to the partners of gay or lesbian employees may get you labeled as a progressive company, but at what cost? Based on the host of unknowns, this is probably not a good decision for your company. Here are four reasons to consider.

* The state does not recognize same-sex marriages. It’s difficult to take a stance that’s contrary to state law. In any legal dispute, having the law on your side is an obvious advantage. Without the law, you are treading in unknown legal waters. It may be difficult to forge a fair policy based on standards you have to create rather than on legislated definitions.

* Work forces are typically a mix of varying viewpoints. While a few employees might celebrate the addition of same-sex benefits, will you alienate the majority? By trying to create a policy to attract and retain talented gay and lesbian employees, are you at the same time unwittingly creating a policy that will hinder the recruitment of others?

* Health care costs are rising at a rapid rate. Adding nontraditional coverage options will increase your costs, either directly through premium increases or indirectly through extra time spent by HR staff researching these issues.

* How do you define who is a legitimate couple and who isn’t? With no state backing, a business will have to determine this on its own. Defining relationships isn’t anyone’s core competency. This could be very difficult and time-consuming.

While offering same-sex partner benefits is a recurring topic, companies shouldn’t be in the business of defining relationships. Offering these benefits means offering benefits to opposite-sex nonmarried couples as well. How do you determine who is eligible? Time spent together? Cohabitation? Signed affidavits?

These issues should be determined by the legislature so we are all operating by the same standards. Until that time, this issue is probably better left alone.