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It’s a choice you can make

O wnership
A ccountability
R esponsibility
B lame
E xcuses
D enial

People and companies that operate above the line recognize that they do in fact have Ownership of their life, Accountability for their results and Responsibility for their actions. While they recognize that they can’t control everything that happens to them in life, they can choose and control how they respond to those circumstances. As a result they are constantly progressing forward, achieving more and with a greater sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and enjoyment. It’s a choice you can make. Which do you choose?

How do I network more effectively?

As a Business Coach, one of the questions I get asked frequently is: “How do I network more effectively?”

I think Jeffrey Gitomer summed it up quite simply: “Your mother taught you everything you need to know about connecting before your were 10 years old: Make friends, play nice, tell the truth, take a bath, do your homework”.

Networking is a skill that can be learned and there a number of things you can learn do to be more effective in today’s busy networking world. Start with the fundamentals and then let’s talk……..Jeff

So You Think You Are To Busy Too………..

Perhaps you’ve heard this story. Imagine you’re sitting in a college class. It’s one of those big classrooms, with tiered seating, able to accommodate hundreds of students. The class is assembled in eager expectation; what will the professor do today?

At exactly 8 o’clock, he strides in and without acknowledging the classes’ presence, reaches under the lectern and produces a large glass jar. He sits it on a nearby table. Then he pulls out a box of rocks and sets it next to the jar. Finally, he fixes his gaze on his charges and with their attention sufficiently garnered, he clears his throat, gestures to the rocks, and asks, “Who would like to show us how much you can fit in the jar?”

Unable to contain himself, an eager-to-impress student shoots up his hand. With no other volunteers, he is summoned forward. Desiring to make a profound and positive impression on his instructor, Mr. Eager-to-Impress works quickly but carefully, astutely positioning rocks in the jar until it is satiated.

“Is the jar full?” The professor inquires.

“Yes!” the students reply in strong unison.

“Can you fit any more in the jar?” He deadpans.

“No!” is the enthusiastic chorus.

Then the instructor produces a bag of pebbles.  “How about now?” The students emit a collective gasp; a hush falls over the room. Mr. Eager-to-Impress is in a quandary.  Should he cut his losses and remain silent or attempt to salvage his bravado.  Somewhat hesitantly he raises his hand and is again beckoned forward. With greater care and less haste, he places a handful of pebbles at the top and by tapping, shaking, and rotating the jar, they make their way to fill the gaps below. Satisfied he has done his best, with hopeful confidence he returns to his chair.

“Is the jar full?” The educator again inquires.

“Um, yes,” is the students’ cautious reply.

“Can you fit any more in the jar?”  He questions.

“No,” they guardedly answer.

Next the instructor brings out a pail of sand. Many students begin to smile.  “How about now?”  Eager-to-Impress is not so eager any more, but feels his fate has been decided. Without being asked, he slinks back to the table and using the same technique, filters the fine sand through the courser maze of rocks and pebbles. Red-faced, he sits down, anxious for class to end.

The teacher gleefully asks, “Is the jar full now?”

No one will venture a response. Whatever they might say, they fear would be wrong; plus, no one wants to stand out like Eager-to-Impress.

The professor ignores their silence, “Can you fit any more in the jar?”  He questions.  More silence ensues.

With practiced timing, the learners are left to squirm in the hush of the moment. Without a word the teacher reaches under the podium and brings forth a picture of water. Some students groan; others smile. Unable to contain himself, the skilful educator grins.  “How about now?”  He asks?  He doesn’t ask for volunteers and none would be forthcoming anyway. Slowly he begins pouring the water into the jar.  Gradually, it permeates every crack and crevice.  He fills it to the top and then adds a bit more to overflow the jar. There is no doubt as to whether or not the jar is full.

“What can we learn from this?” is his final query.

Eager-to-Impress, wanting to salvage something from this debacle, summons his courage and hesitantly proclaims, “It means that no matter how busy you are, you can always fit more in!”

“No,” the professor bellows, pounding his fist on the table for emphasis. “It means that unless you take care of the big things first, they will never get done!”
I have heard several variations of this story. Since I have been unable to track down the source of this tale, or its author, I share my version of it, and thank the author for the lessons learnt.

I can confidently state that I am quite adept at handling the pebbles and sand in my life, topping it off with an abundant supply of water to make things seem complete.  However, I’ve discovered that it requires forethought and intentionality for me to handle the rocks, those big and important things. I find that without careful planning and deliberate action, the big stuff gets put off until tomorrow. It becomes all too easy to go from day to day, week to week, month to month, and even year to year, attending only to life’s minutia, without ever tackling its priorities.

This seems to be an epidemic; everyone is busy. We are busy at work and leave to be busy at home; we are busy in rest and recreation and busier still on vacation, needing to go back to work to rest up.  All too often, our busyness distracts us from what is important, from what really matters, from those things that could truly make a difference.  I’ve pondered my own busyness and am working towards my solution.

Time Management: The traditional thrust of time management is controlling how we spend our time so as to allow time to do more. This doesn’t bring relief or reduce stress, it just means that we are squeezing more into an already full day. Turn time management on its head, using it control how we spend our time, so that we do less. This is my first prescription against busyness.

Multitasking: When I multitask, I am not really doing two things at once, but merely quickly switching back and forth. I fear that my pursuit of multitasking has only served to make me ADD! Not only is multitasking inefficient and counter-productive, there is also evidence that it messes up our brain.

Keep a Time Log:  In the office I  periodically ask the team to keep a time log for a week; I do it too. They hate it and so do I, but the results are instructive.  You may elect to keep a time log, too, or merely consider how you spend your time.  Let’s look at some easy categories.  How much TV do you watch a day?  The average is four hours!  How much time do you spend on the Internet?  Again the average hovers around four hours!  It makes me wonder, are people multitasking, watching TV and surfing the web at the same time?  All this amounts to a lot of time that could likely be put to better use, attending to the big things, not squandered in passive activities of no real consequence. One may argue that this down time is “needed” to relax, but I would argue that if we weren’t so perpetually busy, we wouldn’t need so much time to escape.

Just Say No: We tell our kids to say “no” to certain behaviours and we could do well to heed that advice. Negative behaviours range from, say, occasional overeating to addictive substance abuse. These should be easy to spot and stop, but it’s not always done. Other behaviours are neutral or even positive, but still may be inadvisable. Sometimes its prudent to say “no” to some good things in order to protect ourselves from over-committing and ending up too busy to do anything well.

Set Limits: I’ve learned that my tolerance for work is about 50 to 55 hours a week.  If things balloon beyond that, I find that out of self-preservation I cut back until I again have a tolerable schedule.  If I was self-policing to a 55 hour work week, I theorized I could learn to limit myself to 45 hours.  It took some time, but I was able to do it.  In looking back at my output and quality during those 45 hour work weeks, I can see nothing that suffered or was left undone.  I was also more relaxed, less stressed, and had more free time.  Unfortunately, maintaining that schedule took effort and I soon fell back into the 55 hour work week habit.  Once again I am working to reclaim those lost 10 hours a week.

Know Yourself: My tendency is to handle the pebbles and sand at the beginning of my day and then attend to the rocks in the afternoon – if there is time.  This is not wise for me, as my time of greatest focus and peak energy is in the morning.  Ironically, I was handling trivial stuff at my peak while reserving the important tasks for my low point.  It takes a concerted, ongoing effort, but I strive to prioritise key tasks for peak times, while delegating lesser activities to my off moments.

Now We Can Do the Big Things First: Once you’ve taken steps to resume control over life’s activities, there is then time to attend to the big things.  Without the cumulative pressures of countless trivial concerns pushing in, there is the freedom to focus on the important, the life-altering, and the significant, removing us from the rut that all too easily goes from day to day, week to week, month to month, and even year to year – all without notable advancement.

Above all, it is imperative to guard against getting so busy dealing with life that we forget to live it.

Initiating Positive Change

Initiating Positive Change

Why is it that some people don’t like change even when it will clearly generates results far in excess of their current performance? You and your sales team undoubtedly encounter this kind of behavior. Your company makes the ideal product for a prospective client but they won’t change from their current supplier. Or how about those conversations you’ve had with team members, or family members for that matter, yet little changes as a result of that conversation. Frustrating isn’t it?

To help explain people’s reluctance to change we’ve developed the “Formula For Change”. This formula, (D x V) + F > R, helps explain what elements are necessary in order for people to accept change. Understanding this formula enables people to be proactive when dealing with change. The formula states that Dissatisfaction (D) times Vision (V) plus what’s required to make the change (F for first steps) must exceed Resistance (R) if any change is to happen. If either dissatisfaction and / or vision are low then the chance of overcoming Resistance is low and therefore change probably won’t occur.

Nice you say but how does this apply to me and running my business. Let me answer that by providing some examples.

  1. Members of your sales team know every feature and benefit of your quality product, but their sales results are disappointing. What happens all too often with sales teams is that they spend their time in front of the prospective client promoting your product’s features and benefits, but they neglect to uncover their prospective client’s dissatisfaction with their current provider.
  2. Rather than helping your prospective client understand how your service will help them achieve their vision, your sales team talks about features. Recall that 80% of sales are made for emotional reasons (people buy on emotions and justify with logic – Tom Hopkins).
  3. As the owner of a business that has been impacted by the current economy you realize that how you operated in the past will need to change in today’s world. Yet, you find that making the required changes are difficult. Perhaps that’s because either your dissatisfaction or vision are low. Increase the intensity of your dissatisfaction or desire to achieve your vision and you’ll be far more likely to embrace long-term change.

You know the ole saying that the only constant in life is change. Having a better understanding of the forces that impact long-term change should you succeed in imposing the desired changes.


 If you, or someone you know, is looking to become a more effective networker, then Focused Attention is a great listening technique to help you achieve that goal.


Fact: The human brain, on average, can think at a rate of 400 to 450 words per minute; the average person, however, can only talk at a rate of 100 to 150 words per minute.


Let’s say you’re at a networking event, and you’re listening to a really fast talker, maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 words per minute.  And while that person is talking, let’s say your brain is thinking at a rate of 400 words per minute.


So if you’re thinking at a rate of 400 words per minute, and the person you’re talking to is speaking at a rate of 150 words per minute, then what you do with that “extra” capacity (400 minus 150 words per minute) is going to determine how good a listener you are.


Focused attention says to concentrate 100% of your attention on the message the other person is communicating.


Where is Your Attention Focused?


Are you planning your response while the other person is talking, or are you understanding their point and making a few mental notes to help you in that process?


Are you scanning the room trying to find the next person you want to meet, or when someone walks over, do you stop what you’re doing, and devote your full attention to this person?


The reason most people aren’t very good listeners, is because during most discussions, they’re spending their “extra” intellectual capacity (those extra 250 words we were just talking about) on everything other than the conversation at hand.


And in today’s email typing, pager answering, voicemail checking world where “multi-tasking” is very much en vogue, everyone seems to be doing two or three things at once.


Recommendation: At your next networking event, make it a point to “block out” everyone else in the room and focus your mental attention on what this person is saying.


A friend of mine once told me that he met somebody who went a step further than that: Whenever someone walked into his office, he physically removed whatever documents he was working on off of his desk, and then redirected his attention to that person.


Wow!  Now that sends a powerful message.


Imagine if you could send that exact same message to someone else in your life.  It could be your spouse talking about their day at the dinner table, or a prospect at work.


Concentrating 100% of your attention on that person is a surefire way to make them feel that their message is being valued.  And at the end of the day, isn’t that what being a good listener is all about?

Is your crew on board and ready or are they mentally AWOL?

Your crew may be like millions of people who show up at work on Monday morning D.O.A. (Dead on Arrival).

Instead of coming back from some weekend R&R, they are burned out, stressed out, and overworked. Sound familiar?

• Blood pressure readings are higher on Mondays than at any other time of the week.
• Deaths from heart attacks and strokes tend to peak on Monday morning.
• There are 20 percent more heart attacks on Mondays than any other day of the week

Monday morning at 8:00AM. Just enough time to get your coffee, make small talk with the team, and settle down at your desk in front of an insurmountable pile of to do’s, calls, reports, deadlines and dead ends …

Corporations and a lot of small businesses spend billions of dollars a year to analyze the core issues that are stifling their organization. The answer is simple … employee’s who are not motivated at work!!

• Unmotivated employee’s cost American company’s more than $300 billion a year in lost productivity.
• 22.5 million workers in the U.S. are completely unmotivated.
• Poor leadership is the biggest contributor to unmotivated employee’s.
• Unmotivated employee’s turnover dozens of times more often costing businesses billions in additional hiring and training expenses.

Put Employee Turnover in the Past!

So how do you solve the problem? Become a business or an employer-of-choice. An employer-of-choice is a business that employees are eager to work for. An employer-of-choice gets his pick of the litter when it comes to hiring employees. Rarely do good employees walk away from employers-of-choice.

What makes a company an employer-of-choice?
1. The business owner and management respects the employees.
2. The business owner and management has realistic expectations of employee performance.
3. The business owner and management sets employees up for success.
4. The business owner and management holds non-performers accountable.
5. The business owner and management pays employees fairly.
6. The sales team keeps the backlog full of good work.

Since turnover is a sign of extremely unhappy employees, have you ever considered where there is high turnover, there probably remains behind a bunch of unmotivated employees. These employees, your crew, are picking up paychecks without producing any significant work.

Solving the turnover problem often solves the low productivity problem. The two go hand-in-hand. For that reason, employers-of-choice usually end up with highly motivated and highly productive teams. I know several businesses that have between 5 and 50 employees each and lose less than one employee a year to voluntary turnover. Would it surprise you to learn that these companies have incredibly high productivity compared to comparable businesses?

The first area you may want to examine when the business is not growing or producing the profitability you want is the productivity, cost and turnover of your staff. More business in the door will do little if productivity doesn’t improve. Motivated, productive employees begin with you – the leader, captain of the ship. So what are you waiting for?

Business Tip: Read These Books!

Increase your awareness of possible solution alternatives by reading great business books and listening to CDs. Make the most of your time by listening to audio recordings of books whenever you can…when driving in your car for example. Also, make a commitment to read at least one good business book a month.

What follow are the titles and authors of ten books I suggest you read. These great books provide insights into problem resolutions that will help you expand your frame of reference.

Good to Great – Jim Collins

The Secrets of Question-Based Selling – Jim Freese

Start With Why – Simon Sinek

The Ultimate Sales Machine – Chet Holmes

Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got – Jay Abraham

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni

Instant Cashflow – Bradley Sugars

Endless Referrals – Bob Burg

Influence – Robert Cialdini

The Psychology of Selling – Brian Tracey

“In order to burn out a person needs to have been on fire at one time.” – Ayala Pines

Millions of people show up at work on Monday morning D.O.A. (Dead on Arrival).
Burned out – Stressed out and Overworked.  Sound Familiar?


  • Blood pressure readings are higher on Mondays than at any other time of the week.
  • Deaths from heart attacks and strokes tend to peak on Monday morning.
  • There are 20 percent more heart attacks on Mondays than any other day of the week.

Monday morning at 9:00 am — Just enough time to get your coffee, make small talk in the break room, and settle down at your desks in front of an insurmountable pile of to do’s, cold calls, sales reports, deadlines and dead ends …

Companies spend billions of dollars a year to analyze the core issues that are stifling their organization. The answer is simple … employee’s who are not motivated at work!!


  • Unmotivated employee’s cost American company’s more than $300 billion a year in lost productivity.
  • 22.5 million workers in the U.S. are completely unmotivated despite the risk of unemployment.
  • Poor leadership is the biggest contributor to unmotivated employees.

“I believe that motivation – the lack of it or the misdirection of it – is the single biggest problem facing business today. In fact, I bet that right now, without any preparation, you could reel off a half-dozen examples of how motivation problems are killing your organization.”

Companies all over the Metro area come to ActionCOACH Atlanta to:

  • Ignite the passion and fire in their workforce
  • Improve employee morale and retention.
  • Decrease employee absenteeism and turnover.

All Prospects Aren’t Equally Loyal

When was the last time you received a thank you note after making a purchase? Only on rare occasions have I ever received a thank you note from the owner of a business after making a significant purchase. If I did receive such a note I would certainly revisit the business, assuming the quality was at least good. So why is it that hand-written thank you notes are not modus operandi for most business owners? It’s not because businesses have so many regular repeat customers that they don’t need more. No, the answer is that owners don’t understand customer loyalty.

One of the most important lessons we teach business owners is that there are different degrees of customer loyalty. Just because someone buys from you once doesn’t mean that they will continue buying from you. One-time buyers are nothing more than shoppers; they aren’t customers. It’s not until someone buys a second time that they become customers.

I introduce the Ladder of Loyalty to clients to help them understand the different levels of client relationships. There are six rungs on this loyalty ladder. The lowest level of loyalty is the “Suspect” because they haven’t purchased from your business, and the most desirable customers rest on the top rung as a “Raving Fans”.

Raving Fan

Suspects are members of your target market. You may have directed some lead generation activities towards them, but they have been unresponsive to those marketing initiatives.

The next rung on the ladder is occupied by those Suspects who express interest in learning more about your business. Perhaps they call you after being referred to you, or after reading one of your advertisements, or after meeting you at an event. How you and your frontline team members handle this initial inquiry is crucially important in moving the Prospect up your loyalty ladder.

It’s important to collect their contact information so that you can start building a relationship with them. Building customer loyalty is all about relationship building. Your goal is to move each customer up to the next level of the  ladder.

When your Prospect makes their first purchase they become a Shopper. Most business owners incorrectly label first-time buyers as customers. These Shoppers are just checking out your services or products. They have no loyalty to your business.

It’s only when someone makes their second purchase from you that they become a customer. With their second purchase most Shoppers become profitable, but they don’t have a sense of loyalty yet.

Customers become Members once they begin to feel like they belong to your business. At this stage they are building loyalty towards your business. How do you develop this sense of membership? Once they make their third or fourth purchase give them a VIP (Very Important Person) card, or invite them to an event you host for members only. Perhaps you give them a “Members Kit” that includes a catalog of all your products or services and some valuable coupons.

The interim step between Member and Raving Fan is an Advocate. Advocates are huge fans of your business and recommend you often to their friends and acquaintances. Not only are they referring business to you, but they keep buying.

Raving Fan:  The highest rung on the Ladder of Loyalty is reserved for Raving Fans. These are those clients of yours that can’t stop selling your business for you. It’s as though they become part of your sales team. How wonderful would it be if your clients did the selling for you?

You might think that owners spend as much money getting new clients as they do developing strategies and programs to move Customers up to Raving Fans. Unfortunately, most business owners spend roughly 95% of their marketing dollars to find Prospects, leaving only 5% of their dollars to spend on moving relationships up the ladder. A more appropriate mix would be 60 – 70% of marketing dollars to develop Prospects and 40 – 30% to move clients up the ladder until they become Raving Fans.  It’s six time less expensive to get an existing client to make a purchase than to get a Prospect to buy for the first time.

Conclusion: Focus on strategies you can implement that will move customers up the Ladder of Loyalty. You are missing tremendous lead generation potential if you leave clients sitting on the Customer rung of the ladder where they are not helping you market your business.

I have the best product in the market today! Why can’t I get people to see that?

“I have the best product in the market today! Why can’t I get people to see that?”


“My service will save the average person a ton of money (time, aggravation, etc….) I just need them to know that.”


“They will enjoy it, if they would only try it!”


Many companies that are struggling spend a great deal of time producing a great product and/or service, but not enough time producing a great business.  Most entrepreneurs believe that if you build a better mousetrap, customers will flock to your door.

The truth of the matter is that today, more than ever, marketing is the engine that drives every business.  Marketing makes you money, fuels your growth and separates you from your competition.

Marketing is simple and inexpensive.  It’s a process that helps you identify potential customers, to differentiate yourself from your competitors and keeps customers coming back again and again. Marketing is an investment.

What will it take?  It will take patience, persistence and an allocation of some financial resources to your marketing effort.  Take control of your business by leveraging your time and energy to produce maximum results.

The key to success in growing your business is to focus on prospects and customers.  By developing a marketing strategy, you will answer three basic questions:

1.    What business are you in?
2.    What problems do you solve?
3.    What makes you unique?

Chances are that your best prospects will look just like your best customers.  Therefore, create a profile of your best prospect so that you can establish your target audience.  Your marketing effort will consist of a campaign with a consistent message and theme.  It should be designed to build rapport and trust.  Keep your messages short and simple.  Communicate problem-solving benefits. Test your message and test and test again. Demonstrate value-it’s the difference between cost and price.