Do You have Character Traits that are Essential to Success?

In the book, Monday Morning Choices, I identified 12 choices that anyone can make that will help them achieve their potential. All 12 choices are important but I think that if I had to narrow it down to the four most important they would be:

  1. The no-victim choice. This is making the choice to take whatever comes your way and using it to learn and achieve more. If everyone would take responsibility and realize that there is always something that can be done, and there is something they can do – regardless of how you got to where you are – you can move forward. Something can be done … there is something that you can do!
  2. The commitment choice. I think that people hold themselves back from their potential because they do not have goals in place to accomplish their dreams. Specific measurable goals tend to come true. I have seen it all of my life. The most successful people have the most specific goals. The most important question that you have to answer is “Who do I want to become?” If you can answer that question with crystal clear clarity, you can then set your goals to accomplish the most important thing in your life.
  3. The adversity choice. Adversity can strike faster than a death adder snake who can go from the strike position, strike and inject venom in its prey, then return back to the strike position all in .15 of a second. The snake strikes so swiftly, victims do not immediately realize they have been bitten. In .15 of a second, lives change forever. And so it is with adversity. Adversity strikes everyone. It can grind you down or polish you up. Most people’s significant accomplishments happen after a major adversity test. How will you handle adversity when it strikes?
  4. The relationship choice. You will become like the people who you spend the most time with. That can be one of the greatest blessings in your life or an insurmountable barrier to your happiness and success. Be around positive, giving, and nice people and you will likely be the same. Surround yourself with negative, cynical people and you will likely be the same.

Are You Making the Customer Connection?

Everyone is on your payroll to support your customer regardless of his or her title. Several years ago, I wrote a book titled Listen Up, Customer Service. In researching for that book, I discovered the top ten sales and customer service requirements from the customer’s perspective:

  1. Treat me with respect. I am a customer, not an account number.
  2. Follow through on your commitments.
  3. Communicate with me about both the good and the bad.
  4. Talk to me without interruption.
  5. Answer my questions quickly … and get back to me when you say you will.
  6. Provide alternatives when we have a problem.
  7. Allow me to talk to someone in authority when there is a problem.
  8. Clearly state what I should expect from you.
  9. Be an expert about your products and services.
  10. Be a customer advocate.

People buy from people they enjoy being around. Your company image is important to hitting your customer’s emotions but if your customer has a bad connection with a person somewhere along the way, they will not come back.

Does Your Business Stand Out?

It is my belief and observation that a few simple things separate the most successful businesses from the ones who are not able to survive in today’s competitive marketplace. Regardless of the economic condition, location, or past history, you have to have to answer these four questions – from your customer’s perspective for your long-term success:

  • What does your customer see?
    Every transaction involves connections. The connection could be over the phone, website, or in person. Your customers are judging your business by the connection that they personally make. If your customer is buying, they are buying from a positive connection that they have made. If they chose to go to a competitor, it is probably because a positive connection was not made. So, the basic question is “What do your connections look like?” Typically, people buy simplicity, expertise and value. How easy is it for them to spend money with your company? Is your staff trained to be an expert in all areas of your business? Are you offering a positive value for your company?
  • What emotions does your customer feel?
    People buy from people. The people working for your company are your customer’s most important connection. Customers judge your company based on the attitude of everyone they deal with – the receptionist, sales person, and even the person delivering the product contribute to a positive or negative emotion from the customer. If any person has a sour attitude, or doesn’t care about the customer, this will spoil the whole experience for your customer. People want to deal with nice, friendly, helpful people. Rarely will a customer return to do business with unpleasant people.
  • What happens when things don’t go as planned?
    Your business is based on trust. When you lose a customer’s trust, there is really no basis for continuing a business relationship. Of course there are times when there is a misunderstanding or maybe someone just dropped the ball. That is a great opportunity for you! When customers have an issue or misunderstanding, more than any other time, is your opportunity to develop a bonded relationship with them. You can work through any issue and you do not have to “lose” every misunderstanding. Treat your customer with respect, uphold his dignity, and offer a reasonable solution. If you maintain an attitude of “we can work this out” most customers will work with you and be glad to come back for more business. If you lose their trust, you will probably never see them again.
  • What are your customers going to talk about?
    Customers talk. They talk about bad experiences of course but they will also talk about good things that happen unexpectedly. They enjoy positive surprises. It does not have to be anything big, just a little something. Many people’s most memorable experiences, good and bad, are something that happened randomly and unexpected. Make it part of your strategy to create a positive surprise – little things count. In the Cajun country, they call it lagniappe – a little something extra. Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a little something over and above his or her expectations? Who doesn’t appreciate a little extra help? The rule of reciprocity is: When you add a little something extra to make your customer’s experience enjoyable, they will spend more money with you. Try it.

Speech Matters

The best way to improve your public speaking skills is to do public speaking. It may start with speeches to your mirror or your pet. But eventually you will need to try it on others. Public speaking does not always mean you have to prepare a speech. It could be in the form of better communication to customers and coworkers.

If there are organizations within your company, community, or church that would allow you to practice public speaking, join them, volunteer for them, and participate. Although it will take you out of your comfort zone, it will prepare you to for that time when you need to shine.

Here are 4 of the 10 great tips I provide in my latest book, Be Indispensable!.  Remember and use these tips to help you wow your audience:

  1. A comforting thought is to know that most people in the audience want you to do well. They are on your side. Have you ever gone to a presentation, hoping to see the presenters fall on their faces? Of course not. Your audience wants you to be successful, which is why they are investing their time to hear what you have to say.
  2. Be yourself. Your presentation is not about being perfect. It is about “connecting with others” and delivering a sincere message. Audiences want to hear from people who are genuine.
  3. Proper preparation and rehearsal can reduce nervousness by 75 percent. Proper breathing techniques can reduce nervousness by another 15 percent. Your mental state accounts for the remaining 10 percent.
  4. State your three major points in a positive, proactive manner. People are often defensive when problems are presented, while audiences are generally more enthusiastic when they hear about opportunities. Examples: “We can improve customer satisfaction” instead of “We are losing customers.” “We can increase profits” instead of “We are losing money.” “We can retain our valuable employees” instead of “We are losing our best employees.”


Take Action Now for Success in 2014

Do you see yourself as successful and indispensable My latest book, INDISPENSABLE, is full of tools to make you just that. Here is one “Take Action” tool from the book:

You have probably seen Olympic athletes visualize their maneuvers, strategies, and races. Visualization is a powerful tool. It provides them with a rehearsal in their brain for what they are about to do with their body. After visualizing a spectacular performance, they replay live the performance they have already seen.

Visualization will work for you too.

What if you spent time considering what you will do tomorrow, what you will say, how you will act, what you will wear, where you will go, how you will position yourself? Visualize yourself being successful and indispensable. Think about it: How would the most successful people you know look, act, speak, and interact with those around you? Visualize how they would respond when they are faced with a difficult challenge. What if you mentally practiced handling situations similarly – that is, with a positive attitude and manner?

What would happen is … you would be better prepared for anything that could happen. As you read Indispensable or other books, visualize yourself incorporating changes in your life. Think about how you will interact with others in various situations and how you will maintain a positive and dynamic attitude.

The first step to becoming indispensable is to see yourself as that person and to act as though you are indispensable already. Beginning today, act on your positive vision and begin separating yourself from your competition.

The Values Choice: Choosing the Right Enemies

Did you ever meet anyone who had no enemies?

Unfortunately, by the time most people have lived long enough to become adults, they’ve accumulated more than a few enemies, probably even more than they’d like to admit. In fact, the more successful you become, the more enemies you’re going to have.

The question is not whether there will be enemies. You can’t please everybody. You cannot invest your self-worth solely in what others think about you – you would never achieve success. You have to keep focused on your goals and objectives, and when the enemies come along, don’t be surprised … welcome them. Enemies are a by-product of success.

As we work to succeed, it is generally human nature to want to be accepted and respected – even loved – by our co-workers, management and customers. But the truth is, you can’t please all the people all of the time, at some point you have to choose whom you aren’t going to please.

In no way am I suggesting that your goal should be to create enemies. What I am encouraging you to do is understand that others may choose to be your enemies. In many organizations, there may be a handful of individuals who seemingly thrive on controversy and seek out ways to create and inflame disputes. These are the enemies you will be forced to choose – those who are in conflict with your personal values.

People who disagree with you are not necessarily your enemies … unless their disagreement centers on the values you are trying to uphold.

So, ask the question: Who are my enemies?

In any business, the key to successfully dealing with your enemies is being able to identify who they are and understand why they have chosen to be your enemies. If they are enemies because they are jealous or threatened by your success, there is nothing you can do about that. If they are your enemies because of something that you have done to them in the past, address the situation and allow them the choice of leaving your enemy camp.

Choose your enemies … and your friends … very carefully. A bad choice can be devastating to your career.

Three things you can do to make the values choice:

  1. Surround yourself with people of like values, and maintain your allegiance to those values.
  2. Take the time to identify those who have chosen to be your enemies and make an effort to understand why. If they are your enemies because of something you have done in the past – address the situation. If they are your enemies because of their jealousy or value clash – move forward with caution, knowing they are your enemies.
  3. Understand you cannot please all the people all the time – and accept that differences in values will automatically make some people your friends and others your enemies.

Excerpted from Monday Morning Choices by David Cottrell.