Gratitude and Acquaintances

This week I depart from my usual theme of what you can do to improve your business and/or life.

That said, this is somewhat related, as we often talk here about the value of gratitude. The story I’m about to relate is to celebrate my gratitude for a chance meeting with new and very interesting friends. It’s always a lovely surprise when such new connections come out of nowhere! (A couple of examples of previous articles on gratitude are here and here. Search on keyword gratitude here for more.)

This past Saturday, I learned from a friend who’s taking a pottery class that there was to be an event to celebrate the class progress. Would I like to attend, and see what she and her fellow students had created? And of course, as is the norm for this wine community, share some live music, a glass of wine, and a bite to eat.

I gratefully accepted that invite and showed up at the appointed location and hour (actually about an hour and a half late). Surprise! The place is locked up and not a soul around. My friend had already given up and left.

I went and ran some other errands and returned a few hours later to find it still locked, but some activity evident inside. Curious! I finally gave up the whole idea and decided to go have dinner at my friend’s lovely wine bar.

Two newly acquainted friends by charles-lebegue-aG6oMVQ5PCA-unsplash

As I approached the wine bar, I noticed some unusual activity across the street. Turns out I was at a different entrance, around the corner, to the place I’d found locked. The event I’d been seeking was coming to a close and the musicians were packing up to leave.

Nonetheless, I was able to browse some interesting, diverse arts and crafts. I found the food and wine station still open. Having planned the day for the event, by now I was quite hungry. I bought a couple of little “slider” type sandwiches and a bottle of my favorite Cabernet Franc wine. I found a comfortable place to sit in the lovely outdoor courtyard at the back of the place and settled in to watch people, enjoy my repast, and smoke a cigar.

A Chance Meeting

I struck up a conversation with a guy and gal who appeared to be in charge of the event. I knew her by appearance but hadn’t talked with her before. I introduced myself to both and got their contact information. Paola soon went off to other duties. Ramiro seemed quite relaxed, so I invited him to share my wine and join me, with his 10-year-old son Carmelo.

As it turns out, Ramiro is the owner of the hotel that’s the parent organization to the whole complex, and a very interesting guy. Among other things he’s a very intentional enjoyer of life, and he’s a poet, about to publish a book of poems. I gave him my contact information and asked to see a copy of his book. He readily agreed. We spent the next hour or so discussing the uncommon beauty and other assets of Cafayate, our lovely rural pueblo in northwest Argentina.

We struck up quite a friendship. When I left I felt newly infused with a sense of the wonderful things that can happen when one is open to such nice surprises as this. True everywhere, and Cafayate is a particularly easy place to do it because so many others have the same attitude.

My point in relating all this is to publicly express my gratitude for the lovely environment where I live, and for the opportunities that potentially lie at every turn. Thanks to Ramiro, Carmelo, and Paola and for all our openness to new acquaintances and friendships.

Life is beautiful and full of wonderful surprises! Even when the surprises appear less positive, such as the event seeming not to be happening, and then arriving very late, there’s usually something good to come of it.

Napoleon Hill said,

“In every diversity, there’s the seed of an equal or greater benefit”

I firmly believe that, and see it proven every day!

Achieve More By Doing Less!

Many people believe they can be more productive by striving to do more.

Most people will achieve more by doing less rather than by doing more. The key is to do more of what’s important by doing fewer things.

Most of the many things on a typical day’s to-do list mean very little in the day’s results. They may be enjoyable interludes but not very productive. They can be done in leisure time or not at all with no effect on results.

Such things as checking social media posts or messages, texts, emails, etc. are all unproductive, unless you need information from one of those messages to do something important. Many people get consumed by these tasks during what should be the most productive part of their day. Other pressures can also draw us away from what’s most important. In today’s world, early-morning message-checking is probably the most prevalent.

You can scan your list of messages in a few seconds to see if there’s anything important and urgent in them. Do not open any other messages during your productive day.

Max Phillips posted this article on several months ago. It discusses 7 time-wasters low-productivity people engage in. Avoid them!

Achieve More By Doing Less
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Prioritize ruthlessly. Determine what two or three (no more than three) items will “move the needle” each day. Do those few things first every day. When they’re done, you can work on second-, then third-priority items with whatever time is left.

Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog! and a quote from Jim Collins emphasize these concepts elegantly.

Brian’s book focuses on the idea of doing the most difficult, least enjoyable task (such as eating a live frog!) first. When you have that done, you can be pretty sure the rest of the day will go easier.

Jim’s quote, “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any” needs no explanation.

If you so choose, continue working after the first two to four hours working on high-priority items – just recognize you’ll probably get less done per hour.

Eric Lofholm (see below) promotes the idea of measuring time in results per hour rather than minutes per hour. What you accomplish is much more important than the time you devote to it.

Another of Eric’s important concepts is an idea called “last productive day”. Decide what is the last date you commit to being productive. For him, it’s the day before his 75th birthday. He has an app on his phone that counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until that date. Having already passed that time in my life, I’ve settled on the day before my 90th birthday.

The idea behind this concept is that we always have certain knowledge of how long we have to accomplish our life goals. Of course, we can continue working after that date if we so choose. It’s not a prediction of retirement or death. We’re just committing to be optimally productive at least to that date.

A Positive Mindset Makes all the Difference!

My friend, mentor and sales coach, Eric Lofholm, hosts a 15-minute motivational call every business day, and sometimes even on holidays. The call is at 7:45 AM Pacific time. Register for the call here. You’ll find instructions on how to join the call on Facebook, by phone or soon, Eric says, on LinkedIn.

Eric is unique in that his free programs offer solid value rather than just sales hype. This short conversation is serious training, and serious motivation, and it’s completely free of charge. Though there’s sometimes an offer to sign onto a paid program, that’s separate from the training and inspiration.

This call is a great way to get yourself started with a positive mindset every day.

Are You “Backable”?

Have you started a business? Applied for a job? Do you plan any of these?

Have you struggled to find the financial backing you needed to get the business “kicked off?” Many, if not most, entrepreneurs have stumbled on this block.

Alex Sanfilippo, (Creating a Brand podcasts), recently interviewed Suneel Gupta, who talks about his recently published book Backable.

Alex Sanfilippo who recently published book Backable

In the beginning of the conversation with Alex, Suneel describes his extensive research. He talked with many well-known people. How did they become “backable”? What’s the unique story they told, or personality trait, that caused people to write a big check?

He says he wrote the book because the question was burning in his mind. He says, “I’m not backable. I look too young. I’m a serious introvert. Etc.” And he wanted funding for his business. He says he felt confident of his qualifications, but he’d been rejected by several prospective employers and investors. So he felt a need to answer this for himself, as well as to impart what he learned to others.

Suneel tells the story of his interview with Jack Dorsey, founder of Square. Again, he felt qualified for the position he was being considered for, but he blew the interview. He believes this happens more than many people would like to admit. It could be in front of prospects, clients, teachers – anywhere one is seeking to demonstrate knowledge, sell something or influence someone else.
From the many ideas in the book, Alex and Suneel select three elements of influence techniques to dig deeper on.

  • Storytelling: Make your story relate to one particular person, ideally someone close to you personally. You may want to expand into the data after you’ve made your point with the personal story. Example: One person in 25 experiences what my friend, my father, or whomever you focused on, experienced. Suneel tells the story of his experience with Groupon as it grew from a small company focused on small customers. It grew, went public, and lost its focus on individuals. H feels that held it back from its full potential.
  • Share an “earned secret”, Explore insights that truly enlighten people about something they probably don’t know – something that’s not “Google-able”. Intoxicate people with your effort!
  • Turn “outsiders into “insiders”. If you come across as someone who has it all figured out and you’re just sharing your knowledge, you keep them on the outside. Pull them into the process of reaching a conclusion. Tell enough of you’re story to make it cohesive, but leave some dots for the listener to connect.

As an example of the third technique, Suneel goes back to the 1940’s and tells the instant cake mix story. Initially the mixes didn’t sell well.- they were so easy to use that the user didn’t feel involved. When they left out an ingredient for the home baker to add (Just stir in an egg and make a beautiful cake!), sales took off! Now the homemaker could be proud of what she created. Before, she felt like she was just “watching something happen.”

When you’re rejected, Suneel advises, pick the refuser’s mind. What could I have done differently to get you to say yes. How can I improve my process. Make sure you do this with a positive approach, not “sour grapes.” If the other person gives you meaningful advice, apply it and come back to let them know they were helpful. You may get accepted, or not – do it anyway!

If you’re seeking funding, applying for a job, or in any way trying to influence someone else’s decision, this interview might provide the “golden nuggets” that help you succeed in your effort. I hope you enjoy it and find it valuable. If it really resonates with you, you may want to buy Suneel’s book as well.

Be Authentic!

Each week, unless I stumble a great idea (I often do!), I search for meaningful content to be the basis of the week’s article. This week I came across several essays related to authenticity. I decided to build on that theme, without pointing to one particular article.

The concept is: Are you, or someone you’ve been admiring, the same person in your private life as your “public” persona? 

Be Authentic!

I came across some authors who claim to have evidence of inauthenticity in certain famous people. According to these authors, these people with upbeat and positive public images mistreat their employees, their families, or others in their less-public realms.

When you learn of someone whose approaches to her/his family members, employees, friends, clients, and others align perfectly, you’ve found a worthy model for you to respect, study and pattern yourself after. 

With experience, you’ll learn to sense this alignment, or its absence, pretty quickly. If it’s missing, you probably would do well to find a different model. 

If you find fundamental differences between someone’s personas in those different environments, better take a harder look at whether he or she deserves your further attention. 

I came across authors who reported dichotomies in behavior in Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and Jeff Bezos. I know nothing firsthand about any of these personalities, or the authors who undertook to judge them. I advise you to research their private behaviors if you care to dig deeper, and especially if you plan to model them.

In past issues, I’ve held each of these famous people up as examples of leadership and promoters of effective policies. The authors whose articles I pointed to obviously differ in opinion from the authors I’ve recently encountered. If in fact, their personalities are inauthentic, I apologize for holding them up as role models. The behavior I discussed is still a desirable behavior, even if the model I chose doesn’t exemplify it.

A term I’ve recently seen used is “integrous” behavior. Integrous probably isn’t a word in any official dictionary, but it seems to me it ought to be. It nicely encapsulates the theme of today’s premise. Integral has a different connotation. Integrous is used as a descriptor for one with aligned behavior toward all.

Be careful whom you associate with!