Lessons Learned–65 Years and Counting
Listed below are some lessons I have learned now that I have made it to 65. Feel free to make comments on this blog to share with others. I have numbered the statements to make references easy.
Life in General
- Outlook While we live in a world populated by many people who are focused on themselves, the only acceptable outlook is “It’s not about me”. Happiness comes from servanthood and leadership builds on that plus keeping a genuinely humble attitude. You may be in the minority but that is OK, God uses faithful people and small groups don’t bother him, neither should it bother you.
- Success While origin and nature are a factor in success, the most overwhelming factor is determination to succeed. Since the only guarantee is opportunity, not outcome; work hard and good things will come to you.
- Education Although a lot of people try to “cut corners”, you really can’t substitute for education. It is the best way to better your status in life. Even though they are important, daily investment in you is far more profitable than monetary investments.
- Health Value your health. You only get one life—if you live it right that is all you need. Remember you are responsible for your health, not your spouse, the government or your mother.
- Relationships Nothing-wealth, pedigree, status, “toys”—trumps relationships. New life affirms that relationships are important. While most people would agree, do they use their time and wealth in a way that demonstrates relationships are important to them?
- Marriage is the test of your ability to create and maintain a relationship with one other person. Pick someone you perceive to be better than you and it will give you a life goal. You don’t fall into love as much as you make it happen. Forgiveness is a key to happiness because at some point everyone will disappoint you. Remember you have your faults as well. If you are looking for loyalty, get a dog. They will work at making you happy.
- Beauty There is a lot of focus, i.e. money and exposure, given to beauty. It has far more to do with the heart than the face and skin. As the old saying goes, “Beauty is skin deep, Ugly goes to the bone”. There are a lot of people who think they are beautiful but they really aren’t.
- Management Make it a plan and a daily assignment to give back a portion of what you have received, do it anonymously if possible.
- Reputation What you do does reflect on more than just yourself—it shows who your family, community and state are. One test of a proposed activity is “If this act was publicized would my family be embarrassed about it”. Sometimes they should be when they aren’t. My mother always said when I was going out of the house, “What you do out in the community is a reflection on me. Don’t disappoint me.” I made sure I didn’t.
- Faith People used to have blind faith in their church, church leadership and had skepticism in anything to do with politics, politicians, and elections for public office. Today we have switched it so many people have blind faith in politicians, especially ones giving handouts and have skepticism in anything to do with the faith community. I think we need to get back to the old way. The reason people lost faith in the church is the church stopped teaching people who they were in relationship to God and presenting discipleship as a part of life all of us should embrace. Grace is not true grace when it is made cheap. Churches are only beginning to realize the importance of people passing on their faith. Some things are working, others aren’t. What works best is reminding people of their obligation to teach others to be faithful. There is a lot more to church than fellowship.
- Faith Part II- If your faith is any good it teaches you the following:
- How to be a moral person in an immoral and amoral world
- How to set life’s goals and achieve milestones toward them
- How to build relationships that last with different kinds of people-even the unlovely
- How to know when enough is enough in a materialistic society that doesn’t know
- How to manage your time and your money and not let them manage you
- How to live by grace not by works or law
- How to know the difference between happiness and pleasure
- The Recession of 2008-2009 has taught me to be a better Marketer and I not only have to sell the imprinted stuff but I have learned to help my clients sell it to their clients. Hopefully they will reward me with loyalty but there is no way to guarantee it.
- I had to learn a better Definition of Business. It is more than goods and services exchanging hands for money—it is creating the “Wow!” moment with everyone you have relationships with. Often it is not the big things that make a difference but small things that show you are listening. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason—“Listen up!”
- Your Brand is “what people say about you after you leave the room” according to Jeff Bazos, founder of Amazon. I find that for most people, me included, a brand has more to do with how I do business rather than what I offer. Brand is built everyday person by person and can’t be bought, stolen, or bartered. Brand means “owning your niche” because you can’t be everything to everybody.
- Networking is not a nice extra in business—it is the key to all your success in the New Economy. Invest money and spend time in groups where they give you opportunity to get to know people on a one-on-one basis and not just come hear a speaker. Your agenda should start with “How can I help you?” not “I want to tell you about me”.
- Business Success starts with commitment which involves four things:
- Purpose—What you can do for someone to meet their needs.
- Passion—What extent you are will to go to meet their need
- Vision—What are you going to do that makes money so you can continue to fill the needs of your clients
- Character—Who are you? Do you have the strength of character to carry out what you tell people you are going to do for them?
If you don’t have commitment to all four you have a hobby, not a business.
Business today requires you to tell you story, i.e. “toot your own horn” because no one else will toot is for you and no one else can toot it better than you.
Marketing is more involved with clarity about you and your capabilities in business than anything else. Most marketing is fluff and the public is quick to identify who it is that they can trust with their money. Be careful with your marketing message, people are checking to see if you are trustworthy and will tell others if you are not.
Get your “act together”. There is no marketing cure if you or your business sucks. Thanks be to God you don’t have to be perfect—you do have to make an effort.
All the social media sites are great but it still takes face to face, heart to heart contact to sell anything on an ongoing basis. Social media supports sales, it doesn’t make them.
People are rewarded who understand the difference between intrusion marketing vs. permission marketing. Intrusion marketing is things like spam, telemarketers and junk mail. Better to use engagement marketing with websites, blogs, professional e-mail and social media so that people become convinced that you are the best source for their need rather than you have to persuade them that you are.
For most businesses, Customer Service starts with a customer saying “I have a problem”. The businesses that will survive in the New Economy will be the ones that understand it is not good enough to try to avoid the customer being disappointed. It is not even good enough to seek their delight. The proactive goal with every suspect, prospect, customer, client and advocate should be “You are so good. I don’t know how you do it. You continue to amaze me with your commitment to filling my needs”. Customer service is a key part of marketing because the best salespeople you will ever have are satisfied clients. Be sure and reward them in a meaningful way. Referrals are earned, not to be taken for granted.
The Future—There is more uncertainty in the marketplace than ever before. It is due to political, economic, and financial uncertainty. I don’t see us getting back to the free spending days of the early years of the 2000-2010 decade, at least not in my lifetime. The people have lost faith in authority—most of it is deserved. Regardless to what the media reports there is still great opportunity and now is no better time to start a business. However, it is not enough to be good, and neither will greatness insure survival. To be in business, owners must work to build a legacy or they have wasted a lot of energy and money. To guarantee their legacy, the businesses that prosper will be ones committed to distinction. Distinction excellence requires not only being different but being effective about doing business.
If you want to discuss any of these ideas with me, call me on 804-241-1152.
Have a great selling day.