Okay everyone. Get out your legwarmers, neon, and feather your hair. We’re heading back to the awful 80’s to talk about The Breakfast Club. Okay, maybe not that kind of breakfast club but one that can help improve your career and job satisfaction dramatically. I’ve been part of a few breakfast clubs over the years and have found them entertaining and useful. So what is it? No, it’s not detention on a Saturday with Anthony Michael Hall (which would be entertaining as long as he’s not fresh out of rehab). No the breakfast club is simple. It’s a group of coworkers who regularly meet for breakfast. Wow. Insightful stuff. But you know the brilliant things in life are usually simple and elegant. This is one of them. The first breakfast club I was a member of I also founded. We called it bagel call. There was a cool little bagel shop next door to our office building. We were all consultants at the time and usually spent the majority of our week on the road at client sites. It was sometimes difficult to stay connected with friends and colleagues. One Friday morning, I went around the office and grabbed about six people and dragged them to the bagel shop for coffee and a shmear. We discussed current client engagements, whose engagement manager was a taskmaster, family, sports, whatever. It was a nice break from the week and a pleasant way to reconnect.
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-03-13 05:35:002018-06-20 16:29:04Networking At The Breakfast Club
Everyone has goals these days. The one that causes more disconnects than any other is a sales goal. It’s a number to hit (either units or dollars or both – the better ones are actually measured in profit dollars rather than revenue dollars). They’re problematic because by their very nature they get a salesperson to focus on their needs (hitting their goal) versus the needs of the customer (finding a solution to a problem). The best salespeople truly use a consultative selling approach. The others? Well, they’re just annoying. They throw around phrases in their sales rooms like “Okay guys! It’s time to get your checkup from the neck up! It’s go time! Everyone start smilin’ and dialin’!” Excuse me. I just barfed in my mouth a little… I’ve had offers posed by both types of salespeople and I too have sold (sometimes like a huckster in my misguided youth but more consultatively as I’ve learned better). Allow me to offer some scenarios. I was in the market for a software solution. Nothing major – just some basic functionality that would help me grow my business. I needed cheap (not a lot of budget dollars available), fast (I was trying to grow quickly), and easy (our technology department did not have a bevy of available resources to throw at this). I spoke with a few providers. One of them had a very cool solution. It had bells. It had whistles. If you pushed the right combination of buttons it would make you a frappuccino. It was expensive. Very expensive but somewhat justifiably so given all the features. I explained our challenges to the salesman.
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-03-04 06:29:002018-12-21 13:45:50Consultative Selling: Solve My Problem - Not Yours
I’m back on my kick about perspective. Wow. It’s incredibly easy to get sucked in by work and worry about insignificant things. Many times you’ll find this happening only to have life provide you a clarifying moment. And in that moment, you’re given an opportunity to refocus on things that actually matter. The death of your best friend can have that effect on you. Let me rewind… Things have been hectic for me lately. Ramping up my own business is a daunting task. I find myself playing owner, trainer, accountant, lawyer, salesman, administrative assistant, travel booker, etc. I wear every hat on the rack. And don’t get me wrong – it’s fun. I thrive on living in the swirl of the chaotic world of business. The problem is, being involved in so many things occasionally leads me to focus on the wrong things. They’re not “wrong” in and of themselves. It’s more that they’re not as important as other things in life. It’s been busy for me over the past few weeks. New clients. New services. Exciting stuff. Sure there have been a few annoyances too but they happen (sort of like a printer manufacturer whose service department will be the subject of an upcoming post on broken promises to customers). These annoyances have absorbed an increasing and disproportionate amount of my time and energy lately. Then I got a phone call on Wednesday as I was driving home from a client. It was my best friend’s brother. This friend was a roommate of mine at West Point. Twice. Ty and I became brothers. We lived together. Laughed together. Complained together. The forge of the Academy’s grey granite walls molded a bond between us that became unbreakable through the years. We talked every week. And now, tragically, I got this […]
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-03-01 14:59:002018-12-21 13:45:31It's Funny How Death Provides Perspective
It’s easy to get upset when things don’t go well at the office. Or we are disappointed when things don’t work the way they should on a project. We get locked into long term incentive plans. Over time we begin to believe we’re going to be doing what we’re doing forever. In those situations, it’s time to wear the Burger King crown! (I’ll explain in a minute). We seem to easily lose perspective and learn helplessness in the dailiness of our jobs. The effects of losing perspective are toxic. Hairs gray. Midriffs expand. Arteries clog. Nerves fray. Many of you reading this are overachievers (a conclusion I’m making based on an assumption you’re here to learn and improve yourself and your career). Let me ask this – when’s the last time you laughed at the office (and not that “Harrumph. I can’t believe this crap.” laugh. A REAL laugh because something was funny)? Has it been a while? Another diagnostic question – when is the last time you were frustrated at the office? Exactly 6 minutes ago, right? And how important was the matter? Really? A computer bug? A meeting? I’m betting it wasn’t life or death (unless you’re a neurosurgeon in which case I’d prefer you read up on your medical journals rather than this blog so when they wheel me into the hospital you’re better equipped to care for me). It’s not hard to get sucked up in the vortex of crap that can become our jobs. By submitting to the vagaries of life, we’re creating “Captain Stupid” – a super villain who torments us with seemingly-meaningful events called our “jobs” but in the process breaks down our very humanity. Suicidal Tendencies sings about this pernicious little chap. My favorite verse is:
This ain’t your daddy’s or mommy’s business world anymore. I’m sure you’ve figured that out already. First of all, people use cell phones. This is a fact I’m constantly reminding my father of… “Dad, turn on your cell phone when you’re not home.” “Why? Then it will ring. I’m retired and I don’t want to be bothered by everyone.” “Dad, the only people who have your number are me, Mom, and my sister…” He still doesn’t get it… The career world he lived in has changed as well. Dad had a first career for 17 years at a large company that rhymes with AT&T (which makes his aversion to phones even more bizarre). After those wonderfully predictable pension-based years, it was a series of smaller “careers” – 6 years, 6 years, 3 years, 5 years, retirement. For him, it was no big deal. 5-6 years is plenty of time to get settled in a home and community. It’s not a huge issue to demonstrate progression in a “career” at a company in 5-6 years and to move after that. But the world continues to change. For those of us in the workplace, we’re part of a new dynamic. Let’s spend a little time with Roger Daltrey “talkin’ bout my generation.”
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-02-21 06:04:002018-12-21 13:45:08Epitaph For The 3(0) Year Career - Talkin' Bout My Generation
I’m honored to have Bill Malkemes as a guest blogger this week. You’ll find some background on Bill at the end of this post. Enough of my rambling – here are Bill’s thoughts: Whether you are just starting out in a new job or at the end of a long career, you should always “stand up for the team.” You will find overall greater satisfaction in life in team accomplishments than individual achievements. By working within a team environment, you will develop skills that will do you in good stead for the future – the ability to set goals, recruit talent and provide focus and leadership towards a common goal are traits that are always desired by your peers and management. During your career you will be faced with situations that will test your patience and management skills. You may have one or two employees who are not up to par. If they are also hurting morale of your team (it only takes one or two of these bad apples to adversely affect your team efforts), you need to get rid of them as tactfully and professionally as you can (see Mike’s post Compassionate Leadership: Cleaning Up A Mess). This needs to be done in private, not public. There is no need to embarrass someone in a public arena. You may have a few on your team who are not top performers but are loyal and dedicated. They are still very valuable to your overall effort but it is up to you to get the most out of their talent. You will have some super performers who may require constant praise. Figure out a way to recognize them but do not go overboard on their individual accomplishments. Instead, praise them with emails and notes when appropriate (as mentioned in “The […]
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-02-19 14:04:002013-11-07 14:18:32Leadership Perspectives: Stand Up For The Team - Guest Blogger
Have you ever made a hiring mistake? The candidate looked brilliant on paper. They blew everyone away in the interviews. They were local so there as no relo cost involved. They even took your first salary offer without negotiating (danger Will Robinson!). And then they showed up for work… And all went well for the first month. Everyone loved him. He was gregarious and got to know everyone in the organization. And one day you woke up and realized he hadn’t done anything yet. Not one iota of impact. And you started to wonder… Time went on. Less and less got done. Others in the organization began to notice and even grumble that the rock star you hired was not a real rock star but was actually a used up member of Poison from the ’80s (appropriate because this guy seems to be looking for “Nothin’ but a good time!”). It became abundantly clear to everyone you had made a hiring mistake. It’s okay. It happens to all of us. There’s nothing wrong with making hiring mistakes. It’s forgivable. What’s unforgivable is not doing something about it (remember You see it, you own it?). The best leaders I’ve seen quickly try to address performance (or lack thereof) with the individual. They set near term, measurable improvement goals. And if, unfortunately, the individual fails to meet them, they are moved on to another opportunity (either inside the company or outside of it). But doing this takes a degree of intestinal fortitude that is difficult for many of us to summon. Such actions require us to first admit we made a mistake (admission is the first step to remission…).
https://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.png00Mike Figliuolohttps://thoughtleadersllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/logo.pngMike Figliuolo2008-02-14 19:10:002018-12-28 19:28:09Compassionate Leadership: Cleaning Up A Mess
You’ve already been exposed to a few of my customer service diatribes and bad customer service experiences in Customer Disservice. You’ve also seen how little things make a huge difference in my post on Customer Service Without Boundaries. What’s the difference? Two little awkwardly shaped pieces of cartilage covered with skin (and in my case a few errant black hairs that I occasionally have to pluck so I don’t look like Ernest Borgnine). Figure it out? EARS! Listening makes all the difference. Whether or not your front-line employee (or even you for that matter) takes that moment to genuinely not just hear, but absorb and appreciate the concern of your customer is the determinant of which way the interaction will go. Use your ears and everything will be okay. Fail to do so and you could potentially create a blogger who has no problem whatsoever berating your or your company in front of millions (I’m a nice guy though – I don’t name names…). “Thanks Mike. Helpful advice. ‘Listen.’ Gee whiz… you’re like the Yoda of customer service. You’ve given me nothing helpful or practical in this post. You must have been a consultant at some point in your career…” You must be a new reader (welcome to the blog by the way!). Regular readers of these posts know the drill. I tee up an issue, highlight why it’s important, tell a story or two, occasionally soliloquize, then give you one or two real-world tools to try out in your business. Strap in. Here we go.