Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Turtle king

January 15, 2010

It’s a dark afternoon.  It’s freezing outside, and I can’t seem to sell anything.  Times like this, my mind goes back to sunnier days, when I was the turtle-catching king of the world.

At age 12, Robroy was incredibly lucky.  We had our own private pond in the back yard, and it was stocked with turtles.  My younger brother Jim and I used to chase them on hot summer days in our canoe.  As we came close, they slipped off the log and vanished into the murky gold, but that never stopped us.  The trick was to scoop about 3 feet ahead of where you thought they were going.  By the time you got your net under water, they would swim right into it.  If your timing was right.  If your aim was true.

One summer day after church, rather than go inside with the rest of the family, my dad and I walked around back to take a look at the pond, as we often did.  Now, my dad was a salesman — still is — and he could talk.  So I’m standing on the bank, listening to him explain an idea he was wrestling with, gazing at the water, when all of a sudden I see a shadow rise from below.  It was about 4 feet off shore.  A turtle pierced the surface with his snout.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I leaped.  He turned and angled for the bottom.  But my timing was perfect.  My aim was true.  I crashed onto the water with my hands clutching down onto him.

Too easy!  Skimming along the muck with him swimming in my hands, I was laughing inside.  I decided to stay down as long as I could, just to make a bigger impression on my dad.  When I could hold my breath no longer, I burst to the surface, raising the turtle in both hands.  Dad’s eyes were round as two robin’s eggs.

“You nut!” he shouted.  “I don’t believe it!”

“He put up a — hulluva — fight!” I gasped.

Dad grabbed my elbow and helped me out of the water and up the bank, laughing and clapping me on the back.  “Wait till your mother and brother see this!” he said.  “Cynthia!  Jim!  Get out here!”

As he dragged me squishing in my church clothes toward the house with the turtle swimming in my hands, I felt wet and muddy and very, very satisfied.

♥  ♥  ♥

Back then, I knew the value of training.  Anticipating.  Recognizing the opportunity.  Of diving in, giving it your all and landing the deal.  And most importantly, I knew the value of communicating, sharing success and being joyful.

And that means I can do it.  Of course I can do it!  It’s really just a matter of doing it again.

I reach out and grab the phone.

Wait til Dad hears about this one.

(read more posts below)

Advertisements

Madman, craftsman, critic

January 7, 2010

With more and more businesses participating in social media, the pressure to be creative is getting intense.  Now every tweet needs to be interesting.  Every blog post, a ‘wow’.  And so everybody wants to know: Does Robroy have a process for that?

Hold on, let me check.  Why, yes, here’s something.  I call it the Madman, Craftsman, Critic process.  Catchy name, I know.  You can use Madman, Craftsman, Critic (or Madwoman, Craftswoman, Critic) to develop everything from business growth strategies to sales presentations to marketing content, tweets, blogs and more.  It also works for paintings and poems and love songs.  And Robroy posts.  Anything creative.  But only if you are willing to concede that you have three strong-willed personalities within you who all want to dominate the creative process, and it’s your job to keep them in line.  They are:

1. The Madman

His cheeks are tight and bright from holding back gales of laughter while dashing around the room goosing people.  The Madman is you at your irrepressible best.  Your passion, your spark, your zest for life.  He loves what he does and is inspired by finding original ways to express it, regardless of what anybody else is doing.

2. The Craftsman

After the wild hilarity has blown over, enter the Craftsman.  This is your technical side.  Fastidious, skillful and proud, the Craftsman makes logical sense of what the Madman has left behind, which he measures, cuts, joins and assembles into something structurally sound and useful.

3. The Critic

“Gentlemen, gentlemen,” says the Critic, peering over his glasses.  “Your masterpiece is stirring, indeed, but riddled with errors.  A detail is missing here and here.  And the surface must be rubbed, sealed and smoothly coated.  Really, gentlemen.   In the future, I insist we bring me in sooner.”

This is you and your high standards.  Ultimately accountable for whether the thing works or not, the Critic controls quality in matters large and small.  It would be a disaster to involve the Critic too soon in the creative process, as he would scold and nit-pick and criticize his brothers until they broke his glasses and made him cry.  Another common mistake is letting the Madman hang around so long that he burns it all down with his hair.  Finally, try not to allow the Craftsman to start or finish the project, as it will end up technically perfect, but emotionally stiff as a board.

Madman, Craftsman and Critic, in that order.

But, hey, you’re creative.  How does it happen for you?  Have your Madman/Madwoman leave a comment below.

Poking fun at the networking event

December 18, 2009

Sales is a numbers game.  That boring cliché is true.  But you know what happens when you get too focused on the numbers, and not focused enough on what the hell you’re doing.  Things get un-boring, quick.

Take Robroy.  In my first year of sales, I was all fired up in my suit and tie at the early morning reception for Baltimore business leaders.  My goal was to shake at least ten hands and get at least ten business cards.  Unfortunately, with time running short, I reached out a little too fast for one guy.  He had a coffee in one hand and a pastry in the other as he turned and walked right into: “Hi!  I’m Rob Macdonald!”

He doubled over with a “woof!”

I was mortified – horrified! – for him and for myself.  I felt like I was the one who’d been punched in the gut.  I rushed to say how sorry I was and see if he was OK.  Was there anything I could do?  He just waved me off.  Knowing that he would never forget me, and not wanting to add more memories, I sorta allowed myself to be swept away by the crowd.

Ever since that morning, Robroy has worked hard to stay calm and be present to the other person and not worry so much about the numbers.  But one thing will never change.  Danger is my calling card.

(read more posts below.)

Generosity on a budget

December 10, 2009

You know you’re cheap when, year after year, you put off buying holiday gifts or cards for your most important clients until it’s all over and everyone’s forgotten, including you.

Robroy had his frugal Scottish heritage to blame for this stingy procrastination.  I never could stand to “invest” in cups and hats and shirts with our logo splattered all over them.  With so many unique individuals on my list, I wanted to give thoughtful gifts but didn’t know how.  The holidays made me feel terrible, until …

… I heard about LinkedIn recommendations.

A LinkedIn recommendation is your personal endorsement of someone you know, posted where all of your social network and theirs can read it. Recommendations on LinkedIn are personal and yet professional.  They are brief and yet long-lasting.  The tool lets you make your contacts look great in front of their peers.  And did I mention it’s free?

The only catch is, you have to take a minute to really think about the other person.  Really ask yourself, What impresses me most about them?  What’s their strong suit?  Be generous.  A few words from the heart can be very powerful.

So what do you think?  This is a pretty big gift.  Can we afford it?

(read more posts below)

Home-wrecker

May 4, 2009

Most men in their 40s have no idea how close they are to losing their wives.

In their 30s, the wife was the one at risk.  She had to worry every time he went on a business trip.  But now it’s the husband’s turn.  He is fat, gray and balding – while she is still curvy, dark haired and hot-blooded.  He is looking for the sports.  She is looking for the action.  He’s thinking, “What’s for dinner?”  She’s thinking, “Why should I wait 15 years to divorce him, when I can do it now, while I’m still young and beautiful?”

The same thing happens in business.  You think you are doing everything possible to keep the customer satisfied.  In fact, I’ve known far more CEOs committed to their customers than to their wives.  But even that committed relationship can fall apart if you don’t keep it fresh and exciting.  There’s a home-wrecker lurking in every lobby.

So how can you save your customer base?  The same way you can save your marriage.  Surprise them tomorrow.  Show up, unannounced.  Sweep them up in your arms.  Tell them you are blinded by desire.  You can’t stop thinking about them.  You want them; you need them; you must have them.  Then deliver your custom solutions.  Implement your paradigm shift.  Oh, baby.

And when it’s all over, if it ends, it ends.  But if you can pay attention well enough, and if you can be responsive long enough, you just might come away with a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

And if that happens, don’t thank Robroy.  Just doing my job.

Beautiful Franny

April 26, 2009

My grandmother, Frances Rockwell Vining, who made it to 100, died on Wednesday. My mom and dad were with her. Though she suffered from Alzheimer’s for the last 10 years and didn’t recognize us, Grandma was at peace with her decline, warmly smiling and saying, “Thank you, sweet heart,” to the very end.

“Thank you, sweet heart” was Grandma’s calling card. She always went out of her way to make everyone else feel special.  That’s how I felt when I visited them in Western Mass, a few weeks after college graduation. I remember, she brought out some old photos I’d never seen. One nearly made my heart stop.

It was a girl – maybe 18. She was small and fair-haired and breath-takingly beautiful. Even in black-and-white you could see she had pale blue eyes that brimmed over high cheekbones and a laughing red mouth.  She was all dimples and creases, strawberries and cream. I’ve noticed that most people are attracted to faces opposite theirs. For me, it had always been girls with dark hair and dark eyes that turned my head and stole my heart. The girl in the picture looked nothing like that. Strange as it is to admit, she looked almost like … me.

“Who is this?” I demanded.

“That’s me,” Grandmother said, startled, gripping the shoebox on her lap.

“That was you?”

“That is me!”

I know I looked stunned. I had to look stunned. The face in the picture was excruciatingly cute. Looking at her now, it was as if age wore a rubber mask. Yet I could still see the bright eyes behind the cheekbones curving up, a flash of the joyful smile.  I blurted, “Grandma! You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen!”

She took the picture and slipped it back under the shoebox lid, blushing to the roots of her silver curls. “Thank you, sweet heart,” she said softly, shaking her head as if to deny the obvious truth.

Thank you, Grandma.