Posts Tagged ‘rob macdonald’

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)

Dangerous marketing

November 20, 2009

So-called marketing professionals!  Will you cool it already with the clean, slick, well mannered marketing campaigns?  You’re making a dangerous mistake.

Think about it.  When you were a kid, what did you do for fun?  If your best friends were anything like John Bertaux, Mike McCarthy and Bill Diehl, you set up plywood ramps for your bike.  You rode standing up, pumping your legs to build up speed.  When you hit the ramp, you launched yourself high into the sky … arms locked, knees shaking … and landed on the driveway, skidding to a stop.  The crowd went wild.  You were the man.

Now in our 40s, our generation is “the man” and “the woman” in a different way.  Many of us are responsible decision-makers in our companies.  We put out RFPs.  We hire vendors and sign purchasing orders.  Yet we’re still daredevils at heart, and we need to push ourselves to the limit from time to time, or life’s no fun.  If your marketing can’t spark our imagination, if your salespeople can’t rev the throttle and really get us fired up, you will fall short of your goal every time.  You’ll hit the front of the ramp and flip over your handlebars and break every bone in your body.

But at least it will be cool!

(Read more posts below.)

Tender

November 12, 2009

As a hyper-sensitive writer, Robroy has to wear special equipment to protect his feelings.  And yet I still get stung.  Most recently, a former high school classmate and I reconnected via Facebook.  She recalled my sense of humor as “cruel.”

goalieThis surprised me.  I wondered if it came from assignments I read aloud in our English class, like the one about my favorite sport, hockey.  In that essay, I described the goaltender’s gear: He wears oversized leg pads.  Protection for his abdomen, chest and shoulders.  A large rectangular forearm blocker, and a padded catcher’s mitt.  He has a helmet, chin guard and facemask.  In fact, except for an inch and a half of neck, the goalie’s entire body is completely protected.

In my paper, I asked, What’s the object of hockey?  To hit the goalie in the neck.

That’s irony, right?  The opposite of what you’d expect, and (given that I played goalie) the opposite of how I really feel.  I’ve always preferred deflective irony to cruel sarcasm — but I should not be telling you this.

I don’t want you to know my weakness.

(Read more posts below.)

The f-bomb

November 6, 2009

The bomb theory, according to Alfred Hitchcock, says that if a bomb goes off under a table where two people have been idly chatting, that’s surprise.  If the audience knows there’s a bomb under the table, but the characters don’t, that’s suspense.  In film, suspense is better than surprise.

F-bomb graphic

In business, neither is good, as Robroy learned the hard way.  It happened several years ago, when I was trying to win an important partnership for my young creative company, Smith Content.  The meeting was with two somewhat intimidating advertising executives in their stainless steel office downtown.  Now, Robroy generally likes to keep it clean, but that day, in a pitiful attempt at bravado, I let fly with: “We know what the @#*! we’re doing.”

Yep.  The f-bomb.  The execs were clearly underwhelmed.  One cocked his eyebrow.  The other drummed her nails on the table.

If only it were a movie.  The director would have jumped up, waving his arms and yelling, “Cut!  Cut!  What were you thinking, Robroy?”  Then he would have given me a “take two.”

But this is real life.  I had one chance.  And I blew it.

@#*!

How about you?  You’ve been sitting there so politely.  Have you ever been blown up by an f-bomb?  What happened?

So what, man?

October 29, 2009

In sales, if you hear, “The price is too high,” that means one thing.  You did a terrible job establishing value in the mind of the “So what?” man.

Superman flyingThe “So what?” man is your potential customer.  He says “So what?” because he is laser focused on what’s most important to him — and you didn’t bring it.  Price is not his kryptonite.  Your failure to communicate is.

You say your solutions can help make him faster than a speeding bullet.  More powerful than a locomotive.  Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  So what?

Until you connect it to his higher purpose, there’s no value.  Sit down with him.  Find out what he is ultimately trying to do.  What really matters to him?  Why does it matter?  What could he accomplish if he were faster, stronger, a better leaper?

That’s what.

Sales jails

October 22, 2009

Voice mail is a wonderful convenience. Unless you are in sales.  In that case, there is no voice mail.  There is only voice jail.  A place where no one ever returns your call.  A place where you wait and you wait and you wait, while the game goes on without you.  Until you pick up one of these:

get out of jail free card

To get out of voice jail and back in the game, flip over the card and read the five quick tips Robroy has printed on the back for you:

1. Expect to leave a message.

2. Know that your sole mission is to get a call back.

3. Plan what you will say.

4. Keep it short.

5. Practice on your own voice mail.

Think these rules don’t apply to you?  Think you can just keep winging it and get all your calls returned?  Then you might as well go back to jail.  Go directly to jail.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.

She has her sales hat on

October 16, 2009

gray fedora

So Robroy is early for a lunch date with his wife in a mall downtown.  With about 15 minutes to kill, I wander into a men’s hat store.

The salesperson is in her mid-20s.  She lets me check out the hats without interruption.  As soon as I start feeling the felt brim of an expensive gray fedora, she slides over.

“Let’s see how you look in it.”

I stick it on my head.  I tug the brim rakishly over my left eye, and look at her.  Her response is remarkable.  Her eyes widen.  She draws a sharp breath, and covers her mouth with her fingers.  The implication is that I look so good in the hat, it literally takes her breath away.

Now here’s the thing.  All men, no matter how doofy-looking, think they are studs.  Conversely, all women, no matter how beautiful, think they are hideous.  So it’s not a new trick in transactional, retail sales to flatter a man’s ego.  He takes it as affirmation, not information.

But there’s a catch.  For a guy sincerely in love with the girl he is going to meet, this flirtatious approach doesn’t fit.  I want my salesperson to be part of the solution.  Not part of the problem.

Somehow she picks up on this. “Wait til she sees how dashing you are in that hat,” she says with a disarming smile.

Now I have no other option but to admire her skill.  Besides, I’m a guy.  How can I disagree?  Grinning, I say, “I’ll take it.”

P.S. My wife loved it!