Merriment & Festivity Need Not Derail Your Progress This Holiday Season

By Jeff Beals

The holiday season is in full throttle, so let’s keep this week’s advice on the light side.

Whether you’re enjoying eight nights of Hanakkuh, celebrating the joy of Christmas or simply hoping for a raucous good time on New Year’s Eve, the holidays are a demanding time of the year.

Very demanding.

It takes a lot of time to shop, eat, drink, celebrate, worship and spend time with loved ones. All that time devoted to merriment is also time spent away from your routine – your business and your career.

At this time of year, how can you enjoy a cup of good cheer without sacrificing your professional progress? It’s not easy, but you can do both – celebrate AND make progress this season.

My gift to you this year is a handy little list:

1. Don’t fret. Accept the fact that less traditional business takes place between December 20th and January 2nd. A little rest and time away from the grind will hopefully recharge you and sharpen your focus.

2. Improve. Since most of us will be spending less time in the office, the holiday season is a great chance to catch up on books, magazines and trade journals. If you find yourself getting a little too much quality time with in-laws, uncles and second cousins, open your laptop and go through that webinar you’ve been thinking about completing.

3. Catch up. If the phone is not ringing as much, and many of your colleagues are on vacation during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, it’s the perfect chance to dig into a new project, finish busy work that has been sitting in piles or go through your files and throw out unneeded papers. Delete ancient documents from your database.

4. Get philosophical. During a quiet moment this holiday season, think about your work and your professional purpose in life. What do you want to change? How does your approach need to change?

5. Get creative. Do something artistic or imaginative that you do not normally do. Perhaps you have a neglected hobby. Picking it back up could open your mind and position you for greater accomplishments in 2012.

6. Write. Have you been thinking about starting a blog? How about submitting an op-ed piece to your local newspaper or contributing an article to a professional publication? Getting published can do wonders for your business. The big challenge for most people is not the writing and research; it’s finding the time.

7. Put people before profit. Remember that time spent on personal relationships this season is time well spent. I envision a future in which healthy relationships will be a form of currency. As the economy gets more and more complicated and fast-moving, access to a large group of loyal friends, family and professional acquaintances will be the key to business and career success.

I hope this holiday season is enjoyable and meaningful for you and that 2012 brings you many blessings both personally and professionally.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article with author citation to anyone who might enjoy it.

10 Ways to Realize Hidden Opportunities

By Jeff Beals

“Great moments are born from great opportunities,” said the late Herb Brooks, one of the world’s most famous hockey coaches. 

Brooks certainly seized opportunity during his career.  He agreed to coach the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that beat the “unbeatable” Soviet Union in Lake Placid, New York during the famous “Miracle on Ice” game on the way to winning the gold medal.  It was a modern-day “David vs. Goliath” matchup. Many coaches would refuse such an overwhelmingly difficult job.  In fact, several did. 

But Brooks saw opportunity in the monumental challenge of leading a bunch of young, amateur, college all-stars against the essentially professional players of the Soviet Union and other European hockey powers. 

That opportunity paid off, to say the least.

Whether you’re talking about sports, business or any other subject matter, seeking, finding and capitalizing on opportunity are among the most important things a professional must do.     

There’s one big problem with opportunity, however.  It is often hard to find and even harder to harness.

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations,” said Charles Swindoll, an American religious author.

I agree wholeheartedly with Swindoll’s characterization.  The best opportunities are often hidden.  They are often located in places we least expect to find them and are presented by people we least expect to provide them. 

That reminds me of the old story that sales managers like to share with their young trainees: “On his way back from a three-day fishing trip, a multi-millionaire visits the showroom of an upscale, luxury car dealer.  The salespersons, seeing an unshaven, disheveled, poorly dressed man, essentially ignore him.  Offended, the multi-millionaire buys a top-of-the-line model the next day from a direct competitor.”  There are a lot of ways to tell that classic missed-sales-opportunity story, but they all sound something like that.   

If opportunity is so important to our success, and so difficult to find and recognize, we need to focus more of our energy on it.  Unless you’re naturally good at it, finding and capitalizing on opportunity needs to be a deliberate focus:

Open your eyes and ears – we can no longer afford to be indifferent, or even worse, oblivious to the world around us.  Be on the lookout for ideas that could lead to new opportunities.  Even more important than eyes and ears, keep your mind open too.  Many of us miss opportunities, because they don’t fit into our pre-existing paradigms.

Remember that all people count – sometimes we get so obsessed with the “right” people, we miss out on valuable opportunities from people, who on the surface, can do seemingly nothing for us.

Fight through the fear – one of the biggest reasons we miss out on extraordinary opportunities is because we are too afraid to leap.  Herb Brooks wasn’t too afraid to leap; we shouldn’t be either.

Let your creative juices flow – the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgi once said, “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”  The more creative you are, the more opportunity you will discover.  See the world in a different way, and doing things like nobody else, and just watch the opportunities that manifest.

Take risks – As the old saying goes, “nothing risked, nothing gained.”  Unless you take a chance and do something new, you’ll keep running into the same old opportunities.

Work really hard – “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work,” said the great inventor Thomas Edison. 

Set meaningful goals – make those goals specific too.  The more you clarify what you really want, the quicker you will recognize it when it shows up.

Find quiet time – many people have found great opportunities, because they prayed for them or spent time meditating about them.  Such activity creates focus in your mind, and a focused mind is a powerful mind.

Believe – visualize success and tell yourself that good things will come.  A positive mind is more receptive to hidden opportunity.

Prepare – as the old Boy Scout motto says, “be prepared.”  You never know when the perfect opportunity will open up.  If you’re not prepared, you might not act on it quickly enough.  In his autobiography, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he believes in “relentless preparation.”  He constantly prepares for crisis, so he will perform properly.  Same thing applies to opportunity. 

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article with author citation to anyone who might enjoy it.

          

Turning Employees into Portals of Profit

By Jeff Beals

“As Walgreen Co. pushes its army of pharmacists into the role of medical care providers, it is bringing them out from their decades-old post behind the pharmacy counter and onto the sales floor.”

That was the lead sentence of a recent New York Times article that caught my attention. 

What is so remarkable about this lead, you may ask?  On the face of things, not too much, but to me, this is a perfect example of how a major corporation can take advantage of personal branding.

When most people think about personal branding, they automatically assume you’re talking about career advancement or something a salesperson, insurance agent or real estate broker would do in hopes of closing more deals.  Certainly, such images fall under the personal branding umbrella.  But organizations benefit from personal branding too.  Personal branding by employees helps companies make more money and non-profit organizations more successfully meet their missions.  

The Illinois-based Walgreens has renovated several stores in order “to get the pharmacist closer to patients,” the article continued.

“It’s not about the product but the care we give.”

Some might say Walgreens’ move is a form of customer service.  That’s true, but it is also a form of personal branding. 

Businesses large and small must realize that people – their employees – are the portals of profit.  In other words, customers like to come into a company through a human being.  Personal relationships are the most effective way to land big clients. Personal relationships are even effective in the highly commoditized world in which Walgreens competes.  The more a company’s employees are out and about among the public, becoming well known and building relationships with prospective and current customers, the better a company will do. 

Too many organizations fear personal branding efforts by their employees.  In fact, conventional wisdom says that well-branded employees might be snatched up by competitors.  While there is a greater risk of losing well-known employees, savvy companies realize the benefits outweigh the threat of greater turnover.  What’s more, my gut tells me that employees who are encouraged to build their personal brands will be happier at work and therefore less likely to leave (even though they would theoretically have more opportunities to leave). 

The New York Times article indicates Walgreens is under pressure, because external circumstances threaten future business.  The company’s effort to strengthen relationships between pharmacists and customers is an attempt to mitigate that threat. 

Organizations need not wait for a threat to tap the latent personal branding power that sits unused on their organizational charts.  Now is the time to empower employees.  Help employees build their brands and turn them loose as deputized ambassadors.  Employees must become famous in their own spheres of interest, so they can become the portals of profit. 

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article with author citation to anyone who might enjoy it.