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Lessons from the Shopping Mall

On a cloudless summer day in suburban Chicago, a woman put her two children in the car and drove to the shopping mall. There she met one of her best girlfriends, who also came to the mall with her kids.

The group of two moms and four kids spent the whole day at the mall, having lunch in the cafeteria and then leisurely strolling, shopping and people watching. An afternoon movie in the attached theatre and malted milkshakes at the ice cream parlor finished off the mall excursion before the women drove back to their respective homes to prepare dinner.

These two women absolutely loved the mall. In their minds, it was one of the greatest places on Earth. After all, the mall was exciting, full of the latest and greatest retailers, a state-of-the-art movie theatre and plenty of free parking. Even better, the climate controlled indoor environment made it possible for a whole day of shopping and entertainment without being subjected to Chicago’s often extreme weather. No doubt about it; the mall was THE place to see and be seen.

That was 1968. It was the heyday of the enclosed regional shopping mall in America.

Here’s how this story might read in 2011:

A well-educated, working mom is able to duck out of her office for a couple hours at lunch to catch up on some long-deferred errands. With the kids in school, it’s her chance to actually get things done. That’s critical, because evenings and weekends are filled with dance lessons, soccer practice and select-league baseball games that often require the family to spend weekends at out-of-town tournaments.

Her challenge is to fit a whole day’s slate of errands into two hours. She drives her minivan to the power center located along the freeway. There she takes advantage of a 30%-off discount card she received in the mail from Kohl’s department store before stopping by the Wal-Mart Super Center to stock up on non-perishable consumables mostly manufactured in China. She takes care of mailing packages and dropping off dry cleaning at her friendly mega grocery store’s customer service counter.

Next, she speeds over to the lifestyle center, an outdoor mall with heavy landscaping, upscale national-chain retailers and a nice-but-fake-looking façade. There she purchases high-end cosmetics (the all-natural kind that are never tested on animals) and a dress for the coming weekend’s formal dinner. Before jumping in the minivan, she grabs a double latte, a little reward for getting so much done so quickly. She must head back to the office and cram in her work before picking up the kids from their after-school program.

Indeed, times have changed.

As the lives of retail customers have evolved, the retailers and the shopping mall owners have had to change in order to keep up. Today’s harried shopper simply doesn’t have the time to spend the whole day at the mall. Speed and convenience are critically important. Shoppers still want luxury and entertainment, but they have to be easily accessible and located close to homes or offices.

Consequently, we now see many of those old malls, the ones that were gleaming and glorious in 1968, being torn down and replaced with big-box retailers, open-air lifestyle centers and mixed-use “walkable” villages.

A perfect example is Randhurst Mall built in 1962 in the Chicago suburb of Mt. Prospect, Ill. According to Midwest Real Estate News, the once-popular Randhurst is now desolate, so crews are demolishing most of it to make way for a mixed-use center that will be home to offices, a hotel and a bunch of entertainment businesses in addition to an updated mix of retailers.

Retailers and retail landlords either keep up with the trends or they die.

Well, retailers certainly aren’t alone, are they? Your business needs to adapt too.

Keep in mind that, as a person, you are essentially a business. You are a business of one, a business unto yourself. In a lot of ways, you (as a business of one) have much in common with retailers. Like a retailer, you are selling a product (yourself). Like a retailer, you want to portray your product in the most desirable way while making it extremely convenient to your customers. Like a retailer, you must adapt to the changing needs and preferences of the public.

Regardless of what you do for a living, you must place your clients on a pedestal. Their needs and wants are not only paramount, they’re moving targets.

Are you doing whatever it takes to keep up? Are you willing to tear down a 1960’s-era mall and replace it with one of today’s hot new shopping developments?  Stay ahead of the trend or risk being squashed by it!

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 benefit from it.

Advice on Writing Articles & Blogs

By Jeff Beals

Professionals who appreciate the value of personal branding make concentrated efforts to be quoted in periodicals, radio talk shows and television news. Such exposure is valuable and helps propel careers.

However, it’s awfully difficult to earn media quotes. That’s why more and more professionals are blogging and submitting articles to publications. There’s great opportunity here. Every major city has numerous publications, and many of these depend on outside writers to supply the content.

The writer Robert Benchley once said, “The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece, per word or perhaps.” In other words, you don’t do it for the money. Instead of thinking of writing as a profit center, consider it as a form of marketing, a personal calling card. If you write enough articles, and spread them around the Internet, people will start to notice you and eventually respect you as an accomplished, well-known expert.

To help you get started as a published article writer or successful blogger, here are some tips:

Thou shalt be interesting

Entertaining the reader is just as important as educating the reader. Pick a topic that relates to what you do professionally but is fascinating to others.

Identify sources

If research is necessary, find the best possible sources. Those sources might be interviews you set up with experts. Convincing prospective sources to do interviews can be challenging, because many of these people have been burned before by journalists. Let them know that your motives are positive. Be transparent and explain exactly what you are doing with the article or blog.

Interviews

Take copious notes during interviews. If you quote someone, you have an ethical obligation to make sure you write their words verbatim.

Write like a pro

Purchase a copy of the Associated Press Stylebook. You can find it at most bookstores and on line. The vast majority of publications follow AP style. If you follow it, your writing will appear to be much more legitimate. By the way, there are a number of little quirks to AP style. For example, AP uses the term “adviser” instead of “advisor.” Large cities like Chicago, Atlanta and Boston “stand alone,” meaning you don’t write the state name following them. Speaking of state names, AP doesn’t use the U.S. Post Office abbreviations. For instance, Nebraska is “Neb.,” not “NE.” California is “Calif.,” not “CA.”

Upside-down pyramid

When composing your article, use the “inverted pyramid” method of writing. The fat base of the upside-down pyramid is at the top of the article, and it represents the biggest, most significant, most newsworthy part of the story. The small, narrow tip of the pyramid at the bottom represents the least meaningful part of the story. Place great emphasis on the article’s first sentence also known as “the lead.”

Active is better than passive

Most of your writing should be in the active voice instead of passive voice. In other words, “The president vetoed the bill” is better than, “The bill was vetoed by the president.”

Remember 8th grade English class

Use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. Proofread carefully. Tenses should be consistent. Subjects and verbs ought to agree.

Brevity is beautiful

Short articles are more readable than long ones.

Use real words

Don’t try to be too cute with your writing by filling it with clichés or politically correct double speak. Make your message as clear as possible; avoid balderdash, poppycock and gobbledygook.

Don’t get defensive

Unless you are writing in your own blog or for a publication you personally created, you give up some control once you submit the article. An editor will probably review your work and make at least a few changes. For the most part, having an editor is a blessing as it reduces the likelihood of errors.

Be a team player

There has to be a “balance” between your editor and you. Don’t allow the editor to walk all over you and change too much, but be understanding and remember the editor has a job to do. The relationship between editor and writer should be like a good marriage: Both have to give a little.

Not all ghosts are scary

Even if you’re terribly busy and not very gifted as a writer, I recommend you write your own stuff. Writing is best when the writer really writes it. You can always have someone edit it. However, if you have no confidence in your writing or are too busy, there are professional ghost writers, who will do the dirty work for you in exchange for a reasonable fee. In fact, I have done some ghost writing for clients.

Any professional can enjoy increased name recognition and ultimately more business through writing. The trick is to do it properly and compel people to read your material. After all, the best-written article in the world is useless if people don’t read it.

As you write, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. You must make sure that someone who knows little about your subject, who quickly browses it, can understand and appreciate the message you are trying to convey.

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 benefit from it.

Guilty of Customer Service Hypocrisy

By Jeff Beals

When working out of town and eating meals by myself, I feel like I need to bring along a newspaper or magazine when I sit down at a restaurant. Not sure why, but if I’m having lunch by myself, it feels more comfortable to have something to read.

There’s a process to follow when choosing lunchtime reading material when I’m on the road. I stop by one of those banks of newspaper machines, the big, long row of them that you see on downtown street corners. I randomly pick up a couple local periodicals – generally the free ones – and read them to get a sense of the city’s flavor, the community’s character.

That’s exactly what I did on a recent trip to Boston.

While sitting in a restaurant and thumbing through The Improper Bostonian, a letter-to-the-editor jumped out:

“To my least-favorite bookstore: Instead of having a greeter stand at the door with a goofy smile, perhaps he could assist by directing me through this labyrinth of horse calendars to find the book I’m looking for when it’s not alphabetized by author name. The search kiosk offers no more help than a ‘most likely in-store’ response. Bigfoot or Amelia Earhart could ‘likely’ be in-store! Fitting that the franchise is on the verge of bankruptcy. The closest it is to finding a book is Chapter 11.” The letter was signed by “Novel Idea.”

Ha! That’s stickin’ it to ’em.

As an author, I must confess to a little guilty satisfaction in reading this. After all, the big bookstore chains don’t treat authors and publishers very nicely. They’re slow in paying bills and return books damaged without any financial penalty on their part whatsoever.

After smugly chuckling at the letter, I got to thinking about those large bookstore chains and wondered why a couple of them are struggling so much. Conventional wisdom blames changing reading habits – many people now read on line or use electronic reading devices instead of curling up with a good book on the sofa.

You could also blame Amazon.com and Wal-Mart for the bookstores’ troubles. Certainly those two businesses sell in such volume that they can beat the traditional bookstores on price, but the question remains. Why are they struggling so much?

Despite competition from other businesses, big bookstores have advantages. They are comfortable, inviting and appealing places to shop. They usually occupy prominent real estate with great demographics, visibility and traffic flow. They have in-house coffee shops, which provide additional income.

Then there’s the BIG benefit: bookstore chains don’t pay for their inventory. Yes, you read that right. They don’t have to pay for the books. Those thousands of books sitting on the shelves are there on consignment. If they don’t sell, the bookstore simply returns them to the publisher. Even if books are damaged, no matter how badly, the bookstore simply returns them to the publisher, no questions asked. In fact, my publishing company received one of my books back with a chocolate bar mashed between two pages.

Despite all these advantages, bookstores are struggling. Is customer service – or a lack thereof – part of the problem? Could be. I’ve heard other complaints similar to the one voiced in the Boston magazine.

In an increasingly complex economy in which bookstores and darned near every other type of business compete in hyper-competitive environments, customer service ought to be a no-brainer. But it’s not. It seems like everyone can tell stories of times they have encountered legendarily bad customer service.

Usually those stories come from the stereotypical “customer-service” businesses like stores, restaurants and hotels. We can all relate to bad customer service in a retail environment, because we interact with these types of businesses several times a day.

But most readers of this article don’t work in retail environments. Most of you work in offices, providing or supporting high-end services that cost clients a lot of money. Given that, take a moment to ask yourself, are you providing as high a level of customer service to your clients as you demand from your neighborhood store or your favorite restaurant? Are you doing it consistently? Most of us are guilty when it comes to the “consistency” question. Sometimes I am guilty.

I once observed a successful real estate broker deliver a blistering tongue-lashing to the manager of an upscale restaurant that had wronged him. He wondered loudly and forcefully, “Why the hell can’t that waitress just do her damned job.”

It’s kind of ironic that the same broker once blew off a prospective client, because the guy had a thick foreign accent and didn’t appear to have deep pockets. The big-shot broker was frustrated when he learned that a competing broker took time for that same client, built rapport with him and eventually cashed a $250,000 commission check. Ouch.

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 else who might benefit from it.

It’s Better to Be Different than It Is to Be Better

By Jeff Beals

From an outsider’s perspective, she was leading the ideal life.

She made the Dean’s List in law school and was in her tenth year practicing at a respected firm in the middle of Toronto’s bustling financial district. If that wasn’t enough, she had four beautiful daughters, a rich personality and an impossible-to-forget name: “Tsufit,” a Hebrew word for “humming bird.”

Indeed, she had it all, but something just wasn’t right.

Tsufit was restless. One day she thought to herself, “there’s got to me more to life than this,” so she made the monumental decision to leave law and follow her dream of being a singer, comedian and television actress.

It was certainly a radical change.

As it turned out, it was also a profitable change for Tsufit (yes, she goes by a one-word name just like Cher or Madonna). She did well as a performer, taking advantage of her natural penchant to entertain others. She was energetic, colorful and damned funny on stage, on camera and in one-on-one conversations.

But she was more than just an entertainer. She brought a business-like approach to her new profession, and more importantly, she was a savvy marketer. Tsufit had a knack for getting exposure in newspapers and in other media.

Eventually, entrepreneurs and other professionals started asking her how she earned so much publicity especially from major media outlets. In answering such questions, she found an even better career.

Today Tsufit is an internationally renowned marketing consultant who coaches clients how to be stars in their professions. She’s the award-winning author of Step Into the Spotlight: A Guide to Getting Noticed, as well as a popular radio talk-show guest, keynote speaker and seminar leader both in Canada and the United States. Her coaching fee is now substantially higher than the legal fees she earned years ago. Her clients, who come to her from around the world, are entrepreneurs, executives, authors, professional speakers, independent professionals, fellow coaches – anyone who is the “directing mind” of a business.

Tsufit coaches the type of people who want to be experts or stars in any business. Suffice it to say, she is an expert when it comes to building one’s personal brand and marketing it in today’s precarious economy.

Her clients learn how to brand themselves and become well known. That leads to so many professional benefits for them.

“You get to charge more,” Tsufit says, “I help them raise their rates. Part of that whole process is getting them well known among the people who pay their rates. My coaching rates are now five times what they were eight years ago. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t become so well known.”

Tsufit argues that well known people are more credible. “It’s bizarre, really, but because they’ve heard of you in the marketplace, they trust you more. They’re much more willing to give you large amounts of money. They trust that well known people deliver on what they promise.”

While there are so many theories of personal branding and so many ways to brand oneself, Tsufit believes you must start with your own uniqueness.

“It’s better to be different than it is to be better,” she says, “If you focus on creating differences and distinctions between you and everyone else, you don’t have to focus on boasting or showing that you’re better.”

To build your brand, drop the excessive professionalism and simply be yourself, Tsufit advises. But as you do that, “be the best version of yourself.” People who come across as too perfect or too smooth turn others off. That’s why you should show your vulnerabilities, or as author Harry Beckwith once said, “show your warts.” Research shows that if you show some vulnerability, you’re actually more credible.

As you brand yourself, you want to do it the right way. Tsufit believes the biggest personal branding mistake is not standing for anything, not having a slice of the market that is yours and yours alone.

“If you say you’re for anybody, you’re really for nobody,” she says, “because there’s no way to find you among the sea of other people, who do what you do.”

On occasion, a professional may desire to change his or her personal brand. That’s okay if the change is made for the right reasons.

“I wouldn’t change every five minutes,” Tsufit warns. “Some people have a totally new thing every month or two or every year. After too many changes, people write you off as a flake. Your new brand should grow out of something you’ve done before.”

If you want to change how you appear in public, start by appearing in front of a different public. To borrow from the world of theatre, try it out off-Broadway first. When Tsufit was a singer, she would test new songs at a small coffee house before debuting in front of large audiences. Similarly, professionals, should test market their new brands, making sure the brand fits, is comfortable and not fake.

Many people will admit that personal branding is an effective way to bolster a career, but they’re simply not comfortable doing it. Specifically, many people worry about going too far. So, if you’re worried about crossing the line from “healthy personal branding” to “egotistical boasting,” you’re not alone.

“For me, it’s humor,” Tsufit claims. “I could never get away with half of what I say without humor. Otherwise, I’d come across as arrogant or conceited. The other thing is confidence. Know that you can demonstrate that you really do what you say you do.

By the way, if you would like to learn more about the marketing expert featured in this article, go to StepIntoTheSpotlight.com.

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 Jennifer at (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.

Eventually You Have to Ask for the Order

By Jeff Beals

Sounds of chatter, laughter and clinking dishes filled the room at the well-attended networking event inside the hotel conference center.

Like the other professionals in attendance, I tried my best to move about the room somewhat gracefully, meeting people and engaging in discussion – mostly small talk.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jon and couldn’t help chuckling a bit to myself as he approached.

Jon’s a great guy, someone I have enjoyed getting to know. But I always shake my head when I think about him, because Jon is the poster-boy for inefficient and ultimately non-effective networking.

You see, Jon is a marketing executive for a large consulting firm. His job is to schmooze, to go out into the world, build relationships and ultimately sign up clients for his firm’s services. Jon works hard at the “relationship” part of his job but doesn’t appear to be terribly effective at the “signing-up-clients” part.

Jon is seemingly everywhere. He’s a voracious networker. He’s diligent, because you can’t go to a networking event without seeing him. He is intelligent and talented. He is engaging. Heck, he’s even a good-looking. He knows how to play the corporate game and comes across as smooth and nimble as he plays it.

Despite all his attributes, Jon has one glaring deficiency. In the 10 years I have known him, he has never once asked for my business.

It’s not just me. I was talking to a friend, and somehow Jon’s name came up in discussion. I mentioned that I’ve always been amazed at how much attention I receive from Jon without ever being asked for my business. My friend had noticed the same thing.

Jon is a guy who networks for the sake of networking. He knows it’s the right thing to do, but he doesn’t finish the job, call the question, ask for the order.

Remember that your ultimate goal in networking is to establish rapport, learn information and ultimately use it to accomplish your business goals. Sure, most of your time is engaged in chit-chat and pleasantries, but at some point it’s time to cash in.

Jon’s affliction is actually a common one.

I work in commercial real estate. My colleagues and I have always been amused by some of the business development people from architecture, engineering, construction and finance firms who lavish us with attention, give us gifts and take us out for free lunches without asking for the business.

It’s easy to do the relationship-building part, but it’s hard for many people to follow through with the asking part. I’m guilty of this myself sometimes. Asking is inherently difficult, because it’s not fun to be turned down. It’s human nature to avoid rejection. Because of that, many people put themselves out there, build relationships and simply hope and pray that the clients will come to them.

That’s too passive. Waiting for people to volunteer to be your clients might work occasionally, but it won’t generate enough business to sustain you.

It’s true that successful people must network, but networking is simply a means to an end. Your success as a networker is ultimately judged when your prospect signs their name on the dotted line.

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 benefit from it.

Conquer the 10 Worst Time Wasters

By Jeff Beals

The great management theorist Peter Drucker once said, “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”

In order to achieve your goals, you must develop superior time management skills. Time is the world’s most precious resource.

If you need more investment capital, you can find it.  If you need more talented people to work for you, you can find them.  Unfortunately, you can never find more time.  It is finite.  It is fleeting in nature.  Once it is gone, it can never be recovered.  Time is also a great equalizer – rich or poor, stupid or brilliant, everyone has the same number of hours in the day.  

Nobody actually perfects the art of time management.  With dedication and practice, however, you can come close.  The problem is that most people find time management to be quite difficult.  There are so many tempting time wasters in our lives.  What’s more, it’s a heck of a lot more fun to sit around with friends, go out to dinner and watch television than it is to work efficiently.

Entire books have been written and semester-long courses have been taught about the intricacies of time management.  In this short article, let’s focus on “time wasters,” those things that stand in the way of good time management.

Perhaps the most insidious time waster is television.  According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of television each day (or 28 hours per week, or two months of nonstop television-watching per year). Let’s say the average lifespan is 80 years.  That means a typical person would spend 13.3 YEARS of his or her life watching television. 

While we’re throwing around television statistics, consider this:  American youths spend far more time each year in front of their televisions than they do in their classrooms.

But it’s not just television that devours our time.  Video games, Internet surfing, hobbies and overly active social calendars can all be problems.

Now, none of this is to imply that you must extinguish all fun from your life in order to be successful.  That would be a mistake, for fun-haters don’t live as long and don’t lead as meaningful of lives.  We just need to schedule our enjoyable activities carefully.  We need recreation in life, but recreation becomes rather meaningless if we’re not working actively and diligently the rest of the time.

As you contemplate your goals, your work and your daily schedule, think about how you can tighten up your time management skills.  The first step is to eliminate the time wasters.  To help you know just what you are up against, here is my list of the “Top 10 Time Wasters:”

1. Television

2. Worrying

3. People interruptions when it’s time to focus

4. Procrastination

5. Inability to say “no”

6. Lack of planning

7. Perfectionism

8. Disorganization

9. Excessive social media, internet and video games

10. Too much socializing

Ultimately, no one but you should be able to control your time and how you use it.  If you allow people to abuse your time, they will do it happily.  People can be rather obnoxious when it comes to time usurping.

The colorful and controversial President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “Heck, by the time a man scratches his behind, clears his throat and tells me how smart he is, we’ve already wasted 15 minutes.”

Decide that you are in control of your time and don’t let others take over.  Cut people off if you must or at least steer them away so they don’t siphon your time.

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.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.

Ten Ways to Market Yourself in 2011

By Jeff Beals

Here we are at the beginning of a brand new year. This is one of those years where many professionals are feeling more optimistic than they were at this time 12 months ago.

That’s refreshing. It’s a much better feeling than we had at the beginning of 2010. But while the stock market has been rising, tax cuts have been extended and business is picking up, these are far from ideal times. High unemployment persists, and the economy still has a cautious, uncertain feeling to it.

Today’s business environment remains perilous, but at the same time, there are great prospects for those who play their cards right. That’s why it is so important for you to build your brand and create opportunities.

Whether you want more/bigger clients or a better career opportunity, make a commitment to market yourself in 2011. To get you started, here are 10 items to consider:

Live actively and focus externally – Be active and involved outside your home or office. Show up at networking events. Go out of your way to talk to people when you are in public venues. Remember that 75% of all jobs are never advertised and a similar percentage of big clients only come from relationship-building.

Determine what is most interesting – You need an “area of self-marketing expertise,” something about your business or career that is fascinating to people outside your profession. Focus on this when you are networking or using social media.

Focus on results when networking – When you go to networking events, go in with a goal in mind. Sure, you should try to enjoy your conversations, but make it a mission to find a good lead or a golden opportunity.

Exploit social media – Don’t just have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Make sure you post material that is interesting and not just inane personal stuff. Use social media to strengthen your reputation by building on your area of self-marketing expertise.

Make people feel important – When you are talking to someone, make him or her feel like the only person in the world who matters to you at that moment. This will help you develop advocates, people you can count on when you need help.

Build your “Google trail” – Rest assured, that people are Googling you on a regular basis. A prospective client will probably Google you to know who he or she is dealing with before meeting with you. That’s why a Google trail is so important. If nothing or very little pops up when someone Google’s you, there’s a problem – they’ll assume you don’t have much going on. Therefore, Google your own name on a regular basis. If you’re not very visible on line, deliberately get your name out there to build an Internet presence.

Ask probing questions – Don’t just chit-chat and make small talk during networking conversations. Ask some questions designed to uncover the critical information that leads to new opportunities.

Refresh your elevator speech – Does your 20-second intro speech need updating? You need to be able to say what you do quickly, clearly and in a way that captures a person’s interest.

Listen to your clients and colleagues – When we get too busy, it’s easy to start making assumptions. Those assumptions can cause you to lose opportunities. Instead, ask the important questions and truly listen to the responses. Don’t just go through the motions. Let the other person’s words sink in and make an impression on your brain.

Never let up – When things are good, don’t let complacency stop you from perpetually marketing yourself. When things are going poorly, don’t let discouragement be an excuse for apathy.

May 2011 be your best year yet!

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.   You can learn more and follow his “Business Motivation Blog” at www.JeffBeals.com.  To discuss booking a presentation, call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.

Healthy Living Is a Prerequisite for Success

By Jeff Beals

Nearly 300 years ago, a British physician, preacher and intellectual by the name of Thomas Fuller said, “Health is not valued till sickness comes.”

Such sage historical wisdom still holds true today. Those who hope to achieve the highest heights in the 21st Century economy need to take care of something as simple as personal health.

Making a commitment to healthy living is a prerequisite for success. But it’s not only physical health that matters.

Those who enjoy long-term success realize that their personal lives must be in order. That means you should care for your mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and financial health as much as the health of your career.

It is very difficult to be successful at work when your personal life is a mess. If your marriage is dysfunctional, it’s hard to focus on high-level career achievement. If you lack a set of core beliefs, you may not be able to create philosophy of life that guides you to some great achievement. If you are barely keeping your financial head above water, you don’t have the financial ability to take on entrepreneurial endeavors. Whatever the problem, you will be more successful in all facets of life if you take care of things at home.

A good attitude does wonders for your success. Think positive thoughts and constantly reinforce yourself in your own mind. As Norman Vincent Peale taught us in his famous book, The Power of Positive Thinking, you can cause successful outcomes by forcing yourself to be optimistic.

After you adopt a positive attitude, there are several other things you can do that will make you a healthier person.

If you have a faith, I recommend you practice it. Believing in and answering to a higher power has an amazing affect on career success. Prayer, meditation or whatever you choose to call it, purges the toxins from your mind and gives you strength and confidence.

After faith comes family. No matter how ambitious you are, your family should be one of your highest priorities. Do whatever it takes to protect your familial relationships. If things ever get really tough, you want to be able to depend on those who share your blood. Stick up for your family members and look out for their interests. In the long run you will be far richer if family comes before career.

Close friends are almost as important as family. A long-time friend who truly understands you is worth his or her weight in gold. Put the important people in your life on a pedestal and make them your priority. If you go out of your way to put people first, you will have more business opportunities than you can handle.

Because family and friends are so important, you should adopt an attitude of acceptance. Let them be who they are and enjoy them in spite of all their flaws and weaknesses. Forgive them any time they wrong you. Bite your tongue, when you feel like saying something hurtful to a friend or family member. These relationships are so important, that it’s foolish to put them at risk over some temporary passion.

While relationship-building contributes to career success, so does physical health. You don’t have to be an obsessive gym rat, but being in shape and consuming the right nutrition gives you more energy and stamina.

Keep your home life organized. Make sure your house is generally clean and tidy. Have a good system for organizing your bills and other important papers. Develop systems and routines for the simple, daily things. If you run a tight ship at home, you will have time for important things. After all, it’s awfully hard to conquer the world if you’re constantly misplacing your car keys.

Hobbies and recreation are also parts of a healthy life. Having enjoyable stimulation outside work recharges your battery and contributes to creative thinking. Just don’t go too hog wild with your hobbies. Some people get so deeply involved in hobbies that they hurt their job performance and drain their bank accounts.

Speaking of bank accounts, personal financial discipline is part of a healthy lifestyle. Just as you need to get your body in shape, you need to shape up your financial condition as well. A long time ago, philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Few people have any next, they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.”

There has always been a portion of the population that has chosen to live on the edge of the financial abyss, recklessly spending all they have, investing little or nothing. Unfortunately, that portion of the population has been growing rapidly, and it’s becoming quite a problem.

Living a financially reckless life will eventually catch up with you and hurt your career. If you have no savings, you have no “go-to-hell-money,” the power to walk away from a job or a client when you’re not happy. A lot of financial debt can prevent you from taking some lower paying job that might actually make you happier. For every minute you spend worrying and fretting about how you will make ends meet, you are taking away time from your grander goals.

It sounds so elementary, but it’s worth a reminder. Live a balanced and healthful life in order to reach the top.

That said, let’s end with one disclaimer: don’t be obsessive-compulsive in your quest for a healthy lifestyle, because as comedian Redd Foxx said, “Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.”  

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.   You can learn more and follow his “Business Motivation Blog” at www.JeffBeals.com.  To discuss booking a presentation, call (402) 637-9300

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.

Avoid the Meeting Trap

By Jeff Beals

Comedian Fred Allen once quipped, “A committee is a group of men, who individually can do nothing but as a group decide that nothing can be done.”

Few things cause professionals to roll their eyes in disgust more than a disorganized, unnecessary meeting. In today’s business world, there are simply too many meetings. A significant portion of the meetings we attend are simply unnecessary. Even if a meeting is needed, the majority of time during that meeting is filled with unnecessary content.

The first step in escaping the meeting trap is to avoid meetings whenever possible. If you are in charge, try to find ways that your people can be empowered to make individual decisions at the lowest level possible. Good organizations should expect professional team members to keep each other informed, but for the most part, they should be encouraged to behave as confident individuals.

If your presence is not essential, try to get out of going. Don’t go to meetings just for the sake of making your calendar look more impressive. If you don’t have an active role in the meeting, and assuming your boss isn’t ordering you to attend, try to get out of it. Professional success is measured by results, power, influence, impact on the world and compensation, not by the number of meetings you attend each week.

If you must go, there are ways of making it more efficient. If you are leading the meeting, create an agenda in advance. Stick to the agenda and don’t allow participants to stray too far from it. Use good meeting facilitation techniques to keep it moving. You will have to periodically bring people back when they go off on verbal tangents.

When I must attend a meeting in which I do not have an active role, I bring paperwork with me or handle emails on my phone. I sit in the corner or back of the room and am productive while the meeting is going on. If you do this discreetly, most people won’t mind.

This is not to say all meetings are bad. In an era of business when collaboration is important, we need face-to-face time. The key is to make meetings valuable.

Otherwise you can “meeting” yourself to death and start to live like a politician. Nobody goes to more meetings than a politician as attested by these poignant quotes:

“I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I’m in a cabinet meeting.” – President Ronald Reagan

“Congress seems drugged and inert most of the time… its idea of meeting a problem is to hold hearings, or in extreme cases, to appoint a commission.” – Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to friends, colleagues, clients or anyone else who might benefit from it.

Jeff Beals delivers presentations to a wide variety of audiences nationwide. Presentations are adapted to fit your organization’s goals and can be keynote speeches (30 to 90 minutes) or workshops (two to four hours) covering the following topics: 

  1. “Self Marketing Power: Branding Yourself as a Business of One”
  2. “Tons of Room at the Top: the Attitude of Success”
  3. “National Signing Day: Sales, Marketing & Personal Branding Lessons from College Football”
These presentations are energetic, humorous and packed full of valuable information. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.

Traits of the Top 1%

By Jeff Beals

The thing that ultimately separates successful entrepreneurs and salespersons from the not-so-successful ones is the level of risk they are willing to take.

So says consultative selling expert Mark Hunter, who has been actively studying the traits of the top one percent of salespersons and entrepreneurs over the past 12 years. Widely known by his professional moniker, “The Sales Hunter,” he has compiled a list of these traits and uses them to help his clients do more business.

Of all the traits, risk-taking comes out on top.

“That doesn’t mean stupid risks,” Hunter says, “but calculated risks.  We have to be willing to step outside our boundaries.”

An entrepreneur’s or salesperson’s risk tolerance is especially important during economically challenging times. That’s when the low-hanging fruit has all been picked, forcing professionals to try new things and take chances.  Tough economic times bring more opportunities than ever before for those who are willing to take risks.

But risk-taking isn’t the only trait of the top one percent.  Some of the others include:

·         Niche-focused

·         Open-minded

·         People-centered

·         Passionate

·         Client-focused

·         Implementers

·         Innovators

·         Strong work ethic

·         Confident

·         Competent

·         Persistent

·         Resilient

·         Optimistic

·         Driven, results-oriented

If you look at the first two listed traits, “niche-focused” and “open-minded,” there appears to be a dichotomy.  In other words, how can a high-performing professional be niche-focused yet open-minded at the same time? 

Hunter admits that these two traits appear a bit paradoxical, but “niche-focused” implies that a salesperson or entrepreneur is incredibly driven toward one specific thing.  He or she has an amazing level of commitment to the mission and goals.

“Open-minded” refers to a high performer’s willingness to try new things, to see what else is out there.  As Hunter says, “I want to sniff, feel and discover.  I want to meet people and network.” Open-minded professionals study everything and translate what they learn back to their company.  Such people always have at least one close friend in a different industry.

There’s one trait you will definitely NOT find on the list: arrogance.  Over the years, Hunter has found that arrogance may put a person in the top one percent temporarily but won’t sustain them.  Those who are at the top, and stay at the top, truly understand the merits of being confident without coming across as cocky or self-serving.

Perhaps disappointing to many people, “servant-focused” is also not one of the universal traits.  Hunter sees it in some top performers but not all.  That may come as a surprise, because many leadership gurus have written extensively on the virtues of servant leadership.  Hunter suspects that some of the top one percent are so focused on and driven toward what they want to accomplish, they may not always view themselves or be seen by others as servants.

By the way, if you would like to contact Mark Hunter or learn about his services, go to TheSalesHunter.com.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to friends, colleagues, clients or anyone else who might benefit from it.

Jeff Beals delivers presentations to a wide variety of audiences nationwide. Presentations are adapted to fit your organization’s goals and can be keynote speeches (30 to 90 minutes) or workshops (two to four hours) covering the following topics: 

  1. “Self Marketing Power: Branding Yourself as a Business of One”
  2. “Tons of Room at the Top: the Attitude of Success”
  3. “National Signing Day: Sales, Marketing & Personal Branding Lessons from College Football”
These presentations are energetic, humorous and packed full of valuable information. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.