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What Should Coaches Be Listening For?

A coach’s job is to facilitate potential change, usually by asking questions to identify the components of the problem and decide between solutions while reinforcing the changes and maintaining a trusting relationship. To achieve the excellence that all coaches seek, it’s necessary to avoid the listening filters that could prejudice the interaction, such as:

Bias. By listening for specifically for elements of the stated issues – problems, hopes, missing skills or motivation – a coach will merely hear what she/he recognizes as missing. If there are unspoken or omitted bits, if there are patterns that should be noticed, if there are unstated historic – or subconscious – reasons behind the current situation, the coach may not find them in a timely way, causing the coach to begin in the wrong place, with the wrong timing and potentially creating mistrust with the client.

Assumptions. If a coach has had somewhat similar discussions with other coaches, it’s possible that s/he will make possibly faulty assumptions or guesses that do not take into account the coaches specific, historic, unconscious, and certainly idiosyncratic challenges.

Habits. If a coach has a client base in one area – say, real estate, or leadership – s/he may enter the conversation with many prepared ways of handling similar situations and may miss the unique issues, patterns, and unspoken foundation that may hold the key to success.

As I write in my new book What? Did you really say what I think I heard? the problem lie in our brains. Once we listen carefully for ‘something’, we restrict all else that’s possible to hear as our brains interpret the words spoken according to our bias, often missing the client’s real intent, nuance, patterns, and comprehensive contextual framework and implications.

To have choice as to when, whether, or how to avoid filtering out possibility, we must disassociate – go up on the ceiling and look down – and remove ourselves from any personal biases, assumptions, triggers or habits, enabling us to hear all that is meant (spoken or not). In What? I explain how to trigger ourselves the moment there is a potential incongruence. For those unfamiliar with disassociation, try this: during a phone chat, put your legs up on the desk and push your body back against the chair, or stand up. For in-person discussions, stand up and/or walk around. [I have walked around rooms during Board meetings while consulting for Fortune 100 companies. They wanted excellence regardless of my physical comportment.] Both of those physical perspectives offer the physiology of choice and the ability to move outside of our instincts. Try it.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the NYTimes Business BestsellerSelling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method www.sharondrewmorgen.com in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]

What can you do to get better? Follow the masters.

I began this year in retrospect by reading a 60-year-old book on the masters of selling. The book, titled “America’s Twelve Master Salesmen,” was written and published by B.C. Forbes & Sons in 1953.

The book was based on the fact that each one of these master salespeople had one extremely powerful overriding principle or philosophy upon which his or her success was based.

Not that it was their ‘only,’ but rather were the words they stood for. For example: When you think of Martin Luther King – you think of “I Have A Dream.” He stood for those words. When you think of Patrick Henry – you think of, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” When you think of Richard Nixon – you think “I’m Not a Crook.” (and you’d be thinking wrong)

It is amazing how self-truths become self-evident truths after thirty or forty years of exposure – one way or the other.

Back to the book. Suppose you could adopt (or adapt) all of these master’s single best characteristic into your own set of capabilities. That would be power.

And so, to challenge your 2015 thinking, here are the master’s philosophies from 1953. And yes, I have added my own to the list – even though in 1953 I was a mere child.

  1. James A. Farley (corporate executive) Principle: Idlers do not last long. Starting as a door-to-door salesman, raising to Vice President of Sales for Universal Gypsum, and ultimately a board of director for several large companies including Coca-Cola, Farley believed that doing several things at once was the key to accomplishment. His secret was doing new things at the same time he was following up and building relationships. Often sending 100 letters a day, he was renowned for making and keeping friends.
  2. Max Hess, Jr. (retail store chain owner) Principle: Strive for a specific goals. Hess’s father used to say, “There’s no fun or excitement in just running a store. That way it’s drudgery. The fun and excitement come out of always figuring ways to stay ahead of the other fellow.” He believed in the stimulating power of keeping Hess Brothers forever exciting – exciting not only for the people who shop there but for those who work in the store. Hess made a business plan full of goals. And in a small town environment achieved big city results by working his plan every day, and having a happy army of people (his employees) helping him every step of the way.
  3. Conrad N. Hilton (hotel owner) Principle: Make them want to come back. “It is our theory that when a hotel is in the top-glamour category… you just can’t make it too luxurious. You heap it on. You never stop pondering the question, ‘What aren’t guests getting that they might be getting in the way of elegance and personal attention?’” Hilton knew that one hotel is like any other hotel. The difference is in how you treat the guests. All he asked of his employees was to be nice to people so they will want to come back. They have been coming back for nearly 100 years.
  4. Alex M. Lewyt (manufacturer of the Lewyt vacuum cleaner) Principle: Believe in your product and love it. So will the world! He was an engineer that was convinced he had built the world’s best vacuum cleaner. Advertised it before production was finished. Created a demand in the market with no product (a market vacuum if you will pardon the pun). When the cleaner finally emerged on the market, it was swept up (sorry again). Four million sales in four years. Lewyt said that having the best product is not enough. You must believe it’s the best, and share your passion through every marketing and advertising means.
  5. Mary Margaret McBride (radio broadcaster and columnist. Influencer of millions) Principle: Honesty is the best policy. “If I am convinced in my heart and mind that I’m speaking the truth, I approach the job as I would a sale – with zest and interest. And in my heart I know that I am actually performing a service on behalf of my listener – who is in reality, my customer. Honesty breeds loyal customers.” Her values made her a fortune.

GITOMER NOTE ON HONESTY: When you hear a corporate message like: “To serve you better…” or an employee says, “We’re doing the best we can…,” no matter how you want to defend those words, they’re lies.

The Orison Swett Marden quote: “No substitute has yet been found for honesty,” is a benchmark that everyone will read and agree with — yet very few will follow.

OK. There’s five of them. Pretty cool so far, huh? Next week in part two, more of the master salespeople of their time, including Red Motley and Elmer Letterman, will reveal sales insights that will take you to the next level.

Stay tuned…


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

5 Things All Entrepreneurs Can Learn About Success from Donald Trump

Love him or hate him, one thing’s for sure: all entrepreneurs can all learn a few things about success and leadership from Donald Trump. While The Donald continues to make headlines for his aggressive campaign to clinch the GOP nomination in the race to the White House, politics aside, it’s easy to see why Trump is a natural born leader and huge business success.

Trump’s thought process, attitude and no holds barred style is a learning lesson for everyone in business. Here are five examples.


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About the Author

Steve SieboldSteve Siebold is author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class and How Rich People Think, and a consultant to Fortune 500 sales and management teams on mental toughness and critical thinking. www.mentaltoughnesssecrets.com

What’s Your Organization’s Attitude?

StrategyDriven Corporate Cultures ArticleWhat’s your organization’s attitude? How is it impacting your culture? How is it impacting how you’re viewed externally? How is it impacting your results?

What are your employee’s attitudes about your company? What are their attitudes about your customers? How do they feel about the work they do?

Why is your organizational attitude important? Your attitude is everything.

We take it for granted that an individual’s attitude, to a large degree, drives their results. We’ve all known people who have the skills and experience necessary to do the job, but their disempowering attitudes and beliefs kill any chance for success. So why do we think it’s any different for an organization?

Your organization’s attitude drives how your company is perceived internally and externally. It drives how hard people are willing to work, how collaborative people will be and the level of ‘wow’ service you provide your customers.

The biggest driver of your organization’s attitude is your core values. Core values define your personality as an organization. They’re a small set (3 to 6) of nonnegotiable rules that you live by. Most organizations have core values that have evolved over time, without any attempt to proactively define them. Core values like ‘don’t admit to your mistakes’, ‘whoever screams the loudest wins’ or ‘me first, company second’ can become prevalent if you’re not careful.

Your key job as a leader is to create, communicate and hold your organization accountable to a set of core values that define what’s best, what’s right, what’s most noble about your culture. What are the characteristics you admire most in your employees? What do your clients value most? If you had to pick five members of your team that best exemplify what’s great about your culture, who would you pick? What behaviors or attitudes do they exhibit that made you pick them? These characteristics are the seeds your core values are created from.

To make sure your core values are not just a plaque on the wall, each core value should pass 3 tests:

  1. Are you committed to firing anyone who blatantly and repeatedly violates the core value? Regardless of an employee’s level of productivity, if they’re not living your core values, they are a cancer in your organization. If you’re not willing to fire them for violating a core value, it’s not really a core value. Remember, core values are non-negotiable.
  2. Are you willing to take a financial hit to uphold the core value? For example, let’s say one of your core values is ‘Respect, in everything we do’. Your largest client screams and curses at your customer service representatives and refuses to change their behavior. Do you fire the client and lose their significant revenue? If not, it’s not really a core value. Remember, core values are non-negotiable.
  3. Is this core value alive in your organization today? Can you tell recent stories about how employees have demonstrated the core value? If not, you may aspire to that core value, but it’s not a core value.

The right set of your core values should guide your key decisions, such as:

  • Hiring – Only hire people that have shown that they live your core values. You can help someone develop new skills, but it’s almost impossible to coach an employee to become someone they’re not.
  • Evaluating Employee Performance – Regardless of productivity, if someone is not living the core values, they’re a C-player and you should send them off to work for the competition.
  • Promoting – Promote people that exemplify your core values. Leaders that live your core values will set the example for others and drive a phenomenal culture.
  • Prospecting – When qualifying new customer/client prospects, evaluate whether their core values conflict with your own.

New products and business strategies come and go, but your culture is the foundation of your organization. What are you doing to create an incredible culture of passion, excellence and accountability? How will you impact your organization’s attitude today?


About the Author

Mike GoldmanMike Goldman is a nationally recognized speaker, consultant and author of the book Performance Breakthrough: The 4 Secrets of Passionate Organizations. He has over 25 years consulting and coaching companies from the local entrepreneur to the Fortune 500.

Throughout his career at Accenture and Deloitte Consulting, he helped companies like Verizon, Disney, Polo Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Kmart, Dillard’s, Liz Claiborne and Levi Strauss. In 2007, Mike founded Performance Breakthrough to help mid-sized companies achieve dramatic business growth. He does this by working with leadership teams to ensure they have the right people, strategies and execution habits for growth.

Can Collaboration Work?

We enter into collaborations assuming we’ll succeed as teamwork partners. Yet we rarely achieve true partnership:

  • Because we listen uniquely and through biased filters we sometimes mistakenly presume intent or misconstrue what’s been said and agreed upon. Problem: Flawed assumptions, wasted time and relationship capital, and restricted scope.
  • There is often not enough diversity to enable maximum creativity and unrestricted solution options. Problem: Similar ideas and options constrain possibility and maintain the status quo.
  • Agendas and goals are often established with less than the full set of essential participants. Problem: Hidden agendas and inadequate preparation.
  • Not all vital collaboration partners are present. Problem: Incomplete input and limited output.
  • Collaborators often enter with specific (albeit unconscious) goals and limited tolerance for risk. Problem: Restricted possibility and inspiration.

As a result, we end up with little real change, spend time waiting for takeaways that don’t occur, expend considerable relationship capital, or overlook the full range of possibilities:

  1. Biased communication. After spending 3 years researching and writing a book on the gap between what’s said and what’s heard, I now appreciate it’s nearly impossible for collaboration partners to all walk away with the same understanding. Therefore, 1. Tape each session. 2. Get group agreement on what’s been said and action items before moving on to the next topic.
  2. Gender, age, and ethnic diversity are necessary. Consider your goal. Think about who you might invite to offer different perspectives. Invite Troublemakers.
  3. Make sure everyone has access to the agenda well before the meeting. There can be no hidden agendas; too much is lost that ends up being problematic later on.
  4. Everyone must attend meetings. If anyone can’t come to the meeting, cancel it or there will be a voice, an idea, an annoyance missing that would counteract the reasons underlying the collaboration. Anyone who will touch the final solution must be present to move forward or there will be fallout, sabotage, and resistance: there is no way to compensate (as per creativity or consensus) once a meeting is held with folks missing.
  5. No restrictions. Collaborators must enter with no assumptions. Collaboration means you either meld disparate ideas, or cultivate something new among you that’s never existed.

We all bring our natural biases and assumptions to the collaboration table, thereby restricting possibilities. Yet until we confront, challenge, and defy the status quo with new thinking, there can’t be change. And that’s the problem: Our results are in direct proportion to our ability to override our biases and assumptions.

Bias Restricts Collaboration

Since researching and writing my new book (Free download What? Did you really say what I think I heard?) I have realized it’s pretty impossible to accurately comprehend what others mean to convey. Here’s a summary of what I learned:

  • Not only do our eyes merely take in light that our brains then translate (through our filters uniquely developed since birth) into what we think we see, our ears merely take in sound that our brains then translate (through our filters) into what we think others mean – hence we each experience the world uniquely, through our personal translations. To make it truly pernicious, our brains only offer us the translation itself: we never know how far from the Truth we are, potentially causing misplaced resistance and misinterpretation.

For effective collaborations, we must move beyond our filters to hear others without bias during meetings:

  1. Notice resistance, feelings, annoyances, or immediate negativity the moment it happens and ask yourself: How can I hear what’s just been said in a different way?
  2. Since you don’t actually know if what you think you’ve heard is accurate, tell your collaboration partners what you think you heard and ask them if they heard the same thing.
  3. Make sure there are no strong feelings left unsaid after each discussion topic.
  4. At the start of a session, everyone must agree to goals/outcomes for each topic; as each topic is completed, everyone must agree on action items that will match the original goals. Everyone.
  5. At the end of the session, agree to all action items and take-aways. Do a review of what’s been accomplished according to original goals. Ask if anyone else needs to be included for the next session.

By minimizing biases, by including a full range of thought-partners, and by checking in with the other collaborators as to what’s been said and heard, it’s possible to form effective collaborations. Otherwise, we’re merely doing more of the same.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to www.didihearyou.com to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.