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“Nothing short of fantastic. I would recommend, without reservation, Bob's program to any other sales professional.”

~ Allen L. Howard, CLU, General Manager, New York Life Insurance Company

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“Pain Don’t Hurt” – Huh?

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Road House Patrick SwayzeThe beautiful doctor, Elizabeth “Doc” Clay offered to give Dalton a local anesthetic before stitching up the knife wound from his scuffle at the Double Deuce. He refused it.

She asked, “Do you enjoy pain?”

Pain don’t hurt.” he replied.

To which she responded, “Are you a freaking moron?!”

Oh, wait, that’s what I shout at the TV every time I watch the movie, Road House, whenever it plays on TNT.

She merely stated that most of her patients would disagree with that.

You know what bothers me about that line (admittedly, from one of my all-time favorite movies)? It’s not just that it’s corny. And, it’s not that he somehow manages to sound cool when he says it. No, what really bothers me is that it simply DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!

Of course, pain hurts. By the very definition of the word, “pain”…it hurts. As a “word guy” those things grate on me. (A First-world problem, to be sure.)

Now, had he said, “I have a really high tolerance for pain” that would make more sense. Or even, “my Zen-like-yet-sarcastic-and-macho persona” prefers the tinge of pain to an anesthetic” would be acceptable.

But…”pain don’t hurt”?

Those type of lines can cause “gag-anitis.” Of course, we all know I’m just thinking way too much.

I’m sorry.

Oh, wait…”love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Huh? {Gag}

Forget it. This is so not a big deal. Carry on; enjoy the show.

But, don’t even THINK about “putting baby in a corner.” {Gag…Groan}

They Can Be Learned

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

While tact is mainly a skill it is also an attitude.

While empathy is mainly an attitude it is also a skill.

Fortunately, both can be learned.

Bob, I Think She Just Needs To Be Listened To

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

In a recent post we looked at the importance of listening. Just listening; not problem-solving.

While there are times that proactively helping someone solve a problem is very legitimate, paradoxically, not trying to solve a problem is often the best way to have it solved. By simply listening (allowing the other person to be heard) the problem often simply dissolves. Or, just as well, the person solves the problem themselves, which empowers them and helps build another leader.

As mentioned, I’ve had to work very hard at improving myself in this area. When someone comes to me with a problem, I still have to fight my inclination to go into fixing-mode and, instead, just listen. Writing the previous post reminded me of a recent situation in that regard.

On a speaking trip there was a logistical mix-up in one city that caused some distress for the person who planned the meeting, as well as for me. It was really nothing more than a miscommunication but it caused some negative feelings for the meeting planner, and she wanted to speak with Kathy and me personally in order to bring some closure to it.

We did a three-way conference call and she began to relate the story from her point of view. Knowing that some information had been related to her by our mutual client and desiring to put her mind at ease, I began to explain what had happened. Naturally, I did this feeling that — by telling her this — she’d feel better, realizing I understood she was not at fault.

Suddenly, I noticed my Skype Instant Message pop up with a message from Kathy. It simply said:

“Bob, I think she really just needs to be listened to right now. :-)”

Point taken. Kathy was right. She simply needed to be heard. She had been frustrated by feeling that her actions had been misunderstood and simply needed us to listen. Satisfied that was now the case, all was fine.

Meanwhile, I still have a ways to go in the “listening…really just listening” department. :-)

They Were Fine…But This Could Have Set Them Apart

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

In a recent post we discussed how paying attention to detail and doing those little things right (especially those your competitors don’t do) can set you apart from the crowd and make the big difference in your business.

I was reminded of this last month when arriving at a doctor’s office in West Palm Beach. It was my first visit there and I mistakenly showed up an hour early. When the two receptionists told me this I was a bit upset at myself as that was an hour that could have used to work.

I uttered a self-annoyed, “I can’t believe I did that.”

No response.

Then, “Well, that was an hour I could have made better use of” and shook my head.

Now, as silly as this sounds, I think I wanted one of them to tell me they understood how I felt and were so sorry that happened.

But, they didn’t. They just looked at me and waited. Don’t get me wrong. They were very nice. They just had nothing to say and so, they didn’t. As soon as I left the office I found there were several coffee shops very close and across the street was a strip mall with numerous restaurants. Always having a book on hand, I had lunch and caught up on some reading. Turned into a nice extra hour.

But, here is where the doctor’s team could have shined big in my eyes. Actually, here is how any office could:

Be Prepared: realizing that Bob Burg is probably not the only klutz whose mind goes on absent, be ready when such a patient arrives.

Communicate Empathy: Let them know you feel for them. Suggested language might be, “I’m so sorry that happened. I hope that didn’t cause you too big an inconvenience. Believe me, you’re not the only one who’s done that.” (And, if you’ve done something similar, let them know that, too.)

Provide Suggestions: What amenities are in your area that could be taken advantage of? In this case, a simple, “Fortunately, and if you’re interested, we have both a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Starbucks within three blocks in either direction. There’s also a wonderful strip mall across the street with your choice of restaurants (and name the restaurants).”

Wow — what a difference! Again, please don’t get me wrong. They were very nice. They just didn’t go that extra step. And, it’s leadership’s responsibility to be sure they are equipped to take that step.

At least, that’s what I think. What say you?

Those With High Character Take A Stand

Monday, December 12th, 2011

“Those are my principles. And, if you don’t like them…I have others.”
— Groucho Marx

The above line by one of our greatest comedians is, unfortunately, a bit too real. While we tend to see this manifest most commonly in politicians who will say just about anything in order to get elected or re-elected, far too many in business do the same thing.

A person’s character is their defining quality. Perhaps, more accurately, it’s the sum total of all their qualities. I believe that when you really understand a person’s character, you can predict their major decisions.

Why? Because you know where they stand. And you know that they stand for something. They are predictable. In this case, a good predictable.

While the media gives significantly greater attention to those whose principles are along the line of Groucho’s above persona, fortunately there are many more whose principles — based on high character — are indeed immutable.

One such man I’m reminded of is John Allison.

Mr. Allison, the former Chairman & CEO of Branch Banking & Trust Company (BB&T), grew one of the most profitable banks in the country. It was also one of the few banks that did not involve itself in sub-prime lending, writing only conventional mortgages.

Mr. Allison understood the unholy alliance between Washington, D.C. and many of the banks. And, being that this was contrary to the principles upon which he and his bank stood (making their profit through providing value to their clients), the decision to forgo the countless “easy millions” being made by his peers was a no-brainer.

Of course, when things came crashing down, his bank was left standing tall; both in profitability and reputation.

The kicker is that eventually he was forced by the government to take bailout money. And, staying true to his principles, the moment after signing the papers, he resigned. Mr. Allison is now a Distinguished Professor at Wake Forest University School of Business.

John Allison stood for something. After all, that’s what people of character do.

{Note: Source material from the book, I Am John Galt by Donald L. Luskin and Andrew Greta. If you’d like to see some amazing teaching, here is a video of Mr. Allison sharing some of his wisdom from back in 2008. It’s over an hour. I’d suggest you watch his first ten minutes (he comes on at 3:10) and see if you’d like to continue.}