Category Archives for Ken’s Opinion

What experience are you creating?

Hey, it’s a blog!

Again and again, in the multiple communities where I’m fortunate enough to teach and share, there’s a storm a’brewin’. In our own way, we’re seeking to be successful. Part of designing and implementing that success always boils down to the point where a conversation begins, whether it’s strategic marketing or just picking up the phone to make a phone call.

In those moments, that’s where the challenge arises.

The oversell or the undersell.

First, let’s break down our good old friend “The Undersell.”Boxing Glove

Vital Stats:

Weight:  Crushing and Oppressive
Height:  Barely Visible
Hometown:  The sinking sensation of doubt or frustration.

Opponent Breakdown:  The Undersell looks a lot like holding back, regardless of the reason. The Undersell shows up when we’re locked in the process of “thinking of what to say next,” dismissing our important qualifications, or not saying what wants to be said in any given situation.

  • In sales, it’s particularly vital when it comes to simply asking for what it is we want.
  • In marketing, it’s not being willing to actually SHOW what it is we do, rather hiding behind the features and benefits.
  • In leadership development, it’s failing to communicate a clear vision to our team, or blaming them for our own failure to meet the intention.
  • In our lives, it’s simply avoiding the conversation we truly want to have, or simply never engaging in the conversation at all.

Strategy:  First, you’ve got to show up with the direct right hook of honesty and clarity.  What is it that you’re really wanting?  How is it that you’re really planning to communicate it?

Then, there’s the other devil on our shoulder, because I’m envisioning some sort of bizarre mutant with THREE shoulders (get it, two devils and an angel…oh boy…) “The Oversell.” 

Vital Stats:

Boxing Glove

Weight:  Strangely Light and Unassuming
Height:  Oh, you’ll see it coming…
Hometown:  The overcompensation capital.

Opponent Breakdown:  The Oversell sneaks up when we’re really looking to show everything we’ve got before it’s truly necessary to do so.  It sneaks in, listing out all of the vital features and benefits, giving detailed breakdowns of everything that’s gonna happen.  Even worse, there’s the risk that what’s being said can’t even be delivered.

  • In sales, it’s all about over-promising or guaranteeing something that may or may not be deliverable.
  • In marketing, it’s about giving every last detail or conversational point up front, leaving no room left for a dialogue.
  • In leadership development, it’s the type of over-ambition that crushes teams and introduces burnout.
  • In our lives, it’s the sense of bravado that can create invulnerability or a lack of connection.

Strategy:  Give it the uppercut of sense, sensibility (not you, Emma Thompson), and relationship.  Give the other person the room they need to communicate just as well. Look for the opportunity to connect rather than teach or lecture.

Ask yourself the important questions…

  • What are you really wanting?
  • How can you get there in a good relationship to those you’re trying to influence?
  • What’s the experience you’re looking to create?

We live in a world of dramatically expanding experience.  Instead of overpromising, underselling, or fighting for the title from either one of those opponents – see what YOU can do today to create that experience for yourself and others.

Then you too can win a fancy trophy.


Anything is Possible…No Really, I’m Serious!

It really IS possible - just depends on how much willpower you have.

In my last post, I used the following quote that often causes some debate among colleagues and friends alike.

“I believe that ANY system can be successful, but it just is a matter of whether you want to be on a track to immediate results or a slow trek up a big mountain.  I prefer speed – I talk fast, I think fast and I move fast.”

I’ve seen this type of thing play out hundreds of times in both professional and personal settings.  For example, in working with some of my internet marketing clients, I’ve found that they had “accidentally” developed follower groups of 500 or more people that were regularly reading their content, responding to them on social sites or other sources, or otherwise paying attention to them without them even knowing that it was happening.  In other cases, I’ve watched people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars looking for solutions to an issue and then discovering that a $100 coaching session or piece of software solves the problem in a very short period of time.

This is actually a two-fold thought process:

  • We don’t clearly define what success means for a project.  See my last blog post, but also understand that there are varying degrees of success.  Just because your first product launch isn’t a multi-million dollar home run doesn’t mean that it wasn’t successful.  In fact, the latest data in the internet marketing space is showing that developing a huge list or a “reputation base” may not be as successful as generating long-term loyalty on a smaller scale.  I’ll cover “reputation” in a future post since it’s one of my favorite topics to skewer (in a nice and funny “rant” way, of course).
  • Speed is too often equated with “success.”  I know plenty of “fast” people who are not what you would call “successful.”  I also know many people who might be called “slow” inappropriately.  They are deliberate and intent upon actually reaching their defined criteria for success.  Often times, they are the ones that have the most understanding and empathy for their customers and the problem they have set out to solve.  I’ve come across some colleagues in the industry who scoff at these people as somehow less effective.  I also know that many people intentionally exclude these types from their conversations thinking that they are too “low level.”  The arrogance of knowledge is another one of my favorite ranty topics.

In essence, what ends up happening is that people feel they are unsuccessful if they are not receiving instant gratification.  In addition, they may have actually reached benchmarks that make sense for their ongoing development, but they don’t realize that it’s happening.  These two things are the number one factors I look for when I hear that “your marketing isn’t working” or “your website is performing poorly.”  How do you DEFINE poor?  What are your specific indicators for success?

In the end, every project you undertake should not be done with consideration for how fast you’re able to complete it and move on to the next one.  Some of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in my life were downright lethargic in retrospect.  That doesn’t mean that I learned any less from the slow ones, in fact I often learned more.  As with all things, there must be a balance of the slow and methodical with the fast and furious.

Being one of the “faster” personality types, as quoted above, has yanked me down into this trap many times.  If I feel that I’m not moving on a project quickly enough, I often start to consider abandoning the initiative.  I begin looking for tweaks or efficiency measures that might give me back some time that I really needed to spend LEARNING and EXPERIENCING.

It’s funny how so many professionals will quote the value of experience while attempting to sap all of the experience they can out of the day in favor of a false sense of efficiency.

Can you really systemize success?

Here's some change.

You want change? I've got your change right here, buddy.

I’ve spent the last five years of my life working in an aspect of what you might call the “self-help” industry and all of my entire professional career in the area of helping others.  What might surprise you is that I’m not a particularly big fan of some of the concepts presented in the industry.

I do believe that there’s a system to “success.”  What I also believe is that a lot of people simply don’t want to work that system.  This is why so many people I’ve met spend so much time in an endless cycle of “motivation/demotivation,” even myself. There are about a million cliches or quotes I can pull out of thousands of different books or presentations – which is why it’s so easy for many of us to become addicted to the IDEA of success rather than the pursuit of the concept.

In the end, the concept of motivation itself is really quite empty.  A certain speaker I know calls it “getting ready to get ready,” but I tend to see it more as a black and white issue.  You either will or you won’t.  You do or you don’t.

The “how” really comes into play when you focus on necessity and speed.  I believe that ANY system can be successful, but it just is a matter of whether you want to be on a track to immediate results or a slow trek up a big mountain.  I prefer speed – I talk fast, I think fast and I move fast.  You might not.  The system still doesn’t change.

So what is it?

Step One:  Change Something Immediately

You already know at least one thing about whatever it is you’re trying to change.  In all likelihood, you probably have spent some time dancing around the idea or even doing a little research.  For example, the first major step in losing 80 pounds in the past two years began with an immediate change.  At every meal, I swapped out one item on the plate for a healthier alternative.  I know it wasn’t the radical plan that some might have hoped, but it was an immediate change.  It required triggering a thought process to begin whenever I looked at a plate or a wrapper.  It also forced preparation AROUND that change which were all implemented immediately without getting stuck in a planning cycle.  Cheeseburgers and fries would become cheeseburgers and apples.  Steak and potatoes would become steak and vegetables.  This small change was the path to the first 20 pounds off with virtually no thought or planning.  That came next…

Hot Fuzz - "The Greater Good"Step Two:  Commit WITH benchmarks.

After the immediate change, it’s now time to begin the planning (notice how it’s NOT before).  “I want to lose weight” is typically not the way we think about goals, even if it’s what we’re SAYING to others in embarrassment or frustration.  In our minds, we’re really thinking “I want to lose 20 pounds” and then building that mountain up higher and higher to allow ourselves some flexibility to get off the goal.  Being successful requires daily action that leads into a greater good.  For example, if you’re going to win Village of the Year like they do every year in Sandford, rather than being some crusty juggling living statue, you’d better make sure that you have your preparation done every day.

If you’re a rigorous planner, this can come down to daily action (which I feel works best).  If not, a weekly outline will do just fine to keep you on track.  Either way, you then have the map you will follow.  You should also have VISUAL reminders to this in common places, whether it’s hanging on your wall, bathroom mirror, refrigerator door or wherever else.

Step Three:  Research the Options

Most people try to do this step first, because we’re interested in the “how” before the “what.”  Using this model, you’ve already started making immediate changes, you’ve locked in on the goal and now you can begin figuring out the plan.  This gives you research some actual purpose as opposed to simple brainstorming.  You’re now trying to fit the details to your pre-existing plan rather than trying to come out of the gate completely planned without knowing WHAT you’re trying to do.  There is never just one solution to the problem.  You don’t have to be gluten-free to lose weight, but it helps.  You can be on an all cheeseburger diet and it’ll work if you’re watching the calories you take in.  Don’t believe me on that cheeseburger diet?  Meet Don Gorske.  Remember that bit I said above about how ANY plan can work if you’re persistent enough?  Well…there you go.  I don’t recommend or endorse this, because most of us become fatties from eating Big Macs.  I’M JUST SAYIN’….

Step Four:  Compare and Lock In

Once you’ve limited down the decisions to the options that seem to fit the action best, you now will need to decide.  If you’re a perpetual tester, that’s fine too – try a little bit of everything.  I used multiple diet plans throughout my process because I get bored or complacent when focused on one thing for too long.  It doesn’t matter which option you choose, it just matters that it fits.

Step Five:  Rinse, Repeat and Fail a Few Times

Inevitably, you’re going to be outside of perfect conditions for your goal and have a fresh set of circumstances.  This can still be alleviated by repeating steps 1-4.  For example, in our diet example, there were times that I would travel for extensive periods of time.  Schedules go off whack.  Healthy options are harder and harder to find, but they’re always there if you care about it enough.  You now must have a new “road routine” to meet this that starts at the same place you began your original goal.  A sample example:

Step One:  I immediately commit to not eating any meat-based dish at a hotel restaurant that doesn’t include chicken or fish.

Step Two:  I will continue on the weight loss path I set by maintaining exercise and diet planning.

Step Three:  I will look up travel, professional or business sites to find out what others are doing.  I will look up what can be packed and what I might need to get on the ground.  I will research the room service menu when I arrive to determine what might be an option there.  I will exhaust all possibilities because I overanalyze everything.

Step Four:  I set the meal plan for the extent of travel.

I know this was pretty “health-specific,” but this same system applies to ANY significant life change – whether it’s more money, learning something new or it’s moving past a fear.


Finding a Voice

If you follow me on Facebook or any of my other social sites, you know that the last few months have been an amazing trial for me.  The actual illness itself was actually the beginning of a far more difficult journey of recovery.

I’ve watched a wide variety of illness in family members and friends throughout my life.  It literally defined certain members of my family.  However, I can’t say that I fully understood it until I began the challenge myself.

At the end of January, I was probably the strongest I’ve ever been in my life.  I had completed month one of the Insanity 60-day challenge and was heading into a recovery week before starting month two.  I was at a lower weight than I have ever been in my adult life.  I was feeling good every day, speaking on a regular basis and wondering where I could find more time for personal ventures.

Then I noticed that I was starting to come down with a fever…

Here we stand in May, months after all of that happened and I have been trying to find my voice since I’m still not able to consistently use my own (and still won’t for a minimum of two more months).  I also had more forced rest, which typically means “thinking time,” to face the state of what my life has become.

I’ve always loved the art of writing.  I also take immense pride in the craft of creation.  But ever since my youth, I’ve also mastered the art of building “half of a sandcastle” and walking away or forgetting.  I have a million great ideas and spend a lot of time building a quarter of them and then moving on to another.  It’s especially ironic given the fact that I coach hundreds of people a month on why they SHOULDN’T do this – so you can be assured that I know this from experience!

This website is a fantastic example – it was the product of a fantastic idea I had to create more direct connections with the many people that I work with or follow on a daily basis.  Instead, it became another half-built sandcastle.  Actually, this one may have been closer to 75%.  Even though it’s a pretty standard template, I still like it and I’m gonna stick with it!

So, I wanted a voice – it was just a matter of choosing one.  Here I am!

What We Build

Over the course of my day-to-day work with various clients, most of whom happen to be small business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs, I am always surprised by how elusive the concept of “brand” can be to some.

“Brand,” especially in this day and age, can be a somewhat confusing concept.  Too often, it’s confused with an external construct, a glittering tower that we must build on the horizon for all travelers to see.

In having the fortune to work with so many amazing people, one verifiable truth has continually emerged.  Especially now, as we continue to explore a golden age of communication and information, this becomes far more important.

Your “brand,” whether you’re simply representing yourself, a business, or a company MUST reflect you.

“Wow,” you’re probably thinking.  “Such a common sense payoff despite all of the foreshadowing.”

The fact is, sometimes the greatest truths in any areas of our lives, be them personal or business, often boil down to simple elements that our logic attempts to rebuild as more complex than they actually are.  Simplicity in thought about your “brand” or representation is just as vital as your ability to convey your message in that fashion.

As you’re building momentum toward whatever goal it is that you seek to achieve, it’s important to step back and reflect from a simpler perspective.  Sometimes you might even label these as the “dumb questions” to ask.

If you were explaining your goal to someone in the most basic of terms, regardless of whether you are trying to sell them or convince them (which are the same, by the way), is it easily understood?  Furthermore, does it resonate in your presentation?  Is it something that you truly believe?  If not, what prevents you from that truth in your belief?

Even the most masterful and eloquent sometimes struggle with the connection between mind, heart, soul, and purpose.  As your confidence and commitment grow stronger, you’ll often find that the challenges become far more visible.

The “construct on the horizon” is a mere illusion compared to the cities that we surround ourselves with through sheer creativity.

The important question is:  What will you build today?