Hustle is all about unbelievable hard work, moving rapidly and doing it in a way that generates awesome results. A major leadership by example component.

Being “Title Blind” in The Sales Game: Learn From Sunshine

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There are a few things that won’t ever get old in business (or life).  Many times, they are painfully simple and don’t cost a nickle.

  • A smile

  • A pat on the back

  • “Please”

  • “Thank You”

  • Atta Boy!  Atta Girl!

  • I appreciate you!

You know what can get messy?

When you treat people dramatically different, or are BEING TREATED dramatically different once your title/role/position authority is understood.  The entire game is changed.

A brief story…

While sitting at the desk with an office staff all away from the desk, the office phone (remember those things?) rings.  I pick it up:

Me:  “LM Foods?”
Caller:  “Hi, Mr. X please.”
Me:  “Sorry, Mr. X is tied up in the plant, been a crazy week, how can I help you?  Where you calling from?”
Caller:  “Calling from company Y.  When is Mr. X Available?”
Me:  “Hard to tell, it’s a plant and he’s putting out fires, tell me what company Y does?”
Caller:  “Sir, I’m one of Mr. X’s vendors, why don’t I just call back at another time when Mr. X may be available!”
Me:  “What kind of business have we done with you in the past?”
Caller:  “I’m one of Mr. X’s Vendors, but you buy product A from us if you need to know and you bought it in January?”
Me:  “Interesting and thanks for sharing that, but Mr. X is not the person that can help you with that?”
Caller:  “I used to deal with Harry, he’s no longer there and someone told me to talk to Mr. X!”
Me:  “Why don’t you send me a brief e-mail with a short description of your company, how we’ve done business and if I have that context I’d be happy to get you to the right person so your not so frustrated?”
Caller:  “What is it that you do?”
Me:  “Well I own the company, on a good day!”

What do you think our caller did next?

  • First (after a long pause) the tone softened dramatically!
  • Than an apology for the short/terse conversation.
  • Then I counseled the caller that I felt a little bit of pressure when all I’m trying to do is help, “and to be honest the tone/vibe shouldn’t change when you learn of my position which is what I’m feeling right now.”

 

Unfortunately, I’m still waiting for the follow up email.

Sometimes helping sales people (or anyone) can only happen when they want to help themselves.

This little story reminded me of “the old days” and a former team member of mine.  I used to work with someone who earned one of the great nicknames that can be given to a human being:

“SUNSHINE”

Nicknames only matter when they stick.  Sunshine earned her nickname.  That’s what I felt when I interacted with her.  As did everyone around her.  Sunshine is human like all of us, had her bad days like all of us had.  But like the real sun, she rose each day.  And whether you were the owner of a company, or whether you were the janitor, she treats everyone like they are the most important person in the room, and status never got in the way of her basic, warm approach to human interaction.

At the end of the day, sales is about people connection.  Forming a bond with humans.  So is leadership.  So is doing a good job if you are a factory worker, a delivery person.

I believe most humans NOTICE when behavior changes on a dime, and whether they know it or not, they can spot the trigger of that change a mile away.  Those are the moments a connection is made, but all too often, it is LOST.

If a person’s behavior IMPROVES as the person recognizes a person title, when that title has some “status” watch out.

If a person’s behavior is great all the time, but ESPECIALLY thoughtful to the people at the lower rungs of the ladder, watch closely here as well.  That person may have a gift.  That could be a nose for sales.  Or an ability to lead or inspire.

Or maybe, that person just has a component of Sunshine?  One thing I’m fairly certain:  Every company needs a little Sunshine.

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A Wake-UP Call to Recruiters

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I’m not sure if a business comes to mind where I’m hit up more than Recruiters.  Headhunters.  Staffing Agencies.  Every week it’s a different company (or 2-3) that offers to find me great talent, massive databases, great screening, etc.  What a difficult business to compete in when a small little company like LM Foods gets approached so often and the service providers tend to blur together.  What happens in a market of multiple players, all offering the same service?

  • You ignore the white noise and you stick with one or 2 and work with them.
  • You can try and “find the bottom” of the market……offer up a program that works in hopes of cost savings.  See who’s willing to invest and get their foot in the door.  The infamous race to the bottom.
  • You give the best one a shot, don’t negotiate.  See if indeed their model is better in the real world and how the recruiter delivers.  If it works, you’ve expanded your network of service providers.  If it doesn’t, you haven’t improved your model but your trying, and that counts.

Here’s some observations I’ve had with recruiters for LM Foods.

  • VERY few will customize their intro letter.

    • Sometimes they cut and paste and you can tell as font sizes/color are different.  Lazy & Careless.  Can’t they even view the website to understand what you actually do?

  • Even fewer offer to come tour the business and get dirt under their nails.

    • So let me get this straight, you want 20% of year one salary and you don’t even want to see my operation that you’ll be recruiting for?

  • Few will offer 100% cash refund at a reasonable interval, “if the employee doesn’t work out in 6 months we’ll refund 100% of the money!”

    • They get it, hiring is a crap shoot and there’s a reason why few will do this.  But doesn’t it undermine the premise of their very own marketing materials?  And since very few will offer this, isn’t that by definition a clear path to differentiating their product?  Wouldn’t the built in risk make them better at their craft?  

  • Many try and control the process (communication), protect the candidates identity, contact info, etc.  As if they “own” the individual and a company will steal the candidate in hopes of doing a back door hire to avoid a recruiter/agency fee.

  • I understand they are in the service business and some companies may try and “steal” a buck.  But the companies that do a back door hire are gambling with their reputations, and if they do, will the agency ever work with them again?  There is too much fear in this area and the recruiters should worry more about adding value vs playing protectionism.

    [Continue Reading…]

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Standing Up: If Not Now, When?

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There’s something about running a business and all the different twists and turns that can cause you to think.  Combine that with 3 strong cups of black coffee, the last day of 2015 (the day of turning 42!) and a look to the future and voila, a couple of thoughts.

I think of a great quality of life in terms of “Standing UP.”  Deciding what really matters in life.  Being true to yourself.  Being Real.  Making the tough call when needed.  What appears to be a tough call on the surface really is not……you’ve already determined what matters.    

So some real world examples….

One of the areas of business that I find fascinating are STAKEHOLDERS, how they are managed and IF/HOW one is more important than the others.

  • Employees.
  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Owners/Shareholders
  • Debtors/Lending Institutions

Interests between stakeholders can sometimes appear to be in conflict.  Good leaders make them all co-exist together.  GREAT leaders will clearly articulate how they view stakeholders, talk openly about each, and back up their words with real actions.  They communicate their beliefs in ADVANCE any decisions that can be construed as conflict.  They welcome debate.  But when a decision needs to be made, it’s the leaders job to STAND UP.

My company, like many is financed by a combination of Debt and Investor Equity.  The Debt Piece I’ve found fascinating for a couple of reasons.

One smart banker called money “the ultimate commodity.”  I never thought of money that way before, and still have trouble getting my head around it.

A small lesson here:  The more smart people you come into contact with, the more challenges you will have to your world view, and that creates growth.

Rarely, will Debt be given without a hefty sum of collateral.  Want to mortgage anything?  There better be an asset in place.  And most times, that may not be enough, SOMEBODY will need to stand up and PERSONALLY guarantee the loan is safe and will be watched after.

The Personal Guarantee.  “PG.”  It’s a big one.  It’s a real test for an entrepreneur’s stomach, confidence, character and ability.

If money is indeed the ultimate commodity, than a PG is what stands between the money and the deal itself.  It’s a banks test.  Employees don’t have to deal with it.  Shareholders have risk, but its usually limited to their investment.  When $’s loaned > entreprenur’s net worth?  That’s a real test.  Many aren’t cut out for it.

The PG is one small example of STANDING UP.  Most will never experience it.

But STANDING UP (or not), happens everyday, and it happens to all of us.  There are choices that are made that move people forward, or keep them stuck.  People make choices everyday, based on their values, what matters, what doesn’t.

What can be the most stressful in life?  When people don’t clearly know what is important to begin with.

They aren’t “All in.”  They spread themselves like peanut butter, evenly across the landscape.  They either try and please everyone while the people and things that matter most aren’t clearly defined in their own mind.  People that try to please everyone usually end up pleasing nobody.  

When I look back on 2015, one of the most memorable and important moments came when a friend told me he was “all in” despite a character defining difficult decision that many would have been tempted by.  These are the people you go to war with.  And if your lucky, you grow old with these people.  They have their values front and center, and when they need to STAND UP, they do.

If people can stand up for THEMSELVES, they will eventually be able to stand up for OTHERS, and that matters even more.  Leaders ultimately fight for other people.  

2015 is in the books.  People everywhere will write their resolutions, some small, some big.  Many will dream big dreams, which is great.

What is NOT great, is when dreams of a better future happen with ZERO behavior change.  New, different, better ACTION.

Hustle happens to be verb.  A great life that you imagine takes real, intense action.

But hustle without understanding what’s important in life can be chaos.

Thinking through values matters.  It will allow you to be one step closer to STANDING UP.  That’s the first step towards action.  

So happy new year.  Wishing everyone the best, and thank you for listening.

It is hard to believe Hustle Or Bust has been kicking for 3 years now.  I thank my wife for kicking me in the rear to start this labor of love.

Actually, in many ways hustle or bust has been kicking for 42 years!

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A Lesson From The Shark Tank: Simplicity & Focus

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I love the Shark Tank.  It’s not only great entertainment, it’s a fantastic education to the start-up world and how entrepreneurs pitch investors, what’s important to both sides, sales/communication and how both sides come together to form a partnership (or not).

While all the sharks are brilliant, maybe the best overall clip I’ve seen is “Money” featuring Kevin O’leary.  He hits every important theme in brutal clarity.

It is clear how Kevin O’leary views the world.  He keeps it simple, and he evaluates everything quickly with a disciplined approach.  Everyone that watches the show, or this clip will quickly realize that you need to get to the point, show value, and most importantly, leave no doubt as to how you will protect and make money.

This got me thinking….

What if everyone had a “vision” as crystal clear as Mr. Wonderful’s, regardless of what they do in life?

What if everyone had a bed-rock mantra that differentiates them and makes them stand out?

Would they not be more successful?  More happy in whatever they do?  ABSOLUTELY.

Lets take your basic professional worker in a “grey area” results role.  I consider a grey area role anything that is not PURE and tied to easily measurable contribution, which in business is the majority of roles.

  •  Direct Sales may be the easiest to assign a numerical contribution too, although the value of sales driven by one person vs all the other contributors is always debatable.

How do MOST workers value their OWN performance to their employer?

If I had to sum it up, MOST would view their performance in terms of INPUTS, not OUTPUTS.  In other words, the amount of effort, dedication, attitude and approach they put into the role, vs the actual outcome of all those characteristics.

  • If I work hard and put in the extra hours, life will be good.
  • If I’m well respected and liked, life will be good.
  • If I’m dependable, reliable and know my job I’ll be valuable.
  • And on the story goes….

What would the Kevin O’leary equivalent manager use to evaluate the performance?

OUTPUTS FIRST.  INPUTS second.  And a distant second.

 

 

If you want the long version spread across all of the sharks, here’s a good one.

 

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Why Labor Day is My Favorite Holiday

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A 2011 Harris Poll Caught my eye, ranking America’s favorite Holidays, and then segmenting that info by generation and gender.

I’ll admit it:  Labor Day is MY favorite Holiday.

In the past I’ve called it Under-rated.  Misunderstood.  Now I’ll just call it my favorite.

Religious convictions aside, I have to wonder why it doesn’t crack the top 5, at least in 2011 it did not (it ranked #8).

  • Economic pressure?

  • No religious affiliation?

  • End of something great (summer)?

  • The stigma associated with “WORK?”  It’s a four letter word not just literally, but metaphorically.

Who knows.  And really, who cares!  People have the right to call whatever holiday is their favorite.

Here are my reasons, kind of off the top of my head.

  1. It has been said that the greatest social program known to man and government is a job.  AGREE.

  2. All jobs, regardless of pay matter.  If you think hard enough, many of your values and life lessons can trace back to your early years working.

  3. When you receive compensation for anything (products, hours, etc) you are exchanging one thing of value for another.  This exchange system is as old as the dawn of civilization.  There’s something special about anything that goes back centuries.

  4. There’s something democratic about capitalism.  The free enterprise system, with all its flaws tends to find a price/value for all jobs in demand.  The greater the demand, lower the supply, the higher the price.  These laws almost always ring true.

  5. The USA is a country of immigrants.  Not a debate.  Immigrants come to the USA in search of a better life.  What was tops on their mind to do that?  A JOB.

  6. Our economy moves at light speed.  A profession today could be wiped out in 2 years for a number of reasons.  That creates risk.  It also creates opportunity.  Either way, it should keep you on your toes.

  7. Maybe I just think of “Labor” or work, as the back-bone of our country and it’s free enterprise system.  FREEDOM.  CHOICE.  Land of OPPORTUNITY.

The nightly news has always puzzled me.  The sentiment always seems to be so negative.

Personally, when I think of America I ALWAYS have a smile on my face.
  • I see so many people work, struggle, succeed, help each other, grind away, figure it out, and generally move forward.  I see people with seemingly average ability go on to be wild successful.  I see people that (on the surface) get lucky, but when you hear their story, they usually found a way to create that luck by choices they made.
  • I see people struggle to figure out how to pick up their kids at school when their employer asks them to hang in an extra hour or 2.
  • I see the overwhelming majority of people get up in the morning and WANT to put a good, honest days effort and provide for their families.  And many of these same people have a fire in their belly to improve on their current lot in life and grow, from wherever they are today.

“Work” to me is something you DO.  It’s a choice.  It’s a skill.  It’s the path to whatever life you hope to live.  Sure, Turkeys and Goblins are fun.  But if I’m going to give you my number one holiday, Labor Day gets my vote.  

 

Base: All adults (Source:  Harris Interactive, Link Below).

Generation

Gender

Echo Boomers (18-34)

Gen X

(35-46)

Baby Boomers

(47-65)

Matures

(66+)

Male

Female

Christmas

Christmas

Christmas

Christmas

Christmas

Christmas

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Halloween

Halloween

Fourth of July

Fourth of July

Fourth of July

Halloween

Fourth of July

Fourth of July

Halloween

Easter

Halloween

Easter

Easter

Easter

New Years

Halloween

New Years

Fourth of July

http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/mid/1508/ArticleId/878/Default.aspx

 

 

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Hustle Case Study: Pitbull

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Education is not only about IF and where you have a degree from, it’s about lifelong learning, and more learning happens OUTSIDE the classroom than inside of it.   

You also don’t need a semester to gain great inspiration and new knowledge, 10 minutes can do the trick. 

Here are 2 Great Talents:  Ryan Seacrest and Pitbull.  A 7 minute interview, and great lessons.

Para-phrasing (Of Course)

  • “Where does the energy come from?”  It’s all about motivation!
  • My mom raised me off Anthony Robins.  I would sit in the car and listen to his lessons.
  • There’s no success without failure.  No success without losing.
  • Does your Hustle and your ability to outwork help?  ABSOLUTELY.  It’s 90% business, 10% talent.
  • On Jennifer Lopez:  She’s a pro.  She show’s up on time, gets the job done and moves on to the next thing.
  • Who makes your suits?  It doesn’t matter what you wear, it’s how you wear it!
  • The only real thing in my life, is real people, so I’m very protective of them.
  • Ryan:  I like to meet friends, greet friends and KEEP friends!
  • What are your other priorities?  Vodka, schools, slam (sports, leadership, management), branding the city with Pit Bull, finding a way to grow and put the puzzle together!
  • I love the Hustle.  Fall.  Get right back up.   

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The Talent Hunt: Where’s the Will To Win?

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There are some painful and common things I’m seeing lately on the hunt for talent, interviewing countless people for various positions.

In the past I’ve posted on this topic:

Where Job Candidates Fail:  Articulating GBE

The Market for Talent & The Missing Element

The job market from my vantage point continues to be a “buyers” market in sheer numbers, where you post on the boards and get overwhelmed with tons of qualified credentials quickly for any given pay rate.  That’s where the buyers market ends however, as people make fundamental mistakes in great numbers.

Here’s a few common one’s I’ve seen.

  • Basic research seems to be a skill that 50% fail to do:

  • If you don’t know the company’s website and publicly available information, why show up?

  • If you know the names of the people you are meeting with, wouldn’t it make sense to do the SAME research on the people you will meet with that will render an opinion on you coming on board or not?

  • If you HAVE spent time doing basic research, why not work it into the conversation?  That will put you in the other half of the pile that DID do their homework.

  • Don’t ask about benefits on the first interview, unless the company initiates that discussion.

  • Vacation policy?  Same as #3.

  • Follow up is painfully lacking.  Not responding to an interview within 24 hours with a simple email thank you puts you in a pile (mentally) you don’t want to be in.

  • GENERIC follow up may be worse than no follow up.  Cutting and pasting the same thank you note to the 4 people you meet with is crazy.  They WILL compare notes, and when they see this the people will assume you are either lazy or not listening to individuals.

How do I sum this up?

Simple.  A job interview is a golden opportunity.  It is the equivalent of getting a meeting with a dream prospective customer in sales.  If you are not preparing a half a day or more for the interview, or sales call, don’t be surprised if you don’t get the result you want.  The people that DO get the results do not simply show up with their good looks and clean resumes.  They come ready to play, and ready to win.  Being ready to go starts long before the big meeting.      

preparing to win

 

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Where Job Candidates Fail: Articulating GBE

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The Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore Reality show (if you can call it that).  Yes, I cringe at the portrayal of young Italian Americans in this light, from my home state.  And of course I can relate and found it comical.  But they captured perfectly with their GTL Acronym:  What the daily routine looks like.

 

So why do I think about the Jersey Shore and GTL when it comes to hunting for great talent?  Simple….

Job candidates everywhere struggle to articulate what I would consider their number one goal on an interview:  To Articulate their GBE.

Great.  Business.  Experience.  (GBE). 

I made this up.  Jersey Shore Style. 

What is it?

GBE is any business (or LIFE) experience that demonstrates value to an employer and eliminates risk associated with hiring.  That $1 invested in the potential new employee will likely return AT LEAST $2, but likely more. 

Because they have done it before.  And if they have NOT done it before, they clearly get that this is the standard in business: CREATING VALUE.  They understand that results trumps all. 

Where is this even more important?

  • Upper management jobs, stakes go higher as the compensation grows
  • Jobs that are not easily quantifiable to the person (translation: most outside of direct sales).

Most hiring managers look for specific qualifications listed on a resume.  Good ones also look for the cultural fit to the organization.

Candidates that succeed in their job pursuits have a significant HUSTLE factor.  They get that a hiring manager has many choices. To cut through the clutter, they need to bring their GBE to the table.  They need to leave no doubt that a $ spent will result in multiple $$ earned by saying yes to the candidate.

Resumes list qualifications.

Interviews are your chance on stage.

Don’t miss your chance to tell your GBE story. 

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Hustle Conquers Snow……And Most Obstacles

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Winters in the Northeast are brutal, and 2015 was no exception.

HUGE amounts of snow can create havoc on a manufacturing operation as trucks (inbound/outbound), employees and customers all are faced with extra challenges for carrying out their day.

Hustle overcomes the the snow. 

Heart does as well.

A profile in Hustle:

I love this picture.  It’s my great Director of Operations at LM Foods.

“2 Feet of Snow?  No Problem.  Just light me up a cigarette.  Fire up the snow blower.”

blue collar jeon

There’s something “James Dean” about a cig dangling from the mouth and battling the snow!  Smoking is bad I know, but I love this image.

Old School Hustle has some core pillars:

  • Results matter more than title, position or status

  • Getting Dirt Under the Nails doesn’t discriminate by your status either.

Maybe most important?  Obstacles like traffic and snow are child’s play.  Annoying maybe, but not an excuse to getting things done.  Because if you don’t, someone else will.  

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Business Mandate: Turn Air into Money.

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I get a EUPHORIC thrill out of turning air into money.  

It also creates some strange looks when I tell a story or two.

When you own property in business, every square inch is a potential asset.  Even if you don’t own your land and building, utilization of space and the costs that are tied up in space should be scrutinized.

AIR.

  • It’s invisible.  Odorless.
  • And it can cost you money.  That is money that can be re-invested in growth.

Want some examples?

  • Shipping.  Everyone in CPG knows that the cost of shipping a truck rarely changes if you can get 39k lbs on it vs. 42k lbs.  But if that shaves a couple pennies off your shipping rate that can be the difference between making 20% and 23% margins.  That matters.

How about garbage costs.  What do you see when you look at this image?

Garbage dumpster

 

A mess of course!  And litter, which is awful.

But what you also see is that the garbage is thrown in there, not compacted.  I bet if it were organized and crunched, you can free up 1/3 of the airspace.  That means fewer pickups.  Less Cost.  You know what else is there?

  • PLASTIC.
  • CARDBOARD.

Both of those should be recycled.  And sold on the open market.  That’s a revenue stream for someone, why not you?

Recycling further reduces the amount of true garbage, further reducing your cost.

I bet businesses across the country could cut there garbage expenses by 50% if they just attack it with recycling and compacting, and of course knowing what drives their cost to begin with.

So lets say you spend $400 per month without these methods.  What can you do with $2,400 in savings?  Do you need to invest some money on a compactor?  Seems like there could be a payback there.  There are countless examples in business very similar to the garbage example.

Freeing up money by turning Air into money is the low hanging fruit in a business.  It requires minimal risk.  But it does require a dose of Hustle to go after it.

When businesses turn air into money they begin to fuel the engine of growth:  INVESTMENT.

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