Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Top Gun

A few years ago when I was a member of a small team I won a sales contest.  That didn't go over well with my team mates and when my name was announced the silence around the boardroom table was humiliating.  No applause.  I felt bad for my Director of Sales; I know she expected better from her team.  I will never know why it bothered anyone that I won not only the first leg, but the overall contest.

I have often wondered if it was because they believed they should have a chance at winning the contest without changing the 9-5 behaviour that was generating the lacklustre results that necessitated a contest in the first place.

When the contest was announced I made it my personal goal to win, for three reasons:
  1. In support of the boss.  It was her idea.  If the contest flopped and failed to generate the sales results she hoped for, she'd look bad in front of her boss.  Our job is to make the boss look good, I think. Certainly life is better for everyone when we do. 
  2. Because the reward was huge.  In fact, in that first month I won a gift certificate large enough that I planned to take the entire team out for lunch.  In the end I did take one sales manager, the one who shook my hand and congratulated me (albeit surreptitiously).  The grand prize was a Best Buy gift certificate that got me a nice camera, amongst other electronic cool things.  I don' mind admitting I'm motivated by more than altruism and teamism.  Teamishness.  Whatever.
  3. I knew that if this contest produced the desired effect we would be in a position to crush the competition, finish the fiscal year in good shape, and the whole team would make bonus.
The reason I won was simple, and my friend and Top Gun Honda salesguy Erin, a man after my own heart, summed it up when he was telling me why he is the #1 sales guy 3 months in a row at his dealership and I suspect along that street of auto dealerships.  Erin said this:

"It is possible to beat me.  You just have to get to work before me, stay later than me, and work harder than I do."

I'll add one thing.  You have to want to.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Quantum Career Leaps

My wife and I used to love watching Scott Bakula leap every week when we watched Quantum Leap together.  I'm not sure it was for the same reason.

I loved how he'd often find himself painted into a corner, and at exactly the right time, be extricated (leap) whole and mostly unscathed.  Deus ex machina!  A time honoured Greek theatre tradition.

My best career leaps have happened because in real life I didn't get to exit at exactly the opportune moment.  Sometimes we have to stick around to clean up our own mess - in fact I highly recommend that to the young manager who knows everything.  Stick around and find out how wrong (and sometimes right) you were.

Looking back over 3 decades of promotions, terminations, lateral moves and taking the odd step backwards; of ego boosting and ego crushing outcomes; of fearlessness and anxiety - I'm kind of glad I'm not Scott Bakula.

My wife, I understand, may occasionally feel otherwise.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Name and Shame

The revelations in the Rob Ford scandal (disgraced Mayor of Toronto) show that there remains still a need for a vibrant newspaper industry in our democracy.  These blogs we write cannot replace professionals.

At best, what bloggers write is opinion.  At worst it is uninformed opinion.  The slide from best to worst begins when we believe that anyone (besides ourselves) really cares about what we think.  Face it folks, this is an online diary, a rant, a huff and a puff.  If we're lucky, very lucky, it is of value to someone.

I was dismayed to see a colleague present her well informed and respected opinion on the sales practices of our peers in a decidedly negative fashion in her blog.  I was  horrified to see that she named the offenders by company and individual.

I've never been a fan of that. 

Look, we all have opinions on how others in our industry could do it better.  Joyfully, albeit rarely, we are thrilled to be in the company of individuals who inspire us by their excellence.  We can learn from the good and bad alike.

All I'm saying is, let's celebrate the superstars, but don't name and shame the underperformers.