Thursday, 27 November 2014


In the 80s I had a room in a house with 7 other people.  One of my roommates was a talented playwright who wrote a musical called "Waiting".  It was about the waitstaff in a restaurant who aspired to be elsewhere and otherwise, most of them actors waiting for their big break so they could get out of the restaurant biz, so they could stop being waiters (get it?)  It featured a catchy tune I can still hear in my head more than 30 years later..."I don't want to wait...forever"

And yet that's what so many sales people do.  Wait for the phone to ring, wait for the customer to walk in the door, wait for the prospector or business developer to turn over a hot lead, waiting for their big break....

Hey, I know it's hard, but fewer and fewer customers are walking through the door these days, whether it be the door of the telephone, or email, or an on-line inquiry, or the actual door of a retail establishment.  You don't want to wait forever, do you?

The successful sales person of the future will not rely on location, advertising, marketing or anyone other than themselves to find the client and develop the biz.  

All those things will only be sales support.  The rest is will be up to you.  But here's a hint...

It already is.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Yes, Good People ARE Hard to Find, but.....

Good people are hard to find, I think we'd all agree.  A personal recommendation from a trusted peer goes a long way.  I have a friend who's business model is based on personal recommendations from employees to social media contacts.  Check out Careerify here:

Recently two different acquaintances asked me to connect them with the right people for positions they were considering in different, well-known companies.  It happens that I know executives in both companies and contacted them asking for these candidates to be considered.  The least I had expected was that they would be acknowledged.  Both execs said they'd pass along the names to HR.

These  brand-name companies pride themselves on outstanding customer service. HR response was, to say the least, not remotely connected to the excellence demanded of the front line.

Nothing.  Nada.  Bupkis.  No response.  Having a connection did not get these two candidates anywhere - neither the slightest hint of good manners nor even an acknowledgement.

There is little hope of me recommending candidates to either company in the future, or more to the point, recommending either of these companies to applicants.

Look - we may not hire everyone we're asked to meet, in fact for sure we won't.  But we don't know who they know and for darned sure we should treat like gold recommendations from employees and friends.  We may wish to have applicants as customers someday, or keep them if they're currently a client.  Every interaction with every person by every person in our company creates an experience by which both parties form opinions.  If HR finds it reasonable to ignore an applicant, it speaks to the direction of management that has either supported such rudeness, or implicitly supports it.

Our work is our resume, every human contact a reference check, for better of for worse.  And believe me, I speak as one who has been both.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Dr. Oz, Bill Cosby Prove Twitter Is Still a Dangerous Game

Dr. Oz, Bill Cosby Prove Twitter Is Still a Dangerous Game.

Here's a great, short blog post that shows the dangers in leaving yourself wide open on social media. Seems to me if you're going to open the door, you should imagine worst case scenario first and then decide if you're willing to risk it.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Bad or Unfriendly Service?

In the last month I have experienced incredibly bad service in so many places I actually wonder if I'm on Candid Camera.  But lately I've been beating myself up for allowing bad service for close to 20 years in our business relationship with our insurance provider.  I wondered whether it was because of preferred pricing that we, my wife and I, disregarded our own professional standards of providing outstanding service, always.  Did we sell out to save a buck?

When Family Gets Screwed...
It was the poor treatment that my youngest son received that has us looking for a new broker.  Simply put, you can treat me like dirt all you want, but when I refer a client, a client who is my son, and you treat him poorly....well, it's game over.  Dear broker, you embarrassed me.

But it was a CBC Radio interview with a Nova Scotian woman that got me thinking.  She was describing a situation of bad service.  I wondered how it could happen; weren't all Nova Scotians naturally polite and friendly?  And then it hit me - she hadn't received unfriendly service, she'd received bad service.  So often we lump the two into one.

It is possible to get incredibly friendly service, but it be bad all the same.  Picture a forgetful and disorganized waitress with a friendly, outgoing personality.  You may be able to forgive bad service in that case.  Our insurance broker has been somewhat unfriendly over the years, but pretty damned efficient most of the time, I have to admit.  Good service, unfriendly encounters but never, I am confident in saying, was she ever deliberately rude to us.

Until my son experienced bad, unfriendly and downright rude service.

There is a difference between bad and unfriendly service with one thing in common.  Neither is acceptable.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

November 11 Should Not be a Stat Holiday

Right now there is a suggestion that November 11th should be declared a statutory holiday in Canada,
a sentiment no doubt fueled by the killing of two Canadian soldiers on Canadian soil just weeks ago.  It would be offensive to suggest that this NDP backed bill is calculated to ride this wave of sentiment, but not beyond the pale to acknowledge that the timing couldn't be better for those who agree, and uncomfortable for those who don't.

Here me out and don't question my patriotism.  Don't you dare.  I would suggest that not speaking against this misguided move to declare November 11th a statutory holiday, if one believes it shouldn't be, is unpatriotic and counter to what our soldiers died to defend in the great wars and conflicts since; freedom to think and speak; to be heard.

I have celebrated November 11th every year of the last 50 or so, but not always at the Cenotaph.  Many years it had to suffice that I was part of an entire workplace or school that stopped for a moment of silence at 11 am.  Just last year a conference I attended and helped organize gave one of the most moving tributes to Remembrance Day that I have seen in five decades.

If November 11th 2013 had been a stat holiday, that conference would not have happened over those dates and that tribute would not have happened at all.  I don't think I'm reaching to say that most, if not almost all of the participants would not have had any such experience had they been enjoying a day off, hiking, raking leaves, or at an American mall shopping; the usual Canadian Stat holiday experience.   A November 11th stat holiday actually has the opposite effect of what is presumably intended.

Pausing to Remember
A statutory holiday on November 11th will lead to a watered-down and soon forgotten celebration of what must never be forgotten, and what better way to drive home the importance of our soldier's sacrifice than to pause commerce, school, traffic; to reflect on 2 minutes of inconvenience to our modern lives and perhaps to feel just a bit of guilt when it slips by unnoticed, unintentionally.  To think of kids in uniform...(kids dammit!) who died on foreign lands so our cash registers could ring the other 1438 minutes in the day.  To watch the grade 7s at a Remembrance Day assembly start to internalize the truth that in a different time it would have been their older brothers off to war, perhaps never to return.  To be 18 and think, "it could have been me."  For some in my generation it was about a grandfather they never met.

Effect on the Economy
Secondly, and this is important, the loss to the economy is estimated to be in the billions.  Don't kid yourselves folks, our soldiers died defending not only democracy, but capitalism and commerce.  In my own business right now I am looking at trying to accommodate a major piece of business that will be lost to our destination if we can't find alternate dates that don't include a mid-week stat holiday in November.  These are union folk, I guarantee none of them is going to miss a paid day off no matter how important the conference or meeting.  I say that without judgement - it is how it is.

I urge Members of Parliament to pause and have a complete and thorough debate at a time when emotions have subsided, and to consider the cost vs benefit of Remembrance Day being declared a Statutory Holiday in Canada.  It may not be what it may seems.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Roughly Speaking

The big news in Canada is that a nationally famous CBC radio host has admitted to having consensual "rough sex" with women.  He has lost his job because it is becoming apparent that it may not have been quite so consensual, and although he has been tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion, at the time of this writing he hasn't been charged with anything.  Kudos to Christie Blatchford of The National Post for being the sole defender of his presumed innocence.

He has brought the topic of BDSM (look it up, I'm not going to define it) into the mainstream.  No really, he actually wrote about it on his Facebook page.  The Globe and Mail, Canada's National Newspaper published an article explaining it, describing it as healthy.  It's only time before it becomes part of the curriculum in Ontario schools, probably in Grade 3 (Why Does Mommy Have a Whip?) and flags are flown at City Hall, parades held....

I haven't read an article, blog post or status update from a Facebook friend that condemns the practice, consensual or not.  And yet I'd wager most people are sickened at the thought of it happening to someone they love or care about; a sister, or a friend or your mother, for example.

The dominance of another human being, and the wish to be objectified by another is not respectful of God's creation - us - we imperfect people, perfect in His eye.  There is something terribly wrong to wish to inflict pain, subjugation, humiliation and forcible restraint, and conversely to wish it upon oneself for sexual satisfaction.

And no, I'm not pushing my religion on anyone.  That one chooses not to believe in God doesn't change truth.