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Forecasting Failure

Nov 15, 2019

A postmortem is an examination performed on a dead body to find the cause of death. In business, a premortem (a phrase coined by Gary Klein) is an examination performed on a project which hypothetically died (failed).

A typical premortem session is performed as follows:

  • Your team is informed that Project X has been hypothetically implemented and it has failed. For example, you've implemented a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and 6 months after completion, the sales team refuses to use it.
  • The Project Leader then asks the team to write down the reason(s) why the CRM project hypothetically failed. For example, one reason could be that there was no buy-in upfront from the sales team.
  • A list of reasons for the project's hypothetical failure is then compiled.
  • The Project Leader then works with the team to find ways to prevent (or preempt) each specific 'forecasted failure'. For example, If there was no buy-in from the sales team, a...

SMART Coaching

Nov 14, 2019

If you're a manager or a coach, here are 5 SMART questions to explore the next time a team member falls short of their target (goal):

  • Skills: Do they possess the necessary skills (e.g., knowledge, training) to perform at that level?
  • Motivation: Are they motivated enough (e.g., energy and level of excitement) to do their job?
  • Adaptability: Do they have the ability to change (e.g., strategy and tactics) with the market?
  • Resources: Dod they have the resources (e.g., money, mentors, tools) they needed to get the job done?
  • Time: Did they allocate their time to the right tasks (i.e., high leverage activities)?

Use the SMART framework for an honest coaching discussion of "What happened?" Hopefully, you'll be able to identify areas of improvement to ensure success or at a minimum improve performance.



Reading Rules

Nov 13, 2019

I have a confession to make. I am a slow reader. I don't know what it is but my brain is constantly stuck in first gear when it comes to reading the content.

I struggle to read but I love to read. What a conundrum!

Nonetheless, I read on average about 2-3 books a month following these rules:

Rule #1: Be clear WHY you're reading the book. What do you want from it? What information are you seeking? Think Easter Egg hunt!

Rule #2: Find your WHEN (book by @danielpink). We all have a time of day when we are highly focused. I'm a morning reader so I'm up at 5:30.

Rule #3: Read for 30 minutes...at least that's what I tell my brain. I usually end up reading for 45 minutes before my brain taps out.

The most important rule...

Rule #4: The '100 Page Rule' - If I'm bored or unimpressed when I reach page 100, I stop reading. I donate the book to Goodwill and move onto the next.

Do you have a "Reading Rule" you can share? I'd love to hear it!



Cancel Culture

Nov 12, 2019

A colleague of mine was delivering a workshop to 80 people. During the workshop, he showed a slide with the following quote by Mike Tyson,

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

One of the participants was so distraught at seeing this quote that the person had to leave the room. The slide apparently triggered some deep-seated animus for Tyson.

During the next break, the organizers of the event confronted my colleague about the slide. He was confused and shocked given that the context of the quote was about business and planning.

Nevertheless, he offered to apologize to the group but the company leaders decided it would be best that he pack up his things and leave thereby ending the full-day workshop; which I estimate cost the company about $100,000.

A missed opportunity for everyone!

A real leader would've (1) allowed my colleague to resume the workshop with an apology and clarification, and (2) use the incident as a learning moment for everyone. And, who knows,...


Business Samurai

Nov 12, 2019


I love watching Samurai movies; especially those that capture the mood of Japanese culture during the 16th and 17th centuries.  

I'm also a fan of Akira Kurosawa (Films: RAN, Yojimbo, Seven Samurai, and Rashomon). Kurosawa has a way of exploring and revealing the bushido of the Samurai of that time period.

Bushido is a moral code of honor developed by the Japanese samurai that centers around eight principles:

  1. Justice
  2. Courage
  3. Benevolence
  4. Politeness
  5. Honesty
  6. Honor
  7. Loyalty
  8. Character 

These principles should be universal in any culture, more specifically, a business culture. 

A real leader is one who embodies the 8 principles of bushido and is able to institutionalize them into their organization. That is the essence of a true business samurai.



Chappelle's Close

Nov 08, 2019

Comedian Dave Chappelle said, "I actually write my jokes backward." He thinks of a random funny punchline, he writes it down on a piece of paper, puts it in a fishbowl and when inspiration strikes, he comes up with a funny story that 'lands' on that punchline.

For example, his punchline was, "And,... I Kicked Her in the Butt!" (Note: I've cleaned up the actual line)

Sometime later in the Netflix special, Chappelle ends a random story on that very punchline! Shocking the audience into laughter and demonstrating once again why he's one of the best comics today!

This got me to thinking about how we 'ask' for things; especially in selling. What if we try a Chappelle Close. Instead of trying to learn 101 clever closes, why not come up with one good 'closing line' and build a value story around it.



Add Latitude

Nov 08, 2019

Time has a way of mellowing one out.

Maybe its because I've realized that life is too short to be wasting mental energy on things that won't matter 24-hours later.

Maybe it's because I've realized that life is a series of ebb and flow. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't,...sometimes it does.

Or, maybe it's because my 'empathy' tank has gotten bigger over the years. I've realized that people who are constantly pessimistic, cynical or just angry are not mad at me, they're mad at their situation.

I remember Zig Ziglar advising people to "have an attitude of gratitude". I'd like to upgrade that phrase to, "Have an attitude of gratitude and latitude".

Gratitude is self-directed; appreciate what you have.

Latitude is other-directed; learn to cut people some slack,...you never know what they might be struggling with.



The Disappointment Zone

Nov 07, 2019

The challenge we all face is business is not giving up in the face of repeated loses, inexplicable adversity or simply just bad luck.  We do all the right things yet the end result is nothing or a smidgeon of progress.

In speaking to a friend today he was telling me how disappointed and dejected he felt at NOT being able to grow his business.

When our expectation of what should happen doesn’t match what is actually happening, the tendency is to immediately turn to self-doubt and cynicism which leads to giving up.

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear called this "The Valley of Disappointment" (Disappointment Zone) where people give up.

james clear, atomic habits valley of disappointment

In business, we’re ALL struggling to “figure it out” (i.e., expand market share, scale our business, create shareholder value, etc.). 

Know that you’re not alone. 



NEW - Body Language Course

Nov 06, 2019

Sales Velocity Academy's new course on body language teaches you how to read your prospect's body language.  It'll also make you aware of your own body language and how it can help your prospects trust you more, make a presentation more compelling, and help clients make buying decisions.   

Click here: Body Language Course (11 Videos)

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