Avoid the Pitfalls of Sales Pressure

Tuesday, 28th September 2010


I am surely not the only person who has ever fallen prey to a salesperson. What if I told you about a simple way to stay grounded and not be bulldozed by others’ wants? When I first launched my business, I was a nervous, shy, stay-at-home mom feeling awkward as she tried to pull herself off as a professional in a world she knew nothing about and didn’t believe she belonged in. My insecurity reached its height when I decided to board a plane and fly clear across the country to the heart of business: New York City.

My friend and I had gotten it in our heads that we were going to go to the National Speakers Convention to drive a lot of business. There were only several problems with this—one, I had just barely earned my membership to NSA and was still unsure about being a professional speaker; I’d convinced myself of my own inadequacy. Second, I was pregnant again and felt awful. My constant prayer was, Please don’t let me throw-up on anyone.

Then there was the third problem, which in its own way was bigger than the first two: I am introverted by nature, and when put in public situations where small talk is required, I become completely lost. Unlike my husband, who is awesome at small talk and engagement, I often go blank and have no idea how to maneuver myself through the situation. I would be rich if I were paid for how many times my husband has said to me, “Why didn’t you say…” Door-to-door salesmen loved me because I was tongue-tied when they showed up. As a result, I had a cupboard full of cleaners, painting, magazines and more.

So there I was, feeling inadequate, nauseous, and lacking networking skills.  My friend was more street smart than I was, and instead of being afraid of New York, she loved it, but she was new to business too and also had doubts of how to navigate that world. We were the stay-at-home mom dual.

We decked ourselves out in our best outfits, walked our confident strut, and strolled into the reception area of the conference. After mingling a bit, we decided the safest place for us was the bookstore.

We began browsing and made it to the second row when a man in an outdated, powder-blue, worn-out suit found me. His suit must have grown tired from the effort of trying to cover his extended stomach. He greeted us with a smile and immediately began pitching his expensive product.

“No, thanks,” I said quickly and tried to walk on.

He blocked my path and looked at my name tag, “Ah, you are the Step It Up Queen. You need to ‘step it up’ and buy my product. Or are you afraid?”

I froze, staring at him. I didn’t want to buy his product, but I definitely didn’t want to not step it up either.

“Um . . .”

“Come on, are you the Queen, or what?” he cajoled me.

Nothing. Blank. Trapped.

My friend interrupted, “Ah, but she gets to make her own rules about how she steps it up.”

I looked at her, thought about what she said. “Yeah. I get to make my own rules. And that’s rule number one to step-it-up living.”

What a great idea! Make your own rules about how you show up in your life and what you do. This simple comeback from my friend became the key I needed to fend off pushy sales people and countless others wanting to talk me into doing things or buying things that go against what’s the right path for me. So whenever I feel guilted, pressured, or smothered, I remember—I make my own rules to how I live my life.

This rule frees me up to live my life. It has also freed me from worrying if I fit in, am good enough, and so on.. Now I live the life I want to live. I’m writing the books I want to write, giving the speeches I want to give, and coaching the people I want to coach. I’m having a great step-it-up life.

So here’s a question: Do you have a similar key? Does it need sharpening? What rules do you want to make? Next time you feel pressured, guilted, or cajoled, remember that you get to make your own rules.

Tribal Family Leadership Week 7: Real Life

Monday, 27th September 2010


Sometimes life has a way of sneaking up and completely changing things.  That happened this week on my plans for the tribal leadership.  I had plans on giving my family some skills on how to lead and get better results.  Then really life happened.  On Sunday instead of me teaching my family some ways to align with others, I ended up in Urgent Care because I couldn’t stop fainting.   The docs ran tests and aren’t sure what is wrong.  They think I might have developed vertigo as a result from the physical therapy that I have been doing.  They are hoping it is that and not my heart.  I am hoping that too. So in our family meeting, when I wasn’t sleeping (the docs gave me sleepy medicine), I encouraged everyone to step up in their quests and get their projects done.  The deadline is looming and I hope that they meet the call whether I am a wake or sleeping

Best Business Protection: Building Your Dream Team

Friday, 24th September 2010


Going to the next level in your life and business often requires you to build a dream team. I learned the necessity of having a strong dream team the hard way while going through a divorce—during that awful period when the decision had been made and all that was left was to completely rip my life apart and then hope somehow, magically, I’d be able to reassemble it again into some kind of order.

My former husband had always taken care of the money. Now that we were parting, I was faced with the challenge of how to meet the needs of my six kids and myself. I was in absolute panic as I obsessed over our future. I broke into an ice-cold sweat and struggled to breathe.

“I have a roof over my head,” I told myself. “I have food in the cupboard, and I know where my children are.” That helped only to a point.

Things got worse when I gathered up piles of financial papers and plopped them on the desk. Ancient Greek would have been easier to understand. The sinking feeling plummeted deeper as I delved into the papers and tried to understand them.

At this time, Sally, a neighbor—a pear-shaped, pit-bull woman dressed in her grandmother’s dresses, rang my door. A licensed financial planner, she barged into my house and took control.

The relief was tremendous. My young children and I were about to be rescued. She gathered boxes of information and put them in files. She created summary sheets of what I had and what it all meant. She created another sheet of how I could grow my money.

Turns out my ex hadn’t been smart in his distribution of investments. She crunched the numbers and showed me how to grow my money quickly and be able to meet the needs of my children. Hallelujah!

As we dug through the mess, we spent a lot of time together and quickly became best friends. Since my mom wasn’t active in my life at that time, Sally stepped in as grandma. She taught my kids to sew and cook, took them to their activities when I couldn’t make it, and baked them personalized cakes for their birthdays.

My life stabilized, I remarried, and things were good. Sally and I talked often, had a great time selling my books, camping, and more, being good friends.

Then I had an odd feeling that something wasn’t right. You may have felt something similar. My feeling got stronger and stronger—I wasn’t quite settled where I was and wanted something more. My life was good, but I felt there could be something even better. At this time I ran into one of my mentors—Rich. He was charismatic, successful, and played life in a big way.

I told him I wanted to play bigger too.

“Great,” he said. “First step: accountability. How are your finances? Do you know where you stand? Do you know all your financial numbers right now?”

I didn’t.

He challenged me to make a daily money effort. That meant doing something positive with my money every day, whether call on a bill, cash a check, upload QuickBooks, or whatever.

I took the challenge. About two months later, I had more gut feelings, little hints that all was not right. I dove deeper. I started asking Sally questions. She passionately tried to calm my concerns, but the uneasiness grew. I brought my concerns to my husband. We were both tempted at the time to let things go, but I had made a commitment to take daily action steps. Step after step, a horrible reality was slowly uncovered, ever so gradually the dark cloud parted until at last we had to look at what was before us.

My husband and I requested a meeting with Sally’s boss. Sally called us over and over again, and so did the higher-ups in her business. They were scared, and the more we dug around, the more we knew why they should be.

Then the sun rose on the truth, and we saw it—I had been cheated and lied to by my best friend. The person I had had named as my children’s guardian if something ever happened to me had stabbed me in the back for her own profit. She’d threatened my ability to provide for my family.

After the pain ebbed and I was able to gain perspective, I learned a very important lesson—if I hadn’t surrounded myself with the right people asking me the right questions, I would have been hurt even more. As it stood, I uncovered the truth in time to make adjustments, stop the damage, and start rebuilding. Soon after, the economy took a dive. Had I not taken action when I did, I would have been completely wiped out.

Having the right people around to warn you about the big dangers is a must if you are going to thrive. So who’s on your team?

Tame the Opposition

Wednesday, 22nd September 2010


Taming the opposition is a much-needed skill, no matter whether the resistance is originating internally or externally. It’s critical to subdue the opposition’s overall impact by implementing sabotage detectors, systems to avoid traps, and getting immunization shots to protect against hazardous dangers in the environment.

Does success sometimes feel just out of reach, that the more you try to get it, the more it slips away? This is the exact feeling a successful businessman was experiencing. He was energetic, making one business deal after another. Looking at him you would have seen someone committed to his work, someone capable and full drive.

But if you leaned in and looked closer, you would have also seen someone who, every time he got close to what he was trying to create, had something happen that made accomplishing the next step just barely out of his reach.

This is one of the reasons he hired me; he wanted to successfully take the next step, make sure he landed it and be sure he wouldn’t be bumped off course. As we worked together, it became clear he wanted to create a thriving business with lots of reps under him, people he could tutor and help to become as successful as he was.

He had the success, the attractive personality, and the vision. We had to dig deeper to discover his block. It didn’t take long to identify that his energies quickly went from building the team to making the next big sale.

When I asked, “What’s getting in the way of focusing on your reps?”

He sighed. “I don’t know.” He talked about his current reps. It didn’t take long to discover he had an emotional vampire on his team. You know the type—the kind of person who, when you’re around them, suck your time, energy, and well-being. I encouraged the businessman to apply a success principle I learned from one of my mentors. The principle was simple: don’t hang around energy suckers.

My client had a decision to make. He could continue as he was, keeping busy selling to avoid the difficulty of focusing on building a rep team. Or he could change: stand up to his “vampire” rep, try to get him to stop the behavior, or he could fire the rep.. He could have a heart-to-heart with the rep, or he could distance himself from the toxic vampire altogether.

My client chose to keep the rep on the team but distance himself. This was hard for him at first, but by the end of a month, the rep had stopped coming around. The businessman was working less and earning more.

Six months after the Energy Vampire had slipped away, my client’s health improved. His pay increased. Most of his focus centered on building up his reps. He had successfully tamed the opposition by figuring out where it came from and how to minimize what was slowing him down.

So what do you want—more money, more time to focus on your dreams, and less competition? If so . . . tame the opposition.


Tribal Family Leadership Week 6: Family Motto in 3 Minutes Flat

Monday, 20th September 2010

What is a leader to do when they know the task before them could cause the group dissension and could end up costing a lot of time and hurt feelings coming to the solution?  This was the question I was faced with this week on our family tribal leadership task.  We have yet come up with the family motto and the energy on the individual quests was starting to slacken before completion.

I started out the meeting talking about leadership.  We discussed what qualities a good leader does by highlighting some of the family’s favorite leaders.  1) They have a vision of what they want to happen and they communicate it clearly. 2) They make it very clear what actions they want the group to take.  3) They create a clear picture of what will happen and what the rewards will be if they achieve their vision.  4) They make it very clear what will happen if they don’t achieve their goal.

We discussed this paragraph out of the popular Seth Godin bestselling book, Tribes:  “Great leaders create movements by empowering the tribe to communicate.  They establish the foundation for people to make connections, as opposed to commanding people to follow them.”  Teenagers got it. Create a safe place to talk.  When they discussed this, I had to smile to how fast they jumped to what the next steps they were going to take on their quests.  I told them that this was their chance to lead.  This was their chance to make a difference and if they were going to do it the key was connections.

They pointed out that out of necessity (one of the people they wanted to visit had a stroke and is still in the hospital) their original quest has changed.  That is the way leadership and making a difference works.  We have ideas, we set out to create it, and life happens.  A leader adapts, sees the opportunity in the changing circumstances, and leads.

We then came to task that could take a long time.  I announced the next activity could take three to five minutes or hours.  Either way we were going to accomplish it and it was their choice to how long it would take.  They voted for the three minutes.  I explained that we need a family motto that everyone in the family could stand behind.  When things got difficult, when there were disagreements, we would follow back on the motto.

One of my more quiet teenagers said, “We do good things.”

My husband and I looked at her in surprise not expecting something like that from her.  Insightful.  Encompassing.  Motivating.  First suggestion.

It took a matter of a few minutes for the family to agree to her simplistic brilliance.  There is genius in our family that we didn’t know we had.  I was impressed.  Now we are the jellyfish who do good things!  Watch out world.

Do you have genius in your family that you might not have originally known about?  I’d love to hear about it.

Stop Sabotaging Yourself in Your Career

Friday, 17th September 2010


When was the last time you felt completely drained, like you didn’t belong in your job? Ever ask what you were doing at the job in the first place? What if I told you it was possible to do the work you choose, and you don’t have to have that awful, overwhelming feeling again?

One of my clients in 2009 was a cute Asian girl with short, trendy hair, a black business suit, and large, sad, brown eyes. As we began to work together, I discovered a beautiful, radiant artist’s soul. She arrived in Utah from a cosmopolitan area with a history of miserable jobs in sales and a passion for the big city. Not long after moving to the middle the Rockies, she wondered why she suffered from so many headaches, bouts of the flu and colds, and felt absolutely drained most of the time.

She quickly discovered that the job she found in Utah wasn’t giving her enough money to meet her bills. She’d found work in what she thought was perfect for her—a young, progressive company with lots of opportunities. But it didn’t take long before she felt completely disconnected. The stress of being miserable at the job began to affect her health. On came the headaches and the flu. She called in sick more and more. Since her jobs were based on performance, her ability to financially put her student husband through school was seriously compromised. Eventually, after months of this high stress, her long-suffering and patient husband gave a “we can’t continue like this” talk.

Desperate, and knowing she had her living, health, and marriage on the line, she tearfully asked me what the problem was.

Why was she so miserable with a job she thought she would be good at? How could she get herself into a better place? I immediately prescribed a value assessment to determine her top three to five values.

Upon taking the test, it became clear that what she was missing was not honoring one or more of her values in each of her duties. After looking at her list of values, she said, “Now I understand why I’m so miserable.”

She started asking herself questions like: “If I value aesthetics so much, why am I not pursuing a career that includes them?” and, “How can I bring more of my values into my current job until I am at the right spot to change jobs?”

Over the next couple of weeks, as she thought about her top values and whether her work honored them.  She came to a deep understanding what that really meant to her.  As a result, major shifts followed in her job, housing situation, and health.

Those few critical questions set her on a completely different path. Since then she has chosen the industry she wants to be in, has gotten training to prepare her for that path, and has made huge shifts in what she looks for in jobs that help her get by until she qualifies for the one she wants to land eventually. She’s not sick as often, and her husband has time to focus on his studies. Best of all, when she thinks about her career, she is on fire with the passion that makes her ready to take on the future.

What are your top three values? Are you honoring them in every area of your life? If not, Step It Up and Be on Fire completely, by living within your values.

Step It Up and Get Results

Wednesday, 15th September 2010


Most small business owners I coach want to earn more and work less. This is not a fairytale wish, a desire, because they are lazy, but a real longing, an aspiration to reach their potential in both their personal and professional lives.

For the business owners to start getting those results—fewer hours and more money—they must implement principles of success to an even a higher level than they currently are.

One of the most important principles is mapping out what is possible. A great story from the winter of 2009 illustrates this point. At the time, I was busily working at my home computer, buried under mountains of projects, a small heater blew in an effort to keep me warm.

An instant message clicked on, so I hastily focused on my IM manager. I was totally unprepared to see an unexpected bump into the past as I glanced at the chatter and did a double take.

Red. It was my redheaded girlfriend from church and school. How long had it been since I’d had contact with her? It’s been almost twenty years. Wow.

We quickly began chatting, and then she got to her reason for IM-ing me. “I read your Facebook postings. How can you be so happy all the time?”

Bam. I had to roll back in my office chair. I’d never seen myself that way. But from my training to be a coach I knew her question wasn’t about me, but about her.  She must be suffering to go to the effort to look me up and establish contact.

Curious about what could be bothering her, I scheduled a phone appointment. A few days later, we talked, and I found a friendly person completely overwhelmed by her husband’s brutal dismissal from a successful business and the backstabbing he suffered.

The ugliness of the situation weighed on her, causing her to have a bleak outlook for her family’s future. It was clear her husband’s lay-off weighed her down, preventing her from remembering what was possible.

“What do you want?” I asked.

After some reflection, she said, “I want him to have a job where he is valued.”

“Is that possible?” I asked.

“I don’t know. With the economy being what it is, and so many people losing their jobs—”

I interrupted her. “I think it is possible your husband can not only get another job quickly, but a higher paying one where he is valued.”

“You do?”

“Don’t you? You just told me how he was the key person in the last business, right?”

“Oh, yes. He made them so much money. They still need him. They keep calling, asking questions on how to do things.”

“So why can’t he get a better job?”

“We live in a small town.”


“I guess he could get a better job. No, you’re right. He can.”

Using an effective coaching question, I asked, “What’s next?”

“For me to believe in the power of the possible.”

Don’t you just love that phrase—the power of the possible?

If you believed in the power of the possible, what would you believe in? What would you dare consider that could happen? With my redheaded friend, I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I did know she would be happier if she held on to the power of the possible.

Two weeks later, I heard from her again.

“I wanted to thank you,” she started off, and then got to the juicy part. “My husband got a job last week. You won’t believe this—he loves his job. They treat him well, and the best part is that he’s making more than he did in his last job.”

As soon as she shifted to how she was showing up in her own life, her whole family’s circumstances changed. What amazed me was the impact a spouse’s belief can have All she had to do was plug back in to her natural optimistic self. That was enough to energize the whole situation. Her belief in her husband was enough for him to do what he needed to get to his next professional level.

Stop right now and write down what situation in your life currently needs some energizing. Look at it and ask, “What’s possible?” Now believe in the power of the possible and get the results you want out of your life and your business.

Tribal Family Leadership WeeK 5: Power of Stories

Sunday, 12th September 2010


We gathered together in the dirt pit.  It was filled with rocks, tall thorny weeds, and dust.  The chairs sat in awkward angles threatening to fall.  In fact one child did fall as the chair didn’t like the uneven ground.  I looked around at my family and could tell they didn’t much like being there, but they would endure it so they could get on with their plans that they had for the evening.

The toddler continually tried to make her escape and the almost four years old would constantly make loud noises.  I sat next to my husband at the top of the circle and I tried to gain control.  I first had my blonde teenager get out from sitting in the middle of the circle, explaining that it was important that everyone in the circle was equal and no one should be the center.  She reluctantly joined the rest of us although stating she wanted to be the center and deserved the attention.

We talked a little about gathering and how it was important.  Then I established the ruled for storytelling.  Each person was going to tell their favorite story that happened in the family.  When the person was talking no other person was to talk and everyone could say positive things or ask positive questions after the speaker was done.

I asked if anyone wanted to go first and was pleased that my blonde teenager who wanted to be in the center of attention volunteer.  Of course she choice to tell a story about what she just did with my ex-husband that excluded me, my husband and two of our children.  I knew why she was doing it and overlooked it.  My almost four year raised her hand on wanting to go next and she told the story about how she was out skating with her older brother, hit a rock, and cut her head.  She said there was lots of blood and went to the doctor and they hurt her (which meant they sewed up her cut).  This story ignited the family.  My son added to it, and I did, and then others added their part.

Everyone then willing told a story.  I was told before I did this from others who had done circle story telling that it was a great learning to have kids tell the popular family stories in their own words because then you get to experience what the events was like for them and their perspective on it.  Well, I learned that my kids remember a bunch of things that I don’t remember.  It was not so funny or positive but definitely interesting. The more they talked the more I realized the daughter who I had thought recently was so perfect wasn’t.  She started telling all these stories about how she had to go to time out for this or that or how she would do dare devil activities.

My memory started coming back.  These kids weren’t so easy to raise!  It wasn’t only one child that gave me trouble, a lot of them did.  The more they reflected the more I realized that the time out’s must of worked because they are much better behaved and that I am sooo glad they aren’t still young.

As my husband and I reflected on the experience, we realized that we were having a hard time remembering what happened the past eight years. We were having a hard time capturing the funny little stories that happens in every family.  We realized that this storytelling activity was a great beginning.  The kids at the end still talked about stories as we went on a family walk.  More memories came, and laughter, and so did a vague fog that we couldn’t remember most of the past eight years.

It wasn’t until tonight did I fully understood how important it is to remember stories and to tell them.  Stories bring bonding, memory, and can form the friendships that I yearn for my children to have.  We are going to tell more stories in our household and would love to hear about your experiences of telling stories in yours.

Tribal Family Leadership Week 4: Duck Duck Goose

Wednesday, 8th September 2010


An important skill in any leadership is to sense what is not working and to adjust.  I have to say it didn’t take a genius to get that my kids did not like the idea of going to the storytelling festival.  Messing with their Fridays, especially when there was school events on that night, would have been shooting myself in the head.  So, being the brilliant leader I am, I decided not to do that. I did have to put some thought into determining the balance in leading a family.  Teenagers are not really interested in family bonding time.  Surprise!   Yet it is important, and will benefit them for years to come.  There is a balance between agency and honoring their free will and helping them do things that they wouldn’t do that will grow them as leaders.

I talked with my other tribal leader, my husband, than we talked with the teenagers.  I announced that I got that they really didn’t want to do the storytelling festival and told them that if we as a family didn’t do that then we needed to do something different so that we can still come together as a family.  After all that is my stake, that they have a sense of community as a family and that won’t happen unless some time is put in.  Notice I went back to our common stake and my vision.  This is always a good thing to do when things aren’t going as well as liked.

Bam.  It is amazing when they have some motivation how fast they are at problem solving.  “Mom, let’s do a picnic in the park.  Or we could play a game together as a family.”  Well, since I am not the normal type of mom, a smile came across my face because I do like to watch them squirm.  “Great on Sunday we will do both!”  They, of course, with much energy tried to talk me into doing only one, but I was strong.  “You have such a great ideas we will do both!”

Sunday came and I did our new tradition of pot roast.  This time I bought two since one wasn’t enough.  Well, with a college boy home for the weekend, two wasn’t nearly enough either.  It going to be fun buying four pot roasts next time to see if that is enough to feed the hungry vultures.  Hours later for dinner we had the kids make sandwiches and we all bundled up and walked to the park across the street in the midst of hollowing wind.

The little ones were excited to be going somewhere with whole family, but the older ones dragged themselves onward without complaint.  My husband pointed out some picnic tables that were in a grove of trees that formed a circle.  I was thrilled to be sitting in a circle that protected us from the wind and to have the chance to talk about the importance of gathering in a circle where everyone is important and equal.  We got to notice the strength it gave us.

I have to admit we had nice conversation around the table as we munched on sandwiches, grapes and strawberries.  My younger son decided hotdogs needed to be part of the food for next time.  The idea of chips, cookies, and pop got vetoed by of course their tribal leader who told them that wouldn’t support their poor health.  One of my kids managed to get his ball stuck in an underground pipe and also managed to find a dead tree that he carried across the park.

When we returned, everyone was in good mood and we actually did feel more together.  Then came the vote for the game.  My husband really didn’t like the idea that Duck, Duck, Goose won, preferring Taboo.   We were all surprised at how much fun we had playing that little kids game.  My 18 month old laughed and laughed as people carried her as they chased the other kids.

Moral of the story: when there is a lot of resistance, change the plans.  Hold firm to the vision, and try things out.  Even if it sounds lame to play Duck, Duck, Goose, you might be surprised what happens.  The important thing is to hold firm to quality family time.  Yes, that does mean the teens have to give up their phones and friends for an hour or two, but truth be known they will survive and might like mine did forget the time and actually enjoy it.