We Have a Voice – It’s Time We Started Using It

images (11)I participated in a weekend twitter chat hosted by @Kate Nasser – The People-Skills Coach, that reminded me that we have a voice, a very loud voice. And we need to speak up because politicians and company executives are listening. The silent majority needs to speak up against bullying, rape, violence against women and powerful companies like Monsanto who are counting on you and I to say nothing at all. We can’t make a difference you say. No one cares you say. And no one is listening. Tell that to Lululemon’s Founder and Chairman Chip Wilson who was forced to resign and step away from the company he started, a month after he made controversial comments that angered their customer base and sales took a nosedive. And tell that to the fast food industry who were swayed by public pressure to put nutritional values on their packages and menus so that consumers could make an informed decision about the foods they eat.

Worth Remembering … “It always seems impossible until it is done.” – Nelson Mandela 

Monsanto: Protestors in over 40 Countries around the World participated in a march against Monsanto and Genetically Modified Foods (Referred to as GMO’s). What started as a whimper is now beginning to sound more like a roar. A number of American States have passed laws requiring any GMO food or seeds to be labelled as such and prohibits any food containing GMO’s to be labelled “Natural”. A number of Countries including Canada are drafting and passing similar legislation. 

Bullying: Do a Google Search on “bullying” and you’ll get 24,600,000 results in 0.67 seconds. The cry against bullying is more than a flavor of the month – it’s a revolution. Bullying is a learned behavior. But community groups, school boards and governments working to eliminate bullying is not enough – Parents need to step up and teach their children that bullying is not cool – it’s not OK. Is there a connection between bullying and suicide among young people? According to a report published in 2006 by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) there is. They believe that suicide is rarely a spur of the moment decision. There have been a number of highly publicized suicides among young people recently that supports their findings and law makers are beginning to take note.

Workplace Violence and Harassment:  Bullying of the Adult Kind. Provincial Governments in Canada are taking a stand against workplace violence and harassment by enacting legislation that prohibits violence or harassment of any kind and if employers or employees are found guilty of an offence, and on conviction, are liable to a fine of not more than $25,000 per offense, or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 12 months, or both. Workers have a legal right to a safe workplace and employers must do everything reasonable under the circumstance to insure their health and safety.

Worth Remembering … “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” – Martin Luther King Jr. 

We have a voice. We can make a difference. Yes progress is slow, change seems to take forever and the deck is stacked against us,  but that shouldn’t detour us from doing what we know is right. Social media and the internet have given us a platform. It’s up to each and every one of us to step up to the podium and be heard.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Brian is available for keynote speeches and delivering workshops on a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, coping with stress, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you visit http://briansmithpld.com

 

Get FOCUSED – 7 Key Steps to Becoming The Person You’d Rather Be 4

Everything we choose to do alters our brain and it fundamentally changes who we are, a process that continues until we die. Dr. Richard Restak – clinical professor of neurology at George Washington’s University Medical Center and author of “Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential” – believes that the human brain has the ability to reprogram itself. All the new research on the brain suggests that no matter how old you are, it’s never too late to change your brain for the better. Adults can learn new things given the right set of circumstance and in an environment that is conducive to learning. The point I’m trying to make here is that if you aren’t happy with your lot in life – if you aren’t happy with the cards you’ve been dealt – you have the power within you to pick up your chips and sit in on a whole new game. How bad do you want it? How willing are you to change? Motivation is inside out – never outside in. Are you ready to get FOCUSED?

 The Seven Key Steps to Becoming The Person You’d Rather Be.

Friendly: How likable are you? How much fun are you to be around? If you get invited to a house party or social event do you approach people you’ve never met – introduce yourself and strike up a conversation or do you huddle in a corner hoping someone will notice you and venture over to say hello? You don’t need to be the centre of attention but you do need to mingle and become part of the conversation. Success in any under taking is more about who you know – not what you know that matters most. Someone knows someone who knows someone who is looking to hire someone with your talents. You need to learn to be an effective networker and network like crazy. Join a service club – volunteer – and expand your circle of influence. We all like to be liked – it’s a basic human need.

Organized: Time management is life management. How you manage your time is how you manage your life. You have 168 hours in the course of a week – no more – or no less. Your time is not a renewable resource. You can’t make time – you can only learn how to spend your time more wisely. Take the time to make sure you are allocating your time to those things that are most important to you. Your life is a planned event. Where would you rather be in 12, 18 or 24 months from now? What new skills will you have to learn to get there? What pieces of the puzzle still need to fall into place for you to accomplish your goal?

Confident: What you think of yourself and say to yourself on the inside is reflected in the way you act and are seen by others on the outside. If you don’t believe in yourself – then others won’t either. We all feel insecure and unsure of ourselves from time to time. We all have self-doubt – especially if we are doing something for the very first time. You are whoever you think you are – it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you can or can’t – you’re right. If you are physically and mentally capable of becoming the person you’d rather be – then the only person who is getting in your way – is you. You need to get out of your own way. There are a number of great books on how to develop your self-esteem. It starts with your internal dialogue. One of my favorites is “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem’ by Nathaniel Branden PhD.

Understanding: Empathy – the ability to see something from another person’s point of view. It is to emotionally put yourself in the place of another. Empathy, understanding and compassion are closely related to one another. Daniel Goleman in his ground breaking book “Working with Emotional Intelligence” suggests that EQ – the ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others which is often referred to as soft-skills – is more important than IQ. For the most part and for most careers – intelligence is highly overrated. You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room to be the most successful person in the room. What you do need is the ability to connect with people on an emotional level. Some people are better at it then others – but it can be learned.

Sincere: It’s not what you say that matters most – it’s how you go about doing it that others will remember. If you treat others with the very best of intentions – then it will come through in the way that you treat them.  If you were to sit down and write your personal code of conduct what kinds of things would you put on that list? What set of values do you hold to be true and you aren’t willing to compromise them no matter the situation – no matter the consequences? Always be true to yourself.

Energized: What are you really passionate about? What really turns your crank? If you could pick the ideal career for you – the one that most suites your talents – what would it be? Do you love to sing – write – work with the less fortunate – play sports – dance – sell products or provide a service? Play to your strengths – do what makes you happy – do what you were meant to do. If you do what you love to do – all the other things like food, a home, money, family and friends – will fall in line.

Determined: Think Big – Dream Bigger. Attitude – your attitude is 100% in your control. Only you get to decide how you want to react in any given situation. There will be missteps along the way. You will make mistakes – there will be barriers to go around and you’ll need to navigate the odd detour along the way. But, keep moving forward – one step at a time. And never, ever give up on your dream. The words coulda, shoulda, woulda should not be part of your vocabulary.

Copyright (C) 2012. Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced or copied without written permission. Exerts of this article were taken from Brian Smith’s soon-to-be-published book – “Get-A-Grip – Wishing and Hoping Won’t Make it Happen

Life Lessons – Selling Yourself is a Contact Sport

Everybody sells. We are always selling something.  Selling involves one person communicating with an individual or group to make a sale – to persuade a client to buy something  – a product, a service, a good idea or something that satisfies your needs or their needs on a personal level , or on a business level when an individual is purchasing for a company. David Ogilvy, one of the fathers of modern advertising, said it best: “We sell or else.” If you don’t ask – you don’t get. But to get – you’ve got to learn to ask for what you want the right way.

When you think about it – your life is a series of sales presentations. Children develop selling skills early on in life to get what they want. When you want something or someone to do something, you use your selling skills. When you attempt to get a date, ask for a pay raise, provide cost-effective solutions to solve a clients problem or deal with customer service representatives, you are using your personal selling skills. (Mind you some are better at it than others)

Selling is about making a personal “Connection” with your perspective client. Selling is about building a relationship with the person you want to do business with. Selling is a contact sport. If people aren’t buying what you’re selling – than you need to re-evaluate your sales approach. You need to figure out how to get people to like you. (People do  business or hang around with people they like)

Successful salespeople are no longer adversaries who manipulate others for personal gain. Successful salespeople are consultants, partners and problem solvers. A successful salesperson’s goal is to build a long-term relationship with their clients. The most important characteristic for establishing a lasting relationship with a client is a salesperson’s willingness to provide service. Your only competitive advantage to separate yourself from your competition is the level of customer service you provide. It’s not your products, (Everybody is selling a comparable product) – it’s not your price (Someone is always willing to sell theirs for less)  – its service. Customer loyalty is established over a long period of time. Your clients must believe that you truly care about them and their welfare. Clients must believe that you have their best interest in mind.

How do you get someone to like you? The first thing you do is run out and buy a copy of Dale Carnegie‘s  book ” How to Win Friends and Influence People” What was true back in 1936 when he wrote the book – still holds true today. Treat people with respect and they will respond in kind. Keep in mind that respect is reciprocal. It’s not something that you can demand. It is something that you earn. You’ve got to give it first before you get it back.

Keys to Developing Personal and Professional Relationships Built on Mutual Respect and Trust

  • Different is just that – different. Just because others go about doing things differently than you – it doesn’t make it wrong. Embrace and celebrate the differences in people.
  • Listen to the other person’s point of view and don’t interrupt. (I listen to understand not necessarily to agree)
  • Be open-minded. Try to see things from the other persons point of view.
  • Be flexible. Does it have to be your way or no way? Will their way of doing it get the same results? Resist the urge to micro-manage.
  • Don’t argue – don’t try to bully the other person into agreeing with you. You are adults. You can agree to disagree.
  • Don’t be condescending or talk down to the other person. You are dealing with an Adult – treat them that way.
  • Don’t resort to name calling and putting the other person down – especially behind their back.
  • Don’t verbally or physically attack the other person.
  • Treat the other person the way you want to be treated.
  • Respect the fact that they have an opinion and they have a right to express that opinion – even if you don’t agree with it.
  • Effective communication takes two – the sender and the receiver. Make sure you are communicating with the other person in a style that they like.

One more thought worth thinking about. You communicate 93% of the time non-verbally. (38% by the tone of your voice and 55% of the time by your body language alone) Your words and actions must be as one or the other person will believe the non-verbal to be more accurate.  If you are sincere and truly want to build relationships with others that last – then it will be reflected in the way that you treat them. If what you are currently doing isn’t accomplishing that – then you need to change what you’re doing and try something else. Trust me – they don’t need to change – you do.  – Cheers. 🙂

Leadership Lessons – When Smoke and Mirrors Just Won’t Do 3

I’m a political junky. Watching both the Republican and Democratic conventions over the last two weeks was a real treat for me. I speak for a living so I took special interest in observing  how each Presidential Nominee presented their party’s position as to why they believe they should be elected the next President of the United States.  The Republicans have always been the very best at creating positive spin. After all they where able to get George W. Bush elected twice. (Enough said)  However, in this election – the voters are an educated voter thanks to the internet and the fact checkers. So this time around  smoke and mirrors just won’t do. Both parties will have to do their homework and get their facts straight. Social media will help bring honesty and integrity back in vogue.

Worth Remembering …

“It is better to be defeated on principle then to win on lies” – Arthur Caldwell

The events and conditions each of us experience during our formative years helps define who we are and how we view the world. We are a by-product of the environment we grew up in, we are influenced and shaped by our family and friends and their values which are passed on to us, and in turn we pass them down to our children. Values like honesty, integrity, a sense of fair play, being consistent – knowing the difference between right and wrong and acting on it – knowing what is acceptable and what is not and holding yourself and others accountable. These are the values that should be passed down to the next generation. And these are the kinds of enduring principles that we should be looking for in our leaders.

Worth Remembering …

“Before the issue of integrity can even be raised we need principles of behavior – moral convictions about what is and is not appropriate – judgements about right and wrong action. If we do not yet hold standards, we are on too low a developmental rung even to be accused of hypocrisy” – Nathaniel Branden Ph.D

Ethics is best described as a set of moral principles or values that defines what is considered right and wrong behavior for a person or group. Ethics and behaving ethically is a bit of an oxymoron these days if you take into account the corporate bailouts and the propping up of the world banking system whose collapse – to some extent – was caused by excessive greed, lack of moral convictions, and by not doing what was right. Are there two kinds of ethics? What does it say about you as a person if you behave one way at work – but behave a different way at home. Is it OK to con your customers and employees, but not your family or neighbours? I believe you are either ethical or you’re not. You may not want to lead – but you do get to decide the kind of leader you want to follow.  Choose wisely. 🙂

(c) Copyright 2012. Brian Smith-PLD. Not to be reproduced without permission. http://briansmithpld.com