How many times have you answered the question, “what do you do?” or how many times have you asked the same question and fallen asleep with the answer? Yesterday, I caught a snippet of a presentation that got me thinking. Oh oh you say, we are in trouble now. When someone asks you, “what do you do?” it is usually a conversation filler and answering “what” can be a conversation stopper instead of the opening to an interesting possibility for both participants.do for a living

Instead of answering “what,” try answering “why.” Answering WHY you do something reveals an important fact about yourself giving the questioner an opportunity to explore your passion. Passion would be a great way to start your answer, as in, “I am passionate about finding family homes for people that will significantly increase in value in a short period of time.” Instead of, “I’m a realtor for Remax.”

“I get huge satisfaction from growing heirloom roses and entering them in flower competitions.” “I love watching people, who never thought they could do it, write their first book.” “I get a real kick out of seeing companies increase their bottom line profits by making a small change in their operating procedure.” ” I get a real sense of joy by explaining complex tax matters to people that helps them save money.”

I’m sure you can do better with your answer after a little bit of thought and some trial and error. We have all heard how it is a good idea to have a 30 second elevator pitch ready to answer the question of WHAT you do, but try answering and creating that 30 seconds based on WHY you do what you do. See if it starts a conversation rather than closing it.

So, here’s something I’m really excited about. I will start a new series of blogs next week that will run through the next couple of months that will make a difference, not only in your life, but the lives of your children and grandchildren. Intrigued? If you have ever read the “About” section of this website, you will know that I like learning something that sounds complex and making it understandable for other people. Yep, shoulda been a teacher. I will put together a series of presentations that will allow you to create a legacy that is unique, valuable, wanted, and easy through a step-by-step process that will take only a few minutes each week. And at the end of the series, there will be a free gift for any followers of this website. Sign up now to receive the contents via email and get something for nothing. Great pitch huh?

OK, I will give you all the WHY’S and WHAT’S next week and in the meantime, try answering this week’s question a little differently and let us know what happens.


truth or consequencesDo you ever find yourself telling people what they WANT to hear rather than what they NEED to hear? Are you ever on the receiving end of that statement and being told what the speaker WANTS you to hear rather than the truth you NEED to know?
The other day I had to tell someone that a cheque for $62,000.00 they were anticipating would take 18 weeks to process. The work to approve this amount had been done but the checks and balances system, the layers of bureaucracy needed to make the money appear in his bank account, would take an additional 18 weeks! I didn’t want to tell him. I totally expected him to go nuts on me and why shouldn’t he? After a heavy sigh, he said that he appreciated my honesty because he had been told numerous times that the money would be available “soon.” At least knowing the truth would allow him to make his own plans accordingly, whether it was the answer he liked or not. He actually sent a note of appreciation for my honesty – not what I expected at all while I was summoning the courage to tell him.
I was chatting with my neighbour yesterday about something similar as he and his family endure the wonders of a home reno and struggle with the same issue. He was told that the work would be completed in April, and then May, and then June, and for sure, mid July. The latest is mid August. Meanwhile they are living in their basement, eating most meals at restaurants and trying to contain their anger. The truth is not setting him free.
I feel that, politically, we are facing this issue all the time – we are being told what the speaker thinks we want to hear rather than what we need to hear. Every political campaign is full of platitudes, over simplifications, trust-me-I’ll-fix-its, fear-mongering, exaggerations, and promises we could never afford in a million years. Whose fault is it – does it really matter?2+2=5

To a very great extent we all must accept responsibility for allowing people to over promise and under deliver. Every time we “go nuts” when someone gives us information that is different than what we want, we encourage them to alter their story so they don’t have to disappoint us. Sure it’s not totally our fault – some people are simply dishonest or afraid to present the truth. They are fearful that they will lose our business, our friendship or our vote. Naturally, we don’t need to accept poor service, inadequate workmanship or a lack of caring about our needs but on the other hand, we do need to exercise a bit of understanding and common sense about limitations that may prevent us from receiving instant gratification.

Right now, the political landscape seems to be overrun by people promising the impossible and the impractical, offering solutions that appeal to the fear in us rather than the ambition and courage and willingness to extend a helping hand. Instead of having us step UP into a better world, they would have us step DOWN into a quagmire of mediocrity, anger and resentment. If this disappoints us, then we need to look inside to see if we do the same thing in our own life. Are we afraid to disappoint the people around us and so adjust our story as a parent, spouse, salesperson, contractor, medical professional, teacher, coach, and friend and offer what the other person WANTS to hear instead of what they NEED to hear?MORE TRUTH

If we expect better leadership then it starts with us by being willing to hear the difficult, disappointing and unpopular realities with a degree of understanding and common sense and yes, maybe even a sense of humour. It is a two way street – to hear the truth, we must be willing to speak the truth, or suffer the consequences of disappointment and worse. It’s never easy to tell someone that they are going to be unhappy with the answer but the courage to do so is what makes us all human. It is time for each of us to do what we can in our own lives so that we can expect the same honesty in our business and political lives. Let’s stop being fooled by fear mongering, scare tactics, over-promising and letting people tell us what they think we WANT to hear instead of what we NEED to hear to make better decisions, live better lives and go forward with a sense of joy and peace.


Nobody cares how much you know until they know

how much you care.

Theodore Roosevelt

theodore roosevelt

This is a great quote from a very quotable person, Theodore Roosevelt, and it is particularly important to today’s successful salesperson. If you follow me (and if you don’t, why not?) you know that I am constantly, and perhaps too frequently, trying to convince you to write a book that will bring value to your customers and prospects. OK, so I know that 99% of you are never going to write a book. What can you do instead? If you accept Mr Roosevelt’s advice here are a few ideas:

  • instead of a book perhaps you could prepare a single sheet of information to share that will offer some value. It doesn’t have to be about your product or service but could simply be a mutual interest like fishing, cooking, good wines, a travel destination
  • your client may have been quoted in an industry article or newspaper, cut it out, read it and ask about it the next time you meet. Asking a probing question is much better than just saying that you saw the article – you care if you want more information yourself.
  • ask more about your prospect’s business, its problems, successes – what do they actually do? I am always amazed when I ask a salesperson some detail about a prospect’s company and they don’t know anything other than that they should buy our product or service.
  • being of value to a customer means taking an interest beyond the order pad – it means showing that you know enough about them that you can recommend and offer  real life solutions, not just features and benefits
  • knowing who your client’s customers are will help you to provide more targeted and valuable solutions – ask who they sell to – who is their ideal customer