P501: The Art of Pinging

I attended The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) Spring Meeting & Legislative Conference last week. I had a wonderful time at the conference. Below is a blog post from Productivity501. This post will help me to keep in contact with everyone I met at the conference. Evernote is also a good way to keep track of your contacts and their interests.

The Art of Pinging
networking group

In this article we are going to talk about networking. Specifically, we want to look at how to “ping” people. I believe the term “ping” comes from the excellent book Never Eat Alone. A ping is defined as a small action that keeps the relationship with someone in your network alive. First let’s talk about the benefits of pinging your network of contacts, then we’ll look at how to actually do it.

Benefits of Pinging

Our brains organize information in a very efficient way. Imagine that our memories are a bunch of envelopes in a pile. The size of the envelope corresponds to the emotion associated with that memory. So you can easily retrieve the memory of your first kiss no matter how long it has been since you last thought about it because it is in a very large envelope. On the other hand, you may not be able to remember your college dorm room number after a decade because it is in a much smaller envelope.

Every time a memory is accessed, that envelope gets put on the top of the pile. It isn’t too hard to remember your departing gate number for 15 minutes after looking it up on the screen in the airport, but you may have a very difficult time remembering your parking space number after returning from a two-week trip. (There is an organization system like this called the Noguchi filing system.)

When it comes to your network of contacts, you want your name to be easy to remember. Since it is easiest to remember things that are emotional or recent, you have two options to make your name memorable. Saving someone’s life is going to be a very emotional experience, but obviously it isn’t very practical to try to save the life or have your life saved by everyone in your address book. There are other ways of creating emotional experiences, but they either don’t scale, have inappropriate side effects, have significant risk, or will make you well remembered, but not in a positive way.

That leaves us with trying to be memorable by being recent. So how do we do this?

How to Ping

You “ping” people by making some type of contact with them. It doesn’t necessarily mean having a four hour conversation–just a brief “how are you doing” or “I was thinking about you today.” It can be as simple as sending them a text message saying “happy birthday” or calling them up when you have a layover in their city just to say you were in town for 15 minutes, thought about them and wanted to know how they were doing.

Here are some tips for pinging your contacts:

  • Send a newspaper/magazine clipping on topics they find interesting with a handwritten note.
  • Call them up on their birthday and sing happy birthday to them.
  • Send them a text message when their favorite team wins or loses.
  • Send birthday cards.
  • Leave them a voice mail with a bit of info you learned that they might be interested in knowing.
  • Occasionally send an email with a link to something they would find useful.
  • If they blog, leave a message on their website.
  • Write a recommendation for them on Linked In.
  • Comment on their posts on G+, Twitter, Facebook or wherever they interact online.
  • Send them something through the mail. It could be a matchbox version of a car you know they want/have/had or a photograph of their hometown.

If you look back through that list, you’ll notice that the recurring theme is to do something that shows you know who they are and what they like. You are trying to do simple things that show you know their birthday, know their interests, read their blog, etc. Pinging is a matter of doing those little things that say “you are important.” Obviously you don’t want to be annoying, but making a conscious effort to ping all of your contacts 3 to 10 times a year can go a long ways toward making sure that you stay in people’s memory and keep your marketability high.

Infectious Thought Germs Will Anger You

Originally posted on Why Lead Now:

Looking past the viral-oriented nature of this video, the main concept presented is critical for leadership. Thoughts, when attached to emotions other than sadness, generally have higher “infection” rates.

Thus, it is important to generate more emotion (hopefully positive and not anger-inducing) around messages that you want your direct reports to remember or share. It seems idea is lost at times in the data-driven world of today, where it’s more important to get across the numbers and metrics than it is to tell a story.

So communicate with feeling and generate positive emotions in your direct reports. Make the topic relevant to them. They will be more receptive to your messages and will remember them better. Let’s infect the world with the good germs to promote healthy thoughts.

Just don’t anger them… or you may end up on the wrong side of a thought germ!

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How to Build ROPE Teams in Sales Organizations

How to Build ROPE Teams in Sales Organizations.

This is a post by Susan Ershler co-author of Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales.

Neil Armstrong’s historic step onto the lunar surface was not his achievement alone, but the result of decades of effort by a team of thousands. In this, as in most complex human endeavors, teams outperform individuals.

Teams have also played a central role in my life by ensuring that I received the support needed to achieve two cherished goals: leading sales organizations at several of the nation’s largest technology firms and climbing the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

Along the way, I learned a great deal about team development and leadership. I saw that successful leaders compensate for their personal shortcomings by recruiting team members with complementary skills and temperaments. I observed how they motivated and inspired their teams to achieve something ambitious and meaningful. And then I put those lessons to work in my own business and climbing careers.

One of the most critical lessons I learned from climbing mountains and the corporate ladder is that every member of a well-constructed sales team should have a specific role, skillset, and set of responsibilities that aligns with the exigencies of the business being pursued. Equally important, each member should meet the essential “ROPE” criteria I developed over decades of climbing. In other words, they should be:

• Reliable and Responsible
• Opportunity-driven and Organized
• Professional and Practical
• Enthusiastic and Expert

Inside ROPE Teams

As a sales leader, I was responsible for assembling both “Inside” and “Outside” ROPE teams. Our Inside ROPE teams were comprised of colleagues in our company’s marketing, accounting, finance, engineering, support, purchasing, and other functional units. I knew I would need their cooperation and support in order to successfully orchestrate a complex, months-long sales campaign.

Inside ROPE teams provide another important benefit. In most companies today, employees are under constant pressure to do more with less. They may feel overburdened and resistant to shouldering new responsibilities. But the members of your team will be much more likely to go the extra mile if you demonstrate a sincere commitment to helping them succeed in their own careers. Once motivated in this way, your Inside ROPE team members will become invaluable assets in helping you to compete successfully for the scarce company resources you’ll need to bring a long and arduous sales campaign to a successful conclusion.

Outside ROPE Teams

Outside ROPE teams are equally essential to the success of any campaign. To recruit these team members, you’ll want to reach outside your company to forge mutually-beneficial relationships with industry experts, business executives, and other community leaders who can help you expand your industry knowledge, stay abreast of emerging business and technology trends, and secure personal referrals to new prospects. Your Outside ROPE team will play an essential role in helping you find and close business.

Keep in mind that Inside and Outside ROPE teams cannot be assembled instantaneously. They must be cultivated over time, using the same strategies you apply to nurture new client relationships. First, you’ll need to identify the most viable prospects, learn what motivates them, and help them become successful. Then, you’ll have to set specific team-building goals and track your progress.

Generally speaking, it’s easier to recruit Inside ROPE team members since you’ll be drawing from a limited pool of fellow employees and will have more opportunities for face-to-face interactions. However, you can create ongoing opportunities to build your Outside ROPE teams by networking with members of your local civic or business communities. Kemper Freeman, CEO of Kemper Development Corporation, for example, has been an active member of the Rotary Club for decades.

Finally, as a leader, it will be your responsibility to ensure that your relationship with every member of your Inside and Outside ROPE teams is positive and mutually beneficial. After completing a successful sales campaign, for example, I made sure to inform our executive leadership team about the contributions each of our Inside ROPE team members made to our collective success. I was also careful to fulfill every commitment I made to members of our Outside ROPE teams and to proactively pursue opportunities to help them achieve their personal and professional goals.

By effectively leading your Inside and Outside ROPE teams, you will build enduring communities that will sustain you throughout your career. Kemper Freeman said it best: “My entire life, I’ve lived by the principle that building a community is one of life’s greatest rewards. To me, building a community means working together, understanding each other, and creating opportunities that are mutually beneficial for everyone.”

* * *
Susan Ershler is co-author of Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales: From Everest to Every Business, which illustrates the principles that lead to high achievement with anecdotes drawn from her sales and climbing careers. In 2002, she and her husband, Phil, became the first couple in history to climb the Seven Summits—the highest mountain on each of the world’s seven continents. Today, Susan is a renowned keynote speaker, inspiring business professionals to push past perceived boundaries to achieve their most ambitious dreams and helping Fortune 500 companies transform their sales organizations into dynamic forces for revenue growth. For more information, visit her web site: Reaching New Heights

Improving Your Motivation: Seven Important Considerations

Originally posted on Blanchard LeaderChat:

MotivationA new article in Costco Connection, Improve Your Motivation, highlights Susan Fowler’s new book, Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … And What Does, and points out an important fact about motivation—it’s an inside-out proposition.

The article summarizes some of the key takeaways from the book, and shares important concepts for individuals and leaders to consider when evaluating their own motivation—or when they are trying to help others with theirs.

  1. Recognize that each of us is already motivated—it just the quality of our motivation that might be a problem. Some forms of motivation are sustainable, satisfying, and promote well-being while others don’t.  Fowler explains that leaders need to ask why people are motivated to do what’s been asked of them.  Otherwise we end up with well known examples such as the young student who hates law school because of the pressure his parents put on him to succeed.

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Innovators: Leadership

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson is a great book. Below is an excerpt about leadership.

Innovators: Leadership

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

The most successful endeavors in the digital age were those run by leaders who fostered collaboration while also providing a clear vision. Too often these are seen as conflicting traits: a leader is either very inclusive or a passionate visionary. But the best leaders could be both. Robert Noyce was a good example. He and Gordon Moore drove Intel forward based on a sharp vision of where semiconductor technology was heading, and they both were collegial and nonauthoritarian to a fault. Even Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, with all of their prickly intensity, knew how to build strong teams around them and inspire loyalty.

Brilliant individuals who could not collaborate tended to fail. Shockley Semiconductor disintegrated. Similarly, collaborative groups that lacked passionate and willful visionaries also failed. After inventing the transistor, Bell Labs went adrift. So did Apple after Jobs was ousted in 1985.

Most of the successful innovators and entrepreneurs in this book had one thing in common: they were product people. They cared about, and deeply understood, the engineering and design. They were not primarily marketers or salesmen or financial types; when such folks took over companies, it was often to the detriment of sustained innovation. “When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off,” Jobs said. Larry Page felt the same: “The best leaders are those with the deepest understanding of the engineering and product design.”

Another lesson of the digital age is as old as Aristotle: “Man is a social animal.” What else could explain CB and ham radios or their successors, such as WhatsApp and Twitter? Almost every digital tool, whether designed for it or not, was commandeered by humans for a social purpose: to create communities, facilitate communication, collaborate on projects, and enable social networking. Even the personal computer, which was originally embraced as a tool for individual creativity, inevitably led to the rise of modems, online services, and eventually Facebook, Flickr, and Foursquare.

Machines, by contrast, are not social animals. They don’t join Facebook of their own volition nor seek companionship for its own sake. When Alan Turing asserted that machines would someday behave like humans, his critics countered that they would never be able to show affection or crave intimacy. To indulge Turing, perhaps we could program a machine to feign affection and pretend to seek intimacy, just as humans sometimes do. But Turing, more than almost anyone, would probably know the difference.

According to the second part of Aristotle’s quote, the nonsocial nature of computers suggests that they are “either a beast or a god.” Actually, they are neither. Despite all of the proclamations of artificial intelligence engineers and Internet sociologists, digital tools have no personalities, intentions, or desires. They are what we make them.

Book Review: The Language of Houses

The Language of Houses by Alison Lurie is a fascinating book. Below is an excerpt.



When two people live together, one of them may be largely responsible for the decor of any room, or it may be the result of collaboration or compromise. The true state of affairs can usually be determined by simply praising the way the place looks, and observing who takes credit for it. If both do, their relationship probably is (or recently was) a happy one. When one or both partner volubly refuses all acclaim, it may indicate either aesthetic indifference or emotional detachment, possibly both.

Sometimes different rooms will have very different atmospheres. There may be a bright, cheerful kitchen where one member of the family (not always the mother) is usually to be found, and a dark, dosed-in office or study where someone else seems to work and live. The opposite situation is also possible: a bright, cheerful, orderly home office and a dismal, dirty kitchen. If there is only a single adult in the home, we may have the impression of a split personality: someone who loves work and hates cooking, or the reverse.

Houses can also seem to have personalities of their own. As Libbie Block puts it in her brilliant but now almost forgotten novel about Hollywood, Tbe Hills of Beverly, “there were houses which made for laughter and some which made for tears, some which caused quarrels, and some which were so cold and emotionless that love froze in them and died.” There are homes in which we instantly feel comfortable: something about the shape of the rooms, the furniture, the light, and the colors makes us happy. There are also dwellings like Shirley Jackson’s Hill House, in the book of the same name, that feel wrong and make us uncomfortable. In Hill House, Jackson writes, “the walls seemed always in one direction a fraction longer than the eye could endure, and in another direction a fraction less.” It is a sensation that some people have also had in certain office and school hallways, or in high-rise public housing where the buildings tend to be peculiarly tall and thin, with windswept exterior passageways blocked by wire fencing.

As Joyce Carol Oates has written in a memoir of her childhood, “The house contains the home but is not identical with it. The house anticipates the home and will very likely survive it.” When we enter any residence we will be aware of it both as a house and as a home. In some cases, we will know or sense that there has been trouble there, and will therefore unconsciously see it as what sociologists call a broken home: a building symbolically split in half, as if by an explosion, with objects out of place and something wrong about the light. On other, better occasions we will feel a kind of euphoria, as if we have at last entered the Happy Home of our childhood dreams and drawings.

When It Comes to Performance Management, Employees Want More, Not Less!

Originally posted on Blanchard LeaderChat:

More than 90 percent of major corporations have formal performance management systems in place. Yet recent research by Deloitte Consulting reported that only 8 percent of these organizations find their performance management process worth the time they put into it. Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity seems to fit here: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Is the solution to abandon the process? Quite the contrary. A recent survey by The Ken Blanchard Companies found a 20 to 30 percent gap between what employees desired from their leaders during performance management conversations and what they were receiving. Simply put, employees want much more from their leaders than they’re getting!

Blanchard Cap Study Results

So what do direct reports want more of?

  • More specificity: Be clear on expectations. People want to know what their key responsibility areas are, how they are going to be measured, and what a…

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