Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pitch Anything...


The book of the week was Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff. Wow. I haven't been this excited about a book in quite some time. I have found myself talking about this book a lot this week. I have even suggested it to several of my friends that sell for a living and I did so without getting to the end yet. Klaff is a dynamic writer and the whole book is fascinating. I have read a ton of books and what I look for in books anymore is uniqueness... A lot of books overlap ideas when you get into the realm of business and leadership. The books that do well nowadays are the ones that have a few individual revelations. The ones that do great are the ones that completely revolutionize their subject matter. Pitch Anything is one of those books.

There are a lot of "Oh wow" ideas in this book. Klaff uses neuroscience in selling. He has analyzed the way the human mind reacts to communication and teaches best practices for selling. There are two things I want to lay on you that I learned from this book. The first about attention and the second is about neediness.

Obviously it's important to get attention when you are selling to someone. This is obvious, but most people don't know how to get that attention. A lot of salesmen may think they do, but a lot are wrong. Attention is the combination of two things: desire and tension. Not only do you need to have someone interested but you also need them thinking that it's going to be on your terms whether they get it or not and they would be lucky to have it. Desire is the easy thing. You have a great product or service and you pitch how wonderful it is to your customer or financier. You are most likely passionate about what you are selling, so it should be easy to find ways to incorporate the other party into that desire. Klaff talks more in depth about the ways to really drive in this desire as well. The desire releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, this is half of the cognitive cocktail you're after. Tension on the other hand is not as easy to create. You have to push and pull while you are pitching. "I'm not sure if we are the right fit" *Pause* "But then again if things do work out, this could really be something great." This is a low-key example. The first statement pushes them and mentally they are thinking, "Wait, what, why can't I have this" and then you pull them in with your second statement. Be convincing while you are doing you pushes and pulls or they won't work. And if you pull it off you will release the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. This is the second half of the cognitive cocktail. It makes them pumped to want what you are selling. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that chases rewards and norepinephrine is the chemical that helps your brain stay focused. If you are able to learn to communicate in a way the releases both of these in the person you are talking to, you need to learn it!

The second thing I really liked was Klaff talking about not being needy. If you appear needy it gives the other party all the power. You want to have the power in your pitch. It is incredibly common for salesman to do everything but beg (maybe some beg too) to get the sale. And you probably do "need" it... or at least you think you do, but do not wear that on your sleeve. I read an article a couple years ago about the best sales people in the nation. There was a Car Salesman that sold more cars than anyone else and the way he did it was act like it was no sweat off his back if they didn't buy the vehicle. It was his propensity to avoid neediness that really sold his cars. Needy doesn't work. Keep the control and maintain utter confidence.

This book is very interesting. I could spill tidbits I learned all night long, but I don't have the time. Instead, I encourage you to pick this book up. It is incredibly interesting. And if you are sitting there saying that you don't sell... you're wrong. Everyone sells. It may not be your main career, but whether you are asking for a raise at your job or even interviewing for a job, you are trying to sell yourself. As always, if you have any questions on the book don't hesitate to ask. I would be more than happy to help anyone that wants it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Linchpin...


The book of the week was Linchpin by Seth Godin. The book is about identifying whether you are indispensable and if not, identifying what is stopping you.

When we are kids we have such great imagination and huge dreams. Then we go into the schooling system and over the course of 12 years, we are somehow grounded. We are taught and encouraged to become cogs in a system instead of individuals. I think it really starts around 8th grade. And by the time we graduate high school, the leaders in our life have talked us into playing it safe. It's amazing when you meet those outliers or hear their stories because it seems to us like they did the impossible. Truth is, it wasn't impossible. These people are most commonly seen as CEOs or Entrepreneurs, but there are linchpins in a lot of organizations that aren't world renowned. However, those linchpins are celebrities within their organizations, making people ask themselves "What is it that they do that makes them so great?" The book introduces the idea that we all have gifts, the decision you have to make is whether you want to use those gifts or will you allow yourself to be bullied into not. The overarching theme I noticed throughout the book was the idea of fear stopping people from being great.

People are afraid of thinking out of the box. More often then not employees are punished if they come up with a new idea and has a bad end result. At least that employee was passionate enough to try something new. You need to make mistakes to get better. And if you have employees that have that passion for what they do, it is the job of the employer to foster that passion. Even as an individual looking at your own job, it's difficult to take risks. There is something nice about flying under the radar and just doing your job. But you'll never be great it you continue that path. And as time goes on it is even more difficult to take risks. You have a wife, kids, mortgage, lots of miscellaneous expenses. "What if I mess up too bad and I lose my job?" you might ask yourself? Well what if you do something so great that there is no way that organization could go on without you. That is a linchpin. And besides being indispensable, you give your career some purpose. Who wants to keep the status quo for 50 hours a week for the rest of their lives? Mix it up! Do something great. People get great satisfaction out of things they are good at. Those things are your gifts. Use them. Fuel a passion that you have while at the same time helping your organization.

We don't have a lot of time on this planet, so make the most of it. If you get fired because you took a risk to do something great then go get another job and feel proud that you tried to give your career more purpose than just being some boring cog in a machine.

I liked this book. Godin has a lot of smart ideas that really get me thinking about my own life. As always, if you have any questions on the book don't hesitate to ask. I would be more than happy to help anyone that wants it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Non-Profit...

No book this week again. Just trying to phase in a new type of The Guide to get Rich. This week I want to talk about non-profits. The word actually used to make me cringe. The idea of doing something that didn't have a capitalistic end-result didn't process for me. I was young(er) and naive. I now realize how necessary they are in the world. Aside from the fact that they do great things for the people they support, they also are a necessity for anyone needing to reduce their taxable income. Or at least it gives a sort of financial incentive to do something good with your money.

I was recently asked for money from a friend. She wanted to bring in a speaker to her Teach for America class. I was all for it! However, the whole time I was gearing up to write the check I was thinking about how much more I would be willing to give if it were tax deductible. The check would have to be written to a charitable organization (having the IRS 501(c) status), and a receipt of the donation would be given back. 501(c)3 status is actually fairly easy to receive. It is meant for Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary and some other obscure organizations. The only thing I encourage people that wish to start a charitable organization to think about is how much they expect to receive in donations. If you expect to receive $10,000 or more the filing fee is about $850 and if you expect to receive less than $10,000 it's $450. So if you don't expect to even receive $450 in donations then it doesn't make a lot of sense to start up. The girl that asked for the money would be an ideal person to run a non-profit. Having the courage to ask for money from friends and family is not easy. People have a real issue with swallowing their pride and because she was able to do that I had no problem giving.

I think that donations are very important. The younger me ideologies are dying a little more everyday. I think it's called maturity or something. Regardless, I chose to spend my life pursuing making money, while other people that could very well have chosen the same path I did, decided to donate their lives to a cause. I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't do at least a little bit to help them in their challenge. Donating is very important. Whether you do it at church or somewhere else, or both.... give it away because you can't take it with you.

Now let me switch gears a little and talk about alleviating  poverty in third world countries. Sure you can donate to accomplish this task, but there is another way to use your money to do this. It's a website called Kiva. Kiva allows you to give small loans (as little as $25) to third world country entrepreneurs. You can sort the different ventures by classifications. I recently funded a General Store in the Philippines. I encourage you to check it out and have a little fun making someone across the world able to achieve some entrepreneurial dreams.

Here is a video on Kiva:

How Kiva Works from Kiva Microfunds on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Go Green, Live Rich...


The book of the week was Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach. I have mixed feelings about this book. The content has merit, however, the statistics and numbers are quite exaggerated. For example, Bach uses the $9.00 as the price for a sandwich at Subway for lunch. He then multiplies that number out to make an unrealistic claim that you could have over $100k after 20 years by taking your lunch instead of eating out. I really like David Bach's other books, so I am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one, but when I see numbers that I know aren't accurate time after time, it makes me question the accuracy of the others. He does source all his references in the back of the book, but if you are referencing an exaggerated 'facts' it doesn't make it any more true when you print it. Maybe the numbers were all based in L.A. or New York where the cost of living is much higher, I'm not sure, but I really don't like reading exaggerated 'facts.'

I am not a huge environmentalist, it's not that I hate the environment, I just haven't had a huge passion for it (I'm not my older brother). However, from a business stand point there are some great environmentally friendly practices that cut down long-term costs. Wal-Mart is one of the biggest pioneers of using green ideas. Two things that I learned about Wal-Mart while attending Eco-friendly Business Conference is they use LED Sensor lighting and Skylights. Both are super cool, LED lights are more expensive up front, but have a much better life than a florescent bulb and they use a lot less electricity. Wal-Mart uses these in two main places- their facade signs and inside their cooler and freezer doors. The cooler/ freezer LEDs have a little camera/sensor in some store that senses when someone is within 7-10 feet and turns on when someone is close. That way they save electricity when no one is around. The other thing that Wal-Mart does is use skylights to let in sunlight and the overhead lights dim based on how much light is coming in from outside. This is becoming really common in their stores, so next time you are in a newer Wal-Mart, look up- there are a ton of skylights up there.

I said previously that this book has merit and it does. I would recommend taking it slow. To use all the tips in this book would get a little crazy and you'd probably either quit or lose your mind quickly. Starting an eco-friendly life is a multitude of habits that take some serious lifestyle adjustments. And I'm not going to try and fool you and tell you that you'll make a bunch of money with every single transition. You can use all kinds of logic to help yourself justify certain costs, but because of basic economic principles most organic food will cost more and hybrid cars aren't free. But if you are smart about what you are doing you can save some money, like Wal-Mart did.

The book says that eco-friendly real estate is the next big trend, so people will opt for organic materials and sunflower based panels instead of granite counter tops and cherry cabinets. That's not likely. I think there will be a niche for eco-friendly types of taste, but I don't think that's going to be the standard. So I wouldn't spend a boat load on renovations hoping that your organic materials you spent so much money on are going to have a ROI of an insane amount. Because it will most likely be less than if you just used standard renovation materials.

I'll like to come back to brown bagging you lunch. I think it is an awesome idea. I don't think you'll be paying $9.00 a meal if you eat out every day, but you will probably pay around $5.00. And it really adds up. I am super frugal, so I am a huge advocate of the PB&J or when I want to splurge a little I'll do Pepper-Turkey and Gouda. If you bring your lunch you'll spend a lot less. Probably $1-2 per meal instead. It won't only save you some money, but it's also much healthier.

I think this book is okay. It has some cool resources like a thing called World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms where you volunteer working on a farm for a vacation. Costs less and you get to do something new and fun. Sounds interesting to me, but I'm a big nerd. That is just one of many little treasures I learned about in this book, but I know this subject isn't for everyone, so flip through a couple pages at B&N if your hesitant (and then go home and buy it on Amazon because it's less expensive). As always, if you have any questions on the book don't hesitate to ask. I would be more than happy to help anyone that wants it.