Welcome the responsibility or not, you are a MENTOR

You might recall my early career was in politics. And lots of young people, and God bless their poor souls, many of them consider me an early mentor in their career…

Todd on C-Span in 2000

Todd on C-Span in 2000

And whilst I pray for their future, many of them (as do I), treasure those interactions. I’ve long since retired from my political career, but those relationships with all those amazing young talents remain the highlights of my career…

And, frankly, one of the reasons I still hang around Facebook is to interact with (and monitor) some of these great young talents…

But I got a startling phone call just the other day: One of those youths from my past campaigns is about to announce a campaign for the U.S. Congress.

Wow! Boom. #pride

At first I was VERY excited to hear this. And almost instantly, I was swept with a burst of overwhelm in that this was a young person I recruited, and probably influenced in some way…

…Was I somewhat responsible for this young fellow?

Now, let me declare this: This young man would have been a success in his life whether he ever met me or not.

But…

He did phone me to tell me of his plans. So…what does that mean?

Look…the point of all this? To inform you that EVERY SINGLE PERSON you connect with, interact with, and touch throughout your career…is someone you influence.

Accept it.

Some will be people passing by in the wind. Some will be people you actively recruit and hire. But at the end of the day, these are people you influence, and impact.

And that’s a huge responsibility.

And yeah, I wonder if I did everything I could to be a positive influence on this young man…

Trust me, I will ponder this as I lay my head down to sleep tonight.

And the simple message of this #rant…to recognize that EVERYONE you connect with is looking to you for guidance, direction, and a positive path with which to move forward.

And whether or not you want that responsibility…it is in fact YOURS.

So, take it seriously…

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Why you need to redefine success

The reason most of us are unhappy is that we are following someone else’s definition of success.

Todd SchnickAnd I spent most of my life doing this same thing, trying to live up to the expectations of others. This almost led to my undoing.

When I finally changed the paradigm through which I was viewing the world, and my success in it, everything changed for me.

I was reminded of this recently when listening to a podcast featuring Amanda Palmer, the musician, author, and artist who is redefining what it means to be a performance artist and entrepreneur.

She was talking about the moment when she redefined success. As a recording artist and songwriter, success was always determined by Billboard rankings, iTunes downloads, and Twitter followers.

The minute she realized that “success,” and more importantly, happiness, had NOTHING to do with those numbers, her perspective on life changed dramatically.

And that’s what I want for you.

Chances are, the definitions of success you are measuring yourself against are not necessarily yours. And look, I am not suggesting that you should ignore what your boss and manager expects of you.

But honestly, if what they expect of you isn’t in alignment with what YOU expect and demand of yourself, something isn’t right.

And that’s why you feel stress. That’s certainly why I felt like I was always letting people down. Trust me, that’s a hard way to slog through life.

So, change how YOU define success. What will get you moving when you wake in the morning? What will make you stop dreading Sunday evenings? What will make you stop counting the hours ’til 5pm on Friday afternoons? In other words, what will make you happy?

Set bold and aggressive goals for yourself, certainly, but set expectations of success that you really want, expectations that will make YOU happy.

Life is too short to be doing anything different.

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The appeal and charm of a “messy” career

I am so much more impressed by people in business who have their fingers in many, many pies. In other words, are doing more than just a nine-to-five, Monday through Friday, traditional corporate gig.

Todd SchnickI like people who are doing different things, mixing it up, trying, failing, and generally causing mischief in a handful of seemingly random endeavors.

Except, at least in my view, it is ANYTHING but random.

In fact, I think these are the people on top of the modern career, the paradigm that more and more people are falling into. And embracing.

At this particular moment, I am thinking of two people off the top of my head:

One, a lady who has a very respectable full-time gig with an internationally known digital company, who also happens to be a new contributor to intrepidNOW, but also doing a lot of side work for other organizations and startups.

And two, a gentleman who is a publisher (and business development Jedi Master) at a very well respected digital media company, who just so happens to have recently published a book on sales and marketing.

Why do I bring up these two examples? Because their career is messy.

And I dig it.

What do I mean by a messy career? Someone who isn’t following conventional societal expectations. They are doing different things. They are burning the candle at both ends. They are experimenting with a different approach to things, an approach most people are too afraid to try.

And that’s what appeals to me. Yeah, they are both good salesmen, in the traditional sense. But what I am more interested in, frankly, is their interestingness.

They are a cool story. They are doing things worth thinking about. They are doing things worth talking about. [Hell, I am writing a post about them…]

Maybe these kinds of personalities appeal to me because I would consider my own career a “messy” one. I’ve started multiple companies over the last several years, I’ve written books, and I have dabbled in podcasting (which turned into a business).

But more importantly, I think these people have an edge. I think these types of people have a fearlessness about them. And I think these people have a grit that makes them special.

And that’s why I want to do business with people like this. That’s why I want to ally myself with people like this. That’s why I want to go to war with people like this, because there is something about them that draws me in.

Of course I write about this here because I want YOU to become someone like this. I want YOU to rethink how you approach your life, your business, and yes, your career.

Too many people are afraid to poke at the edges, thinking this will get them off track.

To hell with that I say, I think these are the very people that are worth following, connecting with, and yes, buying from.

They are doing things worth doing. And I want to be standing next to them.

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A simple key to #sales success that most people aren’t thinking about

Sales is simply about presenting a new idea to your prospect, an idea that she hasn’t thought about yet…

Todd SchnickNo, it’s not about solving a problem. They know they have “problems.” And quite honestly, they know there are options that exist to solve those problems.

And no, it’s not about a successful product demo. Chances are, most products in the market place are good, reliable, and work.

Really, it’s about making your prospect think differently, enabling her to think about an idea she hasn’t before considered.

That’s what sets you apart.

[And hell, if you are a truly selfless salesman, you’ll even be happy to let your prospect take credit for the idea internally….]

I just came off another trade show in a very specific market space. And over the course of conducting 60 interviews over three days, I spoke with several companies that offered very similar products and solutions.

And here’s the thing: I got to know the individuals of all of those companies by conducting an intimate, personal radio interview. My conclusions? They are all good people…All good people who want to serve you well…All good people who have a product or solution that will work.

But what sets successful sales people apart are those who surprise you with that new idea.

Many people know what I do (and what I sell). They know how I operate. They know what products and solutions I bring to my market (namely this). But they are not just going to wake up one day and say, “Hmmmmm, I think it’s finally time to call Schnick and engage him.”

Case in point:

I’ve known a gentleman for many years now. He’s a really good man, working for a solid, respectable company that has been around for over 100 years.

Despite a solid, friendly relationship, he’s never called me and asked if I could work with him.

Ever.

Over four years of knowing him.

But a funny thing happened: I recently shared an idea about a potential collaboration, one that advanced an issue and message he and his organization cared about.

And as a result, he told me it sounded good, and that the budget number I suggested was acceptable.

Boom. We are now discussing next steps to move the idea (and project) forward.

All it took was suggesting an idea.

Don’t focus on the things (and tactics) that all the sales books tell you to do. Don’t focus on the societal expectations, and what tradition (AKA, everyone else) informs.

No, just present an idea. An idea that wakes people up, and makes them think differently, makes them think about how they approach their day-to-day world in a (very) different way.

And boom, that’s when YOUR world changes…

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How to be 10% Happier (and better at everything)

You know I have been a long-time advocate for meditation. Why? It makes me healthier, better at sales, and better at serving my clients. Why wouldn’t you meditate?

Todd SchnickAnd I’ve just completed a book that will make YOU want to meditate. It is the best, most entertaining book I’ve read so far in 2015.

The book is 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works – A True Story. The author is Dan Harris, an ABC News anchor.

If you deal with stress, or negative voices in your head, you simply must read this fun book. It will change how you approach business, and how you look at life.

Here are few notes I took:

-We are always hurtling through the day, checking things off our lists, constantly picturing completion, instead of calmly and carefully enjoying the actual process.

-In a world where everything is constantly changing, we suffer because we cling to things that won’t last.

-Mindfulness represents an alternative to living REACTIVELY.

-When you meditate, you get a glimpse of what the mind is actually doing, as in, we are getting a real, close intimate look at what our lives are actually about.

-The power of creating actual space between stimulus and response.

-We are dominated by “if only” thoughts. Thus, the pursuit of happiness becomes the source of our, well, unhappiness.

You can find the book here:
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story

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Curation is the best part of the web!

I’ve written about this before, and I’ll say it again: curation is the best part of the web. Two thoughts:

Intrepid, intrepidNOW, Todd Schnick1. The most value I get from the internet is benefitting from the act of generous others who spend serious time curating and collecting amazing content that I can consume – and don’t have to spend the time looking or searching for. This is one way I achieve my continuing education.

2. You should be curating. You should collecting content/ideas/art/media to share with (and teach) your specific audience. The social web is designed for this, and yet most people suck at it. This is a critical part of your sales process.

Here is what I will be doing differently with my curating:

For a year or two now, I’ve been sending out a semi-regular email listing 10-15 articles and links I find interesting and of potential benefit to my audience.

And whilst I enjoyed this process, and did receive a lot of positive feedback on it, I just don’t have to time to do this anymore. I am traveling more. I am busting at the seams launching intrepidNOW. And too busy creating my own content to take this extra step.

But here is what I plan to do: Share relevant articles to my Intrepid Media page: YOU CAN FIND THAT HERE.

There, I will do two things: One, share interesting and relevant articles that I think you will enjoy and learn from. And two, of course, continue to share the content me and my team are creating.

Note: you should really be checking out intrepidNOW’s guest contributors. They are the best part of what my new network is all about. And there is some killer stuff there.

So, although I am setting aside my curated email distribution, I will still be reading. A lot. But from now on, I will just share interesting stuff direct to the Intrepid Facebook page. And yes, this will become a killer archive that I intend to refer back to often!

I hope you will too…

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Here is Intrepid’s Facebook page again!

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How important is respect in #sales?

IMG_3766I got disrespected today. Had an appointment scheduled, and the fellow bailed (by a phone call from the assistant) fifteen minutes before the meeting.

I had already showered, shaved, dressed, and driven all the way to the destination.

Ouch.

Well, as you all know, this stuff happens. It’s all part of business.

But I’ll tell you what: I deleted the opportunity from my CRM as soon as I got back to my office. With malice. My time is too important to me. I have too many meaningful things to accomplish. Too much creative to focus on. And there’s nothing I detest more than to have my time wasted.

So yeah, I was feeling disrespected.

Which, naturally, got me thinking. How important is respect in the sales process?

How many deals are killed because someone is disrespected? On either side of the sales equation?

Are you respecting their time? Are you respecting their back story? Are you respecting their intellect? Are you respecting their office politics? Are you respecting their financial situation? And heck, are you respecting what’s going on in their personal lives (which clearly impacts how they act at the office)?

I mean, if a prospect isn’t returning your call, it is more likely because his daughter is home sick with the flu and he is exhausted, tired, and behind schedule, than because your product demo was subpar.

It’s all about respect.

And in my view, the mark of a good salesman is that he/she is aware of the complete picture, that they are aware of all the variables, and most importantly, cognizant of the things you don’t know about that are very likely impacting your specific sales opportunity.

You have to anticipate things that affect the potential deal, and respect that the fellow on the other end of the phone is dealing with them.

When you show that respect, this demonstrates that ultimately you will be a good partner. Having and demonstrating respect is a critical element to moving the opportunity forward.

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Making Facebook worth my time again

Todd SchnickI don’t want to like Facebook. I really don’t. There are things about it that really bother me.

But as someone said recently, “After Facebook, the next biggest digital thing out there is, well, the internet.”

Sadly, (kinda) true. And our modern reality.

Full disclosure: I do like the fact that I can keep an eye on friends and family, and see what they are up to. I do enjoy that. But the real reason I continue to invest in Facebook is that it continues to be the largest driver of traffic to my various websites.

And that’s a reality I cannot ignore.

This was on my mind recently when I had a birthday, and as expected, I received several hundred birthday greetings from people I am connected to. For this, I am always grateful. But when I was scrolling through and looking at the greetings, I didn’t know who some of those people were.

And this bothered me.

Of course, there are platforms where I prefer to connect with people I do NOT know: namely LinkedIn and Twitter. And of course, over time, my strategic position on utilizing a specific social network is ever-evolving. But with Facebook, I want a more intimate connection to a contact.

Now, I am NOT saying that I don’t like to mix business and pleasure on Facebook. In fact, a growing amount of the connections I regularly interact with are business contacts: clients, partners, associates, and yes, prospects. I rather enjoy interacting with prospects on Facebook: it is the BEST way to observe who they are, what they do, and what they care about.

That is, in fact, the best part of Facebook: my intelligence gathering mechanism.

And then recently, to complicate my thinking (in a good way), Robert Scoble, a gentleman I’ve interviewed before, put out a post that made me rethink some of my tactical moves on Facebook. [You can find that here]

Now, it’s true: I used to operate from the position that it was more impressive to an audience that I have a lot of friends on Facebook. The social proof thing. So, I made it a point to connect with lots of people.

But today, I no longer care about that. Instead, I want meaningful interaction with people that I do care about.

So, you will notice that I’ve removed a bunch of people as friends. These are people that when I looked at their name, I didn’t know who they were. Or, I couldn’t recall why I was connected to them in the first place. Finally, on rare occasion, the relationship was no longer important to me.

If that’s you, well, I am sorry. Clearly you haven’t been engaging with me on the platform (or I with you…).

I’ve implemented several of Scoble’s tactical moves suggested in the link above. And I can already see a difference in my feed.

On the whole, I am spending less and less time on Facebook. Mainly because I am just so busy with other things (like running and growing my business).

But when I am there, I want the time to be meaningful. I want to engage better with close friends and family. I want to engage better with current clients. And, I am not afraid of saying, I want to engage better with future business contacts.

Facebook isn’t going anywhere. And every day, I see signs that it will continue to become more fully embedded into the fabric of our daily lives. Can anyone say Instant Articles, as well as the EXPLOSION in people viewing video content on FB? And yes, I am trying to understand the implications of all the media I am producing out of intrepidNOW, and how that might get more integrated into FB.

Thusly, I aim to maximize this platform as best I can. You should focus on that as well.

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Another benefit to podcasting (Hint: #Sales)

I wanted to let you in on another amazing benefit to being a podcaster: An impactful way to get to know your prospect!

smallThis morning, I have a scheduled phone call with a prospect, where we will be discussing the creation of a new intrepidNOW leadership development series. [You can find my other series here]

I interviewed her a few weeks back, and was fascinated by her message, approach, and methodology. And so, I proposed exploring the creation and launch of a new series, and that dialog begins today.

So, as I do before all my calls of this nature, I prepare.

Sure, there are lots of ways to prepare for a call like this: review their website, do some deep thinking and prepare some notes, watch their videos, read their writings, etc.

But I get a special leg up. I get to listen to MY OWN podcast with this person. I get to hear how she thinks, how she presents, and most importantly, discern how she interacts WITH ME.

I don’t have to tell you that this is invaluable.

So, as I pause to write this post, it is nearly two hours to game time, and I am quietly walking around the house listening to my interview.

What a great way to connect at a meaningful level to my prospect. Sort of a (secret) way to get inside her head as I prepare for our conversation.

No doubt that podcasting yields all kinds of business benefits: market education, content strategy, search engine chum, and high-powered networking.

And although I’ve utilized this ability to listen to my prospect’s interviews before, I don’t think I’ve written about it here.

So, that’s all, I just wanted to share this little benefit with you. Because if I haven’t yet convinced you of the power of podcasting, I hope this idea will push you down the field a few yards more…

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