Monday, December 22, 2008

Ho Ho Holidays

It is the time for miracles. People smile, laugh and generally are in good moods during the holidays. We all eat too much, drink too much, laugh too hard, and then come, January resolve to take all the pounds we gained off.

This holiday season look around to see who you can give a smile to, who you can make laugh, who you can help, and who you can share your goodwill with.

I wish you all a holiday season filled with gratitude for what you have, desire to earn what you want, and passion to share your talents with all around you. May you have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Years and all the other national holidays there are this season!

Anne Warfield

Pleasantville, is not a place but a way of doing business

Well you have probably been wanting to know the sequel to my Ultimate Electronics purchase. Did it really all turn out well?

On Thursday Josh Aubart drove the TV out to our house to personally set it up. He brought the audio guy, Ryen with him so Ryen could set up the audio for us.(Remember the audio was not included in the hook up.) They precede to set up the TV, Blue Ray, Bose and Cable. When I ask if my Ipod can be hooked up as well, they gladly tackle that challenge. Matter-of-fact, Ryen says, "this is fun. I love a challenge!"

Once they have it all hooked up, they look down at the four remotes we will be left with. They shake their heads and say, "do you really want to work with four remotes? We have a cool Logitech remote that we can program to do everything with one touch of a button. If you want we will run back to the store, pick it up and drive back out to program it for free. Usually the programing of this remote is $100." (Okay by now you are figuring this remote does all but make you French Toast in the morning.)

It sounds cool so we go for it. They drive all the way back to the store, buy the remote and bring it back to program it. They are smiling, whistling, and telling us they are "off work" so they don't mind doing this for us after hours.

Okay, so I have gone from "I will never step foot in there again" to "I have got to let people know about this." So if you too are looking for a great home theatre set up or audio set up, I encourage you to call the Ultimate Electronics in Edina Minnesota and ask for Josh Aubart. No matter where you are I bet he will take care of you! Pleasantville does exist and I love it!!

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pleasantville Lives: Ultimate Electronics Has Customer Service That Truly Warms You

10 years ago I walked in to an Audio King Store. Three sales people stood chewing gum behind a counter. One yelled out, "Can I help you?" I walked over to the counter, told him what I needed and watched him laugh, look at his two co-workers and say, "sweetheart good luck finding that!" Needless to say in 10 years I have never stepped foot back in one of their stores.

10 years of business lost due to one sales person.

So yesterday, my husband and I went to our favorite electronic store. On Sunday they had run an ad for a big screen TV, blue ray player and set up. We decided that would be our Christmas Present to each other along with surround sound. When we got to the store the sales person said, "we are out of that TV.We have been out of that TV for months. I don't know why corporate even ran that ad. I have a waiting list of 7 people and I don't even think they will get the deal so I wouldn't even put you on the list. We do have other TVs if you would like to look at them." It felt like the old bait and switch. It didn't feel good.

When we got back home my husband went on line to see if any one else would offer the same deal. He called Ultimate Electronics (used to be Audio King) and Josh said he had one TV and that he would beat the other company's deal by $50. So my husband dragged me out with him. I went dreading the experience because I knew what it was like 10 years ago but I would sacrifice because I really wanted the TV. On the way we joked that they would probably tell us that one TV sold in the half hour it took us to get there and they would try to sell us another TV.

We get to the Ultimate Electronics in Edina and there are two guys out front shoveling. Both say, "Merry Christmas" to us. When we walk in all the sales people are smiling and saying hello. We ask for Josh and a guy that had his coat on, turns around and says, "that's me." We explained we were the ones that just called him and he said, "that's right! I remember you wanted the TV with the blue ray player. Let's go look at it." I said, we could work with someone else if he needed to be going and he said, "No I was just going to go out and help the guys shovel."

He brought us back and showed us the TV and the blue ray player. He then asked if we had a surge protector for our new TV set. When we said no he showed us options. No high pressure. Just told us what he liked and why. Then I mentioned surround sound. He asked how big our room was and if we had any specific needs with surround sound. When my husband said "wireless" Josh said, "I have two options for you." He brought us over and showed us the Bose systems.

Now I am adding up in my mind how our purchase is growing. So I said, "I realize you only have 18 month financing but if we can do 36 month we will do the surround sound." He comes back with the 36 month financing. As he is adding up our purchase, he ask me when I want delivery. Now I am used to being told when I can get delivery and making a choice of those dates, not selecting a date that fits me. I asked him what they had available. Josh said they could send one out from the warehouse on Friday, but if I wanted it sooner he would personally drive one out from the store to my house. He also labeled all the cables for us so we would know how to hook them up. Then he gave us his card and said if we needed any assistance to hook up the surround sound (the TV hook up is being done by their company but they don't hook up the surround sound) he would personally come out and hook it up for us.

I took a look around. Did I fall into the rabbit hole like Alice? Was I back in 1960 when customer service truly meant making the customer successful rather than just satisfying the customer?

Josh went on to tell us that at the store they insist who ever is available answer the phone rather than have it go to a "for electronics hit one, for cameras hit two..." system.

All I have to say is, "WOW" I went from, I will never step foot in here again to I want to try this again and see if this miracle is not a miracle but truly a company's dedication to servicing the customer. Josh, my hat is off to you! Thanks for a Winter Wonderland Experience!

Anne Warfield

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cliff Clavin or Thomas Edison: Which are you?

The standing joke on Cheers was Cliff Clavin spewing forth some unknown fact. He knew something about everything. One of those people that would talk your ear off while leaving you bored to tears.

On the flip side, you have Thomas Edison- a man who tinkered with everything from light bulbs to phonographs to create new products and services. He held a record 1093 patents! This is a man that took any bit of knowledge he had and put it to good use.

So here is my question for you, which are you? Cliff Clavin- you know a lot but don't necessarily do anything with it? Or Thomas Edison- where you put to use what you know immediately?

I see the difference between these two types of people in our programs. The Cliff Calvin's are excited to learn and years later they can recite all they learned but they aren't doing anything differently because of what they learned. The Thomas Edison's quiz you in class and when you talk to them years later they have not only implemented what they learned but they have modified and adapted it to fit them and their situation.

Take Action: May you make 2009 a year in which you are a Thomas Edison who constantly adds value to all you touch!

Anne Warfield

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Job Performance: Is Your's Worthy of an Encore?

Is your performance worthy of an encore?

An encore is something we only ask for if the performance we have seen or experienced overwhelms us, moves us, and we want more of it. In Mark Sanborn’s new book, the Encore Effect he asks, is your job performance worthy of an encore?

In other words, do people come back and only want you? Does your boss think you do such a great job that she gives you new challenging projects? Do your clients love you so much and feel your quality that price is not an issue?

No matter what you do in life you should do it with passion, gusto, and to the best of your ability. You should be constantly stretching what you do and how you do it.

I have a friend, Nido Qubein, who says that “excellence is what you strive for; it is the base from which you work.” In other words give your all at all times.

When someone does that we stop and notice. Whether it be an athlete, a grocery store clerk, a traffic cop or a co-worker. It is the one ingredient that makes people unstoppable.

Take Action: Take time today to excel. With each thing you do make it just 5% better. If you do that every day you will improve significantly by the end of the year. If you struggle with this, stop and list all the objections and then take each one and resolve it. You will find that the vast majority of objections are things we hide behind rather than being real blockers.

Go forth and get your Encore Performance today!

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Execution: Do your policies endear your clients or do your clients endure your policies

My two girls belong to a dance studio. Love the teachers. Love the center. Hate their communication execution.

Every month they send me a reminder to pay tuition even though I paid both girl's tuition in full for the full year. Each month the reminder comes with a late fee on it even though it is the first time you are receiving it. When I emailed them to say I paid in full and please stop sending me the emails, they responded, "It is a general email we send to all parents. Just delete it each month you receive it." Now really, do you want your customer annoyed each month they get the email from you?

Each year they tack on new payments for costumes, recital, etc. Each year it is about the same amount. Why not bundle it ahead and let parent's pay one payment and be done with it? I asked if I could pay the tuition, costume and recital all together but was told they couldn't process it so I had to wait until they invoiced for costumes and recitals before I could pay for those. With how I travel that means I may miss the week they send the notice home and then my kids are told they are "late" with the payment.

Really, let's be clear here. As the customer, I am trying to give them my money EARLY so I am all paid up and they are telling me it is not "convenient" for their processes.

So I ask you, are your policies endearing your clients to you or are they enduring your policies? If they are enduring your policies then you are prime for them to have one little thing send them over the edge and you lose their business for ever. For this little dance studio, figuring that each girl dances for about 10 years, that means a $14,000 dollar loss if the business of two dancers walks away.

Take Action: Take a moment to look at your policies from your client's eyes, not yours. Get rid of any that make it hard for your client to do business with you.

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What does Winter, Pro Sports and Magicians have in common?

Renew. Regrowth. Repair. That is what nature uses winter for. Just like all good things you need time off to fix, change or finesse what you are doing so you come out at a higher level. It is not enough during times like this, to just put your nose to the grindstone and work harder. When you are doing that, your vision is limited because it only sees what is right in front of your nose.

Instead you have to operate like a magician. You need to see what others don't. You need to open your eyes so you see more. You need to move so the view you take in is different. You need to use the time, like a professional athlete. During their "off season" they work on perfecting their game, not just being in the game.

So take this winter to reinvent, repair, and recharge so you are renewed for the new year! May you have many blessings this holiday season and may you notice and appreciate them!

Anne Warfield

Monday, December 1, 2008

Economy or Creativity? Which is it?

Wii. IPhone. ITouch. Rock Band. Last year brought us novel and new gifts we had to get our hands on. We didn't want to be left behind or to have our children left behind.

So what is new this year? Nothing. There is really no new gift that we have to have. In today's economy that is a death knoll. Even TVs aren't flying this year as many people are choosing until February to see what happens with HDTV before they buy a new TV.

Unfortunately I think many people will look at the slowing sales this Christmas and say it is due to the economy. I think that innovation is as much at fault. I found last years Best Buy ads for December under a pile of magazines at my house (okay so know you have an idea of how good of a house cleaner I am!) and I started to thumb through them to see what items were new. Unfortunately if I put last year's ads down next to this year, you would be hard pressed to tell which was from 2007 and which was from 2008.

So, in today's times, let's not lose our opportunity to be innovative and creative. The time is now to re-invent you , your business, and your life! Don't become stale like this year's Christmas offerings!

Action Plan: Look at what you have done in the last 90 days to change your routine, improve your processes or re-invent you! Challenge yourself to change three things over the next 30 days and see what happens.

Anne Warfield

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Get Introspection You need Retrospection

Sometimes you need to look in the rearview mirror in order to adjust your forward direction. The tough part is knowing when to look and how to interpret the view so you can be more effective as you move forward.

If you haven't read the book 5 People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Bloom, I recommend you do but not for the reason you might think. It is not because it is a literay work of genius but because it is a book that challenges perceptions. The lead character goes to heaven and meets 5 people. Each person shows him an event from his life and they give him a new perspective on it. He in turn sees how much of his life was shaped, not by what happened, but by how he interpreted what happened.

After reading the book, take some time to jot down events that have happened to you at work, at home or growing up. Check out what meaning you have applied to those events and how it has shaped the choices you make today. Then take all of the events that are holding you captive and try to spin a new way of looking at the event so you can learn from it. This is how you use retrospection to get better introspection.

The rearview mirror is a handy tool if you know how to use it well. You don't want to live there, but you need to grow from there.

Don't let the past hold you captive. Instead be defined by your future.

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Doom and Gloom or Chance to Advance?

Your brain has a tiny region called the Basal Ganglia that loves to repeat negative messages over and over. It is your panic center. For many people, that region of the brain is running rampant now as they look at the economy and think, "doom and gloom."

Here is the rub- when that part of your brain kicks in it SHUTS DOWN your part of the brain that is your executive reasoning. It actually stops you from being creative, calm and thinking through things logically.

So, if you believe the doom and gloom, then it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy for you. You will look for ways to protect, defend, and stop losses. What you won't do is look for gains, ways to explode and ways to create big wins.

So be rational, realistic and opportunistic during these times. For these are the times that define who we are and what we can become!

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Never Let Anyone Tell You It Can't Be Done!

Whether your person got voted in today or not, you were an important part of history. No matter which way the race would have gone we were rewriting how the future will be.

Never again will a person say "a black man can't be President." The more hurdles we cross the less barriers we have.

I remember learning how no one could run the four minute mile and doctors said t was impossible. And then one man dared to defy the trend and ran a 4 minute mile. Within a year tons of people ran a 4 minute mile. All they needed was one person to break through so they could see it happen.

So no matter who you voted for, this is a time to think about what challenges you need to break out of and use this time to make it your year!!

Anne Warfield,

Monday, November 3, 2008

How Much Is Miscommunication Costing You?

In today's market you need to be astute about where you spend your money. You can't afford to spend it on something that won't give a good return.

At times like these, it seems most logical to spend your money on sales and marketing solely in order to drive business. Words like "cost cutting" run rampant through organizations.

But there is another way to look at it. Look at what it is costing you to NOT have good processes and communication in place.

Here are some startling statistics recent research has showed that large organizations lose $62M a year in employee "misunderstandings." Confusion on company policy, processes and job functions get really expensive! 89% of pharmaceutical companies say this is causing them reduced productivity and 52% OF Petrochemical companies say is causing them health and safety compliance problems.

In other words, what employees can't understand, they can not execute on. This means it is imperative at this time that your employees have a universal culture that shows them how to communicate positively, think proactively, and execute professionally! Outcome Thinking is a great way for you to change your culture and save money! You can start simply by getting your team the Outcome Thinking book and use it as a weekly "change our culture" meeting. Every week take a new chapter and go through the exercises as a group to start transforming your culture and save you money!

Anne Warfield

Shift Paradigms To Shift Thinking

To Shift means to move over. We have a close election here and each candidate is doing what they can to shift our thinking. McCain is trying to do it by talking about "Maverick." He wants us to NOT associate him with President Bush. Obama is tying to do it by talking about "change." He wants us to see that it is a chance to get some new direction.

Now one of the things at the core is taxes. You hear people up in arms and fighting about who should be paying what taxes, when and how the wealth should be distributed. That would be a prime situation where a candidate would want to use a story or anecdote to get us to see their side of the equation.

Here is an example of what McCain could be using: "Who should pay taxes and what is fair is on the minds of all Americans today. I am for keeping taxes as they are or reducing them even. Now my opponent says that is not fair. That those who make over $250,000 should pay a higher percent taxes than those that make less. The theory being that the wealth should be redistributed. Let's take that theory and apply it to another situation. Imagine your child comes home from school. He has worked hard to achieve grades of As. But the teacher feels it is not fair that some kids get As while other kids don't. After all, not all kids have the same brainpower, not all kids have parents that work with them on their home work and not all kids have a great home environment to encourage studying. Therefore, the teacher is going to redistribute some of your child's points to other kids so your child will now go from an A to a B. Would you, as a parent, vote for that or would you fight it?"

You can see how the example used can shift our paradigm from seeing it as a "tax issue" to seeing it in a new light.

As a leader you want to take controversial points and issues and always anchor them with a unique twist that gets your audience seeing them in a new light.

Take ACTION: Look at a point that clients or prospects challenge you on about your company and twist it with a great story or anecdote that brings it to a new light. For leaders, take a company initiative or change you want in place and think of an anecdote that will fit and shift the thinking!

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What is the difference between judgment and judgmental?

I often get asked if we are judgmental by nature. My answer is "no, but we are protective by nature." This means that everything we do or say we filter through how it affects us. If the impact is going to be negative our behavior tries to protect us and stops us from doing what is requested of us.

For leaders to be effective they need to learn the difference between judgment and judgmental. Let's move away from dictionary answers to the words and instead look at the emotional answers to the words.

Judgment is good. It is what allows you to see right from wrong, good from bad. It is the moral compass that keeps you from stealing and lying. With Outcome Thinking you never suspend judgment but you do suspend judgmental thinking.

Judgmental is when you inflict your opinion or belief on to another person and decide you know why they did what they did. This usually happens because our brain is wired to automatically think "now why would I do that if I was that person?" But as we teach in our classes, that is erroneous thinking that will cause you to have a judgmental conversation with a person and shut them down.

In order to have a good healthy discussion with a person you do want to have good judgment but suspend being judgmental.

Anne Warfield,

Does Your Conversation Bring Barriers Up Or Down?

Avoidance. That is the biggest word we hear from leaders when they talk about having to deal with conflict.
Repetitive. That is the second word we hear from leaders as they tell us they are tired of having the same discussion over and over again without getting results.

So what can you do to change that? Is there a way to converse with someone that gets lasting results?

In IMP's Conflict Harmonizer that is exactly what we show you how to do. In order to speak differently though you need to learn why your brain listens, responds, and reacts to what it hears. I won't go in depth on that here but I will give you an example so you can see it in action and reflect on your conversations in order to make changes.

Let;s look at an example: You are stressed out with a lot on your plate. You have 10 people on your direct team. Most work independently and just keep you in the loop on what they are working on. For the most part your team are doers that get things done. Mary, one of your team members, comes to you and says, "I feel like you don't give enough direction. This causes me to waste time on projects because I am not sure which part I should work on first. I feel like if you gave more guidance I could be more effective but when I ask you for it you treat me like I can't do my job. I want to talk to you about this."

Now for just a moment check your immediate response. Did you immediately start thinking about what was on your plate that was making it hard to give more direction? Did your brain go to justifying that everyone else on the team is doing well without heavy guidance so it must be a problem with Mary? Did you start to wonder if Mary could do her job? In other words did you feel that Mary judged you in what she said in any way?

When we feel judged we automatically move to defensive thinking. All of the above statements are examples of defensive thinking. They are where our brain goes in order to protect ourselves when we feel someone is attacking us or what we are doing. None of them are conducive to a talk that will get to the core issues and beliefs that need to change in order for you to get the results you need.

The conversation Mary was having with you is one that is traditionally taught to us. With conflict we are taught to focus on how we feel and why we feel that way. This doesn't help you as it leads your brain to reach in and find ways to protect your position rather than remove the barriers so you can have a healthy discussion. So with traditional communication the dialogue ends up having you slip in comments that can make the other person feel attacked, blamed, or judged. When any of those happen the other person stops listening and just moves to protecting themselves. In other words, a conversation will happen but no lasting change will take place because each person has their brain energy invested in holding on to their own position.

This is why a majority of leaders we work with have repeat conversations with employees about their performance. What you say each time never sinks in long-term but instead falls in to the "protection void" and the person keeps repeating that same behavior until you either let it slide or your fire them. IMP's Conflict Harmonizer Experience is all about how to have those gutsy talks so they take root rather than flight!

So let's take the same conversation and apply the Outcome Thinking Method to see how you can think and speak in a way that removes the automatic barriers in order to get to core beliefs and lasting changes without judgment. Imagine your reaction if Mary had instead come in and said, "One of the challenges I have given myself is to be more effective with what I do and how I do it. One of the things you are great at with your team is giving us autonomy to do things independently. One of the things I have noticed about me is that I produce more when I have some more guidance so I stay focused right away. What I would like to brainstorm with you are ways I can get that guidance while still fitting in to the autonomy you like us to all have. I know you have a lot on your plate and I would like to be more useful in getting things done for you."

Notice in this conversation Mary never blames you, makes you feel attacked or undermines your authority. Instead she is realistic about herself, you and the role she can play. She put things in terms of benefits for you and team more than she did about herself. She also stated that she wants to figure out how to get that guidance without disrupting your natural leadership style. This shows you respect for you while still staying focused on the outcome desired- to produce better work faster.

Outcome Thinking is a skill that allows you to get rid of judgmental statements that become the clogs in our communication. It eradicates the anger and frustration that can shut a team down, cause silos in your company, and cause leaders to not come to conclusive decisions.

TAKE ACTION: Practice with your next conversation to make sure that you are focusing it proactively for the other person. Start with the point of agreement, move to the desired change, and then the roadmap of how to get there. You will find you can have more robust discussions without tears, anger or frustration!

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Finding Profits in a Down Turn Economy

Sharks hunt for prey by finding movement in the water or blood. In today's economy you can often find people mistakenly adopt a "shark" sales mentality. They feel they need to circle out there and surround customers by getting to them first. First smell of blood in the water and they go for it.

You can see this in the way traditional sales is set up for questioning. Think back to the last three sales calls you either gave or received. If you are like most of our clients, they describe an "awkward period" where questions were volleyed out left and right as the sales person tried to make a connection and to find out a need they could solve. During this process both parties sit back and warily circle each other. Much like the shark in the water.

It doesn't need to be that way. There is a way to sell and service clients that doesn't require the leery circling of each other. There is a way to become a trusted partner. It requires a different way of thinking, listening, and speaking though. You can't be transactional and just pound with questions. The prospect knows where you are going with this and they don't appreciate being the worm on the hook to lure the shark. Oh, wait, to them you are the shark!

There is another bad point to the pounding of questions- it has been proven that when clients become confused or upset, they choose to stay "status quo." That means even though you may have a better deal they will stay with their present deal or pain because it seems easier to them.

Your job is not to sell. Your job is to help them make a choice that will propel their company forward. This means you need to know how to build rapport, threadline your questions and facts, and focus the energy in the room by excavating in a whole new way.

Try this, write out the questions you usually ask clients. Then play Devil's Advocate. Change the product or service you are selling and then ask the questions out loud to yourself. Do they make you feel cornered, pressured, or dumb? Or do they focus on driving the customer to your solution versus digging to find out what their problem is? If so, you are asking attack "solution" questions. You want to ask ProbeQs™ that draw people in, give them control, and bring out their wisdom and insight at the same time they enlighten them.

Think of it this way, imagine you go to see a doctor about a heart problem. Would you want a doctor that had a treatment in mind and they just asked you questions to draw you toward doing that solution or would you prefer a doctor that listened, and then asked probing questions to first determine if you even have a heart problem before they even talked to you about a solution? So if we prefer, the second scenario, why do companies keep equipping their sales people with sales strategies that teach them how to find how their solution can fit a client but not the deeper pain that could lead to a lasting partnership? We just got a call the other day from a client that reduced their sales cycle by 70% by flipping to the Outcome Focus™ Approach to Sales Excavation. The best part she said was that she never felt like she was selling; she was just helping the client.

TAKE ACTION: Try changing your list to make it more inviting, intriguing and more centered on the clients problem, not your solution.

Anne Warfield,

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Do They Still Want the Presidency?

Controversial title, eh? What would cause me to even put that in a blog?

It was interesting watching the debates Tuesday. Of course there were rules that impacted that ability of the two speakers to address each other and to address the crowd. Rules such as that they couldn't come within 6 feet of each other.

As I watched the debates I thought at times McCain won and at times Obama won. I don't think it was a clear hands down for either of them.

But what really struck me was where they both struggled. During the talks on the financial dilemma in our country, they each had times they stuttered, stammered, missed words, switched the mike in their hands and blinked-- all signs that they were struggling with the questions and their answers. It got me also thinking, do either of them want this mess we are in? Do either of them truly feel they can positively impact it or are they just hopeful?

I asked myself, "are we seeing these troubling body language and speaking signs from them because they are now questioning what they got in to?" Neither of them had strong confident body language as they talked about our economy and what needs to happen.

When you saw each of them pause and grasp for words, that means their brain was trying to wrap around the question and come to a conclusion they were comfortable with. Yet neither was able to do just that.

So here is your thought for the day: When have you been in a stumbling spot? How do you train your brain, and yes it is a training of the brain, to handle difficult questions and reach for the proactive solution? When you stumble or trip on your words what comes across is a lack of confidence and leadership.

In this debate, I would say neither candidate won or lost. I would say, as a nation, we need to keep our eyes wide open. Click here to see how you can get your hands on a FREE body language DVD so you can read the candidates body language.

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What Happens If You Get Promoted Too Early? Can It Hurt You?

By now you have probably been watching the debates and watching each of the candidates and their running mates speak. For you, it is a great opportunity to learn as a leader of what works and does not work. As you read my notes here I recommend you go to YouTube and watch the actual video yourself so you can compare and contrast what I am sharing here.

Let's take a moment to look at the interview with Sarah Palin and Katie Couric. Let's put all political party feelings aside as well as what you feel or think about a woman becoming vice president as that can skew how we hear information. Instead let's strictly look at it from a person who has been promoted and now has to demonstrate they have the learning and experience as a leader to hold that position.

Sarah Palin has been thrust in the public eye in a short amount of time. I think any one of us would agree that would be unsettling and tough for any one. She is a strong and confident woman that has handled a lot of tough issues in her life and come out on top. Now she is being asked to take the role of Vice President and possibly President, if any thing were to happen to John McCain. This means that the public is going to be scrutinizing her, not through the job she currently has as the Governor of Alaska, but instead as if she were the Vice President of the United States of America. She is under a magnifying scope that will accent all her words, phrases, and actions to the nth degree.

So step back from the politics and let's look at it from a business prospective. Imagine that your company has promoted someone to the second rank position that formerly was a manager of a large area but had not been involved in the inner workings of the corporate office. For sure you would be looking to see what qualifies her or him to hold this position. Because there is already doubt there you would be looking for if their walk and talk match. You want to see the proof in the pudding.

So how would it come off, if this person made strong statements but couldn't give facts to back them? If this person, said they could do corporate work but had no facts to back it?

See I believe it is not that people won't give her a chance. In a way coddling her and holding her back from interviews has hurt her. People already assumed that meant the McCain party didn't trust she could do the job either. For the public, the assumption then becomes the reality. So we are looking for a bit of humility, a learning curve, a confidence to not try to have all the answers but instead a willingness to explore options.

What is tripping her up are her strong statements that she can then not support. Take Katie asking her about the bailout and Sarah saying, "The interesting thing in the last few days that I have seen is that the American People are waiting to see what John McCain is going to do about this proposal, they are not waiting to see what Barak Obama's gonna do. Is he going to do this (wiggle of her finger) and just see the political wind boy. They are waiting to see if John McCain will be able to see these amendments implemented in Paulson's proposal."

Immediately, Katie jumped on, "Why do you say that people are waiting for McCain and not Obama." She went on to quote the polls, to which Palin said she isn't looking at poll numbers."

Here is the bottom line: If you are promoted as a leader too early, you do need to show your chops. HOWEVER, you also have to show humility in learning along the way. You need to show that you are learning and staying proactive. This is not the time to make charged statements.

Let's go back to the Business example I gave. Would you want someone like that to come in, tell you all you did wrong and realign your department? Or would you want them to talk to you about their vision without bashing your past? Would you want them to show they had strength and resilience and they still expected to learn from those around you?

Go back to the Couric interview and look how if Palin had omitted that entire quote I put above, the interview would have gone on without a blip. Or better yet, what if she had said, "America is waiting for strong leadership and now is the time we need it." You would have felt her strength, her conviction, and her implication, not stated, that she and McCain would be that leadership. Remember reporters are looking for a story. So if you won't give them one, they will create one with what you say. Therefore, as a leader you need to be cognizant and not cocky about what you say and how you say it. You need wisdom and humility when you speak.

Now some people say, these attacks on Palin are not fair because the same media attack has not been done with Joe Bidden. And..your right. It hasn't. However, Joe Bidden since he was elected, has been out front, giving speeches, and fulfilling his duties right up front. There was no feeling that he had to be protected or "learn his role" before he could fulfill it. We saw him accept his role and begin campaigning.

Also, Palin is in a unique spot because she is such an unknown, a leader without broad experience, and a woman. People are fascinated and drawn to her like a moth to fire. With that comes a responsibility to realize that you will be in a bubble.

So here is the lesson as a leader. Yes you will be held to higher standards, as you should be. A leader is suppose to be a person we can learn from and emulate. If you are promoted too early, realize that and instead of trying to defy it, embrace it. Use your uniqueness, your talents, and skills that got you to where you are.

Anne Warfield,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Succinct or Eloquence? Which will win over your listener?

Succinct or Eloquent? Which is the better way to speak?

Perhaps the better question is, what impression do each leave you with? In order to know which one you want to use and when, you have to know what impact each way of speaking has on your listener.

If you watched 60 minutes last night, you got to see both succinct and eloquence at work. McCain was succinct while Obama was eloquent. Both show strong leadership but the way of speaking leaves you with a difference about how they will lead.

My blog here is not to enforce one political opinion or another. I use politics because you most likely will be able to see and watch these speeches so you can contrast and compare right along with me. So let's put politics aside and look at them only from how they speak and how they represents their leadership.

If you haven't watched the 60 minute review, click on this link to see it:

When you look at the questions put to McCain he is succinct in listing what he believes will be the differences in their styles, what he thinks is wrong in the economy and steps he would take to make changes such as putting Andrew Cuomo in to replace Christopher Cox. There is not too much grey to interpet there. There is an intensity that radiates from him with his blinking and tight lip line that endorses the succinct method. You get the sense that if you ask a tough question you better be prepared for a tough answer becuase he is not going to just soften it so you can swallow it better. In some instances it reminds me of Reagan's no nonsense responses.

On the flip side, when you watch Obama there is an inclusiveness in his speech and an eloquence that comes in the pattern and way he speaks. There tends to be more words used to get to the same response. Watch his video and look for the succinct answers to questions. Does he state definite policies or vague ideas? Does he name specific things he would do or suggest? His body language is not as intense either as he looks down, has a softer look to his eyes and a more introspective pose with his head leaning to one side. You get the sense that if you asked a tough question he would try to put it in a way that would be easiest for you to digest.

Both eloquence and succinct have their place in strong leadership. You need to be able to convey each at different times. Watch the two and compare and contrast their leadership style of speaking. Then ask which one's style you most closely resemble? What is good about that and what is bad? Do you know when to switch from eloquent to succinct?

Anne Warfield,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What does Sales have to do with the Gibson/Palin Interview?

If you have ever wanted to learn how to be a better sales person, then just watch the Charles Gibson/Sarah Palin interview. It is a classic example of what can happen to make an interview or "sale" go south fast.

First of all, you probably noticed that, for the most part, Charlie Gibson's body language was condescending. The way he slouched in his chair, looked over his eye glasses, brought his finger tips together, blinked his eyes and then asked pointed questions all gave an impression of "come here my little sweetie" like the Wicked Witch of the West. But let's be real, that is often the body language a sales person runs up against when they go on a sales call. You often find the client is uptight, feeling put upon and trying to find fault with what you say or do. That is because they often feel trapped by you.

So what did Sarah Palin do that showed she fell in to the same trap that most sales people do?

1. Each question and challenge that Gibson put up she had an answer for. In sales, this is known as the client throwing up objections and the sales person having pat answers. The more pat answers you have the less the client trusts you and the harder they then try to dig and find more objections or ways to trip you up. Gibson did exactly that with Palin. The more she defended an answer the more he would dig for a controversial root.

Remember in sales that the goal is to connect with the other person, not to "sell" them on your product or service. Just watch the interview and you will see how each side escalated the tension by following the old "sales" format.

2. The tension she was feeling was seen in her body language. As the interview progressed Palin moved to more fists, the "prayer" point with her hands, a lifting of her right lip as in a snarl, a tight narrowing of her eyes (especially her left eye) and a tightening of her mouth. All of these gestures showed her anger, frustration and attempt to maintain control.

Sales people do the same things with clients. As clients ask more intense questions and they don't seem to just accept your pat answers, many sales people move to a combative and angry body language. This happens because your brain is aligned with trying to "sell" the client on your idea or service and you become frustrated that they won't just "get it."

3. Palin interrupted Gibson. The more frustrated she got, the more she would interrupt what he said while he did the exact opposite and slowed his speech down. He repeated what she said almost "parroting" her. I see this often happen in sales as the sales person makes the classical mistake of trying to push their product or service on the customer by literally thinking "what answer will it take to make you buy?" For Palin you could see that her thoughts and body language were focused on "what do I need to say to get you to stop badgering me?"

In our Sales Excavation system we show you how this leads to a doomed sales cycle. You can see in Gibson/Palin interview there was no winner. One didn't end up looking good because they made the other look bad. Instead both walked away having left some of their own credibility and trust in the room when it should have stayed with them. You can't afford to know your product and service but not know how to connect, build rapport and build trust with others. 90% of all training for sales people is on product yet customers buy only 25% on product knowledge. So, what is the other 75% that influences their buying decision and are you trained in those influential areas? To me, you can't afford NOT to be trained in those areas or else you will be left behind much like what happened in this interview.

As a sales person and a leader I recommend you closely watch the debates to see how they align with sales and leadership skills. Does their body language match the message? Do they focus on the issues? Do they know how to connect with whom they are interviewing with? Do they know how to tell effective stories aligned with facts to move you or do they just try to rest on logic?

TAKE ACTION: Set up a camcorder and have someone ask you your toughest "client or prospect" questions. Then watch the tape to see if you made some of the same classic mistakes that Palin did or if you were able to turn it around.

Tune in next week to see how this interview could have been turned around and credibility gained rather than lost.

Anne Warfield,

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Getting Around Difficult People

We all have those people we work with that are difficult. They may irritate us with the way they talk, how they boss others around, how they stay negative or how they seem to only care about themselves.

Would you like to change that?

Of course we would. No one wants to be inflicted day in and day out with a person that is difficult. But have you ever asked yourself, "What may I be doing that is encouraging or allowing this person to do this?"

I had a CEO recently tell me that he had a person in his company that was controlling, difficult and annoying to work with. He said they had tried everything to turn her around but had no success. When I asked how long this had been going on, he said, "for over 20 years!"

Now that is a clue that something in your company is ALLOWING or even ENCOURAGING this person to continue with this behavior. If it wasn't it would have stopped by now.

Think about it, if there was no reward for this behavior why would you continue to do it? The pain of change is greater right now than the reward of continuing to behave in this way. We all behave in ways that we feel get us the result we want. That is why children throw temper tantrums and especially at prime embarrassing moments.

So if a child goes in a supermarket and throws a fit until Mom or Dad gives her the candy bar, the child learns that if I persist long enough I will get the reward. But if the Mom or Dad simply tells the child their behavior unacceptable and leaves the store promptly, the child learns that was not an effective way to get what I want.

Now this may mean pain for the parent because they may have to get a store person to put their groceries away and come back another time, but it sends the definite message that they will not tolerate the behavior.

But the lesson can't stop there! The parent then needs to tell the child what they did that was unacceptable, help the child with better ways to deal with their frustration and then explain what will happen in the future if this happens again.

This reinforces that this behavior will not be tolerated.

Okay so let's fast forward in to work. How many times have you stood firm on what you will and won't accept from this difficult person? What do you do that may be allowing this person to continue or even worse, be rewarded for their poor behavior?

For example, in most companies we have worked with they start to isolate the difficult person. They try to have them attend as few meetings as possible, stop asking them to participate in committees and minimize their work contact. Well, since that person is wanting to do things in their way on their time schedule, you just rewarded their behavior. They got left alone which is exactly what they wanted in the first place.

Take Action: Look at behavior in your area that you would like to see changed. Ask, what am I or my company doing that is allowing or encouraging this behavior? Then ask, what do I need to change in how I interact or handle this so it stops?

For some companies, this has meant to stop making exceptions for people, even if they are good performers but are disruptors to the corporate culture. You are better off without them then to have their difficult attitude rub off on others!

Anne Warfield,

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Circle of Life and Learning

In one day we had a death in the family, a birth of a new child and the birthday celebration of my own child. It just hit me how the cycle of life continues and we each play a different role in the cycle. We can get derailed by events or we can learn from them.

As you head through your day just stop and take a moment to ensure you are truly listening to all that goes around you; that you are fully participating in learning, growing and stretching yourself; and that you are celebrating all the little things around you.

Life is to be embraced, enjoyed, enriched, and entwined in our hearts and memories. May you make yours strong ones today!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Turning a Gas Guzzler in to a Bargain

The newest ads say you will not have to pay over $2.99 per gallon of gas for the next 3 years if you buy a new car from Chevrolet. Let's examine this deeper using Critical Thinking.

Car companies are struggling to sell their big gas guzzler cars as the price of gas continues to rise. People look at the price of gas, the cost to fill up the tank and they are saying, "enough!" So lots are piling up with hummers, SUVs and minivans that can't be moved. Rebates of $1,000- $4,000 dollars haven't been helping until someone figured out how to speak the consumer language.

Consumers dismissed the idea of rebates because their mind still said, "but I have to pay all the gas for that vehicle and it will be too expensive." So now they advertise that you will only pay $2.99 a gallon for the next three years up to the first 12,000 miles That captures people's attention.

Now let's compare that to a rebate.

If you take 12,000 miles and figure on the low end 15 miles per gallon for gas that comes to 800 gallons of gas. Gas is currently fluctuating between $3.89 to $4.60 per gallon of gas. So let's take the high of lowering gas from the present $4.60 per gallon down to $2.99 per gallon. That comes to $1.61 per gallon of gas. For 800 gallons that comes to only a savings of $1,288.

So imagine, the ad captures a person that is holding off because of the gas prices and now they feel they can afford it. Once they come in you show them the savings with the gas plan of $1,288 or you tell them they can go for a straight rebate of $3,500 which would, based on today's gas prices, have them getting their gas FREE for the first 12,000 miles if gas stays at $4.33 a gallon.

Hmm, get a small car and no rebate and still pay all that gas or get the bigger car and get FREE gas for the next three years.

Now of course there is always that conscious mind that we should be driving cars that are better for the environment but if you are a car company that is not your biggest concern right now. Your concern is getting rid of your excess stock without having people see it as a liability to them.

By looking at it from the consumers viewpoint you can see how to make the numbers and rebates tie to their current logic, not yours.

Take ACTION: Look at your current business. Is there something that is stopping the client from working with you? Can you rework, rephrase, or update it to show a whole new viewpoint?

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How to stop making bad decisions

Emotions make you act. Logic makes you think. Notice the order I put those in.

Most people think they act out of logic but the reality is that you act out of emotion and you justify your actions by logic.

Understanding this fact is key to your success in stopping making bad decisions. In order to make a good decision you need to manage the emotions rather than have them manage you. In order to do this you need to remove judgement from your thinking and get clarity on the facts.

1. Remove judgement by looking at the problem from ALL sides. Write down what you are thinking as you ponder the problem from your point of view, then from all other parties point of view. Put these written thoughts down in columns so you can see them side by side.

2. Next go through and cross out all opinions, and judgemental words so all you are left with is concrete fact.

3. Scan the facts from all angles. If you need to buy some distance and time from the problem so you can get clear thinking.

4. Write down possible solutions that each party would want. Again cross out any judgemental or assumptive words.

5. Look at it and try to come up with a solution that embraces all sides.

You will be surprised how often you cloud your judgement by being assumptive about why people do what they do or by taking a fact plus opinion and turning it in to a different fact.

Take this riddle for example: A father and son are rushed to the emergency room. The surgeon walks in and says "I can't operate. That is my son in there." Who is the surgeon?

Many people automatically say it is the father of the father or, in other words, the grandson. The correct answer is it is the boys mother. Now I know that is an old riddle but 20 years ago it stumped people because no one thought about the Mom being a surgeon. Today that is common place so that hopefully didn't stump you. The point is that clarity comes from stepping back and taking all the facts, laying them out and then seeing what conclusions can be drawn.

Take Action: This week take a problem you are facing and try this method to see if you can see new insights you didn't see before.

Anne Warfield,

Friday, May 23, 2008

Can you have high accountability if you don't have consequences?

"What should I do if the leaders in the company whom I need to make the decision come in late to the meeting?"

My question back to this was, "does this happen often or only with one person?" The entire group yelled out, "our whole company is run like that. Everyone comes late to meetings." That comment alone let's me know the corporate culture is one that talks about accountability but doesn't enforce it.

You can not have high accountability without having consequences. I don't believe in juvenile consequences like if you are late you have to sing, or if you are late you put money in a jar. Both of those consequences make people feel like kids and worse yet, if the late person can tolerate them there is no need to change their behavior.

Your consequences need to align with your corporate vision and goals. They need to be reinforced from the top on down.

There are far better ways to deal with this. The first thing I would look at is the blatant message people are sending that we have too many meetings that are not important so I can come late.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Review which meetings are relevant.
2. Keep your meetings tight and too the point.
3. Avoid "book report" meetings where people just recite what they are working on.
4. Start meetings right on time and end on time.
5. Tape the meeting and if a person misses the meeting or arrives late then have them stay after and listen to the tape. They soon get the idea that they will spend the 30 min regardless so being late is not an option.
6. Address chronic late people privately and immediately. Then be consistent with marking down the times they are late and have it be a part of their review. Let them know it is unacceptable to be late.

Remember there are times that people will legitimately be late. The goal is not to eliminate lateness completely but instead to make meetings engaging and effective so all want to participate.

Take Action: Look at what you can eliminate from your meetings to shorten them up and keep them on point.

Anne Warfield,

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How to stop "You never called me back"

The problem with follow up is most people don't know how to do it appropriately. So they end up playing tag and then wondering, "have I pestered this person too much?" The answer most likely is yes.

Not because you are calling them too much but because you never set the expectations upfront before emotions became attached. For example, imagine that you have a conversation with Joe and you end it with, "so Joe, when should we touch base?" Joe says, "I will call you next week." That is usually where the conversation ends. Now next week to you means by Wednesday while to Joe it means when I have an answer, which many not even be next week! So you call him on Wednesday and leave a message, "Joe, it is Aaron calling to touch base. Give me a call when you have a chance. I am in today."

Here are all the points wrong with the above conversation:
1. There was no closing of the loop. Once Joe said, "I will you next week." It was left open for interpretation.
2. Emotions got tangled in to the who is calling whom, what happens once the call doesn't happen, and are you devaluing me by leaving me hanging.

Follow this simple step to REMOVE the emotion and close the loop:

Always make sure you have agreement on the next course action AND how you will touch base if that action doesn't happen. So after Joe said, "I will call you next week." Aaron should have said, "Great if I don't hear from you by Friday, how do you want me to follow up?" or "Great, if I don't hear from you by 3 PM on Friday I will give you a call."

Remember once emotion is attached to an unspoken expectation people become more irrational if the unspoken expectation is not met. Therefore your goal is to get that expectation out in to the open BEFORE it happens.

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Are You Annoying Your Customers or Aligning With Your Customers?

When would now be the time to pick up my book? That is the greeting on one of the emails I was sent today. So who do you figure that email is going to be about? me or the sender? Would you be excited to open it?

The emails I have been getting from this person have gotten annoying because they are always about him and how I can help him become number one by buying his book or attending one of his programs. Now mind you, I have already attended one of his programs. I enjoyed it.

However, my enjoyment has decreased over time as I see all the emails and marketing being about him rather than about helping me. If he had written "How to reach your full potential by exploring 7 key concepts" I would have felt it was about what I was going to get if I read his book.

ACTION: Test all you do, email, write or send to see if you are really focused on your need or your customer's need. You should have 70% of what's written about the other party and under 30% about you.

Okay he has annoyed me so much I have unsubscribed. Not the result he was hoping for. Don't let that happen with your marketing!

Anne Warfield,

Monday, April 28, 2008

To Catch A Bigger Fish You Need ...

to set up the right net in the right way.

Imagine that you are looking at putting in a new deck. You call a company and the sales person comes out and talks to you all about the decks they build, the quality they offer and the way they can get the deck done. You decide to have them build your deck. How do you feel when they call you six months later to see if you now want them to build you cabinets? Or furniture? Or a new floor? Or a new addition? Are you excited? upset? annoyed?

Most likely as they jump around telling you all the other projects they can do you are annoyed because you didn't ask for any other projects. Their persistence may even make you start to dislike your deck that you were totally satisfied with just six months ago.

What happened? If you did a great job on the deck, why wouldn't that prove to the customer that they need you in those other areas?

In sales, I find people rarely analyze where their business is coming from, what is stopping it and what they need to do in the sales process to open up the client to more opportunities. With the Excavation Method, we show sales people how to set the first sale up so it automatically generates more sales after it. We show you how to make the client stretch their mindframe so they see the deck as just one small thing you do and they crave the other skills you have to offer.
Take a moment today to analyze your business. Where do most of your sales come from? Where do they get blocked? How can you set the sale up on the front end to remove that block?

Anne Warfield,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Are your a Value Creator?

The mistake most companies make is believing that their customer always knows what they need. In an economy where people have access to information on the Internet, the client often feels informed enough to make their own diagnosis and then search for the solution they believe is best. In this case, price becomes the leading differentiator.

The reality is that most customers know what they are experiencing and they know what they believe will change the situation for them, but that is not the same as knowing what you truly need in order to get the results you want.

For example, if your car is leaking you might logically believe you need to go in and get the mechanic to plug the leak or replace the part so you don't have a leak. You focus on fixing that one piece (surface need) because you think if you plug the leak then your car will run just fine and you won't have any more problems (real need).

So now you are the mechanic. The person comes in and asks you what the cost is to fix or repair that piece. They have searched the Internet and know the cost and estimate of the repair. They feel informed, knowledgeable and in control of the problem and solution.

So would you just do what they ask or would you completely look at the car to see what might have caused the leak in the first place? Is it really just a faulty piece or is there a bigger problem going on- a problem that if you don't take care will cause their car to have other problems down the road?

As the mechanic, you owe it to your customer to keep your eye focused, not on repairing the leak (surface need), but in ensuring their car will run smoothly from now on (real need). This means diagnosing the problem and presenting solutions that enlighten the customer and align with their silent but true goal. This means they might not like what you have to say as they are prepared for a $300 car bill and you suddenly tell them to do it right will cost them $3000.

Here is the piece most companies miss--the value interpretation and value creation. It is not enough to share with them what the problem is; you need to build trust that demonstrates you are looking out for their best interest, you want them to be accurately informed and you want them to make the best choice possible. Notice I didn't say you want them to just buy from you because the reality is the best choice might be to sell the car and buy a new one that is more reliable- hence no sale for you the mechanic.

When you focus on value creation and value interpretation you hold yourself accountable to remain focused, not on the surface need, but on the real need. You need to be able to build trust and ask questions that get them to think in new ways so they see the value of what you are saying and the value in the solutions and choices offered. You become focused on making your clients successful rather than satisfied.

When working with companies we spend a lot of time showing them how to probe, question, and draw out the customer so they get to the root of the problem rather than the symptom. Once you have done this you will build trust that shows you are focused on their best interests.

If you are looking to build lasting partners, you need to ensure your entire team knows how to build that rapport, trust, and probe in a way that has the customer seeing you as a value creator!

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Which are you, the wedding or the marriage?

We spend all this time, money and energy as a society on the day we will celebrate the declaration two people make to the world-We are married! All this time and energy for about 6 hours of time. The EVENT.

But what is really needed to ensure success for the marriage in the long-term? Is it the wedding or the coaching, growth, mentoring, learning, that we do as a team during the marriage?

My point is that in corporations training is often treated like the wedding- a big event that will cause all the changes and results we want. I am amazed at how many don't stop to think, how to keep the momentum going, how to coach and how to ensure it links in to their corporate culture.

Remember that a marriage is not made by a wedding. It is made by two people being committed to making it work. Two people who continue to grow, learn, and develop with each other.

A marriage that is based solely on the wedding soon dies as the day is forgotten, the festivities now seem stale and life is not as you expected. But when the wedding is treated as a START to a continued and committed journey it is truly a miraculous event that triggers all new happenings in your life.

So ask yourself, which way do I treat training? As an event I do, then tuck the dress away to be forgotten? Or as a lasting legacy that I nuture and grow each day.

Anne Warfield,

Thursday, March 27, 2008

How Do I Hold on To What I Have During This Bad Economy?

Headlines are reading, "The Sky Is Falling," you hear bad news about houses not selling, you read about companies laying off thousands of workers and you might want to...panic.

But there is a better way to deal with today's economy. You see for everything there is a polar opposite. Your job is to zig when everyone else zags. Your job is to find the opportunities that are probably sitting right in front of you.

The difficulty is that in an economy like we face today, doing what you have done in the past will no longer suffice. In today's economy those companies that have excellence as their base rather than as the star they try to reach are the ones that will succeed. If people are going to spend money they won't accept mediocre, they won't accept marginal, they will be pickier. So that means you have to be sharper. You have to be exceptional. You have to produce results, not busy work.

Today's economy is not one to be feared, if you are performing at top standards, if you have systems in place and if you are dedicated to customer success, not customer satisfaction. The best asset you have in your corporation is the people. Yet so many companies look at today's economy and look at how to cut expenses. That is a dying path if it is done solo. What you need to do is look at how to explode opportunities, how to differentiate and how to build a corporate culture that gets every person to give 110% to their job with a positive and optimistic attitude.

What will get you to to excel in today's economy is how you think. Does your company take appropriate risks? Do you have people making decisions on their knowledge and experience? If so, you are in for scary times because much of what you may face will be situations and opportunities that you have never faced before. This requires you to be able to apply Critical Thinking to make decisions rather than just knowledge and experience. Just basing it on knowledge and experience will cause you to freeze up, gather too much data rather than take action, and make decisions that you later say, "I didn't anticipate... or I should have seen..."

Take action today to make this economy the best you can for your company. Now is the time to invest in developing top level strategic thinking and execution that is based in excellence. It means letting go of the past and trying things in a new way to create new opportunities.

For those fearless people, today's economy is one that is ripe with opportunity and growth. It is more of a cleansing than a drowning. A time to come out refreshed, renewed, and recharged.

May you go forth and have a great Outcome Focus Day Filled With Results!

Anne Warfield,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I will be brief- It is all in the DEBRIEF

Okay, you walk in the room. You think you have the presentation nailed and then nothing. Nothing. You don't hear from the client at all. Or worse yet, in the middle of the presentation you realize something is wrong but you don't know what.

The reality is that no matter how good of a presenter you are there will be times that the presentation won't result in the outcome you were looking for. This could be due to many things-wrong timing, wrong person in room, concept too hard for them to understand, concept doesn't hit a compelling pain for them, you position it in the wrong way, or they simply aren't ready to buy.

What is in your control is something so valuable yet I find that less than 5% of my clients use it at all! Yet it is the one thing that can really help you open the next door.

It is the DEBRIEF. After every meeting, whether it went the way you wanted or not, you should debrief using a fine tuned process. We walk clients through a 7 step process to debrief after their meetings, presentations, and negotiations so they can assure themselves better success next time. My theory is, if you don't learn from your mistakes what is the use in making them? They are a ripe ground to learn, grow, and stretch. Sometimes it is something as small as the word choice you use that throws off the deal. Changing a word from "critical" to "strategic" can sometimes suddenly make what you are saying meaningful to them.

In most companies you don't celebrate the failures and mistakes, only the successes. This means people learn to NOT make mistakes but not to IMPROVE on how they do things. If you are improving you will be making mistakes and correcting as you go. Thus all in your office should be open to DEBRIEF all that you do so you continue to move toward WOW status.

Now you also need to have a formal DEBRIEF for the successes as well. You need to be acutely aware of what drove that success in the first place. If you don't document and analyze it you will learn create a repeatable, scalable process that others can use to ensure consistent results.

Remember 'what you do not measure, you can't understand. And what you can't understand, you can not change." Take action and start learning from mistakes and successes.

Anne Warfield,

Friday, March 21, 2008

Training: Diet Pill or Exercise and Healthy Eatting?

Today we received in the mail 3 brochures on training for an Outstanding Receptionist, 4 on How to deliver expectational Customer Service, and 4 on the Ultimate Supervisor. All programs were 1/2 day to full day for $129 to $149 per person.

I shake my head when I think of the thousands companies invest on these programs only to find the receptionist still continues the irritating habits they thought the Outstanding receptionist would rid her of, the call center still has people being rude to clients even after attending "how to deliver exceptional customer service" and the Ultimate Supervisor returns to resort to their regular behavior.

Why? Because these programs are like diet pills. Quick fixes that don't address the long-term problems of what you got you there in the first place. Even with dieting- whether it be NutriSystem, Jenny Craig or others, the ultimate success in sustaining comes from those who embed exercise and healthy eating in their diets. In other words, they may get there start with NutriSystem or Jenny Craig but they get their lasting power in significant and permanent change in lifestyle.

So why do we believe training will be any different? I can't tell you how many companies call us asking if we can train senior executives on how to present well in a 1/2 day module. Okay, how many years do you think they have had with poor presentation skills and why do you believe a 1/2 a day will give lasting results? Yes, in a 1/2 a day we can jump start them, but how will you keep them going? What systems does your company already have in place? Am I rewarded or penalized for coming up with solutions that are different than usually expected? If I am penalized, you can bet that no matter how intriguing the training is, I will go back to the style that is rewarded by my company.

Let's get rid of diet tricks, instant pills and instant solutions. Instead ask yourself, if you have solutions that speak to who your people need to be in order to do what they need to do. Do you make it easy on them to understand what needs to change, why it needs to change and how to make that change long-lasting.

Much training today is offered at a bargain price but when you look at it, it has no lasting value. Go for the gym membership that gives you access to a lifetime of successful habits!

Anne Warfield,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Do Ehics Only Count When People Are Looking?

The other day I went to a restaurant and ordered soup and sandwich. I started chatting with the employee ringing up my order. It was after I had paid that it came out that I was a friend of one of her coworkers. At this point she smiled at me and said, "here is a cookie for you."

What do you do? I know she was trying to be friendly but the cookies were for purchase, not give away. They were wrapped in cellophane even! To me that was stealing if the company didn't have a policy that they could give away cookies. I also was in the tough spot of not wanting to be ungrateful to my friends coworker.

So I smiled and said, "that is kind of you but I am on a diet. I hope you have a great day." And I left the cookie. To me ethics aren't only when the world is watching but they are the guidelines you live your life by. Ask yourself how strong are your ethics?

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Going Beyond the Obvious

I was going to be a lawyer. I knew since I was 13 that I wanted to own my business and had determined it would be as a lawyer. I took the LSAT, passed the test and was set for law school. Then I heard that all these companies would be coming on campus to conduct job interviews. Well, I started thinking, "wouldn't it be better to job interview now and learn those skills rather than wait until I graduated from Law School?"

So I signed up for every and any interview. Most interviews I was not qualified for because I was an English Major and they wanted Economic Majors or Business Majors. I signed up for the interviews because I wanted to become comfortable interviewing. When I got to the interviews the interviewers were a little ticked. Most pointed out that I did not meet the minimum requirements of the job as they posted it. Their words and body language pretty much told me they thought I was an idiot for wasting their time since I couldn't even read a job positing correctly.

And then I said something and what I said caused them to nod their head and grant the interview. Little did I know how powerful that little something was and how few people grasp its importance. In the interview I then demonstrated, not my job skills, but my thinking skills- a far more valuable asset and one most companies adore seeing.

Then the job offers started to pore in. Those same companies that sneered at me before the interview started offered me jobs. I started soul searching back then to answer the question all my friends put to me- Why are they offering you jobs you are not qualified for and we, with the right degree, are not getting the offers?

Now I am so excited because we have put all of the magic of interviewing in to one easy to use system. Every Professional should have a chance to shine and show what they can do. I can't wait to unleash it to all of you! Coming soon....

My point with this is that it was not my technical skills that got me the job offers. Yet technical skills were all the companies posted as the minimum you needed to have even to be granted an interview. But I knew the technical skills were what was easiest for them to measure, not what was most relevant to the job.

Do you know how to make what you say relevant to the other person? An interview is just a time to test your on the spot thinking capabilities. Do you know how to tie two opposing thoughts so they lead to a new option? It is all in the congruent thinking. Test yours today.

And if you need help developing this skill, watch for our upcoming new interviewing system that will help you do just that!

PS. If you are interested in getting your hands on the Outcome Focus Interviewing System email us at

Anne Warfield,

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day

I love St. Patty's Day. Since I have been a little girl it has been a day to wear all green, eat green pancakes and drink green orange juice. To this day, it is a tradition I keep with my kids.

One year I tried green eggs- really looks like moldy eggs. I wouldn't recommend it. Another year we even had green milk, green potatoes, green chicken (I steamed it in green water), green jellow, and green angel food cake. And of course, what goes in, most come out. It was an interesting night!

Traditions are the thinks that we weave in to our life and they give it meaning. Some are good and some we hate and can't wait to change. I often wonder what changes we have today that our kids will keep going with and which ones they will drop.

So, to all of you---Happy St. Patty's Day!

Anne Warfield,

Friday, March 14, 2008

Creating Critical Thinkers

So why is it so hard to create Critical Thinkers in an organization? And is a Critical Thinker the same as a Strategic Thinker?

There has never been a more important time to be a Critical Thinker than today. Critical Thinkers have the ability to grasp complex situations, throw out irrelevant data, bring relevant data forward and hold two opposing thoughts at the same time so they can combine things in unique ways to create solutions that never existed before. They usually do things on the fly, verbally and constantly question. Critical Thinkers do well in HiTech HiTouch worlds as they are comfortable with change and decisions on the fly. Critical Thinkers are also able to be Strategic Thinkers.

Strategic Thinkers often base their decisions on their knowledge and experience. They may use Critical Thinking in making their decisions but at other times they may not. They think about the present and how to get to the future while Critical Thinkers often think about the future and how to link it to the present.

So the ability to be a Critical Thinker is something you want all leaders to have in your company. With more and more companies operating in a horizontal culture you can't afford to have leaders acting first and thinking second. You need them to all operate in a way that is scalable and sustainable.

Anne Warfield,

Creating a Recession Proof Career

Yesterday I had a client ask me how they should handle relationships in the office as the company reorganized. Last week Yahoo let go thousands of people and today there is talk that Citigroup may let 20,000 people go. It is scary times.

Yet it can also be exhilirating times. These are the times that cause great differentiation in people, opportunities and companies. Distinguish yourself in the workplace is one of the hardest things people find to do. When you focus on typical techniques of bragging, grand standing or looking out for "numero one," an environment is created that deteriorates trust, creates silos, and destroys teamwork.

So I don't teach people how to do that in our seminars. What we show is how to excelorate your thinking so that you stand out as a key asset or glue in the organization. People start to see you as a critical piece of the overall mission and a connector to other vital pieces. You are able to move people to a 5th dimension of thinking so the team stops operating at a low "safety" level and starts moving at a more strategic level.

Even job interviewing is something you can do using this skill and not brag, boast or come across as conceited. You will see this yourself when you get your hands on the Outcome Focus Interviewing System. People are scared by all the loss of jobs out there. The reality is that if you think at a high enough level you can create opportunties that don't exist today. It begs you to ask are opportunties random or are they created by our energy, thought, and skills?

During a reorg I find the entire teams energy gets focused on who will be let go, what changes will happen and how will they affect me? Because all the energy is directed here the team stagnates, the effectiveness plummets and pretty soon management is thinking they were right to reorg the group since it was ineffective. Which came first the cause or the effect?

The reality is that if you use Outcome Thinking you will continually reinvent your assets as a group, challenge on how to add value to the company and REINVENT your group to be better and stronger as a TEAM then it was before.

So where will you put your energies today? On scarcity and protecting what is your turf or on abundance and building a new level of thinking and energy in your organization. Set backs are just that- a minor step back so you can redirect to a higher level.

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What's Feeding Your Thoughts?

Do you look at the news, read books or magazines that stretch your thinking? To be a Critical Thinker you need to develop the insatiable appetite of reading things, not on the surface level, but instead for the threadlines of connectivity with other things you know.

For example, I recently read Jeffrey Gitomer's article on his experience throwing out the baseball at the Wizards game. Through out the article he relates baseball to sales. Great article and I could have taken it in solely at the level it was offered.

Instead I tied the article and pieces of it to the process of Critical Thinking. Particularly this quote by Doug Dascenzo, the Wizards manager, "They think because they've done something once or twice that they can go to the next thing. That's wrong thinking. There is no "fast" way into the big leagues. Great players have to execute excellently and improve slowly for years, if they want to play int he big leagues. Most of these kids have played baseball all their lives and still don't know enough to play major league ball. Add to that the personality trait of 'no patience' and you have a team of potentially frustrated people."

That quote got me thinking about two things: 1) the problem companies have in understanding why a high performing person they promoted is suddenly failing in their new position and 2) companies constantly wanting 'instant' training for their executives-like can you take a two day program and do it in 2 hours? They feel that since these people are executives they are "bright" enough to catch on faster.

Let's examine the first problem- promoting people only to find they fail. I find that companies constantly promote leaders based on their performance and then are stymied when that person doesn't succeed in the new position. They wonder, why?

Well, the simple reason is that the skills and abilities that make you excel at one job don't necessarily translate to the job above you. Just like the kid that can play baseball all their life but still not understand the "mental" game of big league baseball.

The second problem of timing is answered in the quote when he talks about how there is no fast way in to the big leagues. Instead it is about executing excellently and improving slowly for years. Developing Critical Thinking skills is the same way. It is not a one day course and suddenly your brain is constructed differently. Rather it is a consistent practice of stretching the brain in new ways until it is able to rely less on knowledge and experience and instead be able to take complex information and chew on it in a whole new way. This requires dedication and access to CONSISTENT learning that thread lines all this together to create a sustainable and scalable way of thinking for leaders.

So, one article, one quote, two great new ties. What ways have you stretched your thinking today? Don't just read an article but instead try to picture how it ties to a project, problem or situation you face. Remember, your mind needs exercise just like your body!

Anne Warfield,

Monday, March 3, 2008

Gutsy Conversations

I love to read Carolyn Hax. She differs greatly from Dear Abby, Dear Amy or Ann Landers because she focuses, not on dispensing judgemental advice, but instead on building clarity around your thinking. In general, I think she is right on.

Every once in a while there is one that I think misses the mark. Today, someone wrote in and said "I was recently diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and have been dutifully if miserably going through treatment. The prognosis? Who knows. The whole "every day is a gift" thing has somewhat cruelly -- and somewhat wonderfully -- become a daily, waking thought.
How do I get the people in my life to confess out loud that this could, and in all likelihood will, kill me? Everyone around me is insistent on being optimistic and denying the truth that this disease kills people every day, and I could be one of them. I try to talk to them about what will happen to my things, and what their plans are when and if I die of this, just as if I were hit by a bus, but they stick their heads in the sand and refuse to have the conversation with me.
Carolyn, I could die from this. I will die someday. These are both factual statements. So why will no one discuss it with me? V. "

Carolyn responded talking about how people can be cowards and that V. should say things like, "

"I will need someone to distribute my things. Will you please help me?"
And when you get the oh-it-won't-come-to-that answer: "Yes, it will, and you will die someday, too, and I feel better talking about it than avoiding it. Will you please help me?"
And when heads start hitting the sand: "Can you explain why you won't help me?"
Using Outcome Thinking, let's look at what is at the core here. The fact that someone near you may die is a scary issue. Accepting it means accepting our own mortality and that is even scarier. Ignoring it , not planning for it, makes us feel as though we can hold it off. Bottom line is it makes us uncomfortable.

So address that. It doesn't mean your friends are cowards. It doesn't mean you have to hit them over the head with a hammer. It does mean you HAVE to address their fear before they can let it go and help you.

Imagine if V. was your friend, how you would feel if she said, "Hey this is scary. I would rather think that I will live forever but the reality is that I need to plan for the fact that I might not. I really need your love and support in helping me make plans now. Please know that I realize you hope in your heart that these plans won't have to be implemented and I have the same hope. Just helping me with this will give me more of a peace of mind than you realize. If it gets tough, just let me know and we can talk through it. Just please don't ask me to do this alone or to ignore the fact I may die as that will cause more stress than dealing with the option that I might die."

The beauty about candor is that it does not have to be judgmental. In no way do you have to judge another person as weak or a coward if they can't do things the way you would do them. Remember it is your job as the communicator to help others get past what they are trying to protect so they can take action.

Anne Warfield,

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hilary Clinton's Defining Moment

There are defining moments in our lives- times where we have to show our true colors and the impact can either make or break us. Last night in the debate was a defining time for Hilary Clinton. In terms of having knowledge, background and insights she was the better prepared with facts and figures, so why would I say she didn't win the debate? Because we don't look to the President to only know facts and figures.

We look to the President to have the wisdom to know what information to hold close to the vest, when to use it, and the ability to listen and reason from a balanced platform. We look at the person and intuitively want to FEEL that this is a person that will keep a balanced perspective; a person that will hear and weigh all sides; a person that won't rush in to things but instead will give us the best decision based on the best information available. We need to FEEL that this person will have the ability to see the unintentional consequences of any decision they make BEFORE they make it.

And, Hilary's body language didn't give that feeling at all. Her squinted eyes, tight upturned mouth and hooded eyes gave the impression of a viper waiting to strike out and attack. Now Tim Russert, the moderator, had similar body language. His leaning forward and being aggressive around the questions boarded on ridiculous at times. He seemed to be spoiling for a fight rather than trying to get well informed and facts and decisions. You saw this in his push with the NAFTA question about withdraw in 6 months.

Imagine you are the potential candidate lobbying for the CEO job of a major corporations. This corporation has offices in 20 countries around the world. You have been in the company for 5 years but you only get limited information as you are not privy to all the information that the current CEO is. They ask you in the interview if you would evoke the right to pull out of six countries. Now, I ask you, would you ever say, Absolutely? No, and it wouldn't show good Executive Intelligence if you did say yes. You may know surface information about the company but you better realize that you need to have good grasp of facts and decisions prior to being able to make a solid decision like that. So you should answer that you would evaluate and if changes can't be made, then yes you would be willing to pull out. Would you really want a CEO to say, "I don't have all the facts but sure I would pull the plug"?

The stance Tim took on this showed the anger, frustration and desire to pick a fight more than to enlighten the audience to the leaders decision-making power. I found it fascinating that both Tim and Hilary's body language was that of a fighter- leaning forward, eyes big when talking and hooded when listening, and tightness around the mouth. While Barack and Brian's body language was relaxed with the head tilted to one side, the hands used gracefully when talking and the eyes relaxed and open. This body language shows confidence in their ability to listen, hear and respond appropriately. They weren't trying to prove with passion but instead to display emotional reasoning.

Did you notice how half way through the body language of Hilary and Barack became more relaxed with each other and more of a unit away from Tim Russert?

Here, though was Hilary's defining moment, the minute she ranted about taking the first questions and giving Barack pillows. At that moment she showed that IN HER MIND she was the underdog and that she believes EVERY ONE knows that. This leads you to think, would I want a President that would get in a pissing match with a foreign country so the other leaders know when they have the edge or do I want a President that could be so cool and calm the other country would be left guessing?

Imagine if she instead had said, "I have noticed that I continue to get the first questions in debates and I appreciate the advantage it gives me in sharing the facts and figures I know right upfront with the audience. You want a President that is quick on their feet and able to support what they say. So thank you for that opportunity."

Now, do you think, Obama's camp would be trying to get the first question next time? Do you think the moderators would rethink their position and try to even out the questioning? Sure!

It would remind you of the time that Reagan was being accused by his opponent of being too old for the job. Did Reagan come out swinging and quoting facts? No, he simply said, "my opponent has made a big deal about age in this campaign. I assure you I will not hold my opponents youth against him." We laughed and right away our thoughts went to Reagan's EXPERIENCE versus his opponents INEXPERIENCE. Point well taken!

Action: As an executive, learn from these debates. Watch to see the FEELING created as they all speak. These are times that show you good and bad leadership. This is how your employees view you at times. You only have a few moments to demonstrate your solid skills. Make sure you come through with flying colors.

Anne Warfield,