All posts by Jim Mathis

Do You Believe?

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Jim MathisBy: Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv
J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

To Those Who Say,
“It Can’t Be Done”

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” -Peter Drucker

First Timer?
I saw an episode of “Family Feud” the other night and one of the answers the audience gave was “Old School Pager.” Ten years ago, almost all business executives had to carry a pager or cell phone to take calls while out of the office. At that time, you may have even had a Palm Pilot or other Personal Data Assistant (PDA) to take notes and keep your calendar. If you listened to music you carried an iPod as well.

Then the world changed… In the spring of 2007, Apple introduced a device that combined the cell phone, the PDA, the pager and the iPod into one single device. They even included Internet access so you could research while on the go. We know it today as the first iPhone. There was much excitement around the announcement that Steve Jobs made in the public unveiling… but, there was plenty of skepticism, too.

“No one’s ever done this before!”

“People won’t carry all this information in one place…it’s too confusing!”

“Why don’t they leave my phone alone?”

and… “What if it fails to catch on with the public?”

Scott Stissel wrote, “They say that Apple Innovator and Pixar founder Steve Jobs would only become more emboldened when people told him that something couldn’t be done.”

This reminds me of a friend that I worked with in 1995 who was discussing our organization having a website to publicize our location and business. “I think we need to wait a few years to see if the Internet will catch on. It may pass away like CB radios!” It sounds funny today, but if you are old enough, you remember the push back the doubting public had to the Internet and business websites back then.

Just 10 years ago, the idea of small businesses and even individuals having their own sites on the Internet were as unheard of as WiFi in your house, affordable GPS on a phone, streaming movies and Bluetooth earpieces. Look at the movie, “Back to the Future,” and you will see how people relate to progress in a span of just 30 years.

Remember when Marty McFly is told by his grandmother in 1955 that nobody has more than one TV?

It Can’t Work!
I love the success stories that begin with someone saying, “We’ve never done it that way before!” Here are a few examples of people who defied negative public opinion and dared to do something never thought of previously:

  • J.K. Rowling became the world’s best-selling children’s author, despite living on benefits as a single mother. Her manuscript for Harry Potter was rejected by several publishers before someone took a chance on it.
  • Christopher Columbus believed that the fastest way to the East was sailing West.  He campaigned before King Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain to finance his idea. Instead of India, he opened the door to the Western Hemisphere.
  • Jesse Owens experienced racial discrimination in the U.S. but became a hero at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. By winning Olympic gold in the 100m, Owens helped demolish the myth of Hitler’s Aryan superiority theory.
  • Kia Silverbrook is an Australian who invented digital music synthesis, digital video, digital printing, computer graphics, liquid crystal displays, 3D printing, image processing, DNA analysis, cryptography, nanotechnology, semiconductor fabrication and integrated circuitry. He is still alive and creating.
  • Philo Farnsworth invented the “image dissector” in 1927. Today we call his invention, “television.” There is at least one in every home, sports bar and hospital room.
  • Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a Union Colonel in the American Civil War.  He led a bayonet charge against an overwhelming force when his men ran out of ammunition at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. His brash decision was successful and he received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Nolan Bushnell said, “Everybody believes in innovation until they see it. Then they think, ‘Oh, no; that’ll never work. It’s too different.’” Don’t let anyone tell you that your idea is impossible if they haven’t tried it themselves. Naysayers are experts in negative criticism. They most often desire to remain in their comfort zones.

Comfort zones never allow for growth or creativity.

Last year I spoke with my good friend and mentor, Joe Bonura, who has always been supportive of me. He presses me to move forward and take risks. One of his favorite sayings is, “You will succeed in direct proportion to your willingness to come out of your comfort zone.” The two of us discussed a marketing idea that almost nobody is attempting in our field.

He challenged me to contact corporations with a different method of increasing their income than they had previously attempted. I had tried this successfully several years ago, but not as an introduction to a new client. Do you want to know a quick way of upsetting someone’s comfort zone? Try pitching an unheard of idea to a person who has been in their job for more than five years.

Are You a Believer?
It is extremely difficult to try something that no one has ever attempted before. President John F. Kennedy challenged the U.S. to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the 1960s. While we look back on the “Space Race” and think it was very easily won, it was a daunting task.

The Soviet Union had already put Yuri Gagarin in orbit when Kennedy made this challenge in 1961. The U.S. had only sent Alan Shepherd up and down for 15 minutes.  Our space program was lagging far behind the Russians. The thought of taking a person to another world, landing him on it, launching again and coming home safely was thought to be unsurmountable in just under eight years.  But, the challenge was accepted and accomplished.

The problem you face from the receiving perspective is, “Will you think outside of your own box for a change?” Imagine if you worked at NASA and you heard Kennedy’s words for the first time… It’s your job to make this idea a reality. How would you have responded? Peter Drucker said, “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”

How do you react when someone “pitches” a new idea to you that requires doing your job different? How open are you to change and innovation in your life and career?

The real heroes are the people who accept an idea, whether they get the credit or not.

Risk-takers are often people who believe in the unknown because they know things haven’t been successful doing it the same way in the past, i.e., those who trained Jesse Owens… the officers and soldiers who charged down the hill with Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain… the publisher who worked with J.K. Rowling. King Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain believed in Christopher Columbus enough to finance three ships and crew. The investors who first believed in Kia Silverbrook and the “angels” who backed Philo Farnsworth were believers.

The U.S. hockey team faced long odds in the 1980 Winter Olympics. They were outexperienced by practically every team they faced. Somehow they made the medal rounds. In a deciding game against the Russians, they won the match before millions viewing on television. Al Michaels, sportscaster for ABC, was beside himself as the clock ran out with the team ahead. As the excited crowd in Lake Placid shouted, “USA! USA! USA!” Michaels screamed, “Do you believe in miracles??? YES!”

I was in Canada immediately after the Canadian Olympic hockey team defeated the USA at Whistler in 2010. As I deplaned in Calgary, the hockey team had just landed and thousands of excited Canadians were waiting in the terminal to greet their heroes of the previous night’s victory. They believed all along in their team.

The question is not always whether you will dare to do something different. The question is whether you will believe and support those who do, or turn and run. It requires a strong will and a belief in something greater than yourself. It requires being uncomfortable to make your results different and better.

As Joe said to me, “Jim, what’s the definition of doing the same thing over and over and getting no measurable results? Crazy!”

So, are you a believer, a risk taker or just crazy?

Permission is granted to reprint this article provided the following paragraph is included in full:

Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv. is The Reinvention PRO™, an International Platform Certified Speaker, Certified Speaking Professional and best-selling author of Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results. To subscribe to his free professional development newsletter, please send an email to: [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Jim and his programs can benefit your organization or group, please call 888-688-0220, or visit his web site: © 2017 J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

Are You Down, or Different?

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Jim MathisBy: Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv
J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

Leading in the New Economy

“Many businesses are facing economic earthquakes, tsunamis and meltdowns.”

Last year, Japan suffered a series of cataclysms that would put almost any country into the Stone Age: an earthquake, followed by a tsunami, followed by a nuclear meltdown – all within a few days. Today, many businesses are facing economic earthquakes, tsunamis and meltdowns. It is your choice as to how severe your crisis is, and, how you react to it determines your future in business.

You choose how you react to the news you read and hear daily. You can either wait, wait and further wait for the economy to come back to where it was four years ago (it won’t) or you can choose to act on what is different about it now and make your own difference. It’s all your choice.

Oh, and for those who opt to wait, you should know that the economy won’t return to its previous state. Things have changed so much that nothing will ever be the same again!

Panic at the Pump
With gasoline and oil prices soaring this year, the economy seems to be teetering on the brink. Panic sets in as supply decreases and demand increases dramatically. It is cyclical… and expected.

If you woke up this morning and said, “The economy is down.” Then I imagine that your spending is down; your budgeting is down; your staff/employees are down and your customers, too, are down; and your business is down. But, if you woke up and said, “Everything today is different than it has ever been” then, probably your spending is different; your budgeting is different; your staff/employees are different; your customers are different; and, yes, your business is different than it has ever been.

Why do I say such a bold statement? Because many businesses have been UP in the past three years and have taken advantage of value they present in the eyes of the public to soar to new heights. Lexus has made money. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have made money. Apple has made money. Dollar General Stores have made money. Toyota (with all of the problems it had from faulty gas pedals, an earthquake and tsunami) has made money.

The companies who have struggled or have gone out of business altogether were struggling in the “good” economy of six years ago – Saturn, Pontiac, Sears, K-Mart and Blockbuster to name a few. There are many more.

We are very short-sighted when it comes to economic reactions. We see the immediate and not the overall picture and it causes us to panic and stumble into the dark. We lack a long-vision for what is going on in the environment around us.

You are either up or down and that influences every decision you make. Only you can decide the attitude which determines your altitude.

Print or Not To Print!
Carol Burnett in paying homage to Betty White on her 90th birthday held up a copy of Variety with a review of Betty’s appearance on her show in the 1970’s. Carol smiled and said, “Remember this kids? We used to call this a ‘newspaper.’”

Newspapers constantly remind us that the stock market is down, gas prices are climbing and carry negative information slanted for their political or personal biases. It is no surprise that newspaper sales are lagging today. But their negative news isn’t the sole reason for this.

Print media is being reinvented to digital format. If you are in the newspaper or magazine business you are seeing a “tsunami” that is wiping away the foundations your industry was built on. The next three to five years will probably change the way we receive and digest news forever.

I heard a conference attendee say to the crowd: “If you want your news NOW, go online with your smart phone. If you want your news later, wait on a television newscast. If you want it tomorrow, buy a newspaper. If you want it next week, subscribe to a magazine.”

No wonder people are tired of hearing bad news about unemployment, lack of jobs and financial crises from an industry that is in panic mode. They tend to want us to panic with them. There is camaraderie in suffering.

If you are down, then your spending, budgeting and business results are down. That isn’t a motivational formula – it’s a fact.

How are you different?
I won’t argue with you that these times are tumultuous for business. They are rough and many people have found themselves out of work, out of business and out of luck. I meet them every day. I can also tell you that many people have to face challenges that they would have never have faced had things remained unchanged. I can say without any doubt that had I not had the difficult times in my life, I wouldn’t be the strong person I am today. Had I not changed colleges, I wouldn’t have met the people I know now who are major influences in my life. Had I not decided to quit my previous occupation, I wouldn’t be enjoying what I now do for a living. Had my business not fallen apart, I wouldn’t be The Reinvention Strategist™. You get the idea.

Every one of those changes was traumatic in my life. I could have buried my head in the sand and pretended they weren’t there, but that wouldn’t make them go away. I could have sat around in a funk of depression for months on end, but that wouldn’t have made me or my situation any better. You choose how you react to what is going on in your environment. You either choose to act positively or negatively.

Either way, it’s all your choice.

Don’t misunderstand me; I am in the business of helping people to make their lives better. I just got tired of doing all the work for people who didn’t want to change. So, I changed my focus. I only work with people who want to reinvent themselves in a challenging economy. And, fortunately for me, every economy has challenges in it.

If you don’t reinvent yourself in the next year you may be extinct in two years.

It can happen. It already has to Circuit City, Pontiac, Schlitz, Gateway computers, Borders, Aloha Airlines, Mercury, Palm and many others. They refused to change and succumbed to the nuclear meltdowns of a different economy. The vultures are gathering for AIG, the Gap, Sears, K-Mart, Blackberry and Eddie Bauer.

It’s a competitive world and just in the time you were reading this, many other businesses closed their doors permanently. They couldn’t adapt to a challenging economy and they got swept away with no loyal customer base to support them or their brands. They failed to create a culture that would stand the test of change or the test of time. They failed to be different and settled for down.

Many more organizations have changed successfully. They were faced with a choice and they chose reinvention over extinction. Companies like Motorola, Novell, Autodesk, Domino’s, IBM, Dollar General, Toyota, Ford Motors, Apple and many, many more reinvented themselves and carved out new industries and market niches.

So, what can you do where you are sitting right now?

Study those who have taken common-sense ideas and turned them into their personal difference.  Look for ways you can adopt their ideas, methods and concepts. Their techniques aren’t very deep or difficult. In fact you might be surprised at how simple and easy they are. Most will seem like common sense. They are so easy, in fact that they will make you angry at yourself for not thinking of them on your own. They are so obvious that they will make you frustrated that you didn’t see them and act before now.

They are so simple that they will make you uncomfortable with the way you have been living and running your business. Good. Now go and find a comfortable place to become UN-comfortable, face your cataclysm – and be different!

Permission is granted to reprint this article provided the following paragraph is included in full:

Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv. is The Reinvention PRO™, an International Platform Certified Speaker, Certified Speaking Professional and best-selling author of Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results. To subscribe to his free professional development newsletter, please send an email to: [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Jim and his programs can benefit your organization or group, please call 888-688-0220, or visit his web site: © 2016 J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

Mathis: Avoiding Disaster During Change

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Jim MathisBy: Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv
J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

More Success with Less Stress

“Any change, even for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”   -Arnold Bennett

Change is inevitable and everywhere. Experts tell us that 85% of all products and services we are now using will be obsolete in five years. 10 years after their graduation, 80% of college students are working in something totally unrelated to their college degree. With these staggering figures it is obvious that we are more controlled by change than us controlling it. The number one request I receive when associations call about presentation topics is Change/Transition. Everyone is looking for a way to not only make the changes successful, but make them less stressful. So, how do you avoid a “train wreck,” as I heard one national leader comment? What do you do to make the inevitable changes your organization must go through to grow and stay ahead of the competition? Are there common steps to make change productive and even invigorating? Here are eight ways (and a bonus) to avoid disaster during change.

1. Recruit with scrupulous honesty. Get people on your side by telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Don’t hold anything back. Cast your vision leaving no stone unturned. Find
people who will stand with you so that when the chips are down no one who is on your side will be able to say you misled them. Be careful who you talk to. Find the hardest people to convince first. This way they are in on the decision and the information. This makes recruiting the easiest followers even simpler (saves the best job for last). While recruiting, tell your vision. Reveal the pitfalls you anticipate. Express what is on your heart. Leave yourself open. By being honest it will encourage your recruits to be open and honest with you. You will need their support when the going gets rough.

2. Build support among like-minded people. Who can you trust? Seek out people who are discontented with the status quo in the same way or for the same reasons you are. Wander among your people and ask questions that bring out the discontent they are suffering. “Are you satisfied with the programs we are doing?”, “Are we getting the results you feel we could get if we put forth our best effort?”, “How would you change things if you had the opportunity?” Take notes and find those who agree with you. Then talk about the vision you have and the bright future everyone will enjoy together. Include their comments and suggestions where you can to build support.

3. Whenever possible, make only one change at a time. People can only take so much change. After several moves even the most supportive individual needs to stop and take a breath. Making one change at a time allows the new habits to sink in and adjustments to be made. It also allows for preparation for the next change. In my Adapting to Change presentations, I use an exercise where we have participants pair off and make several successive changes. Some complain on the first round. Over half complain on the second round. No one will even attempt the third round – which I immediately use to make my first point. Too much change makes everyone grumpy. Remember the personality styles of your staff and that not everyone reacts favorable to change. Some need time to prepare or get over the experience. Make transitions gradual and more people will follow you.

4. Keep the basic issues clear. Remember why the changes are being made in the first place. During every transition period there is a time of confusion. Other issues are brought up that may not even relate to the goal you have set for the organization. Objections will be made and your followers will wonder, “Why are we doing this in the first place?” This is the time to constantly re-cast the vision and keep it in front of your people. There is disturbance and people will try to get away with whatever they can to take advantage of the tumult created by the transition. Keep everyone focused on the goal. Talk about the basic issues and the original discontent that your strongest followers expressed when the process began.

5. Know the territory. Never lead without knowing where you are going. Always keep your own personal “road map” in front of you. When uncertainty arises, it will benefit the people that you
expected and can still lead them through the wilderness. Moses knew there was a desert between Egypt and the Promised Land. Columbus knew the ocean was big when he set out for the New World. Patton studies Rommel’s tactics before going into battle with him. All three knew the territory they were going to pass through at the outset of their journeys. Wise leaders can anticipate the next three moves and know where the river is shallowest to cross.

6. Seek to make changes by addition. Everyone equates change with loss. We think first about what we are going to lose. Remember Windows 3.1? When Windows 95 came on the market it didn’t
fare well in sales because no one wanted to lose their “Windows.” They didn’t want to lose the File Menu (now known as the “Explore” menu when you Right-Click the “Start” button they had gotten used to.  Microsoft learned they had to sell the advantages and the benefits in the new programming. People are more prone to accept change when you sell the benefits to them. It helps them focus on “gain” rather than “loss.” Think about basic changes you have been forced to make. If you didn’t initiate the changes you thought first about, what you would miss. Your people will, too.

7. Avoid future shock. Don’t change things so quickly that everyone is stunned into inactivity, revolt or shock. Remember as you make one change at a time, do so gradually. Allow time for adjustment but don’t move so far into the new transition that no one is with you. John Maxwell says, “A leader who gets so far ahead of his/her followers becomes a target.” History bears this out. One night in 1863 at the battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson went out with a small patrol to reconnoiter the battlefield. On his return a Confederate sentry thought he was the enemy and shot him. He died of his wound days later.

8. Change is most effective when those most affected are involved in the planning. Learners learn best when they are involved in the learning process. People are most motivated when they are
involved in the change process. Involve as many in the planning and execution of your changes. Allow everyone to buy in and have ownership from the very beginning as you cast vision. Let it be their vision. Remember how you looked for discontent? How you enlisted with scrupulous honesty? This is where it pays off in your people’s involvement in the dream and the transition process. Celebrate victories and make the celebrations worthwhile. Reward those who have put forth the most effort (particularly, the ones “behind the scenes”).

Bonus: Use the Four Levels of Change as your formula:

  • Knowledge – Begin by educating everyone as to what the change is about and what the results/benefits will be. Why do we need to change? What do your people need to know?
  • Attitude – Encourage a culture of change and anticipation. Get your motivators working for you.
  • Behavior – Next behavior will change as positive attitudes influence the organization’s culture.
  • Organization – Finally, you will see organizational change take place as behaviors become habits and the team is marching along to a new beat. Unfortunately most organizations start by changing the organization, forcing new behaviors, trying to change negative attitudes and finally, educating as a last resort. When change comes, it doesn’t have to be a disaster, or a “train wreck.” It can be the most invigorating process your organization goes through if you cast a bold vision, carefully plan your steps, execute with determination and take it one step at a time.

Permission is granted to reprint this article provided the following paragraph is included in full: Jim Mathis, CSP is an international Certified Speaking Professional, executive coach and trainer. To subscribe to his free personal and professional development newsletter, please send an email to: [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month.

For more information on how Jim and his programs can benefit your organization or group, please call 888-688-0220, or visit his web site:

Mathis: What Are Your Hang Ups? Dealing with the Stress of Making Sales Calls

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Jim MathisBy: Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv
J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

“In sales you can make A LOT of money!”
-Jim Mathis

When I am not on the road (and many times when I am), I make outbound calls for my business. On the average day in my office, I will make over 30 calls to people… both cold and “warm.” Most of the people I call are appreciative and courteous. I can talk to most people I have spoken with previously on a friendly, first name basis.

Your fears of rejection and anger are not based on experience.

When I hired my first assistant years ago, she wanted to hear me make some calls to get an idea of my approach and how to sell my business. I said, “Let’s call Mike.” “Mike who?” she asked. I gave her
his last name and she said, “You act like you know him!” “Yeah, I guess I do,” I answered her. Mike and I had spoken on the phone several times over the period of a year. We knew each other.

After doing this for over 13 years, I don’t hear anything new when I make a call. I reached out to Dave last month. He had caller ID and laughed when he picked up the phone. “You are not the first
sales call I’ve had today,” he said jokingly. “Really?” I said. “Which one am I?”

Dave said, “I’ve already spoken with three today.”

“Well, then number four will be the one you remember.” I started laughing. He did and hired me later that month. Don’t take yourself too seriously and it will put people at ease.

Number One Fear:  Most people who don’t make sales are afraid of calling. They fear being seen as pushy to others and their greatest fear is being hung up on. They can’t take the rejection or feeling of
conflict. It is a bad feeling you get in your chest when this happens. I completely understand.

How do I know?

The first week I started making cold calls on the phone I was hung up on by an angry lady. It really, really bothered me. I had never been hung up on in my life. I was hurt and angry all at the same time. I wanted to “get even,” or show her the error of her ways. I didn’t like being misunderstood or rejected. At that moment I realized that I was giving her power over me. I was putting her in control of my emotions and feelings.

I also realized that nothing I did in return was going to convince her to listen to me, or even buy from me, if I called her back. Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe I was not the first person to call and
try to talk to her about buying from me that day. Maybe the last person who called had been rude to her. An argument wasn’t the best strategy and neither was getting even. I had to own my feelings. I had to make a choice. I chose to get over it and move on.

What do you do when someone angrily hangs up on you?

Hang up reaction:  Fight or flight! Make another call or run away! Sometimes I get so mad, I get back on the phone. Sometimes I take a break. My wife is a good support and helps me by sharing a different perspective.

Make better calls. Learn from your mistakes and come back stronger. Remember, if you believe in yourself and your product or service, the person who doesn’t buy is missing out on something great.

But, most of the time, prospects are missing out on the VALUE of what you are selling. If your sales are uncharacteristically down, perhaps your value (as seen by the customer) is down. How can you
add value or increase it? Can you bundle with something else? Can you change your approach? Most importantly, can you ask better questions to find out what the prospect values most?

What can you do to increase your product’s value to someone who gets frequent calls from others? Answer: Be different!

Handling sarcastic responses:  “I got your many messages and emails!” Either empower the rejector, or take control of your sales. You want to say, “Hey, if you had responded three months ago in some way, I wouldn’t have had to contact you so many times!” Remember, the average sales closing requires over 20 calls. The more money that is on the line, the more calls required!

You are fooling yourself if you think a client will sign or buy from you after just one or two contacts.  It has only happened to me twice in over 20 years.

I actually asked a meeting planner in the audience why he hired me. He laughed and said, “So you would stop calling me!” Everyone (and he) laughed. I loved it! I think that influences people to hire
me. In fact, I know it does.

I get hired more often because I keep calling a person over a long period of time, than if I simply assume they know who I am and how to get in touch with me. Most of the time I hear, “Thank you for getting back with me and being so diligent.” People seem to like that characteristic.

Handling objections: Don’t…EVER! If they don’t see the value, why argue your point? Have you ever bought ANYTHING because you lost an argument with the sales person? Did you say, “Darn, you’re right. I’m stupid! Here, take all of my money!”

Back during my ministry days we taught witness training which included a full chapter on “Handling  Objections.” One day I noticed that nobody had ever joined our church or converted to the faith
because they lost an argument to their objection. I asked the congregation one Sunday morning how many had joined because they were proven wrong. No one raised a hand. I don’t handle objections. When people want an argument, I move on.

On that note, don’t be surprised by people’s rudeness or lack of professionalism. A well-known pastor once said, “People can be jerks and if you start with that knowledge you won’t be shocked when you encounter this.”

Occasionally, I get hung up on. It keeps my perspective in doing something most people wouldn’t dare do. The last time I was hung up on, I laughed. I couldn’t believe a person who called herself a
“professional” was acting so unprofessional, and I cracked up laughing! By the way, that was the last thing she heard as she hung up the receiver. Don’t feel bad, she wasn’t going to buy from me anyway.

People are busy. You don’t know what they are going through when you call, or what pressure they are under personally and professionally. In a prospect’s busy life and workday, it helps to remind them that I am still wanting to work with them. If I call at a bad time, I apologize and call at a better time. Get on with it. A person appreciates that more than if you keep talking at that moment.

My first assistant got better at the calling. She told me a few years after she started working for me, “The clients are our top priority, but we are like number 23 on their priority list of things to do that
day.” It doesn’t hurt to work yourself up the chart with them.

Bottom line… Remember this fact: In sales, you can make A LOT of money!

You are in control of how much you make, not your manager, not your fellow sales executives, not even the prospects. Your attitude and your actions are YOUR choice. You control the attitude you choose and the actions you take more than anyone you will encounter today.

Your perspective on the environment you are in right now will change when you change. No sooner!

Don’t get “hung up” on your last failure…or your last success. Keep calling!

Permission is granted to reprint this article provided the following paragraph is included in full:

Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv. is The Reinvention PRO™, an International Platform Certified Speaker, Certified Speaking Professional and best-selling author of Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results. To subscribe to his free professional development newsletter, please send an email to: [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Jim and his programs can benefit your organization or group, please call 888-688-0220, or visit his web site: © 2016 J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

Editorial: Lessons from The Great One – What Can You Learn from Jackie Gleason?

Jim MathisBy: Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv
J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

“How sweet it is!” -Jackie Gleason

If you saw Smokey and the Bandit, you are familiar with the work of Jackie Gleason playing the iconic Sheriff Buford T. Justice. He was an entertainer with a string of creativity years before the hit movie came out in 1977.

“The Great One” will forever be known for his successful business decisions. He starred in the hit series, The Honeymooners, in the early days of television and revived the show several decades later through smart foresight.

What you can learn from his creativity will inspire you to go where nobody else has gone in your field and industry. Here are 4.5 lessons he taught us about business:

1. Remember the past and give the people what they like most.

Jackie was one of the earliest television stars. He was in a show for the CBS network (the same network who hosts The Big Bang Theory). Knowing television was a successful medium, he signed a 20-year agreement with the network. He got paid whether or not he was on a show. Gleason was such a hot talent that the network executives readily signed the agreement. When he starred in The Honeymooners 1950s situation comedy, he knew he was on to something special. He had it filmed in a new style of video for the day (Kinescope). The show wasn’t that big of a hit its only season on television, but he was able to parlay his success into “reruns” – something few had even conceived of at the time. Jackie also used The Honeymooners for future roles on television and even revived many of the shows plots and characters on his variety shows in the late 1950s and 60s.

In 1985, Gleason revealed that he had saved 39 episodes of the classic show, just when classic television (TV Land) was coming into style. “The Lost Episodes,” were opened up to a new generation of viewers and he became a star once again.

Gleason knew he was on to a product that would transcend the moment – a blue-collar situation comedy… decades before Roseanne, Archie Bunker, Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy. He had the forethought to keep the Kinescope tapes hidden in a personal vault, for a day they would be revealed to the world. Reruns and classic television cable networks hadn’t even been dreamed of yet, but Jackie saved the tapes for the right time when they would.

Remember Classic Coca Cola? What is your organization doing that is a “classic” transcending time? We live with a generation who loves “retro” ideas but has no concept of luggage without wheels, variety shows, family meals together, any non-internet communication, Western movie genres, sitcoms that are funny and earned rewards. What worked years ago that customers would like a taste of again?

2. Admit your mistakes.

In the 1960s, Gleason hosted a television program that he designed around a celebrity game show format. The opening night was so terrible that the network was planning to cancel the entire series. The next week Jackie came out in front of the live audience and apologized for the previous week’s program. He immediately turned it into a variety show format.

In early 1961, the United States launched a failed attempt to overthrow the Castro regime in Cuba. It was known as “The Bay of Pigs” because that was the location of the ground assault in Cuba. The invasion was a disastrous defeat within hours. Soon afterwards, President John F. Kennedy told a stunned country about the CIA operation.

Although the failed attack had been planned prior to his inauguration, Kennedy approved it. He admitted his failure and mistake on national television. It earned him respect that he would need months later during the Cuban Missile Crisis where the U.S. and Soviet Union came close to nuclear war. If more leaders (politicians, are you listening?) would admit mistakes and ask forgiveness, people would trust them more.

3. Go where no one else dares to go.

In the early days of television, you either originated shows from New York or California. The stars were there and it cost too much to produce a program from another location. The Ed Sullivan Show was based in New York. CBS hosted most programs from “Television City” in Hollywood. But Gleason loved Miami (because of year-round golf and the community). He called Miami “The Sun and Fun Capital of the World,” and produced the show there every week.

Viewers loved the opening camera shots of the warm Florida beaches and began vacationing in South Florida more often. It was a bonanza for the local economy. Filming the show before a live audience in a different territory paid off for Jackie then… and still does for Miami today. The auditorium there is named for Jackie Gleason because of his impact on the city.

Where can you go that nobody else would ever think of going? Steve Jobs led Apple into the world of music (iPods and iTunes), cellular phones combined with music (iPhones), tablet computers (iPads) and cloud networking (iCloud). Truett Cathey led the way in developing the chicken sandwich for Chick-fil-A. Nikola Tesla led the way inventing alternating currents and hydroelectric plants.

I met a man who developed an app that any person can use to video their own house/belongings and send to a moving company to develop a moving estimate without sending an estimator to the house or making an appointment. The app does in minutes what takes most companies several hours. His company can now do 10-15 estimates for customers in a day as opposed to a prior maximum of five due to time and distance.

How can you make the trip easier for someone else (or yourself as Gleason did) and defy the industry traditions? Where is your “sweet spot” for business?

4. Brag on your audience.

Gleason always said in the closing monologue: “The Miami Beach audience is the greatest audience in the world!” The crowd would erupt with cheers and applause. The locals loved this and responded favorably to his show. Once again it drew attention to Miami Beach, but more importantly, it also put the attention on his audience instead of himself. Gleason gave the audience credit each week for the show’s success and returned thanks to them on a regular basis. No wonder they cheered!

It always helps to brag more on your customers than yourself. Just ask big companies like Southwest Airlines, or small businesses like Columbus Bowl (a family bowling center in Ohio). They brag on their customers instead of themselves and reap the benefits. Rock and country musicians often shout out the local city names in concerts to get the audience energized. Gleason did it before it became a trend and set the standard.

How can you turn the attention to your customers and have it reflect back on your brand?

4.5 Don’t choose to be the villain.

An interesting footnote: The idea of the 1960s cartoon show, The Flintstones, was almost completely lifted from The Honeymooners, right down to some of the plot lines. Jackie was mad enough to sue the production company, but was advised that he would be a villain if he sued a popular children’s cartoon show.

Maybe that is a fifth lesson every leader can learn from today:

“You can’t sue Fred Flintstone!”

Brad Darrach wrote in People magazine on Jackie Gleason at his death, “Orson Welles dubbed him ‘The Great One,’ and he wore the epithet as proudly as an emperor wears ermine, charming and tickling and bullying us until we took him at his own measure.” (July 13, 1987).

I’ve always admired his work. Gleason could be funny one moment, then show pathos and sadness the next, and still stay true to himself.

Leaders who want to reinvent can gain inspiration and learn from someone who didn’t mind showing both a fun side and deep side within the same hour. He created characters to show every side of his humanity and stay alive in the short history of television. Gleason said, “I knew that nobody could be on television week after week as themselves and exist for any length of time, because no one has that rich a personality…. So I knew that I had to create some characters.”

Permission is granted to reprint this article provided the following paragraph is included in full:

Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv. is The Reinvention PRO™, an International Platform Certified Speaker, Certified Speaking Professional and best-selling author of Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results. To subscribe to his free professional development newsletter, please send an email to: [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Jim and his programs can benefit your organization or group, please call 888-688-0220, or visit his web site: © 2016 J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Editorial: What is Your Job? Move Over and Move Up!

Jim MathisBy: Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv
J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

“There is no success without a successor.” -John Maxwell

If you are in a leadership position, your job involves being a coach, cheerleader,  emergency responder, trainer, mentor, and visionary, to name just a few. But, have you ever heard that your job is to be replaced… on purpose?

I heard John Maxwell say several years ago, “Every leader’s job is to work himself/herself OUT of a job.” You are to create an organization or platform that doesn’t include yourself at some point in the future. If you are not creating people to take your place, your leadership only exists for you… and will die with you. If you have to check your messages by email, text, or written notes to make sure the people under you are making you look good, then check your leadership motives and methods instead.

I meet workers who don’t have “permission” to put people over policies and wind up angering customers, clients, and prospects. The CEO cares more about the bottom line than the policies being enforced (if he or she wants to remain the CEO).

Here is an example: I had a sore bruise, so I asked the flight attendant on a cross country journey if I could sit on one of the pillows NOT being used in First Class… four feet away. I missed the cut for First Class by one person, so I was in Economy Comfort …neither economical nor comfortable.

Now bear in mind, I am a Platinum Level “Million Miler” with this airline already this year. The attendant said, “I really shouldn’t… You know we aren’t supposed to allow anyone to have these that are not seated in First Class.”

A First Class passenger offered me his pillow. And, people wonder why the customer service and profits are so low with many airlines. Southwest goes out of their way to please customers and make them feel appreciated. Their board of directors know that empowered employees are more likely to please customers than state punitive policies.

Many leading companies give awards to associates for actually pleasing customers.

If they have to bend the rules occasionally to do it, they know it will benefit them in the long run. Is rule bending on occasion prohibited or encouraged by your management staff? Leaders know if their employees have a vision for growing the organization, they will be more likely to take the authority to do it with the common good in mind and not break the bank.

Earning Your Degree

Your job as a leader is to grow yourself and stop being the “lid on the pressure cooker” of your organization. One day the cooker is going to blow! If you constantly shut down creativity and nurse an attitude of “permission,” then you will be taken out when it explodes around you… and it will explode one day. Can you say “Collateral Damage?”

Our future daughter-in-law just earned her degree in nursing. She studied hard for years to learn how to do a very difficult job. But what about the nursing degree you have tried to “earn” every day for the past several years? If you nurse someone or something, you care for it, work on it, and help it to grow.

Nursing a bad attitude, a grudge or a sick patient all have the term in common. The result of nursing something bad, though, is harmful. If you nurse a poisonous snake back to health, it will bite you one day. The same is true for nursing bad attitudes and policies.

When you empower your staff to take authority (and not just responsibility), you will be free to grow yourself and morph into a new position as leader.

Failure to empower others will stagnate your current role forever.

You can’t move up if you are tied down to the same tasks that others are neglecting or doing poorly.

“But Jim, I can’t give these people authority! They are a bunch of incompetents!” A CEO said that to me in a conference a few years ago. “Who hired these people?” I asked him. “Well… I did!” he exclaimed.

Then that’s not my problem. He hired people he knew couldn’t handle authority and was aware they weren’t capable without micro-management. So now he is paying the price for that string of hiring decisions. You, too… If you exercised more leadership in hiring and staffing, you would have to do less management now.

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” -Bill Gates

You Have One Job…

Your primary task should be to get replaced one day. Your goal is to mentor, coach, and empower others to take on the organization and allow you to move up the ladder to new heights of achievement. You can’t achieve more if you are stuck dragging incapable people with you. More importantly, you will never achieve any new status or skills if you are doing the same job every week and there is no growth within miles of you.

Madame de Pompadour, in the court of Louis XV of France, knew the royalty was overspending and overindulging themselves. She predicted future failure when she said, “Après nous le déluge.” Translation: “After us, a flood.” Their extravagance led the way for Louis’ son to lose his throne and end up beheaded along with Marie Antoinette in the French Revolution. Today the phrase means, “’I don’t care what happens after I’m gone.”

People observe your behavior and have already decided if you care what happens in your absence.

However, Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” His success as one of the most famous physicists in the world was due to what others accomplished. He knew that he could only move up if others had
taken on tasks before him. He shared credit with Aristotle, Kepler, Leibniz, and many others enabling him to climb to greater heights. Newton is regarded as probably the greatest scientist in history, but gave credit to others.

You will never move up, until you move over and let someone else drive the car.

My wife drove us to a local restaurant and I got to see the wonderful scenery I had missed by watching the road as I drove before. I was thrilled with the sights as we road along over a bridge we had crossed dozens of times. You will see more, too, when you let someone else handle the details you have been dealing with all these years. The vision will benefit everyone you come in contact with.

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” -Ralph Nader

Model the Train

There is a story about a church pastor in a small town. He walked down to the depot every day to watch the train leave town. Each day, he would smile as the train left and walk back to his office grinning. He repeated this activity so much that some church elders took him aside and asked him why he made this a practice on a daily basis. The pastor answered, “I just like to watch something move in this town without me having to push it!” Aren’t you tired of pushing everyone else?

Tim O’Reilly popularized the terms “open source” and “Web 2.0.” He says, “Empowerment of individuals is a key part of what makes open source work, since in the end, innovations tend to come from small groups, not from large, structured efforts.” Power comes from the small groups you free to move forward in your absence.

Your greatest job is to lose your job in favor of someone else.

Sales managers can’t improve end of month closings doing all the tasks of lackluster account executives. You need to work yourself into a new position by allowing someone else to take on yours gradually. Have a plan. Find several people who are creative and you see a spark of intuition in their attitudes. Reward the out-of-the-box thinkers. Stop punishing rule bending and reward great service and customer stories. Free people up to grow the organization without you having to push it every day.

The more you change your strategy, the more the organization will grow and your results will change… in your favor.

Permission is granted to reprint this article provided the following paragraph is included in full:

Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv. is The Reinvention PRO™, an International Platform Certified Speaker, Certified Speaking Professional and best-selling author of Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results. To subscribe to his free professional development newsletter, please send an email to: [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Jim and his programs can benefit your organization or group, please call 888-688-0220, or visit his web site: © 2016 J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Editorial: Change Your Value or Change The Audience: The Choice is Yours

Jim MathisBy: Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv
J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

“Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats.” -Og Mandino

Alexander the Great
I heard a story about Alexander III of Macedon many years ago that Dr. James Kennedy told. Alexander was one of the most famous generals and rulers in the history of Western Civilization, earning him the name, “Alexander the Great.”

During his short life (33 years), he rose to power and conquered territory from Europe and North Africa to the borders of India. Military schools still teach some of his tactics used in battles.

One evening after a fierce battle, he was walking around the army encampment when he found a soldier sleeping on duty. The Macedonian King awoke the lad and told him the
penalty for this was death.

The boy was scared and crying. The commander paused for a moment and seemed to take pity on the lad who was sniffling and whining before him. You could hear a pin drop.

“What is your name, boy?” Alexander asked.  “A, A, A, Alexander, sir.” The boy said meekly…. “What is your name, I said!” Alexander said louder. “Alexander,” the boy said with a little more volume. “WHAT IS YOUR NAME!!!???” Alexander the Great shouted with anger.
“ALEXANDER, SIR!” The boy said with his eyes closed screaming.
Alexander the Great commanded, “Then change your name, or change your conduct!”

The king didn’t want anyone bearing his name to be known as a slacker in his army.

Like the young man, you are at a crossroads in sales. You have to make a choice between two opposing forces. You need to change the value that people see in what you sell, OR change the audience you sell to. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

“If someone likes you, they’ll buy what you’re selling, whether or not they need it.” -Gene Simmons

Either people see value in you, or your product and services, or they don’t. Whenever I hear someone use the “lack” word in sales and revenues, it all goes back to a lack of value on the buyer’s part. I sell only to people who see value in what I am selling… and so do you.

Why did the Toyota Scion go out of production recently? Lack of value among enough buyers to keep it on the market. Why did Encyclopedia Britannica quit publishing? Lack of value among readers and buyers. Why did my local Sports Authority go out of
business? Lack of value among sports enthusiasts.

But Toyota makes one of the most popular cars in existence… the Camry. Wikipedia and Google are staying in business among readers looking for information. Dick’s Sporting Goods is still in business. The reason is these companies present a value in purchasing and usage that the first group lost, or let go of.

“In the early 19th century, they tried selling soap as healthy. No one bought it. They tried selling it as sexy, and everyone bought it.” -Rose George

If your sales are sagging, first look at the value people see in what you sell. Do they choose someone else who is cheaper? Do they choose another seller who costs more and delivers more? Do they choose another company who meets their actual needs better?

If you can’t change your value, maybe you should change the audience or customers you sell to. Maybe your base market has “dried out.” Maybe your “buffalo have roamed to another greener pasture.” Maybe the industry has shut down. The past eight years have been tough on several industries: coal, oil, healthcare, banking… and the list goes on.

“I would sell 2 million records; a million went to teenagers and a million went to the adults. So, when The Beatles became so popular, I lost a million to the teenagers, but I was still selling a million to the adults.” -Bobby Vinton

Like Bobby Vinton, Johnny Cash learned to find the right audience and sold to it. Cash realized from fan mail that he was a hit with men in prison, so he recorded albums live from prisons and they sold millions of copies and reshaped his image in the music business.

Vinton realized his audience was no longer the teenagers, but that made him focus on adults. He laughs all the way to the bank… and back again!

Heraclitus said over 2,500 years ago, “There is nothing permanent but change!” When I cannot work with industries that have been crippled by economic conditions, government regulations or shifts in the market, I alter the focus to other groups who need the same message of Reinvention. Everyone can reinvent and should every few years. If you don’t need to now, just wait… Your time is coming!

“Nobody has really grasped yet the great wealth that can be made selling data over the Web. There are 100 million potential customers out there.” -Michael J. Saylor

In sales, your challenge is to either identify a value people see readily and will buy like candy bars at the checkout lane, or identify an audience who will want the value you sell.

For instance, I am always meeting corporate leaders who are trying to sell the same products in the same way to the Millennial Generation. They haven’t come to grips that this generation values and buys differently from the previous generations they sold to so easily. Some people have figured it out, while others are still struggling with changing their business models.

“I know people said I wasn’t selling out in America, but that was entirely untrue. We sold out all over the world, and every night I looked out into the fans… that you’re talking about, the tears, the honesty, the inability to not be completely overjoyed because they
felt accepted.” -Lady Gaga

Notice that Lady Gaga identified values that her audiences were seeking: personal honesty and the lack of personal acceptance.  Why do you think Bernie Sanders, Justin Trudeau, and Donald Trump are resonating in a political world that was all but turned off of politics just a few years ago? What values or audiences have they tapped into that has put them on the front pages of papers around the world? People have felt that their everyday needs were being met by these candidates’ messages, so they flocked to them in large numbers.

What can you do to improve your value (message) and experience that reaches people uniquely? John Sculley said, “As a brand marketer, I’m a big believer in ‘branding the customer experience,’ not just selling the service.” Is the experience you deliver on a
consistent basis a value that people will get excited about (and pay more for)?

What can you change in your focus to reach people who aren’t being reached adequately? Charles Kelley said, “I feel like fans who like old Southern rock and country, and more lyric-driven songs in general, have come to country radio. I think that’s why you see country radio growing and albums selling: People are craving a little more of the singer/songwriter stuff going on in country.”

Kelley identified a group of people who have migrated from one musical medium to another to receive value. If you listen to mainstream country music today, it isn’t what it used to be. It sounds more like a blend of Southern Rock and “Rockabilly” music from
the 1990s.

Let’s make this interactive! Here are several quotes from people who succeeded in displaying the right value to the right audience. Read each quote and tell me if it is based on changing the value, or changing the audience. You will see that the results were successful once they identified the change each person needed to make.

• “I’m not good at selling laptops. I’m good at selling ideas.” -Nicholas Negroponte
• “I love to meet my fans, and after every show I usually hang out for a few hours, talking to my fans, signing autographs, and selling T-shirts.” -Tommy Chong
• “We’re in the business of selling pleasure. We don’t sell handbags or haute couture. We sell dreams.” -Alain Wertheimer
• “Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” -Frank Zappa

Permission is granted to reprint this article provided the following paragraph is included in full: Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv. is The Reinvention PRO™, an International Platform Certified Speaker, Certified Speaking Professional and best-selling author of Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results. To subscribe to his free professional development newsletter, please send an email to: [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Jim and his programs can benefit your organization or group, please call 888-688-0220, or visit his web site: © 2016

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Editorial: Reinvent Your Guest Experience: Are You IN… or OUT?

Jim Mathis 2009By: Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv
J&L Mathis Group, Inc.

Someone will always find a way to do what you do for less expense.
But people will pay more for an exceptional experience with you.
-Clark Howard

Be Our Guest
We purchased a house earlier this year as the culmination of a year long move to a new state and new lifestyle. At the closing our Realtor gave us a gift. She didn’t have to do this. She had already made a commission on the purchase, but she knew we had used her before and probably would in the future.

After all, we live in a very mobile society that is characterized by change. The package included a personalized throw for our sofa that reads, “Home is where your story begins. The Mathis Family.” It is great looking and matches our furniture perfectly. Why doesn’t everyone give this type of service regularly?

Has exceptional service just about vanished from your organization? Is there no class in delivering products and service? You would think with unemployment still rampant in many cities, someone would have taught how to serve others with excellence to keep both business strong and to keep their jobs.

It’s been this way before most of today’s workers were born. But it is getting increasingly hard to train good help and keep employees in place very long. The people who frequent your business can probably tell you a lot about this already.

Orlando, Florida is a guest oriented town. Most people come here for the theme parks (Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, etc.). Guest service is a hallmark in every restaurant, shop and attraction at these places. If you are unemployed, it isn’t because the company didn’t need quality people serving their market.

One of our sons is employed in guest relations for the Disney Corporation. Another son works in guest services at a family recreation center. Both have come home with stories about co-workers who brag that they just want to make money and don’t care about the company image (These people never last long with either organization).

Disney has delivered famous service for over 60 years. Don’t believe it? Visit a resort, restaurant or theme park and see how well you are treated by the employees (known as Cast Members). The family entertainment center is known locally for great service and a clean facility. Both businesses are full of guests every day.

“Someone will always find a less expensive way of doing what you do. But people will pay more for an exceptional experience with you.”

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from the two young men as they are involved in a reinvented service industry. How do you feel about these changes?

1. “Customer” is OUT; “Guest” is IN. Disney is famous for their guest experience. The song, “Be Our Guest,” has become their mantra. Think about it. How do you treat a guest in your home? Are they treated better than someone just coming in and leaving?

Everyone loves exceptional treatment.

Anything you can do for them that increases your value is rewarded with more frequent visits. Want to see what I mean? Go to the Guest Service Lounge at a BMW, Lexus or Mercedes dealership and spend an hour just taking in the atmosphere. Then go to a Ford or Chevrolet dealership showroom and tell me if you see a difference. One group treats their frequent guests better than the others.

2. “Unfortunately” is OUT; “At this time,” is in. People don’t like hearing bad news. They particularly don’t like it when they are expecting the best service your company can give. I have never talked to anyone who says, “unfortunately,” and enjoys the same phrase being shot at in their direction when they are being
disappointed by another’s lack of service. Next time you can’t do something for your guest, try saying, “At this time, we can’t….” It comes across much better than saying, “Unfortunately, you don’t…” It also sounds like at sometime in the future, you might be rewarded with a better situation. But, not quite yet…

3. “You guys,” is OUT; “Sir,” or “Ma’am,” is back IN. It is a common practice to hire young people. They communicate to one another in a unique way. It works for their friends, but not for your guests. Calling your guests (particularly the women), “you guys,” isn’t exceptional service. They deserve respect and complimentary responses. They don’t like being called out like they are the
crowd you hang out with after work. They want to be treated special and that their patronage and money is important to you.

4. “Have a good one,” is OUT; “Thank you for your business,” is IN. I have noticed that in place of the 1970’s expression, “Have a nice day,” people now say, “Have a good one.”

Casual service almost never results in repeat business.

Formalities may have disappeared in many sectors of society, but great service demands courtesy and clarity. When you tell a guest as they are completing the purchase or service call to, “Have a good one,” it takes your service down several notches. It is ordinary, rather than being exceptional.

What kind of impression do you want to leave people with? Is that what you want someone to hear as they are leaving your business or walking out the door? Is “have a good one,” that last statement you want people to remember about you?

5. “I know where you’re coming from,” is OUT; “Let me try to understand,” is IN. I was calling about a concern with my cellular phone service. I called the company to get it straightened out while in an airport lounge. The call lasted a very long time. It seemed the lady on the other end of the line kept interrupting me by saying, “I know where you are coming from.” She really had no idea, but never let me explain the situation.

First, I was in an airport and almost was compelled to ask her if she knew my flight itinerary and that is how she “knew where I was coming from.” Second, the reason the call was taking so long? She was busy giving me a casual scripted response before I could explain the problem. However, someone had taught her to say that she knew where I was coming from instead of repeating back my concerns in an understanding manner or reassuring me by saying, “Let me try to understand.” Sadly, she was impatient and not exceptional.

And me, her guest on the line… I blame the whole company for training this person and then putting her on the phone with their account holders.

6. “No problem!” is OUT; “Yes,” “No” or “I will have that right away,” is IN. Why do so many guest service people trivialize your concern by saying, “No problem.”  Are they bragging that they can handle the situation and you don’t need to worry? You and I expect handling the difficulties we are experiencing with your service or product to be handled by you accurately the first time.

For instance, if we ask the maître de for a table to seat six for dinner, it shouldn’t be a problem to do the job you are being paid by the restaurant to do. But do we really need to be told it isn’t a problem? We need to be told, “We’ll have that for you right away, or as soon as we can.”

So don’t tell us it isn’t a problem; because it is. It is our problem as your guest who needs their service in an accurate, courteous and timely manner… done right the first time.

Your business can’t afford to offer casual, slack service. If you want to attract eager, frequent guests, they need to experience the best from you every time. Each guest should be treated like they are the most important person to ever call you on the phone or come
in you door. People like being treated special. You know this because you do as well. They remember poor experiences… and they remember excellence. Is your business a “casualty” of casual service? Or is it an example of excellence in an ordinary atmosphere that goes beyond expectations?

Change Your Service; Change Your Results
Jim Mathis, IPCS, CSP, MDiv. is The Reinvention PRO™, an International Platform Certified Speaker, Certified Speaking Professional and best-selling author of Reinvention Made Easy: Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results. To subscribe to his free professional development newsletter, please send an email to: [email protected] with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject. An electronic copy will be sent out to you every month. For more information on how Jim and his programs can benefit your organization or group, please call 888-688-0220, or visit his web site: