Art

Always Be Closing – How?

If you’ve ever had anything to do with sales, then you’re likely familiar with Alec Baldwin’s famous scene from the film, “Glen Gary, Glen Ross.” If you’re not familiar, and you haven’t seen it, just stop right now and watch it. Easily one of the best uses of seven minutes you’ll ever have in your life. Just click here. You’re welcome. 

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In the scene, our dapper and dashing hero (who’s with us from Mitch & Murray) excoriates the all-star cast, extolling the virtues of ABC and AIDA. ABC, of course, is short hand for “Always Be Closing.” Closing, also being a salesman’s ultimate goal.

Because only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted

Always be closing means: Everything you do, every handshake, door opening, please & thank you, sales pitch, head nod of understanding, all of it, is done for one purpose: TO CLOSE THEM. Get them to sign. Car salesmen understand this better than most and they have a secret expression they teach to new recruits: “The feel of the wheel, will seal the deal.” Part of the reason they’re always trying to start out with a test drive as quickly as possible is because they know emotion will take over. “I look so good behind the wheel, oh wow, feel how she handles? This is WAY better than my car.” 

A lot of lip service is paid to closing. Every single manager I’ve come across in the past 15 years has used the word and the majority have done so incorrectly – or at least incompletely. Everyone knows it’s important and thus can’t be avoided – but few spend their time or resources teaching how to do it better or studying their technique. And for one important reason…

Because Closing is where winning and losing happen. Closing is the final arbitrator: you either got the sale or you didn’t. You’ve gone all-in and the cards are turned up – did you make your flush? 

Most people avoid losing. Certainly more than they pursue winning. Given the choice, better to not really push it to a decision, right? I mean, if it’s going to happen, it’ll happen on its own, right? That’s garbage thinking.

Everything we do speaks, as my illustrious co-worker told me recently. Everything we do should be in the service of doing our jobs, whatever they be, as well as we can. My job is chiefly focused on sales (55%) and more importantly, the success of the 15 sales people that report up to me. How do I help them execute like a black-hooded-hatchet-man? 

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Closing means asking questions. It means caring enough about the client to want to solve their problem, even if the solution isn’t your product or service. It means valuing your clients’ time, attention, and trust. Closing is vowing to maximize each interaction, using every word and gesture to build a rapport so you can solve the mystery of what they need and how you can help them find it. If it happens to be your product/service, great! If not, that’s fine too! They’ve ostensibly come to you because you’re an expert and they’re in need of your knowledge – that’s a sacred trust and should be respected. 

These are the things we need to breakdown for our teams. We need to get to the “WHY” of what we do. We need to make plain and clear that we’re here to solve problems, to solve mysteries, and to create relationships. Any person or team who can deliver those three things will find no shortage of success. 

A Song, An Original Typed Story, and Picking Yourself

During a recent sojourn through the fjords of the internet, I ran into a remarkable artist going by the twitter handle @RovingTypist. His real name is C.D. Hermelin, and he types original one-page stories, on an honest-to-god typewriter in the parks of NYC, all while you wait, and for a donation amount of your choosing.

How cool is that?!

Having seen it, and that he also takes requests for stories via his website, I had to order one. But what about? The coolest aspect of this little service of Christopher’s is that you can provide him with as much or as little (read: none) information to craft your story.

Recently, I’d become obsessed with this song by a fledgling band called The Front Bottoms, and more specifically their song “Twin Size Mattress” which had been on repeat at my desk for a week.

So, I decided to ask the Roving Typist to listen to it and write whatever came to mind. It didn’t have to be about the song at all, could just have been a thought that formed while listening to it. The final product was amazing in how well it fit together and created this little possible backstory for the song.

My Story from @RovingTypist

My Story from @RovingTyp

I tweeted the author to convey my thanks and was hit back with this:

tweetRovingTypist

All of this then ties in with another of my favorite authors, Seth Godin. One of his big sticking points is that in a world of people that get picked, we should pick ourselves. Sure, a publisher could do it, or a record company, or art dealer – but that’s not really necessary or ideal at this point. Pick yourself. Put your art into the world. Make connections. This is your time, and if you do something remarkable, why not let people know it?

C.D. Hemelin is most certainly doing that, and succeeding on a grand scale of connecting with people and making a difference in their lives.

This entire trip has been an amazing experience. I’ve realized fully, the value of being your most authentic self. Reaching out to another person I’d never meet and then to get a piece of art (and this is most definitely art!) that I’ll always tie to a time and place. Plus, I get another great story – or, two, actually.

If this remotely appeals to you, I suggest you contact the Roving Typist and let him share his art with you. Even at the $25 I chose to spend, it’s a pittance, and something you’ll enjoy sharing with others.

What’s Your Joy?

Irreverence, Passion, Art, Poetry, Stories, Movies, Debate, LOVE, smelling my son’s hair when he hugs me goodbye in the morning, seeing my wife smile, closing a deal – a BIG deal. Leading. Seeing my team decimate anything in their way.

Facing Fear. Not conquering it so much – but just facing it. Holding my breath the whole time. Innovation. Making something incrementally better. A good tomato cream sauce. Pop Art. Jeanelle’s photos. Kaleel’s brisket rub. Hiser’s Jedi-mind stuff. Marshall’s heart. Tara’s ever-presence. Tracy’s Stories.

Shifting into fourth and really letting the engine have it. The surge of an RPM gauge as you pass some Tuesday Greg on his way to get his hair cut. Getting my hair cut. Drinking coffee like it comes in a red solo cup at a frat party because you know it’s powering exceptional stuff today.

I think this is mostly right - perhaps learning how to do a thing right is also Joy.

I think this is mostly right – perhaps learning how to do a thing right is also Joy.

Learning something new for the first time. Did you know that WD-40 stands for “Water displacement – 1940” because I do. Metrics. Pouring over towers of data and making it stand up and tell a story. Cutting through BS because “aint nobody got time for that” Memes (Thanks Richard Dawkins)

Having great friends that push you. Pushing yourself to be something better and achieving it. Being the type of person you want to see others be – even if it’s not all the time. Caring. The one pistachio that’s really easy to pop open. The parking space that opens at ikea as you make your first approach.

Good design. Thoughtfulness. Being present. Winning – but not at the expense of others. Knowing nothing else beats human effort. 80’s movies, namely “Red Dawn.” Tumblr. SNL. Making something out of nothing – or even better – something better out of something OK  Quotes. George C. Howell speaking as “Patton”

Making a sale. Looking at things sideways. Changing my mind in the face of superior information – and doing so without apology. Grammar. Teams. Exceptional oratory. A superior cut of meat, grilled to perfection. The feel of a crisp paper in the morning and the occasional cigar.

Belly laughs. The deep look of immediate recognition from an awkward puppy. A handful of darts, a blank slate, and a pitcher of beer with good friends. When my wife makes up words by combining two words and doesn’t even realize it – cutest thing in the world. A freshly starched shirt in the morning. A clean polo on the weekends. The unexpected summer breeze in late July. Making breakfast with my boys while they stand on chairs the moved into place.

I could do this all week…

Care to try your hand? What’s your joy? What do you believe in, virulently. What would you rest back and with a wide expressive spreading of hands say “Ohhhhhhh, this is amazing!”

Name it now, please.

Your Silence Isn’t Helping Anyone…

Your silence isn’t helping anyone. Least of all you.

Sure, it fits with all the things you’ve been told. That it’s better to “fly under the radar” and to “live to fight another battle.” The problem is you aren’t looking for any battles. And you definitely aren’t looking to live another day – because you’re not doing any living right now. At least not the kind that matters.

I’m not talking about rock climbing and cliff diving and all the risky things one does with one’s life that might provide a rare dose of adrenaline. I’m talking about the day-to-day living that would do a lot to make you happier and more successful. It’s easy to be daring when jumping out of a plane with a trained instructor strapped to your posterior, but another thing altogether to open your mouth at the next meeting and say the unpopular thing that needs to be said.

Forgive me, I’ve been reading/listening to an insane amount of Seth Godin lately, and like all good philosopher poets (we’re calling a “marketing guru” this now? – I am) they have their ONE. BIG. THING. And Godin’s is seductively simple: Make Art. Cause a ruckus. Be bold. Sure, there’s a lot more, but this is the overarching summary in my eyes. And it’s a summation that rings big ass church bells in my noggin.

As a business leader and overall fan of the human condition, I’m constantly motivated by learning what motivates people – or as I’m finding out – what holds them back. My current project is leading a team of 40+ in the daily operations of an off-campus Student Housing community near UCF. It’s exhilarating and every bit a seething mass of awesomeness. At the same time, a big part of my role is as teacher to a number of them whom are still in college and finding their way in the world. This is the messiest part, and also my favorite.

On certain days (read: the best days) I pontificate a lot. My passion gets to run free and I become a whirling dervish of know-how. I try to start with underlying principles and work up from there to the more concrete issue at hand. If you don’t know the “why” you won’t care about the “how”, I always think.

With that in mind, and a good dose of Godin in my ears, I’ve come to believe the biggest restraining force working on anyone is the fear of being wrong. No one likes it and frankly, we’re not taught how to deal with it and accept it. In fact, we’re taught to avoid the whole possibility entirely:

  • If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  • Everyone has their own opinion
  • Who are you to say?
  • There’s a time and a place and this isn’t it. (Never is!)
  • Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. (this is my favorite)

It’s all part of the same thing. Sit down. Stay quiet. Hide your art. Hide your knowledge. Hide your passion. No one can crap all over your dream if you don’t actually do anything to make it concrete. This extends past dreams to mere notions of “wouldn’t this be cool…” so we don’t dare do anything we’re not explicitly told to.

It sucks. And I’ve known this for as long as I can remember. I’m done with it.

I’ve had a great career thus far and I owe it entirely to my inability to shut my pie hole. I say the wrong things at the wrong times. I break rules and conventions when they don’t suit the mission and act as obstacles to our goals. I don’t do this recklessly, but do you realize how many rules exist because some idiot not following it could do real damage?

And failure has been a big part of it. I’ve screwed up royally for sure. Mostly, I’ve finished with far more success than not, and in failing, have cleared a new path of others who could benefit from my failure. It gets seen, it gets celebrated. “Whoops, I did something stupid guys – but this is why I did it.”

So speak up. Stand up. Be counted on. Be a part of whatever it is you’re already a part of instead of just dipping in your seat to avoid getting called on. Guess what? They know you’re there and they know you’ve got nothing to say. Isn’t that way worse than being thought stupid?

Prepare. Learn. Think. And sit up straight next time, lean forward and open that mouth god gave you. Your living doesn’t happen on the weekends or in a mountain – it happens wherever you are, everyday.

Worst case? They fire you for looking/thinking/saying something stupid. You move on, get a new gig, and you are in a better place for it. And most importantly you’ve learned something.

Your silence? No one wants that. Unless a movie is on. Then by all means shut up.

Appreciate: The Most Beautiful Thing You’ll Hear…

Around my senior year of high school I wanted to impress this girl (BTW, how much of our history has been caused by someone uttering those last six words?) and somehow I got this great idea to take her out on this moonlit stroll where, at a point I’d read her this amazing poem to show her how into her I was. Yeah, really original and not at all cheesy.

Well, my biggest obstacle was I didn’t know anything about poetry- how to write it, what was good, did it have to rhyme? So I started by reading every conceivable book of poetry I could get my hands on at Barnes-&-Noble. I did this for weeks in preparation for my big moment and I have to admit, it totally killed. She loved it and boom, we we’re dating.

Smooth, right? It was, but it didn’t last long – probably had something to do with my cancelling on her for prom three days beforehand. To take out my ex-girlfriend.

Yes. That happened.

But my main point here is that I never stopped reading poetry. I kept writing, for years and haven’t ever really stopped for a tremendous length of time. All kinds too; the classics, spoken-word, slam, Charles Bukowski, Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, you name it. That being said, this song (see the video) is not only the most hauntingly beautiful song I’ve ever heard, it’s also a remarkable work of poetry all its own.

Original writing is insanely hard. To capture the nebulous feelings you experience when you look at someone that truly matters to you, and to do it without sounding hackneyed, or trite, or derivative of a master – it’s like verbal alchemy. Damn near as impossible, too.

I think it’s easy for people to take for granted the unbelievable forces spinning inside them; love, jealousy, yearning, ambition, fear, grief, longing – and how hard it is to get someone else to know exactly what those feelings are like – using only the written word. How they make you tingle, or shudder, or how they change your breathing while sitting perfectly still. To get someone else to feel them all over again, just from reading them.

It’s a gift, and this young lady has it. Stunningly beautiful imagery,  intense feeling, uncommon honesty, all adding up to one hell of a song.