POINT TO PONDER
“The treasure was the journey itself, the discoveries he made, and the wisdom he acquired.”
STORY LINE Recently Mark Dennen, a good friend, retired at a young age after a very successful career in sales as an executive of a multinational company. A day before he boarded the plane to the place of retirement, Mark was gracious enough to satisfy my curiosity by sharing his experiences, lessons learned and impart the wisdom acquired through the years. Here are a few of the many things I captured.
1. Customers are looking for desired outcomes not just products. (You are not buying a drill, but a means to make a hole or perhaps fasten boards with a screw)
2. Presentations: People come to hear me speak, not to read my slides.
3. Three things that helped him to be successful: Work Hard, Be Respectful and Don’t waste money.
4. Why he took accounting and business classes: In any company, it is all about making money for the stockholders. The best (most secure) jobs are those directly related to revenue generation
5. Risk Taking: People spend too much time worrying about smallest incidents which could impact them by $1 to $5 million, instead they should be focused on those could impact them by $5B-$10B (The Power Curve)
6. Status: It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.
7. Appreciation: Selling is personal and small things make a big difference such as a hand written Thank You, a small gift (specialty tea, jam, or flowers for the spouse at dinner), the sharing of an article or even a personal photograph.
8. Ethics: It’s easy to have high ethics when you are making lots of money (it’s easy to be good with no temptations), but it is far harder when times are bad.
9. “If only thing you do is follow a recipe, then you are not a good cook.”
10. During a crisis, usually the first thing to get dropped is courtesy. (Unfortunately)
11. Read. Read. Knowledge is the differentiator. In the age of chivalry, friendly knights would greet each other by raising their visor with their right hand (the hand which normally held the sword). The handshake probably evolved in a similar manner, to demonstrate that each person was not holding a weapon. Today, most business discussions (interviews, sales presentations, claim settlements, etc.) begin with the standard handshake, but it is the short verbal handshake immediately following which can establish the tone for the success or failure of the meeting.
Meetings are like a chess game, there are variety of openings and one can never accurately predict how they are going to start. It could be the weather, politics, sports, medicine, finance or pets, but regardless of the topic, it would be helpful if you could engage in the discussion and establish some level of competency, thus creating a favorable impression. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to read from a variety of credible sources on a daily basis to improve your chances in this initial engagement. For newspapers, I like the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal and although many will have problems with their Op-Ed pages, both are well-written, very credible and cover diverse topics. For magazines, Scientific American, the Economist and Fortune cover a variety of topics and events of interest to a variety of professionals. Everyone will have their own preferences, but the important thing is be read, to be aware and be current.
12. Interview: Competing against many who want the job. What differentiates you, all happens in just a brief conversation. Once you get the position, then how you perform is all that matters. One interview: a Ph.D., from a prestigious university, when asked, “What do you read?, answered, “I read my phone.” (not a good answer).
Thank You Mark. “Things that are given away are never lost.”