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December 2010

10 Keys to Success in 2011

We’re opening another yearbook, named 2011, filled with 365 blank pages – another great opportunity for creating our best-ever success story. It is time to review the time-tested keys that give you the best chances for success. 

1. Work harder and play better. Successful people know that nothing worthwhile comes easy. Hard work is important, but it is equally important to have fun. Go to any successful start-up company, and you’ll see employees blowing off steam on ping-pong tables, throwing darts, browsing books on a shelf, or playing trash-can basketball. Frolicking at work isn’t frivolous. Dispensed in small doses, it’s a powerful success medicine. Don’t be a workaholic; be a “workafrolic” instead.

2. Cultivate curiosity. Successful people are not just curious about their chosen field, they are curious about EVERYTHING. They continually think, explore new ideas, ask dozens of questions, and always try to figure out how things work and how they could be made to work better. Curiosity is the most powerful business-improvement and personal-success engine.

3. Expand your endurance. Push yourself mentally and physically. You can find more successful people in a gym than in a movie theater. Successful people know how to generate and maintain positive energy 24/7. They strive to be physically fit, and at the same time they work on their psychological fitness. Here three suggestions:

A) Push past the negative self-talk that says, “I am not good enough, I am not smart enough, and I don’t think I am going to make it.”
B) Push beyond your fears. Fear is an acronym for “false evidence appearing real.” Embrace the fear, and it will loosen its grip on you.
C) Push past your self-limitations. Think big. Life is too short to waste on small stuff.

4. Turn failure into fertilizer. Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before he found a filament that would glow in a vacuum tube, which lead to his invention of the lightbulb. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” 

5. Focus. Successful people begin each day with written goals they want to achieve. They know that the onslaught of incoming emails, calls, and texts will distract them, but each time they get sidetracked, they go back to working on the next item on their list. People who start a new task every three minutes end up doing in an hour 20 small tasks that merely contribute to maintaining the status quo. It is far better to invest your complete mental focus on two or three tasks per hour and create steady forward momentum.

6. Innovate. Successful people know that having innovative ideas is not enough. What counts is how many new ideas you can implement successfully. What holds people back is not the difficulty of implementing their ideas, but what people say when they start sharing their ideas with others. Oracle founder Larry Ellison said it best: “When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you that you’re nuts.” 

7. Manage disappointment. Successful people realize that reaching success often depends on how they manage the inevitable disappointments that unexpectedly impact their lives. When people get disappointed, they often withdraw, and their anger turns inward. Successful people transform disappointment into a journey of self-discovery, where they reconnect with their inner strengths. Disappointment well managed will become the cradle of ambition.  

8. Improvise. Successful people rarely read a book on how to become successful. Why? Because they are the ones who write the books that inspire others to reach success. The one key ingredient that authors of success books consistently ignore is the art of improvisation. Charles Darwin identified improvisation as most critical, saying, “In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” George Gershwin echoed this idea by writing, “Life is a lot like jazz…it’s best when you improvise.”
9. Dream. Successful people don’t ask for more resources to turn their dreams into reality. They are more resourceful about closing the gap between dreaming and doing. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe believed that dreams played a vital part in reaching success: “Dream no small dreams, for they have no power to move the hearts of men.”

10. Define success. Successful people know that how you define success will define your success potential. There are three basic ways to define success: Some people define success through a material scoreboard. It can be the size of their house, the size of their boat, the size of their bank account. Other people define success with a tuning fork. As they communicate with the world, they experience a special feeling. They may say, “I am successful when I feel happy.” A third group defines success as a continuous cycle of setting and reaching progressively more challenging goals. It doesn’t matter which definition of success you subscribe to, what matters is that you are aware of the fact that your success definition is your “guiding fiction,” which will be reflected on each one of the 365 pages of your book entitled Success 2011


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Passionate Dreamers

As the stories of highly successful business leaders suggest, dreams must be charged with passion to have a chance to turn into reality.
Blog-sw Take Herb Kelleher, co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines, who stands out as a visionary for creating the most profitable airline in the United States. Kelleher became a role model for every employee with his hands-on approach and personal intensity. While his competitors sat behind mahogany desks in their corporate offices, Kelleher regularly loaded luggage onto planes, filled cups with ice while flight attendants took drink orders and entertained the passengers with his down-to-earth sense of humor. What airline CEO would tolerate flight attendants dressing up as bunnies on Easter and wearing turkey suits for Thanksgiving? “Our people are so energetic” said Kelleher, “they couldn’t be replicated.” Kelleher knew that any airline could copy Southwest’s business plan, but no competitor could copy the fervent passion that’s become an integral part of the company’s culture.

Here is a two minute video of a Southwest airline employee turning a boring safety announcement into a fun rap that gets cheerful applause from the passengers.


Blog-tea Another example is the founder of the highly successful Celestial Seasonings Tea Company, Mo Siegel. When he was 21 he dreamed about becoming a millionaire by the age of 26 and he reached his goal one cup of tea at a time. He told me how he harvested herbs to create his first healthy blend called MO’s 36 and quickly expanded his line of teas, including the famous Red Zinger. Mo made his first sales trips in an old Datsun, visiting stores and selling them on carrying his herbal teas. He infused his company with his dream of contributing to a better world saying, “We believe that in order to make this world a better place in which to live, we must be totally dedicated to the endless quest for excellence.” Siegel tapped into the same pool of passion as Kelleher. Another success factor in Mo Siegel’s life is his passion for climbing mountains. Read this amazing story of his conquests and near misses.



Or take Michael Dell, who started assembling computers in his college dorm based on the idea of building direct relationships with his customers. I remember interviewing Michael when he was only 27 years old, and his sales were just over $2 billion. What struck me was his boundless curiosity in looking at every business opportunity in a new way. Dell is a Zen master of relentless, no-holds-barred, ongoing improvement.

One of his key management principles is a business process improvement program where employees are encouraged to make the business more efficient and responsive to their customers, and individual team members are given control over having their ideas implemented in the company. In the internal document titled “The Soul of Dell” the focus is on winning. “We have a passion for winning in everything we do. We are committed to operational excellence, superior customer experience, leading in the global markets we serve, being known as a great company and great place to work and providing superior shareholder value over time.”

Unjaded by a long string of winning, the Chairman of the $60 billion company has a relentless passion for reaching higher, claiming “there is so much more to be done.”

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are you curious about what the world would be like if you could turn your dream into reality?
  2. What is the source of your passion? To win, to serve, to transform the world, to make a difference?
  3. Are you willing to pour your heart and soul into turning your idea into reality and do all the tough and dirty work that comes with it?
  4. Are you dedicated to an endless quest for excellence?
  5. Do you seek out mentors who have fought tough battles against mediocrity and won, so you can learn from their example?


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Top Sales Gurus Predict Emerging Trends for 2011

During the three-hour Top Sales Awards Webcast last Thursday, we had the pleasure of speaking to some of the brightest stars in the selling field. We asked every guest for his or her prediction for 2011:

Wendy Weiss
Blog-wendy “I think that moving forward, the days of easy business are really over. People need to know how to find the business. You want to look for people who are looking for you. The numbers of inside sales positions are going up.”


Joanne Black
Blog-joanne “There are three elements that lead to a good conversation with a client. First, get a referral. Second, engage prospects in a collaborative conversation. Good salespeople always listen and ask good questions and then decide whether they have a good solution or not. Third, you have to be willing to walk away from a bad deal.”


Jill Konrath
Blog-jill “I see a bifurcation of the sales process. Salespeople can’t afford to be a product-pushing peddler; they need to collaborate with their customers.”




Kevin Eikenberry
Blog-kevin “Sales leaders need to continue to help their teams to be more creative and innovative to generate and find new business. Rather than lament that there is not as much business as there once was, we need to go after what’s available. The recession has ended or shifted, and a lot of top performers wait for new opportunity. We need to think how to engage, develop, and keep the top performers.”

Nigel Edelshain
Blog-nigel “More and more sales managers and sales leaders will embrace social media in 2011. Just a year ago, Twitter was not taken seriously. We’ve gone past the tipping point. Here is an example: Recent research shows that 92 percent of IT buyers are now looking for solutions online. If you are an IT salesperson, you will miss a lot of opportunities if you don’t join the online conversation.”

Dave Kurlan
Blog-dave “The data shows that the midmarket and large market companies are beginning to hire. These companies are investing in tools, processes, and people. That leads to more revenues. Our 135 partners find that the presidents and CEOs of midsize companies are now spending money on nonessential items. Although they are more cautious, they are moving forward.”

Dr. Tony Alessandra
Blog-tony “We will see, more and more, selling move into the digital arena. We will see more online presentations. We need to teach salespeople how to be proficient in the new media.”


Paul McCord
Blog-paul “We are going into a continued realm of confusion. Sales 2.0 tools will continue to grow. A lot of what we are doing in sales is going to go online; however, there are many people out there who are not on Twitter and who don’t shop online. Salespeople will have to work through the issue of how much time they need to spend online and how much they need to spend offline. As more consultants and writers proclaim the dominance of the Internet, there are still millions that don’t do business via the Internet. We can’t forget about the offline world. We have to deal with three different worlds: One is online, another does nothing online, and another is partially online and partially offline. We’ll have to learn how to deal with three different environments.”

Dan Waldschmidt
Blog-dan “Selling is a dying craft. This is nothing to mourn. Half of the people who are in sales today should get out of the profession to pursue other opportunities. Every time technology does the work of humans, we see that as progress. We’ve created amazing tools. Computer systems can fake real conversations, but many times this leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of nonsense. People send out mass emails and customers opt out. Social media is the next generation of conversation. Take a look at the tweets that are sent. Ask yourself, are you really having a conversation, or are you perpetuating nonsense?”

Dave Stein
Blog-davestein “Next year, coaching with a process and a method for coaching the right thing will surge. There will be increased attention to strategic negotiations. The demand for services from companies like Huthwaite, the Bay Group, and Think Inc. will surge. Training in social media will roll into sales-skills training. Salespeople will be trained in the use of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Virtual technology-enabled learning will continue to grow.”

Linda Richardson
Blog-linda “Clients will no longer look for sales training. They are looking for sales force transformation. They want to talk about talent, sales process, and KPIs, and the training will include negotiation, coaching, pipeline management, CRM tools, and a coaching culture where managers can learn how to coach.”


Art Sobczak
Blog-art “[Next year] will be more difficult for salespeople. People are crazy busy, and they don’t take the time unless you have a targeted, value-added message. Inside sales will grow faster. The hybrid rep will blur the line between inside and outside sales. All the new technology is great, but many times the people side gets lost. My new talk is entitled “People 1.0,” and I share how more successful salespeople go back to the human element.”

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Who Won the Annual Top Sales Awards 2010?



I was proud to be the cohost of the Annual Top Sales Awards 2010, a three-hour online ceremony that included participants located in Europe and the United States. The day prior to this prestigious event I received several emails from people expressing doubts about the integrity of the online voting process. These people expressed concern that some of the nominees attempted to game the online voting system in their own favor. After the organizer Jonathan Farrington explained that the online voting accounted for only 50 percent of the results and that an independent panel of judges accounted for the other 50 percent, I was satisfied that the Top Sales Awards were the result of a fair process that can be verified and audited.

If you didn’t attend the live Webcast, you can see who won what on this Website.

When I learned that I was elected as one of the three Top Sales Personalities, I decided to tweet my followers to cast their vote in favor of Jill Konrath, who ended up winning. It’s great to have the author of SNAP Selling close the gender gap.



I was proud to learn that Selling Power won the silver medal in the Top Sales Resource category.


I knew of the Top Sales Personality and Top Sales Resource results in advance of the event, but the big surprise came at the end when Jonathan Farrington announced the Top Sales Hall of Fame winners.


I feel humbled and proud to be included in the 2010 Top Sales Hall of Fame next to the legends of our industry.

During the three-hour awards ceremony, we invited a dozen top sales experts to participate, and we asked them for their predictions for 2011. Check back tomorrow to read the insights from the top sales gurus as they predict the trends for 2011. 



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Are You a Feel-Good Millionaire?

While many people like to say that one of their goals in life is to leave the world a better place, the thought of improving the world may show lofty ambition but also hints at arrogance. Good salespeople don't aim to improve the world; instead they work at improving themselves. If self-improvement is the first step to improving society, what would be the next logical step?

We bring to the business of selling more than just the knowledge of the product, the skills of dealing with people, and the motivation to win. We also bring our own set of personal and ethical values to our customers –values that communicate who we are and what we stand for. Good salespeople know that real champions are not measured by how much money they can collect, but by how much meaning they can contribute. Real champions know that laughing all the way to the bank loses its appeal when they realize on a gloomy day that a fat checkbook won't hug them back. Zig Ziglar once said that “money can buy you the best mattress in the world, but it can’t buy you a good night’s sleep.”

During the past decade, value-added selling became key in generating more business. Given the increased complexity of our changing world, I believe that the next wave of progress will be value-added meaning. Sure, business will always demand that we produce profits, yet our minds always demand that we find meaning. Sensible business leaders help their sales teams understand the basic human need to create both.

Blog-benioff-book For example, Marc Benioff, cofounder, chairman, and CEO of has sparked an international movement with his Salesforce Foundation. He first described his feel-good formula in his book Compassionate Capitalism: How Corporations Can Make Doing Good an Integral Part of Doing Well (Amazon).

Here is a four-minute video that shows how Benioff’s feel-good idea has grown around the globe:

While value-added selling creates dollars that we can take to the bank, value-added meaning creates a different currency, one we might call "feel-good dollars." While it takes a long time to become a millionaire in real dollars, we all can become overnight millionaires by earning feel-good dollars. How? You can add meaning to your customers' lives, contribute to your community, or simply engage your heart in random acts of kindness.

We build our net worth by what we collect; we increase our feel-good worth by how much we contribute. Good salespeople ask themselves, “What can I do today that will help my customers feel good about doing business with me and my company? How can I bring more meaning to my customers and my community at large? How can I add value to the profession of selling?” In 2011, replenish your treasure chest of human values by getting better at doing good. It doesn’t take a lot of time to feel like a million dollars. Become a feel-good millionaire starting today.



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Dreamforce 2010 - Stevie Wonder introduces Bill Clinton

Blog-stage-1 There were 15,000 people in the audience when Marc Benioff got on stage to introduce Bill Clinton. But Clinton's plane was delayed due to bad weather, and Benioff had to improvise. To fill the time, he asked superstar Stevie Wonder to come on stage for a brief interview. After the interview, Benioff asked Stevie Wonder to introduce Bill Clinton. It was a touching moment. Heartfelt improvisation trumps the best-written speech.



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Opening of Dreamforce 2010

I can remember the first Dreamforce event in San Francisco. Elizabeth Pinkham organized the event and more than 300 people attended. That was nine years ago. Yesterday, more than 15,000 people streamed into the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The video below gives you an inside look at how it feels to walk into this huge, energy-filled convention hall, where 15,000 pairs of eyes wait to catch a glimpse of Marc Benioff, CEO and chairman of I walked all the way to the front, and by chance I ran into Brett Queener, who was ready with his microphone and prepared to address the crowd.

My observations:

  1. Energy: It is impossible not to feel energized by the excitement on attendee’s faces.
  2. Marc Benioff is a master showman and passionate presenter, a high-octane evangelist for the “Cloud 2.”
  3. The organized event is a model of customer-experience management. It took me fewer than 10 seconds to register for my press pass. My badge was printed – with my picture (downloaded from my Chatter profile) – within 20 seconds. No delay. Why can’t hotels use this amazing system?
  4. This is the first Dreamforce where Marc Benioff shared the stage with his top team, who did a terrific job presenting the new offerings. The stage was not a traditional square; it was round and offered Benioff the opportunity to walk down the aisles and personally address members of the audience. Nice touch.
  5. When Benioff brought in his partner, Parker Harris, the producers filmed Parker in the exhibit hall and projected his live feed onto giant screens in the conference. Traditionally, Parker and Marc have appeared on stage at the same time. In this instance, Marc carried on the dialogue by addressing the screen, while Parker shared live information from the exhibit floor.


All in all, it was a well-produced event. In the exhibit hall, one of the sponsors described his impressions of Benioff in this way: “He’s our locomotive; he is powering the gravy train, and we all benefit from his exceptional charisma.” Then with a wink, he said, “Plus, every day he sells 10,000 shares, which put $1.4 million dollars in his pocket. That’s $7 million a week. Don’t you love this country?”


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Wisdom and Insights from High-Level CEOs

Last week I had the privilege of attending the CEO2CEO conference, organized by Chief Executive magazine, at the New York Stock Exchange. I had the good fortune to meet some of the most interesting CEOs of our times. As always, I picked up more ideas during the informal conversations at our table and during the breaks. Here are a few nuggets:

Insecurity: One of a Good Leader’s Driving Forces

Most good leaders grew up in modest circumstances. Despite a good work ethic, they often carry a feeling of insecurity that they might not succeed. One CEO boiled it down: “[CEOs] need to have an asset and a slight defect. The asset is wanting to do well, be independent, take risks, and pursue a bold vision. The defect is to be always afraid of failure.”

Another CEO said, “I believe that many entrepreneurs have an inferiority complex. When you get to know them and get to the core of who they are, they are very insecure. This is the exact opposite of what they portray in public. The insecurity and fear of failure drive them to work harder.”

Bob Nardelli, the CEO of Cerberus Capital who has 50 CEOs reporting to him (their aggregate sales are more than $50 billion) said it best: “Many entrepreneurs who come from modest or meager backgrounds feel the need to demonstrate their worth. They didn't go to an Ivy League school but can be just as competitive and successful. They always feel that they have to prove themselves. Unfortunately, when you look at the children of these successful entrepreneurs, you don't find that street-fighter instinct because they had a better life. My dad served in WWII in the military. My parents were not financially well off. My parents worked their butts off, and I have one brother, and our parents were dedicated to their two boys. We had a very modest upbringing and responsibilities at a very early age and duties in the house, and we learned good values and appreciation of financials and work ethic.”

The Capacity to Learn and Improve

What struck me as curious was how many CEOs at the event were not using technology to capture ideas. There was not a single laptop in the room. I noticed a few iPads and plenty of smart phones. In fact, many CEOs had two or three in front of them, monitoring their business in real time on their BlackBerrys. One CEO said that success depends on our ability to learn: “Whether it was in sports or in school, we learned that we all have an infinite capacity to do better than we are now.” Another CEO commented, “I believe there is also the value of experience that differentiates the level of understanding. Our role is to leverage wisdom and liberally share what we know.”

The Ability to Read the Map and Connect the Dots

Successful leaders seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to reading the shifts in the market. They recognize patterns, and they talk about them. But the most interesting comment about reading the market was from one CEO: “Most people see the dots on the map, but they are not able to connect them.” 

The Realization That Each Day Offers Opportunities

One CEO said, “Each day we are exposed to a thousand learning opportunities. For example, this morning I saw an article in the WSJ on how to lay out stores to enhance the shopping experience. I sent that article to one of my companies in the UK. I always try to absorb what's around me. And I always ask myself if there is any application that could be beneficial to me or my companies. As I go around to these companies, I naturally share the best practices that I have discovered in other companies I've visited.”

Another CEO agreed with the idea of “cross-fertilizing” ideas across the enterprise and added, “If you want to succeed in life, you have to be just as good with learning as with unlearning. Many people just learn what's new and talk about it, but they continue to execute on practices or processes that have become obsolete.” When I heard that insight, I could not help commenting on the fact that the CEO who shared it carried a hardbound notebook and used a fountain pen to record his thoughts and insights. When I shared my observation with him, he responded, “This may look old-fashioned to you, but I get pleasure and satisfaction from writing things down with a fountain pen, and this notebook helps me think and keep things in one place, where I can find them quickly. If I did this on a notebook computer, I would not have instant access to my idea library. This book doesn’t need to be plugged in, and I don’t have to wait for it to boot up. It’s instant.”

What CEOs Worry About

A number of CEOs were optimistic about the economy, saying that October and November were good months but the market doesn’t feel it yet. We are still held captive by a climate of uncertainty, which holds us back from making important decisions. Many people are waiting to see how things will play out. A lobbyist said, “We spend a lot of time explaining to the lawmakers what the consequences of their decisions are on business. We need to spend more time educating leaders in government how they can help improve the economy.”

There was a consensus that CEOs need to take risks and companies that are hiding in their foxholes are not going to succeed. Said one CEO, “We need to invest more in data infrastructure. We need to be more strategic and more focused on changing the culture, and we need to think more about the world at large and how it may influence our business.” Here is the collective CEO “worry list” that could impact business and prevent business-expansion plans:

1.    Iraq creating nuclear weapons
2.    the drug war in Mexico
3.    terrorism
4.    China’s growing influence and transformation from simple manufacturing to innovating and creating new products
5.    the war in Afghanistan
6.    the expansion of Brazil
7.    the awakening power of Russia
8.    the weakening of the US presidency

One CEO said, “Take any time in the history of our country: Our world has always appeared uncertain and unstable. That’s a generic sense of insecurity. What we need to do is to recognize the uncertainties as the noise on the sidelines; we need to make decisions on how to improve our game. That’s what we’re here for, that’s what we’re paid for. We can’t afford to allow uncertainty to take away our vision, resolve, or capacity to make the right decisions that create greater value for our shareholders. The two biggest challenges to success are complacency and uncertainty. We need to awaken our aspirational DNA.”

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