The Advantage-Makers has advanced into a new sphere of influence. Homeland Security.
Is your boss hungry? If your job is on the line you must make the decision makers hungry. What do hungry people do? They eat. Dinner is served. And you better be serving something they want or you will be sent back or in these times, sent packing.
For Star Trek fans, the analogy is to be Scotty, the Enterprise spaceships’ chief engineer. Whenever the ship was about to blow up, Captain Kirk would ask for, “More shields (or power), Scotty.”
Scotty’s reply was never ‘no problem.’ Rather,
Scotty would say, “I dunnot (Scottish accent) know if I can do it Captain.”
Captain Kirk: “We need this up in 10 minutes.”
Scotty: “It will take at least 30 minutes.”
Next scene we see, the ship is saved, once again. Scotty is a hero and lives (keeps his job) for another day.
Just a movie and TV show? Of course, but survivors make themselves indispensable. When your boss discusses issues this is not the time to say ‘no problem’. That may sound strange since most advice would be to think you should say, “Yes, sir/ma’am.” You certainly don’t want to alienate anyone, but your contribution should be positioned as key to the survival of the organization, now and in the future. You must make them hungry (without being obnoxious or foolish) and you are the only one who can feed them. If it really is no problem you are expendable sooner rather than later.
To make them hungry, you must now be adaptable, you must be the one who allays their fears of failure.
Your Advantage-Maker skills must be exercised and refined.
Shift time to produce urgency for your contribution.
Shift interaction to change the game from your need to the company’s need.
Shift perception to take on a winning mindset and influence perceptions to see you as the go to player who can multiply your value to the company.
Shift structure to shape behavior, reducing wasteful inefficiency and cumbersome conflict, this will align and advance the organization for speed, simplicity and ease.
Your talent and contribution matter. Don’t forget about quenching their thirst and giving them a dessert as well. Anyone who doesn’t think that people aren’t spending on sweets in the recession hasn’t looked at how waistlines grow in times of stress.
I wonder if you are hungry for knowing how to influence your boss, if so that should confirm that creating desire is most important for you to learn now.
If you are a college student preparing for the real world what do you do when you encounter boulders in your life?
Once upon a time there was a king who placed a huge boulder in a roadway. The King hid and watched to see how people acted. Most avoided it, some blamed the King for not taking care of the roads, but none tried to get rid of the boulder.
Until a young shepherd came along with his oxen. The young peasant saw the boulder, laid down his pack and figured out how to move the boulder off the road. After much pushing and leveraging his oxen, he succeeded. And then, under the boulder he found a purse with gold and a note from the King saying the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the road.
We all have boulders, what do we do when we are up against a rock. Here are 5 ways to prepare yourself to create advantages, enabling you to deal with your boulders in college and looking for and finding jobs.
The 5 factors of advantage making
1) Find a horse to ride that is profitable.
Now is the time to create the future by finding a horse to ride. You have a dream, find a horse that will help you live your dream. Trout wrote a book about finding a horse to ride for your career. It could be an idea but that’s a big challenge, if you have it, go for it. It could be a specific business or industry, perhaps tech or international business, or it could be an industry that will do fine during the recession. If you have professional interests and a career make sure you pick a horse that can go the distance. In a recession cash is king, so finding a horse to ride will get you to your destination. You don’t have to find one horse for you entire life. Pick one and ride.
2) Adaptability. Shift.
You must be able to shift your behavior. The people who succeed are the fastest and best adapters. The worse thing that could happen is if you are successful in your first set of interactions. Why? Because you will become overconfident, and it will be a false confidence. You will think you know what you are doing, and the likelihood is that you have only a partial understanding, but you were good enough and lucky enough this time to make it work. Your adaptability should be based upon thinking your don’t know, rather than your certainty that you do. Therefore use doubt to your advantage rather than certainty to your disadvantage. Persisting in what doesn’t work thinking it does will get your fired.
3) Influence. Yes.
Whatever your field, if you want people to say yes to your request you need to be able to influence them. And no matter how much you think people will be reasonable, they make their decisions emotionally. Think about times when you spent money on something you couldn’t quite afford. Why? Because it made you feel good. Unless you are the brightest person in the room, and even if you are, if you can’t persuade people to your way of seeing things you may continue to be the brightest person in the room, only you’ll be all by yourself. Hard to make a living, even over the internet that way.
4) Networking. Connections count.
Yes it is who you know, your connections that will get you in a position for that first interview you actually want. There is an old saying, “Build your well, before you need the water.” Its better to build your connections over time and cherish those connections. Your college friendships are worth more than future jobs, they are a wealth of memories that you will cherish always, especially the one’s that you will laugh about, and are glad are way in your past. So be the first to help others. When I see a little old lady cross a street I’m the first to offer her a hand if she wants it. My thought is someone is doing the same for my family members. We are in this together. Help someone. Doors will open you didn’t think possible. Recall the 6 degrees of separation. It’s not just an interesting idea. Your connections and your network are more valuable than anyone can realize. Help your friends and their parents will appreciate you. And when you need it most there will be hands to help you across the river. Ask yourself, how does this person feel about themselves in my presence? Not do they like you, but do they feel they can do their best, be their best, do what is most meaningful. If you can do that for people you will have a rich deep connection and network.
5) Leverage. Be an Advantage Maker
Act as if you can create advantages for yourself and others. Look for leverage. Take on a job and do it better than anyone expected. Use your creativity and people will notice. Market your ability to create advantages, people will want to know what and how. Develop your ability to shift your perspectives. Shifting time creates possibilities. TIVO is a product that shifts time, watch it when you want to. Knowing how to shift time to create urgency is most marketers specialty. Shifting interactions changes the game. Managing your interactions will determine how fast you move up the ladder. Facebook and MySpace are services that shift interactions. Shifting perceptions influences outcomes. You can’t be a leader unless you can influence perceptions. L’oreal perfume, ‘expensive but worth it’, is a product that influences the perception of women across the land. Shifting structure changes behavior. The internet shifted the structure of business online. Be an advantage maker now.
These five factors are what the most effective leaders use. Now its your turn to 1) find a horse to ride that is profitable, 2) expand your adaptability 3) Influence others 4) build a network and 5) create advantages through leverage. These skills will travel with you not only in the remainder of your classes but also in your job search and interviews. They may not teach you in school, but this is what works in life. As you live these 5 advantage making actions, putting them into practice, doors will open you didn’t think imaginable.
We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are. The Talmud
Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The moneylender, was old and ugly and fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal.
Cost savings is sound business. We shouldn’t argue that point. But executive cost cutting may be going overboard and it may not be their fault.
In these recessionary times there are leaders who always meet their numbers, do more with less, and despite this crazy economy are able to compete and come out on top. There are a few key reasons why the big winners are consistently successful, and its worth knowing how the big winners do it.
I’ve been studying these people, Advantage-Makers, for decades, and have figured out that they do it by asking a few simple questions that no one else asks. I’ve began the discussion of questions in the previous blog, let’s take it another step forward.
The first question for Advantage-Makers is that they question the givens.
For example, FedEx CEO Fred Smith’s, hub and spoke system questioned the routine of how packages should be transported. How did he think that sending packages in the middle of the night to Tennessee and then distributing to the rest of the country would work? It earned him a “C” grade in his graduate school class. The professor never consulted for him. But FedEx is guaranteed overnight delivery and as we know a huge success.
Any of you play golf? Jack Nicklaus, renown golf legend, was asked to design a golf course for the Caymen Islands. One catch. The Island is too small for standard golf courses. He didn’t ask golfers to change there swing, the given he questioned was the ball. He changed the ball so it wouldn’t travel as far. Just the opposite of what was expected. Maybe they just yell 2 when they hit it awry. Never the less, they play golf on the Caymen Islands.
Which brings us to the next question. George Prince, CEO of Synectics, an innovation firm, asked, “What is the anomaly here?” That is, what is unexpected that seems to be pushing forth. This attention to what isn’t expected has earned the company millions and produced millions more for their clientele including many in the Fortune 500.
A national Science foundation code breaker and scientist, asks,
“What am I not supposed to notice here?” As we talked at a restaurant he pointed to a series of ceiling chandeliers that were hanging above us. He described his thought process beginning with the notion, “What is attempting to distract my attention.” He pointed out that the chandeliers were attached about 30 feet above, and we weren’t supposed to notice how high the real ceiling was. Our attention was drawn to the light fixture and light, not the ceiling height. If most patrons had looked at the ceiling the restaurant would not have much clientele.
My friend and colleague, George Silverman, Word-of-Mouth Marketer, asks, “What is obvious that is missing here?” It is his contention that in this information-overloaded marketplace, the product with the easiest decision path tends to win. He works with companies to make their customers decisions easier. His question, “What is obvious that is missing here?” leads him to systematically eliminate the most important bottlenecks and provide customers with exactly what they need when they need it.
My advantage-making question is, “How am I taking this ‘situation’ and making it what it could be? It drives counterintuitive solutions that have generated millions of dollars of profitability, created advantages that to others don’t even appear to exist and consistently enabled leaders and their teams to compete more effectively than others and gain credibility others lack. The key is to look for possibility, and shift your vantage point, rather than follow the expected procedure.
Other advantage-Makers have asked, “What is the real driving force, the leverage in this situation? By using this question the path of least resistance was found in a major negotiation that had been overlooked.
Once you ask the question you sort for answers, if you are doing it right the usual answers will be background while foreground will be the new unexpected solution. Just as Fred Smith’s hub and spoke delivery system and JacK Nicklaus’s golf ball for the Cayman Island sized golf course demonstrated. Real world unexpected advantages.
The difference between the managers who survive and those who fail is their ability to create advantages every day with employees, customers and vendors. 60% of daily advantage opportunities are overlooked and missed by struggling managers, who, surprisingly, seldom ask, “What else should I do?”, or “What am I missing”.
Are you providing the daily advantages to employees, customers and vendors that are that are hidden in plain sight? If not, you might want to start paying attention to both what is given, the anomalies and then questioning the givens.
Not all leaders are Advantage-Makers. Leaders with the penetrating insight and sound judgment of an Advantage-Maker are able to turn situations to their best possible advantage, create superior outcomes in the face of constraints, and guard against the designs of their competitors.
Managing interactions is imperative for more than just service businesses.
All companies, including high-tech and product companies, must manage interactions as well. Whether they are direct interpersonal contacts with the customer or the user interface on your computer.
Take Google. You interact with the company through your computer. Google’s interface is simple, easy, fast and multiplies the value (search) to you. While the big engines are behind the scene, focus on the user interface has made the company.
Now let’s take a slightly different angle and consider your interactions with people.
During this time of crisis your people are nervous, how do you interact with them? Denial, false bravado or command presence? Every non-verbal move you make is creating an impression (think McCain Vs. Obama in that last debate). You’re being watched, and your boss, colleagues and employees will either feel a sense of confidence or worry. Just take a look at the stock market after our politicians speak! Millions go up and down.
Leaders sometimes get confused, stressed, uncertain about how to deal with people issues. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let me see if I can begin to help you here.
And yes, its ok to get help on this. Many of the brilliant leaders I’ve described in my book, The Advantage-Makers, collaborated, had mentors and were helped in managing interactions. It’s a huge leverage, and a small shift can make all the difference.
Remember all those late night conversations because of mishandled or misguided interaction in your relationship at work or closer to home. Wished you hadn’t said something, or had said it better?
In the midst of an economic downturn, worse than making your sticky situations stickier you, you are just the next communication away from missing an opportunity, bungling your influence with your team, putting yourself at a disadvantage that worsens your negotiation power or getting fired.
Stress, pressure or skipping a step has caused many to simply forget what it takes to create wealth, establish credibility and lasting success.Actually no one may have shown you how to manage interactions to consistently produce superior outcomes in the face of constraints. That’s what Advantage-Makers do, it places them in a different league.
On a bad day most business folks look at managing interactions as soft stuff or fluff. Some people make the huge mistake of thinking this is just for beginners. But to the Aces of Influence, the Movers and Shakers, the Resilient and Winners amongst us know it separates them from the mere mortals who struggle to make ends meet.
After learning to strategically interact, one seasoned veteran, who booked millions of dollars of business exclaimed, I can’t believe how much I’ve been bungling these interactions. I didn’t realize it and I don’t have to.
The good news then is that it is something your can – and should – learn.
There is a system for doing that, quickly and with minimal pain, and with personal guidance of an expert.
And I don’t care how ‘interaction challenged’ you’ve been or feel you are, or think your company fails at. This is something you and your company can master. We can fix the hole in your ‘interaction bungling bucket’ right away. We could exchange the word ‘money’ for ‘interaction’, and we would be close to right. That would mean we will be fixing the hole in your ‘money bungling bucket’
Right now, let me begin to give you the foundation…for simply reading along.
There are 3 major ways you make sticky situations stickier.
1) Taking action when your shouldn’t
2) Not taking action when you should
3) Taking the wrong action
Too simple? Start applying it to real stuff that matters. Today identify moments of truth and consider
1) If you are taking action when you shouldn’t?
For example, are you pushing your viewpoint, pressing without being clear about what is really going on?
Are you becoming defensive when challenged?
2) If you are not taking action when you should?
For instance, not making the hard decisions can lead conflicts to fester and morale to deteriorate.
This cost a CEO his job, and I might add, it was appropriate, since his stubbornness was equaled only by his unwillingness to make the hard decisions that stalled all forward movement in the company.
Are you not checking expectations with your supplier?
While reviewing a client’s past million dollar mistakes we found this exact problem, but it wasn’t as obvious as it may sound. We found the root cause in his thinking that led him to make this error, when he realized his blind-spot he stopped making this mistake. He’s worth a lot more to the company now.
3) If you are taking the wrong action?
And this can be the place you need the most help.
Are you using a hatchet when you should be using a scalpel?
Are you trying to solve a leadership issue thinking it’s a technical problem?
Are you trying to overdo everything when really what you should be its simply doing the high leverage actions.
A COO of a high tech company was describing the supply chain in his business. As we talked he realized that there were too many interactions to manage. And further more, more relationships were not necessarily better. Rather, having a few really good relationships is what created huge leverage in terms of speed, ease and simplicity. Managing these interactions became a multiplier for the business.
Simple interaction tactics and strategies can really turn your upside down business right side up. They position your to be in a better place. If you think these simple interactions errors can’t happen to you or really hurt your business. Please its time to think again.
So, right now, in your business begin to manage interactions and if you do it right, you can increase your influence and the likelihood of people saying yes to your requests.
Obama wins. Transforms the election process, and the country. Change has won.
Decision Triggers: My 2 Cents Worth
I call it ‘My 2 cents worth’ influence strategy. But it can be worth immediate cash to you as it has been worth millions when applied. A $15,000 luxury hot tub spa was producing slow sales. In determining what to do to move sales Dr. Cialdini, an influence strategist, asked the salesman, “What would an addition to a home cost in this neighborhood?”
Next time a prospect asks begin your answer with, “What would an addition to your home run you?”
and immediately after they say $65 – $75,000, you add in this information, “Well this luxury spa is like an addition to your home, and its $15,000.” Sales skyrocketed.
them from prospects to buyers.When you put in your ‘2 cents worth’ make it worthwhile for the customer or your colleague. This is replicable. The masters of influence use it every day.
Place your hand in the hot water and then into the room temperature bucket, it will seem cold.
Place your hand in the ice water and then into the room temperature bucket, it will seem hot.
Bucket of Ice Bucket of Perception Bucket of Hot Water
Depends on what came first
Whatever came first affected the ‘bucket of perception’. It was the contrast that determined the ‘bucket of perception’.
Ask yourself compared to what?
And this strategy only costs your “2 cents’ whether you use it with your customers, your peers or your boss.