But I said I’m recovering. I used to believe that if everyone was pleased with me, I was doing a good job. My pursuit was to be the nice guy, the peace-maker. I’ve learned a great deal however that being nice and optimistic isn’t always the best way to love and encourage my team.
Many times and in many ways, love is actually one of the toughest things you can do in a situation. It is far easier to be calloused and disengaged.
If you’re anything like me, then you know this tension. Your smile is contagious at the office, you become the one everyone runs to with their problems. You’re safe. That quality is a rare but critical one in today’s corporate environment.
However, I’m learning that love in the business context is often times tough love. It’s being willing to ask the hard question in response to the latest office politics or better yet, encouraging direct communication between the two offending parties.
You see, my perspective is changing. I’m beginning to understand that love doesn’t always equal nice. Because nice is far too often the mask for fake and apathetic.
I was fortunate enough to marry up, however, I was unfortunate to have a baby face. Here’s a story to illustrate these two realities. We were flying to our honeymoon in St. John in 2003, I was sleeping in the window seat and Brooke was in the middle seat. I’m a gentleman, I know.
Brooke’s neighbor on the aisle was a middle-aged, sharp dressed business man. I’ll assume he was single by the way he was talking to my wife of 18 hours. After a quick nap, I woke up to him asking her “are you and your little brother meeting anyone in St. John?”. Amazing pick up line, right?
In 2005, another baby. In 2006, a move to Memphis from Columbia, MO for a new job. In 2007, another baby. In 2008, a move to Kansas City from Memphis for another new job. In 2010, another baby (the only boy). In 2011, another baby (the final). In 2013, a move to Stuart, FL from Kansas City for another new job.
The thought of putting my family on the back burner while I built a career wasn’t an option. But neither was passively allowing great opportunities to pass me by. Being awesome at both was the answer I wanted.
1 – Exercise early, before work. Your single colleagues or those without kids can work out after work. You can’t. Put your shoes and your workout clothes right by your bed, put your alarm across the room and set it for 5:30am. You being on the healthier end of the spectrum makes you a better mom or dad.
2 – Put your phone away. Once you’re home from work, set your phone to vibrate and put it down until the kids are asleep. You’ll have a bunch of missed texts, unread emails and a long Twitter feed to catch up on, but your time from 6-8pm is the only real time those kids see you each day. I’m addicted to my iPhone so this one is super hard for me still today. But I promise if the world is burning down, your neighbor will knock on the door.
3 – Eat clean. I’ll write more on my specific eating habits later, but what you put into your body directly impacts your energy level. It’s not OK to be awesome employee guy/girl and use your best strength at the office and then come home and shut it down. Your family deserves better. Especially high performers that are always at lunches, dinners, events – you don’t have to drink at every business function and you certainly don’t have to eat all the food options that are always in front of you. Figure out a few simple things that work for you and stick to them during the week. Our family has “sweet Saturday”. We start with donuts and end it with ice cream, but the rest of the week we all eat clean.
4 – Perform at work and get home by 6pm. Man that’s a hard one. Especially in a big office setting where it doesn’t seem OK to leave. There are nights this doesn’t work, but for the most part the real heroes are at home. So quit looking at Facebook or checking your fantasy football team. Do your work. Kick ass during the day, be efficient with your role and actually work. You have the time to get your stuff done from 8ish-5ish. Figure it out. And then work after kids are in bed if you must.
5 – For those of you with kids, eat lunch at school once a month. Whether it’s taco salad or chicken nugget day doesn’t matter, but block a recurring meeting on your calendar. Put your phone away while you’re there and eat an 18 minute lunch with your kids. They’ll think you’re a rock star plus you’ll get to see what punk kid flirts with your daughter.
6 – Date night. If you’re amazing at your job and an engaged parent, that’s great. But don’t forget your spouse. Put a date night on the calendar every week. Every single week. It might be a 30 minute date on the back deck with a cheap bottle of wine or a five course meal at your favorite restaurant, but connect with your spouse. The rhythm of your family flows directly from the strength of your marriage.
7 – Laugh. At work and at home. Laugh . Often. Pay attention to how much you see other adults laugh. It’s sad really because it doesn’t happen much. We’re stressed out, spread thin and always busy. Start laughing and watch what happens.
These are 7 things that have helped shape my personal, professional and family life. Hope they’re helpful to you. Go be awesome.
To me, especially then, sales invoked some amazing stereotypes in my mind of slicked back hair, lies, manipulation, maybe even cigarettes. Sales sounded quite frankly, sales-y. The thought of having to talk someone into purchasing whatever crappy product or service I was schlepping didn’t sound appealing for obvious reasons.
It wasn’t until my senior year in college, when I met the founder of Learfield Communications Clyde Lear, when I realized that my preconceived definition of sales was stereotypical sure, but definitely not the way it had to be. It took me all of 30 seconds with Clyde to realize that he loved his company, loved his work, loved his team, and loved his clients. Legitimate, emotional, engaging love. It was captivating and contagious. So much so that I begged him on the spot for an internship, for a small glimpse of what his love was all about.
That single encounter set me on a trajectory where I began to realize the fundamental importance of sales. In a free market, nothing happens in our economy until someone sells something.
At its core, selling is a love story. A deliberate process where communication is transparent, trust is built and value is continuously increasing.
We’ll spend some time the next few weeks unpacking some of the specific sales framework I use and that I’ve learned from great, loving leaders over the past decade.
For all of you in or considering a sales role in an organization, I encourage you to keep fine tuning your skills. Your love is needed in the marketplace.
Here are five simple ways for love to win the day at the office:
1 – Don’t engage in the gossip. There are companies, big ones, that will fire you on the spot if you are caught gossiping. But man it feels good to get sucked into, or even initiate, the latest scoop, scandal and back stab. But gossip is one of the quickest ways to destroy office culture. When a colleague initiates it, be swift and decisive. Shut it down. Sure it may be painful in the moment, and you may even get removed from the ‘club’, but over time you’ll actually gain amazing loyalty and trust because people know how you operate.
2 – Ask a personal question every day. Pay attention to how many times you’re asked a personal question that doesn’t involve weekend plans or weather. My guess is that it will be zero. It’s really not that hard, but ask your colleagues something personal tomorrow. Anything. Here are a few ideas: What is your family’s favorite vacation spot? What’s the best book you’ve read lately? Any good parenting tips for me as we potty train our son? People love to talk about themselves, they’re experts at doing so. Initiate real, authentic questions and watch their reactions.
3 – Give a rip. It’s amazing to me that we spend 40+ hours a week with our team, yet we’re quick to throw each of them straight under the bus to management. Step up and give a rip about their work and their investment to your projects. Display that you have their back. They’ll never forget it because most people are simply using them along their own stepping stones to success.
4 – Tell someone they rocked. In email, in the hall, at the mandatory meeting. Doesn’t matter when, but tell someone that they did an awesome job. Preferably someone lower on the food chain than you and preferably in a place where someone above them hears the praise. Your colleagues are likely operating out of fear and uncertainty. If you take the time to notice something specific about the work they’ve done, it will give them amazing amounts of encouragement.
5 – Take the blame. Raise your hand and say you screwed up. That you were wrong. That you blew it. Especially if you’re a leader. It will empower your team and create a culture of honesty if you own your mistakes. This will display to your team that the goals of the project are more important than your self-identity protection.
Take a stab at one or more of these this week and let me know how it goes.
Love your team today, they deserve it.
Nice guys don’t win. Heck, they don’t even come close to the medal stand. They accept mediocre jobs in cubicles while the real business men and women get ahead. The sharks, ruthless, power hungry. There’s no room for love, hope or encouragement in a corporate setting.
Right? Or only partially right? Or more than that, only if you allow yourself to believe that bold-faced lie?
Over the past ten years in big business (NCAA, NFL, major healthcare settings), I’ve seen these lies take root in nice, well meaning people. And I’ve watched those people roll over and let the stereotype play out. They’ve stepped aside, let the power brokers push them around, and ultimately accepted ‘good enough’.
But does it have to be that way? Can nice people, honest people, loving people climb to the very top of the ladder too? I’m still working through these lies myself as a recovering people-pleaser, but I’d argue the answer is yes. And more than yes, I believe that the corporate world is shifting, begging actually, for love to intersect business in meaningful ways.
I’m certainly not talking about sappy, huggy, kumbaya stuff. I’m talking about authentic love in the corporate setting. Love that puts your employees’ needs above yours. Love that drives a sales cycle with a potential client and creates deep, meaningful value and relationships. Love that seeks to serve not simply take. Love that owns up to mistakes and doesn’t back-stab, point fingers and posture. What if our office culture shifted from political positioning to honesty, transparency and love?
Have you ever cried with a co-worker when he went through a divorce? Did you have a lump in your throat calling a client to tell her you were leaving that current role because you accepted another one? In a closed door meeting, did you ever ask “no, how are you really doing?” to someone and then listen for 30 minutes as the flood gates of pain, confusion and doubt poured out? I sure have. You spend so much time at work, arguably too much but that’s a different post, that you are missing one of the most amazing places in your life for love to take hold.
We’ll spend a great deal of time on this blog talking about the intersection of love and business. But if my gut (and my experience) is right, love intersecting with your business can not only transform you but also everyone you encounter.