Abundance is a Mindset

Abundance is a Mindset

I enjoy a good road trip. Since my departure from corporate two years ago I’ve been on several. From my hometown in Reno, Nevada I drove roughly 10,000 miles in 2017 to destinations such as Portland (OR), Mesa, Denver, San Francisco, Vegas, and several National Parks in between.

My final business road trip of 2017 was to Mesa, Arizona for the 10th annual US Sports Congress. It was my 3rd Congress since 2009, the second time I’ve spoken at the event, and in my opinion it was the best one yet.

The 2017 US Sports Congress offered an array of opportunities to connect, reconnect and collaborate with fellow industry peers through several experiential and networking environments. Michael Bidwell, CEO of the Arizona Cardinals, kicked off the Congress with an opening keynote that brought us through the history of the Cardinals franchise and how the NFL has evolved over the decades.

It was fascinating to learn that the Arizona Cardinals is the oldest team in the NFL that began in 1898, and had the first naming rights deal in professional sports. That’s right, in 1920, a food starch company called Decatur Staley’s sponsored the club.

Bidwell did a fantastic job ushering the audience through the evolution of the NFL when boxing, horse racing, and baseball were popular during the Great Depression of the 20’s. Obviously the industry has advanced in leaps and bounds since but one thing seems to have remained the same. For the audience at the US Sports Congress, he emphasized the importance of utilizing sports to share the story about local areas and communities. He stated, “Leverage your sports events as an asset for the community. Continue to invest and reinvest in sports facilities”.

One of the biggest challenges for the NFL is analyzing and making the decision to distribute games in the future. “Youth and amateur sports can exploit distribution”, Bidwell added.

Carl Thomas of Hookit, delivered a great presentation on “Social Media Measurement & Monetization” through sponsored athletes. I’ll let their website do the talking but one thing I found interesting was a case study on GoPro sponsored athletes. 60% were in compliance to their deal with the brand, until called out. When called out engagement increased to 97%.

Thomas brought up a statistic from the IEG Sponsorship report that $130 Billion will be spent on sports and sponsorship activation by 2017. He shared this statistic of how the distribution has shifted over the past few years.

Much opportunity awaits for those who can deliver measurable results. Carl added, “The power of data is only as good as your ability to understand it and use it.”

The group experiences at the 2017 US Sports Congress were fantastic – inclusive of outings such as a jeep tour in the Sedona desert, golf scramble, tour of a brewery, tours of Sloan Park (spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs), and a Pickleball demonstration. The opening reception at the Tempe Center for the Arts was fantastic with a sunset view of Tempe Town Lake. This is where the swim for Ironman Arizona takes place.

Before I talk about my round table session on Personal Branding, I hope you won’t mind a quick detour from the final day of the trip. On Day 7, I drove home from Las Vegas to Reno. My only stop was in Tonopah to top off the gas tank, 211 miles north of Vegas.

A few weeks before the road trip began I wondered how far out of the way Joshua Tree National Park was from Las Vegas or Mesa. Let’s just say that another 500 miles on this road trip would have to wait another day.

I’ve embarked on this Reno/Vegas drive many times since college and have taken note of the Joshua trees on both sides of Highway 95. The difference on this trip was it felt like I was seeing them for the very first time through this passage. Abundance came to mind along with and a realization that this vast spectacle of Joshua trees would eventually come to end as I drove further north from Vegas.

“Abundance is not something we acquire, it’s something we tune into.” -Wayne Dyer

In fact, I couldn’t get over how many of these trees were. So I started to play a game in my head as I listened to the audio book, “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. The question I asked myself was simple, “Would the Joshua trees end before reaching Tonopah?” I became so fascinated by this realization that I marveled at their mass abundance as I continued north on the 95.

Then I thought about the powerful lesson this fascination was trying to teach. Like the Joshua trees surrounding me, opportunities are abundant if we choose to raise our awareness and seek them out.

I asked myself, “Had I noticed them before?” Sure.

“Did I ever stop to think about how many miles they expand, where they began, how long they’ve been growing in the desert, and how does this grand garden of Joshua trees in Nevada compare to Joshua Tree National Park in California?” Not until now, but I’ve learned that Joshua trees have quite the story.

The Joshua trees finally ceased to grow about 15 miles before Tonopah, due to the absence of the unique conditions they need to thrive – soil content, moth pollination, climate, and altitude. Similarly, to become a high-performance personal brand one must take responsibility to create their own conditions for success and immerse themselves in a mindset where they can thrive.

In these moments I reaffirmed my obsession with the topic of personal branding. When we’re crystal clear about who we are, what our message is, and conscious about how we choose to show up in life, then everything we wish to attract will certainly show up. Abundance is a mindset.

Then I began to reflect on the round table session I led at the US Sports Congress on the topic itself. My job was to conduct an hour long discussion on How Your Personal Brand Impacts Your Success.

One thing I committed to in 2017 was to write rap songs about sales, and use them in my presentations. As a coach and speaker I’ve chosen this technique because no one else does it, it’s entertaining, and raises the energy of the room from the very beginning of the session. If I’m speaking on the topic of Personal Branding, then I need to act the part, not just talk about it.

Differentiation, consistency, and clarity are critical if you want to stand apart as a personal brand.

Weeks before the US Sports Congress I reached out to a handful of industry constituents for general thoughts on the topic and what they thought would resonate with the audience.

I asked Brian Graham of Morris Communications Co. for his thoughts, “Personal branding is a topic that I don’t feel many people really think about much, but one that is very important. My recommendation would be to take a straight forward and honest approach to the topic and be willing to discuss issues that might be a little uncomfortable to some. The message I would try to get across is that one must establish respect in the industry to build their personal brand if they are to be successful.”

After some deliberation and collective feedback from Brian and a couple other industry professionals I devised and refined these 4 fundamental questions to challenge the audience.

  1. As a personal brand, who are you now?
  2. What do you wish to accomplish professionally?
  3. Why is that important to you?
  4. How and when do you plan to get there?

Throughout this round table discussion I alternated my coaching and consulting hats. If people were seeking clarity on my perspectives, then I provided personal success examples like with deals I put together for the Texas Longhorns and New York Yankees. If someone was seeking clarity for themselves I challenged them with questions about the outcomes they wished to achieve.

Some seemed relatively content with where they were, a few shifted their energy and mindset when challenged to look at things differently. I challenged them to think about what they’re passionate about because, in my opinion, the best way to identify yourself as a personal brand is to let people know what you love and why that motivates you.

Ben Camerota, President of MVP Visuals, asked to clarify if the session was intended to focus on the attendees as a personal brand, or as their business as a brand. I was glad he asked. I began to describe my identity crisis after I graduated from college and was diagnosed with brain cancer the day after.

After my cancer ordeal I made the decision to only pursue ventures in things that I loved and it didn’t matter how much I made. At the time my focus was to do something around writing, sports and music. Long story short, I met the owner of a start up company who’s passions were in alignment with mine. With no prior sales experience I eventually developed the company’s entire portfolio among the biggest names in professional sports and corporate sponsorship.

Ben went on to reflect about how he loved to build things as a kid, and what he does now as a business professional is build branded event displays, canopies, etc. for sports events. I think there is an opportunity for Ben to leverage his personal brand story to attain more emotional equity for his professional brand.

Some of the other dialogue during the session stimulated curiosity and introspection about how minor shifts in mindset and processes could –

  • Increase internal efficiencies
  • Enhance visitor experience
  • Develop more harmony in the environment

What I’ve learned throughout the process of becoming a coach is that most people want better performance in their business and in their lives. They want to be more efficient with their time. They want to be less overwhelmed. They want more time with family. Just like the passing of the Joshua Trees those opportunities are abundant and available every day. Sometimes we simply need to change our perspective, or create a new set of conditions that enable new possibilities.

How much more abundance could you bring into your life if you simply changed the way you think?

How do you connect with your audience?

How do you connect with your audience?

When I published my book in 2014 I knew speaking opportunities would follow. But so much more followed including national awards, podcast interviews, and an invitation to speak at TEDxReno.

At the time, I had no idea what it meant to become an actual speaking professional. Telling your story is an experience and a gift that you deliver to your audience. But there is so much more to becoming a speaking professional than simply telling your story. The important question here is, “What’s in it for the audience?! (In retrospect this is what I learned when I spoke at TEDxReno.)

I’ve been a member of Toastmasters for nearly 4 years and it’s become my weekly ritual to become a better speaker/storyteller, adopt success styles from others, and an opportunity for greater self-awareness.

When the amazing Kelly Sergeant delivered her breakfast keynote at the final District 39 regional conference in South Lake Tahoe this past weekend, I left feeling inspired. I was not only inspired from her keynote but by her breakout session on her road to getting onto the Toastmasters World Championship stage in Malaysia.

In addition, I also sat in on District 39 Champions Panel, “Speaking to Win”.

For your next presentation, think about how you can implement some of these strategies to connect deeper with your audience and have more fun.

CONNECTION

When your rehearsals or presentation is finished you need to ask yourself,

Did I seize my opportunity to connect with the audience?

Connection means different things to different speakers. From panel feedback, you can connect with humor, fun, and being consistent with who you are.

Speech evaluations in the Toastmasters curriculum is like the holy grail to becoming a better speaker. Each speaker is assigned an evaluator whom critiques each speech in a constructive manner. They let you know what you did well and identify potential opportunities for improvements. If your objective is to increase self-confidence, self-awareness and/or impact more people there isn’t a better platform to practice your craft than Toastmasters.

How you connect with your audience can make or break an opportunity to get your message across. Start with asking, “What is my message and how will I connect with the audience to get that message across?”

BLOCKING

Bring your speech to life with color.

One valuable tactic I learned during the 2-month preparation of my TED talk and later by professional speaking coach, Michael Port, is blocking. What is blocking? I’m glad you asked.

After you’ve written your speech and memorized it, break it down into 2-3 minute blocks. Within each block, practice the delivery so it becomes second nature. To maximize impact you need to be polished and well-rehearsed. Kelly Sergeant takes this concept one step further and I am totally going to adopt this technique.

After you’ve written your speech, grab a few highlighters in various colors and color code each word that you can express with a hand gesture in green. Practice those gestures through your block. On the road to the World Championship, Kelly Sergeant highlighted the following words and assigned them to these gestures.

  1. HUMOR (Yellow) – Helps us remember, understand and get the point across
  2. GESTURE (Green) – Use your body, arms, and hands
  3. ORATORY (Orange) – Vocal variety
  4. PERFORM (Pink) – Tell the story like you experienced it

RELATABILITY

Storytelling from personal experience is what makes each of us unique. While this is important, the story needs to be told in a way that everyone can relate to. As I became more self-aware about the core premise about my story and how brain cancer effected me, I began to get more feedback on its relatability to the audience. And this is the question every speaker needs to answer while writing their speech…

What’s in it for the audience?

Let’s face it, surviving brain cancer isn’t a relatable topic for the majority of people. But like anything else there are lessons to be learned from personal experience. Be authentic and deliver the value of your lessons.

BE MY GUEST

Speaking is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your knowledge and leadership. If you’d like an opportunity to learn what Toastmasters is about and how you and/or your team could benefit check out: https://www.toastmasters.org/membership

Better yet, you can be a guest at my Toastmasters club. Leave a comment below and let me know why becoming a better speaker would be important for you.

Win Big, Get Buy-in

Win Big, Get Buy-in

In the game of Texas Holdem Poker, you can give everyone a run for their money if you are dealt a 4-of-a-kind on the flop. The odds are highly in your favor to raise the pot on the turn, and again on the river. I’ve been dealt such a hand at a home friendly tournament.

The feeling is exhilarating but the hand should be slow-played to maximize the opportunity.

I read Daymond John‘s book, The Power of Broke, and that’s what this post is all about. Making the most of opportunities no matter what sort of hand you’re dealt.

Any vetted sales professional would agree that “there are no new ideas, just a better way to deliver them”.  We win by being resourceful.

To succeed in a competitive marketplace, we must find a way to differentiate from competition. While a business can support their sales staff through advertising, strategic partnerships, social selling and digital marketing, it’s ultimately up to the sales rep to find new business and close deals. This is where the art of your personal brand should answer the fundamental question, “How are you different from the competition?”

We win where we differentiate.

Before I landed multi-year deals with brands and teams such as the New York Yankees, Baltimore Ravens, NASCAR, GoPro, and Samsung I needed to first define how we were different. All of our competitors had the same capabilities we did but one of my competitive advantages was a marketers mindset. I changed the conversations by changing the perception of how our products could be used as an extension of their brand rather than just a necessity.

But here is the key…

When entering a market with a different product or service you not only need to win the buy-in of your point contact, but they need to win buy-in from the rest of their team. 

The first principle I preach in any personal brand presentation is passion. And you know the saying, “Enthusiasm is contagious”. If you can get one person excited about an idea that will enhance the performance of their business, surely they can spread that same enthusiasm to others on their team and even the person who approves the budget. Everyone wants to look good.

Know the benefits of your offer inside-and-out so that you can deliver on the details. Then…

  1. FIND THE CHAMPION FROM WITHIN. Let them evangelize your brand through the enthusiasm they expressed with you. But before you hang up the phone or leave that first meeting, ask when you can follow up for next steps to further gauge the opportunity.
  2. SET THE PACE. You don’t want to ask too much too soon but don’t wait for them to get back to you. Always ask permission for a time to follow up to assess when the prospect will be in the best position to buy. The sooner you do this the better you can align your resources to deliver for other potential needs of their business.
  3. POSITION YOUR BRAND FOR BUY-IN. When a new expense is introduced to the budget, it may or may not be approved the first time around. You may run into a “why fix it if it ain’t broke” decision maker or the idea may need to be approved in the next budget cycle. In the meanwhile, find a way to educate and personally connect with 3 to 4 more people on other account teams.

You may encounter a situation where a competitor is locked into a multi-year non-compete. In that case keep your footing on solid ground and uphold the same level of professionalism that got you the first appointment. If you’re in this game for the long haul 2 to 3 years will be up before you know it and you’ll be in pole position when it’s time to renew. Loyalties become fierce when relationships are built over time.

Want to know how I won BIG with teams and brands such as Toyota, MillerCoors, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bearcats, and Texas Longhorns by playing the long game?

Message me and let’s tee up a call.

3 Habits to Level Up Your Game

3 Habits to Level Up Your Game

If you are among Generation Y, like myself, then you probably grew up in the world of Nintendo and the Super Mario Brothers craze. Back in the day controllers were rectangular and certainly the technology trend of its time among kids.

Thirty years later video game controllers have 4 primary command buttons, 2 joysticks controlled by the thumbs, 1 directional arrow button and 2 trigger buttons, all to ergonomically fit and conform into the palms of your hands. That’s over twice as many buttons and a lot more multi tasking to focus on versus its predecessor. However, like anything if we focus on mastering one task at a time we can perform at higher levels and excel.

Practice makes perfect.

The key to success in today’s world is optimizing your resources. If you’re in sales, a start-up, or looking to scale your business here are three simple habits that deliver results, and how I implemented them in 2016.

  1. BE CONSISTENT. New habits take time to form and old habits take time to change. Start small if need be and commit. One of my objectives at the beginning of 2016 was to become disciplined enough to write one blog per month. In the end it’s the little things that count and I now comfortably post 1 or 2 thoughtful blogs per month.
  2. DELEGATE. You cannot scale your business if you cannot delegate. Identify operational tasks that can be taught and write a job description to carry them out. Whether you work for yourself or a corporation, figure out a way to duplicate yourself so you can remain focused on growth and the big picture. 2016 was my first full time year as an entrepreneur and one of the things I knew I had to implement for growth was allocate funding. She started this week.
  3. INCREASE ENGAGEMENT. No matter what you must always, always, always network and connect the dots. Everyone has the potential to open doors. Find out what makes them tick, follow through and don’t forget to ask for a referral. I enrolled in three new memberships/subscriptions to expand my reach in the community in 2016.

Stand apart by being great at a couple things rather than mediocre at many. Follow through, hold yourself accountable, and level up for success.

Logistics, Flawlessly Executed

Logistics, Flawlessly Executed

[A blog from the vault]

1,ooo,ooo spectators.  50,000 runners.  26.2 miles.  5 boroughs.
1 massive logistical coordination.

When you think of the novelty of an event like the New York City Marathon, you might think of the aforementioned statistics.  You might think of moments or people you observed at certain landmarks.  You might think of sponsors like ASICS and TCS who’s logos were co-branded on every piece of  commemorative gear.

Or if you’re a marketing nerd like me, you might think of thoughtful sponsorship alignment that defines the service of a brand.

2012 was supposed to be my year of the NYC Marathon but was unfortunately cancelled due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Fortunately, the NYRR (New York Road Runners) granted all registered participants a guaranteed default entry for 2013, 2014, or 2015.  2015 was the year I elected and the 45th  New York City Marathon did not disappoint.

I was blown away by the massive coordination between the New York Road Runners, city officials, sponsors, port authority, and city transit who all play an integral role that allows this event to be amazing year after year.  Runners from all over the world were spread throughout the city, and the majority would take the ferry or bus to Staten Island where the race begins.

While there are several accounts worth noting, the one I will share was the sponsorship alignment of UPS.  Upon arriving at Staten Island, runners were herded onto buses which would transport participants to the starting corrals and bag drop off.  This is when and where UPS was strategically positioned.  “Logistics” is a buzz word for the brand and that’s what the New York City Marathon is, one massive logistical coordination.

But UPS wasn’t all things to everyone.  They were specific to one particular need of the event… to consolidate and organize each participants personal belongings (at the start) and ensure those items were waiting for them at the finish line.

Runners would consolidate their belongings into plastic bags which were labeled specifically to each bib number.  UPS trucks were backed into the parking lot, side by side, so all you needed to do was take your bag to the truck assigned to your bib number, hand it to a volunteer and they would file it.

Once all runners have left their corrals and have officially embarked on their 26.2 mile bucket list journey, the back roller doors closed and the items were transported to Central Park where they await the finishers.

Contrary to traditional marathon etiquette I decided to bring my smart phone and snap pictures along the way.  My favorite marathon moments were crossing the Staten Island bridge, running through Brooklyn, taking a selfie with the NYPD, and soaking in Central Park.  I would finish the race at a modest 4 hours 42 seconds.

After my finisher photo was taken, I continued down the road to grab my post-race goody bag which contained a banana, a protein drink, Gatorade, water, and a handful of other snacks.  The march through Central Park continued until we arrived at the echelon of UPS trucks that transported our belongings from Staten Island.

The most beautiful thing about this sponsorship for UPS is it’s what they do day in and day out.  Coordinate, consolidate, commute and deliver.  They didn’t need to invest in any sort of special signage, packaging, or messaging.  All they needed to do was simply show up and do what they do best.

How can we emulate UPS when it comes to brand positioning and strategic alignment?  A few insights that come to mind…

  1. Identify a baseline need for an event and make a list of companies who service that need.
  2. Ask  yourself if your product or service is one that aligns with the values of the sponsor and the demographic they serve.  Prioritize.
  3. Prove that you’ve done your homework and schedule a meeting.