The Paradox of Serving Your Way to Success

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When you first hear it, serving your way to success sounds crazy, doesn’t it? The idea of being someone’s servant even sounds a little bit demeaning. And don’t I have to focus on me to get ahead? No one else cares about me as much as me.

“I love me some me!” — Terrell Owens, former NFL receiver

That can lead to a downhill spiral – fast. You end up feeling greedy, selfish, and desperate. And, it usually leads to financial and relational struggles.

But, when you truly understand it, serving your way to success makes perfect sense. You can track every bit of success in your life to your service of others.

  • You got promoted and made more income by serving your customers, coworkers, and boss
  • Your marriage is great because you put your spouse’s needs above yours
  • Your business is thriving because of the way you serve your clients
  • You have lots of friends because you’ve shown that you’ll help them any way you can

Sometimes I forget this. Whenever I find myself pressing in my business, or feel like I’m working too hard trying to sell, I always notice that I’ve gotten away from the focus of serving others. As soon as I start looking for ways to help and serve, things start working out again.

I start to feel happier. I begin to create better relationships and friendships. I have more fun in my work. I help more people.

As a bonus, I get more speaking engagements, coaching clients, and book and online course sales. But that isn’t my focus.

Sports demonstrate this as well. You’ve heard people say about a great player, “he’s so good, he makes everyone around him better.” That doesn’t just happen by accident. The great ones serve their teammates by helping them become better. They give them tips on how to play their position, how to study film, how to be mentally tough, and more. They lead by example and by their hard work. They never ask someone to do something they aren’t willing to do themselves.

It’s true in more than just sports. The really great parents, friends, and business people make everyone around them better. And they do it by serving.

It’s amazing how the process of helping others makes you a better person, and leads you to greater personal success than you’ve ever known. Quite often it even leads to more income. That’s not why you do it, but it sure doesn’t stink.

Let’s GO!

Questions for comments:

  • How do you switch your focus to serve others?
  • What do you do to serve others?
  • How does that change how you feel and what you achieve?

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

It’s Easier to Create Raving Fans if You’re Doing Business on Purpose

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The leaders I talk with, from all types of organizations, comment on the problems they have with employee engagement. The latest research I’ve seen shows as many as 60% of employees are disengaged or actually hate their jobs.

That’s. Not. Good.

That leads to high employee and customer turnover, lower productivity, lower quality of work and creativity, higher error rates, and more sick days taken. And the most important driver of employee and customer engagement is the desire for “purpose,” the “why” of what you do.

No matter what business you’re in, it’s easier (and more fun) to become world class at it, and give incredible service, if you’re doing business on purpose.

If you, your team members, and customers all believe in and rally around the same purpose, you’ve got a great start.

Everything you do should line up with your purpose. If it doesn’t why are you doing it?

When you have a strong purpose in your business, you don’t get lost, you don’t drift. If you don’t have a strong purpose, it’s easy to get sidetracked for things that sound like good ideas – or just for some quick money. Stay true to your purpose and it will serve you well.

Chick-fil-A has a strong purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” The company strives to align everything it does with that purpose:

  • It’s always been closed on Sundays so all of its employees could spend time with their families and go to church, or have a day of rest. It gives up a lot of money every Sunday be being closed, but it stays true to its purpose.
  • It’s why they do so much volunteering.
  • It’s why they give free sandwiches to first responders in times of crisis.
  • It’s why they created the Winshape foundation to strengthen families and bring people closer to God and each other.

When you mean it, your company purpose will help you hire and keep the best people. Share it with the people you are interviewing. Most millenials say they don’t want to work anywhere without a purpose they believe in. And older generations might not say so, but everyone wants to be part of something with a great purpose that makes a difference.

“People want to work with a person, not for a company. Most (Operators) feel that this is more than just a job. They feel either a divine call or the satisfaction of a desire to make a difference in the world.”
S. Truett Cathy
Founder of Chick-fil-A

I just started reading, It’s My Pleasure, by Dee Ann Turner. She worked for Chick-fil-A corporate for 30 years. When she applied there, the interview process was four months long. That’s a testament to how much Chick-fil-A believes that the business is all about the people. They look for great character and people who believe in their purpose.

My 17-year-old daughter, Faith, noticed this at one of our visits to the restaurant. She happened to walk buy a manager interviewing a young teen for an entry level job. When Faith returned to our table she said, “Dad, guess what I heard the manager ask that young man…’Who are your heroes?'”

Do you think they’re asking that question during the interviews at McDonald’s? Right.

I also love the focus Chick-fil-A puts on super serving the customers. Every time I go into the restaurant I find happy employees who seem to really want to serve me. They do everything they can to help me and always say, “it’s my pleasure.”

It’s part of how they create raving fans and evangelical customers. Hey, it led me to blog about it, didn’t it?

“If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger.”
–S. Truett Cathy

Does your business have a purpose everyone can rally around? If not, can you create one? If not, do you need to find a company in whose purpose you share?

Can you use that purpose to help drive your success?

What ways can you come up with to super serve your clients beyond their expectations so they just have to tell everyone they know about you?

Let’s GO!

I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.

“All Feedback is Welcomed?” I disagree

Feedback is always good and you should always take feedback, right? That’s’ the conventional wisdom. We have to be able to take feedback if we want to be successful. We can learn a ton about what we’re doing right and wrong. We can learn more about our customers, audience, clients, and more. We can use feedback to improve our products, services, presentations, and sales calls. Feedback is awesome.

Hey, conventional wisdom on feedback – YOU’RE WRONG!

Yes, sometimes feedback helps us. Sometimes it’s awesome.

But sometimes it really sucks. Sometimes we should let it roll off our backs, or even totally ignore it.

How do you know when to listen and when not to?

Feedback to listen to and act on:

  • When someone specifically praises something you’ve done, you know you need to keep doing it, and maybe even do more of it.
  • When someone – who wants to help you improve – is telling you what they believe you’re doing wrong with your products or service. Even if the customer is mad at you, this feedback is valuable. You may be able to fix your customer’s problem and turn her into a loyal customer. She may have found a problem you didn’t know existed that now makes what you do better for everyone.

I get some great feedback from you:

Greg, I really liked the section in your book where you say you can overcome your fear by taking action. I finally figured out that fear was holding me back.

Greg, I love your FB posts. They really encourage me. Please keep them up.

Greg, the audio on one of your videos on YouTube isn’t very good. You should re-record it.

Greg, I bought your audiobook and the link didn’t work. (I got that email the day I released the audiobook. I fixed it right away. My customer was happy and he helped me, big time.)

To all of those examples I say, thanks for the feedback.

Feedback to ignore:

When someone just wants to hurt you. These people don’t want to help you. They aren’t looking for a solution to a problem with your product or service. They just want to be mean.

Greg, You’re radio show is the worst I’ve ever heard. You’re a %$&*!

Greg, you’re ideas are stupid. My dog is a better blogger than you.

There’s not much I can do with that, is there? I don’t even respond to that type of feedback. All that does is feed the trolls.

Have you noticed that you can have 99 pieces of great feedback and yet focus on the one jerk who told you how awful you are? I know I do that sometimes. Why? It does nothing to help us.

Remember: You get to decide if the feedback is valuable. You get to decide if you’re going to allow it to impact your day and your life.

  • Focus on the good.
  • Fix what you can.
  • Find ways to improve.
  • Ignore the trolls.

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Nice Guys Finish…1st?

white hat

Nice guys finish last, right? It’s what we see in the movies and what society tells us. You have to be ruthless and selfish to get what you want in this world.

That can be true in the short term.

You can push in line to be first. You can sell something to someone they don’t really need to get your commission. You can lie about someone to get that promotion.

It can work…for a while.

But as my dad says, “time wounds all heels.” Mean people don’t finish first most of the time. They end up burning bridges, getting a horrible reputation and living a miserable existence.

Sounds fun, huh?

Being nice wins out in the long run.

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
― 
Mark Twain

Who would you rather do business with, hire, work with, or sell to? Someone you like or someone you dislike?

Wait a second, Greg, is this a trick question?

If we want to do business with, and be around, nice people, doesn’t it make sense for us to be as nice as possible in everything we do?

Nice guys finish first!

My last vacation was to NYC – the land of rude people. (Or so I’d been told.) Guess what my family found? Nice people.

Perhaps it was because we sent out kindness that we received kindness in return. I think it also had to do with the fact that we were looking for nice people.

We had nice people coming up to us explaining how to use the subway, helping us with directions and telling us about the best discounts.

We did meet a few rude employees at some of the businesses we went to and a few disgruntled people on the street, but we simply moved on until we found the next nice one. (Notice how the rude people lost our business and the nice people got it.)

And things just kept working out for us during the entire trip. My favorite was when we got the cheapest tickets available to a Broadway show simply because we were kind to the ticket agent at the box office. (I know it was a great price because of all the research we had done on it.)

Being nice “just because” will make you stand out with everyone you come in contact with. It will make people rave about you to their friends. It will get you more – and better – business. It will make you feel great. It will come back to you ten fold.

It’s the right thing to do.

And it doesn’t cost you a penny to do it.

Nice guys finish first.

Who can you be nice to today?

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Trying to be Popular is All Wrong

bullfight

We all want to be popular. We want as many people as possible to like us and to love our work. But what if that desire stops us from getting the most out of our talents and turning our ordinary work into spectacular art?

Planning our work so it pleases the largest number of people possible often has us censor ourselves, and usually stops us from doing something amazing. –Greg Knapp

But, Greg, I need people to buy my work. I need to make money.

Absolutely. And you do need to make sure there’s a market for what you’re producing. But, here’s the irony. When we try to make our work popular with everybody we usually end up earning less than when we follow our passion, and do inspired work.

Sure, we’ll be less popular. But the people who love us, really love us. They keep coming back and buying what we have to offer. They tell all their friends about us.

Because we connected with them.

When you do what moves you, you move others and the money will follow. Plus, it’s a lot more fun than trying to do what you think people want!

Pablo Picasso was an excellent artist from a young age. But, did you know he was classically trained and painted landscapes early in his career? He could have stuck with that and made a good living. But he was inspired to experiment and helped create the Cubism movement.

Not everyone liked his abstract paintings. You could say they were “less popular.” But he was doing the work he really cared about and the people who did like them really liked them. In fact, at the time of his death, Picasso’s net worth was estimated to be $50 million. (He was an artist who didn’t have to wait until he died to make money!)

Not bad for being less popular, eh?

Questions for comment: Where have you been pulling back on the type of work you really want to do because you’re worried you will lose customers? Could it be that’s what’s holding you back from bigger success?

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Who Are You Trying to Please? Why? Is It Worth It?

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We all know trying to please everyone is impossible, so why do we feel like failures when some people don’t like what we do? Why do we compromise on what we know would be our best work, in order to try to please a few more people?

It’s time to try something different. Let’s figure out who we care the most about, who shares our values and try to please them. Let’s get loyal, evangelical customers for life instead of aiming for the lowest common denominator who will drop us if the wind blows funny.

My radio show is not the highest ranked show in town. In fact, it’s not in the top 10. The top show on at the same time I am on is classic rock. A “lifestyle” talk show and sports talk shows are also ranked above me. (The good news is I’m ranked above the station that is our direct competitor.)

I could get really down about my ratings and change what I do to try to please the people who are listening to the shows ranked above me. I might be able to do that. But how many loyal listeners would I end up losing? Would I even enjoy my work anymore?

My station and I are going for an intensely loyal audience that wants to hear what I have to say about the things they care deeply about. Growing that audience makes my station profitable and a great place for our advertisers to reach a loyal customer base.

Don’t get me wrong. I want higher ratings and will continue to improve my show to get them. But I want to get them by going after a special kind of audience. I’d rather have a smaller group of raving fans that I don’t have to constantly chase for repeat business, wouldn’t you?

Raving fans are special. They:

  • Feel like they’re part of your family
  • Tell everyone about you
  • Stick with you
  • Buy from you even when you’re not having a sale
  • Never go anywhere else

I’ve found that developing raving fans makes it easier to increase your profits than trying to be all things to all people. It also comes with some extra bonuses. You get to love what you do and that leads to doing your best work. The hope is that you become so good at your work that to your raving fans, and to yourself, your work becomes art.

Questions for comments: How do you decide whom to please? How has narrowing your focus helped you?

 

Being Assertive Right Away Pays Off Big Time

mary poppins

I can’t believe what that guy said to me.
Wait until you hear what our vendor just did.
That customer wastes so much of my time, I wonder if he’s even worth it.

Do you ever say things like that? Why don’t you do something to stop these problems from happening again and again?

Well, the customer is always right. I don’t want to be difficult, or rude, or impolite. I was raised to be nice to people.

I get all that, but are you confusing being nice with being a doormat?

You can be polite and nice while still being assertive. When you do, your life will get so much easier. People will respect you more – even the people who are mistreating you – and you will start to be treated preferentially.

When I was in 7th grade I got into 13 fights. I didn’t start any of them. I was a short, scrawny kid with braces, glasses and acne. I looked like I had a sign on me saying, “Please pick on me.” The bullies did.

I didn’t win any of the fights. But I never fought the same kid twice because I stood up for myself. When someone started to hit me, I hit him back. But I didn’t just hit him back, I went CRAZY! I yelled, screamed, punched, scratched, kicked and did whatever I could to let him know I was not an easy target. He might win, but he would be licking some wounds in the victory circle.

It took a while for word to get around the bully clique, but after 13 fights no one ever picked on me again. The bullies didn’t become my friends, but they respected me.

Greg, um, I don’t think it’s good advice to beat people up.

I’m not saying it’s time to beat up everyone who mistreats you. But the idea that you have to take people’s garbage and smile is ridiculous. Don’t be aggressive, be assertive.

When someone is speaking rudely to you kindly, but firmly, let them know you’ll be happy to speak with them when they’re calmer and can be civil.

When your vendor isn’t living up to the contract, politely but firmly remind them of the details and hold them to it – or change vendors.

When a customer is more pain than he’s worth, let him know that while you appreciate his business, it seems he isn’t happy with what you offer and it’s time he takes that business somewhere else.

Start being assertive right away and watch how things change. You will end up being happier, more productive, and probably make more money by doing away with so many problems. You’ll also be treated better by everyone you interact with.

Try it and tell me how it goes.

The Internet is a Small Town and That’s Great For You

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Not that long ago, most Americans lived in small towns. In those days you built your business on word of mouth. Everyone knew everyone else, so word got around. If you were honest, delivered a good product or service, and took care of your customers people knew it and your business grew. If not, you were out of business pretty quick.

Then the country started getting bigger and less connected. You could get away with being unethical or substandard because there was always another sucker out there to fleece.

If you were doing things the right way, your business would grow, but since people weren’t as connected with their neighbors, word of mouth spread much more slowly.

Your bigger competitors could afford to advertise much more than you could.

Guess what? With the Internet there has never been a better time to become successful by being honest and delivering great customer service.

The Internet has done two big things:

1) Created small towns again.

How?

People are connecting again. Yes, it’s the virtual world, but it’s still connecting.

The people you serve are talking about you on their social networks. If they love you, most of their “friends” and “followers” will hear about it.

If they hate you, ALL of them will hear about it.

Since you have a great product/service and you super serve your customer, this is a great time for you!

Depending on what you do, look at all the ways your customers can rave – or rant – about you now:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Yelp
  • Google reviews
  • Amazon reviews
  • LinkedIn
  • Goodsnitch
  • Foursquare (not just for “checking in”)
  • MerchantCircle.com
  • Yahoo! Local Listings
  • Angie’s list
  • Insider Pages
  • City Search
  • Consumer Search
  • Consumer Reports
  • BBB
  • Bing Places for Business
  • Manta
  • Judy’s Book
  • Open Table
  • Epinions,

Your reputation is built or destroyed depending on what you provide the customer. They are talking. What are they saying about you?

2) The Internet has also allowed you to reach a huge audience without spending any – or very little – money.

How?

Provide something of value to people on your social media outlets. Show them how much you care and want to serve them. Give them some free tips/strategies/referrals/stuff. Engage with them. Serve them. (Are you catching on to how important it is to serve others?)

They will become raving fans, buy from you when they need what you have, and be there for you when you need them.

And for a pittance of what traditional advertising costs, you can reach your true fans with social media advertising, webinars, podcasts and emailings.

What a great time to be someone who super serves people!

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

–Zig Ziglar