Blind Spots: They're Called That For A Reason

To see something in your blind spot, you have to either move around, or, have someone point it out to you. Otherwise it's not a blind spot. Correct? Normally, I need someone to point it out to me, or to utilize some sort of device.

A device to eliminate blind spots are good assessments. I've been using assessments for over 19 years. This began when I read an article about the top 20 loan officers in the U.S. and was struck by all the commonalities. Not necessarily in their marketing and customer base, but other aspects of the people themselves. The search for those commonalities led me to the utilization of over 3,000 assessments as I've worked to help individuals and teams increase their performance and results.

A good assessment will help.....
  • give a clear and accurate depiction of where the individual is today
  • prepare the individuals for the path and create a map to insure the individual's success
  • identify key areas in which the individual needs development
  • an individual choose or change careers
  • equip teams to function at a highly colaborative level
  • manage employee development
  • leadership development
  • with job fit (whether you're looking for a job, or interviewing others)
  • succession planning and talent management
What an assessment is not - an assessment doesn't put you in a box. An assessment helps you learn the talents, attitudes, skills and knowledge already in your box. That realization can then be used to improve and get better results in the years ahead.

To that end......

Loan Officers - Warning - Be Purposeful About Using Your NMLS #

Loan officers need to really pay attention to the guidance they receive and authority they give over to others in the use of their NMLS number. Loan applications you are taking today can have much farther reaching affect on your career than you can imagine.

For example: if you are given wrong advice about how to structure that loan and years from now it is determined there were inappropriate actions involved in that file, it is your number associated with that file. One file might not be that big of a problem, but what if it happens on 5, or 10?

I'm just saying that loan officers can't just sloth accountability off to the processor or underwriter any longer. You shouldn't have anyway, but that's what has happened too much of the time.

Be aware of who you are giving access to your NMLS number. It can make a difference to your career.

Comments and dialog welcome!! See comment section below or email me at

To that end....

Case Study: Predictable Behavioral Patterns - Jack

Jack is a salesperson; He called recently asking for advice on how to handle a difficult customer. Jack was very upset at the customer for not “pulling the trigger” and was considering dumping him. I reminded Jack that his SMARTS assessment pointed out that 1. top producing sales people have a certain level of empathy for the customer’s point-of-view 2. he, Jack, scored low in that area and 3. we had discussed some ways in which he might develop a habit, or discipline to not be so reactive, but instead, be responsive. One discipline is to call me before making any brash or hurried decisions that was not in his written sales strategy.

This is a good example of a seemingly small factor in predictable behavioral patterns. Hopefully, having taken the SMARTS assessment, and continuing to learn from its output will give Jack better sales results in the near and distant future.

In this case, the research into SMARTS assessments points to a certain predictability pattern in a top producing sales person and Jack’s results of taking the assessment showed he was low in this area and needed attention and training.

Great Performance Comes From.......

Great Performance Comes From.......

Used with permission.

Thanks to Skip Carruth, VP, McLane Advanced Technologies - from the email of his notes from a presentation by Geoff Colvin, Editor-at-Large for Fortune Magazine at the Central Texas Economic Conference.

Geoff told this story to highlight what he thinks will be critical for businesses during this recessionary period:

In the 2004 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong was attempting the impossible – a 6th win of this most prestigious event. Through the first 4 stages, the winners of each stage changed hands but for the next 10 stages, Frenchman Thomas Voeckler never lost first place and led the field by 22 seconds. The next 3 stages were the most brutal and demanding of the tour - the Alps stages. Battling through a series of three seeming impossible ascents, Lance sprinted ahead on the first mountain stage and already led the field by 1:25. On the last day of the mountain stage, Lance was caught off guard by the sprint of a German rider, Kloden with only a half mile to go. Lance knew his teammate did not have the stamina to threaten the leader. The German rider led by 110 yards with only 600 yards to go. In what is arguably the most exciting finish of any stage in Tour history, Lance gave it all he had, passing and ultimately beating the German by a few inches. By the last stage of the mountains, Lance had extended his lead to 4:09. Never again was anyone a serious threat to beat Lance who went on to win this Tour as well as a 7th title.

Geoff’s point was this – we are in the mountain stages of our business life. The recession is looming and the battle will be difficult. But those that rise to the challenge and work hard during this most difficult time will be so far ahead that, when we come out, no one will catch up.

With that in mind, Geoff gave us 5 things that leaders do in difficult times:

1. Focus on the most critical things and reset the targets. If there’s a freight train bearing down on you (like the recession), don’t pull out the strategic plan. Put all the stuff aside, roll up your sleeves and tackle the challenges head on.

2. Focus on the core – for example:

a. Dow Chemical during the depression believed that chemical research was its core and it invested in that research. Coming out of that, among other things, were NYLON and NEOPRENE.

b. Coca-Cola knows that its BRAND is its most valuable asset. When economic conditions are difficult, they INCREASE advertising and marketing funds.

3. Protect your most valuable assets – people, relationships and culture. The first 3 budget items cut in a downturn are travel and entertainment, advertising, and training and development. The leaders train, develop their workforce and out-brand their competitors. These times are the best times to evaluate your people – “You don’t know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out.” Get rid of those folks that EVERYONE ELSE knows are deadwood and develop and even hire the underappreciated best from elsewhere. What you do with your people will be remembered for a long, long time.

4. The best leaders communicate like crazy – far more than when things are going well. Your people are nervous and anxious. Be honest, be realistic and be encouraging! Don’t “hunker in the bunker” but get out and share optimism and enthusiasm.

5. The best companies realize that we need to increase the value of what we’re offering. Redefine the value and develop new solutions for the new economy. For example:

Verizon saw a dramatic increase in households that were cancelling their landlines at home. They weren’t going to let go of their cell phones so, drop the home phone. The copper leading to these homes was paid for 50 years ago – that revenue is very profitable. Verizon changed their message and encouraged people to keep their home phones – pay only $5/mo ($5 is greater than $0!!!) but they can only call Verizon (of course) and 911 in an emergency and the home phone will still work when power to the home goes out. They salvaged what would have been a significant loss by changing the value equation.

Geoff’s final message – “Great performance comes from deliberate long-term practice and skills developed over the long-haul.”

Skip Carruth
Vice President – Commercial
McLane Advanced Technologies
Office: 254.791.8300

Don't Die With Your Talents and Gifts

There’s a story about a man dying and going to heaven. While being shown around, he kept asking about a very large building off in the distance but was continuously told “forget about it.”

Finally, after much pestering, his host took him to the building and with one final warning of “you really don’t want to do this, it’s no longer of value to you.”

The man didn’t care, he wanted to know what was in that building. As the story goes, the building was full of boxes; one for every person that ever lived.

In each box were ideas, gifts, and blessing never used, most never even asked for nor explored. Just laying there because they were each made specially for him, like for all of us.

Don’t let what’s in your box die with you; search out what’s locked up inside.

The Company is nothing without the People

Companies are about people, products, technology, and profit, and policies, and procedures, and meetings....and more and more things; both tangible and non.

But without the people, and any good leader, manager, owner will admit, not worth much. Yet, as a company brings the people together, it rarely spends money on the people. Oh, of course it pays the people and provides adequate facilities and things such as that, but what about investing in people? Insuring you have the right job fit coming in and the proper maturity once hired? Things change, industries change, and most people are not purposefully trying to learn and change. Too many, most even, are just trying to keep up. I'm not sure who it was that said the following quote, but it permeates what I'm talking about -

Give me six hours to chop down trees and I'll spend an hour sharpening by ax.

I'm not just referring to business owners and managers, this is about individuals taking responsibility for his/her own career. How do you know you can work with others? Do you know if they can work with you? But you need a paycheck you say? You say you'll make it work? What are you doing to stay up with the competitive workforce. Do you realize that you are taking in information at 20 times the rate the normal person was 50 years ago? Do you realize the younger generation is way ahead of you on what is changing (see Social Media postings in this blog)?

Job fit is a relative new term, some call it "calling." How's your job fit? Do you know if you are going to fit in well with you new job, or are you struggling with aspects of your existing one?

A tool for identifying these strengths, weakness and blind spots is an assessment. A good assessment, when used properly, will help you find out a bit about yourself that will, when used properly

Not only will you learn about blind spots and strengths, you could realize what is causing you to struggle, a weakness that could be easily corrected by a peer's strength.

Learn more by clicking assessments, emailing or calling 512-773-6528.

Be purposeful...learn....change (you're going to whether you like it or not!). You, your family, and your company are worth it.
You and I will be the same five years from now, as we are now, except for what we watch and listen to, who we associate with, and what we ready; be purposeful.
To that end....
Oh, and as always, comments and questions (dialog) is welcome.

Book: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization

By Peter Drucker, with Jim Collins, Philip Kotler, James Kouzes, Judith Rodi, V. Kasturi Rangan, and Frances Hesselbein

Notes are from the AudioTech Book Summary:

Explore….the five simple, yet essential questions first posed by Peter F. Drucker, who is widely considered to be the world’s foremost pioneer of management theory. (In this issue's column)

Analyze….your organization’s mission, which should be a short, sharply focused statement that tells everyone why you do what you do, not how you do it. (In this issue column)

Assess….who your target customers are, who and what influences them, what they value, how you can create satisfying experiences for them, and which customers you should stop serving. (In this issue column)

Determine….what specific results your organization should be striving to achieve, and where you should focus for future success. (In this issue column)

Develop….your organization’s plan, which must define the particular place you want to be as well as the budget and action steps that will enable you to get there. (In this issue column)

These five simple questions will help you to assess what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what you must do to improve the organizations performance. (page 1)

What is our mission?

Who is our customer?

What does our customer value?

What are our results?

What is our plan?

The questions then guide you through the process of assessing how well you are doing, ending with a measurable, results-focused strategic plan to further the mission and to achieve the organization’s goals, guided by the vision. (page 1).

Read more of this review at In-The-Box: Read Well

While the book is focused more on large organizations, the material is an excellent read for those searching out a sales strategies and procees. Few companies, of any size, spend time asking questions such as those poised by Mr. Drucker. Studying these questions and their subsequent answers as it relates to you and your organization is worth the time you'll spend with your team and coach.

Be purposeful.

To that end......

Habits and Winning

Wikipedia defines Habits as routines of behavior that are repeated regularly, tend to occur subconsciously, without directly thinking consciously about them. defines Winning, in adjective form as successful or victorious acts, or the noun as the act of a person or thing that wins.

So, Winning Habits would be something like subconscious behavior that routinely brings about successful acts without consciously thinking about them.

What Winning is not;

1. Winning is not about IQ, and while talent helps, it is not always necessary

2. Winning is not necessarily about starting out with more money

3. Winning is not about luck

4. Winning is not about education

5. Winning is not about being in the right place at the right time

Winning is the self-management of attitudes and actions that become daily habit patterns. Losing and winning lifestyles are reflex habits, like brushing your teeth and driving your car.

There is a fine line between success and failure. Whether it is golf, football, or wall street, it is only a few strokes or points that separate the winners from the rest of the field.

Successful people win by developing good habits and disciplines...and never giving up. I said....NEVER GIVING UP.

Ben Franklin, at the age of 19, felt there were 13 virtues important to him and until his death at 76 he worked on improving one each week. His virtues were self-control, silence, order, determination, economy, productivity, truthfulness, justice, moderation, cleanliness, peace, chastity, and humility. For 57 years he worked on developing better habits surrounding these virtues; 228 times he paid specific attention to each of his virtues. No doubt that his success was heavily weighed against this discipline, nor is there doubt that this discipline developed subconscious habits.

Here are suggestions for some habits that will help with winning;

1. Develop the Habit of remembering that success, and life, is a process

2. Develop the Habit of dreaming your own dream; know who you are and where you want to go, but prepare yourself more than the path.

3. Develop the Habit of living according to your true mission and values.

4. Develop the Habit of working out your mission with a plan and a purpose

5. Develop the Habit of aligning your motives, agenda, and behavior - don't be a faker.

6. Develop the Habit of working at what you do well; determine your Core Competency Factors (Talents, Attitude, Skills and Knowledge)

7. Develop the Habit of dropping the excuses / stop blaming others and yourself; see QBQ by John Miller.

8. Develop the Habit of trusting AND verifying; inspect what you expect.

9. Develop the Habit of polishing your shoes - make a good impression

10. Develop the Habit of treating failure and problems as fertilizer - learning experiences provide growth; failure is an event, not a person (Zig Ziglar)

11. Develop the Habit of focusing your energy on one thing at a time. Studies show that multi-tasking causes short-term memory loss (seriously).

12. Develop the Habit of realizing things are not usually what they seem; seek clarity, ask questions, and accept advice (see post in this blog about Bad Teamwork/Conflict)

13. Develop the Habit of setting goals

14. Develop the Habit of never giving up; you might be Three Feet From Gold (see book by that name)

15. Develop the Habit of developing a reputation for being early; it's an incredible show of credibility

16. Develop the Habit of acting like you're self-employed; have the entrepreneur attitude and think "sell matter what your position."

17. Develop the Habit of being honest with everyone, including yourself - your reputation always precedes you; you know when you aren't honest and it depletes the credibility you have with yourself

18. Develop the Habit of not compromising your integrity for the sake of winning; see #17

19. Develop the Habit of working with people that have the values and character that you strive for; don't compromise; your going to be same you are today except for what you listen to and watch, what you read, and who you associate with.

20. Develop the Habit of looking over your shoulder and evaluating your performance; looking back at today, yesterday, last week / month / year. Don't waste the struggles nor the triumphs.

21. Develop the Habit of increasing your knowledge base; never stop learning and never stop changing with the learning. You'll be the same as you are today except for what you listen to and watch, who you associate with and what you read.

You're going to be the same 5 years from today as you are today except for the habits you change; you change habits by who you associate with, what you watch and listen to, and what you read.

The world is changing; you win by changing and/or improving your habits.

To that end.......God Bless,

Social Media - What Does It Mean To Your Business, Your Career?


No matter what your career or business model, social media must be included in the marketing report, even if  to say "it is not important." Huh?

Eirk Qualman, author of Socialnomics says "we don't have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it."

Yet, despite the data noted below, reports continue to roll across the stat pages showing that the typical ("typical") businessperson scoffs at social media. I'm afraid those I've asked the question to in the past 2 months prove that to be true. Which concerns me because my experience with the "five years from now I'll be, etc," you know what I mean if you've read much of this blog or known me for very long.

Those scoffing at social media need to take their head-out-of-the-sand and AT LEAST know what they are up against, no matter what their career, job, business, etc. Granted, some businesses could possibly not have a competitive advantage in using social media, but there are still plenty of reasons to not scoff at its reality and what it can do to or for you.

Consider the following data -
  • 1 out of 8 couples married in US met via social media (I personally know 4 couples)
  • If Facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest
  • A US Dept of Education study revealed that online students out perform classroom students
  • Boston College and some other universities has stopped distributing e-mail accounts and depend upon social media
  • The time it took to reach 
    • 50 million users
      • Radio - 38 years
      • TV - 13 years
      • Internet - 4 years
      • iPod - 3 years
    • 200 million users
      • Facebook - 11 months
    • 1 Billion downloads
      • iPod - 9 months
  • 80% of companies use social media for recruiting; 95% of these use LinkedIn
  • The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 yr old females
  • 34% of the 200,000,000 bloggers post opinions about products and brands
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations; only 14% trust advertisements
  • Social Media isn't a fad, it's a fundamental shift in the way we communicate
Your career, or business, not benefit? Think what all this means for BAD customer experiences!

These facts and more are in the above video.

What are you doing to your career or business with or without social media. Again, even if you don't use Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Twitter, or a host other social media sites, at least know what is going on; ask questions, talk to your attention. You career might depend upon it!

To that end....

Fed Releases Loan Officer Compensation Rule

From Bloomberg.Com

By Joshua Zumbrun - Aug 16, 2010 10:50 AM CT
The Federal Reserve announced rules aimed at preventing mortgage originators from receiving more compensation for selling home loans with higher interest rates.

“A loan originator may not receive compensation that is based on the interest rate or other loan terms,” the Fed said today. “This will prevent loan originators from increasing their own compensation by raising the consumers’ loan costs,” the Fed said as part of five final, interim or proposed rules released in Washington to combat unfair or abusive lending. Read more @ Bloomberg

Read details @ Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

How this plays out for everyone's income, including the gross compensation at the company level remains to be seen. This combined with FHA's elimination of a broker's need to be approved to do FHA loans will have a dramatic impact on the compensation models and business strategies of loan officers and company owners alike.

I'd enjoy comments, questions and discussions along these lines.

My Name is Andre Agassi and I Hate Tennis....

 "My name is Andre Agassi.....I play tennis for a living, even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion, and always have."

WOW! What a shocking statement from an incredible athlete who reached the pinnacle of his career. "My name is Andre Agassi.....I play tennis for a living, even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion, and always have."

Agassi makes this statement in the introduction to his autobiography "Open." Matt Carter, senior pastor at Austin Stone Community Church, read it a few months ago during a sermon on Theology of Work. I was struck then about the depth and ramifications of such a statement from such a successful person, and continue now to be equally awed after reading the book and pondering Agassi's motives and behavior. I'm struck with how hard he worked at a job he despised so much; I don't care who you are....that's credibility.

How do you feel about your job? Do you hate your job, but continue to develop your T.A.S.Ks (core competency factors)? Do you strive to be the best in the world at what you do, yet hate it? Agassi was and did, but while he hated playing tennis, he felt he had a job to do, a mission to fulfill. Agassi searched out his strengths and weaknesses, he knew he could do it until it came time to do something else and he hated loosing. He was determined to put in the time and effort to get better, to improve. When he couldn't do something himself, he found someone that could help him.

Or...are you just not sure why you don't do better than you do?

Or...your not sure what job you would even really want to do, even if you had a choice. You've heard about callings but have no idea what it means to you; you keep asking "what am I supposed to do with my life?"

Or..."I keep waiting for God to show me what he wants me to do, so for now I just do this."'re in the perfect job, but know you can do better than you do; you've leveled out and can't figure out why.

Agassi's story is not unique, except maybe the money part. While there are plenty who are incredibly good at what they do, yet dislike the job in some form or fashion, and make even make good money, there are an abundance of those who aren't that good, don't have the competency, and yet through the efforts of themselves and/or their bosses, stay on the job.

If you are unhappy or disappointed with your job, the reason could be as simple as learning what and where to focus, or it could be about bad job fit. In either case, what are you doing about your situation? If you've leveled out, it is likely that you need better direction and focus, and/or you have ideas inside you that need to be jostled lose.

You are going to be the same five years from now except for what you listen to and watch, who you associate with, and what you read. Learning more about your specific talents, attitudes, skills, and knowledge (competency factors) is part of the first step towards being purposeful about who you are five years from now. You are a unique individual and there are more ideas inside you than you can possible imagine! Unlock them.

Find out more about this and other In-the-Box ideas, click here or call 512-773-6528.

To that end.....

PS - This book is a great read and I highly recommend it; my additional thoughts and review will be posted soon at Read Well.

Learning and Not Changing is NOT Learning

As one works to improve Talents, Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge, he/she will naturally develop new behavior traits. Yet, battling against habits/tendencies that have brought about bad results in the past will still be a challenge.

Here are 4 bad behaviors that tend show themselves in most of us:

1. Trusting people without accountability

2. "hoping" too much

3. Not following through on requests; not inspecting what is expected

4. Not enough GOOD meetings, including GOOD "sneaker" meetings (leading by walking around)

As to the meetings.....I've written and talked extensively about meetings, what books to read about meetings, and why meetings HAVE TO HAPPEN. But until recently, I had not really clicked on why people don't like meetings; they don't like meetings because they don't like the accountability that comes along with Good meetings. No doubt there are plenty of "bad" meetings (bad bad meeting - shame on you), but right now I'm referring to those good results-driven meetings. One behavior to look out for is the "well, that's an hour of my life that I'll never get back" behavior. That is an indication of a passive-aggressive behavior that is doing nothing but tearing at the heart of the entire organization.

Having good meetings is essential to your success as an individual and your organization. You have to know who is in the box with you. You have to know what is driving behaviors. What is each teammembers' agenda, their motive for being at work? Is it just to earn a paycheck? A bigger paycheck? Are those in the box with you good followers?

Are they trying to make a real difference? Do they want to be part of something bigger than themselves? Are they trying to make a difference or make a bigger money?

If your meetings are good meetings, something is really happening. Agendas are being sat, accountability is enforced, and planning is talked about. A good meeting has some drama also (see Death by Meeting...Lencioni). But that person constantly struggling to come to meetings is undoubtedly going back to his/her desk or out into the field and do what he/she wants. And killing your mission and purpose while trampling your values. This person, regardless of what was previously agreed upon, will do only what he/she wants in the long run.

Now....this person might be a good SINGLE contributor, but recognize and drive that strength (another discussion). Otherwise, this is someone that doesn't belong in the box with you. Forget about the bus. Forget about a seat on the bus. Just get him out of the box. And quick.

You want people that are part of a Team; a Together-Everyone-Achieves-More mind-set. Teamwork is a reality of Success, but we'll never succeed long-term without good Teamwork and people that talk about together-everyone-achieves-more and yet runs his own agenda is conning himself and others that depend upon him.

Look at the past, learn from it, and change. Know who's in the box with you.

Get out of your rut, learn from the past, and quit trying to change everyone. If they haven't changed, they're likely not going to change and you'd better.

Learn, but change.

To that end........

Case Study on Bad Teamwork/Conflict

A client asked me to identify the cause of a problem he'd been having within his company; bad results in the timely deliver of products to the customers.

As I asked him and his staff questions, participated in conversations with the players involved, put-forth some corrective suggestions, and continued to watch the results, here is what came out of this tough, but real-life problem;

1. there was a key vendor involved with personnel on site at the client's company. The client and the vendor's personnel got along well and truly wanted to be a good team

2. the vendor personnel are responsible for a very critical component of the product.

3. the vendor personnel were told by their management to not "complain" to their client (my client) about anything, but to keep his/her head down and just get the job done. The problem that should have been brought forth were about hand-offs and communitcation.

4. some company team members participated in covering up the problems because of the vendor's mandate about "complaining."

The result..........bad delivery of product due to dysfunctional teamwork, loss of business, and strife between the client and vendor.

Perfect example of Lincioni's Five Dysfuntions of a Team.

The clean-up of this problem took some time and 2 of the 7 people involved had to be replaced; one from company and one from vendor. Both of these people were good employees and wanted to contribute but had a hard time backing up.

Again, the problem was caused primarily because everyone avoided conflict, though the conflict ended up happening anyway. It always does - remember the old Vavoline commercials? Conflict says "pay me now or pay me more later (not exactly what was said in the commercial but you old-timers get the picture).

Conflict happens; always has, always will. Besides reading Lincioni's book, here are some basic guidelines for having smart conflict:

1. respond, don't react
2. go to the person
3. treat the event, not the person
4. expect the best
5. see clarity, ask questions
6. talk straight and leave the right impression
7. evaluate and correct rapidly

To that end.....

Seeking Nominations for Key Salesperson Awards

Every successful organization and team has a good sales force and every successful sales force depends upon those individuals helping to deliver the service.

If you have someone you believe to be a Key Salesperson, let us know via email at

For additional information on who qualifies for as a Key Salesperson, see

The key salespeople in a professional services environment are those who actually perform the services; they are the key that completes the sales force.