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Knowing Good Grammar is a Social Skill

Bad grammar holds back veterans in the field and those starting out alike. Penelope Truck shows how important practicing good grammar can be when looking for a new job in the following article, written Dec 8, 2018.

My friend is staying at my apartment while he job hunts in Boston. My job hunts were always done in pajamas with a jeans-and-T-shirt interview finale. Micah is in sales and his hunt starts with a trip to a clothing store.

While he hops in and out of dressing rooms becoming friends with everyone, I settle into a spot with the mannequins.

Then I say, “Micah! Hey! Did you know the most reliable way to speed up a job hunt is to have a professional rewrite your resume?”

Micah stops and looks at me. Sales guys are always attentive, even if you annoy them.

“So, not that I don’t love living with you, but I’m rewriting your resume.”

A lot of times when I rewrite a resume it’s so much better than the original that the person has to learn to talk about themselves differently. We underestimate ourselves because we’re in the thick of things when it’s our own career. A good resume rewrite makes you feel like a different, much more successful person.

Most people take a week or two to get used to talking about themselves at a higher level. Salespeople can adjust right away, which Micah did. Then he started making little changes for each job. And ruining the resume.

“Micah! Are you a total numbskull?! You can’t have a bulleted list with one bullet! It’s not a list if there’s only one thing!”

I told him he has a huge indentation where there shouldn’t be any. He thought I was crazy. He thought no one would notice.

This reminds me of when I was doing a lot of public speaking. I wore jeans. Even when I was getting paid $15K per speech, I wore jeans. Even when I was speaking to a coat-and-tie audience, I wore jeans.

My agent told me to stop wearing jeans. I told my agent my content is so good that no one notices what I wear. So he stopped booking me.

The problem is blind spots. And part of the art of making it through adult life is to learn our blind spots before they completely undermine us.

This is a good time to complain about tests we administer to ourselves. I have already published a tirade about personality tests – why nearly 50% of people get inaccurate results when they test themselves.

But another example is that the are you a sociopath tests don’t work because the ENTPs and ESTPs are always excited to test as a sociopath. They think it’s funny. So they inadvertently skew the results.

Also, when you have someone test to see if they have Asperger’s, most of the time they will say their social skills are fine. That’s because people with Asperger’s don’t know what counts as a social skill. For example, meeting deadlines, sticking with the group, saying I’m sorry. These are all social skills that people with poor social skills don’t count.

I see the phrase “appropriate attire” a lot. Well, maybe not a lot now, but I did a lot when I was 13 in the ’70s and I was receiving tons of formal bat mitzvah invitations. But anyway, that phrase doesn’t mean you have to knock it out of the park with an outfit straight from the runway. It means just look like you fit in.

The same is true with appropriate grammar. People just need to know basics. As a former copyeditor, I know that one should not capitalize a job title unless the job title comes directly before a person’s name who is doing that job. The number of people who violate this rule is so large that breaking that rule is like wearing white after Labor Day: Whatever.

But those mistakes on Micah’s resume are on the list of must-be-fixed. And, here’s a list off the top of my head of common grammar errors I see on resumes from very smart people:

Do not use jargon as a way to abbreviate because you need everyone at the prospective company to be able to read your resume.

Always abbreviate state names unless you’re a calligrapher getting paid per letter.

Don’t write Inc. on your resume unless you worked at Inc. Magazine. No one cares about the incorporation papers of the companies you worked for.

Recognize rules are flexible, but no rules are random.Put periods at the end of non-sentences. Or not. Capitalize long prepositions in a headline. Or not. Abbreviate months. Or not. But be consistent; whatever you choose, do it every time.

Maintain past tense even for a job that you are still doing. If you are writing a good resume, you are writing about a moment in time when you were great. If you are writing about something you do every day, meaning you are still doing it, then stop writing that. A resume is about accomplishments and the second you accomplish something it becomes past tense.

Give your verb an object as a way to make sure you look great. Consider the difference between Emma ate. And Emma ate something. The latter is a specific time with a specific outcome. People get hired for making a specific impact at the places they work.

Don’t use quotation marks unless you literally refer to a person who you then quote verbatim. But if you are quoting someone verbatim on your resume, delete it. What are you thinking? The only acceptable quote would be from someone who is so famous that they can just make a phone call and get you the job without you sending a resume at all.

This article is written by Penelope Trunk, who helps others find jobs and has created four start ups, including Quistic. You can find this post here.

The opinions expressed here by Penelope Trunk are their own, not those of PenelopeTrunk.com.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

ABOUT GREG LEE


maximize your resources

Maximize Your Resources – Part 1

Maximize Your Resources to Increase Your Profits

Over the next few posts we’re going to talk about how to take a hard look at your current resources and get the most out of them. This can help your capital go further and increase your profit margin. Today we’ll cover three different ways to maximize your resources with what you already have. These include:

  • Recognize the obvious
  • Unconventional breakthroughs
  • Face the facts

Recognize the Obvious

Sometimes when you are too close to something, you can’t make out the big picture. You need to step back and really take a hard look at the resources you currently have in front of you. You are surrounded by opportunities that can boost your career and help your business become more successful.

Unconventional Breakthroughs

Don’t sit around waiting for breakthroughs you need to create them yourself. You will not be able to maximize your resources if you sit around waiting for breakthroughsyou need to create them yourself. A breakthrough is merely a new way of doing things or finding a new thing to do for the same or better results. You should be having regular brainstorming sessions and encouraging your team to come forward with breakthroughs or ideas any time they have them.

Some great examples of breakthroughs are:

  • A health and beauty company discovers a side effect of a product that can be re-marketed and sold.
  • A company creates a roll-on deodorant inspired by the shape and size of a ball point pen.
  • The founder of Nike poured rubber onto a waffle iron and created the most innovative and successful running shoe ever.

When attracting or strategizing for a breakthrough there are some key objectives you need to keep in mind. They are:

  1. Look for the hidden opportunity in every situation.
  2. Look for at least on cash windfall for your business every three months.
  3. The more value for your client, the better your breakthrough.
  4. Create multiple streams of idea to find the best breakthroughs.
  5. Effective breakthroughs remove all risk or resistance.

Face the Facts

Before you can put your breakthroughs to work you need to face the facts of the processes and systems that are not working for you and work to correct or get rid of them. System analysis is a good way to do this. Once you have a listing of your strengths and weaknesses, you need to compare those to the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

There are some great questions you can present to you and your team to get a handle on where your business is right now. They are:

  1. Why did I first start this business? Why am I in this industry?
  2. What products/services did I offer then? Which were the most popular?
  3. Why are my customers/clients buying from me right now?
  4. How did I generate new customers/clients then?
  5. Which of my marketing efforts were bringing in the best results?

Once you’ve got some answers to these questions, you’ll know better how to approach your weaknesses.

These three areas we’ve gone over give you a jumping off point for how to maximize your resources. If you need any help with your strategic or systems analysis, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.


Developing a Strategic Plan

Why is developing an awe-inspiring, game-changing strategy so difficult for leaders to do?

Some of my best clients have their eyes glazed over when we start talking about developing their business strategy.  I don’t blame them, understanding what “strategy” actually means is intimidating enough let alone how one goes about developing an effective strategy that ensures your business success.  So unfortunately, many leaders, whether big company executives or small business owners, never end up investing the time necessary to plan for their organization’s future.

So, for those that feel they lack the experience, know-how, or understanding of what to do and how to go about developing a business strategy, an effective way to get started is simply asking yourself “What would you like your business to look like in 12 months, if things were to go really well?”

  • What would your business look like?
  • How much revenue would your business be generating?
  • How many customers would you have every month?

Once you have a feel for where you’d like to take your business, you’ll need to truly understand how important it is to you to reach these goals.

If it’s anything less than a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale of how important these things are to you, you should probably forget about developing a strategic plan.  You’ll most likely never get to the point of executing the plan.  You’ll always be too busy and too involved with your daily business activities to “work on your business” so why waste your time in developing a strategy you will never execute.

So in other words, instead of spending all of your time working in your business, invest some specific and focused time working on your business.  Developing a strategy doesn’t need to be complex.  Simply putting your mind to thinking about what your business needs to look like 12 months from now will set you on the right path.


multiplying your advertising

Multiply Your Resources – Part 2

Multiplying Your Advertising for the Best Results

Today, we will look at multiplying your advertising efforts. Last time we talked about how to start multiplying on the resources you worked on maximizing. We covered the following areas:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients

Today we’ll talk about the next three:

  1. Olympic-Size Sales Staff
  2. Open Water Fishing
  3. Call for Back-Up

Olympic-Size Sales Staff

Now we all know you can’t have a sales staff of 10,000 who work around the clock for free, but there is a tool that will do exactly that-direct mail marketing.

Direct mail is a written piece of sales and informative copy that offers information about your company and your products/services to potential customers/clients. You can sales letters, brochures or proposals that can be mailed out to a list of leads.

This approach can not only open your door to thousands of new customers/clients, it can save you thousands of dollars in advertising.

Open Water Fishing

You have to be careful not to waste your time on clients who are simply not interested. You have to focus on bigger fish. Remember, the lessons we talked previously about how you should always be targeting higher-quality prospects.

To do this you have to take the time to research and learn about your potential clients to make sure you are targeting the right companies to work with. Make sure they are companies who will benefit from your products/services over a long period of time.

If you’re not sure where to start in finding big fish clients, go back over our previous lessons or look into purchasing a direct mailing list that specifically targets the clients you need. You can purchase or rent lists with name, title, job specs and contact information. This gives you a jumping off point in finding high-quality clients.

Call for Back-Up

Don’t be afraid of telemarketing. It’s a powerful tool than can be done tastefully and be highly effective. However, keep in mind, when not handled correctly can bring about negative reactions. To be successful with telemarketing you need to use these tips:

  1. Your first line of defense should be mail marketing.
  2. Test before you start a telemarketing campaign.
  3. Set the price for your offer.
  4. Use a progressive approach with your campaign.

Progressive contact helps build trust and allow the potential customer/client to establish a positive relationship with you. These are the progressive steps you should take:

  1. Put your prospect at ease.
  2. Present your offer in a natural, conversational way.
  3. Avoid being argumentative or pushy.
  4. Always be honest.
  5. Perfect your 30-second elevator speech.
  6. Clearly state your name, business name, reason you’re calling and where you got their information.
  7. Offer the benefits of your products and services.
  8. Mention one of the features that back up the benefits.
  9. Ask preliminary questions that gives you information about the prospect.

These step-by-step methods can help you be successful with a telemarketing campaign and avoid a negative response which could stigmatize your business forever.

This wraps up these three areas of multiplying your advertising. We’ll continue with this series for the next two posts to give you all the resources you need to get the most out of your current resources.

If you need help working through any of these processes or areas, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.


multiply your resources

Multiply Your Resources – Part 1

Multiply Your Resources After Maximizing Them

The next series of posts will cover how to multiply your resources after you have maximized them for even bigger results.

In this first of the four part series we’ll cover:

  1. Call in the Troops
  2. Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork
  3. Black Sheep Clients

Call in the Troops

Finding and securing new clients can be exhausting and expensive. Instead work with other companies to help you find new clients. Find solid companies with secure, positive relationships with their customers/clients. Also, ensure that their products/services are not directly competitive with yours.

Contact prospective partner companies and talk with them about helping promote your products/services to their clients. Always offer them a commission on the sales that come from their client lists.

Make sure to include these key points in your proposal:

  • Ensure that your products/services don’t compete with theirs.
  • The partnership will not take away from their current or future sales.
  • The partnership will increase their profits.
  • They won’t have to do nor spend anything on the partnership.
  • You will produce all needed marketing materials.
  • You will offer an unconditional guarantee on all products/services.

Bring ‘Em Out of the Woodwork

If you take the time to put together a solid referral system you’ll draw new customers/clients out of the woodwork through everyone you already know. You can start doing this through first showing all your current clients how much you care about them.

Then show them how your products/services can significantly improve their lives or businesses. If you can do this consistently, they will naturally and comfortably bring new clients right to you.

Black Sheep Clients

One of the best ways to rejuvenate business is to find your stray clients and offer them something amazing. First you need to understand why they strayed and are no longer purchasing from you. There are generally three reasons why customers/clients leave. They are:

  1. Unrelated causes that have nothing to do with you
  2. A problem with their last purchase
  3. No longer benefit from your products/services

The best way to bring these clients back is to simply contact them. If you don’t make the first move, they’ll never come back. You make an appointment to visit them or call them if it’s not possible to meet in person.

Talk openly with your stray clients. Let them know you noticed they were no longer working with you and that you’d like to talk with them about their experiences with you and how you can improve things to work together again. Take the time to make them feel special and work hard to make sure their experiences with you going forward are the best ever.

This wraps up the first three areas on how to multiply your resources. If you need help working on any of these ideas or processes, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Next time we’ll talk about the next three areas of multiplying your resources. They include: Olympic-Size Sales Staff, Open Sea Fishing and Call for Back-Up.

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.


running out of cash flow

Running Out of Cash Flow

The last two posts covered the first four of the killer mistakes you can make that will not only make you lose your fish, but possibly your entire company. Today we’re going to talk about the fifth killer mistake: Up Cash Creek Without a Paddle, or when you’re running out of cash flow.

Help Avoid Running Out of Cash Flow

Even when business is good there’s still a chance of running out of cash flow. You have to always be prepared for a slow in sales or a surge in expenses. One of the keys to balancing your cash flow is to get your clients to pay on time. This can seem like a nightmare, but is absolutely essential to a successful business.

Here are some tips to speed up the payment process:

  • Always send invoices on time and adjust your records for potential audits.
  • Learn how the client processes payments on their side and find out precisely where to send invoices.
  • Find out who’s in charge of processing orders and payment, so you know who to contact if needed.
  • Have a follow-up procedure in place, just in case.
  • As a last resort, call your contact to ask questions.
  • Always make sure your invoices are correct before sending them out.

You also need to make sure your cash flow is protected. You can do this by:

  • Always know which accounts need paid and when.
  • Negotiate with your suppliers for the lowest cost possible.
  • Have a bank contingency plan in place.
  • Build your own inventor network.

These are all great ways to protect the cash flow of your business and prepare for fish transitions and slow sales. These last few lessons are all about finding and catching your big fish clients. These clients are essential to your success and your need to take the time to work through each of these steps carefully and correctly for the best success.

If you find yourself having issues with running out of cash flow, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.


taking on more than you can handle

Taking on More Than You Can Handle

In the last post we covered the first two of the 5 biggest mistakes you can make in dealing with big fish clients. Today we’ll cover the third and fourth ones, taking on more than you can handle and putting all of your eggs in one basket:

Taking on More Than You Can Handle

When you take on too much, your business can’t keep up and therefore you can easily lose control of everything and find yourself barely functioning. You want your business to be successful, no doubt, but you need to have a plan for how you will handle the growth. Your clients expect great customer service and highly quality products/services, they don’t know or care about your behind the scenes operations to get those things done.

  • Look for these signs that you are taking on more than you can handle:
  • Clients’ needs aren’t being met.
  • Employee morale is low, clients are upset and you’re in a panic.
  • You have to react in emergency mode to save accounts.
  • Your current clients are suffering from trying to keep up with new business.
  • Profits are going down.
  • You are just trying to pick up the pieces of your business.
  • Your clients/customers leave.
  • Resources are being reallocated.

There a trick called the Mock Fish Plan. This plan can help you react positively when you are facing some or all of these things and help you get your business back on track. This plan will:

  • Help increase sales in a short period of time.
  • Alter your products/services for the better.
  • Fulfill promises you made to your clients.

There are six steps to this plan:

  1. Bring in your best team and have them all help to meet the fish needs.
  2. Review your operational system.
  3. Anticipate future problems better.
  4. Communicate better.
  5. Include costs in your quotes.
  6. Always have a back-up plan.

All Your Eggs in One Basket

You can allow your company to become dependent on any one fish. Eventually or for certain periods there is going to be a slowing down period with your fish. In order to stay in the game you need to diversify.

If you’ve ever mishandled a fish, you could drive away potential fish as well. In order to keep balance and prepare for a strong future, there are a few things you can do.

  • These things include:
  • Stay in the loop and try to know what’s going on inside your fish company.
  • Constantly reinvent yourself and stay at the top of your industry.
  • Stay exclusive.
  • Try to secure multi-year commitments and contracts.
  • Spread your contracts out.
  • Price your products/services correctly.

You also need to work to reduce your dependency on your fish. This can generally be measures in sales or profits. Take a look back at the process we’ve used thus far to snag more fish to keep this all in balance.

These are the ways you can help avoid taking on more than you can handle and putting all of your eggs in one basket. If you want to learn more about avoiding these mistakes, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.


maintaining client relationships

Maintaining Client Relationships

Avoiding Mistakes and Maintaining Client Relationships

You want to make sure that you are maintaining client relationships and avoiding big mistakes that could end your partnership. There are 5 big mistakes you can make that will kill a deal with a big fish.

  1. Not meeting the client’s expectations
  2. Mishandling a client crisis
  3. Taking on more than you can handle
  4. Putting all your eggs in one basket
  5. Up cash creek without a paddle

Any one or combination of these can not only kill the partnership, but have the ability to take down your company as well. We’re going to take a bit of time to talk about each one of these, in this lesson we’ll cover the first two.

Not Meeting Client’s Expectations

It’s essential you give your client’s exactly what you promised during the negotiation portion of your relationship. If an event does happen where there is no way to meet the client’s expectations, not only do you have to find a way to fix the situation, but you also have to find out where it all went wrong.

A couple of things could have contributed to this problem:

  1. Bad salesmanship. This could mean the salesperson was trying too hard to seal the deal and didn’t listen to the client’s needs.
  2. Lack of communication. This breakdown occurs between the salesperson and your operations department.

In order to avoid these mistakes, you need to put a clear plan of action into place that all of your sales staff needs to follow:

  • Think before you speak.
  • Give yourself a break.
  • Perfect your process.
  • Pre-format over-deliverables.
  • Stay hands-on throughout the entire process.
  • Define success.

Mishandling a Client Crisis

Crisis’ will happen, but how you respond and fix them will define your company and interaction with your clients’. You need to respond quickly and effectively. This will help you gain even more trust and confidence from your client.

Some simple tips can help you deal with any client crisis:

  • Take responsibility and apologize no matter who is at fault.
  • Act swiftly and effectively.
  • Step in and take control of the situation.
  • Never point fingers or place blame.
  • Stay in constant communication with your client.
  • Stay calm throughout the situation.
  • Keep your eye on the ball.

Now, that you know the top two mistakes you can make to kill a big fish deal, you’ll know better how to avoid making these mistakes in the first place and know how to put a plan of action into place in case of a crisis so that you can keep maintaining client relationships.

If you need help with any of this, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.


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