Mentor Moment #12: Dance with the Date who Brought you to the Dance


There are a number of ways to grow a business; sell current products to current customers, current product to new customers, new products to current customers and new products to new customers.

However far too often companies spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy is spent on new customers and not building relationships with current clients. You must insure you focus on serving current customers.

Current customers have given you their vote, their trust when they placed an order with you

. Market leaders understand the importance of including current client development programs in their growth objectives. Market losers forget who brought them to the dance, and give all their energy to chasing new dates …and often go home alone broke. Market losers are unaware of the interruptions for current clients and often turn customers into shoppers again.

How about your company….prom dance


Do you have current account growth plans in place?


Do you have a KPI for retaining and growing current customers?


Once you lose a current customer how hard and expensive is it to win their love again?


Mentor Moment #10: “Nail it before you Scale it”

nail it

Entrepreneurs must insure they totally “nail” their product or service thoroughly before they “scale” it.

Like a number of these Mentor Moment nuggets, I do not claim to have written them, but I do whole heartily believe in them. I did a Google search and found this Mentor Moment can be attributed to Warren Packard. He was recently interviewed by Fox Business newsat the CES show concerning what his firm is investing in today.

Market leading entrepreneurs understand how critical it is to totally “Nail” your solution to an unresolved market problem before you “Scale” it. Where market losers fail is only incrementally providing a new solution and not totally solving it leaving themselves vulnerable to competitors who do their homework and thoroughly understand the unresolved market problem and solve it brilliantly. I know the rush of excitement…your new thing will be big and you can’t wait to launch it. When you feel this way, force yourself to to see all the “no-see-ums“. You must make sure you totally nailed it. What are users saying about your new product? Have you learned something new after launch? All of these are considerations you must reconcile BEFORE you scale it, or you will be very unhappy with the results.

Market leaders gain market knowledge and completely solve unresolved market problems.

How about your company…


Your last launch…did you nail it before you scaled it?


What prevents your team from totally nailing it first?


Did you nail it before you scaled it…if so share your results.

Mentor Moment #8: “Haste makes Waste”


Is it just me…or do our fathers seem smarter as we get older? When we as individuals or organizations “haste” and drive knee jerk reactions they also create waste and often make matters worse.

I can remember my father saying “haste makes waste” throughout my childhood. He said it when I was painting our fence and I was so focused on getting done I was not aware of the mess I was making beneath the fence and would latter spend many extra hours cleaning up.

I try not to talk about politics in my blog, however a great example of “haste makes waste “can be viewed today by watching the actions of President Obama and the Democratic Party with regards to the stimulus and healthcare reform. They moved so fast to push a stimulus bill through the system that a number of those involved in signing the bill, failed to read it. As a Christian man I am to pray for my leaders so I prayed that what looked like haste makes waste was not the case. However we are well into the stimulus and it should not shock anyone that what was rushed to signature has failed to produce the promised results.

Same play, act two…the healthcare reform bill. Again we are seeing a rush to closure. When hitting a date becomes more important than what you are doing you are lost, off track and must STOP. I agree we need to reform healthcare so I am not arguing about the unresolved problem, the need. What I am concerned with is the focus on quick closure verse writing a bill that will truly solve the problem. Is this something only politicians do? Unfortunately no.

We can look in the Bible and read Samuel to learn what happened to Saul when he failed to wait as instructed and rushed into battle. Like an unruly child saying “but I want it now” (The only battle he lost, but the one that was the beginning of his end as the leader)

In business we see leaders making plans and focusing so much energy on holding teams accountable to a specific date they fail to achieve their desired results. Part of the waste can be seen as products having to be re-launched. We see businesses and Politian’s going back to their supporters and asking for more support as the initiative they hasted failed to deliver when what they need to do is Detox.

When we haste we create waste, and waste is something none of us can afford today.

How about your company, have you seen your team “haste” that resulted in “waste”?

Why do leaders seem to connect to timelines more than outcomes?

Does it really take longer to do it right, gather data, seek the advice of experts, than to haste?

Have you ever seen something hasted through that hit or surpassed its objectives?

I can hear my dad now, if he had a chance to address the President and congress: Haste makes waste…and what you are wasting is my, and my great great grand children’s’, futures. Based on the polls they do not seem to be listening, but you can listen in your business and make sure you are not hasting.

It’s an Epidemic! …Poorly executed Email Marketing Campaigns


Executing a poor Email Marketing campaign can not only black list you as a spammer, but send your targeted customers running to your competitor.

Your actions speak much louder than your message!

When I posted; Is your Email Marketing sending business to your Competitors? I was concerned how this salesperson, at this particular company that provides email marketing lists for business development did a number of things wrong. Not picking on this particular person, but my desire was to illustrate what not to do in email marketing, and then I received this;



Hi Steve, [my name is Mark! I am already not impressed!]

Are you looking to acquire a fresh-targeted email contact list? [Actually yes, I am]  Would you like to update missing data to your old database? [Yes that sounds good too, bugs me you did not use your own product to find my right name, but I will read on]

Set1[what’s a set?]: List Acquisition:  We assist Companies to acquire business list specific to their target audience with contact name, business name, job title, mailing address, telephone number, fax number, website URL, SIC codes, employee size, revenue size, Industry type and contact person deliverable email address. Companies can choose from the following selects: [again, sounds good, but if you are as good as you say why you got my name wrong?]

· Vertical Market (SIC) 

· Company Size by Employee 

· Company Size by Sales Revenue 

· Fortune 1000 Companies 

· Job Function, Title & Seniority Level 

· Geographic Location

Set 2[ there’s that word again; set, it may be something your developers use, but as a buyer this is not may language]: Appending: We can work with your existing in-house database which includes de-duping and providing only unique records. Following are the services includes in first set of solution. This solution is related to working with your existing in-house database.[ok, but what problem are you solving for me, and again, call me crazy but how can I trust you with my data when you can’t even get my name right? I feel working with you may be risky, I don’t know….]

  • Email appending – Appending missing emails for existing contact [sounds good]
  • Multiple contacts appending – appending multiple contacts irrelevant for list of companies [huh?]
  • Decision makers appending – Appending C-level, V-level and Director level decision makers for existing list of companies
  • Target title appending – Appending [appending? This is not how I talk, I can figure out what it means but you really do not know me do you?] contacts based on your job title specifications
  • Data appending – Appending any missing information other than emails

We would like to offer you free append test [really? Why are we talking price? How did you know I wasn’t ready to buy?]for 25/50 business records/consumer records to just test our quality of services.[ do I need to test your quality, yah, after you got my name wrong I do not feel all that warm and fuzzy]

Please let me know your thoughts. If there is someone else in your organization that I need to speak with please let me know or forward this email.[ oh, so again you don’t know me, you are not sure what I do, my title, and I should send you to someone else to do your job for you? Maybe you should buy a list of executives with their title, email, NAME,…oh that’s right that’s what you do?]


[Name removed]

Business Development [how’s that working for you?]

800-708-xxxx [good, you gave me your phone number, what about email? I guess if I am interested I could hit reply…but if you used one of those mass email services so I can’t black list you, you will never receive it…]


[Shame on you! You work in the space of email marketing and no opt out? Your company must not do much business,… I think I’ll pass]



How about your company, are you sending email marketing out like the above? You sure?


What could this guy have done better? ( I need experts in the space of email marketing to chime in, I know this feels wrong, but I am no expert, I am just a buyer, who has unresolved problems and I look forward to giving money to those that solve them.


Are you blindly sending out emails to your targeted accounts…hoping they will stick like the guy above?


Can your targeted key new business accounts hear your message over your actions?

Mentor Moment #4: When tempers flare, Ask yourself…”Is this the Hill you want to die on”?

family pics 046

When winning the discussion is more important that the business outcome of what you are discussing it is time to ask yourself…”Is this the Hill you want to die on?”

I was a young VP of Sales and we were in heated senior management meeting and tempers were strained. Our CFO made a comment that was not only wrong but I found it insulting to me and my team and I began to fire back. The discussion escalated and our corporate consultant observing this behavior recommended we take a break. So as we left the meeting the consultant said “let’s go for a walk Mark and get some air.”

We walked outside and he said; “you know, I know, and I even think the CFO knows you are right Mark, but is this hill you want to die on?’” I never heard this phrase before and it gave me pause.At that moment I realized this discussion was more about me winning, about defending my team, my silo, my ego, and not about what added the most value to our companies’ bottom line. Was I wrong to defend my team under attacks from the CFO? No. Was it wrong for him to blame-storm the sales team when purchasing ( his silo)  had as big a contribution if not greater in the poor quarterly performance? Yes.But this was not the hill I wanted to die on. This discussion would be much better served one on one than with the entire senior team looking on.

So we returned to the meeting and the other department heads expected me to be my Prick -ly self and instead I apologized for losing my temper, and I asked the CFO if we could meet after the meeting to discuss his perception that the sale team’s matching competitive bids was the main cause of our poor quarterly financial performance. (When we both knew the dramatic rise in raw material costs played a bigger role)

Market leading teams discuss what matters. They focus on the problems and broken processes and not people. Market leading teams discuss roadblocks to the entire team’s success and do not attack or defend silos.

Should discussions escalate and feel like they are getting personal, you need to ask yourself; “is this a hill I am willing to die on?” This quick gut check will often stop those CAM’s (Career Altering Moves) when we feel attacked and tempers flare.

There are hills you may want to die on; those that involve the safety of team members, issues that may open the organization to litigation, behaviors of team members in violation of your corporate values and mission, and or being asked to do something that violates your personal values.

Remember, it’s about adding value to the bottom line of the organization, and not about you, your ego, or you winning. You can’t win as a team if you win and another team member looses.

What do you think?

What hills are you willing to die on? Not willing to die on?

Have you found yourself in a heated discussion that was more about protecting your kingdom and or ego, than it was about adding value to the business? What caused your discussion and how did it turn out?

Do you have other questions like; is this a hill you want to die on, that you use? What are they? 

Mentor Moment #2: You don’t have to be a Prick -Ly person, to become a leader

I see it way too often, particularly in young managers who never had a mentor; they think you have to be a Prick -ly person to get ahead in this world. Somewhere along the way they learned you have to be nasty and intimidating to new pics 002.

I am embarrassed to admit I too went through this phase. I am not sure if it was my wrong perception of what leadership was or a low emotional intelligence at the time, but I was a difficult person to work for when I was in my late 20’s. I felt the end justified the means, and the most expedient way to tackle the goals before me was to focus on execution with little if any regard or appreciation for the relationship with those I was working with. This is a very lonely way to live, and I am thankful to Jim, who one day pulled me aside and said “you need to change, I love the results and the growth, but my company can no longer tolerate the way you achieve them.” He rocked my world that day.

So I set out to learn how to lead people. I studied great leaders, read books, attended seminars and I hired a coach to hold me accountable. What I found was great leaders all had three things they demonstrated. They were;




They gave equal weight to the relationship with others and the execution of objectives

My quest to learn about how to serve teams instead of drive them led me to becoming a Christian. I had tried everything else, but only giving myself to Jesus gave me the new heart I so desperately looking for .Over the years the Lord has given me a new heart, and has taught me many principles I use in my work each day like;

“Hate the sin, but love the sinner”

Now, when I bump into people who feel they gain power by pushing others down versus lifting them up, I feel sorry for them, and pray for them. For I know that lonely feeling when you are driving home, or on an airplane, regretting how you just treated someone. I wrote in my post:The leadership “Quiver” for driving changeWhen you use the discipline arrow it takes the least amount of skill. This is the only arrow that also pains me upon release as it means I failed to find the “why” behind someone is not getting on board with changes.” I also found the quote: “be careful how you treat those on the way up as those are the same folks you will see on the way down” to be very true.

Do you work for a Prick -ly person?

Are you a Prick -ly person?

How’s that working for you? Your team? …really?

If you worked with or for me in those days, I have tried to find all of you and apologize. I also ask your forgiveness in my use of “ Prick -ly” as it is my goal this is read by those who may be struggling working with someone as well as hopefully found by those who have the wrong understanding of leadership.

Mentor Moment #1: Don’t let them know where you tie your Goat

goat 2 

Leader to leader, I want to share some key advice; do not let those you serve know where you tie your goat. You may say; “Well I’m not a leader…” Well I need to challenge you, are you a parent, do you have associates that come to you for advice? As I wrote in the Leadership two steps, if you have followers, I hate to tell you, you are a leader.

Just recently I had a friend say “Mark, don’t let them know where you tie your goat” I thought this was a very clever way of sharing a pearl of wisdom I heard lived long ago. Over the years you learn not to let customers , bosses, peers and employees know how to get your goat. If you fail to do so, the people you work with, will work you.

So what happens when someone gets your goat? For me, an inner anger burns and the minute it starts I am limited. My Creativity, my problem solving skills, my leadership ability, and my communication choices suffer. The key is to not let them know where you tie your goat(s).

For example, one of my goats is tied to those who bully others that are defenseless. (I realize I am not following my own advice here by letting you know) It has always driven me nuts when someone in a perceived position of power treats those with perceived less power wrong. When I was helping one company, the CFO learned where I tied this goat. So when I was challenging something he felt was his silo, his domain, he would verbally attack one of my team who was not present. At first I fell into the trap and this diversion tactic worked. However after seeing the pattern, I would quickly diffuse his attacks, table them for another a discussion and keep the meeting on point.

There are many mentor moments I have learned over the years. I will be sharing them over the next few weeks in my posts. Please share them with your team, and if you have the courage…share them with your leaders!

Do you have some mentor moments? Please share.