How to Improve Your Children – Chip Eichelberger

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The Biggest Mistake in the Service Industry

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I do not know about you, but it is rare for me to come across an employee in the service industry who is truly Switched On. I mean from the get go they are in the moment, bring energy and enthusiasm, a sincere interest in serving you and emotionally committed to what they do. Your immediate reaction is WOW!

When it does happen, I believe it is an exception. You likely travel quite a bit too. Think back to the recent times you checked in at a hotel. What was that experience like? Most of the time you get a, “Next” or “Checking in?” or my favorite silence. They say nothing. I love it because I say nothing too and will never speak first. I am the guest, they should welcome me! Give it a try, it’s fun.

It is rare you get someone Switched On (who notices you have bags with you and are likely checking in at 10pm) saying, “Welcome to the Marriott Marquis, we are glad you are here, let’s get you checked in, you have probably had a full day?”

waitress-2-2-midWouldn’t that be fantastic if that was the norm? Recently I was in Orlando trying to get home with thunderstorms throughout the SE (Southeast) making it difficult. I had accepted I would not make it to ATL (Atlanta) to make my connection home and would be stuck overnight in ATL. I went into the Delta Sky Club for an adult beverage and to wait for my delayed departure. When I checked in the agent was energetic and empathetic to my situation AND quickly realized there was a delayed flight just leaving now that would get me to ATL to make my connection to Knoxville. She printed a new boarding pass and send go!

It happened so fast I did not even get her name. What surprised me is that I had spoken to the special Diamond Line customer service (I fly a lot!) three times and none of the agents had come up with that option. I did make my it to ATL and just made it to my connection home. Yes!

If you are in a service business, encourage people to be playful and show their personality. Create an atmosphere that encourages them to have fun and set up a system to reward them for doing so.

What do you do to get your team Switched On before their day begins?

Reviews people post on Google Reviews, Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Travelocity, Tripadvisor, Angie’s List or many other sites are very important for any business because often we start with a web search BEFORE we consider doing business somewhere. Have you checked your reviews recently? You could be losing business from a few disgruntled customers. Engage them and turn around their experience with you. It is makes you look great when you do that.

Employees who are Switched On and go the extra-mile for a customer with creative acts of service will not only feel great about themselves, but it can also drive their customer to tell their story on line and to all their friends.

What do you do to ensure Switched On employees and drive exceptional customer reviews?

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Improve Your Sales Skills – Don’t Drop Your Bucket

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The Power of Belief – Chip Eichelberger

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Are you a Professional?

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At Least I Didn’t Kill Somebody

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A recent WSJ article reported that “medical errors kill enough people to fill four jumbo jets a week.” Yikes that is hard to imagine that over 98,000 deaths a year from mistakes.! US surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week. I remember when I ruptured my left Achilles…twice (@#$!%), that required two pretty extensive surgeries and I remember that they tagged my left leg as a reminder for the surgeon.

The frightening part of the story was that the mistakes go mostly unnoticed and the medical community rarely learns from them. As you might guess, the problem is that the preventable mistakes are being made over and over again and as Marty Makary reports “doctors are not very good at complying with well-established best practices in their fields.”

Currently there is not an effective rating system for surgeons or hospitals. For virtually everything else now you have a rating system: YELP and Angie’s List for business’s and service providers, Urban Spoon for restaurants, Google Reviews, Ebay and Amazon reviews of product and sellers to name a few.

I would bet that you check an online review in almost every situation you can when making a purchase, deciding where to eat or what movie to go to. I do not think a hospital in the country has an online system to track quality of care, reviews, infection rates, surgeon reviews, nurse reviews, # of preventable errors,  # of types of surgeries they do etc. There are a few sites popping up like and for doctor reviews.

I accept that when sick people go to the hospital some will die. The question is how many die because of preventable errors? How many stories do you personally know of where an educated patient was able to stop a potential catastrophic error from being made?

There was report in the USA Today I have mentioned for years about a “checklist that cut death rates by 40% at 8 hospitals.” A checklist can be a valuable tool. It can help you put in a protocol that will help you not to forget something important. My question for those hospitals is what in the hell were the doing BEFORE they had a checklist?

Did they have a special meeting? “On the agenda today is a high number of preventable deaths of patients in this hospital. Someone says, hey, how about a checklist for every procedure to make sure we do it right every time? That’s a great idea!”

Fortunately for most of us, our errors do not result in preventable deaths. That is the good news. The bad news is that we may have let some aspects of what we do daily get a little too familiar and it is causing us to make preventable errors that are costing us in other ways. It could errors in establishing clear outcomes for a con call we are running, or in making the weekly sales meeting valuable, or in leveraging a sales call with a long time client, or in running our daily shift meeting in the restaurant, or in executing a service call with an unhappy client.

I still use an event checklist for every event I do to make sure am on top of all the details from the beginning. My dad asked me once, “Chip you have done over 900 events, are you still doing the little things every time to make them exceptional?

It has saved me many times! Recently I forgot to triple check with my client if  they had ordered the boards for the team building event I do – The Board Break Experience. The experience is not too impressive without boards! Luckily we were able to scramble at near the last minute and pull out a miracle to get them in time.
What has gotten too familiar for you? What are the preventable errors that you and your team are making that can be avoided? If you are in the service industry I guarantee those errors are what people are writing about you in online reviews! If they are there use them to train your team how to get better. Maybe you need to create a checklist for your sales calls. service calls, con call or pre-shift meetings to make sure you are prepared.

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Talent is overrated! Measurements that miss the mark!

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The NFL Combine is coming up in a few weeks and the college football signing day is Wednesday. There are experts rating the prospects in hopes of finding the next superstars for their pro and college teams. The high school players are ranked in an elaborate ranking process to determine if the prospect gains the coveted 4 or 5 stars. Amazingly the QB with the highest completion percentage in the history of HS football is not getting looked at from Division 1 programs. More on that later.

nfl-combine-midAt the NFL Combine they put the players through a series of short term tests: 40/20/10 yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill, bench press. Many business’s use short term tests to evaluate their employees too.
Of course the conventional wisdom is if they excel at the combines they will have a stellar NFL career. A recent study by economists (University of Louisville) has a surprising conclusion – the combine is a waste of time! They say there is not consistent statistical relationship between how well a player does at the combine and how productive their NFL career is. Similar findings for the careers of  top 4 and 5 star college not reaching NFL glory. Why…can you guess? What do those short term tests NOT measure? Right!

Guts, character, grit, heart, determination in the face of adversity and frustration.

I live in Knoxville and if you were to name top 3 running backs in the NFL the last three seasons, former Tennessee Vol Arian Foster of the Houston Texans is in that group, yet in 2009, 7 rounds and 234 players were chosen and he was not one of them. He recently signed a 5 year deal worth of $43 million. What did the say about Arian after the combine?

“Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type. Lacks the explosiveness to consistently make defenders miss in tight quarters and is not the power runner his size would indicate. Inconsistent.” He has been the most productive running back from that years draft,  well ahead “more talented” running backs at the combine. What they did not say was what an amazing person he was.

Colin Kaepernick’s combine results merited this evaluation on , “Kaepernick has enough physical tools to be viewed as a developmental backup quarterback prospect. As we all saw this season he is a tad better than that! Again he is performing well ahead of other highly regarded, “more talented” combine performers.

How many people do you know who did terrific on the SAT or have even have a PhD that have not achieved success?

How many hot-shot performers have you seen come and go in your career, especially in the sales arena? Talent can be an blessing and the key is what you do with it? How do you practice and perform when no one is watching? Once the test is over, what do you do?

There is a local kid named Charley High from Christian Academy of Knoxville. He is a QB and the Division 1 schools are not giving him a look. Here is what he has done in high school. He completed 74.4 percent of his 1,040 attempts for 10,978 yards and 131 touchdowns. He was intercepted 22 times. His career completion percentage was recognized as an official national record for high school football by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), as was his single-season mark (minimum: 275 attempts) from 2012 of 76.2 percent (378 of 496). Oh, and he lead his team to back to back state championships.

Why are they not giving him a look? Because they say he is too small. Didn’t play tough enough competition…..blah blah blah. What they underestimate is how hard this kids works, his dream to play at Tennessee, the quality of his parents, his understanding of how to play the position and his character. Charley is going to walk-on at UT and complete against the “more talented prospects”. It will be fun to watch how he does. I predict he will make it at Tennessee and become the starter as a sophomore. Be careful who you weed out because they did not perform well in your short term test.



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Who is the role model?

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  I am getting a little tired of all the shows highlighting people who have lost a tremendous amount of weight. Their stories of people can serve as motivation and provide guidance to those who need it. 35.7% of the people in the USA are obese and an amazing 68% of Americans are overweight.

My point is this:

What about the people in who have done what it takes and made

the decisions to be in shape their entire lives?

Where is the show about the people who have always lead a healthy lifestyle? Only 3% of Americans lead a healthy lifestyle according to the Michigan State study. I am proud to have been a 3%’er my entire adult life and have worked hard to guide my family the same way.

Wouldn’t it be very useful for to study the 3% of people who have

been in shape and NEVER gotten out of shape?

How were they raised? What did their parents do to create the environment where they exercised together, purchased the right foods, purposely DID NOT have the house choked full of soda, chips, whole milk and processed foods?

I think it would be more valuable to make it the cool thing to be a 3%’er than having being overweight and obese as the norm. It has not always been that way. From 1950 through 1960, 33 percent of U.S. adults were overweight and only 9.7 percent were clinically obese, with body mass indexes above 30, according to doctor and author Jeffry Weiss. Obesity was not yet recognized as a disease in the 1950’s.

That is interesting to me…”not recognized as a disease in the 1950’s.”

Obesity was not a disease back then.…is it now? Have they changed the definition?

The answer is yes, the question is why? I always thought a disease was something that happened to you that was out of your control, not something you did to yourself: smoking, over drinking, drug dependency, obesity, lack of maintaining your body.

Did you know you can go on disability for the rest of your life and get paid by the government if you are obese. Check out this page from the web site – that web sites exists to help people get on disability. Obesity is responsible for the largest portion of new disability claims by far and is growing rapidly. There is an entire industry working to get people on disability. There are of course many reasons to legitimately qualify, do not misinterpret my argument. The reality is the rate of people going on disability has outpaced the number of people getting jobs the last five years. That is not a good trend.

If you are not a 3%’er, get started now and see what impact it can have on your life. Share what you do and how you do it with others and be in inspiration!

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Don’t Be a Seagull

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When your day starts off well, isn’t it downhill from there? How can you set the tone in your entire office? Even if you are not a leader you might soon be if you follow this best practice. If you are a leader and work in an office situation I want you to think about this:

What do you do the first 5 minutes when you get to the office?

how-to-poop-seagull-midNow – stop doing that! Do not go into your office! Start connecting with your team – be positive, present, energetic, be specific with your praise, great eye contact, uplifting tone of voice, physical touch where appropriate.

Thank you for…I need you because…I am proud of you because…

I believe in you because…I appreciate you for… You make a difference when you…


Keep it positive to create momentum. Do not be a seagull! Seagull Managers tend to swoop in, tell everyone what they are doing wrong, squawk and complain loudly, crap all over everyone and they fly back into their office. They tend to make a bad situation even worse.

There are also Seagull Parents. First thing in the morning or when they get home.  Instead focusing on what their kids were excited about for their day or what was great about their day they immediately jump on what they did not do, forgotten to do or what mistakes they made.

Being a Seagull is a momentum killer and is unhealthy not only for the Seagull but everyone around them. Not to mention a messy clean up! If you have that tendency you need to interrupt your pattern of behavior. BEFORE you go into the office or the kitchen, STOP, look up and smile and take a breath. Think about what you are about to do and the impact you want to have. Feel that emotion and smile. Ask where is my energy on a 0 -10 scale? Get to a 10! Clench your fist and say YES!  Change your focus from what is wrong to what is right.


Bring the energy with you before you engage!


no-seagull-midAs a leader, do the same thing the last five minutes of the day. Do the same routine and set the tone to close out the day. What went really well? What are they proud of about today’s performance? What are they excited about for tomorrow?

You do not have to be sick to get better. We all have our “seagull” moments. Recognizing it is the first step to recovery.

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92.4% of businesses need to do this better, do you?

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 When you made your last purchase on Amazon did you check the reviews before you bought? Before you hired that service company did you check them out online – Yelp/Angie’s List/Google Reviews first or ask for past customers you could call? Before you booked that trip or vacation did you check out the hotel/resort on Trip Advisor first to see what others said about their stay?

The Law of Social Proof is vastly underutilized by most businesses in person or on their web site. The law states that when someone is unsure how to proceed they will look to what others have done previously to help them make a decision. Have you ever gone to a move, play or new restaurant because someone told you it was fantastic? Have you ever not gone because someone told you it was terrible?

i-love-you-man-midI am a big believer in the power of documenting your success and what makes your product or customer experience superior, engaging and of great value. For me, I will get a call from a meeting planner who had a fellow employee who saw me speak at an association meeting they attend and insist the meeting planner book me for their companies next convention. That is social proof in action. To verify their decision they will often look for other validation.

On my website use social proof by placing quality written testimonials and video testimonials on my site. I have also just started a Yelp listing recently. Kind of unique for my business, but I wanted to get ahead of the curve. If you loved what I do at your event, I would be honored to receive your recommendation on Yelp.

What are doing to use the power of social proof?

Do you have a compelling, short video that will engage the viewer and tell your story? Do you have written testimonials and pictures with them? Do you have videos (under 90 seconds) of customers raving about you? Do you have case studies, free reports, “how to” articles sprinkled with how you have made a difference with past clients?

For more advice on this check out my article – Proof Positive: A Good Story Can Be Telling.

Let your thrilled customers/members know that documenting your success is important and where they can do it for you. If you are a retail business, have a quality YELP sign customers can see. If you are a service business simply ask them? When you exceed their expectations will they take a picture with you and give a quote you can show other thrilled customers? Will they let you take a short video of them? Let them know they can leave a review for you and where. It is important to have many reviews because if one person or a competitor leaves a bad review it will look bad. If someone has a problem engage them quickly to take care of it.


– the Dive Shop that markets several trips a year to exotic locations has videos of the trips they have taken on their site showing people loving the experience.

–   the Cabinet Maker/Home Improvement Company who takes before/after pictures of the job and gets a final picture in the new kitchen/room addition WITH the home owner and a quote documenting their amazing experience.

– the Software Company who has case studies documenting what the customers experience was like before their software was installed and the massive improvement after it was integrated for the client – ROI, Total Cost of Ownership.

– the Business Broker/Realtor/Sales Person who has received quality recommendations on LinkedIn that prospects can review to help them make a decision. They also have quality testimonials, pictures, stories, case studies they can show in person too. Document you are worth your fee!

The key of course is to do the little things consistently to surprise the customer and generate massive value and a compelling experience. My unscientific poll says that 92.4% of you can do a much better job of using social proof. What can you do to improve now?

What unique ways are you using social proof?


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Sitting is killing you! Get off your ass, change your life!

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How much of the day are you sitting or not moving? For many it is 30, 40 or more than 50 hours a week. Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, a researcher at one the nation’s leading obesity research centers says that sitting, not weight or exercise, is a key factor in determining a person’s overall health. According to Katzmarzky,

treadmill-mid“The evidence that sitting is associated with heart disease is very strong. We see it in people who smoke and people who don’t. We see it in people who are regular exercisers and those who aren’t. Sitting is an independent risk factor.”

Marc Hamilton is a physiologist and professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. As he told Men’s Health, ” a man who sits 60 hours at a desk job but still works out for 45 minutes a day five times a week still has a sedentary lifestyle.”

David Agus, MD reports, ” if you sit at your desk 6 hours a day is the equivalent of SMOKING a pack and a quarter of cigarettes!” It should be obvious now that TV watching is strongly associated with obesity and weight gain, independent of diet and exercise.

Yikes! Those three quotes should get our attention. The question is what can we do about it now?

Commit to a minimum number of days a month you will get 30 minute sessions to get aerobic sessions ideally in the morning. Aerobic means “with oxygen” – aerobic exercise is crucial to building your heart/lungs and immune system. Track your commitment and LIVE IT on the Get Switched On Energy Schedule on the mirror in your bathroom.

If you work in a typical office situation try these ideas:

Rethink your office – Start having some meetings where you are walking and talking rather than being in a conference room. For some it is literally possible to put a treadmill in your office. I have a Crescendo mini trampoline in my office, (9″ high/36″ wide) that easily stands up and takes very little room. Jumping on this for at least 5 minutes several times a day will make a huge difference in your energy level. Turn on some music and get jumping.

Sit/stand desks – having the ability to stand AND work ergonomically at your desk is catching on quickly. I am looking for a unit that will work with my existing desk set up. If you are in a big company, there are many options for you that are amazing.

Motion creates emotion!

If you move you will also feel better and can quickly change your attitude from negative to positive.

Leverage technology – On your next con-call can you be taking a walk at the same time? Use wireless technology to get out of the office when possible to move and get some sunshine.  Use a wireless headset that allows you to move and stand when you are on a phone call.

Change your routine – Take more small breaks during the day to manage your energy better. Get up to move and stretch or a few yoga positions, walk up or down the stairs, park far away and walk instead of as parking as close as you can, take the stairs not the elevator, get off the bus one stop away and walk the rest of the way, some can ride a bike to work. Bring a small cooler to work and have healthy munchies with you all day and less access to junk.

At home – if you have kids, this should be easy. Play with them outside, invent games, jog, ride bikes, jump on the big trampoline, take walks, play tennis, WALK when you play golf, do your own yard work, do exercises/push up contests during commercials when you watch TV. Have a daily walk alone or with your spouse. To make it aerobic you will need to move quick enough to elevate your heart rate.

Instead of watching all of the football game, try listening to the first half on the radio on a long walk and watch the second half.

I guess it comes down to this – how long to you want to live?

What quality of life to you want to have when you get there? Are you on track now? If not, make some changes to get moving! Keep me posted on your progress.

Please tweet this to your followers and post on Facebook. You might save a life!


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Does a college education prepare you for a career?

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There are now 111 universities that cost over $50,000 a year to attend and that does NOT include room and board. What is amazing is that number has DOUBLED in just three short years! Yikes! If you are like me and have multiple children approaching college age, it is a real concern. When I went to the University of Oregon in the early 1980’s I believe my out of state tuition was under $7,000 a year. Is a college degree today worth it or more specifically, does what you will learn in college really prepare you for a career?

The word education is derived from the Greek word educare,  which means to ‘draw out from within’ or to ‘lead forth’. The implication is that the purpose of education is to l ead the young out of their ignorance , draw out their potential, teach them to think and have the ability to learn. Are colleges doing that effectively? I do not want to get started discussing the “left leaning bias” of many teachers in the classroom and the goal of drawing out ignorance. I love this classic picture of John Belushi from Animal House. The movie was filmed at U of O the year before I arrived.


You have seen reports that debt from student loans has now surpassed the total debt from credit cards. How many do you know with a college or even advanced degree that have a huge loan debt only to graduate and get a job for low pay or even worse are unemployed?

A recent article, Colleges Get Career-Minded, reports that finally some universities are now reconsidering what they teach. What skills do you learn that will really help you in a future career? What are they educating for? Some schools are working closer with employers in the classroom to define the skills the students really need.

If you had $200,000+ saved for college is it a solid investment anymore? What are the alternatives? Could you spend much less and get the same result? If you had $200k saved could you buy a business and teach your child to run it with a mentor? Are kids learning how to show up on time with a great attitude, work hard for 10 hours and not complain, deliver amazing service and have the heart of a servant? Are they learning how to write and speak with precision and passion? How many are learning what it takes to be an entrepreneur and take an idea from start-up, to funding to fruition?

A new model is needed for colleges and universities to impart the skills and mindset to succeed in the future without loading a student with a debt it will take them 20+ years to pay off. Students and parents deserve a  clearer and quicker ROI.

A recent WSJ article reported a 5% vacancy rate in manufacturing jobs that means 600,000 jobs right now are unfilled because they can not find employees with the right skills: machinists, craft workers and technicians. Almost none of these high paying jobs requires a college degree.

What are you considering now for your kids and college or vocational/technical training?  I am looking at all my options and networking for potential internships. Are you considering any alternatives? What do you think colleges should focus on teaching now?


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In case of emergency…

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Sometimes great advice can come from unlikely sources. Have you ever been white water rafting? My first time was on the Ocoee River in North Carolina with some good friends before a wedding. There are some class III and IV rapids with a couple V thrown in for good measure. If you do not have a reference point for what that means, imagine you were sitting in the bottom of a six foot pool and the waves are as high as the sides. It will push most anyone out of their comfort zone quickly.

raftOur guide told that if you get thrown out of the raft, try to get a good breath and keep your feet up. That way you will not get them stuck in a rock. Then he said something I will never forget;

“In case of an emergency, you must take an active role in your own rescue.”

Good advice under most circumstances, but especially if you’re about to transit a raging river.  Well, we were about halfway into the adventure and we when into a massive rapid aptly name Devil’s Hole.  I was front left and I tried to hold on with my feet, but I went flying out of the boat.  They said I was underwater for almost 15 seconds.  All they could see was the top of my paddle.  Finally, I popped up, remembered to keep my feet  up.  I fought hard make it back to the raft and got help to get back in. I had to take an active role in my rescue and work hard to get back to the raft.

What rapids are you facing right now? Are you still in the boat or have you been thrown out and fighting to get back in?

We got a wake-up call in the near melt down of fall 2008 a nd for many business has been changing ever since. I know what I do has gotten consistently more difficult and the advice of that guide has been burning my ears.

Take an active role in my own rescue.

With career, marriage, children, money concerns, health issues, community or church obligations and whatever else you’ve got going on, it can be challenging to pop back up, stay calm, fight to get back into the raft and get moving again.

Here are 3 things you can do right now:

1. Take a deep breath and relax. It will be OK. Look up and smile for me. You have what it takes to get through this. Have absolute faith in your abilities. If you need to laugh, look down for me. Can you see the ground? Yes, congratulations, you are still above ground and in the game.

2. Swim like hell and fight! You have more reserve energy and passion than you realize. Now is the time to take great care of yourself and be in top condition. Drink more water, cut out the soda, drink the Get Switched On Smoothie 4 days a week, log at least 15 aerobic days a month on your Get Switched On Energy Schedule, read/watch/listen to positive material and spend time with supportive people.

3. Make a decision and take decisive action now. Is there a brutal fact you must confront? What can you decide to do right now that will make a difference? What is your first step? Create your plan of action and get moving.

Let me know what you think.

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Are you chopping with a dull axe?

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Are you chopping with a dull axe?

Many experienced professionals don’t see the need for continuous improvement. They often think, “I’ve been doing this for fifteen years, so I must be great.” The number of years experience is not a measure of excellence – any honest golfer knows that. Such thinking can limit you from achieving a higher level of success. It is like the lumber jack who works non-stop and never takes the time to sharpen their axe.

Just because you’ve been doing something for years doesn’t mean you can’t or don’t need to improve. Oftentimes, people get satisfied at just being good at what they do. A sales person who stops doing all the little things that made them great, such as using a pre-call checklist, asking for referrals and testimonials, conducting timely follow-up, and sending thank-you notes. But these little things make the difference between good and great.

In fact, a great chasm exists between good and great performance. Realize, however, that this doesn’t mean you have to work harder. Rather, you need the discipline to execute the little things in an extraordinary way every day. Consider U2 front man Bono’s example of taking something good and making it great.

“An early version of our first single Vertigo was massaged, hammered, tweaked, lubed, sailed through two mixes, and got U2’s unanimous stamp of ‘very good.’ Very good is the enemy of great. You think great is right next door. It’s not. It’s in another country,” Bono told USA Today.

Instead of releasing the song at “very good,” the band returned to the studio and took it apart. They rearranged Vertigo with new melodies and new arrangement and new rhythms. They soon discovered untapped reserves of ideas and fortitude, and the song went on to become a number one hit, win the Grammy for song of the year, off the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb that won the Grammy too.

Has your performance been “good” or “great”? Have you been on cruise control in your job? When was the last time you went back into your “studio” and reevaluated what you do and how you are doing it? Ask “What Can I Do Better?”

When was the last time you asked a client what you could do to improve his or her experience with you? Years? Months? Never? Some companies like my client PwC have an exhaustive process to make sure they deliver maximum value to their customers. If you want to continuously improve your sales skills, your clients and prospects will have the most valuable insight into how you can become better. So make it a priority to regularly ask them for their suggestions on how to improve and add more value. Sales managers should ask their sale people, “You have worked with me know for three months/three years. What can I do to be a better sales manager? How can I support your more?”

The same question is just as powerful with your family. When is the last time you asked your kids, “What can I do to be a better mommy or daddy?” How about asking your spouse? I guarantee they will have some feed back for you. It take courage to ask and really listen to the answers. You tendency will be to defend yourself. Instead SHUT UP an dd say thank you.

What you often find is that is will be little things they want you to do more often that you did not know where that important. Recently with our middle son Davis the answer came back have more fun. I have been so focused on driving hard as the school year finishes I needed to lighten up!

Although asking “What can I do better?” is an excellent way to continuously improve your performance, asking is really only the first step. The key is to listen when someone offers a suggestion. When a client starts talking, don’t try to defend yourself or justify your actions, just listen to what he or she has to say. Take your client’s/wife’s/husband’s/daughter’s/son’s suggestions seriously and follow up with the them later to ensure you make progress.

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Was I out of line?

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phoneDoes customer loyalty count for something? Don’t you hate it when you are the current customer of a company, maybe even for many years and you see a special incentive that company is offering new customers that they did not offer you? I hate it when that happens! Cable TV companies are famous for that.

I love it when a company I have been very loyal to, like American Express (since 1983), helps me out when I need it. When I was traveling and was a few days tardy on a payment they will not charge me the interest for example. I have been flying Delta for almost 2 million miles and am Diamond level status. They  always go the extra-mile to help me when there are travel problems from a weather or maintenance issue.

I have been a Sprint customer since 1999 – I have never left them.We have six lines and our bill is about $300 a month. Last week I was looking for a little help on something I thought would not be a problem. My wife has a Galaxy Tablet with a $30 month charge and a 2 year contract. Sprint sells the iPhone but not the iPad. She is a Realtor with Sotheby’s and needed to upgrade to the iPad. I called Sprint customer service, reminded them of my loyalty and history with them. We would have gotten the iPad and service from them but it was not an option. I asked them to let us out of the last 7 months of the contract on the Galaxy Tab. It was either pay for another 7 months or pay a $70 penalty to get out of it.

This was not about the $70 bucks to me. It was the principle that I am a valuable customer and deserve a break. No was the answer. I went to he next level. No. Although I did find out they are no longer charging for the Air Rave booster service I have in my home to boost the signal. They would not charge me anymore for that, but would not credit me for all the months they had been. At the next level the I talked about my loyalty and the approximately $35,000 I had spent with them over the years. The rep said I appreciate that BUT, wait for it…

We have to treat all our customers the same.

I admit I lost it when he said that. That is like telling your spouse I love you BUT.…..I believe I said that is bull poo poo or something similar to that. I asked him, really?  A customer with one line who has been with you a year is as valuable as I am? Silence…..he could not answer that one. I asked to talk to his supervisor. They were busy and would call me later in the day. I looked forward to their call.

I had to start over of course with the whole story and again, was told, we can not let you out of the contract. That is funny because we both know that anything is possible. I understand a reason for that policy AND not all customers are the same, are they? I do not think so. So, what happened? They would not let me out of the contract or the penalty and they did find a creative way to make me whole where I actually came out ahead. It was so complicated that I did not understand it.

It was a creative solution that could have been resolved on the first call. Was I out of line? Do you treat all your customers the same?

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Using urgency and scarcity with integrity

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I hate it when you hear phony offers that attempt to use urgency and scarcity to get you to take action now. You know the ones…”only the next 100 callers”…”a strict limit of only two per customer”…really? If I am caller 103 you will not let me buy? Really, you will not find a way to let me buy four?

When used correctly and with integrity, urgency and scarcity are two of the most powerful tools of influence. I was hired by TruGreen Chem Lawn recently to help them in their national call center. Spring has sprung early in many areas of the country and their national advertising campaign is just beginning to hit. The phones are busy and will really get busy in the next week. The call center needed to Get Switched On and I am the guy for that!

I went in a day early for “recon” to understand the system, scripts, new Healthy Lawn Plan offer, listen to actual calls and see how they were celebrating their success to create a cycle of success.

Motion creates Emotion

Emotion creates Energy

Energy creates Sales

Does that make sense? When you have 150 people on the phones taking up to 50 calls a day the atmosphere or lack there of is crucial. I helped them with some simple fun ideas to the the team up celebrating each sale (ringing a bell close by each area) and then a special ceremony for the 10th, 15th and 20th sale of the day. We also added a energy component to their daily Huddles and you could FEEL the difference in the room very quickly. I then created a customized training for all the employees and trained them all over a two day period. They have a very talented group already and I wanted to help take them to the next level.

Perhaps the biggest change was to help them cut the script in HALF and add a legitimate urgency to the phone call!!! Getting the first treatment for your lawn care down quickly – particularly if you live in an area where crab grass is a problem is critical. Timing is very important. If you wait too long you can have a much bigger problem later on.

It is true that their phones were ringing off the hook. It is true that spring is early in most areas. It is true the timing of the first treatment is critical. It is true that the field is very busy getting the appointments booked right now to get everyone started.

Not using this the reality of the current situation as an asset is a mistake and I corrected it. TruGreen is the industry leader and the caller does not typically need a detailed explanation about every potential weed and the history of lawn care. They want to know they are getting a quality product, applied by a pro, at the right time for a fair price and know that the company has a guarantee and will stand behind what they do.The results initially are terrific. I am excited to monitor how they continue their success over the next 6 weeks of their busy season.

How can you use true urgency and scarcity more effectively? Why is time of the essence? Why should people take action now? What outside forces are impacting the current situation? Use them to your advantage.

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How to be a Professional – Chip Eichelberger

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I still think there is unlimited opportunity for you because so many are satisfied with being mediocre.

When you are switched on, in the moment and energetic in your communication skills and it shows in your attitude,  you stand out! You stand out compared to the masses who are semi-comatose.Think how rarely you run into someone who is truly a professional at what they do? I mean they blew you away. It is rare.

The unemployment rate in America is much worse than the 8.3% figure reported, it is a sham. An easy search will reveal the real unemployment rate is at least 19% and even as high as 22.5% by some estimates.

How can over 1.5 million new people file for unemployment in January in the US and we add only 243,000 new jobs for a net loss of 1.27 million and the unemployment number goes down?  How is that possible without some serious manipulation of the numbers. For example they simply stop counting people.  Over 1.2 million people in America gave up looking for a job in January alone and are no longer even counted. Over the last 3 years it is 4.7 million!

Yet, given this situation, many of the companies I speak to are all on a hunt for GREAT people.

From a QSR like Krystal where I recently interviewed a restaurant manager who showed me a stack of applications (single sheets) almost two inches high. He had interviewed them all and told me there was not one candidate in the stack! When I spoke to Blue Global Media last month they said they are literally doubling the size of their company this year and need more great people. I spoke to the High Achievers for Computer Task Group in Barbados recently. The have grown 20%+  a year the last 10 years and are always searching for professionals.

Are you a professional? How much better are you than you were 3 years ago. Five years ago? Ten years ago?

What are you doing each day to continually sharpen your saw? What could you be doing?

I was at an amazing property for an event at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, CA. They are renowned for their service chain wide and it was obvious the staff really owned it and took pride in being great. I was speaking to one of the door man as I left. I was talking about my stay and how impressed I was. I mentioned how much better they were that most of the hotels I stay at. Do you know what he said?
“We are professionals.”



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Destination Unknown

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If you are at least 40 you can likely hear the Missing Persons song playing in your head right now…..”life is so strange when you don’t know….”

To close the gap between where you are and where you want to be, you must know where you are going with real clarity. This is the perfect time of year to do it. It will be the 4th of July before you know it!  It is so easy to get off track from your desired destination. Reflection is the key step in achieving direction and giving you a chance to clarify your thinking.The challenge is we live in a “microwave” society and not one that likes to “meditate” on things. Martin Luther King said,

“Rarely do we find people to engage in hard solid thinking. There is almost a universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions.Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

dadMy father passed away on December 30th after a difficult fight against lung cancer. I am sure many of you have gone through losing a parent. It tends to make you pause, reevaluate your life and take a hard look at what is important. My dad was a great role model in many ways as a parent and a husband. My parents would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this July!

I have great memories of him and perhaps the best lesson: take the time to enjoy the journey and take care of yourself as you are pursuing your goals. Because of my dad, I consciously take extra time to be with our kids and block out the time to exercise and be in great shape.

He really took the time to enjoy his life AFTER he retired. My memories of him before he retired was different. He and a friend owned and operated a Ford Dealership in Spokane. He rarely took time off and did not take care of himself like he could have. That is an easy trap to fall into. After he retired he changed many habits and lived a high quality of life until the last few months.

Take some time tonight to reflect on your current direction. Are you on track? Are you clear where you are headed and what you are pursing? Really think and be honest with yourself. Are there any BRUTAL FACTS you need to confront and take action on right now?

Keep me posted on your progress and let me know what you do.

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So this is Christmas…

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Our youngest Lucas asked me today, “Dad, what special things are we going to do over Christmas break?” We are not traveling this season so we will have plenty of time with our three kids. For many of us we have quite a bit of time off and history tells me that it can fly by very quickly and be January 2nd before we know it. Has that every happened to you? Here are a few ideas to consider to get the most out of the holidays.

1. Take responsibility for your experience – for many, emotions run a little higher this time of year. You are in control of your feelings and your reactions to that cousin who loves to try to start something every time you get together.  Your experience will be dictated by what you chose to focus on. Do not let one little upset ruin the day.

2. Ask don’t tell – you will have a better time at family and holiday functions if you listen more and ask people terrific questions. Ask about their family, goals for 2012 and their highlights of 2011. Everyone’s favorite topic is themselves.

3. Take time to create moments and connect – Lucas is seven so Christmas is extra special as you know. Moments are easy to create. Take the extra time to watch a special Christmas show together or take the time to work on that tough Lego set together. With the older kids and my wife I like to “do something” special, usually outside like a great hike up to the observation tower on the  Foothills Parkway in the Smoky Mountains. Start planning some fun things to do together that will create a memory. What will you do?

Have a wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season. I want to thank you for your support this year and hope I am adding value.

Luke 2:9-14


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Make It An Unforgettable Thanksgiving

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momThis Thanksgiving, Christmas and Holiday season is a great time to do something you will always remember and future generations will cherish. It is likely you may be seeing old friends and family that you may not be around often.  It is possible you will be seeing them for the last time. My mentor Jim Rohn taught me this:
“If life is worth living it is worth recording. “
I took that advice to heart. I have been keeping Journals since 1998 and they make up a significant part of my personal development library. If you want more advice on how to keep a Journal you can watch this video.  One Christmas, when I went home to see my Granny Grace in the early 1993 I had a great idea. To this day, it continues to pay dividends. She was 90 and sharp as a tack. 

I had a new video camera. Do you remember those? Do you still have one? I took the opportunity to interview my Granny one one one, with the family and playing the piano. I recorded over 3 hours of material. I duplicated it and gave a copy to her and the entire family. Granny loved it! She had never seen herself on TV! She thought it was absolutely amazing! She passed away shortly after my oldest daughter Madison was born. I know have an easy way to show them what a character their Great Granny Grace was.
Too often we do not capture the stories and document the experiences that make our family unique. I went back to visit my dad a couple weeks ago. He is battling lung cancer and endured multiple rounds of chemo. He is fighting to stay alive and regain his strength. When he was up to it I was able to interview him and capture some great material. I will do round two on my next trip.

My suggestion – do not wait. Carpe diem!

Here are some potential questions to ask your parents or grandparent.
Where were you born/grow up? Tell me about your childhood – chores/school/sports/pets/toys/hobbies.
What do you remember about your mom, dad, grandparents, brothers, sisters?
What do you remember best about your parents?
What did you and your siblings do in your spare time?
Did the family move around quite a bit?
What is your favorite childhood memory?
What styles of clothing did children wear then?
Did your family have any special traditions?
When did you leave home?
Are there any family recipes that are particularly special?
Are there any heirlooms that have been passed down from one generation to another?
How did you learn to drive, what type of car, first experience?
How did you meet granny/grandpa? How long did you date? Tell me about the courtship/wedding/honeymoon
What was your first job? Other jobs, passions, politics
What kind of strange or unusual twist have happened to you though out life?
Did you ever hear of any scandals in the family?
Did you ever run into any one famous?
Do you remember any stories your parents used to tell, or actually had happen to them?
What would you like to see the family become in the future?
What was your greatest accomplishment in life and what was your greatest disappointment?

Don’t be afraid to let the interviewee get off the subject. You may get unexpected good stories this way. If necessary, gently steer your interviewee in the right direction. Take out all the old pictures that have been tucked away. Seeing them will bring out some great stories.

With today’s technology it is easy to record, edit and post the videos for all to see. Also, make sure you put them on a DVD for them to watch and show easily to others if they are not one line to see it streaming.  Look for news on a new company called Legacy Harbor that will be online depository for all your family memories.

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Throw Out the Trophies!

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It does not seem possible, given the high unemployment rate, that companies report they are having difficulty filling jobs.  The “real unemployment rate” is between 16.6% and 22.7%, not the reported 9.1%. You can see the explanation here and prove it to yourself. No one in the media is reporting this.

The WSJ came out with The Journal Report on Monday – the lead article Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need reported:

– 52% of US Companies report difficulty filling jobs

– 47%  of employers blame the prospects lack of hard job skills or technical skills

– 35% cite of a lack of candidates experience


Dr. Cappelli who wrote the article and lays the blame at our educational system and at companies for not doing the training and apprenticeship programs like in the past. I agree fault can be found in both arenas and what about the potential employees themselves? Could it be they can share the blame?


trophy-3-midCould it be the responsibility is with many of today’s Trophy Generation? When I was a kid, only the champion of the league got trophies or medals, not everyone on every team in the league like it has been for decades in the USA. We came to believe that the American child’s ego is a delicate flower that needs to protected and nourished.  If an ego is not protected, the child may very well feel distressed or sad. This might lead to self-esteem issues which, if requiring the help of a therapist to overcome, might lead to lawsuits against whoever didn’t give the kid a prize for just participating.

Do you believe that it is still very possible to achieve success ? I do because there are so many satisfied with being mediocre. They are average and OK with it. Just look around you each day. How many people do you run into who are switched on and truly great at what they do? We have embraced mediocrity and entitlement. Each day the entitlement mentality grows in America and has led us and much of the world to the brink of disaster.

Just look at the current Occupy Wall Street movement. What does that even mean? What do they want to have happen – an even bigger government? That has not been working too well. Check out this montage of signs from the event in NYC. A big complaint of many there seems to be this: I went to college, I deserve a job.  I think we have pushed the “follow your passion” movement too far. It has to be balanced with reality.

Going into debt for $138,000 and walking away with a degree in Poetry, Art History, Philosophy, Native American Feminism, Recreation and Leisure Studies may not be a good idea. Especially when the total student loans now exceeds the nation’s credit card debt at 1.0 trillion and counting . There are now 111 colleges in the USA that cost over $50,000 a year! I agree with Bill Goss, founder and Managing Director of PIMCO, ” College was great as long as the jobs were there.” Read the entire article here .

Wouldn’t it be better, if you had that kind of money to invest, to instead create/buy a business and train your child to run it?

That way you create a salable asset and have no debt! College or technical schools (enrollment has been booming) can be a good investment for many to acquire tangible skills that are in demand in today’s economy . I know I am reconsidering the common track of attending college for our kids (14, 12 and 7) right now. I think it requires a paradigm shift around education, creating income and a lifestyle. Money is an exchange of value not time. Do you believe that?

Many think it is unfair that some earn so much money. It is not the hour of time, it is what happens in that hour. How much value do you bring to the hour? If you have skills that are easily duplicated than you severely limit your earning ability.

The question is; what are you willing to do each day to become more valuable? Are you actively working on yourself each day, not just on your job? There are many with a great education, perhaps even earning an MBA or even a PhD who do not have the common sense, people skills or ability to apply their knowledge to be a great employee. They may be darn near unemployable.

What can you do? I suggest you adopt what I call the 4% Solution – invest 4% of your day, one hour, back into the most valuable resource you have – you! Are you getting better? Are you more valuable than your were five years ago? What is your plan? It is even more important the farther you are into your career. You must believe that you are good and that you can get better!

What do you think? I would love to hear from you.

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