Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Who Opened Your Door?

I began my corporate career in sales. I was a psychology major fresh out of college thinking about continuing to get a master’s in counseling. My father owned a distribution business. The business had a territory that needed a sales person. He asked me if wanted to give sales a try. I took the position, thinking it was a temporary bridge to my future.

Every morning as I would be taking a shower, I’d throw-up! I’d begin thinking about the day, the people I’d be calling on, the sales process...presenting features, advantages and benefits...overcoming objections...asking for the stomach would speak for the rest of my body. Yet, my father believed in me. He reminded me of my initiative, perseverance and leadership roles I’d taken on high school and college. He counseled with wisdom and patience. He helped me to see the lessons in failed sales and point out that my sales closings were better than most baseball player’s batting averages!

More importantly he introduced me to people who mentored me. That was the door he opened for me. David Thompson was a huge door opener for me!

David Thompson was a regional sales representative with Spartan Chemical, Toledo, OH, and a main supplier to our product line. David loved our industry. He loved people. He loved solving problems. David’s gift was creativity. He made work into play! His facilitation of training seminars was like no other. No death by overhead or slides. He energized the audience. He was on par with Zig Ziglar!

David taught me so many lessons and opened so many doors. He made sales fun. When sales became fun, I no longer had morning sickness! David was a master of the right question at the right time. He taught me how to get customers to trust me which is the foundation of sales. David didn’t make promises he couldn’t keep. When a customer asked a tough question that he didn’t know the answer, he’d tell them he didn’t know, but he’d find the answer. David was credible. David was inspirational. David was compassionate. David was a lover of people. David was authentic before it was popular!

We are who we are because of where we’ve been and the people who touched our lives. David Thompson was a cornerstone to me becoming significant. He opened a door to my future.

Who opened a door for you?

This post is part of Leadership Opportunity Fest Blog Tour, hosted by Bill Treasurer. Watch the Leadership Opportunity Fest webinar here, find his book on Amazon, and then join us for the blog tour on August 13 as we celebrate leaders who open doors!

Postscript. After I wrote this blog, I got to wondering about David and where he was and how he was doing. It had been over eight years since I'd last seen and spoken with him. I did a little research on the Internet, got his current contact information and reached out to him. He has had a major health issue as has his wonderful wife Jane, but they are healing. I told David about the blog post I'd written and got to tell him over the phone, "Thank you!" He made a difference in my life. He did open a door for me me! Sounds like they maybe passing through our area this fall and we might break bread!

Who do you need to reach out to and thank them for opening a door?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What Inspires You? Part two.

There is an exercise I facilitate with groups. I ask people to turn to a blank page in their handout or journal and with a pen or pencil, I then ask them to write down the name...

- of a Noble Peace Prize winner last year
- of the MVP of MLB World Series last year
- of an actor who won an Oscar last year
- of the richest person in the world
- of Time Magazine's Person of the year this past year

Many participants look at me like 'deer-in-the-headlights.' Some may get a name or two.

Then I ask them to write down the name...

- of someone who makes a difference in their lives
- of a teacher who made a difference in their lives
- of someone who was there for them during a crisis
- of someone who they look forward to being with
- of someone who inspires them

During this second part, the names flow like a river. There is a name for each category and sometimes multiple names! The people who truly inspire us are the people who touch and move our hearts. They are inspiration! When I reflect on those who've touched my heart, I'm so rich. Beginning with Jesus Christ, my wife, Terri, of 33 years, my children, my family, my men's small group, friends, co-workers, clients, workshop participants, those currently living as well as those not living, so many names, so little time and so little space, so I narrowed it down to...

Six people...

Michael, yoga instructor, inspires me to be humble, to be vulnerable and to breathe! Michael is a good, thoughtful, gentle, compassionate, yoga instructor who has a way of working my body, my mind and my heart. Michael is humble. He is extremely knowledgeable and deeply experienced in yoga. To be in his class is to feel one with him, side-by-side. Michael reveals his vulnerability. He shares stories of himself. He reminds me not only how to breathe but why to take long slow breaths and focus outside of his class. He reminds me of what is really important in life. I want to be like him when I grow up!

Jonathan Feldman, IT guru, inspires me to be credible. Credibility is the main currency of leadership. As near as I can tell, Jonathan not only knows his values, but lives them. I've gotten to know many of those whom he leads. They believe in Jonathan and he believes in them.
I'm seriously thinking of shaving my head and seeing if his "look" can enhance my leadership!

Brett Carr, US Marine, inspires me to persevere. Brett is someone who when he makes up his mind to do something, he masters it. In the fifth grade, he came home and told his mother and me that he wanted the male lead in the fifth grade musical. My wife and I looked at each and kept our skepticism to ourselves. He did get the lead and sang two solos! His teacher urged him to join a children's performing arts group! Brett did it again with soccer. He decided he wanted to be a goalkeeper. He practiced relentlessly and tirelessly. He's got a wad of medals and honors as evidence of his passion and persistence. When he decided to join the US Marines after graduating from college, the Marines kept delaying his entry with all kinds of excuses. I challenged him to consider another branch of the service. He was determined, focused and persistent. Again, his focus ended up with him not only graduating from MCRD boot camp but being an Honor Graduate. I hope the Marines recognize what they have in him!

Lynn Watts, soul sister and Nubian Princess who inspires me to be. I get the honor of periodically co-facilitating with her. Her energy, her passion, her smile, her being are an inspiration. Lynn shares. One of my fondest Thanksgivings was when my wife and I had Thanksgiving with Lynn and her family. Lynn challenges my lack of diversity and opens my mind and heart to greater possibilities in ALL people. She is a catalyst for connection. To be in her presence is to create community filled with joy and laughter. She often shares the quote from Hitch, "Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away." The groups we facilitate definitely lose their breath because of her!

Mark Ramsey, senior pastor, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Asheville, NC, inspires my faith. His stories and messages are like the bread at communion. Mark feeds me! He reminds how important the care and sharing of stories are in creating community and living into a relationship with God and others. Mark amazes me. He is a role model of living faith and how faith helps one navigate the pain and suffering in our lives. It is a blessing to be with him and in the community he leads.

General Lori Reynolds, Commanding General MCRD, Parris Island, SC inspires me to be a role model. I had the unique experience to spend a week at Parris Island attending an educator's boot camp workshop. General Reynolds spoke to our group on several occasions during the week. She was dynamic and eloquent. But what truly inspired me was Thursday morning at the crack of dawn, several hundred soon-to-graduate recruits to becoming Marines go on a 2.3 mile motivational run. Guess who was leading the run? General Reynolds! Actions speak louder than words. A reminder that we are all role models to someone sometime. Choose wisely how you will act because it will make an impact.

It's your turn. Who inspires you to be your best in your relationships, in your communities, in your work?