Tori Molnar, 17 year old entrepreneur extraordinaire and former True Voice Media Podcast guest, nominated me to do the Gratitude Challenge.

The Gratitude Challenge works like this:

  • Create a Facebook status update that lists three things that you are grateful for
  • Nominate 3 new people to take the challenge by tagging them on Facebook

I don’t normally partake in things like this.

  • I don’t do chain letters.
  • I don’t repost status updates.
  • I don’t “like” people’s photos to stand up to cancer.

I usually stay out, but this one seemed interesting, as I’m not sure I set aside enough time to appreciate everything I have to be grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

When I accepted the challenge, I decided that I needed to plan this out, so I started making a list off of the top of my head of things to be grateful for.  I needed 21 items for the 7 days.

It didn’t take long for the pattern to emerge.  With a few exceptions, the list was comprised almost entirely of people.

I wasn’t listing any of my material possessions.  I mean, I’m glad I have things, but it wasn’t even a thought as I made my list.

I have always valued the people in my life, it’s part of my nature.  However, this Gratitude Challenge allowed me to go a bit deeper and see that, truly, without these people, I would not be who I am.  I would not have achieved a fraction of the success I’ve had in my life.

I am grateful for all of the people in my life, good and bad. I’m grateful for those that were listed on Facebook, but also so many more than were not listed.

Life is short, make sure you take a moment to let the really important people know how important they are.


Labor Day Post: Have a good day at WORK

A few days ago, I was walking to my office when I passed by two women hugging. Then I overhear the one say to the other “have a good day at WORK.”

The emphasis was on work, the tone was negative.

Now I don’t presume to understand their relationship. And perhaps each of these women truly dislike their jobs or find no pleasure or purpose in what they do.

Putting aside these two women, I’ve noticed that there is a common anti-work sentiment.

I think Labor Day is the perfect time to reflect on this.

Labor Day

Labor Day was established to celebrate the contributions of the American Labor Movement.  Essentially, we are celebrating all that has been accomplished in this country as a result of hard working people.

On this one day, we are supposed to be celebrating work…and we do this by taking off of work, having a BBQ and getting drunk.

But every other day tells a different story.

A Pervasive Sentiment

Instead of celebrating our jobs and finding meaning, purpose and joy, we are increasingly disparaging in our description of the modern work day.  We “work for the weekend,” we “get through the day.”  We have strong feelings about “Mundays,” “hump days” and the fantastic, much awaited “Friday!”

What happened?

I think three things happened.  Each are interrelated in our collective anti-work sentiment.

1.  The paradox and illusion of choice

If you haven’t watched Barry Schwartz’s TEDTalk on the Paradox of Choice, I encourage you to watch it.

Essentially, we have too many options now to accept what we have, if we are not satisfied with what we have.  No matter what job we have, there are countless other options.  So we either get “buyer’s remorse” or anxious about new possibilities all around us.

  • We could go back to school.
  • We could browse a job board and find a new company in a new industry.
  • We could finally start that side business online doing that thing we really love.

And beyond that, these options may be more difficult to take advantage of than we’d like.  Each of those options requires sacrifice, time, effort and in some cases money…and we’ve got bills to pay in the meantime.  Job mobility seems like an option, but the option can be very scary to people living paycheck to paycheck.  Many people cannot afford to take a without a safety net…so they stay put.

Speaking of living paycheck to paycheck.

2.  The general welfare of the average worker has diminished

The average person in this country is struggling.  We are carrying more debt than ever before.

consumer debt per capita 2010-07 indiviglio.png

One could argue that people are buying too many things that they don’t need, and there is some merit to that argument, however in a world where the upper 1% hold nearly 40% of all the nation’s wealth, I think it’s a shame that the average person is being told to avoid going out to eat, stop buying new clothes, or get rid of their smartphone.  This also doesn’t help the economy much as there is only so much the upper 1% can buy before they have everything.  Wages have not kept up with inflation or changing social norms.

Yes, the nation’s GDP has grown, and yes, the wealthiest Americans are better off than ever before, but the average worker is likely carrying some debt and struggling to get by in some way or another.

So we are often going to work, not as a means of stashing away some money for retirement, but instead to pay off our existing debts. Many of us no longer go to work to maintain, or get ahead, but instead to keep up, we are essentially slaves to the system.  The cost of living is too high to stop feeding the machine.

This changes our relationship to work.  Which leads to the third factor…

3.  Collectively, we’ve stopped dreaming

We, as a society, cannot think creatively while we are enslaved to the system.  If it is scary or potentially economically impossible to take a leap into a new path, we cease to think like that, and instead resign ourselves to the daily grind.

A small group of people we call “entrepreneurs” take those leaps. And you know what…most FAIL.

A small select few get it right, and an even smaller select few are wildly successful.

Some that fall, get back up and try again.  Others go find a job, and never recapture the dream ever again.

Getting Back to Work

I don’t know how we fix this, I just know things are broken.

So yes, let’s celebrate today, and let’s extol the virtues of a hard day’s work, but let’s also actively work to improve this country so more people can move into careers that they love without risking everything to do it.

Happy Labor Day.  And now, I’m off the clock.

Just following up

The follow-up is one of the most important components of effective sales.  If you have a great first conversation and then disappear, it’s not really sales.

But not all follow-ups are created equal.  In fact, the only follow up that really makes sense, is the one that was agreed upon.

At the end of the first call or meeting, there should be an agreed upon next step.  If that follow-up goes ignored more than a few times (unless there’s a really good reason), take the hint and move on.

Recently, I reached out to a company to buy something.  I was resolved.  For them, it was the best kind of sales call.  
I called with something one step away from the close.

“I’m going to buy this thing.  I’m not sure when, I have some details and timing to work out.”

They gave me pricing, they gave me all the info I needed. I told then that I would get back to them once I knew the detail. But I assured them, “I’m in, I’m buying.”

In their first follow up I said,

“I’ve been busy, I don’t know when I’ll get to this, I’ll call you when I’m ready.”

There have been several more “follow up” emails since.

There’s a delicate balance between following up, and coming across as pushy. No one likes pushy. Learn to listen and you’ll avoid crossing that line.

I’m still going to buy, but I don’t feel like they’ve actually been listening.