I received lots of questions last week with regard to how I set up my Mastermind Groups as well as ideas for topics for discussion. Let's take a look at both!
6-8 people seems to work best. More than that and you have a bunch of "Type A's" interrupting the hell out of each other. Less than that and you may hear crickets on the phone.
60-75 mins in length. More than that and you are starting to shoot the sh*t, less than that and you won't get to your content.
Meet Once A Month: I tried twice monthly for the longest time and quite frankly it became overkill. Learn from Uncle Paul's mistake on that one!
Leadership: You switch leaders each month. This is a good system because you get the benefit of different leadership styles and content. Each participant gets to give their leadership muscles a work out.
A. Choose the topic B. Email the agenda and appoint a scribe. The scribe's responsibility is to take detailed notes and then send a recap to the group within 24-48 hours. C. Keep the meeting on point and within the agreed upon time frame.
Note: It's real easy to get off topic when you have people who are passionate about being successful. To that end you'll need a . . .
Parking Lot: The parking lot is simply a place for you to park ideas and topics for another meeting. This way if someone starts going off topic, you can respectfully say "Why don't we 'parking lot' that for a future meeting" Which of course is French for STFU. Seriously, I worked with a group of sales reps in Michigan who used this. Within one mastermind meeting they had enough topics for the next year! If you keep a good parking lot, you will almost never struggle for topics!
D. Enforce the rules:
The meeting starts and ends on time
It isn't a "Bitch Session" Trust me when I tell you that if you allow your meeting to be a forum for complaints, your group will become what experts refer to as "Sucky":
Participation: Make it clear that everyone shows up and participates. Don't ever tolerate people telling you "Something came up and I can't make it" That's how groups begin to suck! Granted, emergencies can and will happen but there's a difference between an emergency and a flake! For planning purposes you should set it up in a way that's easy to remember such as the third Thursday of every month or something like that.
You can decide in advance the topics you all feel would be valuable and you can also use the "Parking Lot" to continually refresh your supply.
Here's 6 months worth of topics for you to consider:
1) How do you get a prospect off the fence of indifference without blowing the deal or giving away the shop?
2) Creative Door Openers: What are some creative ways we can get the attention of our prospects?
3) Objection Busters: Each participant comes up with 1 comeback for each of the following: Not Interested, No Time To Meet With You, Send me some information, We already have a vendor.
4) Send an article or have everyone read a book prior for discussion. Challenge everyone to come up with 1 idea that speaks to the topic. As the leader of the discussion, come up with 1 Devil's Advocate question.
5) Resource Meeting: Everyone brings one resource that others can benefit from. The resource can be the name of a cool website, blog, article, book etc
6) Your best advice for selling during challenging times. What have you done differently? Want to kick this one up a notch? Have each person ask this question to either someone in their network, in a Linkedin group, on their blog, at their company sales meeting etc. Why limit your answers to just your group?
And before I forget, you can get tons of content by checking out the discussions on Linkedin. My Sales Playbook Group has over 400 discussions you can pillage from!
Note: Sales managers, the Linkedin discussions are a great place for you to get ideas for your next sales meeting too!
So there you have it. A basic framework and some ideas for discussion.
John Maxwell tells an interesting story about how Walt Disney categorized people. According to Disney, there are 3 types of people: The first type is the Well Poisoner. The Well Poisoner discourages you, stomps on your creativity and tells you what you can't do. When I lost everything I had, I took on several jobs. One was at a local Italian Restaurant. These Bastards went out of their way to treat me like a piece of crap and took pride in discouraging me. Bart, if you're reading this, you never knew it but I put dirty dishwater in your Diet Coke. Oh and before I forget . . . bite me!
The Second type is the Lawn Mower. The Lawn mower is well intentioned but self absorbed. They are more concerned with their own needs, their own lawns and never leave their yard to help someone else.
Finally, there is the Life Enhancer. They reach out to others and lift them up. They encourage others and inspire greatness
Painfully obvious self discovery question coming atcha in 3, 2, 1 . . . Which one are you? Maxwell suggests we ask ourselves: "Am I different things to different people?" In other words are you a life enhancer to a potential client but a lawn mower to your co workers? Perhaps we are life enhancers to our employees but well poisoners to our children?
Have you ever been on the receiving end of those types of inconsistencies? I remember the first time I experienced it, I was 18. I knew someone who's parents were very active in the church. In that world, they were life enhancers at a very high level. One day I called, asked to speak with my friend and was promptly told off by his mother and she hung up on me. The reason: because I didn't ask how she was doing before asking if I could speak with my friend. And that's where the disconnect hit me (literally) because I remember thinking "So at the Church you are the Saint but at home you are serving up a tall drink of Bitch?
How about you? Are you different things to different people?
If we were to gather your family, friends, clients, neighbors, those closest to you from your online network etc. What would they say about you? What do they say about you, when they have nothing to lose and you're not there? That my friend, is your brand!
I guess the final thought should be . . . Would their description of you be representative of your brand and ultimately, representative of the legacy you hope to one day leave behind?
Think about that; then get back to your life with some clarity and a mission to live it intentionally.
It might just be the missing piece you've been looking for!
Thanks for reading!
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Every now and again, life has a habit of giving us a "tap on the shoulder", that is, a moment that causes us to take notice and become more mindful. One of those moments arrived for me the other day as I was listening to a CD from Success Magazine. Darren Hardy asked a very simple but powerful question . . . "Are you where you thought you'd be when you began the last decade" The tap on the shoulder quickly became a knee to the groin when I decided to ponder that question. On one hand, I'm way ahead of where I thought I'd be. On the other hand, I feel like I haven't even begun. I'm dizzy from how fast the last decade zipped by and find myself in shock that at the end of this decade I will be 54 years old! Uncle Paul an old mofo . . . say it isn't so!
One thing I've learned, is that when we have these moments, we have to do something with them and not sweep them under the carpet. One has to look in the mirror . . . the full length one! The one that shows us who we are! Well I looked, and came to the conclusion that I am pretty good at helping others, but really crappy at asking for help. God, I feel like a wuss owning up to that!
Well speaking of decade and asking for help, for the last decade I have taught a philosophy that I call "Your Personal Board Of Directors" Let's take a look at it and then we'll get back to my "tap on the shoulder"
Businesses have boards of directors . . . so should you!
Your Personal Board of Directors should consist of:
1) An Accountability Partner: This is simply a relationship you have with someone where you will hold each other accountable for goals and more specifically, action steps towards goal attainment. So if one of my goals this year is to drop 70 lbs (it is by the way), one of my action steps might be to commit to buying a scale this week. Nothing jolts success like mutual swift kicks in the rear!
Action: Call someone, today, and present the challenge of holding each other accountable!
2) A Coach: If you have the money to hire a coach, I would do it in a heartbeat. If you don't have the money, simply ask for advice from someone getting the result you desire. You can even model someone's behavior from afar or read about people who have accomplished that which you wish to accomplish.
3) A Mastermind Group: A group of people who meet regularly (in person or by conference call) to brainstorm, strategize, share resources etc. You will be amazed at the amount of growth you can experience by just this action step alone.
Action: Start making a list of 6-8 other people you can meet with regularly. Hurry up, your success is waiting!
4) Spiritual Guidance: For us to think that we can venture through life without some "Spiritual GPS" limits our well being and potential! And at the risk of earning the "Holy Roller Of The Year" award, I would say that if you have taken leave of your faith . . . come back! It will be a homecoming that could change your life!
Action: Start with a simple prayer of gratitude for the things you have in your life and while you are at it, put in a good word for someone else. Deal?
5) Core People . . . At The Ready: Who do you have in your network that you can call on for general advice? Who can you bounce an idea off of. John Maxwell says we should "stretch" our thoughts by running them by others and getting different perspectives. How can you use that concept to create some kick ass ideas for the next 10 years of your life?
"None of us is as smart as all of us" Ken Blanchard
Unfortunately, all of these members of your board are useless unless you are willing to do something. Something that is counter intuitive for us sales folk. You have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable. Put yourself out there. Be able to confide in someone and tell them of your goals, dreams and what scares the hell out of you. In doing that you have to be willing to accept feedback and handle the proverbial truth!
Until then, we are merely going through the motions because we have rendered our board powerless!
So there it is. Something I've taught for years, have done for years . . . but now I'm ready to do it right!
Now if I can just get that guy I shave with each morning to stay the course, I can be rich and skinny by the end of this decade!
Wishing you incredible success and a decade that will make you proud!
FYI: I've been re reading one of my favorite books No Bull Selling by Hank Trisler. Hank is a member of our Linkedin group and one of the most giving individuals I've had the honor of knowing. I hope you will visit his site, order his book and subscribe to his blog while you are at it. Truth be told, I love his writing style and you will too! http://www.nobullselling.com/
It’s so exciting to have a clean slate – especially after experiencing 2009! I believe that most of us will refer to ’09 as “a year to remember!” Do you remember the book written about the maiden and final voyage of the Titanic? It was titled “A Night to Remember!” Many lessons were learned from the Titanic disaster! Others may prefer to title 2009 “a year to forget!” Either way, hopefully we learned lessons, grew from our experiences, made new friends and we know it’s almost time to move on and put 2009 behind us. I say it’s almost time to move on – because we still have a small amount of work to do as we summarize 2009. Do you know how we review our success and lessons after an important sales call or presentation? We review what went well, what we need to improve on and what takeaways did we get from the experience.
I look at the previous year in the same light. This week, I reviewed 2009 and made a list of my progress and accomplishments, the challenges I overcame, the highlights, and the people who came into my life – many of whom were unknown to me in 2008. I also looked at areas I need to work on so that I can be more successful next time. This exercise helped me take so much value from 2009.
I’ll share an honest and personal note with you. In some ways, 2009 was one of THE most difficult years of my life. I feel and look like I’ve aged about 9 years in just twelve months – but what an education about life! I now have a Masters Degree in Life. Another year like 2009 and I’ll have a PhD! But, reviewing 2009 was a great exercise because I learned so much about life, about overcoming obstacles, the power of strategic alliances and the value of strong friendships. I learned that I work like an ant. Throw any obstacle my way and I’ll go over, under, around or through it – and I refuse to quit. What did you learn about yourself and what lessons do you take from 2009?
Some people told me they want to forget 2009 ever existed. I don’t believe you can trash an entire year as a negative experience. I also don’t believe in “Bad days!” We have challenging moments. Some moments last longer than others but every day and every year offers something positive. It depends on what you want to focus on. It also depends on the personal conversations you have in your mind. 2009 taught many of us so much!
Once you have reviewed 2009, set your goals for 2010. We all know that goals have to be “realistic” but they have to be exciting too! Exciting goals unearth your passion for life. They make every day an opportunity to move forward, to make things happen and to grow.
There is one habit that I’ve had for 25 years and I’ll do it another 25 years. EVERY morning and evening, I read something positive and inspirational for a few minutes or up to 20 minutes. I always want to start and close my day on a positive note. Remember, our thoughts are like muscles. The ones we focus on the longest, become the strongest!
I wish you a wildly successful 2010! Go after all your goals with passion and confidence!
Always Optimistic ~
Chief Eternal Optimist @ Neil Wood Consulting
Author of The Magic of Working Smarter
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul firstname.lastname@example.org.
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