Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

50 Ways To Rock Your Journal!

I remember having a slightly different take away from a famous story about Thomas Edison. You know the one, you’ve heard, ad nauseam, regarding his response to a reporter who asked him about all his failures with trying to figure out the light bulb? Edison’s response was something like “I didn’t fail thousands of times, I simply found thousands of ways, NOT to invent the light bulb”

Once we get away from some fantastic lessons about positive thinking and persistence, one might have the urge to ask “So, Tommy, how does one remember all those attempts, what works, what doesn’t, notes to self etc?” The quick answer is, You don’t! That’s why we need to write it all down and that leads us to perhaps a better question “How are we capturing this series of experiments we call life?”

A Journal can help you do that.

Before we continue, I want to dispel any false perceptions you may have that the journal is a warm and fuzzy place for you to write about some boy in study hall or perhaps create one of those stupid poems about butterflies (the ones where people have to forward to 10 people or will die a painful death). Actually, that isn’t true. It can be, I just wouldn’t tell too many people.

I use my journal for many things:

If I hear someone describe something in a way that has me thinking “I need to say it like that” it goes in the journal. When I read a book, listen to a podcast, instructional cd, my journal is right there dying to learn something new with me. When I stumble across a vocabulary word that I need to learn, I don’t avoid it, I write it down, look it up and own a new word. I write down ideas as I get them, brainstorm things that are challenging me, ideas for future blog posts, Linkedin discussions etc. If I’ve been particularly pissy, I write down what led up to it, figure out how I can take ownership and most of all, how I can keep that emotion from visiting too often.

There are numerous reasons why you should keep one too ranging from research suggesting it lowers stress to having a home base for your ideas. For me, it keeps me observant and in learning mode and that in turn, keeps Uncle Paul from getting sloppy!.

Alright, so what else can one put in a journal?

Great question (if I do say so myself) Here’s a list of 50 ideas for you to chew on. Most of them are considered “promptings” that is, topics that can get you thinking and writing and in turn, creating powerful new distinctions. My hope is that they will prompt you to come up with some even better topics of your own.

1) People buy difference. What’s yours?
2) Daily “5”
3) Books I want to read
4) Books I’ve read
5) Goals
6) New Distinctions
7) Cool Phrases/Packaging
8) Inspirational quotes
9) Venting get it out and move on
10) Gratitude Log: What am I grateful for today or what am I most grateful for in my life?
11) Brainstorming something that you find challenging. Let you pen move freely. Go for as many thoughts as you can. Get selective later.
12) What did I learn today?
13) Create a “Never Do That List”
14) Create a “Never Say That List”
15) Create a bucket list. Things to do before I “kick the bucket”
16) Things I’m good at that I still want to continually improve upon.
17) Things I’m not so good at that I need to improve upon. 1 Action I will take to get going today.
18) Write about the sale that got away. Why? What could you have done differently?
19) Write about the new account and the steps that led up to it.
20) Difficult client. What makes them difficult? In what ways can you improve the relationship?
21) Give the details of how you were able to get in the door with a tough prospect.
22) Qualities of a successful sales rep you know.
23) From the time you graduated HS, what were your 3 biggest successes and why?
24) The 4 Eulogies exercise
25) The Values Exercise
26) What am I most proud of? Why?
27) What am I most excited about? Why
28) Someone who influenced me and why?
29) What’s your elevator speech?
30) How do I define success? I know I’ll be successful when . . .
31) What was my biggest lesson this year?
32) Write down as many creative door openers as you can. When you finish, check out this link.
33) Script 3 different voice mails.
34) What are 15 questions you can ask a prospect to really probe pain/opportunities?
35) What would you like your clients/prospects to say behind your back?
36) In what ways can you be more memorable?
37) In what ways can you balance your life better?
38) What could you laugh about in your life right now?
39) Things I would do if I were running things at work
40) 5 Standard objections and 3 different responses to each.
41) Dream vacation. Give details. Involve all your senses. What do you hear, see, feel etc
42) 3 things you will reward yourself with in 2010
43) How can I invest in myself?
44) Pick a book that had an impact on you and write a book report. What were your biggest take aways?
45) A fence I need to mend and why.
46) The toughest thing you had to overcome in your life?
47) Things “Not to do” list
48) Something I always wanted to do, but didn’t give it a try. What held me back. What can I do to make it happen?
49) In what ways can I proactively give to my network?
50) Someone I admire and why.

What else can we add to this list?
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  1. Great stuff, as usual, Paul. This post is printed and taped inside the cover of my journal. I especially love #28 - when I think of someone (and if they are still alive!), I try to immediately sit down and hand-write them a short note or letter to identify how they influenced me, and to thank them for their investment in my life. Thanks for the list!

  2. Thanks Paul. This is a big help!

    I do some of the things you mentioned and also find value in giving a brief overview of my day. Its a great way for me to put a time stamp on things I'm going through.


  3. A genius idea!

    The first thing on my Christmas list will be a journal and all of my friends will be getting one too.

    Reminding yourself of the positives to focus on, and indeed the negatives to avoid is so obvious, we don't always do just that.


  4. Another terrific post, Paul! I started something like this a couple of years ago, but don't get to it daily. For those just starting out, remember to go back and read it fairly often too, that way you can give yourself an attaboy/attagirl if you did/fixed what you wanted or if not, a reminder to get going on it. Thanks again!


  5. Paul,

    Truly remarkable. Another brilliant post! You keep raising the bar. If I had my own company, I would hire you as a sales manager in a heartbeat! (Six figures too!)

    - Mark Niethammer

  6. Holy Schnikees I really fell behind folks!

    @ Kevin: Nothing beats the feeling of communicating gratitude to someone. Actually, its pretty cool when you are on the receiving end of that too :)

    @Matthew: Noted and agreed my friend!

    @Gemma: What a thoughtful gift. Talk about a gift that keeps giving too!

    @ Bruce: You raise a powerful point indeed! Its hard to realize how much we have grown unless we have something to reference. Well stated!

    @ Mark: Nice of you to say that!

    At the risk of sounding corny, I really enjoy giving back. It pays me 7 figures in "feel good" currency.

    Thank you all for stopping by to contribute!

    Paul Castain

  7. Great post as usual Paul. Here's a question for you & your do you categorize your journal so you can find previous entries?


  8. Hey Paul

    Great list of prompters. I keep many lists of things similar to what you have here, but I never thought of it as journaling. The overiding theme of all these seems to be a spirit of reflection - taking time out to think about ways to improve, or to put things in perspective. As the pace of life gets faster and faster, this is timely advice for all of us. It's real easy to get caught up in the "tyranny of the urgent" and forego those quiet sessions of gathering perspective that are so important to success.

    Thanks again!

    Hey how's that book coming?
    Don F Perkins

  9. You know Kelley, that's a question that has stumped me for years and here's where I earn the idiot award.

    I actually came across a fantastic answer to that in an article somewhere. I didn't favorite the article nor did I capture in my journal and guess what . . . its lost.

    I believe the article suggested creating a file on your desktop with different files within it to serve as "buckets" for you to place the more notable entries for easy reference.

    It requires transposing your handwritten notes, but I've always utilized that as part of my study habits anyway.

    I'd love for anyone who has a handle on the archiving thing to come forward and share some ideas.

    Thanks Kelley!

    Paul Castain

  10. @Don: I believe you may have given us the best reason yet to keep a journal. It gives us the opportunity to think and reflect! With all of us running at the speed of light these days, there is tremendous value in taking the time to think!

    The book is coming along just fine. Watch for it on the best seller list in 2012 provided:

    1) I finish writing it
    2) I cut a deal with a publisher
    3) You guys hook a Jedi up and buy it :)

    Thanks for dropping by Don!

    Paul Castain

  11. Thanks Paul,
    This reminds me of when I started a "gratitude" journal a few years ago. What I found was that after a couple of weeks of doing this daily I was making choices in my life so that I could put them in the journal. I started living my life as I wanted to be rather than as a victim of the world around me. I often go back to this writing at times when things are rough and the edges need smoothing once again!
    Your list is great-I may start a new journal and pick a new theme to get my head going in another direction. Thanks for this insight.

  12. Thanks Holly!

    I need to make the gratitude log part of my daily journaling as it really does change your whole outlook.

    Much appreciation for the kind words Holly!

    Paul Castain


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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 This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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