On Being Extraordinary

Every Significant Pay Raise Is Sparked By These Strong Desires - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 262

262 Every Significant Pay Raise Is Sparked By These Strong Desires

Every Significant Pay Raise Is Sparked By These Strong Desires - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 262

I’ve negotiated countless deals in my career. Some of them have involved my own pay and terms of employment. Those negotiations are personal with stakes that run deep. Each time I’ve done it I’ve thought about the representatives of professional athletes and others who rely on professional representation. I never reached altitudes that required it, but I can see the benefits of it.

Herb Cohen, author of You Can Negotiate Anything, published the first edition of that book in the shadow of the Cold War. For those of you too young to remember, the Cold War was more than strong-arm negotiations. It was an arms race to show strength of destructive power. The logic was simple. If we show the Russians that our guns are bigger and more powerful than theirs, then we’ll have the upper hand. It was problematic because it was constant one-ups-man-ship brought about by one country making a move that would be countered by the opposition.

Cohen had a front row seat in a number of negotiations with Russia. In the book, he depicts the Soviet negotiation style as a sort of “my way or the highway kind” of conversation. My entire life – and my generation – understood and learned that anybody who sat across from us at a bargaining table with such a posture was assuming a “Soviet” approach. From an American perspective, those Cold War negotiations made us believe the Russians never negotiated in good faith. I’m sure Russians my age likely feel the same way about Americans. Back then, you never heard that worn out phrase, win-win. If you won, that meant the other guy lost. If he won, then it meant you lost. And that didn’t just apply to international, governmental negotiations. It applied to business, divorce settlements and any other bargaining between two or more parties.

It was all a zero-sum game. My winning necessitates you losing. Your winning necessitates my losing.

That was then. This is now.

My early business career was not spent around many people who believed in the Golden Rule. Instead of doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you, the mantra was…

Do unto them before they have a chance to do unto you.

I wasn’t able to embrace that notion, or strategy. It violated everything I’d been taught as a child, and the philosophy I was determined to live. That didn’t preclude me from trying to get the very best deal possible. I always felt it was my job to do the very best I could for my employer. I assumed the other side was trying to do the same thing and if I bested them, it only meant they didn’t serve their boss better than me. Yes, it was personal. Whoever said, “It’s only business” was only saying that to make the loser feel better. It’s always personal. It can be professional, but it’s still personal.

Today’s show was prompted by some professional people who wanted to know my thoughts – and advice – on negotiating pay increases and higher end titles. I’ve mentioned all this Soviet stuff to establish my own history and background and to encourage you to respect the position of the other side of the table. Take your eye off the other side at your own risk. Assume the other side has your best interest at heart — at your own risk (and likely peril). You have to assume responsibility for your own welfare.

Negotiating pay raises or better titles isn’t the same as negotiating purchase orders. It’s far more personal. Our investment in the outcome is higher. And more sensitive.

Your Need For More Money Doesn’t Matter

One of my first experiences with an employee who wanted more money involved hearing how he needed more money. I heard about a wife and kids. I sat there, listened and at the first pause said something that sat him back.

“Your need for money isn’t my problem.”

I could tell he was stunned. Not wanting to appear heartless, I went on to explain to him that all of us had responsibilities – people who depended on us to provide. I was sympathetic with his sense of responsibility, but it wasn’t my problem. While I wanted him to have the best opportunities possible in our company, he had to understand that because he had 2 more kids than another employee didn’t warrant higher pay. I thought his argument was senseless, and it was.

I talked to him about adding value. However, like many people, he was solely focused on his need, not his value. I urged him to focus on that responsibility and let it propel him to higher levels of accomplishment in his work. “Your family ought to provide you with enough inspiration to be more valuable here at work,” I told him.

It wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He wanted me to grant his wish like some magic genie. I knew he left my office dejected, in spite of my best efforts to encourage him. But I was young and not likely as accomplished at encouraging people as I am now. But I knew that I couldn’t be held responsible for any income deficiencies he suffered. He needed to own it himself. His family was his burden to bear. My burden toward them was done only through serving him so he could serve them. I’m not sure I succeeded, but I tried.

It’s been 35 years or so since I had that encounter. Many more have happened since. Each time the focal point is the same – providing value. Far too many people seem stuck in thinking only of what they need or want, not how they can elevate their value to warrant a pay raise.

Just this week Jacquelyn Smith wrote a piece for Business Insider entitled, 7 tricks to talk your boss into the salary you want, from a former FBI hostage-negotiation trainer. Mark Goulston is the FBI. Now he’s an author. He’s written some very good books including, Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone and Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In.

Mark’s negotiation experiences are very different than mine. Yours, too probably. I’ve felt like I was in a life-death negotiation before, but it was just a feeling. It wasn’t real. Money, profits and income were the highest stakes for most of my negotiations. I’m not minimizing those because those are the pain points in business life. They’re just not quite the same as knowing somebody may die if you fail.

I’ll leave it to Mark and Herb Cohen (and plenty of others) to teach us some tactics. I’m mostly focused today on the point – the purpose and motivation behind the ask. And maybe, to a lesser extent, the courage to simply do it – to ask. In that regard, I really agree with point number 4 of Ms. Smith’s article…

Most people are “receivers” who are not willing to give — unless you ask, he says.

My own experiences have found this to be true. Sometimes you’re dealing with somebody who is proactive to reward superior performance, but it’s more the exception than the rule. And yet almost every worker likely wishes the boss would observe their good performance and offer them more money and other rewards. Maybe in a future episode I’ll talk about the powerful impact such behavior can have on a culture and leadership.

There are 2 things I want to focus on today. These are the things I have found most powerful when people are yearning for a pay raise. One is internal and one is external. It can start from inside out, or outside in. It doesn’t really matter. That’s an odd thing because most things have a defined sequence. Not this.

Inner Drive

Both things are inner. But only 1 is external. Let me explain.

Value. The business or organization cares mostly about what you can do for them (it). That doesn’t mean the organization doesn’t care about you as a person, but not so much really. It’s not personal – or impersonal. Well, it can be. But mostly, it’s business. It’s how things operate and you can’t be offended by it. In spite of some managers saying, “We’re like family…” it’s not true. Unless you really ARE family, which fosters its own set of big issues. Don’t expect your boss or your organization to care for you like your family. It’s not that kind of relationship. But I think many problems arise because managers often communicate “we’re family” and employees believe it. Then, when people don’t behave in the ideal family way, people are disappointed and sometimes hurt.

Value is both internal and external. The organization wants it from you (external). If you’re conscientious, you want to deliver it (internal). Some argue that it has to begin here, but I don’t think so and I’ll tell you why.

There are things I want. You want different things. Maybe you want a bigger house, or a newer car. Maybe I want to give my wife an expensive trip. Whatever we want is our inner drive. It doesn’t have to be something others find valuable. It’s valuable to us. And it can be selfish or altruistic. Some people want to earn more because they’ve got a sick family member. Others want to earn more so they can buy a fancy wardrobe. I don’t care what you want to do with the money. The point is, you do. We all care about what we want.

Here’s where too many people get it wrong. It stops here! Self-centered motivation drives the bus toward the quest to make more money. All by itself, epic fail. Nobody cares that you want or need more money. Just because you’ve got 6 kids and I’ve got 2 doesn’t mean you’re worth more money. It definitely means you need more, but that’s not my problem. Or your boss’ problem.

Value to your organization = value to your family and what you want.

Value to your organization in the work you produce + your personal desires = getting what you’re worth.

It’s one thing to say, “I just want what I’m worth” but most of us want more than what we’re worth. That’s the describer word needed in all this, MORE.

More value.

Bring more value to your work.

Gain more value to your personal desires and needs.

One can fuel the other. You need them both though if you’re going to make it happen.



Taking Advantage Of The Disgruntled Customer

Do you know how much it costs to get a new customer? Figure that out. Then, take a new look at your customer recovery/retention practices. You may find that the money you think you’re saving is costing you valued customers.

Another video that I recorded 5 years ago for the retailing space focuses on a supreme opportunity every company has in turning around disgruntled customers. It’s a fast path to greater customer loyalty.

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling software, tires, cars or ebooks. The magic is still in taking care of customers. My business philosophy is still valid.



"We're Not Smart Enough About That Yet" - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast Episode 267

Finding The Shortcut To Customer Loyalty

Five years ago I recorded this video. It was primarily for people in the retailing or online selling space, but the message is true no matter what space you’re in, and no matter what you’re selling. Customer experience is still at the heart of the matter.

Some thing never change. Namely, my philosophy that outstanding customer experience is the path to remark-ability! And it doesn’t matter what you’re selling.

Is it possible to create loyalty even when you haven’t sold anything?

Yes, absolutely. It can happen if you’re committed to being remarkable.

People talk about a “loyalty ladder” but I’ve always thought of it as a circle. It starts with a “suspect” (anybody who is breathing), moves to prospects (anybody who might be interested in what you’ve got to sell), then goes to shoppers (somebody who has a higher interest in what you’re selling), then a customer (those are prospects we’ve converted into buyers, but they’ve just bought from us once), then to clients (those are the folks who buy from us more than once) and ultimately ADVOCATES (the people who wouldn’t dare buy from anybody else, or recommend anybody else). We can create advocates from folks who don’t even buy from us though.


Guarding The Dreams of Children: Finding Passion, Excitement, Exuberance - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast 246

246 Guarding The Dreams of Children: Finding Passion, Excitement, Exuberance

Guarding The Dreams of Children: Finding Passion, Excitement, Exuberance - HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE Podcast 246Can you remember the last time you were extremely excited? Euphoric? I don’t mean moderately happy or contented. I mean really, truly, genuinely thrilled.

Can’t remember it? Me neither.

The search for joy, passion, excitement or exuberance doesn’t often result in a good find. Contentment is a more likely result of the search. Not that contentment is a bad result, but it’s not quite up to the level of joy, passion, excitement or exuberance.

Kay Redfield Jamison wrote a terrific book that was published in 2004, Exuberance: The Passion For Life. She’s a John Hopkins Professor of Psychiatry so she knows what she’s talking about. She dives into the science, physiology and other aspects of the great feeling of exuberance. She confesses that most in her profession focus on the darker, more dreadful feelings of human experience. That alone makes the book noteworthy. But it is a quite serious look at what should be among our most coveted emotions.

Who among us doesn’t want to be thrilled and filled with passion? Maybe it’s being in love. Maybe it’s the kind of thrill skydivers crave. Or it could be that fast heart beat that comes during a tense scene in Saw III. As you can tell, there are many different variations of passion, excitement and exuberance. Some are mere passing moments while others, like being in love, are hopefully longer lived.

Do these feelings become more scarce as you grow older? I only ask because kids sure seem to have more of it than old folks. Maybe life just has a way of beating the passion out of the most excitable among us. Maybe we taint kids with our own cynicism and gloominess. It’s likely a combination of all that.

There’s something terribly sad about the fact that I can’t remember the last time I felt it. I’d love to lie to you and tell you that I feel it frequently, but I don’t. Exuberance eludes me.

Passion is something others exhort us to find, but they don’t show us how. We’re told that where passions and profits meet is The Promised Land of Capitalism. I can see that, but what I can’t necessarily see is an easy way to find that intersection. In The Element, Sir Ken Robinson talks about the intersection between natural aptitude and passion…and how that changes everything! I believe him, but again – it’s often a difficult intersection to find. I don’t suspect it’s a busy enough intersection.

It’s been suggested that we ought to consider these ideas to help us find our passion:

1. What can we do and lose all track of time?

2. What would we most enjoy doing without regard for pay?

3. What can we talk about for hours on end?

4. What do you think is your true purpose in life?

5. Write your obituary.

6. What would you try if you knew you couldn’t fail?

Those are all wonderful suggestions – and exercises, but they all sort of remind me of that adage about battle plans being great things…until we meet the enemy. So it may go with these exercises. We can write insightful stuff perhaps, but then reality kicks in and we’ve got to deal with all the internal and external influences that can ruin our plans.

I love to play video games,” says a 20-something. “I could play video games around the clock. Can I turn that into a career?

Sure. There are professional gamers out there. I can’t say I’m an expert in that field so I’m not the guy to ask for advice in how to best accomplish that. I don’t know what they make, how big the opportunity is or the average lifespan of a professional gamer. The practical side of me would probably advise against it and be accused of squelching someone’s passion. In the background you can already hear Queen sing, “Another one bites the dust.


“I love to sleep. Anything?”

Nope. Not a clue. I do know some people with clinical depression who stay in bed a lot, but it’s not something I’d encourage. Besides, I don’t think that fits the bill for exuberance anyway. But Al’s Pro Sleep Center appears to hire some professionals.

Eating. I love to eat.

I read recently of the New York food critic who loved to eat, and so he became a restaurant critic in New York. The problem with that passion is limitation (and weight gain). It’s like NFL quarterbacks. There aren’t many of them so the opportunities are quite limited I suspect. But, you could give it a go as an independent food critic – maybe start your own blog and see how it goes. That might excite you. It doesn’t do much for me and I too, love to eat.

Ideas. I suspect our ability to embrace a great idea is where we can all find some passion and excitement. Like an inventor who wakes up in the middle of the night with a “Eureka!” thought – we can all find it thrilling when we create a terrific idea.

That may also explain why it’s been awhile since I last experienced exuberance. Too few good ideas. Maybe it’s because the practical realities of life have so beaten me down I can no longer easily see myself for what’s possible. Or even probable. Perhaps it’s because my brain has become mush with all the emails, blogs, Tweets, Facebook entries and other information that has clogged my creative synapses. Maybe I need some Drain-O for my creative plumbing. What would that be?

Have you ever wondered what it must have been like during the days when America was young? When people off loaded the ships carting around all their possessions and embarking across the country to lay stake to a piece of land? How exciting must THAT have been?

Something tells me exuberance gave way to survival after awhile though. But it certainly must have been exciting. I don’t want to experience excitement where I have to wonder if I can find some critter to kill so we can eat supper. That’s just not quite the thrill I’m looking for. So, I continue to learn.

Now I know that exuberance must contain an element of fun. Killing critters wouldn’t be fun for me although I do know some fellow Texans who would find that very thrilling indeed.

More often than not I hear adults say, “The thing I’m most passionate about won’t earn me any money.” Naturally, that’s the commentary of people who are looking to “monetize” their passion. I used to never hear that word – monetize. However, today it’s all the rage. I wonder what impact that’s going to have on future generations who grow up never knowing a world without cell phones, the Internet or the phrase “passive income.”

We have to find a way to monetize all this traffic we get to our website.

How can I monetize my blog?

We’re monetizing by selling advertising.

Happily, I’m seeing something in my children – now grown (my oldest is 34) – that I didn’t really see in my generation. I saw it when they were just children. I still see it in them today. And I’m hopeful that our classrooms are still seeing it, even at a higher level. All the way into high school. And college. It’s experience. Passion, excitement and exuberance stem from actions and experiences…not money!

While you can purchase a ticket to a sporting event and experience a live game, that’s far too passive to really launch exuberance. Better to be on the field. Now you’re talking. My grown daughter still plays volleyball. My grown son still plays hockey. A big part of the experience for them is playing, not watching.

The education community loves the word ENGAGE. Simply put, it means “we have the full attention of the students.” They’re into it. Whatever “it” is.

The education community also loves the word IMMERSION. My daughter enrolled her two sons into a Spanish immersion program in elementary school. She’s a Texas certified Spanish teacher. No, it’s not her first language. The program is rare, even here in Texas. The program involves speaking only Spanish to the kids for grades 1 through 4 (I think). When my daughter was in college she took a trip to Mexico for the same reason – to immerse herself in the culture and the language. It helped her learn. She believes it will help her sons more easily become bi-lingual.

My children have been far less interested in monetizing than my generation was. I think that’s a good thing. I think that may help them find more exuberance than I did. Many people of my generation fell into a career path that lasted their entire life. I was fortunate to fall into something early, but it was always about business. And the stuff of business. My natural gravitational pull is toward the people side of things, which is why the podcast was rebranded as HIGHER HUMAN PERFORMANCE. Our kids are people, too (even though sometimes they can behave like creatures from outer space).

Exuberance doesn’t look the same for all of us. And it doesn’t always remain the same. Mine has changed through the years, even though people have always been at the heart of it all.

Once I was an artist. A cartoonist. But I didn’t know any cartoonists. Who makes a living drawing cartoons? I knew the cartoons had creators. I just didn’t know who they were. Not personally.

Once I was a writer. But I didn’t know any writers. None of my friends’ parents wrote for a living. I knew the books, magazines and newspapers had writers. I just didn’t know any of them. Not personally.

Why should children put a price tag on exuberance? They shouldn’t. My generation had a price tag put on it. That’s why I was never encouraged to draw or write. “You can’t make a living doing that.” Sure enough. They were right. Because I believed them.

Your children will one day bear the responsibility to earn a living. That’s the practical reality of life. But, I wonder why we don’t let them embrace and chase their dreams to do things outside the realm of what we consider practical. They’re kids. They don’t yet have bills to pay. Or families to support.

Do you suppose that the passion, excitement and exuberance we foster in kids today might one day manifest itself into creativity they could turn into a livelihood? With the digital age we know many more things are possible today. Our kids are living in a world of better opportunities to pursue their exuberance.

You know that’s possible. You’ve heard Sir Ken and others talk of it. The world is full of examples of it. I know now that lots of people earn a living writing. And drawing. I just didn’t think it was possible for me – not because of any lack of skill or passion – but because “we don’t know anybody who makes a living that way.”

There they sit each day in our classrooms. There they are playing sports on the fields in our communities. There they are doing homework on your kitchen table. Future artists. Musicians. Writers. Scientists. Engineers. Salespeople. Videographers. Whatever they’re skilled enough to do, and whatever they’re driven to do.

Show them the possibilities. Build up their dreams. Encourage them in the experiences. Teach them what took me a lifetime to learn – only because I forgot. Help them learn to embrace the feelings of exuberance that comes quite naturally to children. Their lives will be fuller, happier and more creative if you’ll guard their dreams until they’re mature enough to guard them on their own.


On Being Extraordinary: Get My Name Right

On Being Extraordinary: Get My Name RightIt’s a new feature, On Being Extraordinary. Today’s installment is fundamental. Then again, most acts of being extraordinary are actually quite simple. This story proves the point.

A lady from Europe reaches out to a North American prospect in hopes of selling her services. She’s had some email communication with the prospect through her assistant. The prospect has forwarded a PDF of some critical information about himself and the company. He’s included all of his contact information, including his name, in the PDF.

A Skype call is scheduled by the professional services firm. The time and Skype ID are included. The email says nothing about whether this Skype call will be video or audio only.

The prospect submits a connection request to the seller. She never asked for the prospects Skype ID.

At the appointed time the prospect is on Skype awaiting the call. Three minutes past the appointed time the seller calls. Immediately, she’s on video. The prospect greets her in a friendly manner, but he hasn’t got his webcam set up so he’s only on audio.

The seller immediately asks him if he’s got video ability. He tells her he wasn’t told this would be a video call. “Well, then can we reschedule?” she asks. She also calls him “William” even though all his prior correspondence says, “Bill.” His name isn’t William. It’s Bill. He decides not to correct her, wondering how long she’ll continue to call him by the wrong name.

She insists he be on video. Irked he accommodates her asking her to stand by while he plugs in a webcam to his desktop computer. Within less than 2 minutes he’s on video.

She doesn’t thank him for the effort, but does continue to call him “William.” She begins asking him questions, including some that are answered in his PDF. More than twice, he prefaces answers with, “As it says in my PDF…”

Do you think it’s going to go well for her?

You’re right. It doesn’t.

Briefly, these are the things she did terribly wrong:

  1. She neglected to give the prospect clear instructions on how the Skype call would go. Rather than asking him to send the Skype connection request, she should have sent him one, proving that she was willing to do the heavy lifting here. Additionally, she never said that it needed to be a video call. Turns out Bill never figured out why it had to be video. She never shared a screen. It was simply the two of them talking to each other. He’d have happily obliged if he had known she wanted a video call.
  2. She was curt, telling him she’d have to reschedule if he couldn’t get video working. Talk about pressure of the moment. Bill should have disconnected the call right then and there, but Bill’s more polite than the seller.
  3. She called him “William” throughout the call, never once calling him by the only name appearing on prior correspondence. Bill was most unhappy about that. “It’s clear she’s not even looked at the documents I’ve sent her,” he said. “She got my name wrong and asked me questions that my document answered.”
  4. Bill hangs up after 20 minutes wondering how the selling company has any business. He’s not buying anything they’re selling.

Now, you wanna know the irony of the whole thing?

The seller’s business is in helping companies build cultures that deliver superior customer experiences.

Yeah, Bill found that pretty funny. I found it…sad.


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