Little Things Matter
Summary: Todd has been a successful entrepreneur for the past 29 years. He has averaged more than a million dollars a year in earnings for over the last 20 years. He believes anyone can be successful at anything important to them, if they will FOCUS on the little things that matter. This podcast is dedicated to teaching others the little things he has learned to create his success.
(http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2012/10/Logo_Dark-BG.jpg) You’ve heard the old adage: a penny saved is a penny earned. That’s very true. The opportunities available to you to make money are not just limited to what you earn pursuing your career. You also make money by investing wisely, living frugally, and purchasing products and services at a discount. Did you know you could save money on most of the things you buy? Because of a new business I have started with my son Gerrid and son-in-law Josh, I have spent the last year studying and experiencing the fact that most individuals and companies have lower prices at which they will sell their goods and services than advertised. In this blog you will learn some simple ideas that, when implemented into your daily life, can increase the dollars in your bank account. I’m also excited to tell you about our new business and our goal to provide more than 100,000 meals to hungry children in October. Believe it! Live it If you want to start saving money on the things you buy, saving money must become part of your shopping mindset. By simply being intentional, I have saved thousands of dollars this year on products I have purchased. Do you believe that saving money is time consuming? It’s not, unless you are clipping grocery coupons from your local newspaper. Most money-saving strategies take less than 60 seconds. Let me show you how. Saving Money Offline Trying to get a better deal on the things I buy has become a game for me. When I buy products at brick-and-mortar business establishments, I ask if they have any coupons or special deals. In most cases, they do. The other day, I started my errand running at Sports Authority. When I got to the checkout, I asked if they had any coupons. The customer service rep smiled, pulled out a $25 coupon from her drawer, and applied it to my order. Then I went to the car wash. I asked if they had any coupons. The attendant told me about a special they were running on their coupon books. Since that is where I get my car washed regularly, I bought the coupon book and saved 40% on my car washes, which amounted to a total savings of $50. At lunch I ate at a Chinese buffet. When paying my bill, I asked if they had any coupons. The casher gave me a $2-off coupon. Next I stopped to buy a new pair of running shoes. When checking out, I asked if they had any coupons. After scrambling through the drawer, the clerk found a coupon and I got 10% off my order—a $9 savings. My last stop before returning home was at our local health food store. When checking out, I asked about discount coupons. For the first time on this trip, I was told no coupons were available. But the cashier told me about their loyalty program: for every $350 a customer spends, he or she gets a $10 gift card, so I signed up. By doing nothing more than asking for a discount when checking out, I was able to save $81 that day. For years I had purchased many products at the listed price. I never saved a penny because I never asked. Not only can you save small amounts, but you also can save large amounts. My wife’s car needed service: her A/C had stopped working and several other parts needed attention. The service manager told me it would be $3,100. I exhaled and asked, “What’s the best price you can offer me if I agree to get everything fixed now?” He paused, did some calculations, and gave me $800 off! That’s a substantial savings! I have been shocked with my success rate at saving money. By simply taking five seconds to ask one question, you too will be amazed with the dollars you can save. The worst-case scenario is that they don’t have any coupons but you’ve lost nothing by asking. If you plan in advance, you can find printable coupons online for your favorite stores and restaurants. When my wife and I go on our weekly dates, we use coupons for our favorite restaurants.
(http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2012/08/iStock_000005711173XSmall.jpg) One on the most misunderstood statements today is this: “Focus on your strengths and make your weaknesses irrelevant.” Every time I hear or read it, I cringe and think, “What if your weaknesses are relevant?” Excuses for Weaknesses Have you ever heard people make excuses for poor performance? Then they followed it by an explanation like this: “That’s just the way I am; it’s part of my DNA.” Or, “That is one of my weak points.” Or, “I’m just not good at that.” Then they blow it off like it’s acceptable. How much respect would you have for someone who is always late and says, “I’m sorry, but it’s awfully hard for me to be on time.” How successful would a tennis player be who is exceptional at every part of his game, but can’t serve? How far within your organization would a person get who does his or her job well, but can’t communicate effectively with co-workers? Or, think about the young father who is a dedicated dad but has a real problem with his temper. How do you think his relationship would be with his wife and children if he thought, “I’m so good at everything else, I‘m just not going to worry about my temper? They will have to accept me the way I am”? For most of us, our weaknesses are relevant and the worst thing we can do is to ignore them or discount their importance. Deal With Your Weakness Author Nathaniel S. Summers said, “The strength of a person is often weighed by how they deal with their weaknesses.” When I started my entrepreneurial career 31 years ago, my English was awful. (It had been my worst subject in school.) It quickly became clear to me that if I wanted to be successful, I would have to focus on my written communications and make them a strength. Today, I proof all my emails and consider the little things I can do to improve my messages, even if they’re casual emails going to my family and friends. I am an extreme introvert but, because I consciously work on it, no one would ever know if I did not tell them. I realized if I were going to be successful, I would have to push myself outside my comfort zone and work on my people skills and make them a strength. How do you feel about your weaknesses? Are you intentional about working on them or have you fallen into the trap of thinking they don’t matter? Do you think or say, “That’s just the way I am. I can’t help it. Don’t expect me to change”? If your co-workers sat in a conference room and made a list of your greatest weaknesses, what would be on the list? As you consider the things they would discuss, how many of those things could you improve tomorrow, if you were intentional? If your spouse or significant other were to make a list of the things you do that bug him or her, what would be put on the list? As you think of the most likely answers, how hard would it be to stop doing those things, if you really tried? Rewards for Turning Weaknesses into Strengths What many people don’t realize is that their weaknesses are holding them back from enjoying more meaningful relationships, advancing their careers, improving their self-images and confidence, and living happier lives. I am a firm believer that when you do the little things that you know you should do, without excuses, you feel better about yourself and the person you are becoming. When you blow them off or discount them, your subconscious knows the truth. When you repeatedly fail to do the things you know you should do, it’s impossible to feel good about yourself. The fact is that 95% of the weaknesses I see holding people back are things they could change today, by simply being intentional. My Three Challenges For You 1. Change Your Attitude. Never again allow yourself to think or believe that weaknesses are irrelevant. You can change weaknesses into strengths. Michael Jordan said,
(http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2012/06/iStock_000016570201XSmall1.jpg)How would you like to increase the odds of achieving your goals? Whether you desire to lose weight, create financial independence, build a healthy marriage, or raise responsible children, the formula for achieving any goal is the same. Here are 10 tips in sequential order that will help you increase the odds of achieving your goals: (Each link is one of my related lessons.) 1. Identify what’s important to you! (http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/blog/2010/01/12/was-napoleon-hill-wrong/) The only goals you will succeed in reaching are those that are truly important to you. If a goal is not meaningful or significant to you, you will quit when faced with obstacles. Take 30 minutes and make a list of the things that are truly essential in your life; those that you highly value. Then highlight the most important points on that list and set your goals. 2. Learn from those who have already achieved “your” goals. Once you are clear on what you truly want to achieve, your next step is to learn what you need to know. The best source of knowledge will come from those who have already reached goals similar to yours. Identify people you respect and admire, who have achieved the goals you desire, and learn as much as you can from them. 3. Determine the person you need to become. (http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/blog/2010/02/17/who-do-i-have-to-become-to-get-what-i-want/) Far too often people focus on what they need to do to achieve their goals and fail to consider who they must become. To accomplish something you have never accomplished before, you must be willing to do what you’ve never done before; go where you’ve never been before; become someone you’ve never been before. As you learn from those who have achieved “your” goals, pay as much attention to their personal attributes and characteristics as you do to what they did to realize their goals. 4. Put together a plan. (http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/blog/2010/02/15/how-to-put-together-an-action-plan/) After learning from and studying those who have been successful in reaching similar goals, your next step is to put together your plan. You need to clearly outline what you need to do and when, step-by-step, and then reduce those steps into daily activities. Knowing exactly what you need to do every day is critical to achieving any worthwhile goal. 5. Ask, “Am I willing to pay the price required to achieve my goal? (http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/blog/2010/04/29/the-uncomfortable-path-to-success/) After you complete your plan, be honest with yourself and determine if your goal is important enough to you that you will discipline yourself to do what’s required each day to achieve your goal. One of the biggest reasons people fail to reach their goals is because they are not willing to do what’s required over a sustained period of time. How about you. 6. Allocate the time required. (http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/blog/2010/02/02/my-top-time-management-tip/) Your next step is to block out the time necessary each day to work your plan. If you are like most people (and that includes me), you will need to give something up that’s less important so you have the time to achieve what’s more important. Blocking out time each day to work your plan is vital. Success comes from consistent daily action! 7. Get started. (http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/blog/2010/06/25/the-power-of-personal-initiative/) Once you have learned what you need to know, divided your plan into daily activities, and blocked out time each day to do the assigned tasks, it’s time to Work Your Plan. Start tomorrow! When the time you’ve blocked out arrives, push yourself to do what you know you should do without any further delay. It’s time for action. You could continue to study dozens of books, listen to CDs, and interview successful people (all helpful), but the greatest,
(http://littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2012/05/iStock_000019481918XSmall.jpg)After taking the last year off from my writing, I’m back! I am going to commit to writing at least one new article a month sharing some of the most important lessons I am learning on my journey! One of the things I enjoyed this past year was observing the attributes of men and women who are admired leaders—at home, in the work place, and in the community. I have also watched the wannabe leaders and have seen quite a contrast between the two groups. John C. Maxwell, arguably the No. 1 leadership trainer in the United States, defines leadership in one word: Influence. Ten years ago when I first heard him share his definition of leadership, I questioned whether a topic as broad, significant, and important as leadership could be defined by one word. With the passing of years, I have come to believe that Maxwell was exactly right. Leadership is all about influence—the capacity to be a compelling force to produce effects on the actions, behavior, or opinions of others, usually in intangible or indirect ways. When you have influence, doors open, people listen, and life’s winds blow at your back. Assuming that’s true, how do you gain influence? The answer is also one word: Respect. When people respect you, you have influence. When people don’t respect you, you don’t have influence. Value of Respect In your personal life, doing the little things to earn people’s respect affects how your family, friends, and folks in the community perceive you. Do people listen closely to what you say, or do they immediately discount it? Are you included in social events or excluded? When you call, is the phone answered or ignored? In the workplace, being a person who is respected is the single most important element in advancing your career. It impacts everything from how people in the organization view you personally to the quality of work produced by your team. In his book 360°Leader (https://www.johnmaxwell.com/store/products.php?product=The-360-Degree-Leader), John C. Maxwell points out that leadership is not just leading those who are subordinate to you; it’s leading everyone around you. This includes those senior to you, your co-workers in other departments, and those who work under your direction. When people respect you, regardless of where they serve within an organization, you will have influence with them. Power of Influence It’s critical to recognize that becoming a respected person is not about doing one or two sizeable jobs exceptionally well or becoming a top producer within your company. It’s about becoming a person who is respected for the way you manage your life and relate to people. Respect is something you earn as a result of your actions and attitude. It comes by making the right decisions consistently, over a period of time. Here’s a way to get an idea of the level of influence you likely have with people. What would your family, friends and co-workers say if they were asked the following questions? (Insert your name in the spaces) * Does ________show respect to others at all times? * Is ________ someone who is intentional about returning calls, emails and text messages in a timely manner? * Does ________ value people’s time by making it a point of always trying to be on time for his/her appointments. * How does ________ handle himself/herself when under pressure? * Is ________someone you view as financially responsible? * Does ________ do what he/she says he/she is going to do? * Does ________show a genuine interest in what people are saying and seldom interrupts? * Has there ever been a time when you questioned _______ integrity? * Does ________ exercise, eat right, and take care of his/her health? These characteristics and the hundreds of little things I’ve highlighted in my previous 200 blog articles as well as in my book (http://littlethingsmatterbook.
(http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2011/03/iStock_000002176354Life-decisions-201x300.jpg)There’s no denying the fact that our lives are a mirror image of the decisions we make (http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/blog/2010/01...
(http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2011/03/iStock_000009451992Workplacetips-300x227.jpg)Put yourself in the position of the owner of your business or the leader of your organization. What qualities would you look for in the employee whom you would advance within your management structure? If you had to lay people off, what type of person would you release? What type would you keep? Now put yourself in the position of the employee. How would your employer rate your services? The fact is it’s the “little things” you do and don’t do that have a direct impact on your raises, promotions, and influence within an organization. The way you are viewed will not only impact your success at your current place of employment, but it will also affect the recommendations and references that follow you if you leave. Here are 15 “little things” that will increase your value to your employer and make you stand out as a person who takes pride in your job. Become an Employee of Influence 1. Arrive Early and Stay Late. Arriving promptly at your designated start time and then hurrying out the door the moment your workday ends tells management your job is not your priority. You’ll make a positive impression if you arrive early and don’t rush out the door at the end of the day. 2. Skip occasional breaks. As a business owner, I was always impressed with employees who would work through their breaks when we had deadlines to meet. Their actions told me they realized the urgency and importance of completing the task and were willing to voluntarily forgo their break to get the work done. 3. Take pride in how you dress and groom yourself. If you want to be taken seriously at work, start with your appearance. This applies to Fridays, too. If management is not dressing down on Fridays, follow their lead and remain in professional dress on Fridays. 4. Leave your personal life at home. You may have a close work friend in whom you confide when you're having personal difficulties, but don’t let the word spread about your personal problems. Also avoid communicating with your family and friends during the times you are being paid to do your job. 5. Be upbeat and friendly. For most of us our workplace is our home-away- from-home. As you go through your workday make it a point to keep your energy levels high, acknowledge people, and be friendly. Be known as the person who always has a positive attitude. It will make for a better work environment for everyone. 6. Cut the constant chit chat and do your work. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a hard time with people who can’t keep their mouths shut when they should be focusing on their work. I have an even harder time when I am the one paying them. 7. Avoid speaking poorly of your co-workers. If your workplace really is your home-away-from-home, then why speak inappropriately of your co-workers? Speaking negatively of your co-workers will not only damage your relationships, but it will undermine your credibility. Instead, be the voice of encouragement, praise, and support. 8. Take pride in your written communications. Everything you type or write as an employee of a company is not only a reflection on your personal brand, but it’s also a reflection on the company’s brand. 9. Strive for excellence in your work. Be responsible and make sure you complete your responsibilities on time with excellence, even if it requires that you take some projects home. 10. Keep your workplace clean. No matter how much stuff seems to keep piling up on your desk, do your best to keep it organized. If someone’s workplace is messy and disorganized, why would they be any different? 11. Respond to emails after business hours. I am always impressed with people who check and respond to their business emails during non-business hours. It tells me they take their work seriously.
(http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2011/03/iStock_000015509165.STOP_-300x265.jpg)Do you keep agreeing to do tasks you don’t have time to do? Do you allow people to interrupt you at their whim? Do you allow your children to ...
(http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2011/02/iStock_000012435514I-Care-about-you-look-copy.jpg)Rapport is the process of building an amicable relationship—an emotional bond—between people based on trust, understanding, and a ...
(http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2011/02/iStock_000002904548non-verbal-200x300.jpg)You have no doubt heard the proverb—Actions speak louder than words. It’s true. Your body is a crucial part of communicating your inner feelings. Of course, we can’t communicate ideas, thoughts, and plans without words. However, the way people interpret those words is tremendously influenced by our non-verbal communication. In her research, Dr. Isa Engleberg (Professor of Speech at Prince George College) has suggested that between 60 and 70 percent of all meaning—understanding—is derived from our body language. What is body language? It’s a form of non-verbal communication consisting of facial expressions, eye movements, gestures, and posture. Here are a few examples: * Face: smiling shows happiness; frowning shows disapproval. * Eyes: attentive gaze shows interest; rolling the eyes shows disgust. * Gestures: nodding the head shows agreement; tapping fingers on table shows boredom or impatience. * Posture: leaning forward shows eagerness, acceptance, or interest; slumped over shows discouragement. The messages we send through these expressions and gestures play a key role in people’s interpretation of the words we speak, strongly influencing how we are viewed. John Locke, a British philosopher of the 1600s, said, “I have always thought the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” In today’s lesson I want to focus on the destructive consequences of unattractive body language and the negative messages we send based on our uncontrolled feelings and emotions. If you wish to communicate well, then it makes sense to understand how you can (and cannot) use your body to say what you mean. What we see consciously To quickly grasp the importance of this subject, consider these comments that co-workers have said. What body language signaled this response? What inner emotion was each person experiencing? 1. “He certainly got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.” 2. “I guess she didn’t get the sale yesterday.” 3. “He must have stayed out partying last night.” 4. “What’s she in such a huff about?” 5. “Wow! He looks like he’s just been run over by a truck.” All of these attention grabbers had a negative impact on how co-workers viewed them. What we register sub-consciously The intriguing side of body language is that what we see affects us at the subconscious level as well—meaning that we notice things intuitively without stopping to consciously think about them. What makes this disturbing is the fact that the signal we give off through our body language creates lasting images of who we are and it influences people’s opinions of us without a conscious thought. If you harbor hard feelings or have a bad attitude, you don’t need to wonder if people know. They do and it never reflects well on you. If you are pouting because your idea wasn’t accepted, you can be assured that everyone in the office knows and it’s impacting their judgment of you. The messages you allow your body to give off not only influence how you are viewed at that very moment but, when repeated over time, play a significant role in the way your brand is etched in their minds. As an example, if something doesn’t go your way and your body language tells everyone you’re upset, people quickly detect that you’re displeased. If you appear this way every time something doesn’t go your way, then you will likely be viewed as a “big baby,” “a spoiled person,” or “Mama’s boy.” On a positive side, if you handle a challenging disagreement without appearing rattled, then people will think, “I’m impressed by the way she handled that situation.” If you continue to control your emotions and body language, then you will become known as someone who’s in control of your actions and behavior. Recognizing destructive body signals
(http://www.littlethingsmatter.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2011/02/iStock_000012505328presentations.XSmall.jpg)If you are growing and advancing your life, there will be times when you need to give a presentation. A presentation is not limited to the times you stand in front of a group of people. It also includes conference call presentations, conference room presentations, one-on-one presentations, and even written presentations. One of the ways to stand out among your peers and competitors and increase your value to the market is to learn how to prepare and deliver effective presentations. Years ago I took a class on public speaking by Bert Decker Communication (http://www.decker.com/). It was an exceptional experience that is still vivid in my mind today. During this training, the key elements of effective presentations were discussed. Since then I have added a few more points to my checklist that I review before EVERY blog post I write and every presentation I give. I open this document and answer these 10 questions. Once these questions are answered, I piece together my presentation. Ten questions to answer as you prepare each presentation 1. Who’s my audience? When communicating with a new audience, identify them. Who are they? What’s their profile? Why should they care about what you have to say? The more you learn about your audience, the more you can connect with them. 2. What’s my goal? Write ONE sentence describing the goal of your presentation. Make sure you are crystal clear on what you want the audience to take-a-way from your comments. 3. What’s my Point of View (POV) on the subject? Write ONE sentence clearly describing your point of view on the subject. This is your position on the topic. 4. What are the benefits to my audience? Make a list of all the benefits your audience will enjoy if they act upon your message. People need to understand the positive results they will experience if they do what you propose. 5. What’s the downside if people don’t act? Some points can be made more effectively if you point out the downside risks of not heeding your advice. As an example, people know the benefits of being on time, but pointing out that being late is considered as being rude, irresponsible and disrespectful, may be more effective. 6. What are my main body points? Prepare an outline of the major points of your speech or document. Drain your brain and list everything that comes to your mind. After you have everything listed, organize it. 7. Can I find appropriate quotes and supportive information? If there are sources that can be used to add credibility to your presentation, include or list them. 8. Is there a story that I can use to communicate my point(s)? If there is a relevant illustration or anecdote that can be told to make your point memorable, include it. 9. What’s my call to action? What action do you want your audience to take? Have you noticed my call to action at the end of all my lessons, both on my blog and in my book (http://www.littlethingsmatterbook.com/)? 10. What would be an encouraging statement? Is there a positive and encouraging statement that would be appropriate to use in the conclusion of your presentation? I always like to end on a high point. If your presentation is in a written format, have it edited. No matter how good of a writer you are, having someone you respect edit your work will likely improve it. When you are invited to make a presentation, accept the challenge. The times in your life when you grow the most are when you push yourself outside your comfort zone to do what you’ve never done before. I can still recall my first group presentation 21 years ago. I scripted out what I wanted to share word for word and practiced it in front of a video camera. Even though I was so nervous my underwear stuck to my butt, my preparation and practice allowed me to give the best presentation I was capable of giving at that time.