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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Law Six of Stratospheric Success! Six?

Law six of Stratospheric Success? You read it right!

By now, you should know that I've been blogging about the genius described in the little red book known as The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. I had a good thing going. Five laws of Stratospheric Success make for five blog topics. No creativity required! But once that fifth blog entry was written, I didn't know what to do. I really enjoyed writing about the Go-Giver, but I ran out of laws. So I guess I need to start making up my own. Sounds dangerous to me.

The Law of Longevity
Giving isn't something done occasionally
it is a lifestyle.

When reading a new book, it is easy to be excited about the message delivered by the book. It is also easy to execute that message as you are reading, or just after you finish. But often after a period of time, the message that was read about is forgotten or not fresh in your mind. You go back to being irritated by a sales call instead of listening to the sales person. You go back to walking by the piece of garbage on the sidewalk instead of picking it up. You go back to "trying to sell" instead of being authentic.

Being a successful Go-Giver isn't something that you can do once in a while or when it is convenient. Being a successful Go-Giver is something done every day. It is the way you think when you roll out of bed every morning. Being a Go-Giver isn't something you do for press or recognition. Although I've written five blog entries about being a Go-Giver, I've felt hypocritical. I don't think you can be a Go-Giver if you tell somebody that you are. Being a Go-Giver puts 100% of the focus on the other person. As soon as you look for recognition, you are redirecting some of the focus on yourself.

Being an IT service provider is frequently a thankless job. When we are successful, everything is working without interruption. When there is a problem, the client is unhappy. It isn't easy to keep that Go-Giver attitude after you get your butt chewed by that client who had the problem. But that is when it is most important. That isn't easy to do, we all get defensive and all fell unappreciated. Instead of being upset, that is the perfect opportunity to suck it up, swallow our pride and put forth extra effort to remind that client that we care about them more than ourselves.

It is easy to do something nice once in a while. It is easy to give when you think the recipient will "owe you one". The purpose of "law six" is to remind us that being a Go-Giver isn't something that we do when it is convenient. It is the way we live every day, indefinitely.

In closing, I'm off to Dallas, TX to meet with my peer group (HTG15). HTG is successful because every person in our group is selfless, we are all there to share. As usual, I'm nervous, excited and can't wait to get there.

Brian O'Shaughnessy
Green Bay, WI

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Law Five - Receptivity

Does anybody know my password? I know, it has been awhile... In fact so long that I had to look up my password to log in and post this entry.

Well here we are, the fifth (and final) law of Stratospheric Success as described in The Go-Giver written by Bob Burg and John David Mann. As you know by now, the story and ideas of this little gem are something that I believe in. I try every day to make decisions, portray an attitude, live a lifestyle and teach the message described in these five laws. Some days I'm better than others, but when it happens I feel amazing.

If I were forced to choose only one reason why I have the career that I do, it would be very simple. I love the satisfaction that I receive when I help somebody.

Last week, I spent the majority of Friday morning with a potential client. We toured their three locations so that I can perform a thorough assessment of their IT (and like this blog, I'm behind at completing that assessment). At the third and final location, sharing an office by the front door are two happy, friendly ladies. When leaving, one stopped me and described how the bypass tray of her printer wasn't working. She went on to tell me that "the last person that was in couldn't fix it." When she said that, I got a little nervous... This just became a test that would prove competence (and the last person couldn't fix it - yikes!). After 10-15 minutes of clicking and testing, the bypass tray was working and we were printing envelopes. Before I walked five steps, the other equally charming lady had a problem with a screen font in Outlook. She had become irritated by trying to solve it and having no success. After another 10 minutes of clicking and testing, problem solved. I walked out of that office with a smile on my face and true sense of accomplishment. The feeling didn't come from passing the test, or making a printer work, but because I knew that I made two people happier than they were before I walked through the door. Of course, I want to earn the business of that company. But if I can't, having that experience is worth every second that I spend.

On to Rule Five!

The Law of Receptivity
The key to effective giving
is to stay open to receiving.

As The Go-Giver describes, for every inhale there is an exhale. Every contraction of your heart is followed by it relaxing. Without one, the other can't exist. Giving is only possible if the other party is open to receiving.

The words make sense, but practicing this law doesn't always come naturally to me. I enjoy paying for somebody else's lunch. I enjoy paying for the first round of drinks. I enjoy saying "let me do that for you." But I frequently push back when somebody tries to do the same for me. Even worse, when I couldn't win, and somebody else did something for me, I felt embarrassed and guilty.

Well not any more my friend!!! When I truly understood Law Five, it all made sense. When I push back, I'm denying the other person that satisfaction; the exact same satisfaction that I get when I give.

Now, instead of pushing back, or being stubborn, or feeling guilty or embarrassed, I make absolutely sure that the giver knows that I'm appreciative. Most times it's just a sincere word of thanks, some times a follow up email. But in every case I go out of my way to show sincerity.

I think I did it! Five Laws and five blog topics.

To Arlin Sorensen, thank you for handing me The Go-Giver. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I no longer have the book. I've gone through 15 copies, and become a card carrying member of Barnes&Noble. As soon as I get one of these in my hands, I find somebody else to give it to (including three copies to people sitting next to me on a plane). The original copy from Arlin went to my dad.

Brian O'Shaughnessy
Green Bay, WI

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stratospheric Success! Continued

So I was side tracked by a non-stratospheric topic... But I'm back for law number four!

By now, I shouldn't have to do this, but there may be newcomers. We are learning about what The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success (as described in The Go-Giver) mean to me. I'm sure by now, you have already read my thoughts on the first three laws. If not, STOP! Start from the beginning. See Stratospheric Success! Really? Stratospheric?

The law of Authenticity
The most valuable gift you have to offer
is yourself.

Debra Davenport is the real estate agent who didn't sell a house in her first year in the business. She knew every closing technique from A to Z (literally) and nothing worked. Nothing worked until she had given up. She had one last showing that she couldn't wiggle out of. Instead of being a real estate agent, she was herself. She let down her guard and didn't try to be somebody that she wasn't. As you might guess, that day she sold her first house; then continued to a successful career being authentic.

I'll never forget the interview question "How do you deal with difficult people in difficult situations?" I looked the interviewer directly in the eye and gave the most honest answer I could, and it flowed from my mouth. "I treat everybody exactly the same. It doesn't matter if that person is a receptionist answering the phone, the CEO of this company, or a world renowned Neurosurgeon." When I was done with that answer, I knew that I had the job. I knew it because I meant it.

I was only in that job for 13 months. The employer and the employee were not a good fit. So I left my job and started my own company. This was the spring of 1999. I was an IT Consultant with Y2K on everybody's mind. Starting my own business was a slam dunk.... So I thought. In an instant I went from a network engineer to a sales person, book keeper, marketing manager, travel coordinator and still had to be a "consultant." I was clueless.

In August of 1999, I generated $300 in revenue (almost enough to make my car payment). I struggled. I tried everything I could to find the next client. I scratched and clawed, but I was running out of energy and time. I called every classified ad in the local paper. With every call, I had the same story. "In the short term, I can help you get your work done while you find the best person to fill the position long term." It never worked.

In November of 1999, I received a call back from one of those classified ad calls. They told me that instead of hiring a full time IT manager, that they would hire a part time IT manager and two full time IT staff. They wondered if I'd be interested. I couldn't get in my car fast enough. This was the way I'd turn it around. I can fill part of my week with regularly scheduled work. I better not screw this up.

It was a normal interview. Standard questions. Nothing special. Until they asked about how my business was doing. I couldn't fake it anymore. I took a deep breath and admitted that it wasn't going well. I was genuine to a fault, and with every word I thought that I was blowing it. We made it past the remainder of the questions and ended with a discussion about my billing rate.

I left their building feeling little confidence in how I had done and less confidence in myself. I knew that I needed to start interviewing for full time work. I was mentally broken.

That afternoon, they called back. They told me that they liked me, that they appreciated my honesty and that they wanted me to fill the position. There was only one thing they questioned... that billing rate. I was so eager for the work, and so excited about the recurring hours that I quoted them $55/hour (at the time, my normal rate was $75). They thought my rate was too low. They asked that I sleep on it and that we should talk the next day.

Are you kidding me??!! All I wanted was some work! How do I respond to that? How can I convince them that I'm capable of managing their money, when I can't manage my own? What do I do now? Well I called my trusted advisor... Dad. To make an already long story short, he gave me some nice way to word why I was wrong with my initial proposal and why I'm really worth $75/hour.

Well... They it worked!!

I was never more authentic than I was that day. Although the entire impact is impossible to accurately measure, I have a few statistics that have resulted from that day of authenticity.

In the past 5 years, ITConnexx has 23 clients that are the result of direct contacts made while working for this company part-time.

While working there, I formed two partnerships (one with a phone system vendor and one with a photo copier vendor). Through those two partnerships, ITConnexx has an additional 37 active clients.

That's 60 clients that are directly related to one day of authenticity.

To me the numbers are humbling, but they are also a daily reminder about how important this law is. Not only is this law important, it's by far the easiest to exercise. Be yourself, nothing bad can come from that.

Brian O'Shaughnessy
Green Bay, WI

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stratospheric Success. To be continued....

Midnight in Dallas, TX.

Three months removed from my first HTG meeting. I'm scheduled to discuss the fourth law, and I'm fighting an internal battle. As you should know, I'm on a journey through The Go-Giver, and it's five laws.

On my flight, I scratched out what the next law means to me. This law is easiest to talk about and also the most emotional. I have been perfecting my message for two days and couldn't wait to get to the keyboard. Then I saw my group. The 11 other companies that (in the words of Arnie Bellini) I get naked in front of. We are all IT service providers. We share what works and what doesn't. Every topic is fair game. Our focus is business, but three months ago, we quickly became friends. Friends that I trust, and friendships that I can't believe are only three months old.

A heart filled thanks to Arlin Sorensen for his dedication and vision, and to my peers of HTG15.

Brian O'Shaughnessy
Member - HTG15

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Law of Influence - Getting back on track

Is there a law for procrastination? I left off with the second law more than a month ago (and my beloved Green Bay Packers were still playing football). But I'm back!

To bring you up to speed, I'm giving my best effort to apply The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success as described in The Go-Giver. Hopefully you have already read (and applied) the previous two posts. If not, STOP! Start from the beginning. See Stratospheric Success! Really? Stratospheric?

The Law of Influence
Your influence is determined by
how abundantly you place
other people's interests first.

I really like this law. I like it because it isn't always easy for me to execute. In fact, it is very easy for me to break. I understand how important other people's interests are, but put them first? In front of my own interest? Shouldn't I be making decisions and choices that put my interests first? The Go-Giver describes how the concept of win-win is all wrong. It describes how win-win means keeping score (I'll only do this for you if you return the favor for me). It goes on to describe that the focus should be 100% about the other person's win. My win is helping them achieve their win; and once that is done, I have somebody who "knows me, likes me and trusts me."

The condition... The day this happened, I almost fell off of my chair. And like Joe, I didn't realize that I was executing the law until it was over.

Like every business, it is important to acquire new clients. About a month ago, we started to develop a series of post cards to be mailed to businesses in our local market. When we completed the first card, I emailed an "almost final" draft to my peer group (HTG15). I was looking for feedback. All feedback was positive and one person asked if it would be ok for them to copy the idea. My response was not only could they copy the idea, I will send over the source files so that it will be easy for them to modify. We had an short email correspondence, I gave him everything that he was looking for and promised to include him as we developed new cards. I thought that was the end of the story.

In that short email correspondence, I mentioned our plan was to purchase a list of about 3000 businesses to send the cards to. I explained how we worked with a company who purchases hundreds of thousands of business leads a week and we should be able to get the list inexpensively.

Less than an hour later there was a sample list in my inbox. Without me knowing it, he had access to exactly what I was about to purchase. And he gave it to me! The thought had never crossed my mind that he would return the favor. I was focused 100% on his interest, and was blown away by his generosity.

I mentioned earlier, that this law is easy to break. However, it should be just as easy to execute. As we charge forward, it is vital for us to make choices and decisions that put other people's interests first. And as I mentioned in my last post, when we truly care about our clients and friends, the money (and everything else) will take care of itself.

Coming soon (and I promise less than a month)... The fourth law!

Thanks for taking the time to read.
Brian O'Shaughnessy
Green Bay, WI

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Law of Compensation - We're going Stratospheric!

Compensation and Stratospheric in the same sentence? Is it possible that in a few paragraphs, I can make you rich? I hope I can!

We continue our journey through the "Five Laws of Stratospheric Success" as described in my favorite little red book, The Go-Giver. Hopefully you have already read about the first law (The Law of Value) in my previous posting. More importantly, hopefully you've already applied the first law! If not, STOP! Go back and read "Stratospheric Success! Really? Stratospheric?"

The Law of Compensation
Your income is determined by
how many people you serve
and how well you serve them.

As I mentioned in my last weblog post, I'm not about to give a play-by-play of the book, but instead I will explain what I take away from it. There are three pieces to this law (income, how many and how well).
"How many" and "How well" are easy. The more people you serve and the better you serve them seems obvious to me. If you limit how well you serve, or you limit how many you serve, you can be successful. But you can only be compensated on that limited scale.

Income is the most interesting word to me. If the word "income" were not in this law, the law would be easier for me to grasp. Compensation doesn't have to be about money. I am compensated daily by the satisfactions of solving problems, working hard, helping a friend/colleague/client, getting a hug from one of my boys, etc. But none of these compensations have anything to do with income.

I think (actually hope) that this law validates something that I have said hundreds of times over the past 10 years. If I/we deep down care about every individual client and their business (truly care - not just going through the motions), and we take personally their concern/problem/business, the money will take care of itself. I have tried to live this way from the first day that I went into business.

The Condition... Remember "the condition" from the last post? Laws are great, but if we don't practice them, then we are not allowed back to learn the next law. And as I mentioned, they are easy to execute. Here's my example of what I have done recently to reach out and try to serve. I'm not sure that I hit a home run with this one, but I'm learning too.

As I was reading The Go-Giver, I had many thoughts of the group of people who I influence (and who influence me) on a daily basis - specifically the team that makes up ITConnexx. The day after I finished this little red book of genius, I ran out and bought 10 copies. I shared a copy with every person in our company. I don't expect that handing out 10 copies of a book will fill my bank account. What I hope is that we build a company of Go-Givers. I hope that every day, every person lives the Go-Giver lifestyle. I hope that every day, every person is personally compensated in the same ways that I am. And I hope that as we live this way, the money will take care of itself.

I'm sure that in a few paragraphs, I did nothing for your personal bank account. But I hope that in at least one way, I could help make you rich.

Still to come... Three more laws!!!

Brian O'Shaughnessy
Green Bay, WI

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stratospheric Success! Really? Stratospheric?

I have a new group of friends. We call ourselves HTG15. I don't think we are a gang, but I've been working hard on a new handshake.

HTG15 is a peer group. We are a group of 12 owners of IT service companies. We meet once a quarter to share everything about our individual company to the rest of the group. For each other, we are a virtual board of directors and support group. Our first meeting was in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and in January we meet in Dallas.

I could write 20 pages about the group, the experience and how it has already changed my life. But that's not today's topic! Today's topic is about Stratospheric Success!

When the group left Council Bluffs, IA we all left with a small red book. The book is The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. The little red book spills a secret. The secret of how to obtain "Stratospheric Success!" The little red book is fantastic, takes about three hours to read, and completely changed how I interact with people all day long. You read me right STRATOSPHERIC SUCCESS!

Now I'm not about to give you a play-by-play on the book. Go get it and read it. In fact, the first person to send me an email will get my copy.

The secret is simple. Give. Give. Give. Give unconditionally and with no expectation of reward. There are five rules (and coincidentally, five nice blog topics).

The Law of Value
Your true worth is determined by
how much more you give in value
than you take in payment.

This one is easy! Give more in value than you take in payment. If you receive nothing in payment and give any value, you are giving more. We can all do this all day long. Hold a door, pick up a piece of garbage from the sidewalk, give a real smile and say good morning to a stranger in line when you wait for a cup of coffee. Give a genuine "thank you." Doing any of these things give value to the recipient, and you take no payment. Give more to your employer than you take in a salary. When you are hired to perform a task, or complete a job, exceed the expectation of the client (and exceed by far). It really is easy to live this way.

As you read The Go-Giver you will learn that there is "a condition" required to learn the secret and the five rules. The condition is doing. If you don't execute the rule on the day that you learn it.... you are not invited back for the next rule. Execution isn't as hard as it sounds.

I'm reluctant to do this, because a true Go-Giver doesn't give for notoriety, but I want to share how I execute the laws. My hope is to show how easy it is and give you ideas to do the same.

The day after I read my little red book, i was cold called by a sales person. This sales person (James Wing, Enterprise Account Representative, Xandros, Inc. - I wont post his email address without permission, but if you want it, email me) had sent me an unsolicited email message a couple of days prior that I scanned and ignored. James was trying to sell me a Linux-based equivalent of Microsoft Exchange that I could resell as a service. Unfortunately, my Linux skills have all but evaporated and this was not a product for us. For the last ten years, I have made a habit (and some times a sport) of being mean to sales people.

But now! I'm a Go-Giver!

Instead of blasting James and asking that he never call me again. I made him a promise. I promised him that I would print out his email message and put that piece of paper on my desk, and that I would shuffle that paper around for a month. And every time I picked up that piece of paper, I would try to come up with a prospect or lead for him. Unfortunately, I haven't come up with one (yet). But I'm sure that I've put more effort into helping James in the last month than any other person he called that day (or maybe this month).

Just today, somebody asked me if I knew of anybody that was looking to hire somebody with his skills. His resume is now a stack of three pages on my desk, to be shuffled around for a month.

Just today, the president of a website development company called. One of their best programmers received an opportunity that he couldn't refuse and is advancing his career. The phone call asked if I knew of a programmer that knew PHP and Access/SQL database programming. Unfortunately I don't (if you do, let me know and I'll pass on the word), but there is a full sheet of paper with a typed note that I'll shuffle around my desk for a month to keep me thinking for them.

I'm no genius, and I'm not wonderful. In none of these cases, could I solve the problem, but I am doing everything I can to not blow them off. I'm doing everything I can to provide more value than I take in payment.

I promised HTG15 that I'd have this posting done before Thanksgiving. I also promised that I'd write another entry about the Second Rule of Stratospheric Success before the weekend was over. So come back soon.

Brian O'Shaughnessy
Green Bay, WI