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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


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