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Dave’s blog

Doubted by Others – Crumple or Think?

I love movies with lessons.  “Sully,” brilliantly staring Tom Hanks, is about the pilot who in 2009 successfully performed an emergency landing on the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers.  Aside from the landing itself, the drama was about the NTSB’s questioning of Captain Sullenberger’s decision to land on the river and not at a nearby airport.  The strongly implied accusation was that Sully had made the wrong decision, needlessly endangering the lives of the passengers and costing a plane.

As I watched, I felt awful for Sully, who under the inquiry, began to doubt himself, and the doubt became escalating fear that maybe they were right.  The deep dread of self-doubt – that gut-wrenching feeling – is one of the most deeply painful human emotions.  I’ve had it too many times.

I saw two business leadership and life lessons in this movie:

First, it’s hard to think clearly, to solve rather than crumple, in the midst of self-doubt – Sully did that, and through his regained composure, managed the situation.

Second, it’s tempting to harshly judge our decisions and those of others. Yes, let’s evaluate.  Then let’s temper the judgment, recognizing that only people who put themselves into situations of gravitas can make decisions that prove to be important.

(Dave Signature)

Note: some disagreed about the depiction of the NTSB in “Sully.”

“The Martian” inspired me to cut a hole in my wall

“Work the problem.”  That’s the attitude of the character played by Matt Damon in “The Martian.”  It’s a movie I liked better the 2nd time, because I considered that theme.  BTW, I read that in the opinion of a NASA director, the science was quite accurate (info).

Back on Earth, this is a story about trying to get a new couch into my basement.

We couldn’t get the couch through the tight turn in the stairwell.  Work the problem.  We removed the door, the handrail and the ceiling light.  Nope.  Work the problem.  Removed the feet.  Still no (the couch was on clearance – returning not an option).  Work the problem.  If we just had a little more room maybe we could tip the couch into the extra space enough to make the turn.  Is it nuts to cut a space in the drywall to try that?

OMG, it worked!  The couch is in the basement and I repaired the wall.

I feel joy from solving the problem and from the experience – a great life metaphor for me, for my family, for us all with entrepreneurial challenges…

 Work the problem!

 

Sales Lesson from a Russian Uber Driver

Meeting Uber driver “Sam” reminded me that infectious enthusiasm is better than all the sales skills in the world.  From the word, “hello,” it was clear that Sam was from Russia.  I asked him his story – it’s an endearing one.

Sam “won the green card lottery,” leaving Russia where he’d been trained as an attorney and a dental technician.  There wasn’t time to learn more about this peculiar combination. Sam moved to NYC.  With no credit history, he managed to purchase his Rav 4 at 18% interest so he could drive for Uber and work on his English.  After 9 months, Sam decided that he missed the mountains of his homeland.  Opening a map, he saw that Denver was near the mountains, so he packed his car and drove here.

Sam told us this and more with joyful delight, enthusiasm, gratefulness and laughter.  He was so happy – and he made me happy.

I got to thinking about Sam and about sales.  In this NOISY world, one in which it’s so hard to break through to customers, Sam made me WANT to be his customer.  He made me feel good about him, myself, my country, my life.  I wanted to give him a $20 tip on a $21 fare.

In sales, we train skills, strategy, product knowledge – we teach our teams how to get the attention of our prospect, and how to get them to buy from us.  Sam, the Russian Uber driver I met once and will always remember, is a great reminder that people want to engage but are busy and defensive because they know that mostly, we want something from them.  Instead of trying to get something, let’s give honest, joyful enthusiasm.

Pies Make Me a Better Man

I like making pies.  I like the process, and I get a cheap thrill from sharing what I make with friends and family.  They have such low expectations of me when it comes to the kitchen, that my pie baking consistently yields surprise, which I take as praise.

I’m intense by habit, and I’m committed to my career.  Success for me, like for you, requires determination and focus, and the need to win over and over again in a competitive market.  Business can be tiring because, really, are we ever DONE?

Sometimes I want to create something that is done.  When I can step back and say, “Wow, I made that.”

My version of Hinman’s Cast Iron Skillet Cherry Pie. Recipe via Denver Post.

While I remain an active participant in the race of doing business in our cacophony of a world, I am trying not to be consumed by it.  I want to be deliberate enough to pursue things that have deeper meaning.  I want to be braver – brave enough to define success in ways that I know will be more gratifying, but I struggle to accept. While I haven’t solved this for myself, making pies gives me a symbolic and actual break from life’s intensity.  I enjoy the simple act of creating something that gets finished.

The Eagles vs. Snapchat

In my interview with Chuck Morris of AEG Live @AEGPresents, Chuck, himself in the business for 49 years, said that bands like the Eagles and Doobie Brothers @TheDoobieBros ‏are “doing better than ever!”

That got me thinking:  Why?  What makes a band with members now in their 60s continue to thrive, appealing to original fans, and attracting huge new audiences in their 20s and 30s?

Chuck Morris’s answer: “they are GREAT bands!” Certainly, and I think there’s more.  These bands provide experiences that make us happy in a simple way that resonates deep within us.  In contrast, we live much of our lives deeply immersed in technology, which while needed and appreciated, puts us in an unsettled state, one in which we feel constantly interrupted, even frenetic at times.

The engagement we feel in a live concert by a great band is a reminder that to pierce through today’s cacophony of noise to captivate another’s attention is possible – others want to engage in deep and gratifying ways, and they’ll do so if our message and our manner is compelling.

As a guy who’s built a career on developing customer relationships, I’m wondering, how can I adapt my approach in business to cut through the noise, and create a feeling of grounded happiness for my customers?  Maybe I’ll play a little Earth, Wind & Fire as I start my next pitch.

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