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Phil Jackson & Next Level CoachingMay 26, 2020
Like most of you reading this newsletter, I’ve binge-watched The Last Dance documentary, which followed around Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls during their dynasty and final championship season in 1998. The team allowed a camera crew to film their final season together and most of the footage has been unreleased for the past 22 years.
As an athlete and competitor, I couldn’t get enough of it. Watching the clips and seeing how they battled on a daily basis fired me up. Seeing Jordan’s intensity to compete made me want to run through a wall.
With all of the great Jordan content, one underrated characteristic of the team stood out to me. Even with all of the alpha males that made up that team – some of the most talented, complicated and competitive people on planet Earth – the heartbeat of the team was coach Phil Jackson.
Jackson led so well that you could create a separate documentary series on his teaching philosophies. [His books were some of the first I read when I got interested in leadership by the way, and I can’t recommend them enough.] He got ego-centric athletes to play as a team. He got them united on a common goal and theme each year. He even got Dennis Rodman into yoga, meditation, and Native American philosophy.
There was one quote from Phil that has been swirling around my brain for the past few weeks. After the Bulls won the first of their six championships in 1991-1992, Jackson had to get the team focused to do it again. They had just climbed a seemingly unconquerable mountain that left the players physically and mentally exhausted.
But Jackson knew that this was just the start. He knew that after the team celebrated, they had to get focused to do it all over again.
He looked directly at the camera and said “You’re only a success at the moment you perform a successful act. You have to do it again.” Now tell me that doesn’t ring true for those of us trying to hit sales goals every month and quarter!
How many people do you know that are stuck in their glory days? They start sentences with “Back when I was [in sales, in college, leading a team, etc.]. They’re living in the past. They’re trying to teach others how to do something they haven’t done for 20 years.
Steven Pressfield says that the best time to start writing your second book is the same day you finish your first book. [I failed this test. My first book came out in 2017 and I’m midway through book #2.] He believes that the longer you wait in between books will make it exceedingly more difficult when it’s time to write. [This is proving to be very true for me.] Don’t give Resistance a chance to creep in.
Similarly, the most successful people I know are able to push themselves to the next goal right after they attain the prior goal. They can reinvent their craft between years and even decades. They’re constantly evolving. You’re either growing or you’re dying, as the saying goes.
Let me take the hot seat for a moment. You may have been noticing my face over the internet a lot more in recent months. I made a conscious decision to go all-in on adding value to my community during the pandemic.
I’m joining every panel, podcast, and webinar that I can right now. I teamed up with Justin Welsh and Amy Volas to create Thursday Night Sales, which is a live forum for real sales talk with no filters. Ricard Harris and I are dropping a half dozen Surf and Sales podcast episodes per week. I took a jump and created my own Patreon page this week, offering the most exclusive content I’ve ever done. I’m working through my second book as I mentioned before. I started doing private sales and leadership coaching. I’m pushing myself.
I’m proud as hell of what I’ve accomplished: my sales career, my list of successful start-up experiences, and the clients I’m working with at Scott Leese Consulting LLC. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to rest on my laurels. In fact, I’m as hungry now as I’ve ever been. Maybe more so. The goals I set for myself now are massive.
Like Phil Jackson in ‘92, I know that I need to keep pushing myself. I need to keep reinventing. If I want to be successful (which I do) I have to perform another successful act. You think winning is hard? Try repeating that victory. Now do it a third time. Now do that 3-peat again. Next level thinking combined with next level action, creates next level results.
How about you?
Maybe you-re doing everything you need to do right now. Maybe it’s a season of rest and relaxation. Perhaps you’re deep in innovative work up to your eyeballs. Then this post isn’t for you.
But maybe. Just maybe I struck a nerve with you. As you’re reading this, you’re thinking about that project you’ve wanted to launch. You’re thinking about the book or entrepreneurial venture that’s been dancing in your mind for months or even years.
Don’t take it from me. Take it from Phil Jackson, quite possibly the best coach to ever step foot on a professional basketball court. Take the chance. Try something new. Keep pushing forward. Make another successful act today.
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Impact over EverythingMay 22, 2020
I didn’t choose to spend 4 years in the hospital & lose my large intestine.
But I did choose my response to it.
Stories/Experiences bring us together & impact us.
I built Surf & Sales because I felt like a movement was needed away from macro/platform and towards micro/community/impact.
I built Thursday Night Sales because I felt a consistent safe place to get real about life/sales/careers was needed & would make an impact.
I can feel the change with social platforms like LinkedIn. The noise makes it harder to make an impact. The connection limits stifle me. The brand > experience mantra frustrates me.
Impact is everything to me.
It’s why I love building and coaching.
So I’m excited to move myself even further into something I’ve realized is a true passion of mine.
Creating sales and leadership micro communities.
Finding new ways to make a positive impact.
I’m not great at selling myself and don’t enjoy doing it.
This is scary. I’m nervous. I’m outside my comfort zone.
Which tells me it’s the right thing for me to do.
So, I’ve joined Patreon.
My community is live and can be found in the featured section of my LinkedIn profile.
If I’ve added value to you over the years, I’d appreciate you checking it out.
I’m excited to go even deeper, and have some fun along the way.
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Default AggressiveMay 19, 2020
I remember my first sales job. It was a high velocity inside sales job where we were given a few quick hours of product training and a pat on the head. An old-fashioned pressure cooker. Good luck, kids. I got off to a slow start. Day one was terrifying. By the end of week oneI hadn’t closed anything. I could barely close the door behind me.
I was faced with a decision. Do I quit or do I buckle up and make it happen? Despite my initial desires for waving the white flag, I kept going.
The turning point was a Friday night. I was the last one in the office, cold calling people in Hawaii as a last-ditch effort because of the time difference. And then…BAM! I did it. I made my first sale. My hands got clammy, it felt like there were fireworks going off in my stomach. I had a smile from ear to ear.
That was when the lightbulb went off and I truly launched my sales career. It wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t stick with it. It wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t aggressively taking control of my destiny with each phone call.
I found a comparison to this story when listening to a leadership podcast with Jocko Willink last week. You may know Jocko from his bestselling book Extreme Ownership, his top-rated podcast aptly named “The Jocko Podcast” or maybe just as the guy that tweets a picture of his watch when he wakes up at 4 am every day.
Jocko was asked a question about being “default aggressive” as a leader. The asker was perplexed. Jocko has written about being an aggressive leader and this didn’t seem to resonate with him. “I’m not aggressive by nature. I’m softer spoken and tend to lead with empathy and by example”, he said.
Jocko’s clarification made a world of sense.
Being “default aggressive” doesn’t mean that you constantly walk around with your chest puffed out, ready to bang heads with your opponent like a ram. It doesn’t mean being an asshole or being obnoxiously loud. It doesn’t mean starting conflict without thought or reason.
“Default aggressive” means that you’re being proactive instead of reactive. It means that you’re ready to act. It means that you’re taking action in life, rather than being a passive bystander watching your life go by.
How does this relate to sales and leadership?
It doesn’t mean that you’re doing any of these things:
- High-pressure sales
- Berating prospects when they tell you “no”
- Intimidating and yelling at your employees
- Causing conflict and drama in the office
- Looking down on your peers because they’re inferior salespeople
However, it does mean you should be doing this:
- You’re asking the tough questions
- You approach prospects with confidence
- You beat your competitors to the punch
- You have difficult conversations with your team
- You control the quality and quantity of sales activities necessary to win
- You’re proactive instead of reactive
I remember as a young leader, there was a situation where people were openly complaining about compensation in the office. There was one guy who was the ringleader of the group, spurring everyone else on. Morale was plummeting.
I had a few choices: I could fire him on the spot, I could sweep it under the rug and ignore it or I can proactively have a conversation with him. I chose to have a conversation with him behind closed doors. I was aggressive in that I didn’t let the bad morale linger and spread. I was tactful enough to not lose my cool.
It turns out that he had mismanaged some of his money, wasn’t making very much in commissions, and was short on a few bills. We were able to handle the situation. I explained the compensation model and why it was fair for him. He understood. We made a plan for him to ramp up his sales activities, which were going to earn him more money. We worked on a financial plan to keep track of his expenses so he could feel less stressed.
Now, imagine the scenario where I let that attitude simmer in the office. Similar to our health, ignoring warning signs of bad news with your team will only make things worse. His attitude would have spread to the rest of the team and there could have been a damn revolt on the sales floor.
Being “default aggressive” isn’t about being the hammer and trying to find nails everywhere you go. In fact, aggressive isn’t even an attitude, it’s a character trait. It’s your drive. It’s the courage it takes to proactively take control of your life. It’s the unwavering spirit of self-improvement.
Take a look in the mirror. If you’re short on your sales goals or if your team isn’t of the caliber that you had hoped, it could be your attitude. Be proactive to make those extra calls, have difficult conversations, and turn things around. I’ve done it and so can you.
I love being busy & active & supporting cool events & shows. It’s hard to promote them all.
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TimeMay 12, 2020
“A man who dares to waste an hour of time has not discovered the value of his life.”
— Charles Darwin
Time management is one of the most important skills that anyone can develop. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that’s a moving target and impossible to perfectly master.
Our current situation makes time management all but impossible. On an average week, it’s tough for me to get everything done that I need to. During a pandemic, I can’t even remember to eat most days.
Even in a tough situation, time management is a skill we can look to hone in. I read a great Seth Godin blog this week on wasting time. He says “If we wasted money the way we waste time, we’d all be bankrupt”. Damn, how true is that?
The other week, I posted what a day in the quarantine life of Scott Leese looks like. I’m not claiming to be special. There are plenty of other people working their asses off and people that have tougher circumstances than I do.
But these are my days. Every waking hour of the day, I am either supporting my wife and kids or I am grinding as hard as I can to bring value to my clients and network.
This is the reality we’re living in. There is simply no time to waste. But it doesn’t mean we can’t be looking to improve. No matter how good (you think) you are with your time, here are a few tips to improve this skill.
Audit your calendar
You can do this in two ways.
First, take a look at your calendar as it stands. How does it look? Mostly blank space? Packed with meetings that could have been emails? Not enough time dedicated to family or health? Sit down and have a real, judgment-free gut check on what your days and weeks look like.
Second, start keeping tabs on where your time goes. Take a week, open up a spreadsheet and write down in 30-minute chunks what you’re doing. If you’re anything like me, you’ll notice plenty of time slots that were either completely wasted or at least could have been spent more wisely.
Once you have a pulse on this, you can block off times on your calendar ahead of time for the most important things. Meetings with yourself set aside for writing, or working out or eating dinner with the family. Put those on your schedule first before you open it up to other items.
Screen time notification
If you have an iPhone, there’s an app that will tell you how much time you’ve spent staring at your screen each week and what you were doing during that time (email, social media, etc.). It’s a harrowing reality to see how many hours each day we spend staring at this screen.
You can make it a fun challenge to try to either decrease your usage over time or at least spend it on more productive apps (calling people, prospecting on LinkedIn) than playing Tetris for an hour a day.
Block websites, delete apps
Let’s call a spade a spade: I’m easily distracted, like a dog in the park chasing down squirrels all over the place. It’s much more effective for me to remove the obstacle rather than rely on willpower to not check it. So if I’m in a deep stretch of writing or working, I’ll use Blocksite.co to not let me hop into the endorphin hits of Twitter or ESPN.
I have a friend that takes this a step further and removes Instagram from his phone Monday-Friday. He allows himself to indulge in it as much as he wants on the weekend but he completely removes it during the week when he wants to maximize his productivity.
Join a competition to keep you in the game
If you find it difficult to have this level of discipline on your own (or you want to have more fun), invite some friends to get involved with you. A buddy of mine does a monthly challenge with some of his friends where they’ll pick a habit to either pick up or drop for the month. They’ve done a month of sobriety, a month of no social media, a month of daily reading, and more. Each member puts in a small amount of money to keep things interesting.
Let’s be real. We’re all struggling with keeping track of time and being productive right now. We all have unique, difficult situations we’re working with.
If you think you’re doing your best each day, then keep doing your thing. Be proud of that and understand that this is a hard time and some things are going to slip through the cracks. If you’re wasting time, try using some of the above techniques to hone in your calendar.
Time is the only resource we can’t renew. Make sure you’re making the most of it.
A few ways to spend your time this week:
Surf and Sales Podcast: new episodes featuring Jeff Riseley, Steve Norman, Sam Dunning, Kyle Coleman, Dr. Richard Conde
Thursday Night Sales: featuring Justin Welsh, Amy Volas and I.