After a decade of self employment, I’ve been told “no” several thousand times. I have records. For the same period, I’ve been told “yes” a few dozen times. Fewer than a hundred. I have records of that, too.
As you can tell, I–like most humans, salesmen, and business owners–experience rejection more than acceptance. Unlike many people, however, I don’t let that discourage me as a proprietor. But I almost did once.
I whole heartily agree with Confucius when he said, “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute; the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”
Because of this, I’m always asking new questions of everyone I encounter in an effort to learn from them. Long-time family and friends. Acquaintances. Complete strangers. Everybody!
When it comes to getting better answers (i.e. more lively conversations), there are few better ice-breaker questions than these:
- What do you like to do? (more fun than the default and boring “What do you do for work?”)
- What is it like to live there? (asked as as a follow up to “Where are you from?”)
- What are you excited about right now?
To adopt for people you now, just add “now” to the above and voila! Instant learning. When you feel ready, you can really dig deep with, “What are your guiding beliefs?”
Hat tip, Ahmed Arshad
The world is full of qualitative statements. Exaggerations. Subjectiveness that cannot be measured. The people that make such statements are easily forgotten.
Quantitative statements, on the other hand, leave an impression. They measure your place in life. My father taught me this at an early age.
When I was nine years old, I ran a fast 400 meter dash, which is no easy feat. The thing about the 400 is not a lot of people run it. It’s difficult, because it’s not quite a sprint and not quite a distance race. As such, few amateurs compete in it. At least that was the case when I ran it.
So my father encouraged me to run the 400. I did. All the way to the ’88 state finals. Here’s how it happened: Continue reading…
Last week while eating lunch with my family, my playful wife invented a new game called “Clap for [insert person’s name here].” It works like this. You prompt everyone to applaud someone for several moments. Then watch their face, eyes, and smile light it while you do it.
Even though the act is forced, the game works every time. At least it does on my family, my wife and I very much included.
The only way I can explain why it works is that recognition matters. Just hearing your name, being complimented, or even just having your presence recognized as the above game so deftly accomplishes is enough to make people feel elated and special. When that happens, we want to become better people. That’s powerful.
As silly as it sounds, I invite all reading this to play this game and report your findings. Like Dale Carnegie taught, praise people, even the slightest. Recognize their contributions.
But more importantly, acknowledge people by remembering their name, take a genuine interest in what interests them, and applaud them for being who they are.
It’s magic, I tell ya.
From the “never give up” files—Last month, I received a suprisingly condescending email in response to a story I was pitching. “Does this strike you as something we would publish?”
It was sent by a deputy editor from the nation’s third largest newspaper. “I was hoping it might it might fit your travel section, which I guessed you might oversee,” I replied. “Would you be willing to forward to the appropriate editor?”
The next day, the gentlemen apologized for being rude. But then he continued “in a spirit of friendliness” to list many greviences in a patronizing 350 word follow-up.
Even if you think you’re honest person, your integrity will forever be challenged, usually when you least expect it.
I recently learned this lesson after a client tried to overpay me by $20,000 on two separate occasions. The first time they simply wired the money into my account without realizing I was already paid. “Either they sent duplicate payment or liked my work so much they gave me a huge bonus,” I thought to myself. I knew it was the former, but sat on the blunder for a few days before notifying the client.
The reason: The devil on my left shoulder made a convincing argument. “Blake,” he said, “maybe you didn’t invoice them the first time?” Nope, I checked my records. I’ve been paid in full. “Okay,” he went on, “but they’re a billion dollar company. They won’t even notice the misplaced $10,000.”
“I doubt it,” the angel on my right shoulder replied. “Imagine if someone got fired for this. Besides, you didn’t earn this money. It doesn’t matter if you omit or commit theft—stealing is wrong. You’re better than this.” Continue reading…
My wife and I recently borrowed a large sum of money to buy a highly illiquid asset. To secure the loan, we disclosed more of our financial behavior to the bank than we’ve admitted to anyone else, including God. And rightfully so—again we were borrowing a large sum of money, and they wanted to make sure we’d pay it back.
In addition to scouring our personal finances, the lender took a fine tooth comb to our business finances. I’m self-employed. But my wife owns 50% of “the company.” I generate and service all the income. She gets half. Many would call her—as my lender often did—a “silent partner.” But she is anything but. Continue reading…
This edition of the Offline Newsletter is written by an unknown author as told by my father, Brent Snow. As you work to find your digital sweet spot this year, I hope this serves as inspiration.—Blake Snow
There is a story about a billion dollar luxury liner, outfitted with every possible appointment, convenience, necessity, and designed to gratify every decadent demand of its prominent passengers. This floating Taj Mahal, booked solid for months by wealthy citizens and exporters, exhibited a phenomenally delicate profit margin in which time was money. Lots of money. For this great ship to sit idle for even an hour would cost the owners millions of dollars.
As such, every effort had been made to ensure that the ship would operate at peak efficiency. The engine room had as many backup systems and fail-safe mechanisms as an Apollo rocket. No detail had been overlooked in building the most reliable, durable mechanical equipment money could buy. The engine room was staffed by officers, experts, and mechanics from around the world. Each stood vigil in a gleaming white uniform looped with gold braid and brass buttons. Computer systems, draped in matted plastics and steel, lined the walls. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Continue reading…
As a self-employed individual, I’ve closed a lot of deals. Seven years worth, in fact. Enough to make me a thousandaire. But I’ve lost a lot more than I’ve won, something that’s expected in business.
What isn’t expected, however, are the rare occasions when a prospective buyer ridicules me for not meeting his terms. It usually happens like this: Buyer probes, likes what he sees, and then starts asking questions. We talk. I name my final price. He doesn’t like my final price.
But instead of walking away, like most sane buyers do, this buyer hangs around, and suddenly decides he no longer likes the free market. Continue reading…
I like running.
With exception to an injury hiatus, I ran several times a week over the past two years. And since reading Born To Run, I do so enthusiastically (not begrudgingly like I once did).
I normally run continuously for 45 minutes to an hour. On occasion, two hours—whatever I feel like really. I don’t time myself or track miles—an act that makes running feel like work—I just run.
Two weeks ago, I was feeling especially light on my feet. When I left the house on an empty stomach that Saturday, I didn’t plan on running for three plus hours, but I did. I also didn’t take water or food with me, and nearly put myself in the hospital as a result.
I have found, as many before me, that with age comes added responsibility and a much larger to-do list. I’m arguably busier than I’ve ever been in my life with managing a marriage, a new baby, a company, and working on several other projects. Opportunity surrounds us, and I want to take it all in. I hope to learn, experience, and do as much as I can (or even can’t sometimes) throughout my life. I thoroughly enjoy meeting new people, learning new things, and finding other ways of applying the little that I know.
While pondering all of this on my way to Salt Lake City this morning and after catching myself saying “I’m so busy,” to those around me, I couldn’t help but think how this claim might sound to the receiver. Does that phrase add any value to the person listening? Does that make them feel important? If it doesn’t, then do away with it. Continue reading…
Credit: Lindsey Snow
Blog reader Derek Bobo asks via email:
I was wondering when and how you made the leap of faith to work for yourself. When did you know you were safe financially? What was the deciding factor, etc? I’m right on the brink but can’t seem to get myself to take the leap of faith.
Excellent question. Here’s my answer: