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Learning from a cab driver

Learning from a Cab Driver

Most consultants are like cab drivers. Cab drivers run the meter. They throw the luggage in the trunk (that’s a $1.00 bag charge). They may or may not be personable. If you have extra passengers, that’s $1.50 each on top of the mileage. No smoking. And the radio is tuned to their favorite station – not yours.

Most consultants charge by the hour or the day. The meter is running. When you need a special report or their attendance at an onsite meeting, there’s your bag charge. They may or may not be personable to anyone other than the executive who hired them. If you need additional work or facilitation or expertise, there’s a fee “on top of the mileage.” And most times, you’re locked into their “radio station” – tuned to their methodologies, their licensed tools, their processes – not yours.

What if you came across a dramatically different kind of cab driver? Let’s call him Ike.

1. Ike has his own business card with his personal cell phone number, a rocket logo and a humorous tagline, such as “Strap in. Hang on. Here we go!” One of his cab’s notable features is the Hot Wheels steering wheel cover. Your initial impression might be that he is direct and, most importantly, fast.

2. In addition, Ike is a great listener. This would be in contrast to some “real character” cab drivers, who are great talkers.

3. Ike takes credit cards and proudly displays the Visa and American Express decals inside his cab. A credit card transaction costs him between 2 and 4% of every sale. (The cab company does NOT subsidize this fee – it’s up to each individual driver to decide whether to accept credit cards or not.) But it also makes him easy to do business with – and, coincidentally, increases the likelihood of getting a nice tip.

4. Ike is proactive and offers suggestions. For example, when a passenger asks Ike for a good restaurant recommendation, he has a few of his favorite places in mind and a restaurant guide available right in the front seat of the cab. Ike will offer to take his passenger to the restaurant, and also to come back at an appointed time to save the hassle of tracking down another cab. He is never late. Does Ike profit from this? Sure. Does Ike’s passenger? Sure. Will some cab drivers refuse to come back at a set time for fear of losing a juicier fare or a longer ride that may or may not come along? You bet.

5. When picking up or dropping off from the airport, Ike always finds out a little bit about his passenger. Is this his first time in town? How long is his visit? If Ike discovers that his passenger has come for business and hasn’t any time to see the sights or experience the city, he offers to take the passenger on a 10-minute sightseeing tour of downtown. Pointing out the highlights, sharing a little history, and telling a few stories, Ike has his passenger back on his way with a real flavor of the city that he loves. Is this a gimmick to add 10 minutes to the meter? With some cabbies, it might be. But Ike’s passion and knowledge and eagerness to share it with his passengers cannot be faked. Would a friend do the same for you on your way out of town? Absolutely.

Let’s turn our focus to the lessons for consulting. Feel free to compare these consulting tips with the corresponding lessons from the taxi business above.

1. Successful consultants stand apart – both in form and in substance. Sales trainer, consultant, and author Jeffrey Gitomer uses a half-dollar sized coin with his image and contact information (and some clever slogans like “In Sales We Trust”) engraved on it as his business card. People not only remember it, they keep it and they show it to their friends. Your initial impression might be that he is successful, funny, creative, and different than every other “me-too” sales trainer wearing a nice suit and carrying sharp white business cards (yawn).

2. Successful consultants are not good listeners. They’re DEEP listeners. “Good” listeners use surface tricks and techniques like “active listening” and “matching and mirroring.” Deep listeners listen with no agenda. Your listening focus should be on empathy – literally “feeling WITH” the client – and understanding the issues behind the issues. This isn’t a trick you learn in “consulting school.” This comes from your heart and your genuine interest in helping the client improve their situation. Deep listening will help you understand the real value that the client seeks from you.

3. Successful consultants are easy to do business with. One of the world’s finest consultants, Alan Weiss, says in his book Million Dollar Consulting, “you have to spend money to make money.” Part of that money should be spent on things that will make you easy to do business with. Some of these things are almost trivial – being able to accept credit cards, having an 800 number, etc. And some of these things will be a major investment of time, effort, thought, and energy. Like designing a resource-rich web presence or moving to value-based fee-setting so people get you and your expertise without concern over when you punch in and out on the time clock.
4. Successful consultants are proactive and offer suggestions. Flexibility is a great source of strength. So is forward movement. When consulting with large organizations, it is easy to fall into their trap of “analysis paralysis.” Especially with all the hype around “getting close to the customer.” The danger for consultants in getting too close to the customer is that you’ll get mired in the same quicksand you’ve been brought in to rescue them from! Keep moving, and always offer options. It could be as simple as “Plan A or B or C,” but giving choices always enhances collaboration and provides a sense of shared responsibility for outcomes. And it’s harder to say “No” when asked “Chocolate or Vanilla or Strawberry?” Ideally, your clients will say “Wow, they ALL sound delicious.” Then you are in a position to make a recommendation based on your deep listening (See #2!)

5. Successful consultants work from passion, knowledge, and eagerness to help. The irony of this is that the more easy and effortless the work for the consultant, the greater the value it has for the client. For the consultant, the intersection of joy and business is called profit. Marketer, speaker, and author Seth Godin believes that in any business relationship, the sooner you ask for money, the less you will get. This has interesting implications for the consulting business, where knowledge and expertise (and to a certain extent, even conversation) has monetary value.

I happen to believe in the concept of value-first selling. In other words, you should give clients valuable information and point them to resources they need, even before you’re hired. You should work to make prospects think, “Wow, this guy is a goldmine. Imagine what we’d get if we actually HIRED him.”

Now a lot of sales and consulting experts call this “spilling the candy in the lobby” and they advise strongly against it. And I would advise against it too – if you’re only carrying one bowl of candy. But without bragging, I can safely say that among great consultants (people who work at the intersection of passion and knowledge and eagerness to help), we’re a veritable candy store and are not likely to run out anytime soon by sharing our gifts with clients that are hungry for what we have to offer.

Would you help a friend with your knowledge and expertise? Sure you would. Perhaps clients are simply friends that pay you money? Think about it.  

Beep, beep. “Hop in!”

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How to catch a nice movie

How To Catch A Nice Movie

You have just come from work, it is 5pm. You make yourself a quick meal and throw yourself on the sofa, as usual, you pick your remote and there is nothing interesting on TV. You long to watch a Nice Movie that will make you laugh…to unwind the stress with your job, and then it occurs to you that you do not have a movie in mind. This is how to catch one.

1. Browse the internet

If you have internet access at home on your PC or on your phone there are sites that you can visit for great shows. Sites such as http://moviemonitor.com and flickr often have trailers which you can watch first before you buy a series. You see most of them are nicely pictured with great titles, but a trailer can give you a greater picture of what to expect.

2. Window shopping

Window shopping is not a reserve for women only. If you happen to be in town and have a few minutes to spare, for example, you were waiting for someone whom you know normally shows up an hour later after the agreed time. This is what to do. Instead of sitting in an expensive restaurant sipping coffee that you did not even want to drink in the first place, walk into a theatre. Movie theatres are great. First they have the posters; these inform you of the current running shows. Secondly it is a nice place to get stuck in because no one will throw you out. So the next time you think of buying something you need to watch, you will have an idea because you have been doing your homework.

3. Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten tomatoes is a website committed to analyzing information on news and films. The name is derived from the historic act of throwing rotten vegetables to poor performers on stage. This is a site that basically critics films so you know which ones to watch and which ones not to.

4. Ask your friends

You think this sounds obvious and ridiculous, right? But think about it. Your friends may know where to get a real show when you want one, considering you do have common interests. Even better yet they may have the kind that you want to see in their house. So just pick up your phone and call. Before you know it, you will be munching your favorite snack, sitting on the couch, staring at your TV and having the time of your life.

5. Pay Television

Need anyone tell you? Free TV is increasing becoming boring. You browse all the channels and nothing entices you. Pay TV is increasingly becoming popular where you catch your favorite show when you want them. Some service providers also offer you a personal video recorder where you get to record what you missed. Some good examples have been DSTV, and Next Generation Broadcasting.

6. Online Movies

You may get them free online. But for other sites you can rent or buy. The internet provides thousands of movies that you can watch but it all depends whether you have a PC and internet access at home.

7. Check out the celebrity

Fine celebrities are mostly auditioned for the best movies. Google your favorite actor or director , you will find a series of things to look for in the future and definitely to store in your library.

Internet based business: how single parents could earn extra income for the entire family

Internet Based Business: How Single Parents Could Earn Extra Income For The Entire Family

Are you a single parent who has been trying to support your children on a single income? If you have been having so much trouble making both ends meet with your present income, you might want to earn some extra money by setting up an internet based business. A big family with children can be very expensive and you definitely will need to earn some extra money to keep everyone comfortable. Having some extra money could really do wonders for you and your small children so you better start exploring other means of getting extra money for your children through an internet based business.

An internet based business is a better alternative for you than getting a second job. It is bad enough that you spend the whole day in the office and away from your children so do not make matter worse by taking another job that will take you away from your home at night and during the weekends. Note that being a single parent means that you are the only one that your children have at the moment and it would be very unfair for them if you spend so much time outside of the home.

Getting the full cooperation of your children

The good thing about an internet based business is that you can go to work anywhere and anytime. As long as you have a computer with reliable internet connections, you are ready to go to work on your online business. Having an online business means that you can stay at home with your children and go to work while they are occupied doing something on their own.

To get started with your internet based business, you will need to establish your working hours and let your children know about them. Since you will still need to keep your regular job on top of your online work, you will definitely require the cooperation of your children to make things work out. You should make it a point to gather all your children and explain the situation to all of them. Let them understand that you will be doing some work in the computer at home at night and sometimes during the weekends.

If you have older children whom you can rely on to keep the younger kids company while you work in another area of the house, you should speak to your older children and explain to them the situation. Let your older kids understand that you need their help and that you cannot really function well without their full cooperation. In most cases, older children in big families are usually very responsible and reliable so you can count on them to keep their end of the bargain.