Cathy Finney looks at the skill sets you need to possess to end up in the land of “Awes”. Once there, you can take your company, “Me Inc.” to new heights by embracing change in 2006.
View all articles by Cathy Finney
Reach the “emerald city” where you can take your company “Me Incorporated” to new heights of professionalism and profitability.
“Not everyone is ready for a trip to Oz, though it’s not hard to find. The only thing is, you’ve got to be willing to ride a tornado.”
-“Magical World of the Wizard of Ads” by Roy H. Williams-
You may be thinking to yourself, “well Cathy Finney has finally gone over the deep end. What does she mean by The Wizard of Awes? Who is this Wizard and what does he have to do with me?”
Well, the tornado mentioned above is what The Wizard of Awes is all about. A tornado shakes things up and this article aims to change your professional life, challenge what you do, and affect where you are going. Let’s talk about the skill sets you need to possess to end up in the land of “Awes”, a place where you will learn how to keep growing and take your company, “Me Incorporated” to new heights. Yep, you need to go to the land of Awes to become awesome in your personal and professional life! Yellow bricks pave the way for your journey. There’s adventure to be had starting in Kansas and riding that tornado to success.
If you’re not thirsty for new information, and ready to gain a new perspective, you won’t be able to go down the Yellow Brick road. In his book, Field Notes on the Compassionate Life, Marc Ian Barasch calls a knack for discovery, and a drive to excel, “a nonstop adventure of continuous transformation.” That says it all for The World of Awes! Let’s go.
“There’s no place to start other than where you are. All that remains is for you to get up and get started down the road that will take you to wherever it is you are going.” That quote is from Roy H. Williams’ book the Magical World of the Wizard of Ads. It’s time to get to the tollbooth of those yellow bricks. To enter you have to be the type of person who wants to be more and do more.
Let’s take a look at what you need to do to reach the Emerald City.
COMMIT TO REALIZE YOUR POTENTIAL
Commitment is the first thing that’s required. If you’re not committed to making your life and your career a success then why bother? Life is too short. Time passes too quickly. In his book, The Pursuit Of WOW, Tom Peters emphasizes that, “we don’t have time to take things slowly. The world is running on HST – hare standard time.” It’s “Wizzing” by! Commit. Be devoted to your goals. Be totally committed to what you want to accomplish. Roy H. Williams really articulates this point when he writes, “Happiness will grow in no other soil than the soil of commitment… It is your loyalties and commitments that define you.” Larry Winget sends that message loud and clear in his must read book, Shut Up, Stop Whining. Get a Life! He writes, “When you enjoy what you do, you will figure out a way to be excellent at it. When you are excellent at what you do, you will serve others better by doing it well. When you serve others well, you will be rewarded well.”
Are you committed to realizing the potential for your company “Me, Inc.”? How are you selling yourself as the entrepreneur of this great enterprise? What’s your Unique Selling Proposition? Do you let each new client know that you are a consultant? You are a professional, so you’ve cracked “ The Browser Code.” You’ve also learned that when a customer says, “we just want to look” they really mean one of two things. First, “We don’t want to talk to you, yet. Come see us later.” Or, what they’re not telling you is that they really do “Just want to look.” They want to see if there is anything in your store that they might want to own, that they want to try on.
LET THEM KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ABOUT
In his third book, The Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads, Mr. Williams cites, “a recent national survey tells us that 67 percent of all shoppers intend to return home owning the item for which they were shopping, yet only 24 percent manage to do so. The other 43 percent tell salespeople they are just looking and salespeople believe them and let them leave disappointed and empty handed.” Ever read Green Eggs and Ham? Sam-I-am asks his customer no less than sixteen times to try his green eggs and ham. Sixteen times! We would never do that! In some cases we don’t even ask once because that would be too pushy. No, no, that would not be nice! But if we look closely at what our customers really want, we realize that when we don’t ask the customer to buy what they want to own, we are doing them a disservice. Remember the end of the “Dr.’s” tale? The very hesitant customer says excitedly, “I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you, Sam-I-am!”
Louise and Harry do not have the time to “just look!” If you believe their statement that they “are just looking”, then your roles reverse. You just bought what Harry and Louise are selling! That is not a good way to establish your professional credentials. Remember that with each and every new “opportunity” you must find out WHO they are, WHY they are there, WHEN they want it, and HOW you can help them. Your focus must be to let them know that you are the best person to assist them. Turn “What if” into “What’s next?” Make their entire experience in your showroom about them. Do you remember the acronym WIIFM (What Is In It For Me)? Today’s consumer wants to know WEIIFM (What ELSE is in it for me)? It is the extra they want to know about. They want you to “Make me feel special about me!” Author, Richard Exley points out that, “we all have a need to belong.” Our purchases express who we are and what we’re about. That is one of the reasons that this decision is so hard for consumers to make.
Let them know you’re committed to helping them find the answers to their problems. Explain that this process is fun, quick, and pain-free! Mr. Williams says that the customer wants to know, “Can you save me time, reduce stress in my life, or cause people to think more highly of me? If not, then leave me alone. You’re wasting my time.” Time is the most highly treasured commodity on the planet. Surveys taken show that money, promotions, accolades, all come in second, a distant second, to being granted time off. Most of your customers are time poor. That’s where you come in. A big part of your job is to save them some of their valuable time.
LET YOUR PASSION SHOW
When you’re committed and focused, you become passionate. When you are passionate, people know, because you glow. Take a close look at the first impression you give to your customers. Are you smiling? Are you glad to see them? Smiling is contagious. Give them one of your in your face, I’m glad to see you smiles! We want to be around people who are happy, who are having a good time. Who wants to be around a grump? In the movie, City Slickers, Billy Crystal’s wife told him, “Go, go and find your smile.” See, you are smiling. Just the thought of it works every time!
Passion is a great word. I love that word. Just saying it out loud makes a difference in how you feel. Passion gets you reaching higher and farther than you ever thought possible. Without passion there is no loyalty to what you want to achieve. Passion leads to commitment which helps you define who you are. It lets your customers know where you are going. It shows that you are committed to them and dedicated to living your passion. In the Wizard of Ads passion is defined as, “the highest form of human motivation.” John Ruskin concurs, “ When love and skill come together, expect a masterpiece.” To be successful, we need to make that happen, and that is why we’re off to find the Wizard!
FREE THE BEAGLE
Next you need to cultivate a tremendous sense of curiosity. If you’re not curious about anything, how can you grow? What can you learn? Little kids are great. They’re curious about everything. They keep asking “why” until it drives you nuts! By the way, your customers are also curious. They want information, but may have learned to stop asking questions because they don’t want to appear stupid. When they first meet you, trust has yet to be established. They may, therefore, not ask you why you’re doing what you’re doing. As a professional consultant you must always tell them what you are going to be doing, or as I like to say, “No Surprises. Tell them what the rules are.” You must always be answering that “why” question. That will put them in “awe” of you!
So, how curious are you? Samuel Johnson says that, “Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.” The Wizard of Ads tells us that, “One of the many benefits of curiosity is that curious people are seldom bored. Conversely, boring people are seldom curious.” Which one are you? Mr. Williams uses one of his “WizardSwords” to define this condition. “Beagle on the brain” is what he calls “a hungry curiosity, one who is hot on the trail of discovery.” When you’re seeking answers, and want to know more, your brain’s on the hunt. It’s sniffing out answers. “Curiosity is the beagle’s fuel.” Set the beagle free. Bring out that little child in you. It’s okay. You’re allowed. It’s legal! Re-ignite that sense of wonder, that sense of play. Once a week turn the clock back to when you were five. To quote Groucho Marx, “A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.” Go ahead, become a kid again. Hug trees. Play in the rain. Laugh. Laugh till it hurts, start “Seussing.” Yep, that’s the term, named after the master, in the “WizardSwords” dictionary. It means making up new, fun words. This is definitely worth a return trip back to five! It turns predictability into the unexpected. Williams asks us to, “Seuss up your own message, use words they’ve never heard before!”
And remember what William Rostler has to say, “Anyone without a sense of humor is at the mercy of everyone else.” In her terrific book, Plan B – Further Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamont points out that, “One secret of life is that the reason life works at all is that not everyone in the tribe is nuts on the same day. Another secret is that laughter is carbonated holiness.” In her latest book, Being Perfect, Anna Quindlen tells us all to, “listen to that small voice inside you that tells you to make mischief, to have fun, to be contrarian, to go another way. George Eliot wrote, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.’ It’s never too early, either.” Samuel Butler nails the importance of fun in our lives when he says, “All of the animals except man know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it!”
Roy H. reminds us that as kids we “almost went crazy with the pain of having fun.” Oh yes, living and laughing were all rolled up in our little midget bodies. This was the life. We were “seeing life through small bright windows. Then what happened? The grownups equipped you with shutters. You were laughing too loud, too often, and too happily.” They told you to “grow up, get serious, act your age.” And we did. We listened and we got stressed, grew ulcers, and had heart attacks! No wonder according to The Wizard of Ads the word for adults means “obsolete children! Oh, and think about it. When was the last time you visited Neverland?
BRING YOUR PRESENTATIONs TO LIFE
Our next stop on the yellow brick road is to bring our creativity and imagination to life. In his book, The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Neurologist Richard Cytowic, defines creativity as a “dogged persistence that keeps you going when others would give up… Creativity and persistence are synonymous.” To make your creation become a reality, the Wizard of Ads tells us “that the first thing you have to do is see it vividly in your mind. The second step is to cause all those around you to see it just as vividly in theirs.” This, of course is what it’s all about for those of us who live in “ the Land of Retail.” Painting that picture, and bringing that room to life, is very important. If Louise and Harry can’t picture your vision, then they will never own it. People only go to places that they can see in their minds. Your creativity and how you communicate it to your customers, is what separates you from those other people down the street. Your presentation isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. It should be fun, full of flare, and style! You must be connecting on all cylinders. Your voice should be telling the story that is based on what they’ve asked for. You need to tell the story that they want to hear.
Your presentation is an art. It’s a skill that must be developed, practiced, and fine-tuned. You must listen to what you are saying and fine tune or re-engineer how you communicate your creation. “WizardSwords” calls this your “impact quotient.” This is “the power to convince the customer.” How would you rate your impact quotient? How loud is the applause for your performance? In The Pursuit of Wow, Tom Peters reminds us that, “it’s our stage, literally. The showroom is as much a stage as any found at Carnegie Hall... It is up to us to invest the script with life… To build emotional links between ourselves and our audience.” In a Newsweek article, Oprah defines “connecting” this way, “When you use your voice in a way that really speaks to people, it resonates. That’s what living really is. Living with a capital L.” Tom’s formula for success? “Great = having the imagination and zeal to re-create yourself daily.”
MAKE A CONNECTION
Pay attention to your intuition and don’t just present a rote script. Intuition is, “the ability to think with your heart instead of your head.” It’s what helps us create that bond, that connection. Henri Poincare tells us that, “It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.” When we combine our intuition with empathy, we are one step closer to “Awes.” Read each customer as an individual. Robots operate by rote, NOT the CEO of “Me, Inc.” We can’t “Awe” anyone spouting the same script to everybody we come in contact with.
Develop empathy, which is all about seeing yourself in others. It’s connecting human to human. It’s reading, identifying with consumers and the way they are feeling. Anne Lamont says that, “If you want to change the way you feel about people, you have to change the way you treat them.” One of my mentors taught me, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Make sure you make the connection.
PRACTICE THIS GOLDEN RULE
In their new book, Return on Customer, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers take this practice of the Golden Rule one step further. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, when you are the customer.” That’s the caveat, it is the difference that puts the “Awe” in you, and in your business. See the shopping experience from your customer’s perspective. Move into “Ethel-land!” Marc Ian Barasch says, “It is only when I become utterly alert to you on your own terms, that you know you are being seen, heard, and felt. This sort of empathy almost teleports us into another frame of reference… It is one thing to feel for someone else; it is another to, in some sense, become them. Being able to sense what is going on behind their social mask is the passkey to kindness.” Caring, listening and paying attention is how you earn trust. This is how you can build relationships and establish rapport, one human at a time! As Peppers and Rogers point out “Old Marketing” is based on the “Goldfish Principle.” Where you treated everyone the same, not as individuals.” Phew, good thing it’s “Old Marketing!” Today it’s all about turning customers into lifelong clients. You want and need clients who are committed to you and your business.
THE POWER OF AWE
Why is our journey to “Awes” so important? What is this thing called “Awe?” In his thought provoking book, “Rediscovery of Awe,” Kirk J. Scheidner, Ph.D. defines awesomeness as “mystery, magnificence – bedazzlement… It is the brute awareness that we exist at all… We are in need of the wisdom that awe inspires.” He quotes Johann von Goethe (Faust, Part II):
“Awe is the finest portion of mankind:
However scarce the world may make this sense –
In awe one feels proudly the immense.”
Maurice Friedman, Professor Emeritus at San Diego State University describes “awe” as, “the humility and wonder of living… It is through awe that we are awakened to life’s majesty.”
Our journey has laid the foundation to bring the power of “awe” into your life. Make the commitment to realize your potential. Let your passion show. Let the world know who you are and what you’re about. Start glowin! Get curious “Free the Beagle!” Let your imagination and creativity run wild! Use your intuition to create that bond, and make that connection. Move into “Ethel-Land.” Empathize with your customers. Develop those relationships one human at a time, for a lifetime.
Our adventure has shown us that you may have to make some changes in the way you’ve been thinking and operating as a professional. Most people resist change. Don Peppers and Martha Rogers agree that, “Change is threatening. But change is already happening. The only question is whether you’ll be driving the train or sitting on the tracks in front of it.” Whoa, let’s go!
As “The Wizard of Ads” points out, now is the time to put on those Ruby Red Slippers. “We all have a dream and our own special pair of ruby red slippers. You have the ability to do great things… Scarecrows, tin men, and cowardly lions are quick to rally ‘round the person with a dream.” What is your dream? What do want to be? Who do you want to become? Don’t ever stop dreaming.
You can do and be whatever you want to be. You made the journey. You have the dream. You’ve discovered “Awes!” You own the slippers!
Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates\”T ‘N T.” She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Questions on any aspect of sales training or sales management can be sent to Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org See all of Cathy Finney’s articles on www.furninfo.com in the Sales Skills Index.
Cathy Finney, effervescent sales educator, motivator and management consultant was a longtime contributing editor to FURNITURE WORLD Magazine. Cathy helped retail furniture store sales and design associates to turn customers (she called them Fred and Ethel) into clients. An enthusiastic mentor and friend to up-and-coming salespeople, she told them to remember that they are skilled professionals and that “Ethel” needs them to get the best possible result for her room or project.
Finney got her start in the furniture business with Ethan Allen where she worked closely with Furniture Hall of Fame member Nathan Ancell. Her company, Ancell Affiliates \"T 'N T" resulted from that close relationship. She passed away at 59 years of age after a long struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. For more information about Cathy and here work email email@example.com.
View all articles by Cathy Finney