5 Reasons Why Business is Always Personal

business is personal For years I believed “business” and “personal” were always separate. It wasn’t until realized that how I was handling my relationships with clients was the exact opposite. More often than not, I found myself wholeheartedly focused and concerned about my customer’s and client’s objectives as my own. Here are 5 reasons why business is always personal.

  1. We are human beings. We are both driven by emotion and logic. Passion, once found and combined with our purpose, becomes the driving force for why we wake up in the morning. Along the way we will connect logical points with our decisions, thus giving us the foundation we require to build relationships.
  2. Engagement is connection. When we engage with each other, we establish a connection. Actively listening to our clients will gain far more distance than any pitch you can come up with. Ever. I’m not sure if it was Zig Ziglar or John Maxwell that said: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Regardless, we need to genuinely let it be known that we care. We can dazzle our clients with endless amounts of facts, lingo, fancy words, marketing sparkle, or whatever — but it’s not until they feel/know we actually care about their business objectives as they are our own, that they trust us.
  3. Our work is where we gain our identity. Most of us establish our identities by the work we do. Everything we do carries over into who we are as people. The time. The commitment. The passion. The quality. Everything. We spend most of our time working (hopefully enjoying our work along the way). The second most thing we do is sleep. Well, those of us that are human and not constantly hooked up to a coffee drip.
  4. Relationships are long term. Business to Business (B2B) relationships is simply to branded entities exchanging products and/or services for money. But when it’s all said and done, business is conducted between people, with people, for people. Successful companies focus on establishing rapport with their customers/clients for the long haul. This is usually (or at least should be) done by focusing on customer service.
  5. The bottom line is not the goal. Although during any transaction, there is a goal and an end result. And although at the end of the day (and fiscal period) the bottom line does represent the overall progress and health of an organization, it does define the baseline of success. If your customer’s best interest is not aligned with your own, you’ve either lost perspective or… simply lost. Period. Take a moment to step back and evaluate where you are with each client’s objectives. In the end, it’s about their bottom line… not yours.

How are you currently handling your relationships with your customers and what are you doing to establish long term rapport to help them meet their goals?

Huffington Post’s Top 100 Customer Service Pros

top 100 customer service twitter huffington

After spending several weeks interviewing over 18,000 Twitter followers, Enterasys Networks Chief Customer Officer, Vala Afshar caught some of the customer service industry by surprise. Vala had put together a list of the Top 100 Most Social Customer Service Pros On Twitter and reviewed it with our friends at The Huffington Post’s Business Division. When I was first notified about this, it was nice to see some close friends and colleagues mixed within the list. It’s an absolute honor to be involved amongst multiple best-selling authors, industry analysts, keynote speakers, customer support management, service-oriented company executives, community managers, consultants, bloggers, customer experience architects, and media personalities.

Of course, each of us listed below has our own niche and view, the one thing that I’ve discovered while chatting the others within the tweetchat of #custserv, is that we all have one thing in common: values. It seems to me, that while we each go through our own ‘cycles’ of intensity and participation (myself is certainly included), that we can become enthralled within our own personal communities, yet always reconnect and pick up right where we left off.

Again, it’s been an honor to be listed with so many fantastic people and I’m looking forward to seeing what we do next!

I am listing Vala’s list verbatim below for reference.

  1. Shep Hyken, @Hyken
  2. Marsha Collier, @MarshaCollier
  3. Frank Eliason, @FrankEliason
  4. Paul Greenberg, @pgreenbe
  5. Kate Leggett, @kateleggett
  6. Tristan Bishop, @KnowledgeBishop
  7. Roy Atkinson, @RoyAtkinson
  8. Charlie Isaacs, @charlieisaacs
  9. Ray Wang, @rwang0
  10. Barry Dalton, @bsdalton
  11. Michael Fauscette, @mfauscette
  12. Kate Nasser, @KateNasser
  13. Ted Coine, @tedcoine
  14. Mitch Lieberman, @mjayliebs
  15. Brian Vellmure, @BrianVellmure
  16. Jeannie Walters, @jeanniecw
  17. Annette Franz, @annettefranz
  18. Kerry Bodine, @kerrybodine
  19. Natalie Petouhoff, @drnatalie
  20. Justin Flitter, @JustinFlitter
  21. Bruce Temkin, @btemkin
  22. Jeanne Bliss, @JeanneBliss
  23. Wendy S Lea, @WendySLea
  24. Colin Shaw, @ColinShaw_CX
  25. Michael Lytle, @Michael_Lytle
  26. William Band, @waband
  27. Guy Stephens, @guy1067
  28. Scott McKain, @scottmckain
  29. Bob Thompson, @Bob_Thompson
  30. Becky Carroll, @bcarroll7
  31. Ty Sullivan, @ty_sullivan
  32. Ginger Conlon, @customeralchemy
  33. Bryan Person, @BryanPerson
  34. Adrian Swinscoe, @adrianswinscoe
  35. Greg Meyer, @grmeyer
  36. Mila D’Antonio, @miladantonio
  37. Bill Quiseng, @billquiseng
  38. Rob Markey, @rgmarkey
  39. Aimee Lucas, @Aimee_Lucas
  40. Flavio Martins, @flavmartins
  41. Robert Bacal, @rbacal
  42. Rosetta C Lue, @rosettalue
  43. William Goddard, @W_Goddard
  44. Richard R Shapiro, @RichardRShapiro
  45. Christopher Carfi, @ccarfi
  46. Bob E Hayes, @bobehayes
  47. Caty Kobe, @catykobe
  48. Greg Ortbach, @GregOrtbach
  49. Mark Bernhardt, @ImMarkBernhardt
  50. Alan Berkson, @berkson0
  51. Rachel Miller, @rachelloumiller
  52. Michael Ludwig, @Michael_Ludwig
  53. Jason Houck, @MJasonHouck
  54. Bill Gerth, @comcastcares
  55. Mike Wittenstein, @mikewittenstein
  56. Paul Sevcik, @PaulSevcik
  57. Geoff Snyder, @Geoff_Snyder
  58. Kevin Baldacci, @KevinBaldacci
  59. Blake Landau, @BlakeLandau
  60. Al Hopper, @AlHopper_
  61. Dave Tidwell, @dave_t_pilot
  62. Sarah Stealey Reed, @sstealey
  63. Russel Lolacher, @RussLoL
  64. Jeffrey J Kingman, @JeffreyJKingman
  65. Ron Kaufman, @RonKaufman
  66. Mark Orlan, @MarkOrlan
  67. Margerita de Miranda, @MardeMir
  68. Nancy Porte, @nporte
  69. Jonty Pearce, @JontyPearce
  70. Melissa Kovacevic, @MKCallConsult
  71. Jennifer Maldonado, @maldyj
  72. Colin Taylor, @colinsataylor
  73. Graham Frost, @grafrost
  74. Lori Jo Vest, @lorijovest
  75. Steve Curtin, @enthused
  76. Martin Hill-Wilson, @martinhw
  77. Toni Newman, @Toni_Newman
  78. Adam Toporek, @adamtoporek
  79. Nick Kossovan, @Kossovan
  80. Greg Levin, @Greg_Levin
  81. Andrew Maher, @serviceplease20
  82. Barry Peters, @barrypeters
  83. Calie Waterhouse, @CWaterhouse
  84. Peter Lavers, @PeterLavers
  85. Jeremy Watkin, @jtwatkin
  86. Ian Jacobs, @iangjacobs
  87. Diana Oreck, @dianaoreck
  88. Ian Golding, @ijgolding
  89. Stephanie Thum, @stephaniethum
  90. Micah Solomon, @micahsolomon
  91. Myra Golden, @MyraGolden
  92. Yvonne A Jones, @YvonneAJones
  93. Bart de Craene, @bartdecraene
  94. Natasha Bishop @natasha_d_g
  95. Laura Northrup, @lnorthrup
  96. Jason Boies, @JasonBoies
  97. Donna Cutting, @donnacutting
  98. Wes Hayden, @weshayden
  99. Michael Pace, @mpace101
  100. Eric Tamblyn, @etamb

As with any list, there are always different views and many more people to be included. Is there anybody within the Customer Service Community you’d like to share with us? If so, please recognize them in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!

5 Tips for Enhancing Team Morale in the Workplace

team morale workplaceIf you are responsible for managing a group of employees, then you should understand how important the concept of teamwork is in the workplace. Not only will it make your job easier, but it will also improve your productivity, your effectiveness as a manager, and your reputation amongst those above you. There are some very simple things you can do to promote positive, cooperative contributions from your employees. Follow these five tips for encouraging team spirit in the workplace:

Establish clearly-defined goals, guidelines, and tasks. If you want your employees to take responsibility for their roles on the team, then you need to make sure they know exactly what it is that they are supposed to be doing. Make it a point to clearly describe every aspect of the project at hand, as well as what you expect from each of the team members.

Delegate, rather than micromanage. Part of having team spirit is acting autonomously toward the team’s goal. When you micromanage, you undermine a person’s ability to be autonomous. It is not only dehumanizing, but also a surefire way to suck the enthusiasm right out of the workplace. Delegate responsibilities to your employees, making sure to be very clear about what you need each one to accomplish, and to what standards, and then allow them to find their personal methods for working most constructively. Whenever employees know they are responsible for the outcome of their work, they are less likely to pass the responsibility or the blame on to a coworker and more likely to find ways to work together and support each other.

Provide employees with the tools they need to be successful. Prepare employees for a job well done by providing the education, mentoring, resources, tools and support they need. This makes them feel valuable and boosts morale, which promotes teamwork.

Communicate with the team on a regular basis. Have team meetings as needed so that employees can express to you any questions, concerns, or suggestions they might have, and so that you can provide them with useful feedback and encouragement.

Offer team incentives. Once you establish the guidelines for a new project, offer the team a reward for timely, quality completion. The reward could be a paid lunch out, a company party, or a paycheck bonus. Give employees a few options and let them decide together, as a team, which incentive they prefer.

Decision Modes

decision makingJames Archer of Forty Agency released an excellent example of what takes place during a decision making process. He breaks it down into four different categories. They are:


Fast and Emotional decision making often referred to as Choleric. Spontaneous decision makers like it when they see themselves. When they see something as “quick and easy”, they encourage themselves to act upon and move forward.


Fast and Logical decision making often referred to as Melancholic. Competitive decision makers like to be given credentials and proof. Explaining the uniqueness of the product or service (much like Al Ries and Jack Trout refer to in their book “Positioning”) and showing “The Best” and/or “The Only”, is what attracts this group of decision makers.


Slow and Emotional decision making often referred to as Sanguine. Humanistic decision makers like it when a sensory experience is created for them. They seek a story told based on emotion.


Slow and Logical decision making often referred to as Phlegmatic. The methodical decision makes like the process explained to them, so providing them with details and examples allows them to dig in and decide accordingly.

I’d like to thank James Archer of The Forty Agency for doing the research and providing the content used in this post. If you’d like to read up and learn more about the four personality types listed in this post, I recommend reading “Positive Personality Profiles” by my dear friend Robert A. Rohm Ph.D..

Take One Step Back, and Two Steps Forward

one step back two steps forwardHave you ever taken a step back to look where you are in your career? Do you have yourself positioned to move forward if you so choose to? Sometimes advancing is easier than you think.

Just the other day, I reconnected with an old friend. Currently working at a Help Desk she expressed an interest in both Project Management and Business Analysis, IT related.

Here is what I told her I saw based on previous experience:

The ITIL (glorified glossary but some staffers love seeing the cert) seems to be gaining more and more weight within the IT industry. When it was first introduced, it was a joke. Nothing more than a test of one’s understanding of terms… no focus on fundamental platforms, understanding of code, or overall logic. But, it now actually contains some good placement. You probably already see the ridiculous amount of certifications that are available. Most are in place to appease employers, but I’ve found experience outweighs any certification I’ve ever obtained, and I stopped counting after 20. It just got out of control past that.

While consulting, I found that both areas (project management and business analysis) of interest that you have can blend together very well. A project manager for IT based rollouts don’t need to be much of a techie, just the ability to have a basic understanding of what is going on and how to efficiently and effectively communicate with the buyer, the vendor(s) and his or her internal workforce. Some of my best paying jobs were when I would oversee and new rollout or system integration. If you’re easy to get along with and can communicate well with others, it’s a piece of cake.

Unfortunately, true “business analysts” are in a tough position right now. Due to the current upswing in the marketplace, companies are not looking at cutting costs (surprisingly) as they are looking at preparing for the next 10 to 15 years of growth and revenue generation. Expect to see a lot more small businesses pop up and loyalty based cultures get put in place amongst them. The ‘big box’ corporate strongarms are going to get gobbled up by larger/merging markets and will flounder as (cough) “standards” – for the masses.

What are you doing now… is it scalable? Is it helping you? Or is it hindering your opportunity for advancement in the workforce?

Three Items About Social Technologies

charlene li wbf2010Co-founder of Altimeter Group, Charlene Li, spoke on the first day at the World Business Forum. She passionately expressed the value of social technologies.

“Social technologies are all about the relationships you can form.”

Here are a few items of interest and advice from Charlene Li:

1. What social technologies does better than anything else is create, foster, and build relationships. They enable authentic and transparent relationships.

2. You can’t control personal relationships, so don’t think you can control business relationships. In fact, you have to give up control in the social space, but you have to still be in command. To do this you have to inspire and lead your customers.

3. You simply cannot put a Return On Investment on a tweet. Make sure you’re asking the right questions when thinking about what to measure regarding the value of social technologies.

The one thing that stood out about Charlene was the connection she made with the audience. Her sincerity and passion poured out effortlessly. She focused on the importance of emotional intelligence within communities, both personally and professionally.

How do you use social technologies to enhance your relationships?

Three Key Elements Of A Performance Culture

carlos brito wbf2010During the World Business Forum, Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, explained to the audience his three elements of a performance culture: dream, people, and culture.


Dreams are important because they set the bar. Once you set that bar it anchors everything. You have to dream big. Dreams have to be stretched but credible. And you have to know about 80 percent how you’re going to get there; the rest you can figure out along the way.

The dream has to inspire and align people. Organizations are formed by people… this is obvious, but that can be easily forgotten. If leaders work in harmony on that dream, the company goes forward. When company leaders don’t work together, things stall and often begin to fall apart.

Keep raising the bar; don’t be afraid to dare and try harder. Be public about it. Make it measurable. Be remarkable!


Great organizations are formed by great people. No one says, “I’m going to hire average people.” Great people are the ones who, when given the right training and opportunities, will get better than the managers who hired them. If you’re afraid of hiring people better than you, you’re not a good leader. The benefit of hiring great team players is that those people will push you to do better, too.

Great people attract other great people, it’s a magic and a perpetuating experience. Conversely, mediocre people like to work together because it’s easier. Great people like a meritocracy; they like to know what their future opportunities are. Put pressure on your team. Good teams perform best under pressure.

You have to be the coach and spend time with people. Imagine if a sports coach didn’t coach and train his team. He’d be fired. Don’t say your agenda’s too busy. Make time for your people.

One of the few sustainable competitive advantages an organization has is its people. If you hire and train right, competitors can’t duplicate it.


Create a culture of ownership. If I’m an owner, failure is not an option.
Think about rental cars. People treat them differently than their own car. You don’t want that attitude in your companlong-termng job hoppers. You want people who think long term and who feel a sense of ownership in the organization. Zappos is an excellent example of this.

Show that you value great employees’ contributions by training and promoting people from within.

What are your thoughts about Carlos’ three key elements of a performance culture?

Jim Collins’ List Of 10 To-Dos For Successful Leadership

jim collins successful leadershipThis morning at HSM’s World Business Forum, Jim Collins, leadership expert and author of Built to Last and Good to Great shared a list of 10 to-dos for successful leadership:

1. Do your diagnostics. (There are free tools at www.jimcollins.com). Self-assess how you’re doing. Find weaknesses to improve upon.

2. Don’t focus on your career; focus on building pockets of greatness throughout your career.

3. Fill key seats with the right people. Ask yourself whether that’s the case in your organization. If not, start to make changes.

4. Adjust your questions to statements ration; focus on being interested more than on being interesting.

5. Ask yourself, How is the world changing and what are the brutal facts? Do a brutal facts inventory.

6. Turn off your gadgets and create white space. One day for every two weeks. No email, cell, etc., instead spend time engaged in hard disciplined thinking.

7. Time is truly the great equalizer. The question is not what we do, it’s what we have the discipline to stop doing. Rank order priorities and remove the bottom of the list.

8. Get insight into your passion; consider how you and your organizations can be useful in a way that society values.

9. Stop doing titles! The right people for key seats realize they don’t have a job, they have responsibilities.

10. Set big hairy audacious goals (for 15-20 years out) so you’re creating your own future. Spend more time asking how can be useful instead of show you can be successful.

“Never give in,” he said. “Never, never, never, never.”

World Business Forum 2010

world business forum 2010Six weeks ago, I received an invitation to be a featured blogger at the 2010 World Business Forum, which is being held October 5th and 6th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Come to find out, this is an invitation-only opportunity offered to a select group of top business bloggers and establishes a membership amongst the WBF10 Bloggers Hub.

As I read over the invite, I was uncertain if it was actually true. I expressed gratitude for kindly extending the invitation to attend the forum and asked why I was chosen to attend, as for I felt that I had yet to contribute anything of significance to the leadership community. Micheal Singer replied with: “I found your blog on someone else’s blogroll, and I took a brief look and liked what I saw. We’re looking for interesting viewpoints. And while many of our bloggers have institutional ties and recognition, etc., we also want some new voices. This is a great opportunity to stretch your voice and reach some new people if you want the opportunity. It’s that simple.”

Past speakers in the World Business Forum include political figures such as Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Rudy Giuliani, Tony Blair and Colin Powell, CEOs such as Jack Welch, Richard Branson, Herb Kelleher and John Chambers, financial experts Alan Greenspan and Jeremy Siegel as well as management experts Tom Peters, Peter Drucker and Jim Collins among others. This year’s World Business Forum boasts a dynamic agenda and a dizzying array of speakers, including former U.S. Vice-President/Nobel Prize Recipient Al Gore; Avatar director James Cameron; Blue Ocean Strategy co-author Renée Mauborgne and more than a dozen other exciting thought leaders spanning the spectrum of world business.

After inquiring with the management company responsible for putting together the forum, I found that as a member of the WBF10 Bloggers Hub, I will be spending two days with a bird’s eye view of these thought leaders as they explore the latest trends and changes in global business today. The Hub will also offer me an unparalleled opportunity to share their insights with my audience via blog, twitter, etc… something very important to me, as for its readers just like you that keep me at this.

To see a list of the bloggers who participated last year and to read a sample of their posts, visit the World Business Forum’s Blogger Hub; you can find complete details about WBF10, including all the conference speakers and topics here.

Big Dogs That Listen, Get Treats

listen treats“There are times when even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog waiting to see where the dog wants to go so he can take him there.” – Lee Iacocca.

The man who fathered the Ford Mustang and resurrected Chrysler from financial oblivion wasn’t born knowing how to pull off those magic acts, he learned them. While at Ford, he initiated careful research about how American demographics and the financial wherewithal of consumers would change during the 1960s. He listened to smart people tell him what the country needed and delivered a classic automobile.

Repeat proven results and continue to build on them.

Years later at Chrysler, Iacocca landed at a corporation in turmoil. Careful analysis showed that the company was in such dire straits that extreme measures would have to be taken to save it. Iacocca ended up needing loans from the government to keep Chrysler afloat. But once he got the money, he revived the company.

When we really listen to others, we learn more about ourselves and our abilities to help others achieve their goals.

In each case, the “big dogs” for Iacocca were the demands of the business: the need for new thinking at Ford and the absolute need for a survival plan at Chrysler. These dogs forced Iacocca to listen to them follow them, and ultimately steer him in directions that would benefit both companies.

We gather facts by listening, both with our ears and our eyes. Once the facts are in place, we can then make decisions that help everybody around us.

Managers who wag the dog make decisions without letting the facts tell them what’s right. Managers who take the opposite approach usually get the treats.

How important is it to you for other to listen while you are discussing an important topic? If you sense that you don’t have the listener’s full attention, how do you handle it?