A Review of FLOAT by A.M. Carley

Are you a writer? If so, then you know that there are times when the ideas dry up, and the writing stops. The good news is that A.M. Carley, the author of FLOAT, challenges her audience with ideas, tools, and methods. This review will provide a quick summary of the contents, with reactions to FLOAT.

The three benefits that stand out are…

  • Usefulness
  • Inspiration
  • Unintended Outcomes


FLOAT is useful because there are practical tips and reality checks. For example, Carley outlines ways to deal with deadlines, negative people, and motivation. The very title itself is an acronym for Focus, Listen, Open, Analyze and Tool. In application, the process does produce mental stimulation and emotional encouragement.

FLOAT is inspirational. There is one segment about when a project becomes boring. Carley suggests that this state of mind is actually a message about your writing. In the vignette ‘When pushing through fails’ Carley even visits the topic of retreating from certain writing situations. In a counter intuitive way, this helps a writer become objective in the assessment of projects.

Reading the work of Carley also has unintended outcomes. When I read ‘But Does It Pay?’ it helped me deal with relatives who ask “sold a million books yet?” (This hit home because a relative just told me someone would appreciate my writing after my death!). {Also, I notice that my reading dramatically increases during the reading of FLOAT}.

In Conclusion, FLOAT is a very fast read with practical insights and helpful tools. I would highly suggest FLOAT to any aspiring writer who wants to produce high quality content.


Could Gratitude Help Our Career?

According to the Harvard Medical School… Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” So what brings on thoughts and feelings of gratitude? There are two magic words that express appreciation, and condition our minds to be grateful…Thank You!

Could Gratitude Help Our Career?

I once watched a young employee skyrocket into management with two simple words… Thank You! She thanked her employees, her customers, her managers and everyone else.  On the surface, it might appear that this is some sort of fake gimmick. Rather, she had come from humble beginnings. Her new job meant clothes, transportation and, a sense of purpose. She was constantly writing thank you notes to associates in other departments who helped her team. On other occasions, her team would sponsor lunch for other departments, just to say “thanks.”

Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” Alice Walker

Count Our Blessings

We need to remind ourselves of the basic blessings that we have in our lives. Consider the words of Thomas Jefferson…“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights,that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  


Thank You Is An Expression of Gratitude

Make Gratitude a Habit

Let’s make appreciation a habit. Saying thank you expresses gratitude. We can condition ourselves by counting our blessings daily. If you are healthy, then smile. If your family is safe then be grateful. If there is food on your plate, then appreciate it. Live. Be Free. Be Happy. It sounds too basic to work but you may find that it helps your career, your earnings and your relationships!

Need More Proof – visit….



Are You Asking Consequence Questions?

consequence questions

ISBN 9781499641165


Are You Asking Consequence Questions?

Consequence questions uncover the causes or root elements of an issue, and can lead to an effective solution. If you just tell someone what the problem is, it is not real to them. But once they can verbalize the consequences of a decision, they can get to a solution. This article also contains a link to a video by Carson Evans. For an honors program as a senior at Western Carolina University, Carson pulled skills out of my book “The Art of the Q.” In this video, you will see Carson model the S.C.A.N. Method. The ‘C’ in S.C.A.N. stands for consequences. Are you asking consequence questions?

Here are some consequence questions:

  • “What happens if…?”
  • “What do you do when…?”
  • “Does this create challenges…?”


In the following video, you can watch Carson Evans skillfully set up a consequence question by first asking about a situation.

Consequence questions are not just limited to business or sales!

In life, you may need to assist friends, family members or co-workers. If you can help people see the impact of their personal decisions, it may help the people you care about to think things through. You will need to ask questions, listen and patiently process the information.

Suppose a friend of yours is considering divorce.

You could ask these consequence questions:

  • “What happens if your spouse asks you to move out?”
  • “What do you do when there is a mortgage and now rent for your new place as well?”
  • “Does this create challenges for your budget?”


In your conversation, you will find that some topics hit the mark and some do not. Ask follow-up questions that follow the interest paths of the other party. Your aim is to facilitate a mutual understanding of the frustrations, implications and hidden drawbacks of a situation. It takes a great deal of concentration to do this.

Asking consequence questions will open up the other person’s mind

This awareness is often not enough, however. You’ll need to draw people further into the conversation so they can admit there are real issues to be solved. Consequence questions allow you to counsel people without telling them what to do. When they arrive at a conclusion, they own it, and hold themselves accountable.


Book Review – Sales Coaching

Sales Coaching

coaching is a privilege

You do not need to be a Sales Manager or Business Owner to benefit from reading and learning from Linda Richardson’s classic business book…Sales Coaching. 



Coaching takes Strength!

One of my favorite quotes from Sales Coaching (on page 91) is: “Coaching takes Strength – real emotional muscle” It is a privilege when you are in the coaching role. Ask questions and let people come to their own conclusions.This shows respect and allows learning and growth to occur. By asking questions, you can establish a dialogue based on actual behaviors. These conversations can then take place over time and be referenced in different situations.

Sales Coaching Can Reinforce

My only critique of Sales Coaching is the author’s point that “coaching is about how to change by doing things differently.” Most really good business people find what works and do it over and over again. They find the best practices, or success habits, of achievers and pattern their attitudes and behavior to reach new levels of performance. There are times to get people to change their behavior and there are times to reinforce what people are doing right.  Saying “coaching is all about how to change” sounds like a cliché.

Compare sales coaching to a really good golf lesson

The best golf instructors observe, ask questions, and make small changes over time. One lesson that I took involved being recorded on a digital recorder.  My swing was compared to the swing of a golfing professional. The technology allowed frame-by-frame assessment. My golf coach pointed out my strengths and areas of improvement. Small changes were made and my golf game improved. This also allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of the game so I could enjoy it to the fullest.

A coaching mindset in business follows a similar theme because asking questions helps the people understand their best qualities.

  • This instills the confidence to make small changes.
  • This works with co-workers, family members and children.
  • Praise is a powerful, positive and wonderful motivator!


Coaching Toolkit Available

Sales Coaching gets a recommendation as both a skill building book and a tool kit. There are plenty of examples with excellent questions. There are also checklists and forms that you can use as resources.


Open Questions Encourage Dialogue

encourage dialogue

Kick Start Your Conversations !

If you want to become a conversationalist, then ask open questions to encourage dialogue!

  • This article will make the case that communication skills can help you in both your personal life and in your career.
  • There are examples of how to initiate great dialogue.
  • The highlight of the article is a video by Carson Evans that actually demonstrates how to be a conversation starter!

Are Your Questions Open?

Imagine that a friend of yours has just returned after a trip. We all know people love to talk about travel.  You may want to ask open ended questions like How was your vacation?” This kicks off the conversation and gives you a chance to listen. You could have asked “when did you get back?” and that would be a closed question. A closed question may yield short answers that stifle discussion.

Encourage Dialogue

If your friend or acquaintance answers you with “We went to the Bahamas!”  then you can tell by the response if it was a positive experience. If they answer in a negative or down way, leave it alone. You should change the subject to another topic. If your buddy sounds excited about the trip, then you can ask follow-up questions like ‘how was the food?’ or “what was the best part of your trip?” These back and forth discussions create dialogue – or two way conversation.

Be A Conversation Starter!

The same skills that build personal relationships can also help you make money in business. In the words of Carson EvansGreat conversations begin with open questions.” The following video is from Carson’s senior year at Western Carolina University where she demonstrates how to effectively ask open ended questions. Carson took on a honors project under the direction of Dr. Julie Johnson. If you watch this video, you will see exactly how to be a conversation starter! 

SNAP Selling review & case study

The audience that will benefit from SNAP Selling includes sales people, sales managers and sales support professionals. The author, Jill Konrath, takes a customer view emphasizing the three decisions that a buyer makes before they buy…

  1. Should I allow this sales person access?
  2. Why Initiate Change?
  3. What Resources? (Why spend money?)


The book is organized by these three buyer decisions.  This review will present you with two real life situations and an application of SNAP selling between July 2014 and December 1, 2014. My promise to you is that I validate sales methods before sharing with my audience.

SNAP Selling Situation One – The Busy Buyer

The first time I read about ‘the frazzled buyer’ it is the night before a meeting with a new account.  The next morning, I meet with a Manager who is extremely busy.   I get right to the point and We discuss “saving time and managing resources”. My style that day is ‘to the point’ and focused on her world. Leaving the account, I smile and make a mental decision to commit to full study of SNAP selling.

SNAP Selling Situation Two – Opportunities are not closing fast enough!

It is early in the fall of 2014, and my opportunities are clogged like the highways of a big city in drive time traffic! While reading SNAP selling, sales pick up. This view should not shock us because it is the sub-title of Jill’s Book is ‘Speed-Up Sales and Win More Business’.  I adapt to Jill’s suggestion to take my customer’s view.  Jill says to focus “on your customer’s most important challenges.”

White Boarding

I started looking in ‘the white spaces’ [1] p 157 and “closing the gap” with white boarding. [2]P172. The White Spaces are the parts of a company that are not on the organizational chart. By finding areas that the buyer is not aware of, the entire conversation changes. We can suggest change because we are working on their priorities. Now, with diagramming, we can challenge the status quo.

SNAP selling tool

Draw to Make Your Point !


One critique is that the author inserts probing questions very late into SNAP Selling (page 226). The author does point out when and where to use the questions; the very placement of the material could lead a sales person to believe that qualification is not a priority.

Can SNAP selling help you? Will you invest your hard earned dollars and time? Ask yourself… Should buyers allow you access? Why? Should your buyers initiate change? Why? I cannot answer these questions for you.   What I can tell you is that SNAP Selling will help you get a better understanding of your buyer’s business issues and probably speed up closure of the opportunities in your pipeline. The ISBN # is 978-1-59184-470-9. As you read it, I’d love to connect with you on https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlievanhecke or at facebook/salestrainer4u.com.

Charlie Van Hecke

[1] SNAP Selling. Jill Konrath. Penguin. 2010

[2] SNAP Selling. Jill Konrath, Penguin. 2010


Keeping Ideas Simple with Tips and Tools

Keeping Ideas Simple By Breaking It Down

A friend of mine has an expression… “explain it to me in doggy-pony language”.  She is saying break it down into concepts that any one can understand, even a child.  I have had people react strongly against this saying “I can’t dumb down” or “that is not why I got an education.” It is exactly the reason that you went to school. Smart people take complex subjects and make them easy to understand. This focus on keeping ideas simple will make you a better communicator. The key question is are you focusing on your audience?

“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
Albert Einstein

Who Is the Audience?

This single question is perhaps the best thing a person can ask themselves to prepare for a presentation or speech. The answer can define your entire strategy.  What do you know about your buyers? You can profile a group by listing what you know about the people with demographics (facts like age, race, income and values). This will help you adapt the message to your audience.

Is your message clear?

Consider the windshield of your car after a rainy day.  Do you like driving when it is hard to see? No, most people will clean up their view so driving is safe. We need to do that with our message to make sure everyone is able to get the gist of our meaning.  You can test clarity by enlisting the help of a friend or family member. Use the napkin exercise (and any writing instrument that is handy). Draw your idea out on a napkin using a circle for the main point.  Provide one big idea and two supporting points (facts, figures, examples,etc…) It should look like this…

keeping ideas simple with presentation organizer

Put supporting facts under key ideas

If your friend cannot tell you the point – you missed it! You may need to support your main ideas to increase the clarity.

Support Your Ideas

Supporting your ideas is like planning a vacation… Do you want to go to the beach or the mountains? You cannot plan until you know where you want to go. Your audience need a destination too! What do you want a person to believe that will enable agreement? In persuasion that is called a premise (primary argument).  Can you support that premise with facts, figures, articles so that other people buy into these concepts?

Keep it simple. Know your audience. Test the clarity. Support Your Ideas. You will become a more persuasive person!

Roller Coaster Effect Creates Ups and Downs

Have you ever experienced the roller coaster effect?

The Roller Coaster effect can impact every aspect of your personal life or your career. There are ups and downs in our health, finances – even in our relationships. In business, we can also feel like we are on a roller coaster ride. This can pertain to sales, marketing – which in turn impact revenue and profit levels.

Imagine stepping on the scale at the Doctor’s office and you are five pounds heavier than you expected. How did this happen? You may have stopped exercising or watching the calories. The consistency of regular exercise and healthy eating helps you control your weight – right?  In business, we may have a plan to get more customers and to sell more services.  Whether it is weight control or revenue generation, it is possible to have a good month and then a bad month. The goal is to achieve consistency to minimize the roller coaster effect!

Is there a roller coaster effect in sales?

There is a natural up and down pattern associated with selling. This is due to a number of factors like industry change, economic conditions or personal activity. Your business needs a forecast that may fluctuate but is trending upward. This can be best accomplished by building a sales team. The goal of a sales team is the increase the number of new customers and to sell to the customer base.Here is a video that goes more in depth:


The key is keeping your pipeline full of opportunities

You may sell  to consumers or to businesses – the same principles apply. You might market carpet or concrete – software or real estate. The primary goal is to increase your number of opportunities.  This comes from making appointments with qualified decision makers. By setting meeting goals, you are constantly in front of people with money, authority and need. If you would like to learn how to reduce the roller coaster effect, then please visit…

Target 10 to Win!

Trends in Communication and Relationships

A Google Trends search of the words communication and relationships show a decline in their use as search terms. In the graph below, the blue line represents relationships and the red line shows the trend for communication. Are we getting along better with each other? There seems to be a lot of conflict, disagreement and turmoil occurring worldwide.

What do these trends about communication really mean?

We care more about Nikki Manaj than communication

What Do These Trends Mean?


In years past, marketing research had tools like television ratings, focus groups and surveys. Prior to elections, polls would predict winners and losers.

  • Now, analytics tell us what people are searching for on their phones, tablets and workstations.
  • It seems like we may be more interested in Nicki Minaj or Kim Kardashian than we are in getting along with people in our immediate circle!




Life is a matter of dealing with other people, in little matters and cataclysmic ones, and that means a series of conversations.*
Deborah Tannen

* http://www.leadershipgeeks.com/relationship-quotes/)

Relationships seem to go well when there is no pressure. If a business is running well, everyone gets along. When a business is failing, there are big problems. If a team is winning, everyone is laughing and joking. When the team starts to lose, there are fights. A couple is getting along when you are using credit cards and then argues when it is time to pay the bill. There are a million examples.

It is the awkward, assertive and daily talks that diffuse tension. It is better to bring up the small topics that breed a small amount of stress than to wait until something blows up. You could be a Chief Executive Officer or the janitor.  You could be an employee, a team mate or a spouse. If something is wrong, you need to escalate the issue. Bring it up and have conversations about ways to resolve the challenges. When there are bigger problems, insistent communication will bind us together instead of ripping us apart. According to Randy Patterson “Assertiveness is all about being present in a relationship” and you can read more at…


Tickle Our Fickle Curious Palate

There is no logic or predictability to the curious palate. Our tastes, preferences and tendencies are as fickle as a weather vane in a hurricane. It is fascinating to listen to a person who thinks they know what they like… and then they discover a new preference!

Our palate changes with new expereinces!

Palates have a life of their own!

What about Wine?

A person may like sweet wine and then they taste a dry wine that has a fruit forward quality. Voila! The curious palate strikes! The tasting is reaching the senses and influencing the taste buds.  The taster has made a discovery and smiles! There are people who have standard fare, and are content with proven menus and pairings. Yet, some people have inquisitive appetites.

What About Food? 

Who could blame a person for risking hard earned wages on food of unknown origin? Then – one night a friend serves a dish that is different. There is this uncomfortable feeling, and yet, you do not want to risk offending your host. A customer recently asked me to experience Vietnamese cuisine. A delightful spring role came with fresh vegetables. This delicacy came wrapped in transparent rice paper with a hint of mint. We also had Pho – a noodle soup with herbs.

Delicious! Did I see that coming? No and nor do I try to control my inner flavor festival. Instead, I seek the celebratory moments of culinary clarity.Whether it is wine or food, it is folly to try to control your evolving preferences. Oh yes, I have heard the people cry “I like what I like” and you are right because what you like is ever changing. You prefer one chocolate until the next comes along. First you want peanuts and then cashews become the new normal. Protest and disagree if you must but no one is exempt or safe from the Curious Palate!

Wine lovers – you may like this resource…. http://www.winemag.com/2015/10/26/a-wine-experts-guide-to-training-your-palate/