Are you Relation-shaping in your life sphere?

The World English dictionary says ‘relationship’  is a noun but could relationship be a verb? What if we changed relationship to relation-shape?

We could try to connect to people with questions and shape the relation. What if folks start to build more bridges to family instead of walls? We could find mutual solutions to prevent war, create jobs and get along. When you consider your career, your family and friends – you have a life sphere of contacts. A life sphere is like a force field – a circle of influence that you exert on your world of people.

Be an Ambassador of good will

relation-shaping starts a positive trend that might be felt globally

At an airport one day, a lady dropped her tray of food. She and her husband were foreign – of middle eastern culture – and quite embarrassed. It was an opportunity of service.

  • I caught the eye of the restaurant manager and we quickly picked up the tray.
  • The Manager got an employee to clean up and I fetched new drinks.
  • Another employee brought the new food order.


It all happened in about five minutes. I could tell it positively impacted their impression of America by the look in their eye. It was my chance to make eye contact and smile. No words were exchanged. Here is a question for you…

How will you shape your relations?

The answer is pretty simple – one at a time. It’s starts with enjoying people and branches out from there. Your life sphere grows as you smile and make eye contact. Every ‘door-you-open’ and every good deed broadens your influence. Each time you dismiss a cynical thought and insert a constructive anchor, you are taking a step toward contouring your affairs. Your world becomes a warmer place and you emit light because you focus on other humans.

If we are ambassadors of good will – could it have a global impact? Perhaps we can change the world by actively engaging others – one at a time – right where we are today. You can shape relationships… with service and a smile. Yes, relationship-shaping could even become a field of study. If we toss out the old passive definitions and assumptions, there are no limits on the positive outcomes.

For more information on relationships, you may want to visit

What Happens If We Forgive?

At a hotel, I notice that a conference of psychologists and counselors has broken up into small work groups. Four women are in a huddle trying to complete an assignment.

I beg their pardon and ask two questions:

  • What would happen if we all forgave our parents?
  • What if we stopped holding grudges?


These counselors answer in unison: “We would all be out of jobs.” They laugh and suggest two steps:

  • Forgive my parents
  • Forgive myself
Forgiving your child helps them forgive you later in life

Forgiving your child helps them forgive you later in life


We don’t realize it, but some people hold grudges deep inside against our parents. When we are children, there were times that our parents make mistakes (or we think and feel their actions were mistakes). There are times in life where children get the short end of the stick and it registers in our memories.  In real time, you can stop where you are right now and forgive your parents. It will lighten your load even if your parents are fantastic and loving!

Is there a silver bullet?

There is a vocabulary of forgiveness. The words, “I am sorry” and, “Please forgive me” help express regret and accountability. There is no silver bullet – but you do have to mean what you say. Allow the people you love to see the raw emotion. Drop any pride – some call it ego – so that folks know that you value the relationship and that you own your behaviors.

You can be intelligent as a rocket scientist and know people like a psychologist. But until you forgive, it will be difficult to have the freedom to make mistakes. To focus on other people, you have to be at peace with yourself. Can we make mistakes and be at peace without forgiveness?

Book Review of The Challenger Sale

This is a book review of The Challenger Sale written by Dixon and Adamson in 2011. The Challenger Sell evokes reactions and disturbs conventional thinking.  The authors want to encourage organizations, groups and sales people to ‘push the customer’s thinking and teach them something new.’ [1] It is not surprising therefore, that the reader is given a ‘challenge’ to think about how you behave during the customer conversation.

Even the introduction by Neil Rackham stirs up controversy with the assertion that “How you sell has become more important than what you sell. An effective sales force is a more sustainable competitive advantage than a great product stream.” [2]

Are You a Disturbing Force?

Many believe “You are only as good as the product you sell.”  In some of my groups, I found a lot of analysts, sales managers and leaders disagree with some points the The Challenger Sale makes. However, that may be exactly what the authors want! By disturbing conventional thought, readers may say “I never thought of that” or “I wonder if that’s true?” This pattern of disturbance is a theme in the book; leading the reader to consider a different way of thinking.

The book is a mixture of process, strategy and perspective. The authors defy the notion that sales is all about relationships.  Three behaviors that sales people can adopt to improve are: Teaching, Tailoring and Taking Control[3] There are many positive aspects to these actions. Teaching helps customers learn, think and feel in new ways. Tailoring is adjusting the message to the audience. I love the phrase “solution selling is customization in the moment.” [4] Taking Control (another deliciously disturbing idea) is inserted to get sales people to maintain momentum across the entire sales process.

The best way to summarize is to confess that I have bought two copies of The Sales Challenger. It makes me slightly upset, causes me to rethink long held views and well, challenges me! If youwould like to read it, then go buy it by clicking on this link

[1] The Challenger Sale. Dixon and Adamson. 2011. Penguin. P. 21

[2] Neil Rackham. Introduction. P XVI

[3] The Challenger Sale. Dixon and Adamson. 2011. Penguin P33

[4] The Challenger Sale. Dixon and Adamson. 2011. Penguin P. 78


DRIVE, by Dan Pink, jumps on motivation and rides it like a motorcycle on a mountain road.  There are twists and turn – but the more you ride, the hotter it gets. You know – that feeling of freedom, raw excitement and the sheer rush of being alive. Oh – haven’t felt that way in a while?


Feel The Freedom

What Motivates You and Your Employees?

It may be that your organization is using extrinsic motivators (like the old carrot and stick) to motivate team members.  You may want to pick up DRIVE and upgrade yourself up to Mr. Pink’s three elements of intrinsic motivation…

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose


While the book was written for workplace teams, the concepts can be applied to home, physical fitness, charity and any other dimension of your life. Autonomy means that you have the freedom to make decisions. Mastery means that you are striving to conquer an area of interest, skill or subject.  Don’t forget purpose, knowing ‘why’ you get up every day!

Turn these into questions for yourself and you may find a little nitro in your tank…

  • What can we do today to reach my goals?
  • What can we learn to improve our chances of success?
  • Why do we want to do this – really?


Re-wire yourself to ‘Positive’

One of my favorite quotes from the book is that positive psychology has “reoriented the study of psychological science away from the previous focus on malady and dysfunction and toward well-being and effective functioning.” [1] In other words, study the well-adjusted, successful people if you want to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. Look at the habits of high performing people and replicate these behaviors. Trace the behaviors back to values, morals and internal beliefs. Set your compass to a positive outlook based on autonomy, mastery and purpose.

[1] Drive. Pink. Penguin Books. 2009. P 73

Are You Passionate About Recycling?            

What does it mean to be passionate?

While Passion is a strong feeling or belief, a passionate attitude  takes a broader view that we must do something about our beliefs. A passionate attitude is a new beginning. The outlook that we can change the world, one small step at a time! Tony Robbins once said  “Passion is the Genesis of Genius[1]

Are You Passionate About Recycling?

My brother believes strongly in recycling. You could say he has a passionate attitude about it. One day, at a family reunion, he gathered up all the plastic bottles. As people watched, he quietly took the bottles to a recycling center. When he returned, someone asked and he had statistics ready to share. My brother told us how long it takes aplastic bottle breaks down, and how easily it can be recycled. Soon, he had converts, and now almost everyone inthe family recycles.

Are You Passionate About Recycling?

Recycle your plastic bottles!

Leadership By Example

Can you see the genius in what my brother did? It is leadership by example and it starts by saying, “I believe in…” and, “My view is …” His research before the fact had put him in the perfect position to elicit change. Prior to his witness, he discovered the nearby recycling center. He memorized the facts he needed. He waited until he had a captive audience, and made his move. His passion became the genesis of genius – creating real and lasting change.

What do you believe in and what are you willing to do about it?

Are you passionate about recycling? Find a local recycling center  where you  can take your plastic bottles? Buy a refillable bottle to reduce your plastic consumption? You can help the planet and save money on bottled water. Leadby example and watch others emulate your bold moves!

For some facts about recycling, visit…


Learn to Cope With Initial Failures

When I was thirteen, my first job was selling newspaper subscriptions. It seemed easier than delivering papers so I signed up. The idea was to knock on doors and sign up people for a newspaper subscription for home delivery. After a week of knocking on doors and not getting one new account, I wanted to quit. It was time to learn how to cope with initial failures!

What Happens When We Fail?

When we fail we have a basic choice – quit or keep going. The person who helped me in coping with initial failure was M.S. Van Hecke. My father took the time to listen to what I was saying to people. Since he worked at the Charlotte Observer as an editor, Dad had a deep love for journalism. Pop said that my message was wrong. It’s not about home delivery – it’s about the coupons and how a newspaper can help educate families. I said, “Whoa- that wasn’t in the manual.”

Young Charlie discouraged after first sales calls

Young Charlie initially felt discouraged after making door to door sales calls

Coping With Initial Failures

We pulled all the coupons out of the Sunday paper and put the best ones on cardboard paper.Then, we cut out articles about current events and glued them to the other side of the paper. Dad said that in my message, I should stress how much money could be saved every week by just taking the coupons to the store. Then I should explain how families could help their kids in school by reading and talking about stories in the newspaper. This helps in coping with the initial failure by preparing to go back into the market with new skills and tools.

What Happens When We Use Benefits?

The next day, I was little nervous. It was a Saturday and my manager would soon be pulling up in the van. Dad asked me, “So you go to each  house and knock – right?” I replied “Yes – he takes us to neighborhoods and drops us off.” My father said, “That  takes guts to go door-to-door.” As I was leaving, he handed me the coupons and articles and said something I remember to this day, “Take it one house at a time.” That afternoon, I returned triumphantly with eight subscriptions! “Dad – it worked!” I showed him my book of business, and he said, “You seem surprised!” Well, I was surprised and amazed. I did as well or better than the rest of the team. Dad asked, “What was different today?” I bubbled over about …how people liked saving money and how most parents really did not think about the newspapers as a way to help educate their children.

So, what happened here? You can see how fortunate I was to have a father who cared. He helped me in coping with initial sales failures by Dad re-focused me on one house at a time. My efforts were on helping people buy more with less money and to make their children smarter. If no leadership had been provided, I would not have had a good experience. I would have simply stopped selling. Instead, I fell in love with selling and have dedicated my life to learning every aspect of it. It is no mystery then why I enjoy being in sales. I also help others when I can to pay it forward.

Are You Upselling?

A retail manager was training a new employee. When I went up to the cash register, I had a question…

Why should I pay for a reward program when I should get it for free?

The new employee tried to answer my question but basically gave up and started to ring up my purchase. The Manager said… wait a second – do you realize that with the money you save today, the reward program practically pays for itself. The Manager then used the math of selling to convince me to buy the program!

How Can Math Make the Sale?

The manager uses cost justification by saying “If you add up the savings, it comes to $8.00 today. You get the card for a mere $2.00. Imagine how many times you will come into the store – 1 -2 times a month? You could save $25 a month or $300 a year!”

Painting pictures buids value

Painting pictures buids value


Like most sales people, I love to be sold! Yes, I signed up for the program and the new employee got a lesson at my expense. What really impressed me was that the Manager really believed in the program. Think of your belief as a brush painting pictures to build value for the customer!


When you believe in your product, you transfer that to others. When belief is not inside, it cannot be communicated and given to others. Your enthusiasm will be contagious – let it shine!

Never Give Up!

He made another run at me after I had said ‘no’ and I bought. He was polite, informative and never pushy.  The combination of enthusiasm and persuasion helped change my mind. As I left the store, I heard the Manager say to the new employee, “never give up – try to show the savings and ask again.” I smiled and thought: “that’s advice every business person should follow!”


Read Tribes Because Playing It Safe is Risky!

If you want to change your life, then you are going to have to take a risk! That’s just one of the inspirations I got from reading Tribes, by Seth Godin.

Who Will Benefits from Reading Tribes?

Tribes is a suggested book for business owners, managers and sales people who want to develop loyal fans and customers.  Seth’s style is to share stories about successful people and companies and weave the argument of being different and for taking risks. Yes – it is about leadership but there are great lessons for sales professionals who want to think and act differently to achieve success.

Playing It Safe is Risky

Godin makes the point early that “the real power of tribes has nothing to do with the internet and everything to do with people.”[1] New sales people sometimes think that social media will make sales and generate revenue. My opinion is that Social Media might be a way to get leads – but getting face-to-face with a decision maker is still the best path to making a sale. Yes, this is risky. But playing it safe behind your computer is risky too. There Are No Guarantees!

Taking Chances

In Tribes, Godin frames a beautiful paradox about taking chances: “the safest thing you can do feels risky and the riskiest thing to do is to play it safe.” [2] A sales professional must be able to get outside personal comfort zones to get to a higher level of performance. Taking risks means that we must often go see customers with no guarantees of making the sale.  Playing it safe in sales is very risky – because low activity in sales is almost always a predictor of a drop in future opportunities.

Playing It Safe is Risky

taking no risks is dangerous!

There are career implications for sales professionals too. I love Seth Godin’s attitude altering statement: “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is – maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” [3] One of the reasons that I decided to view sales as a sport was to create a fun life for myself.  By becoming a sales athlete,my life became more exciting and challenging. I would encourage you to turn sales (or any job)  into a game and make it fun!

Build A Tribe with References

The ultimate lesson of Tribes for sales people is the power of references – people who can vouch for your products and services. If your tribe includes customers who will voluntarily say nice things about what you offer – then a positive gossip starts. Word of mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising – because customers believeother customers.  So my recommendation on this book is to buy it, read it and then apply it in your career.

If you would like to learn more about Seth Godin, then visit:

[1] Tribes. Godin. Penguin Books. Page 6

[1] Tribes. Godin. Penguin Books. Page 64

Are You Coping with Deployment?

When our son deployed to Afganistan, I was touched by my wife’s prayers, concerns and hope for his safe return. One day, a delivery person knocked on the door. My wife fell on the couch because she did not want to answer thedoor in case it was bad news. My way of coping with deployment was to write a poem about Momma left Behind. A very popular local artist here in Charlottesville, Virginia, Josh Rogan, turned the poem into a song. The video is included in this post.

Sometimes Heroes Cry

Sometimes Heroes Cry

The Old Man told me

With a tear in his eye

Life’s not always easy

Sometimes heroes cry

You might have loved too little

You can’t ever care too much

Don’t wait until it’s over

‘cause sometimes life gets tough


Legends aren’t always soldiers

Like Mommas left behind

Scared and always worried

But pretending shes just fine


You might have loved too little

You can’t ever care too much

Don’t wait until it’s over

‘cause sometimes life gets tough


Yeah, life’s not always easy

Sometimes heroes cry

Coping With Deployment

Click on this link if you have a family member either deployed or struggling after coming home.

Control Your Weight While Travelling

Here are three easy ways to control your weight while travelling…


Buy a case of bottled water or bring a refillable water container with you. Make the decision to avoid sodas and stay hydrated. “So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.”[1]

Eat Oatmeal

Start each day with cereal or oatmeal. These are often provided at no charge by hotels and provide the lowest calories available. “Most cereals have between 110 and 125 calories per serving. Healthy cereals provide vitamin C, calcium and iron without a lot of sugar. Unhealthy cereals provide less nutrients and have much more sugar”.[2]


Walk for at least twenty minutes a day. This burns calories and reduces stress. If no tread mill is available, walk in circles around your hotel. Try getting up a little early and walk first thing in the morning. It will take away all of your excuses and set the stage for a successful day.

Do You want to lose weight on the road?

WOW! Controlling your weight on the road is a more realistic goal than actually losing weight. When you eat in restaurants, you lose control over the fat content and calories in the food. If you are entertaining or taking clients outto eat, it is harder to limit calories. Flying in planes or driving in cars restricts movement so there are not as many chances to burn off your calories. However, if you make the right choices for lunch and dinner, you can make progress. There are emotional considerations as well.  Comfort food is also often used to alleviate loneliness. Research by the Association of Psychological Science showed that comfort foods make people feel less lonely because it reminds them of spending time with loved ones.[3] So deal with it or deny it, eating fatty, high calorie foods may make you feel better, but it does not cure the loneliness of the road.

Let’s wrap it up with a quick checklist:

  • Drink water
  • Eat light
  • Exercise
  • Set realistic expectations to control (not lose) weight while travelling
  • Manage your emotions and state of mind to avoid comfort food
  • Eat a light dinner