Southwest Is the Only Major Airline to Not Charge for Luggage Check. What Is It That Only You Can Provide Your Customers?

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Whether you just launched a business or you’ve been at it for a decade, it is imperative that you continually ask yourself this one question: What separates you from everyone else in your industry? The answer cannot be your work ethic or your passion. It cannot be because you believe your products or services are the best. Why? Because we all share those same sentiments about ourselves, our products and our services. It is that very principle and unwavering belief in ourselves, our talents and abilities that have led us down the path of entrepreneurship.

So again I ask, what truly separates you from everyone else in your industry? If you cannot answer this question without hesitation or conviction, chances are, you will eventually be in trouble. It is time you stop what you’re doing and begin distinguishing this: In an ever-changing, option-saturated market full of steep competition, people need to know — why you?

You must not only identify your “Only We…” clause, but you must begin to lead with it. The “Only We…” clause is the thing, the item, the promise that only you, only your company, only your services, only your products provide.

One of my favorite “Only We” companies is Southwest Airlines. They have made it boldly apparent by splashing their “Only We” message across the front page of their website, “Bags Fly Free.” They are the only major airline that does not charge an additional fee to check your luggage. They use their “Only We” concept to differentiate them from other major airlines. It has created many lifelong customers, including myself.

Something I do for all the keynotes I give is I offer a risk-reversal guarantee. Meaning, if for some reason a client was not 100 percent satisfied with the keynote they received, my speaking fee is fully refunded to them. This does a few different things. It gives the client the assurance that I will add tremendous value, and the keynote will be a knockout success without taking a financial risk. It also gives me a never-ending incentive to be a master of my craft and provide value, every single time. It’s important to set a standard that you have to constantly live up to.

It’s easy to get comfortable, stop preparing and rely solely on your talents to get you through, but your customers and your clients deserve the very best. If you aren’t doing it, someone else will gladly come along and sweep up the business you couldn’t finish.

You should be able to lead your business with the answer to the question, “What makes you different? Your consumers must know what separates you. They are paying for your promise as much as they are paying for your product or service.

Remember, in an ever-changing world of endless options, fierce competition and undecided consumers, it is important to differentiate who you are by offering something that they can get only from you.

The “Only We” clause is a necessity to your business success, because we live in a world of endless options. Whether you want to buy a new car or a new computer, try a new salon, a new gym or a new service, the reality is that people suffer from too many options. There are millions of options to choose from. If people can’t find what they want in a storefront, they can find it online for cheaper.

Sites like Amazon will even have it delivered to your doorstep by the end of the day if you join their subscription service. Competition is fierce for businesses trying to survive. Today’s consumers can become quickly overwhelmed with options. Consumers, however, love options — when they can distinguish between them.

This is why your “Only We…” clause needs to be easily identified. If people don’t know immediately what separates you, they will go for the product or service that offers what they perceive as the most value. That could be the vehicle with the 10-year warranty, the hotel room with the lowest price guarantee, a service with a money-back guarantee or an airline ticket with free cancelation. It is because of assurance that allows the consumer to risk the sale with you in the first place. It is completely worth the time and risk-reversal hassle to establish this for yourself.

People are often willing to look beyond the most economical option if they know that the difference is worth the added value. Sometimes, all a consumer needs is the assurance. I’m certain you’ve purchased something with the above attached clause, and even if you never used the assurance guarantee, there was a sense of security by knowing that just in case, you are covered.

Sometimes, you have to face your own product or services as a consumer. How do you know which one to choose when you’re faced with so many options? What resonates with you? What assurance do you need before making a purchase? And more importantly, why should someone choose you? If you don’t know, they won’t either — and they will opt for the one who does.

Companies that know their “Only We,” lead their sale with a promise. If anything goes wrong, they will replace it. If you are unsatisfied, they will give you your money back. People love options, when they can differentiate between them. There is trust, there is no risk — there is, however, a guarantee of satisfaction. People want to know what they are going to get, every singe time. Consistency is key. Knowing that they can get the same experience, the same product every single time and or have the situation rectified is what creates a lifelong customer.

How many places have you went one time to and never returned? When there are other options, you will utilize them. For this reason, first impressions are everything. Knowing that customers have options, it’s important to exceed expectations. You can differentiate yourself with your “Only We” clause, but then it’s extremely important to lead with it in almost everything that you do.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Want to Be Like Apple, Disney or the New England Patriots? You Need a Stellar Company Culture.

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Creating a distinct culture within your organization is everything. Whether in sports or business, you must set a concrete foundation and an understanding as to what your culture is — and it must be identifiable in all that you do.

Have you ever stayed at a 5-star hotel chain that made you feel like you were their most important guest? Have you ever visited a store or dined at a restaurant, where the customer-service level far exceeded your expectations? Have you ever wondered how a sports franchise is in the playoffs seemingly every year?

Sure, some people are just good at what they do, and when you gather a bunch of talented people together, you’re bound for success, right? Wrong. It has everything to do with a culture that is easily identifiable, attainable and respected by everyone working within the organization. Whether your culture revolves around creating a 5-star service standard, a family environment, a winning-culture, a customer-is-always-right culture, you must have one — and it must be clear — before your employees can buy in.

Although we often hear about the importance of culture, I still find that so many overlook how vitally important it really is. A weak culture, or one that is never established, can completely diminish performance levels within an organization, even if that organization possesses the best strategies, products or talent. On the other hand, a distinct and thriving culture can certainly make up the difference for just average strategy and talent.

Please don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say don’t try to create the best strategies and recruit the best talent for your company, but understand that all of that is just a byproduct to what really matters most — the culture you create.

I have witnessed the incredible importance of culture in my own life. During my time as an athlete, I was on teams that didn’t have the most talented players in the world, but we still got the job done and won games as the underdogs. That came from the result of leadership instilling a phenomenal culture from day one.

I have also been on teams that had extreme talent, but the results on the field were mediocre at best. That same team lacked a presence of culture. Leadership wasn’t setting the tone or expectation as a whole, so it was each man for himself. In sports, of course, the main objective is to win, but if there is no set process outside of individual talent, no set standard for all to buy into and no leadership driving it, a star-studded roster means nothing.

In my world as a speaker now, I get the wonderful opportunity to travel all over and sit down with leaders from all different industries. Prior to each speaking engagement, I sit down with the leadership of the organization, and I spend time taking a closer look at the culture of the organization and where I can add the most value. During this time, I usually find one of two things. The first one is a leader who is incredibly passionate about creating a dominant, healthy and strong culture. These are the organizations that have a great employee retention and morale.

The leaders who aren’t as passionate about building and nurturing a strong and powerful culture unfortunately end up falling into the trap of directing all of their focus on outcomes and results. The major problem with all of this is that the presence of culture is what largely drives results. By completely neglecting the importance of building and nurturing a strong culture while focusing solely on outcomes and results, the process ends up backfiring somewhere down the line and being counterproductive.

I’m not telling you how to run your organization, but I do want to share with you that the results speak for themselves when it comes to organizations that focus on culture compared to the one’s who don’t. If you take a very close look at the New England Patriots, Disney, Apple or any other organization for that matter that dominate their market or craft, you will begin to see that they are crystal clear on the culture that they demand from their people.

All of the championships have great strategy and talent behind them, and the sales milestones have great products and value behind them, but the culture that leadership instills and demands throughout the whole organization is what actually drives results.

Culture is and will always be vitally important when it comes to your organization’s growth, success and longevity. It’s my hope as a leader that you make it a major priority to create a crystal clear culture that your employees are proud to show up and be a part of everyday.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

What True Leadership Is All About

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Here is a fact about leadership that no one really wants to talk about — it’s a lot bigger than just yourself. Sure, leadership can bring bigger paychecks and a whole lot more notoriety in most cases, but that’s not even remotely close to defining what true leadership is really all about.

True leadership is much more than authority and recognition from the outside world. Instead, leadership is all about developing people and helping others reach their full potential. It’s about equipping others with the right tools and strategies to not only maximize the success of an organization but also the lives of individuals. It’s about breaking down barriers and leading others through the uncertainty of the future.

The best leaders to ever live not only succeeded at helping their team win championships or organizations reach new milestones and dominate the marketplace, but they deeply cared for people and understood what a privilege it is to be a leader.

Think about it for a moment. As a leader, you have the incredible opportunity to change someone’s life every single day. It could be something as simple as saying hello and remembering people’s names when you greet them. It could mean you being passionate about helping your people achieve and pursue all of their personal dreams and ambitions just as much as their professional one’s. It could mean you forcing everyone around you to grow and develop into stronger and wiser human beings that will end up taking them to a place they never thought was possible before they met you.

There are a plethora of qualities that one must need in order to become a fantastic leader. However, I strongly believe that one of the most important traits that all leaders must possess is a passion to develop and maximize the potential of others. When you begin to transform people individually, you then begin to transform your organization or team as a whole.

Transforming people is a quality that every memorable leader has thought about every single day of their lives, because they understood if they could transform their people, they would then be able to advance their mission. The leaders that are too caught up in egotistical gratification rather than the development of their people will surely fall short in the long run. There is a major difference between true leadership and authority-driven management.

Just as athletes have to take daily reps and constantly work to elevate their game, leaders also need to have the same mentality on finding ways to become more efficient in touching the hearts of their people, inspiring others to take what their doing to the next level and unlocking the barriers that hold others back.

Your commitment to going the extra mile to care for your people, lend a helping hand and inspire them will determine the results you receive. When a leader fully understands what true leadership is all about, not only will their organization never be the same again, but they as individuals will be changed forever as well.

There is nothing easy about true leadership. It’s one of the most difficult jobs in the world, but it also has the potential to be one of the most rewarding jobs in the world. Whether you lead a team of five or 5,000, focus more on being a developer of people and helping those you lead become all that they can possibly become. That’s true leadership.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Set Yourself Free — Let Go of the Dead Weight In Your Life

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There is no better feeling than setting yourself free and eliminating all of the dead weight from your life. I can go on and on telling you about all of the extremely talented athletes that I have either played with or have seen throw all of their potential right down the drain — all because of the dead weight that consumed their life.

When I refer to dead weight, I am referring to toxic and negative relationships that bring hardly any value or significance to your life. All of the negative and time-consuming habits that play virtually no role in helping you get to where you want to go. Environments that encourage you to stay right where you are while never stepping a foot out of your comfort zone.

Dead weight can come in all shapes, sizes and forms. To make it easy, dead weight is anything that holds you down in life and prevents you from moving forward and making daily progress.

It’s impossible to live an extraordinary life and achieve your goals and dreams with any sort of dead weight in your life. I encourage you to, once a month — preferably once a week — take the time to analyze your life, and see if there is any dead weight that can be cut out immediately.

An exercise to help remove the dead weight in your relationships

This exercise has helped me tremendously in the past when I was looking for a change. I was in a major rut and couldn’t find out what the problem was. Without knowing how much this exercise would benefit my life, I took out a sheet of paper and put a big letter Y on the top left hand corner of the paper and an N on the top right hand corner. I started with my relationships.

I began to think of everyone that I talk to often whether on the phone or in person and asked myself if they help me get to where I want to go or hold me back. If they added value to my life, I wrote their name down under the Y category. If they were negative and seemed to always have something discouraging to say, they would go underneath the N category. Y stood for yes and N stood for no.

After 15 minutes passed by, I couldn’t believe what I began to see. My N category was clearly getting longer than what I had for the Y category. It all of a sudden hit me that no wonder I wasn’t happy with the results I was getting up to that point in my life. I had an enormous amount of dead weight in my personal relationships that was drastically holding me back from moving forward to achieve the success that I deeply desired. This simple exercise really clarified that for me.

Apply the same exercise for your habits.

I applied the same exercise for all of my daily habits and again, I was completely shocked at what I saw. I couldn’t believe all of the things that I was doing on a daily basis that added no value to my life what so ever. Not only were my relationships garbage and holding me back, but my habits were also an added source of dead weight that was making it virtually impossible to advance my life forward.

By taking the time to analyze your habits and place them into a category to see whether they are adding value to your life or sabotaging your success can be an absolute game-changer for you. The things we do on a daily basis ultimately determine our destiny. Just as there can be dead weight in our personal relationships, there can be dead weight in our habits and the things we do daily as well.

Most people don’t even take the time to analyze their lives, let alone make the change to remove all of the dead weight that has interfered with them reaching their full potential. Setting yourself free from all of the garbage in your life, the bad habits and the toxic relationships is one of the best feelings in the world. You not only will be doing your happiness and peace of mind a huge favor, but you will also in an instant begin to increase your success rate.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

We Are All Salespeople. Use These 3 Techniques to Become a Better One.

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You may not have the title of a salesperson, but it’s imperative that you polish up on your skills and become a better communicator to win in business and in life. Whether you run your own company or currently employed by one, there is a good chance that at some point throughout the day you are spending time doing sales related work. All of us, regardless of job title or influence, do some type of sales on almost a daily basis.

Parents spend a significant time trying to sell their children on to make their bed, do the chores and study for the upcoming test. A startup entrepreneur spends a significant time trying to sell their idea and newly founded organization to investors and other key players that can help them to advance the process of growth.

A CEO or leader of a big organization is constantly spending a significant time trying to sell the company’s vision to employees. An employee who works for a company is spending a significant amount of time trying to sell their skill set so they can land a promotion and move up the corporate ladder.

Sales is the oxygen to your business growth and success. Without it, there will eventually be no business. It’s impossible to grow anything without sales.

 

Here are three ways to become a more polished salesperson.

1. Always lead with questions.

Some of the best communicators that I have ever come across would always lead with questions. I have written a lot about the importance of questions, and it also certainly applies to becoming a better communicator and salesperson as well.

In your next sales meeting or interaction with someone, try to lead the conversation with great questions. Do your research and come prepared with great questions ready to be asked.

When you ask good questions, you are doing two things that will help you in the long run. Number one, you display a sense of humility that will always serve you in a positive way. Number two, you will start to receive key answers that you would normally not have been able to find out. There is nothing more powerful on both sides when great questions are asked. Lead with questions during every interaction from here on out.

2. Change your perception about sales. 

I can’t tell you how many people I have encountered that had nothing good to say about sales. They couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do such a thing, or that being in sales meant that you couldn’t find a job anywhere else.

To succeed in sales, you must first change your perception about sales. Instead of looking at it as a negative, start viewing it in a totally different light. Sales is all about serving and helping others get to where they want to go. In sales, you only succeed when you help others succeed.

It’s quite difficult to succeed in sales and successfully sell your product or service if you keep telling yourself how much you hate sales and never try to change your negative perception of what sales really stands for.

 

3. Be obsessed about being a master at solving problems.

This one can be a total game-changer. Become obsessed about solving problems and providing real value in the marketplace that makes you different and unique from everyone else. The most successful salespeople don’t look at it as a sale, they look at it as an opportunity to solve a problem. They are completely obsessed about becoming a master at solving problems.

Look for ways to double the value you are bringing forth into the marketplace and to your prospects, and then direct all of your time and energy towards solving real problems. When you start to solve problems and become known by being a problem solver before someone labels you a salesperson, your business and life will transform.

Becoming a more polished salesperson and working on your communication skills will help you a whole lot more than just succeeding in business. Even though you may not have the title of a salesperson, we are all in sales to an extent.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Why Worry? Because We Do. But We Can Kick the Habit.

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We all have different kinds of mental routines. Some are positive and nourishing to the mind, while some are so negative and tragic that they actually lead to death.

A key part in reprogramming the mind for optimal performance and healthy thoughts is to kick the worry habit. So many people love to worry about every little thing. Half the things people worry about are not even in their control. Most are worrying about things that they can do absolutely nothing about. They are creating stress and negative energy all throughout their entire body when they worry.

Worrying is unhealthy. Worrying kills. Worrying destroys dreams. Worrying creates bigger problems than the actual problem itself.

As human beings, we naturally tend to worry about so much already. Then all of a sudden go ahead and add some kind of adversity or major failure to the mix, and then the worry just intensifies. Worrying about anything, whether big or small, creates a huge burden in our lives that limits us from reaching our full potential.

John Lubbock said, “A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Worrying completely sucks all of the energy right out of us. Worrying really does create more work than actually doing work itself.

Just like all of the other habits that we have and spend time doing every single day of our lives, worrying ends up becoming a habit for most people as well. There are all kinds of things you can do to temporarily eliminate all worry from your thinking, but the only way to permanently rid yourself from the worry habit is to get in tune with your faith like never before.

Bestselling author Max Lucado said it best when saying, “Feed your fears, and your faith will starve. Feed your faith, and your fears will.” You can’t worry and have faith at the same time.

Let your faith be so big that there isn’t even the slightest of chance that worry can even creep in at any point in time. When your faith isn’t there, it’s second nature for worry to occur. It’s almost expected, especially when your back is up against the wall.

Here are two ways to help you kick the worry habit.

1. Focus on what you can control.

It seems so self-explanatory, but it’s also one of the hardest things to do most of the time. One of the best ways to help eliminate worry is to put all of your energy and time on the things that you can control.

Each and every one of us spends more time than we should on things we have absolutely no control over. You can’t necessarily control an outcome, but what you can do is put yourself in position to win by focusing on the process and everything that you do have control over.

When we start to focus on things outside of our control, anxiety, worry and fear begin take over in a big way. I will be the first to say that only focusing on what you control is not the easiest of task at times. However, it’s an absolute must in order to minimize the amount of worry in your life. Focus on what you can control.

2. Make progress every day, and then acknowledge it.

When you focus on making progress each day and then acknowledge it, you begin to feel good about yourself and instantly boost your self-esteem. You come to the realization that you are better than you were the day before — and that gives you a deep sense of satisfaction.

A lot of the times most people worry when they feel like they aren’t making progress or getting anywhere in life. So by putting your attention towards making progress and then finding a way to acknowledge it can greatly help in decreasing the amount of worry in your life.

To give you an example, every night before I go to bed, I grab my journal and start writing down the progress that I made for that specific day. Some days I have more to write down than others, while some days it can be hard to find things to even write down in the first place. However, regardless of how easy or hard it is to find things to write down at night, getting in the habit of acknowledging your wins and daily progress can positively impact your life — and tremendously help in removing worry.

It’s awfully hard to tap into your full potential with worry becoming a natural and daily habit for you.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com