Top Sales Influencer Jim Keenan's Blog

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Can You Pass The Question Test?

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Would you like to take a test that measures your ability to ask questions and improve your chance to win the sale?

Can you have a conversation by only asking questions? Do you think you could have a conversation without making a single statement?  Could you do it without turning the conversation into an interrogation and making the other person/people uncomfortable?

How long do you think you could ask questions before you made a statement or became uncomfortable? Have you ever tried?

Would you be able to put someone at ease and engage with them at their level through the sole use of questions?

Do you think you could teach someone through probing questions, rather than telling or preaching?

How long do you think your conversations would last and how many questions could you ask before you slipped and made a statement? Would it be three, five, ten, twenty? How long before the conversation became awkward?

Do you feel comfortable asking questions rather than making statements?

As a salesperson, have you considered how powerful this ability would be to closing a sale? Have you ever thought about the impact questions could have on your ability to deliver value and position the sale? Have you gotten close to the end of a sale and realized you missed the mark, that you didn’t have all the information and you didn’t know something that was critical to the sale? Did you wish you had asked more questions earlier?

If this has happened to you what did you do to change it? Have you learned to ask more questions? Have you learned how to use questions in a conversational manner? Did you get the results you were looking for or are you still struggling to get the information you want and go right to telling?

Would you like to get better? Can you see the value in asking questions? Are you willing to take the test and try and see how long you can go before you break down and start making statements?

How do you think you would do? Would you pass the test?

Would you let me know how long you can go, by sharing your experiences in the comments?

So, what’s the test?

The next time you’re with a friend, or someone you trust try and carry the entire conversation without making a statement, do you think you could do that?

Good, how long did you go?

Did you 5 questions deep, 10 questions deep, 20 questions deep?

Why Those Who Don’t Fail, Are Actually Failing Badly!

 

COMPETENCEFailure, we’ve all heard and seen the memes about failure and how it’s important to success. We’ve heard the guru’s talk about failure and not being afraid of it and how failure is the path to learning. Failure, being the antithesis to success takes up a lot of our conscious and unconscious time.  We’re afraid of it. We avoid it. We spend time and money trying to understand it. We wallow in past failures. We define ourselves by our failures. Failing and the idea of failing is woven into the fabric of our lives. Therefore, the best thing we can do is get comfortable with it.

My objective in this post is to drop the dime on why failure is so important and not a bad thing in order to provide a little context that may just help you fail more.

Failure marks the boundary of our competence.

Stop and think about that for a second. Let it sink in.  This entire post rests on the acceptance of this premise.

When we first learn something, we fail continuously. We have no competency, so failure is quick, painful and regular.  As we learn or expand our competency, failure becomes less prevalent. Our knowledge and capabilities increase minimizing our mistakes and failures.  However over time, something interesting happens. As we become more competent we stop pushing the boundaries and failure becomes less common and less acceptable.  As our competence grows, we settle into the middle, where we are comfortable, rarely pushing the boundaries of competence. We stop failing.

In the beginning, when we lack competence, it’s OK to fail.  It’s expected. But, after a while, failure is no longer perceived as part of getting better but rather a sign of incompetence. We then begin to look to avoid failure and playing on the edges. We settle into the middle.

I see this often in skiing. New skiers spend the first few days or weeks falling all over the place. There then becomes a point where they don’t fall as often and that becomes their new goal, don’t fall.  They then start saying things like, “I only fell once today.” or “I didn’t fall all day.”  What’s happening is the skiers are falling into the middle.

I am a PSIA Level 2 certified ski instructor and I fall or almost fall at least once a day.  Why?  I’m skiing at the edge of my competence. I’m not settling into the middle. I ski hairy, steep, fast, terrain and look to ski it better and faster, with tighter fall lines, improved stance, more aggressive, etc. All this is at the edge, not the middle.

Here’s the deal. If you’re not failing. If you’re not falling down. You’ve settled into the middle and when you’ve settled into the middle learning and growth almost completely stop. There is improvement in competency when you playing in the middle. Growth comes from the edges where we push ourselves beyond our competence.

Not failing isn’t succeeding. Success requires growth. There is little success without growth and there is NO growth by playing in the middle.

If you’re not failing, you’re failing.  Play on the edges, get out of the middle. Failure is not incompetence, not failing is.

Failing is the path to success. The only path.

Is Everyone Coachable? [The Answer Might Surprise You]

This is a guest post in response to my coaching post a week ago.  While writing the post I asked my friend Matt if everyone was coachable.  He said yes. I didn’t believe him, so I asked him to convince me and write a post supporting his claim.  

What follows is one of the best breakdowns of coaching and what coaching means you will read in a blog.  Matt’s position is substantive and comprehensive. 

If you’ve ever wondered if everyone was coachable, Matt will give you plenty to work with in drafting your opinion. 

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Keenan asked me a question the other day, “Is everyone coachable?” I said, “Of course!” And he said, “I knew you were going to say it, but I don’t believe it. Prove it.” So, we agreed I’d write this blog post.

I’ve been coaching professionally since 2002. I was coaching internally in organizations five years before I went a got a coaching certification though the Coaches Training Institute. My very first coaching client was a Vice President who had allegedly “spit” at one of her directors in a heated argument, most likely just spittle, but HR didn’t know what to make of it and so tossed it to me. Since then I’ve have over hundreds of coaching clients and stopped counting hours when I crossed the 10K mark back in 2011. My bona fides are there and I can confidently tell you that everyone is coachable.

But what does that mean exactly? Does that mean that everyone can be a rock-star in your organization? That everyone is cut out for Sales? That everyone can master all parts of the sales cycle from first contact to close?

Yes.

Let me rewind and digress for a moment…

When I first started coaching I was a wild man, untrammeled by the loss and divorce that has marked me as an adult, and I was and still am heart centered. I had just finished my master’s degree and Kurt Lewin (founder of social psychology) was my idol.

My background includes cultural anthropology, ecopyschology, biology, developmental psychology, instructional design, organizational development, and coaching. From the very beginning I’ve been fascinated and have worked with systems and so everything is system related to my mind.

I don’t see the individual as separate from the system from within which they’re operating.

You look at the United States military and how instructional design and organizational development function and you see a system that can take young men and women, with different socio and economic backgrounds from all over the country, and turn them into a single fighting force.

That’s impressive!

Kurt Lewin’s equation: B = f (P+E) is Behavior is a Function of the Person + Their Environment

We’re relational by nature.

It’s why I’m leery of organizations that seem to think potential hires either fit or don’t fit their organizational culture. People are adaptable. We have a deep fear of this in the West, but the reality is that out personality, values, behaviors, and principles are all very fluid.

In fact, that’s why leadership is so damn important. It’s why organizational cultures are so damn important.

I’ve seen plenty of shitty organizations chew up and spit out talented individuals, just as I’ve seen great organizations take mediocre people a turn them into rock stars.

This is why Top Grading and Forced Ranking are such awful performance management systems. Everyone is a potential star or a potential fuck up.

I remember I had a boss once say derisively to the team in a meeting, “Matt thinks everyone can be saved!” She thought she was being wise and that I was just a sweet summer child, but jadedness isn’t wisdom.

Everyone can be coached.

You’re skeptical, I can see that… But evaluate how coaching is approached in your organization and see if it allows for and holds to these principles:

1.     People Hate Change — As hard as it is to accept people prefer dysfunction, pain, and the collapse of their integrity over facing the unknown that change and growth inevitably brings. It’s built in genetically (from a long line of scary pants ancestors) that we fight to maintain the status quo, maintain it at all costs, even if it sucks, because the unknown is just that You can tell people if they just cross the street all their life dreams will come true and the bucket of shit they’re holding onto can be let go (and we all know the shit we carrying for ourselves and others) and heck you can even show them, but they won’t cross the street. The familiar, even when it breeds contempt, is more powerful than the unknown. With the unknown comes risk and people are generally risk adverse. Every client you meet in coaching has found a way to survive in the current system and they’re unlikely to want to change unless you help them.
2.     Begin Where The Client Is — I now start all coaching sessions with a simple question, “What do you want right now? or the similarly worded, “What are you seeking in this moment?” as it’s the very best (and very gestalt way) of checking in to see where the client is. Why leaders often make for lousy coaches is that they begin with the end in mind. They have a place they’d like to see their direct report get to and so are always impatient and pushing their direct report to that end. Coaching doesn’t work that way. You have to walk side-by-side with a client and see the world through their eyes. Empathy is the basis for all emotional intelligence and is the foundation of successful coaching

3.     Check Readiness — My mentor is always harping on me to do this and has been for 20 years. I love the work. I love growth and development. I’m always ready to spring off the cliff into the pool below but that’s just me. I’ve dropped acid in the middle of a forest, I’ve fasted for forty days, I’ve sat in T-Groups in Bethal, Maine, I’ve had ferocious therapists over the years who confront as much as love. It’s second nature to me to open the kimono and look within. But I’m scared of actual diving boards. I don’t like them. They’re not fun to me. I see people at the pool have a blast with them and I take that image with me into any session. Just because I’m comfortable doesn’t mean other people are. I’ve had to learn the hard way that the quickest way to lose a client is to be too truthful up front. You constantly need to check people’s tolerance for growth and development. I have a friend who’s a professional dominatrix and her axiom is, “People’s pain thresholds are changing constantly. From moment to moment!” Same is true in coaching. Two steps forward, one step back. Life’s a cha-cha!
4.     Systems Are More Powerful Than People —  99% of the time when people are in conflict with each other it’s because a system is broken underneath. If someone isn’t making numbers or closing deals, I’d first look to the system. Sometimes the leads are weak. That’s just reality.
5.     Leadership Matters — The post postmodern corporation is a pyramid scheme, there’s only so many spaces at the top, and until that changes leadership will continue to matter. Leaders set the culture. I think every leader should read Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly” to understand how shame functions in organizations. Most organizations are shame driven and shame is a growth and development killer. Leaders set the culture up unto the point where an organization can survive without any one particular leader.
6.     Culture Matters — When an organization can survive without its founder, it then has a culture that’s not dependent upon leadership. Think GE, Siemens, U.S. military. At that point culture is king. Organizational cultures that can survive at this level of development do so because their successful in their environment plain and simple. McDonald’s may have to adapt in order to survive because the operational environment has changed, but you can’t deny that for 50 years they’ve been tremendously successful. I hate to burst your bubble, but organization cultures aren’t made up of just catching sayings, values, or even beliefs. Organizational culture is simply: 1. Shared language 2. Shared space 3. Shared tools. Cultures who do these three things efficiently, effectively, and affectionally survive and thrive.

So, do you ever give up and fire someone?

You bet.

Failure is an option.

Just as all divorce is a failure of imagination and cowardliness, so too is all failure at work. While everyone can be coached, it doesn’t mean that every relationship, work or otherwise, ends in success. With every new level of depth, every moment you have courage and grow there are new challenges, new responsibilities, and new opportunities. Sometimes we chicken out. Sometimes we’re not ready. Sometimes we believe ourselves incapable of the consequences of our impending success. So we collapse and fail.

I get that.

I think the interesting thing about The New York Times article on Amazon’s culture and Jeff’s response this past week is that it exposes a truth about all organizational cultures: there are some people who are truly enjoying and thriving in your organizational culture and others who are not. Both truths can coexist. And neither is wholly correct. All relationships ebb and flow and the mark of a great organizational culture is how it handles those who are in ebb due to maternity leave, illness, bereavement or other major life challenges.

I have a .500 mark when coaching “turn around” clients. These are clients that the organization would like to keep but are close to firing. So, half find a way back into the organization with new ideas on how to confront the broken system and/or poor relationship with (customers, clients, peers, direct reports, leadership) and thrive and the other half make another choice.

Either way, they’ve been coached, and have made a choice.

Clients get a big smile on their face then they realize they’re not broken, the system is, and they have a choice about what to do next. I love that part of coaching.

Some of you might be thinking, “But Matt where is personal accountability in this? Some people avoid taking responsibility of any kind!” Yes, but only in shame driven systems.

An old trick of mine was to sit down next to leaders and have them write a list of all their direct reports and star their exemplars and but a check mark by the ones they wound’t fight for if they found out they were thinking of leaving.

This gets back to the old “halo” and Theory X and Theory Y management, but the reality is everyone wants to succeed. If someone has taken the time to shower and show up for work, they want to be successful. They may need help in that endeavor, but they’ve done their part.

It’s now up to you.

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Matt is founding parter of Morava + Graham working with organizations in CEO Succession and executive vetting.  You can find him on LinkedIn where he’s waxing some of the most robust writing you’ll ever experience. 

 

 

Foundry Group’s Seth Levine Talks Sales for Startups

Seth Levine, Managing Director at Foundry Group is our next guest on The Word. Seth is a friend and a super smart guy. I’m excited to have him on the show.

If you didn’t know. Foundry Group is one of the best VC Firms in the business, true badasses. Run by Brad Feld, Seth Levine, Ryan McIntyre and Jason Mendelson. The Foundry Group Portfolio includes companies such as Return Path, SendGrid and the new hot email tracking company Yesware.

If you’re a start-up or thinking about starting a new gig, you want to listen to Seth.

Sign up for episode 14 of the Word next Thursday at 11:00! Seth will be bringin’ some knowledge bombs!

 

The Pain and Joy of Growth [A True Story]

This is a guest post from Eric Saber one of the sales people at my one of my clients.  I’ve been working with this client for quite some time and Eric is leaving for a new gig. He sent me a “Thank You” note thanking me for the impact I had on his growth while at Patron. It was his note that prompted this blog post. 

Eric had been with the company for over 7 years and when I was brought in, needless to say, it wasn’t the easiest of transitions. Eric is being nice in his rendition of our engagement.  It was tough at times and I knew it.  There were times I think the team just flat out hated me. I pissed them off. I pushed them till it hurt. I challenged many of the tenants they held sacred and they didn’t like it.  But what came out the other side is nothing but magic and Eric’s story so illustrates the benefits of getting through the pain of change. It deserved to be shared with this community.  

Eric has grown tremendously has a sales person, I’m extremely proud of him and all that he has accomplished.  He deserves all the credit for his growth, he did the hard work to get there. His post is a great message to all sales people trying to get better. 

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When I met Keenan in March 2014, I had been working for one of his clients for almost 7 years and had been in sales for the company for almost as long. We were a good team, but our CEO felt that we could be better. The whole team and I were apprehensive about an “outsider” coming in, to say the least. Many of us thought, “Who is this guy being brought into our business to shore us up? Who does he think he is?” Well, a year and a half later, I can confidently say that we were wrong. No matter how good you think you are, you can always get better.

Our first step towards understanding the value of coaching was when our CEO had us read The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation, by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. This should be required reading for any and every member of a sales organization. The three tenets of this book are “teach,” “tailor,” and “take control,” and what became quickly apparent to all of us after reading it was that we were not exerting control over our sales at all.

Our product, (a mature and well-developed CRM solution for arts and nonprofit organizations) in many ways sold itself, but we were not positioning our unique strengths as salespeople to help leverage the inherently strong feature set of our product. What we were doing was old school and ultimately ineffective in terms of deal strategy. We would get on the phone with a prospect, “demo” them (often showing the same generic, feature-driven demo to pretty much every organization), and then we would essentially hope for the best. It turns out this is not an effective way to sell. Without understanding the critical ways in which our system could be relevant in solving our prospective clients’ business problems, we had no control over the sales process, and we had no way to truly differentiate our product from any other product out there.

That’s where Keenan’s keen (forgive the pun) insight and guidance became invaluable to us. He explicitly and concisely made it clear that without knowing a prospect’s key business problems, there is no way that you can capably sell; you’re essentially throwing mud at the wall and hoping enough of it sticks to make quota. Putting yourself in the prospect’s shoes is important for every part of the sales process. One of the first things that we did when he came onboard to mentor us was change the way that we categorize the opportunity stages of our prospects.  Whereas before we were identifying stages based on how far along we were in the sales process (Demo Scheduled, Demo Given, Contract Sent, etc.), he immediately told us that we had it all backwards. Instead, we needed to be thinking about where the prospect was (Engaged, Evaluation, Proposal, etc.), because that’s all that matters. Then, we began identifying all of our prospects’ critical business problems and specifically tying each issue to a solution we offer. Most importantly, we were identifying how our system’s specific features can be utilized to help grow their business financially. This is compelling for a number of reasons, but chiefly because it builds an effective case for why a customer should choose you over the competition. It also has the nice side effect of reinforcing what’s actually important if feature gap happens to come up during the conversation.

The best (and really, the only) way to use this approach is to schedule a discovery call with the prospect before you demo. This way, you can plan out the demo accordingly to ensure that it will be tailored and worth everyone’s valuable time. No one wants to sit in on a call where they are being shown highly irrelevant features, just because said features look impressive on paper. This was a key philosophical shift for our team and it wasn’t an easy pill to swallow for a long time. But slowly and surely, things began to click for us and eventually we knew exactly how to show our product in the best and most relevant light for prospects of all sizes and shapes. The transition to this method of sales also allowed our business to grow and win clients in less time.

So, readers, don’t be resistant to change. Be open to coaching and better ways of doing your job. Read up on your specific industry and on general best practices in sales, because in addition to taking the consultative sales approach, those are also the things that are going to increase your expertise, connect better with your prospective clients, and ultimately help you close more deals.

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Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.18.13 AMEric Saber, a true badass.

Eric, I wish you the best of luck in your new gig. You’re going to kill it. You’ve earned everything you’re about to accomplish. Keep on learning my man, keep on learning. 

 

 

What We’re Not Talking About When It Comes To Coaching Sales People

I’m a huge fan of coaching.  I believe coaching is an essential component of leadership. In sales, developing a coaching cadence and methodology is a critical element of success. You will rarely see a successful team without good coaching behind it.

My boy Mike Weinberg talks about the importance of coaching and how leaders need to do more of it in this post. In it he also introduces his 90-day sales coaching seminar with David Brock. I recommend you attend, they are smart guys, who know coaching.

There is no doubt coaching is critical, but there is another element to coaching that is rarely talked about, and I’m gonna drop the dime here today.

When it comes to coaching, there is an element that must be present for the coaching to be successful, and if it’s not present, coaching will not be successful — Period!

No matter how good of a coach you are. No matter how substantial your coaching cadence and process are, without this element the coaching will not work, and you will be wasting time that could be spent other places.

Here’s the deal, in addition to killer coaching skills, excellent and robust coaching cadence and coaching process, you will get nowhere if your people aren’t coachable.  This, my friends, is the unspoken element to leadership, management, and organization coaching we just don’t address enough.

Not everyone is coachable. Not everyone is open to critique, criticism, evaluation, personal development and growth. We operate from the premise that everyone is coachable and that all we need to do is just coach them. This isn’t true. Not everyone is coachable, wants to be coached or sees the value in coaching. Therefore, in addition to running around building and executing a world class coaching organization, you need to have a team, an organization filled with coachable people, people who want to learn, who want to be coached and are capable of absorbing the coaching.

Mark Roberge, a friend, and a smart guy has a great way of defining coachable people in his killer book The Sales Acceleration Formula. Mark argues, coachable people can absorb and apply.

Absorb and apply: these two actions represent the essence of strong coachability. Some people struggle to even absorb the coaching, perhaps because they are poor listeners or simply don’t recognize the importance of feedback. Others absorb the information but struggle to apply it, perhaps because they are less adaptable or less skilled at thinking on their feet. I want to hire candidates who can both absorb and apply coaching.   — The Sales Acceleration Formula

This idea of absorb and apply nails it for me. When we think about the objective of coaching, it is to create productive change and growth. Coaching is about getting better, improvement. If one can not or will not absorb the feedback, the information, then it can’t be expected they would be able to apply it. Taking it further, if someone can absorb the feedback, but are unable to apply it, the results will remain the same. There will be no growth.

Absorb and application are at the core of excellent coaching. If an employee is unwilling or unable to absorb and apply, you’ve got a problem.

Coachability is dependent on people’s willingness and openness to participate in the coaching process. When participation is absent, the benefits of coaching are non-existent.

We spend a lot of time talking about coaching in sales. As Mike discusses in his post, coaching is critical to the growth and development of salespeople. What’s also important to focus on is the coachability of everyone on the team. We need to be focusing on the coachability of the team, their ability to absorb and apply. Are the people on my team open to growth? Are they absorbing my feedback? Are they able to apply it? Do they want to get better? Are they willing to explore alternative approaches? Are they committed to growth? Do they embrace constructive criticism? Are they self-aware? Do they participate in the process? All of these questions and components are critical to successful coaching.

Coaching is a two-way street. Unfortunately, we aren’t spending enough time on both sides of the street. A world class sales organization has world class coaching processes, cadences, and coaches. It also has world class sales people who want to be coached and can be coached.

Figure out how coachable your organization is. Build coachability into your hiring requirements. Make sure absorb and apply are thoroughly represented, because without them, you only have half the equation.

Coaching is a relationship and like all relationships, it takes two to be successful.

 

#heykeenan Take 9 How to Deal With Pushy Customers and Red Plaid Shirts

Have you ever wondered how many red plaid shirts I have?  I didn’t even know. But @robfreeborn wanted to know so I answered that and how to deal with a prospect who is pushing you off the phone in this Take of #heykeenan

Do you have a question you want me to answer about sales, sales leadership, success, entrepreneurship, my wardrobe or any other crazy topic? Then shout out at #heykeenan twitter!  You shout out, I’ll shout back.

What NOT To Do When You Screw Up

I’m a tough guy to work for.

I don’t have unrealistic expectations. I don’t scream and yell at people. I don’t belittle people. I’m not a micromanager. I’m not an absentee leader. I don’t play favorites. I’m not a jerk. I’m not many of the things people associate with being tough to work for.

The reason I’m tough to work for is I hold people accountable and people don’t like that very much.

Our world, at least this country doesn’t operate from an accountability perspective too often. We talk a big game, but rarely do we live to the creed.

For most of my career, there have been two camps of people who have worked for me, those who loved working with me and those who hate it.  The common thread among the two groups is those who love working for me embrace accountability, coaching and personal growth. Those who don’t like working for me, hate being called out. Nothing is their fault. They don’t like being held accountable and I am the asshole boss who actually expected them to own their shit.

People don’t like owning their shit, and unfortunately, that’s most people reading this.  I’m sorry but, it’s true.

Let me share the inspiration for this post, because it’s not an uncommon experience for me. Although, this one is a gross example, it similar to the types of experiences I have with people.

A few weeks ago “Andy” sent me this Inmail via Linkedin:

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Could this communication be any more cookie cutter? Who talks like this? NO ONE!  But, impressed with his “enthusiasm” I responded. I love people who take the initiative. I like to give everyone a chance.

Here’s my response;

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I want to know the person behind correspondence.  Take note people. A professional note doesn’t mean a white washed note that is completely void of any connection to your personality, who you are and what makes you different.

As hoped, he responded with a much better email;

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Yes! This was much better. His personality came through. His story was a good one. I could see how he might be able to add value to A Sales Guy Recruiting.

If you’re going to interrupt someone you don’t know with an email or LinkedIn InMail, do it this way.

After reading this, I sent Kira, my admin, a note asking her to get him on my calendar. He earned 15 minutes of my time.

This is where the story goes sideways.

Andy and I were scheduled to meet via phone on Friday this past week. He didn’t show. No call, nothing. I had Kiki reach out to him and ask if he wanted to reschedule or if he could still talk now.

Crickets

No response, nothing. Until  . . . 2 am Saturday morning when he sent this:

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No sorry, no acknowledgment of missing the meeting, NOTHING. Just a request for me to call him. Really?

Now, in the world of the don’t offend, most people would have not called him back. He would have lost the opportunity. That would have been it. It would have just died on the vine. But, not in the Keenan world.

I didn’t know why he missed the call. He seemed like a go-getter, a results kinda guy in his earlier email, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and called him about 9:30 Saturday morning.

I called him and he didn’t answer, but he called me back right away. After the quick pleasantries, I said;

You have 5 minutes to get me on your good side.

His response:

I’m not going to sell you on me. I just closed a big deal with xyz company. I don’t need the work, but was interested in what you were doing. You guys seem to be doing some good stuff.

I pressed him on the fact that that was an interesting response considering he reached out to me then he didn’t show for a scheduled meeting. He became increasingly irritated with me and my insistence to resolve his no-show before we continued the conversation. He continued to argue why he doesn’t have to prove anything to me and that he was busy and he’s good, etc.

After a few minutes of him becoming increasingly agitated, the call ended.

But then, he calls back.

He apologizes for his behavior. He said he was caught off guard and should have known that I would operate that way based on his research. I commended him on calling back and expressed that I never believed he wasn’t good, or couldn’t do the job. I just wanted an explanation on why he didn’t show for a meeting he requested and why he didn’t acknowledge the fact he didn’t show up. It was on this request he lost it again, telling me he doesn’t owe me an explanation and that he’s good at what he does. He continued arguing that I was telling him he wasn’t good and that he doesn’t know what he’s doing and that he’s not busy etc. None of which I said, nor inferred.

Eventually, he says he’s sorry for missing the meeting yet still offers no explanation. He tacks on he said sorry a while ago. Which he didn’t.

As calmly as I could, I attempted to let him know that I believed he was good, that I gave him the opportunity to talk because he seemed talented, but without acknowledging why he just stood me up and didn’t own it, I couldn’t continue the conversation.

He did not like that. Not one bit.

The moral of the story here is simple. Own your shit. If you fuck up. Own it. Don’t put it on other people.

Our society and too many work cultures, in order to avoid conflict, don’t hold people accountable. We avoid the discussions. We don’t ask for explanations. We don’t expect people to own it. Instead, we default to passive aggressive behaviors.

Personal accountability is THE most important trait one can be good at. Everything stems from our ability to self-reflect, to self-analyze, to understand who we are, what we’ve done, how we do it, how good we are or aren’t and more. When we don’t or can’t self-assess, growth and learning are virtually impossible.

Get some thick skin. Get confidence in who you are. Know you are fallible and will mess up and own it. Just because you don’t own it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and that no one noticed.

It’s not everyone else, it’s you!  Own it!