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The Benefits of Being Professional

 
Acts of Professionalism Can Super Charge Your Career.
 
Our careers, business ventures, and professional pursuits are driven by the nature of the relationships we forge and maintain.  That is why being professional can pay off for you in  all of your professional pursuits.
 
Often seemingly innocuous acts can have the undesired consequence of alienating others, thus cannon-balling any hopes we have to pursue a successful career, grow a business, or forge stronger relationships.
 
Following are acts of unprofessionalism to avoid in personal, social, and business dealings if you wish to achieve career, professional, and business success:
 
1. Avoid Little ‘White Lies’:  You know, those insincere comments you let slip in the moment?  Comments like: “We should definitely get together.”  That translates into: “I have no intention of following up with you.”   We do this to avoid discomfort. But those little white lies can and often do add up, to reflect a lack of (perceived) sincerity.
 
2. Craft Compelling E-Mail Communications: There are many ways to sabotage yourself using email. Some bad practices to avoid include using vague subject lines, not including a “call to action” or statement clearly defining what you are seeking, using long drawn out rambling messages. Also, email is an extremely difficult medium to use since there is no voice tonality to gauge the emotional state of the sender, so being clear with words used to convey feelings are critical.
 
The worst types of emails are often the ones in which you suggest having a meeting.  you may say: “Let’s schedule a time to talk.”  This is a really bad communication practice, since you fail to suggest specific days and times you are available.  By not providing dates and times you creates a burden associated with unnecessary back and forth, to confirm a meeting day, time, and location.
 
3. Poor Follow Up: Do you apologize often for taking a long time to follow up?  Not only does that send a very poor message, but it likely reveals a much deeper issue you have such as poor time management, disorganization, or inability to manage areas of your business effectively.  And people REALLY don’t like doing business with those kinds of folks.
 
Do you want to be known as the person who almost always remains true to their word?  Or do you want to be THAT person who commits to something, and people who know them roll their eyes because they know you will likely NOT follow through?  Being seen as reliable ensures people see you as a “Go-to” take charge kind of person who they can do business with.
 
4. WIIFM Practitioner: The sad truth is most human beings are selfish creatures (it’s in a our nature) who worship at the temple of “WIIFM.”
 
You may have heard of WIIFM… “What’s in it for me?”  Most of us can spot those people a mile away, and are turned off by such behavior.
 
For example when you are networking, rather than looking at the experience of meeting new people as an arduous (and awkward) task of cultivating “leads” to sell to (acting like a hunter) take a page from the farmer playbook.
 
Plant seeds by bringing value to your relationships.  In the professional business networking organization ‘Business Networking International’ they teach you that “giver’s game.”
 
Try bringing people together, by making introductions.  People who focus on helping others and bringing people together are seen more favorably and others will gravitate towards them.
 
5. Not Having an Agenda: While we all have “agendas” or goals and purposes in our dealings with others, we often fail to provide people with actual agendas.
 
You should get into the practice of always providing an agenda when you schedule meetings with people.  Not using agendas for meetings and calls is a tremendous lost opportunity. By providing agendas you can maximize meeting time, help others prepare for conversations with you, do necessary research, have answers, and generally know what your desired outcomes are.
 
6. Last Minute Cancellations: Look, it is a fact of life in this fast paced world with so many work-life balance challenges we can get overwhelmed, over-extended, and struggle to manage our schedules.  Sometimes, you have to cancel on people. when you know you cannot honor scheduling commitments it always helps to give people as much heads up as possible, and if you need to cancel, then it is your responsibility to provide make up dates and times.
 
And this leads me to the next act of unprofessionalism…
 
7. Not Apologizing: Look, it is always a good practice to simply say “you’re Sorry” when you have to cancel/reschedule.  Don’t make excuses. We all have them.  Simply say “I’m sorry” and suggest reschedule dates.
 
8. Procrastination: This is a tremendously dangerous self-inflicted wound. By putting off the unpleasant tasks we create a ripple out effect by creating chaos, scheduling challenges, missing deadlines. Break up daunting projects into manageable parts, and start early to give yourself ample time, esp. when you hit a roadblock midway through the task/project or get bombarded with other unexpected tasks.
 
9. Being Insincere: Nowadays with online communication including chat and “social” media, it is easier than ever to be someone else online. But when you misrepresent yourself, you are not building an accurate reputation.  When people meet you “face-to-face” they will be turned off that you misrepresented yourself.  That creates ill-will and can destroy your brand.
 
10. Overextending:  Sometimes we get so caught up in the helping that we end up committing to too much and then may have difficulty seeing projects through to completion.
 
There you have it. My top 10 list of ways you can maximize your professionalism. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, perhaps even your own pet peeve?
 
What do you think?
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan BIG.

The Chazin Group Turns Ten

I Am Proud to Announce That The Chazin Group Turns Ten This Month.
 
Back in 2004, I launched The Chazin Group while toiling away working for others, as a way of unleashing my passion for helping others.  It was really just an interest of mine at the time, that I pursued when I wasn’t working.
 
The focus back then was to help as many people as possible realize the goal of finding their ideal dream job, or successfully going out on their own to start their own business.
 
It has been quite a journey since then, with MANY ups and downs along the way.  My travels have taken me all over the country, from senior citizen centers to prisons, military bases, community centers, Chambers of Commerce, business incubators.
 
I have spoken to over 500 High School students, given talks in 50 colleges and Universities, taught as an adjunct professor, authored the book “Bulletproof Your Career in These Turbulent Times,” appeared in the media and on television, launched MeetUp groups, given job boot camps, and conducted a weekly radio program: “Chazin The Dream” on pursuing one’s passions and interests.
 
In 2009, I left Corporate America to dedicate my efforts full-time to focusing on serving clients.
 
So after TEN YEARS spent conducting 500 presentations to 12,000 job seekers, and coaching and consulting with 750 businesses (many of which were start-ups and entrepreneurs) I feel like I am only now just beginning to make a difference.
 
I have met so many insanely talented and motivated people along the way who for many reasons were never fully appreciated by their employers or given the opportunity to rise.  So many supremely talented people were forced to go out on their own after careers of being under-appreciated, under-compensated, and often downsized, outsourced, and off-shored.
 
By staying true to my commitment to help others achieve their life’ and career goals, I have been able to live my own dream by maintaining a clarity of focus and sense of purpose in doing what I do.
 
And after a decade of this roller coaster ride called being in business for oneself I am more energized than ever.
 
To all the folks that I have been fortunate enough to work with, I want to take time out to say “Thank you” for the trust you exhibited in me.
 
To those folks that I have not had the good fortune of working with yet…why not give me a call to discuss how you too can realize your life’s pursuits and find your passions whether that means going out on your own or finding your DREAM job!
 
If you love what you do you’ll never work another day in your life.
 
Start pursuing your dreams NOW!  Life is simply too short to toil away in jobs that don’t fulfill your passions, expertise, and interests.

 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan Big.

How Businesses Can Emulate the Spurs Organization Success

What Business Can Emulate From the San Antonio Spurs Success.  
 
Okay, I know that writing about the San Antonio Spurs right after their NBA championship win over the Miami Heat might make me a “Homer,” but there are so many invaluable lessons that organizations aspiring for greatness can take away from the Spurs success.
 
Since the Spurs began play in the now defunct American Basketball Association that merged with the NBA in 1976, they have won FIVE (5) championships.  They are fourth on the list of all-time franchise leaders in basketball championships behind ONLY the Celtics, Lakers and Bulls.  In the Spurs 38 seasons since the 1976 merger, they have captured 20 Division titles, made the playoffs 24 of the last 25 seasons (since 1989-1990) and 17 times in Tim Duncan’s 18  years with the Spurs.
 
So, what lessons can organizations wishing to be great learn from the San Antonio Spurs organization success over their last four decades?
 
Great relationships between ownership, management, and employees (the coaching staff led by Head coach Greg Popovich) are absolutely critical for success.  The Spurs are led by their core three players Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who have played together for 12 years.   Leadership is top-down, and begins with ownership headed up by Peter Holt , and trickles down to the General Manager R.C. Buford, and Head Coach Greg Popovich.
 
Just watching this team the past few seasons, it is clear from the relationship that head coach Greg Popovich has with not only his core three players (Parker, Ginobli and Duncan) but extends to all of the players as he emphasizes trust and tremendous loyalty.
 
The team exudes an aura / sense of family through the outward affection displayed and the entire team’s on the court intensity.
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All players are expected to contribute.  Every player has a role as evidenced by the fact that the Spurs bench players (non starting 5) are the highest scoring bench in the NBA.  Players one through twelve ALL contribute.  In an era of individuals moving their team mates out of the way so they can play one-on-one ball to gain highlight footage of themselves, the Spurs game is predicated on constantly moving the ball, giving up good shots for great scoring opportunities. Further, every player is required to commit themselves in playing aggressive, intense “TEAM” defense.
 
Recruit top talent, but have a culture and consistent approach to talent management by seeking out a certain kind of player (employer.)  The Spurs organization aggressively seeks out players (from all over the world) who understand their roles.  It takes a tremendously confident individual to compete at the professional sports level yet who is willing to check their egos at the door, by placing the good of their team ahead of their own self.
 
The Spurs top 3 players are significantly under compenstaed relative to league pay scales, but take lesser pay for the benefit of staying with the team.  They have played together for 12 years, and Coach Popovich has been with Tim Duncan for 18 years.   Popovich is the elder statesman of pro US sports coaching.  His 18 year tenure as head coach of the Spurs leads all four U.S. pro sports leagues.  In this era of players (and employers) showing almost no loyalty, this type of loyalty between team, coach, and players might never be seen again.
 
Over the past 3-4 decades, the Spurs leading players have passed the leadership torch down from team to team, from greats George Gervin to David Robinson, the triumvirate of Avery Johnson, Sean Elliott, and Tim Duncan to their heirs  Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills, and Danny Green.
 
Keep your core team together to buid tremendously strong relationships.  In this day in age of constant layoffs and contract based workforce, it is refreshing to see a successful franchise that values keeping its team intact to build unrivaled esprit de corps and sense of togetherness for a shared mission.
 
Create a culture of pride in your team with your fans (employees, customers) to validate a lasting legacy.  The Spurs don’t just give lip service to caring about their fans and their community.  They live that credo.   It starts with ownership setting affordable pricing so blue collar folks can go to games, and their players are consistently recognized as most active in giving back to their community.
 
Cultural diversity is a central tenet of this team’s roster construction.  They field players from all over the world.  That ethnic diversity contributes to open mindedness, a willingness to embrace other life styles, philosophies and willingness to embrace others as individuals.
 
So there you have it.  Take a lesson from the Spurs play book.  Create a recipe for success that focuses on organizational excellence, a commitment to a winning culture, finding true leaders in management and exceptional employees that exhibit the very best qyualities you could hope for, in order to achieve lasting competitive advance.
 
Congratulations to this year’s NBA Champ San Antonio Spurs!
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan Big.

Are You a Taker or a Giver

Are you a taker or a giver?
 
As a business coach and management consultant, I am always working with professionals and business owners to help them maximize their growth potential through effective selling and networking.
 
One of the biggest obstacles that I encounter with people that prevents them from achieving their full sales potential is when they try to SELL to everyone they meet, rather than attempting to build long-lasting mutually beneficial relationships.
 
The “TAKERS” are perpetually hunting, at the expense of planting the seeds to harvest long-term relationships.
 
You can spot the TAKERS a MILE AWAY!  You can spot them a mile away.  I see it in the MeetUp Group that I formed that has grown to 220+ members.   I see the overwhelming number of “TAKERS” in the business networking groups that I am affiliated with.  I see this myopic, self-centered behavior in my circles of friends, business acquaintances, clients, vendors, partners, suppliers, and ex-students that I interact with.
 
They ALL act a certain way.  You know:  “Hi! how am I!”  You feel dirty after talking to them and want to take a shower.   Call them the “Used Car Salesman.”
 
Following are a few very easy tests and simple questions to ask of yourself and others, to see if you/they are a Taker or a Giver (the “HUNTER” or the “FARMER.”)
 
hunter versus farmer
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In all the years you’ve known them, they hardly ever express an interest in how you and your family are doing.
 
When you meet new people are you always looking at them as a potential client to be pitched, rather than seeing them as a potential new acquaintance?
 
When you go to a networking event, do you spend most of the time talking or listening?  Do you ask people why they are attending the event, what they hope to get out of it, what are the challenges they face, or do you talk about what you have to offer?
 
Do you approach every relationship as an opportunity to add value and serve, or a chance to turn a profit?
 
How often do you check in with friends, co-workers, peers, employees, just to see how they are doing?
 
Do you go out of your way to make introductions to people that you think that can benefit from meeting each other, even if there is no financial gain for you?
 
Do you push aside the prospect of doing volunteer work or community engagement, because you don’t see any material gain to be had?
 
Do you send people birthday cards and Thank-You notes on a regular basis?
 
Do you send interesting articles, useful resources, or links to information to people if you think they can benefit from the information?
 
Are you always looking to try and get things out of people, or try to negotiate the best deal from others versus paying people what they are worth?
 
We all deal with significant pressure and stress in today’s global contract workplace.  There is no such thing as job security anymore, and one in four Americans are working on their own.   To use the excuse that you have to take this approach because there are so many stresses is a cop out.  We ALL face challenges to our time balancing work and family.  We all face uncertain times, restricted job prospects and our careers and professional pursuits are challenged.
So, are you a taker or a giver?
 
As business owners, the risk you take in all of your social and business dealings is alienating people that we turn off by trying to sell to.  Choose the alternate approach of building mutually beneficial relationships based on trust, respect, common interests and a genuine desire to serve others and you will be amazed how receptive people are to what you have to offer.  the “selling” comes as a result of building strong relationships.
 
The question is, do you care enough about others to put aside your own needs to pursue helping others.
 
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan Big.

You Can't Fake Great Customer Care

 
I took my car in to my local Honda dealership last week, to replace a broken window.
 
While I was there, I mentioned to the Service Manager that I have been a loyal customer of theirs for 13 years.  In that time, I leased two vehicles from them and last year purchased our third Honda with that dealership.
 
In addition, I have had all three vehicles serviced by their Service Center.  I told him that in all that time, I NEVER received so much as a thank you, any special gifts, or sign of their appreciation.
 
What was his response?  He agreed to give me a whopping 20% off the window replacement… a $70 value.
 
So, as I’m waiting for my car to be serviced (and fuming about their grand gesture of appreciation) a Honda representative in a white lab coat sits down and asks me how I am doing.  After I complain about my experience just a few minutes prior,  he says: “I’m sorry, I am not authorized to do anything.”   When I asked him why he sat down to chat with me in the first place, he told me he works in their Sales Department and was talking to customers to see if they would like to purchase their vehicles or sell back their used vehicles.
So I told him not too kindly: “Then you can’t be of any help to me.”  He replied: “Okay, let me know if I can be of “FURTHER” assistance.”
 
Further…?!?!
 
Lately, I have been doing a LOT of training with organizations to help them develop world-class customer service.  If you are going to try to implement customer care programs that make ANY difference to your clients, you absolutely must know that there can be no HALF measures.   You have to be fully committed, and in it for the long haul.  Insincere efforts can be spotted a mile away by today’s savvy customers and do much more harm than good when your organization abandons them.
 
Therefore, to institute a compelling customer care program and embrace it as a new culture, you need to have champions at all level of your organization that serve as customer advocates.
 
You also must include your customers in the process, to learn from them what they expect and what they consider to be exceptional service.  Those of your employees that deal with customers and provide the service must be responsible for defining the exceptional service to be delivered then tasked with, trained on, and incentivized to deliver that exceptional service in order to achieve lasting competitive advantage.
 
It is seven to ten times less expensive to retain customers than it is to acquire new customers.  Following are several best practices that you can implement immediately to achieve exceptional customer care that is meaningful and valuable to your customers, and drive higher client satisfaction which in turn leads to much greater client retention rates.
 
* Treat your top 20% most valuable customers differently.  Their loyalty and repeat business has earned them the right to be treated in a special light.  The Pareto Principle tells us our top 20% of customers generate 80% of our business.  These customers should be handled in a special way.  Reward them for repeat business, and thank them for referrals, endorsements, and testimonials.
 
* Tie employee performance reviews to metrics that quantify delivering customer service, i.e. number of positive customer feedbacks, number of at-risk customers saved, number of clients successfully renewed, etc.
 
* Treat your customers like employees and employees like customers.  For further background, check out the book: “The Value Profit Chain.”  Instead of keeping secrets from customers, engage them in conversation about ways to improve your offerings, let them “alpha” test new products and services (typically reserved for employee testing) and let your top clients set their own prices (within reason.)
 
* Gather ideas from the employees in your organization that deal with your customers on how to continue improving your customer care.
 
* Empower client line staff to make decisions that help you ensure exceptional customer service.
 
* Have your Management Team and outside experts “mystery” shop your business to see what it is like to engage your organization by walking into your store, interacting with your business through your website or calling your business.
 
“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”  – Daniel Adams
 
* Train all your customer care phone representatives to work with clients to resolve their issues when they call into your business regardless of length of call. Have your Senior Management listen in weekly to customer calls and work in your store to take orders from customers and engage with them.
 
* Create a culture in which your employees thank your customers for their business, have every person that enters your store be told “please come again” WHETHERY THEY PURCHASE OR NOT, have all client-facing employees smile, maintain eye contact, and give out random gifts.
 
* Create loyalty/appreciation programs that offer gifts and assigns points earned that are meaningful to customers.  You accomplish this by including your customers in the client appreciation program development process.
 
zappos_office
 
An example of an organization that was built on delivering great customer care is Zappos.  Read how Tony Hsieh built a powerful culture slavishly focused on customer care.
 
* Offer liberal/equitable product return policies.
 
* Establish a zero tolerance policy for rude, inappropriate employee behavior when it comes to interacting with your customers.
 
* Publish your client engagement and customer care policies, standards of employee behavior, and rewards programs in your store in plain site, on your website, in your marketing efforts and recruiting strategies, and train your customer care practices to all of your employees during their orientation, throughout the year, and tie bonuses and promotions to those employees that “live” your customer is king credo.
 
For other great ideas, check out Chip R. Bell’s book: “The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service,”
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan Big.

You Can't Know Everything

 
 
By our very nature we humans are fallible beings and as such you can’t know everything. It is however the mark of the mature person that we understand this, and strive always towards seeking knowledge and learning from life’s many lessons.  To wit:
 
We all have “blind spots”: blind spots are the areas we don’t even see as risks or potential deficiencies because we don’t even know they exist.
 
These can be unforeseen market circumstances, or skills we have lacking.  The challenge is, EVERYONE has blind spots.  It’s the things we don’t even know we don’t know and they often come back to bite us in the…
 
Arrogance is NOT the same as self-confidence: Having a calm assurance that we possess the knowledge, skills, desire and resources to succeed is self-confidence.
 
Arrogance resides just across the border from self-confidence in that toxic land fill area where people condescend others, put on an air of superiority, devalue others and their contributions.  It is self-destructive and alienates others.
 
Find coaches and mentors at every stage of your career: The most mature professionals and business owners are keenly aware that they have had help throughout their career and are always in a stage where they can benefit from the experiences and insights that others can provide.  In fact, these mature people actively seek out confidants and advisors.
 
Mature people embrace uncertainty and the unknown: In biology, the term entropy is the state of all matter deteriorating into disorder.
 
It is the rare individual that accepts chaos is a part of existence and prepares for opportunities that spring out from the weeds.  They do this by hiring top talent, entrusting others, pursuing lifelong learning and the acquisition of skills, expertise, and experiences that they can leverage in unique and new ways.
 
Surround yourself with super talented people and listen to them: The mature business owner is not intimidated by hiring highly successful people. In fact, they actively seek out the best talent available to them as a key competitive advantage.  They hire the best talent, and really nurture these top performers (Jack Welch called them his “A” people.)
 
Once you hire the best talent, you can and MUST provide them with the resources, skills, guidance and independence they require in order to make great contributions for your organization.
 
Create a culture that asks WHY and WHAT IF?: Most of us stop asking such questions around the age of five.  There is a reason we learn nearly everything we need to be successful by the time we reach Kindergarten.
 
It is the truly mature professional that continues to seek new heights, challenge convention wisdom/thinking, and pursue the unexplored as areas for the greatest potential result.
 
Empower your people: Nothing speaks to a mature and self-aware leader like the act of entrusting the people you hire who are closest to your customers, systems, and processes to make the right decisions for the greatest good and benefit to your organization.
 
Know successful people: It is extremely beneficial to align yourself with successful individuals, but don’t engage with them solely for the purpose of doing business with them: In the mind set of success by closeness we can learn quite a bit from highly successful people.  The trick is to be close to them to connect with them and watch out for successful behavior that we can internalize and emulate. The goal is not to find them and try to sell to them.
 
You can’t do everything on your own: In summary, the mature and constantly evolving professional understands they cannot be successful as an island unto thyself.  Those people that are most productive find great allies, align themselves with people that share their passions, values and sense of mission and build strong teams for mutual and shared long-term success.
 
Here’s to your continued success in 2014!
 
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
> Plan > Launch  > Grow Your Business.