A toast, you say

Today I finally went somewhere I’ve been trying to push myself to go to for a while: Toastmasters.What? Toastmasters is a forum gathered to practice public speaking. Why? As a sales person, the amount of interaction I have to do on a daily basis is significant. Whether it is on a one on one basis or in front of a public audience, it’s a skill worth honing. Who?When?Where? These three W’s are unimportant. So we skip.

Now if you’ve never been, you’ll find that the class is very structured in specific ways. People are assigned roles such as  UM counter, (who counts how many times people say UM,) time keeper (who runs a mini street light and flashes the green, yellow, or red light based off how much time you have left.) and about 6 more jobs along with a rigid schedule and timeline. The first two speeches presented were prepared in advance and the second two are made up on the spot. Everyone does a very good job and awards are given to the best speeches of each classification. Additionally, there is an overall theme that these speeches must cover and the theme for the day was Superheroes. There are so many ways to approach this topic but what I found most interesting is that coincidentally, all presenters of the day, were women. Even MORE interesting, all the women presenting had a common superhero, wonder woman. Honestly, before today, I always thought of Wonder Woman as the bottom of the totem pole of superheroes, just barely above Robin and Krillin and that’s not saying much. A little research proves to myself that I am ignorant. Wonder Woman is the princess of the amazons. One of Earth’s most powerful defenders of peace and daughter of Zeus and Amazon queen Hippolyta. Mind. Blown.

However, aside from the fact that I found out she is pretty awesome, I realized that girls don’t really have many model feminine superheros to look up to. Though Wonder Woman has got a wondrous back story, girls would essentially have to choose her as their favorite female superhero by default. Remember Jubilee? Good grief, nobody took that girl seriously because come on, I can just buy myself a 50 pack of sparklers on 4th of july for $5.00 and have Jubilee’s powers too. For $10.00 I could be twice as strong as her. Quit the X-Men girl and go get a job at Disneyland shooting up fireworks after World of Color ends. But the silver lining is that in X-Men Apocalypse, she will be portrayed by an up and coming Asian actor.

At the end of the class, something else happened. I was given an award and got my picture taken with the toastmaster. He seemed a little reserved about giving it to me as he said “It’s just tradition.” I was a ball of mixed emotions, surprised and yet somewhat excited. This award, essentially with no value, was the equivalent of a child’s participation award. You’re not first, you’re not second, you’re not even third, you’re a participant! CONGRATULATIONS! Why is it that we get excited about rewards even when they have no inherent value? Why has our society become so soft that we feel that every child needs to get an award. Aren’t we a society that believes that competition fosters motivation and promotes greater overall growth? If all of our children are getting rewarded for standing around and picking their nose, are they going to do anything more than just that? Well they might eat it, but I mean in the productive sense.

So in the spirit of competition, I want to share a mindset concept with you. Playing to win versus Playing not to lose. When you are playing not to lose, your focus is not on what you can gain but on maintaining what you already have. When you are playing to win, you are focused on creating new opportunities and going after what you want. The paradox of playing not to lose is specifically not making mistakes which leads to more losing. The flip is when you’re playing to win, continuous risk taking leads to more victories. You’ll have some failures but you’ll have greater victories. Here is an example. In soccer, when the timer runs out and the score is a tie, they go to a penalty shoot out where each kicker goes one on one with the goalie and the best of 5 wins. The rate of success is pretty high and on average, Penalty kicks are successful 85% of the time. Now, Let’s use the scenario where a team is down 2-4 so if this kicker makes it, they will still be in the running, but if he misses, they lose. Hence, he is playing not to lose. What percentage of these shots do you believe are made? an insignificant 62%! However, on the flip side, if a team was leading with a score of 4-2 and the game is over if the kicker makes the shot, what percentage of the time do these players make their kick? Playing to win. 92%!!!! They are all making the same kick from the same distance, but with one key difference which creates a wild result: mindset. Always play to win.

 

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Anything you can do I can do better

Today I had a conversation with a coworker that I’ve heard time and time again, “Wow, how come he’s so successful, he’s not particularly skilled, not well versed, or good looking. I should be doing much better than him.”  Well good sir, everyone has the ability to be successful and it’s just a matter of willingness and ability to remain consistent. Many of us including myself sometimes are the same, we want the cheese without having to jump through hoops or run through any mazes. This reminds me of something my business coach David once shared.

Here’s your problem:
* You have integrity
* You have intelligence
* You have conscientiousness
* You have detail orientation
* You have a desire to deliver excellent work

So why is this a problem?

Because you’re competing with dummies who:
* Charge more
* Deliver less
* Shoot faster
* Shoot more often
* Brag and boast with nothing but hot air and smoke

The truth is that they are not better than you at all.

But perception is reality!

So you need to get to work.
You need to shoot faster and shoot more often. Perhaps be a bit more like Kobe.
You need to tell more people more frequently what you do.
You need to charge more.
You need to value your own product, service, and time.

 

That is a problem, since I do believe that one should always practice good business ethics. Does the ends justify the means?

Now, this reminds me of the Dunning-Kruger Effect This is when unskilled people believe that their abilities are higher than they actually are. For example, have you ever come out of an examination and begun a conversation with friends in the class, let’s say two very different friends: 1) a person that you knew to be a genius but when you asked him how he did, he said he didn’t believe he did that much better than anyone else 2)A person that has spent only a few hours studying yet he believed he did quite well. This is the Dunning Kruger effect, In other words, the stupid do not know that they don’t know  and end up overestimating how well they did whereas the highly skilled individual assumes that everyone else has the same abilities as themselves and tend to underestimate how well they did. There is a famous saying that you should fake it until you make it and I do believe that is helpful, but you must also be mindful of your own shortcomings. We’ll never be perfect and that’s the great thing, we’ll always have something to aspire and grow towards.

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I came for Toilet paper, how did I spend $200?

Today I went to target to get TWO items, some toilet paper and some cheesy hallmark cards to send out to clients. Who dictates the prices on these things because man, with a markup this high, one card sold covers all of Target’s overhead expense and costs of goods sold for month. Alright, that’s a slight exaggeration, but seriously, these things are not cheap. Although, they do throw in a free envelope with each card, so, at least you got that going for you. Just don’t grab the wrong envelope because these envelopes are not one size fits all and you don’t want to find yourself at home in rage, trying to jam your card that you just spent half of your life savings on, into this envelope that’s inches too small to receive it and you rip everything to shreds. Something I obviously have no experience with.

So, I would say that I am pretty good with my self control as I get the items I need and go straight to the cash register. In and out like a burger. While waiting in line, I strike up a conversation with the lady in front of me and she says, “Only a man can do that.” As she points to my card and toilet paper. My first thought was that she felt my 12 pack of toilet paper was not sufficient enough. Maybe I should’ve gotten the 36, or gone to costco and got the 300. Either way, I ask what she is talking about. She says “Only a man can come to the store and get just what he needs and leave. I just came to target to buy these paper plates for my 5 y/o sons birthday and now I have ice cream, cereal, these toy cars, balloons, streamers, etc etc. But I think I still did good. I didn’t buy everything I saw.” I laughed at her statement and joked that having only two tubs of ice cream is going to be an issue. These 5 year olds are going to scarf it down before she even gets a chance to put the rest of the groceries on the table.

Her comment reminded me of how powerful the advertising world is. Things that go unnoticed  guide our behaviors and has become a backbone to how most stores operate.

Lesson of the day, Gruen transfer: Named after Viktor Gruen, was an architect who designed the first shopping mall. This concept is the use of intentionally confusing layouts in stores to make the consumer forget what they were originally coming to the store to purchase.

Things that seem normal in our world now were once groundbreaking ideas. Stores were once extremely bland and there were a lack of displays within the store and window displays were nonexistent.

Here’s something else you may not have noticed. In Grocery stores, the exterior of the store contains all the perishable goods. On one side you have vegetables, fruits, the other side: meats, eggs, milk, all which have a timely expiration date. Now why do the stores do this? Vegetables and fruits are considered necessities and so are meats milk and eggs so, by placing them on opposite ends of the store, you will be forced to go from one end to the other. The purpose is so that you also go through the middle aisles which contain items you probably do not need. Then of course, when you get to the register, you’ll find some carefully chosen impulse buy items, don’t give in. Control yourself, you just came for toilet paper.

 

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No, you can stay with us forever

Every business, whether it is a service or a product is the same. Get clients, keep clients and make money. That’s why some businesses have a department called retention, whose sole purpose of existence is to keep customers. Everyone’s approach is different but this one, oh this one is special. Their method is the Make your life a living hell so that you end up staying due to how much dread it is to leave them.

Today I decided to cancel my subscription to a service I’ve been using for a year because I have not been actively using it.

Person #1: I speak with this person and tell him I want to cancel. He goes “OHHHH NOO!!!! I Should just hang up this call right now” jokingly, but possibly a little serious. he asks me why then says, “that’s no problem, I actually cannot handle that issue, I’ll have to get you over to customer service.”

2 minute hold

Person #2: I speak with this person and tell her I want to cancel and she goes “I’m so sorry to hear that, may I ask why?” I tell her why and she tries to sell me on why I should stay. When I say no, she says that she needs to get me over to cancellation.

2 minute hold

Person #3: I speak with this person and tell him I want to cancel and he says “No problem let me look in the system. While I’m looking things up, could I ask why?” I tell him again. Also, I want to mention that it’s safe to say that he already knows why. I would also fare to say he already has my record on his window and he’s just stalling for time. He wastes some more time probing for answer and says that I’ve been “such a loyal customer” that I qualify for 2 free months. Would I like to stay around for 2 months and see if I like it better? It’s free. I tell him no, just cancel it. He tells me, Ok, I’ll transfer you over to cancellation.I think to myself, I thought you were supposed to be cancellation.

5 minute hold

Person #4: I speak with this person and tell him I want to cancel and he puts me on hold so that he can look through the system. This hold is about a minute. Which doesn’t sound long. But when waiting on the phone and even though you’re entertained by Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing, it can feel like a decade. Finally he comes back and runs through why I’m cancelling, AGAIN and then finally says we’re set and that there will no longer be any charges.

Total Time to cancel: 28 minutes 12 seconds

If you think about it, the companies that have this department are likely the ones that have trouble keeping customers. I have cancelled hundreds of subscriptions in my life and the most successful ones, do not give me any hassle at all. “Oh you’re out? No problem, I got you. Thank you for using our service and if you ever need anything in the future, do not hesitate to call”

As DJ Khaled would say. They don’t want you to cancel. They don’t want you to be successful. Don’t be they. Major Key

Don’t pun with your mouth open

So this past weekend was mother’s day, bless them and I made my monthly trip to the only store where I get too much of something I kinda need, Costco. On this trip, one particular item was strategically placed everywhere in the store, flowers. By the entrance, by the exit, by the bread, by the dog food, by the dairy, in your cart, wait how’d that get there? Flowers of all races, colors and arrangements. Yellows with white, red with purple, big with small, wild bushy flowers with sleek flowers, they coexisted to bring joy to the eyes of someone’s creator. As mentioned before, my mother hates flowers so there was no need to get her any flowers and instead, I got her a 3,000 pack of sponges, (it was the smallest quantity they had, cause you know, Costco.) I make my way to the checkout line and the theme continues, my eyes see nothing but a sea of flowers. Every cart has flowers and my thoughts are, what a successful capitalization by the flower companies on a man made holiday. They’re all man made but you get what I mean. I’m next in line and the clerk says to the man in front of me, “Wow, you picked out some good ones, these are beautiful flowers. These things have been selling, literally, like hot cakes.”

I would like to note that I abhor the use of the word literally. The only time I take enjoyment of it in a sentence is when it is used improperly. I was so hungry, I literally died. I was so excited I literally jumped out of my skin. I was so scared I literally shit myself. These are literally the best ways to use this word. Only people who right good and speak good would know that though.

The buyer was not amused by the sweet talk and grabbed his bag quickly and moved along his way. I started thinking, what the heck does it mean to sell like hot cakes? Well I know what it means, but why do people say this? I was so confused I was literally scratching a hole into my scalp from wonder. Sadly, is more boring than exciting. Exciting in that nobody knows it’s actual origin and boring due to the fact that the assumed origin is lame, literally. For those of you that don’t know, hot cakes are just another word for pancakes. So the explanation is that hot cakes were popular at large events like church gatherings, festivals, fairs etc. so when the crowds gather, they are purchased as fast as they can be made by the people. Since hot cakes are usually sold in quantities of more than one, it sells much quicker than it can be made. Lame, I know. So I decided to look into some more food cliches and thought I’d share them.

Take it with a grain of salt: An Ancient Roman Pompei one family member had in his cabinet the following note: “Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.” Since he would be able to disregard poisons due to this antidote we now use it as short form for us not take something too seriously… since the antidote with salt will literally cure you anyways.

Piece of Cake: In the 1870s, cakes were given out as prizes in competitions and slaves would walk down the aisle in pairs and the most graceful pair would “take the cake.” Ironically it was a demanding process that eventually turned to mean something that is easy.

Born with a Silver spoon in his mouth: In the 1700s, Silver spoons were a symbol of status and one would carry it around like a passport to denote class. Of course if you were born with one in your mouth, you did not earn it but had it given to you.

Apple of my eye: People once believed that the pupil in our eye was a solid object and referred to it as an Apple. So saying you are the apple of my eye is saying you are as precious as the ability to see.

Alright to keep consistent with the food theme, I will literally end today’s thoughts with a food conversation I had with Tracey. Wait, no, that is not an acceptable usage of the word literally. I literally thought using literally improperly would literally be a piece of cake and I literally pissed myself after posting such a repugnant use of literally. literally.

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Valuable memories

Happy Mother’s day! Just a day like any other. However, Obligations go to taking the mother out so we’ll be doing just that. Now I don’t know about everyone else but my mom hates getting useless things so, flowers, NOPE, useful things, YEP. She’d choose the 25 cent sponge from the corner liquor store over the $50.00 arrangement of roses. Given this mindset, there’s only two places to take her, lunch and thrift store. For those of you unfamiliar with the thrift store, let me break it down for you. Have you ever looked through your house and saw an item with a reaction “Why the heck did I buy this for?” and you didn’t know what to do with it? The proper place to dispose of it, is the thrift store. So other people can buy it and one day have the exact same reaction. Luckily, by buying it from the thrift store they, can justify their purchase and say: “But shit, it was 99 cents!”

I am uncertain why, but the section in this classy store that catches my attention the most is always the book section. There’s always editions of popular books like Twilight, Harry Potter, Dan Brown series, Donald Trump books(for some reason,) and many more. The variety is wide but I usually get my enjoyment from perusing and never purchasing.

Fun Fact: of all the things people hoard, It has been shown that one of the hardest things for people to get rid of in their home, is books. Many of these books contain pages with information that someone had dedicated their life to… and you can have that for just $1.99.

As I mentioned, I rarely every buy anything but this time, I couldn’t resist. I bought two of my favorite childhood books: Oh the Places You’ll Go!and Horton Hatches the Egg. Both by Dr. Seuss. If they had Green Eggs and Ham as well as The Star Bellied Sneeches, I would’ve snagged them all up and had my childhood rejuvenated.

The reason I bought these books, is not just based solely on the fact that they give me memorable pleasure, but, as I read them, (in the store, yeah I’m one of those people,) I realized that the lessons I take from them now were nothing like I had understood of them before. Dr. Seuss was one of those talented authors that often wrote stories that only adults could comprehend, but children still enjoyed. Very few people or companies are able to accomplish this. Two big ones off the top of my head are Disney and Legos. One of my favorite quotes from him is

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss

What lessons do I take from this book?

  • You make your own decisions in life. You are responsible for yourself and nobody else. If you see something you do not like, you can always pivot directions.
  • Sometimes when you do new things, you’ll feel alone. You will see that people around you are successful and even if you are not there yet, consistency will get you there.
  • You’ll be able to see new things that you never expected and join the cream of the crop.
  • But that’s not all, if you keep going, you can surpass even the best of the best.
  • However, life doesn’t always go at planned and more often then not, you will fail.
  • When you fail, you’ll be in a slump and this is a part of life that will be hard to move out from. But when you do, you will become much more risk averse as you see all your options and feel scared to fail again.
  • So you join the masses of people who waste away their life by waiting instead of making things happen.
  • But you realize that’s not for you as you break out into the exciting unknown again.
  • Through this road you’ll face many scary things and as you push on, one of the biggest obstacles you’ll face, will always be yourself.
  • As long as you keep moving forward, you will move mountains.

Now, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It may be hard to believe that you can take these lessons from the book, but it’s there, I promise. I categorize it in Non-prose Motivational books. Change your thinking > change your actions > change your life.

 

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You buy now

Today I had an experience with the type of salesman that possibly have one of the worst reputations: car salesman. As a salesman myself, I like to pay attention to techniques that are used by others. Whenever I receive a sales calls, perhaps to buy a timeshare, I’ll give the caller a listen just to see how good they are. When they seem to be doing well, I’ll throw in a test and though I have received some surprisingly good responses, more often they’ll fall flat on their face. I can’t blame Raj because he’s just another person outsourced in India doing his best with the limited training they’re provided.

Back to Car Salesmen. When you arrive at a dealership, out in the front there will be a flock of salesmen congregated together, discussing who knows what. Probably what color underwear the receptionist is wearing. They know who spoke with the last people that came in and who’s turn it is to prey. I am approached, I’ll call this man Carl. Carl comes towards me with a big smile (a must if you want to succeed in sales) and says “How can I help you today?” I told him we’re here to see our friend Ray and go on our way. After speaking with Ray, Ray takes us back to the pit and introduces us to Carl again. Now, Ray is an introvert, he’s a great guy but he usually likes to keep to himself, so he probably doesn’t converse with a lot of people outside of his department. Ray has probably never spoken once to Carl.

Technique #1: Carl: You’re friends with Ray? Great guy. We’re going to be able to give you the best price. The friends and family pricing. That’s the same price that Ray would pay here as an employee!

This is a move used to make you feel like you’re going to get a deal right off the bat. There is no need to negotiate price with us once the time comes. Just take it. Take it in the butt and walk to your new car with a limp cause we gon give it to you, give it to you good.

Note, We’re there to look at cars for my mom and she wants the CR-V, so he takes us there.

Technique #2: He tells us the cars are really far. Across the street far. However, there are  a line of CR-Vs just 20 feet away. Once we get to the closer line of CR-Vs, we feel a sense that we’ve been hooked up. Like he’s saying, the cars are actually across the street, but here’s what I can do, I can show you these cars here, which we only show our VIP.

As he’s explaining the features it went like this. LX-lowest model SE- has nicer wheels EX-has sun roof, right side camera and second screen up front EX-L- Has leather interior. So each model up has everything the previous model has + it’s add ons. My mom expresses that the right view camera is cool. That was way too much details, all that matters is my mom said the side view camera is cool, which only exists on the second most expensive and the most expensive model.

Technique #3: I call this the lemon tree technique. In real estate, a lot of times when agents find out what a person really wants in a house, for example: a lemon tree. They will continuously divert attention from the faults of the house and say “but hey, there’s a lemon tree!” or “Look how clearly you can see the lemon tree from this room, and this room too!” or “OMG do you smell that? Is that the lemon tree?!” or “Wow, look at how much shade this lemon tree can provide in those hot summer times and your children and use these lemons to run their own lemonade business!” You get the picture.

This salesman lemon tree’d my mom with the side camera and began selling the hell out of it. “Ohhhhh it’s so great and only the EX and higher has it, you like the side camera right?”

Technique #4: Getting confirmation. He continuously tried to get us to affirm that something was what we wanted. In sales, they say you need to get potential clients to agree with you  at least 5 times before you go in for the close. Usually the Yes/no question is formatted in a way where you would be stupid if you said no. “We’re going to be able to help you save money here. You do want to save money right?”

After we’re done looking we go back into his office and he takes our information. As he’s doing so, he’s constantly talking.

Technique #5: credentials. He talks about how long he’s been here and how he’s a gold star member, which means he sold xxx # of cars in a year. How he’s only one of two people in the office to do it. Also, that he still takes his weekends off. So this must mean he is talented or good at his job. Wow, such amaze. It’s such an honor to be in your presence, could I get you a free water from the lobby? Cause you’re on fire and I think you need some free water. Actually, I’m just gonna call the fire dept, cause I don’t think Aquafina can contain you.

Technique #6:Building rapport. He asked my mom “So is it Ms. or Mrs.?” That’s when I said, put whatever, she’s a widow. He continued to fill things in and says. “It’s so tough, when I was young my dad suddenly passed away without warning, it was the hardest thing ever. Then later on my mother got cancer and passed away too. That one was harder because, she was a big woman you know? And at the end of it, she was only 80 pounds. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that. I think it’s better if they just go immediately and not have to feel that pain. Their pain hurts me too.”

Building rapport 2: He asked me what I did. I told him real estate and then he goes into how he “tried” to get into real estate and spent a few months going to get his license before Honda made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

After the information is taken he goes to a separate office to get everything printed.

Technique #7: Make the client wait. We waited at least 15 minutes. They obviously already have all this information ready but they make it seem like they have to go through this rigorous process of creating a “specially for you” pricing. Fool, we got places to be. I need to blast a dookie too so hurry the hell up.

Technique #8: Reaffirm their word. “Usually our pricing is $27k, but, since you’re good friends with Ray, we’re going to be able to give it to you for $25k.That’s a whole $2,000 off, isn’t that great?!” He keeps pointing to the difference between the retail and what price they’re able to give us as he runs through all the numbers.

So I begin the negotiation process and of course, he’s not the man. He answers to someone else. But this person is not just anybody, he’s probably not even a manager. He’s just an even more aggressive salesman.

Technique #9: Pretend you have to answer to someone so you can have a buffer.

Now Carl brings out Rick. Rick comes out with his dick swinging. “So Carl tells me you want to negotiate some prices? What price would you like?” As I begin saying things, he responds with the We can’t do that, there’s no way, we’ll lose money. These are the best prices we can do.

Technique #10: We are a business and just trying to make money too. You don’t want our dainty 1000 employee dealership to go out of business do you? Cause that’s what you’re asking us to do when you ask for this price.

So I get up to leave and tell him if that’s the best price then we’re done here, thank you.

Technique #11: The do anything to make the client stay technique. “WAIT. These are the prices we would like to get for the car. I mean we’re already cutting off $2,000. Like you said, everything is negotiable so what price are you thinking about?”

Anyways, long story short. I really had to poop and we weren’t planning on buying a car that day anyways so I bid him farewell. I have a tendency to try to negotiate in all situations and he tried very hard to make me stay. I would say he tried as hard as a drug addict down on his luck and offering some questionable acts for a bump. However, when you’re groundhogging, it’s time to get jogging. This adventure will have to be finished another day.

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