Thursday, July 13, 2017

Support Your Industry. Grow Your Pie.

"In a dark time, the eye begins to see"- Cavett Robert
I have seen dark times, and they opened me up to be ready to recognize success.  I have seen bright times and I have enjoyed the warmth of growing my business and supporting my industry.  

I am shocked when others find ways to blacken the sunshine that is illuminating the faces of others.  Why must people throw stones when someone else is rising high?  I am excited about the path I am blazing, but I am also becoming aware of how people behave in selfish ways.    It confuses me, but somebody always takes a shot at those who are excelling. 

This week I attended my 9th annual convention of the National Speakers Association.  Influence 2017 left me inspired for what is ahead for me in the next year. In my time as a member of this organization I have learned so much from the other speakers I have known (and those legends I did not have the honor of knowing).  Each time I attend I come home fired up to do more.

When Cavett Robert founded the National Speakers Association over 40 years ago he told other speakers “Don’t worry about how we divide up the pie, there is enough for everybody! Let’s just build a bigger pie.”  Too many get jealous of others and want to keep them from rising. Yet I believe in Cavett's theory of a bigger pie.  It is paramount to my core thoughts about the speaking business (and the meetings business). I want to see everyone build a bigger pie.  I get upset when I see those who undermine fabric of the pie growth speakers. 

NSA has become a beacon of my success.  When I meet people who want to become professional speakers, I encourage them to attend as many events (local and national) as they can.  But not many get engaged.  I hear many speaking "gurus" who sell services to those who want to speak talk down participation (as clearly they want to sell the information to those who want to make a living in this business), but I never could have found any success without my being engaged in NSA.

When I speak to audiences I always tell them that no matter what industry they are part of, they need to become active in their industry association.  I am shocked how many associations do not champion the cause of associations.  None of us can grow unless we all are on board to expand.

I am shocked by people who do not support their industries.  It is so much easier to grow your industry's pie than to constantly chip away at the foundation of your peers.  I did not know Cavett Robert, but I am sure he smiles at the speakers who have followed after him to expand our boundaries.  Those who support the industry and grow the pie are the legacy he left behind.  I strive to do my little part to add to that legacy.  I look up and smile thinking of him.  I am thankful he founded the NSA.

What do you do to add to the legacy of your industry?  If you cannot answer that I challenge you to do something. Anything.  No matter how small.  It all adds up.  

And do you know who founded your industry association?  You are their legacy... learn their story. 

Have A Great Day

thom singer



Thursday, June 22, 2017

The World is Changing - And So Will Your Job

There are many changes happening in the business world.  I am not sure I grasp what all of it means, and I am trying to not have my head in the sand.  The small things matter, but can easily be overlooked.

How people will earn their living is going to be disrupted and more and more people will become self-employed consultants.  Many will thrive in this environment, but having worked as a solopreneur for nearly a decade, I am also aware that some will not be prepared for all that goes with self-employment. 

My own industry, the meetings business, is going to undergo disruptions.  Speakers are going to be directly impacted, as what audiences want is different than it was just a few short years ago.  Meeting organizers are seeking ways to shake up the traditional meeting formats.  The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) recently held a conference called XDP that was an attempt at redesigning production and participation at a live event. 

Speakers need to be more interactive, as audiences of today appreciate being involved in the presentation.  Speech times are also shorter, so to really connect with people the speaker must have wicked good presentation skills.  Content has to be stronger, but content alone belongs in a white paper, not on stage.  The mix necessary to survive as a speaker will start to become clear in the next few years, and the trick for me (and my peers) is to be open to changing up topics and how we engage while on stage and off stage.

No matter what you do for a living, you need to be looking for what is happening in your industry and how the "new-new" will impact how you do your job. The world is changing, and I fear many will be left behind.  The baby boomers will most likely not be impacted too much, but those of us who are under age 55 need to be ready for some interesting times in the next 25 years.  

I have no answers, but I clearly see the questions.  I am optimistic that I will figure out a way to navigate the future, but I am worried that it will not be easy.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Go Ahead, Judge Me - But Then Give Me A Chance


People judge others.  We all do it.  It is wired into our DNA.  Four thousand years ago if someone walked into your village you needed to be able to quickly decide if they were friend or foe, as a foe could kill you in your sleep.  Thus, we size people up within moments of meeting them, and it is hard to shift that opinion.

Yet we live in a complex world and it is a good idea to realize that when we make snap decisions they are not always right, and when we label and people too fast (in a negative way) we can limit the results that come from knowing another person.  When we dismiss the value of another, we might sell short our own opportunities.

All opportunities come from people, and thus we need each other. I try hard to let people show me more about who they are and what they do before I let a first impression become my permanent opinion.  By giving people a chance there is some risk that they can disappoint, and many decide it is not worth taking a chance.  I disagree, as there is also a chance they can become an amazing friend and supporter.  I want and need more friends and supporters, so I will always let someone prove they have value before determining they are not worthy.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Your Mindset Brings More Business

If you want more business and desire for each member of your team to contribute more to the growth of you company, then you need to care about the mindset of the individual and the organization. 

In my research for the new "Paradox of Potential" keynote and workshop, I came across the work of Stanford's Dr Carol Dweck (both her book, Mindset, and her decades of research).  Dweck's teaching on a fixed vs growth mindset have had a material impact not only in how it supports what I am finding from speaking to hundreds of people about their own potential, but also in my bottom line.

When you see the world via a fixed mindset you do not challenge yourself to learn as much.  You may not see a need to try new things. If you are certain that your talent is god-given, either think you have enough, or you do not.  This will put limits on your ability to achieve more results.  You will be fast to give up or not put in enough practice and preparation. Thus there is little chance you will achieve more than you expected.  We humans tend to rise and fall to the expectations we believe.

If you do not think hard work, study, and practice will have an impact, why do it?  Easier to blame your IQ, circumstances, or other situations as being out of your control.

But I want to be in control.  It makes me feel right to know that I can impact my own future. A growth mindset brings possibility.  It is through this view of my activities (and I am trying to have this view when I am conscious of the choice) that I am achieving a record breaking year in sales and audience interaction. Believing that I can learn to engage clients (both those who hire me and the conference participants) is making it happen.  This has allowed me to seek ways to change how I behave daily in every interaction I have.  There is a new hunger to accomplish more.  I seek to to get those who hear my message to take real action..

Potential does not equal results. We have to work at finding ways to improve our abilities in countless areas of our lives. Henry Ford famously said, "whether you think you can, or your think you can't - you are right".  Do you think your potential is limited?  Do you have a mindset that is holding you back?  Why let your competitor win because he believes he can?

Your mindset, plus the right actions, will bring more business. 

Happy to share my own stories about what is changing in my business with anyone who wants to reach out (by the way, those with fixed mindsets never reach out).

Have A Great Day

thom singer



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Congrats to the new "Certified Speaking Professionals" (CSP)

The National Speakers Association Certifies 43 Speaking Professionals

The National Speakers Association® (NSA), the leading organization for the professional speaking industry, is proud to announce 43 professional speakers have earned the CSP™ (Certified Speaking Professional) designation in 2017.

It has been three years since I earned my CSP, and I have always been proud to be part of this unique group of speakers.  Just over 800 professional speakers have this designation.

Established in 1980, the CSP is the speaking profession’s international measure of speaking experience and skill. 

The CSP designation is conferred by NSA on accomplished professional speakers who have earned it by meeting strict criteria. CSPs must document a proven track record of continuing speaking experience and expertise, as well as a commitment to ongoing education, outstanding client service, and ethical behavior. The 2017 class of CSPs will be honored during a ceremony on July 8 at Influence 2017, NSA’s annual convention in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

"The CSP™ (Certified Speaking Professional) designation is the highest earned specification that can be achieved by a member of the National Speakers Association or Global Speakers Federation Member Associations,” says 2016-2017 NSA President John B. Molidor, Ph.D., CSP. “Achieving the CSP designation is no easy task; professional speakers must show documented proficiency over a minimum of five years, must receive positive evaluations from their clients, and must be evaluated and affirmed through a peer review process. When meeting professionals hire a Certified Speaking Professional, they can be assured the speaker brings to the table a high-level of expertise and competency, superior speaking ability, and a proven track record of professionalism and success.”

Introducing the 2017 Class of Certified Speaking Professionals:

Christopher Bianez, CSP, Plano, Texas
Aram Boyd, CSP, Danville, Calif.
Guy Burns, CSP, Virginia Beach, Va.
Mary M. Byers, CSP, Chatham, Ill.
Max Stanley Chartrand, PhD, CSP, Casa Grande, Ariz.
David J. Chinsky, CSP, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Heather Christie, JD, CSP, Naples, Fla.
Dennis Cummins, DC, CSP, Miller Place, N.Y.
Sima Dahl, CSP, Chicago, Ill.
Dirk W. Eilert, CSP, Berlin, Germany
Lee Ellis, CSP, Atlanta, Ga.
Celynn Morin Erasmus, CSP, Johannesburg, South Africa
Steve Foran, CSP, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Sandro Forte, FPSA, CSP, London, England
Chris Fuller, CSP, Arlington, Texas
Chuck Gallagher, CSP, Greenville, S.C.
Merit Gest, CSP, Denver, Colo.
Charmaine Hammond, CSP, North Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada
Stacey L. Hanke, CSP, Chicago, Ill.
John M. Hannon, CSP, Sarasota, Fla.
Joel Hilchey, CSP, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Michelle E.W. Howison, CSP, Houston, Texas
Sydne Jacques, CSP, Salt Lake City, Utah
Bethanne Kronick, CSP, Camp Sherman, Ore.
Alesia Latson, CSP, Boston, Mass.
Rob Lilwall, CSP, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Gary Lynn, PhD, CSP, Milburn, N.J.
Tim Marvel, CSP, Dallas, Texas
Marty Mercer, CSP, Atlanta, Ga.
Tod C. Novak, CSP, Newport Beach, Calif.
Gerry O’Brion, CSP, Denver, Colo.
Kathleen D. Pagana, PhD, CSP, Williamsport, Pa.
Matthew Pollard, CSP, Austin, Texas
Thomas Ray, CSP, Sarasota, Fla.
Philipp Riederle, CSP, Burgau, Germany
Dean Savoca, CSP, Denver, Colo.
Jeff Shore, CSP, Auburn, Calif.
Bill Stainton, CSP, Seattle, Wash.
Carolyn Strauss, CSP, Denver, Colo.
William “T” Thompson, JD, CSP, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Jerome Wade, CSP, Albuquerque, N.M.
Crystal Washington, CSP, Houston, Texas
Ken Weichert, CSP, Nashville, Tenn.

Congratulations to all.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, May 15, 2017

7 Tips to Reach Your Super Potential

The new keynote presentation that I have developed, The Paradox of Potential, is getting positive responses from audiences and cultivating more conversation than predicted.  After my speeches people are lining up to discuss how they view their inner potential and what is actually happening in their career.

The concept of this talk (and eventual book) is based on the feedback from hundreds of people I have surveyed who admit to not believing they are reaching their career potential (about 70% feel they are coming up short of their ability).  There is a noticeable gap between potential and results, and much of happens because of the small things that people are overlooking.  Rarely is it some giant problem looming in their past.

The same shortfalls are true of corporate teams and non-profit organizations.  While most who are engaged in these groups feel they have "Super Potential" in what they could be accomplishing, the lower than expected results are weighing heavy.  

Getting the results that you desire will not happen by accident. You and your team must be clear about what you are trying to accomplish and have a true understanding of your motivation.  Going through the motions without direction should not be the norm, yet too many feel they are unclear about what they are actually working toward. Additionally you need to surround yourself with people who will help promote you and your cause. Your network matters!

Here are seven tips to help you reach your super potential:

1. Set clear career goals
2. Try new things / Take risks
3. Believe in your capabilities
4. Show gratitude to those who help you
5. Ask for help / delegate
6. Work past the fear
7. Connect with people

This does not have to be rocket science.  Like most things in life, steering toward success is not nearly as complicated as we try to make it. Take the necessary steps daily in good times and bad.  Keep doing the right things and over time you will be among those that others look to as the example.  There are no shortcuts and there is no way to outsource your success.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer


 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Choose People


After more than ten years of social media and mobile, are we really better connected?  Some are confident we have transformed our society for the better, while others do not believe they have any more tangible relationships. Life is a long climb, and it is better when we along our path with others.

A decade ago, when all the online tools appeared, people predicted the end of live meetings.  In 2017 there are more face-to-face events than ever before.  People are hungry to connect with others, and I believe that many of the tools we use are not really allowing us to have deeper friendships. And it is not just formal conferences and events that are booming: Every corner has a Starbucks and those are filled with people meeting in person.  People need to convene. 

Because of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc... we know more people on the surface, but few are saying they have deeper personal connections and better business relationships. I think has become harder to get noticed in the sea of noise, and buyers are often more confused than ever when it comes to finding the right providers of products or services.

The noise will not go away, so people who want more connectivity in their lives and careers must take strategic action when it comes to cultivating long-term and mutually beneficial relationships. If you want to connect better with people, you have to make it a priority.  There are no shortcuts.


I am having more fun than at anytime in my career. I have been teaching networking skills for years, and suddenly people are hungry for more on this topic. The millennials in my audiences are the most energetic about the message of "Choosing People". In conjunction with my new material on "The Paradox of Potential", there is unprecedented interest on how to do more in a career and why there is power in making meaningful connections.  

Have A Great Day

thom singer


Friday, April 07, 2017

Global Meetings Industry Day


Yesterday (April 6, 2017) was Global Meetings Industry Day and I had the pleasure of attending a large celebration in Austin, TX.

Thirteen different meetings industry organizations hosted this informative and fun gathering. (Sadly the National Speakers Association Austin Chapter was not among the organizing sponsors - and in the future we need to make sure NSA participates!).

Many friends and clients were present, and the food was amazing.  Plus the open bar started at 3:00 PM ("day drinking" is very Austin).  Similar events took place in major cities around the country promoting how meetings mean business.

The two panel discussions were very informative.  The first one covered the economic impact of meetings on the Austin economy and the Texas economy while the second dove into issues around security.

Many probably do not realize that the meeting industry is the 3rd largest industry in the region in regards to the economic impact.  It has a $7 billion impact and over 120,000 people are employed directly and indirectly because of meetings and hospitality. With over 1900 associations based in Texas, these groups employ 21,000 people. Since a major component of the association business being meetings, they are directly contribute $1.2 billion to the state's economy. 

In the dangerous world we live in there are many places that terrorists can attack.  Large meeting venues are having to address the same issues that other public arenas are facing in regards to protecting the crowds that convene.  The conversation was a bit frightening, but also eye opening to the realities of the times we live in.  As a speaker I took notes on the topic, as everyone who is part of the meeting industry must be educated on how to handle incidents that could happen without warning.

I am proud to be part of the meetings industry.  Speakers are often absent from industry meetings like this, and yesterday was no different.  I looked around and did not see any of my other local professional speaker friends in the audience.  It is a shame that speakers do not see themselves as connected to the industry in the same manner as hoteliers, caterers, transportation companies, etc...  Speakers are meeting professionals.  I recently wrote and article for MPI's Meeting Professional Magazine called "More Than A Speaker", that covered how planners should be hiring engaged partners that do more than deliver a keynote.  

(Read the article here: http://www.mpiweb.org/blog/all/mpi-blog/2017/03/27/more-than-a-speaker)

Happy Global Meetings Day to all the Event and Meeting Professionals.  We are lucky to work in a cool business that has a real impact on people. 

Have A Great Day

thom singer 


Monday, April 03, 2017

The ABCs of Sales - T is for Trust


The old saying goes "people do business with those they know, like and trust".  While some may accuse these words of being an overused corporate cliche, they remains relevant.  Getting to know someone used to be a process, and liking them and trust followed (or didn't) after a series of shared experiences.  However, our online connected world has mistakenly brought everyone to getting to "know" each other through search, likes, links, and follows.  As knowing about others has now become easy, arriving at like and trust have become more difficult.

Every action you take contributes to your personal brand, and if you are viewed as someone with impeccable integrity who can be trusted, then more opportunities will come your way over the long run.  Clients and prospects will want to work with you and will happily refer you to others.

According to David Horsager, the world's leading expert on "trust" and the author of The Trust Edge, people pay more, come back, and tell others when there is trust. The trusted leader is followed and from the trusted salesperson, people buy.  Meanwhile, a lack of trust can be your biggest expense.

Companies spend a lot of time teaching sales professionals how to create elevator pitches, cold-call, handle objections, network, and close - yet there is little time invested in the conversation about how to be trustworthy.  A reputation of trust for the individual and the company can take years to create, but a single wrong action can undermine the foundation.

Tactics to manipulate a prospect or push them to buy a product or service that is not the right fit for them will make you and your company money in the short run, but over the long haul of a career will hurt your success.  To build trust you must always be honest, even if you will not win the sale.  Those who are known to be a trusted advisor will win more business in the long run. Character counts if you want to have a long-term career in sales.

Twenty-five years ago those who were not trustworthy could hide their reputation, but in the day of the internet and peer reviews there are too many ways for people to uncover how you have treated others. Trust is key to your success in sales and there are no shortcuts.  You have to have a win/win attitude and never deviate.

Are you making trust a key part of who you are and how you serve your clients, prospects, and others?  If not, you are leaving money on the table, as when the client trusts your competitor more than they trust you, they will get the contract every time. 

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

*Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking greater success.   http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com

Monday, February 27, 2017

Thom Singer on the Runified Podcast (Episode 38)


I had the chance to be back on the Runified Podcast (a podcast for those who run).  I was on Episode 5 when I took up running at age 49.  I was not a runner.  Now I am. It has been quite a journey.

Title: Ep.038: Thom Singer - Paradox of Potential 

Description: 
When Thom Singer first joined the Runified Podcast on Episode 5, he was a non-runner. Over the past year, Thom has eased into the life of a runner and shares the many different ways running has improved his life. Thom talks about training for and running his first half marathon. We also talk about how running has been a source of inspiration to further his own business and career, and likens his running transition and journey to challenges and progression and in the business world. As a professional speaker, Thom speaks about the Paradox of Potential, which he thought of while running. Thom challenges listeners to encourage others to start running by actively helping them through the transition from non-runner to runner.

This episode is hosted by Matt Sorenson and is sponsored by goodr. Use code “runified2017” at playgoodr.com for a special Runified discount and to help support Runified and our running podcast!


Check it out:

Runified Website: http://www.runified.co/podcast

If you take a listen.... let Matt know you did and that you heard about it from my blog.

Have a Great Day

thom singer

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Being on time is respectful


Recently I delivered a speech at a conference where the speaker before me ran long.  This was not main-stage, but a breakout session.  There were several back to back talks in each room.  All were scheduled for 45 minutes, with 15 minutes between for people to move between rooms.

About ten minutes before my scheduled time I arrived in the room to find the previous speaker still going strong (5 minutes after his stop time).  I caught his eye and pointed to my watch with a  big smile, and he clearly saw me, but was not phased.  He even got the audience to talk to their neighbors and raise their hands to share their biggest learning moments from his talk.  

My approach toward the front of room began about 3 minutes until my start time.  Some of the audience was leaving to get to other rooms, while new people were streaming in to see my presentation.  This didn't bother the speaker, who just kept going.

Finally a person said "It is time for the next session", and the speaker laughed as if that was just a silly inconvenience.  I could not take it anymore, and I shouted out "NO, he is right.  I am the next speaker and have to set up my computer!".  He took another minute or two to wrap up, and then did nothing to show amy concern of time.  I had to get someone to ask him to unplug his computer (I was thinking of kicking it off the stage). 

As I went to the table to get the microphone he said "good luck".  I just shook my head at him.  He was either clueless or was the most self-absorbed person I have ever encountered.  Or both.   

I set up quickly and started my presentation about 5 minutes late.  

This incident has reminded me about the importance of looking beyond self in all situations.  This is not just true of keeping to your allotted time as a speaker, but as a friend said to me when I vented; "this goes for kids sports, dance classes, and basically everything in life".  My friend is right.  I remember when my oldest child was in middle school drama class and the teacher routinely kept the kids 20-30 minutes later than the scheduled ending of the after school rehearsal.  This messed up dinner, homework schedules, and evening activities for the whole family.

It is clear from the current political discussion online (and in person) that we have lost sight of being respectful to others in our society.  Personal beliefs rule the day.  But does it have to be this way in everything? Would it be cool to see respect make a come back? Can it ever happen?

Being true to the allocated time (as a speaker or anywhere) is a small thing, but it matters.  It shows you understand you are not the center of the universe, as you are acknowledging that there are others who have things to do, too.

I doubt the other speaker would ever read my blog, but if he does I wonder if he would even care that his actions impacted other people (me, the audience, the event planners, etc...).  I doubt it.  I am sure he is more focused on how spectacular he is and how lucky we are that he is on the planet.

Finally, He was a good speaker, people praised his session and the online comments were strong.  But about 10 people came up to me later and pointed out that he really didn't seem to think his running long was an issue.  We had a good laugh about it, but it never should have happened. 

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, February 06, 2017

The ABCs of Sales - S is for the Short List


If you are not on the "Short List", the prospect will not buy your product or service. Out of sight is out of mind, and not being on this important catalog of those under consideration is the fastest way to lose a potential sale.

When I work with sales professionals or speak at sales meetings my key point is how "sales skills" do not matter if you are not being seriously reviewed by the decision makers.  Long before you can build rapport, demonstrate your product knowledge, ask open-ended questions, actively listen, communicate solutions, overcome objections, negotiate the best deal, or close the sale you must be one of the final vendors the buyer is considering.

Many who buy from you will talk to more than one vendor, but they cannot consider every company in your industry.  No matter what you sell, you have competition.  In many cases you could have dozens or hundreds of competitors.  However, most buyers (regardless of industry) tell me they interview about between two to four providers when seeking to make a purchase.  If you are not on that final list of approximately three, then you have no chance of getting their business.

Nothing leaves money out of your paycheck faster than missing out on being on the "Short List".

Too many sales people and their managers are constantly worried about how to close sales. While this is important, it is eclipsed by the need to get on the magic list of finalists.  This is more than simply prospecting as it involves making sure that you are one of the few that they believe can deliver on what they need after they narrow their choices.

There are many things that go into regularly appearing on more of these lists.  It is a combination of consistent prospecting, relationship building, reputation and branding, and developing a strong word-of-mouth network.  

Instead of being solely focused on hitting a sales quota, the best sales people are equally interested in making sure they are under consideration every time there is a deal to be made.  If you are on more "Short Lists" you will close more business. Period.

All sales professionals know that over time their sales statistics become a numbers game.  If you close one in five proposals, you know you need to present to 5 more prospects for each sale you hope to make. "Short Lists" are the ticket to more contracts. Finding these opportunities where you are seriously being considered should be a high priority.  While you will lose some of these deals, and wins are not always in order (lose four, win one), the key to selling is being on the list. 

There is nothing I hate more than knowing there was a prospective customer to whom I could deliver the perfect product, only to discover they did not look at my offerings.  If I can get them ponder the value of working with me, I can only then have a chance at winning.

Go out and get on more "Short Lists" and watch your business grow.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

******Thom Singer is a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies.  He talks regularly to corporate audiences in competitive industries that are sales focused and whose people are seeking greater success.   http://www.EngagingSalesSpeaker.com

Friday, February 03, 2017

A Touching Letter From A Podcast Listener



I received the below letter from a listener of my podcast, "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do".  His experiences is a good reminder of the importance of getting involved with your industry trade associations. All the stars can line up for your career when you meet the right people.

In addition to sharing his letter, I have asked Jesse to be a guest on my podcast, as I can tell that his entrepreneur journey has many lessons that will be helpful to others.  Check out "Cool Things" in the next few weeks to hear his whole story.

Thom,

I've been meaning to write to you for some time and share a neat set of circumstances that involved your podcast.

Sorry, the set up is a tad long but I think it'll be worth a read to you (and no, there isn't a sales pitch at the end, just a thank you.)

A little more than a year ago my wife and I realized it was time for a change for our family. Up to that time, I have had several careers and treated each of them like I would be there forever. My last two careers (IT and Ministry) spanned about 10 and 15 years each - which I suppose for some would be forever.

Until last year, each time I had changed jobs or careers I already had the next one in line. This was different. I was taking a season away from ministry not knowing how long that would be and not knowing what would be next. It was a scary step.

In thinking about what was next, becoming a freelance worker certainly had some appeal. We were also invited to partner in a business - a toy store. Having worked around children my whole life, that certainly had appeal...but I also knew it had risk.

In May of last year, our family packed up for what would potentially be our last vacation for a while. Whenever we'll be driving for a while I select a few podcast to listen to...and with the discussion of becoming a small business owner of some sort, Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do was an intriguing title.

The first episode that I listed to was the one with Michelle Sahr.

Like I said, we had been invited to partner in a toy store and as part of the exploration, I had considered attending an ASTRA conference (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association). Again and again in the episodes I listened to, you encouraged people to be involved in their industry's associations. By the time I arrived at our vacation's hotel I felt I had made a mistake by not checking out the conference. Wondering how much it would cost me by missing the early bird pricing (the conference was now about 2 weeks away), I check to see if I could even get in.

To my surprise, not only could I get in, they had a special for that weekend that brought the price down to the early bird pricing I had missed.

I sent of my information to register and began to enjoy the vacation.

Friday night, I checked my email to find details on the conference. For first time attenders they offered to pair you with a veteran to help you learn the ins and outs of the conference and (for those with a store) so that you'll have someone after the conference is over that you can lean on when you have questions.

Unfortunately, Friday was the deadline to sign up for the program. The email also noted that they would be out of the office over the weekend. I knew that I was late signing up for the conference and not really surprised that I missed out on getting in on the "All-Star" program. In fact, I figured all the "good" veterans had been assigned weeks ago.
Having run much smaller conferences I could only imagine how much work the ASTRA staff was doing. Nevertheless, I decided to be bold and ask if I could be let into the All Star program late. I thought there was little chance my email would even be read.

When I got home on Sunday, I checked my email and found that one of the organizers of the conference had emailed me. Thinking it was an automated mail with information about the conference, I opened it and was surprised that it wasn't an automated mail.

It was an email about the All-Star program - when to meet, special events for veterans and their newbies, things like that. At the bottom of the email was a name and phone number for my veteran.

I read the name and the city and thought: Weird, that podcast I listened to on Thursday had someone from Ohio. In fact, I think it might have even been that town. I wonder if it is a local competitor.

Instead of fully connecting the dots, I googled my veteran and her store. Wait, she has a cheese store too?!? That's not possible. So I grab my phone and scroll back to your podcast and there it is, the name of the person that was to be my veteran at the conference your podcast convinced me I should attend....

Michelle Sahr

Turns out all the good veterans hadn't already been assigned.

Again, sorry for the length. I hope this lifts your spirit and encourages you to continue in what you do. Your podcasts are great and you are making a difference.

As you can see from my signature block we moved forward with the toy store. I'm still listening and hope that someday I'll be able to join in one of your mentoring groups.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

-- 
Jesse Smith   Owner, Sockmonkey Junction 

Website: http://sockmonkeyjunction.toys
Address: 316 S Main Street, Mansfield, TX 76063


If you are in the Greater Dallas area, check out Sockmonky Junction toy store in Mansfield, TX. 

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

10th Annual Fundraiser "Kate Singer Endowment for Cranio-Facial Research"


It is hard to believe this is the 10th year we have asked for your support of the "Kate Singer Endowment for Cranio-Facial Research" at Dell Children's Hospital.  

As you may remember, when Kate was born in 2002 she had to undergo major surgery to correct a condition known as Sagital Synostosis. The bones in her head had fused together, and she needed to have much of the top of her skull removed to allow her brain to grow.

At the time we did not have the most state of the art children's medical facilities in Central Texas.  Kate was operated on by the amazing doctors at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego (if you would like to donate to Rady Children's Hospital, we have established a similar fund for that foundation). Upon the opening of the new Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, we began donating money and fundraising to help with research for kids born with similar issues.

Today, between the two endowments (Austin and San Diego), we have raised over $60,000.  Let's help that grow!

Please take a moment and donate any amount.  We have proven over the years that small donations add up to real numbers (I call it "Compounded Generosity").

DONATE NOW (look on the pull down menu for Kate Singer Endowment).

Thank you.

Thom, Sara, Jackie and Kate Singer.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Website Problems

My Website - www.ThomSinger.com is currently down.  Don't you hate it when technology fails you?

The company who manages my site is working hard to fix the problem, but if you are seeking my site and found this blog, please call me directly 512-970-0398 or email thom@thomsinger.com.

Sorry for the inconvenience. 

Thom Singer

Friday, January 06, 2017

The ABCs of Sales - R is for Referrals


Referrals are the life blood of selling. Marketing, social media, PR, advertising, etc... are all great, but in a business world full of noise and self-promotion, few things have as much power as a word-of-mouth referrals.  When someone makes an introduction and endorses the sales person there is a higher level of trust that occurs right from the start.

Approximately 90% of my own clients come from referrals.  I can do countless other marketing activities (and I do), but the majority of my work is because a person who knows me has told others that I am the right choice to speak at their conference.  

The problem with referrals is too few people actively take the steps to promote other people.  They say they will, and have great intentions, but then they get busy with their own lives and never seem to get around to making the introductions. Thus, those who do talk you up should be treated like gold. 

We live in an era where self-promotion is at an all time high.  Combine that with a high level of competition and everyone is frantically trying to get to their own success.  Too few believe they have time to help others, but the most successful sales people often operate in the opposite manner.  Some of the best sales professionals I have ever known are always working to connect others, without regard to if there is anything in it for them. They take great joy in being the catalyst that brings others together to do business.  Over the long run they develop such a strong reputation of being a giver that people line up to refer work their way.

The trick is to make referrals without being worried if others will return the favor.  I often run into people who want to keep score and make sure they only refer to work to those who can quickly return the favor.  The problem is that not everyone can help at the same level, so pre-judging who to help means you wont help many people.  Also there are those who are overly concerned with how to monetize the referrals they give.  They are seeking ways to charge commissions rather than just connecting the best resources. Unless you have a business that matches customers and service providers, do not charge a commission.  Your long term reputation out weighs any monetary gain you can get from a percentage of an individual sale.

The most important thing is to remember to thank the people who send you leads that turn into clients.  A "Thank You" is not only polite, it guarantees they will remember you the next time they can send business to someone in your industry.  I have had those I connected send me gift certificates or other presents (I got a wonderful Garmin Runner's Watch from one friend whom I referred a client), but I never expect such gifts.  I match up people I know will do a good job for the person in need of their offerings.

Never forget that sometimes competitors make the good referral partners, too.  Depending on your industry, developing long term relationships with others in your field and sharing leads when appropriate is a great way to get more business opportunities.  I have created a page on my website of other speakers I know do a great job and I share this link with my past clients, as I know most associations do not want the same speaker year-after-year at their conferences.  By providing them with quality speakers I get to stay in touch over the long run (and thus get re-hired in the future), and the other speakers who get booked are more likely to refer me in the future.

(Check out my "Recommended Professional Speaker" page: http://thomsinger.com/recommended-professional-speakers/)

When people tell me they never get referrals my first question is "how many referrals have you given in the last month that turned into real business?".  If they do not know the answer, that is most likely the problem.  I can't understand how people who never refer anyone expect others to send them business.  While not everyone would (or should) create a link to competitors on their website, you should be promoting your clients, vendors and friends regularly. 

Finally, if you want to get referrals you have to tell people how much your business depends on their help in connecting you with those who use your products or services.  One real estate agent I know has it at the end of voicemail message: "...my business depends on referrals, so if you know anyone looking to buy or sell a home, please tell them about me!"  My own email signature has the following sentence: "As a speaker, I am seeking introductions to companies, law firms, and associations that host conferences and team meetings - Thanks!" If you don't remind people that you seek referrals, they probably will not think about it.

There are a lot of moving parts to a successful career in sales, but cultivating referral business should never be ignored. 

Have A Great Day

thom singer