Archive For November 24, 2016

The Process of Gratitude

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Long before Christ, Marcus Tullius Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”

Like many things in life and work, gratitude arises from a process and proceeds according to a process, even though we may be unaware of the process behind the expression. The process of gratitude cannot be easily codified and takes self-discipline, because you can’t delegate any of the responsibility. You must hold yourself accountable.

Living in a state of gratitude means affirming the positive and giving thanks for it. It means living with an expectation that good things will happen, even when misfortune appears to hold the upper hand. Monte Farner and Amy Zerner’s article, “On Gratitude“, states: “Being grateful puts you in the perfect frame of mind for using our affirmation and visualization techniques, designed to help you manifest what you want. Express gratitude for all that you have, both the good and the bad. Doubts will impede your intentions, but when you are thankful and feel fulfilled, your goals will manifest much more easily.”

Gratitude may seem more of an art than a process, because so many people approach it in so many different ways. Some maintain lists of all the small mercies for which they are grateful. Other practice daily meditation and affirmation techniques. Still others simply rely upon their faith to find the strength and grace to live in gratitude. However you do it, an attitude of gratitude prevents despair when all the world seems to be gunning for your abject failure. Helen Russell’s article “How to Start a Gratitude Practice” outlines her process for living a life of gratitude: “commit, begin, write it down, feel it, choose a set time, practice present-moment gratitude, share the gratitude, don’t stop once you start to see results, and allow yourself to be human.”

Perhaps the greatest gift manifested by gratitude is peace achieved through forgiveness. We all make mistakes. Most errors don’t threaten that which is sacred–life–and can be fixed. Even those that cannot be fixed should not condemn us, for they grievously hurt those who err, too. Forgive, affirm, be grateful, find peace.

The rest is all worldly trappings. When you are imbued with gratitude, you will find a measure of serenity that enables you to take the necessary step backward to analyze what’s wrong and to take the necessary steps to fix it without crushing the good work and morale of others. Simply put, your gratitude should foment the gratitude of your family, friends, and colleagues–that’s the sharing part of Russell’s process. Those whom you support in such a manner will return that gracious toward you in spades.

From The Heggen Group to you: Happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for the opportunities our clients extend to us to improve their businesses, because it is our practice to share the processes that make gratitude possible.







The Food Process

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The challenge features in Norman Rockwell paintings, sitcom TV, and movies: delivery of a holiday dinner with all the fixings. What the media doesn’t show in those picture-perfect displays of domestic prowess is the detailed planning that these home cooks use. (Note to hiring companies: If you come across a person who can get the meat, vegetables, and bread prepared and on the table hot at the same time, then you’ve found an incredible project manager. Hire that person right away!)

No traditional Thanksgiving dinner succeeds without a domestic mastermind managing the process. Whether it’s you, Grandma, or Great Uncle Bob who cooked for the Army, begin meal delivery well in advance of the holiday by with deciding what to serve. Inventory ingredients, pots, pans, servingware, and appliances. You won’t want to run out of stove-top burners or oven space or pots in which to cook. Count heads: who will descend upon your household and what can each person be expected to consume? Shop for the ingredients you’ll need in the quantities anticipated. Decide what can be made a day or three ahead. Delegate to visitors: they can all bring something to the table.

Plan your culinary campaign and allow for extra time to accommodate the inevitable delays and mishaps. You might even want to have a backup plan in case the family dog helps himself to the tempting bird sitting unguarded on the kitchen countertop. Calculate cooking times for the different dishes you’ll serve and schedule them accordingly, including preparation time. Complete as much prep work in advance as possible. Be sure to figure in resting time for custards, cheese sauces, and meats. But not souffles. Those should be served within 90 seconds of emerging from the oven. Especially if you’re the host of this holiday gathering, enlist all those extra people cluttering your home and put them to work, even if it’s only to remind you to take that pot off the burner before it boils over.

A bit of extra help comes in handy when the time arrives to set the table. This is a great time to teach youngsters how to properly set a table. (In this age of fast food, learning that skill won’t hurt them.) Uncork the wine and let it breathe. Take a few exploratory sips and tell everyone you’re testing the quality. You and they will know differently, but everyone will maintain the polite fiction.

Transfer platters and serving bowls to the table immediately prior to ringing the dinner bell–or bellowing, “Dinner’s ready!” above the noise of family members cheering (or booing) the game on television. Once everyone’s seated, take deep breath, say a prayer of thanksgiving, and dig in.

When the meal ends and there’s nothing left but dirty dishes, a bony carcass, and groans complaining, “I ate too much,” draft assistance once more as you and a trusted helper or five set out pies, cakes, cookies, and other desserts. Now it’s your turn to relax. You cooked that fabulous meal, now let someone else clean up while you accept well-earned praise and take a breather.


Beyond Schmoozing Clients

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The old stereotypes of 3-martini lunches and WKRP’s sleazy salesman Herb Tarlek have given way to the science of customer relationship management (CRM). Perform a Google search and nearly 21 million results pop up to direct the businessperson to books, articles, workshops, presentations, consultants, and software packages. If you’re not sure how to manage your customer base, then be assured plenty of resources exist to help you.

Simply codifying CRM for your business won’t go very far. Not only do you have to make sure you and your staff are trained in effective CRM techniques, but that those techniques are actually used. That requires buy-in from employees and a way to measure results. If you don’t know which metrics are valid, then you can’t measure the efficacy of your CRM effort.

Regardless of which expert’s method you follow or which guru’s advice you heed or what data metrics you measure, one finds that CRM is as much an art as it is a science. Like all art, it begins as a craft that most people can master given sufficient instruction. Before embarking upon a CRM program, remember that effective CRM rests upon personal relationships. If the personal relationship is missing or fails for whatever reason, don’t expect a repeat sale.

Building those relationships boils down to those two lessons learned in kindergarten:

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Mind your manners.

But all that schmoozing doesn’t make a profit, you complain.

Salesmanship is an art that relies upon a process which can be taught and mastered. The easy part of building the customer relationship is building the relationship. The hard part is turning that relationship into a transaction.

The key to sales conversion is generosity. Be generous with your time and interest. In other words, take the time to make the customer’s life a little easier, to take a personal interest in his or her interests and/or life. Build rapport. Share your knowledge. Offer assistance. Be helpful. This goes beyond the usual “add value” admonition because in this you give something of yourself. The customer grows to like you and trust you.

A solid relationship will withstand the “ask” when it finally comes, as it must to convert to the transaction. The “ask” won’t work if you don’t believe in your service or product; however, a relationship built upon generosity can yield tremendous returns. It can be as simple as asking, “How can I be of service to you?” It’s soft and generous. The response will help you determine whether the opportunity for a sale is ripe. In short, you offered a lead; you didn’t push.

Customer relationship management begins as a process and falls back upon a process, but it’s up to you to build in the flexibility and personal touch that evolves the craft of that process into the art of sales. To get a head start on your CRM process, contact the Heggen Group




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