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Saturday, June 15, 2013
Volume 19 | # 434
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Faith moves mountains, but you have to keep pushing while you are praying. » Mason Cooley

Tell Me a Little About Yourself

I recently found myself standing in front of a room paraphrasing something I’d read. Then I remembered that it was something I’d actually written.

Ah, getting older is fun, isn’t it? But on the bright side, plagiarizing yourself isn’t illegal.

In this case, I was suggesting to a group of in-store bankers that there was a pretty simple question they could ask themselves to gauge whether or not they had initiated and/or strengthened any relationships that day.

Simply, did they learn anything new about anyone who wasn’t on their payroll that day?

I’ve joked that I can appreciate the team-building aspects of learning everything coworkers did, watched, ate, and thought about since you saw them yesterday.

But maybe those investigative skills could be more productively utilized with folks who don’t fall under the same employee manual.

We will, of course, speak and interact more with coworkers than with anyone else on just about any given day. And I’m definitely not suggesting our teams become detached from each other.

One of the sure signs that a team really doesn’t get along is a lack of camaraderie. If there is more mumbling and grumbling in a branch than shared smiles and laughter… Branch Team, thy name is dysfunction.

But bankers too often seem to think that the only productive conversation they can have with a customer involves financial issues. So we talk about “life stuff” with each other, and most of our customer conversations end up scripted, forced… and few.

We’d all love a long line of folks patiently waiting for us to bestow our financial advice on them. But that particular line never seems to form does it?

It’s possible that no one walked in today looking to talk to you about their financial plans and dreams.

But many are happy to let you be the highlight of their day by listening to them talk about their most important things in life: themselves, their kids, their pets, their hobbies/teams, and their work.

One of my favorite quotes related to this subject is, “The busiest man in the world will stop whatever he is doing to tell you about himself.”

Customers in your stores and branches today may appear too busy and hurried to chat. But few are too busy to take a minute to talk about their most important things with you.

Are you going to ask the kind of questions that will let them do just that?

A Hiring Window

I have a friend named Mark who is one of the most incognito, successful business owners you’ll ever meet.

He began working for his father’s custom window blinds business when he was 12 years old.
His stories of years learning the ropes and eventually being fired by his own father are laugh-out-loud-funny.

Mark owns his own company these days and employs several dozen folks. He does very well… while often driving around in a van that looks like people live in it. He also wears cargo shorts and sandals when its 30 degrees outside.

Mark recently shared a story with me that had each of us giving the other advice. He was at his regular bowling night when a smash-and-grabber broke his window and took a satchel left on the center console.

While it had no real monetary value, it did contain the sketches and specs for three jobs he had personally measured that week.

The jobs were on opposite sides of Houston, and it took him a day and a half and lots of driving to recreate them. I suggested that he begin taking pictures of his schematics with his ever-present iPhone and immediately email them to himself as he left jobs.

He paused, and then told me, “I didn’t have you pegged for someone smart enough to think of something like that.”

(Ah… friends.)

The day after the break-in, he called a window replacement company who sent a technician to his home. The technician showed up right on time and was exceptionally competent and polite.

Mark, dressed in his standard attire, never let on that he owned the company the vehicle belonged to. He says he likes to judge folks by how they treat him when he looks like the “yard guy”.

I pointed out that really wasn’t true. The yard guy wears much nicer shorts with fewer holes in them.

After he was done, Mark got the young man’s backstory. He then identified himself, found out what the guy was getting paid, and offered him a job and a raise on the spot.

The kid began working for him last week, and Mark says he already knows the kid’s going to become a foreman pretty quickly.

When I joked about his hiring tactics, he said, “Any job you have today is your job application for the next one. Your resume’ is what people see you doing today.”

I paused, and then told him, “I didn’t have you pegged for someone smart enough to think like that.”

(Ah… friends.)

How impressive will your resume’ look today?

If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living. » Gail Sheehy

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