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The Hoshin Group

Leadership and Executive Coaching

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain

Are You Wearing Any Shoes?

“The cobbler’s children go unshod.” It occurred to me recently that many of us are living our lives like that proverbial shoemaker. Sadly, this phenomenon isn’t limited to the family of the poor shoemaker. In fact, the English phrase is actually a translation from a Spanish proverb that says, “In the blacksmith’s house, the knives are wooden.” Sound familiar? I’m betting this is resonating with at least a few of you. How many of us have wonderful expertise in our craft that is highly sought after and in great demand, yet we don’t practice what we preach What does that say to others? “Spend money with me for my goods or services. Never mind that I don’t value them enough to use them myself.” Duplicity creates tension within us and gets in the way of creating authentic relationships in both life and in business.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a salesperson, a coach, a designer, or a CEO. We spend more time reflecting externally, spending time on new business pitches, reacting to client feedback, and focusing on what we think other people want and need that we are missing the big picture. If we want other people to say “Yes!” to us, we need to lead the charge by saying “Yes!” to ourselves. Focus on you for a change. We’ll be more attractive to others if we are attractive to and respect ourselves and our craft. And that can manifest itself in a myriad of ways: how we think; what we wear; what boundaries we set and hold; where we hang out; how we treat ourselves; how we allow ourselves to be treated. You are the greatest billboard for your personal brand and you’re broadcasting it loud and clear to the world every day. Take a step back and make sure that there is congruity between what you want people to think about you and what they’re likely taking away – not just from your traditional marketing materials but from all the channels you’re broadcasting.

So, if you’re a branding expert, put your own company and persona through your own rigorous and proven process and see what comes out on the other side. I’ll bet it’s more remarkable than what you’ve got today. If you’re a CEO, set aside the excuse that you are too busy to plan and spend as much time or more on your own strategic direction as you would for your most important client engagement. If you’re a coach, ask yourself, “What am I letting myself get away with that I wouldn’t let my clients get away with?” And if you’re a shoemaker, make yourself a fantastic pair of new shoes and walk tall!

It’s All About Them–Not YOU!

You researched the company, polished your resume, practiced your pitch, pre­pared stellar Power Point slides, put on your best suit, arrived early, distributed quality printed docs, and talked, talked, talked about how wonderful you and your company are and what you can do for the prospect. You noticed the prospect has a signed Mets baseball; you pat yourself on the back for weaving your love of the game into the conversation. You feel you aced the meeting, start to pull out the contract and are shocked when the client says “Thank you, we’ll be in touch.” You know the phone won’t be ringing.

What went wrong? Your focus was off. You pitched the client. A successful sales presentation is not an advertise­ment delivered in person—it’s a conver­sation all about them, helping to draw out their problems and wants so you can address them. Ideally, the client should be talking 80% of the time.

LISTEN FIRST. Get your customers talk­ing, and you’ll learn the best ways to meet their needs. Active listening is the most valuable tool in a successful salesperson’s toolbox, including subtle signals like body language. A good way to bring everyone’s voice into the room at the beginning of a meeting is to ask each person to give a one minute introduction including tenure with the company, their title and their role in this project. This information will help you identify the influencers and the decision makers and to appropriately direct your questions in the meeting. At this stage, simply share a 10 second overview of your company and a succinct and relevant 50 second story on how you’ve successfully helped another client with a similar issue.

Focus on the big picture. Next, talk about them—their company, its vision, strategic objectives, 5-year plan, and how this project fits into these goals. Ideally, you would have gotten some of this information prior to the meeting, helping you to begin to understand their true needs and business objectives. If this is the case, listen to the client and clarify what you think you already know.

Sometimes a client will start a meeting by saying “show me what you’ve got.” Don’t let this undermine your focus to learn about them. An effective response is “I’ve been in the industry for a long time and have many success stories. That said, I think you will find informa­tion that is pertinent to this project more useful. Can we speak about your specific challenges?” During the conversation, confirm your understanding by periodi­cally repeating back information they’ve shared (e.g., “So you’re telling me that you’re goal is to increase sales by 20% and you need tools to help you do that. Do I have that right?”) This shows the client that you are listening to them and seek­ing to understand their needs.

Get Specific! Often what the client ini­tially thinks they need may not be what will actually drive their success. To really get to the root of the issue, it’s important to ask open-ended questions both about the current challenge and how they’ve handled similar situations in the past. The information you learn here will help you to understand their expectations and formulate a customized solution using language that resonates with the client. Steer clear of questions that can be an­swered by a simple yes or no.

Now it’s Your Turn. Now that you have a good idea of the client’s “prob­lem”, it’s your turn to talk – your 20%. Now is the time to discuss why and how your product or service is the best solution. This is a good time to repeat the client’s “problem” – in fact, take it a step fur­ther and re-frame it more positively, as a quantifiable business “opportunity.” You might also share another very brief success story of how you’ve helped a client overcome a similar challenge. Re­member, every client’s “opportunity” is going to be unique, so you don’t need to share an example of how you’ve solved that exact problem – just how you’ve handled similar situations and handled them well. The stories and illustrations you share will help your client to connect to you and understand what it might be like to work with you. Just make sure you are able to share your stories succinctly and in language that resonates with your target client!

Success Defined. Success starts with you. Ask yourself, what does “wild suc­cess” at the end of this meeting look like? How do I want the client to feel and what do I want them to know, believe and do at the end of the meeting? Have a clear vision of your desired outcome be­fore you even set the meeting; this way, every action you take along the way will be aligned with your goal, setting you up to close the deal. For an initial sales meet­ing, some elements of success might an­swer the questions, “Did I …?”:

  • establish a rapport with the client with them talking more of the time
  • show up as a solution
  • discuss any foreseen challenges to meet those objectives
  • interject in a conversational style stories about how I’ve helped other clients accomplish similar goals
  • discuss the project time-line, determine their budget, and confirm next steps, including accountability and timing

Above all, have fun! Be authentic and passionate about your work and the value you bring to businesses like your client’s. If you believe in yourself, it will make it a lot easier for them to believe in you as well. And remember, it’s not about you. Show up as a true business partner, appealing to the client’s sense of enlight­ened self interest, helping them to see that you CARE about them and are fo­cused on their needs. If you care, they’ll care. And that will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

My Reinvention

I have to be honest. I’ve not actually reinvented myself. Not yet, anyway. My outstanding accomplishment is that I’ve consciously invented myself for the very first time.

What does that mean? For me, it means that I am a person first. I’m a mom, best friend, sister, coach, teacher, entrepreneur, business advisor, avid networker, recovered accountant, athlete and volunteer. I’m living a full and rich life. No longer a ‘nice to have,’ I’ve placed a high value on happiness. What I do is no longer more important than who I am. I’ve begun to hear my own inner wisdom. I’ve reconnected with my common sense. My own answers were within me – I just had to listen.

To get to this place, I’ve had to leave a few things behind. That sounds like I’m denying myself – scarcity thinking. Let me reframe that, because it’s actually a positive thing, rooted in abundant thinking. I’ve released and let go of thoughts and behaviors – and even people – that were draining me of energy rather than fueling my fire and helping me to achieve my potential and the happiness I both desire and deserve. I’ve learned to focus my time and attention on what I want, not on what I don’t want. Funny how so many of us are clear about the former but have no real idea regarding what success might look like, let alone wild success.

So where did I come from and where am I now? I’ve already told you that I am a recovered accountant. Funny, when I was in high school, I wanted to be either a florist or a psychologist. How the heck did I wind up a business major working in public accounting? I followed the crowd. I let other people do the thinking for me. I suppressed my own passions and measured my success by a scorecard that had little meaning to me and instead which focused on external measures – keeping up with the Jones’, as the saying goes. Rather than asking myself “how can I?” I spent my time focusing on “why not.” I let the scarcity thinking drown out abundance.

What started me on the path to my first conscious invention? Like so many others, I was caught up in a restructuring. Funnily, the program was called, “Project Rapid Growth” and that restructuring actually did spur my own rapid growth. While at the time my world was rocked by not having a fancy title and a business card for the first time in my adult life, without it I might not have stopped to smell the roses.

I had help in getting here. When I was let go, I asked a lot of people “If I weren’t doing this, what would you see me doing? ”It was one of my mentees in the company that I was leaving who first said, “You should be a coach” to which I replied, “I’m athletic, but what sport? ”While I knew about business coaches, that role was so far out of the box that I had drawn for myself that I couldn’t even see myself in it! Until I started to listen. Then it all made sense. How could I have missed it?

Before beginning to retool and train as a coach, I actually hired a coach. Let me tell you, it’s a heck of a lot easier to be a coach than it is to do a client. Fast forward a number of years… I still have a coach (we’re all works in progress!) but now I have my own business, The Hoshin Group (www. hoshingroup. com), a thriving coaching practice, I’m an adjunct member of the faculty in the coaching program at New York University and I’ve got balance in my life to spend with my three year old son. Most importantly, I’m happy.

I am still learning and evolving. A question that I hold near and dear is, “What am I letting myself get away with that I wouldn’t let one of my clients get away with?” I hold myself accountable to set clear goals and to stay the course, consulting my own compass as I progress and proactively making course adjustments and corrections along the way. The compass is a tool which anyone, with focus and a bit of training, can use anytime, anywhere, to get someplace new. Not coincidentally, Hoshin (hō’ shin) is a Japanese word which, loosely translated, means compass. The compass is a tool which anyone, with focus and a bit of training, can use anytime, anywhere, to get someplace new.

Let’s face it. All of our lives are filled to the brim…. Overflowing, even. To allow something new in, we’ve got to create space by releasing thoughts or behaviors that no longer serve us. If you don’t purposefully create that space, you might not be pleased with what splashes out. You are brilliant and resourceful and you have your answers – no one else does! You just may not be listening.

Finally, I didn’t get here alone. I owe others thanks and acknowledgment for helping to find my calling and to stay on my chosen path. In addition to my coach, I’ve had wonderful friends and mentors who’ve cheered me on and who have candidly called me out and held me accountable when I’ve gotten in my own way. That’s no mistake either. While hard, I had to take a look around and ask myself the question, “Who really has my back?” I learned to focus on what I want rather than what I don’t want. Keith Ferrazzi, author of Who’s Got Your Back, and David Rock, author of The Brain at Work, have also become friends and mentors, ever encouraging continued self reflection and growth. If you’re not familiar with their work, check them out. The wonderful and empowering ideas that they teach inspired me to reach farther and take some scary leaps.

As far as reinvention goes, stay tuned. That’s coming. But not for awhile. I’m really enjoying where I am. And while I have no idea what that next phase of my life will look like, I know that it’s going to be amazing.

2020 Vision

I have to be honest. I’ve not actually reinvented myself. Not yet, anyway. My outstanding accomplishment is that I’ve consciously invented myself for the very first time.

What does that mean? For me, it means that I am a person first. I’m a mom, best friend, sister, coach, teacher, entrepreneur, business advisor, avid networker, recovered accountant, athlete and volunteer. I’m living a full and rich life. No longer a ‘nice to have,’ I’ve placed a high value on happiness. What I do is no longer more important than who I am. I’ve begun to hear my own inner wisdom. I’ve reconnected with my common sense. My own answers were within me – I just had to listen.

To get to this place, I’ve had to leave a few things behind. That sounds like I’m denying myself – scarcity thinking. Let me reframe that, because it’s actually a positive thing, rooted in abundant thinking. I’ve released and let go of thoughts and behaviors – and even people – that were draining me of energy rather than fueling my fire and helping me to achieve my potential and the happiness I both desire and deserve. I’ve learned to focus my time and attention on what I want, not on what I don’t want. Funny how so many of us are clear about the former but have no real idea regarding what success might look like, let alone wild success.

So where did I come from and where am I now? I’ve already told you that I am a recovered accountant. Funny, when I was in high school, I wanted to be either a florist or a psychologist. How the heck did I wind up a business major working in public accounting? I followed the crowd. I let other people do the thinking for me. I suppressed my own passions and measured my success by a scorecard that had little meaning to me and instead which focused on external measures – keeping up with the Jones’, as the saying goes. Rather than asking myself “how can I?” I spent my time focusing on “why not. ” I let the scarcity thinking drown out abundance.

What started me on the path to my first conscious invention? Like so many others, I was caught up in a restructuring. Funnily, the program was called, “Project Rapid Growth” and that restructuring actually did spur my own rapid growth. While at the time my world was rocked by not having a fancy title and a business card for the first time in my adult life, without it I might not have stopped to smell the roses.

I had help in getting here. When I was let go, I asked a lot of people “If I weren’t doing this, what would you see me doing? ”It was one of my mentees in the company that I was leaving who first said, “You should be a coach” to which I replied, “I’m athletic, but what sport? ”While I knew about business coaches, that role was so far out of the box that I had drawn for myself that I couldn’t even see myself in it! Until I started to listen. Then it all made sense. How could I have missed it?

Before beginning to retool and train as a coach, I actually hired a coach. Let me tell you, it’s a heck of a lot easier to be a coach than it is to do a client. Fast forward a number of years… I still have a coach (we’re all works in progress!) but now I have my own business, The Hoshin Group (www. hoshingroup. com), a thriving coaching practice, I’m an adjunct member of the faculty in the coaching program at New York University and I’ve got balance in my life to spend with my three year old son. Most importantly, I’m happy.

I am still learning and evolving. A question that I hold near and dear is, “What am I letting myself get away with that I wouldn’t let one of my clients get away with? ”I hold myself accountable to set clear goals and to stay the course, consulting my own compass as I progress and proactively making course adjustments and corrections along the way. The compass is a tool which anyone, with focus and a bit of training, can use anytime, anywhere, to get someplace new. Not coincidentally, Hoshin (hō’ shin) is a Japanese word which, loosely translated, means compass. The compass is a tool which anyone, with focus and a bit of training, can use anytime, anywhere, to get someplace new.

Let’s face it. All of our lives are filled to the brim…. Overflowing, even. To allow something new in, we’ve got to create space by releasing thoughts or behaviors that no longer serve us. If you don’t purposefully create that space, you might not be pleased with what splashes out. You are brilliant and resourceful and you have your answers – no one else does! You just may not be listening.

Finally, I didn’t get here alone.  I owe others thanks and acknowledgment for helping to find my calling and to stay on my chosen path. In addition to my coach, I’ve had wonderful friends and mentors who’ve cheered me on and who have candidly called me out and held me accountable when I’ve gotten in my own way. That’s no mistake either. While hard, I had to take a look around and ask myself the question, “Who really has my back? ”I learned to focus on what I want rather than what I don’t want. Keith Ferrazzi, author of Who’s Got Your Back, and David Rock, author of The Brain at Work, have also become friends and mentors, ever encouraging continued self reflection and growth. If you’re not familiar with their work, check them out. The wonderful and empowering ideas that they teach inspired me to reach farther and take some scary leaps.

As far as reinvention goes, stay tuned. That’s coming. But not for awhile. I’m really enjoying where I am. And while I have no idea what that next phase of my life will look like, I know that it’s going to be amazing.

What’s your intention?

What’s your intention? That’s the famous question that the movie or TV dad asks the daughter’s nervous suitor at the front door as the kids are on their way out for their first date. (And why I always tried to meet my dates out…) It’s a great question. What does it actually mean? Simply, it asks, what are you going to do?

The dictionary defines intention as: 1) a course of action that one intends to follow; 2) an aim that guides action; an objective; 3) purpose with respect to marriage. Medically, intention refers to the process by which or the manner in which a wound heals. Course of action. Aim. Purpose. Process. Those seem to be missing today for many of us.

When we ask our friends, colleagues and loved ones how they are doing, they generally start with what’s not going well. The focus of our thinking is on the negative rather than on the positive and there are certainly a lot of wounds out there that need healing. We seem to be pretty clear about what we don’t want, what we don’t like or approve of and where we don’t want to be or go. We are so much less clear about what we do want and where we’d like to go. What does success look like, anyway? That’s another really good question.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. This quote by Winston Churchill is a nice reminder for us to check our thinking. Are we focusing on the opportunity or the difficulty? What we don’t want or what we do want? You might remember hearing about the book, The Secret, and its author, Rhonda Byrne, who made the talk show circuit a few years ago. While some people loved it and some didn’t (overall, I was in the latter group), there were some key pieces of information that really resonated with me, most notably, The Law of Attraction. The Law states that whether people realize it or not, their thoughts, both conscious and unconscious, dictate the reality of their lives. (Note: If you want to learn more about The Law of Attraction or some of the tools and ideas mentioned later, check out Wikipedia. org or Google. com, both good places to go on the web to begin to understand a new idea.)

From a coaching perspective, I’ve found this to be true. We get what we focus on. If you want to lose that last five pounds, you need to stop focusing on your weight. Instead, focus on how great you’ll look in that red dress for your class reunion or how much more energy you’ll have so you’ll be able play a full set of tennis with your teenager or to complete that marathon that you’ve always wanted to do. And let’s not forget, if you aren’t exercising and you start, muscle mass is actually heavier than fat so it’s possible that your clothes will fit better and you’ll and feel look younger when you’ve not actually shed a single pound – or odder still, you find that you’re even heavier. When we get right down to it, it’s really not about what the scale says. It makes it hard to achieve the real goal if you don’t even know what it is.

The idea that if we can change our thoughts, we can change our results actually does have roots in psychotherapeutic science, specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I won’t bore you with the details, but simply said, our thoughts impact our feelings which impact our actions which impact our results. The funny thing is, we’re moving so fast through our lives that we sometimes aren’t even aware of our thoughts. (I’ve heard a variety of statistics – we think at some unwieldy number as 600 words per minute and we can speak only about 100.)

Thoughts. Feelings. Actions. Results. You might now be saying, “No thanks, I don’t (want to) buy in to this. ”It’s a bit scary when someone first hears about this because of the implication that we are truly accountable for our results. We are in fact living our lives perfectly as we’ve designed them. Let me clarify that there are some things that we can’t control – a plane crash, a baby born with a genetic disorder, whether it rains on our wedding day – but we can control what we think about those things.

We’re living our lives according to never ending to do lists and pretty oblivious to how we’re showing up for life and the impact that has on our future. So let’s get back to my original question, “what’s your intention?” and take a look at some of your goals. I want to get out of this miserable job. I want my kids to stop being so self centered. I want my husband to show me a little more intimacy. What do you want, really? What does that look like? What will be different in your life when you have that?

If you’re having a hard time getting started, start a list. Get the ideas out of your head and onto paper. Try a simple brainstorm. Let the ideas come and don’t edit them. If you’re a more visual person, try a mind map. Easier said than done in a time when creative play is frowned upon because it doesn’t generate measurable results. And who has time for this, anyway? The opportunity cost of not becoming clear with what you want is high, though. If you don’t change up your thinking, you’re inviting more of the same into your life. I’m a big fan of Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If you are starting with what you don’t want, not a problem. Write it down and keep going. Don’t judge yourself. You’ve got some strong thinking habits and they’re not going to change in five minutes. Later you’ll be able to look at the list and start designing the life you want by identifying those negatives you’re willing to give up and replacing them with what you do want to invite into your life. This is another important point: our lives are full – overflowing, even – so to invite something new in, we have to be willing to give something else up.

What are you willing to give up to get what you want? If you’re hanging onto the thought that your father will always see you as a little girl and doesn’t respect you, let go of it. Until you do, you’re not making room for that respect to show up in your life – you won’t be able to see it. (You’ll probably always be his “little girl” – now that I have a child of my own I get that.) It’s therefore a good idea to take a look at how you’re showing up to life. Are you letting what you want in? Are you inviting it? Do you see the potential for success? If your goal involves another person, have you actually told them what you need or want? It’s possible but not so easy for someone to “pass” if you don’t tell them what’s actually on the test.

The funny thing is, often times, what we’re looking for is already present in our lives– it just doesn’t look exactly like we thought it would. Perhaps it’s not as prevalent as we’d like though through beginning to recognize and acknowledge it, we’ll reinforce it and invite more in. No psychobabble here – this is proven through contemporary neuroscience. People, when acknowledged, will repeat the behavior and create new habits. It’s so much more powerful to changing behaviors than criticism.

Live intentionally. If you’re looking for a new job, know what you want so when someone in your network asks, “How can I help?” you can actually tell them what you’re looking for. Most people out there today tell a story about what they’ve done and hope that the other person can figure out what to do with them. That’s not terribly intentional. If you’d like to improve a relationship, get clear about what that looks like and start with yourself – how do you need to show up to make that possible? Then communicate what you’d like to accomplish with the other person, including your commitment to both the goal and what you’re willing to do. Don’t forget to ask them what they need – without their buy in, you might need to adjust your own expectations.

This intentional thinking follows the “if you build it, they will come” thinking from the movie, Field of Dreams. Essentially, if you really want something and truly believe it’s possible, you’ll get it. On the flip side, putting a lot of attention and thought onto something you don’t want means you’ll probably get that too.

It’s your choice. You are resourceful and you are full of potential. What’s your intention? Chart your course – you’re the captain of your ship. Design the life you want and invite it in. And remember what Helen Keller said so brilliantly, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” It doesn’t mean that we ignore the shadow. We can simply choose not to sit in it.

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