Upselling Sales: To Sell is Human

Readers beware: I haven’t yet read the book, To Sell is Human.  My comments are based on a talk given by the author, Daniel Pink, at an Author Event at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

While I will certainly read the book, I came away from the event a bit disappointed in Pink’s latest effort to apply fresh thinking to the pedestrian concept of “selling.”   His thesis is that while 1 in 9 full-time workers is engaged in selling, the other 8 are also influencing and persuading others in their commercial and personal interactions.  He claims that while business schools teach the elements of commerce, few teach how to be more effective in sales.  While I totally subscribe to the need to embrace and elevate our “sales-selves,” my initial response is that Pink has engaged in a bit of publication “up-selling” to promote his views.  In his previous work (A Whole New Mind and Drive), Pink has made abstract concepts more accessible; I fear that in To Sell is Human, he has made a simple concept unnecessarily complex.

Pink spoke about the need to apply a “servant selling” perspective that increases the power of the seller by reducing it.  He suggests that prospective buyers no longer rely on sellers for information; instead, there is “information parity” in the relationship between buyer and seller. To be effective, the seller must be a more active communicator (an “ambivert”), pitching with questions, listening to offers made by the buyer, and ultimately, exchanging products or services that make life better.

I’m sure the book will offer engaging interviews, surveys, and anecdotes to flesh-out the somewhat contrived-sounding lists of personal qualities, skills, rules that Pink laid-out in his Free Library talk.  Perhaps my enthusiasm for the book was dampened by the nature of the interaction, which was a bit too traditional in its approach to promoting Pink’s reconstructed views of economic behavior.  I challenge the author to apply his new paradigm of effective selling to the conventional “meet the author” and “book-signing” event.

Daniel Pink’s book tour: To Sell is Human

Looking forward to attending Daniel Pink’s lecture @ the Free Library of Philadelphia on Tuesday, 1/22 @7:30pm: brave the cold and join me!

While I’m loathe to think of myself as a “groupie,” I have really been inspired by the perspective Pink has taken to the way we can understand our place in the economic world (A Whole New Mind); also, how we can understand what motivates us (Drive).

This book promises to offer some interesting perspective on a belief I’ve held for a long time: we are all selling something. A good friend, a pharmacist by profession, talked about this years ago as our children were beginning to find their places in the world of work.  Teachers are selling knowledge and thinking; mechanics are selling parts and fixes; mathematicians are selling equations and solutions… There is no shame in being a great seller; indeed, selling one’s value proposition is what career acceleration is all about.

While I like to think of myself as a service provider, I am clearly selling an approach to life and work.  If you can’t join me tomorrow, I hope you’ll read and comment on what I share on this site and on my new FB page: <>  I hope to be relevant and not redundant: your active participation will help me meet my challenge!


Online Education: an open-access breakthrough?

Check-out this reference to Stanford’s experiment with 3 engineering/hi-tech classes being offered via YouTube

More than 160,000 initially enrolled; 35k demonstrated their engagement in the class by submitting homework during the first 3 weeks of the class. We need to know more about the demographics of this group and how this current cohort has been been recruited. (So far, we know that most have full-time jobs; <1% are from China, as the government blocks YouTube).

The emergence of high-quality online education presents huge challenges to “the Academy” as developed from ancient Greece. Yes, online education is still emerging from a birth process that was tarnished by all sorts of unscrupulous organizations and offers. However, with Stanford’s forray into this field, as well as MIT’s Open Courseware, it may be time to consider the long-term implications of online learning for the huge range of educational stakeholders: students, faculty, institutions, communities, and of course, the global economy.

What does this mean for college access? Could the enthusiastic response to these classes lead to the vocationalization of higher education? Does online education offer an accessible and affordable portal to income equality that sociologists and educators have been seeking on-campus?  (Here’s a link targeted to prospective online students)

If online education were embraced by those who are customarily shut-out of quality brick and mortor educational environments, tremendous cultural consequences would follow… How would our upwardly mobile dorm and cocktail-party behaviors be transmitted? Who would  bring the beer!

Carry the possibilities further, from a safety and personal security perspective… Given the revelations from Penn State Univeristy this week, perhaps online access would offer  the upwardly mobile and powerless in our society a path toward income equality without becoming subject to the will and neglect of the powerful, who control the Academy …?

IMO, online education is a sleeping sociological giant….

Career Acceleration MAP® (Mindful Approach Program)

Discouraging news about employment and the US job market affects job seekers and career changers.  It discourages the very behavior that we so desperately need to encourage: risk-taking, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurism, etc.

For many,  the  economic news causes people to stay in dead-end jobs, to invest too heavily in education/training, to give-up the job search altogether. Yet to others, the economic news offers opportunities (even with job growth at zero, more than 4 million job seekers are hired every month).

After a long hiatus, this post marks my return to this blog to comment on all matters related to jobs and careers.  My hope is that I will be able to offer something new to the discussion, whether in the form of  a new tactic, a new perspective, or a new challenge for readers.

In some way, I hope to contribute to our economy by stemming the negative behavior of would-be career changers and job seekers.   To that end, I will provide a Mindful Approach Program® – a MAP – that I believe can lead thoughtful people toward personal satisfaction and career acceleration.

You can expect that upcoming posts will be focused on “mindfulness,” which we’ll define in future posts. My current thinking has been influenced by so many incredible people, and by the work of Prof. Ellen J. Langer, who offers the following inspiration for the desks of thinking/working people:

“Mindlessness is the application of yesterday’s business solutions to today’s problems.” IMO, your can include traditional resumes, job postings, and “passive job search” to the heap of yesterday’s solutions; more to come…

Acting in tandem to the above, Langer and her team suggested:

“Mindfulness is attunement to today’s demands to avoid tomorrow’s difficulties.” IMO, such attunement requires a host of “right-brained” skills and abilities, including reframing, renaming, and redefining.

More on this in the weeks to come.  You can look toward the publication of my CAN_MAP®, a compilation of my CAN-tested tools and tactics to help you move toward a mindfulness as it relates to your work.  Thank you for reading and commenting…

Do you think Philly is a ‘thinking’ city?

Inquirer Business news today:  Philadelphia has joined what sounds like an exclusive club of “thinking cities.”  So should we puff-up our collective chest and thank our  92 post-secondary educational institutions for generating the “thinkers” – college graduates?  Maybe the collaboration between the Phila. Chamber of Commerce & academia solved the brain drain that has contributed to Philadelphia’s population drop?  How to reconcile this ‘thinking’ brand with the Eagles fans who throw snowballs at Santa Claus and ask youz if you want your steak sandwich wit wiz or widdout…

Of course I’m setting up a contrary conclusion.  Mike Armstrong, blogger, has reported on an interesting, albeit geeky report that attempts to identify geographic clusters that share similar engines for generating their local economies. I think the report validates the need to find one’s authentic brand – whether a city or an individual.  Read on…

While it is indisputable that our global economy is based on ‘knowledge,’ this “Knowledge in Cities” report makes it clear that  economic development is not a “one-brand suits all” proposition.  The authors make the case that is important for business and political leaders to recognize their regional “brand” or regional economic identity so their human talent can thrive.  Here are a few descriptions of these regional brands:

Thinking Regions: High knowledge about arts, humanities, IT and commerce; low knowledge about manufacturing.  Philly joins 33 other areas, including NY-Northeastern NJ, Olympia, WA, San Diego, CA, and Victoria, BC

Innovating Regions: Very high knowledge about IT, arts, commerce and engineering; low knowledge about manufacturing.  In this group, you’ll find 14 regions, including Boston, MA & NH, Madison, WI, Raleigh-Durham, NC, Trenton, NJ, and Washington DC/MD/VA.

Comforting Regions: High knowledge about mental health; low knowledge about engineering and production. Look for 29 areas, including Amarillo, TX, Las Vegas, NV, Quebec City, QC, Springfield-Holyoke-Chicopee, MA, and Pueblo, CO.

So, should these descriptions of regional economic identity influence your career management plan?  How can you use this data to more efficiently target your skills, abilities, and knowledge to meet the needs of your local labor market?

Are you “launch-ready” – see Mark Cuban’s Open Source Funding Challenge

This is an amazing opportunity for those whose entrepreneurial ideas are ready to launch, similar to the government's criteria for "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects. 

Cuban offers venture capital to those who can meet his 13 criteria.  The competition itself will spark innovative thinking; the process will be public, and therefore inspiring; the winning business plan may spark a stimulus of innovation. The time frame is NOW – its all about responsiveness and accountability.

Need help writing your business plan?  If I can't help you, I'll find someone who can. Check-it-out…<>

Career Search ‘Basic Training” in honor of Veteran’s Day

Veterans perform tasks and achieve a variety of successes in environments that civilians have trouble understanding.  In honor of Veteran's Day, I'd like to offer some basic training to help Vets make a successful transition to the civilian workforce.

Veterans are like all candidates: it is imperative to demonstrate that their skills, abilities, and areas of knowledge are transferable to the needs of civilian employers.  Vet's can talk about what they have accomplished in the military and in previous positions.  Like other candidates, it is important to present a "mini-business plan" to relate to the
needs of a prospective employer.  Review the following list to be sure
you are prepared to interview successfully:

  • You have
    clearly and concisely described one – two "success stories" for each of
    your previous positions, using the Problem (Challenge) – Action -
    Result model.
  • You have analyzed your accomplishment
    stories to identify the personal qualities, skills, and areas of
    knowledge that made it possible for you to achieve your successes.

Step #1
- Study the job description and organization to identify the criteria
for the job (not "requirements"). The criteria are likely to be "soft
skills," e.g., flexibility, team orientation, interpersonal skills,
etc. Create a grid, with the criteria on the left and your previous
employers across the top.

Step #2 – Fill-in the cells
with a note about each employer/accomplishment that addresses the new
job criteria. (Without the ability to post a table on-line, I can't
provide a good-looking sample – contact this author for a complimentary
copy of this worksheet..)

Step #3 – Once you've
completed this "homework," use your notes to prepare for questions and
conversation with the interviewers. Be careful to limit your responses
to three – four crisp sentences, using the Problem (Challenge) – Action
- Result model.

SimplyHired, an on-line aggregator of job postings, has created a Vet-Friendly filter that may make it easier to complete local labor market research.  I found 124 potential leads with the keywords, "Operations Manager" in my 5-digit zip-code.  The idea is to use these leads to develop a list of target organizations and keywords/job titles – don't become obsessed with "cutting and pasting" in response to postings.  Use the Internet to conduct a proactive campaign: Vet-friendly organizations are a great place to start!


An ivy perspective on the success of The Brand Called Obama

Readers know that I'm a career-politico and a student of the 2008 Election. The last two years have offered many lessons for those seeking new jobs and/or engaged in career transition.  I've shared my own perspectives during the last year:  check out the views expressed by Harvard Business Online (The Managerial Triumph of Barack Obama)

John Quelch's post in Business Week is one of three "ivy-covered" views of Obama's victory.  It reads like a comment on my Lessons from the National Interview; here's a summary of his points that circle back to inspire anyone involved in personal marketing:

  1. Obama's personal attributes were fleshed-out and visible to voters: interpersonal & communication skills; composure; his compelling story
  2. He engaged support from the ground-up; perhaps the Harvard-educated Obama was inspired by the idea of the "learning organization," advocated by a professor on the other side of Cambridge, MA – Peter Senge.
  3. Dominated the use of technology – multiple websites; the blogosphere, You-Tube, podcasts, and an incredibly effective infomercial (33.5 million viewers)
  4. The campaign targeted an inclusive array of voters; went beyond likely voters and discovered the power of early voters.
  5. Message of hope delivered during time of doubt and despair resonated with possibility
  6. Obama had some noisy gremlins in his closet; he dealt with them early-on and in a poignant and transparent manner.  When the Republican Party of Pennsylvania pulled them out of the closet In October 2008, they were marked as "past season." 
  7. TEAM – The team Obama assembled to market his candidacy and run the campaign was outstanding.  Quelch rightly points to the selection of Joe Biden as VP – a choice that filled Obama's foreign policy gap and reassured voters about Obama's judgment.

Salute to Studs Terkel – a community organizer extraordinaire

Studs Terkel died in Chicago yesterday at age 96.  He enjoyed a full life to be sure, with the possible loss of an opportunity to cast his ballot for a fellow community organizer, Barack Obama.  Click here to read an excerpt from an October 23rd interview with Studs about Election 2008.

As one whose first "professional" job was with a community-based employment development agency... …with two sons who work to repair the earth, one through higher education and another via social entrepreneurship/BOP…whose family has walked the talk, I join Studs Terkel and Barack Obama in celebrating the value proposition that "community organizers" can bring to the workplace.

Some may scoff or snarl at the idea that "do-gooders" offer value to the traditional world of employment (e.g. Rudolph Guiliani at the Republican National Convention), but with the perspective of an interviewer like Studs Terkel, let's look at what a hiring manager may find:

  • Excellent interpersonal skills – listen twice as much as they talk to people who are not often heard
  • Needs assessment ability – understand the needs that are underneath the expressed frustrations
  • Problem solving/Resourcefulness – able to identify needed resources and people
  • Project/Program management – ability to keep a lot of balls in the air, all headed for home-plate
  • Sales/Marketing ability -  accountable for outcomes; identify continued and new funding sources
  • Communication tools – written, verbal, print, visual, audio, Web 2.0, and in several languages

The service that community organizers perform is as valuable as that offered by our military, our teachers, our police officers and fire-fighters, and by journalists, broadcasters, and interviewers like Studs Terkel, who respectfully chronicled American workers since 1957.

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