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    Blog Index
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    Are You Ready to Play in A New League?

    We often hear the cliché of moving ourselves, or our businesses “to the next level.” Those words are uttered so many times a day in conversation and marketing messages that we don’t think much about what they mean. I doubt anyone has a clear notion of what’s meant by this phrase, other than some vague sense of advancement.

    We can certainly all be enthusiastic and applaud the idea of moving to the “next level.” But I often tell my audiences: “The next level is not enough.” When you really consider the essence of what this means, most people, when saying this, are talking about moving a few steps forward, but remaining within the same league. It might be meaningful and even exciting, but it’s marginal progress, incremental progress, and just a few rungs up the ladder. There have been times where slight advancement might have been appealing to me, but I must be frank. It’s been rare. I’ve always been interested in breaking into a new league with my understanding, my work, my performance, and in every area of my life.

    Moving to a whole new league is not something we typically challenge ourselves to do. For example, if you’re a freelance consultant, say making $75,000 a year, moving to the next level might mean, making $100,000 a year. That’s a very significant step indeed, but what would it take to move from $75,000 in income and projects to say, $250,000? I’d say that would definitively be another league – and what most people would want. How about you?

    Let’s say you’ve been hired by a growing company in a sales capacity and the company is at $3 million in revenues. Would the leadership of the company want to see you accomplish $3.5 million in revenues, or lift the company to the $5 million level? I think the latter would be preferable. My point is that no one wants only what we call “the next level,” at least for long. We all want to know how to break into a new league. That’s what fascinates us, that’s where the big rewards are, and that’s also what may allude us most because it requires a completely different way of thinking, a different frame of mind, and certainly, different behavior.

    Being in the business of helping people become more successful and rise to excellence in their businesses, I find few people are able to get out of the nice, neat box they’ve put themselves in. Without knowing it, they’ve carried around for many years (sometimes a lifetime) limiting beliefs that prevent them from believing in their ability to break into a new league, reach for it, and live and work in it. When matters are discussed and issues are weighed, they’re done in the context of the lower level – not another league. Opportunities are not seen, action is not taken, and things inevitably stay the same. Even traveling a step or two up, which is what most people do, means you’re still on the same staircase – and not a floor up.

    The life-changing and business-changing outcomes do not result from “next-level” thinking. They come from expanding our vision well beyond what’s routine and having enough confidence in our vision to feel our way to the steps, the people, and the processes that ultimately enable us to rise to a new league. Along the way, we do move to another level, but that’s hardly enough for the truly ambitious. Getting past the complacency of “the next level” is one of the things you’ll need to train yourself to do to break into a new league. And recognizing that you’re complacent might be half the battle.

    Seeing the world and our work from a different angle is often the most challenging. Taking steps in a new direction is usually scary as we deal with unfamiliar territory and the unknown. That’s why so many companies seek fresh blood when they have major growth challenges.  The difference between the way a company founder and her early team might approach growing a business, and the point of view of a new CEO can be as different as night and day.

    I say you should challenge yourself to get into a new league – and not just to reach, “the next level.” How about imagining yourself not just in a new seat, but a new building and neighborhood with new opportunities, options, and rewards? How about looking beyond the current staircase you’re on, and imagining what the penthouse feels like, and working to get up there?

    In the hospitality industry where I have many clients, there are some people who stay in hotels all of their lives but never consider booking one of the larger, more elegant rooms with its many amenities. The don’t think they can afford it, and many not even think they deserve it. Well, like the many extraordinary hotels out there, there’s another league for you to enjoy in your career and business that is many levels beyond what you’ve ever considered before. And guess what? It’s time.


    To Manage Effectively Today, Start from The Beginning

    Many business leaders have confessed to having considerable challenges managing the complexity of today’s business environment. Managing has always been a major task – dealing with the big picture, handling the demands of meeting deadlines, keeping costs under control, working through the emotions and performance issues of those on your team – but somehow, today’s workplace has added more stress factors for the average manager to consider. That’s why I believe you must think through the needs of the business from ground zero today, considering all aspects of managing the business.

    One factor I’ve noticed in my own business is the 24/7 nature of it all. I’ve always been willing to work a little later, catch up on the weekend, and call clients and colleagues during “off hours,” (much to their dismay) but today, this has become the norm. Smartphones make it so easy to follow up at any time, our level of expectation has risen to want to see the document now, hear what happened at the meeting now, and see the latest version of the presentation, now. If you’re in client services you must discipline yourself to not immediately show the client the latest progress, just because you can. If you take advantage of every capability today, you run the risk of conditioning your client to expect immediate and ongoing updates – and experiencing personal burnout.

    Then, there’s people management. Today there’s a workforce with different habits, outlook and experience than their management might have. This is particularly the case with digital natives – those who have only known a world of digital technology. What is voicemail? Do I use full sentences when I send a client or staff member a text message? What do I wear to the presentation? These are all questions that many managers are confronted with today as lifestyles and habits are weighted toward the casual. When it comes to these matters, you might have to spell things out more than you might otherwise think.

    I often ask my consulting clients to make no assumptions when it comes to their management staff and their direct reports and thoroughly train their team on 14 key focus areas. These are:

    1-Managing (An Overview)


    3-Goal Setting




    7-People Skills





    12-Creating Harmony


    14-Getting Results

    Take my word for it. When it come to managing, take no shortcuts today. Start from the beginning if you truly want to develop a premier business.

    (My Effective Management Series is a great tool to build your management team. Find out more here:


    Can You Meet the Demands of This Vibrant Luxury Market?

    This is an exciting time for luxury marketers. Whether you’re in apparel, hospitality, travel, culture, cosmetics, or automobiles, the explosion of luxury products and services onto the marketplace has been met with wide acceptance and approval by consumers. Where the luxury market was dominated by a small number of companies, just decades ago, there are many brands today, driven by entrepreneurs, and many more choices in pedigree, quality, taste, ambiance, and style for luxury buyers.

    This shift presents one of the more challenging business climates for luxury marketers, because buyers today have far more options. There are original luxury designs and products, as there are many copies of luxury products to meet the demand of buyers that do not care about authenticity or heritage. The line between luxury products and products given a “luxury flavor” has also blurred. Market analysts continue to wonder just what a luxury marketer is, and the branding, price, and quality threshold for luxury products and services. (I abhor the constant question: “What is Luxury?,” and wonder why we don’t get on, learning how to sell it better.) This evolution of luxury has implications on how these products are sold, and you should take careful note of this in your business.

    First, business savvy as a luxury sales professional today is crucial. You simply cannot take for granted that because your product is well-made, beautifully designed, decidedly upscale, or otherwise distinguishable, that it will be purchased and repeatedly bought by your clientele. You may find yourself with a customer one day, and no customer the next, because a new luxury option – at least in the minds of the customer, has emerged. This means luxury sales professionals are selling into a fickle market and special consideration must be given to how to close deals and make money in this market.

    Some years back I was conducting a series of seminars on luxury in Hong, Kong and Singapore. I had a group of participants that included corporate marketers, entrepreneurs, and staff from entrepreneurial companies. I was struck by how those closer to the customer were able to latch onto strategies and tactics aimed at producing a sale, today, while those cloistered away from the sales transaction were hungry for more theoretical concepts – a big problem in the luxury market. Everyone in luxury will have to gain a grasp of practical strategies to make the cash register ring.

    You are also selling into a market where there may be misconceptions about your product and your product category. This presents a unique opportunity in luxury sales, because you can use competition and customer confusion to your advantage. With luxury this is often much to clarify and distinguish one product from the next. For example, a luxury sales professional might ask a prospect a series of direct questions that set up the sales conversation:

    “How familiar are you with our products?”

    “What other products have you considered?”

    “What factors drive your buying criteria?”

    “Are you ready to make a decision today?”

    The point here is that the key demand in today's luxury market is becoming more savvy about the sales and business development opportunities which have not just changed, but broadened, and are aided by technology but not rooted in technology changes alone.

    Meeting today's demands requires that you understand the old and new and become skillful at blending the two to drive sales and market penetration amongst a very receptive and well-resourced consumer base appreciative of the wide variety of luxury goods and services available.


    Define Your 2018 Habits and Routine

    Most of us develop routines in our lives. We awaken at a certain time, we get cleaned up, we have breakfast, we commute or begin working, and so on. Within our routines are habits and combined these make the difference between our success and failure, impact and ineffectiveness, our languishing and legacy. Successful people have habits that align with their goals. Unsuccessful people don’t. Our routines and habits can work for us, or work against us.

    If you’re a writer and you discipline yourself to rise each day, and you get started writing, and do so diligently, focusing on quality output, you’ll complete a manuscript. If your habit is to allow yourself to be interrupted, distracted, can’t get coherent thoughts down, and you delay the process, you will produce nothing of value. So, it is important to not just have routines and habits, but they must lead to the outcomes we desire.

    If you want to see a difference in your life, pay close attention to your habits and your routines. Identify those goals that you want to achieve and consider the habits that will enable you to reach those goals. The beginning of the year is a great time to get started. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit stick. You have plenty of time to define and get working new, empowering habits and routines for 2018.


    2018: The Year of Discipline

    I don’t know how your 2017 is ending, but I can tell you that this year has been one of great discipline for me. My focus has been so keen that I am surprised the year is almost done. That’s because I have been disciplined when it comes to focusing on those things that will bring the greatest value to my life and business.

    In just about every field, you’ll find the people who have the hardest time are those who lack discipline. It is not easy to be disciplined in life and in work. There are so many distractions, and working toward goals can seem tedious and boring. It may feel easier sometimes to find something more exciting to do.

    To succeed in business and in sales and marketing, you must be disciplined. Those who have high levels of discipline often beat those who have greater smarts. Rather than being impulsive and whimsical, the disciplined have an agenda filled with high-value tasks and they stick to it.

    Identify those things that you must do consistently and make sure that you do them. When you have diminished enthusiasm for the tasks that must be done, you must remain focused on doing them, nevertheless. And even when it looks like little progress is being made, or that it’s taking a long time to accomplish what you want, you must stick with it.

    You can look at discipline as sacrificing short-term pleasure for long-term gain. When we are disciplined, we are often doing things we don’t want to do, but know that we should do. Doing what we have to do with regularity, poise, and confidence is what self-discipline is all about. When we exercise self-discipline, we know that ultimately, the outcome will be that we reach our goals. Make this your top priority for 2018.