Taking to Heart and Putting to Practice What I Learned At the Fordyce Forum

Editor’s note: The 2013 edition of the Fordyce Forum opens in Dallas in two days. One of the great things about the Fordyce conference, besides the tips and techniques the pros share, the networking, and the advice and help you can get from those who’ve “been there, done that,” is the renewed sense of excitement and the motivation to put into practice what you hear and learn. That’s what Andrew Alexander wrote about in this timely post. If you want to know more about last year’s sessions, check the agenda here.

I am not a person who enjoys conferences, and to be even more transparent,  I feel inadequate after listening to success stories. More specifically, I begin to feel inept about my skill set and performance. There are a lot of accomplishments and wisdoms shared in conferences.

But what gets me shaking my head is how the experts are executing, and I am not.  “Man, I know half the stuff they are talking about, and I am still screwing this up.” Or, “(bunch of words not appropriate for print) why did I not think of that? It is so simple. Wake up!”

I’ll quickly flip-flop to excuse making:  “That won’t work in my market,” or a huge wave of “Yeah, buts…” In a nanosecond I’ll go from “I suck “to “I am doing it right in my space.” I suppose it’s a basic maneuver by my ego to salvage the ship it just torpedoed; it’s like living with my mom in my head really. I guess another reason why I don’t enjoy conferences is because the schizophrenic conversations are just exhausting and confusing. However, one thing is common for me year after year, I am not executing.

So, I’ll put the bottom line of this article at the top: Execution.

After a conference, I’m stoked for a few weeks, and then it’s back to normal. Hey look! Shiny object! So this year I figured I do it differently. Barb Bruno asked us to write down the three things we were going to change (check!); when we would commit to doing it (check!); and  share my insights with my accountability group (check!) and then … Hey look? Shinny object!

“If we don’t change the direction we’re going, we’re likely to end up where we are headed.”– Ancient Chinese proverb

As a matter of fact, and since I am a full-Monty sort of guy, while looking in the laptop’s brain for the beginnings of this article I found the 10 things I was going to execute on from Fordyce Forum 2011. Hey Look! Shinny (oh, forget it – you get the point.) Or should I say, excuse.

So this year is different; pain is on my side.

The methodology is simple: What did I learn and what am I going to do about it? I figured on spending a couple of hours a week on each for a month straight, a bit obsessive and Og Mandino-ish, but if at this stage of reading my thought processes on paper,  you have not figured out I’m very comfortable with my neurosis then you must be trained as an engineer, doctor, accountant, attorney or possibly a former police officer

Lesson #1 – Metrics

Get back on to Jon Bartos’ RPM. After all, I signed up in January (2012) and only lasted about three weeks on it before bailing out. Metrics make me happy. They show a job well done — the activity and the ratios. Unfortunately, those who know me know that I am sporadic (at best,) in working a plan. Typically I hyper-focus, bill a lot, and head back to the pool. So since the conference I have been on RPM infrequently – but I have been tracking my metrics again.

Two key metrics I live by: 1) A sendout a day; and  2) 14 alive. Fourteen people need to be interviewing at any stage, but they all have to be active, hence the sendout a day objective. Feed the top of the funnel, and the rest will grow its own legs.

Lesson #2 – Bob Marshall’s Take On Resumes

To hiring authority I now say, “Don’t ask me for resumes, it will slow down the process -– I am showing you a rock star and you are going to have to sell them -– this is the only time I would like to speak about this. The folks I introduce to you are candidates. They are not applicants, lookey loos, or rejects. As a matter of fact, chances are slim they are looking –- I just enticed them to speak with you. Does that make sense?”

I love the swagger and could immediately sense the relief on the other end of the phone. The clients appreciated the leadership I was displaying on taking point for them. I asked a couple if they understood and they not only agreed but thanked me.

Lesson #3 – Doershing’s Dialing Magic

Now, I did not attend Greg Doersching’s session, but I did have a Starsky and Hutch styled Huggy Bear embedded into his session. What I was told is that Greg likes to make at least 120 attempts on any search assignment. Once again, those whot know me know my business is built mostly on candidate marketing.  I rarely engage on searches. However this point was very interesting to me. So I flipped it and simplified it.

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I am marketing folks up until I get three sendouts each. Before this tidbit I would get one, or possibly two interviews and then move on to the next shiny object. I managed to arrange nine interviews with three candidates with the focus of not just quitting when one interview is arranged.

Lesson #4 – Barb Bruno’s Quality Assurance

Simply, three questions

  1. What did I do right this week? Use the 80/20 rule, and by asking the question do more of the 20% that is giving you 80% of the results.
  2. What is wasting my time? This one was a killer. I kept a log for a week next to me and found that the way I bounce around was annoying to me. There is a saying I have learned to love:  “If you spot it, you got it.” I don’t really like the way my kids go from activity to activity leaving a path of toys and games from room to room. But guess what? I do the same thing and now, I’m aware and conscious and easily correct the ship.
  3. What is my family doing without because of my performance? Or, as I reworded it, “Your screwing around is costing your kids.”

This question was not as earth moving as the openness of Barb in stating that she has a life coach who helped her get over her issues with success. I’m not into the posturing and chest pounding of most sales environments, in reality because I don’t have much to pound my chest over. Regardless, even when I did perform, I did not engage. Mindset is huge and it changes frequently for me. I got a coach, and even more helpful is that Barb’s question regularly runs through my head making it easier to look away from shiny objects.

Lesson #5 – Jeff Kaye’s Consulting Agreement

I simply adjusted it to $4K a month for 3 months. Client gets first right of refusal and the $12K comes off the placement fee. I work for you exclusively and we keep on keeping on with me evangelizing your opportunities and finding you opportunities.

Had the opportunity to sell it three times. No takers yet.

However, my new favorite line is “Contingent means I may or I may not work on it,” then I pause for dramatic effect.

How my little experiment is playing out is that instead of focusing on a skill for a month, I really only do it for one week and the muscle memory is built. I went back to the list in mid-July and expanded it to over 15 items checking them off as I moved along. Some have stuck, like weekly training, and daily planning. Others have not —  like call accounting or getting back into metrics accounting full-time.

The simple application of keeping it simple with five lessons, and only focusing on one for a week at a time is yielding fun results. As Henry David Thoreau said, the three things that can make you happy are, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

On Sundays I plan the week, and I plan the intention of the week. I go through my list and grab the one my gut tells me to grab, write it on a 3 x 5 and keep it in front of me all week. That is what I focus on for that week.

The secret to execution has been concentration. I’ll double my billings this year. Now, those who know me know the number is not huge, but it sets pace for a solid Pinnacle run in 2014.

Andrew Alexander is principal and senior recruiter with his firm, PowerHouse Recruiting, which is based in Austin, TX. He works with a select group of energy efficiency (ESCO) and HVAC companies and a similarly select group of candidates. As he says, ?Our clients? common thread is performance.? He specializes in Performance Contracting Business Developers, Project Developers, HVAC General Managers, HVAC Service Sales Managers.

Contact him at andrew@powerhouserecruiting.com or (916)290-6690.

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