Boldness, Courage, Leadership

leadersHow many of you know the name Wang Weilin? As you scratch your heads, I’ll just jump in and tell you… Wang Weilin is the “Tank Man” associated with the Tiananmen Square protests that unfolded in China in 1989 (I know I was SO young then but this gets replayed frequently enough that many of you can recall this image, if not the name). As a column of tanks advanced through the square to discourage protestors, young Wang stood in front of the tanks to stop the advance. When the column shifted, Wang shifted. Was Wang’s protest more than an act of desperation in a desperate time? Absolutely. It was a decisive moment fueled by courage; courage that inspired others to rise in opposition to a then oppressive regime.

Too often in business and life we reduce leadership to a list of skills that the one in charge must possess to manage a group of followers. We might say an effective leader is a great communicator, planner, teacher, intellectual, or tactician. Sometimes we imagine a particular look for a leader, insisting that leaders are clean-cut, fit, and perhaps stand heads and shoulders above those they are called to lead. In business, we see leadership in those who can navigate the organization through a crisis or those who can craft an inspiring vision for the team and the organization it serves. While I can’t argue with any of these traits of successful leadership, I often wonder if we spend too much time dissecting and debating what constitutes leadership and what doesn’t. What if leadership is really just a byproduct of courage? The courage to speak and act in a manner that inspires courage in others.

Poor leadership is the silent killer in business. In my career, I’ve worked with many so-called leaders who never had the backbone to make the tough call, to push back internally and upwardly, or go to bat for those he was supposedly leading. As philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once affirmed, “if you refuse to lose your footing from time to time, you will lose yourself”. Playing it safe alienates your team, stymies initiative, and usually leads to poor retention of the team. A true leader not only manages to teach towards the completion of goals and objectives, but also gets out in front of the team if the situation requires a drastic change in approach. Ask yourself, “Do I want to work for a manager who’s unwilling to take the risks that they are asking me to take?” You already know the answer.

Courage is also embodied when the leader is willing to recognize, “I don’t have an answer,” or, “I need more information before I can make a decision.” Winston Churchill, who we often remember as uber-decisive, recognized the courage in stepping back and being led. “Courage,” Churchill quipped, “is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” In the business environment, a leader should also be willing to step back and learn from those they are leading. Many great ideas, terrific processes, and deft marking approaches have died an untimely death because the one in charge would only listen to his voice.

No one knows for sure what happened to Wang Weilin following his standoff in June of 1989. Some say he was arrested and executed; others say he remains in hiding even today. However, Wang’s courage – his leadership – endures. If you truly want to lead in business as in life, you must be willing to put your people, the community, and the cause above your own needs. I choose to lead.

Professional Boundaries – Career Conversation

A portion of a much longer talk (hence me reading from notes) to a national group of female corporate lawyers. I share my thoughts and experiences around boundaries; how to think about creating both the expansive and narrow boundaries for yourself before others define them for you.

Women Who Roar – Life Lessons from a Female Corporate Executive

A speaking engagement to a group of Female Corporate Lawyers across Canada (in person in Toronto and broadcast live across Canada). Please forgive the video quality – I was in a beautiful office overlooking Lake Ontario, but it wasn’t favourable for video quality! As a result of the length (60 mins total) and the the video angle/coverage, I had to remain at the podium and refer to notes – please focus on the content and messaging! I have edited out the confidential Q&A session.

Creating a Savvy Sales Culture

Savvy Sales Culture

Creating a Savvy Sales Culture

I’ve rented a cottage for a relaxing summer retreat and often find myself drifting into work mode (part of why I don’t subscribe to work/life balance, rather, the philosophy that it’s all just “life”). I found myself quickly entering work mode as I turned on the TV at the cottage found myself intently watching an old infomercial featuring the Ron Popeil “Showtime Rotisserie.” Do you remember the contraption? Skewer your hunk of meat, season and infuse it with all your favorite flavours, put the meat in the rotisserie, and then “set it and forget it.” I have no clue if the “Showtime Rotisserie” could deliver a quality roast or not, but I do know that tens of thousands of units were sold. The key to the home cooked rotisserie’s success? The sales prowess of its inventor, Ron Popeil. Before selling his company Ronco in 2012, Popeil had become a staple of the infomercial, peddling everything from his specially designed kitchen knives to tabletop pasta makers. Popeil, who grew up in poverty on the streets of New York City, is worth over $200 million today. While Popeil recognizes that his inventive abilities brought the products to the marketplace, he also knows that his sales skills in front of cameras and customers built his brand and fortune.

I recently shared a great article written by Eric Janssen about the focus on innovation and the lack of sales talent and sales education. When I watched this infomercial, I couldn’t help but think about this article and reflect again on the sales training required to be successful, especially in the era where a majority of buyers have done research before they even arrive to the boardroom. I suspect that some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet would coalesce around two vital qualities: great ideas/innovation and great sales ability. In established businesses, the same qualities lead to success. When strong products and/or services and successful sales abilities intersect, business grows. In my own experience in the corporate world, I’ve come to appreciate the power of thoughtful and intentional commercial sales training. Conversely, when our teams are not equipped with effective sales and relationship strategies and techniques, we all feel the pinch of missed sales targets and the inability to attract new clients and revenue. I’m not insisting that everyone from R&D to accounting become certified sales associates, however, I am saying that every business needs relevant and ongoing commercial training that’s provided to a larger corporate audience than one might expect.

The Problem with the “Event”
Companies spend millions of dollars a year on the annual or semi-annual “Sales Event.” Often held at a flashy, offsite venue, the sales event typically intermingles several days of keynote-type training sessions with fun activities, vendor receptions, and cocktail hours. While sales events certainly boost corporate morale and provide great networking opportunities, they seldom deliver on their actual purpose – honing sales skills. Participants tend to forget what they’ve learned at these events, and these tend to be focused primarily on product or service education versus true soft skills and the opportunity for the real-time practice of techniques (I personally HATE role play but recognize that this technique works well for many). Studies show that without consistent practice and reinforcement of new techniques, salespeople lose most of the newly acquired information and skills within one year of the “Event,” reverting to old practices.

Consistency and Reinforcement
Save the big events for celebratory milestones, like obtaining key client meetings or meeting sales objectives, and use the banked time and money for frequent and relevant soft skills sales training. Focus on education around how to research prospective clients, how to develop authentic relationships, how to listen effectively and how to help solve problems and identify solutions.

Ron Popeil believes that he is an inventor first, but, in a close second place, a salesman. He’s right, of course. In this era of specialization and specificity, every one of us seeks niche skills that help us standout in the marketplace. However, all of us must develop sales savvy if we seek to market our skills and/or our services to those who are buying. It begins with the investment in both effective training and thorough practice and reinforcement.

Creating a Savvy Sales Culture

Nanodegrees in an Age of Specialization

Remember Animal House? Togas, all-night frat parties, pledging rituals, Belushi and his “COLLEGE” sweat shirt? The cult classic lampooned the golden age of Western academia, a time when Higher Education was more about getting high and coming of age than actually matriculating with a usable degree in hand. Since the Great Recession, the Academy, and students served by it, have undergone a sea of changes. Instead of receiving an education in life, the Humanities, and the like, college and university students seek specific skills that will make them marketable in competitive professions. For many students, the decision to seek specialized skills is all about the math and their return on investment. With higher ed price tags well over a $100k for an undergraduate degree, many would-be traditional students realize it’s too expensive to pursue the traditional academic route. In response, academic institutions continue to shift their offerings toward professional skills and degrees with truncated calendars, and away from the broad education that was the mainstay of universities and institutions in previous generations. What does this mean for our organizations and the people we hire to move our organizations forward? In a word, NANODEGREES.

As the name implies, nanodegrees are hyper-specific certificate and degree programs that provide individuals with a specialized education for specialized work. Often curated in a digital format or in storefront settings, nanodegrees offer courses in areas like data science, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and code writing. Nanodegrees are perfect for individuals who already know that their area of expertise is better served by a defined skillset instead of a four-year shingle. It makes sense. If I need to hire someone to write code for one of my products, am I going to select the guy with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from State U – a generalist – or the woman with job-specific nanostudies in coding, AI, and server development? You already know the answer. The interviewee with specialized training in the areas where I need coverage in my business, brings passion to the job. She’s applying for work that points to the core of her training. She has prepared herself do to exactly what I need her to do. Simply put, nanodegrees grow specialists in the age of specialization. Our organizations need specialists.

For those of us already in established management or technical roles, nanodegrees afford us with continuing education opportunities tailored for our specific settings. Say, for example, you work for a public or not-for-profit entity that needs you to create and manage grants that underwrite a new organizational initiative. After the “oh s**t, I don’t do grants” moment, you conduct a web search revealing that Private U down the street offers a remote, reasonably priced, six-week certificate program in grant origination and evaluation. Six weeks for specialized certification in a skill your organization needs from you? That’s a win-win, if you ask me. You can manage the new deliverable for your current employer and put a specialized certification on the resume for future.

Nanodegrees… Specialized training from the post-ivy, post-Animal House Academy. Yes, there will always be a place for the “school of life” liberal arts degree, but the safe money is on sustainable, financially-sound, highly-specialized nanodegrees. Ultimately, our organizations are the big beneficiaries of the shift toward specialized training. Except for toga manufacturers. They’re screwed.

Unstoppable

Unstoppable

Very excited to share with my network that on October 1, 2019, I will be publishing a book with several other amazing leaders and storytellers.

The title and theme of the book is “Unstoppable” – stories of professionals and entrepreneurs who have embraced this way of living and are unstoppable in life and in business. Many of you have heard me refer to it as my #NoExcuses mantra and philosophy!

Link to purchase is coming Oct 1

The Rise of Collective Leadership

Collective Leadership

If you’ve ever spent some time with adults from the American South, you’ll notice the “Yes ma’ams” and “Yes sirs.” Charming at first, the phenomenon can become quite annoying, if you don’t originate from there. Along with their reverence of grits, sweat tea, and rugged individualism, these “Southerners” genuflect in the presence of older adults by deploying the “Yes, ma’ams” and “Yes sirs” (forgive the stereotyping my Southern friends). There is an intrinsic hierarchy in southern culture built around age. The person standing in the line in front of you may be only slightly older than you and perhaps, not as accomplished as you, but they still receive the requisite “Yes, ma’am” in crossing. That’s just how they do it in the South.
In the traditional corporate environment, we learn to recognize our swim lanes and the corporate chain-of-command very early in our tenure. While we may not address the boss with a “sir” or respond to a request for a deliverable with a “yes ma’am,” we understand that there is a pecking order in the office. In this command and control model, the boss has the big picture and the front-line workers accomplish tasks that build toward the big picture. In other words, workers just need to lower their heads and do the jobs they’re asked to do. You may be the most talented person in the office, but talent does not give you carte blanche to challenge leaders willy-nilly… at least not in the prevailing command and control model. If you stray too far above your place in the pecking order, you may lose your head.
Enter collective leadership. Collective leadership is an emerging model in the corporate space that assumes large adaptive changes are best managed by a leadership team instead of a single leader giving the team tasks to accomplish. The leadership cadre and the teams they manage work toward collective goals instead of the completion of individual tasks. This is different than a consensus driven leadership style whereby the majority must agree on the actions and next steps. Rather, this is about common purpose and mission and objectives (tying back to some of my prior articles on culture and purpose). Now, I am not necessarily advocating solely for this new leadership style and approach, but I certainly think it needs to be utilized with much greater frequency. Particularly as the younger generations in the workplace assume leadership roles in organizations, the rise of collective leadership is expected and therefore, inevitable.

Networks Instead of Pyramids
The collective leadership model assumes that everyone – or nearly everyone – is motivated by the accomplishment of shared goals. Interconnected networks in the corporate space collaborate to develop, execute, and evaluate these. Instead of a “hero” at the top of the leadership pyramid setting the vision for the organization and assigning tasks based on the hero’s vision, the collective leadership model encourages all constituents to see their work product as a contribution to the success of the whole. In this model, communication is “in the round” instead of top down. The success of the organization is a byproduct of the diversity of thought and experience and contributions of all stakeholders, not just those of the person commanding at the top of the pyramid. Under this model, setbacks and challenges are shared by everyone in the organization; there is no need for a savior to gallop into the fiery building and save the day.

Capacity
The collective leadership model affirms that an organization’s stakeholders are capable, trustworthy, and motivated by more than external rewards. Compare this to the command and control model that assumes individual workers have limited capacity and therefore should only be given a task or two to master. When team members feel trusted and respected by their leaders, they take greater pride in the organization and the success of the organization’s goals. Collective leadership helps the individuals in all those interconnected networks realize their potential. I contributed to this corporate milestone. My purpose and passion is sewn into every product I helped produce.

Sustainability
As technologies, corporations, and global interactions become more complex, organizations need leadership approaches that are less dependent on one or two “heroes.” Collective leadership is sustainable leadership, in fact we create depth and breadth in bench strength by leading in such ways. While there will also we be deference to age, experience, and title, the emerging new generations in the workforce will ensure that more and more stakeholders have a place at the table. Is this a bad thing? As long is the work is completed and the mission accomplished, I say, “no ma’am.”

The Power of Incentives

The Power of Incentives

Power of Incentives

You may be too embarrassed to admit it, but you loved National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. The Griswold family Christmas tree, the kitty litter in the Christmas Jell-O, a million lights on the rooftop, Cousin Eddy in a bathrobe pumping the RV sewage into the storm drain…Such a classic, isn’t it? And of course, let’s not forget the protagonist, good ole Clark Griswold. Loving father, doting partner, and dutiful employee… Before the year-end bonus arrives in the mail, Clark’s already floating a cheque – a big cheque – as a down payment for a family pool. Unfortunately, the boss has a different incentive program in mind this year: Membership in the Jelly of the Month Club. Now we have a bounced cheque and lots of drama.

Several years ago, the New York Times reported on the rise of variable compensation in the workplace. What’s variable compensation? Short-term bonuses and incentives. In 1988, incentive pay accounted for only 4% of corporate payroll; by 2014, the number had risen to 13% and has continued to rise significantly since. In 2018, PayScale reported that 71% of employers now use variable pay as part of their overall compensation strategy. Not just for executive management either – these creative compensation plans are for all levels within the organization. What’s the advantage of variable compensation? Lower fixed costs for the company and alignment of compensation with performance for employees. If done well, incentives can dramatically move the business forward.

Alignment to Purpose and Culture

n my last article, I spoke about putting culture before the bottom line…here is one way to demonstrate a commitment to such. For variable compensation to work effectively in an organization, then they must be tied directly to the purpose and culture of your business. The failure to link compensation to culture is one reason so many companies are struggling with a crisis of employee dissatisfaction and poor engagement.

When designed with culture AND business outcomes in mind, incentive programs can be highly effective and drive significant business success. They can be used to mould employee behaviour, specifically those behaviours aligning to the corporate purpose and culture and reinforce those who lead by example.

Unfortunately, when these programs are designed poorly, they may put a company at risk – as evidenced by companies we’ve seen reported in the news over the last couple of years, causing a whole new swath of regulations around this very topic. Metrics and bonuses that seem to make sense in delivering business value may have the opposite effect and significant negative consequence to its customers or brand. That said, incentive programs are highly effective if done with a focus on the purpose and culture of the organization.

The Power of Incentives

Best Practices

Power of IncentivesFocus on both short- and long-term objectives
I’ve seen too many companies (albeit primarily public companies), operate quarter to quarter, often incenting “unnatural” behaviour and actions to deliver a short-term result. While this is important to ensure shareholder expectations are met, there must be a balance against long term strategic objectives and to ensure sustainability and growth.

One Size does NOT Fit all
Individual incentives should be designed to elicit the behaviours the organization requires to drive its business strategy. This means business leaders must be clear about which individual behaviours support the big picture in the long term.

There needs to be a recognition of actions, behaviours and metrics that deliver along the entire value chain. Too many times, the rewards and recognition go to the front line sales people when there is an army of colleagues delivering alongside or behind the front lines. Different roles, different segments and different geographies may require different metrics or incentives.

Give Employees what they will value
Create compelling and meaningful rewards; ones that motivate the employees and have impact to them personally.

Test the plan
Unfortunately, there are many people who will attempt to “game” the system – these are the stories we’ve seen splashed in the news, creating new regulations and audit requirements to prevent or catch such. Before implementing your new program, test your theories – particularly with objective third parties who will challenge you and attempt to poke holes in it.

Power of Incentives Be transparent
Employees should understand not only how and what they are being measured and incented for but WHY. They should be clear on how their behaviours and their personal performance contribute to the organization’s culture and overall success.

 

No Jelly of the Month Incentives
Variable compensation programs and incentive plans will continue to be a key component of organizational talent strategy and they are most definitely here to stay. Don’t let your performance program be the cause for employee dissatisfaction, poor teaming and a toxic culture. Make sure your programs reflect the company’s values and are structured to drive behaviours that are beneficial to both your organization and the customers it serves. And make sure that the incentives are meaningful and impactful to the employee – no Jelly of the Month Club!

Building Culture Before Bottom Line

Building Culture Before Bottom Line

Building Culture Before Bottom Line

Have you ever worked in a toxic setting? If you’re pondering the question, the answer is, “no.” If, on the other hand, your palms are now sweating, and your pulse immediately went into AFib, assume you’ve encountered toxicity in the corporate space. What does toxicity look like? Well, there’s no uniform definition of workplace toxicity, but there are definitely a few things to look for: 1. Management is focused on mistakes instead of successes; 2. Bullies run the show; 3. Work-life balance (or work-life integration as I prefer to say) is not a corporate priority; 4. Profit is the only objective; 5. You work with rivals, not teammates. Any of these ring true for you? I am sorry…and I understand. I have worked in terrible corporate settings over the course of my career, crafting my own definition of workplace toxicity along the way. It goes something like this: If you dread walking into the office every morning and feel like you’ve descended to the seventh ring of hell by the end of the work day, you’re definitely in a toxic environment. Be good to yourself and develop an exit plan.

But let’s assume you survived hell and now have an office (or a cube) with a view within a healthy corporation. Your task as a leader in your setting is to be diligent in the pursuit – the cultivation – of a healthy workplace. But first, I want to address this article’s title…Building Culture Before Bottom Line…the fact is, it’s not a choice of one versus the other…driving the right culture almost assuredly delivers a strong bottom line. SO, what does a healthy culture look like? I suspect there are a trillion different ways to describe healthy settings, so let met instead offer some advice on how to get there.

First, understand and articulate your purpose. I’m not talking about a strategic plan per se; I am suggesting that you be intentional in articulating your team’s purpose within the corporate structure. Make sure everyone can recite the purpose and define how their job description contributes to the purpose. Healthy workplaces are built around a unifying purpose. With everyone on the “same page,” and working toward the same goals, potential toxicity is kept at bay.

Second, be clear about your team values and standards. Make these items concise and repeatable. We believe that everyone is a contributor. We believe that the dignity of every team member must be safeguarded. We will not tolerate racism, bullying, harassment. When values and standards are codified and widely disseminated, you can hold people accountable when their words and/or actions violate your values and standards. Of course it’s always helpful to listen to your gut before you put someone on your team. If the “most qualified candidate ever” presents as a narcissist in the interview, don’t invite him back for a second conversation.

Building Culture Before Bottom LineA healthy workplace always has cultural ambassadors who model your culture to the new hires and tenured alike. Who are your cultural ambassadors? The team members who embody your corporate values and standards. If you want your setting to thrive, identify your cultural ambassadors, publicly celebrate their contributions and example, and equip them to train everyone else. Cultural ambassadors instinctively place the others success ahead of their own advancement.

Finally, be the change you desire in your environment. (Thank you, Gandhi & Obama). Said another way, be a good role model for your colleagues. You can have an exquisite purpose and inspiring values and standards, but they mean nothing to your team if you are a bully or a jerk. Be truthful in your communication with your team. Treat people well. Do not tolerate employees who pour toxins into your workspace…

Sometimes addition by subtraction is the best medicine.

Building Culture Before Bottom Line

Social Selling – A Whole New Toolkit

Social Selling – A Whole New Toolkit

Weren’t we cool? Be honest, how many of you carried a pager on your hip before the rise of the cellphone? (I’m old enough {barely}, but I had one)…Part status symbol, part business tool, the pager kept us somewhat connected with the home office and other contacts while also communicating to everyone around us, “I do important stuff.” When the digits appeared on the screen, we rushed to the nearest pay phone like the apocalypse was upon us, urgently responding to the message/number left by a client, colleague, or afternoon cocktail companion. Of course, the pager was only an intermediary in our quests to stay connected; we still had to make the call, schedule a meeting, track down requested information, send the package, etc. How many of those little black boxes are at the bottom of our landfills these days?

With the rise of smart phones and connected devices and a host of social media channels supported by said devices, our connectedness to our network has never been so intimate and immediate. In the business environment, connectivity continues to expand “social selling.” Now keep in mind…we’re ALL in sales – whether that is part of your title or role formally or you’re focused on operational business functions, it is our job to serve customers and ensure the success of our organization. When businesses and its leaders connect with their network – with both current and potential clients through social media channels and beyond, the potential for expansion and sales grows tremendously. In fact, 78% of social sellers outsell their colleagues who rely on traditional sales approaches.1 By sharing information, offering advice, answering questions, and directly interacting with the lives of clients and prospects through social media, leaders tap into the power of relationships and intimacy. If a sales leader appears relatable and authentic – appropriately intimate – the potential for growth is immense. Conversely, if the connections forged by the sales leader feel contrived, then the client is probably going to take their business elsewhere – people do business with those they like and trust and WANT to do business with. In my own network engagement, I deploy the power of social media to keep the fires of connectivity burning with old and new connections alike. Has social selling worked for me? Yes. I have a history as the top social seller in multiple organizations.

Social SellingLet me share some tips:
Do Your Homework
If you are ready to take the plunge into social selling, spend some time understanding the various social media channels used by your clients and prospects. Also, research the individuals and the companies themselves – I can’t tell you how many connection requests and irrelevant sales pitches come in with zero research about my organization or without understanding my background, experience or my own personal brand (fastest way to lose me as a connection). Be comfortable reaching out to those new and unknown, but please do your homework first!

Build and Maintain your Network
Make sure you are connected on LinkedIn with your WHOLE network – your clients, target prospects, industry peers and influencers (and heck, why not those you meet during your personal interests and hobbies??). Many believe in keeping an extremely tight and regularly culled network, and some even limit it to a fixed number of connections, but in my opinion, this is an area to go wide and broad; in an era when 6-degrees of separation shrinks daily, and people change organizations with much greater frequency, why limit yourself?
This is your network, among the most powerful assets that you have as a business professional. Harness it. Nurture it. Cultivate it. Serve it. Social networks are highly efficient tools for maintaining contact and building relationships with those in your network and I mean ALL of your network – not just sales prospects. Interacting with clients positively online contributes to retention. Helping prospects understand and define their business challenges attracts them to you and your solutions. Building relationships with peers and industry influencers keeps you informed and referable.
People notice when you pay attention to them. When you invest time in paying attention to and promoting others, it triggers reciprocal behavior. People do business with people they like, and they trust, and they WANT to do business with.

Be Authentic
Authenticity is always the key to successful social selling. Most people can smell a fraudster from miles away. “Liking” every client post or responding to every tweet conveys desperation. If you want to succeed in selling, learn to appreciate the humanity of your clients. Learn about their families, their aspirations, their challenges, etc. I’m not saying you need to become the digital BFF of your clients, but you need to connect in a way that is genuine. If a part of your client’s story resonates with your own story, share those points of resonance. If your expertise can help a client with a personal challenge, offer your expertise without expectation of remuneration. Be vulnerable. Sharing snippets from your family trip, gym woes, significant anniversaries, etc. communicates to the client, “Victoria’s family and life are a lot like mine.” That’s intimacy.

Consistency
Yes, I know you’re busy, we’re ALL busier than we’ve ever been it seems. For those who have followed my postings or seen me speak, I live by the phrase #NoExcuses…quite simply, “where there is conviction, there is capacity.” I’ve mentioned before how important consistency is – it is viewed as an essential quality of being an effective leader. While the heart of your brand is determined by how you show up every day, consistency is hugely important in establishing and maintaining your personal brand online. Posting regularly, aligned with your brand messaging, keeps you top of mind of your contacts, and limit yourself to topics that reflect your personal brand’s values. Your social presence and social selling IS part of your leadership mandate, so I’d encourage you to schedule time in your calendar daily if multi-tasking your way through doesn’t work.

Social SellingBrand YOU
If the objective of social selling is in fact to sell, then don’t forget to market what you do or what you’re offering. You are your brand – you must sell YOU. However, convincing people to buy what you’re selling comes down to a few factors: first, the strength of your network and the relationships you have with people in it; second, your presence, visibility and reputation among people within your network; and finally, your ability to differentiate yourself and what you’re selling from others.

I miss the pager (sort of), but I love my devices and all the social media platforms they support. A generation from now, 95% of our sales will be generated through virtual communities, not brick and mortar spaces. If you haven’t tapped into the potential of social selling, assume you’re being lapped by your competitors.