Success and the 80/20 Principle


80/20 is the famous Pareto Principle, coined by Joseph M. Juran, a business consultant, which states that 80 percent of the effects come from 20% of the causes. It is roughly a rule-of-the thumb concept which is used heavily in business, e.g., 80% of the sales come from 20% of the clients.

This principle applies to other aspects of our lives as well. In school, roughly 80% of the discussion is kept going by 20% of the students. While all may probably graduate, only a few make it to the honor roll. And when they hit the job market, about 20 will most likely get hired in the first try.

When you look around the community, it’s a good bet that community activities are kept going and alive by a minority of the members. In professional sports, the bigger part of the gate’s receipts is produced by the few super stars, and at work, a company’s excellent bottom line is largely due to the efforts of a few overachievers.

The Pareto Principle is sometimes called “Pareto’s natural law of wealth.” As such, it is as unerring as the natural laws of gravity or inertia. But whereas, everything falls to the ground due to gravity, anybody can get away from the 80 and be among the 20. It is not a law of pre-ordination, or fate. You can move from being in a state of mediocrity to a state of excellence.

The question is, “How?”

In any given office or career, the anonymous many who are stuck in their static existence are chained there not by some external force or authority, but by their own self-limiting thoughts. Nobody is keeping them there, but themselves.

Therefore, if you want to move from the insignificant many to the elite few, remove the obstacles you have unwittingly placed around you. Get out of your box.

It is not going to be easy, though, because it would require ridding previously-held thoughts about yourself, about life, about career success and happiness. It might even require a complete overhaul of your core values. And change is always difficult. It means leaving behind things you love and cherish, things you value all your life (even if they have hindered you from moving forward), for things you are initially unfamiliar and uncomfortable with.

But C.S. Lewis said:

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Just as a seed must die for a plant to grow, a pupa to give birth to a butterfly, so must you let your old self die so you can allow a new you to grow into its full potential as a person, as a professional.

You can do that by starting to:

1.    Develop a feeling of discontentment:
Not the grumbling, and complaining kind of discontentment but of the “I’ve-got-to-do-better” kind.

Be discontented with your pay, your job, the people you work with, or even the company you work for, if necessary.

Being the best janitor, or clerk or engineer in your office is good. But at the end of the day, you are still a janitor; or clerk or an engineer.

Be discontented enough to want to be something else because out there is something a lot better for you. It’s just waiting to be worked for; to be claimed.

2.    Develop positive envy:
To be envious is not entirely bad.

Why do you think all commercials and ads use beautiful movie stars, top athletes and other famous people as product endorsers? Because they trigger the “If it is good for them, it should be good for me,” thought patterns among the buying public. They are meant to stir the envious desires of people

Envy is the root of all fads and fads set the stage for human evolution.

Feeling bad, depressed and losing self-confidence because of having been bypassed by an associate is the kind of envy you don’t want to have. It saps your energy, de-motivates you and could lead your promising career into an early demise.

Instead, say, “If he can do it, so I can. And better.” Try it and see how good it makes you feel; it allows you to see the bigger picture and sets you off running in the direction you want to take.

3.    Paying the price:
Everybody wants to succeed, but only very few want to pay the price. It may not be in monetary terms, though it won’t hurt to buy decent clothes and shoes, or get a good physical make-over.

But the real price, and this is too stiff for most, are the inner changes you have to make to succeed.

First, and foremost, change your attitude about yourself, your job, the people you work with, and the whole world around you. You are a lot better than you think.

Second, get rid of your bad habits and character traits, e.g., tardiness, absenteeism, failure to meet deadlines, procrastination, lack of self confidence, etc. These are manifestations of unprofessionalism and unless you get rid of these, you will remain a little leaguer.

Third, learn how to communicate and interact well with co-workers. Office interaction and communication are probably the least understood and underrated skills one must have up his sleeve to get ahead in his/her career. They are the most crucial if one intends to move from the insignificant 80 to the over-achieving 20.

Every effort you put in pursuing your career goals will all go to waste if you cannot communicate your intentions in a clear, simple, and understandable manner, and persuade others to support you because your relationship with them sucks.

4.    Learning new things and don’t stop:
Learning is one of the distinguishing traits of highly successful people. They never stop learning. They always have a book by the side and subscriptions to self-improvement, technology or business magazines.

They can carry themselves well in discussions covering a wide range of topics. And if necessary, rattle off figures, statistics and studies on subjects related to their fields of expertise.

The days of “mastery of one,” are long gone, supplanted by multi-tasking and multi-jobbing.

5.    Believing in yourself:
Unless you firmly believe in yourself, all of the above will be like a typical obstacle course in a military boot camp.

You will find them too high to scale, too slippery to get a hold on, to difficult to wriggle through or too risky even to try. You will hesitate, procrastinate, and make shortcuts. If they don’t work you try a different route or skirt around them until you hit another dead end. Finally you give up believing that you are just not cut out to be in the 20.

Louisa May Alcott (author of the classic novel, The Little Women) said:

“We all have our life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.”

Success is, in most cases, not of lack of skill but a lack of will.

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What Does Success Look to You

This morning, the city’s cultural center was full of young boys and girls in their togas. Today is their graduation day. About this time of the year, a lot of young people move from one education level to the next. The ones I saw were just a very small portion of the entire tribe. A small portion of them move from school campuses to the real world.

For them, that is what success looks like – beaming faces and well-combed or coifed hair; new pairs of shoes, new clothes underneath their drab-looking togas. And yes, the lunches, dinners and parties to celebrate the occasion.

For their parents, success has a different face. It is of enjoying the rewards of their sacrifice in seeing their children through school; the fruits of their labor not going to waste. It is of having molded them so they can face adulthood better.

But the real face of success is not in the overall feeling of satisfaction for having hurdled so many difficulties, trials, travails, and expenses in moving from one point of one’s life to the next, but in the fruits that come with it.

Different people define “success” differently. However, they always define it in terms of feelings and emotions, not of things. Feelings and emotions will vanish faster than an early morning mist while things will remain a lot longer, if not forever. A few may even become legacies.

At the risk of being labeled too materialistic (which I am not contrite about since the world has become so materialistic), I find the real look of success as:

-    The diploma for basic high school, or a bachelor’s or post graduate studies;

-    In the office, it is gaining a title after one’s name, e.g., supervisor, manager or CEO, and the perks that come with it like a bigger cubicle or office with an assistant, a higher pay grade, use of company memberships and facilities or a slot in the company’s parking bay;

-    It is the car that now sits in the company parking lot; or a new flat in the upscale part of town;

-    If you have family, it is either renovating an old house, make it larger and better furnished, or moving to a more garish home in the suburb;

-    It is to have a supportive family or a relationship that you can go home to after a hectic day at the office;

-    Or have the time to engage in your favorite community activity;

-    The face of success is to give some orphans in your neighborhood or elsewhere a better chance in life, or to make our world a better place to live in;

-    It is to have the health and build you have always dreamed of;

-    And bask in the sun on a vacation resort somewhere in an out-of-the-way island in the tropics, with a sun-shade, a book and a glass of ice-cold juice by your side..

The face of success can be as varied as you want it to be. You have all the right to enjoy it to the fullest, to savor it, to take every bit of it without a drop falling wastefully to the ground.

And the face of success comes with a monetary sign.

As the saying goes, “nothing in life is free,” and, sadly, it is only available to those who have reached a certain level of accomplishment in their chosen careers. The higher the accomplishment, the more varied and expensive success looks like.

Offhand, we all desire success in whatever field we are engaged in. Subconsciously, what we are really after are the recognition and money that come with it.

Because of recognition and the money, people push their limits to get that promotion, to succeed in their businesses or be the best in their vocations. They are great motivators. Without them, everything is nothing but a fruitless flexing of the body and mind on things leading to nowhere. It is not doing any better than a slave in a galley.

People who say that they are not into it for the money are either lying, have too much of it already or just plain underrating the value of money in everything we do.

Can a guy on welfare do much? Could Mother Theresa have done her acts of charity if she did not have millions of donations at her disposal?

While it can be rightfully argued that that money needed to accomplish some things are not for personal gain, nevertheless, it underscores the need for money to do or move things along.

Yes, a lot of people are averse at the mere mention of money in relation to one’s life or career. But success is impossible without money as one of the necessary resources to achieve it. And success, in turn, produces the money to make people savor their accomplishments, or seek more successes.

Is money the root of all evils? Granting it is true, it is the kind of evil that makes the look of success a smiley emoticon.

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What do Robert Downey Jr., et al, Have in Common


What do Robert Downey Jr., Kurt Cobain and Tiger Woods have in common?

All have celebrity status in their chosen fields and they belong to the Gen X, a term coined by Douglas Coupland, a Canadian novelist who wrote the book, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.

Gen X is comprised of people between the ages of 33 to 44 in 2009 (born between 1965 and 1976). Mr. Coupland used the letter X, like the mathematical unknown, because, being sandwiched between the baby boomers and the acknowledged citizens of the cyber world, the Gen Y, they are difficult to define; very diverse and amorphous in its cross section.

Gen X demographics (metlife.com):
In 2009, Gen X represented 16% of the entire population in the U.S., equally divided between male and female. In 2030, it is expected to go down to 13%, because of a foreseen decline among the women.

In 2009, this group was mostly Whites (62%), followed by the Hispanics (18%), Blacks (12%), and Asians (6%). In 2030 the composition is expected to change due to a 2% drop among the Whites, 1% increase in the Hispanics, and a 2% increase among the Asians.

Note: The use of colors to denote racial identities is taken from the source of the survey.

Life Perspective:
Gen X is difficult to define because of the diversity in their interests and ethnicity. This diversity, however, has become their hallmark.

Gen Exers’ sense of commitment in the work place and loyalty to employers startled the previous generation. They generally dislike being workaholics, preferring quality time with family, instead. They have a better work-life balance, authenticity and self-sufficiency compared to the baby boomers.

They are comfortable with change. In fact a lot of them are catalysts of change. They brought into the world such wonderful electronic tools like Google, YouTube and Amazon, the way Scottish professor William Cullen paved the way for the birth of the refrigerator.

They are more technologically savvy than the baby boomers but not as much as Gen Y, and their use of technology is just as different.

Gen Xers grew up in a period of uncertainty and many are products of two-income families. To balance this out, they put children and stable family as one of their top priorities. They are thought to place more importance to personal life and family than finances.

Gen Xers are generally observed to be:
-    Independent;
-    Resilient;
-    Adaptable;
-    Cautious and skeptical.

Education and career:
Gen Exers are educated. Almost an equal number of men and women (11% and 12% respectively) have master’s degrees or higher. Though more women, 22%, have college degrees compared to men, 21%, more men graduated from high school, 31%, compared to women, 26%. Only very few among men and women have less than high school level education, 13% and 10%, respectively.

As expected, there are more men in production, transportation and material moving compared to women, 18% and 6%, respectively. Most of the women are in sales and office, 29% against 15% and in service. What is surprising is that more women are in management, professional and related fields, 44% against 35% among men.

Interests:
Considering their profiles and outlooks in life, Gen Xers are generally employed. Some have established their careers and found success in it. They have the capacity and means to spend. But being cautious and security conscious as they are, they put a good portion of their money on acquiring a home and on retirement funds.

Roughly 49% of their income goes to housing and house improvements, and 16% for personal insurance and pension funds. The rest goes to the usual, transportation, food and alcohol, entertainment, and health care – common expense items for all.

An article in everydayhowto.net, shows the most common items Gen Xers buy online. These are:
-    Home improvement equipment and materials;
-    Lawn and garden materials;
-    Furnishings;
-    Children’s goods;
-    Sports and leisure items.

I am a baby boomer and the last of my generation shall soon pass away. So will the members of the Gen X who are now slowly being shoved aside by the Gen Y, who, in turn, are slowly being upstaged by the latest kids in the block, Gen Z.

Should I be worried and sad of our coming demise? Not a bit. Generations come and go. That’s part of life that cannot be changed.

What we can change is how to live it.

Before the baby boomers, there was the Silent Generation. They left their footprints for their children, the baby boomers, to follow or avoid. Then the baby boomers came to practically control the world. The innovation they had effected, affected practically every aspect of our lives – particularly the Gen Xers, who are slowly affecting the Gen Y.. .

This cycle of death and rebirth, in a new and better form, will go on as long as Man lives, as long as the world exists.

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Why I am a bit of Gen X and Gen Y


My daughter, a doctor, is vehement in saying that should she have a child, she would never encourage him or her to be a doctor. Considering the penchant for young people these days to “make a statement,” to be different from their parents, I don’t think they will follow her lead on what to do with their lives when the time comes. Other than support them, financially and otherwise, I bet her children will do as they please.

This is what a couple of my businessmen friends feel, with much chagrin, towards their children.

After working all their lives to put up their businesses, made them grow from scratch, they have no one to turn them over to.  All their children don’t want to have anything to do with their Dad’s business. One sadly told me of his disappointment that after putting everything together for his children, laid down a secure future for them, not one is willing to take over now that he wants to step down.

This phenomenon, if it can be called such, is not new, and it starts very early in a child’s life. A child’s hands are held as it takes its first uneasy steps. But once it learns to balance itself, it will push away the hands that initially kept it from falling.

And this natural desire to be independent is not limited to walking. The child will soon want to tie his shoe laces, comb his/her hair, brush his/her teeth, choose  what to wear, and will raise a tantrum, if fed with the cereal it does not like.

As they grow older, they get more inputs from the environment, playmates, classmates, teachers and many other influences that will make them do things totally outside of their parents’ comprehension and expectations.

When they come of age and start to have minor run-ins with their “oldies,” they justify “generation gap” as the culprit behind such misunderstandings. While their parents’ are at a loss of how to handle the situation, they go on with their merry lives as it is what the world meant them to be.

Darwin would never have thought evolution would assume this face and nature. Of course, he could not have predicted that the Internet would come into being, making our lives evolve into something even I, two decades ago, would never have thought possible.

But it is here and it is very real. I can still remember wrangling with my parents (and I am sure you did, too) over the “generation gap” thing. How are we, as parents, now to handle the spinning off of the generation gap to Gen X and Gen Y?

Get to know Gen X or Gen Y:
I always thought I belong to the lost generation until a new word was introduced into my vocabulary – baby boomers. They are those born between 1946 and 1964. Since I was born in 1948, I was just too happy to identify with this group. I thought, at last, I am not really lost.

When my identity crisis was resolved, I was back to the evolution thing again.

To-date, I have more than 1,400 subscribers to my blog and growing by more than 20 a day. As the figures grew, so was my desire to know what kind of people would subscribe to happiness and success blogs, like mine. So I started some digging.

It was not really the kind of research SEO experts would do. Mine was kind of opening fortune cookies we find in Chinese restaurants. We keep on opening them up until we pull out something that suits our mood. Mine was the this Gen X and Gen Y thing. .

I was attracted to it for two reasons: First, I didn’t know that such exist and, Second, I wanted to know their age range and see if there is a close fit between either of them and those subscribing to my blog.

Here is what I found:

Gen X and Gen Y differ in the age range they belong to. Gen X is between 29 to 45 while Gen Y is between 18 to 28,

Both are born when the world has become too digital, but they use digital technology for entirely different reasons.

Gen X uses the available technology to support their lifestyle needs such as online banking, shopping, plane and hotel reservations, and other things made digitally convenient.

They lead hectic lives, have careers to pursue, and families to provide for. Their use of technology, therefore, is centered around saving time and stretching their budgets.

They read blogs to update their knowledge base or to keep up with the latest advancement in the digital world. Though their numbers are growing, they still fall behind Gen Y in the use of social media.

Gen Y, on the other hand, find digital technology as an extension of their personality. Sometimes it is often thought that know nothing else.

They have integrated technology into their daily lives. They spend more time online, watch more online videos and text message more than they verbally communicate – especially with their parents.

They constitute the long line each time Apple releases a new version of its iPad.

And they are the group online marketing companies are very interested in knowing, e.g., their buying habits, the technology stuff they are hungry to buy and so forth.

I find the above information nothing short of serendipitous. All the blogging and freelance writing gurus expound, “know your audience, know your audience,” to write effectively. But the question remains, “How?’
.
Now I think I know who my subscribers are, and, more importantly, I know that I am bit of Gen X and Gen Y.

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What Now


I am asking this question not of myself but of my subscribers.

I know precisely where I am now and where to go. My blog is doing well (by my standards). It is being read all over the world, Google is consistently noticing it with occasional hits from bing, yahoo and other lesser-known search engines. I currently have 1,283 subscribers and growing by 20 to 30 more each day.

In addition to the above, I recently added an SEO Portfolio page to launch my SEO Content writing undertaking.

In short, I have what every blogger dreams of – to be noticed by search engines, grow a subscriber base and move on to loftier dreams.

Should I be happy? In a sense, yes. But it would be complete if, aside from a fat subscriber list and constant search engines hits, I would know if my posts are making the desired effect on you.

Aside from their names and email addresses, I know not much of their average age, their professions, their dreams and desires in life, why they are subscribing to my blog or is it helping them in any way.

It would be make my day to read of some comments or know that they are sharing my posts with friends through their social media sites.

I know not of such information. In a sense I am groping in the dark prompting me to ask this question:

What now?

I value your trust. I really do. But reading about my blogs or any other happiness and success blogs out there will not make you a success or any happier than becoming a chef after taking a course in culinary arts.

You may be learned, but lacking in wisdom. As Voltaire said,

“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”

And you will continue to know nothing until you make use of what you have learned, apply them to your day to day living.

A lot of people go through life wishing for something, a lot of things, as a matter of fact. Yet, they grow old never having seen, touched, smelt, and tasted the things they wished for.

If you are one of them, don’t worry, you have millions of shoulders to cry on. They dream, as you do, yet do nothing to realize their dreams. By your inaction, you miss the grandest performance of your life; your recital. Instead, you and millions of others, become sour-grape losers.

And do you know why? It is not for lack of intelligence, opportunity, skills, social contacts, personality or character. It is not even the circumstances of your birth. It is because you know not who you really are. What’s worse, you want to be someone else.

Last night I was watching the movie Paranoia. There was a beautiful exchange between the male and female lead characters which I cannot forget. It went this way:

She: Why did you do it?

He: I wanted to be somebody.

She: I liked you the way you were. Now that you are someone else, I don’t know anymore.

 

Go back to the basics:

If you want to succeed or be happy, or both, then go back to basics by knowing yourself.

Too often, our idea of a successful and happy life is the guy next door; the guy with a latest car, a bigger house, more expensive suit, membership in exclusive clubs and beautiful wife and children.

You are not him and he is not you, and you should not wish for something that you might really be sorry for should you get it.

Dig down inside you and find out who you really are, e.g., your core values, the things you cherish, your own dreams and desires, your strengths and weaknesses, your signature talents and many other things that make you unique and different from that guy next door.

He cannot be that rich to have everything and you cannot be that poor to have nothing. We all were equipped with the same faculties when we came to this world. The other guy just made use of his better than you. 

If you need to go on a sabbatical to do it, then by all means go. I am sure you will come back a little tougher, a little wiser.

Once you have done that, once you know who you really are, make a strategic plan to transform yourself around that, not on others.

In short, start doing something, anything. Anything is always better than just reading blog posts, and books, and articles on self-improvement. You cannot make a dish by reading recipe books, but by going to your kitchen and start mixing things up.

Sadly, it is in the “doing” that a lot falters. This is where losers and failures are born. Not for lack of planning, for lack of vision, or for trying, but for:

 

-       Fear of failure:

When faced with a challenge, winners will say, “I can,” while losers say, “It depends.”

Nobody who has ever tasted the sweetness of success was spared of the stinging pain and humiliation of failure.

You will never succeed if you are afraid to fail.

 

-       Not taking risks:

What did they say of a turtle? It can only move if it sticks its head out.

There is always a certain amount of risks in everything we do in life. Crossing the street can be risky, so is swimming or riding a bike.

Buy why do these risks become so big and so real when it comes to the things we desire in life? You can get killed while crossing the street or drown while swimming. And how many have been hit by a car while biking?

Can missing out on a promotion kill you? Unless you shot yourself in the head, business bankruptcy has not been known to be lethal. Or losing a job.

Somehow you have to stick your neck out to make progress in life.

 

-       Bad attitude:

Attitude is a way of thinking about someone or something that gets reflected in a person’s behavior.

A lot of us take to our dreams and desires lackadaisically. We take it with a high sense of randomness. Like winning the lotto. We say, “If it happens, it happens.”

Things will never happen randomly in our lives and nothing happens on its own but through a deliberated and consistent effort to make it happen.

So, going back to my question, “What now?”

They say that knowledge is power. But power is not an entity that exists on its own but is created through mechanical means. It could a bow that sends and arrow flying, friction that creates a gem, water or wind current to produce electricity. Or it could be your dreams and desires in life.

You now have the means to create that power.

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Can You Write Persuasively



When was the last time you wrote a love letter? You know, that kind of letter persuading the girl of your dreams to accept your love; written on perfumed stationary, stuffed in a gilded enveloped, stamped and dropped into the mailbox around the corner?

Pretty nostalgic, isn’t it?

Do young people write love letters like we did before? Don’t’ they just tweet them or paste them on their Facebook walls with a silly love emoticons to go with them? Or, do they just text them using a language understandable to no one outside of their circle?

Whatever way or manner they come, they are persuasive writing in its simplest and most direct form.

These days, writing persuasive letters serve a far grander purpose other than expressing love. Your career success depends on it, especially if you are in sales and marketing.

Though it serves the same purpose as speaking persuasively, it has distinct differences which, if fully understood, can make your writing more persuasive.

-    Persuasive writing cannot make use of body language, voice inflection, hand
gestures, eye contact and other non-verbal means available to persuasive speaking. They are supplanted by the proper use of the right kinds of words.

-    The spoken word is easily forgotten. The written word can last for an eternity.
Make sure you write something that is lot more significant than being a bread wrap.

-    The spoken word reverberates only  within the confines of a conference room or a
hall. The written world can go viral, reaching millions of people around the world. Be sure you are persuading people to do something that can improve their lives.

Because of the inherent power of the words within a piece of persuasive writing, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in a bit of prophesy, said in 1838, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Simple techniques to write persuasively:
Before pounding the first letter of your article, ask yourself “Why am I writing it?” If you don’t have a pretty good answer, then don’t do it. Only when your purpose has become crystal-clear and your conviction unassailable, should you then write your fist sentence.

How are you going to do it? Here are some very useful tips:

1.    Immediately give them the reasons why:
Psychological studies show that people are more likely to comply with a request if you give them a reason why.

Giving them a reason establishes specificity, and conditions the minds of your readers to follow your train of thought.

2.    Make comparisons between “Now” and “Then”:
This illustrates the benefits they get from your proposal. People, by nature, are interested only in themselves. Their first impulse would be to ask. “What’s in it for me?” on anything you ask them to do.

Just watch diet and health plan ads. They all convey the same message – the before and after scenarios. And they always work.

3.    Back your proposal with proofs:
This is the “if this is good for others, it will be good for you,” approach.

Show study results to back your proposal; graphs and figures attesting to its efficacy and, if you can, endorsements from real people who are happy after adopting your proposal.

4.    Make it vivid through story-telling:
Without being too fluffy and long-winding, paint a picture of your argument by using analogies, metaphors and similes.

An analogy is a similarity between like features of two things on which a comparison may based.

Example: This product is so safe your child can play with it.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.

Example: The benefits of this proposal are as clear as the stars on a cloudless evening.

Or a simile, a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.

Example: The benefits of this proposal are much better than having a health insurance card.

5.    Etch through repetition:
Studies show that people read only the first one or two paragraphs of a document. If it is interesting, they will go the entire length. If not, they will either stop right there or just skim through it.

Don’t lose your message by confining it to the top. Repeat it several times in your writing’s entirety. Figure it prominently at the beginning, in the middle and in your conclusion.

6.    Be consistent:
Nothing hurts your persuasiveness more, oral or written, than to be a person of contradiction.

In my younger days, I worked for a flashlight battery company and, later, with a petroleum company. That was years ago. But I still buy their products today. You may call it force of habit. I call it trust.
If you are trustworthy and reliable, being persuasive will not be as difficult as it seems. It shows in everything you do, and every word you say. And people will notice that.

You make a sale by being persuasive. You make a customer by being trustworthy.

7.    Make them feel pain:
“Can you imagine what will happen to your family if tomorrow you will suddenly be taken away from them?” is a favorite line among insurance salesmen. And it works every time.

Fear, pain, loss, suffering, death are very emotional words that can make people think and act.

If used effectively without appearing like an angel of doom, you can make your readers do what you want them to do without much effort.

8.    Be available for objections:
One glaring difference between persuasive writing and speaking is in the area of addressing objections.

While there is instant and personal feedback in the latter, such is not available in the former and should there be objections, they will come so much later – if ever.

To address this issue, indicate in your article your personal phone number or your email address where you can be reached to answer objections or provide more information.

Hundreds of thousands of pages are written each day to persuade people to subscribe to a newsletter, opt-in into a website, download a free report or buy a product. These go around the world through emails, social networks, blog posts, website contents, mobile messages or just about any medium needed to reach as many people as possible.

Practically everything you wear, you eat and everything in your house was bought through the most common and powerful persuasive writing of them all – advertisements.

Isn’t it time for you to learn how to write persuasively?

Learn How to Be Persuasive in 6 Easy Steps


My Grandma read to me popular fables from my early pre-school years up until my first year in the elementary, when I can already read. I took those reading sessions purely as childish entertainment, not knowing that they seeded my love for reading.

One of those fables I cannot forget was that of an emperor who paraded in his kingdom without clothes. As a child I found it hilarious for an old man, with bulging stomach, walking about his people believing that he wore resplendent imperial clothes, when in fact, he was bare as a child with an old fanny.

Perspectives and moral lessons have no meaning in a child’s mind. What mattered was that my grandma entertained me by reading stories that would lay the foundation of my understanding of the world.

Adulthood changed that, as it changed so many other things in me. For one, the fables were supplanted by textbooks and reading took on another dimension. Rather than plain entertainment, I began to have interpretations and opinions of things I read. Learning took hold and I realized that the emperor’s nakedness was not the core of the story but of how vain and naïve people often are.

It also underscored the power of being persuasive.

The emperors are long gone, but a lot of people have remained vain. Though a few could be persuaded to commit suicide to enter the kingdom of heaven, but nobody is that naïve to be persuaded to walk down the street naked, believing that they are wearing their Sunday’s best.

But the need to be persuasive remains, even more so in this very competitive world where people are jostling and shoving to stay in the race, not only to win, but to have a bigger and tastier slice of the pie.

Nowadays our careers, relationships, and every aspect of our lives depend on the degree of persuasion we put into achieving, maintaining and improving them

The other day a reader from India commented on one of my blog posts, expressing his appreciation for the article, and acknowledging his weakness in the skill of persuasion. He closed his comment by promising to improve on it.

Are you like him?

If you are, you are not alone. There are millions out there who dread the idea of persuading people to do what needs to be done, or, worse, ram it down their throats.

We all know that both approaches never work. In fact they will backfire, ruining your career aspirations for good. To avoid that, the following are proven steps to make people, maybe not swoon over you, but make them “eat from your hands.”

1.    Know your  audience:
Your audience can be your subordinate or group of subordinates, your peers, your immediate supervisor, the entire office staff or the management group. Or it can be a group of prospects wanting to know what you have to offer.

You could be discussing a performance appraisal, a new production method; or pitching for a new project, or a new product.

Whatever it is, you must have prior knowledge of who and what they are. Maybe not individually, but their interests and biases, their calling and/or stake in what you want to persuade them to do.

Know what turns them ON or OFF, whether they have some pet peeves against you. Know who needs little persuading and who needs a lot more talking to.

If there are centers of influence, cozy up to them; even cozier with those who are potential pockets of resistance.

In short, do your homework.

2.    Believe in your cause:
If you won’t even buy it, why expect others to?

Make sure you believe in what you are doing, in what you are selling, in what you want others to support you for.

Nothing is more pathetic than to call your group for a meeting because upper management told you to do so. If you don’t have something important enough to make people give up more pressing issues needing their attention just to listen to you, then don’t.

You must believe in yourself to make an Eskimo buy a refrigerator from you.

3.    Be honest and sincere:
The best speakers are those who exude honesty and sincerity, both in speech and conduct.

You cannot fake honesty and sincerity for long. Very soon your intentions will become evident. When that happens people will find it more rewarding to listen to a corner barker than to you.

You may fool people once, but never twice. Nobody likes to be played upon or be lied to.

4.    Always think win-win:
Generally, people will do something for others if given a good answer to the “What’s in it for me?” question.

If you want others to do something for you, give them something in return. It could be recognition, increased production, fewer quality problems, better turn-around, etc.

Nobody will support your pitch for a promotion if you can’t pull them up with you; your spouse will never let you go out with the boys if she can’t go shopping with her friends and your children will not push harder for better grades if you don’t promise to take them to their favorite destination on a weekend.

Don’t expect people to buy your pen because of its 24-K casing. Sell them prestige in owning one, and they will.

5.    Be friendly even in adversity:
No matter how deep your belief is in the cause you are selling, no matter how honest and sincere you are or wide your knowledge, you will always encounter people who, for lack of anything better to do, will bombard you with questions.

Some are pertinent while most are intended to vex you, heckle you, or even insult you.

Remain calm in the face of all of these and keep that silly smile on your face.

They are not directed at you as a person, but the idea you are selling them. Besides, you don’t stand to gain anything by throwing back to them their brickbrats.

To be persuasive is to be patient and persistent.

6.    Be grateful:
Gratefulness, even in failure, is the mark of a true professional.

Even if you don’t sway them to your side, thank them just the same for the time they spent in hearing you out. Thank them of their questions which opened your mind a little wider, making you a little wiser.

The world is not going to end today because you failed. It only means that you need more information, more benefits to offer them, a stronger conviction of your beliefs, values and more importantly, of why they need to do what you are persuading them to do.

Be grateful that you can give it another try someday.

To be persuasive is something a lot of people would like to skirt around than face head on. They think it is being self-centered, bossy, overly-ambitious or plain selfish. Yet we do simple acts of persuasion every single day of our lives.

If we find it completely natural and acceptable to persuade our children to do good in school, why would it be different in persuading a subordinate to improve his work performance?

There is nothing sinister or devilish about being persuasive. In fact, if used properly, it is an indispensable tool in achieving understanding, peace and harmony, not only at home, but in the work place as well.

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Be Persuasive


Each day we do a little bit of persuasion of sorts. We persuade ourselves what to eat for breakfast, what tie and shirt to wear to the office; we persuade our wives to allow us to go out with the boys on weekends, our children to study well, our village grocer to give us a little discount or a traffic cop not to give us a  violation ticket. These are little things we do to influence ourselves or others for an outcome we want.

Yet in the office, we balk and sell ourselves short in persuading our subordinates, peers and the people in whose hands our career success lie, that we are capable to handle higher responsibilities. We feel that selling ourselves is too self-serving, pushy or overly-ambitious.

While there are a lot of things that go into making a successful career, e.g., exemplary performance in the current position and good potential for the next, but all these do not make a whit if you cannot, in words and deeds, persuade yourself and others that you deserve a break.

Career success doesn’t just happen. It is made.

In his book, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, Steve Martin, a behavior expert, wrote, “Find way to persuade your customers, clients and coworkers to see things from your point of view, so they’ll do what you want them to. Whether it’s making a purchase, or agreeing to the deal you propose.”

And if I may add, “to go up the organizational ladder.”

Being persuasive and career success
Whether you are in the bottom or on the top of the organization, the bulk of your work is to influence people to gain their support on things pertinent to the objectives of the organization. It could be a project to launch a new product, or ask a colleague to stay longer to finish a deadline, or ask for help to promote your ideas to top management. All these things require a presentation of sorts, which could be an hour-long meeting or as short as a phone call.

As good as your influencing skills may be to make people see things your way, you need to persuade them to do things the way they should be done. In a sense, to be persuasive can be likened to this line in Roberta Flack’s song, “Killing me softly with his song,”

To be persuasive is an art and countless books have been written about it.  Unfortunately they don’t apply across the board. Persuasion techniques are dependent on the target audience, the action you want them to make, the purpose and your personality as the persuader, among many.

I used to have supervisor who was flawless in persuading our group to hold our parties in his home for so many reasons which we took hook, line and sinker Ultimately I realized that his overriding motive was for his family to partake of our preparation. It was broken when I refused to attend in one.

At any rate, your career success is in direct proportion to your persuasive skills.

-   If you are in sales, by having your suppliers deliver to you the right kinds of products when and where you want them; your prospects to buy them and your clients to keep on buying them no matter what.

-   If you are in management, by persuading your subordinates to work together towards the accomplishment of your organizational goals.

-   If you are in investment, by persuading your investors where to put their money in and how much, or how to diversity their investment portfolios.

Negative side of being persuasive:
I recently saw the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, a story of the legendary stockbroker, Jordan Belfort. His famous line was “Sell me this pen.” His persuasive skills are amazing. But he went beyond what is moral and ethical, his motive driven by greed and self-gratification. He ultimately ended up in prison.

Being persuasive is power. And power establishes credibility. If you intend to make your persuasive skills propel you to a successful career, keep these in mind:

1.    You know what you are doing.
Don’t make people do something you, yourself, don’t know how to do or are not willing to do. It will bring disastrous results, and take your career with it.

2.    You must stick your neck out:
When things go wrong, and they will, be sure to accept full responsibility, and not pass the buck. If you do, you lose your credibility and no one will believe you next time even if you cry your heart out;

3.    Don’t’ ask people to jump into a well:
Your career success depends on people; people below you, around you, above people outside your organization who can vouch for you.

All these people trust in you, believe in you, rely on you and will probably even go out of their way to defend you. It is to your utmost advantage to have their welfare in mind in whatever you want them to do.

Betraying people’s interests will last long and run deep.

Edward R. Murrow, a famous American broadcast journalist said,

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible, we must be truthful.”

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Communicate Effectively in Five Easy Ways


To communicate effectively is both a skill and an art. It is a skill because you need to learn its nuances and it is an art because it sometimes requires a touch of genius to make it work effectively.

Imagine it was one of those slack days in the office. No operational problems to stress you out, shipments are on time, all the materials have arrived, your people are behaving exceptionally well and your boss hasn’t unexpectedly called you into his office – yet.

Then as you let your mind and eyes wander, unintentionally it fell on your direct supervisor’s cubicle. Silently you wish, “Someday, I will occupy that office or higher.”

And you know what? Nothing can stop you from achieving it. It does require more than just wishing for it, though. Even if he quits or is moved higher putting his office up for grabs by any of his aspiring subordinates, you may still not get it unless two things happen:

1.    You are ready for the position:
It means you must be as good as, or better, than the others or even your boss. Don’t ever try to bite more than you can chew. You will just end up washed out. I have seen so many people getting way beyond their levels of competence. They all crashed.

2.    You have made your interest known to all especially, top management:
A lot of people play coy. Even if they hunger for it, they pretend not to, for fear of being taken as overly-ambitious or something else. Then they grouse if they don’t get it.

“It pays to advertise,” is a common marketing mantra proven effective before, now and forever. Use it, too, regarding your career aspirations. You should let it be known that you are ready and capable to handle higher responsibilities. .

How would you do it? By wearing a sash across your chest printed with the words, in bold letters, “I am promotable?” Nobody wants a clown for a manager. Do you brag and talk loud of your capabilities to your co-workers? Never even think about it. The least an office needs is a loud-mouthed executive.

You do it by effectively communicating your career intentions in ways even the walls in your office won’t miss. Through your words and actions, communicate effectively to all that you’ve got what it takes.

Highly successful executives possess one thing in common – they communicate effectively. How they do it has been the subject of several studies. But they all boil down to:

1.    They talk the talk and walk the walk;
It means consistency. They do what they preach and they know what they teach. They don’t leave much room for ambiguities in their communications and actions which could leave confusion among their subordinates, if not chaos. They protect their credibility like a treasure.

Lately I heard of a judge who, in a seminar for lawyers, lectured on professional ethics. He became the laughing stock when, during a break, he received notice of having been suspended by the Supreme Court for unethical behavior (he was ultimately removed from office).

2.    Ability to break down complex things into simpler terms:
In any given day, you may be deluged with information from above, sides, down and outside, e.g., customers and suppliers, making it a real challenge to bounce them back in more simple and understandable terms.

Develop the skill in distilling and translating complex thoughts and strategies into simple, easily understood terms that subordinates, colleagues and outsiders can understand and act on.

You can do it by do it by fully absorbing and comprehending the key elements of an issue, removing the chaff from the grain so to speak, and presenting them as they are – free of jargon and business language.

3.    Simple and direct to the point:
Get real in your communication.

A lot of people struggle in communicating effectively because they are torn between what they think is appropriate language and what they believe people want to hear. In the process their message becomes sanitized or watered down making it ambiguous, less than truthful or factual.

To communicate effectively, say it in its simplest terms and direct to the point. People generally appreciate honesty and candor.

4.    Provide presence:
Two cardinal rules were held strictly in the company I retired from:
-    Managers’ offices must always be open;
-    They must set a certain time of the day to go to the line, even if they don’t belong to operations.

These rules worked well with us. The managers became, more or less, appreciative of the things going on in the line and the line people get to know and talk to them every now and then.

Definitely emails and memos have their uses but they don’t supplant face-to-to face conversation with the people whose cooperation and goodwill you need if you want to move up in your career.

Person to person contact is effective communication at its best. There is no time delay, no line loss, there is immediate feedback and the non-verbal side of it is very apparent.

5.    Stop, look, listen:
It may sound zany, but an absolute necessity if you intend to communicate effectively.

If it is worth saying, it is worth saying well. Don’t communicate while “on the fly,” and never when you are preoccupied with other things.
Focus well on what you say and hear. When you are speaking from a position of authority, people often clam up and express themselves through their body language. Be sensitive to these non-verbal cues.

Ask questions and clarify things until all areas for potential disagreements and misunderstandings are ironed out.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” Brian Tracy.

In all my working life I saw people went up or down, in part because of their communications skills or lack of it. Ironically, of the tons of personnel development programs I have had the opportunity to attend, I can barely remember one that dealt on effective communication. Should my experience be similar to yours, the above tips can greatly help you transform your wish into reality.

Communication – the Fuel for Your Career Success


When people think of career success, they always take it as a product of right attitude, perseverance, knowledge, a solid game plan, a large network of friends, and many others. Some would even call it luck.

While all these are true, even the “luck” thing, but they would not have meant anything without good and effective communications. Yet, despite that fact that practically all job qualifications include “good in oral and written communications,” we could hardly hear people saying that the secret of their success was due to their ability to communicate well.

What is communication?

Ordinarily we take communication as an act of sending a message, e.g., verbal, gestures, texts, to another, and that’s that. Very much like fire-and-forget missiles. Whether we get a reply does not matter. What matters is that we have said our piece.

There’s a lot more than that if communication is to achieve its intended purpose – understanding and feedback. According to the National Communication Association, communication happens when “A communicator encodes (e.g., puts thoughts into words and gestures), then transmits the message via a channel (e.g., speaking, email, text message) to the other communicator(s) who then decode the message (e.g., take the words and apply meaning to them). The message may encounter noise (e.g., any physical or physiological distractions or interference), which could prevent the message from being received or fully understood as the sender intended.”

In short, it is the process of sending a message, by various means, to a receiver and getting understanding and feedback from the receiver. Without understanding and feedback, there is no communication.

Why is good communication important to your career?

Fundamentally your success as a leader or manager depends largely on how well you can focus on the fundamentals of your work and getting the desired results. This means you must be able to follow through your strategic plans, establish discipline, making people accountable, implementing your core values, empowering employees and plotting their career paths, over and above the basic management functions of planning, leading, organizing and controlling.

All these could not possibly be done if not cascaded down to everybody in your organization and getting their inputs in return. Just as an orchestra conductor achieves harmony and rhythm through his baton you achieve synergy in your group through communication.

Barriers to communication:

If communication is easy, there wouldn’t have been so many misunderstandings between people, e.g., husbands and wives, parents and children, between co-workers, managers and subordinates and vice-versa, communities and countries. I know of a convict who got executed because the presidential clemency didn’t get through because the line was busy.

No matter how good the intention is, if the barriers to communication are not handled well, things can get jumbled along the way. Here are the most common:

 

Using jargon and abbreviations:

Jargon are words and expression used by a particular profession or group that are difficult for others to understand. And we know what abbreviations are – they are those three or four letter unintelligible words that cause headaches if not explained.

In a world dominated by text messages, this can happen very often. Keep away from this especially if it gets circulated or distributed to groups outside your own.

If you must use abbreviations, captioned it for everybody’s understanding, like BTU (British Thermal Units), or PPM (parts per million).

Being too emotional:

Be simple in conveying your thoughts and intentions without using words that are so emotionally high-strung or highly unprofessional.

Example: “Our performance last month was below management expectations,” instead of saying, “Our performance last month totally sucks, and can only be the result of people who are sleeping on their jobs.”

Distraction, attention or disinterest of the receiver:

Communication is two way. Just as you expect your group to pay attention to your message, and take it seriously, so must you do the same for whatever they might think about it.

Don’t fall into the trap a lot of bosses fall into. They say, “I am the boss, so you listen well and listen good.”

Nothing turns off people faster than being stifled in saying something, no matter how stupid it may be.

Differences in perception and viewpoint:

I have attended so many meetings, official or social, that dragged on for hours because people just couldn’t arrive at a common point for discussion. These meetings always ended up noted, “We all agreed to disagree.”

Before discussing anything with a group, it is better to establish, beforehand, common talking points so things can proceed smoothly.  And when writing a memo or a report, explain your thoughts and opinions of the issues contained therein so people will know where you stand.

Hearing problems or speech difficulties:

I admit guilt over having problems communicating effectively with people who have difficulties in hearing or speech. I feel awkward in having to raise my voice or speak close to their ears.

If it can help, either use sign language (which I have not yet seen in frequent use in an office) of write things down.

What is important is to establish a system of handling communication effectively.

Failure to see the non-verbal side of communication:

Effective communication is often how it was said, rather than what was actually said.  Thus, oral communication must be resorted to whenever possible.

There is no line loss in oral communication, it is direct and the non-verbal side of it, e.g., tone inflection, hand gestures, postures and general body language are put into the open for others to see.

Where possible, call a meeting rather than send out a memo.

Language differences and accents:

For an Asian, I have an accent Americans sometimes find difficult to comprehend, in much the same way as I have problems understanding a Japanese, a Chinese or Scottish.

If you are the sender, be sure to elucidate or pronounce words slowly and properly. If at the receiving end, learn how to connect the dots to make sense out of it.

Cultural differences:

As harmless as it may seem, this communication barrier has caused a lot of animosities  among peoples of different cultures.

The Americans use the B.S. word more often than they say “I.” The Asians will take it personally. The Scots may tell you offhand that you have a shitty face, which could either make you fume with anger or throw it back to him.

The Singaporeans will comment on how good their country is compared to yours and the Germans are eternally proud of how superior their products are compared to the rest of the word.

Oh, the Indians will shake their heads in agreement while Asians nod theirs.

We live in an age of unprecedented volumes of communications and the means to convey them. We have emails, audio and video,, the Internet, social media and whatever else is there for the purpose of communicating with each other. In a sense, this has tied the world closer together, making peoples understand each other better. But in the office environment, the same barriers to communication exist. And you have to hurdle them to fuel your career success.