The ROI is Always in the Relationship!

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Life Lessons from an 11 Year Old “Kid”

I recently started volunteering for Future Possibilities for Kids.  My role is to coach my “kid” towards a goal to make her community and the world a better place.

While I’m in the role of coaching, I find myself being coached each time we speak.  Our sessions are the highlight of my week and I’m learning so much about life and relationships from my eleven year old partner!

Here are 4 great life lessons that my wise “kid” recently reminded me of…

  1. Ask them what they want
  2. Put others wants and wishes before your own
  3. Face Your Fears Head On
  4. Make People Feel Special

Ask Them What They Want

While recently discussing a way to better her school environment my “kid” mentioned the need for quality hot meals.  She expressed concern over the amount of waste produced when kids didn’t like some of the meal options.  She said that one of the best meals was the chicken Caesar salads that were never thrown out.  We talked about strategies to eliminate the waste and since it made all the sense in the world to her, why couldn’t adults just do it -“Ask the kids what they want”! How true is this in business and in life while managing relationships!

Put Others Wants and Wishes Before Your Own

During one of our calls, we were assigned a project to plan a make belief event.  My kid decided to throw her best friend a birthday party.  When I asked her what kind of food she would like and what decorations she thought would be fun, without hesitation she said “Well it doesn’t really matter what I like, I’m planning the party for her so it should be based on what she likes”. How true! How often do we do this in business? We’re so eager to share the perfect solution that it may not be what our clients what at all and we lose them!

Face Your Fears Head On

This “kid” continues to astonish me! During our activity day, we were reflecting on what she did to express courage during the hours we were together.  She said that she was very nervous doing our song in front of 150 people.  So the next time we spoke, what did she do? She signed herself up to MC her school’s Remembrance Day service to get over her fear of being in front of people!

Make Others Feel Special

As we wrapped up our call last week, my “kid” said she was tracking her “goal-o-meter” (it’s a thermostat to show the progress of our overall plan). She said “Nikki, every time I fill in the meter it’s one week closer to seeing you again”.  You’ll never lose when you’re authentically caring, compassionate and kind in business and in life.

#volunteeringrocks #blessed #futurepossibilities

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Everyone Wears Sneakers These Days!


I recently had a stopover at JFK airport and decided to have my cowboy boots polished. I’d always seen people stop and do this and for once I wasn’t sprinting to catch a connection so I decided to indulge.

I was traveling with my friend Anita and she was doing some shopping so I told her I was going to get my boots cleaned and call my husband.

When I arrived at the polishing station I went to pull out my phone and realized how rude it would be to have a warm body in front of me, working on my boots while I had a conversation with Simon.

Practicing what I preach I kept the phone off and decided to be fully engaged with the shoe shiner! We had a great conversation about where he was originally from, what happened to the gentleman who used to work the station before he took over and I walked away with a reminder of a huge life lesson!

As he worked on my boots, I asked how business was going. He sighed and said, “Everyone wears sneakers these days, no one wants their shoes polished”.  I listened and then observed.  I watched loads of travelers walk by with sneakers on yes, but I also watched hundreds of people bustle by with gorgeous Italian loafers and black shiny shoes!

I was reminded that as entrepreneurs a huge part of our success is how we see the world. I saw opportunity for this gentleman at the same rate he saw misfortune. Not “everyone” wears sneakers and not “everyone” has spent their budgets in your world.

2008 was a banner year in my business because I blocked out the news that said “No one is buying” and I went looking for the people who were! Look for the people who are willing and able to use your services, who need your help and just need to be found!

Unless you’re selling rotary phones, the world is literally your oyster with unlimited potential!

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10 Life Lessons Entrepreneurship Has Taught Me

1. Gifts are often disguised as Trials
Every entrepreneur can appreciate the ups and downs of being out on their own. I’ve discovered that the major trials and set backs have not only formed who I am as an entrepreneur but has built my character and pushed me beyond anything I thought possible. I made a major investment “mistake” in 2012 which lead me to meeting an amazing woman, who introduced me to the amazing world of coaching, training and speaking. For that I’m forever grateful and learned a valuable lesson to step back and reflect before making quick decisions.

2. A supportive partner will propel you
Having a rock in your relationship to help you weather the storm of highs and lows is invaluable as an entrepreneur. You absolutely need a shoulder to cry on and someone who believes in you more than you believe in yourself at times. You need a partner, a coach or mentor to cheerlead you along the way and to catapult your success!

3. Some people will not understand your journey
As you grow into a bold entrepreneur and take leaps and bounds you never dreamed you would, others will not always understand your risks. Stay true to yourself. When you break free of the mold you thought you needed to conform to you will make people uneasy, and that’s ok.

4. The more you invest in yourself, the more you will impact the world
When you replace tv with constant learning, motivational seminars and workshops you develop not only your competence but your confidence in your abilities.

5. Your alignment with your gifts will make you feel like a bandit because the money comes easily when you do what you love!
When you’re in “FLOW” and doing what you love, serving the people that matter, you come to a place where you cannot believe you actually get paid for what you do! The ultimate sweet spot in life!

6. Giving back changes your world
When your mission is more than yourself and the money comes secondary, abundance flows! When you want to give back to the world that’s supported your growth and give graciously and generously, your perspective changes indefinitely.

7. Reading will double your revenue
Cut the cable, invest in books that serve to build you as a better person. There’s a reason why they don’t have commercials for Ferraris. Someone who can afford a Ferrari doesn’t spend her time in front of American Idol. Replacing tv with books eliminated a major stress in my life I didn’t realize existed until it was gone!

8. Success is a mindset
We are where we are right at this moment because we’ve told ourselves that this is where we deserve to be! Set a new “normal” it will freak you right out! Promise 

9. Your team is smarter than you
Adding great people to your team will inspire you to be a better entrepreneur and leader. It will push you to let go of everything you used to handle and amaze you at how incredibly talented and knowledgeable others are. When your colleague’s work is better than yours… another sweet spot!

10. I’ve only just scratched the surface
When I reflect on growth 10 years ago, 5 years ago, 1 year ago, six months ago I realize that I’ve only scratched the surface. Entrepreneurship keeps you humble! There’s something incredibly exciting about not knowing what the future holds but that ultimately you can determine your own journey and growth!

What’s the greatest life lesson entrepreneurship has taught you?

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Do you shoot from the hip or sell from the heart?

We’ve all met that obnoxious person at a networking function, who shoots from the hip, meaning:

H- Harass
He or she harasses you for your time and attention while they quickly pitch their service to you without any intent on hearing what you do for a living, your interests or your dreams.
He or she intimidates others while they ?one up? each conversation circle they join in on.
He or she pressures you to buy or asks straight out ?How can I get your business? without taking the time to understand you as a person or build any foundation to the relationship.

As great relationship marketers and successful entrepreneurs, I encourage you to sell from the heart, meaning:
H- Hear
Listen, not only to the other person intently, but pay attention to body language. Leaning in? Good sign! Crossed arms and feet facing the door? They want out of there! Hear what is spoken and what is left unspoken to build faster bonds.
Engage them in conversation using open-ended questions with a genuine interest in what your new contact does, what they?re passionate about and ask how you can help them.
Appreciate your new prospect?s time by thanking them for the opportunity to get to know them better. Be mindful of the time you take with each person you connect with. Be cognisant that they most likely want to meet others and respect their time to connect with other professionals. Unlike the intimidating hip shooter graciously exit the conversation to give them a chance to learn more about others.
R- Respond
Respond with devout listening, really taking in all that you hear about your new contact. Engage them further in conversation, put them in the spotlight! Respond by making a commitment to how you might serve them. Is it introducing them to a colleague, friend or referral source? Make a note and follow up.
T-Take time
Take time to build on your initial meeting. In addition to connecting on social media channels, follow up with a personally handwritten note, an article of interest or pop a great book in the mail that naturally serves as a follow up to your personal conversation.

Relationships take time; they take heart and genuine connection to be impactful.

The ROI is always in the Relationship!

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A New Twist on Greedy!

No one likes the taker, the guy who is always looking out for his best interests and asking what you can do for him. He’s greedy with what he can get from the world and thinks little about what he can give others.

Here’s a new twist on greedy…how about a greedy giver! When I say greedy giver I mean the person who is so anxious and enthusiastic to give it becomes somewhat of an addiction.

I network with a greedy giver, Heather. She’s hungry to help others, always on the lookout for ways she can build others up and connect. She has a truly amazing attitude about life and business. As a result, she’s a magnetic person! She gives fully while expecting nothing in return.

Heather makes you want to be a greedy giver and I have an idea on how you can! Set up a greedy giving day once a week. Meet with 5 professionals that you can get to know and help connect to people in your sphere of influence.

Stack your day to make the most of your time. Schedule breakfast with a business professional you know, like and trust. Make the meal all about them. Put them in the spotlight and ask what’s happening in their business. What challenges lie ahead and who they are looking to connect with. Think of someone you can introduce them to, mention the name and how they might help and then follow up on your promise and introduce them. Next you’ll meet with another professional and do the same thing. Your next few meetings will be all about the other person and what you can give them. Follow through on your promises and build outstanding rapport!

Think about the shift in thinking here! When you invite someone to lunch or coffee with the full intention of helping them it sets the tone for an exciting and comfortable interaction. You eliminate any sales talk, put the other at ease and immediately set yourself apart from other sales professionals. The irony is that people will naturally want to reciprocate and your business will grow. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but your investment in giving will reap bountiful rewards tenfold.

Lead with “I’d like to take you to lunch so I can learn more about your business and how I might be able to send you more referrals”. Who would say “no” to that?!

Schedule your greedy giver stack day then post your success stories! Can’t wait to hear them!

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Have you taken dirty money? My guess is you probably have!


How do I know this to be true? Because with full disclosure I’ll admit that I have too, but that’s all changed.

I recently walked away from a $7000.00 deal. That’s right $7000.00 ready to buy an exclusive product we had sourced in my promotions business. So why did I walk away from cold hard cash? Because it was dirty!

Why was it dirty? Because the new client was disrespectful towards my team members, interrupted me when we had conversations and had unreasonable demands in terms of response time. He was suspicious that we would try to “pull a fast one” and send him damaged goods before we even placed the order.

Clearly, we had no connection and a serious lack of trust in the business relationship. If I’m honest, I saw the writing on the wall from the beginning but was excited about developing this new item that would serve his business exceptionally well. All along I ignored my intuition which was yelling at me to run for the hills.

See if you recognize the telltale signs of a dirty money client;
• Late for meetings
• Demanding of your time and energy
• Wants the lowest price for the highest quality solution
• Questions pricing
• Doesn’t pay their bills on time

I find it interesting that the clients who spend $25,000.00, $50,000.00 or $100,000.00 are reasonable, respectful, trustworthy and loyal clients. When we walk away from dirty money it frees us to serve these deserving people at a much higher level.

So the question is would you take dirty money? Would you walk away from an “easy” $7000.00 if that money clashed with your values and ultimately was not a mutually beneficial relationship?

Remember that the ROI is not necessarily in the dollar value but rather is always in the Relationship!

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How comfortable do you make your prospects feel?

My husband and I were discussing our workday over dinner on Friday. He shared with me an uncomfortable situation he had with an old school sales guy in his industry. My husband is a talented cabinetmaker and runs a bustling shop in Aurora.

Very often he has sales people who will stop by to try and catch him during the workday to sell trade products like lumber, sheet goods, hardware, shop supplies and tools. Most are pretty respectful of his time and like good sales people pick up on body language and mood when they enter the shop. They can tell if he’s busy working with his team figuring out a project or if he seems open to a discussion.

He’s had a few encounters with a certain sales rep who is pushy and insistent and often makes Simon feel uncomfortable with bold statements like “What can I do to have your business” as he glances around the shop with dollar signs in his eyes.

Even though my husband has told him on a number of occasions that he’s very happy and loyal to his existing supplier, this old school guy keeps pressing and pressing. You have to admire his persistence but his tactics are fruitless. My guess is that he’s barely scraping by with this kind of aggressive sales approach.

What would the conversation look like if instead he asked “What drives you nuts about our industry”? “What do you like most about working with your current vendor”? “I respect your existing vendor relationship however would you consider using us if your current vendor couldn’t pull through on an order for you”?

See how different that conversation would look and feel like? Chances are Simon would be more willing to sit down and talk rather than avoid the man like the plague!

My question to you is how comfortable do you make your prospects? Do you pick up on non-verbal cues like a rushed phone manner and ask if there’s a better time to speak? Do you arrive at a meeting and sense that the person is too distracted to meet that day and offer to reschedule? Or do you push through to make your point so you can count that sales activity for the week?

Trust and comfort are key components to great relationship marketing and sales. It is possible to earn someone’s business and woo them away from the competition. Do so with a humble and soft approach. Ditch the hard sell and awkward moments and pull information from your prospects in a non-threatening way. Build comfort and trust with genuine curiosity of what people really want and add more sales to your bottom line!


Hard selling is hard on everyone!

So here’s the scoop. Most of us are lead to believe that to grow a business you have to spend a fortune on mass media and engage in cold calling. Or worse, you have to be aggressive, pushy or overbearing to have great sales. Nothing could be further from the truth!

You can absolutely build a killer business without ever having to do these things. The reality is that if you connect with and serve people, you can achieve explosive growth in your business. This means no uncomfortable cold calling!

Instead it means creating bonds with clients by giving them your undivided attention when you are on the phone or meeting in person. It means asking great questions about their business goals and objectives and expressing genuine interest. This warm questioning allows your client to be in the spotlight rather than pitching them your history and services. Think back to a time when someone stormed in to your office offering “the best solution” for your business before they even asked what it was you needed! We’ve all been there. It’s an uncomfortable meeting for both parties!

Now imagine that same individual gave you the opportunity to talk about what you really needed, listened intently and took feverish notes. Then, rather than jumping on a solution asked for some time to consider your unique situation and come up with a solution to fit your needs. This approach builds instant credibility and this is how I would encourage you to approach your client interactions.

Not only will you feel more comfortable and confident in selling situations but your client will react by trusting you as a consultant in turn opening up their minds and wallets!

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When they’re ready… it’s already too late!

During my workshops I talk about the importance of staying in touch and personalizing service well after the initial sale.

The reality is that no matter how good you are or how pleased the client was with the product or service, they forget about you! That’s right! Even if you offered unbelievable service and even solved their problem you’re not a blip on the radar… unless you stay in touch.

It’s interesting that I recently received a flurry of emails from a car dealership providing some trade-in offers and pictures of new models since my car is now paid for outright. Boy did they miss the mark!


The reality is that after the sale I didn’t hear from them once! I had a question about getting out of my financing early so I could purchase the vehicle outright and move on. That was about 12 months ago and THAT would have been the ideal time to pick up the phone and have an actual “real live” conversation! I’m still waiting for the dealership to return my call. Very poor customer service and zero relationship.

Had they stayed in touch I may have been persuaded to get in to a newer model earlier but as fate had it I found a new car broker. I’ve been fostering a relationship with Yosef (yosef@ultimatewheels2u.com) over the past year and I wouldn’t dream of using anyone else! Why? Because he built the foundation of our relationship months ago. He wasn’t pushy or aggressive. In fact, whenever we talk he’s more interested in my recent vacation, asks about how the dogs or doing or discusses our mutual love of vehicles with complete passion. He genuinely enjoys his work! Most importantly he enjoys serving people and is a fantastic relationship marketer. Yosef will be the guy who stays in touch, follows up to make sure I’m pleased and will reconnect well in advance when it’s time for an upgrade.

Gone are the old school “hit and run” tactics. In order to preserve and foster great relationships there needs to be ongoing communication and relationship building. Why? Because the ROI is ALWAYS in the relationship!

What can you do today? Reach out to existing clients! Ask them how your product or service is working out for them. Are they seeing the results they anticipated? Is there anything you can do to improve the service experience next time around? Give your clients a chance to provide feedback and above all express your appreciation for the relationship! Because if you wait for the contract to renew or leave it too long it may just be too late!

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day!

We live in a world of instant gratification and immediate returns, however, relationships take patience.

Great relationship marketers recognize that a foundation has to be built with a prospective client or referral partner before they see any significant ROI.

I was prompted to write this blog because I had a colleague I network with admit that he wasn’t in a position to give anymore until he started receiving.

I bit my tongue and listened to his position. Theoretically he’s a brilliant business person however I know that this attitude will be his Achilles heel. Yes, he’ll continue to be successful but he will also repel a lot of partners and business along the way with this self-serving attitude. His return will come, it will just be slower and involve a lot more work!

On the other hand, I have a great partnership with an incredible woman who gives like nobody’s business! She never asks what I can do for her, how I will repay her, how quickly reciprocating referrals will come in. She operates with a truly giving attitude and genuine desire to partner people together and help them without expectation.

SHE will absolutely grow her business faster and more profitably than the other guy. Her selflessness and willingness to serve first will be the very foundation of her success!

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is trust in most cases. Invest in your business relationships with a giving attitude and you will see a prosperous ROI!