With all the noise and competition in the marketplace today, it makes sense to look outside conventional areas for a competitive advantage. I’ve always said the biggest competitive advantage is right under your own hat: developing your mind. Here are ten proven areas of science that can give businesses and high performance individuals a huge edge for 2011.
- Resilience. Do you ever wonder why some individuals can breeze through hardships and come out stronger on the other side while others languish, move into a depression, and take years to recover? Science has been studying this field of resilience, and now it can be taught just like math. If you’re one of the ones who takes a while to recover from setbacks, you will greatly benefit from learning resilience. Best applications: sales people dealing with rejection, negotiators, real estate professionals, emergency scene workers.
- Deliberate Practice. To get from good to great, high performers apply deliberate practice, a form of expert performance that refines and perfects their craft. Best applications: surgeons, actors, entertainers, pilots, speakers, and trainers.
- Neuroplasticity. The discovery of the decade is that our brains are constantly learning and growing new brain cells every day of our lives until the moment we die. Best applications: teachers, tax accountants, medical professionals, and IT engineers.
- Mindfulness. Thanks to Ellen Langer’s research, we have a partial glimpse into how incredibly powerful mindfulness is. Her research has shown the exact steps it takes to reverse the effects of aging, including reversing eyesight losses and physical strength. Hollywood is so impressed they are making a movie about her life and Jennifer Aniston will star as Dr. Langer. Best applications: health care professionals especially those in long term care facilities such as nursing homes, home health care workers, and retirement communities.
- Positive Psychology. Thanks to books such as Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness, CEOs are finally getting an understanding of how happiness can significantly improve the workplace. Even my nonprofit, the American Happiness Association, has made the PBS and Fox news this year. The key is not just staying happy, but being able to manage your positive and negative emotions for high performance results. Best applications: dealing with difficult employees, bullying, large corporations where employee satisfaction and customer service are the focal points and the senior management wants to reap the benefits of a positive workplace.
- Nature vs. Nurture. Science is crystal clear about how nurture can override nature much more than we previously realized. With all the talk about cracking the DNA genetic code, we are now finding out that RNA can express almost any old way it wants with a little help from the environment. Best applications: architects, landscape designers, interior decorators, furniture designers, relationship therapists, life coaches, nutritionists, and fitness coaches.
- Multi-tasking. A very cool new study found that only 3 percent of the population can multi-task well. The rest of us are actually costing ourselves time and accuracy every single day when we multi-task. Interestingly, some corporations are pushing multi-tasking. One that hired me recently had me tone down my chapter showing how bad multi-tasking really is for performance because their top management promoted it. We need to get real about what multi-tasking is costing us. Best applications: Any worker who is frequently distracted can benefit from this science.
- Insight. We now know how to create the ideal conditions to help employees generate more “aha moments.” Best applications: R&D, marketing, artists, writers, anyone who needs to be creative and innovative.
- Focused Attention. Science has made significant breakthroughs in helping us understand exactly how we can focus our minds so that our attention spans can be lengthened. A nice side effect is that when we strengthen this part of our brain, we expand our consciousness, allowing us to tap more into the wisdom of our subconscious. Best applications: surgeon, pilot, IT engineer, gamer, police.
- Decision-making. There continues to be new insights into how we make decisions, not to mention Daniel Kahnemann and Amos Tversky’s Nobel prize-winning research in the area of heuristics. Here we can learn where our decision-making blind spots reside and train ourselves to see them. Best applications: negotiators, deal makers, stock brokers, merger and acquisitions consultants, and senior management.
Although the decade of the brain is long gone (1990s), breakthroughs in research discoveries continue every day. It’s a very cool time to be alive, especially if you learn how to harness the power of these scientific discoveries. It’s never too late to get a fresh start for the new year of 2011.
I had the chance this year to attend about a dozen events and buy products or packages from entrepreneurs who are following the internet marketing model. These entrepreneurs make their money through coaching programs, information products, and events, to name a few revenue streams. They’re savvy and aggressive with their marketing (at least compared to most of us). You may love them; you may hate them; some of them can be downright addictive. Here’s what I learned from them.
- Excellent, professional, persuasive copywriting matters more than most entrepreneurs realize. I see this every day in my web site business. The client web sites that I am able to write copy for outperform the ones where the owners do their own writing. But you can almost tell the entrepreneur’s income level by how well s/he writes copy. It’s that dramatic of a difference.
- Selling and marketing online in the internet marketing model is more formulaic than you would ever guess. Each Internet marketing entrepreneur is following a strict process that has worked for them over and over again. It feels casual when you interact with them, but there are solid, proven procedures and well-defined systems behind the success of these individuals.
- It’s tremendously personal. The internet marketers are selling themselves, and personality has a huge amount to do with it. Emotional control and maturity is required for success in this industry.
- The skill required to become an internet marketer is enormous. Most of the internet marketers were highly adept at speaking and teaching skills, performing under extreme pressure, organizing and delivering data, marketing and selling, writing, conducting group programs, hiring and managing staff, and juggling aggressive public relations schedules and TV appearances. The stress management and mental skills needed to become an aggressive marketer and to take criticism are challenging as well.
- I could still learn from them even if I disliked their advice or methods. Most of the internet marketing events were so far from what I am used to with content delivery, structure, and pricing, that it was a whole new world from the conservative corporate and continuing education world I inhabit. But that’s OK, because I can still pick up new tips. I don’t have to implement everything I learned. I can choose what works for my value system and act accordingly. My alternative was to close my mind, make a judgment call, and leave, like most people would have done. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as useful.
- The marketing was more important than the product or service. These truly were marketing-centric organizations. This was one of many things I disagreed with this year, but the priorities, structure, and decision-making –and resulting issues — were fascinating to watch.
- These multi-million dollar businesses were all bootstrapped. Most Internet marketers funded their own business and never relied on outside financing. This is an amazing feat when you think about it.
- The more risk, the more reward, and the more headaches. The more aggressive marketers expect some amount of buyers’ remorse, returns, and people not paying their remaining installment payments.
- Business can look any way you want it to. Many of these entrepreneurs are doing multi-million dollar revenue levels from their home on limited staff, many of whom are virtual. Your business can pretty much look however you want it to these days with technology, globalization, and a mobile workforce.
- In the “new normal” that we’re all living in, it pays to go outside your industry to learn fresh new ideas. One thing that was important to me was to learn a new idea, filter it for my values, my vision, and my way of doing business, and implement what feels right for me, my clients, and my team.
Too often, we see something radically different from what we’re doing and judge it negatively just because it’s different. When this happens, I think we shortchange the entire world. We don’t benefit from any learning the other person could offer us. But most importantly, we sell ourselves short by not trusting ourselves to be able to discern and choose what’s right for our businesses. There’s always a nugget to be gained, and in today’s new normal, it pays to look in places you might not have looked before.
I know I am smarter from this year of intense learning and will be able to serve my clients at a higher level in 2011.
If you’re ready to have your best year ever no matter what (as my coach Lisa Nichols say), then your first step is to plan to do something different. Here are 7 things to consider doing differently in 2011 that will help take you to the next level:
- Move from reactive to proactive. Work on fine-tuning your marketing plan so that your results improve at each step of the way: Getting people in the door or in your funnel, qualifying leads, the selling process, improving the number of people who buy from you, and customer retention. If you don’t have a plan, then the first place to start is to get one, even if it’s not perfect or not complete. You can always improve, and my coach Ali Brown says when you take the first step, even if it’s a baby one, you’ve made a tremendous amount of progress toward your goal rather than if you just stood still in inertia.
- Look at one part of your marketing and make a small improvement. Readers tell me they like my newsletter, and I plan to make some improvements to the format over the next few weeks. That’s one example of a really small change that I can make in my marketing that will improve it for my readers.
- Systematize something that’s worked in the past and repeat it. No need to reinvent the wheel if you’ve found the magic formula. Do the magic formula over and over again, perhaps more often, and you’ll increase your results. For example, if you’re good at convincing people to buy from you once you have them on the phone, find out how to get more qualified prospects on the phone with you.
- Listen to your clients and roll out a new service offering that they are asking for. A huge part of the battle for getting new clients is getting people to trust you. Why not leverage the people who already trust you – your current clients – and serve them in a new way. Increasing your revenue per client is a great way to help your clients even more and to boost you bottom line at the same time.
- Hone your skill. We spend a lot of time working on our core competency – the service we deliver to clients – and getting better at it. Why not get better at a marketing skill? This could include working on your public speaking skills, writing skills, selling skills, negotiation skills, and a host of other skills that will help you become more effective at representing yourself to potential prospects. Sometimes we forget marketing is a skill we can learn just like math – especially those of us who are reluctant marketers.
- Measure. How do you know something is working unless you measure it? Add procedures to measure your marketing effectiveness at each step in the process; then you can begin to see where you need improvements. These include numbers such as conversion ratios, sales per client, and return on marketing campaign. When you do this you’ll naturally be able to improve your return on investment for your marketing dollars.
- Celebrate. Stop for a second when you reach a goal and celebrate all the hard work you did that paid off and got you there. Give yourself a reward, practice gratitude for what you received, and then set your next goal.
Which one of these tips speaks to you the most? Mark your calendar right now to take one step toward working this tip into your business so you can envision a brighter 2011.