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Crippled CEO Posts

Crippled CEO Blog #005: Your Memory is Sabotaging You

“The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago. The second best time is right now.” – allegedly a Chinese proverb

We all know that our memories are less reliable the farther back we go. I know what I did this morning. I kind of know what I did Wednesday morning. But I have no idea what I did on the morning of April 2, 1996. Some of us are better than others in this regard; I’m pretty terrible, myself. My memory isn’t so fantastic.

The problem with our flawed human memories is our difficulty in properly attributing our prior actions to our current circumstance, and also our inability to fully comprehend the impact of seemingly small choices. Without conscious effort, it’s easy to think all the current realities of your life, good and bad, just ARE — they just happened, or are a result of things outside your control. “That’s just life.” / “Shit happens.” The problem with this, besides not being true, is it takes you out of the driver’s seat. If you let your human memory hide the path to your current situation, then there’s no way you’ll be able to decide where you’ll be 5 or 10 years from now, either.

But let’s back up. I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself. And this is important, so I want to make sure it’s clear.

We all know that every cause has an effect, that every action has an equal and positive reaction, that if we do a good thing, we get a good result. But it’s actually not that straightforward. When you choose, for instance, to eat a healthy lunch, you don’t just get the nutritional benefits of that meal, you’re also more likely to eat a healthy dinner, and then a good breakfast, and then another healthy lunch, and so on, making it become a habit. Likewise, if you decide to have junk food for lunch, it’s a lot easier to say “screw it” for dinner, too, and then the next day, do it again, and then the week is shot, so you might as well keep going, and so on, until THAT becomes a habit. And this goes for anything: eating well, exercising, reading, studying a new skill, working on a project, etc. Doing the positive thing doesn’t just get you the results of that action, it also puts you on a path of forward momentum. It sparks a chain reaction of other good things.

But what does this have to do with memory? Because when asked how you got such a great spouse, you recall your ingenious proposal. Or how you met. You don’t remember the day you chose to eat salad instead of fried chicken for lunch, which started a habit of healthy eating, which made you want to start exercising, which made you healthier and in shape, which made you more confident, and that confidence allowed you to go say hello to that cute boy/girl/non-binary person who eventually became your spouse. Your limited memory prohibits you from understanding how powerful these small choices are.

And there’s also the reality that these positive things we do don’t yield positive results immediately. I’m fortunate in that I get positive feedback from posting these on Facebook and LinkedIn, but the long-term results I’m seeking — to eventually have a full book, to get hired for more business coaching, to maybe get invited to do speaking — isn’t going to seem like it came from CEO Cripple Blog #001. But doing 1 led to #2, to #3, to #4, and because I’m making sure I do this one, I’ll do next week, too. And the eventual results will be from that first small step.

This works for a negative situation, too. When your life isn’t where you want it, you blame the things happening right now. When you don’t get a job, you cite something wrong in the interview. You blame outside circumstances. You don’t remember all of the small choices and actions that got you to where you are now; that just like getting better, it was a clear, step-by-step process.

It’s easy to fall victim to this, too. Recently, we have had a TON of people coming to us wanting to become new Life Saver Pool Fence dealers. This is great, because getting new dealers in the areas we have open is important for our business and our mission of making every pool on Earth safer for children. I immediately started wondering what we have recently been doing differently to cause all these new dealer inquiries.

And then it dawned on me: it wasn’t anything we have done recently, it’s the years and years of building an excellent reputation, of having a great relationship with the water safety community, of being an educator to the public and businesses on drowning prevention, of working with swim instructors, of supporting water safety non-profits, of producing the best quality products and above and beyond service, and so on. THAT’S why we are getting people wanting to become part of what we are doing — all of those decisions we’ve been making for years.

This is important to understand, because once you do, you start putting the importance they deserve on these seemingly small choices. No, the world won’t end if you call back that customer after you eat lunch, but what precedent does that set? What habit does it create? What will the compounding interest, chain-reaction result be years from now, as opposed to you religiously calling people back as fast as humanly possible? Little things aren’t little things.

And the other half, is once you understand that you can completely change your life, starting with one small decision at a time, you are now in control of your future. Things aren’t just happening to you. You’re not a victim of your circumstance.

You can dictate the path of your life.

Because no one is coming to save you. There’s no Prince Charming in this story. No one is coming to rescue you. No one is going to choose you and lift you up. Stop waiting to be “picked,” scooped up, made better by someone or something else. You need to save yourself. You need to start going on the offensive. You need to start working on the life you want.

And you can. One small choice at a time, that you might not remember once you get there.

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Crippled CEO Blog #003: Stop Focusing on Trivial Shit

REALLY? THAT’S what you’re upset about? That thing your mom said? Your decorations for the party? The wrong shoes Amazon sent you? What that person you don’t even really like thinks? What outfit you’re going to wear? Which color your new car should be? How many likes your last post got? The raise your coworker received? Which new phone to get?

Why are you spending the majority of your time and energy thinking, stressing, talking, and worrying about bullshit that really doesn’t matter?

My mom used to always say, “If it won’t matter in 5 years, it doesn’t matter.”

You have a finite amount of mental energy at your disposal. Every gigawatt you spend thinking about something pointless takes away from something important you COULD be thinking about. And thoughts are important. Thoughts become our actions! It’s critical to monitor and police our own thoughts so they only lead to the right kinds of actions. Because if you genuinely believe that you are a person capable of incredible things, and I promise that you are, then thinking about and doing pointless things becomes an ETHICAL decision. If you know you can change the world for the better, if you can improve lives, and instead, you decide to do dwell on the trivial, you are now making an ETHICAL mistake.

And when you get upset or stressed about shit that really doesn’t matter — about that person you don’t like being at the party or how the lady at Starbucks didn’t tell you thank you (or whatever) — your choice to focus on these trivial things is simultaneously a choice to forfeit your gratitude for just how great you have it. Because you really do have it SO great. If you’re reading this on a magical glowing screen, with functioning eye spheres, that you’re holding in a working hand, in a climate-controlled environment, while not starving, your life is amazing. It just is.

I am so utterly convinced that my life is ridiculously spectacular that other people who know me also take it for granted. Think about that: I know my life is so thoroughly incredible SO HARD that the idea projects on to other people who, in turn, believe it and take it for granted as fact. So much so that I get things like, “Well, of course YOU’RE happy — look how good you have it,” and “Must be nice to you.” And the reason this is totally bonkers is because I have cerebral palsy. I can’t walk. I need help bathing and dressing each morning. I need someone to help me wipe my ass. How many people say, “If I ever end up where I need help using the restroom or can’t care for myself, just kill me”? A lot! It’s really common. And even though that’s the exact state I’m living in every single day, one that many would rather DIE than endure, I know beyond any shred of doubt, down to the core of my soul, that my life is undeniably awesome. And because I know it so strongly, the people who know me cannot help but agree. They overlook all the stuff they think would ruin their lives if it were them because I overlook it. Because it doesn’t bother me.

I live a fantastic life because most the time — not always, but often — I avoid thinking about and getting upset about all the shit that really doesn’t matter. Because I need to focus on what’s important, and because I’m too grateful to give even a single fuck.

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Crippled CEO Blog #002: You Are Following Up Wrong

When you follow up with a customer by phone, email, or text, does it look like this?

“Hi, Mrs. Davis. Thank you so much for allowing me to give you a free quote. Let me know if you have any questions I can answer for you. I would really appreciate the opportunity to serve you.”

Obviously, the phone version of this sounds a bit different, but the same idea: have you decided? Do you have any questions? Will you please freaking buy from me now?

That follow-up looks pretty good, right?

Wrong.

Stop doing this. The follow-up is an amazing opportunity and the above is a waste. Don’t get me wrong; this kind of follow-up is 1,000 times better than NO follow-up, but there’s a far superior strategy.

You should be following up to provide value. You are following up to give the customer something new.

How do you do that? I’m glad you asked.

You should be following up by email, phone, text, and phone again… and email again.

The first email should come the same day as the estimate, or the next day at the latest. It needs to provide something useful to the customer, not mentioning the sale at all. Our Life Saver Pool Fence dealers have a Pool Safety Evaluation form they fill out while at the customer’s home and then email to the customer along with a nice message referencing something specific to the visit so they know it is personalized. I also suggest that they put it in an envelope with a business card and a short note and mail it to them. If you sell carpet cleaning, you could email them on avoiding stains in the first place. If you sell home security, you could send a link to a site that provides info on local crimes. If you’re a web designer, you could send them ten ideas on how they can improve their digital presence on their own, separate from the services you are quoting. Whatever your business, email something interesting or useful and do it right after your meeting.

The day after you email, you call. In the first phone call, I suggest to my Life Saver dealers to say that they are calling to let them know that they’ve looked up their closest ISR (or other swim survival training) instructor, with whom they should be BFF’s, they spoke to the instructor, and as a favor, the instructor is willing to offer XYZ discount/free lesson/extra thing/whatever that they give all their customers, and here is their phone number. If they don’t answer, this is left in a voice mail. And I stress to the dealers to not even bring up the pool fence until they mention it. Again, you’re calling to give something of value. To use the home security example from earlier, you could be calling to give them info on a local self-defense course that gives free lessons to all your customers. It’s not hard to come up with ideas for your business. If you need help, let me know.

A day or two later, you are going to text them. If you’re selling pool safety fence, first Google “free CPR classes in [city name]”. You’ll find a bunch. Send a text saying you don’t know if all the adults and teenagers in the house know CPR, but here is info for a free class coming up soon nearby. Even better, I recommend every Life Saver dealer becomes a certified CPR instructor and hosts a free class once a month or every other month for all their customers and prospective customers. Our home security example could text a link to a YouTube video on personal safety tips or a link to a coupon for a taser and night vision goggles (which is what one special forces soldier recommends having for home defense). The idea is still the same: you are providing value. You are NOT asking about the sale. If they ask/have questions, definitely answer. But don’t bring it up.

A day or two later, you’re going to call again to follow-up and discuss everything you’ve provided. For my Life Saver dealers, that includes the estimate, the evaluation form, the CPR class info. Now you ask if they have any questions. Not just on the quote, but everything you have sent.

And then you just keep this going. For a Life Saver, the next email could have the Pool Safety Guide ebook from poolfence.com attached. The next could be a blog we posted. After that, they could forward them our weekly newsletter. And then text them something you/we shared on Facebook. You keep following up, as you already know to do, but every time you provide something of value.

THAT is the right way to follow-up with a customer. Do this, and watch your close rate double.

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Crippled CEO Blog #001: The Bad Decision Loop

You get fired from your job. Your mom dies. You get dumped. You don’t get the sale. Your offer is rejected. You get a DUI. You think your spouse is cheating on you. You find out you have cancer.

There is a vicious cycle, a terrible downward spiral that far too many people are caught in at this very moment. You might be one of them.

Something terrible happens to you. Something like the list above. You’re hurt, crushed, disappointed, saddened, angry, devastated, or some combination therein. And because this negative thing has happened, you are now required to DO something. Choose something. Decide something. Action is necessary. And because this awful thing is consuming all of our thoughts, down to our core, we want to react NOW.

Scientific studies (and our own anecdotal experiences) tell us that we literally lose IQ points when we are in a negative mood — being sad, angry, disappointed, etc. makes us dumber, by as much as 50%!

We end up in this situation where we need to decide what to do after this awful thing has happened to us, we feel compelled to act immediately, but our minds are functioning at partial capacity. The path forward is challenging, uncertain, and requires us to be at our very best, but we are so far from it. What often happens next is a decision is made, with our incapacitated mind, and we do the wrong thing. We react incorrectly. And then the consequence from that makes us even more upset, cripples our ability to find intelligent, creative, thoughtful solutions, we do something dumb yet again, and the cycle continues. And it can continue for YEARS.

But it doesn’t have to. This entire downward spiral can be avoided by doing one simple thing that is tremendously easy to say, but far more difficult to do.

Wait. And do nothing.

It is absolutely imperative that you avoid making important decisions or reacting to a scenario when you are in this corrupt state of mind. You’re not as smart. You’re not as creative. You’re going to miss solutions that will be obvious later when you’ve had a chance to calm down, sleep, put some time between you and the problem, and improve your mental state.

Don’t skip over that sleep step, either. There’s a reason people suggest “sleeping on it.” Your brain does a fantastic job of coming up with good solutions while you’re sleeping. Sleeping also serves as a natural emotional reset, giving you back some of the IQ points lost by being upset.

So, that’s the lesson here: do everything possible to avoid making important decisions or taking new action when you’re mad or upset, when you are literally 20-50% dumber than normal. In most cases, the consequence for waiting won’t be as catastrophic as the fallout from doing the wrong thing. Give yourself time to get your mind as positive as possible, sleep on it, and then you’ll see the ideas and solutions start to come to you.

And then maybe you’ll realize it’s not so bad after all.

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