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How do I overcome rejections?

I was recently asked this during one of my AMA (Ask-Me-Anything) sessions, and for this, I’ll take it in the business sales context.

And the simple answer is, “Next?”

No, no, it’s not to avoid the question. It’s “Next prospect, please?”

In sales, there is a 10-3-1 rule of thumb. When you sit with 10 prospects, the averages are that you’re probably not going to close 9 of them during that sit-down. How does one deal with the psyche from a rejection?

1. Get over it
It is human to feel down. To deny that frustration isn’t healthy. But you should not let it linger for too long. Get over it. Scale also plays a part. The property agent that gets rejected on a $1m sale may be kicking up sand a little longer than when she loses a $1000 rental deal.

2. Thicken the pipeline
If you comprehend the 10-3-1 benchmark but still feel lousy with each rejection, then you need an action plan to thicken the prospecting pipeline. Work with marketing people to identify ways to fill your calendar for your industry. Get it to 100-30-10.

3. Learn, unlearn, relearn
This covers many areas. Is your sales closing technique up to par? Are you prospecting to the correct people? Are the right people brought to your table? Are you saying the wrong things, or not sharing in the way they understand?

4. Connect to follow up
My marketing brain regularly reminds me not to let a non-sale go. Always leave an option to have a follow-up appointment, or in the final parting, ask them to be on your newsletter.

5. Seek help
If you ARE losing sleep over this, and frequently so, my recommendation is seek professional help in the form of a therapist or counsellor. Otherwise, pull together a group of peers, or join a mastermind group, or a business network. You will discover that you are not alone. The community effect will foster cross-sharing and learning.

So, how to handle rejection? Next please…

Benefits from blogging that I want

Many have started before me and have gone on to reap their benefits from personal blogging. A simple search would bring up their successes they have gained and they have blogged about them. As I’m starting out on this journey, I’ll instead pen down some of the benefits that I want to look out for.

1. Self Discovery
What’s my writing style? What would I write about? What would I share? Why would I share that? Will this be a cathartic exercise, or will it be a building piece of my next future? The only thing I’m clear about, with starting this, is that I’m writing for me. Not for the reader yet. Nor a target market. Maybe after 100 posts this will change. Who knows? Let me get to 100 first.

2. New Habits
I’ve all these fables, stories, patterns, views, connections and thoughts in my head. I’m starting this new tiny habit of getting them onto (e)paper. New habits means new processes, new pathways, new possibilities, new assertions. So that I don’t overwhelm myself, this is a new habit to publish a post daily. I may write more than 200 words a day, and may have a day or two in a week without a writing, but I want to publish daily.

3. Creativity is a Process
As many have shared, include Seth Godin in his latest book – Creativity is a process. For some, it may be a gift, but it is still a process to bring it out and develop the muscle. So this is my process. Here, I made this.

4. Making Room for New
Sometimes, your cup gets full. While it’s a good perspective to share from the overflow, many times, the fullness means that you can’t accept new input. I want this blogging habit to be part of my empty-the-cup process, to allow for new learnings, new experiences and simply, new things. And trust that my Lord will regularly lead me into the overflow, to be able to share.

5. Reflection and Clarity
You know how it is when there are so many things on your mind, and how one thing is interconnected with 4-5 other things and dependent on 2-3 other things? Yeah, I’d get stuck. This will also be my process to draw out these thoughts and map out the lines. To intentionally put down those 4-dimensional wires and bubbles into a series (or mesh) of 2D connections. You know what I mean. Things get clearer when you pen them down. I want this.

You’re welcome to join me in my journey.

Practice by Seth Godin, my early musings

Creativity is a process of practice.

Seth Godin goes beyond doing, beyond publishing, and into a regular habit of practice.

Industrial recipe vs Creative art.

I resonate with this.

One of my strengths is comprehending processes, the big picture, and how it forms into a pipeline of activities. The next strength is to optimize that process workflow for the business function which I review. This optimization could be fully manual, particularly manual and automated, or how online supported workflows gel together, with inputs from functional roles where required.

For the longest time, I was bothered that when I have worked out a systemic process, I get bored with it, and seldom follow it myself. I would train the people to adhere to it, often with exception management things to look out for, and then step back. Far back. And that’s the industrial recipe which Seth describes.

I am more about the art for optimizing. Where I sit to reflect and pull all desired outcomes, workflows and steps leading to the outcome, and then describe a better way to run that, and thereafter, redeploy resources towards that new process. I’ve always tried to work with functional headcount numbers and not on the human personalities themselves – and have actually cut out myself out of various workflows before even.

Here, I made this.

More learnings as President of BNI Crescendo

The Vision we set, gives the direction we collectively run towards. BNI is a referral passing organisation and provides the framework to network effectively. Vision setting gives each chapter the opportunity to evolve and develop their own culture. And this has been a learning journey for me.

As I reflect on my development, this post began here.

6. The Habit to Ask
To foster communication, I developed the habit to ask. At the 1-1 level, I’d ask if the audio and visual cues to spot referrals are working. Also if the qualifying questions make it clearer for the right referrals to come in.

At the Leadership and Support Team level, my questions are frequently, how can we do this better, and how can we do this different?

At the chapters level, I’d be asking, “How’s a larger chapter doing it right?” and “How do they hold it all together?”

At the country level, it’ll be more along “Hey, how do we help your members enter the Singapore market?”

7. Connect to Bigger Circles
And that’s where I look out for opportunities and doorways to connect businesses or help our members reach outside our borders. There’s so much more I can write about networking, so I’ll just place a stub here for future writings.

8. Celebrate the Heroes and the Wins
BNI always had this as a practice and recently Recognition is a defined Core Value. It is through my BNI journey where I learn the value of gratitude and the strength of recognising the heroes around us and the wins in our community.

And I’d be the first to admit that sometimes, the act of celebration happens first, before the joy truly follows. Acknowledging and celebrating wins, keeps the eye on the Vision.

9. Have Fun while Leading
I could not have planned this out to this degree. Through my 2 terms as President, I had special dates which landed on a Thursday, our meeting dates.

I had my birthday – yes we celebrated. Thank you, dear chapter mates!

And I had my anniversary on another meeting day too. We had Family Day theme, where members invited their spouses and children to the meeting. And my wife attended that meeting. Being on the podium, I took the liberty to have our florist present flowers to her as I acknowledged all visitors. It’s great for our families to meet our business family.

10. Own the Stage
This was a big part of self-development. As President, we chair the meetings every week.

The first thing to learn about overcoming stage fright is just keep getting onto the stage. Helping fellow business owners overcome these same fears was a big personal mission for me. And it was about finding ways to get members onto the stage to address the room, often and repeatedly.

The next thing to learn while on the podium was how to read the audience. The meetings have a structured agenda, and it was too easy for one to drift off. I had to learn when energy had to be drummed up, and to carry it from segment to segment. It was just as important to tone down the energy when the fun index was reaching frenzy levels.

If asked what I missed through the lockdown period, that’s the learning opportunity to own the stage.

11. Accountability vs Responsibility
A learning that capped it all for me, was that as the leader and President, you’re never totally in control. You are simply accountable.

A successful meeting requires many hands. A great group working together to grow business requires many more hands and eyes too. The BNI Structure defines the key roles, and as the chapter evolves, more roles are formed to keep folks engaged and supporting each other. Sometimes, we try out new things too. The LT has to mete out the roles and hope that they uphold their responsibilities. On good days, we celebrate together. On not so good ones, well, the President is accountable.

What was also important for me, was to communicate with the team that I was accountable. That gave them the covering to run their roles, and do their best in fulfilling their assigned responsibilities. It gave them space to learn and grow for themselves.

It has been a great journey for my personal growth.

Will I take up the role again? We’ll see..

What I learned as President of BNI Crescendo

When I was appointed to be President of the BNI Crescendo chapter back in 2018, my first thought was, “Hey did they pick wrong? Who am I to lead this sizeable chapter of 70 members?”

While I did accept the honour, the primary thing I noted was that this was not a company in the hierarchical employment sense. This was a gathering of business professionals, company owners, coaches, consultants – in short, leaders in their own space, AND busy with their own business goals. And with the added (mental) burden that I’ve not led a 70-staffed company yet. What do I need to learn, adapt and practice?

I must quickly add that this wasn’t a solo journey. Much of the success and the learnings came together, because of a great Leadership Team and Support Team. And they carried the chapter every week.

1. Set a Vision
Without a vision, the people perish. The Chapter Vision helps rally members to a common destination. It’s like the BHAG that we set for ourselves. If it’s worthy enough a vision, we will not overly focus on the hiccups along the way.

2. How to Influence
Members are not there for you. They are there for themselves. As am I.

The art of the influence is then how are we there for each other, so that we all win together, for ourselves. The Vision helps the Influence conversations. And I find that it was one of the enablers for success.

3. Fill the Gaps
We all have blind spots. We all have collaborations we desire. We all have deferring levels of skill sets. How do we boldly communicate our gaps to each other, and ask for help.

The results show up in the form of bringing the right visitors, qualified referrals and trainings which bring us to the next level of growth.

4. Align Practices to Business
Principles we learn in running a chapter, also work in our own businesses.

In business, when we bring in more clients than we can effectively onboard, we run the risk of not serving them effectively. What’s worse is that a dissatisfied client becomes a negative voice in the market, which then turns into a vicious spiral working against us.

5. Acknowledge Mistakes
We’re humans, and humans err. I’ve decided that life (or the term) is too short to hide mistakes. Fess up to the parties involved, work a solution to get out of the hole caused by the mistake. Bring up the Vision to get everyone into the same direction again.

Thank you for reading thus far. My learning continues on this next post.

Remember to Breathe

Ever had times when you were so busy juggling different pieces of work, calls, project deadlines, interruptions from friends and family, and suddenly just felt short for breath?

That’s probably because you had really forgot to breathe.

I discovered that in the midst of these things, when I take a minute or three to just close my eyes, breathe in deeply and slowly, slowly exhale, I could feel tensions lift, and things take on a new flow.

One mental image that helps me inhale fully – I picture a wet and flat plastic bag. As I blow into it to open it up, I see the insides of the bag slowly become unstuck from each other. Eventually, the bag is puffed to its max capacity, with no more edges or sides sticking together. This is how I see my lungs after a breathing-in stage. And then I’d breathe out.

When I start a breathing cycle, I aimed for 8 deep inhales and exhales per minute. If I finished my 8 breaths below a minute, I tell myself that I’ve not fully reset my self, and would take another 8 breath-minute. I’d usually get into this comfortably by the 3rd round (or minute). And yes, there are days that require 5-rounds.

Additionally, before I get into a work cycle, I’d do my 3 minute breathing cycles and enter into work with a refreshed body and mind.

I’ve recently dived into Breathe : The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. The author expounds much more into the different breath patterns. Some calm you down. Some activate healing for your body. There was one pattern the author used during running, and that even came with a health warning – I’m not sure I’d try that yet. He also warns of the dangers of mouthbreathing, with practices to overcome that. Always breathe through your nose.

If you want to go further to explore breathing patterns and their benefits, I found a free app on Google Playstore called Breathly by Matteo Mazzarolo. The app includes most of the patterns described in the book, and has visuals, bells and voice settings to pace you through them. It also has one custom setting for you to set your own timing.

So whenever you find yourself stressed and short for breath, remember to breathe.

Some people are just good hearted

I was on an MRT train ride home the other day; long journey, uneventful, not too crowded. A rather normal and peaceful journey.

On one of the stops, a young lady boarded, sat across from me, and soon after, fell asleep.

A couple of stops later, she shouted, “Hey!” And everyone turned to look at her. “You dropped this!”, bending forward to pick up the student train pass on the floor in front of her. She handed it over to the schoolgirl who had sat beside her. And then the young lady went back to snooze.

I’m just now reflecting that perhaps the schoolgirl had knocked her with her backpack, or that her card landed on the lady’s thigh. What stuck was that she had the presence of mind to shout out, lean over, pick up the card, and pass it to the school girl. I would not have the same mindfulness coming out from a doze on the train.

The train was gradually emptying out as we moved from station to station, with more single seats here and there. On one of those stops, she looked up to check her destination. A mother with 2 kids came aboard. The lady took stock that there were empty seats on the left and right of her, and waved the mother over as she rose up, giving all 3 seats to them. She then hopped across to an empty one on my side of the row. And at some point of the continuing journey, nodded back to slumber.

I don’t know if I would see her again (its not the usual hour I take that train, nor will I recognise her, masked up and everything) But what stuck is that in between physical tiredness and a journey to somewhere, one can still have the heart for others, and do good.

Password Under Duress

Caught a couple of TV episodes where this was applied and I wondered why this wasn’t a mainstream thing?

The scenario is when a victim is placed under the threat of life, or threat of the loved ones, and is forced to withdraw cash or transfer funds. The victim then meekly obeys, logging in to do the task. The perpetrator is unaware that instead of the normal password, and a specially prearranged password is used.

The platform recognises that this is a duress code and will carry out transactions per normal, but will place a special flag for certain authorities to follow up. While the immediate action makes for good TV viewership, I wonder why this wasn’t more of a service thing?

Duress codes are currently found in home alarm systems, and also in military protocols. But I not looking for such high-geared responses.

In this age where online money transfers are becoming common place, it becomes so easy be harassed into doing something against your will. The special password will then just trigger an online police report, which can be revisited or acted upon later. If nothing else, it becomes documentation for a pattern of abuse.

Of course, many other actions can be spawned off from there. For example, silently capturing audio or video proof from the device in use.

Would you pay for such a service? Or will it some day be covered as a cyberattack insurance?