Professional: Precise – Learn

Leadership is learned.

  • Share the story of a mentor or teacher or author
    who taught you a key leadership principle
    you use in your business every week.
platform: What to DO to GET Referrals      
program: Professional   
pin:  Precise
point:  Learn

Referral Trigger for the week of January 25, 2021

32 Responses to Professional: Precise – Learn
  1. Drake Conner
    January 22, 2021 | 8:10 am

    I worked for a national sales organization called Smart Circle when beginning my sales career in Atlanta. I was promoted to head up a small canvassing team going door to door to let people know how we could offer them a demonstration of the radiant heat barrier, E-Shield, for your attic. My mentor in the program was young and well on his way to retiring early. Instead of telling us to go hit the streets, he came with us and showed us how to properly market door to door when speaking to homeowners. When we build a new roof, I take with me the same high standards of door knocking with me.

  2. Heather Riggs
    January 22, 2021 | 8:47 am

    Joe Gottlieb, business/franchising attorney and member of the Alpharetta PowerCore Team, has been a mentor (and friend!) of mine for over a decade. As I was designing the service and pricing structure of Atlanta Legal Marketing, I had originally planned to follow in the footsteps of practice management consultants I admired with an hourly, consulting-style business model. Joe encouraged me to consider a recurring, subscription-style model instead. Trusting Joe unequivocally, I took his advice and because I did now have a level of stability and predictability in my business, both for myself and for my growing team of eleven employees, I absolutely would not have otherwise. My ability to provide for them so that they can provide for their families is my highest priority as a leader.

  3. Ramona Baptiste
    January 22, 2021 | 8:49 am

    My Manager at my first professional job was a man of few words, but for some reason, he took me under his wing and taught me so much. He stressed three qualities that I still use today: fact check and research, quality check and follow-up. I still use this in everything I do, and particularly comes in handy being self-employed. Through the years as a leader myself, I also stress these qualities for my mentees, and many of them communicate to me how this has helped them as well. Great lessons learned!

  4. Rob Riggs
    January 22, 2021 | 8:52 am

    While working as a programmer at a clothing manufacturer in Greenville, SC in my early career, I had the opportunity to work for a man who encouraged my creativity and problem solving. Even though I was a junior employee, he listened to my input about improving the inventory process the company used at that time. He never belittled me or made me feel less-than despite my relative lack of experience. He inspired my approach to the input of my employees today – everyone is at the table for a reason and everyone’s input is valuable and needed for my company to stay current and well-rounded.

  5. Amanda Walker
    January 22, 2021 | 9:10 am

    Rebecca Brizi on my team, the Buckhead team, has always been a mentor of mine, but recently we’ve been diving even deeper into my business through her consulting services.

    One of our focuses in our sessions is creating systems, not just in Amanda Walker Fine Art, but in every aspect of my life so that I have more creative energy and mental space for the creation of my work.

    One thing that I now consistently implement in my business each week is ACTIONABLE items. So instead of just creating a goal, what is the next action that I take so that I can achieve the desired outcome?

    She’s shown me ways to communicate with others and open conversations for opportunities in easy ways; and that usually is all I need to create the momentum in the direction of my goal. Instead of viewing next steps in my business as huge projects, I continue to break the next steps down into smaller steps, which in turn has gotten me to these goals even more quickly.

  6. Jim Lewis
    January 22, 2021 | 9:15 am

    Several years ago we were hosting a training event for a group of Realtors when I was with Buffini and Company. Although over 100 Realtors had RSVP’d only about 25% showed up for the event. I was lamenting about the poor turnout when Brian Buffini shared, “Jim our job is not to worry about those that did not show, our calling is to pour everything we have into the lives of those that did.” This is a lesson I have never forgotten. Pour everything you have into those that care enough to “be there.”

  7. Keyaan Williams
    January 22, 2021 | 9:25 am

    Leadership Principle: Effective Communication

    A non-technical business leader agreed to mentor me when I earned my first executive role as an IT security leader at the CDC. He consistently stressed that the value of what I do must be communicated from the perspective of the customer rather than from my perspective as a technical expert. Before working with him, I had a habit of presenting information in technical terms that did not resonate with people who were not experts in that area. I still hear his voice in the background asking “why do I care” whenever I develop content or information for clients. Most of my customers are interested in the solution and why it matters to them. Few are interested in the process that led to the result. Working with him transformed my written and verbal communication and the starting point used to describe the value of what I do in terms that the customer understands.

  8. Jim Demetry
    January 22, 2021 | 9:39 am

    As a young attorney, the partner I worked for encouraged me to focus on making others successful rather than focusing on myself. It was good advice that I have tried to live by through my career. I have learned that focusing on making my business clients successful has resulted in long term relationships and more referrals. By focusing on helping those that work for me be successful and providing them opportunities to learn and grow, has resulted in a more engaged and happy team, and has helped to solidify our client relationships. I have always appreciated the advice was I was given and have used it when mentoring others over the years.

  9. Steve Perry
    January 22, 2021 | 9:58 am

    I used to read a lot of sales and self improvement books. I believe it was Brian Tracey who wrote “Do what you do best and delegate the rest.” Those words have guided me well through the years. As a result, I focus on what I do and contract the rest out.

  10. Karen Armstrong
    January 22, 2021 | 10:08 am

    Consistency is Key

    I remember hearing this from my first team leader even before marketing strategies were really popular among agents. Stick with one things long enough to be able to really evaluate if it is working. With print advertising it takes about 18 months to see the results of mailing to an area. Realtors are famous for trying the latest marketing idea inst3ead of doing one thing consistently. Another piece of advice was find out what works for you and do it consistently. I will never go knock on people’s doors to get business. I would rather get a root canal than do that. Door knocking works for some people but is not going to work for me. So why keep trying to put a square peg in a round hole?

  11. Mark Thomas
    January 22, 2021 | 10:19 am

    When I was striking out on my own I sought the advice of another attorney, Matt Dwyer, who has been doing what I do since the mid 70’s. I asked him for one piece of advice. Expecting a golden nugget on how to hire staff, or research the newest cases or how to simply open the doors, he looked me straight in the eye and said “be prepared to starve for 18 months.” That was it. But I never forgot that. Fortunately, I only starved for about 12 months. Those words made me realize that as an entrepreneur I cannot take anything for granted and must constantly change, evolve and adapt. Beats starving.

  12. Liz Bankston
    January 22, 2021 | 10:29 am

    I love the methods I learned in this book to turn relationships into referrals, The Seven Levels of Communication, by Michael Maher. Stacked appointments is one of my favorites.

  13. Kevin Ames
    January 22, 2021 | 11:49 am

    My mentor, Ken Reddy managed the Idaho Camera store that served Boise’s professional photographers. Every day I learned from these photographers by helping them choose equipment from cameras to lighting to darkroom. Ken always encouraged me to build my photography business and always gave me time when a job came up. He told me that he knew I used my day off to work on my business. He taught me how to sell by listening to our customers.
    One of the lessons that stuck with me was writing our regular processing customer’s name, address, and phone number and taping them under the counter where we filled out the envelopes to send their film to the lab. They were so impressed that I “remembered” their contact info.
    Ken also knew when I had learned all the store had to offer and made my move into television and then on to work for a camera manufacturer in Houston and then saw me promoted to the sales position here in Atlanta. Ken’s influence is with me always. A pristine Nikon FTN Ken gave me holds pride of place in my home.

  14. Gregory Golden
    January 22, 2021 | 12:57 pm

    At a very early point in my career, an attorney told me that it was better to be thirty minutes early than thirty seconds late”. Being early (not just on time) for meetings, court appearances, or even social events is something that I strive for everyday. As I lead by example, it is a trait that I try to show as many people as possible.

  15. Dennis McLynn
    January 25, 2021 | 8:29 pm

    Early in my career I had a district manager that liked me. I had always been a top performer but had not been promoted. He understood that I was an introvert and that some people would not understand that just because I am somewhat quiet that I can still have great ideas and contribute to the success of the team. On the day he promoted me he told me that my ability to remain calm when those around me were losing their heads would serve me well in the future and that I should never let anyone try to change me.

  16. Rebecca Brizi
    January 26, 2021 | 10:51 am

    When I was in school and would come home with a less-than-perfect grade, my parents would ask “Why didn’t you get an A?”… and expect an answer. It was not criticism: they would sit with me and go through my work to figure out if there was something I had misunderstood, or missed, or had just gotten distracted.

    I have learned to question things instead of judging them.
    When I started managing a team, applying this question ensured I never jumped to conclusions, but also that I treated all employees equally: whether they succeeded or failed or anything in between, I always started with the question: “What were you trying to achieve?”.

  17. David Edmonson
    January 26, 2021 | 2:26 pm

    One of the best books I’ve ever read on leadership is called “Tribal Leadership” and it talks about the 5 levels of teams. Having this insight has become valuable, because I historically tried to “pull people” along that were not in the right mindset within my organization. Now, I understand that my best team assets are the people who ask for more training and more coaching despite already performing at a high level. It has become my job to empower them and keep up with feeding the flame of their passion. Leadership is mostly about supporting others to accomplish their own goals and dreams.

  18. Dr. Carolina Tillotson
    January 26, 2021 | 4:16 pm

    I was blessed to find a fantastic mentor before I opened my chiropractic practice. Dr. Kim Carpenter taught me about pivoting before pivot became the word of the year for 2020. There is a certain degree of flexibility and flow that you have to embody when you work with people and run a practice that serves a lot of different types of people and personalities. There are also outside circumstances that don’t always go according to plan, and without getting stuck in the mud, just pivot and continuing moving towards the bigger goal.

  19. Brian Prusik
    January 27, 2021 | 12:49 am

    Early in my career a senior sales manager taught me to do my homework, to know our commercial customers, their business, and their industry. But when visiting with these clients be somewhat restrained in spouting the knowledge you have learned. He told me to keep in mind the words of The Dalai Lama: “When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new.”

  20. Barry Kaplan
    January 27, 2021 | 8:16 am

    “Question everything.”

    In law school, we were taught the truism that, “good facts make good law” and that “bad facts make bad law.” The unspoken corollary, though, is that once bad law is made, it can adversely impact other people and businesses for a very long time.

    A litigation mentor taught me early in my career to “question everything.” Spoken language is, by nature, imprecise. It follows the ebb-and-flow of conversation, lines of thought, and it often takes tangential turns away from extremely important information. As an attorney, I take meticulous notes during my meetings and calls with clients. I highlight important facts that I need to come back to, that I need to research, or that need verification and/or supporting documents. Then, I ask more questions.

    And I keep asking questions—pulling on those threads—until I have a full and complete picture of what happened or needs to happen (and why), what the client knows, what the client thinks, how this situation may affect others, causes-and-effects, and so many more things. I recognize that this is a process, and that it doesn’t necessarily happen right then, during the conversation, but over time.

    With this process, I can draw out both the “good and bad” facts, and marshal those facts to inform an appropriate path forward for my client.

  21. Matt Spett
    January 27, 2021 | 11:24 am

    I was taught early on from a good mentor that you can’t rely on process to get a great piece of branding work out the door. You’ve got to make most of it happen yourself, even it means bending or breaking any rules put in place.

  22. Robert Cairns
    January 27, 2021 | 1:50 pm

    Early in my career I got to watch one of my mentors present a case to a bar association in which he had obtained a very large verdict. During the entire presentation he praised his collogues for their contributions, even talking up a junior staffer (me) whose contribution was, objectively, small. He never once bragged about himself. His grace and leadership stuck with me, and I always try to emulate him when discussing group or team efforts.

  23. Matt Frazier
    January 27, 2021 | 4:15 pm

    Being genuine.

    I learned from a manager early on that sales is as much (or more) about selling yourself as products or services. With that in mind you can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be yourself to anybody. This lesson has helped me attract better business with more likeable clients who want to do business long-term with ME! Being yourself is far less tiring than trying to fit into the wrong peg hole shape and if prospects don’t like you then you wouldn’t have enjoyed working with them anyway.

  24. Greg Jordan
    January 28, 2021 | 7:55 am

    Although I have never had a formal mentor, I have been blessed with an array of family, friends, co-workers, past employers, and customers who I can rely on for direction or advice when I need it. One of the best mentoring sessions I had lasted only about 5 minutes or so. I had only been in business for a few months when I attended an open networking event. I met a gentleman who had been in business for more than 30 years and was passing it on to his son so he could retire. We discussed “driving the business”, and I commented that it was my job as the business owner to answer every call when the phone rings and respond to every customer need. The gentleman also added that if the phone doesn’t ring, it’s my job to “make it ring”. We chatted for a couple more minutes then went our separate ways. I never spoke to the gentleman again. Although I probably have his business card stuffed in a drawer somewhere, I could not tell you his name. But the words “if the phone doesn’t ring, it’s your job to make it ring” have stuck with me since. I remember these words especially when business is slow.

  25. David Wise
    January 28, 2021 | 9:46 am

    My mentor was the sales manager of a team of 15 salesmen at a printing company. He always encouraged me to be myself, to help others achieve their goals and to gain friends and customers. He told us that it takes time to find out at what we are best. And when we do, hold on tight for it will take us to new heights.

  26. Antwan Floyd
    January 28, 2021 | 11:18 am

    My regional manager when I first entered the banking industry became my mentor and still to this day is someone that I turn to for advice and guidance. One of the key things he taught me early on in my career that I still hold dear as I hold leadership positions, is that leadership is all about people and that as a leader you must lead by example. Attempting to successfully demonstrate how to behave and perform. This advice has been a golden nugget that has led to the success I have had thus far in my career.

  27. Neeli Shah
    January 28, 2021 | 6:42 pm

    I owe much of my success today to the first senior partner I worked with, Harry Morgan. He remains my mentor and the person who taught me how to be an attorney. On my very first day as a baby attorney (over 10 years ago) he took me to lunch and told me that if I was going to be an estate planning attorney, I had to know two things- (1) Never make an assumption (no matter how obvious); and (2) there is no such thing as a “normal” family. In addition to these two principals, he taught me to be genuine in my care for my clients, because you are helping them make decisions about the thing that is most personal to them – their families. I owe much of my success and a debt of gratitue to Harry and many other wonderful mentors whom I have come across in my career.

  28. Linda Kuryloski
    January 28, 2021 | 8:34 pm

    Tom Bartow is one of my main mentors who drew his inspiration from Coach John Wooden, who I had he privilege of hearing in person not too long before he passed.

    Tom accompanied “Coach” when he received his “Presidential Medal of Freedom” in 2003.

    ALWAYS DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THE CLIENT IS MY MANTRA. lk

  29. Brendon Hall
    January 29, 2021 | 9:07 am

    I think my most influential leadership coaching came while I was in Boy Scouts. On occasion, we’d be asked to work individually and as groups to accomplish survival tasks. I was never one for the group activities until one of the adults told me – “The best leaders lead from behind”. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about; so, naturally, I asked him what he meant. He told me that the best leaders start by being the best followers. The role of a leader isn’t to strong-arm, coerce or cajole people to follow your lead; instead, it’s about having a clear vision while also understanding what it’s like to be the follower’s position. Later, I would hear this concept reflected in words spoken by Nelson Mandela: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” To me, this means a good leader knows his/her followers’ “language” and speaks to them in it – and simply forgets about his/her own language at least until he/she has gained the trust of the group.

  30. Bo Riddle
    January 29, 2021 | 9:09 am

    I used to play a lot of tennis with a leader of a large company. He had led them through a significant period of growth. He told me the story of making significant changes in the way the company did business and that led to a lot of the growth.
    I asked him how he got everyone to change and move in the new successful direction. He said he spent a lot of time listening and talking with the management and employees of the company because he believed commitment from the employees
    was better than simple compliance.
    So I have always remembered that to get the best from people, their commitment is required, not just their compliance.

  31. Keyaan Williams
    January 30, 2021 | 9:50 am

    Taylor Sellers is an awesome attorney. He tried with all his might to overcome technical difficulties that prevented him from posting a response. I am posting on his behalf:

    Per Taylor: “My favorite attorney I’ve worked for or with taught me a simple principle for the legal field that can be applied to every obstacle. Bring questions with possible solutions- not just problems. Possible solutions show that you have worked out the problem as thoroughly as you have the ability. One of those solutions might be viable – and you are just not aware of the variables at play. If you just bring a question without possible solutions, it at least appears you have not put any work in to solve the problem yourself. It appears you just want someone else to solve your problem. Bring possible solutions – not problems.”

  32. Nate Sampson
    February 4, 2021 | 2:26 pm

    Almost anyone can be a boss but very few can be
    true leaders. I worked for a guy, a small business
    owner, for about 11 years prior to starting my own business and the greatest teaching that I gained from him was that true leadership
    is conducted at the spearhead of any situation. A
    true leader is willing to get in the trenches
    sustained at times only by their own will,
    ambition, and determination to succeed and as such
    will be followed by many as they too seek to attain
    such skill and spirit for themselves. Teaching by
    example and willingness to be involved. This is
    true leadership.
    I often have clients and realtors ask questions
    about home maintenance or items of importance after I’ve completed a home inspection. I take pride in my
    willingness to get involved, engage, and teach even long after
    I’ve completed a home inspection.

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