Thursday, December 22, 2011

10x Networkers

I'm a geek and proud of it. It gives me a unique perspective on life. To make things even more interesting I'm a left-handed engineer, which means I'm constantly using both the logical and creative sides of my brain to solve problems. Simple tests suggest my right brain is slightly dominant, which is not surprising for a southpaw:

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendency will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: 10(10)
Right Brain Dominance: 11(11)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

What can I say? I'm unique!

All this self-aggrandisation is fine, and does wonders for my ego, but what on earth does it have to do with 10x Networkers?

I keep up-to-date with technology management and I'm fascinated by the challenges posed by the need to manage teams of open source developers. I see those challenges as directly relevant to those faced by many team leaders in network marketing. For example, how do you motivate people when you can't see their hour-by-hour performance and working practices? How do you have effective meetings that move the entire team forward when people can make excuses not to plug into the webinar or conference call? How do you build the team spirit that means people will go the extra mile, not for themselves, but for their team-mates?

There's a lot of discussion in the open source community at the moment about a concept called "The 10x Developer". These are the superstars who work agilely, stick to To-Do lists, focus on the essentials, don't reinvent the wheel, constantly self-educate, and spend money on the tools when the investment pays off in time saved.

We need to be recruiting and training "The 10x Networker":

1. Communicate first, then do only what needs to be done, choosing the simplest solution that solves the problem. Don't leap off at a tangent or waste time on work that will not push you closer to your goals.

2. Don't reinvent the wheel. Your company has provided you with systems that work; trust them and use them. I know people who have spent thousands of pounds on building their 'own' systems, websites, etc. They could have spend that money on building a team and a customer base.

3. Learn constantly. Identify what skills and/or qualities you lack, then get yourself some training.

4. Buy tools that save you time. Cost out how much time, paper and ink it would cost you to print off 4000 lead generation leaflets, for example. Now go find a printer who will under-cut that price. It won't be difficult.

5. Focus. Divide your day into productive sections and avoid email, social networking sites and incoming calls during that time.

6. Plan your activity in detail.

7. Review regularly and often. Kill your precious plan if it's not working; but first, try some radical surgery.

8. Talk to people. Networking only pays off if you work on it.

9. Give yourself permission to step away from your work. If you spend 100% of your time on your business, you'll end up with nothing, long-term. Taking a break, spending time with friends and family, will allow you to re-invigorate your focus.

10. Get on with it! Start small, but just do something every day to move yourself and your business forward.

If we live our lives according to these guidelines, then our teams will copy us. If we don't, then our teams will copy us...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

90-Day Plan: D-1 Reviewing Your Plan

With D-Day (as in Do It!) only a day away, it's time to focus on step 4 of the pre-90-day plan activities: Reviewing Your Plan.

By now, you should be comfortable with the goals you've set, you should have your working area organised, and your plan should be created and detailed.


I've covered reviewing before, in the 3 Rs of Network Marketing. This time, we're focussing on making sure our plan is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely, or SMART. We need to answer the following questions:

1. Do I know EXACTLY what I'm doing for each of the next 90 days?
2. Does my family know and understand what I'm doing?
3. How am I tracking my activity?
4. What are my back-up plans when/if Life! gets in the way?
5. How exactly will I get back on track if I drift away from my planned activity?
6. How will I reward myself for goals I have achieved, and when?

In addition to the last-minute checks that your plan is fit for purpose, you'll be reviewing your activity every evening with one simple question:

How have I done today compared to what I planned to do? What can I do tomorrow to improve my activity and/or results?

You should also use the 3 Rs of Network Marketing every week to review the week's progress and every 4 weeks to review a month/period's progress compared to the plan. This way you will stop yourself drifting too far off track.

Remember, where your future's concerned, it's not an attitude - it's a way of life.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Now THERE's A Surprise....

Despite my best intentions, Life got in the way again and poor little Kleenezelady found it took a lot longer to do her 90 day plan than she'd expected. Pop over to my other blog to find out what happened.

That got in the way of me writing the next thrilling instalment, which follows hot on the heels of this apology. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible...

Still, at least it proves I'm blogging this experience live.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

90 Day Plan: D-2 - Creating the Plan

You've spent time on preparation activities and you've organised yourself a little better. Next up, creating that 90-day plan.

This is where that extra effort over the past few days begins to pay off.

You need a year planner, a diary, a list of everybody's commitments over the next 90 days, tracking sheets, to-do sheets and a 90-day plan template. You may also want to use 7-day plan templates.

Got all of those together in one place? That's OK, I'll wait...

If you haven't got tracking sheet, to-do list and 90-day plan/7-day plan templates, contact me through the comments and I'll send you a set.

Welcome back.

1. Get the year planner up on the wall and draw a border around the 90 days you'll be working your plan.
2. If your business 'weeks', 'months' or 'periods' don't line up with the standard Sunday - Saturday or Monday - Sunday options, mark those out on your planner as well.
3. Mark out ALL commitments for the 90 day plan duration on your wall planner.

You now have a visual reminder for yourself and your family for the next 90 days.

4. Take your 90-day plan template, which should be marked out in 30 minute blocks from 6am to midnight.
5. Block out periods of time for all normal activity - bathing, exercise, meals, housework, gardening, travel to/from work/higher education studies and, of course, the day job/lectures.
6. Block out periods of time for all other commitments - family events, club meetings, holiday away from home.

Take a good, long look at the gaps in your schedule. What you are looking for are blocks of 1 to 5 hours that you can devote to your business for at least 6 days out of every 7.

Found them? You need to be working on your business for 20 hours per week part-time, more if you're full-time.

7. Block out your business activity for the next 90 days. You will be sticking to this plan; make sure it's sustainable.

The next section is optional, but advisable:

7a. Take a 7 day plan template and block out your business activity for each day. This time, be more specific. If you plan to hand out leaflets, deliver catalogues or do surveys on a particular day, write down the streets or area now. If you don't use a template, this information needs to go in your diary for those days.

7b. Repeat 7a for all 13 weeks.

Back to that wallplanner:

8. Block out your business activity on the year planner; one simple way to do this is to use stickers of different colours, shapes and sizes depending on available time and type of activity. Remember to create a key to those stickers and display that on your wall, too.

You now have 3 levels of information for your 90-day plan - a high level summary on the year planner, a mid-level management report in the 90-day plan template and detailed operational activity in the 7 day plans.

9. Create activity tracking sheets for each type of activity you intend to undertake and ensure you have enough copies to cover 90 days of activity. You will be using these every day, in conjunction with to-do lists, to maximise your time and effort.

10. Make sure that you have a central store for all your planning and tracking paperwork, be it in a computer folder or in a filing cabinet or lever arch file. Don't give yourself opportunities to fail.

Tomorrow, we'll cover the pre-action review phase. Have fun planning!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

90-Day Plan: D-3 - Organisation

After preparation, organisation is the key to a successful, active 90-day plan. Spending some time getting organised will save you time later, as well as providing you with a morale boost as you improve your 'competence confidence'.

Organisation is closely linked with determining your priorities for the next 90 days. If you've done your ten point preparation homework, you'll have a list of your five goals. Those are your key priorities. So what's next?

Your aim should be to declutter your life as far as possible - physically and mentally. Irrespective of your own mental image of who you are and what you want to become, you won't grow yourself or your business if you are dragging junk around with you.

In other words, your 90-day organisation phase should include the following:

1. Set up a dedicated email account for your business. DO NOT clutter it up with subscriptions to the latest "wonder guru" email lists. If you're subscribed to certain lists, re-evaluate their usefulness. Unsubscribe from all those you can't be bothered to read on a regular basis. Then unsubscribe from those that spam you with sales offers - you can subscribe later when you've reached your goals. Keep your final list of subscriptions down to a maximum of 5. Now change those email subscriptions to RSS feeds. That way you can look at them via your browser and declutter your inbox.

2. Use the 2 minute rule for all incoming email, post and phone conversations - including anything that crops up in your contact manager websites. Deal with it, dispose of it or decide to tackle it at a specific date and time. Your inbox/in-tray should be almost bare. Work on it until it is.

3. File receipts as soon as you get them. If you don't have a filing system, start one. File by category, such as car, petrol, order payments, invoice payments and bonuses/commission.

4. Set up a business bank account as soon as possible. If you can't manage to do that, at the very least you need to set up a separate savings account with money transfer capabilities. This helps you to separate out your personal life from your business life as far as the taxman is concerned.

5. Make sure you have immediate access to customers, team members and prospects contact details at all times. If that means using a filofax or daytimer rather than a computer-based system, then that's fine. Just make sure it goes with you at all times.

6. Set up activity tracking for all plan-related activities. Talk to your upline, or contact me for a selection of templates. If you are involved in direct sales, you should be tracking sales generation activities, quantity of orders placed, by whom, projected and actual delivery dates, order value and retail profit. If you are building up your team, you should be tracking prospect contacts, follow up calls, autoresponder subscription and unsubscription rates, amount spent on advertising, advertising source to prospect ratio, prospect signups. When coaching your team, you should be tracking their retail and recruitment activity with them, as well as tracking your coaching activity.

7. If you are running your business from your home, ensure anybody else in your household knows how to answer the phone in a professional manner. Roleplay is useful here - practice phoning until they get into receptionist mode automatically. If you can't manage that, invest in call diversion and send all phonecalls to a number you can control and access. If your company provides a voicemail facility, subscribe to it - it's worth it.

8. Invest in a whiteboard and place it somewhere prominent in the main part of the house. This will be where you and your family/co-habitees can update each other as to what's going on. Consider investing in a "family" calendar - the sort that lists daily activity by person.

9. Invest in a cashbox, so that business income can be kept securely until you can get it to your bank. Make the habit of banking your takings before you spend them.

10. Set up a system so that everybody, including family and customers, know when you are working on your business. Use your whiteboard, update your wallplanner, and decide on a routine that suits you and your customers. Then stick to it for the next 90 days.

Good luck. We'll deal with creating your plan tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

90-Day Plan: D-4 - Preparation

Before you even start implementing your first proper 90-day plan, you need to make sure that all the ground work has been covered. Otherwise, you'll be on your sixth 90-day plan by day 10. That's just wasting your time and energy.

So what ground work is there?

1. Preparation
2. Organisation
3. Planning
4. Review


From personal experience, this is the easiest step to overlook, primarily because it can encompass a wide range of activities.

Depending on your personal circumstances, preparation could involve creating a specific work environment, buying in supplies of leaflets, work clothes, stationery and other consumables, investing in business equipment (new printer, 'new' car) and, of course, warning friends and family about your diary commitments for the next 90 days.

Some organisations provide their own checklists for fledgling distributors to help them get started; your own team leaders may provide you with a preparation checklist that they find works for their business. If you have the opportunity to use tried and tested methods, then use them, at least for your first 90-day plan. You can always tweak the plan to suit yourself as you go along.

If you don't have access to a 90-day plan checklist, contact me via the comments and I'll send you the one I use. It is not tied to any specific business or network marketing company.

Essentially, your preparation should include the following:

1. Identify in generic terms what you want to achieve in the next 90 days - is it improved sales, a larger team, or both? Is it the deposit for a car, a holiday? Is it paying off debt? Write down 10 to 15 items.

2. Then write down a list of 5 specific goals that you intend to achieve within the 90 days. That means taking the initial 10 to 15 items and determining a realistic target date for each. You'll find a lot eliminate themselves at this point. If you find you have more than five goals that you feel are realistic, then prioritise and pick the first 5. You can always replace completed goals with ones from the list later. Don't pay attention to hype at this point, you want to set realistic goals so that when you achieve them, you build your confidence for the next 90 day plan.

3. Write down how you will achieve those 5 goals. For example, if a goal is "To save £300 per month", then how you achieve that may be "To sell £1600 of products", or "To recruit and train 5 new team members", or "To stop spending £100 at Starbucks every month, sell £800 of products and recruit 1 new team member and train them to sell £800 of products." Only you can determine how to reach your goals.

4. Collate all know diary events for yourself and your family for the next 90 days. You'll need to know what blocks of time are available to you. Include everything you can think of, including "together time", gardening, shopping, nights out, school sports days and teacher meetings. Don't plan anything yet.

5. Check that you have everything you need for the first 28 days of your 90-day plan. That includes a designated space to work (even if it's the dining table), leaflets/flyers, samples, catalogues, opportunity brochures/dvds, pens, stamps, diaries, wallplanners, paper, ink cartridges, work clothes, money to cover petrol costs, postage, etc.

6. Identify any gaps/omissions in what you need and identify when/how you will address those gaps.

7. Take a realistic look at yourself and identify any issues that may stop you from achieving your goals in the next 90 days. Do you lose enthusiasm quickly? Do you have a PhD in procrastination? Do you promise things and then not deliver? Are you disorganised?

8. Decide what you are going to do to prevent those issues. If you are competitive, then creating a set of small, weekly targets that gain you rewards may be a great solution. If you prefer doing things at your own pace and finishing one thing before you move onto the next, rewarding yourself for a small task that's well done may inspire you. Bear in mind that you are the master of your fate; nobody else is.

9. Write down your baseline results so far. Break those results down into weekly, monthly and quarterly if you've been in business for long enough. If you've only just started - great! If your figures are 0, 0 and 0, you can only improve from now on.

10. Tell your family that you are committing yourself to a 90-day plan of activity and discuss the effects with them so they know what to expect.

Once you've completed your preparation checklist, you're ready for the next step - getting organised.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Get the 90 Day Habit

Image © Gualtiero Boffi
Everybody who runs a business understands the need to plan ahead. Everybody who joins a network marketing company gets told that you can't succeed without a 90 day plan. So why are there so few coherent, full explanations of what a 90 day plan is, what it entails and what it's like to follow one?

Google for '90 day plan' and there's loads of generics, a lot of waffle and a lot of incomprehensible text that should have caveat emptor watermarked through it. Finding the gold in the dross is difficult, although there are some good articles, such as Michael Hyatt's, which do encourage us to step up and be accountable.

So, as I firmly believe in personal responsibility and accountability, I will be dual-blogging for the next 94 days on both the mechanics of 90-day plans and my personal experiences of implementing them.

Why 94 days rather than 90? Because I want to show the prior preparation and planning that goes into the creation of a 90-day plan.

This is likely to be an interesting project. I'm hoping the extra exposure will force me to up my game enough to quit the day job in a year's time. Here we go!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Am NOT One Of The 99 Percent

Image © Sebastian Kaulitski

I'm not one of the 1% either.

I'm also not surprised that a number of commentators are getting more than a little fed up with those who claim they speak for the rest of us, whilst wasting everybody's time on vague statements that seem to demand that "somebody does something, so long as it isn't us."

When I've been unemployed, I've found work. I've struggled to pay bills, worked more than one job at a time when necessary and focused on improving myself and my employment prospects until I either hit that promotion ceiling or got made redundant again.

Despite being qualifed to degree level in three separate disciplines, I've still worked as a cleaner, a carer, a postman and a checkout assistant. I take responsibility for my life and I'm no different from others. I know of people who have slept rough until they've scraped the money together to get a room; who've done 3 jobs a day to pay off mortgages early. They haven't demanded support or refused to pay taxes - they got on with living.

Camping in tents isn't going to change things. Banding together with enough like-minded people will, but there's more influence in cyber-campaigning groups such as Avaaz than you'll find on any of the Occupy sites.

I'd rather put time and effort into something like Branson's Screw Business As Usual, than join a protest where the majority of fellow campers appear to have no idea what it's like to live in the real world.

We live in a rapidly changing world. We need to adapt to survive. If we want to change corporate behaviour, it's better to effect that change in a way where everybody benefits. If the current variety of capitalism doesn't work, replacing it with compassionate capitalism is still better than a system where nobody is able to excel.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dancing In The Rain...

...because it's the best way to live.

Photo © Rebecca Abell

I've had more than my fair share of stresses in the past few months, as my Kleenezelady blog shows. They've taught me a lot and, as with the rest of my life, I wouldn't change a minute. How else would I learn and grow?

The key thing I've taken from the past week is this:

You can only truly be a leader if you understand those you wish to lead.

I've been on the receiving end of a heck of a lot of assumptions in my time. I've had to deal with misogyny, ageism (too young/too old), accusations of tokenism and worse. I've made assumptions too, and I've changed how I behave and think about others when I've realised my mistakes.

So, of course, it upsets me when, yet again, I have to cope with a complete lack of understanding about what makes me the person I am. I could whinge, or I could learn.

Here's a few of the more recent lessons:

Take Responsibility for your Relationships

Start with the basics. The people we work with are spending as much time with us, if not more, than our family and friends. We influence and are influenced by the behaviour of everybody we interact with. We should be taking responsibility for how those interactions go.

If the newsagent is grumpy, we could smile at him more. If a colleague or neighbour is quiet or reserved, don't avoid them or brand them as "cold". They could be waiting for you to make friends. They might turn out to be the best friend you've never had. You'll never find out if you exclude them.

Remember Your Manners

My son holds doors open for people who don't even think to say thank you. He carries on anyway. I'm extremely proud of him.

We all know of people who never say please or thank you; who are stingy with their tips; who delight in playing the blame game; who would rather shush people than listen and learn. We owe it to ourselves not to sink to that level.

I live by the philosophy I learnt from my mother - to treat everybody equally, be they prince or pauper, because you can never tell what they will become. I like to think my son has learnt from me.

Assertive Trumps Passive

Most people reacts badly to somebody who is passive. Depending on their own personality, they will take advantage, or pile work on you until you crack under the strain, or make you the target of their own unique brand of negative spin. Others may ignore you when you ask for support or assistance. Don't let them get away with this - you can't change their behaviour, but you can understand it and change yours accordingly. Learn to be comfortable with saying "No" in all its guises. Practice being quietly confident of your own self-worth. Be proud of your abilities, your skills and your values. These are all truisms, but that's because they are part of the same global consciousness as "Do as you would be done by" and "An it harm none, so mote it be". Being assertive helps make the world a better place.

Lead By Example

Do what you say you're going to do, when you say you'll do it. Even if you don't want to. Be the "you" that you'd want to be best friends with. And don't beat up on yourself if you get things wrong occasionally.

With thanks to Ted Rubin for the inspiration.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Blackmail Tweets - The Dark Side of Social Media

I'm a fan of Duncan Bannatyne OBE. That's right - he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to charity, especially children's charities. He's done a skydive for a little-known charity for amputee servicemen. He's not just a dour Dragon, he's a man who demonstrates integrity, passion and drive.

As a parent, I fully share and understand his anger and his reactions when some semi-evolved cretin decides to have a bit of fun at his expense by tweeting threats to his daughter and demanding cash.

Unfortunately for Duncan, the police and anybody else hit by this type of demented publicity seeking, this seems to be one of those cases where nobody in the tweetosphere has stopped to engage brain before putting Google into gear.

There is little to go on; a Moscow "internet cafe" IP, a few uploads, the name "Yuri Vasiliev".

From that, the public, possibly egged on by the thought of a share in a sizeable reward, have "found" the culprit. With the accuracy and lack of bias generally demonstrated by a torch and pitchfork wielding lynch mob, they have thrown real identities to the wolves.

Now, I have no idea if the freelance artist/web designer Yuri Vasiliev or the basketball player Yuri Vasiliev is the individual involved in the threatening tweets. But somehow, I doubt it.

Firstly, internet cafes are not secure. Key loggers, trojans and bots have a welcome home on internet cafe PCs and not all cafes have a system adminstrator devoted to their computers' wellbeing. It's possible that the Moscow IP is a proxy IP and is being used by others as part of an anonymised route through t'Interweb.

Secondly, how many blackmailers traditionally sign their real name to a very public blackmail threat? That's on the same evolutionary scale as posing for the security camera when you rob a bank.

Thirdly, look at the source of the blackmail notes. is the repository used by lulzsec, anonymous and others to promulgate hacked datasets. Would that be the first choice for a basketball player turned blackmailer? Or would it be the first choice of a spotty script kiddie with minimal emotional intelligence?

Fourthly, and with no disrespect to Duncan Bannatyne, that's a paltry sum of money to demand from somebody capable of offering £30,000 as a reward for information. I credit Duncan with the brains to work out that he's dealing with amateurs here; I think the £30k reward was deliberately chosen to lure this infantile blackmailer's mates out into the open.

Next, the email address. Despite the "" domain being used in the blackmail notes, most amateur detectives went hunting for email addresses. Oops. is one of the alternative domains offered by for a free email address. is, in turn, owned by EDN Sovintel. Guess what? There's an English signup too. You don't need to live in Russia to get an address.

Why do I think the English signup important?

Take a look at the wording of the threats, and then look at the metre. There is a certain metric inevitability about the English which is not there in Russian.

The metre appears to be similar (perhaps deliberately so) to some of the statements made by the Anonymous group via either "open letters" or their Twitter account @Anon_Central. "You should have expected us" was tweeted by Anonymous after the Sony hack in March 2011 and can be seen in this open letter to BMI. "We do not give up" is a quote from a video allegedly posted by a member of Anonymous on YouTube. "Expect us" is seen as Anonymous's calling card quote.
Then there's the copycat syndrome. A developer called Andrew Fairbairn demonstrated how easy it was to clone a pastebin item by replacing the words "Yuri Vasiliev" with the words "Brett Williams", thus adding to the whole mess. Brett Williams is one of the more inflammatory contributors on a facebook wall page. Judging by Mr. Fairbairn's tweets, Brett reacted in a predictably irate manner. It seems @AndrewFairbarn did the same with the cloned item using the name "Jack Hundley".

Finally, the style of the tweets intrigues me. If you send tweets via, it doesn't add in random quotation marks. If you tweet via your phone, it doesn't add in random quotes either.

But if you submit each part of the message via a command line script, it would be easy to add in one set of double quotes too many.

Looking at the tweets from that standpoint, each double quote marks the start of a new command line submission. Creating a tweetable command line version of a twitthis short url requires some basic OAuth scripting knowledge, then just put the following code in front of the url you want to shorten or mask: All in all, you're looking at some sort of shell script with typos.

I'd hazard a guess that we're looking at another young hacker. Of course, I could be wrong. I'm not a programmer myself, but this looks more like the work of a techie than any of the proposed "suspects".

In the meantime, there appear to have been no more actual threats; I sincerely hope that this means the police are closing in on the charmer who thinks this is an easy way to get an income online.

My best wishes to Duncan and his family. I hope they get this guy soon.

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Success Meme

Ever had one of those days where the same thing crops up over and over again? You keep seeing "For Sale" signs, or blue Saabs, or pink pushchairs.

It's a sign that you're focused on a particular goal, to the extent that you are more aware of evidence of that goal. So, if you've decided you want a new Zafira, you'll be more aware of the Zafiras that already exist in your area.

Today, I keep finding references to the word, Success. Blog posts, audio training, work-related emails, and a nice 3 minute movie from Simple Truths that I enjoyed so much, I just wanted to share it. Take a look at The Best of Success and you'll see what I mean.

If the definition of meme is "a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition analogous to the biological tranmission of genes", then network marketing success is a meme.

I really like the idea of a success meme. It suggests that, the more people are successful, the more will become successful in their wake. That resonates with me, which is probably why I'm seeing this word everywhere at the moment.

Here's to your Success.

Monday, June 20, 2011

So What Do We Do With The N00bs?

Depending on your age and hobbies, right now you're either thinking "What?", "Kill them off quickly!" or "WTF has this got to do with Network Marketing?"

In a previous job, I looked after the European games databases for Lord of The Rings Online (LoTRO). Like World of Warcraft, it's a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Like real life, there's quite a few n00bs involved.

n00bs, or noobs, are inexperienced and inept beginners, the sort of people who, in real life, have to be told that the reason their computer screen is dark is because they haven't switched it on yet. The ones who, left to their own devices, will make horrible mistakes in a split second that can wipe out 10 weeks of team productivity. They're the ones who type £1005 instead of £10.05 when you pay for something in the supermarket and then appear to have refunded the Nigerian GDP when the poor accountant looks at the till records.

If they survive the first few months of their first job/ MMORPG experience, they become newbs, beginners who are willing to learn from their mistakes - the ones who listen to others. Eventually, some of them will go on to become the better sort of experts. These are the ones who remember what it was like to be a noob, and go out of their way to help others.

We have noobs in network marketing too. But the standard response of the majority of network marketers is to let them feed themselves to the lions. They are the numbers in "the numbers game". The ones who, when they don't do anything spectacularly successful in their first few weeks, are left to die quietly of support malnutrition. The ones who have the usual MLM mantras thrown at them, despite the fact they have no frame of reference to build on.

We are failing our n00bs, and it's about time we stopped doing it. We can't call ourselves leaders if we set our team members loose in the middle of a reservoir with a leaky rowing boat and only one paddle. Yet that's what we're doing with our "Massive Results need Massive Action" and "How Much Effort? Enough!" soundbites.

Leadership is not just about recruiting team members and leaving them to sink or swim. It's about managing them, setting achievable targets with them, nudging them towards being more productive, more organised, more effective, more efficient, until they are capable of doing that on their own. It's about making sure each member of your team does that with their own team members. It's about helping our team understand that, just because we praise the fast track members, we're still determined to help every team member achieve their goals so that they can be proud of themselves, too.

If, after we've done all that, they quit anyway, that's fine. Let's make sure they don't quit before we've done our best by them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Please Don't Plagiarise

Plagiarism is wrong. There's absolutely no excuse to use somebody's work without giving them full credit for it. Not to mention the whole copyright perspective.

Put simply, anything I blog, write or podcast about is my copyright. It's been created in that format by me, using my words, my emotions. When I use other sources, I credit them and link to them. I don't use others' creativity and brand it as my own - to me, that's the antithesis of integrity.

In an increasingly linked-up internet world, it's easy to link to others - there are options in most blogs, YouTube videos etc. to share somebody's work whilst maintaining that acknowledgement that it is their work.

So, if you want to use the creative output of me and the thousands like me who invest time and effort into trying to communicate with others, use the sharing options you're provided with. If you can't find a share this button, ask the author directly - that's what the comments section is for. That way we get to know a little about who we're reaching with our message.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Power of Personality

What's your personal brand?

If you could sum that up in three words, what would they be?

Mine are Integrity, Loyalty, Resolve.

Integrity - the big one. For me, it covers being honourable, persistent, consistent, courageous. It means I don't make promises I can't deliver on; that I do my utmost to do what I say I'll do within the timescales I've committed to. I have the courage of my convictions.

Loyalty - to family and friends, customers and team members. It means I'll do everything I can to help you succeed in life. I'll support you, defend you, protect you. If you reject my loyalty, that has great power to hurt, but that won't stop me.

Resolve - the determination to carry on in the face of adversity. It has helped me survive some truly nasty life experiences, whilst allowing me to be true to my ideals of integrity and loyalty. It has been the missing piece of life's jigsaw for me - whenever I call upon it, I achieve what others believe to be impossible.

If you are living your life according to your personal values, those values are obvious to all who meet you. You are your own brand, regardless of outside perceptions.

If you're not living your life according to your personal values, why not? What can you do to start?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do You Have A Zombie Invasion Plan?

It appears that Leicester City Council has had to admit a lack of provision for zombie invasions.

Now, the news sites were coy about the identity of the concerned citizen, so I trotted over to a Freedom of Information site for further details. After all, I'm working in Leicestershire and I'd hate my Kleeneze work to be disrupted by the need to decapitate the living dead on the way back home.

It's interesting that the Council decided to go public before Robert Ainsley would have received their official response, although you have to applaud their decision to deal with the request well within the 20 day cutoff.

So what are your zombie invasion plans?

I'm not talking about the obvious (!) zombies - what are your plans to deal with the living dead on your team?

Why aren't they active? Are you doing enough to motivate them? Do they need support and guidance, or do they need pruning?

Would you rather coach and encourage, despite their lack of effort, or do you subscribe to a "shape up or ship out" approach?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Stop The Stupidity Now!

It had to happen sooner or later - I opened up my gmail to be greeted with the following Google-served advert:

Become a Herbalife Distributor - Signup Automatically - You don't need to talk to anybody

Just how desperate is this daft distributor, that he feels he'll only get team members if he can promise they don't have to interact with others?

Network Marketing is a proactive, people-focused business. If you don't talk to people, you don't succeed. If you're not active, you don't succeed. If you don't work hard, you don't succeed.

If you're not prepared to be active, to work hard and to build relationships with people, then don't be in a network marketing business. Get a low-paid job somewhere where you can live in a mindless vacuum and exist from day to day.

Don't waste your time. Don't waste that of your sponsor either. Be honest with yourself and what you're prepared to do with your future, make a decision and commit to it. One way or the other.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What Shape Is Your Safety Net?

One thing all new business owners and entrepreneurs have in common is the fear of the unknown. Despite all their resolve, all their research and skills, that first year in business for themselves is a leap of faith.

So it makes sense to have a safety net, be it a financial reserve that will cover essential outgoings for a year or a series of signed contracts that guarantee business income for the first few months.

When a new team member joins a network marketing organisation, they too are encouraged to have a safety net - usually expressed as "Start part-time". Team leaders are aware that many new recruits to their team will not have the skills or the personal resilience to cope easily with the hard work required to build their own business. Learning those skills whilst under pressure to replace a lost income is a prime cause for newcomers to quit the business building and go back to a 'real job'.

Eventually though, those fledgling business builders will feel the pressure of juggling two 'jobs'. At that point, all sorts of excuses are created to justify slowing down their efforts. Chief amongst those is the need for a pseudo-safety net, be it social (friends and family aren't supportive enough), financial (not enough money to build the business properly) or chronological (need a 48 hour day to do this properly).

We need to be aware of this tendency, in ourselves as well as within our team. A pseudo-safety net is nothing more than a ball and chain shackle, slowing us down and wearing us out. Real safety nets are there to cushion our unexpected descent before allowing us to get back on that tightrope.

We should make sure that we have our own social, financial and chronological safety nets, so that our team members can look, learn and copy.

Social - block out "us time" and "me time", then don't allow your business building efforts to impact on that valuable area.

Financial - tithe for profit and tithe for the future. Tithe your retail profits to cover business building expenses, and put all your bonus payments - that's the income you get from your company as you qualify up the payment plan - in a savings account.

Chronological - get organised, block out business time and stick to it. Don't allow anything else to impede your productivity during that essential worktime. Treat your timekeeping as though your employer was watching you.

Don't let your safety net be the wrong shape - make sure it's there to catch you, not hold you back or imprison you in your comfort zone.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Picture Your Success - Then Act On It!

If you could pick an animal to represent your self-image, what would it be?

Would it be a lion? A magpie? An elephant? A slug?

That animal says a lot about your image of yourself - there's a thousand words of self-talk wrapped up in that picture.

Now, if you'd been asked the same question as a child, what would your answer have been?

Would you have picked the same animal?

No, thought not.

Now, if you picked an animal to represent the best you could possibly be, the self you would choose if you knew you could not fail, what would it be?

An eagle? A dragon? A phoenix? A chameleon?

What would it take for you to move your self image from its current animal to the one representing your best possible self?

Try this exercise:

Find a picture of the animal representing your current self-image, and another representing your best possible self. Put them somewhere where you'll see them every day - on your bedroom door, the mirror, your fridge, your computer's background photo.

Every time you look at those photos, re-affirm your decision to move from where you are now to what you want to become. After a while, you'll find yourself seeking out the self-development you need to move on. Create your own mantra about the person you want to be. Recite it 3 times every day, so that it locks into your subconcious. Ask yourself every night "Have I done my best today? What can I do tomorrow to improve?"

Make sure your answers are positive; don't beat yourself up about things you haven't done, or haven't succeeded at. Success comes from taking one small step after another.
For myself, I've come to realise that the animal that best personifed my behaviour (honed by life's struggles, including divorce and 3 years of domestic violence) was this:

Bunny2 © Shanna Cramer
What I actually want my self-image to be (and believed myself to be as a child) is this:

Amur Tiger © Tom Curtis

... and of course, what I'm in the process of becoming at the moment is this:

Tiger Rabbit

Friday, June 03, 2011

Fibs, Lies and Statistics

A news article caught my eye today, reminding me of just how a biased viewpoint can distort reality.

The UK government's Office of National Statistics (ONS) released a "nugget" purporting to be a "brief analysis" of commuting data for October - December 2009. Those who know me will realise just how irritated I am about these statistics by my use of quotation marks.

The associated data download comprises of four tiny tables designed to feed the online charts, rather than a body of raw data that can be independently analysed. The ONS could have plucked these figures out of thin air, for all I can tell.

The UK gets split into "London" and "Rest of UK". Speaking as somebody who used to commute to London, "Rest of UK" is a bl***y big area.

What really got me mad, though, is the following data:

Now, ignoring the fact that the totals don't add up to 100, let alone match, look at the figures for bus, train and underground use. Tyne & Wear, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham - they all have comprehensive public transport networks, yet we're led to believe that the whole of the UK put together uses fewer buses and trains for work journeys than Londoners do. I wish I'd realised that when I was stuck in 2 hour each way public transport commutes to Birmingham. The volume of humanity seemed pretty close to that of London in the rush hour.

To make it worse, the Independent's own graphic breaks a few data visualisation rules in its own right:

Take a look at the commuting chart - surely the "Rest of the UK" circle should be larger for the 46 - 60 minute commute?

Without the underlying facts, all the pretty pictures mean nothing. Which leads me to today's questions.

What pretty pictures are you painting about your network marketing business? What fibs are you telling about your performance and your activity? What does the raw data underlying your business tell you? What do you mean, you don't keep statistics?

*"Fibs, Lies and Statistics" is believed to be the original version of the quote that Mark Twain attributed to Disraeli. There's a nice Wikipedia article on Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke too. Don't say this blog's not entertaining (not to mention able to head off on a tangent and never return...)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Where are You on the Mastery Learning Curve?

The news that Bethany College, USA, had added a Network Marketing and Servant Leadership degree to its curriculum intrigued me. Needless to say the usual nay-sayers are out in force, lambasting the college board for their insanity in trying to "legitimise" network marketing and pointing out their negative statistics about the industry.

Yet, despite the prolific output of those who feel "it's all just a pyramid scheme", the statistics on the US DSA website give a better picture. Over $28 billion sales in 2009, in the height of a recession, with 16 million distributors of whom 84% are female, 92.5% work part-time and 77% are married.

Of those 16 million distributors, just under 5 million are inactive, and just over 4 million distributors only buy products for personal use. That leaves 3.7 million distributors and 3.2 million team/group leaders to retail the lion's share of those $28 billion sales.

The question is, how many of those buying products for personal use would at least retail properly if they got the right coaching? Maybe a degree course isn't such a bad idea after all?

Take a look at the mastery learning curve chart below. This pattern plays out repeatedly in our industry; the timeline can be from 3 months to 10 years, depending on the company and the distributor involved:

Superstars (those with unstoppable focus, limitless cash and a really strong family support network) will go onwards and upwards. Those are the ones we all look at on stage in conferences, applaud like mad, then go home and think, "I'm never going to be able to do the business like that." They get there through a lot of hard work and make sacrifices that many of us cannot, or choose not to, do.

Mastery Apprentices are those of us who stick with it, but spend a long time being disorganised and not "getting out of our comfort zone". When we finally find out what works, usually through trial, error, and a lot of Life getting in the way, we can catch up with the Superstars amazingly quickly. We relate better to a lot of new starters in the industry, and we have personal testimonials of earning realistic amounts whilst still juggling home, work, family and social activities.

The rest? Well, they're the ones who aren't supported properly, for whatever reason. That may be because they are genuinely uncoachable - coaching is a two-way process; one-way coaching is lecturing and extremely enervating for the coach. Or, they have personal issues that cause them to feel unloved and unwanted despite their best efforts and those of their sponsor - those personal issues can include very negative family members. Of course, there are poorly trained sponsors as well, who perpetuate a cycle of poor training in their turn. The Unsupported will quit once they perceive the work to be too hard, too difficult, or taking up too much of their time, unless their sponsors can help them move out of their motivational trough and find their resolve.

Where are you on the chart?

Friday, May 27, 2011

What Is Holding You Back?

A contribution of mine to the Slight Edge community site could help you look at your own limiting behaviour.

Claire had a problem with mirrors.

Not the seven-years-bad-luck kind. This was more a mirrors-don't-exist problem.

She had a nice feature mirror in her living room; it was there to "open the room". She never consciously stood in front of it and looked - it had as much significance as a department store print.

Then there was the porter's mirror in the hallway, conveniently situated so that Claire needed to wear killer heels to be at eyelevel. Claire wore ballerina pumps.

There was the shaving mirror in the bathroom, but that was for her son's use. Claire didn't need it.

There was no mirror in her bedroom.

Claire didn't even realise she had a problem until she went shopping for a housewarming gift with her daughter. Her daughter selected a beautiful full-length mirror, along with a number of other items. Claire paid for everything, but it wasn't until they got to her daughter's new home that she realised she'd left the mirror behind at the store.

Claire just couldn't pick up the phone to contact the store about it - she gave her daughter sufficient cash to go and buy a new one, went home and stared at her empty bedroom wall.

She hadn't been born like this, or grown up with a needless phobia - like every other teenage girl, she'd sung in front of her wardrobe mirror, hairbrush in hand, diva to the fore, ignoring her mother's comments about her being a show-off.

She knew what had caused this. She'd lied to herself for too long about having moved on. She needed therapy. Unfortunately, she couldn't afford it.

Claire was proud to be a survivor. 22 years ago, she'd left her abusive partner with nothing more than what she stood up in, walked into a lawyer's office and started the fight to regain custody of her children. She learnt patience, tolerance and strategy by reading books in her local library. She worked at two jobs to ensure she could show she had enough money to support her family. She coped with harassment, abuse and a judge who thought she was barely capable of being a decent mum. She did what she needed to do to move forward, whatever it took.

It left her with scars. She wasn't prepared to indulge in self-pity, so pain was hidden away in locked boxes, scattered around the attics of her memory. One of those boxes has a mirror in it.

It was time to unlock the box.

She drove to another store before her courage gave out, and bought a cheap full-length mirror, the sort you stick onto a wardrobe door. Before she fixed it to the door, she got changed into an outfit she knew her daughter thought she looked good in. Then she put up the mirror, stepped back and looked.

She saw the past, heard the words again, felt the anguish and the physical pain. She looked away.

- I am a survivor. Whatever it takes.

She looked at the mirror again and saw herself. A little overweight, scars on her face caused 22 years ago, but slim and hey - her daughter was right - those browns and greens were a good colour combination, they made her eyes greener.

- I am a survivor. Whatever it takes.

Another look, this time imagining her family around her, smiling and happy. It was getting easier, now.

- I am a survivor. I am no longer afraid of my own image.

She turned away. From now on, she was going to work on opening the other boxes, one at a time. And soon, she'd buy a nicer mirror.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Simon Cowell's Reality Check Interview

Simon Cowell is famous for his abrasive and acerbic quotes on wannabe pop stars - who is going to forget the classic, "If you win this competion, we have failed"?

But Simon Cowell providing advice to the network marketing industry? That would be worth listening to; luckily, Eric Worre had the idea first.

Anybody who wants to get on in network marketing really needs to subscribe to Eric Worre's videos. Today's video is a perfect example of the worth he brings to the industry (and no, I'm not an affiliate, etc.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

No Rapture? No Problem!

I feel sorry for Harold Camping and his followers - not only has the Rapture turned into a damp squib with the Grimsvotn volcano the only indication of the Tribulation, but there's a plethora of mugs, T-shirts, mousemats and bumper stickers all poking fun at the whole concept.

The problem is that Camping's pronouncement that the end of the world is nigh was just another "Get Rich Quick" scheme. The holy were going to be instantaneously transported to Heaven, presumably passing GO and collecting their £200 as they went. The rest of us were doomed; we weren't the Chosen Ones. People who should have known better spent their life-savings on advertisements, post-Rapture pet care schemes, etc., just to make sure they were in with a chance to win the ultimate lottery.

What these people forgot is that there's no reward unless you put the hard work in first.

Consider good drivers - they weren't excellent and safe drivers the second they passed their driving test; they didn't become excellent thanks to a lucky dip prize. They built up their skills with hundreds, if not thousands of hours of repetitive practice. Surely the journey to Heaven takes the same repetitive practice, or am I missing something?

Isn't it time that we all stopped buying in to what I refer to as the Queen mentality (that's the band, not Her Majesty)?

"I want it all and I want it now" makes for a good rock lyric, but it's a really bad way to live your life.

Friday, May 20, 2011

When the Student is Ready, The Teacher Will Appear

Somehow, by following links in one of my RSS feeds, I ended up reading Derek Sivers' blog. Within minutes, I'd added his feed, and was speed reading some of his book reviews. Derek was the brains behind CDBaby and has a wonderfully creative way of building businesses. Any musos and/or code geeks out there definitely need to look at this website of his. I really wish I'd come up with the name Thoughts Limited for an organisation ...

Over and over again, just as I reach a point where I say to myself, "I'm ready to learn, but I don't know where to start", the Universe gives me a very large clue as to what to do next. Does this ever happen to you, and if so, do you recognise it for what it is, or do you only realise after the event?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Slight Edge Community

Jeff Olson, author of The Slight Edge (Revised Edition) - Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success, has created The Slight Edge Community.

It looks like an oasis in the midst of all of the self-promoting, self-serving "communities" that ostensibly claim to support those of us who want to improve our networking skills whilst spamming us with exhortations to buy the latest upgraded membership package.

I truly hope it succeeds where others have failed.

There are some very talented, very open people who have signed up in the early days of this fledgling network that deserve a wider audience. Tobias Sedillos, for example, has done his best to encapsulate his perspective in his first blog post. Karen Miller is a genuinely nice person whose beliefs shine through in whatever she blogs about.

For an idea of the aims of this new networking group, I suggest you read Renee Olson's post. Maybe I'll see you there from time to time?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Why Aren't You Successful?

A newsblog article caught my eye today, prompting some introspection of my own.

If you look at your network marketing business, you can, as I and others do, justify your results due to a number of factors including the time available to you, other demands on that time and so on. If you're focused on justification rather than results, those factors will include the weather, rottweilers, lack of chocolate or whatever your preferred excuse is.

We can play the self-development game and point out we're better than we were, we're reading all the right books, we're really trying hard but ...

We can toy with self-analysis and before you know it we're on this month's sixth 90-day plan.

But when it comes right down to it, there's only one question that we need to ask ourselves each day. There's only one question that deserves our total honesty, regardless of how painful the answer is.

Why am I not successful yet?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Go With The Flow - A Timely Reminder

It's my experience that the Universe has a tendency to give you a good kick in the ankles every so often, to remind you to stay on the right track.

A bit of background - I spent 4 years as an apprentice, 2 years as a design engineer, cross-trained as a technical author, got promoted to team leader within 12 months of cross-training, got promoted again to project manager (and trained as a PRINCE2 Practitioner), avoided redundancy by cross-training as a software tester, cross-trained again as a database administrator, then got made redundant (along with the other 599 employees in that division).

After several years temping/contracting around young children, I got employed as a Bills of Material engineer, designed a specialist corporate database before leaving for a job paying £6k more, where I sped through the ranks from senior developer to acting technical director, via managing a team of 14 developers as well as managing the outsourced development of certain projects. When the company went into liquidation I did more contracting, including project management, before needing to get enough payslips to justify remortgaging my house to get my ex's name off the mortgage.

Again, in the space of 3 years I'd gone from developer to senior developer to acting IT director, this time via project management of a business intelligence team. Circumstances surrounding the fallout of my divorce then meant I needed to change jobs to work closer to home and I went in as a senior database specialist before moving to a company where, I thought, I would be able to work my way up the corporate pecking order again.

The latest nudge towards my self-employed destiny got delivered via a corporate email, which suggests that, either nobody bothered to read my CV when I applied for this particular post, or they read it and thought I was lying:

Hi Anna

I have had an opportunity to catch up with Mark following his return from annual leave and he has asked me to pass on the following feedback regarding your application for the Project Manager role.

The main reasons that we chose not to progress your application on this occasion was particularly because we were looking for an experienced Project Manager with significant experience of working and leading a Business Intelligence team. As you are no doubt aware the role has significant people management responsibility (15-20 FTE's), managed through 2 direct reports, we are looking for an individual who can demonstrate that they have managed large teams, with significant emphasis on driving excellent performance through delivery of business wide projects.

The role, we believe is not ideal for an individual who is looking for their first project management role, or who is looking to move away from a predominantly technical role into and into a mainstream project management role.

I appreciate that this may have come as a disappoint to you, and I do hope that it will not discourage you from applying for positions in the future.

kind regards

I won't be "applying for positions in the future"; there seems little point when the company I work for can't be bothered to give honest feedback based on actually reading my CV rather than on assumptions based on my current role within the company.

I will be working flat out on building my skills so I can develop an excellent team of productive distributors.

I don't need corporate validation to prove anything to myself. I'm grateful to have a timely reminder about that.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What's The Point?

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks or months where you struggle to survive your daily routine? When the thought of doing one tiny little thing more fills you with dread, to the point where you just want to shut out the world? Where playing Solitaire on the computer is infinitely more preferable that the whole slew of tasks that are piling up, demanding attention?

Have you ever just asked yourself, "What is the point of trying any more?"

The real question is, What do you do or think next?

Do you decide to stop striving for a better future, one that allows you to be everything you are capable of, just because you're not achieving your goals quickly and easily?

Or do you recognise that you could do more, or do what you are doing differently, in order to move forward?

Climbing a mountain is a slow and laborious process, but the effort is worth it for the views at the top. Find another path towards the top of your mountain and look forward to what's waiting for you at the end of that journey.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

8 Steps For Dealing With Burnout Blues

We've all been there - days when we feel that there aren't enough hours in the day; that we can't face another 'No', despite subscribing to the "Some Will, Some Won't, So What?" philosophy; that we can't cope with the emotional rollercoaster of keeping our loved ones "on-side" with our business plans.

Sometimes those days turn into weeks. Once they turn into months, it's really difficult to get back on track.

So how do you deal with the Burnout Blues?

I find the following works well for me:
  1. Remind yourself that you're not the first, or only, one to feel like this. I'm not the only single parent with unco-operative offspring, a partner who expects me to focus on them rather than the business, a 2 hour commute on work days, a job where I get 30 minutes at most to talk to potential team members during the day, a choice between retail business building or housework.
  2. Stop the guilt trips. The house/garden aren't perfect? You feel judged by others? Don't add to your misery by picking on yourself. Accept you can do what you can do and move on.
  3. Prioritise and plan. Add in blocks of time for everything that you are involved in. That includes housework, gardening, fixing the car, going to the pub, spending time with loved ones.
  4. Publish the plan.  Make sure your family know what you are doing and when. That way, they know just how busy you are and can make their own adjustments. They may even offer to help out in some ways.
  5. Give yourself a day off every week. As far as possible, make that a day off from the rest of the daily grind as well. No work, minimal household chores, get someone else to cook. When you're doing two jobs, you need to recharge your batteries or you'll burnout repeatedly.
  6. Set rewards, put aside some of your retail profits to pay for them. Caught up on your paperwork/housework? Sponsored or retailed to a weekly target? Make sure you incentivise yourself - treat yourself to a massage, buy that book/pair of shoes/DVD. Note, this is additional to any material goals such as "buy a new car/washing machine/tv".
  7. Re-motivate yourself. Listen to that Jim Rohn audio, read the self-development book you've been avoiding.
  8. Remind yourself that you're still learning. Nobody goes from Apprentice to Master in less than 7 to 10 years. Remember, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master any skill.
What rewards would you set aside for yourself?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Hidden Cost of Poor Customer Service

What's the true cost of letting down your customers?

Statistics released in late 2010 showed that the UK average lost sales per customer were £248. In other words, if you upset a customer enough so that they never buy from you again, that costs the economy an average of £248 each and every time. That totals up to over £15 billion per year of lost revenue spread over the whole economy. The retail sector alone lost £1.2 billion through poor customer service.

That statistic prompted a certain fashion retailer based in the Midlands to do their own research and they discovered the true cost of poor customer service - and it's staggering.

For each upset customer, that retailer loses £20,000 of sales, due to the "pass it on" principle.

You get good customer service? You give the retail assistant a smile. You don't congratulate the manager on having a great team or staff member. You might tell 2 or 3 others, but hey, we're British, we don't evangelise advice on where to shop.

You get poor customer service? All of a sudden, you're an evangelist. You change you Facebook status, you tweet your disapproval, you go out of your way to warn people not to shop there ever again.

Negative networking in action.

How do I know this? My 9-5 job is with that fashion retailer.

What an opportune reminder to work on my integrity as well as my customer service skills in my own business.

How do you rate your own customer service? What is your approach when dealing with disgruntled customers? Do you feel you can improve?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Life! The Soap Opera - Episode 3

There are times when I seriously wonder if I'm borderline insane. We live in a society where striving to be your best is no longer acknowledged, let alone rewarded, yet I still try to push my way forward out of my comfort zone through self-development and personal challenges.

In the past few weeks, my retail activity has slowed and my recruitment activity needs serious TLC. There's a number of factors involved:
  1. Due to rising fuel costs, I'm now car-sharing. Unfortunately, it's adding 6 miles and another 15 minutes to my existing 90 minute round trip each day, and I doubt if either of us would pick each other as anything more than a work-based colleague. Despite a number of efforts on my part, it's very difficult to prolong an in-car conversation past the "do anything last night?" stage. Obviously, my conversational skills need some work.
  2. Office politics is alive and well, which means that I'm getting sucked into various disputes no matter how hard I try to stay neutral. Only those who've worked in this sort of atmosphere for any length of time know how enervating that can be. If I didn't have my Kleeneze business to focus on, I'd be heading for a long stress-induced break from work.
  3. I'm working for a company that has an intriguing approach to personnel matters. My personal development plan, for example, states that I will be rated on, amongst other things, identifying and attending certain training courses. Despite identifying 6 separate courses, and trying to sort out the details for two of them directly when it became obvious that my line manager had no intention of doing anything, I have not received any training and am extremely unlikely to do so before my next review. Plus, despite asking for feedback regarding the team leader position I was unsuccessful in applying for, I have received none. I don't enjoy being set up to fail - it's one of the reasons I want to run my own business.
  4. The workload in the office is so great that our team resource is spread too thinly, leaving all of us trying to fit 80 hours work into every week. Unsurprisingly, this doesn't provide good service, nor does it motivate the team. What it does do is ensure I have very little time during the day to field Kleeneze calls.
  5. My family is going through one of those phases that drains you of both time and vitality. I have a mother whose health is deteriorating rapidly, one son who is trying to avoid school due to various issues (bullying, poor teaching, etc.) and my eldest son and my partner are trying to re-enact elements of a David Attenborough programme on male lions' territorial displays. Again, I'm finding more and more time is taken up in dealing with all of this.
I need to act decisively and I need to act fast, or my initial momentum will be derailed completely.

I'm taking the time out this evening to revise my plans (see my blog post for more details), after which it will be full steam ahead on building a large enough team to allow me to quit the commuter life for good. Of my current salary, I spend 20% on petrol, so I only need to match 80% of my current salary consistently to provide an equivalent standard of living.

Tomorrow will mark the start of a whole new 90 day plan. I intend to stop commuting no later than 1 March 2012. Time to make that happen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Networking Mastery - Don't Poison The Well

It never ceases to amaze me. People join a network marketing organisation and then completely ignore the definitions of both network and marketing.

Network - an association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide mutual assistance, helpful information, etc.

Marketing - the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

What's often forgotten is the hidden network within network marketing - the network of your customers, prospects and prospective customers.
We are all interconnected. John Donne wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself;" and "all mankind is of one author, and is one volume;". Thich Nhat Hanh coined the term interbeing to indicate the same concept. What we do affects others.
This week and last week, my retail results were poor. Part of this was due to my needing to devote a little extra time to Life! (family issues, broken boiler, ill-health, heavy workload in the day-job, etc.). That's not a concern; occasionally we all need to prioritise something other than our business goals.
What is a concern is the conversation I had with a lovely lady who has never ordered from me, and is unlikely to ever order from Kleeneze, Betterware, Avon or any other network marketing company.
The reason? In the 8 weeks before Christmas, she placed 3 orders with Kleeneze distributors (not me!) and 1 order with Betterware. Nobody contacted her to let her know there were delays with the goods; nobody delivered them either. That abysmal customer service has guaranteed that others who would have provided better service are now prevented from doing so - she never wants to see another catalogue through her door. There is nothing anybody can do at the moment to persuade her otherwise.
If I learn nothing else from that conversation, I know this:
Don't poison the well for those who come after you.
If you don't provide good customer service, you destroy a potential customer network, not only for yourself, but for others. That's not a good way to live our lives, personally or professionally.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ten Tips to Survive MLM Partnership Problems

Many who get involved in network marketing start up on their own, with their partner/spouse/significant other on the outside looking in. There's a number of reasons for this, the most common being the partner's resistance to the concept or experience of either self-employment or network marketing.

So how do you cope when your formerly-resistant other half decides that it's a good idea to formalise the odd bit of help they give you by signing up as either a joint distributor or as your downline (depending on your corporate model)?

How do you cope when they insist on doing things their way, due to their superior managerial skills, their brilliant sales pitches or their wonderful networking talent?

How do you cope when their idea of support is to order you about, sidestep your suggestions and ignore all the hard work you've done/are doing to build your business so far?

How do you persuade them to work with you towards a brighter future, yet stop them translating your concerns into "Get the heck out of my life, you control-freak"?

Not easy, is it?

There's probably a need for a "Male network marketers are from Mars...." book. Until I write it (!), all I can do is offer the following tips from my experience:
  1. Ignore the tone of voice, if you are the sort of person who reacts to aural cues. It's highly unlikely your newly-enthused partner realises how they are coming across.
  2. Identify one point of conflict that you want to address. Don't ever consider sorting out more than one issue at a time.
  3. Smile! (It's very difficult to sound angry and bitter with a genuine smile on your face; if you can't conjure up a genuine smile first time, think of something good that the two of you have experienced and then smile).
  4. Acknowledge their passion for the business and let them know how much you appreciate their support.
  5. Explain that you have been working on building the business for x months/years prior to teaming up and that you are accustomed to doing things in a certain way.
  6. Thank them for the flurry of new ideas that they've put forward and accept that there are other ways of working within the business.
  7. Explain that you would like to work together as a team of equals on one small area of the business, so that you can both get used to the other's working style.
  8. Negotiate which area of the business you will work together on first.
  9. Set specific, measureable, achievable, result-oriented and targetted (SMART) goals, such as "We will work together to contact 20 prospects, using the same checklist, script and tracking sheet, with the aim of signing up 1 person each by 1st March 2011. We will review our progress together 48 hours from now and we will continue to review on a weekly basis."
  10. Reward yourselves for working together.
How do you manage these occasional conflicts?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Einstein's Insanity Definition vs Duplication

A much touted Einstein quote is:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

In Network Marketing/MLM, we get told to make sure that our systems and processes are duplicatable. Millions of internet pages, thousands of magazine articles, hundreds of thousands of books - all telling us to allow our downlines to duplicate our behaviour.

We need a sanity check here, not to mention a reality check.

Duplicating your upline's behaviour only works if that behaviour breed success. Otherwise, you're just duplicating failure and that's insane.

Expecting your downline to duplicate your behaviour and systems only works if you yourself stick to the following mantra:

Focused, persistent and consistent action generates success

Focused - because splitting your attention between a portfolio of businesses rarely works and is never duplicatable. Without targetted goals and a plan to achieve them, you will fail.

Persistent - because nothing worthwhile is ever achieved if you only work at it sporadically. You don't become a champion swimmer by occasionally dipping your toe in the jacuzzi.

Consistent - because you only build trust in others if your behaviour or systems are known and understood. Being unusual, unpredicatable or just plain unreliable is no use in business. It's not that much use in creative matters either, despite the claims of many.

Action - because having the greatest attitude, plans and mindset in the universe is no use at all if you do nothing to advance towards your goals.

Nike got it right with their "Just Do It" campaign. When all is said and done, you only succeed by just doing the work, regardless of weather, personal issues and negative comments from well-meaning friends.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Network Marketing for Beginners - The 3 Rs

You may have heard about the 3 Rs of Education - Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic.

There are 3 Rs in network marketing too, and this time, you don't need to mis-spell to make the mnemonic fit.

The 3 Rs are Reflect, Revise and Refocus.


This should be done at the beginning of every action plan, whether you plan out 7, 28 or 90 days of activity at a time. It should also be done if your tracking shows that you're in danger of missing your targets.

Is what I'm doing effective? - Am I getting in touch with enough prospects? Is my retail turnover sufficient to support my goals? Is my customer service excellent? How many hours am I spending to achieve my results? Are my family threatening to change the locks if I don't spend more time with them? Whose advice should I follow?

Could I be doing it better, or differently? - What can I do to improve the situation? Would more customers help? How can I generate more leads? Where are my constraints - money, time, or both? What can I set aside in my life to help with building my business?

What are my options? - List the options available for the situation you wish to reflect on. This is the time to brainstorm, regardless of whether you choose any of the options or not. Options can include time management techniques, asking for referrals from customers or prospects, rearranging your personal or business budget, etc.


Go over your existing plans, tracker sheets and targets. If you haven't got any, create them! Ask yourself the following questions to identify the changes you need to implement:

What do I need to change to improve my results?
How will I implement the changes?
Over what timescale?

Produce new plans, tracking and targets to enable you to take action.


Now that you've taken time out of your busy schedule to improve how you operate your business, ask yourself the following:

Why am I doing this?
What are my goals?
What are my targets?

Write the answers down and keep them somewhere where you can refer to them regularly. Better still, commit the answers to memory.

Once you've done this exercise, put it into practice straight away and track your new results. Never rest on your laurels - you should aim to improve with every iteration of your plan.