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?