Mike Muhney | CEO & Co-Founder of VIPorbit

Blog Archives

The What, the Why, and the How of Success

Categories: Blog | Posted by: VIPorbit

If you are like most people, you want to be more successful—be that in your career, your recognition from others, or even your social network. Perhaps you are applying yourself such that you believe your journey of improvement is taking you towards your definition of success.

Becoming what you want requires evaluating the steps you need to take to realize your goals. It requires stepping outside your comfort zone. It also requires you to make investments in yourself. And, it requires a determined commitment on your part for which no amount of self-help books on success, inspirational speeches, or encouragement from others will compensate. In its purest form, commitment doesn’t require any of those things.

In order to get where you’re going, it helps to acknowledge what might deter you. I suggest taking a look at yourself from some other angles, you know, those “blind spots” that we all have trouble seeing. Don’t be fooled into believing that everything is fine or “under control.” As the saying goes, even if you’re on the right track you’ll still get run over if you stand still. Instead, let’s consider these three essential components that may help to shine a spotlight on those blind spots: ability, motivation, and attitude.

The What: Ability

Ability is the possession of a natural aptitude, whether physical or mental, in your power to perform. But possession does not automatically translate to the application of it. If you subscribe to the saying that there is greatness in all of us, the core of that greatness starts with the raw material that you must discover and from which that greatness will derive.

We often hear the phrase “find your passion.” Discovering your passion is the genesis, but it is only a starting point on your journey. Assuming that you have a clear grasp on what your passion is, it then has to ultimately be married to an innate ability that with further practice, training, and commitment will manifest the potential within you.

The Why: Motivation

Motivation is a force or condition of eagerness such that it causes you to act. Recognizing and acknowledging your ability is they key, turning that key in the ignition of your mind requires motivation. It has been said that there is no greater personal loss than having ability and doing nothing with it. With regards to the potential for personal achievement and fulfillment of your purpose here on earth goes, I agree.

Herein, though, lay a secret that is so often overlooked. I believe this could be what causes your motivation to live or die. The secret is the difference between having a self-serving motivation versus a motivation that seeks to serve others. Winston Churchill said “We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give.” In my experience, for motivation to truly thrive, it must be directed toward the purpose of giving rather than getting.

The How: Attitude

Attitude is the Holy Grail, the ongoing culmination of your ability and motivation. It represents the feelings or frame of mind that determine your behavior. After all, no one can see your ability or your motivation. They see only your actions; they hear only your words. In effect, your behavior is your brand, and your brand reveals your destiny. If birthing motivation begins in your mind, then building the attitude that gives it life comes from your heart.

There are thousands of examples of people—celebrities and civilians—who made something of themselves by joining ability, motivation, and attitude to reach their definition of success. But even if we recognize them all as “professionals” in the sense of being at the top of their game, you must understand that what it took to get there will actually intensify in order to stay there.

In a nutshell, ability is what you are capable of doing, motivation determines what you do with it, and most importantly attitude determines how well you do it. The greatest frontier of opportunity to achieve success, however you define it, exists in your mind. To become what you envision, there are no shortcuts. Start by examining whether or not you are capable of producing more than what you are presently accomplishing. As Mark Twain said, “There are a thousand excuses for failure, but never a good reason.”

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Protect Your Professional Edge

Categories: Blog | Posted by: VIPorbit

Not only do we have access to countless types of media and information created by others, we are now able to record, organize, and recall our own personal information in more ways than ever before possible. If you can’t remember where you parked your car, it’s not a problem. Just click the fob on your keychain and listen for that telltale beep. If you lose your iPhone or iPad, again, it’s not a problem. You can use the Find My iPhone/iPad app, assuming you originally enabled your device, of course. If you’re not quite sure how to get somewhere, just plug in the address in your car’s Navigation system, or you could even use a Navigation app on your smartphone. If you forget where you saved that picture from your last vacation, or worse, a legal document that you now desperately need, don’t panic. With online storage like iCloud® or Dropbox®, you can access files anywhere. The examples are numerous, but they all point to the fact that technology is an ever-present part of our lives, saving us time, effort, and even memory.

The Risks and Rewards

Along with the perks I mentioned, there are a few pitfalls. Having access to these tools has negatively affected our ability to actually remember the little things. And of course, there are more things to remember than ever before. Do you know 10 telephone numbers? Okay, ten might have been pushing it. How about five? Yeah, me neither. If we can’t remember five phone numbers, what leads us to believe that we are capable of remembering the essential details of our business relationships?

Person, Place, or Thing?

Remembering, or worse forgetting, important details can have a major impact on our bottom line. Are we willing to risk our livelihoods on our ability to remember the kinds of details that determine our success? Let’s start by sorting what we need to “remember” into the two categories of “People” and “Everything Else.” Although I could, I won’t make a case for which one is more important. But I do believe people incorrectly assume that remembering details concerning “People” is secondary to everything else.

Memory for People Trumps Memory for Things

Most of us are much better at the “things” side than they are at the “people” side. Why? Because those are the details we deal with more often. We have all felt the pain of lost account information or the sadness of deleted photographs. However, many have yet to discover the success that comes from diligently cataloging whom you met with, when or how you met them, their potential interest in your product or service, or even what follow up action they are expecting from you.

Higher Capacity, Higher Demand

Just because we have more gadgets with more features doesn’t mean we are any better at using them. In the same way that “going paperless” doesn’t mean less paperwork, using technology to manage your contacts, calendars, and communication still requires diligence. Most of us schedule appointments. Most of us even show up on time. But what if you could easily scroll through a prospect or client’s “dossier” to review the entire history of your relationship before you sit down with them? Imagine being able to reference that little detail few of us could remember on our own, demonstrating excellence and professionalism that seals the deal. Little detail. Huge impact!

It’s Not Always Business or Pleasure

The lines between our personal and professional lives no longer exist, for most of us anyhow. We are now living in the era of Bring-Your-Device-to-Work. As a result, many of us are managing work and play in one device, which is convenient, as it is sometimes impossible to distinguish one from the other. Personal information about business contacts can help you build stronger rapport. Including professional information about your golf buddies or fellow soccer parents can expand your network of resources, allowing you to make the right introductions that benefit your friends, colleagues, and even your clients.

Protect Your Professional Edge

Protecting your files is necessary, as is finding your keys, your device, or your destination. But it’s not always what you know. In business, more often than not, it’s “who” you know, what you know about them, and how you can provide the most value to others, setting yourself apart from your competition.

Today, we all have more means than ever before to backup our memory for the “People” side of our lives, in the form of apps and applications for our phones, tablets, notebooks, and desktops. Hard work? Perhaps. We’re expected to maintain an exorbitant amount of information, but we don’t have to remember it all on our own. Mobile devices and the relationship management apps available for them can help us deal with more people, more effectively than ever before. Protect your memory for the “People” stuff and discover the benefits of putting your technology to work!

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A Different Take on “Hosting”

Categories: Blog | Posted by: VIPorbit

The word “hosting” has several definitions. Lately, with the shift toward a high-tech focus, the word “hosting” might conjure images of a server farm, with rows and rows of servers, network switches, and routers. Hosting might bring to mind a medical scenario, such as the host of an implanted organ or a microorganism attacking its host. I’d like to suggest another perspective a little more applicable to business, and that is hosting guests, such as one might invite to an event. Hosting, in the sense of a business or networking event, conveys possible gaiety, enjoyment, or even celebration of an achievement or an acknowledgment of some kind. Regardless of the reason for the gathering, for an event to in fact be categorized as such, there must be guests in attendance. Whom we choose to invite plays a large part in the success of the event.

Hosting Is an Investment

Those in your professional and personal circles represent some of your most valuable assets, often referred to as social capital. The people in your networks and the ways in which we all contribute to each other can be measured, though not always in monetary ways. Few people understand the value of hosting better than author Judy Robinett. She is a renowned expert on the power of connecting with people. In her newest book, How To Be A Power Connector: The 5-50-150 Rule For Turning Your Business Network Into Profits (McGraw-Hill, Spring 2014), she addresses the value of understanding relationships and the various networking elements of which they are comprised. She also examines the more crucial components of the relationship between whom you know and their respective networks. As she states, “Relationships are about building connections with others who must (emphasis added) feel that you have their best interests at heart, and vice versa.”

Hosting Is an Opportunity

Imagine yourself as the host of a grand event. Now, imagine your guests, those whom you’ve invited personally and those they might have brought with them. Each one represents potential: connections to be made, growth to be achieved, new circles and networks of friends, colleagues, and yes, perhaps even customers. Imagine all of these possibilities all stemming from one spectacular event. A thoughtful host judges the success or failure of their events by the experience they were able to create for their guests. Start thinking of your customers as guests, and the experience you want to provide for them. Thinking of them in this fashion should lead you through the necessary steps to deliver a positive and emotionally evocative experience. How is this done? It’s not difficult, but it does require authenticity. Here are five ways to conduct your business as if it were an event your customers would be delighted to attend:

  1. Prioritize each guest’s personal expectation and experience.
  2. Demonstrate respect and courtesy at all times.
  3. Add a personal touch or detail, where possible.
  4. Equip your staff to act as gracious co-hosts, prioritizing guests’ experience.
  5. Strive to make each individual feel like a guest of honor, or at the very least an important guest.

Hosting Is About People

How do you make the shift from simply providing a product or service to thinking of your business as hosting a series of enjoyable events? Start by giving a greater emphasis to the relationship you’re building with customers. The goal changes from a successful business transaction to achieving a satisfied guest who walks away from the first “event” already looking forward to the next one.

Here’s the bottom line: People matter. If your organization doesn’t already have one, I suggest crafting a Relationship Statement. Think “Mission Statement” with a “people” focus. If you need some inspiration, here’s my company’s relationship statement: We believe in the infinite potential of closer relationships. Once you’ve created your relationship statement, the next question to ask yourself is, “What am I going to do to achieve it?”

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How Network Relationship Marketing Is Transforming Business

Categories: Blog | Posted by: VIPorbit

Some elements of success are universal. It could easily be said, that one’s net worth is directly related to their network. No longer is it only the CEO’s, VP’s of Sales, and quota-meeting, territory-managing salespeople who must understand the value of networking. Today, everyone is their own brand, and their own business, even if they work for a large corporation. To that end, the need for consistent and engaged networking by each of us is no longer an option.

Social networking and mobile-device connectedness have blurred, if not entirely removed, the lines that once separated our personal and professional lives. Not only should organizations look to employees to contribute to the overall corporate personality, they must recognize that each individual brings with them a unique personal network of potential clients, connections, and collaborators. This burgeoning landscape of social networking, the blurred lines between personal and professional networks beg the question: Isn’t it time to redefine Customer Relationship Management?

Out with the Old

As the co-inventor of ACT!, the product credited as the catalyst for the Customer Relationship Management industry, I’m surprisingly not a champion of the concept of “managing relationships” at all. I don’t think entering data, scheduling activities, or even communicating with someone amounts to “management” in any meaningful way. Even if the concept of managing customer relationships was the premise for the industry, the actual result is really a tool for Management to oversee an employee’s activity, communication, and progress with their customers and prospects, not the employee’s tool for building or maintaining meaningful relationships.

According to a study by Gartner, the leading Information Technology research firm, (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2004216) only 50% of Fortune-1000 companies using CRM systems reap a significant return on their investment. Hence, it’s time for a new perspective! I wholeheartedly believe that meaningful relationships lead to success in business—in our personal lives, too, but that’s a subject for a separate article. Without meaningful relationships, our chance of success wanes, perhaps to the point of nonexistence.

In with the New

If you can’t manage others to achieve success, how do you get there? By managing yourself! This new perspective requires a very slight shift, from Customer Relationship Management to Customer Reputation Management. You can manage the ways in which you build and maintain the perception of your reputation with customers and prospects. When you demonstrate professionalism, concern, and commitment to helping others succeed, trust is the result. Trust that the other person is important enough to you to record the details you learn about them. Trust that you will do what you say that you will do. Trust that may even earn you that all-coveted referral.

You may not be able to manage another person simply by entering information in an application. However, if you use those tools to remember the details others forget, you’ll stand apart from your competitors who may or may not offer a better product or service. With each interaction, you can prove that all things being equal, your reputation is the deciding factor. The quality of your reputation, good or bad, will be reflected in your success. Looking at it from that perspective intensifies the reasons to use relationship management and organizational tools. After all, who doesn’t want to put their best foot forward? Especially when it impacts your bottom-line! CRM systems can only help you to manage contacts, calendars, and communications, but when you do so with diligence and professionalism, the natural result is a good reputation.

When Worlds Collide

Managing the connections within one’s personal and professional networks comes down to understanding the value of “social capital.” Putting time and effort into maintaining strong relationships creates something with long-term value. Among those who study social networks that value is called “social capital.” To define it more precisely, social capital is the value that individuals get from and deliver to the network. That social capital can result in wins for an individual’s employer in the short-term, as well as long-term for the individual in terms of new business opportunities, much less future opportunities for potential career advancement. The businessperson providing resources to colleagues, getting to know them as people, and helping them solve problems is creating social capital, as is the political leader who forges personal connections and builds trust with leaders of other countries. They are creating a valuable asset on which they can draw later, when they are the ones in need of resources or support. The real and meaningful value of any network whether personal or business is that it contains, and adheres to, deriving mutual benefit. Your contribution to it is to manage yourself within it to strengthen your aforementioned reputation and regard.

A Brave New World

Business-to-Business is dead. It’s now a P2P, or People-to-People world. In today’s world of hyper-connectedness, we must be all the more diligent to build and nurture the network of relationships necessary to succeed in a very competitive marketplace. The rise in popularity of social networking doesn’t negate the necessity of developing, maintaining, and deepening meaningful relationships. Each individual represents an entire network of personal and professional resources. Not only allowing but encouraging people to manage those network connections is a long-term investment—an investment in the individual that can result in company-wide wins of new contracts, new business, even new talent.

Overall, your strong networks provide an excellent source of sustainable business, and your success in business enables the equally important personal side of your life and its networks.

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