Working Forward.


I decided to give myself a New Year’s gift: the control of my days and bigger measures of satisfaction, productivity and closure. And in this first Drift of 2020, I’m sharing it with you.

I’m calling the idea Working Forward. It’s perhaps a little bit scientific, but mostly it’s just highly logical and intentional. Here goes.

Starting this week, I am breaking my days into three uneven blocks of time. My first block in the day is 90 minutes long; it’s blocked on my calendar and labeled Writing, Proposals, Productivity. Any work that requires analysis, creativity or detailed writing happens in this block. Specifically excluded from this block are email, phone calls, texts and meetings. Behavioral science tells us that we are all more productive, creative, strategic and analytical early in the day. So, if I have a proposal to write, a workshop to plan, employee reviews to draft – or this edition of The Drift to produce – it happens in this block.

Most sellers end their meetings right before things get good. Prime information and qualification don’t happen until a closing question gets asked. In a short, time-efficient workshop, Upstream Group can walk your team through the process and role-play the very-real-life scenarios they face in the market. Reach out today. The consult is free.

Then I cross off or reschedule the work I’d planned for Block One and move onto Block Two… the longest part of my day. Labeled Communication and Engagement, Block Two is where I start doing scheduled calls, engage with my inbox and work with my team, both in scheduled meetings and ad hoc. This is when I’ll follow up on outstanding proposals and pick up stalled communication. It’s the part of my day that probably looks the most like yours, but with a twist: I go into this work having already been significantly productive. I’m fresher, more confident, more energized going into the back and forth of the day. As I move through Block Two, I’ll invariably commit to producing stuff that takes time and thought. You guessed it: that stuff gets marked for upcoming Block One time.

The closing chapter of the day, Block Three is critical. I save the final 30 minutes of the day to schedule the next day’s Block One.  I start each day with a plan for what I’m going to build or create, and then start building and creating right out of the gate.  Then I close the book on today and do the important things that renew and refresh…. have dinner with my wife, talk on the phone with a friend, read a book, watch something good. I’m betting that Working Forward is going to help me be more present and enjoy my off-time that much more. I hope it does the same for you.

But why Working Forward? It’s because most of us go at things in the wrong order. We meander into our days by wading into a swamp of email. We lock into a reactive posture that we never recover from. We delay getting important stuff done until we’re tired and worn out – and it’s too late. Our days bleed into our evenings and we’re never fully committed to the task – or the person – in front of us.

I believe we deserve better. And today I’m acting on that belief. I hope you do as well. Happy New Year.


Ask the Question.


Ever wonder what mediocrity sounds like? It has the sound of the self-imposed limitation. It’s the stillness of the question that goes unasked, the hypothesis never tested.

They’ll never pay that price. That’s not how the customer wants to buy. Nobody’s doing it that way.

Nobody gets up in the morning and says, Wouldn’t it be great if absolutely nothing happened or changed today? But as we know, actions speak louder than words; sometimes the action is the choice of not acting.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Bionic for Ad Sales, a free app that helps you reach media planners at exactly the right time and place – in their media planning system when they start a new media plan (with a fresh budget!). To learn more, go to bionic-ads.com/seller.

In our industry, we are constantly challenged to evolve, invent and grow…to imagine whole new courses of behavior and economic models…to hit bigger numbers by selling brand new products and crafting them into entirely new packages and configurations. But in the face of this challenge, many sellers never get out of the gates. Instead they immediately begin negotiating against themselves.

They’ll never pay that price. That’s not how the customer wants to buy. Nobody’s doing it that way.

When I led sales teams many years ago, and when I coach managers and individual contributors today, the advice I give them is shockingly simple.

Ask the question.

Failing to make the sale is acceptable. Failing to ask for the sale, the price or the terms is not. You may be right about how the customer will react, but go out and get me that ‘no.’ The act of making your case and putting an opportunity or a challenge in front of a customer creates a new dynamic and good things can fall out. Perhaps they start to actually negotiate and tell you where their boundaries are. Or maybe you end up finding another opportunity, or another path to the sale.

Ask the question.

George Bernard Shaw said, The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. Sometime in the weeks and months ahead, an unreasonable seller is going to get in your client’s ear and ask a question that seems unreasonable…and create a little bit of the future.

The only question is whether that unreasonable seller will be you.

Seller Forum will be held on Wednesday March 18th, Wednesday July 15th and Tuesday October 27th (New Date) at the Reuters Building on Times Square. If you’re a qualified media sales leader, reach out now for your invitation or to discuss your company’s Season Pass planning. Or visit us at www.thesellerforum.com.


The New Code.


Code. It’s the Swiss army knife of words. It can be the hidden formula behind computing, the combination to unlock a secure setting, a body of law, the rules by which something is built, or a highly personal set of standards. However you interpret the term code, one thing is pretty clear: the business of digital advertising and marketing needs a new one.

Through our peer-to-peer Seller Forum events, our coaching practice and the dozens of workshops we do each year, we get a pretty broad perspective on the industry. What no one seems to dispute is that we’re in recovery from the excesses of the “scale at all costs” approach of the last few years… which I’ve heard described as our inventory and data version of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Marketers complain about supply chain pollution and fraud and governments are legislating consumer privacy firewalls. Clearly, we are struggling for a new basis on which to plan and build and operate. But the need goes even deeper than technology specs and business standards.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Bionic for Ad Sales, a free app that helps you reach media planners at exactly the right time and place – in their media planning system when they start a new media plan (with a fresh budget!). To learn more, go to bionic-ads.com/seller.

Business leaders and people managers are looking for a new code as well. They’re looking to unlock engagement, loyalty and determination in employees who’ve come to expect never-ending growth, a regular cycle of paradigm shifts, constant promotion and ultimate wealth. How do we build truly great teams and organizations to last? Our past approaches to career growth, diversity and lifestyle support was never built to code… and it cannot continue to stand. If we’re to define what it means to build a satisfying, meaningful career in our profession over the decades ahead, we better start now.

In 2020, we’ll be devoting our Seller Forum series to The New Code: Embracing Values. Achieving Balance. Mastering Change. In this our 18th year producing Seller Forum, we’re doubling down on the value of people-driven ideas and process; of value-driven cultures and decision making; of a balanced, sustainable approach to business building. As we recruit speakers, plan discussions, design our poll questions and host the events, we’ll lean on our own list of core values: Gratitude, Service, Clarity, Invention, Optimism, Connectedness and Grit.

Today happens to be the day we’re announcing our 2020 theme and schedule, but our commitment to our customers, our values and the contribution Seller Forum continues to make to the industry is 24/7/365. We look forward to continuing this important conversation with you.

Seller Forum will be held on Wednesday March 18th, Wednesday July 15th and Wednesday October 21st at the Reuters Building on Times Square. If you’re a qualified media sales leader, reach out now for your invitation or to discuss your company’s Season Pass planning. Or visit us at www.thesellerforum.com.


Giving.


As noted by the title of this post, today is Giving Tuesday — the nobler offspring of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Among the many worthy options that will reach your inbox today, I hope you’ll consider supporting the work of the TD Foundation.

I’ve been a board member with TD (named for good friend, digital pioneer and purple heart recipient Tom Deierlein) since its work began 13 years ago. Briefly, the foundation is often the safety net for the families of wounded veterans and Gold Star families – those whose husband, wife, father or mother has made the ultimate sacrifice. You would think and hope that our government would have the backs of our service members, but in practice it doesn’t always work that way.

Working as a connector and a source of funds to other veteran assistance groups, the TD Foundation will write the checks that keep a car from being repossessed; that provide needed medical equipment; that prevent a veteran’s family from slipping into homelessness; that allow a child to attend summer camp or pay the fees to compete in a sport. No red tape. Zero overhead. Just immediate help that sustains the often-fragile lives and support systems of our veterans… one check at a time.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Bionic for Ad Sales, a free app that helps you reach media planners at exactly the right time and place – in their media planning system when they start a new media plan (with a fresh budget!). To learn more, go to bionic-ads.com/seller

What can you do? One or more of three things.

Attend the TD Foundation Annual holiday gathering in New York next week. $200 buys you some great networking with scores of the best people in the New York digital ad community. Wednesday December 11th, 6-9 PM at Xandr HQ, 28 West 23rd Street. It is seriously the best night of the year. Buy that ticket now. In fact, buy two and make someone else’s night as well.

Make a direct donation to the TD Foundation. We’re a 501 (c)(3) organization, so tax exempt. Aside from a credit card transaction fee, 100 percent of what you give will go to veteran families in crisis. 100 percent.

Forward this post. Whether you’re seeing this in your inbox, on Linked In, on Facebook or somewhere else, spread the word.

There’s nothing wrong with saying Thank you for your service to a veteran. But wouldn’t it mean more to say How can I help you? This is how.

Thank you for your thoughtful generosity to TD Foundation, and for your comments and social support as well. Happy holidays.


Gratitude.


This is traditionally the time one would write a post that details all the things he’s grateful for.  This is not that post. The concept of gratitude deserves more than that.

In recent months I’ve gotten the opportunity to build formal coaching relationships with managers at several client companies in our space. Among many other topics, we often discuss the adoption and application of core team values: those qualities that become the basis for your strategies and decisions, and with which your team most strongly identifies – now and when they look back on their work with you. We discuss core values like resiliency, adaptability, action, curiosity and pride. Ideas like joy, empathy, respect and passion also find their way into the discussions. All are hugely powerful and useful in crafting culture and shaping behavior. But perhaps the most powerful value is one that’s often overlooked.

Yes, gratitude.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Bionic for Ad Sales, a free app that helps you reach media planners at exactly the right time and place – in their media planning system when they start a new media plan (with a fresh budget!). To learn more, go to https://www.bionic-ads.com/seller/

In far too many organizations, being grateful is something we need to remember to do… it’s the seasoning we add at the end of a project, a sale, a quarter. Gratitude is something we summon and put on display on special occasions. But imagine the powerful change that occurs when gratitude is embraced as a core value…when it becomes part of who you are as a team and as individuals.

In life and business, gratitude is the fuel that makes us work harder and be more committed than we otherwise might. It’s the nourishment that helps us rise to the occasion and overcome cynicism in the face of big, hairy, audacious goals. If one of your first active thoughts in a day is about being grateful, it’s almost impossible to have a bad day.

Imagine your team living up to the following statement: We will live, work and act gratefully in all we do. Just having this as a vision would change how you address customer service, interdepartmental work and collaboration and the sales process itself. If you started with, I’m really grateful to have this account, your work, approach and commitment would all shift dramatically.

Gratitude is the most human of superpowers. We can all decide to embrace it on a deeply personal level, and you can choose to make it core to your team’s values first thing tomorrow.

Being grateful is not something to remember. It’s something to live up to.