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The Fundamentals Never Change

Several years ago, I attended a team building event for the marketing organization that reported into me and supported our region and business unit. The event was held at a pottery class and I was initially hesitant. I was accustomed to team building events being strenuous outdoor adventures or leisurely golf outings. This was something different, and that made me uncomfortable at the time. The event was a great reminder for me of six fundamentals for success that never change.

The first two fundamentals relate to the event itself.

Fundamental 1: Team Building Events Are Important

Team events that get colleagues away from the business are often the most powerful. Special thanks to the marketing manager for her leadership in creating a unique event that provided a fun and energizing way to build camaraderie within the team. We got to be simultaneously creative together and individually. We got to know each other in ways not typical on the golf or obstacle courses.

Fundamental 2: We Grow When We Get out of Our Comfort Zone

It would have been easy for that marketing manager to hold another traditional team event. But this event was more intimate and special. For many, it was a new experience. For some, like me, it was uncomfortable being creative in this medium. But beyond our comfort zone is where growth lives.

The next four fundamentals relate to my pottery piece — the plate in the picture above. On this plate I documented the key messages that framed my guidance to the broader sales, marketing and services teams that made up our region and each of these messages ring true today. I might regret making my piece about work if not for the great joy I get everytime I see it.

Fundamental 3: Mastering Public Speaking and Presentation Skills Is a Game Changer

The phrase “Say It Like You Mean It” became the mantra of the pre-sales organization that year and we incorporated professional public speaking training into our curriculum in new ways. Having the ability to confidently deliver powerful and effective messaging from the stage is a must-have skill for pre-sales professionals. But mastering this skill can be a game changer for EVERY professional. If you want to be heard and reach your goals, be great at telling your story.

Fundamental 4: Striving for Excellence Should Be a Constant Goal

Perfection is often elusive, but the effort that goes into pursuing it in our relationships and in the development and delivery of our products and services is what matters. Our efforts don’t go unnoticed and that constant drive to provide the very best experience creates an appreciation among our community of customers, clients and colleagues that results in long-term success.

Fundamental 5: We Are at Our Best When We Invest in Ourselves

Regardless of our role, mastering our craft is what sets us apart from the ordinary. When we go beyond the training and development provided by our employers to become experts in our field, we flourish.

Fundamental 6: We Must Invest Our Time Wisely

“Compete to Win” sounds like an obvious declaration and implies a potential for laziness in sales efforts. But that’s not the point. The phrase is a reminder that we can’t create time. How we chose to use our time in pursuing opportunities can make the difference between success and failure. Teams too often invest in pursuits where the prospect of winning is unlikely — a big deal in an industry segment where we have no experience or an opportunity in a key account where our capabilities fall way short of the prospects needs are just two that come to mind. Well intended teams invest in developing proposals and sales cycles with little hope of winning. Those efforts drain resources that could be applied to executing more effectively in the right pursuits. Consciously choosing to forgo opportunities with low probability frees valuable resources so we can compete to win in the right deals.

If my house were on fire, and I had the time to go back in to collect something important, this plate would be a top candidate given the message and memories. I appreciate the colleagues who participated in the marketing team building event and the broader team that made up our region that year. You all earned that world-wide recognition as “Region of the Year” and what a great year it was!