Professional services sales newsletter #251-Confrontation, Communication, Wood

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • Ignoring problems is rarely the best option. As managers we need to embrace confrontation and get comfortable with it. Your people will learn to anticipate and prepare themselves for such confrontation, resulting in stronger communication.
  • Talking to your people is one part of communication, listening is the other. If you’re face-to-face time has been declining, you can make big progress in short bursts with well-planned questions. Listen intensely to their answers. 
  • Serving on a board or helping with a non-profit is great. It does a lot for your brain and social connections. Before you commit, check for term limits and current board member turnover. If there isn’t any, ask a lot of questions up front.
  • Americans living in the USA are heading into an election week. My bubble suggests there will be a lot of votes cast this election cycle, which isn’t always the case. If you’re reading this and living in the USA, you’re probably voting. Encourage your team to do the same. Engaging is fun.

Being Human – Physician, heal thyself

“Make no mistake about why these babies are here – they are here to replace us.” – Jerry Seinfeld


Technology and advances in storage is making it easier to collect unimaginable amounts of data about our interactions. Working through the data is a challenge so technology is being developed to help users manage the process.

I met with a team working through such a problem and find the process fascinating. At one end is a management team who is unconsciously competent in the work they do. Getting them to describe what they look for, when they look for it, and why it’s important to them is tough because “we just do what we do.” On the other end are the engineers who can program machines to mimic elements of management, combing through reams of data and identifying problems or opportunities 24/7. They just need to know what management is looking for and what they want to accomplish. The machine goes to work learning the rest.

Getting these two to communicate is a challenge. To help, I use this graphic, the Iceberg Effect of Communication.


The green area is called the Common Underlying Proficiency (CUP). It’s the overlap between the two chatting parties. An example of low CUP is me trying to communicate with a bushman from the Kalahari. We have little in common and communicating is hard. High CUP is me talking to my lovely bride. We have more shared experiences, more in common, and communicating can be done with just a look.

The team I’m visiting with has low CUP on the issue they’re working on. The bridge to a higher CUP is defining terms. “When you say X, I have something in mind, but what do you mean?” I walk them through a few exercises to improve and try to leave it there, declining their invitation to facilitate future engagements. The person who invited me in asks why and I say, “CUP isn’t your biggest problem. You all have two very different visions of the future.”

The engineers see a world where management is enhanced, but management sees a world where they are replaced. It’s a big gulf, and their CUP is only part of the work needing to be done to wander through that big hairy transition. It’s one thing for management to green light a tool for enhancing lower level employees, but a tool that enhances their decision making? Much tougher sell.

Random stuff

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.” – Alfonso X of Castille


We ripped out the garden. An early snow was heading in, so we took the opportunity to clear out some browning plant life. Overall, our little farm experiment went well this year. Strawberries in the spring, peaches in the summer, hundreds of tomatoes, herbs growing everywhere, wild mint attracted butterflies, and I saw more hummingbirds than ever.

It’s amazing what can happen when one stays home more than usual. Our canning shelf is bursting with harvest to enjoy during the winter months.

I’m far from a prepper, but I did get the chimneys cleaned and bought some firewood to help pass the colder months ahead. Making and tending a fire is an enjoyable experience. This year I’m trying the “top-down burn” method. I hear it’s easier.

The firewood comes from an internet search. The website is a little dated but it has the kind of sales copy that makes me smile. Basically, any objection/complaint/question this one-man show can think of is on the home page. White print on a black background, seven font sizes, and a mix of font styles. I note his more interesting comments and decide to lead with one so as not to sound like a dummy when we talk.

It doesn’t work. No matter what I ask, his answers are short and sound like he’s muttering “dumbass” after each one. No problem, I think. Focus on the outcome, unlimited cozy fires while ice storms rage outside. This is when I notice the link on his site to “apparel.” Hmm. Firewood apparel? I click.

It’s amazing. A half dozen illustrated t-shirts. I’d describe the illustration technique as “bad caricatures by a teenage boy.” The tees are $27 each, you just let him know what you want.

My favorite is his wedding tshirt. I’ll try to describe it.

It’s garden wedding scene, big fountain on the side, no groom in site but at the altar you find what looks like Elvira, Pam Anderson, Dita Von Tease, and buxom Doublemint twins all looking very, um, aroused.

Why are they aroused you ask?

Because at the bottom of the scene you see a flannel clad firewood man approaching with a wheelbarrow full of logs. The caption: “You haven’t had wood like this since your wedding day.”

Like I said, amazing.

I’m reminded some people work by themselves not by choice, but  because they have to.


If you need to set up a time to visit, follow this link: