In my constant quest to improve my operational efficiency and personal effectiveness, I was very motivated by the ideas of Michael Allosso, another excellent speaker we had at our EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) conference in October 2013 whose topic was “You on Your Best Day.”  Allosso used an analogy of an actor to illustrate the skills we need to bring to the table in every interpersonal interaction.  I thought this would be a great follow-up to Blog #18—Unlocking Explosive Sales Growth—because as we enter sales or “business development” mode, we need to bring our best selves to the table.  Everyone has a different skill set and his or her own communication style, but we all know when we are hitting a home run by giving it our all.

An actor himself, Allosso first took us through an exercise asking the group what actors need to be successful.  The group developed a list of attributes, some of the most important of which were:  focus, adaptability, passion, empathy, listening, verbal and non-verbal skills, discipline, courage, and energy or what Allosso likes to call “Heightening the Stakes”.  The payoff was when he asked us which attributes he could cross off the list if he had asked us what we need to be successful in business.  If at first we didn’t know where he was going with the actor list, then everything immediately clicked with the audience, that as business people and as freight agents we need the same attributes when talking to current shippers, prospective customers, carriers, colleagues, and even family and friends.

According to Allosso, when you heighten the stakes, you achieve excellence, repeat business, and sleep beautifully at night. I later discovered the sleeping part, because of the energy it takes to be “on” all of the time.  Heightening the stakes means being you on your best day, every day, in every interaction.  When you are speaking with a shipper whom you want to please, you certainly give your best self, but then when you return home, tired at the end of a tough day, do you give your best self to your spouse/partner and children?  How about to your colleagues at work?  Allosso said people often do not, saying to themselves “they know me, so I don’t have to put forth the effort.”  But these are the people who truly deserve your best self.  A positive, upbeat persona with your colleagues also creates a great feeling within the company, which then carries over into your day and your business results.

I fell into that trap when I was in charge of running the very conference where Allosso spoke.  My teenage kids came to hear the speakers, since we try to expose them to new ideas.  I spent the day smiling, introducing all the speakers, and trying to ensure all the attendees were happy, so when I went back to our room, needless to say, I was exhausted and did not give my best self to my kids.  The next day, my sixteen-year-old son remarked that I was not following Allosso’s advice, as he noticed how positive and upbeat I was with the conference people and somewhat less patient with him in the evening…out of the mouths of babes.  I was so happy he learned something from the conference, and I apologized and told him I would do better in the future.

Allosso ended his talk with the idea that people should be better off after having spent time with us.  If we enter every interpersonal interaction thinking, “I want this human being to be better off after having spent time with me today,” we enter the conversation with an underlying positive energy that others can sense.  According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage*, a positive attitude is contagious.  So entering your interactions with positive intention can improve the outcome for everyone.  When a shipper or a carrier is upset, or when you are meeting a new prospect for the first time, first thinking that the person should be better off after the interaction with you genuinely improves the interaction.

In my next blog, I will write about Improve Your Relationships with Your Shippers by Cultivating 3 Types of Empathy.

– By Cheryl Biron, President

* Click through for full references on books that inspired us: