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January 9, 2013

Who’s in Charge Here?
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

My buddy Jim was getting his engineering continuing education credits at a land surveying course recently. The instructors talked about the challenges of running boundary surveys, where you’re often on other folks property.

He recalled the time they were deep in a wooded area, along a stream, when they heard an engine roar to start. They looked up the hill and saw a house, with a pickup truck coming down the mountain fast in their direction.

When the truck got to them, the window went down and a shotgun barrel came out. The mountain man guy said in an annoyed voice, “Who’s in charge here?”

The quick thinking survey chief replied, “You are, sir.”

And everybody smiled.

I think that’s one of the best responses I’ve ever heard. So if you need to defuse a challenging situation or just want to provide great customer service, remember that response.


January 2, 2013

Publicity Secrets
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

If you are looking to grow your business or organization, publicity trumps advertising. We are all trained to look past ads, but we read articles and tend to believe what the journalist writes.  If you’re interested in growth, check out 92 Ways to Get (and Maximize) Press Coverage. The photo below from Ben Afflect in Boiler Room applies to money and publicity.

As you read through the tips, you’ll quickly discover that they take time and effort. Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

Let’s start this New Year with as much perseverance as we can muster.


November 29, 2012

R.I.P. Zig
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

When I was a younger man, I read lots of books trying to learn the best way to live. One of the authors that moved me most was Zig Zigler. He grew up poor (though didn’t know it at the time) and with character. He was an amazing salesman, teaching himself the lessons of selling with integrity and humor.

I think this was a Zig story about selling vacuum cleaners. He was in a prospect’s house and threw a handful of dirt on the floor and said, “If my vacuum cleaner can’t completely clean that dirt up, I’ll eat it.” The prospect said to him in a drawl, “Wellll, I hope you brought your appetite cause we ain’t got the ‘lectricity. ”

Zigler on Selling is one of the best sales books I’ve ever read. Their website blurb says:

Selling is a magnificently rewarding and exciting profession. It is, however, more than a career. You’ve got to be before you can do. A successful sales professional clearly understands that education and preparation is never finished.

So you probably don’t work in sales and wonder why I’d recommend you read or listen to Zig. We all sell, regardless of our type of work. And we all benefit from moving our attitude from blah to bold.

Zig died this week at 86 (the same age as my Dad). If you’ve read his books, pick one back up and look over it again. If you haven’t, check his website and have a read or a listen. He will inspire you to be the best possible you.

Here are a few of his many memorable quotes:

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.

Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.


November 19, 2012

Expanding Your Concept of Family
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

I’m at an Air Force Inn, a hotel on the Las Vegas Air Force base. I’m attending a young friend’s graduation from a prestigious military training program. I’m as proud of him, and of his wife, as if they were my own children.

I met Chris about 32 years ago, at his birthday party when he turned 2. I was a junior in college, recently married and TBW worked with Chris’s mom. There was no dad in the picture. He was such a cool kid and we bonded. We stayed in some contact over the years, he’d occasionally come for a visit or I’d attend a graduation. It really wasn’t that many contacts, but our relationship grew.

When he was made an officer, I helped pin the bars on his uniform. When he married, I read some scripture at the ceremony.  I look back on those times, and my time now, with great joy. When we expand our family by choice, we open our lives to more love.

As you head into this Thanksgiving season, I challenge you to evaluate your relationships. Consider where you can improve and what steps you might take. Also, remain open to adding significant relationships. You might just feel a little nudge that would be easy to ignore. You may miss great joy by refusing that little bit of extra effort.

As I was walking the base this morning, I was impressed with the apartment building pictured below. The design really fits with the local terrain and also seems cost effective. Hooorahhhh for the Air Force!


November 6, 2012

I’m in Love with a Rothsville Girl
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

The Beautiful Wife and I took a couple days last week and mixed some work and fun. We went to State College, PA (home of Penn State University) to look at a future building site for an apartment project. We also saw a Bruce Springsteen concert while there. The Tour Manager is a friend from when we both worked the 1978 Darkness on the Edge of Town tour.

We enjoyed catching up backstage and eating catered food, which has improved greatly in 35 years. As a young roadie, I paid close attention to some of the older guys that I respected. They became mentors, helping me learn the value of humor, competency and integrity. That’s the foundation on which I built my business.

As a Springsteen fan since 1975, I also loved the show. Bruce played 3 1/2 hours of high intensity performance. He respects his audience and delivers a memorable performance. In the video I shot below, when he says, “I’m in love with a Jersey girl,” I substitute in “Rothsville girl”.


I enjoy getting away from home for a couple of days with TBW and having some adventures. For example, after the show, we had to drive into the night, no hotel rooms being available nearby. She’d use her smartphone to check hotels nearby, then call about rooms. We had to drive an hour till we found a vacancy, but that’s part of the fun.

Months ago TBW bought tickets for the Broadway show, “Grace” on the day that followed the Springsteen concert. She wanted to cancel due to driving in NYC after the flooding, but I, of course, convinced her it would be no problem. For once, I was right.

While in the city, I had to walk up to 57th street and see the dangling crane first hand. I was amazed that we could walk 1/2 block away and look up to see it. If it fell, we’d have likely been casualties.

As you struggle to succeed with your work, don’t forget to put lots of energy into your home relationships as well. Learn to embrace that challenge of getting both sides done well. The rewards are huge.


October 24, 2012

Wind the Clock, for Tomorrow is Another Day
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

Lex sent me this inspirational piece from the Letters of Note site. In 1973,  E. B. White , author of Stuart Little andCharlotte’s Web, received a letter opining on the bleak future of the human race. White responded with the following, beautifully written letter.

North Brooklin, Maine

30 March 1973

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.


(Signed, ‘E. B. White’)

Here’s a family photo of Mr White. He looks trustworthy to me…he’s holding a dog.


October 1, 2012

Free Construction Books about Emotional Intelligence
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

I got an email this morning from Brent Darnell, a construction writer and consultant (and has actually worked in this crazy industry).  He focuses on the huge gains that can be made by construction guys improving their emotional intelligence and relationships. These important lessons will make you more valuable at work and at home. If you’re a life long learner (and you should be saying yes to that supposition), then put in some effort to better understand and improve your emotional intelligence.

Brent has offerer all 6 of his books for free downloads from now till 10/6/12. After that they will be $0.99/each, but why not get them now for free? His books include The People Profit Connection: How Emotional Intelligence Can Maximize People Skills & Maximize Your Profits which has sold over 30,000 copies (a huge number for a construction book).

He also offers The Tao of Emotional Intelligence which teaches emotional intelligence through 82 sayings from the I Ching. Then his The Tough Guy Survival Kit includes 3 earlier books: Stress Management, Time Management and Life Balance for Tough Guys, Relationship Skills for Tough Guys and Communication and Presentation Skills for Tough Guys.

So I strongly encourage to take a couple of minutes and go to Smashwords to get the free downloads.  I downloaded the PDF versions, because I tend to read on my tablet or laptop. If you use Kindle or Nook, those versions are available as well.

Here’s a great opportunity to improve your people skills. Trust me, you need it.


August 31, 2012

Get Behind the Mule in the Morning and Plow
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

I was visiting with a friend last night who spent 15  of the last 16 years in prison. We spoke about working and making a difference in life. We just laughed and relaxed and agreed to strive to live in the moment. The past and the future don’t really matter too much, the present does.

That sentiment reminded me of one of my favorite Tom Waits songs, Get Behind the Mule in the Morning and Plow.


Here are the last lyric lines:

Pin your ear to the wisdom post
Pin your eye to the line
Never let the weeds get higher than the garden(12)
Always keep a sapphire in your mind
Always keep a diamond in your mind

You got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow
Got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow
Got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow
Got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow

So try to let go of the anxiety, the worry, the perfectionism or just the blahs and do that thing that the moment calls for.


August 28, 2012

What Motivates You?
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

I did a quick Google search and found this question to be the top interview query. So if you’re applying for a job, better have a good answer. One site listed lots of answers, here are some favorites:

I motivate myself through RYP (remember you’re poor). You can’t afford to waste your time. I say these three words to motivate myself. Mohit

My father’s dream for me is my motivational point. Rajendra R.

Beating my personal best… growing: spiritually, professionally, financially, psychological and emotionally… daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Auntie

A little pressure can work wonders for me – working on more than one campaign at a time and multi-task. Lozahloz

Money, all other answers are lying. they don’t like real answers?? Leo

What made me think of the question was a recent Economist article about a brilliant Indian businessman named Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. He’s been called India’s Warren Buffet. The 52 year old made himself a billionaire by judicious trading since he was a teenager.

He understands that the riches and fame are transitory. He names his true motivation below.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the money, but that’s not what motivates me.” So what does make him tick? “The thrill of being proved right.”

As you work and negotiate with others, remember that this simple motivation strongly drives lots of successful people. Remember when dealing with your customers that they may care more about being proved right than about the money.


August 10, 2012

Take Time to Learn and Think
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

I’m at the Global Leadership Conference yesterday and today. I love hearing great speakers give their best performances, then thinking deeply about their insights. Yes, I feel too busy with other work to be there, but leaders need to take time to learn and think.

Here are a couple of useful insights I gleaned:

  1. Understand that most new initiatives fail (the Parable of the Sower had a 75% seed failure rate), but great growth only comes from sowing more seeds. So learn to accept some failure and start more initiatives, though make sure to measure results early and often.
  2. Leaders most valuable asset isn’t their time, it’s their energy and where they choose to invest it.
  3. When things are tough, people become more of who they are. So work to understand your strategic partners, because things will get tough.
  4. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.
  5. “Good intentions are no excuse for incompetence.” Peter Drucker
  6. If you’re not dead, you’re not done.

So what issues are you struggling with? What improvements do you want to make? What might get you there? If you’re not thinking these or similar questions, why not? Don’t sleepwalk through life to get to death safely. Live all in, put it on the line and have some fun.

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