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Jeffrey Hayzlett Book Interview – Running the Gauntlet : Essential Business Lessons to Lead, Drive Change, and Grow Profits

Jeffrey Hayzlett - Running the Gauntlet : Essential Business Lessons to Lead, Drive Change, and Grow Profits In the highly anticipated follow up to The Mirror Test, Jeffrey Hayzlett now brings us Running the Gauntlet: Essential Business Lessons to Lead, Drive Change, and Grow Profits due from McGraw-Hill in January 2012. Over the past few years I’ve gotten to know Jeffrey, he’s certainly a unique bird. He’s engaged me not only on stage buy off with invites to special events at conferences, restaurants and has already introduced me to many interesting people I never would have met otherwise. I can only imagine what lies ahead! The mutual lifelong learning and fun back and forth is awesome. Jeffrey was kind enough to grant us one of the first reads of the book and interviews. Let’s get to it!

Q: You mention Henry Ford creating the assembly line: “Productivity was so astounding that Ford stopped measuring it. By 1914, other companies needed for five times as many workers to build the same hundreds of thousands of cars as Ford.” Henry Ford was also known for paying workers well. It seems the best way to improve standards of living is large productivity gains?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: That’s one way, I don’t know if it’s the only way or the best way.  It’s more of a philosophy, give people what they want and get the things you want.  Provide a great product or service, of high quality, and there will be consumers.  The same theory can be applied to anything you are advertising, marketing or promoting.  For example, use the workers in Henry Ford’s plant and productivity. In Ford’s plants they became so good they stopped measuring.  It was about not only paying workers a fair wage – a good wage – but about offering them other things, enticing them, so they could buy the product they made, have pride in ownership, pride in building the products they created.  There are lots of different ways to go about getting the things you want.  Money may not always be the greatest incentive when gaining productivity or motivation.  Again, find out what people want and then give it to them.  Motivating my salespeople isn’t always about making good money – it can be a way to keep “score” – but sometimes it can be offering incentives such as golf balls, trips, even cowboy boots to get the team excited to want to go out and do more on the company’s behalf.

Q: Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975 but didn’t launch it back then……why?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Their success led to their own demise.  Because they were trying to protect the great margins film had – you had a product that was 70, 80 even as high as 90% in terms of profitability.  They were doing everything they could to keep that alive for as long as they could.  The problem became they forgot what type of company they were.  They started to believe they were a film company rather than a company that would help people make images and move information, a company focused on innovation, a company providing emotional technology.  They had the only product people would actually run into a burning building to save, yet they focused on being a film company rather than a company that can innovate and recreate itself again and again and again.  If we look at the most successful companies, whether it be IBM, Apple or a host of others it’s about being able to reinvent yourself as well as remembering at the core of it all who you really are.

Q: You suggest a fear of change and that this can inhibit healthy debate with those that disagree with us. What is the best way to create culture that can thrive on healthy debate, starting with how we pick a new breed of leaders?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: We all know that leadership starts at the top but is also reinforced and thrives at the bottom.  So across the organization if you don’t have leaders at the top of the org that are willing to not only to create tension but take it as well then you are not going to get the give and take that you want at an organization.  You won’t be able to encourage innovation, encourage change and encourage growth because everybody will be looking out after themselves because they are afraid of what they might say because the boss might have retribution.  So the key is to create an organization where people can stand up and question things.  By standing up and questioning things you create the tension in the system and you get something better than you first started with.  If I start with item A and someone starts with item Z and we start creating so much friction back and forth and this friction creates a fire of new ideas somehow we’ll go one way or the other to move the new idea to a better place.  I think that’s what great leaders try to do.

Q: When I worked at BlackRock(BLK) there was discipline around process, but it was flexible to allow breakthrough ideas. In Chapter 14 you wrote “Some people get caught up in the idea rather than the process, but I think the process leads to the idea.” Please elaborate on this concept…

Jeffrey Hayzlett: It’s a little bit of both in this particular case.  Certainly you can have a great idea but if you can’t get it out and get it through the process it will never see itself through fruition – it will never make it to market.  I can remember one time sitting in a meeting with a chief technology officer – one of the smartest guys in the world that I had ever met.  He said, “Jeff, you realize because I make this product, I create this software program – if it weren’t for me you wouldn’t have a job.”  I had to remind him that it could be the greatest product in the world but if it weren’t for me selling it and marketing it – getting it out through the process and to the customers’ hands that he wouldn’t have anything.  So that’s what I’m talking about the process leads to the idea.  By having great processes and great systems set up then you can try to push things through to allow things to be able to win. If you don’t have a great process, even the greatest ideas will lose before they begin.

Q: So when done right, this can allow a company to focus on the future more effectively?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Absolutely, by having a great system, a great process, a great way of channeling greatness then you’re going to be able to look for more things to put through to your following.  Look at the greatest sports teams in the world, it is those that focus on the fundamentals of having great athletes – not just one great player or two and then try to build the team around them but yet having a great team made up of different people and that’s what process does for us.

Q: In the 1993 classic book, Reengineering the Corporation by Michael Hammer and John Champy they mention that executives are “frighteningly unfamiliar” with three forces, separately and in combination: Customers, Competition and Change. You actively did this in those retail stores. Given the popularity of that book almost two decades ago, why do you think companies are still so unable to focus on these basics?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: I think so many companies focus on the next big thing, the big peel, the magic peel.  I think especially in the US we look to that one big thing that will do it for us rather than again getting back to that process, getting back to good and hard work.  If it was easy anyone could do it – it’s not supposed to be easy.  Therefore, the focus on competition, the focus on customers, the focus on change are just as good today as they were decades before.  It’s important for us to be able to take a look at how we implement change, look at customer and competitors to be able to drive and channel the forces behind being successful.

Q: “Radical transparency is not a one-way street of engagement.” Why do people have such a hard time developing a 2-way mindset in search marketing and social media?

Jeffrey Hayzlett: Inherently, I think it’s because people are scared.  Most people don’t like to get feedback.  I was one time in a phase in my life where I wore all black all the time.  Someone asked me why and I said because it makes you look slimmer.  The person turned back to me and said, well it’s not working.  I think a lot of people are afraid to hear that feedback sometimes and it takes a very strong leader and a strong person to get into that 2-way mindset, that it’s ok to get feedback – both positive and negative.  By the way, look at the negatives as a gift because that’s a way for you to be able to change, to turn around that potential customer or that person who’s had a negative experience.  I’ve heard from brand leaders and internal departments (HR, Legal) where they want to try to control the situation but you can’t control the situation. When it comes to brands especially, you can’t control it because a brand is nothing but a promise delivered.  It’s about delivering a promise and when you deliver that promise or opportunity up to the customer it’s going to be interpreted in different ways.  Sometimes that’s positive and many times its also negative.  Yet you should be strong enough in your leadership abilities, strong enough in your offering to be able to understand that this will come with everything.  There’s going to be a good, a bad and an ugly but the good should always outweigh the other two.

For more information, please visit Thank you!

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THE MACKAY MBA OF SELLING IN THE REAL WORLD Last year Harvey Mackay visited Chicago for a media tour for his previous book last year and I got to travel from media outlet to media outlet with him for a day as he did so. The experience would be hard to describe beyond that it will never be forgotten as long as I live and was amazing media training. His focus on others is always present as he seeks to learn every detail of the life of his next interview. Harvey is truly a one of a kind individual and I consider myself fortunate for having spent a day with him.

His lasted book is THE MACKAY MBA OF SELLING IN THE REAL WORLD (Portfolio, 2011). The wonderful publicity folks retained by Mr. Mackay were kind enough to grant me an email interview after I read the book. His answers below build on a great read and create the basis for a larger conversation that the world desperately needs to have. Harvey is part of an increasingly rare breed of business leader who understands that people, human capital and organizational transformation are vital to success. For our society to survive as we know it, we must rapidly work to reverse this trend and create a new generation of leaders with these all too rare skills. You feel the sense of urgency in his answers below. I can’t wait to spend another day with Harvey Mackay, the mutual learning would be overwhelming.

You stated “Fostering employee loyalty is the first step to creating customer loyalty” in Chapter 4. Over the past two decades, many companies have treated employees as disposable assets. How would you convince management to reverse this unfortunate trend?

Harvey Mackay: Our company mission statement is to be in business forever.  That means no compromising … not compromising your core principles and taking any shortcuts.  It is virtually impossible to stay in business over a long period of time if you treat your employees as disposable assets.  In 50-plus years in the business world, I know of no one who stayed in business with a revolving door of employees.  It’s sad to say, but in these difficult economic times there are still too many businesses that still don’t get it.

Chapter 15 states, “Your past is not your potential” and “Far too many people exist in a world of “what is” rather than applying their energies to “what can be”.” Today skills are dynamic and changing; this has implications for returning to the basics of recruiting naturally curious lifelong learners based with the vision to lead change. How can companies best stop the practice of picking leaders of the past?

Harvey Mackay: I have hired over 500 people in my career, and the single most important word in the dictionary that I look for and demand is trust.  Once I have established that, then I immediately look for capacity and willingness to learn.  I can’t begin to tell you how many people out there in the marketplace and disciples of the Peter Principle.  There has been a seismic shift in the business world.  The great classical business principles still hold true but they need to be fused with cutting edge internet technology.  That’s the kind of leaders that companies should be looking for.

Fred Smith got a “C” on his term paper for his idea for Federal Express. Mike Bloomberg was told his idea for what became the Bloomberg terminal would never work by his former employer. Why is it often so difficult for most executives to grasp paradigm changing business ideas?

Harvey Mackay: It’s way easier to stay in the comfort zone, especially when things are going good than to go out on a limb and take some risks.  My philosophy is exactly the opposite:  Sometimes it’s risky not to take a risk.  And remember, if you walk backwards, you will never stub your toe.  One of the most difficult things in life for any individual or business is to accept and adopt change.

So, as you like to say, “People don’t know what they don’t know?”

Harvey Mackay: The way I like to fine tune this statement that I made up in college is – I know that you don’t know, but you don’t know that you don’t know!  By that I mean there are three reasons why individuals and businesses fail:

1.    Arrogance

2.    Arrogance

3.    Arrogance

There has been a consistent, gradual decline in ethical business practices in the United States for about 50 years, and it reached new extremes in the “daisy chain” of the sub-prime mortgage industry in the period of 2002-2008.  This was caused by executives getting chapped lips from kissing the mirror too much, which is a perfect example of how arrogance set in.

You discuss the importance of listening, what is the best way for a salesperson to use the obtained information to create a successful sales?

Harvey Mackay: First of all you can’t learn anything if you are doing all the talking.  Sales people should always be developing their earQ, not their IQ.  The only way to create a successful sale is to understand that knowledge (from listening) does not become power until it is used.  And ideas without action are worthless.

You talked about enthusiasm, what is the best way to maintain it in the face of adversity?

Harvey Mackay: First of all, I have never yet met a successful person who hasn’t had to overcome either a little or a lot of adversity in his or her life.  If life there is a lot of lumps and bumps … a lot of throttling up and a lot of throttling down.  Failure is not falling down, but staying down.  Therefore, you have to ignite your own enthusiasm.  The ten most powerful two-letter words in the English language are:  If it is to be, it is up to me.  Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and you will accomplish your object.  I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

In chapter 67 you cut the world-famous Mackay 66 to the Mackay 25, Please share more about why you changed it…

Harvey Mackay: The Mackay 25 does not replace the Mackay 66.  Rather it is a streamlined version, which gets you to an instant snapshot of the prospect or buyer’s attitude and expectations.  It gets to the heart of what is commonly known today as relationship selling.

In a recent blog post you stated that you are always surprised when you ask who their customers are and they say everyone. Rob La Gesse (@kr8tr) asks who is your customer?  Have you decided who is not?  If so, you have already self-limited your ability to affect change?

Harvey Mackay: You can’t be all things to all people.  In most businesses the company will have what I refer to as nitch-picking.  In short, virtually everyone has their own niche within an industry.

I had the distinct pleasure of spending the day with you during your Chicago media tour in 2010. I was amazed by the way you prepared for each interview. You were seeking to learn about each interviewer and worked to bring that into the on air conversation. What can aspiring radio and TV guests learn from your techniques?

Harvey Mackay: I call this humanize your selling strategy.  I attempt to do a Mackay 66 Question Customer Profile on everyone I meet throughout my life.  That means customers, employees, suppliers, competitors, audiences, radio and TV talk-show hosts and journalists.  This is what I teach our sales force and the people I mentor, and that is that every single person I encounter I have a deep-down burning desire to learn what turns that person on and what he or she is most interested in.  In any relationship, you must find a common denominator.


Thank you Harvey! Every CEO, board of directors member and business leader should read this interview and distribute it (and his book) to their teams and then talk about these meaty issues! I welcome the world changing conversation.

Learn more about Harvey at

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Alan Weiss Interview – Million Dollar Referrals Book

Alan Weiss Million Dollar Referrals
Bestselling Author Alan Weiss

Alan Weiss has written over 45 books. Absorb that for a minute. That is a heck of alot of books.

His latest is Million Dollar Referrals (McGraw- Hill). A timely title about one of the most unique marketing art forms, referrals. Why timely? With constant changes in media and the rise of new channels such as social media, referrals can make or break many kinds of businesses. It is certainly an under-managed areas of marketing strategy in most organizations that has potential to improve business results. Like most marketing it requires your value proposition to be crystal clear as you are asking someone else to explain it to someone else. I can say from experience that many people skip this step.

Million Dollar Referrals is a clearly written, thought provoking read. The kind folks at McGraw-Hill were kind enough to set up an interview with Alan Weiss, the conversation is below….

The opening chapter discusses “Business Relationships are a Process, Not an Event”. You could replace the word relationships with many other concepts. Making that switch requires changing personal habits and or corporate culture. What is the best way to create this behavior change?

Alan Weiss: It merely requires educating your buyer and client. Culture change is a rubric, signifying less than nothing these days. Demonstrate to the client the nature of the relationship and partnership in terms of ongoing interaction and support.

What are the typical issues that can lead to a consulting provider being replaced? Can referrals be used effectively to ignite that need for a change in provider?

Alan Weiss: Trust that is violated. It’s very difficult to replace a highly respected consultant in a client. You can use referrals to become an additional resource as opposed to a replacement.

If you were starting a new consulting company from scratch today what areas would you take extra care to distinguish unique value in today’s highly competitive and global landscape?

Alan Weiss: Responsiveness; intellectual property; testimonials; global applicability; thought leadership; contrarianism.

You discuss that for referrals to be successful, clear communication of both targets and mutual benefit need to be present. What is the hardest part about consistently achieving this?

Alan Weiss: Being afraid to ask, failing to follow up, taking “no” too readily, not adequately demonstrating the win/win/win nature.

The are many new areas of strategic consulting involving technology convergence, search marketing, mobile, etc. What is the best way to convey certain value for new services where the price is not well established?

Alan Weiss: Price has nothing to do with it. The key is to show the value in terms of the buyer personal needs as well as the organizational need. Every client knows what he wants; few know what the need. Consultants should identify the needs.

Is there any way to create referrals when you are working with a client under a non-disclosure agreement?

Alan Weiss: Sure. You can be referred outside the industry, or without regard to the nature of the work, and without revealing that the source was a client.

Is there any major issues you think people over look with referrals?

Alan Weiss: They don’t prepare their clients or the environment, and fail to consistently ask because they are embarrassed.

I understand you occasionally put on some unique seminars? Is anything upcoming?

Alan Weiss: Just finished Thought Leadership at The Breakers in Palm Beach. Million Collar Consulting® College next week. Australia speaking tour after that. The Art of the Referral Workshop in Newport on Nov. 30.