You gotta love a federal holiday in honor of our presidents.
Today we celebrate our nation’s most hard-working leaders… by taking the day off! It’s a wonderful tradition.
This year, due to the worst winter in recent history and more than usual snow days, schoolchildren are making up what would have been a day off. Pity.
For those of you poor schmucks slogging through another dreary February workday: Good for you! Hang in there. (I’m with you!)
Last category: if you took the day off, but you’re not a government employee; then your customers must be Federal and State employees.
In any case, we spend the day honoring presidents past. I’m repurposing an old blog post with these nine POTUS (and potent) tips:
1. Learn to dance. George Washington connected with average people, high society and heads of state by dancing an impressive minuet as well as popular country dances of the day. He enjoyed it, and people loved him for it!
You don’t really have to learn to dance to be awesome. Just like you don’t need to play golf to excel in business. Sales aren’t really made on the golf course. No one brings a contract and copy machine out to the links. Golf is just an opportunity to spend time with clients and colleagues away from the office — and, like dancing, most people can at least hack their way through it.
The point is to have fun with your customers. Reveal your personality, hobbies, quirks.
2. Ask your spouse or best friend for their opinion. John Adams relied on his wife Abigail throughout his life and presidency. Her opinion was the first he sought when he had to make tough decisions, which was most of the time. Abigail was as practical as she was gentle. Their regular correspondence guided and grounded him while his work took him overseas and out of town, and hints at the collaborative bond they shared in affairs of the state.
A patient family member or friend makes a great sounding board. If they’re smart, it’s a bonus. Share a problem, get some perspective, and clear your head.
3. If you must play second fiddle, do it well and learn all you can. Fourteen presidents held the job of Vice President preceding their own terms as Commander in Chief. You can’t always be top dog, but if you’re a competent second, opportunities are everywhere.
Excellence comes in all capacities. Support your colleagues.
4. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your background is, what you look like, or what motivates you. Our presidents were inventors (Lincoln), bar owners (Lincoln again), peanut farmers (Carter), and movie actors (Reagan). They were handsome (Ford was a model), fat (Taft), and skinny (Lincoln). They were men of few words (Coolidge) and men who loved to speak. (Harrison’s inauguration speech was so long, he died a month later from the pneumonia he contracted while delivering it in the dead of winter, sans hat and coat.)
What counts is the drive, passion, ideas, creativity, and hard work that moves people to greatness.
President Harrison’s sad ending also earned him two dubious achievements: longest inauguration speech and shortest term (just 32 days). This leads to the next piece of practical advice:
5. Stay healthy and active. Doctors said that McKinley’s bullet wounds might not have killed him, but he died anyway because he never exercised. On the other hand, John Quincy Adams swam (nude, if you must know) in the Potomac every morning and lived to the respectable age of 81. Exercise helps you live longer with less incidences of common diseases and illness like colds and flu. Furthermore, you’ll just feel good.
6. You are not bullet-proof. Whatever you think you know, no matter how many deals you’ve done, no matter how many sales you’ve closed, no matter how respected and protected your position; there’s always something or someone out there who can take you down. A healthy dose of paranoia, or just good instincts (if you happen to travel sans secret service) serves you well.
7. Along those lines, always have a “Plan B.” Don’t assume anything is a sure bet. If you get complacent about your standing with your customers and co-workers, you begin to slip. And if you are not looking ahead to offer future products or not talking to future customers; eventually your well runs dry. Abraham Lincoln comes to mind: he failed at so many professions and attemps at public office, to list them would add too many words to this post. But he never gave up or stopped re-inventing himself.
8. Use current technology to reach your customers. Barack Obama tweeted his way to the White House and made use of the Internet to dazzle young voters. FDR is famous for his Fireside Chats, which made full use of the new media of the time – radio waves. If you’re not using appropriate media and social channels available to keep your customers engaged, then you’re stepping over cash. Grow your email list. Ask their opinions. Share more. Meet your customers where they are.
9. Assemble a “kitchen cabinet” of advisors, as Andrew Jackson did. Working with a team is almost always better than working alone. Even if your “cabinet members” are working on different accounts and projects; get in the habit of sharing strategies and building bonds with smart, successful peers. When you seek out people whose strengths differ from yours and arrange a weekly phone call with each of them, your cabinet will prove to be an invaluable resource!