Dreams are worth shit...

With full disclosure this isn’t about self-reflection, disillusionment with my lot, or wanting something so badly but never achieving it — in some ways it’s really a simple “bait and switch”. I suppose I should have titled this “Dreams are worth shit unless you actually do something” (although, with continued disclosure, I wanted to see if it’s true you can get higher open rates and readership when you put a swear word in the title).


I digress a little.

It sits in a box in the basement now (because frankly my definition of workspace has changed so dramatically), but at one time a little sign followed me from office to office, cube to cube, and I would always ensure it found its way up onto the wall — it consisted of six simple words: “Wish it. Dream it. Do it”.

I mention this because I’m a big believer in having dreams (and aspirations) that are bigger than life. I’ve always loved the bold vision because it will take you very far and fuel you when you the going gets tough. And even if you fall short, you’ll find you’ve gone much further than ever imagined. It’s crucial to “wish the impossible dream” — every inspirational story has this at its core.

As I picked up the phone I could hear the enthusiasm in his voice — and it was the same enthusiasm I’d heard two months prior, except it was bigger. The dream had him going international, had $20 Million in the bank, and cocktails on the beach; his idea would go viral. It was a solid idea in my mind, although I was a little wary of the “hop, skip and jump” to those cocktails on the beach. A solid amount of dreaming had been going on for the last couple of months but as far as I could tell, there was little else going on that would move the dream into the realm of reality.

Maybe my title isn’t a cheap “bait and switch” after all.

This is an absolute truism — once you’ve identified that “impossible dream”, you need to get it down on paper (literally), get it up on the wall as a constant reminder, and then get down to work. Anything less and it’s nothing more than a dream, and as the title suggests, isn’t worth very much.

“I’m exhausted”, she said as she raised her glass. “I haven’t had a vacation in two years — on the bright side, we finally closed that client we’ve been chasing for two years, and all the video blogging over the past three years has finally paid off; I have a conversation tomorrow about being a key note speaker. I’m getting there.” I raised my glass because I can remember when she started her journey five years ago; she’s come a long way with her business. Then her phone rang, she apologized with a shrug, and took the call.

I don’t have any research to back it up but I don’t think you get very tired dreaming (although maybe frustrated), but what I do know is you get very tired making your dreams happen — at least that is what I’ve observed.

And I don’t see any other way (although I am a Capricorn).


Around this time of the year 94 % is concerning...

As a sales leader was lamenting about the performance of one of her sales representatives she looked at me and said, “You know, 94 % is a great mark on a chemistry test but not so great as a performance to plan”. I couldn’t help but nod in agreement — if only I had gotten ninety-four. As for being 94% to plan in October, I also had to agree. There is just so little time left in the year to make it up.


If you are in sales (or marketing for that matter) you will probably know what the sales leader was referring to; if you are not, I will try to offer a perspective that may help.

At the beginning of each year everyone in the sales organization is given an annual sales target* (also called a quota or sales plan) and performance is measured against how they do relative to the target (and usually compensated in some way). This annual target is usually divided into four quarters, with each quarter divided into three months; ultimately you end up with a sales target for each month that adds up to the annual target. In effect, each month is a performance benchmark that allows progress to be measured. As an example, if your actual sales in January was $100,000 and your target for January was $90,000 — you are 110% of target; if your actual sales after the first nine months is $940,000 and your target is $1,000,000, then you find yourself 94% of target (with a deficit of $60,000). That means, in October, you not only have to achieve your target for the final Quarter (October, November and December) but you also need to make up the $60,000 deficit to ensure achievement of your annual plan.

It should be pointed out that when you are looking at performance versus target you need to consider monthly performance for sure, but most importantly how you are tracking to your annual plan — some months will have you above target, and some months you will be under, but it is the aggregate by the end of the year that is important. Being significantly below target so late in the year makes the likelihood of being below target by the end of the year much greater, and this was part of the issue the Sales Leader was wrestling with.

At this time of the year, it is all about CONFIDENCE in being successful by year end — the clock is literally ticking. Behind the Sales Leader’s lament with a lead performance indicator of 94% was the concern that there was no “line of sight” to how the sales rep was going to make up the current deficit, or for that matter, an understanding of why there was a deficit in the first place.

And this is the real issue regarding the situation — a lack of understanding of the situation, why the deficit is occurring, what is being done to correct the situation, et cetera. The reality of sales is there will be times you miss your target (sometimes there are situation that happen that are beyond your control) but it becomes a real sin if there is not an understanding what is happening. I know for a fact the Sales Leader would be a lot less concerned if her sales representative had proactively addressed the reasons for being at 94 % of plan, what the situation was, what activities were being taken, what the new opportunities were to address the deficit, et cetera.

Without any of this, there is a very good reason to be concerned with 94%… sales is not a chemistry test after all.


*If you are leading (or part of a sales organization) that does not have an annual sales target you are pretty much guaranteed not to succeed over the long run.

The quirkiness that comes with business travel...

It’s a lot easier to simply say you are going to Boston for a business trip instead of Newton (which is a suburb of Boston) — it’s simply more recognizable and comes will less explanation; although disappointing all around when you clarify. I don’t travel as much as I used to but every so often I find myself heading to the airport with carry on luggage in tow. A recent trip had me going to visit a potential client, and with it, offered up an opportunity to explore all the trials and tribulations that come with such trips. In other words, it was an opportunity to deal with all the quirkiness that seems to inherently be part of business travel.


As I look back on this, the first hint of the quirkiness yet to come occurred when I attempted to book my hotel room. When I went to reserve a room I was told the hotel was full but an alternative hotel had vacancies. This was particularly disappointing because the hotel I wanted to stay at was an easy five minute walk to my client — alas, I needed a place to sleep so I took the alternative. The idea of not having a convenient five-minute walk (and needing to rent a car) started to fester so I called the front desk of my preferred hotel to see if they could find me a room. I was informed that there were a number of rooms available and was passed onto “reservations”, and as you might guess, I was informed that the hotel was all booked up (but there was an alternative hotel available). After explaining I was told differently, I was again informed there were simply no rooms available. Spurred on by the idiocy of this, I hung up and called the front desk, explained what was happening, and eventually they took my reservation there and then. With that done, all I had to do was call and cancel the reservation for that alternative hotel. I was off the hamster wheel. (Persistence)

A 5:00 am start had me at the airport with lots of time to make my way from one side of customs and security to the other.

After a couple of attempts at the check-in kiosk, I was informed my identity couldn’t be verified and I needed to see an agent — twenty minutes later I handed my passport to an agent and explaining that the kiosk “doesn’t like me”. With boarding pass in hand, I was told that the reason for the uncooperative kiosk was because I hadn’t included a “Mr” when I booked my flight; as a result the kiosk removed a letter from my name to solve for the missing tile, but in doing so made my name unidentifiable. (Learning experience)


Because of my boarding pass issue, I found myself one of the last people to get onto the plane and had to check my carry on — a little inconvenient because I would have to wait at the luggage carousel but none of this mattered because I was on the plane and we were on time. That was until we were informed the pilots had missed their “connecting flight” and new pilots would be here in about twenty minutes. (Patience)

It was a smooth flight.

Some other quirky highlights of my short trip — I could get onto the guest password, the network, but not my email (I would have to access emails at the hotel); I thought I had lost my wallet and was moments from making the dreaded call to cancel my credit cards when I finally found it (my new bag has many, many, places to put things); I lost my umbrella (I still have no idea how that happened or where it could be. And yes, I went back to the hotel to look for it.). (Adaptability)

It was a smooth flight back home after a productive couple of days (with only a slight delay).

It was nice to be back home — that was until I started to get a sore throat, a cough, and a fever. I’ve been under the weather all weekend, and you guessed it, the weather outside was beautiful. (Stoic)