“Does your performance reflect your potential?” is a question posed by Scott Addis in the introduction of his new book. It’s a question I have often asked of myself and of others over the years. Reaching your potential, hitting peak performance, and achieving your best self are different ways to talk about the subject of personal success. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Scott about his thoughts on maximizing performance.
Scott Addis is the President and CEO of The Addis Group and Beyond Insurance, and author of SUMMIT: Reach Your Peak And Elevate Your Customers’ Experience. Beyond Insurance is a coaching and consulting company whose purpose is to transform the process that insurance agents, brokers and carriers use when working with clients. Scott is recognized as an industry leader having been awarded the Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award as well as “25 Most Innovative Agents in America”.
SUMMIT is divided into four elevations. What are the four elevations? Why is the book organized this way?
When it came to putting the material into a book, I thought it seemed natural to organize and edit the writings into a sequence that reflected a progression from individual skill development to business relationships to the customer experience. Summit is therefore divided into the following four elevations:
Elevation I: Preparing for the Climb (Developing Your Personal Readiness)
Elevation II: Setting up Base Camp (Preparing to Present Yourself to Others)
Elevation III: On to the Summit (Focusing on the Customer Experience)
Elevation IV: The Final Ascent (Discovering Your Inner Strengths)
In Elevation I, you emphasize the importance of paying attention to four performance indicators and developing them as the reader progresses. One of these performance indicators is natural strength. Why is it crucial to focus on honing natural strengths rather than improving weaknesses?
Every person who has ever lived has natural strengths (also known as Unique Abilities) though most people are not conscious of them. Because of this lack of awareness, these people have not experienced the infinite rewards that come from being able to harness and develop their natural talents and pursue their passions wholeheartedly. The more you are able to recognize your natural strengths and shape your life around them, the more freedom, success and happiness you will experience. Your Unique Abilities (i.e., Natural Strengths) have four characteristics:
- A superior ability that other people notice and value
- Love doing it and want to do it as much as possible
- Energizing for you and others around you
- You keep getting better, never running out of possibilities for further improvement
Most individuals are not able to identify their natural strengths, let alone concentrate on them, because they are trapped by childhood training. We learn at a young age that the secret to success in life is working on our weaknesses. Unfortunately, it is the focus on weaknesses that results in a sense of deficiency, failure and guilt. As a result, our lives are filled with frustration, wasted potential and missed opportunities. Letting go of these “lack of abilities” to focus on the things you love is a key to maximizing your performance.
In Elevation III, you discuss the customer experience. What is the customer experience? Why are the first impressions so significant in building customer relationships?
The Customer Experience Journey is the sum of all experiences that the customer has with you and your firm, the actions and results that make the customer feel important, understood, heard and respected. Each customer interaction molds and shapes the Journey.
A first impression is the mark you make in the first moments of interacting with someone. This impression has a strong effect on one’s intellect, feelings, or conscience.
It is interesting to note that the brain is immensely perceptive and takes into account every minor detail of another’s facial features. The sight and sound around us are picked up by sense organs and the signals are passed to the brain. These signals are then compared to the memories of past experiences. The interpretations of these signals play a key role in forming the first impression.
In your book, you write: “Work-life balance remains my biggest challenge in my quest to reach the peak.” How do you define work-life balance? Why is it difficult to achieve equilibrium between the two?
The term “work/life balance” first appeared in the 1970’s. The expression means having equilibrium among all the priorities in your life. It is interesting to note that this state of balance differs from person to person. However, if there is little or no balance over an extended period of time, the vast majority of people experience stress and, eventually, burnout.
Today’s intense, competitive business climate has created corporate cultures that demand more and more from professionals. To get ahead, 60 to 70 hour work weeks appear to be the new standard.
Goal setting is also very important on the climb. Why is mental imagery, or visualization, a key component of successful goal setting?
Visualization allows you to see yourself at some point in the future, while goals offer a road map to reach these visions. There is nothing more rewarding than having visions, setting goals, launching into action and persisting until you reach your destination. The key to goal setting is your ability to turn this vision into reality.
Mental imagery is essential to goal setting. Your ability to see yourself at the point of goal actualization is a key component to successful goal setting. Goal setting breaks down unless you have great clarity about your vision.
Why is a positive first impression so important? What are some tips you can offer our listeners or readers on creating a positive first impression?
Because the first impression you give often lasts a long time and impacts your relationships, it is essential that you consider the following strategies in creating a positive first impression:
Be on time – Someone you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late. Arriving early is much better than arriving late and serves as the first step in creating a positive first impression.
A winning smile – Smile and the world smiles, too. There is nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease.
Body language – When it comes to first impressions, body language speaks louder than words. Stand tall, smile, make eye contact and greet with a firm handshake. Your body language projects confidence and self-assurance. If you are calm and confident, the other person will feel comfortable.
Dress for success – Physical appearance matters. The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you. Your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on.
Be positive, courteous and attractive – A positive attitude helps to create a good first impression. It also goes without saying that good manners and polite, attentive and courteous behavior will enhance the manner in which you are perceived. Turn off your cell phone and give the new acquaintance 100% of your attention. Manners really matter!
Do your homework – Learn as much as possible about the person you are about to meet for the first time. The other person will be impressed that you took the time to learn about her or him. Google and LinkedIn are excellent research tools. Doing your homework demonstrates your conscientious nature.
Be a good listener – What do people enjoy more than anything in the world? Talking about themselves, their goals, passions, hobbies, family, business, etc. Your listening skills will create a positive first impression and get the relationship off to a great start.
Bring an agenda – If your first encounter is a business meeting, come prepared with an agenda. The agenda demonstrates that you value the other person’s time. When they see their company’s logo on the agenda, it shows you are willing to go the extra mile.
Eye contact – As your focus must be on the other person, eye contact is essential. To make a good impression, you must have the other person’s complete attention. Your focused eyes demonstrate interest and respect. Wandering eyes show disrespect.
Visualization – Mentally rehearse your initial encounter before it takes place. See yourself smiling, relaxed and connecting with the other person. Visualize how a positive meeting will unfold. Visualization is a strategy used by successful people in all walks of life including, but not limited to, entertainers and athletes. Mental preparation has positive impact and results.
Nonverbal communication is the process of communicating through sending and receiving wordless messages. Nonverbal signals have five times the impact of verbal signals. Like the spoken language, body language has words, sentences and punctuation. Each gesture is like a single word and each word may have several meanings. Since nonverbal communication encompasses the vast majority of one’s overall message, you must understand the impact of your body language, gestures, facial expressions, posture and movements. Body language is the outward reflection of your emotional state and condition.
What are the five key elements that can make or break a businessperson’s attempt at successful nonverbal business communication?
The five key elements of nonverbal business communication are:
Eye contact indicates interest, attention and involvement. A person’s eyes are always “talking” and providing valuable clues. Good eye contact helps your audience develop trust in you, thereby elevating you and enhancing your message. Poor eye contact does just the opposite. Research indicates that people rely on visual clues to help them decide on whether to attend to a message or not. If they find that you are not “looking” at them when they are being spoken to, they feel uneasy. It is essential that you engage every member of the audience by looking at them.
A gesture is a non-facial body movement intended to express meaning. Gestures may be articulated with hands, arms or body, and also include movements of the head, face and eyes such as winking, nodding or rolling your eyes. Often, gestures tell us something about a person or situation that is not communicated verbally.
In a business setting, customers rely heavily on your face and hands to draw conclusions about the passion and conviction you have for your products and services.
Your posture tells a powerful, nonverbal story. Positive body posture transmits a message of authority, confidence, trust and power. Posture is understood through such indicators as direction of lean, body orientation, arm position and body openness. Studies indicate that a person who displays a forward lean or a decrease in backwards lean signifies positive sentiment during communication.
Smile and Laughter
People who laugh and smile, even when they don’t feel especially happy, make their brain’s left hemisphere surge with electrical activity. When you laugh, every organ in your body is affected in a positive way. As with smiling, when laughter is incorporated as a permanent part of who you are, it attracts friends, improves health and extends life.
The Power of the Touch
Researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted an experiment that became known as “the phone booth test.” They placed a coin on the ledge of the phone booth, hid behind a tree and waited for an unsuspecting subject to walk in and find it. When this happened, one of the researchers would approach the subject and say, “Did you see my coin in the phone booth? I need it to make another call.” Only 23% of the subjects admitted they had found it and gave it back. In the second part of the study, the coin was again placed in the phone booth, but when the researchers approached the people who took it, they touched them slightly on the elbow for not longer than three seconds and inquired about the coin. This time 68% admitted to having the coin, looked embarrassed and said things like, “I was looking around to try to see who owned it.” The touch, whether it is your handshake, touch on the elbow, a high five or pat on the back has a positive impact.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Yes, a person’s potential, what he or she is capable of becoming, represents their capacity for growth and development. I ask the question: Does your performance reflect your potential? If the answer is no (and I bet it is), Summit will reveal tools, strategies, systems and exercises to assist you in maximizing your capabilities. Summit will help you close the gap between your potential and your performance—giving you clarity, purpose and passion.
Where may our audience find out more information about you and SUMMIT?