To hit the ground running in 2023, we can start by taking responsibility. Whenever we blame outside factors for things that go wrong, we immediately forget that there are things we can evaluate in ourselves to say, okay, well even if this is the case, even if this was just a terrible prospect, are there things that I could have done better and differently in this circumstance to create a better outcome? And almost inevitably, the answer is going to be yes.

But in order for that to happen, we have to consider it. And we have to think, is this actually what I want to do? And if you do that, you’re just going to feel better about yourself. You’re going to feel better about your situation. Because you’re allowing yourself some level of control in the situation rather than simply delegating the failure to outside factors and assume you’re a victim and there’s nothing you can do about it.

David: Hi and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co-host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing how to hit the ground running in the new year. Happy New Year, and welcome back Jay!

Jay: Thank you, David. It’s such a pleasure to be here. I think everybody has a desire, you know, at the beginning of the year, to say this year’s going to be different, you know, we’re going to make all these changes. It’s going to be fantastic.

But do they really have a way to translate that into action? I picture myself hitting the ground, you know, it’s like the cartoon when they start to run, you know, their feet are moving, but they’re not moving quite yet. I think a lot of us are in that place. How do we get from spinning to actually moving forward?

David: Yeah, it’s a great question. I know in the promotional products industry, we have trade shows that start at the beginning of the new year, the ASI Show in Orlando, the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas. And, There’s one in Fort Worth as well, an ASI show in Fort Worth. I think it’s actually in January as well this year.

So we got three trade shows in the industry that are really designed to help people get up and running and get started. But as we look at today, you know, this first week of the new year, even aside from that, whether or not you’re attending a trade show, chances are you’re probably pretty reasonably fired up.

Okay, here we go. It’s another new year. What are we going to do? This is exciting. And if we think about the types of prospects that we want to interact with this year, the types of clients that we would like to attract, the types of customers that we might want to let go this year, and really focus on building our businesses as proactively as possible.

Building our client lists as proactively as possible can really help to improve our quality of life in a dramatic way.

Jay: Yeah. I love that. in the restaurant business, there’s something called a theoretical food cost and an actual food cost. Theoretical is, what would things be like if you ran perfectly? If there was no waste, nothing. Everything was perfect.

And then actual is where you’re at. And the goal is to constantly be trying to close that gap. And so to me, I think about it in any business, what does your ideal look like? Your ideal client base, your ideal staff, your ideal sales?

So if you can know what that is and then track a course to get to it, I think that’s a great way to feel progress. Because that’s what I tend to miss when I’m running a business is sometimes it’s just a daily grind. And I don’t feel like I made any progress today. And if you do that over and over again, it’s hard to continue to press forward.

David: It really is. And I think a lot of that goes to the fact that very often we’re just tied up in the day. Whatever it is that’s going on in the day, we’re just facing whatever is happening to us moment by moment, day by day. And that can get very frustrating.

I remember, I think it was Tony Robbins was talking in a seminar one time about the idea that in order to create our future, we need to envision it first. It’s like if you are going to build a house, you don’t just start nailing boards together, I think was the analogy he used. I thought it was a great one.

You have to envision it first. You have to figure out, what do I want this thing to look like? Where is it going to be located? How many rooms are going to be in it? All that sort of thing. And at the beginning of a new year, it’s really nice to start thinking about what do I want my life to look like this year?

Who do I want to be surrounded by? Who do I want to interact with? Who do I no longer want to interact with? What types of customers do I want to work with? What types of customers have I decided I’m no longer really interested in pursuing anymore?

Simple decisions like that can have an amazing impact on your life and your career. If you simply change the quality of the prospects that you’re targeting. If you go from interacting with a whole lot of small dollar clients to interacting with a smaller group of high dollar clients, particularly if those high dollar clients are people that are actually enjoyable to work, everything changes.

Because now you’re not running around like a crazy person. You’re able to focus more on a smaller group of people that you can serve to the best of your ability and all of that impacts everything you do going forward.

Jay: Yeah. Quality of life, frame of mind, stress level, home life, all of those things can be impacted.

You were talking about your Tony Robbins analogy. I’m a big sports fan, and in football, typically when a coach comes out, they have their first 15 plays planned. They know exactly what they’re going to do. And the reason for that is so that they can kind of assess the skills and what the rest of the team is doing.

And I kind of was thinking, you know, maybe that’s a great way to kind of start the year. because you’re not going to plan out every step of the whole year. because things change. And we’ve talked about pivoting. But if you’ve got a plan for your first 90 days, this is what I’m going to do and this is how I’m going to go about it, then maybe that can set you up better for the rest of the year.

David: Yes, and it makes us just feel better about ourselves because we’ve actually given it some thought. We at least have an idea of what we want to do and where we want to go. There’s that great quote from wartime, which basically says, “no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy,” right? So we know that even if we put everything together, we want to do things a certain way.

We know that it’s not necessarily going to happen that way. However, if we at least have some things in mind and we say, okay, I would like to do this and I’d like to do that, and I’d like to do this. You may not be able to do it immediately, in the order that you’ve chosen, but it gives you something to go back to after you’re dealing with putting out the fires or whatever else you have to do.

If you’ve got that basic plan laid out and say, okay, I was able to accomplish this first thing, then I got sidetracked, but let’s go back to that second thing and then I got sidetracked again. But let’s go back to that third thing and work through it systematically. It just allows you to probably live more the kind of life you want to live.

Because you’re deciding, in advance, what it is that you want to do, who you’re going to be doing it with, where you’re going to be doing it, when you’re going to be doing it. And even though you will not be 100% successful in accomplishing that, if you get 70% of the way there, or 80% of the way there, or 86% of the way there, whatever your number is, you’re going to be a whole lot better off than if you start out with a blank slate. Not knowing, not deciding where you’re going to go or what you’re going to do, then just taking it as it comes.

Being reactive like that is okay for some people, but generally for business people, business owners, salespeople, reactivity is not a tremendous asset.

Jay: Yeah, I agree. But I also think we have a tendency to look at losing in a negative way, because it’s losing, right? But losing is learning, right? And that’s one of the reasons why a coach runs those first sets of plays because they find out, will the run game work?

Will the passing game work? Is their defense strong on this side of the line or that side of the line? So as you try things in business and you do lose, in some areas, it should be losing is learning, right?

David: Mm-hmm.

Jay: And then you can pivot and you can adjust. And the goal is to win more than you lose.

But if you think you’re always going to win, you’re setting yourself up and that’s going to be very hard for you. Or if you only focus on the losses and not learn to grow from them, that’s also going to be difficult. So learning from losing I think is such an important part of starting a new year.

David: I agree completely. And even the word lose or the idea of losing, I mean, if you think in a sports analogy, you can be losing in the second quarter, in the third quarter, and then you can end up winning at the end. And you haven’t lost until the game is over, right? So

Jay: yeah,

David: in life and in business, we haven’t lost until the game is over.

We’re still in it every single day. We are still in it. We’re still in life, we’re still in business. We still have opportunities. So, It’s difficult to even say I’ve lost, because if you’re still breathing, the game is still going and you haven’t lost. You may feel like you’re behind. You may feel like you need to change the plays, but you haven’t lost yet, right?

Jay: Yeah. You haven’t lost yet. And one of the other things that I find to be valuable, maybe especially at the beginning of the new year, is to challenge some of the assumptions that kind of creep around your business.

Like I’ve been somewhere and I’ll say, what about this? And they’ll say, oh, we’ve tried that. That doesn’t work. Right? You’ve heard that how many times, right?

And then I’m like, well times have changed. Things are different. Maybe we can tweak it a little bit. And then you try it and there’s amazing success there. It’s almost cultural within a company, sometimes. “No, that doesn’t work. We can’t do that.” I think challenging those assumptions can be of great value.

David: Yes, absolutely. And there are a lot of times when people will do that. They’ll say they tried something, they’ll say, that didn’t work, and they will assume that it was that thing that didn’t work, when in fact it might have been the way that they implemented that thing.

It might have been the way that they used that thing. Maybe they didn’t implement it as well as they thought they did. In the promotional products industry, salespeople run into this all the time. They’ll come up with a recommendation for a product that somebody can use, whether it’s a custom imprinted whatever, mug or t-shirt or cap or doesn’t matter, whatever the item is.

And people will say things like, “oh yes, we tried mugs. Mugs don’t work.” It’s like, okay, well there are hundreds of millions of custom imprinted mugs that are working for businesses all over the world. If it didn’t work for your business, why didn’t it work? Right?

What did you imprint on the mug? Who did you give those mugs to? What did you do with them? Did they stay in the box by your desk and they were never given out? That’s not going to work, right? So there are a lot of times where people think they did something, they feel like they’ve done something, and they either really didn’t do it, or they didn’t do it as well as it could be done.

And I think for most of us, that’s something that we have to reflect on. Not just, was this done? But did I do it to the best of my ability? Did I do it better than my competitors? Did I do it to the extent that I’m capable of doing it? Or did I just sort of turn in a half-baked performance?

Jay: Yeah, kind of haphazard. And what I found oftentimes is it was the employee, you know, you tried a new sales pitch or a new program to get leads and it was just the person who was doing it wasn’t into it.

David: Yeah.

Jay: And then we all decide, oh, that doesn’t work. Let’s move on. Instead of always assessing your systems and your returns and saying, well, wait a minute, let’s listen in on what you’re doing and let’s find out if there’s ways to tweak or improve your close rate.

So challenging assumptions. I just love that concept. Especially several times a year, and especially at the beginning of the year.

David: There’s a quote that I thought of that really kind of cracks me up. I’ve used it with my kids a lot. And whenever I say it to my kids or whenever my kids say it back to me, it always makes us laugh because the quote is, “it’s a poor artist who blames his tools,” right?

I don’t know if you’ve heard that expression or some variation of that. And the way that we say it is, “’tis a poor artist who blames her tools,” right? If I’m talking to my daughter and she’ll say, “oh, this didn’t turn out the way that I wanted. This paintbrush stinks,” or whatever. “Oh, it is a poor artist that blames her tools!”

And in business, we just have a tendency to do that. Everybody in business has a tendency to do that. When something goes wrong, well, it was this circumstance, or it was this person, or it was this prospect. This prospect was unqualified. Or this person was, whatever it is.

And it may very well be the case. But whenever we blame outside factors for things that go wrong, we immediately forget that there are things we can evaluate in ourselves to say, okay, well even if this is the case, even if this was just a terrible prospect, are there things that I could have done better and differently in this circumstance to create a better outcome? And almost inevitably, the answer is going to be yes.

But in order for that to happen, we have to consider it. And we have to think, is this actually what I want to do? And if you do that, you’re just going to feel better about yourself. You’re going to feel better about your situation. Because you’re allowing yourself some level of control in the situation rather than simply delegating the failure to outside factors and assume you’re a victim and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Jay: Yeah. Yeah. So, perfect. And, and the other thing I would add to challenging the assumption is just try stuff. You know, sometimes we say, you know, you’re on the whiteboard and you’re like, no idea is a bad idea, which I’ve never believed is true. There are bad ideas that end up on the board. Right? But sometimes something sounds a little crazy or a little wacky, you know, trying some of that stuff, you just never know.

I have some good friends and they’re part of a major software game development company and they used to spend five years, six years developing these vast games, you know, and it would take forever. And they have no idea if they’re going to be liked.

And one day they said, “what if we just put out some kind of small games to see how they would go and if people would like them. And then if they do, we would expand on them.”

And they had hit after hit after hit. And you may know their most recent hit, it’s Fortnite, one of the most popular games ever created. Fortnite was a side project that they were just kind of saying, “Hey, what if we did this or that,” while they were working on one of these massive projects.

“Just something we’ll try. We’ll throw it out there, see what happens.” And that’s such an amazing concept to me. Sometimes you’re like, no, it has to follow these guidelines. Sometimes try something new and see if it works.

David: Yeah. And sometimes the thing that we have to try that’s new is exactly what you talked about, which is listening.

Jay: Mm-hmm.

David: Listening more than talking and not making assumptions about what people want. Just actually asking them, what do you need? How can we help? And whatever it is that you’re selling. Sales ultimately boils down to solving some sort of need or some sort of problem.

And if you focus on the product, if you focus on what it is that you’re selling instead of “what problem needs to be solved for this client,” you’re never going to be as successful as possible.

So much of it is about trying to get inside the prospect’s head, client’s head, by asking them questions about what they really want to accomplish. What are they looking to do?

And then prescribing the appropriate solution to help them do it. And this kind of ties into the idea of features and benefits. And I was having a conversation with someone about this the other day, where back in the fifties and sixties and seventies where features and benefits were considered premium, amazing ideas in selling.

A lot of years have passed since then. And people have gotten more sophisticated. Their needs have changed and developed and evolved. And so the way that I view it now is that you start out with features and benefits, and that’s going to be somewhat helpful. But then you need to start getting into the emotions and the experiences. You know, talking to them about what’s it going to be like to have this result, or what’s it going to be like to have this product and the result that this product is going to create for you?

That’s the emotions, it’s going to feel great to be able to go out and attract more clients with this promotion that we’re going to put together for you. So you can really tie in not just the features, not just the benefits, but the emotions, the experience of what it’s going to be like to do that.

And ultimately, what is the transformation? What are we going to do to transform what they’re doing so that when they buy whatever it is that we’re selling, they’re going to experience something completely different and better than what they experienced before.

Jay: Yeah, so true. I was thinking about the end of the year and that my inbox was inundated with surveys from companies saying, “how did we do?”

And I was like, “oh my goodness. Not another one.” You know, as a consumer, I’m like, really? Another one? But when you think about what the businesses are trying to do is they’re making a genuine effort to try and understand their customer experience and how they can improve.

And so as much as I don’t like those forms, I do appreciate what they’re trying to do. And you can do that. You know, if you’re a smaller organization, you can just make a phone call and say, “Hey, you know, how are we doing? Are we meeting your needs? What else can we do for you? I just want to see if you’re getting, you know, good service from your account executive,” those types of things.

But making an honest effort to find out. Because oftentimes our perception of the product we’re delivering is very different than what the customer is experiencing.

David: Yeah, exactly. And when you have companies like Amazon, for example, who will send out an email after every delivery, “how was it? Was it great? Was it not great?”

It’s like, “oh boy, again?” Like, “I have to do this again?” But for most businesses, you’re not doing it every time. You’re not doing it every order. So if you do it once or twice a year, it’s not going to be as dreaded as the type of experience that you’re talking about. And another thing that you can do, when you are a small business, is you can basically send out a one or two sentence open-ended question kind of email, so it doesn’t come across like a survey.

But if I just sent you an email that said, “Hey Jay, how did we do for you last year? Hit reply and let me know. Thanks. David Blaise,” right?

you’ll reply to it or you won’t. Some percentage of the people will reply to it, but the ones who reply are going to just tell you what they thought, whether it was positive or negative, and it’s very non-threatening.

They don’t even view it as a survey, because it just comes across as a very informal communication between two people who happened to have been working together.

Jay: Yeah, I love this suggestion that you just made. Just a letter. The more it looks like a form letter, the more it looks like something that everybody received, the less likely I am to respond to it.

But if it looks like a personal note, “hey, just checking in,” I am much more likely to respond. Such great feedback, David. So how do people find out more?

David: Well, you can go to, schedule a call with myself or my team. Then we can see what you’re dealing with, see if we can help you through it as we begin this new year.

It’s just such a great time to be able to focus in on where we want to be, where we want to go, what we want to do. It’s an exciting time. Exciting time to be alive, right? Every day is an exciting day when you’re focused on the right things and interacting with the right people.

And so that’s another thing. If you have been watching this podcast, listening to this podcast for any length of time, you’ll know if you’re the right person for this. You’ll know if we’re a good fit. If we’re not, you’ll know that. You’ll listen to you go, “ah, I don’t like what these guys are having to say.” All right, unsubscribe. Right?

But if what we’re talking about makes sense for you, schedule a call! Let’s have a conversation and see what happens.

Jay: Yeah, I totally agree.

David, thank you so much. I hope you have a great year and for everybody who set those resolutions, you can do it! Just keep pressing forward and make it happen this year.

David: Stick with it! Thanks, Jay.

Jay: That’s right. Thank you.

Are You Ready to Make 2023 Your Best Year Ever?

If so, check out the five primary ways we help promotional product distributors grow:

  1. Just Getting Started? If you (or someone on your team) is just getting started in promotional product sales, learn how we can help.
  2. Need Clients Now? If you’re already grounded in the essentials of promotional product sales and just need to get clients now, click here.
  3. Want EQP/Preferential Pricing? Are you an established industry veteran doing a significant volume of sales? If so, click here to get End Quantity Pricing from many of the top supplier lines in the promo industry.
  4. Time to Hire Salespeople? If you want to hire others to grow your promo sales, click here.

    1 Response to "Hit the Ground Running in 2023"

    • David Blaise

      What do YOU want to happen in the New Year? Share your thoughts in the comment box below…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.