Category Archives: Articles by Barry

Selling Your Ideas, Your Vision, Yourself: Whether You’re a CEO, a Manager or Simply a Human Being

By Barry Maher

Way back when  was 16 and selling magazines subscriptions door to door, I learned a lesson that no one who ever wants to sell anything to anyone should ever forget.

My fellow high-schoolers and I would generate the sales leads, pretending to be “one of the kids in the neighborhood,” even though we’d been shipped in for the afternoon from towns that were miles away. Then we’d hand off the lead to the crew chief who would go back and close the sale.

I was the top kid in the office. I set more appointments that led to more sales than anybody else, and I was constantly being called up to roleplay in front of the other “kids in the neighborhood.” I thought I was as slick as Vaseline on a marble floor. Since we were paid on a bonus system, and money was our true measurement of success, most of my peers agreed with me. And as far as I could see, I was getting better and better.

One day I was working with Terry, the number one crew chief, the top closer in the company. I was pitching a middle-aged woman through her screen door, and Terry was standing just out of sight, listening. I was in peak form and 16 years old and showing off, and damn I was good. The prospect was wary, coming up with a number of objections, but no matter which way she tried to squirm, I was there first waiting for her. I had her boxed in—wrapped up with a pink ribbon tied around her. All ready for Terry to move in for the close. I handed her off to him, and went off to work my magic farther on down the street.

Later, Terry came out of the call holding a contract. He caught up with me on the sidewalk in front of a house where I’d just finished another pitch. The first thing he said was, “You know something? You’re the best salesman I’ve ever seen.”

“Really!?!” I mean I knew I was good, but this was astonishing!

He nodded. “And that lead you just got, she said the same thing.”

“No kidding. Well that’s gre. . .”

“There’s only one small problem.” Terry held the unsigned contract up in front of my face and slowly—very slowly—tore it up in eight or nine pieces. Then he stuffed them into my shirt pocket. (The company might have been a bit shaky on some of the stricter elements of honesty, but they were way ahead of their time about littering. They knew it was rotten PR.) “The problem is that you aren’t supposed to be a great salesman, you’re supposed to be one of the kids in the neighborhood.”

          Truth: When you’re dealing with a good salesperson you might think, “Boy, this guy is a great salesperson.” When you really are with a great salesperson you think you’re with one of the kids in the neighborhood.

If you aren’t speaking from conviction, if you don’t really believe what you’re saying, you’re never going to be a great salesperson. Not unless you’re one of the best actors that every lived. And if you’re that good an actor, you’ll probably be better off—those you’re trying to sell will certainly be better off—if you just go to Hollywood.

Good salespeople are polished and professional. And just a little slick. They’ve got a great pitch. They might be very likeable but they make most prospects just a bit wary.

Great salespeople might be as polished as the Crown Prince of Moravia if that’s who they are or they might be as folksie as Will Rogers or Abe Lincoln. They might be a disorganized sloppy mess and not particularly articulate, though they’re always likeable—very likeable. And somehow they do always say just the right thing. Since they so obviously seems to believe in what they’re saying, it doesn’t seem to be a pitch. They “just seem to make a lot of sense.”

And they’re never slick. They’re genuine. The longer they talk, the less wary the prospect becomes. When the time comes for the great salesperson to close, buying from him or her is often as natural and as easy as ordering a fine meal at a favorite restaurant.

Great salespeople are aggressive and persistent and non-threatening: which means they’re subtle and likeable enough that few ever perceive them as aggressive and persistent.

If a prospect tells you you’re a great salesperson, you aren’t.  What he’s saying is that he feels that he’s being ‘sold’ something he would never purchase on his own. He may rollover and buy, but he won’t be happy about it.  He won’t be happy to see you on your next visit, and he’s far more likely to develop buyer’s remorse and re-contact you the next day.

To me, the highest praise a salesperson can receive from a prospect is simply, “You make a lot of sense.”  People who say that don’t feel sold, they feel their needs are being met. Of course they may never have realized they had those needs until you walked in the door.  And I guarantee they’ll buy more from the salesperson who appears to make sense than from anyone they consider “a great salesperson.”

And yes, pretending to be “one of the kids in the neighborhood” when you aren’t is not the way to sell. And, even at 16, I should have known better. In order to be “one of the kids in the neighborhood” you’ve actually got to live there.

© Copyright 2013, Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada, Los Angeles, California

While Not All Motivational Speakers Are Great, All Great Speakers Are Motivational.

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Selling Yourself to Employers

 

Hi Everyone,

Times being what they are, we’ve gotten any number of requests for tips about applying and interviewing for a job. So this month’s article is Time To Step Up, a helpful piece on just that, by David Wilson (no relation to my associate, Steve Wilson).

The one thing I wonder about is David’s comment on shaking hands. “Trickier than you think,” he writes, “technically, your thumb should be pointed directly at the ceiling.”

I have no idea:

  1. Where this came from,
  2. Who instituted this thumbs-up technical requirement,
  3. How it could be accomplished or
  4. Why anyone might want to do it.

Personally the only unusual handshake I’d recommend on a job interview would be the “Super-secret, Ultra-hip, Mickey Mouse Club Handshake and Friend-maker,” and then only if you’re being interviewed by Mickey, or perhaps Donald.

Aside from that, this is an article that’s we’d all do well to read, whether we’re job hunting or not.

And yes, though there may be “no excuse for lousy proofing,” we’ve all suffered the occasional typo. Including of course this newsletter and, as you may note, Mr. Wilson.

You can find Time to Step Up at http://tinyurl.com/4jff7pj.
All the Best,

Barry

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Motivation and Self Esteem: a Tirade

 

By Barry Maher

The business gurus are right when they tell us that many of us have trouble filling the glass—have trouble living the business life we feel we should be living—because of our lack of self esteem. Of course, sometimes one of the reasons we don’t esteem ourselves more is due to the very fact that we are not living that life.

This is the place where a self-help article is supposed to pat you on the back and tell you that you are a valuable human being, so you should hold yourself in higher esteem.

I’m not going to tell you that.

I don’t even know you. You know yourself a lot better than I do. You are, when it comes right down to it, the world’s foremost authority on you. And if you don’t think much of yourself, who am I to contradict you? Maybe you know something I don’t know.

 

Your Place on the Continuum

Obviously, you are a valuable human being to yourself. You are the only you that you have. But whether or not you are valuable to the rest of us—to the rest of humanity—that depends upon what you’re doing for us.

What have you done for any of us lately? Maybe, not much. So as far this, “I’m okay, you’re okay” stuff, maybe you’re not so okay. It’s not like everybody is.

The universe has produced Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and Adolf Hitler. They weren’t okay. From those guys it’s a bad/good continuum leading ultimately to those people who donate their kidneys to complete strangers and Mother Theresa. On the way it passes through Benito Mussolini; Al Capone; Richard Nixon; the salesperson who sells some poor little old lady some overpriced annuity she doesn’t need; the driver who runs a red light because he doesn’t have any patience, annoying and aggravating everyone else at the intersection and maybe even risking somebody else’s life; and the bozo who talks in the movie theater because he’s too self centered to care that nobody around him wants to listen to him babble while they’re paying $9 to watch a film.

None of these people are all that okay—at least not when they are doing what they’re doing.

Continuing across the continuum, we have the guy who gives an occasional buck to somebody in need, the woman who donates regularly to the United Way, the volunteer who gives several hours a month to help the homeless, etc. etc. etc. We are all on the continuum someplace at various levels of okay-dome. And though most of us don’t swing from Hitler to Mother T, we do swing along it at different times of our lives, on different days, even in different hours.

Obviously we don’t all have the same values. So each of us is going to have their own perception of the bad/good continuum. But still, on balance—by our own standards—some of us aren’t so okay at all. No matter how much we try to justify some of the things we do.

Tip: If you want to improve your self esteem, try earning it. Socrates said, “The nearest way to glory is to strive to be what you wish to be thought to be.” It’s also the nearest way to self esteem.

Try being a better person—by your own standards. Maybe then you’ll think better of yourself.

 

Improve the Product, Let the Image Take Care of Itself

I’m all for self esteem. Too many people stop themselves before they ever start. They can’t do it because they’re certain they can’t do it. And positive thinking is a wonderful thing. But Pollyanna positive thinking and the more Pollyanna aspects of the self esteem movement are the logical outgrowths of 1950’s style selling and marketing: the mindset that it’s easier to improve the way people think about a product—improve its image—than to actually improve the product.

“Let’s not worry about making you a better person, Mr. Manson. Let’s just improve your self esteem, and maybe that will make you better.”

Yes, in most cases you probably can if only you believe you can. Human potential being what it is, you should never, NEVER limit yourself by selling yourself short. And if you’re a manager, you want to help your people avoid selling themselves short. You want to help them realize just how much they’re capable of accomplishing.

But, for yourself, if the reason for your low self esteem is that you’re not living up to your own standards, then perhaps the best way to improve that self esteem is to work on improving the product—the self you aren’t esteeming. Do that, and you may find that the esteem—self and otherwise—takes care of itself.

Reality counts.

 

Barry Maher speaks, consults and writes on increasing productivity AND job satisfaction, as well as motivation, management and sales. His book, Filling the Glass: The Skeptic’s Guide to Positive Thinking in Business was cited by Today’s Librarian magazine as “[One of] The Seven Essential Popular Business Books.”

© Copyright 2016,  Las Vegas, Nevada, San Diego, Barry Maher

 

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Speak Softly and Carry a Big Carrot: Besides that Unimpressive Paycheck, What’s in It for Me?

 


Barry Maher’s
 
Filling the Glass Newsletter
Speaking of Real World Tactics, Reality-Based Motivation
February, 2014    Vol. 14  Issue 2

Filling_the_Glass_Cover_sized

A study at the University of Michigan found that companies with at least partial worker ownership average 1.5 times the profits of traditional companies in their fields.

Give away a piece of the business and everybody makes more.

According to the American Compensation Association, 63 percent of U.S. companies now use incentives, bonuses and other profit sharing arrangements to tie at least part of their workers’ pay to their performance. In 1990, only 15 percent did.

One out of every three businesses offers stock options to employees below the level of executive. There’s even a term for it, growthcos, companies that use options to compensate workers as opposed to stodgecos, old line companies that don’t. Is it possible that we may be developing an entire class of “worker capitalists,” employees who share the risks and share the profits?

Karl Marx would have been delighted. Or appalled, I’m not sure which.

“People aren’t coming to work as factory workers but as business owners,” Michael Stipicevic, plant manager for Unilever’s Cartersville, Georgia plant told the Los Angeles Times. “They’re saying this is my machine, my plant.” Unilever’s “goal-sharing” pay plan has produced a torrent of cost-saving ideas. Half of the first year savings are returned to the workers.

Speak softly and carry a big carrot.

Then too, employees work best when they’re being themselves, when they’re fully committed, and yes, when they’re contributing their own ideas. The average worker supposedly makes 100 unsupervised decisions a day. If they’re looking over their shoulder on every one of them, they’re going to walk into a lot of walls.

Catalyst, a non-profit group that seeks to advance women in business, commissioned a study of business people to discover what was most important to them in a career. At the very top of the list were the emotional benefits, like supportive management, freedom to do the job on their own and control over their output.

Financial compensation is important. But you can’t buy loyalty, enthusiasm, commitment or devotion. You can however earn it.

© Copyright 2014, Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada

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glass_button Slicing through the Noise: Powerful Communication for Leadership and Professional Success
glass_button Speaking of Motivation
glass_button Selling Yourself, Your Ideas, Your Vision, Even Your Product and Services
glass_button Shut Up and Speak: Non-Verbal Communication
glass_button De-Stress for Success: Managing Stress to Promote Work/Life Balance and Restore the Joy of Living.
glass_button Selling Value Not Price

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Denial: I’m Not A Bully. Or a Bimbo.

By Barry Maher

“What are you trying to pull here?”

“Are you an idiot?”

“Whose stupid idea was this?”

From the governor of New Jersey to the president of the United States to the shoe shine guy in the hotel lobby, in today’s world we’re all likely to face some sort of accusation sometime or other during our career. If that accusation is unjust (or even if it’s very just) our first instinct is often to try to deny it.

But according to consultant Merrie Spaeth, former director of media relations at the White House, simply denying a negative can actually make the negative more memorable.

Richard Nixon, questioned about his taxes, said, “I am not a crook.” Enron CEO Steve Kean, discussing the company’s creative bookkeeping, said, “It is not my intent to mislead.” Jessica Hahn, the woman involved with televangelist Jim Baker, said, “I am not a bimbo.”

But what stuck in everyone’s minds?

You guessed it: crook, misleading and bimbo.

All of these people would have been better off if they had taken control of the situation and framed the terms of the discussion themselves. For example, rather than denying he was a crook, Nixon could have bragged about the negative and said, “You bet your life I took that large deduction on my taxes. I only wish it were bigger. Like every good American, I take every deduction I’m legally entitled to. And not a penny more. But I’ll tell you what. If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t believe in taking all their legitimate tax deductions, I don’t think that person should ever vote me again. I’ll struggle by with the votes of those who don’t believe in overpaying their taxes.“

Fortunately for the country, Nixon wasn’t that good a salesperson. Nobody ever would have bought a used car from Richard Nixon.

“Did my people screw up closing down those lanes on the bridge and creating that traffic jam? Absolutely. And they’ve been fired because of it. As they should be. But sometimes when you’ve created a government that actually knows how to get things done and achieve results, rather than just floundering around, occasionally a few bad apples will misuse that effectiveness. Which is exactly why, though we have to create a federal government that’s as effective as the government I’ve built here in New Jersey, we also have to keep it small. And accountable. And keep an eye on it every minute. And let me assure you that if I didn’t know that before this mess with the George Washington Bridge, I certainly know it now. And that’s why I’m running for president.”

Would it work? No way to tell. But it certainly beats “I am not a bully.”

© Copyright 2014, Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada

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Want to Kill Your Chance of Getting that Great Job? Here’s How.

Barry Maher’s
Filling the Glass Newsletter
Speaking of Real World Tactics, Reality-Based Motivation
December, 2013    Vol. 13  Issue 12

 

filling-the-glass-cover-sized

 

I’ve consulted on hundreds of hires. And here’s one sure way to cripple your chances, even if you’re a good, qualified applicant who’s just given an excellent interview.

As always, before wrapping things up, the interviewer asks if you have any questions. But unfortunately, your initial questions show far more interest in what the company can do than what you can do for the company.

I was involved in one interview recently where the first three questions from the applicant were, in order:

“How much vacation time do I get?”

“How long do I have to be here before I’m eligible for a vacation?”

“How long before I start to accrue additional weeks of vacation?”

What had looked like a great applicant, now looked like someone who couldn’t wait to get away from work.

I strongly believe in making the employer sell you the job. It’s far better to have them worrying about if they can get you than wondering if they want you. But the time for that is after you’ve got them wanting you. There’s plenty of time to ask what they can do for you after they’ve got them excited about what you can do for them.

Which means you also want to avoid giving what-can-you-do-for-me answers when it’s the interviewer asking the questions.

Some of the worst answers I’ve heard to standard interview questions? How about:

“What interests you about this company?”

“I saw your ad in the paper.”

“I’d be interested in anyone that would hire me.”

“How would your current or former colleagues describe you?”

“Oversexed.”

“Whatever you heard, it’s not true. Not really. I mean, there’re two sides to every story.”

“Are there certain types of people you find difficult to work with?”

“Well, my last boss was a real moron. I certainly didn’t like working with him.”

Of course, the worst question for you as an applicant to ask is the one you never ask: not asking any questions during an interview is a huge red flag, one that even inexperienced interviewers always pick up on. It shows a lack of interest and/or a lack of comprehension. It can also make you look desperate, someone who’ll take any job under any circumstances.

Nobody wants someone nobody wants. You need to show you’re being selective about your opportunities and if you accept this one it’s because you want this particular job and you’ll be eager to apply yourself to it.

 

© Copyright 2013, 2011 Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Los Angeles, Caifornia, Las Vegas, Nevada

If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward the URL to friends.
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Book Barry Maher to speak at your next event.

“Innovative, informative, entertaining and inspiring” says MeetingsWest magazine.
Keynote, workshop and seminar topics include:

glass_button  Filling the Glass: Real World Tactics for Increasing Productivity AND Job Satisfaction
glass_button Slicing through the Noise: Powerful Communication for Leadership and Professional Success
glass_button Speaking of Motivation
glass_button Selling Yourself, Your Ideas, Your Vision, Even Your Product and Services
glass_button Shut Up and Speak: Non-Verbal Communication
glass_button De-Stress for Success: Managing Stress to Promote Work/Life Balance and Restore the Joy of Living.
glass_button Advanced Techniques and Motivation for Sales Pros

Call 951-638-5025

For smaller meeting budgets, Steve Wilson also delivers all
the Filling the Glass presentations and trainings. Contact
Steve at 866-243-8062.

 
The arts have the power to inspire, heal and alter our lives for the better. The captivating images in The Art of Healing Art contain keys to different vibrational dimensions that facilitate life-changing insights. Click here to learn more about the book and ordering.

 
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Revealed: The Three (or Maybe Four) Secrets to Success

By Barry Maher

It happened again the other day. After a keynote I’d done at an association’s awards dinner, a reporter for their magazine had showed up at my hotel room door to interview me. The interview was supposed to have been done that afternoon, and it was now 11:47 PM. And he’d obviously had a few drinks at the dinner. I had a 4:00 AM wake-up call for an early cross-country flight, so I was less than thrilled to see him. Still, the interview needed to be done, and I invited him in.

Which is when it happened. He started the interview with THE question.

It’s a question that I usually get only from reporters; almost never from anyone else. But I assume they’re asking it because they think their readers will be interested in the answer. Or maybe they’re just asking it because they think that any possible answer would demonstrate a level of self-absorbed pomposity astonishing even in a self-appointed guru like myself.

The question?

“What’s the secret to success?” That’s what he asked me.

Really? I thought. And I almost said, “A good night’s sleep.” But I didn’t.

“The secret to success?” I repeated. “I have no idea. I guess it depends on your definition of success. I imagine J.P. Morgan and Mother Theresa would have defined it a little differently. Hitler probably would have had another definition altogether.”

He sighed, obviously annoyed. “Ok, so let’s talk about business. What’s the secret to success there?”

“Got it. That one I know.”

“I’m thrilled,” he said, clicking on his recorder and pointing it unnecessarily close to my face. “The world awaits.”

“The secret to success . . .” I said, “is that there’s no secret to success.”

“Helpful,” he said, clicking off his recorder scornfully. “But not really very clever. I need specific tips. You know like in that 29 Immutable Laws of Management Wonderfulness breakout that redhead did this afternoon.”

“I missed it.”

“And I missed my chance to interview her.”

“I’m sure she’s devastated. And asleep.” Still, I was about to elaborate on my point. Because of course when it comes to business, there is no secret to success. We all know what it takes to be successful. Hard work, determination, persistence, that kind of thing. But there is one other element, one we all know about but one we ignore so frequently that it might as well be a secret.

“Okay,” he said, trying another tack while I was still gathering my thoughts. “So you’ve had some success, right?”

“Some, yes.”

“So what do you attribute that success to?”

I nodded. Let’s get this over with. Four AM was not getting any farther away. “Three things,” I said

He clicked on the recorder again as if he was doing me a favor. If there’s anything magazine writers like almost as much as secrets, it’s numbered lists.

“First of all,” I began, “I’m cheap, frugal. Before I buy anything, I think of just how long and how hard I had to work to earn whatever amount it costs. Suddenly, that $75,000 car doesn’t seem nearly as necessary. So even when I first started my speaking business 20 years ago, I had more than adequate seed capital and things have gotten better since then.”

“You rich?”

“I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do simply because I need the money. To me, that’s rich.”

“How rich?”

“Less than Bill Gates, more than . . .” I trailed off, trying to think of someone famous and poor.

“Me?”

“Maybe.” Come to think of it, there aren’t a lot of famous poor people.

“Second,” I continued, glancing at the clock, “in a business where it’s easy to spend thousands and thousands of dollars a year on marketing, I spend almost nothing. I generate business the stodgy, old-fashion way: I simply do the best possible job I can for my each one of my clients. And I price my services to position myself as the most affordable speaker of my caliber and credentials available. So word of mouth generates more business than anything else I do.”

“And third?”

“That’s the element to success that’s so often ignored. Third, I’ve been very lucky. Though at one point in my 30s I was absolutely broke, my parents and the country I grew up in had provided me with the background, the education, the infrastructure and the climate which made whatever success I’ve achieved possible. No question I’ve worked very hard. But I’ve also gotten more than a few breaks along the way and a lot of help.”

“So you’re not a self-made man. You didn’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

“I’ve never met a self-made man, though I’ve met a few who thought they were. Trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps is like trying to pull yourself up by your nose. It ain’t gonna happen. Archimedes supposedly said ‘Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the world.’ If nobody gives us a lever and the country we live in doesn’t give us a place to stand, none of us are likely to move much of anything.”

“Damn,” he said.

“What?”

He was looking down at his recorder. “I must have turned it off instead of on. Let’s start from scratch . . . So what’s the secret to success?”

I looked longingly over at my bed for a moment, then replied. “A hearty breakfast. Oatmeal, brown sugar, molasses if you’ve got ‘em.”

“Molasses?”

“That’s the secret. Molasses. Next question.”

#                        #                    #

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© Copyright 2013, Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada

 

Motivational Speakers Falling Short? Maybe You Need More than a Motivational  Speaker.

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Is Your Credit Score a Joke?

By Barry Maher

People always focus on the accuracy of the information in someone’s credit report. And obviously if John A. Smith’s bad loan ends up on John B. Smith’s report, John. B. Smith has got a problem. And so does anyone who wants to sell him a house.

But suppose all the information in John B’s report is accurate but his actual credit score is based on simplistic, incomplete or just plain silly assumptions?

Let me note right now that my own credit score is fine so this is not about a personal beef. But I just heard from one of the subscribers to our newsletter, a woman who also has a good solid credit score. She sent me a copy of the rating.

Her score was 769.  That’s 769 out of a possible 850. According to the report’s key, she had better credit than 70% of the American public. That would be impressive if credit scores were an accurate measurement of an individual’s credit worthiness. But let’s look at the details.

To end up with a score of 769, she was docked 81 points. That probably won’t make much difference to her. Her score is still good. But to other people that kind of penalty could easily make the difference between getting a mortgage and not getting a mortgage, between paying a decent rate for a loan or getting overcharged, even between getting hired or watching their unemployment run out and their savings empty. And that can make a bad credit score a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here were some of the so-called “key factors” that lowered this woman’s score.

First, “You have no real estate account.” Actually that meant she has no real estate loans. She owns two houses free and clear. Doesn’t owe a penny. If someone really wanted to know her credit-worthiness that might be something that would be important. It’s certainly something that’s easy to check.

Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t someone with over $500,000 in real estate equity in better financial shape than someone who’s struggling to make the payments on a home loan, even if they’re successful in that struggle. Who’s more likely to be able to pay off additional debt?

Second, her score was reduced because “The available credit on your open revolving credit accounts is low.” She pays off her credit cards every month so there’s no reason for her to have a huge credit limits on cards that could easily end up lost or stolen. But in any case, according to the details of this very credit report, one of her cards has a $25,000 limit and three other have around $10,000 each. Is $55,000 in available credit low, compared to the average American?

Besides, if I’m looking for a home loan, how does the fact that if the loan were granted I could immediately put myself in an additional $100,000 worth of credit card debt make me a better credit risk?

The third reason for the reduction? “You have too many inquiries on your credit report.” And yes, there were actually 11 separate inquiries on her report in the previous year. So I asked her about that. It turns out an elderly relative gave her power of attorney over a very significant amount of money. Apparently, since banks routinely provide debit/credit cards with an account, they must routinely check credit on anyone who is given power of attorney over that account. Even though in this case, she consistently refused their credit and debit cards.

Still, the bottom line is that having access to these additional funds has apparently made her less credit worthy.

Fourth, “Your oldest revolving credit account was opened too recently.” Actually, her credit report shows that her oldest revolving credit account was opened in 1990. Is that too recently? If so, too recently for what? Does the computer that creates these credit scores even use the credit reports they’re supposedly based on. And yes, some of the woman’s other credit accounts were opened more recently. But if a human, rather than a machine, had looked at the report, they would have seen that her new accounts were issued by the same companies that held the old accounts. And everything was the same as the old account except for the account number. Why is that? Because the original account numbers had been compromised, not by the woman, but by poor security on the part of the issuing company or one of their merchants. So the companies had cancelled the old account numbers and replaced them with new ones.

Obviously someone who does business with companies that allow their data to be hacked has to be more of a credit risk. I mean, would a truly responsible person do business with a company like CitiGroup or Sony or Barnes & Noble or be lax enough to carry a credit card issued by a an organization like Bank of America or Chase?

So these are the listed reasons why she was docked. My guess is there are other reasons that are just as far off the mark. As I mentioned, none of this is a particular problem for her. But the obvious question is this:

Are the criteria on which these scores are based really the best way to evaluate a person’s credit-worthiness?

Or is this simply the easiest information to collect? And if people who really need credit are having their scores lowered because some company they patronized compromised their credit card numbers, or because the scoring system doesn’t properly recognize the amount of credit they have available or how long they’ve had their credit cards, or perhaps because they’ve opened too many bank accounts or some other equally ludicrous reason, does this make any sense?

Is it fair to people how are being evaluated?

Is it fair to the merchants and landlords and nowadays even potential employers who are relying on these credit scores?

Is it working for anyone besides the companies that are profiting from generating these evaluations?

In this country, we worry about the government having too much control over our lives. And we should. But at least we get to vote on the government. How much power do you have if some computer at Experian or TransUnion or Equifax decides to dock your credit score 81 points. Or 160 points. Or 300.  Especially when the credit bureaus won’t even tell you they’re doing it and their reasons make as much sense as these.

Sure you can contest an error on your credit report. But what can you do about the standards the reporting companies are using to rate you?

I’ve been relying on credit reports to help me select rental tenants for years, though some of the best tenants I’ve ever had I only got because I ignored the reports. Maybe in the future, I should just cast their horoscopes or flip a coin or read the entrails of a dead pigeon.

It would certainly be cheaper. It might even be fairer. (Maybe not to the pigeon.)

#                        #                    #

When Motivational Speakers don’t achieve the Results You Need, You Must Need More than a Motivational  Speaker.

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Climbing the Corporate Ladder

By Barry Maher

A few quick tips for climbing to the top of corporate ladder:

1)  Learn everything you can about every aspect of the company you can.

2)  Learn everything you can about every aspect of the industry you can.

3)  Always act and dress appropriately for the next promotion. Make sure those with the power to promote you start thinking of you as type of person who’d be appropriate for that job.

4)  Hitch your wagon to a star. Find the mentor who’s moving up and help that mentor get wherever it is he or she wants to go.

5)  Do the jobs no one else is willing to do. Demonstrate your capabilities and your capacity to grow. Never miss a chance to learn or to grow but whenever possible avoid “can’t win” situations and situations where you’re set up for failure.

6)  When going for that promotion, be ready to articulate the business case for giving you the job. How are you going to make the company more profitable, save money, increase efficiency or productivity? Okay, you may DESERVE a promotion, but what is promoting you going to do for the company.

7)  Obviously you need to know the benefit to the company in promoting you specifically. But what’s almost as important, you should able to show a benefit to the people who will be making or recommending the promotion. How is giving you that promotion going to advance their interests? In simple terms, if you want them on your side, what’s in it for them?

8)  Be ready with a list of your accomplishment. Not so much to show why you’ve earned a promotion or why you deserve it, but to showcase the abilities you’ll be bringing to the new position. If you can assign a dollar value, showing how much the accomplishments on that list have earned or saved the company, so much the better.

9)  To position yourself for future promotions, during the year send a short note to your boss at the end of each week, just keeping him or her apprised of everything you did during that week. Come evaluation time the boss may well use those notes to help write the evaluation. And at the very least you’ll have all that ammunition when it’s time to talk about that next promotion or raise.

10) Be active in the industry and if possible gain an industry-wide reputation. If it turns out your company doesn’t appreciate you, maybe another company will.

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© Copyright 2013, Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates, Las Vegas, Nevada, Los Angeles, California

Much More than a Motivational Speaker.

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Educated and Unemployed

By Barry Maher

Dear Barry,

Like a lot of recent graduates, I’m having trouble finding employment. I’ve got an impressive academic background, including a Ph.D. in marketing, but that actually seems to turn off more employers than it interests.

Sincerely,

Fred

Dear Fred,

I don’t mean this personally because I don’t know you, but the first question you’ll want to answer is this:

        Is it your background that’s turning employers off or is it you?

It goes without saying that you want to impress any potential employer but you have to avoid sounding like an academic or a theoretician. You need to appear knowledgeable and intelligent yet deferential to those who already have the real world experience that you’re eager to learn.

Nothing is more flattering to a businesspeople, (and especially those who may have doubts about their own academic background) than someone with a Ph.D. who’s excited about learning from them. The Ph.D. who realizes that he or she may actually have a lot to learn from those “real world” types might well be perceived as offering the best of both worlds.

Beyond that, every graduate has some real world experience. Yes, even Ph.Ds. The more you can demonstrate that experience and/or show how whatever experience you do have (internships,  part time and summer jobs, teaching, research) has armed you with applicable skills, the more successful you’ll be.

Obviously, during the job interview you need to come across as real world and practical, not ivory tower and theoretical. So use your research skills to find out everything you can about the company and the problems it faces. And knowledge of street level problems is more crucial than high-level, big picture (more theoretical) problems.

Your appearance should, of course, be appropriate for the specific business, not the classroom. And if you can use some of the jargon of their industry that’s a plus, as long as you’re using it correctly. Using it incorrectly can be the kiss of death for anyone running the risk of being labeled “over-educated.” It can come across as condescending. And even a whiff of condescension at any time during the hiring process can be fatal.

Again, you turn a strong academic backyard into the plus it should be by linking it to real world experience and, above all, demonstrating that you’re eager to learn from your new boss. Come across as eager to teach your new boss, and you’ll probably never get the chance to do either.

Las Vegas, Nevada, Sept. 2012

When a Motivational Speaker or Motivational Speakers Can’t Do the Job.

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