You do not need to defend yourself to anyone

Recently a fellow business owner asked me about how I handle a specific piece of administration in my business. I told him what I do and he looked at me incredulously. “You do it THAT way?” he said. “I do this THIS way” and then he told me about what he does.

I stammered and defended my choice, backing up the reasons that I had for completing that administrative task the way I do it.

Later, I regretted the conversation because I remembered something that I need to try and remember more regularly: You do not need to defend yourself to anyone.

In the situation I mentioned above, there was no need for me to stammer out an explanation about why I perform that piece of administration in my business the way I did.

Of course this isn’t the only time that I’ve done this. It happens all the time (and not just to me). In fact, as I write this, I can easily think of a half dozen scenarios where I’ve felt on the defensive for some reason.

  • I know someone who continually disrespects the city I choose to live in. I don’t even talk to them anymore because we can’t go a single conversation without them finding something to say about my choices and then I end up defending my choices.
  • I met someone at a conference who should have been my peer but they asked one specific question in a condescending way that put me on the defensive and redefined our relationship. Now, they grate on my nerves because of how that first interaction made me feel.

Gosh it happens a lot.

And it doesn’t need to happen. Whether it’s what you wear or eat or drive, where you live; your fitness choices, your shopping choices, your life choices…

None of it is anyone else’s damn business but your own. Period.

You build your own life with the best information and choices you have at the moment. Of course you can learn and grow and change if you discover a better way but you should never have to defend your choices to someone else.

This has made me reflect in two different ways:

First, it’s made me consider all the times that I’ve defended myself and why I felt it was necessary. I think it happened because I considered the other person’s choices to be superior to mine in some way — either that’s how I felt about them or, often, it’s how they positioned themselves at the time in the conversation. I need to adopt a new mindset when I’m in these conversations. I need to remind myself: “My way is valid. I don’t need to defend myself to you.”

Second, it’s made me very careful about what I say to others. I don’t want other people to feel that they have to defend their choices to me. I can solve this, I think, by increasing the amount of curiosity in my life and decreasing the amount of judgment in my life. I need to check myself in every conversation and ask: am I being welcoming and supportive and nonjudgmental?

Everything we do in life is a decision made in the moment with the best information and resources we have at our disposal. There is no need to feel defensive about those choices. Be confident in the choices you’ve made, be willing to learn, but be confident that you are doing the best you can.

“You become as small as your controlling desire, as great as your dominant aspiration”

James Allen said that. Allen was the author if the inspirational essay/book As A Man Thinketh.

This quotation is powerful and meaningful to me so it’s one that I review every day.

It reminds me that there are two opposing forces at work in our lives everyday: There’s the “me” who doesn’t want to change, who is lazy and cautious and prefers the status quo; and there’s the “me” who takes fearless risks to reach higher than my own aspirations.

These two forces play tug-of-war in my mind every moment of every day.

The first “me” has controlling desires that want to keep things as they are so it thinks about small things, meaningless things, and is full of self-doubt and anxiety. “Just get through the day unscathed” it says and it seeks out short-term pointless pleasures. The first me skips workouts, eats a ton of salty food, and sleeps all day. Those are the controlling desires that keep me small.

The second “me” aspires for more. It realizes that where I am right now is not where I want to be. “Work hard and enjoy yourself but make sacrifices now because better things are just around the corner,” it says. The second me pushes through workouts, eats healthily, and gets up at 5:00 to improve productivity. Those are the dominant aspirations that help me reach for greatness.

These forces play tug-of-war in my mind everyday. Sometimes the first me wins and my controlling desires keep me small. Sometimes the second me wins and my dominant aspirations help me be great.

I need to figure out who to reduce that first me and increase the second me.

As I think about this further (since I’m only now articulating what I’ve long thought unconsciously)…

Perhaps one way to think about this is to consider what specifically my controlling desires are, tear them down, and build bigger and better controlling desires. Rather than trying to avoid those controlling desires (which I believe are innate), maybe I can reconfigure them so that bigger, better controlling desires aren’t that small. If I’m only as small as my controlling desires then maybe I can create great controlling desires.

And I also need to consider what my dominant aspirations are. I love measuring and testing new things in my business but it’s easy to fall prey to measuring and testing things that don’t contribute to my overall goals. If I can align those then the measuring and testing contributes to my dominant aspirations rather than distracts.

5 things I started doing differently to finally enjoy whiskey

I like the idea of whiskey, and the smell, but for years I didn’t like the taste.

I like the idea of being the guy who knows his whiskeys and can sip one and know what tastes good. But truth be told, that wasn’t me: if I had a nearly empty bottle on my bar that I wanted to get rid of to make room for something else, I’d tip some into my coffee as the only way I could drink it.

What changed was when I went with some friends to a local whiskey lounge. It’s a small lounge on the 28th floor of a hotel with amazing views of the city, big arm chairs, a knowledgeable bartender, and sometimes a piano. Oh, and a bunch of dead animals on the wall, which I’m indifferent about.

Knowing nothing about whiskey, I asked for help and the bartender was really helpful. Since then I’ve come to love whiskey (not too much, don’t worry!) and enjoy it much more frequently.

Here are the 5 things I started doing differently to change my attitude about whiskey:

1. KNOW YOUR TASTE PREFERENCES

Like a total newbie, I assumed all whiskeys tasted basically the same. I figured there were subtle variations between each type but I didn’t know where to start. I learned that there are various flavor profiles and I found that I preferred some and not others.

These flavor profiles might be described in different ways but basically it’s stuff like “smoke”, “citrus”, “peat”, “wood”, etc. There’s a bunch and they vary and you can find a lot of this stuff online. If you google “whiskey flavor profiles” or “whiskey flavor map” you’ll get a lot of good info as a great starting point. Here’s a great single malt whiskey flavor map that shows four types of whiskeys (light and floral, fruity and spicy, rich and rounded, full bodied and smoky) and where they fall on an X/Y graph measuring smokey versus delicate and light versus rich. You’ll need to indicate that you’re drinking age to view this graphic but if you only look at one graphic, this is the one to look at).

For extra research, check out this graphic that shows the differences between a bunch of whiskeys measured against twelve components of flavor. This is a great example to show how these whiskeys vary, sometimes subtly.

In general I’ve seen about half a dozen broad flavor profiles and I tend to like two of them and dislike two of them and feel indifferent about two of them. Figuring out your preferred flavor profile might not be easy but perhaps you can consider what kind of other drinks you like (your beer and wine preferences might help you here) but it might come down to doing what I did: Go to a whiskey bar and asking for one from each of the profiles and doing a taste test.

There are a lot of whiskeys in the world and knowing this will help you narrows down your whiskey choices dramatically.

2. DON’T SCRIMP

I should know this already from my experience with wine but there is a huge difference between the cheap whiskey you can buy for a few bucks and the one that costs a TON of cash. Don’t scrimp on your whiskey. You’re not in high school anymore and looking to get blitzed on a $3.00 box of wine. Whiskey is a sipping drink for an adult. Spend the money, sip a small amount at a time, and you’ll be glad you did.

3. MAKE IT AN EVENT

Good food and drink should be consumed in an event. Most of us just shovel food down our gullet in front of the TV, and it’s primarily for subsistence. Sure, we know when we enjoy something but most of the time we’re eating to live. But what do you do when you want to really enjoy the food or drink? You make it into an event.

Do you remember what you ate last Tuesday for lunch? Probably not. Do you remember what you ate when you had friends over for the big game or when you went to a restaurant? You more likely remember those events.

I started enjoying whiskey WAY more when I stopped trying to drink cheap whiskey while I answered emails in the evening and instead started dressing up nice and going to the whiskey lounge with friends.

I don’t mean that you have to go out… you just have to make it an event. Dress up, have a couple of friends over, put on some great music. Sit in your living room and open up a couple of bottles of nice whiskey and sip them. That will have a huge impact on your enjoyment level.

4. DRINK YOUR WHISKEY WITH A BIT OF WATER

This was a gamechanger for me and if you only take one piece of advice, take this one.

How do you usually think of whiskey? You see people on TV ordering it “on the rocks” (with ice) but, in my opinion, that is the absolute worst way to drink whiskey.

When I decided to study whiskey and figure out how I could like it, I tried the same whiskey in three different ways and I suggest you do the same:

I first drank it neat.
Then I tried it with a bit of ice.
Then I tried it with a bit of water.

What a difference. Neat is okay. When you drink whiskey with ice, it basically heightens the alcohol “scent”/sensation and it feels like you’re sipping very expensive rubbing alcohol. When you drink whiskey with water (just a couple of drops per ounce — not very much) it “opens up” the flavor of the whiskey in a way that I never could have imagined.

Try it out. Chances are, it will change how you drink whiskey. I now always order whiskey neat with water on the side. I take the first couple of sips neat and then I add water and my whiskey experience is amazing.

Never ever drink whiskey on the rocks again.

5. TREAT IT LIKE WINE

Last, treat your whiskey drinking like you treat your wine drinking. All good alcohol, no matter what it is, should be sipped. It’s not just the flavor you’re after but the flavor experience over time that makes the beverage good. (As I said before, you’re not in high school anymore).

So treat your whiskey drinking like the way you drink wine: Look at the color, smell it, take a sip and swish it around in your mouth so that it hits all the different parts of your tongue. Swallow and notice what happens to the flavor — what flavors do you get at the beginning, middle, and end of the mouthful and what lingers afterward?

My wife and I have done an in-depth study of wine to understand it better and to know what we like… to the point where we know EXACTLY what kind of wine we like (Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region in New Zealand — other wines are hit-or-miss for us but 99% of the time we LOVE these specific wines from this specific region). Whiskey is exactly the same. Take the time up-front to study whiskey as you would study wine and your enjoyment of whiskey will improve. Even if you take the time to study wine, you’ll still boost your enjoyment of whiskey.

WHISKEY IS ONE OF THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE

Way back in your youth, it was something cheap you choked down for the social currency and courage. But now you’re all grown up and it’s time to switch what you think of whiskey. Just like all those other things you outgrew from your youth, it’s now time to step up to good whiskey that can be appreciated and savored as a work of art.

This hilarious and alarming map reveal some crazy things about our world

When you think about the sales funnel for your business, it’s all about connecting with people as they become more and more interested in buying from you (and your sales funnel allows you to influence that decision as much as possible).

One of the key considerations people make as they progress through your sales funnel is about the price of your offering: Even if you’re not the low-cost provider (and I don’t think you should be), there will come a point at least once in your sales funnel when there needs to be a price conversation. Chances are, you may need to talk about price throughout your sales funnel.

But what’s the one time you absolutely MUST talk about price? When the customer asks how much something costs. In sales, that’s a HUGE indicator that there is buying interest. I love hearing those words in a selling environment!

This is true in any sales funnel. Online, when someone searches for the cost of something that they are interested in buying, it’s a key indicator that they want to move forward and need to make sure they have the money.

With that in mind, here’s a map of the world created by the website Fixr.com that explores what people are thinking about buying.

Fixr went through country by country to find out what people are searching for the cost of in any given country. I believe they used the less-than-scientific method of Google’s autocomplete functionality to search for, (for example) “What is the cost of * in the US?” and then they took the first response, assuming that Google will give them the most-searched answer at the top. Maybe not scientific but still pretty accurate in my opinion.

And the results are both hilarious and alarming. You can read the full post on their blog and get a larger picture of the map as well as a description of their methodology.

Source: Fixr.com

(And if you need to know some of the countries, here’s a world map. There were a couple in Eastern Europe and Africa where I was like, “which one is that again?”).

Briefly, we see that Canada is focused on passports, the US on patents, and Mexico on tummy tucks. There are a few countries that want to know how much a prostitute costs and one area of Africa that wants to know how much a slave costs. (Yikes!). Several countries are looking for food and beer costs, one country is looking for the cost of a kidney. Russians want to know how much it costs to fly a mig (fighter jet). Some are generic (China: electronics) and some are specific (Japan: watermelon). People are looking to know the cost of riding a camel, getting a tattoo, and mooring a yacht — which is basically my bucket list! haha

I think it’s the disparity that is most humorous to me: In a couple of Caribbean countries right next door to each other — once wants to know how much a wedding costs and the other wants to know how much a divorce costs. In South America, one country wants to know how much it costs to live and another right next door wants to know the cost of a Panama hat. Australia is looking for the cost of in vitro fertilization while New Zealand is looking for the cost of a vasectomy.

It’s good for a laugh, it’s a little alarming (more slaves and prostitute searches than I’d like to see), but it really shows the range of things that people are paying attention to in the world.

Where in your sales funnel do people think about price?

Price can make or break a sale, and I don’t just mean the cost of your product or service… I mean the point in your sales funnel when you discuss it.

The price discussion needs to happen at some point in your sales funnel. After all, people are in your sales funnel to buy from you!

So when should the price be dealt with?

This is a hard question and (spoiler alert!) not one that I can easily answer in a single blog post. But my goal is to get you thinking about price in your sales funnel and help you to understand the role it plays. I’ll come back to this topic later.

DEAL WITH PRICE BEFORE THE TRANSACTION

At some point you need to deal with the price, and you should deal with it before the transaction. (Here are 5 ways to communicate price to your buyers). In very, very rare circumstances will you deal with someone who is willing to buy no matter what the price but those will often be luxury goods or basic goods and services during emergencies.

At any other time, if you fail to deal with price before the transaction, you will likely end up having to deal with it after… and it won’t be pleasant. (I learned this lesson the hard way, WAY back when I was the manager of a leasing company. I made the incorrect assumption that the customer knew the price before the transaction… and then suffered the consequences when it turned out that the customer didn’t know the price and expected to pay a fraction of the price. I will never ever forget that interaction… it was “interesting” to say the least).

PRICE WHEN IT APPEARS EARLIER IN YOUR SALES FUNNEL

You need to know who your buyers are when they first come into your funnel and you need to understand how price sensitive they are. Some buyers will only enter your funnel if you are the low cost provider (which I think is a bad idea — I don’t think you should compete on price). Even if you don’t compete on price, your leads will use price as an early way to sort and filter your messages, especially if they are shopping around.

If you’re going to talk about price early on, make sure you frame it in a way that explains the value and also gives you room for the price to potentially grow later. (That’s why we see car companies advertising “with prices starting at…”)

Also, an awareness of your prospective buyers and their buying concerns will help you explain the price of extras, such as shipping. This is a pain point for me early in a lot of sales funnels because I live in Canada so I want to know “if I buy this, how much extra will I need to pay to ship it to me?” Sometimes the price or time is inconsequential but sometimes it’s a lot. You may need to address this in your sales funnel if it is a factor.

PRICE WHEN IT APPEARS DEEPER IN YOUR SALES FUNNEL

The closer a prospective buyer gets to the transaction, they more they’ll think about price. In reality, most of them are not so much focused on the dollar sign (even if it seems like they are) but rather on weighing the value of trading their hard-earned dollars for whatever value your product or service claims to offer. Your customers may seem price sensitive but many of them are really value sensitive.

Again, the focus is on value but now you should start to get more specific in your pricing (unlike earlier in the sales funnel) and, chances are, the customer is looking for the answer “what will this ACTUALLY cost me?” — it’s important to be able to answer that clearly and honestly and accurately (and if you’re off of your quote by transaction time then you may have an upset customer who feels that you were dishonest).

Depending on what you sell, the price may fluctuate during the transaction. For example, if you offer a product and some up-sells, make sure it’s clear that the upsells actually cost money and don’t seem to be free bonuses. (It’s okay to call them “extras” and “bonuses” but just make it clear that the customer is actually paying more for them).

If the customer asks for more stuff during the transaction, make it clear that their request will impact price. I’ve seen plenty of times in other businesses when customers ask for extra service but then don’t calculate the impact on the price. (I don’t think they’re generally being dishonest and trying to get something for free — I think they’re just in a mindset where they aren’t really counting the actual cost).

Also, be careful of how you frame extra stuff like taxes and shipping. I think this is an area where Amazon struggles with their physical products: They give you the price of something, you buy a bunch of it, and then you see how much shipping adds to it and it can make your eyes bug out in shock.

SUMMARY

Okay, I’ve shared a lot of thoughts so here’s a quick summary:

  • Know your customer and what price sensitivities they have.
  • Be willing to talk about price in your sales funnel.
  • Always frame your price in the context of value.
  • As people progress through your sales funnel, make sure your prices become more specific.
  • Just before and during the transaction, be very clear about the price of any extras.