Published | Page 6612 | Ayroll
Getting more leads is one of the toughest tasks for a marketer.

New leads and qualified prospects are hard to come by in such a competitive world.

It’s even harder to keep in contact with them.

Converting a lead to a final sale is difficult because reaching them in the first place is already a long process.

The buyer’s journey isn’t an overnight process. Conversions can often take weeks or even months to happen.

But you must follow up with prospects promptly and keep them from ignoring your marketing messages.

Why? You need them to convert.

You can’t risk si
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tting back and hoping that they convert on their own.

You have to reach out to encourage them to buy from you.

But you also have to be careful about invading their privacy and being perceived as annoying or desperate.

Thankfully, marketers have discovered effective ways that you can keep prospects from ignoring you.

They aren’t always obvious, but there are a few methods you can use to creatively reach new prospects and convert them.

You just have to think outside of the box.

To get you started, here are 3 ways to keep prospects from ignoring you today.
1. Use direct mail campaigns for big-ticket prospects

Have you ever wanted to land a big client?

Have you dreamed of scoring that huge Fortune 500 company?

Well, it’s possible. You just can’t do it through typical outlets, unless you have a direct link or connection to a CMO or CEO.

Most people think that direct mail is dead.

It feels like all we get in the mail is junk, local grocery store coupons, and bills. You throw out most of your direct mail almost instantly.

But if you think about your email accounts, you’ll come to the same conclusion:

We have tons of junk and spam emails that we don’t ever open.

That’s why Gmail created these tabs:

Google allows users to hide the junk they don’t want to see.

That means your campaigns could go straight to an unused tab, where your recipient is far less likely to open them.

It’s no secret that email marketing has a high ROI.

I’m not debating the effectiveness of email. I just want to explain how impactful direct mail can be.

According to Compu-Mail, the average direct mail household response rate is 5.1%, compared to .06% for email and .04% for social media.

On top of that, the prospect response rate increased by 1.9% compared to 2015 data.

And that’s not all.

The open rate for direct mail marketing campaigns is 42% on average.

And the average return on investment ranges from 15% to 17%.

That’s extremely high compared to other marketing tactics.

The simple fact of the matter is that direct mail works.

There’s almost no better way to reach top-level business professionals.

Just think about how many emails you get every single day.

It takes me hours to check my email on a daily basis, so imagine how many emails the CMO of HubSpot might get each day.

If you want big-ticket prospects to respond, direct mail is the way to go.

One of my favorite examples of a direct mail campaign comes from an online-focused laundry business:

They used creative direct mail marketing to drive incredible results.

Imagine getting this piece in the mail amongst bills and coupons.

How could you resist opening it?

The results were outstanding.

They saw 32% of their mail recipients create accounts on their site. Plus, 8% of those accounts converted to full services, and their website traffic increased by 15%.

Are you convinced yet?

If you want to reach prospects and keep them from ignoring you, then consider running direct mail campaigns.

One of my favorite tools for direct mail campaigns is Lob.

Lob has impressive features for automation, analytics, and even address verification.

That means you’ll still be able to track how many people respond to your marketing efforts, and you can see if they have a current address.

To get started, hit “Try It Now” and create a free account.

You can design your direct mail pieces by creating your first test postcard:

They will then ask you to download samples.

For this step, you can skip the sample download and hit “Create Postcard.”

From here, you can edit your sample direct mail piece.

First, give the piece a name so that you can save the test example for later usage:

Next, you can choose to have “No From Address.”

For the next step, I recommend choosing “Try some test files?” They will give you preset templates to see how these direct mail pieces will work.

Next, hit “Create” to see a preview of your new direct mail piece. You’ll see the front of the piece first:

It has a nice design that hooks the recipient into reading the back portion, which you’ve filled with information, URLs, and value propositions:

Once you’ve created a direct mail piece, you can use the address verification tool to upload a list and have it automatically convert your addresses for mailing:

The platform will also eliminate old addresses or update you on any changes.

Lob is an awesome tool that you can use to drive huge value.

Direct mail isn’t a popular form of marketing, but those that implement it see massive returns.

Start brainstorming direct mail campaigns to send to your biggest prospects.

Original campaigns are personalized and add a flare to your marketing that you simply can’t achieve online.

Emails alone won’t be able to reach or convince a big-ticket client to convert.

Try using direct mail pieces to bring more value to the table and show the prospect that you care about their business.
2. Remarket to your prospects

Remarketing is one of the best ways to bring prospects back to your site.

It’s great for getting them to convert when all else fails.

If you find that prospects are starting to ignore your email drip campaigns, you need to switch it up.

Remarketing is a crucial aspect of any marketing strategy.

Most people don’t convert on their first visit, so you need to be remarketing ads and content to those visitors.

But how do you remarket to keep prospects from ignoring you? You start by creating a list of prospects who you know are ignoring you.

According to SaleCycle’s 2017 report, the average abandonment rate for customers online is 75.6%:

And you can expect similar results for B2B, too.

In fact, according to AdRoll, 98% of site visitors will not convert on the first visit.

But remarketing can fix that.

According to PPCMode, you can expect conversion rates that are in the 30-50% range on retargeted traffic.

Typical display ad traffic only converts at 2-5%.

People leave your website because they simply get distracted or don’t realize a need for your product yet.

A great way to bring back prospects is to use Facebook Ads for remarketing.

Check out this ad I got from Autopilot on Facebook. I inquired about their services, but I did not respond to their email drip campaigns. Here’s the ad I later received:

They sent me a remarketing ad to try and drive me back to their site and convert.

It’s a great strategy that can help bring prospects back into focus and close the deal.

You can even see this happen when you become a lead or prospect on Kissmetrics:

This is a winning strategy because it shows prospects why they need to have your product.

You need to break the wall that they’ve established and get them to stop ignoring your marketing efforts.

Offering a great, value-driven ad on Facebook can do just that.

If you want to create one today, it’s incredibly easy.

You can make these on Facebook and AdWords. Here, I’ll show you how to do both.

To begin, let’s set up a new custom audience on Facebook’s Business Manager.

Look for the “Audiences” section at the top of the “Assets” list:

Next, click “Create Audience.” Be sure to select a custom audience as your audience type:

From here, pick the “Customer File” option from the list:

Then you can import a contact file in CSV format or directly import prospects from MailChimp:

And that’s it.

Once you’ve uploaded your new custom audience, you simply need to create new Facebook Ads that are attention-grabbing.

Here’s a prime example from Hotjar of an ad that would get your prospect’s attention:

Offer them something that will capture their attention and get them to convert without hesitation.

Give them whatever it takes, even if that means extending their existing free trial.

To set this up on AdWords, head to your AdWords dashboard and navigate to the “Shared library”:

From here, scroll down to the “Audiences” section to create an audience based on your prospect list:

From the options, select “Customer emails” to upload your list:

All you have to do from here is give your new audience a name to recognize it and upload your list-based file:

Once you’ve done that, you can begin running great display remarketing ads for your unresponsive prospects.

Setting up remarketing ads is one of my favorite ways to regain the attention of prospects and drive them back into the funnel.
3. Personally message them on LinkedIn

Personalization seems like a buzzword today.

It’s like growth hacking: It’s an insanely useful tactic, but most people aren’t sure what falls under its scope of view.

The actual meaning of the term gets drowned out by various things that get lumped into the “personalization box.”

But the facts remain the same:

Personalization can increase your conversions dramatically.

77% of consumers have made a buying decision with a brand that offered personalized service or experience. They purchased, recommended, and even paid more for products or services.

People prefer getting personalized, relatable marketing messages that are relevant to them.

Think about it:

Were you ever browsing Facebook or Twitter when you saw an ad that was totally irrelevant to you? Almost all of us have had this experience.

I bet it was frustrating. I know that I get annoyed when irrelevant ads are bombarding my Facebook feed.

Personalization is becoming ever more relevant.

According to Gartner, smart personalization engines will be able to recognize user intent and increase profits by the year 2020:

Accenture’s 2016 report revealed that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that recognizes them by name, purchase history, and more:

So what does this mean for your business?

Simply put: if you want prospects to stop ignoring you, you need to focus on personalization.

And that goes beyond a simple, “Hey NAME” email campaign. It involves showing them that you care about their business.

One of the best ways to do this is by contacting each prospect individually with a personalized message using LinkedIn’s InMail feature.

LinkedIn’s InMail is a tool that allows you to message people on LinkedIn that you haven’t yet connected with.

Since it’s not a sponsored or paid form of advertising, and you are sending genuine, personal messages, your prospects will be much more likely to respond.

To send LinkedIn InMail, you need to upgrade to a premium account.

Once you’ve done that, you can search for your prospect in LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator:

If you’ve located your prospect, you can click to view their profile.

From here you can send them a message:

InMail is one of the coolest tools for creating personalized messages that will get your prospects to stop ignoring you.

For example, when you click to send a message to your prospect, it will actually show you their latest activity as a virtual “ice breaker” to start the conversation:

You can leverage these detailed insights to craft a more personalized email.

For example, you could say something like:

Hey ___,

Just saw that you posted this awesome article on designing an irresistible Facebook page.

I wanted to let you know that it was a great post! I really enjoyed the tip where you showed how to add better quality images and drive more social shares.

Great stuff.

If you’re still interested in (company tool), I’d love to schedule a call with you. We can help you (actionable benefit like: save time or be more efficient).

If you want to chat, here’s my personal cell number: X

If you want to give the free trial another try, please let me know and I can extend it for you.



The goal here is to personalize your messages as much as possible.

One of the advantages of InMail messages is that they won’t come from your company page. They’ll come from your personal account.

Instead of seeing your company name in their inbox, your prospects will see your personal account. That means that they’re almost guaranteed to open your message.

This approach is going to give you a much better shot at getting them to open and respond again.

If they routinely see your company name and ignore it, you can generate big open rates with this strategy.

If you want to add more content to convey additional value, you can upload attachments like photos or videos:

Use this to have a better shot at getting these prospects to engage with your content and come back to your site.

Remember: visuals are great for marketing.

If you want to send simple messages, you can do that, too.

Use InMail to show that you really care about specific prospects, rather than sending out emails to them with a standardized, impersonal template.

Marketing managers and sales teams often have the hardest job of all:

Collecting more leads and nurturing them until they convert.

But getting new leads and qualifying prospects is one of the toughest things to do in such a competitive landscape.

Once you have qualified prospects, you still have to follow up with them to get them to convert.

The buyer’s journey evolves in three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.

People don’t simply convert overnight or on the first offer you give them.

And most people refuse to answer your sales calls.

Especially if they are a big-ticket prospect you’ve been pining after.

So how do you stay in touch with prospects and keep them from ignoring you?

Start by trying direct mail.

The response rate of direct mail is much higher than the response rate of email, so there’s going to be a better chance that they’ll actually engage with your marketing message.

On top of that, it’s personalized and creative.

Another great way to keep prospects from ignoring you is to use remarketing.

They often won’t respond to emails. Give them an offer they can’t refuse with intensely-targeted remarketing ads.

Lastly, try personally reaching out on LinkedIn to make a better connection.

This type of outreach is often the best way to make a connection and close a deal.

If you want to keep prospects from ignoring you, then get creative with your marketing tactics.

What are your favorite ways to keep in contact with qualified prospects?

The post 3 Ways to Keep Prospects From Ignoring You appeared first on Neil Patel.
With America more divided than ever, where can you turn to meet nice people who treat each other with the respect and civility that we all deserve? As Reader’s Digest recently found out in its nationwide search for the Nicest Place in America, lots of places!

In a recent poll, 75 percent of Americans called incivility a “national crisis.” Well, we found nearly 300 places where that’s just not the case–and here are the top 10!
Dorie Clark, a marketing strategy consultant, answers a burning question: how do people make money off of what they know? She outlines the options for experts who want to monetize their knowledge. Clark explains, using herself and other successful solopreneurs as examples, how to earn revenue from public speaking, podcasting, e-books, and online courses. She also goes over what to charge and when to get an assistant. Clark teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and is the author of the new book Entrepreneurial You.

Download this podcast

First Published in the Harvard Bus
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iness Review
There’s a meme on the internet, which speaks truth about a dilemma for young people entering the hypercompetitive workforce of 2017. The photo is of two seasoned, older interviewers glaring critically across the table at a young interview candidate with the following words: “We’re looking for someone age 22-26… with 30 years of experience.”

This credibility paradox is indeed a core dilemma many young people face as they enter the workforce. To be successful, young workers — or anyone starting a new job or career with little previous experience in a given f
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ield — need to be seen as credible before they have had the opportunity to build expertise from the ground up. It puts a new spin on the idea of “hitting the ground running.” With the credibility paradox, there’s no ground to run on; you need to have already covered the ground before even having started.

For the young and inexperienced, it’s essential to overcome this challenge. Getting a fast start in your career will help you gain access to experiences and opportunities that will help you get noticed, be seen as a “high potential,” and be given access to opportunities to learn and grow in your career. And it’s not only young workers who will benefit from solving this dilemma. It’s critical for companies who spend thousands of dollars and countless hours of time recruiting, interviewing, screening, and onboarding new employees.

How can the credibility paradox be solved? In a new initiative at Brandeis University’s Perlmutter Institute for Global Business Leadership, we’re studying this exact problem. Early findings suggest it may be less of a paradox than we think. Young people have more resources than they think to overcome their experience deficit. And they can take direct actions to compensate for and build the expertise they lack.

Here are five common activities that you can do as a young professional to jump-start your career and catalyze your leadership trajectory.

1. Leverage your research skills. One of the best ways to stand out in a corporate setting, even as someone with less work experience, is to develop unique knowledge that makes you a go-to resource for your colleagues and clients. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to use your research skills to synthesize and master industry specific knowledge, trends, and information.

Chances are, if you’ve recently graduated from university, you have a set of freshly honed research skills that you can put to immediate use in a professional context, but if you don’t, work on them now. Find out what specific types of knowledge people in your industry crave — and lack — and build your area of expertise around it. Read relevant industry magazines and books, or watch YouTube videos from industry thought leaders. If you can make yourself a unique and helpful resource for solving problems, you’ll very quickly build credibility and be seen as a source of information by your colleagues.

2. Identify (and embrace) your specific contribution. Ask yourself some basic questions to identify your strengths and where you might be able to contribute value. In which areas do you feel you do your best work? What have you been praised for in the past? Think about your own best self and how you might describe that to someone. What would that be? Use your answers to generate strengths and resources that can become fodder for jump-starting your career and fast tracking your professional growth.

Also consider your personal background. For instance, you may not have worked in the industry or this specific position before, but chances are you possess useful insights simply because of your geographic or demographic background. Perhaps as a 20-something professional working on a marketing research project, you have ideas about the types of questions to ask people of your generation to yield the most valid and reliable data or about the most viable means of data collection. You don’t want to become typecast or pigeonholed as someone with a narrow skill set or who only speaks from a particular perspective informed by their background, but using this as a starting point can be an effective way to build initial credibility and positive regard, especially as a newcomer to the field and the organization.

3. Volunteer willingly. Don’t underestimate the power of grit, determination, and the willingness to take on unenviable assignments. If, at the end of a group meeting, your department head requests more feedback from sales reps on a product line your team has been discussing, volunteer to track down the information. If your senior colleagues ask if anyone would be willing to scrape a big data set for trends that could support your team’s case, take on the project — assuming of course you have the skill set to deliver. Opportunities abound to prove yourself. Take advantage of them to make a quick impression as a reliable and hard worker.

4. Manage your workload and communicate proactively. Although knowledge and experience take time to cultivate, you can immediately establish a reputation for reliability with your colleagues and superiors. Manage your commitments and workload wisely. Know when you’re taking on too much, and say no judiciously (though as a junior employee, err on “yes” unless you really feel overtaxed). Also, be proactive with your communication. If you anticipate any difficulty in meeting a deadline, discuss it with your superior as soon as possible, and ask for guidance when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

And don’t forget the importance of follow-through. Bring every single assignment to its conclusion. Don’t leave any details hanging or deadlines unmet. You may not be the most experienced person in the room, but you can become one of the most reliable.

5. Work to build a network of close relationships. Your goal over time will be to build a deep and varied network of trusted colleagues who will provide you with ongoing mentoring, advice, and feedback as you progress at your job and in your career. When you start out initially, your cupboard may be a bit bare in terms of trusted contacts and connections, but you will be surprised as how easily you can build up a network for yourself. Follow a similar approach you took in your schooling and post-graduation. You created a network of friends and academic colleagues in college and likely had to network when you looked for your job in the first place. Leverage these skills and apply them to your current situation. Invite coworkers to lunch. Identify superiors you admire and get a feel for how to connect with them within the culture of the organization. In some companies, you might be able to invite them directly to lunch or a coffee meeting. In others, you might want to wait until you’ve had more work experience with them before deepening the network tie.

The key, though, is to work hard at getting to know as many people as you can on a collegial or even more personal level. These contacts and connections can be critical mentors, sounding boards for your ideas, and potential advocates for you and your work throughout the organization. Demonstrate to them your motivation, commitment, and relevant expertise, and when possible, find ways you can be of service to them and help them with their work.

Expertise doesn’t build on its own, and your coworkers won’t see you as a crucial part of the organization until you prove yourself to be one. But by developing the confidence to leverage the tools, assets, and capabilities that you already have as a young worker, you can overcome the credibility paradox and jump-start your career in the process.

Andy Molinsky
Jake Newfield

First Published In The Harvard Business Review
Connecting with others is at the heart of human nature. Recent research emphasizes that the power of connections can help us be creative, resilient, even live longer. But we can easily overlook the importance of these bonds. As popular writer and researcher Adam Grant has noted, the pressure of tight deadlines and the pace of technology mean that fewer Americans are finding friendship in the workplace. In fact, many of us are further disconnecting from the people we work with: we’re more stressed out than ever, and half of us regularly experience incivility in our jobs.

How can we
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create possibilities for connection in what is sometimes a hostile atmosphere? We believe there needs to be more compassion.

We define compassion as a 4-part experience of noticing someone’s distress or pain, interpreting it as relevant and important, feeling concern for that person or group, and acting to alleviate their pain. As we talk about in our book, Awakening Compassion at Work, acts of compassion can span from grand and coordinated to small and personal.

Consider Patty, who was worried about returning to work after the death of her husband. The thing she dreaded most was arriving at an empty desk on Monday mornings because for the past 15 years Patty’s husband had ordered flowers to be delivered early on Monday mornings. Every Monday, a beautiful bouquet — and a symbol of their life together — graced Patty’s desk.

Summoning up her determination, Patty walked into the office. After saying hello to a few people, she moved toward her desk and caught a glimpse of a colorful bouquet of flowers waiting there. She fought back tears as she read a note from her coworkers, who also did not want her to come back to an empty desk. They cared for her so much that they had collected funds across the entire office and made arrangements for a fresh bouquet of flowers to be delivered every Monday for a year.

Compassion, whether a coordinated gesture or an individual one, increases meaning at work — and not just for Patty, but also for her colleagues and for all the people who see this human response unfold. Being compassionate changes how we see the value of the people who are part of our work world, shifts how we see ourselves, and helps us to see our organizations as more humane.

Our research highlights four ways that people can bring more compassion to work.  
Sharpen Your Skills in Noticing Suffering

Signs of suffering at work are often subtle. Professional norms dictate that it’s not safe to express too much emotion, making it hard to see pain. Attuning ourselves emotionally to patterns in our colleagues, and making ourselves more physically and psychologically available, makes us better at picking up on what’s happening.

Alex described noticing that his coworker Ming-Jer was not enjoying the holiday party. Despite not knowing Ming-Jer well, Alex was concerned. He began by simply asking, “How are you doing, Ming-Jer?” Alex discovered that Ming-Jer was struggling with a chronic illness that was straining his finances and his relationships. Alex told us how much closer the two have become since that moment, and how meaningful the connection has made other aspects of his workplace.
Perfect Your Capacity for Inquiry

Norms about keeping personal and professional life separate can make it awkward to ask personal questions. Organizations such as Accenture and EY are now offering training programs on how to inquire in ways that fosters compassion. Asking “Are you okay?” is one example. This kind of question, asked in a genuine way with comfortable time and space, may increase a sense of safety and open space for compassion. That’s what happened with Alex and Ming-Jer.
You and Your Team Series

Making Work More Meaningful

You’re Never Done Finding Purpose at Work

Dan Pontefract

The Research We’ve Ignored About Happiness at Work

André Spicer and Carl Cederström

What to Do When Your Heart Isn’t in Your Work Anymore

Andy Molinsky

When asking directly is too difficult, you can turn to someone who has a closer relationship to share your concerns. In one organization we studied, an employee had been a victim of domestic violence and several of her colleagues felt it wasn’t appropriate to talk with her directly about it. Instead, they shared their concerns with her friends at work who relayed the messages. These intermediaries also became coordinators, organizing a collection of donations and delivery of meals. Asking intermediaries for updates became an effective way for lots of people to participate in creating compassion at work during a difficult, sensitive situation.
Tune into Your Feelings of Concern

Sensing and understanding the distress of another person is often accompanied by a feeling that researchers call empathic concern — a warm desire for the other person to be well. This kind of emotion arises more easily when we know that we have something in common.

When we studied students who lost everything in a fire and the way their university organized a response, we found that a faculty member who had also lived through a fire became a very effective organizer. Her shared experience helped her advocate for resources such as emergency funds, new clothing, computers, and even housing.

But having the prior experience wasn’t the only route to common ground. A fellow student, who had never been involved in a fire, was able to tune into his own deep empathy and concern for his classmates. He used the motivation that flowed from this feeling to facilitate the coordination of books and class notes that allowed full replacement of each student’s customized study materials — again increasing the meaningfulness of their school program for everyone who participated in the effort to respond.
Unleash Your Creativity with Compassionate Actions

Societal norms often give us a script to follow when we encounter pain or distress: offer condolences, ask whether there is anything we can do to help, and send a card. While these scripts can be helpful, they often fall short of being meaningful to the receiver.

In one nonprofit organization we studied, an executive’s nephew was killed in a tragic accident just before an important board meeting. Instead of a scripted response, colleagues brainstormed several resourceful ways to take action, including excusing him from attending the board meeting, taking on urgent tasks so that he didn’t have to focus on them, donating their vacation days to him, collectively writing a poem to send to the family, and organizing a tribute to share at the memorial service.

Too many people think of compassion and connection with others as a nice-to-have in organizations. But if people feel like they belong and genuinely care about one another, they will be more creative, resilient, and eager to contribute at work. It’s tempting to ignore distress, and suffering and pretend like they have no place in our offices. But the human experience of pain is going to show up, whether we invite it or not, and the only way to respond is with compassion.

Monica C. Worline
Jane E. Dutton
Ashley E. Hardin

Read More At Harvard Business Review
Jack is well-known in his company for delivering growth through high-performing, cross-functional teams. Where others get stuck in silos, he fosters innovation through collaboration. But these days, when you exit the elevator on his floor, you sense fear wafting through the halls. He’s nine months into a new role as Business Unit Leader, and a lot has changed. So far his tenure is marked by poor communication, eroding morale, and weak results. Managers aren’t even working together anymore. They retreat to their corners and protect their turf.

Jack prides himself on leading with an
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approachable, down-to-earth style. He’s always had an open door policy. He champions high potentials. He plays right-field on the company softball team. But this new role is challenging. He’s working harder than ever. Losing sleep on red-eye flights. He’s frustrated that people won’t get on board with his strategy. And shocked he can’t get traction building trust. The ultimate team player in the past, Jack now feels isolated from nearly everyone around him.

Pushing himself as hard as he can, Jack doesn’t notice the pressure is getting to him. He doesn’t recognize how defensive he feels, or that exhaustion has overwhelmed his previously upbeat mood. In the past Jack’s exercise routine alleviated stress. But now he’s irritable and frequently annoyed, blind to the cost of skipping trips to the gym. Jack still sees himself as a cheerleader, unaware of how dramatically his inner world has changed. Everyone around him sees it clear as day.
Looking for Insight in All the Wrong Places

Senior leaders have a keen eye for what’s happening around them. On a large scale, they watch markets and world events closely. Closer to home, they follow shifts in customer values that could impact their reputation and bottom line. In their own backyard, they judge business results and the people who produce them. They’re always looking around for potential roadblocks.

Like Jack, what many leaders fail to notice is what’s going on inside of themselves. This is a costly oversight. There is a straight line from the inner life of a leader to the actions they take, the relationships they build, and the impact they create. You can’t understand what’s going wrong around you if you don’t understand what’s going on inside you. What can you do to steer clear of this common leadership pitfall?
Develop Your Lookout

The first step in getting out of your own way is to develop what I call your inner Lookout.

In the world, lookouts watch for things going wrong, so they can raise a flag. Salespeople are “lookouts” in department stores, trying to spot shoplifters. Fire watchers are “lookouts” in national forests. You have a built-in Lookout in your mind, designed to keep watch over you. Specifically, your Lookout pays attention to what’s happening inside you: the tightness in your stomach; the surprise when your proposal isn’t chosen; the joy of making your mentor proud. You have thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations all the time. In the course of a busy day, you likely don’t notice them. Tapping into your Lookout can change that.

If you’re like most people, you already use your Lookout in certain situations. So you know how it works. If a car cuts you off, your Lookout notices your urge to “strike back,” so you don’t. When you get annoying emails, your Lookout spots your irritation, so you don’t reply. In cases like these, you avoid destructive behavior because your Lookout recognizes your reactive impulses before you act on them.

When the stakes get higher, so does the strength of inner reactivity. Under strain, your blood pressure and heart rate rise. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol flood your body. Survival instincts kick in, sending oxygen away from your brain and toward your limbs, so you can make a break for it. All of this makes it harder to think clearly. Your perspective narrows. The number of possible solutions you can generate drops. At the same time, emotions like anxiety spike. You might feel afraid and want to hide. You might feel angry and want to fight. All of this happens beneath the surface, whether you notice it or not.

Without using your Lookout, you’ll follow these instincts wherever they take you. That’s how you end up in bed at night, wondering how things went off the rails. When you feel calm again, it can be hard to imagine why you acted the way you did. If you rarely slow down and catch your breath, you might be living in this state quite often. If your Lookout doesn’t make some noise, you’re at risk of turning into Jack: a leader with a great track record who doesn’t notice that he’s boiling inside and burning things down.
Where Do You Start?

The more you use your Lookout, the more it notices things – and the more useful it becomes. Here are some ways to get started. If you pick a practice and stick with it for 30 days, you’ll start seeing results.

Take an Inventory. Once a day, pause what you’re doing, and turn your attention to yourself. Ask yourself: What’s on my mind? What do I feel? Is my body calm or agitated — what physical sensations do I notice?
Label Your Thoughts and Feelings. Once a day, tune in closely to your thoughts or emotions. Detach a bit from having the thoughts or feelings, and label them. For example, if you’re thinking “things like this never work,” you might give a label like “skepticism” or “cynicism” to the thought, and “discouraged” to the feeling.
Listen to your Lookout. Once a day, pause for a few minutes and prepare to take some notes (grab your phone, paper, etc.). Ask your Lookout: What do you notice right now about me? Then write down observations from the Lookout’s point of view. For example, your Lookout might say: “You seem bored” or “You’re excited about the new client, and you’re cooking along with the project plan.”

Exercises like these tap into the Lookout’s perspective. That enables you to observe and notice your internal experience in real time. By practicing in moments of low stress, you’ll hone your Lookout skills. Then when the stakes are high and the heat is on, your Lookout will recognize what’s happening and let you know before you do things you’ll regret later.

You react to things, big and small, because you’re human. Those reactions include thoughts, emotions, and physical responses. The problem isn’t reacting – it’s not noticing your reactions. If you don’t see what’s going on inside you, you’ll act impulsively, at times destructively. Like Jack, you’ll do damage to your reputation or even to your business. Instead of causing havoc, you can get out of your own way. Develop your Lookout over time, and call on it when it matters.

By Erica Ariel Fox

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