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February 04, 2008


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VIcki Wilson

Thanks Robert for such great insight on "Inspiration"

As a coach I can't agree with you more - it's not just about being a coach, it's about how do you get your client out of their comfort or fear zone to take action. Inspiration is the key: But HOW?

The one thing I work on is bulding the trust by exhibiting a genuine interest, a thirsty desire to help them identify, get in touch with and prepare to go after their goals.

My goal in that first meeting is to have them experience something they have never experienced before: I want them to feel they have finally found that someone who will unconditionally help them in everyway possible to succeed in acheiving their goals.

Then the challenge really starts; getting them into action mode.

My two best strategies have always been to be Open, Honest, Direct but Gentle in my communication approach. I share what they can expect along the way - the fun, the challenge, the emotion, the exhaustion and the pride that success brings.

My second strategy is base on my first career as a banker - I tell them I really didn't change careers I simply changed the asset that I lend out - now I am the "confidence lender". I lend my clients the confidence to move forward until we developed theirs enough for them to continue on.

For me, and more importantly my clients; that inspires.

Judy Murdoch

Inspiring clients begins with me. If I'm not feeling excited and inspired, it's going to be tough to inspire my clients.

I actually keep of list of things that inspire me: big and small.

And I only work with clients, hang out with people who energize and inspire me.

Inspiration Economy Anyone?


Sally Evans

I agree that inspiration is essential and as a Creativity Coach, it is a foundation of what I do with clients. I think clients are inspired by stories of others who they can relate to their own situation. Inspiration also comes from being in touch with your own values and passions. Inspiration can come from learning something that makes your path easier or more fulfilling.

Everyone has different ways they are inspired and one of the things
I love to do is help them figure out just what those things are.

Charly Heavenrich

Thanks for you comments on "inspiration" Robert. As a Grand Canyon raft guide and "Possibilities Guide", I find that people want to go where they've never been before, and do what they've always dreamed, but often believe they can't. As a friend of mine says, "The subconscious mind can't take a joke; if you think you can't, you're right!" As a raft guide and life coach ("Next Steps Life Coaching"), I KNOW my clients and passengers can do what they often believe they can't do. My job is to help them explore and discover where they want to be, activate an action plan, then achieve and celebrate their successes. One of the greatest sources of "inspiration" for others is to "Know" they can do what they believe/fear they can't. As a coach and river guide, a big part of my job is to transfer my confidence that they can, indeed, achieve their dreams. We all have a deeper reservoir of courage and ability than we realize. And, we often don't realize what we can do, until we're faced with what we believe we can't do. I love my work because I love people and are committed to their success. What a privilege

Charly Heavenrich

Shel Horowitz

Robert, I think you've hit the reason why "customer satisfaction" is no longer enough. Every study I've ever seen shows "satisfied" customers leaving in droves and going elsewhere--because they have to be not only satisfied, but inspired.

I actually talk about some ways to inspire clients (though I don't think I used that word) in Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First--and I'd love to incorporate your post if I do a future edition.

May I have your permission?

I show the world the value in your values! Shel Horowitz, award-wining author,
Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First,
Founder of the Business Ethics Pledge,



this is so brilliant and important.

I used to think stuff like this was fluff. now i realize that it's the foundation. it's principle #1 that everything else is built on.

Empathy and commitment to our clients is so critical.

some companies just HAVE this . . .

These businesses have learned to cultivate and feel an enormous empathy, respect and love for their clients. They feel it is of supreme importance to honestly be able to say to them “I feel what you feel. I understand your problems.” They are able to articulate their clients' pain better than their clients can.

They understand that most people inherently don’t like and don’t trust “the system”.

here's something i wrote about it a few years ago i thought you and your readers might enjoy.


* * *

Principle 1:
Falling in Love: Serve Clients, Don’t Sell Customers


• Customer: someone who buys a product or serve
• Client: someone under the care, protection or guidance of a fiduciary

Consider carefully the difference between those two words because this distinction forms the philosophical core of the Principles of Preminence. The question before the house is this:

“Do you want to sell customers or do you want to
serve clients?”

If you are willing to step up into a new level of impeccability in your business conduct then read on.

Let’s start at with the bottom line . . .

You need to understand what they truly need at the deepest level – to help them gain clarity on what they truly want and then develop a clear strategy to get them that. You need to love them so much that you want to get the biggest and best possible outcomes for them.

Most people make the tragic mistake of falling in love with their business – rather than their client. You must do the opposite. An easy way to do this is to choose to serve those you already love. Before you even get into business – decide who it is you most love and would most want to serve and then it’s easy. It’s much easier to serve those you already love then to fall in love. But if the people you’re serving are not people with whom you are already in love – then start paying more attention to everything that is great and wonderful about them. Most businesses see their customers as numbers.

They hate being seen as a “number”.

Most people feel static and out of connection. They really want to believe that there’s a much better way than the mainstream approach. Just look at the success of the movie phenomenon “The Matrix”. It deeply struck a chord in the psyche of our culture. It spoke to that nagging suspicion that something is fundamentally wrong with society – that the basis and very structure of society might be a lie. Most people feel this way.

Your role is to be the embodiment of a vision of something better. Most people, in the back of their minds, have the sneaking suspicion that there must be a more fulfilling, natural and easy way to do things.

If you notice you aren’t really truly in love with your clients it’s because one of four things is going on:

A) Profession: You’re in the wrong business; you’re off your life’s path. Ouch. You probably need to change careers.

B) People: You aren’t clear enough on what your ideal client is and so you’re settling for poor quality clients who are draining your energy. Get clear on your perfect client and, whether slowly or quickly, weed out the energy drainers. Stop settling. Change your clients.

C) Perception: You aren’t taking the time to truly appreciate them – to notice what’s wonderful and loveable about them. You may have habitual and inappropriate questions, beliefs, language or metaphors about “clients” that block you from seeing their beauty. Start noticing how you think of clients, and what you say to yourself when you think of them. Are they “a pain in your ass?” “An interruption” or “an obstacle to you achieving your goals”? If so: Warning. Change the way your are looking at or describing your clients.

D) Procedure: You may be a night person but you’ve set up your job to see clients in the morning because you think you HAVE to; you’re a coach who hates his clients because his life is scheduled with unavoidable sporadic calls vs. setting it up so they “Call on demand”. You’ve made the client king and given them your cell # and said “Call me 24/7” … and they do. Change how you interact with your clients.

You need to set up your lifestyle so it works for you so that you have more to give to your clients. This “falling in love with your clients” likely sounds a little “woo-woo”. But it’s the most bottom line, highest ROI thing you can do. It’s a hard nose, business approach.

Do you get it?

Do you get that this is the key to obscene amounts of wealth and happiness in business?

“Great customer service” is respectable, even laudable… but trite. Focusing and creating “raving fans” is wonderful… but may be incomplete. Before your clients become raving fans of you or your company YOU need to be a raving fan of your clients.

Make sense?

Customer service is important but falling in love with your clients is a much more vast, expansive, deeper and connected foundation to build from. If you fall in love with your clients – if you come from that place – you will perform legendary service naturally. Legendary service is a byproduct of a great love for those you serve. Service is the flower but love of the client is the soil.

Is that a license to not develop systems? Is that a license to not develop policies and procedures around serving your clients? No. It’s an affirmation that, unless you really love your clients you likely won’t spend the time it takes – to develop such systems in the first place. You won’t invest the needed focus to make those systems not just excellent – but outstanding.

How do you know if you’ve fallen in love with them? Well, ask yourself “When I fall in love romantically what do I do?” Then translate these answers to business.

When you really love a particular client isn’t it true that:

• You perform legendary service
• You’re in constant contact – always courting
• You’re giving much more than you expect in return
• You are passionately and constantly trying to improve the quality of your products and services.
• You keep trying to think of ways to make doing business with you more fun
• You find yourself constantly thinking of ways to delight and surprise your clients.

The key is not that you think you understand them. Everyone thinks they understand each other. The key is that they FEEL understood. Read that sentence again. It’s not that you love them but that they feel loved.

Your clients need to feel cared for by you – to trust you’re not just looking at their wallet. People want to feel worried about. Like they matter.

Your job is to voice their innermost feelings and affirm them.

Most people are thinking:

• I don’t trust the system
• I don’t want to be average, a number
• I don’t want to be controlled anymore (by people circumstances, lack of resources, the competition)
• I want to feel powerful and in control of my life. (People hate feeling that someone else ultimately controls how their life will end up. But they don’t know what to do to change that)

When you are in conversation with your clients they need to think “What I feel, she feels too”

The most chronic blunder of most entrepreneurs is thinking that people want their product or service. They don’t. They want a result. They want a solution to a problem. They are looking for relief from an affliction. They are hoping that your product or service will help them achieve some desired goal. It isn’t about you.

In fact, they really don’t care about you or your business problems, how hard it is for you. They don’t care that you had a bad day. The sooner you realize that it was never about you or your business – the better.

Your product or service I just a means to an end for your client. What is that ‘end’?

Is there even a problem? Or do you just think that people should want it?

Most businesses fail because they fail to identify and address their clients' and prospects' deepest needs.

REMEMBER THIS ALWAYS: Your business is a bridge. Your business is the bridge between where people are and where they want to be.

There are five levels of this. You know you’re making progress in this area when:

1) You realize that they have deeper needs than your product or service. You realize they want those for something.

2) You feel totally clear about what these needs are

3) You can articulate their needs better than they can.

4) You can articulate the needs and inklings that they barely even knew they had themselves – you can put words to those vague discomforts, niggling doubts and unclear concerns

5) You inspire people to see more, you bring awareness of such higher possibilities that they raise their standards for their life, they stop settling, they get out of “no man’s land” and they grow – this creates a new level of need; a new gap between where they are and where they want to be.

Remember: you must fall in love with your client more than your business or product. You’re there to serve THEM, not you.

This comes from a commitment to not only having a transactional relationship, but a transformational one.

It calls on you to go beyond the superficial and mundane levels upon which most business relationships exist.

It calls upon you to be a little vulnerable and candid. At its simplest level, it asks you to focus on being truly interested not interesting; engaged – not engaging.

Most people in business are so busy focusing on how they can be the most interesting, dynamic and engaging person so that people will buy their product or service. But those people will never get as far as someone who truly and deeply cares about their clients and focuses on their problems, their secret desires and frustrations, their hopes and dreams and their well-being.

Since most people don’t trust the system you must position yourself as a viable and refreshing alternative - one that helps them regain power and control their lives. But that will never happen unless you truly care. It will feel like too much effort. It's probably an incredibly burned out phrase, but it's still true that people don't care how much you know, unless they know how much you care. You want to understand the fabric of their life well beyond the “transaction”.

Some people say, “But my job doesn’t lend itself to falling in love with clients.” If you believe that then, “yes” that will be true for you.

But, when you get that your real goal in business is to help solve people's problems and you get that solving people's problems is probably the most loving act that you can do for them - things start to shift for you immediately, dramatically and powerfully. And, I would go so far as to say that until and unless you embrace some higher purpose and sense of identity in business you will never be truly fulfilled or happy. Some people might look at this as a life of sacrifice, but really, the life of sacrifice is the life that you live before you find this sense of higher purpose.

"Someday you'll find out that there is far more happiness in another's happiness than in your own. It is something I cannot explain, something within that sends a glow of warmth all through you."
- Honore de Balzac

If you ask for people’s business from any place other than service and inspiration - you will feel diminished. You will feel reduced to mere sales.

"Ultimately, it is not our credentials, but our commitment to a higher purpose that creates our effectiveness in the world."
-- Marianne Williamson

I remember best-selling author Marianne Williamson speaking once about her experience working in a bookstore. The bookstore owner was constantly fussing about how to sell this or sell that. She told Marianne to look at every single client, who came in the store and think to her self, "There's a potential sale." But Marianne had a very different relationship to the bookstore. She saw it as her ministry. She saw it as a chance to really love people. She saw it as a church. She refused to see her position in the same mundane and mediocre way that everyone else held it.

And, as she did that, the sales did just fine.

If you walk into a bookstore and you feel you're being looked at only as a source of money - you aren't going to stick around very long. But imagine going into another bookstore, where you feel better every single time, you walk in it. Imagine going to bookstore, where you feel loved and cherished just from walking in the door. At one point, Marianne Williamson woke up and said to her self, "Oh, I get it. They think this is a bookstore!"

I remember seeing on TV one day, a special 15 minute report about the traffic cop. Now, I don't know about you but I can't think of many jobs more mundane than being a traffic cop. You're basically just directing traffic. There's no time for idle chitchat, and you don't have a lot of time to really connect with people and send them love.

Or do you?

This was an old African-American Man from Jamaica. And he didn't just direct traffic, he would dance and give people high fives as they went by, and made sure that every single person who passed his way got a smile and wave hello. In the special they showed interviews of people who drove 10 blocks out of their way just to make sure they got to pass this man as he directed traffic. He made everyone with whom he came in contact feel wonderful and loved. He made people happy. As the good Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "If you're going to be a street sweeper, be a great street sweeper."

Louise Barnes-Johnston

Robert, I totally agree that a coach needs to be completely focused and interested in their clients - I call it being curious. I love it when clients realise that I'm on their side and that they can do whatever they want to. That's when they feel inspired! And that's when they go on to achieve great things.

Thanks for the post and for the reminder of what's just as important as tangible results.

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