Sharing is caring, but does it really help

If you are involved in any type of athletics that require skill have you ever noticed the difference in style from the people who started playing/practicing early in life versus the ones who picked it up as adults? That is not to say those who don’t start playing a particular sport (golf, tennis) as an adult can’t be as good as the early starters but you can almost always tell who is who just by their style of play.

That is the way I feel about social at times.

When I say I am old school, I ain’t lying; social tends to give the impression we are all about the same age, but other than the fact I am still a kid at heart if you were to count my rings, I have a few.

I grew up playing outside. All day. Without the parents wondering where you were or what you were doing. You just knew when to show up if you wanted dinner.

Because of this, I think it is a big reason I still play outside quite a bit. Also because of this, when the gaming and computers started to become more popular with the kids my time had already passed.

Therefore, I see some in here who have totally embraced this realm and it is very obvious they look a lot better doing it than most of my efforts. Once again, not to say I could not achieve that same level of competence, but it will always look different.

What’s your point then?

Maybe I was destined to be the outsider looking in. It doesn’t intimidate me anymore and I can bounce around just enough to stay one step ahead of the invisible label.

But I am socially lazy.

If you want me to show up and eat your food and drink your good stuff; count me in. However, if you start moving furniture or something I might have to go get my hair did.

I belong to Triberr which is a blog sharing platform. It is very easy for me to go in every morning and share posts. Most of these are posts from people who I have had some connection with along the way.

Unfortunately, I read very few of them. Why? because I am socially lazy remember, and actually have a day job too.

So that begs the question, is this method helping my blogging friends at all? Because I have a somewhat limited network, does it even really matter one way or the other?

I also post through my LinkedIn network and have had people drop me because they think it clutters up their stream too much.

Margie Clayman thought there was very little benefit to her through Triberr just for the very reason too many people are doing the same thing I am doing.

I figure if you don’t lose an eye or something, how bad can it really be?

Because of Triberr I know my posts are shared a lot more than they normally would be but my guess is, it really isn’t driving up readership.

Did you know there are a lot of blogs out there? I’ll bet the number could be as high as one thousand. Crazy stuff, huh?

You take the test

Good or bad; am I just wasting my time? What is better, mass sharing or cut it down to 3-5 and actually read the posts before putting your name on it?

Did I tell you I was socially lazy? I have told you about my mountain biking? Did you know in Florida there are very, very few days you can’t go outside and play?

What’s a brother to do?

Is your cheese still being moved?

Is it ever, make it stop; this is an edited version of my original post from February 6, 2012; back when I used to be somebody…

If you are familiar with the bestselling book, ‘Who Moved My Cheese‘ you know it deals with change and how to deal with it in work and life. Sometimes too much change and turmoil makes me want to cut some cheese, that’s for sure. One thing I have come to expect, and that is don’t get too comfortable, whether it is life or business these days because change is just around the corner.

Most know my day job is commercial insurance sales; this is an old-school traditional job if there ever was one. The original model was you work extremely hard your first 3-5 years, ‘grow’ a book of business and put it on cruise control from there.

If you plan on that being your model today I would advise to not even bother because you might have a better chance of taking care of your career by picking a winning lottery number.

Change can be good

Change, because it has an element of the ‘unknown’ typically brings about a certain level of stress. And whereas too much stress might not be a good thing, it can actually work for you.

Although relaxation ought to be, um, relaxing, stress management has somehow become yet another pressing item on our to-do lists. We’re made to feel like failures if we can’t live in a state of balance. But some stress is good; great, even. The discomfort of stress is a sign that you are tackling life’s problems head-on. Stress also improves productivity and performance – at work, the gym – and your body will be stronger if you alternate periods of calm and heart-pounding excitement.

Some know of my trail bike riding exploits these days and you certainly have enough oh-shit, heart-pounding excitement moments just about every ride.

How it has worked for me

Some of you might also know I have been doing this ‘insurance gig’ for 30+ years……….all at the same place. Talk about a breeding ground for complacency. The good news is we have forward thinking management and try to be pro-active and relevant in a fast-paced information overload society. This means don’t get too comfortable in your chair, because you might have to move soon if they even let you keep your chair.

I certainly don’t want to be the ‘that’s the way we always did it‘ guy but try to set the example and lead the charge if I truly think it will benefit the corporation. We are an ESOP (employee owned – employee stock option plan) corporation so everybody’s performance impacts not only our success, but our ‘retirement’ account as well. If everybody has some skin in the game it’s a lot easier to hold everyone accountable.

Has all this change made me uncomfortable at times? Absolutely, but it has also kept it interesting, challenging and fresh. I feel my eagerness to learn and adapt also keeps me young at heart and always growing.

Other changes I see

There are quite a few of us in my community who entered the ‘social’ journey at about the same time. When we jumped on the hamster wheel we were led to believe more followers and more comments are how you succeed. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but you do have a tendency to ‘chase’ under that model; and it’s circular.

Just about everybody I know has varied from that model now they are deeper into their journey, and some have just given up. We are all smart enough to copy and emulate what we perceive as ‘success’ in here, but I feel we have come to the realization there really is no ‘right way’ or ‘wrong way'; it’s ultimately only ‘our way’.

Just like life, if you are going to be a survivor in here don’t get too comfortable in your seat. What is working for you today could be totally different in 30 days…or less; that is how fluid social is.

This is what keeps me going

Numero uno – it has to be fun; fun is a great motivator for me. I work plenty hard in my day job. In my ‘spare time‘ I’m a volunteer Guardian ad Litem and sit on several boards; all non-paying positions. Therefore, it’s important to find a fun factor in all, even if there is hard work involved.

The jury is still out for me if I have the motivation to take any of this social stuff any further than I already have. Not that I made any lists in the first place, but I don’t expect to make many in the future as well unless somebody is doing a ‘whatever happened to‘ list.

What about you?

Has traditional blogging run it’s course? Do you feel there are greater opportunities to be successful with a social platform now or has the newness worn off and most are on the other side of the curve right now?

Is the continual moving of cheese the new norm, or will we ever get back to being able to take a deep breath and actually enjoy the fruits of our labor before running off to the next big thing?

At the end of the day, what is important to you?

Life lessons – 31 years on the ‘job’

Office pic

Lesson one – if you show up every day and do what you are supposed to do, then at least that is a starting point to have some longevity. But that’s no guarantee these days because it is well documented in corporate America that lifetime jobs have become a rarity.

Then again, so have lifetime marriages but somehow, someway I have made it 31 years with that gig too. My wife definitely deserves a medal.

It is much more than just showing up though, it is also knowing if you don’t take control of your own destiny others will and then you pretty much have to accept what you get.

Regardless, both work and the marriage have taken some perseverance, compromise, patience and a little luck.

But is it necessarily a good thing (not the marriage dear, that has been fantastic…:)?

Lesson two – a lot of water has passed under the bridge during this time but it has cultivated a lifetime of stories. There have been a lot of people who have come through the doors at Lanier Upshaw, Inc and along with that comes the highlights and heartbreaks of life.

When I first started, people were allowed to smoke in the break room and there was a roster where each woman had a week’s worth of kitchen duty; walking around the office at the end of the day picking up the coffee cups and any other dishes off the desks.

We also had no women producers at that time.

We had Christmas parties out of town where drinking was expected and then letting people drive home afterwards.

Think that would fly today?

Ultimately you have to be adaptable to change and continue to learn; otherwise, you need to be put out to pasture.

Lesson three – there is no looking back; it’s ok to reflect and reminisce but most of your fork in the road choices have been made and it’s best to continue taking advantage of the opportunities in front of you that you can control.

Whereas it would be ludicrous to think I did it all on my own, ultimately it came down to me to make the decisions that controlled my destiny.

It hasn’t always been a bed of roses, but I always knew nothing was stopping me from making a change when things weren’t going particularly well. Just like a marriage, sometimes it is best just to wait it out.

To summarize There are two schools of thought about the value of longevity. If you are enthused, stay current and bring value to the bottom line then the institutional knowledge you acquire from being somewhere for any length of time can certainly be a positive and should be worth something.

However, I see some in this position who get stale and their value is marginalized and the easy thing to do would be to replace them by bringing in fresh ideas and energy to stir things up; reading between the lines that reads younger and cheaper.

There is some balance to be had in there somewhere and I am sure a middle ground approach can still be profitable for the business.

I have had a few opportunities to explore the other fork in the road but at the end of the day the desire to start over never outweighed the bird in the hand. 

Good or bad? The lifetime employee seems to have worked for me; I guess some souls are a lot more restless but I embody the adage that southerners take root because I have certainly done that.

Y’all come back now, ya heah…..

Partners

I got (1)99 problems but a blog ain’t one

200

One-nine-nine as in one hundred and ninety nine posts preceding this one; yes, this is post # 200 from billdorman.me’s fabulous site.

And of course to reemphasize how hip I really am, the title of this post is a play off a semi-popular hip hop/rap song so yes, I can be that creepy old guy scaring girls off and who still embarrasses his kids because he never grew up.

Since this blog was birthed on March 4, 2011 that essentially puts me 38 months into this gig with the caveat I was essentially invisible most of 2013; regardless, by my simple math this equates to an average of 5.2631578 posts a month. I know there are many who average this many in a week, but based on my non-platform I have been operating off of it’s amazing to me it survived this long.

According to the stats I have 3,267 followers and have had 74,792 hits; whatever that means. Those are not gaudy numbers by any means but it just goes to show you if a big dope like myself can jump in and get some traction, then pretty much anybody can, right?

Do you want a medal, or the chest to pin it on?

Just give me something to eat; I’ll work for food.

The few, the proud, the Marines who still read this post came into the game about the same time I did. We all have cycled through pretty much the same emotions and ups and downs this kind of commitment can bring. It has been interesting to see the evolution and who dropped out, who changed, and who still just puts their head down and keeps plowing through regardless.

Just like several hobbies I have undertaken and didn’t see all the way through, I could never figure out if I wanted to be just a writer, a teacher with a business blog, or just a big goof. Work gets serious enough and I know if used properly this platform could enhance my business efforts; but as I explore that landscape and the commitment involved it takes some of the fun out of it for me and hence, some of the appeal.

You’ll never get rich digging a ditch, you’re in the Army now. 

Where is the next WOW coming from?

Blogging was around way before I jumped in, but when I did take the plunge it was new and fresh and felt like one big party. Other than not having a paid site and some of the bells and whistles that go along with it, I considered myself all in. Personally, I feel it was time well spent on many levels and I’m much richer for the experience.

Some say blogging has run it’s course; I have certainly seen plenty who just ran out of gas or decided to change because there was just too much of a sameness permeating these halls of bloggersville.

Bloggers talk about finding your voice, but for better or worse my early posts could easily be interchangeable with the latter. At least it’s consistent, huh?

Maybe that’s why you suck and don’t have any staying power. 

Possibly, but read back about the fun part again.

So what does the landscape look like in 1 year; 3 years; 5 years? Will there be something else that’s new and we look back on this and laugh?

Let’s get this party started. 

I was never looking for fame and fortune

If something would have clicked and I found a sustainable business model that would have worked for me, I would have pursued it as hot and heavy as I am doing my trail riding right now. Other than the networking and meeting new people, I never found enough of that spark to spur me to the next level.

I know you can’t get paid on networking alone and it is usually just a means to an end; but that is what I do really well, you are getting into my sweet spot now. Can’t their be some brilliance in that?

For a 200 this was probably not too epic, but very much in line with my style so why should I try to change now…:).

The reality is, any problems I have are within my control and if I want to change the landscape then I can do something about it. That’s probably a pretty good place to be, don’t you think?

What’s your problem?

 

What do you bring to the table?

Food I hope, ’cause fat boy gotta eat.

Oh wait, this isn’t a post about food, is it?

Ok, how about this, what defines you; what is it about you that makes people trust you and want to do business with you?

Don’t paint yourself in a box

How many people have you known for any length of time have truly changed the essence of who they are? Or, once you know somebody, do they pretty much stay the course and what you see is what you get regardless if it was 20 years ago or today?

True story for me; my family moved away from the small town I grew up in between my 9th and 10th grade year in school. The town I left was a small enough town where seemingly you knew everybody. In my minds-eye whenever I would think of most of those people I only knew them as kids.

When I heard my old school was having their 30-yr reunion (yes, I am that old) I jumped on the chance to go. Upon arriving, of course my first impression was where did all these old people come from anyway; good thing I moved away or I might have looked like them too…:). The amazing thing, once I re-introduced myself to everybody, I was amazed how most were just like I remembered them; same personalities, same traits.

How can that be, none of us stay the same. Was it just because I wanted them to still be the same?

What makes you special?

Yes, we are all special in our own unique ways.

Most by now know I am in insurance sales. As the norm for most sales positions when I was initially looking for a job and interviewing there were usually some type of personality tests involved. These are not pass/fail type tests, but more to see if your personality and abilities align with the job being offered.

I came across one of those old exams and results recently and it was interesting to see how it described me then versus how I would describe me now.

My strengths were positivity – generous with praise & quick to smile; relator – thrill of turning strangers into friends; harmony – look for areas of agreement; communication – like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public and to write; woo – enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you.

Would you hire me? I’ve got woo, do you?

I guess if those traits were important for the task at hand, then maybe I’m your guy, right?

If you were to describe yourself in 5 words do you think they have held true over the test of time?

That sounds good, but what do you stink at? 

Yes, I am asking you because obviously I am Mr Wonderful and surely we aren’t talking about me.

Ha, your game has more holes than swiss cheese. 

I procrastinate at times; not always having a sense of urgency, which is not a good thing in the land of insurance with drop dead don’t pass go deadline renewal dates. Fortunately I have a great team that keeps me on task.

I am not competitive enough at times; I am competitive with myself, but I have probably left some deals on the table because I wasn’t willing to scrap enough to get the deal done.

I’ve done alright in this gig and don’t really want for much. Considering where I came from I think I have far out-kicked my punt coverage, and even though I could still do so much more, it’s not too bad to be where I am right now.

So is that a good thing or a bad thing; would you hire me now?

What you see is what you get

I guess it is what it is. The key for me is to play to my strengths and surround myself with the right people and try to avoid the potholes that will flatten my tires.

We all see and know people we admire and think we want to be like them when we grow up. However, the sooner you can be comfortable in your own skin and be more appreciative of what you do have the happier, more fulfilled you will become.

I guess the moral of this story is, don’t try to be perfect just try to be good, and happy, and everything else will take care of itself.

And that’s the truth…don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Until next time…

 

My wife barely tolerates my girl friend

Bike

You thought I was going to go Donald Sterling on you and talk about how I flaunt my girlfriend in public in front of my wife, didn’t you? I will go one better, my girlfriend lives with me; albeit she has to stay in the garage.

I don’t even know her name, but I think I am in love.

Because I became semi-obsessed with her, it was my wife who dubbed her my girlfriend.

Yes, I am talking about my new trail bike.

It hasn’t been a perfect relationship however

But how many relationships are; just like any relationship worth having it takes a lot of understanding, patience and communication.

Then why did she throw you off 3 times already?

The good news is that I have been on the deck 3 times now after the broken hand incident but still back in the saddle riding; all were really rider error so I will have to shoulder most of the blame. There is a fine line in trail riding between too aggressive and not aggressive enough. In my unprofessional opinion, more wrecks occur being tentative than from being too aggressive. I mean everybody can ride a bike, right? You just have to channel your 8-years old instincts…..

Why are your shins so dinged up; it must not be all smooth sailing

Tru dat.

Apparently there are some adjustments to be made on a new bike after you have broken it in and even though I thought we were still in the honeymoon phase, my chain has slipped at the most inopportune time causing me to bang a shin and/or a knee. I have taken her to the shop twice for adjustments and even though the situation isn’t totally resolved if I keep my fat ass on the seat so the chain isn’t bouncing around as much when I hit terrain it is less likely to happen.

So why doesn’t your wife approve?

She said if I ever brought anybody home they damn sure better be able to cook and clean. Well not only does my girlfriend not cook and/or clean she is obviously getting all of the attention right now.

As I was trying to convince my wife a trail bike was a good investment for me because my window of opportunity for trail riding had a shelf life, she was quick to remind me she felt my window of opportunity for this has already come and gone.

Well I never….

Since I am the sole breadwinner in our family, it’s all or nothing. Since I am worth about 3 times as much dead as I am alive my wife doesn’t want any in between. Either I am upright and answering the bell everyday or I better be pushing up daisies…:).

Nah, I’m sure she’s just teasing; how can she not want to live with Mr Wonderful.

For better or for worse…

What is this post about?

I guess you are looking for some kind of positive take-away, huh?

Me too, so get in line.

I will close by saying if you find something you really like whether it be business or personal related; then what’s the problem with being all in, because that is where I am with my trail riding right now.

Sounds like an obsession…

Close, and I imagine there is a fine line between hobby and obsession. However, I have been all in with softball, running, weight lifting, rec basketball, reading, golf, tennis and online social at one time or the other throughout my adult life so there does appear to be a pattern.

For the athletic ones, usually injuries got me moving on to try something else, but at least it made me try other things.

This is what happens when you never grow up; maybe it’s good and maybe it’s not, but what are you going to do when your wife barely tolerates your girlfriend?

 

 

When did you stop being good?

What in the hell happened to you, didn’t you used to be somebody? 

But I thought I still was…

Signing your first big contract

Now I can put it on cruise control.

When you see athletes at the top of their game finally break through and sign the mega-deal only to have their performance dip afterwards, do you think it’s because they lost their edge?

Is a contract based on past performance more of a disincentive, or a justified reward for your previous results?

Is that how we should reward our leaders in business, for what they did or what they potentially are going to do? Potential…ha, now that’s a loaded word, right?

What is the right call? If it’s performance based only, what if you have a bad year, bad two years?

What I see in my industry

Yep, still insurance sales; two things I know all too well, me and/or my J O B…:).

Run for the hills if you must.

I have been doing this insurance gig for 30+ years. For the most part, nothing was given to me nor did I inherit anything so my survivability was solely based on somehow figuring this whole thing out. That is not to say I did not have mentors and/or help along the way, but at the end of the day I still had to make it happen.

Ooohhhh, aren’t you special….

My greatness is only surpassed by my humbleness.

In the beginning

I had the education (Risk Management/Insurance degree) and a fantastic mentor who helped create some opportunities for me.

And I was young, eager and hungry.

Over time and because insurance and the renewals that go along with it are sustainable income, I was able to build a book of business. Meaning, if I didn’t stink it up too bad some were actually going to hang around for several years and I would get paid every year they remained with me.

Also along the way, I was motivated enough to continue my education. I have several initials behind my name but the one I am most proud of is the CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter) designation which is a masters level course that at the time was 10 parts and I did it all self-study.

And I never stopped learning; so my accumulated knowledge is still very relevant in today’s insurance environment so that should be worth something, right?

And then I cracked the code

When I first started out I was paid a minimal salary that was just enough to allow me so survive, but also keep me hungry. I knew the real money was after you validated and were paid directly on what you killed sold and brought in the door.

If I recall, I think it took me 3 years to validate and I haven’t looked back since.

Oh, there have been challenges as some years will be better than others and for some unknown reason people would fire me (even to this day) or sell out or just go out of business.

The nerve…who keeps moving my cheese?

So what’s the problem?

Over time it’s easy to get complacent and lose some of your focus; at some point you just want to build a fence around what you have and rise above the scrappers.

But as soon as you do that you start going backwards.

You can’t fire me, I am a CPCU…

Oh yes they can, and they will; especially if your price is too high.

What I am trying to say from the knowledge side I am as good as I ever was, if not better because now I have years upon years of accumulated wisdom; book smarts and street smarts. Some lessons learned were harder than others, but learn I did.

However, since I get paid on commission only and theoretically was able to sign my big deal, other than losing an account here or there and not having enough in your pipeline to replace it; how deep do you do you have to keep digging to stay sharp all the time?

Is this only applicable to a sales industry or is it prevalent across the board?

Why isn’t my phone ringing?

Energy and enthusiasm wins out

Maybe; is that why you see big corporations terminate highly paid upper management with all that accumulated wisdom and hire younger (and healthier) and cheaper replacements?

It was inevitable social commerce would grow with the way the social platforms were evolving, but how many of our compatriots have given this a try because they were forced to be an entrepreneur before they were ready?

The million dollar question is then, if energy and enthusiasm win out, how do you keep that light burning brightly so you remain the rainmaker you are capable of, always bringing above average value to the job; day in and day out regardless of the challenges you have to face?

If it was too easy I suppose everybody would be trying to do it, huh? At times, it seems like everybody is though.

What is your secret sauce?

If you are not independently wealthy and you kind of have to work because others are dependent on you; how do you keep it not only fun and interesting, but do it day after day, rain or shine?

I never stopped being good, but do you have to take the blue pill or the red pill to keep your game on so people remember your name?

Sounds a lot like the hamster wheel, huh?