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Doug Carter
Professional Trainer & Speaker
Professional Trainer & Speaker


The Last 1000 Hours

If you live to be exactly 100 years old you’ll live a total of 36,525 days or 876,600 hours.  It may sound like a lot especially if you’re just starting out.  And yet…

I know right where we were, although I don’t quite remember how the conversation started.  It was February 17, 2015, my 65th birthday.  We were having dinner at Cooper’s Restaurant to celebrate.  It was just the four of us.  My 21 year old twins Michael and David and my wife Rebecca.  Michael was working so he would disappear to do his job and then circle back to our table to talk for a moment.

Somehow we got on the subject of how often the boys did or didn’t spend time with me their dad.  Usually I’ve been the one who is asking them for more time and they’ve been the ones talking about how busy their lives are with work, school, friends, going to the gym etc.  

I agreed about and understand how little free time they might have.  But to make my point I said, “Try looking at it from this point of view.  If I live another 30 years to age 95 at our current rate of time together we only have about 1500 hours left.

Instant silence.

Then a quiet response, “That’s depressing”.

I replied, “It is isn’t it?

Michael went to work and David, Rebecca and I sat quietly for a moment.  Then I added, “I keep inviting you for dinner every Tuesday night so we can have a chance to catch up.  That dinner from the time you arrive until the time you leave takes us just a bit under an hour.  If we take off at least a couple weeks a year where you’re committed or I’m traveling then we might make it 50 weeks a year although I doubt it.  But let’s say that’s the figure.  Fifty weeks a year times 30 years equals 1500 hours.”

As an afterthought the math really works out more like I live another 20 years times 50 dinners a year and we end up with the last 1000 hours.  Granted, they’re spread over 20 years but these are the last hours we’ll spend together.

I don’t know what happened in those moments but our conversations have shifted.

Doug Carter
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Have you ever noticed how much research is done with University students?  If the most common ages of University students are 18 to 23 and if it's accurate that the logical part of our brain continues to develop until we're 25 to 28 years of age, does this indicate that at least some behavioral research may have a design flaw if the researchers are assuming that university students have the same logic as others whose brains are completely developed?
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Sometimes it seems most people in business are too busy taking care of their financial future to take care of their financial future.
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This Washington Post article about Mark Zuckerberg is an excellent example of how to build a community culture.  His intent is admirable and he's setting an example for many of us to follow.
This conversation also opens up two distinctions about writing letters of appreciation as compared to writing thank you letters.
From 2000 to 2003 I conducted informal surveys with most of the audiences I spoke to.  
The first distinction supports Tom Peters' suggestion that most people value a hand written letter above any other method.  The lowest scoring methods were emails and e-cards. The very fact that the net is an easy way to send a message also can send a message that the sender wasn't willing to put much time or effort in their expression of support. A hand written letter sends a more personable message including the sender was willing to put effort into expressing themselves.
The second distinction is that a thank you letter can send a different message than a letter of appreciation.  If I say, "I want to thank you for all you've done for the company, especially the way you  handled the situation last week.  I'm proud to have you on board." a certain amount of the message could be more about me and my thanks rather than on the recipient.
On the other hand, if I said something like, "Last week you demonstrated  your vision, tenacity, and courage with the way you responded in the meeting we had.  Your willingness to support the company's interests has been noticed.  Thank you for being part of our team."  then the message we're sending is more about the recipient.  
It's a small but powerful distinction.
Regardless of whether he is writing letters of thanks or appreciation or a mixture of both Mark Zuckerberg is once again living an example of leadership.
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PowerPoint Poison; How PowerPoint Presentations are Poisoning your message and what to do about it.

“Oh, I already covered that!”  said Karen as she turned toward the screen at the front of the room.  The Power Point slide was the all-too-familiar cobalt blue background, a headline in gold, eight lines of white text with the current idea highlighted while the rest were dimmed.  But, while Karen was fussing over her PowerPoint she was missing the obvious fact that over half of her audience hadn’t noticed that anything was wrong at all…because they had already lost interest within the first four or five minutes of her presentation and were no longer paying attention.  They were thinking their own thoughts while they put in time waiting for Karen to get through her boring, mind-numbing ritual.

They didn’t lose interest because the material wasn’t relevant to them!  They lost interest because the visual impact that is available in a well-done PowerPoint presentation had been lost long before the workshop had begun.  It was lost in the construction of the PowerPoint presentation itself.  As is all too common, Karen had created her PowerPoint presentation for herself rather than for her audience.

To ensure she covered everything she wanted to say, she created a slide for nearly every thought.  The end result was a Power Point presentation that consisted of entirely too many slides.  Nearly all of them violated the basic rules for a great visual.   I’m sure you recognize the pattern.  There is the title slide, then, as in an outline, each new concept or idea was listed one right after the other, slide after slide after slide of text.  

Karen had so many Power Point slides she was constantly running over her allotted time to cover the important concepts she had to cover.  It took her longer to process her slides than it would have taken her just to tell her audience what they needed to hear.

The result of her effort to appear technologically competent in her workshop was that she actually sabotaged her efforts.  Her participants suffered from that glazed look of information overload.  The real work of the seminar was hampered by the confusion of too many ideas being thrown too quickly at the listeners.  Their minds were slightly muddled.  Their energy was dulled.  They didn’t volunteer answers to her questions.  And there was limited discussion.  Her constant use of text (written words) had put her participants into a trance…and they showed it.

All of this could have been avoided simply by following a few simple rules.

Rule #1 You, the presenter, need to be the center of attention.  

You want your audience to connect with YOU not with the screen.  If your relationship with the audience works, the details won’t get in the way.  If the relationship doesn’t work, the details won’t help.  The more your audience interacts and relates with you the more likely they’ll also embrace your ideas.  It’s about the relationship!
There are several ways for you to enhance that relationship.
• Remember that you yourself are an exhibit.  What you wear and how you move sends a powerful message about the importance of your topic.  I realize that in this modern world of ours there is a tendency for people to want to wear casual clothing to meetings.  But, casual means something entirely different for you as a presenter as compared to someone who is a participant.  You set the standard for the importance of your topic.
• If the group is small enough (or if there is a camera on you that is projected on a big screen so everyone can see you) using an object as an exhibit is another way to make your point.
• Use an overhead to create a visual “on the spot.”  An example is to write the participant’s answers to your questions.  When you do this you get to acknowledge the participant, which builds your connection and relatedness.  They get to see their ideas being important.  And, you have ongoing opportunities to present additional information that relates to their answers.
• Getting the audience involved in interactive exercises accomplishes several things.  If the exercise is well designed your participants will discover and retain more information through their experience than they ever will by merely listening to you.  They’ll also have a chance to discover additional insights from the other participants they interact with.  They’ll get a chance to actually practice the principles or skills you’re discussing.  And, the energy level of the room will increase in direct proportion to each person’s involvement.

Remember that “information overload” is caused by having too many un-experienced ideas.  

Rule #2 Use a visual only when it can make the point better than you can.

Human Beings are visual animals.  A picture really IS worth a thousand words.  But, what most presenters don’t realize is that a thousand words AREN’T worth a picture.  So, one visual consisting of a picture or diagram that shows the relationship of 

ideas will be more powerful and memorable than an entire series of slides with an ever increasing number of words.  
There are two exceptions to this rule.  The first exception is if you are discussing something of historical importance.  An example might be The Declaration of Independence or The Gettysburg Address.  But even here a visual of The Gettysburg Address becomes tremendously more powerful if it includes a picture of Abraham Lincoln or a background consisting of a Civil War Battle.
The second exception is if you are discussing something of legal significance.  If your meeting is covering a new contract, it is certainly prudent to visually cover the contract paragraph by paragraph.  Of course, if it’s that significant then you’ll also want everyone to have a copy of the document as a handout.  But, even if the participants have a handout, each visual would be more memorable and interesting if the slide had a relevant picture or background.

Rule #3 The visual needs to be completely understandable within 10 seconds.

If you have to explain what the PowerPoint slide means then it’s too complicated.  The general guideline for words is the 6 by 6 rule, no more than six lines of text and no more than six words per line.  Once again, though, the right picture or graphic will greatly enhance your message.  The ideal situation is for you to advance to a slide and have everyone in the room get your point without you having to say a word.  Now…that’s a well designed visual.

In summary, a poorly crafted Power Point presentation poisons your relationship with your audience.  The purpose of the use of visuals is to ACCENT your message rather than to BE the message.  By following these 3 simple Visual Rules you’ll improve your presence, strengthen your audience’s perception, and increase your persuasion.

Clients Forever Coaching, Inc.
“Specific, Measurable, and Realistic Training that works.”

P.O. Box 416, Mt. Shasta, CA 96067

1-530-926-3782 Fax 530-926-3784

Clients Forever® - How to have your clients build your business for you.

Ethical Persuasion® - How to let your prospect “sell themselves.”
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"There's a give and take in life that quickly leads to push and shove if we're not on top of it"  Bill Martin 
A question is, "How do we stay on top of it?"
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Too Busy For Referrals:
Why Your Best Clients Don't Give You Referrals, 
And 10 Things You Can Do About It

If your best clients think so highly of you, why aren’t they referring others to you? It could be your own actions are convincing them they shouldn't! Some of us try to demonstrate our importance by showing and expressing how busy we are, and we communicate our "busyness" in any number of ways. How do you communicate your busyness?
You could be projecting "I'm so busy" through something as simple as your word speed, or in how you enunciate your words.  It could be by comments you make about having only a few moments for a conversation or a meeting.  It could be by making or taking calls on your cell phone in the middle of meetings or by leaving your pager on during a meeting.
Your busyness might be communicated by constantly looking at your watch. Or by the frantic or preoccupied way you drive when taking a client to lunch.  It could be by complaining about coming to work early, going home late, taking work home with you, working on the weekends or holidays, not having enough time for yourself, etcetera, etcetera.  
The I'm-so-busy signal might also be sent by a sigh in the middle of a conversation, by passing off clients' questions or their routine matters to someone else, by not being able to get the job done for days or weeks, or by leaving a client "on hold" for more than a few seconds.
There is nothing wrong with being busy.  Most business people are always looking for new or better business, and to be busy can mean that your business is successful.
But, looking busy has its pitfalls.
When you always appear busy, the more often your clients see this, the more they may want to protect their own relationship with you.  They may, either consciously or unconsciously, want to protect both you and themselves by not making you busier with more referrals.  
This is why that may be true. Your clients want to protect you so that your life doesn't get any more hectic than it already is.  They know that if they give you another referral, you will only have more work to do.  And, if they were to give you, say, three to five new referrals, not only would your life be made worse, you may not even be able to get to those new people in a timely manner—which would make you feel bad, the referrals feel bad, and your client feel bad.
Your busyness may even be setting up your best clients to be "sitting ducks" for your competition.  The more your clients are concerned about your busyness, the more likely it is they won't want to impose on you, by, for example, phoning you with questions about their account.  So-o-o, they may even be relieved to find someone else—anyone else—who is apparently willing to take the time to answer a few questions for them.  If that someone else is your competition, he is getting a chance to demonstrate not only competence to your clients but also that he has the time to really work with your clients.
In addition to protecting you, your clients may feel—again, perhaps unconsciously—that they need to protect themselves.  They may be thinking that if you don't have time for a relationship with them, you may not have the time to do a great job—to fully manage their account.  So, they watch your results more carefully.  And, they don't commit new money to you. 
  Your clients also may be thinking, “If you barely have time for me already, I don't want to make it worse by having to share you with anyone else.”  So, when you do ask your clients for referrals, they tell you they'll think about it.  Or, they give you the names of people who won't take up much of your time—either by becoming clients at all or by being the type of client who hasn't enough assets to require much management.  
Either way whether your good clients mostly are protecting you or themselves—the result of your busyness can be a less-than-optimal relationship with your major clients (if not the loss of them altogether) as well as a lack of referrals to potential good clients.
And yet we know that it makes more sense for us to take care of our existing clients than it does for us to try to find new clients.  One of the most effective ways to take care of those clients is by sending the message that they are important to us.  We make others feel important—and connected—to us by taking the time to pay attention to them.
Now the question becomes, “With all of the things I already have to do, how do I send the message to my clients that I have time for them?”
The following ten ideas won't solve all of the busyness challenges you may be facing, but they will give you some practical ideas you can use immediately.  Many of these ideas are from Dr. Max Dixon, who, over the past 36 years, has established himself in both the public speaking and entertainment industries as one of the world's leading coaches on communicating more clearly and powerfully.
1. Anyone can look good when things are going well. It's when things are falling apart that you get challenged.  So, first let me give you something to do when "Murphy's law" is operating in overdrive.
Do what great athletes do: Create a ritual.  When you watch a tennis match between great tennis players, you may notice how, between points, each player tends to examine or adjust the strings of her tennis racket.  Their strings don't need to be adjusted; it's just that the best tennis players in the world have trained themselves to perform a ritual between points so they can maintain their concentration regardless of what is going on in the match.
The same sorts of rituals are used by pitchers and batters in baseball,  runners in track and field, free-throw shooters in basketball—all use rituals, as do athletes in nearly every other sport that requires concentration under stress.  So, let's create a ritual for you that can help you “model” reflection, patience, and time:
Just be silent for a moment . . . .ten seconds.  That's the ritual!  Before any appointment, simply stop what you are doing, and sit or stand silently for a full ten seconds.  At the end of that ten seconds, take one deep breath and then let it out.  Then proceed with your appointment.
2. The next step is to perform some kind of slow behavior.  It may be as simple as standing up and walking over to the person, taking a moment to shake his hand while gaining eye contact. The key is to do it slowly and deliberately.  Spending even two extra seconds here will send the message that you consider this person important.
3. Most people who are in a hurry tend, when speaking, to emphasize the consonants of the words.  This makes their language sound unemotional, clipped.  So, as you talk with your client, you'll want to enunciate your vowels.  By making sure that you sound out the vowels when you speak, you will help to create two results. The first is that you'll express yourself with more passion and compassion: Your comments will take on more "life."  Both you and your client will be more emotionally involved in the conversation, and you'll tend to feel more connected with each other.
The second result is that your word speed will tend to slow down, which will give the conversation more impact and make it feel more complete.  This compounds the involvement both of you will feel. 
4. Carry out your conversations at a different location from your desk.  I realize that not all your conversations are full-blown appointments—many of them occur simply while walking past someone.  The suggestion here, however, is that you have your important conversations at a location different from your regular desk.  If someone steps into your office and asks a question, stand up or move around and sit on the front edge of your desk. For formal appointments, it will be worth your effort to move away from your desk and sit with your client at a different location.
5. As long ago as 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People that one of the ways to build good relationships is to "Be a good listener, encourage other people to talk about themselves."  This is only as effective, however, as your ability to listen to their answers.
I am often asked for coaching and advice, on various subjects.  For years, I would respond first by asking enough questions to get a rough idea of what the person wanted, and then I would launch into a summary of the different solutions she might use to solve her problem. Usually, after I had talked myself out, people would simply say something like, "Well, I was thinking about doing such-and-such. What do you think?"  They already had the answer!  They didn't want any new information; they just wanted their answer confirmed by my experience.
Now when people ask me what I think they should do about a problem or challenge, I like to ask them, "What do you think you'd do?"  Then, all I normally have to do is listen to the answer they have already thought out.
6. Even though you may be asking your clients a lot of questions and listening to the answers, your conversation may still take on the air of "let's get this over with."  One of the symptoms of this attitude is responding to the other person before she has completed saying what he wanted to say. To make sure that you maintain an air of reflection with your clients, do as Max Dixon suggests: Stay with them “a beat beyond.”
What we mean by staying with them a beat beyond is that, before responding, you wait for at least two full seconds after the other person stops speaking. This ensures he has finished; it also helps you "model reflection," and it gives you time to consider your response.  One of my good friends, Bill Bachrach, tends to put his telephone on "mute" during conference calls so he can concentrate more fully on what the other people are saying.  If a question is directed at him, he needs to release the "mute" button before he can speak.  He says this has helped him tremendously in his phone conversations, because he has that brief moment to collect his thoughts before he speaks.
7. When your clients leave your office, walk with them to the door or lobby.  This simple gesture of respect will help you in several ways.  First, it demonstrates you have the time to be respectful—that your client is important enough to you that she is worthy of being "walked out." Second, it gives you another opportunity to shake her hand and maintain the connection you've created with her.  And third, it gives you time to think about your next task or appointment as you walk back to your desk: You'll think more clearly than you would if you’d remained sitting in your office; and the time spent organizing your thoughts should be about the same regardless of whether you are sitting at your desk or walking back to your office.
Those first seven suggestions are “tactically” oriented; they are ideas you can use immediately.  The following three suggestions are more strategic in nature: Some initiative and planning will be required in order for you to get the best results.
 8. Take a life-management program, like The REAL Life Optimization Advanced Leadership Training. This training has established a reputation for helping people discover who they are, what's worth doing, and who's worth doing it with.   When you clearly understand what you value most, you'll tend to express those values and characteristics in your dealings with others.  And you find the time to devote to what's most important in your life.
9. Write out a description of your ideal client, and then disengage those clients who are farthest away from your ideal.  Most business professionals are afraid to give up any clients at all, yet there is an important reason to do so.  The reason is "Parkinson's Constant."  Parkinson's Constant is one of the Twelve Fundamental Time Management Strategies around which all time management techniques and systems are built.  The principle of Parkinson's Constant is that the job expands to fill the time allowed.  That is, we will take whatever time we have at our disposal to complete the work we have to do.  So, if you have 500 clients, you'll fill your days taking care of those 500 clients; if you had only 300 clients, you would fill your days taking care of those 300 clients.  It doesn't matter how many clients you have—you'll always seem to be about as busy as you are now.  So you might as well be busy taking care of, or looking for, those clients who fit your ideal.
10. Create a system that lets your clients know, when they least expect it, that they are important to you.  Have you ever received a letter of appreciation or a gift that you kept for a long time?  How did you feel when you received it?  How long did you keep it?  In our Clients Forever® program, we've encountered people who have kept letters of appreciation for as long as 43 years!  Please note that we aren't talking about sending sales flyers, newsletters, or calendars—we're talking about personalized letters, cards, and gifts sent at times your clients or prospects don't expect them, which forces them to pay attention to the fact they are important to you.
By simply writing and sending one card of appreciation a day to one of your clients you’re sending a message that you’re willing to take the time for them.
So remember, as management consultant Tom Peters says, “Every day, a [person] sends a thousand messages about what is important to him or her.  And you're sending those messages, whether you know it or not.”  If you appear to be—or actually are—too busy to make your clients feel comfortable and taken care of, they may actually be holding out on you—not giving you what you need from them!
Using these ten suggestions can help you send the strong message to your clients that they belong to a very special group—a group of people whom you always have time for, because they are important to you and because they are worthy of being treated with the dignity the human spirit deserves.
R. Douglas Carter is President of Clients Forever Coaching, LLC, an interactive-training company best known for its Clients Forever ®  and “Being REAL” programs, which help people systematically build business relationships that "last forever." 

Carter International Training and Development Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 416/ Mt. Shasta, CA/ 96067/ USA
Telephone: (530) 926-3782
Fax: (530) 926-3784 
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