Internationally acclaimed motivational speaker Kevin Kelly is a foremost authority on entrepreneurship, leadership, sales, creativity and personal excellence. Over the course of two decades, Kevin has been a keynote speaker for a multitude of events all across the globe, from the Middle East and Asia to Europe and the United States.
SPEAKING.COM: What are the most common mistakes companies make when executing ideas?
KELLY: There’s one major one: paralysis by analysis. In the early 90’s I used to do a lot of feasibility studies for companies. Now as I look back, I acknowledge how easy it was to tell people they were wasting their time. Why? Because knowledge will always give you enough reasons NOT to act. The more you do analyses of pros and cons or strengths and weaknesses, the closer you get to consigning that idea to the grave.
If your idea comes with passion and commitment, I say go for it. The worst possible scenario is the journey will take you to a place you later describe and recognize as better than your starting point. A Doing Culture will always win over an Analytical one!
SPEAKING.COM: What are the 4 pillars of exceptional execution?
There’s nothing like a business focused on delivering the most powerful drug in business with no side effects. If you deliver quality authentic attention to your customers (internal and external), you win. It’s as simple and challenging as that!
The leaders of breakthrough companies I interviewed were very aware of their strengths and their weaknesses as well as their fears and dreams. They had personal strategies to help ensure that they saw situations as they were rather than through faulty filters. Their self-awareness ultimately transferred to a persuasive presence that created a winning culture.
3) Learning with a twist
Real leaders see teachers everywhere not just from the normal sources. My interviewees had an insatiable appetite for continuous learning and were open to the source of this, be it an employee, children, or a random meeting with anybody at anytime anywhere. Interestingly, this strategy has allowed me to build a worldwide presence on a shoestring. All of my greatest business successes were a result of happenstance and being open to new teachers. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough: don’t let EGO block your progress by dismissing teachers at source.
Some of my interviewees were Dreamers, but all of them were Doers. For most of them, their success lay in taking action, embracing the journey, and learning along the way.
SPEAKING.COM: Much of your work emphasizes taking action, but how important is planning prior to executing?
KELLY: It’s important, but depending on circumstances, it’s not necessarily the X factor that many people believe it to be. Many of the breakthrough companies I interviewed never had a business plan to begin and for these it only evolved over time.
Take for example Outfit7, the creators of the Talking Tom app with over 2 billion downloads. They started with eight founding members with no fear, plenty of belief, but no idea of what they were going to develop. In fact, when they were getting started they thought an educational app was going to be the way forward. They DID and the talking tom app idea came from the activity! So when it comes to planning, remember, a plan without action is meaningless.
SPEAKING.COM: What steps can leaders take to get everyone in their company on-board when it comes to executing plans?
KELLY: Be real, be authentic, and show you truly care. Listen to them and integrate their ideas, hopes and aspirations into the company strategy. The best way to motivate others is when they have some input into the strategy in the first place. Oftentimes, I am asked how did I break so many sales records in my time – my answer and the same logic applies to employee engagement – “I sell them back their product.”
SPEAKING.COM: What do leaders, sales, and marketing teams need to do to connect with consumers in today’s “Attention Deficit society”?
KELLY: Be real, be authentic, and the rest will take care of itself.
SPEAKING.COM: Why don’t “canned” sales approaches work on the modern consumer, and what does?
KELLY: Canned means you aren’t crediting the consumer with any intelligence and you aren’t tailoring to their specific needs at that time. When I get a canned presentation over the phone, I immediately switch off. I want personality, a sense of fun, someone who can deliver not necessarily a compelling buying experience, but at minimum a pleasant one. I want to feel they think I am actually part of the process as opposed to being part of “more of the same group!”
SPEAKING.COM: What do you mean that salespeople and entrepreneurs should build friendships rather than customer relationships?
KELLY: I genuinely believe that the concept of a customer is dead; we need to focus on building friendships, not customer relationships. The idea that a successful relationship is built on a transaction and nothing else is wrong and long gone.
While doing some work with Microsoft HQ recently, I realized just how much the Cloud demands that the relationship be redefined. In the cloud the sales person needs to become almost a business consultant to succeed. Turning up and delivering office 365 in a box isn’t enough anymore; rather, sales people need to build an ongoing relationship to leverage it so that the client can get the best out of the product and use more of its services with better customer ROI as well as other potential options down the line. For example, I speak about sales people needing to become the customer’s “market intelligence officer”, in the new selling model and more.
SPEAKING.COM: How can being paranoid help sales and marketing teams succeed?
KELLY: When I talk about paranoia I talk about the need to reflect on every contact point with the customer and how standards need to be set for each point. Ultimately, if the business can guarantee the standards set for each, this would be fantastic. The more risk you can remove from the buying decision, the better the outcome for your bottom line.
I love sharing a story at conferences about the most profitable dentist in Australia. When you open the door to his business your eyes are immediately drawn to a cappuccino machine and your senses are engulfed by the smell of freshly baked buns. This case study is a premier example of a business breaking their business into contact points and aiming to exceed expectations at each point.
SPEAKING.COM: During your early marketing career you “consistently broke sales records in each of the companies” you worked for. What were the secrets to your success and how do they apply in today’s sales environment?
KELLY: As stated earlier – sell people back their product!
SPEAKING.COM: You have confessed that you used to shut people’s ideas down. How did you go from being “an idea killer” to a go-getter?
KELLY: In one word: RESULTS. Over the years I continued to set challenging goals that failed the pros and cons tests, but my gut was screaming GO FOR IT! And in most situations, action delivered.
For example, in 1997, I challenged myself to write a Best Selling Motivation title, the first of its kind in my home country, but I faced a few obstacles. I had consistently received a “D” grade in my English exams, I had no background in writing, and no one had ever written a motivational title in my country before this. However, the book was a MEGA BEST SELLER.
In 2000 I set the goal of developing a Worldwide Business in Speaking even though there were less than a handful of speakers in my country. Sixteen years later, I have addressed audiences in every corner of the globe.
This doesn’t just apply to me, though. Most of my interviewees for DO! The pursuit of Xceptional execution had no business plans, money, or insider knowledge of the industries they now dominate. Very simply, Execution wins over strategy every day of the week.
To bring Kevin Kelly to your organization, please contact Michael Frick at: Mike@Speaking.com