I hope your summer is going swimmingly (pun intended)! It sure is for Michael Phelps so far! I have some stories of inspiration in this issue plus more good information and guidance for you. Hope you enjoy the issue and are inspired to compete at a world class level like the Olympians in Rio.  
Olympic Inspiration

Usain Bolt says that he wants to be a household name just like Pele, Michael Jordan, and Muhammad Ali. If he accomplishes what he is shooting for in Rio, he just might achieve that. Usain hasn't lost at the Olympics or a world contest in track since 2008. This month he aims to take his accomplishments up a major notch by winning 3 gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and 400m relay for the 3rd Olympics in a row. Wow! I'm definitely a Team USA guy, but I'm pulling for Bolt because I'm inspired by such feats of greatness. Here's an article about Bolt that also features the schedule of his races. To fuel the Olympic flame inside of all us who compete at a high level, here are 20 quotes from Olympians past and present (Usain is featured in quote #19).
Stories of Determination and Inspiration

Have you heard about Michael Vaudreuil? When the economy collapsed in 2008 it cost him his business, his home, and his life savings. He took a janitorial job at Worcester Polytechnic Institute to make some money. There was more to it than that though. The institute offers a free education to employees. Michael started studying mechanical engineering as a major along with psychology as a minor.

This past spring he graduated with a degree and started looking for work at 54. It wasn't easy going at first, but then he got featured in a story on NBC News. That was all the exposure he needed. Now he's working at Pratt & Whitney. You can see the story here .

What about Diana Nyad? When it comes to never giving up, you'll have to put Diana Nyad at the top of the list. In 1978, at age 28, Diana tried to swim from Cuba to Florida. She failed. In 2010 Diana decided to try again. She hadn't given up on the dream. She failed again suffering from an asthma attack. Later that year she tried and failed again having been bitten by a venomous box jellyfish. You'd think that would be enough, but no, at age 64 she went after it again and did it! She swam for 53 hours over 110 miles of ocean.  The fact that numerous news stories say she did it without a shark cages tells you something. The next time you're thinking about giving up on one of your dreams, think of Diana Nyad. You can learn more about her here

Incidentally these stories of Michael and Diana remind me of the book I recommended in the last issue. That book was Grit . If you have not picked it up yet, put it on your list. 
Did You Raise Prices This Year?

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that prices for goods had fallen by 1.8% from a year ago while prices for services rose by 2.2%. It's believed that a poor global market is causing goods producers to feel downward price pressures.

As wages pick up, providers of services may find they are able to raise prices due to less pressure from overseas competitors as compared to goods producers.

Consumer spending on services counts for 2/3 of all spending. If you are a service provider and have not raised prices in the past year you should at least seriously consider doing so. 

But How?  One strategy is to send out an annual notice to clients in January stating that you have evaluated prices and costs and have decided to raise prices by x%, or will keep them as is. Even if you choose to keep prices where they are, clients will get used to the annual consideration of such a move. Therefore, they are less likely to defect if you do since this is a normal part of your business process. Of course, you should always be seeking to improve the service you deliver so price rises are not met with incredulity.

What Happens After That?  Most of my clients who have raised prices (single digit percentages) have experienced minor customer defection. You may have more power than you think if you are providing a top-notch service. If you are a goods producer, it may be more difficult to raise prices unless you are highly differentiated and what you produce has growing demand.
Stat of the Issue

A recent study from the Rand Corporation states 2 interesting stats:
  1. The segment of the US population aged 60 and over will increase by 21% between 2010 and 2020.
  2. This same segment will increase by 39% between 2010 and 2050.
So... what? The study looked at the effects of this aging population on GDP and found that it will have a NEGATIVE EFFECT, but not just because the gross numbers of workers is decreasing. No, 2/3 of that negative effect comes from a loss of productivity.

The study finds that the productivity of younger workers increases when they are in the midst of older workers. That makes sense to me since the younger workers feed off the established wisdom and knowhow of their older counterparts while also being inspired to innovate and improve upon what came before. 

Removing this benefit from diverse companies will be injurious to growth. To me it seems all but a certainty that the average retirement age in California will increase from its current average of 64 in the years ahead. 

What do you think? When do you expect to retire? Do you believe that older workers should be pushed out to make way for the young and energetic? The world of work is in constant flux these days.
Watson Teams Up With Macy's

If you have been in one of my sales training programs you know that I am very down on the future of salespeople who simply write orders and do not actually add value to the customer interaction. I call these workers, transactional salespeople.
The huge numbers of transactional salespeople in retail environments is driving people to the web. Why get in your car to drive to a store when the workers there are more interested in their smartphones and co-workers than you?

There may be a new reality on the horizon for disengaged retail employees and that is exemplified by a new partnership between IBM's Watson and Macy's. Shoppers to participating Macy's stores will be able to use a mobile web tool to get answers to common questions such as, "Where can I find Michael Kors handbags?" 

Over time, IBM promises that Watson will get smarter and have even more information to help shoppers. They are trialing this new technology in 10 stores (the only California store participating is in Arcadia... boo!). In 5 of the 10 stores the web tool will be able to engage a store employee for further help. I guess they are still trying to keep humans in the loop. You can learn more about this innovative partnership between the two companies here.

If you run a retail environment you are seeing a glimpse of the future in this partnership. Salespeople who are phoning it in will increasingly be replaced by software and even robots leaving only the high performers who make shopping with them a joy. 

One tip to connect with a customer entering your space is to compliment them sincerely on something you notice about them. This will lower their guard and make them appreciative. At that point they will be open to some natural conversation about what brings them to the store today and how you can help make it a better experience. Just don't start with, "How can I help you?"
Reading Recommendation

Let us break from books for this issue and consider a monthly magazine. Are you reading Success? It is the definitive magazine for achievers and I read it monthly. One aspect I really like is that each issue comes with a CD you can pop in to the car and listen to while you commute to work. This magazine and audio component is what you need to feed your head with on a regular basis as opposed to the news of the day, which is usually negative.

A one-year subscription is just $29.95 and it is probably worth 100 times that if you truly read, absorb and contemplate how to apply what you have read. If you start getting Success, you will probably find as I do that these magazines are not easily recycled. You can subscribe to the magazine here and also sign up for their weekly newsletter. 
The 7 Top Sources of Stress

Very interesting read in the September 2016 issue of Success: We feel the most stress from the 7 areas listed below. Think about what you can do to reduce stress in each area. This should have a significant positive impact on your life.
  1. Job pressure
  2. Money
  3. Health
  4. Relationships
  5. Poor nutrition
  6. Media overload
  7. Sleep deprivation
By looking at the list you probably agree that these are absolutely sources of stress in your life or the lives of those you love. I would like to share two ways to reduce stress in the number one category: Job Pressure.

Two Ways to Reduce the #1 Cause of Stress 

1. Create Margin in Your Schedule. This first idea comes from Tony Jeary aka The Results Guy (same issue of Success). Tony says to create margin in your schedule. That is, do not schedule your day completely. Leave open times in there during the morning and afternoon. That way you can take a breather when you need to or deal with something unexpected that will require your attention. When you are maxed out, stress ratchets up.

2. Do What You Love. When you love your work, most job pressure is healthy. When we strongly dislike our work, most job pressure is unhealthy and will affect us in the other areas of stress creation. This may be easier advice to dispense than follow, but you cannot say it is not possible unless you do not know what you love to do, which is a whole different source of stress. 
Quote of the Issue

"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time." - Leonard Bernstein
And That's All Folks!

Whew. This issue was packed, eh? I hope there was something in here that triggered an idea, a change, an awakening. If so, ACT on it. Action Changes Things. See you next time. ;)

Michael Neuendorff | The Growth Coach | 650.373.2022