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Business Is About Customers - 35 Service Tips on Keeping Them

Business Is About Customers – 35 Service Tips on Keeping Them

By: Jim Fannin

There is no business until goods or services are sold. Customers and clients do the buying.

Procuring customers takes time and retaining them takes even more.

With repeat customers spending at least 50% more than new customers, they’re worth keeping. Look at your prospects and customers as future and current partners. You help them make money and save money. Now…they don’t mind letting you have a little money.

Show a person how to make money and he doesn’t mind letting you make money

If you’re just starting a new business, then use all of the pertinent service tips below on your first customer and never look back. If you’ve been in business awhile, identify tips to be added and renew customer service with enthusiasm and an eye for long-term retention.

Here are 35 tips on keeping customers and clients happy, satisfied and loyal.

  1. Customers 1st: This must be emblazoned in the minds of every person in your company. Nothing matters but what the customer thinks and feels about your product or service. Customers must be in every work conversation. They are the point of it all. Period.
  1. Reduce customer risk. Customers take risks when they leave one seller or vendor for another. They are constantly reviewing and comparing. No one wants to change. There’s a risk factor. They may be giving up service for price or vice versa. Ask questions and swiftly ascertain if they’re happy with the service you’re providing. Fight daily for their loyalty.
  2. Avoid closing. We’re “opening,” not closing relationships. Remove this archaic mindset. You can get the sale without high pressure when you approach the customer with their short-term and long-term needs in mind. It’s NOT about you!
  1. Know achievements and accomplishments. Recognize their accolades, tributes, and honors orally. Also, send them a handwritten (old school) note and or email memorializing their accomplishments.
  1. Observe the “see-ables.” Observe all mementos, plaques, pictures and other “see-ables” in their office. These customer “see-ables” were placed there strategically so they can be seen. In the first 90-seconds in their office, visually take in all that’s there. Comment on them.
  1. Listen proactively. Read their body language and hear their voice inflections and tonality. Body language speaks louder than their words. Eighty percent of what’s said is nonverbal. Fully engage in what’s said. Avoid interrupting. Never talk over them. The more they talk and the less you do, the better your results. Pay attention to what your customer is telling you without being distracted. Full engagement!
  2. Honor customers by name. Say their name with a smile and enthusiasm. If “Bob” the customer asks how you are, then reply, “I’m awesome Bob!” Be genuine and authentic in greeting them as a person and NOT as a $ on your tally sheet. Sprinkle their name within all conversations.
  3. Acknowledge family. Where and when feasible, ask about their family. Learn their names. Ask about their accomplishments. Know your customer.
  1. Treat customers like friends. Use conversational tone at all times. Write emails that are simple, short and to the point. Be blunt, but remain professional.
  1. Surprise customers The unexpected positives from you will always be welcome.
  2. Network customers. Introduce your customers to others that might help them increase their income or decrease their expenses. This value-added service helps turn customers into long-time partners.
  1. Thank customers. “Thank you” is still powerful and can be unforgettable. The steakhouse chain of Eddie Merlot’s sends a handwritten “Thank you” postcard from the server to their diners. Buy a pair of shoes from a Nordstrom’s retail store and a handwritten “Thank you” arrives in the mail from your sales person. Pretty cool.
  2. Break bread. Spending breakfast, lunch or dinner with a customer can provide an insight into the mindset of your guest. Arrive early and have the restaurant manager take your credit card information in advance of the meal. Pay for the meal.
  1. Use event marketing. Spending time with a customer on the golf course captures five hours or more of quality, bonding time. Talk little business. Get to know them. Watching a sporting event or concert with a customer is another worthwhile activity when you’ll spend valuable time to bond and know them better.
  2. Know your customers. Understand and acknowledge the importance of the key dates in their business and personal life.
  • End of each month for business
  • End of each quarter
  • End of their fiscal year
  • Birthday
  • Company anniversary
  • Marriage anniversary
  • Corporate milestones
  • Children’s birthdays
  1. Identify the best: Treat all customers great, except go out of your way to give extra treatment to your top customers. Proactively treat your best customers with white glove care. Anticipate their needs. Spend time understanding each of their dreams, desires and timelines. These are your valued, long-term partners in success. They need to feel this is true.
  2. Update customer data: Customer profiles change and you need to keep all information current. This is simple, but someone needs to be responsible and held accountable for this procedure. This task is never-ending.
  3. Keep customer profiles: Organize customers according to their demands, specific requirements and needs. Ask great questions and memorialize their answers to serve them better. Adjust your service as the customer adjusts their needs.
  4. Be fastidious: Pay attention to detail. Make sure every document they see is grammatically correct. Be on time with all deliveries. Call in advance and let them know who is coming and when. Never be late. Double and triple check details.
  5. Communicate frequently: Positive, repetitious contact with your customers will place your name, brand, product or service in indelible ink on the inside of their mind. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
  1. Reward loyalty. Repeat customers are the backbone of any business. When they are satisfied, your product and or service become their own. “This is my steakhouse” or “This is my trainer” they think and feel. Reward this loyalty with timely gifts (birthday, holidays, etc.,), private events, special discounts and other perks for being your customer. Because of their loyalty and trust, they will spend more money with you and recommend you to everyone they know.
  2. When’s their renewal date? Waiting to the last minute to contact customers about their renewal says you only care about the renewal and not the product or service provided. It also showcases your lack of organization.
  1. Know dreams, wants, and needs. When you are privileged to know the dreams, wants, and needs of your customer, they have allowed you to have this info. They let you in. They took a risk. Keep this knowledge sacred by doing everything to help them manifest these desires.
  2. Avoid discussing competitors (yours or theirs). There can be value in learning about competitors, but it’s NOT worth the risk discussing it with customers. Stay focused on your customer’s dreams, wants, needs and desires. Period.
  3. Stay out of the past. Go into the past only for evaluation and analysis. After your assessment, you can better serve your customer.
  4. Stay engaged in moment. Look customers in eye long enough to ascertain eye color within the first 90-seconds you greet them. Then have this mindset. “There’s no place I’d rather be than where I am right now.”
  5. Intuition rules. When your gut says call them, pick up the phone. Intuition delivers real time information that your conscious mind does not possess. Listen and boldly act.
  6. Ask bold questions. By being upfront and straightforward you will better garner their true feelings about your service or product.
  7. Talk up, not down. Speak highly about your company and co-workers or not at all. Never bash your company. Putting your company down in any way or form is taboo. It says you have no loyalty and you will eventually do the same to your customers.
  8. Accept complaints. This is an opportunity to overcome challenges and show them you care about their results. Do not interrupt when they are venting. Like a palm tree in a hurricane, absorb the wrath and speak when they are through. Look them in the eye. Acknowledge their feelings. Solve their challenge.
  9. Be the go-to person. If a customer challenge arises, then your name and face rapidly surfaces with immediate confidence that you will find a swift solution. Be on speed-dial. Be known as the go-to person!
  10. Think only positive thoughts. Customers can pick up your vibes. That’s good news and bad news. Send no labeling, negative thoughts. None.
  11. Act like a partner. Help them reach a place they’ve never been, enhance what they already have, and eliminate what they don’t want.
  12. Visualize their success. Your customers are only as good as what they think about you and your service when you’re not there. Send out the good vibe by picturing their success. See them saving money with your product or service. See them making money with what you bring to the table. Every day write customer names on a sheet of paper and visualize what each wants. See your customers as successful. Period. This has been done daily for 16,425 days in a row (45 years) and counting. Not one day off. Even on a silence day, this exercise is completed.

Be in the Zone!

Jim Fannin is America’s ZoneCoach®. He is a best selling author, platform speaker, peak performance and executive coach. His client list reads like a who’s who list featuring celebrity actors, directors and entertainers, as well as 26 MLB All-Stars, 7 world’s top 10 tennis players, scores of PGA stars, NBA All-Stars, NFL All-Pros and Olympic Gold Medalists. In addition, Jim has coached executives from 350 of the Fortune 500. Check out his new book, The Blueprint: A Proven Plan for Successful Living. Find Jim at www.jimfannin.com.

© copyright. All rights reserved. Jim Fannin Brands, Inc. 2018

Oakbrook Chamber Ribbon Cutting on Tues. 9/26 - Jim Fannin Brands & ZoneCoach Consulting

Join Us at the Oakbrook Chamber Ribbon Cutting on Tues. 9/26

On Tuesday, Sept. 26th, the Oakbrook Chamber of Commerce is hosting its official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, and you’re invited!

Oakbrook Chamber Ribbon Cutting on Tues. 9/26 - Jim Fannin Brands & ZoneCoach Consulting

As an exclusive event for business owners, entrepreneurs, local leaders, and dignitaries, the Oakbrook Chamber Ribbon Cutting is a free event taking place from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The festivities will include (and are not limited to):

  • The official cutting of the ribbon, with great photo ops
  • Speeches and presentations from ZoneCoach® Founder Jim Fannin and Zone Coach Trainers Ann Erce-Divello and Caleb Claton
  • Refreshments, including snacks and win
  • Networking opportunities
  • Tours of the state-of-the-art facilities
  • A raffle with prizes

We look forward to seeing you on Sept. 26th at the Oakbrook Chamber of Commerce!

And if you can’t make it to this event or you’ve missed it, don’t worry — we offer several ways to connect, learn more, and get up to speed:

About Jim Fannin

For more than 50 years, Jim Fannin has been a premier platform and keynote speaker, business coach, and life coach, helping individuals and groups to be their genuine, authentic best selves.

With extraordinary experience, exceptional acumen, and an unrivaled reputation for success, Mr. Fannin is a leader, inspiration, and mentor for many inside and outside the business world, providing life-enhancing strategy, insights, guidance, and more to accomplish next-level wins.

How to Improve Your Decision-Making Skills - Jim Fannin Brands

10 Tips to World-Class Decision Making

How to Make Smarter Decisions - Jim Fannin Brands

As a leader in your company, you want to be a world-class decision maker — but are you? Are you calm and poised in high-stress, high-stakes situations when it’s time to make major decisions? 

Have emotions ever clouded your reason? Have you regretted not trusting your gut feeling when you had a hunch? 

It’s no secret that business leaders have to make several key decisions during their careers. Some are “no brainers,” and others are monumental, possibly serving as real game-changers for your company and maybe even your life. That could include critical choices regarding investments, prospects, opportunities for growth, how to handle certain risks, and so much more.

These and other choices can become even more challenging to navigate when you have to consult with other colleagues, clients, vendors, or partners in the decision-making process.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to quiet the distractions, stay focused on what really matters, and hone your decision-making skills so they can be sharper than ever. 

How to Improve Your Decision-Making Skills: 10 Essential Tips

Leaders across any industry can make superior decisions under extreme pressure using these proven tips for success.

1. Keep it simple.  

Know the goal. See the desired outcome. Identify the challenge.  

Then, swiftly decide your next move, even if that’s a strategic move to not do anything at all.

2. Consider if the decision needs to be made. 

Some decisions DO NOT need to be made because, sometimes, things work themselves out before decision time even arrives. In other cases, circumstances may change, and the choice you thought was in front of you could disappear, with an entirely new decision standing before you. 

The point is to consider whether or not you should invest time and energy into a given choice — or whether you’re better off biding your time to see how things play out.

3. Use the B2A Principle

We have been trained to go from A to B. The world’s best decision makers envision their future from a B to A perspective. 

Example: Let’s say you want to gross $50,000 dollars in the next month. What has to happen on day 30, day 29, day 28, day 27, and then counting down all the way until day 1?

This will illuminate a pathway, like a runway at the airport at night so you can start taking steps forward and making it your new reality. 

By reverse engineering your vision from well-defined due dates, you advance, make progress, and more readily finish the project, putting you well on your way to being a world-class decision maker (or to becoming an even better one!). 

4. Use aftermath Visualization. 

Before the decision has been made, see the changes and impacts this choice will have on your company. Visualize the impact this decision will have both in the short-term and long-term.

5. Assess the risk and reward.  

Risk v Reward in Decision Making - Jim Fannin Brands

Most major decisions typically have major risks and rewards. So, you need to ask yourself and answer:  

What are the risks? Map out each risk and think about whether those risks could be offset.  

What are the rewards? Are they on par with the level of risk you could be taking on?

Or do the potential rewards outweigh the potential risks?

Weigh the risk(s), offset(s), and the reward(s) together.

Then, decide based on:

  • Your risk appetite
  • The degree of the reward 
  • The best-case versus worst-case scenario

6. Make swift decisions. 

The majority of decisions in life, business and sports can be made in less than 90 seconds.  All of my 90-Second Rule™ tools and techniques have a maximum cap of 90 seconds.  In fact, some tools can work in five seconds. Remember, less is more.

7. Get all of the facts. 

Fact v Myth for Better Decisions - Jim Fannin Brands

Like a judge in a courtroom, walk 360º around the challenge. In order to make the right decisions in life, we must not only look from another person’s position, but we must also:

  • Feel the emotion that person experiences.  
  • Mentally walk in their shoes.  
  • Look through the eyes of all parties to get a better understanding of each viewpoint.  
  • Try to sense their patience or impatience, their trust or lack of trust, their belief or disbelief, comfort, and any worry and/or anxiety they may be emitting. 
  • Listen to their words and observe how they express those words. 
  • Take in their body language, tones, and inflections. 

After gathering that information, take a moment to consider it in the bigger picture, altogether. Then, trust your gut and let your inner wisdom take over.

8. Sleep on it. 

Rest & Sleep for Better Decisions - Jim Fannin Brands

If the decision is major and time is on your side, sleep on the challenge. 

Mentally seek solutions to the challenge while in a semi-drowsy state. 

State the challenge. 

Then, ask yourself, “What is the solution?” before you drift off to sleep. 

The solution could just appear and be far more clear in your mind’s eye as you awaken.

9. Trust your intuition. 

If sleeping on the challenge is not a luxury, utilize your greatest gift of intuition.  Intuition is controlled by your subconscious mind. It has real-time information that your conscious mind does not possess. 

After weighing all the facts and role-playing the situation, listen to your intuitive sixth sense.  It has an uncanny way of knowing. So, don’t ignore your gut. 

10. Level up.

90 Seconds to Maximize Profits Leadership Event on 10-17-2023

Keep your eyes open to new opportunities to learn and level up your decision-making strategies. Exceptional leaders keep reaching and never settle on where they’re at. 

If you’re a leader looking for that next step to be an extraordinary decision-maker, it is possible to:

  1. Dial into the right mindset to maximize profits.
  2. Develop unwavering confidence & unbreakable self-assurance.
  3. STOP losing sleep over stress, missed opportunities, and inconsistent performance.
  4. MAXIMIZE Your Profits in 90 Seconds.

To start changing how you perform and make decisions in high-stakes scenarios, participate in an exclusive, transformative one-day program designed to empower champion business. Click on the image above or click here to learn more and reserve your spot now.

90 Seconds to Maximize Profits Leadership Event on 10-17-2023

90-Seconds to Maximize Profit Event: Sign Up, Unleash Your Peak Performance

90 Seconds to Maximize Profits Leadership Event on 10-17-2023

Every moment counts in the lightning-speed world of business. In fact, the difference between success and missed opportunities often comes down to a few key decisions, putting everything on the line and placing leaders under extreme pressure, where they have to balance high stakes and uncertainties.

Are you prepared to make better decisions when the stakes are sky-high?

Do you want to make better decisions in any situation, business or life?

If so, the “90-Seconds to Maximize Profit” Event, hosted by Jim Fannin Brands and ZoneCoach® Consulting Services presented by Employco USA, is the solution designed with you in mind. 

Why More Leaders Are Registering for this Leadership Event

Missed opportunities, short-sighted choices, and stress-clouded vision are challenges confronting leaders in practically every organization, industry, and phase of business growth. These challenges can leave behind haunting “what-ifs,” lost ground to competitors, and doubt in your mind that causes you to second-guess yourself going forward. 

The “90-Seconds to Maximize Profit” Event is here to change all of that starting on Tuesday, October 17, 2023. Featuring Keynote Speakers Jim Fannin and Rob Wilson, this exclusive leadership and networking event will reveal what it takes to: 

  • Recognize and seize new opportunities, so you can strike while the iron’s hot, instead of looking back with regret at what could have been
  • Make prudent, smart, and well-reasoned decisions, even in the highest pressure situations when you may not have every last piece of information available 
  • Unlocking greater potential by activating the right mindset
  • Activating and sustaining your peak performance in any circumstance
90 Seconds to Maximize Profits Event for Business Leaders

This transformative one-day program is condensed to deliver actionable insights while connecting you with proven strategies for improving your mental resilience and strategic thinking, so you can retain an unshakeable confidence that lets you truly operate at optimal performance in any business (or life) scenario. 

This event is open to virtual and in-person attendees, with doors “open” at 3 p.m. Central Time in our international headquarters located in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. 

Rob Wilson takes the stage to speak first at 3:15, followed by international platform speaker Jim Fannin speaking at 4:00 p.m. You can check out more details about the event here

Space for this event is limited, and there’s still time to reserve your spot! Register now, before it’s too late!

Excellence in Business Leadership Event - Business Leader Event - Jim Fannin & ZoneCoach

Whether you attend as a virtual or in-person guest, you can:

  1. Acquire strategies to fortify your mental resilience when faced with high-pressure scenarios
  2. Obtain valuable perspectives on strategic thinking and practical approaches for profit optimization
  3. Grasp the psychological factors that impact performance under intense pressure.
  4. Delve into real-world case studies and success stories from accomplished business leaders.
  5. Create a customized action plan for applying the knowledge and insights gained.

“90-Seconds to Maximize Profit” Event: About the Speakers

Speaker Jim Fannin,  Coach of Champions, has helped the “best of the best” reach their pinnacle of success in life, business, and sports for 50 years. Now, he’s ready to share his proven Blueprint with you in “90-Seconds to Maximize Profit.”

Speaker Rob Wilson, President of Employco, USA, is a high-energy leader and an ambitious entrepreneur backed by more than 27 years of outstanding service in HR outsourcing.

Your next major decision or opportunity is waiting — make sure you’re ready. Sign up for “90-Seconds to Maximize Profit” today.

Anatomy Of A Loser - 50 Reasons You’re NOT a Winner

Anatomy Of A Loser – 50 Reasons You’re NOT a Winner

by Jim Fannin

A loser…

  1. Complains about conditions, circumstances and situations
  2. Whines to anyone that will listen
  3. Puts other people down in order to build himself or herself up
  4. Seldom (if ever) accepts responsibility for their actions
  5. Pivots away from criticism and usually strikes back
  6. Prepares poorly because of over-confidence
  7. Evaluates his or her poor performance with emotion and blame
  8. Acts like a victim when things don’t go their way
  9. Embellishes the truth even for no apparent reason
  10. Often outright lies for personal gain
  11. Acts selfish
  12. Has an inflated view of themselves
  13. Has their ego run their mouth
  14. Very seldom has compassion for the less fortunate
  15. Always expects to get his or her way.
  16. Pre-frames performances with psychological safety nets as in “I won’t have a chance with the officiating in that ballpark.”
  17. Readily showcases anger or outrage when they are criticized
  18. Tries to get other people to defend their ways
  19. Surrounds themselves with “yes” people that always agree with them
  20. Doesn’t learn from past mistakes
  21. Takes unfair advantage of other people
  22. Has language that is boisterous and self-serving
  23. Carries a “holier than though” attitude
  24. Looks down on lesser people in stature, economic status, or social standing
  25. Forces their physical presence on others
  26. Loves to hear the good about themselves
  27. Judges strangers immediately upon meeting
  28. Counts his or her money obsessively
  29. Takes advantage of the opposite sex
  30. Categorically labels groups of people other than himself or herself
  31. Uses shock value to get attention
  32. Has marital or relationship challenges
  33. Overtly demanding of subordinates without seeing or feeling how they feel
  34. Can hold a grudge
  35. Flip flops on previous opinions to fit the situation, condition or circumstance
  36. Uses foul and or vulgar language to “shock and awe” and showcase power
  37. Wields sarcasm to protect fragile ego
  38. Seldom asks great questions because they already know the answers
  39. Has a short attention
  40. Expects to be waited upon
  41. Tries too hard in pressure situations
  42. Seldom makes non-emotional adjustments during a performance
  43. Gets off the subject in a conversation to confuse others and deflect further attention away from the subject at hand
  44. Procrastinates because they know they will pull it off
  45. Intimidates and frightens “significant others” with comments such as “No one leaves a relationship with me…”
  46. Reacts violently if “significant other” tries to end the personal relationship and gives the impression all friends and family are in serious danger
  47. Constantly showcases his or her accolades, accomplishments and honors
  48. Takes action at the wrong time
  49. Offers excuses when things don’t go his or her way
  50. Oversteps their authority in most situations
How to Be a Hall Of Famer

How to Be a Hall Of Famer

By: Jim Fannin

Yes. This is a 54-year old statue of me as an eleven year-old Little Leaguer with dreams of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It was then I became aware of this shrine of 306 Hall of Fame members (68 members are still living). These men are the greatest baseball players ever. I’ve wanted to go to this museum in Cooperstown, New York for over 50 years. Finally, I’ll visit the Hall for the first time as an honored guest of my client Frank Thomas. I’m feeling like a kid again.

What is greatness? How does one become a Hall of Fame member? Physical and mental talent is needed. That’s for sure! However, there were thousands of men with exceptional talent that never graced this shrine of excellence. Thousands more with amazing prowess and skill will fail to be honored as an all-time great. Is there a formula for greatness?

I’ve learned that greatness is reaching a high daily standard over a long period of time. The differential between one’s best and worst performances must be small. Any long period of inferiority will surely mar one’s chances of being one of the all-time greats.
What is your standard of performance? This is a minimum requirement for a satisfactory performance. What would you call a standard day?

Most professions and all sports have metrics to measure performance. A salesperson can measure closing ratios and a golfer can measure greens in regulation to showcase how each measures up to the rest of the performers in their field. You know when your performances are poor and inferior. You know when you are in the Zone and your performance is over the top. It is your daily standard, however, that is the true measure of your greatness.

Attitude plays the most significant role in reaching your high daily standard. How you react when things don’t go your way dictates reaching this minimum requirement for a solid performance. The mental balance of self-discipline, concentration, optimism, relaxation and enjoyment is crucial for reaching this performance state.
Too many times my clients try to reach their ultimate state of performance. This “try” factor gets in their way every time. Allowing for the Zone to arrive is the key. Reaching your minimum standard is paramount.
This past weekend professional golfer Rory McIlroy won the British Open. In his press conference he mentioned it was “the process” that helped him win his third major title. By having solid mental and physical routines before, during and after a performance one can more readily reach a daily standard. Do you have these routines in place in your life?

Frank Thomas had a series of routines that he enjoyed during his illustrious baseball career. Even before he entered the on-deck circle, prior to his next at bat, his routines were being checked off. These routines of mental and physical preparation kept him confident and always ready to reach a solid performance.
Inspect your life and see what routines are in place. Do you have morning routines before work? Do you have routines before any management, school, sales, sports or other performance? Do they help you get off to a solid start? Do you have routines of adjustment if something goes wrong? Do you have routines after you are finished? What routines do you have before you go to sleep?

Frank Thomas had great routines that he adjusted throughout his career. His self-awareness and visualization skills were both utilized to help him prepare, adjust and evaluate every performance. Why not you?
As I embark on my Cooperstown journey, the Hall of Fame members that I’ll meet all have one thing in common. They reached a high daily standard over a long period of time. I look forward to saluting them and their achievements.

The six newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame will take their permanent place in Cooperstown on Sunday, July 27, highlighting four days of celebratory events and programs for baseball fans of all ages, as part of Hall of Fame Weekend this July 25-28.
The Induction Ceremony will feature six Baseball Writers’ Association of America electees. They are Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and my client Frank Thomas. They will be enshrined at 1:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 27 at the Clark Sports Center – with the Induction Ceremony shown live on MLB Network.

Thomas, who was named on 83.7 percent of all ballots cast, hit 521 home runs over 19 seasons in the big leagues, batting .301 while driving in 1,704 runs. Thomas won back-to-back American League Most Valuable Player Awards in 1993-94, led the AL in on-base percentage four times and captured the 1997 AL batting title. The five-time All-Star posted seven straight seasons (1991-97) with at least a .300 batting average, 100 RBI, 100 walks and 20 home runs, the longest such stretch in big league history. Thomas, named on 478 ballots in his first year on the ballot, is the first player elected to the Hall of Fame who played the majority of his games as a designated hitter. I was there every step of the way. As Frank makes his way to the podium to deliver his acceptance speech, I’ll be the one in the audience with a tear in his eye. It seems surreal. Over 20 years ago I asked Frank Thomas the same question I’ve asked over 1500 professional athlete clients, “What do you want and why am I here?” Only three have said, “Hall of Fame.” This Sunday, our journey will be complete and my childhood dream will be realized.

I leave for Cooperstown tomorrow. Dreams come true.

Word of the Week: Prowess (noun). skill or expertise in a particular activity or field. “She has great prowess as a salesperson.”

Fanninism: “Greatness is reaching a high daily standard over a long period of time.”

Zone Fact: Trying and definitely over-trying will repel the Zone as opposed to letting the Zone come to you.

Mr. Caudill’s Apples

Mr. Caudill’s Apples

By Jim Fannin

“Dad, can I have a dollar?” He replied with a laugh, “I don’t have a dollar. You’ll have to earn your own dollar.” “Well, how do I do that?” I asked with the utmost naiveté. My father looked me in the eye and said, “You can’t make a buck until you sell something or do something. That’s a job!”

With that thought I walked to the nearby gas station and asked for a job. The man looked at me and laughed, “Your Dad know you’re here?” “No sir,” I politely replied. “Well, I’ll pay you ten cents a day to wipe the car windshields.” After four attempts that took too long with poor results, he gently fired me. I was too short to provide the “something to do” to make a buck. And it would’ve taken me forever to make a buck. Providing a service was not going to get it done. I was almost eight years old at the time.

A few days later I was trying my best to help my father wash his old, beat-­‐up Buick. It was 1957 and he wished he had a nicer car. In fact, my Dad wanted to drive a brand new Thunderbird convertible. He dreamed of being behind the wheel of this exquisite automobile. “Why don’t you get that car?” I innocently asked. “That’s a rich man’s car,” he replied. “How do you get rich?” I pondered aloud. “Forget rich, I can’t even get a job,” exclaimed my father. “Me neither,” I thought. I didn’t tell him because I wasn’t allowed down at the gas station. Of course, he later found out anyway. We lived in Morehead, Kentucky and everybody knew everybody’s business. However…in just a few minutes, I was about to learn all I needed to know about getting a job and even more importantly…how to get rich.

My father broke it down like this. “Look across the fence, Jimmy. That’s where the money is. Mr. Caudill owns the lumberyard in town and everybody needs lumber. He’s rich. We’re poor. Everyone on this side of the fence rents a house. Everyone on the other side owns a house. If you want to have money, you need to go where the money is. The money is over there.” “Hmmm.” And that’s all I needed to know.

The next day I took my red wagon and filled it with apples I found on the ground by a small orchard down by the creek. Then I knocked on Mr. Caudill’s door and when he answered I said, “My name is Jimmy Fannin, would you like to buy some apples?” Stunned by my size and diminutive bravado he asked, “How much?” And with all of the courage I could muster I said, “You can have them all for $1.” He immediately left the doorway and came back with a buck. My first sale was made. Of course Mr. Caudill would later laugh while telling the story of buying his own apples from his orchard from Jimmy Fannin for a dollar.

Capitalism at its finest. This is probably how Wall Street got started. Don’t they still do it like this?

Later, my mother was reading a copy of Life magazine. When she finished she threw it in the wastebasket. “Is it still good? I asked. “What do you mean Jimmy?” asked Mom. “Is it still good to read by someone else?” “Absolutely,” replied my unsuspecting mother. In fact, she had just helped me launch my second business.

The next day I went to the rich side of the fence and asked the rich if I could have their old magazines after they read them. All said yes. I collected them like a trash man and loaded them in my red wagon. Then I went to the poor side and took orders for weekly and monthly deliveries of the most popular periodicals. Of course, I sold them for half price and delivered them about a week after the rich had read them. I controlled the supply and there was plenty of demand.

The United States unemployment rate in May 2015 is at 5.5% with 8.7 million people out of work. Most believe these statistics are way too low. Our economy can definitely be better. Considering all of the global woes, the future is scary and unknown. There are plenty of reasons why the world is in this mess.

Look at our country’s economic situation from your perspective. Understand your personal situation with its unique conditions and circumstances. Here are some points to ponder.

  • All kids need a job. That’s right! Start them early. It could be mowing the lawn or cleaning the basement. Teach them how to think. Teach them about money. Teach them the basics of making money, getting a job and developing a
  • You make money by selling a product or a Simple enough!
  • You get rich by selling a whole lot of inexpensive things or a smaller amount of really expensive things.
  • It’s not the gross sales that make you It’s the amount of money you keep after the expenses have been paid. Ok…that’s 101.
  • Whoever takes the most risk in money and time should get the biggest Period.
  • To get and keep a job you need to understand that you will be hired or are hired to impact profit for a Income comes in and expenses go out. Hopefully, there is a profit left over that warrants the sacrifice of time and money for the owner. That’s how you keep a job and hopefully get a raise. Which part of the equation (income or expenses) does your job impact? Maybe it’s both. Whichever it is, maximize it. Make yourself valuable. Make yourself indispensible. Help the owner make money.
  • If there is great demand for a product or service and the supply of it is small then the price will rise. The opposite is also true.
  • Experts make more money than non-­‐experts. This is true especially when the expertise is needed.
  • Show another man how to make money and he doesn’t mind giving you a little money. I’ve made a fortune with this concept.

How do you get a job? How do you get rich? Go sell Mr. Caudill a lot of apples.

Marriage & the Holidays

Marriage & the Holidays

Remember when you committed yourself to the person of your dreams? Remember when you tied the knot of harmonious bliss? Remember when you gave yourself mentally, physically and spiritually to your significant other? Not only is your relationship important in your life, it is vital for your overall wellbeing.

Each year that passes in a marital relationship will bring either positive deposits or negative withdrawals in the harmonious bank account of WE. How’s your account balance?

During the upcoming weeks and days the Bermuda Triangle of stress can and possibly will wrap its arms around your marriage. These are the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. They are supposed to be joyful, spiritual and happy for all. The reality, however, has our family and friends, alcohol, excessive food, gifts with eventual bills culminating into a potentially stressful time of the year. Throw in the breadwinner(s) scrambling to meet year-end quotas and the stress-o-meter can go off the chart.

How do you prevent a major withdrawal in love, harmony, togetherness, bliss and happiness?

Here’s a short list to increase the five intangibles that create a great marriage.

  1. Self-discipline: With “free will” re-commit to the small tasks of partnership that lead to well-defined goals and ultimately a shared life vision of togetherness. What tasks or unsolicited acts of kindness can you do for your mate? What can you do to insure your significant other is not carrying the burden of organization for the holidays? Do you have a fair and agreed upon budget for the rest of the year? Are your travels, parties, dinners all planned and agreed upon? It’s time to get the marriage disciplined. Get prepared!
  2. Concentration: Focus more energy on your spouse. Stop taking things for granted. Lock-in on non-verbal cues from your mate. Notice any signs of stress and act on it swiftly to alleviate it. Say “No” to unnecessary parties and last minute invites that the other might find stressful.
  1. Optimism: Love conquers all. That’s right! When chaos of the holidays rears it ugly head, remember that love conquers all. Say “I love you” more than ever during this potentially stressful stretch of days. Believe and expect a smooth holiday transition into next year. See what you want. Avoid thinking about what you don’t want. That includes family squabbles, excessive bills and fatigue from shopping, traveling and over-indulging.
  2. Relaxation: Slow down the game starting now and through the New Year. Take your time and breathe. Plan shopping early to avoid worry, anxiety and unnecessary stress. Jaw unhinged when the in-laws arrive.
  3. Enjoyment: I love being with her/him. I love this time of year. I love giving as much, if not more, than receiving. Keep the smiles coming. No complaining. No victim of circumstance, condition or situation. Enjoy the family even if Uncle Earl says some things that are out of line or just plain rude. That’s just Uncle Earl!

Balance these five intangibles and your relationship will be ready to withstand anything the end of the year will bring. Make up your mind that “nothing” will pull your relationship apart. Nothing. No people. No bills. No chaos. No fatigue. No family members. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Love conquers all.

Get ready for an awesome holiday season. Live every day like it’s your last. Most of all, treat your significant other as the life partner you coveted when you walked to the altar and said your vows. For better or worse, have a great, festive time of the year. It’s time to get your marriage in the Zone.

Are You a Pioneer or a Settler?

Are You a Pioneer or a Settler?

By Jim Fannin

In life you are either a pioneer or a settler? In this usage, pioneers are usually among the first to an area. They lead the way. Settlers, on the other hand, arrive after first settlement and join others in the process of community. They follow.

As I reflect on my heritage, I recall Kentucky tales of the pioneer and adventurer, Daniel Boone. Daniel Boone was an American pioneer, explorer and frontiersman. His exploits during the late 1700’s made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky (my home state). This territory was then beyond the western borders of the settled part of the 13 Colonies. Despite some resistance from American Indian tribes such as the Shawnee, in 1775 Boone blazed his Wilderness Trail through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains from North Carolina and Tennessee into Kentucky. There he founded the village of Boonesborough, Kentucky, one of the first English-speaking settlements west of the Appalachians. Before the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 Europeans settled in this general area by following the route marked by Boone.

Are you a pioneer or a settler?

A pioneer mentally is adventuresome. It is daring and bold. With a dream under their arm, the pioneer marches into the unknown to find his calling. This person is without worry or anxiety regarding the obstacles they might face as they chase their goals and dreams. A pioneer spirit uplifts, motivates and inspires everyone they meet. With blinders in place, the pioneer forges ahead in the face of adversity. They seek a better place regardless of the sacrifice. Time, money, hardship and effort are the currency paid by the pioneer in reaching their dreams. The pioneer awakens each day with a need to achieve. There is purpose in each pioneer’s step. They cut down the psychological safety net that comfort the timid, fearful and weak. The pioneer has a “go for it” attitude. They dare to go where others seldom imagine. Are you a pioneer?

A settler tills the land once it’s been discovered. They set up shop. They settle in to daily routine. They hop a ride on these habits and adapt the mind of peaceful existence and co-existence. They take far less risk. They wait for things to take care of themselves. They react to what’s happened. They settle for what’s sure. They settle for what’s there and seldom expand their boundaries. It’s the settler that loses the need to venture out. They avoid confrontation. Although they may be good at what they do, they seldom are great.

Sometimes a settler quits dreaming. Once this stops, they “settle” for what is and seldom venture into what may be. Like the settling of the foundation of a house, it can turn small cracks of discontent and apathy into big cracks of despair and hopelessness. Now the mental and physical edifice, built over time, begins to crumble. The thoughts of shoulda’, coulda’ and woulda’ prevail. Do you settle with your current physique? Have you settled in your current relationship? Have you settled in your job or career? Are you a settler?

There’re two things for sure. In the future you will either be better or worse. It’s the pioneer that will accomplish the former. Stop settling! Put on your coonskin hat and forge ahead. Be the modern day Daniel Boone. Pioneer your dreams.

Be in the Zone!

Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee

Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee

By: Jim Fannin

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.

Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.

She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity –boiling water — but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. ” When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?

ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN? I hope you enjoyed this and it made you think. It sure has for me. I want to be the coffee bean.