As we head into another new year, people will talk about their New Year’s resolutions. Forget that stuff! Instead of resolutions, I want to challenge you to think about INVESTING in yourself. But here’s the hard truth: if you’re waiting for your boss or your employer to make that investment for you, you could be waiting a long time.
Imagine going on Shark Tank with a killer idea and asking Mark Cuban to invest $500,000. “How much are you in for?" he’d ask. If you hadn’t had enough confidence in your idea to invest a single dime, I have no doubt his response would be “I’m out!”
When I was working in media sales, I had an opportunity to attend workshops featuring one of my mentors on how I could generate more revenue from co-op advertising and trade marketing.
I was also asked to speak at the conference — a great opportunity to get myself known among my peers and expand my network. As a young professional just getting started, I did the customary thing at the time. I asked my boss for time off, mileage and expenses so I could make the trip. He said no.
Yes, I was pissed, but I still believed this was a terrific opportunity for growth. So I took a vacation day that Friday and drove my car from Columbus, Ohio to Charlotte to attend the conference at my own expense. I had to be back for the sales meeting Monday morning, so I drove back Sunday night — getting home at 2:30 a.m. That Monday morning was a rough one. And even though money was tight for the rest of the month, I’ve never regretted making that investment.
What I didn't expect was whenever I asked my boss for an investment in my personal development after that, he usually said yes. He knew I was determined to do it anyway and the company was going to benefit. He probably also knew I wasn’t going to feel very good about him or the company if he said no again.
So whether you’re interviewing for a new position this year or just trying to advance in your current one, put yourself in the decision maker’s shoes and ask yourself these seven questions (because I can assure you, as a decision maker, I’ll be asking them myself):
- If you haven’t invested two minutes to look at my company’s website before an interview, why should I expect you to do the same before a sales call with a big account?
- Likewise, if you haven’t looked me up on LinkedIn or done a Google search on me, why should I pay you to NOT do the same with one of our sales prospects?
- If you won’t invest $25 to buy a book to improve your sales skills, why should I spend even more for you to attend sales seminars or workshops on my dime? Note: I'm am NOT saying employers shouldn't provide ongoing sales training for everyone online or in the office! The expensive off-site programs go to those who will drink it all in for mutual benefit — theirs and the company's.
- If you won’t invest a few extra minutes each day for making more sales calls or serving your best accounts, why should I entrust more accounts to you?
- If you won’t invest a couple of minutes each day to get your mind right so you can hit the street with a positive, winning attitude, why should I invest in a motivational speaker for the big staff meeting?
- If you won’t go the extra mile to make the extra dollar, why should I just hand you more money? I’m going to invest those dollars in somebody who means more to the company.
- If your skill set or knowledge base is becoming obsolete, but you won’t lift a finger to get yourself up to speed, why should I spend money to retrain you?
Or let’s just cut to the chase…
7+1. If you’re not investing for a long and successful future with my company, and you’re likely to be gone in six months, why should I invest in you?
Like most business people, I like to put my money where I stand a reasonably good chance of getting a return on my investment. The good news is if you are willing to make that investment in yourself, no matter how little time or money you can afford to spend, that screams WINNER to me! And THAT is someone I’m far more willing to invest in.
So are you going to be a winner or a whiner? What investment are you going to make in yourself this year?