Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Sweet Smell of ... Happiness?

from The New York Times News Service

Worried about how to succeed in life?

Don't worry, be happy.

That's the take-home message from a major new review of studies on the downstream benefits of personal happiness.

While everyone knows that successful careers and relationships make people happy, new research suggests this process works both ways.

"Perhaps happy people also have a lot of good things come to them because of their happiness, their sociability, their energy," says lead author Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside.

Her team's 53-page review of more than 225 epidemiological, longitudinal and experimental studies strongly suggests that happiness is literally its own reward: It breeds success, just as success can breed happiness.

"It's clear that the relationship is bi-directional," Lyubomirsky says. "It's an upward spiral."
Reporting in the January issue of Psychological Bulletin, Lyubomirsky and her colleagues poured over data collected over the past two decades on more than 275,000 people.
She points out that throughout most of its history, psychology has tended to focus on what goes wrong with people emotionally -- only recently has it switched that focus to the exploration of "good" emotions like happiness, contentment and joy.

"It's a trend called 'positive psychology,' " she explains.

"What makes 'the good life,' what makes life fulfilling?"

At first, most of this work on happiness focused on its origins, Lyubomirsky says. "So, if you had a study and you saw a correlation between rising income and happiness, it was immediately interpreted as 'OK, money makes people happy."'

While not disputing that rather obvious fact, the California researcher wondered if success and achievement weren't, in their own way, encouraged by happiness.

Hundreds of studies appear to support that theory. Some examples from her team's review:

--In an infant study, babies who smiled and laughed more developed stronger bonds with their caregivers.
--Numerous studies showed that happier people tended to do better on job interviews, secure better jobs, and then get better job performance ratings while working.
--Other research showed happier individuals had more satisfying marriages, and were more likely to describe their partner as their "great love."
--Happy people were also more likely to engage in new, pleasurable pursuits and "discover rewards in even ordinary, mundane events."
--Happiness may even improve health: Experimental studies suggest that good mood boosts immune function and reduces colds.
--Other studies suggest happiness helps lengthen lifespan.

But does happiness precede and encourage success? The evidence for that came primarily from dozens of longitudinal studies, which tracked changes in people's lives over time.

One of these studies focused on 30-year-old college yearbook photos. Researchers assessed each photo for what experts call "Duchenne smiles": a certain play of facial muscles that only occurs during truly happy, unposed smiles.

"Only very, very good actors can fake them," Lyubomirsky says.
"In these yearbook studies, women who showed Duchenne smiles when they were in college had happier marriages by age 52," she says.

In another study, college freshmen tested as very happy in college made more money 16 years later, she says. Other longitudinal research mirrored these results.

Why might happy folks be rewarded with success?

According to Lyubomirsky, "They're feeling more confident, optimistic, more energetic," all of which are attractive qualities. In fact, studies consistently find that when people appear happy, total strangers rate them as sexier, too.

"They're also more sociable, and sociability is really important," the researcher says. "You get out there, you like people more. And people are more motivated to work with, and be friends with, happy people."

The new review should help change psychologists' view of the happiness/success relationship, says James Maddux, professor and director of the clinical psychologist training program at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Va. "It pulls all the research together in a very compelling way," says Maddux, who specializes in the study of "positive psychology."

He and Lyubomirsky agree that "happy" doesn't mean empty-headed cheerfulness. "The research isn't saying that happy people are naive Pollyannas, and it's not saying that being happy is incompatible with -- on occasion -- being critical and cynical, sad or angry," he says. "That's just part of being a healthy, emotionally well-rounded human being."

More mysterious is why some people -- even as infants -- are naturally happier than others. DNA is the most obvious answer.

"Based on the research, there's a general conclusion that between 50 to 70 percent of the variation in people as to their level of happiness over time is genetically determined," Maddux says.

That doesn't mean genes are destiny when it comes to happiness and success, however. "It just means that the person who's born happy doesn't have to try as hard -- just like thin people don't have to work at it as much," Lyubomirsky says. "You can make yourself happier using all kinds of strategies -- but you have to put some effort into it."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times News Service. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Secrets of the Great Rainmakers

by Jeffrey J. Fox

In companies that use salespeople to sell directly to customers, rainmakers are the people who bring in the business. Rainmakers bring in big revenues, big money. Rainmakers bring in new revenues, new customers. Rainmakers sell new applications, new products, and price increases. Rainmakers make the cash register ring. Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

And, rainmakers make big money for themselves. Rainmakers are always the highest paid sellers, and it is not uncommon for rainmakers to be among the highest paid employees in the organization. Rainmakers are rare, but they are everywhere. They are in corporations as super sellers. They are commission only salespeople, entrepreneurs, small business owners, solo practitioners, agents, brokers, and partners in professional firms.
Here is what rainmakers always do that other salespeople don’t: First, they sell more! Rainmakers generate more sales revenues than the other people. They sell more through thick and thin. They sell more in good economies and bad. They sell more regardless of the competition. Rainmakers sell more by relentlessly doing things that other salespeople sometimes do or never do.

Here are some “secrets” of the great rainmakers:

Secret One: They carefully and thoroughly do pre-call homework and pre-call planning for every sales call on a decision maker. They spend at least three hours planning a 15-minute sales call. They might spend three weeks pre-call planning a five-minute sales call.

Secret Two: They dollarize. Rainmakers don’t sell products or services. They don’t sell features or benefits. They don’t sell technology. Rainmakers sell the dollarized value that their customers get from the product benefits, or get from the technology. Rainmakers don’t sell MRI machines; they sell hospitals 10 MRI exams per day at $2,000 per exam.

Secret Three: Rainmakers always know the answer to one question: “If I (the rainmaker) were the customer, and knowing what I know about my company, about my product, about the competition, about the customer, why would I do business with my company?” The rainmaker becomes the customer and honestly answers “why the customer should do business with me.” Knowing “why the customer should do business with me,” in dollars and cents, gives the rainmaker a rock solid foundation for confidently pursuing the sale. Learning the answer to this question must be part of your pre-call planning.

Secret Four: On every sales call with a decision maker or influencer, rainmakers always ask for the order, or for a customer commitment to a customer action that will lead to an order. The rainmaker does what 90% of all salespeople never do: the rainmaker asks for the business.

Secret Five: In a baseball game, a hitter or batter gets to the plate about four times a game. This means that the batter, barring a strikeout, and regardless of whether he gets a hit or not, has to run to first base three or four or five times a game. Even though running to first base three or four times a game is nothing, a small effort in the totality of the game, some players give up on their hit, assume they will make an out, and dog it to first. The rainmaker never dogs it to first base! The rainmaker never assumes he or she will be thrown out. The rainmaker runs out every hit, and runs full tilt, because the few times the opposition fumbles the ball, or the ball drops in, the rainmaker ends up safely on base. The rainmaker never quits in the sales cycle. The rainmaker always sprints, always goes for the sale. That’s why rainmakers are known as “big hitters.” One motto and deep belief of the rainmaker is the “if you, the customer, don’t do business with me, then we both lose.” So the rainmaker works every second to make sure the customer wins so the rainmaker wins.
And these are some secrets as to why rainmakers sell more and make more money than the rest of the selling crowd. Now go make it rain!

*Source: Adapted from Jeffrey Fox’s upcoming new best seller The Secrets of the Great Rainmakers.
Learn more about Jeffrey Fox and his bestselling program How to be a Rainmaker.

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