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Laser-focused and timely distillations of what's working now in leadership.

Here’s The Secret: Thoughts Become Things

In case you didn’t read the book or see the film, The Secret is the Law of Attraction. It’s the idea that “Everything that’s coming into your life you are attracting into your life. And it’s attracted to you by virtue of the images you’re holding in your mind. It’s what you’re thinking. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you.”

Anyone who teaches people to sell, as I do, is familiar with the notion that, if you have a clear objective for a sales meeting - if you know, going in, what will have to happen in a sales conversation so that, when that conversation ends, you will feel that the meeting has been successful - and if you say that objective, out loud, three times, before you begin the conversation, the chance that you will achieve exactly that is very high!

But The Secret takes this concept much further. The Secret “…is the law that determines the complete order in the Universe, every moment of your life, and every single thing you experience in your life. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, the law of attraction is forming your entire life experience, and this all-powerful law is doing that through your thoughts.”

Wow! I’ve certainly found that to be true: you become what you think about most - good or bad! Lots of people seem to think that, by focusing on, thinking through, remembering the bad stuff, they’ll be able to somehow analyze themselves out of the pain. I don’t think that’s true. And The Secret supports me there: “The law of attraction doesn’t care whether you perceive something to be good or bad, or whether you don’t want it or you do want it. It’s responding to your thoughts…”

So, how can you put this interesting idea to work for you? The answer: think positive thoughts! Since you’re always operating on your last thoughts, even when asleep, be sure your last thoughts before going to sleep are good, positive thoughts!

You might even think of this process as Biblical: what you sow, so shall you reap. Or in the pop culture vernacular, “What goes around comes around!”

Think this doesn’t make sense? Consider this: the book says, “If you don’t understand the law, that doesn’t mean you should reject it. You may not understand electricity, and yet you enjoy the benefits of it.”

What’s standing in the way of achieving your heart’s desire? Perhaps it’s your thoughts! It may be worth considering that possibility, and acting to improve your thinking, focusing always on the positive.

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Forget about Setting Priorities!


Just don’t bother to set your priorities.

You did that already, didn’t you? Maybe several times?

Can you remember some of those “priorities lists”? I don’t mean priorities for when you’re going to do all the errands you have to do over the next week. I’m talking about life priorities. The stuff you want to do before you’re 30, before you’re 50, before your kids grow up, before you DIE.

Can you remember those lists? And why didn’t you do all the things on those lists?

If you’re like me, you had the best intentions… but then you got caught up in the CURRENT: current events and current crises!

I don’t think setting priorities is a big deal. I think doing what we say we’re going to do is by far the greater challenge.

In my experience, about 90% of people don’t really do what they say they’re going to do. And that problem gets them into a raft of trouble.

I have learned to simply keep my agreements. I always do. And if I discover that, somehow, it won’t be possible for me to keep an agreement I’ve made, I contact the person who will be affected by that before the deadline, in order to renegotiate the agreement. It’s a way of life for me!

Psychologists say that, if we’ll just write down what we want, or what we say we’re going to do, and then read what we wrote a couple of times a day, the chance that we’ll get that stuff, or do that stuff, increases greatly. Challenge yourself to do what you say you’re going to do - or don’t say it in the first place.

And try sustaining your commitment to just one thing over a longish period of time. That’s even harder. But the results - the confidence and pride that comes from doing what you said you’re going to do, and continuing to do it as a person of real integrity - represents serious character-building, far more than any simple “setting priorities”-type of exercise you might want to undertake.

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The Powerful Influencers in Your Life

Who played a big role in your life, either positively or negatively?

As part of the process of coaching leaders to greater career success, I often ask people to spend some time thinking about their role models. Though many have never considered the question before, most tell me that reconnecting with thoughts about these influential people – and sometimes the people themselves – help them deal with today’s challenges.Lenann and Marie

Thinking back on those who have powerfully influenced my life, I’d pick:

  • Mrs. Baker, my seventh grade Ohio History and Health teacher, who told me I was normal and taught me how important reassurance can be to those too young to reassure themselves;
  • Mr. - now Dr. - Dansker, my Reporting class professor at Bowling Green State University, who shamed me into writing more professionally and taught me that being tough and having high standards is a good idea and can drive improved performance;
  • Dr. Ben Shapiro at Harvard Business School, who taught me that business, and sales and marketing particularly, can be a heck of a lot of fun;
  • Al Algaze, my boss at Xerox Computer Services, who taught me that you can build bridges with anyone – and some of those people will feel so comfortable with you that they will spend a lot of money with you;
  • Judy Shackelford, the Executive Vice President of Marketing at Mattel, who hired me because she thought I had the potential to launch new products even though I had never done so;
  • Reverend Bruce Wilder, who taught me that it’s possible to stand up for one’s faith in God and still be cool; and
  • Marie Tramz, my best friend, who taught me that being happy is possible, even in difficult circumstances.

All these people inspire and influence me.

I have mostly chosen not to be influenced by those who would hurt me, and those who would tell me that “It can’t be done”, no matter what “It” is! Sure, the negative people and the negative thoughts come to me just as they do to most folks, but I’m interested in deflecting their influence and replacing it with the many positive things I have learned and experienced.

Maybe if I gave in to all the negative influences on me, I’d sink into despair. But I’d prefer to think that I’m choosing much of what influences me. And I choose the capable people, the broad thinkers, the big thinkers, the kind people, the faithful people, and the “can do” folks. What about you?

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Living a Purposeful Life


In coaching leaders to greater professional success, I often steer discussions to the idea of “Living a Purposeful Life.” As I think about my own approach to that issue, I’m drawn to thinking about my own daughter, Lindsay, and what she might tell me she sees as being my purpose in life.

I think she’d say – because she’s been told it often enough – that being her mom was my #1 job in life. That I felt strongly that, once I’d given birth to her, I was going to give mothering all I had – that there would be no priority higher than her upbringing, during the years that that was occurring.

I think she would also say that my purpose was, and continues to be, to serve people and, professionally, to help them out with the skills I have in areas that are important to so many businesses—sales, marketing and leadership. I’d say it differently.

Years ago, in a seminar, I was asked to complete the following sentence: “I am a _____, ______, and _____ woman.” I thought about that for quite awhile, and decided that the adjectives that best describe me are “gentle, giving and fun-loving.” And that my purpose in being alive is to share the love I have to give, and do whatever I can to make the world a better place.

When Lindsay first started thinking about college, I shared with her my view that, although I don’t think most people think of it this way, careers in management allow one to have a very positive effect on people.

Most people work in one sort of business or another, and there is much bad management in evidence. When people’s jobs aren’t going well, it’s hard for much else in life to go well, because we spend more time at work than we do sleeping, eating, or enjoying our families – work is so central, and good leadership and motivation can help people to be happier while they do what they do to keep the bread on their table.

Lindsay chose Political Science. And along with choosing that major, I think she saw her purpose as defending others against injustice. Those thoughts are evolving for her now.

And what does all this thinking about purpose mean – how can it contribute to our lives? I think that knowing one’s purpose is a bottom line thing: when the chips are down, we can return to that, and put the complexities of the present moment up against that purpose, to see what really matters, and how much priority competing “projects” (by “projects” I mean “places where one’s time can go”) really should get.

So, is your time and attention going toward your purpose in life these days?

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Click the logos below for testimonials.

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I just landed $300K in funding from the Department of Homeland Security's Human Factors Group – historically a very difficult customer. The customer actually gave me $75K more than what I'd asked for. Since then, I have developed a trusted advisor position with this PM. She asks my opinion on program ideas and continues to send money almost without my asking for it. I attribute this success directly … specifically to the coaching I have been getting from Lenann.”

Dr. Ann Speed
Cognitive Psychologist, Sandia National Laboratories

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Observing the positive effects of Lenann's executive coaching with a colleague, I reached out. I was impressed after our first conversation with how well she listened -- not just to the concept I was trying to convey, but also the words I chose to describe situations. As she reflected those words back to me with insightful questioning, I began to fundamentally understand myself better and what communication tools were needed to be more effective in management and leadership. What reinforced my learnings from our sessions further were the reflections and readings after our sessions. As Lenann heard about my interest in analytics she provided me with a very detailed overview of specific degree programs that were exactly what I was interested in pursuing. This again is evidence of how carefully and deliberately Lenann listens and invests in her clients. Furthermore, dedicated to her clients, Lenann was extremely responsive and always available. I have benefitted immensely from my time with Lenann and recommend her highly for anyone who finds themselves wondering how they can grow or improve themselves professionally. I use the tools and techniques I developed with Lenann's assistance regularly. My only regret is that I could have met Lenann sooner!”

Dr. Irene Krokos
Senior Regional Medical Director, Molina Healthcare (a Fortune 500 company)

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann, you’ve been a GREAT help!  Thanks for reminding me of so many important points for my work introducing new, bleeding-edge technologies to senior banking officials.  During my days as Managing Director, Head Trader and Head of Structured Trading for a leading global securities firm, my challenge was introducing new technologies internally; now that I am introducing them to organizations of which I am not an employee, the challenges are different, and I am happy to let you know that, just today, I have been asked to represent to some high-level banking contacts the technology of a Canadian firm whose work is exemplary!  I appreciate your Executive Coaching, communications and meeting strategy advice, and specifically your advice on communications with my newest client that enabled me to secure this monthly-retainer-plus-success-fee arrangement.”

Gary W.
Gary W., Ph.D. and Senior Technology Professional, London, U.K.

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“My partners share my high evaluation of your program and recognition of your skills. Thank you for the excellent program to help our leaders.”

Igor Rodin
(Former) Vice Chairman, Deloitte Central Europe

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Closed 5 deals last week!! Thanks, Lenann, for your support, guidance and belief. The Game On Sales Coaching program we are doing with you keeps me sharp on the follow ups, value estimation and most importantly the closing rates!”

Jase P. Choenni
Head of Sales & Marketing, TMF GROUP BRAZIL

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Thanks so much for the quick follow-up to our meeting today.  I was extremely pleased and excited to see how well your work was received.  It was a beautiful thing!  Yes, I believe your calculations are correct as to the additional revenue my team has committed to bringing in!  I am thrilled that we did this, and feel we’re all excited about achieving our goals for growing our business.  I do think my change in how I am approaching leading our business went over well – I am glad I was able to vocalize that, so now I have to do it.  It was good for me to put that goal out there!”

Karen Cooper
Owner, MedCare Senior Insurance Solutions

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I was amazed at how perceptive Lenann is about issues (both personal and professional) that were impediments to my reaching sales goals. She helped me to understand that selling is first understanding the client's frame of reference, positioning through powerful, provocative statements, and a process of gaining agreement to next steps. Lenann demonstrated specifically how this is done in both verbal and written communications. In our consulting session, she distilled all the latest research and what's working in today's environment. What she taught me should become basic to my approach with all prospective clients. Lenann is brilliant, enthusiastic, and above all, very personable. The experience of working with Lenann was surprisingly pleasant, and gave me the confidence that I could also improve my selling abilities by following her recommendations. She is truly inspirational. I look forward to continuing my work with Lenann.”

Wealth Management Professional, Major Financial Institution

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“The Coaching I received from Lenann was invaluable to me. My takeaways included: Learning how to understand your client as opposed to 'knowing your client' – this has made me a far better listener and more empathetic to my clients' REAL needs; Being the 'trusted advisor' as opposed to a service provider – I had an interesting experience that I would like to share with you. I was asked by a potential client to assist with a matter that I knew we did not have the 'firepower' to assist them with. In the profession, it is unheard of to admit that your competitors are ahead of you but I tried it with the client and it worked. Today, he FIRST talks to me about any assistance that he may need and does not even ask for competitor bids; Handling difficult clients. Lenann has been a great help in honing my skills in this area. I have found myself more prepared to 'walk the road' during the client's time of difficulty than before. In my business, we are supposed to be transaction-oriented since we deal with clients on a project-by-project basis. However, where I have invested the time to deal with a client's unhappiness instead of handing the matter over to my colleagues, to my surprise, the client has 'come around' to even admitting that his/her organization was the place where the fault lies – that is a major 'coup' for us since it is very seldom that a client does that. We have managed to build a sustainable business (revenues and earnings is way up on last years' and, most importantly, we have built an impressive team) under fairly trying circumstances – Lenann has played a role in enabling me to do this.”

Neven Hendricks
(Former) Partner Deloitte, United Arab Emirates

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I can’t wait to start having meetings with our techs about the daily Sales Tips you’ve been creating and sending me daily. I really like today’s in particular because I think our techs might believe that sales is a nasty word. This will help me get the dialogue started and hopefully help them see it in a more positive light! Again, thank you!”

Rhonda Stewart
Rhonda Stewart, Owner, RotoRooter, Victorville, California

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Here are some key things I learned from working with Lenann: 1. I like the concept of a “Challenger Salesperson.” The more interesting, engaging and informative we can be in a useful way to the client, the better. 2. I don’t spend as much time selling as I think I do. 3. The way people do business continues to change and evolve – and I have to keep my selling skills current to keep up with those changes. 4. Treat others the way they want to be treated (not necessarily how I would want to be treated if I were them). A big company we haven’t done meaningful business with in about 5 years is about to come back in a very meaningful and multi-million dollar way…”

Russ Conser
Key Account Manager, Oberthur Technologies

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann, you've been great, as always. You put me in the right direction every time we speak - you tell me to focus on the right stuff and 'build it right.' Thanks!”

Scott Price
Regional Director - Americas, Custom House Fund Services, Chicago

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann has been my coach for over 8 years now. The coaching conversations we have are worthwhile because they give me the opportunity to speak freely and honestly about the leadership challenges I am facing without fear of retaliation or negative thoughts from superiors within my organization. Her advice has often put me back on track to achieve my goals and career ambitions. The focus and accountability she provides has been extremely valuable for my success and advancement. Another unique aspect of Lenann’s coaching for me has been the female role model perspective. There are very few women throughout my career who have advanced their careers as far as Lenann has. The respect I have for her as a role model and as a professional businesswoman with a family has given me hope that I can do it all, too!”

Tina Sampson
(Former) Vice President Sales and Marketing, Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I am glad that, in addition to our Sales Training, I chose to have you sit down, one-to-one, with four of our key people. The observations you sent me about each of them are perfect and helpful, especially in cases and/or aspects which I could not put in words before, but had a feeling about.

Two of the professionals with whom you spoke continue to develop well, they are thoughtful, have considered the feedback received, and learned from it. Both have sold new engagements for us, and they are going out to sell more and more. It is nice to see how their level of confidence has increased!

Thank you again for helping me in this matter.”

Julia Varga
(Former) Managing Director, TMF Group, Hungary

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“The coaching I had with Lenann is paying off in SPADES. I’m pulling in money for other people, now. Recently I spent two hours with a prospective funder (who approached me), and followed Lenann’s selling approach (i.e., we took NO slides to the meeting and let the customer talk 95% of the time, only talking to ask questions – not to tell the customer anything about what we do). At the end of that time, I said, ‘What’s the next step?’, and the customer replied, ‘How do we send you money?’ You have to know how to conduct a conversation to make that happen – it’s 95% listening (literally!), 4% asking questions, and only 1% discussion about your content and capabilities.”

Dr. Ann Speed
PMTS, Sandia National Laboratories

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann is a very accomplished and experienced Coach, who builds her advice and coaching based on her own Executive experience. She understands the daily pressure of high level executives and through her advice is an excellent catalyst for increased productivity of her client – ultimately to the benefit of the company. She provides real value for the money, and I would any day again participate in a coaching program with Lenann given the chance.”

Claus Vorreiter Jensen
Chief Commercial Officer, Svendborg Brakes, Denmark

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann, your influence has been so positive for my career! I will never forget you. I keep close to my heart people that contribute to my growth, and you have definitely been part of my growth professionally. I hope we can always keep in touch.”

Elena Montiel
(Former) Executive of Global Business Development, TMF USA, Inc., Miami

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann was terrific! After her ‘Trust and Respect in the Workplace’ learning experience, we had the most absolute pleasant best day at work in a very long time!”

Ellen Diamond
Mark Diamond's Jewelers, Albuquerque

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Thank you for your Sales and Closing Skills Class and follow-up program for our global team. I appreciate your response to my request for your thoughts on the

  • Selling Strengths you observed on our team
  • Selling Weaknesses you observed on our team
  • Leadership Strengths you observed on our team
  • Leadership Weaknesses you observed on our team
  • Implications of all of the above for the future of our firm, and recommendations.

I found your 5-page analysis to be succinct and immediately useful and I’ve applied the lessons there. Very valuable input!”

Koen van Weezel
(Former) Group Director, Global Sales & Marketing, TMF Group, The Netherlands

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“My prospect chose to invest $2 million today – and I say ‘Thank YOU a million, Lenann!’ I couldn’t have done it without your good sales coaching yesterday! This was especially sweet because the client had expressed an interest in a discounted up-front fee, had access to plenty of managers who don't charge those fees, and yet when I took the approach you recommended, the fee wasn’t a problem. I could not have gotten that result without your guidance, Lenann.”

Wealth Management Professional, Major Global Financial Institution

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann is absolutely the best there is! I've heard Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, all the gurus, but I felt 'Yeah, I've heard all this before.' Lenann changes people's lives – the way they work, think and are motivated. She makes a very real, and quite incredible, difference!”

Patti Roland
(Former) Vice President Sales & Marketing, Stonebridge Homes

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“My Executive Coaching experience with Lenann has helped me considerably. My judgment of the value of Lenann’s Coaching can best be seen in the fact that I have encouraged other members of my staff to work with her, and they have. I have seen improvement in them as well! I particularly appreciate all the ‘homework’ Lenann had me complete to get me to look at my leadership behaviors, and see ways in which I can improve. I find myself sharing materials Lenann gives me with members of my senior staff, so the learning is shared in our organization. Lenann is always the first person I mention when others ask about Coaching.”

Patty Kehoe
CEO, Molina Healthcare of NM (a Fortune 500 company)

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“Lenann, I am proud to say that our volume is up – this is very, very positive. And the growth is interesting; there are no signs of slowing down in the trend of huge sales increases we have seen. The key executive whom you are coaching is making strong progress! Thank you for the monthly Coaching Report you provide – it is an extremely useful, clear picture of where we are.
Looking forward to continuing to work with you”

Roberto Schianchi
Chief Executive Officer, ZOBELE HOLDING S.P.A

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I enjoyed Sales Coaching with Lenann so much! Lenann is very good at assessing the situation -- with a couple of simple questions she gets to the bottom of things. The one-on-one nature of Lenann’s Coaching means there’s no way you can hide (as can happen in a classroom). I was continually intrigued by Lenann’s questions and constant feedback on performance…”

Wouter Plantenga
Senior VP, Head of International Structuring Americas, TMF USA, Inc., New York

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“(Lenann’s) coaching activities are very thorough, and are a part of a modern approach which makes a lot of sense. Our sales team had a great performance in this month, and I am convinced that Lenann’s (coaching) had a big influence on this result.”

Thierry Montfort
(Former) President and CEO, Heel USA

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I feel very good about the coaching that you provided to a professional on our team. Your coaching made a critical difference. His performance was much improved after his session with you. In fact, it contributed substantially to our success last year. Thank you!”

Dr. Will Swearingen
Executive Director, TechLink

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I attribute, easily, $10 MILLION in sales directly to learning with, and coaching from, Lenann.”

Mark Walton
(Former) Partner and Global Head of Operations Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers, London

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“I worked with Lenann about 5 years ago. Just this month, I once again applied what she taught me, and closed 4 of 5 proposals – over $300,000! Lenann Gardner is a combination of blazing intelligence and electrifying enthusiasm!”

Pat Davis
Vice President and Director of Consulting Services, Marketing Insights Practice, KantarHealth

What other Smart Bosses are saying

“The demands on consultants these days are immense and it's so easy to end up in a 'feast or famine' situation. When you're working an engagement with a client, it can become all encompassing. I am happy to serve as a reference for Lenann McGookey Gardner, who helped me with a Coaching program. Lenann has a very engaging personality, a person never to be forgotten. I consider the materials Lenann provided to be very useful. Most of all, Lenann's advice and tips are straightforward and readily implementable when you're engaged in demanding client engagements.”

John Corr
Director AlixPartners (A global firm of senior business and consulting professionals), Somerset, United Kingdom

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