PODCAST 116: How to Form Great Habits and High Impact Behaviors at Work? with Andrew Sykes

This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we’re incredibly excited to have Andrew Sykes.

Andrew is a career salesperson, but he’s also a lecturer at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. He also runs a company called Habits at Work, and that’s really what we’re going to be talking about. And Habits at Work is all about how you form great habits. What’s the most important habit? What is the single most important habit that you can form that can change your career and drive for success?

If you missed episode 115, check it out here: Improving Customer Experience: Your Magic Key to Success with Leah Chaney

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:09]
  2. Who is Andrew Sykes and what is Habits at Work [2:26]
  3. The role of habits in personal transformation [9:27]
  4. The process for developing a new habit [13:08]
  5. Habits that create high-impact behaviors [17:25]
  6. Are all habits changeable? [28:04]
  7. The lowdown on high-impact habit virtual masterclasses [35:08]
  8. Sam’s Corner [39:11]

Show Introduction (~300 words) [00:09]

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. Today on the show, we’re incredibly excited to have Andrew Sykes, a career salesperson and a lecturer at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business. He also runs a company called Habits at Work, and that’s really what we’re going to be talking about. And Habits at Work is all about, how do you form great habits? And what’s the most important habit? What is the single most important habit that you can form that can change your career and drive for success? And we’re going to hear what is that one habit in the conversation that follows. So it’s a great conversation.

Now, before we get there, we’re going to thank our sponsors. The first sponsor is LinkedIn. Sales teams have had to quickly adapt to a new normal. It’s even more important now to double down on your digital selling strategy. Sales leaders, that means you must shift their focus to empowering talents, strengthening customer relationships and acquiring new opportunities in order to survive and thrive in this environment.

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Now, without further ado, let’s listen to this interview with Andrew Sykes.

Who is Andrew Sykes and what is Habits at Work [2:26]

Sam Jacobs: Hi everybody. It’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to The Sales Hacker Podcast. Today on the show, I’m excited to have Andrew Sykes. Andrew is somebody that is an expert on habit forming and that’s something that we’re going to be talking about. Let me give you his bio. He’s a lecturer of entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, a very famous school, one of the best in the country, and part of the Kellogg Sales Institute Executive Education team. He grew up in South Africa, later qualified as the youngest actuary at the time, which means he’s good at math and built one of that country’s largest healthcare consulting businesses.

He’s lived, worked, and run businesses on six continents, and he’s been a sales person for 25 years. Since 07, he’s been based in Chicago where he founded Habits at Work. He and his team helped leaders in revenue, responsible teams master conversation skills, and activate the 12 high-impact habits that build deep and lasting relationships with customers and move business forward. Andrew, welcome to the show.

Andrew Sykes: Sam, it’s my pleasure to be here. It’s an honor to spend time with you. Thank you.

Sam Jacobs: Well, the honor is mine. So what we do at the beginning, we call it the baseball card, but really what it is, is an opportunity for you to give a little bit of background and context primarily on your business. So Andrew Sykes, CEO and founder, Habits at Work, tell us what is Habits at Work in your words.

Andrew Sykes: We’re a small but mighty team of people that help large organizations with what we call conversation mastery. Which is this idea that all progress in life and in particular for sales and customer success, leaders, and managers, is generated through conversation.

So we start at this higher level idea that to be really productive as a magnetic effective salesperson, you need to be a master of conversations and then we help people to activate these habits that make you really good at preparing for running and being in these effective conversations, as distinct from conversations, which are just about something and fun, but don’t actually create an outcome.

Sam Jacobs: How old is Habits at Work? How long have you been doing this?

Andrew Sykes: Habits at Work is more than a decade old, but it has gone through various reincarnations. We were originally called Health at Work, based in Dallas, Texas. Relocated to Chicago early in 2007, as you said earlier. And the sort of backstory to all of this is we started in the field of health behavior change, and those are some of the hardest habits to create or quit. And we set up a research lab to study how humans think, feel, and act, and how to help people create high-impact habits or quit the ones that are getting in our way.

And over a period of time, we started to study which habits really make the biggest difference to performance in life and at work and in particular for people who face customers, internal, external. And so several years ago, we reinvented our business focused entirely on conversations that we aim to master. And now we’re a business that is entirely focused on conversation mastery and habits. Although we do still consider one of the key habits that sets us up for performance being investing in our self-care. So a sort of nod to the history of our business.

Sam Jacobs: You’re from South Africa, you were the youngest actuary. How did you make it from being an actuary and looking at tables and tables of statistics to now being in Chicago, running Habits at Work? Tell us a little bit about that journey.

Andrew Sykes: as you said, actuary’s my breed. We’re good at math, we spend time often in locked rooms, not always by our choice, because stereotypically actuaries are cerebral, internal, and not great in relationships or soft skills. And I was either brave or dumb and started my first business at age 21.

What I very quickly realized was everything I learned as an actuary was really useful to solving problems, but not particularly relevant to helping other people solve their problems or certainly engaging with other people in a powerful way. And so I became curious about these people I had in my life who I related to as natural salespeople, but who in retrospect, I look back on it and that’s probably the biggest insult I could say about them, is that it was an assumption that they were just good. And what I missed was all the hard work that went into becoming an extraordinary, engaging, effective salesperson.

But I did notice that many of these people didn’t have great insights into how they’d become as good as they are. And so I started this research agenda for looking at, how do humans transform? How do we become a different personality as it were? And just how important are habits in defining who we are as human beings?

After what I would describe as a combination of lucky timing and hard work, I had a very successful business in South Africa with some partners, we expanded into Southeast Asia and beyond, and then frankly, I wanted to come to the US to see whether I could make it in this country that was reputedly the most competitive in the world. And a little naively at that time, I came with high hopes of helping Americans figure out how to live healthier lives. And although we had some success with that, I’ll say we had more failures than successes.

Sam Jacobs: Why do you think you failed? This sounds like a worthy endeavor.

Andrew Sykes: Well, many reasons. One of which was my choice of first location. Dallas, Texas in 2005 was not a place that was yet ready for the wellness revolution that has since come. But I think that the bigger issue is we have fundamentally designed workplaces and the way we work to almost purposely rob us of our health, happiness, and financial security. Now I know there’s been a lot of that’s happened since I first came to this country, but just think about how often we blame work as the reason we’re stressed, the reason we don’t have time to work out or eat healthily, the reason we’re battling to make ends meet, and whether that blame is justified or not, for many people that’s their reality. And so we became really interested in how we can redesign work from the ground up such that, not only healthy habits, but all these high impact habits are just baked into your daily experience. As we say, making them the easy default rather than the difficult choice.

The role of habits in personal transformation [9:27]

Sam Jacobs: Well, let’s dive into that. So first, tell us what you learned about human transformation. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. So, how do people transform and what is the role of habits in personal transformation when people want to change?

Andrew Sykes: Sam, that’s my favorite question because it challenges so many of the assumptions we have about ourselves. And the first one is that who we are is a stable, testable entity over time. And we have lots of evidence to support that. We’ve all done personality tests that when we get them back say, “Wow! That was uncannily accurate and that describes exactly who I am.” And therefore we assume that we are just the same person over time.

However, if you think about meeting someone else and how you judge their character and their personality, it’s based of course on your first impression, but as it matures over time, we describe other people as a certain personality based on how they behave towards us, how we see them speaking to and behaving towards other people, and the consistency or lack thereof of those behaviors over time. Or said much more simply. other people for us, nothing more or less rarely than the sum of their habits. And therefore the same must be true for us.

So our view is, the job of transformation is the job of deciding which habits to practice and which habits to quit, and then actually go about making those habits part of your life and therefore part of who you become.

A great example of that is this idea that I’m either an introvert or an extrovert. Whereas, those are really behaviors that we can exhibit on certain days or not and so I think you can, as you know, I described myself as an introvert but I spend most of my life now practicing habits that would otherwise be associated with extroverts and the more I have done that, the more I’ve become for myself, what I would describe today as an ambivert.

Sam Jacobs: I describe myself as an ambivert too. I think that specific example is interesting because I, as somebody that has introverted tendencies, like right now, we’re talking. I interact with lots and lots of people but I think part of it is, where I drive energy from and whether I derive energy, like what types of human interactions I derive energy from, because I drive a lot more energy from these types of conversations that are structured and frankly finite, than kind of open-ended interactions with people that I don’t know or maybe not be curious about.

Andrew Sykes: I think that’s also part of the human experience. It is true for us that we have areas where we feel enabled, energized and therefore drawn to. But I think it’s also true that we have a fear of the discomfort that is necessary for growing new skills. So we tend to stay constant in our personality because I think we tend to gravitate to the things we’re good at doing and therefore we keep on doing what we’ve always done.

So what I’ve noticed is I tend to enjoy more, things as I become better at doing them but there’s certainly a period during which it just doesn’t feel comfortable or fun or enjoyable and therefore there’s some grit required to get through that learning curve phase, that we were so good at doing as kids, but some as adults just becomes threatening and scary.

The process for developing a new habit [13:08]

Sam Jacobs: Do you advocate or have you done work on this concept of atomic habits of breaking? What is your process, if you have one, for developing a new habit? Let’s say I want to eat less carbs or workout every day or something like that. What’s the process that you teach to help indoctrinate new habits into people?

Andrew Sykes: There are mini steps, as you can imagine, and rather than steps, we like to think of it as a set of myths that you need to notice and set aside and then some guiding principles that can help you to be effective when those myths are ineffective.

So as one example, many of us relate to the myth that we can change multiple habits at the same time and so we get committed to improving our health and we decide to exercise and change our diet and quit smoking and six other things at the same time and that’s actually a very hard thing to do. If there is a golden rule, and it’s similar to the idea of atomic habits, we would say, human beings cannot easily change more than one habit at a time.

The second big insight is this idea that changing habits is simply a question of having enough willpower for long enough. We’ve not found that willpower, except in very exceptional circumstances, is a great predictor of success. Now, do you need to be motivated? Absolutely. But motivation comes and goes.

So the question we ask instead is, where do my habits live? I know that’s a strange question but for most of us would say, “Well, I have these habits, therefore my habits are in a sense, a part of me or internal to me.” Our view is that actually, most of our habits are encoded in the world that surrounds us. Or said more plainly, if you look at how you behave on a Sunday morning in a place of worship or a Friday afternoon in a library, it’s very different from how the very same person would behave on a Friday night in a bar or a Sunday night at a sports event, in the old days when we could go to those things.

So, is the person sort of schizophrenic in their personality? Absolutely, no. They are just appropriate behaviors in different situations. And the same, I think is true in the rest of life. That how we behave in any given circumstance is very much a reflection of the physical space that surrounds us, the people that are in our vicinity, the systems under which we operate, the laws, rules and social norms that we relate to, and even our own mindset is part of this world that we inhabit that encodes our behavior.

So that the second big insight is stop trying to change yourself and instead try and design your world, what we call the context of your world, such that this behavior you want to make a habit just becomes the easy natural default, not as it’s true for most of us, the really difficult choice that requires us maximum amount of willpower, which we all know just runs out at a point.

Sam Jacobs: Is that like trying to eat less carbs, just don’t buy the bread instead of looking at the bread and deciding not to eat it?

Andrew Sykes: Totally like that and food is the best example because on average, food travels 1,500 miles to get to us. We typically travel feet and inches to get to it. I mean, it’s so interesting that even as you’ve seen from Thaler and Sunstein and other people who have done work on these wonderful nudges, raising healthy food by an inch over unhealthy food, predicts a higher consumption of healthy food.

So we have the saying which is, humans, although we may describe ourselves as foodies and gourmets, we tend to eat what’s close. Therefore, if you want to change your diet, change what’s close and that means either in your own fridge or pantry and certainly at work.

That’s why we think so much of the opportunity to be healthy at work is in the hands of the people who design workspaces and cafeterias and what’s available for people as the easy default.

Habits that create high-impact behaviors [17:25]

Sam Jacobs: What are the keys that you espouse, maybe even when you were doing health at work before habits at work, like what are the keys that we need to be mindful of? Granted, we can’t change all of these things at once as you just reminded us but when we’re thinking about healthy habits that create great high-impact behaviors, what are those habits?

Andrew Sykes: Well Sam, the first one is the real health habits, which is the habits that allow us to show up to work as healthy and energized, financially fit, and what we’re colloquially described as happy but by that I mean fulfilled with good social connections and in a psychologically safe environment.

So we described that as the 11th habit out of our set of 12. It’s a quirky title only because we’ve noticed most people and most companies only attend to their own health, happiness, and financial security when it’s lost or it’s a little too late, hence this sort of idea of the 11th hour. So that’s one of the habits is investing in our self care and that’s habits like exercise and eating healthy and mindful meditation and habits like savoring the moment and gratitude journaling and random acts of kindness, and of course in the financial realm, saving for retirement and avoiding debt and having a budget.

But that’s just one of the 12. The others are much more focused on how you interact with other people and there are habits like posing the right questions, listening empathically, telling stories, running high impact meetings, solving problems .the ones that people who are in sales and customer success relate to as things that are part of their job and that they’re pretty good at already.

So many people already have some of the habits that we describe as high impact but we always say there’s a difference between for example, being able to drive a car capably from point A to point B, which most of us can do and being a racing car driver who is 10 or 20 times better at us than this daily habit and so not just about, do you have the habit but do you continue to hone the skill such that you attain mastery versus mediocrity?

Sam Jacobs: So let’s pick one and let’s do an example. I’m always interested in high impact meetings. How do we have better high impact meetings and what’s the process to get there?

Andrew Sykes: Well, there are many sub pieces to that. I would say the most important of which is having what we described at the Kellogg Sales Institute and at Habits at Work, a purpose and benefit for every meeting. It sounds obvious but think about how many meetings you’re sitting in, where you’re wondering, ” what are we actually doing here?” “Why am I necessary?” And when you leave, you wonder, “What did we actually achieve?”

So we always start every meeting, within a conversation around what’s the purpose and what do we hope to gain by being in this meeting? In our own company, if someone says, “Given that purpose and this benefit, I think I don’t need to be here.” We say, “Welcome, leave. Please don’t ever be in a meeting for which you’re neither aligned to the purpose or expect to gain a benefit.” We also use that then to keep meetings on track.

So when I tend to go down some rabbit hole or tangent, one of my colleagues might say, “Remember, Andrew, what we here to do is X, so let’s put that in the parking lot or come back to it.” And we pivot back to the purpose of the meeting and we do the same thing at the end. 10 minutes before, we start to do what we call a power close and one piece of that is checking and saying, “Sam, we were here to have an interview about A, B and C. Did we achieve that and did you get what you came for? It leaves everyone on a high note, if that’s true.

Sam Jacobs: If it’s not, you have 10 minutes to make it true.

Andrew Sykes: You do, or to agree what was missing and what we could have done differently to make sure we don’t make the same mistake later and that points to another habit of ours, perhaps the fundamental habit of all of them, we describe it as the habit of getting good at getting great at anything in record time but it is more tangibly, the habit of asking for, giving and receiving the right kind of feedback.

Sam Jacobs: Tell me more. I want to hear about this.

Andrew Sykes: Speaking about the way work is designed. Most of us say that we really want feedback on our performance, and we’re clear that the pace of change is so high and unrelenting that we need to get daily input on how we’re doing. So we can become very quickly and in a sort of agile way, good at whatever skill is demanded of us today and pay attention because it may be different three months from now. And if there was ever a time that made that true, like three months ago, many people didn’t need to be great on Zoom or meetings. Now that’s an essential life skill.

So in business, the most common form of feedback is none. The second most common is these semi-annual or annual or at best quarterly performance reviews, which we think are more like compensation reviews because the kind of feedback that really makes a difference to you is getting feedback on this meeting or the next presentation I do. Maybe four or five times in a single day, not one grand retrospective conversation at the end of the quarter.

So the habit that we propose is an intraday or frequent interaction between you and your manager or you and your customer or you and a peer where you look at something you did well and something you could do differently. Just one thing, so it keeps it small and bite sized, but we often say that this kind of feedback is like compound interest. On a daily basis, it’s unexciting, but over a period of time, that compounding effect makes little bits of feedback, able to drive massive improvements in performance, in pretty short periods of time.

Sam Jacobs: Do you ever get feedback on this feedback framework that it’s too much feedback?

Andrew Sykes: Yes. We get feedback that this might be too much in advance. I should say, we never get it afterwards because when people do it as we suggest it happens in under two minutes. There are really just four parts to it. I would say, or Sam you would say to me, “Andrew, what’s one thing you think you did well?” I’d share that one thing, you would share your view of one thing I did well. Then we change gears and we each share, me first and then you a view of what I could do differently next time. So you really can be in and out of it in under two minutes flat.

And if your partner or coach is a good coach and they’ve been taking notes during a performance, they can give you rarely pithy, practical feedback that you can put into practice right away. And who wouldn’t want that in their lives. Like how might that be too much feedback? I would say we often find that people have had too much of that sort of feedback, which is, well, you’re doing a great job, but let me tell you the 27 things you’re doing wrong and then thumbs up, keep going. Certainly we have fatigue against that kind of feedback, yes.

Sam Jacobs: Do you document the feedback, these small incremental micro pieces of feedback to reference them later? Or is the purpose just to get in the habit of saying, here’s the thing you did great? And here’s the thing that you might improve on next time, even if you don’t write it down, even if you don’t reference it ever again.

Andrew Sykes: Yeah. Sam, for all of our habits, we have the habit itself and then we have some common traps and expert moves that make you more skilled at the habit. More likely to practice it and more likely to be a master of it when you practice it. And one of the expert moves is writing down your feedback. The common trap is, we forget it. We don’t reflect on it and therefore we don’t integrate it into our lives. So it is a best practice to write down all the feedback you’ve gotten, keep track of it over time and reflect like, what do I keep hearing? Is there a pattern here? Because the truth is one piece of feedback might be your perspective. And although it’s valid, we aren’t really looking for a pattern. Like did Sam say the same thing as Joe and Mary and Irene in the last month? If so, maybe I should spend more time working on that aspect or was it an outlier and interesting, and I should perhaps give it less weight.

I will make one exception to that, which is when you’re asking customers for feedback. So there are two purposes for feedback. At least two, I want to talk about. One of course, is to see what you are already doing well and amplify that coming from this idea that, if you want to be great, work on your strengths, if you want to be merely good, just work on your weaknesses. But the other idea of feedback is, so that we treat each customer in the way they would like to be treated. And every human being is different with their own preferences and buying styles. And so the role of feedback with customers is to keep a record of how Sam likes to have meetings run. How Sam likes to get agendas, and when in advance of a meeting. How Sam thinks about the sales process or whatever it is that I get feedback from you on.

And what a powerful move to go back to a customer next week and say, “Hey Sam, last time we met, you said, one thing you liked was that we had a written agenda. And so here it is again. And one thing you thought we could do differently was end meetings five minutes early, so you can get to the next call. And so I’ve scheduled that into today’s agenda.” That for us demonstrates humility and coachability and I personally would want to buy from a seller who asks me how I would like to be treated

Are all habits changeable? [28:04]

Sam Jacobs: Do you believe there are habits and behaviors that are not changeable within us? Do you think there are certain behaviors that are simply unchangeable or so difficult to change to your point of focusing on strengths versus weaknesses that it’s almost not worth it to try?

Andrew Sykes: I think it would be false to take a black or white view on this, but I do fall on the very optimistic side of this. My belief is that any human being can very likely change any habits provided the circumstances are right. And some extreme examples might be useful, if you were in the negative case, suddenly incarcerated. Your daily habits would in a moment, completely change from what they were on the outside world. And that’s an example of your circumstances changing so much that you almost didn’t have a choice in adopting these new habits.

So where I think the nuance lies is institutionally society has made some habits really, really difficult to break. And health habits are examples of that. We have so many food deserts, for example, in certain areas of Chicago, where gaining access to healthy food is a Herculean task that requires so much effort that it’s almost impossible. And there’s nothing more impossible than what we declare for ourselves as impossible. So if I say, I’m not the kind of person who can change X, you might as well give up trying, because that statement about yourself is the biggest barrier to overcome.

Sam Jacobs: That’s interesting. The feedback I’ve received over the last 20 years, and I just received it yesterday. I’ve tried to change it over the years, but maybe I just need better habits, is that my only consistent feature is my inconsistency. If I wanted to embark on a transformational journey, what are your initial instincts?

Andrew Sykes: Well firstly, I relate to your dilemma because I too have received similar feedback often and consistently throughout my life. And so I would start by saying, we have a view of habits that if we simply do something for 21 days or 66 days, depending on who you believe. Suddenly we’ll have that habit for life. And I’m sure you’ve noticed that that is not the human experience. You may have gone to work out for 25 days in a row and you think you’ve got it and then life happens. So we first invite people to relate to habits as simply a commitment to repeat a behavior over time, as distinct from something that is habitual, which we do on automatic. Because as soon as a behavior becomes automatic frankly, the opportunity to improve your mastery in the skill of that habit, almost evaporates.

So we prefer people to be conscious about the choice to practice a habit each day. And so the only thing I would invite you to look at is, what in the world has you showing up one day as warm, charming Sam, and the next day as reclusive, grumpy Sam, if those are accurate characterizations?

Sam Jacobs: They’re not inaccurate. Let’s say that.

Andrew Sykes: I might’ve been projecting a little bit Sam. And the area I would look at it because it’s almost always where I’ve found the answer for myself is in this one aspect of the world that surrounds us, that is our mindset. And it’s a funny thing to say because we describe mindsets just like the physical space in which you inhabit. In other words, it’s outside of you in a sense. And you could say with fake criticism, but Andrew, my mindset is actually in my mind. By definition, it’s internal to me. And we ask people to notice that what we believe, our biases, our stories, our views of how the world works were all learned from our parents or from school or from experience, but they are changeable. And if your mindset today is today’s a horrible day or I’m in a bad mood or anything else like that, it enables the negative types of behaviors. And although it’s hard, the discipline here is to ask, what is my current story, or what is my emotional state right now? What story am I carrying around with me that has me feel this way? And is it valid or not?

But it’s a little bit like that idea of fear versus courage. Fear is an emotion. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but a commitment to act in the face of it. And I know that with enough level of self-awareness, both you and I could choose to show up as our warm selves, even on days where we are feeling kind of down. Is it hard? Absolutely. And does it take work and commitment? For sure, but it’s certainly not impossible. Would you agree with that?

Sam Jacobs: Of course I would. Yes. I 100% agree with you.

Andrew Sykes: And then another great help in this area is having colleagues in your company, and I’m blessed to have those people in my company, who will call you out on it early and often. Like Andrew, you’re just being ridiculous today. That’s probably the kindest thing they could say. And half the time, I get triggered about it, and I get more angry, and it goes sort of into a spiral. And the other half, I’m present enough to notice actually I’m behaving exactly as you describe, I go and have a moment to myself, and then I come back the way I’m committed to behaving.

Sam Jacobs: I used to have a word at one of my old companies and the word was avocados. And I told people that if I looked or seemed grumpy or down or morose, that they just needed to say avocados, which was a friendly, nice word, but would get the message across that I needed to cheer up or take a moment to myself, to your point.

The lowdown on high-impact habit virtual masterclasses [35:08]

Sam Jacobs: Andrew, it’s been fantastic having you on the show. I think that there’s a lot of benefit that so many different companies could gain from habits at work. So what is the way that you engage with clients? Is it a software? Is it a software plus consulting? What’s the product delivery mechanism?

Andrew Sykes: Sam, we run what we call these high impact habit virtual masterclasses. Well, since everything is virtual today, of course, but several months ago we were doing both virtual and live. Today, it’s mostly virtual. And they tackle either the idea of conversation mastery or these types of conversations that generate an outcome or the individual habits that support them.

And I think our distinction is that while many companies are great at training, and we don’t describe ourselves as a training company, most training, even when it’s good, is easily forgotten and seldom implemented. So our focus is really on activating the habits through deliberate practice with feedback over time, so that what you learn turns into how you behave going forward. And if you want a full list of those habits, by all means go to habitsatwork.com. Or a bit more information, in fact, on what we discussed today, habitsatwork.com/saleshacker.

Sam Jacobs: Is it a one time engagement as a subscription? What’s the nature of sort of the pricing mechanisms?

Andrew Sykes: It’s almost always ongoing. So with a team of salespeople or leaders or customer success executives, they would go through a curriculum over time. That is perhaps this month, we’re working on the habit of giving and receiving feedback. And next month we’re working on the habits of storytelling. And maybe for several months, we look at different aspects of storytelling in sales.

So it is a continuous journey, and it’s a combination of these virtual masterclasses, in which you learn and practice the skill, but then this activation period where you bring it to life in the flow of work with your manager, with your customer, with your peers, so that it goes from something I learned to something I now do as a deliberate and intentional habit.

Sam Jacobs: And by the way, folks, if I’m not mistaken, either you or your team wrote a book called The 11th Habit, if I’m not mistaken. You co-authored it, if that’s correct, right?

Andrew Sykes: That’s correct. And that focuses on that one habit we were talking about earlier, or that group of habits that lead to health, happiness and financial success. But it also explores all of our thinking on how to create any new habit in that book.

Sam’s Corner [39:11]

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody had Sam Jacobs and this is Sam’s Corner. There were so many important takeaways, but the biggest one is that, listen, there’s a large group of people that believe that people can’t change. Most of the time, if you believe you can’t do something, then you can’t. And if you believe you can do something, then you can. And habits are one of those things. If you believe that you can build new habits, which I do believe, even though it’s hard, then you can change who you are because who you are is the accumulation of the actions that you take every day.

The number one habit that he talked about is getting feedback. When you hear that feedback, if you can step outside yourself and just observe it and think about it from a rational perspective and an unemotional perspective, I think you can begin to understand how to evolve.

The trick is that any one person’s perspective on you is also clouded by their own feelings, their own issues, their own baggage, but the aggregate perspective of many different people is interesting and useful feedback. If you want to get better at your job, then it does mean you need to be able to understand and process the information that people are sharing with you.

Of course, that’s what athletes do. That’s what top performers do. And that’s what you can do as well. You can do it. I want you to believe in yourself that you can do it.

What We Learned

  • Who is Andrew Sykes and what is Habits at Work
  • The role of habits in personal transformation
  • The process for developing a new habit
  • Habits that create high-impact behaviors
  • Are all habits changeable?
  • The lowdown on high-impact habit virtual masterclasses

Don’t miss episode #117

Now, before we go, we want to thank LinkedIn and Outreach are two wonderful, amazing sponsors.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is the dominant must have relationship-based digital selling tool designed to help you empower yourself and your team, strengthen customer relationships, and acquire new opportunities. You have to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Go to sales.linkedin.com and try it out for yourself.

The second sponsor is Outreach, the number one sales engagement platform. Outreach revolutionizes customer engagement by moving away from siloed conversations to a streamlined and customer-centric journey. Leveraging the next generation of artificial intelligence, the platform allows sales reps to deliver consistent, relevant, responsible communication for each prospect every time.

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