Anne Miller, a friend and colleague, sent the following exercise on some easy goal setting activities in her newsletter this week.  I thought it was so good that I should pass it on!

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No Time to Wait for Flying Ducks

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “Man with mouth open wait for long time  for duck to fly in.” When business is tough and the fun has gone out of the work, or appears to be AWOL, which it does a lot these days, the antidote for panicking, inertia, or the blues is not to wait for better times or for business to come in over the transom, but to be as pro-actively visible, valuable and memorable as possible to protect what you have, and to plant the seeds for future business.  

Establishing-and executing—time-specific numeric goals for various activities will do that for you. Here is a useful exercise to help you do that. There is also an important part in this for your personal benefit as well.


  1. Block out an hour and make a written list of time-specific numeric goals for the activities below appropriate for your business.
  2. Keep this list visible. Out of sight is out of mind.  Check it at the end of each day and at the end of each week. Let it drive your priorities and scheduling for the following day, week, and quarter. flyingducks

Be Visible
I will make X# of face-to-face relationship calls with existing accounts this month

I will make X# of relationship contacts with existing accounts this month: to share new products, to meet new people, to check satisfaction, to review new needs

I will meet X# of new key people at my best existing accounts this month

I will make X# of face-to-face new business calls this week via voicemail, email, fax, and snail mail

I will attend  X# of networking events this month

I will participate X# of times in the various appropriate networking sites

Be Valuable
I will develop X# of new ideas for my existing accounts this month (who can you collaborate with on this either inside or outside your company?)

I will send X# of relevant emails, cards, articles, updates, research, newsletters to clients and prospects

Be Memorable
I will do/send X# of things to clients and prospects to stand outfrom the competition: written thank you notes; mail in a red envelope; a fax instead of email; a relevant cartoon or story to provide a light moment to clients; useful info for their personal interests, e.g., a new resource you came across (Iike my recommendation below); a book, restaurant you think they would like; lunch at an unusual place – a museum, outdoors in good weather; get your fortunes read; host a breakfast for clients who you think would just like each other; other?

For Myself: Stay Sharp
I will read X# of trade media or websites this month

I will attend X# of outside industry seminars, lectures this quarter

I will spend X amount of time strengthening my skills this quarter (attend a seminar, read a book, joint call with a more senior person)

I will review the materials/website of my competitors monthly

I will spend X amount of time expanding my business insight this quarter (attend an event, meet people, pick up media outside my industry)

And, last, for myself I will schedule time to do something fun and relaxing every day and every week! (Get those endorphins going!)

The Ultimate Pay-Off
Goals, numbers, activities and deadlines may be boring, but they are tangible and measurable. They give you a point to move towards, provide a framework for action, and reward you with a sense of accomplishment as activities are  completed. The visibility, the value, and the edge you gain from these activities will help lead to the business you want.

Tough times. Keep that sales energy and creativity going! See you next month.

Anne Miller
“Make What You Say, Pay!” ©2009, Anne Miller, author, “Metaphorically Selling,”
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Thanks Anne!  Sound advice to be proactive.  And though we don’t want to stand with our mouth open waiting for a duck to fly in to eat, we should always watch overhead for any flying ducks (Or maybe that is just a Wisconsin thing with geese.)