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March, 2015 DEBUT ISSUE
Welcome to YOUR newly designed and re-formatted Results Report.
TAKE ACTION. For on the clock of life or watch of winners THE key word is NOW!
Strategies and ideas for life and business, to help you maximize results!
You're receiving this complimentary e-letter, either because you requested a free subscription or because of our relationship with you, your company or your association.
"Life is a series of adjustments."
- Irv Blackman, my dad and the best mentor a litttle boy or an adult son could ever have

"Every day, we are rehearsing the future."
- friend and client, Jim Alland

- the late Mark McCormack, author of What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School and a one-time guest on my radio talk-show told me, "One of life's big frustrations is that people don't do what you want them to do. But if you can control their impressions of you, you can make them want to do, what you want them to do."
QUESTION: Jeff, what role does hope play in my future success?

ANSWER: Your future starts with "hope."  It's your "wish list" for something positive to happen. It seems possible. Plausible. Likely. It's that gut-feeling, desirable outcomes are just around the corner.
Yet, that'll also require "change." New choices. New skills, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. That then demands "action." To "get" something, you must "do" something.
Speaker and author Ned Frey has an interesting perspective on "hope" as well as "purpose," and the role they play in your destiny.
Here are some of his key principles:

Our perceptions of who we are, determine our beliefs, behaviors and eventually our destiny. They have a definitive impact on how great a life we live.

We are on this planet for a purpose.

If we are to seek a better way, hope is mandatory.

In 1885, George Frederick Watts, the Michelangelo of the United Kingdom, completed what would become his famous allegorical painting, Hope. A blindfolded girl sits above a globe, hunched over, with her hand plucking the one remaining string on her shattered lyre as she listens to its majestic sound. For Watts, that was hope. A belief a sweet sound could come from the most broken of instruments. 

It’s hope in despair. An evocation of the human condition; the ability of people, at their lowest point, to feel a strand, a single string of hope that keeps them going, when all around is failing. Nelson Mandela was rumored to have a copy of Hope in his prison cell.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Many people die with their music still in them." Some times, because they've lost hope. A sense of purpose can provide hope and can enable anyone to play the most majestic music of their lives.

Joy, happiness and fulfillment primarily come from making a difference in the lives of others. (A new car just doesn't last very long.)

To start the journey toward finding your purpose, consider:

- signing a "non-compete" clause with yourself
- dreaming what you dare to dream, knowing you'll succeed
- listening to your inner voice vs. external influences

For as Gandhi said, "The only tyrant I allow in my life, is the still voice within."

Follow your voice, to


Steve Yastrow and I quickly discovered we're kindred spirits. Both passionate about sales, marketing, brand building and what drives decide! Plus, we're fans and students of comedy, the improvisational comedic process and the hard work required to be funny! As well as, how "improv" can improve your results!

We're also "neighbors." Our homes and offices are only a few miles apart. Yet there's one key distinction. I own guitars. Steve knows how to play 'em! He's a talented musician. I play a wicked kazoo!

Steve is also the author of Brand Harmony, We: The Ideal Customer Relationship and Ditch the Pitch.

The following are edited excerpts from our conversations and a really fun breakfast.

Jeff Blackman: You say, "Your brand is what your customers think you are." So what's the best ways to influence their thinking?

Steve Yastrow: To influence customers' thinking, you first need to recognize how customers form brand impressions. As customers have interactions with a product, service, or a company, those interactions blend in the customer's mind into one composite impression.

If the way those interactions blend tells one, cumulative story, it's easier for the customer to understand what the "product" can do for them. If these interactions conflict, the customer will either be confused or ignore the message.

I call this "brand harmony" and it recognizes every customer interaction is a marketing interaction.

JB: Is branding just about image, identity and reputation? Or does it go deeper? And if so, how?

SY: Branding goes much deeper. When a customer has rich, motivating beliefs about a product or company, those beliefs will encourage the customer to be more involved with that product or company. The goal of branding is to help customers form these powerful beliefs, which leads them to act in ways that drive business results for the company behind the brand.

Branding is about finding the "why" of your business. As in, "Why would people say they can't live without us?" Or, "Why do people love doing business with us?"

Customers are convinced they have many choices. No matter what you sell, customers think they can get it elsewhere. And customers think, they themselves, are unique.

So if you want customers to think you're different, stop telling them. Instead, show them you know what makes them different.

JB: How does one then create rich, detailed pictures of their product or service, in their customer's mind?

SY: By creating an experience of brand harmony with every customer touch point to deliver one clear, compelling, differentiated story. It's critical a customer sees what the product can do for them. Too much marketing or sales communication is about "here's who we are and here's what we do." Mass marketing is so much less effective in this age of the empowered customer.

JB: What trends have driven today's customer's or client's influence and buying power?

SY: I see three: 1) Our contemporary focus on self-reliance, 2) product proliferation, and 3) access to information.

We live in an age where savvy customers feel very self-reliant, believing they have the power to make choices for themselves. They don't believe they "have" to do business with anybody.

Second, customers face a vast number of options for nearly every purchase decision. Our marketplace is the opposite of the Soviet bread lines of the 1960s. Instead of waiting in line for hours for whatever product is available, we have thousands of products available. Immediately. At our fingertips.

And we have frictionless access to seemingly infinite information about things we might purchase. It has become really tough for a company to fake out a customer.

All of this adds up to a major shift in power from sellers to buyers.

JB: Why should business pros and salespeople, "ditch the pitch?"

SY: Nobody wants to hear a sales pitch. If we want to engage, interest and persuade others, we need to ditch the pitch and create conversations that really matter. To do this, we must abandon any preconceived notions of how a conversation could go and improvise the right conversation for this customer at this moment.

I stress, "think input before output." If a salesperson develops a natural habit to listen and observe before speaking, (to think input before output), they'll gather information to help them create fresh, spontaneous conversations that'll engage customers.

JB: What lessons from improv comedy are applicable to business?

SY: Improvisers are trained to pay close attention to their environment and then create a unique experience that's perfectly tailored to work in that environment. That ability, which I believe anyone can learn, has vast implications in business.

Every workday is different. And every situation is unique. The ability to improvise through complex, unique business situations is critical to success in our changing world.

JB: Yet improvisation doesn't negate the significance of knowing how to improvise. Which means practice and preparation are still crucial to the improv process?

SY: Exactly! To effectively improvise, you should first master six key habits:

1. Think Input Before Output
2. Size Up the Scene
3. Create a Series of "Yeses"
4. Explore and Heighten
5. Focus the Conversation On the Customer
6. Don't Rush the Story

These habits and techniques can then be applied to just about every persuasive business opportunity or situation.

For more ways to persuade and profit, please head to

Your cup of inspiration,  reflection and laughter!

Ernie Banks, (a.k.a. "Mr. Cub,") leaned in and said something funny. He made me laugh. It was April 8th, 1982, the day before the Chicago Cubs home opener against the New York Mets.

We sat together in a Wrigley Field executive office, as I interviewed him for a future broadcast on the WFYR radio talkshow I co-hosted with my dear friend, Steve Krafft. And here's what I remember most about Ernie, a Hall of Fame ballplayer, a Chicago sports icon, and one of my boyhood idols.
It wasn't so much what he said, yet how he said it. Ernie had this passion, enthusiasm and verve for life. That spirit always helped fuel a Cubs' fan's optimistic declaration, "This is the year!" (It hasn't been "our year" since 1908.) Yep, that's the last time my beloved Cubbies won a world championship. Will this be the year? Nope. The Cubs will be better. Perhaps even a year with a few more victories than defeats.

Some day, some year, some decade, hopefully VERY soon, the Cubs, who have broken my heart since birth, will emerge victorious. Yet when they do, Ernie won't be here to relish the achievement. He died on January 23rd. Yet here's what Ernie taught me. That afternoon and over the years.

Success isn't always measured by wins and losses. It's also about belief, persistence and progress. He reminds me of these life and business lessons, when I see his dated autograph on a baseball in my memorabilia collection.

Yet especially, when I glance at this lithograph on a wall in my office and Ernie is smiling back at me.

Reminding me, as the snow melts, the sun sets a wee bit later, the birds begin chirping and grass once again turns green, life is a game. And as Ernie would often exclaim, "Let's play two!"

Baggage claim in Sacramento, California proves...all luggage does not look the same!

Am really glad, my bag wasn't the one at the top!



Until I was recently in San Mateo, California, I never considered the culinary impact of combining a martial art with a popular liquid, to create:

And then it got me thinking about the gastronomic possibilities, like; Judo Java, Karate Kooler or Tae Kwan Dough!


Coffee Break for the Mind is a trademark of Blackman & Associates, LLC

To make a submission, when you see or hear something funny, quirky or offbeat, please send it to: [email protected]

MEET JEFF |Jeff helps you win BIG in today's competitive marketplace. His high-energy and high-content messages deliver immediate take-home value, growth and results for you and your team. Whether he works with you once in a dynamic keynote or once-a-month in an ongoing coaching and learning-system, he helps you drive relationships, revenue, profits, results and rewards. Jeff is singularly focused on helping you achieve and surpass your desired outcomes. And you're even protected by Jeff's incredible No-Risk Assurance.
RIGHT FOLKS, RIGHT RESULTS |What's driving current or prospective members of your team? Your salespeople? Service 
                                                    pros? And leaders? What causes them to produce, lead or loaf? What motivates them to attain, or not attain, new levels of success? What direction are they headed? Where do you want their journey to go? How valuable would it be, if you had the answers to these questions? Well now you can!
AUDIO EXCERPTS | Listen to powerful excerpts from Jeff's audio growth tools, CDs or interviews. | LISTEN NOW
“When we hired Jeff, I was lucky enough to have already known him for a few years. My confidence in him was already high. And when he started working with our team, I realized how he had developed masterful methodologies based on his experience and ethics. From the first day of the program and learning-system, our team was energized, eager to prepare for ongoing meetings and quickly leveraging the techniques. Knowledge builds confidence and practice builds skills. Jeff gets it.”
Tim Padgett CEO/Founder/Eye Candy Pepper Group Palatine, IL

“Jeff has had a powerful, positive impact on our company. We reference his teachings on a daily basis. And his generous and ongoing email and phone availability, plus counsel and support have kept us engaged. Most important, Jeff’s ideas and strategies have stuck!”

George Couris President
Pepper Group Palatine, IL
"My firm, a commercial insurance program management company, engaged Jeff as a sales training advisor in June, 2014. He helped us design a customized training and reinforcement system. In addition to his people skills, Jeff is consistently prepared for meetings and has excellent follow-up with our team and even 1:1 counsel. We're extremely pleased with our significant improvement and results. That's why we have an ongoing relationship with Jeff, and I enthusiastically recommend him."
Chris Randall CEO
Ultra Risk Advisors Bellevue, WA & Atlanta
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