The Essence of Influence


Why Great Leaders Never Assume Their Employees Know Who Owns Their Job

… And What Peak Performance Really Look Like.

 Does the person you just hired have a three-dimensional color picture of their job in their head? Do they know what peak performance looks like?


One of the most powerful revelations I had as a manager was when I realized none of the jobs held by my staff, my bosses, or myself, were owned by the person doing the job.  We are so accustomed to saying, “this is MY JOB” that the true owner got lost in the conversation. It became a corporate truism that the position I accepted was mine and I owned it. Even after the position and the company faded into resume history, I would forever refer to the position as “my job” and I suspect you do the same. In reality, my employees did not own their jobs, neither did I, the company owned them and all the expectations associated with them.

So repeat after me “I am not my job”…

You are not your job, you are…as we all are, much more than our jobs. Great leaders remind their teams of that elusive but liberating fact. The self-esteem of your employees will expand exponentially once you commit to recognizing their unique value beyond job title, on a consistent basis.  Continue to support them while holding them accountable to the mission of bringing their job description to life.

An enlightened employee steps into the role of the job with a sense of purpose once they accept the position as

Your Employees Must Take on Your Suit of Armor


an expression of their creativity and not their total identity. It is as if they stepped into a tailor made suit or a suit of armor ready for battle…hopefully it will fit. Everything they do and say while wearing the suit represents their contribution to the company and not the employee’s total self worth. Many employees miss this point, managers as well. Many employees think the job they have was offered to them as a platform for self-actualization or self-expression alone. This mind-set leads to major disappointment.

It is the company’s suit and it is the employee’s personal talents and abilities to wear it for a time that makes it special. The right to wear the suit comes with privileges and responsibilities. You and your employee’s mission is to pour your attitude, capabilities, and effort into wearing that suit in the manner in which it was intended and no less. This goes for the leader as well as the led.

A well-written job description is like the artfully crafted design from skilled tailor to make the suit. The suit’s design fits the mission of the job like a glove. However, it may not fit the person hired to wear the suit perfectly at first. The fact is, when a new employee begins a job they are automatically incompetent by default. No matter how experienced they seem to be you have to assume they do not know how to do their new job until you observe them doing that job several times without supervision. Otherwise, assume they are unconsciously incompetent, meaning “they don’t know they don’t know”.



Most issues of performance can be traced back to mismanaged or poorly communicated expectations of the job. A poorly crafted job description submitted to the new employee is usually the beginning of underperformance. Making a job description a living breathing document can be a powerful and freeing insight for you and your staff. Many managers make the mistake of assuming a new employee knows what is expected of them after a couple short conversations or recitations of policy plus an email or two. What a disconnect.

Your employees do not own their jobs. All employee actions and behaviors, while wearing the position, are either consistent with the job description or they should be considered “non-performance issues”. Non-performance should be completely unacceptable provided the employee has demonstrated she has the capability to do the job. This includes the employee’s attitude. A controlled, constructive, and productive attitude should be required at all times. The classic office outburst, emotional meltdown, or ad homonym attack must be unacceptable by the culture of the company. “We just don’t do that here”.

A manager that truly understands their role will realize their own job description requires them to address any non-performance matter immediately and in an appropriate manor. Sidestepping an opportunity to be instructive


or take disciplinary action immediately is not an option and should be a non-performance issue by the manager if he does not act in a timely manner. If this truth permeates throughout your organization, you will find a much greater trust level between management and staff. This understanding can lead to quantum leaps in overall performance.  Employees will take managerial direction and correction without the drama once they understand your intent and responsibility. The assumption that personal agendas are at the heart of any managerial action will dissipate. The habit of misreading the boss’s intent will no longer be your employees’ preoccupation.

It is up to the employee to fit the suit and not the suit to fit them. Make your job description an ever-present tool. If you do your staff will realize it is their responsibility to gain or lose the weight in order to fit the job you own.

Zemira Jones

“The Future of Media Project” …The Results of My Work & Many Others

Broadcast Does Have A Future ! and you are living it NOW…

Over the past year and a half I have been an adviser to the FCC on the state of radio. Recently, the commission launched a new initiative called the “Future of Media Project”. The massive disruption of traditional media has turned the commission’s charter and regulatory priorities on its head. This project was designed to help the Commission through a rigorous process of self-inspection and to acquire a better grasp of the competitive pressures impacting the medium it was charged to regulate.

The Project has received a fair amount of press and today was the unveiling of the study. The Commission selected me as one of 12 industry advisers on this project and I was happy to me part of it. Our role was to advise the Commission on the state of media today and offer recommendations toward a healthier future for broadcast. The Project had four areas of focus: Commercial Media (I represented Radio), Non-profit Media, Non-Media Institutions, and Key Cross-Cutting Issues. Each adviser was asked to share his/her views with the Commission over time and then summarize their positions with a white paper.

Today The FCC released the full report including the work of all 12 advisers. Attached, check out the link to The FCC’s live presentation recorded on June 9, 2011. I hope you will find it helpful. We believe it is an eye-opening work.

Yours for better media,



Our presentation was the third item on the agenda of Chairman Julius Genachowski . Feel free to skip through the first half hour to the time mark at 29:10. There you will find our spot on the agenda.


Let me know what YOU think…

The Most Powerful Question You Could Ask a New Employee


You are across the desk from what you hope is your future rainmaker. So what is the one question you should ask that has the power to predict rain?

The Right Question Reveals a True RainMaker

On their first day, or final interview, ask your new hire, or promising prospect, to describe the last day the two of you work together. That’s right, start talking about the end of your working relationship from day one. Whether you are the one that is leaving or if it is the employee moving on is irrelevant. Find out what they would like that last day together to look like. What had they accomplished by that day? The position they hold, what they achieved by then, the new skills they developed along the way, the money they are making, and even what their office looks like at the time.

When I am hiring a new employee, I have found this to be one of the most powerful questions I ask. At a particularly comfortable moment in the interview, or first meeting, I would switch gears and tell them “I want to discuss that inevitable day in our future when we stop working together”…their last day working with me. This question, delivered properly, can be disarming to say the least but very revealing.

People who answer this question with certainty are giving you a powerful insight into their “focus preference” and “belief system”….and they trust you!  Unfortunately, not everyone will have a lucid response to this question.

Does Your Candidate Visualize A Compelling Future?

One reason some people have difficultly handling this simple question is they are not comfortable with you and they do not trust you enough to share their dreams and aspirations, if they have any at all.  The other reason is, they do not have an answer at all.  They do not sort their world in future terms, but rather in the present or past tense. Either reason suggests you may be staring at a first classic under-performer who interviewed well enough to get to this point.

So why is this “future focus” so telling? Because people who naturally sort the worlds sensory inputs “for the future first” tend to better adapt to new challenges and opportunities than those who drive their careers by looking through their rear view mirror. The fact that they have a clear, crisp, three-dimensional color picture of their future state gives their subconscious mind a bright shiny target to hit.  In short, they have firm goals that drive them to successful activity much better than any contest, threat, or pep talk a boss can possibly throw at them. Their road map to success is embedded in them at the DNA level. This person has stayed up late many nights painting that bright mental picture. Their “future state” is fused to their identity and they must realize that vision at all cost. To them it is not an option.

On the other hand, you may be across the desk from Mr. or Ms. Yesterday and peering into the future for them

Asking Them To Detail Their Future Should Never Draw A Blank Stare

is a vague morass of wishful ideas. In some cases, you may only find a blank stare.   Either answer requires the same response.NO WAY. Alarm bells should be going off at this point because you are about to make a classic hiring mistake. It would be fine if the potential employee, who is hard-wired to focusing on the present or the past, is interviewing for an accounting position and not a rain-making job. Great sellers easily see things that do not exist yet…great accountants see things they should not.

So be easy on yourself, ask the “last day” question. Your future depends on it.


                                 IF YOU LIKED  MUST#1 YOU WILL LOVE MUST #3…COMING UP NEXT ! 

How to Hire A “Major League” Sales Person… and Relieve the Pressure!

Your business will experience pressure points along the way. Hiring the right people who know how to power through them on their own is essential to sustainable success.


All businesses, all sales teams have headwinds to progress. Your company’s ability to sail through the storms of adversity is directly related to your team’s deep set beliefs as of this moment and what your team is focuses on consistently each day. What you and your team believe and focuses on today compared to their past pressures will affect the quality of their current actions and future results. Your ability to focus on the right things in the interview process will determine the success of your next hire.

If you, as the leader, are easy on your business today, your business will be hard on you down the road. IF YOU ARE HARD ON YOUR BUSINESS TODAY, YOUR BUSINESS WILL BE EASY ON YOU TOMORROW. If you are hard on your business practices now your business operations will be sailing in the future. That includes the sales people you hire and their long-term results.

When I say HARD, I do not mean unfairly difficult or extreme. I mean hard as cut a diamond, unmovable, totally committed to a specific form and function for a specific tomorrow. I mean focused on consistent growth towards peak performance. I mean taking the time to form a success road map for each employee, and above all…make sure it is crystal clear to everyone.

Moreover, its easy to do…it is just so much easier NOT to do it.

Oh but I can hear you now…”we are committed now”. Look at how busy we are! If we really drilled down on your daily actions and the core beliefs that drive them, we will discover that you aren’t really committed. You are not married to peak performance, just dating it.


Take hiring, for example, if you have ever made a panic hire or just a bad hire then it is likely you have already experienced this cutting truth. If you had only taken the time to ready yourself with a more effective hiring strategy, and began the process with a more compelling belief, your hiring batting average would have put you in the major leagues of your industry. Or at least, helped you achieve your revenue goals. If you made sure, you knew what to look for and knew what those success behaviors looked like in their raw “pre-hired” state you would have never hired that “walking disaster” you thought was a super-star when you hired him. The truth is the employee did not fail…you did.

Take the time to know what to look for in a super performer, the super performer that is ideal for you, your culture, and your mission. Study the telltale signs of peak performance. Make your hiring standards, policies, and procedures HARD, CLEAR and TOTALLY CONSISTENT with your true business values. Then you are likely to have a performer that will be easy on your business down the road.

The candidate you are excited about hiring may be a chronic underperformer and is most likely emitting the tell-tail clues of mediocrity like a glowing neon sign throughout the entire interview process on. Unfortunately, you just did not see them. Many managers are blind to the clues because they get lulled to sleep by their candidates’ acting performance in the interview. Pay the price to know what the signs of mediocrity look like before you hire them…not after. It is a lot less expensive that way. You are going to pay a high price for a bad decision if you do not. Knowing what to look for will lead you to a much higher success rate with lower turnover and an easier business for you to run.

Do and believe the right things about your business up front. If you don’t do right and believe right you will pay a much heavier price. You are probably paying that premium right now!


Here’s Number One…

(sorry lefty’s…left-handed too)

Your best candidates are obsessed with a compelling future for themselves and they can see it in Technicolor. This person dwells on where they are going more than where they have been.


We all have a “hard wired” preference to how we sort the world around us. Some like to live in the present with their sensory acuity entrenched in the moment. They rarely focus on tomorrow’s possibilities, nor have they learned many lessons from the past. Their language pattern is a tell tale sign. What do they naturally gravitate to in their conversation, their past experiences, the present circumstances, or future possibilities? Spend the extra time and effort to find out. Listen to them over time. This is a core reason why you need to conduct several interviews and in different locations…not just in your office. Make sure they naturally focus on growth and possibility verse the challenges of yesterday. If your candidate does not have a three-dimensional color picture of their best future, ready for publication, move on. They either do not have one or do not trust you enough to share it. Neither is acceptable.

In today’s stressed out world we all suffer from a degree of “attention deficient disorder”. There is so much to focus on out there and so little time to focus on it. Even if we are not over loaded with sensory stimulation our minds were designed to only focus on one thing at a time. We can only manage a small cluster of thoughts at any given period of time and only one per moment. That is why Ma Bell decided years ago on only seven digits in our phone number. She knew that after seven or eight digits our memory begins to disintegrate.


Our brains are wonderfully made. We are designed to sort the world in small sections at a time and focus on just certain preferred parts while screening out everything else. That is how we cope with it all. We all have a preference on how we want to see the world around us while we screen out everything else. We all have a preferred way to reach out to our surrounding just as we have a preferred hand for more complex tasks.

We are all, or most of us anyway, right handed or left. Just as we have a preferred hand, we have a preferred way we sort the world. Some of us sort for the past first. Some of us live within our memory on a consistent basis. Engage them in conversation and they immediately refer to their personal history book to form a response. Some live in the present most of the time where immediate gratification is their primary driver, and then there are those who sort the world through their imagination. They cannot help but fantasize about the world as they envision it to be in the future. They immediately default to a “future state” conversation, first time, every time. They cannot help it. It is how they are wired.

The candidate that naturally defaults to their compelling future is a major clue that you may be in the presence of a future super-performer. Top performing sales people all sort for a future state of mind first. Whether they were born that way or acquired a learned behavior over time, either way the result is the same. They have been blessed with an essential ingredient of sales success. Make sure this personality trait is present with your top candidates and your hiring batting average is sure to rise.



Sales and Marketing Strategies for Any Sales Team…PART 2


LISTEN TO “Sales and Marketing Strategies for Any Sales Team”

If you’re looking for an unfair advantage in your sales or marketing effort then listen to PART 2 of my interview on Sales and Marketing Management Strategies> It will help you get the job done…

This is PART 2 of my broadcast interview to the members of National Speakers Association, the association dedicated to the top speakers in the world and their companies. These truths are perfectly suited for any company committed to achieving peak sales and marketing performance. Incorporate these approaches in your effort to drive revenue. Just be ready to order more deposit slips because you WILL make more money !


Zemira on”Hiring Really Good Sales People”…PART1

If you are a sale manager. If you lead a sales team and in charge of hiring the best people you can find. Then you must listen to THIS!

The most important responsibly a sales leader has is to hiring the right sales people and to put together the best possible team for the task at hand.

The best sales people are usually the ones promoted to sales manager. Maybe you were one of those high performers. Unfortunately, many sales managers who were good sellers are unconsciously incompetent about hiring really good sales people just like you were. It is a real skill that should be studied and mastered at a very high level. You can not afford to rely on the luck-of-the-draw when hiring your future. This audio will point you into the right direction.

Let me know what you think after listening to PART 1 of this talk about hiring Great Sales People.