Accountability Partner: You Don’t Have One? Get One!

Last week we discussed how joining a group and sharing your personal goals can catapult your effectiveness into the stratosphere: Collective Inspiration, Meet Personal Accountability.

This week I will share some of the specific benefits of meeting with my accountability partner Georges Janin, every week since December 2, 2012.

So how did it come to pass you might ask?

I see it as a series of fortunate events (not to be confused with Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events).

I accepted a commission-only sales position for Your Office Agent in Dec 2011, and proceeded to spend about 4 months, and well over 100 hours, to earn a big fat $ZILCH in commission. For those of you who aren’t math wizards… this wasn’t exactly the best use of my time.

In reality, I have nobody to blame but myself. And as I’m sure you’ve already deciphered, it actually worked out for the best anyway. #woot

So there I was, in a position of selling temporary real estate solutions to small-medium sized businesses in NYC. I needed to improve my selling skills. And fast. Luckily (or was it fate?), I stumbled upon a Skillshare class taught by Georges Janin called “The Art of the Cold Call” and enrolled on 2/8/12.

After the class, I distinctly remember thinking “Now here’s a guy who is not only really good at his craft, but also genuinely enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise with other people.”

Curiosity = Piqued

A few weeks later, a multi-session sales course offered by Georges found its way into my inbox. I signed up immediately. A few days before the course was scheduled to begin however, I received the following email from Georges:

(And by the way, notice the stellar customer service skills he exhibits here. It still amazes me how the overwhelming majority of businesses get this part so shamefully wrong, so take notes!)

“I wanted to update you on the Art of the Sale. A few large developments have taken place on my end…. Because of that I am not going to do the Art of the Sale at least for now. Sorry about that.

There are 2 options for you. I can:

-Refund you. Which I can do in a click.
-Do a 1-1 Sales Course that would take place over a 4 hour period and would be specific to your business. Sort of like the course but accelerated and personalized. We would do it in the next few weeks depending on your schedule.

Just tell me what your preference is and I’ll make it happen!



It was a no-brainer. “Sign me up for option 2 please!”

Fast forward to our first meeting

Georges deconstructed my professional goals, and identified how to best achieve them from a sales perspective. He also had a keen eye and a business savvy that I didn’t see in any of my friends or acquaintances at the time.

Before leaving, he mentioned that he wanted to learn how to salsa dance. How interesting… I just happened to have taught beginner salsa classes for 2 years to over 2,600 people. Why don’t we arrange a little barter? Sales/business training for salsa dance instruction? Let’s just say it was an easy sell :).

For 4 months I taught Georges everything I knew as a Salsa dancer. In exchange, I was getting a unique behind the scenes look into the mind of a sales genius. Georges had a remarkable way of breaking down my ideas and simplifying them. I can’t even begin to quantify how much time and energy he saved me. And you know how much I like to quantify things… haha.

To sum it up, here are some of the benefits of having met every week for the past year:

  • A fresh, outside perspective. Sometimes the solution to a particular challenge was RIGHT in front of me, but I could never see it because I was too close to it. Having someone from the outside who was invested enough in my success has proven to be invaluable, time and time again.
  • Accountability. You better believe that I wasn’t going to show each week NOT having accomplished what I said I would. Ok, so it happened a few times, but it felt really crappy, and I tried extra hard to not let it happen again.
  • Staying on track. I used to be notoriously bad at getting distracted by what Georges and I refer to as “shiny objects” or business opportunities that seem cool, but are actually not at all related to our primary goals. In other words, Major de-railers. Major no-no’s.
  • Fun. It was awesome to talk about what I accomplished each week to someone else who was as motivated as I was to succeed. After all, I couldn’t just talk to my friends for an hour about my business achievements. “That’s great Shir, but can we just enjoy this drink and play another game of shuffleboard?”

If that’s not totally worth it, I don’t know what is.

Want to start your own accountability partner sessions?

I have tried a few others and none have worked quite as well as with Georges. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Get to know each other before beginning sessions. I tried once without knowing the person too well, and I found myself feeling a lack of emotional investment on both our parts. I also didn’t know how to advise them because I didn’t know them well enough.
  • Compatible personalities is essential. If you can’t stand being in the same room together, it ain’t gonna work. Big fat DUH!
  • Similar core values and complimentary talents are a major plus. Both need a strong work ethic, and take self improvement and professional development seriously. It also really helped for example that Georges was really good at sales and I’m really good at staying organized and implementing strategies to stay intrinsically motivated.
  • You absolutely positively MUST respect each other’s time. I cannot stress this point enough. Show up late once and it might be forgivable. Show up late again and I will cut you out of my life so fast it will make your head spin. Is it just me, or is this a major deal-breaker?
  • You both need to be equally driven & dedicated to success. This should go without saying, but you’re simply not going to stick with regular meetings unless you’re both taking it seriously.

So what are you waiting for?

If you already know someone who fits the profile I just described, propose the idea to them. If you don’t, go ahead and sign up for classes or attend seminars/events in your area of interest. I have found speakers/teachers to be excellent candidates for accountability partnerships.

Either way, don’t forget to tell me about it in the comments!

P.S. Here was my inspiration for the title of this post: Toy Story moving buddy quote

Collective Inspiration, Meet Personal Accountability

What do you get when you combine Collective Inspiration with Personal Accountability? According to Bassam Tarazi, you get Colipera!, In his words,

“Colipera is a free 4-week goal setting & execution methodology that allows *you* to lean on *us*; It’s the social virus for getting things done. Together, be better. Ready to get infected?”

How Colipera Works from Colipera on Vimeo.

Along with many other useful morsels of wisdom baked into this motivational framework, is the concept of synergy. You know, the whole two-brains-are-better-than-one spiel. When human beings are grouped together, wonderful, dare I say magical things happen. One of us will have an idea, and share it with the group. This can spark another idea, which creates a chain reaction of inspiration. David Kelley, founder of the design firm IDEO calls it “Design Thinking,” which he describes here in an interview with Charlie Rose.

My first Colipera group (Sounds like a great title for a family scrapbook, doesn’t it?)

Back in the winter of 2012 I participated in a collaborative, curated, Colipera group led by the one and only Bassam Tarazi. For 5 weeks, all 4 participants shared our goals and kept each other accountable.

By the way, why can’t we seem to finish what we start? Because finishing is a skill dammit! It doesn’t just happening magically on its own, as you can see in Bassam’s blog post: “The one make or break skill you think you have but probably don’t.”

But I digress…

The primary goal I set for myself in the Colipera group was to attain a certain sales goal and income level at a new job I had just started. It was a flexible real estate solution, commission only sales position at a company called Your Office Agent. Something which I knew nothing about, but seemed like a good way to expand my knowledge and skill sets, and potentially make a lot of money in the process. Didn’t quite turn out that way, but more on that in a moment.

In the meantime, here were my original goals for the Colipera group:

  • Earn my first $5,000 from Your Office Agent commissions by February 1st, 2012.
  • Contact at least 60 new prospects (3 per weekday), while following up with all previously contacted prospects.
  • Schedule meetings / show space to at least 5 interested leads.
  • Close at least 1 deal earning me $5,000 in commissions.

And then something interesting happened

Every week my goals kept changing. For a while it actually felt pretty discouraging. Was I not sticking to the program? Was I screwing up somehow?

Thankfully, Bassam and the other participants helped me realize that in fact, I was adapting to the changes in the environment. More importantly, to not adapt would be foolish. After all, it’s not that I wasn’t trying, it’s that my goals were no longer appropriate given my new insights into the company and the industry as a whole. When I set my original goals, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so it only makes sense that they might require some realignment.

Several weeks, and a few half eaten pints of Ben & Jerry’s later, my new goals looked like this:

  • Earn my first $1,000 from Your Office Agent commissions by February 1st, 2012.
  • Get 1-2 inquiries per day from Craig’s List consistently, and close 4-5 deals per month.
  • Train with Bob and learn how to run a networking group for at least 2 hours.
  • Work with Sam for at least 2 hours how to penetrate corporate accounts.

For the record, I didn’t achieve any of those goals either. But before you start picking out decorations to the pity party of the decade, you should know that I did learn a ton from the experience.

Here are some of my “Aha moments” from those 5 week:

  • When I wrote down my goals, it made it much easier for me to keep them at the forefront of my mind during my day to day activities, which invariably helped me stay focused, and keep my “eyes on the prize.”
  • As the week progressed, I was 10x more motivated to stay on track with my goals because I was meeting with other people who were holding me accountable. It’s not like they would have actually shamed or ridiculed me. Rather, it was the prospect of taking the subway all the way down to our meeting spot, and showing up empty handed. No way I would let myself end up in that particularly embarrassing pool of hot water.
  • When I helped other people with their goals I felt fantastic afterwards. The mere act of giving someone else feedback and encouragement motivated me to complete my own goals. I was beginning to see the genius behind the contagious virus analogy that Bassam created for Colipera.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you only go as far as your five closest friends. Put another way, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

Let me put it to you this way:

The single most effective way to master any skill or accomplish any goal is to surround yourself with people who have already succeeded in that area.

Think about it. One of two things can happen:

1) You stop spending time with those people.
2) You force yourself to adapt and rise to their level.

We simply cannot exist in the disharmony of continuing to spend time with them while NOT rising to their level. It’s like positive daily affirmations. My brain can’t handle me saying that I’m successful, while simultaneously facing the physical, tangible manifestations of me being a failure. Oil and water my friends. Oil and water.

How to set up long-term accountability

In next week’s post, I’ll talk about how I set up weekly meetings with my friend Georges Janin, which was the single biggest contributor to my success in the past year. Granted my journey isn’t over yet. I still have a long way to go to realize my dream of owning a condo in NYC with a bar, dance floor, and breathtaking views. (For more information on this and other goals, please refer to my posts on How I Stay Wildly Effective with Wildly Important Goals and The Best 15 Minutes of My Day)

But just to drive this point home, it’s not about how much further I still have to climb. Rather, it’s that I wouldn’t have made it nearly this high had I not met with him every week since 12/2/12.

Sharing is Caring

So tell me…

What groups, clubs, or communities are you a part of? How much more or less successful have you been at the behaviors regularly practiced in that group since you joined?

Think about it.

…And then share it in the comments. You’ll be happy you did :).