Monday, July 30, 2012


I was coming to the end of a long Honey-do list which had me standing in the liquor store staring at bottles of Skinny Girl Vodka. My wife is a teacher so during the school year we rarely drink alcohol but since it was summer, we’ve resurrected the age old tradition of five o’clock  happy hour. I was trying to remember which flavor I was supposed to pick up when a friendly gentleman named Van Poteet approached me. I don’t know how long Van has worked at the ABC store, but this was the first time I’d met him. I was taken a little off guard by his smile and casual manner especially since I’ve rarely seen an ABC employee anywhere other than behind the counter ringing up sales. Van asked me “whatcha drinking tonight?”. I told him that my wife wanted to make some kind of cocktail that involved Skinny Girl Vodka. “Have you ever tried a King?” Van asked. I had no idea what a King was, but Van got so excited telling me about this new drink that I got caught up in his enthusiasm. A King was basically an ounce of Bannana Liqueur and and ounce and a half of PB&J Vodka. You read correctly…Peanut Butter and Jelly Vodka. Van began to share with me three different variations of the drink and convinced me that I would be missing the most amazing  cocktail in the modern world if I left the ABC store without the ingredients for “the King”.  I walked into the ABC store for a $15.00 bottle of Vodka and walked out with $65.00 worth of cheer. Unlike most the the ABC liquor store employees across the country, Van Poteet does not sell liquor. Van Poteet sells experiences. He sells cocktail hours, wedding toasts, libations, celebrations, and intimate evenings.  As I reflect on my experience with an objective frame of reference, I imagine that Van was told to “push the new PB&J Vodka”. Had he simply asked me to consider the new Vodka, I would have politely declined, but Van knows that people buy for two reasons; the desire for gain or the fear of loss. Van made me feel that if I left without buying what he suggested, I would be missing out on a terrific experience. Van reinforced, for me, a few simple truths about sales.

1.     SELL THE OUTCOME. The PB&J Vodka was simply the means to achieve that outcome.

2.    CONNECT WITH EMOTION. Van made me want to buy because of his enthusiasm. I wanted to be a part of what made him so excited. When you truly believe in your product, your enthusiasm will be your best wingman.

3.    KNOW YOUR PRODUCT. Van was so convinced that I would enjoy what he was selling that he gave step by step directions as to how to best use it. One of the 5 traction points for a killer customer experience is convenience. By making it easy for someone to use your product or do business with you, you create a buying atmosphere.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


It’s finally over. After three years of planning, organizing, creating and agonizing as the convention chair of the 2012 National Speakers Association convention in Indianapolis this summer, I’m officially old news. My synapses are once again beginning to fire steady, my world is coming back into focus, and now I reflect. The convention was a huge success and although I’d love to take credit for the entire event, I can’t…or can I?

For ten years I was a professional musician and songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. Incidentally, I learned more about leadership, management, HR, sales, and psychology by being the front man of a band than in any class I ever took at the University of Southern Mississippi. The most important lesson that I learned is that the best leaders are lazy. Let me explain. We’ve all read in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  about how Tom coerced his friends into cheerfully white washing the fence that he was supposed to paint while he relaxed in the shade. Tom would rather be lazy than do the work himself. Did that make him a bad leader? No Way! I planned a successful convention that was attended by over 1000 professional speakers from 14 different countries. It has been receiving rave reviews, and just as I did when I was the front man in a band, I learned two things from my experience as convention chair. 1. I like being in charge, and 2. You can get other people to cheerfully do the work for you… if you know how.


1 GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE. I am right brained.  I am creative, vision driven, and focused on the big picture. I surround myself with people who live in the details and enjoy logistics. A “LAZY” leader will compliment their weaknesses with the strengths of others.

2. COMMUNICATE VISION. When I fronted a band, I would never tell the other musicians what to play. I selected the song, tempo, and feel, but when it came to their instrument, I let them be the expert.  As the NSA convention chair I took the same approach. I specifically communicated the outcomes that I wanted but then let the speaker or session host reach them in their unique way. This allowed the meeting to have texture and variety.

3. CREATE “SHINE” OPPORTUNITIES. A great band leader will let each band member take a solo and give them the opportunity to be in the spot light and receive applause. Incidentally, the best music happens during the solo. A “Lazy Leader” will create vision but then appoint quality people to carry it out. By observing but not micromanaging their efforts, they will be free to add their flavor and take credit for their contribution. As the NSA convention chair I gave my team an opportunity to be on stage more than I was. This rewarded their efforts with publicity.

4. PRAISE OFTEN.  It never fails to amaze me what a powerful motivator recognition is. No matter how successful, wealthy, or accomplished a person is, we all crave an “atta-boy” from time to time. When you make habits out of delivering honest, consistent recognition and praise, you will create a team of confident, happy, employees who strive for excellence.

5. BE NICE. I believe that people are more productive when working with nice people . I believe civility is good for business. When you are nice to people, you create loyalty. Loyalty fosters commitment. Commitment is the basis for a culture of excellence.

About Me

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Patrick Henry is a professional speaker, humorist, author, and songwriter who delivers funny and entertaining keynote speeches. Patrick shows audiences how to create IMPACT! by creating extraordinary customer, client and co-worker experiences. He is what happens when Keynotes, Comedy and Concerts...Collide!