Jon has over 35 years of experience in sales and leadership across a diverse portfolio of industries and geographies, most recently as VP of sales for a leadership development company where he facilitated the engagement of a talented team that helps leaders and their teams convert pressure to excellence through learning experiences that cross-pollinate the best ideas from sport, academia, business and government.
He has a wealth of experience working with companies at various stages of the growth curve, from fast moving start-ups, to established organizations that wanted to re-imagine themselves. In addition to 25+ years of coaching and mentoring, Jon also has a wealth of experience in senior leadership positions responsible for strategy, operations and growth.
He is passionate about helping others grow and develop themselves and brings a wealth of experience both in coaching and business strategy to his clients. Jon currently divides his time between his home in the south of France and lakeside cabin in Ontario, Canada.
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let's get started.
Umar Hameed 0:41
Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of The No Limits Selling Podcast, we'll be talking to leaders about how they grow people, how they grow revenue, how they grow themselves. And before we get started today, I wanted to tell you about a project we're working on is called Project Happiness. And project happiness is all about this is my mission, how to make the world a happier place. And one of the ways we're doing that is collecting videos from people. And basically what they do is say, you know, "Hi, my name is Bob. And what makes me happy is and just the other day, I was talking to someone," and they submitted a video in and it was like, "Hi, my name is Barry. And what makes me happy is hearing the laughter of my grandkids." And the way he said it his body language, it just makes you smile. And that's what we want to do is to share these videos with the world. So please send them into us, you can find a link on our show notes where to send them in. And the hope is when people see those videos, they go, You know what, I can do that. And today I talk to a happy person. Today I have the privilege of having Jon Fraser with me, he is a coach that helps people become awesomer. Jon, welcome to the program.
Jon Fraser 1:43
Thank you Umar. Hope you're doing well today.
Umar Hameed 1:45
Doing excellent. So happy to be talking because ultimately, at the end of the day, what really counts is us reaching our potential whatever that is. And one of the ways to measure that is happiness. But so few of us actually reached that level. And one of the ways to do that is to get a coach that helps us see our blind spots. Because if you could see what was really going on and go, Oh my god, this is going on, I got a chance of fixing it. And if I got a coach, I get to see it and also someone to help me fix it. So Jon, as we get started, give me your best definition of coaching, what is coaching?
Jon Fraser 2:19
Coaching is really helping people to achieve their best performance. And doing a lot of what you just said, helping them to, you know, really identify what it is that they're trying to work on, understand where they're starting from, help them get over the some of the challenges, the mindset challenges. And I know we had a good conversation about that recently, and how to deal with pressure and take pressure and turn it into high performance.
Umar Hameed 2:48
So let's talk about that. Oftentimes, like for example, if you actually take a look at what anxiety is for a lot of people, and you get out of the meaning you may get out of it. It's like physically what's happening in your body. I'm feeling this feeling right over here. And it's awful. I said, Okay, excellent. Now tell me when you're excited. What do you feel that it's right over here? And I feel fantastic. Could it be that it's the same feeling? We just putting a different meaning on it. Does that hypothesis sound close to accurate? Or is it just hooey?
Jon Fraser 3:20
No, no, I think so. And it's really people need to be able to step back and have some context around what's causing those feelings inside of them. Why are they causing it, they need to learn to be able to control some of the external factors and spin that around from something that causes them angst, to something that causes them excitement and feel good. And you know, sometimes it's something you can do internally, sometimes you need professional help. And certainly coaches are there to help guide people through those challenging times. Everyone faces them.
Umar Hameed 3:54
So Jon, when you were saying you need personal help you were looking at me when you said that? Are you seeing something that I should know about?
Jon Fraser 4:01
Well, you're a little fuzzy to me right now.
Umar Hameed 4:03
So one of the nice things about this technology is, even though we're a little fuzzy right now it's recording you and HD on your computer and HD on mine. So the end product is going to be amazing. So let's talk about humans and meaning making machines. And event happens we make meaning out of it. And there's this old joke where this kid gets led into this room and is full of horse manure. And Kid A is like, Oh, I don't want to go in here. This is like a horrible place. Second kid starts digging in it and he's so happy. He's like, why are you so happy with all this horseshit, there's got to be a pony in here somewhere.
Jon Fraser 4:37
Umar Hameed 4:40
So the meaning we make out of events is really interesting. For example, Gone With the Wind, you know, the it was a great picture from like a gone by era. And this is one scene in it where Scarlett O'Hara is you know, everything is lost and she takes the drapes off the windows. And as she's getting a dress made she does this one one statement as God as my witness, I'll never go hungry again. So she's got nothing. And some people make, everything is lost, we're going to be lost forever. And the meaning she made was, this is my battle cry, this event forced me to step up. So tell me about how we make those meanings? And how can we make better meanings out of events that happen to us, because negative events happen to all of us, some people rebound really quickly, and other people get lost forever?
Jon Fraser 5:28
Well, again, you need to step back and mentally just take an assessment of what you know what is impacting you, you need to be able to understand the context of the event that's happening, what it really means to you the importance of of that event, is, you know, why is it important? What, what is the importance of it? Is it is it, you know, a life threatening situation? Or is it or is it something work related, that, you know, if it goes bad, it's bad, but it's not the end of your life, there's all sorts of things that will make you happy, your family, or your Your pastimes, your travel, whatever, whatever else there is in your life. So you've got to build a set, step back and put that into context and say, you know, what, it's not the end of the world. It's...
Umar Hameed 6:11
How do you do that? Because, you know, sometimes people in hindsight, when they look back in an event, go, you know, maybe I overreacted? Or maybe the meaning I made wasn't the right one, it could have been this one. But the skill is to catch yourself in the moment to pretend I've got this issue, how do you train me to catch myself in those moments. So I can actually have that introspection and go, Wait a minute, it's not the end of the world.
Jon Fraser 6:32
Teaching people to focus, teaching people to understand the importance and breathing. Just step back and breathe, when you're impacted by an event that's causing you a lot of stress, you need to just stop, take three big, deep breaths. And really just think about why is this impacting me, you know, you everyone hears fighter flight, and you know, the adrenaline gets going, all of the chemicals in your body are reacting. But really, at the end of the day, if you stop for a minute, you know, unless there's a bear chasing you. But if you stop for a minute and think about, you know, by taking a few deep breaths, and really just focusing on what really is happening to me, and what does that impact me? Imagine what the different outcomes can be using imagery. You know, close your eyes and think about, you know, what's what's happening? And what does it really mean? Take some time, too many people react too quickly. And all that does is spin the adrenaline up. And it really just is a self fulfilling prophecy, if they think that something bad is going to happen if they're if they react to it, that it will.
Umar Hameed 7:42
So what's kind of interesting is biologically as we're hot wired is like some dangerous situation occurs, we go into fight or flight, but the first step in fight or flight is freeze, and animals freeze, and then they make a decision, shall I run like hell, a fight like House of biologically. And that whole process takes five milliseconds from spotting the danger to reacting. And then you got a longer pathway that takes half a second to figure it out, is the intellectual one, but the biological one, save your life has that free step. And I wonder if we could somehow use that stutter, that free step to take those breaths, because if you could do that, we would make better decisions, but we get caught up in the moment. And oftentimes we make bad decisions. So how do you help people because some people reach a level of performance that is pretty darn good. And then beyond that, it's not a matter of not knowing what to do. It's a matter of mindset. So how do you get people that are already doing good work to be able to do great work or exceptional work? If they're stuck at Good? How do you get them unstuck?
Jon Fraser 8:47
Oftentimes, it's a matter of teaching them, how to focus their energies. So Olympic athletes, for instance, will I'll use them as an example the company that I was just working for, post Olympic athletes are in particular, they hit their mental performance coaches. And so they really take away all of the other distractions, what is important to you find that, that that importance or meaning, and focus on it and take away the other distractions? That's, that's a real big one. And then again, leverage that harness the pressure, the pressure can be a good thing. If it's leveraged effectively, you don't it doesn't need to necessarily be something bad. You know, all the best performances in professional in, in elite athletics are not at the Olympics. And why because there's so much pressure. And I lift that I give total kudos and credit to Dane Johnson, the CEO of third factor who I worked with, he's a brilliant guy and wrote a great book on on pressure called The Power of pressure, and has a lot of great things to say about that. So he you know, it's true, and we've seen it over and over again, and I've talked to high performers and and the true high performers are the ones that are able to focus you and understand how to use pressure to their advantage.
Umar Hameed 10:04
Absolutely, it goes back to that meaning thing, the meaning we make out of it. And some people take this thing, and they call it pressure and it's crushing. And other people take the same emotion and label it something different. And because they labeled it something different, it actually is that nitrous oxide boost that allows them to just kick up to a much higher level. And so part of that is going to training our reactions to things. So when you have teams of people, and you have people that take a leadership team, a leadership team, pretty much is the best and brightest in the company coming together. But more times than not when they come together, the whole is much less than the sum of the parts, because you get this office politics, hidden agendas, all that kind of nasty stuff comes in. So how do you coach teams to basically let go of the ego and focus on how do we work together.
Jon Fraser 10:56
There are some great assessments, the team really needs to understand who they are individually. And then they need to understand who they are as a team and how they interact and work with each other's strengths and weakness. There's some great assessments out there in the industry. And, you know, there is an ion team and and you have to start there, you have to understand who you are, and how people see you and how you react to certain situations. And then you need to do that with your with your teammates, you'll get way more performance out of a team, if they've gone through that thoughtful exercise than just throwing a bunch of high performers in a room together. Because you're right, the sum of the parts is going to be less than, than you'd expect.
Umar Hameed 11:34
So you have an understanding of the different personality types and how to communicate. But then you also have hot wired programming to, I gotta be the smartest guy in the room. What I've heard from a lot of people is, you know, if it's not my idea, I'm not going to sabotage it, but I'm not going to support it either. And you get that kind of selfish behavior that happens that is not about personality. It's about hot wiring. And when you have high performance getting to the top, sometimes, you know, it was their ego that got them there. So those assessments give you understanding, but how do you get people to go from understanding to actually implementation and changing the behavior? Because a good example is, and you could probably think of way more examples than i But that dream team in hockey that won, you know, the Hockey World Championship, whatever it's called, probably an average group of players coming together creating something extraordinary. And so how do we engineer that? How do you get average people to step up? Because oftentimes, you can have teams with like, a lot of high performers, and they're, it's all about the stars and not about the team. So how do you get an average team to excel?
Jon Fraser 12:38
The team needs to learn collaboration, if they really need to focus. And again, starting with the what, what is what are my strengths and weaknesses? What are your strengths and weaknesses, and then to understand the importance of fitting those pieces together effectively. And that's, and that's where our really great coach, and I'll take this into sports, for example, can can really help out, they will step back and understand the strengths and the weaknesses of the team. And they will focus on the development and using the skills of each of the individuals together to make a greater whole. And there are there are a lot of really great strategies. And again, I'm gonna go back to that assessment. And there's one in particular, the, the individual style assessment, the taste assessment is has been used in the Olympic athletes business. I don't know if you've heard of it or not. It's a fantastic tool, there's others out there as well, but really helps you to focus on that understanding, and then being able to then being able to say, hey, look, these are my strengths. These are my weaknesses. This is how you know, and this is how we're all going to work together to be successful. After all that said and done, sometimes, you know, the coach of a company is the CEO. And if he's got a performer on the team who's poisoned in that relationship, sometimes just needs to get rid of them. And it's unfortunate to say, but that's, that's the reality. I mean, sometimes you will just have a poison player. You look at professional sports, and they do it all the time. You go, Why in the world, would they trade him? When he was when he was so amazing, let's because he's poisoning the team. And I have given I have given CEOs that advice in the past.
Umar Hameed 14:17
so looking at that scenario, the reality of the situation, at least from my point of view, is that the CEO, the leader makes that decision. But everybody else in the team knew that the decision should have been made six months ago, the CEO holds off and there's reasons for that that are more psychological. So what do you think CEOs hold off, they know what to do, but they don't want to do that particular thing till it's absolutely necessary to the detriment of the team.
Jon Fraser 14:44
No one likes to be the bad guy. Some people are sociopaths, but most people don't like to be the bad guy. They don't like change. Humans are hardwired to resist change. You know, Bob's been with the company for 15 years. I don't want to fire Bob I don't care if he's if he's not treating, treating his co workers while I just it's, it'd be too different without him. I know Bob. And so they'll hold on to people. And I've seen that over and over again. I've been a big believer in hire slowly fire fast. If you've got someone on the team, yeah.
Umar Hameed 15:17
Super easy to say, incredibly difficult to do. Because sometimes you see someone, and they just look bright and shiny, and they're the ideal person. And if you don't slow that process down, there's a good chance I'll be guilty of it to hire that person, oh, my God, they're gonna be a rockstar, then of course, firing. I'm a genius, but I'm totally crap at that stuff, like just holding on to somebody a lot longer than I should. And I know better, but that need to be liked. And that need to be a nice guy is is pretty darn hot wired.
Jon Fraser 15:46
Yeah, I've worked with and for a number of leaders through the years who have that problem. It's, it's prevalent in the industry, there's not a lot of people who are really good at that, you know, don't make the hard decisions when they should be making them. And then in the long run, it's worse for them. It affects them personally and more profoundly, because they've been stewing over it for months. They know that they need to do it, and they just keep putting it off. So it's it really is an important skill set for an effective leader to learn.
Umar Hameed 16:17
Brilliant. So if you are building a sales team from the ground up, what does that look like? So let's say I'm gonna pick an industry, let's say it's going to be selling SAP software, some kind of solution, let's say a solution for sales enablement. So your target is going to be a VP of sales or Chief Revenue Officer, how do you build a sales team to go make that happen? What does that look like?
Jon Fraser 16:41
I prefer to start with raw talent, and build them up accordingly. So I look for potential. And rather than capability, I look for people with the right mindsets, the people who are genuinely eager to learn, and who have the right type of personality, and I like to train them from the bottom up, you can't always do that. So then in some cases, you have to go out and find that, that star or you know, a higher performer with some experience, but I find I've been far more successful in the past, in building them and training them from the ground up. Because a lot of times high performers bring baggage from previous previous organizations, there's a reason why they're looking somewhere else. And it's you know, they've they've burnt themselves out, either burnt themselves out or burned out their relationships with the company. I'd rather find someone who I knew could collaborate with with the rest of my team and build that dream team from from the start making sure that everyone is capable of working together. Because selling large enterprise software, which I've done in the past is complicated. You need a strong sales engineer, you need strong after sales support you need, you know, folks in marketing, and you need a team that can really, you can really rely on each other. And it's not an individual sport. So being able to build that from the ground up is really important. I've come into organizations where I have inherited a sales team, and I've stepped back and really, you know, got to get to know each of the individuals. And you can tell fairly early on whether there's potential there or not. The last company I was at, I inherited a salesperson who was struggling. But I, you know, after a couple of conversations, I saw real potential. And I knew that all she needed was some coaching and guidance. And more importantly, you know, my confidence and recognition. And then sure enough, within six months, she was just thinking out of the park. On the flip side, yeah, we're that doesn't happen.
Umar Hameed 18:43
So let's kind of go back to what you said. Because that really interests me, part of the job of a leader is because you talked about, you know, she kind of used your confidence to help her is that part of the job of the leader is literally letting your charges borrow your competence to go on a journey with you, and leaders that can do that get the best performance out of their people, because they may not have the competence in it, but they've got the competence in you. And if you've got a strong enough relationship, they will start executing and start seeing results and all of a sudden they start getting their own confidence. And that's like a magical thing.
Jon Fraser 19:17
Absolutely. And I try to teach you know, teach people that you know, there's there's wrong isn't wrong forever. You it's good to make mistakes, you're gonna learn from mistakes. And sure, it may be painful in the short term. But you're never going to be successful unless you try and build that confidence up. And you know, I I've worked closely with a lot of young salespeople and taught them the skills they need. It's funny, the one skill in particular that I find most salespeople need to build up is the art of listening. What was that? The art of listening?
Umar Hameed 19:52
That was a joke. I'm sorry, yes, I could not going there. So no, that's totally brilliant because I think leadership And the right leadership and the right intent you were talking about, you know, learning from failures. And I think one of the things we need to teach our salespeople and our charges is very much you need to be a scientist, because when things fail, either they'll blame other people, or they'll blame themselves. And I think what they need to do is detach and go, Okay, if I was a scientist looking at this, what really happened, and sometimes if you can't figure it out, you've got your VP of sales with you looking at it, and they go, Oh, okay, this is the step where it went wrong. And here's why it went wrong. And it could have been my fault or not. But when you come at it, from a scientist point of view, there is no agenda. That's how you get better, faster.
Jon Fraser 20:37
Absolutely. And people need to learn to not be afraid to have those frank discussions, when something goes wrong. They need to understand that you're there to use that as an opportunity for the whole team to get better. You know, they may have made a mistake, but maybe there was an area where, you know, they recognize that they're not the strongest. And if you put them back into a similar situation, they're going to need some support in one area or the other. Maybe they'll never be good at, you know, X or Y. And so let's let's put together a team that's going to make them successful. And it works. It absolutely works. The flip side of that is you'll get leaders who are bullies, and who just, you know, it's all about them, you made me look bad, you know, we're not going to make our number. And that is not going to make a successful sales team. It's just not, no, not at all.
Umar Hameed 21:29
So Jon, what makes you happy,
Jon Fraser 21:31
helping other people life in general. I mean, I love my family. I love traveling. You know, you and I talked, I'm sitting here right now in the south of France. I took a little bit of a leap from from the COVID. World and decided to buy a place in France, with my wife. So we're here sitting in France right now, enjoying the beautiful weather, and it's night time here right now. But enjoying the beautiful weather and just life, enjoying life. That makes me happy. Working with a team and seeing someone who's been struggling and turning them around that person that I talked about earlier, that made me so incredibly happy at the end of the year hit she she blew her number out of the park. And she was walking on a cloud. And that made me just to the moon happy myself.
Umar Hameed 22:24
Brilliant. So Jon, what's one tip you would give our viewers and listeners that would allow them to be better, stronger, faster? So what's that one mind hack you'd like to share with our audience?
Jon Fraser 22:36
Breathe and take a pause. Now that was my turn. Pause, pause and brief too many people try to do things too fast. The the art of the pause, believe it or not, is is huge. Everyone is thinking everyone is thinking a million miles ahead of the conversation. They need to learn to just stop and pause and reflect before they open their mouth before they and listen at the same time as they're pausing. Too many people try to do try to go too fast. They think they have the solution. And they'll talk them I've seen so many salespeople talk themselves out of a sale. The customer has said yes five times and by the end of the meeting, they've said no, because the salesperson will won't stop talking.
Umar Hameed 23:25
Brilliant. Jon, thank you so much for coming on the program. 25 minutes went like that.
Jon Fraser 23:31
My pleasure. It was great meeting you. Thanks.
Umar Hameed 23:38
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.