My guest today is Chester Elton, the New York Times bestselling co-author of The Carrot Principle, which has sold over 1.5 million copies to date. He has been described by the Toronto Globe and Mail as “an apostle of appreciation,” a moniker which he has whole-heartedly embraced.

Coming from an athletic and competitively-minded family, Chester has always seen value in recognizing individual accomplishments. While selling televisions in New York City Chester was given the opportunity to work as a recognition program salesman to pharmaceutical companies, a service he felt was not only necessary in the corporate world, but noble.

“When you’re selling employee recognition and somebody’s been with the company for, you know, 25 years or they’re the number one salesperson, or they’ve gotten a patent or they’ve…demonstrated extraordinary customer service and they get an award, well that’s an immediate connect the dot. And it’s just a feel-good industry.”

Chester soon approached his boss about a potential way to increase sales: write a book. If their company could be seen as a “thought-leader,” clients would come to them, hopefully in droves. His boss was very excited about the idea, but there was a catch: he wanted Chester to write the book.

“He goes, ‘I love that idea.’ He says, ‘Write the book.’ And I said, ‘Kent, you give me these crushing quotas every year. I’m a sales guy, I’m not a writer.’ And then he said something that really changed my life forever. He said, ‘You know what, Chester, you’re a smart guy. Figure it out.’”

Chester has certainly “figured it out.” He and his co-author, Adrian Gostick, have written over ten books on the importance of recognition (or “carrots”) in the workforce, and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down. Their latest book, The Best Team Wins, examines the new disciplines of high performance teams and the differentiators in the workforce that have sprung up in the past twenty years.

“You know, we’re doing all this stuff…to create a customer experience that has them…not just loyal customers. They’re raving fans of your products and services, and those are our five disciplines.”

Takeaways from this episode:

  • As Chester’s professor once told him, “People say they hate selling. No they don’t. They hate NOT selling. Everybody loves selling.” Chester believes strongly that when selling items that people need or value there is “no better job on the planet.”
  • Use your constraints. The Sixers were a losing team, but when they focused on winning hearts instead of winning games they broke the NBA record for seasons ticket sales on the first day of offering.
  • Who are you cheering for? If there is someone on your team that you and your other teammates are NOT cheering for, it may be time for them to join another team.

Join us as we discuss the power of recognition, the five disciplines of high performance teams, and how the prodigal son ended up in Chester’s family coat of arms. Listen on iTunes or in the player above, and if you enjoy the show, please make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.


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