In my personal experience, the difference between a good year and a great year comes down to the incremental work I take on in the 4th Quarter – especially December.
I know that typically I preach work/life balance, but in the case of the 4th Quarter, I actually think we lean too far towards time off instead of time on.
For those of you that book yourself for services (consulting, etc.), you should look at December work days as precious unsold inventory that will go to waste is not used. You need to be willing to think about 4th Quarter special pricing, price flexibility and travel flexibility. I typically send out notices to my clients and channel partners that we have some time/space in December and we are “taking offers.” You would be surprised how much business you can actually hustle between the office Christmas party and New Year’s Eve. Too often, we fall into the Christmas Consumerism trap and spend our time shopping, goofing and playing around. It is easy to accept.
But not if you have the mentality of a champion: You win in the 4th Quarter by finishing. You jump ahead of the competition through the conviction that the game of life comes down to the last fifteen minutes. If you apply the 4-fingered leadership mentality to your business life, you will make a difference in your year – and your career.
Previously, before I worked for myself, I found that the 4th Quarter stretch can make a difference in your career too. When I worked for a cable production company in the early/mid 90’s, I took over a key product sales project when another manager too most of December off and declined several requests to work overtime in the second and third week of December. Six months later I ran all of sales. When I was at Yahoo, I made myself available to the SVP Sales to travel in December in 2000 to make strategic sales presentations. I kept the same sense of urgency from October alive in December. This gave me unique face time with my SVP and also helped me position myself for the following year. The result? I was given a director title, a think tank and access to our biggest accounts. My group (Yahoo Value Lab) always focused on the 4th Quarter stretch – we actually planned on it being the biggest and most active quarter.
So whoever you are, take off your time for Christmas, but don’t treat it like Summer vacation for grown ups. Look at your calendar today and find the unnecessary down time. Find out what projects or tasks you can take on this month to make a difference. Hustle for one more deal – make one more phone call.
PS – There is a lot of business to be done between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Sales executives should note that many of their best Customers are in the office without full admin staff during that week. That means they are more likely to pick up the phone. Many of your best Customers are also in slow-mode in December, which means that they have more gaps on their calendar to meet with you.
Recommended read: Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port