13Engagement and Micro-Commitments

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small steps brought together.

—Vincent Van Gogh

Kurt Long, CEO and founder of the data security firm FairWarning, admits that it was not the optimal situation to be in. “But I didn't have much of a choice,” he explains. “We were launching our new cloud-based security product and at that point I was the only person who really understood it enough to sell it.”

It was a long shot. A new software as a service (SaaS) program no one had ever heard of. A hungry CEO and founder. A huge targeted prospect. A distance of 4,400 miles between Tampa and London. Only one relationship inside that big company.

“What I had going for me, though, was Andy, a stakeholder inside the company who'd taken an interest in the software. He was totally engaged.”

For Kurt, like many ultra-high performers (UHPs), the most important qualifier is engagement:

  • Will the person I am working with match my effort?
  • When I give, does the stakeholder give back?
  • When I ask for small, reasonable commitments, do they accept or negotiate an alternative?
  • When we agree on commitments, do they keep them?
  • Are they invested in the process?

“Time is my most valuable asset,” Kurt explains. “If my stakeholder does not value my time as much as they value their own, I'll walk away.”

Kurt tested Andy's engagement by asking for micro-commitments—small steps forward. Andy agreed to and honored those commitments. He matched Kurt's efforts. ...

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