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How to UP your game to the next level

April 26, 2010 1 comment

Surround yourself with people who are smarter, better, faster & more resilient than you! Both in professional sports & business, when the competition gets tougher you inevitably get better!

How Competition Makes You Better, and Your Team Can Make You Great is a sporting example of how the undersized Bill Russell and his Boston Celtics improved their own game by playing against giants like Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain may have put up incredible numbers during the period in which the two went head to head, but Russell helped the Celtics hang nine NBA championship flags in the Garden in his first 10 seasons! Bill Russell later wrote: “To me, one of the most beautiful things to see is a group of men coordinating their efforts toward a common goal, alternately subordinating and asserting themselves to achieve real teamwork in action. I tried to do that, we all tried to do that, on the Celtics. I think we succeeded.”

Jane & Joe are a more practical example which will hit closer to home. For the past 4 years, I’ve seen their day-to-day activities result in consistent personal & professional stimulation & growth. Jane is a born entrepreneur, with her “nose to the grindstone” super positive attitude being the key behind much of her success. Joe is a corporate entrepreneur, vastly experienced in the BIG world of the corporate game, over the past years  focusing  more on bridging the two worlds of “corporates” & fast growth “start-ups”. Each night this couple share the inspiring ritual of debriefing their day, as they take turns sharing their “biggest wins, biggest challenges & key learning” from the day. During her discourse Jane will inevitably comment “you would have been proud of me today as I took a page right out of your book”, to which later you might her Joe say “when I was feeling a little lull today I thought of how driven you’ve been lately & it really kicked me in the pants to get me going”.

Both Jane & Joe are adamant believers in surrounding themselves with smarter, better, faster & tougher people than themselves. One of Jane’s favorite quotes is “the person you’ll become within 5 years will reflect the books you read & the people you’re surrounded by”, whilst Joe recently latched onto “there is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a BIG difference. The little difference is attitude, the BIG difference is whether it’s positive or negative”.

To the old saying “if you lie down with dogs you’ll get flees”, Tony Robbins can often be heard stating “most people’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group”.

Here are some key tips for taking your game to the next level:

  • Find online (blogs, forums, online social communities) & offline (gyms, book clubs, networking, seed camps) environments filled with people you admire and hang out there
  • Find a coach or mentor
  • Work with someone who pushes you
    • When you’re constantly asked to do things, yet don’t know how, it forces you to stretch
  • Read any and all material you can find that exemplifies the life you’d like to live
  • Compete against yourself first, and your opponent second!
    • Push yourself to be the best that you can be!

In closing, I’d like to leave you with the inspirational words of a fellow home-town hero Will Smith who bucked the odds & made it beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.. except his!

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Surviving a resource crisis – Getting past “overwhelmed”

Last week I ran into an entrepreneur who was clearly on edge! For the sake of confidentiality, let’s call her “Jane”, who is typically a burst of energy & sunlight whenever she walks into a room. Concerned over her current state, I asked what I could do to help.

Jane replied that she was just over-tasked! She has recently lost some key members of staff and until they got replaced it’ was going to be long uphill climb. 😦

I delved deeper and asked her to recount her day, especially the parts she found most stressful.

  • Just moved into a new office & a lot of unpacking to do
  • 3h meeting with a key investor who’s helping on a part-time basis to re-align / re-prioritize the product strategy
  • Detailed account management & work-plan hand-over from exiting staff
    • distributed amongst early, mid & late stage opportunities
  • 3-4 phone calls with prospective new accounts
  • 2-3 phone calls with existing accounts
    • early, mid & late stage
      • 45m to 1h each
  • 1h phone call with key board member & investor
    • followed by 1h brainstorming session to come up with 4 alternatives for a new client
  • Planning & booking next weeks day-trip abroad for fund raising
  • 1h phone call with a prospective Technology Partner
  • 60 new e-mails
    • 30 were of which addressed
  • Follow-up on meetings from the previous week
  • Scheduling interviews for new staff

As she took a deep breath, I said “so in others words.. you had a pretty busy day.. eh?” 😉 I needed to break the tension in the air after her intense recount of her 12 hours that had just passed!

Fast-forward to the solutions we came up with:

  • Let’s start off with the fact that to Jane’s benefit, she walks to work (about 30 minutes each way)
    • Giving her time to decompress & put things into perspective
      • ACTION; It’s already a great practice! You might want to take along a tape recorder to document your thoughts for later action
        • HINT; Once you’ve addressed something, regardless of how daunting the task, you automatically reduce the stress associated with it.
        • When you write something down, like an action plan, it’s emotionally relieving.
  • Upon inquiring about her energy levels during the day, we came to the conclusion the 3h intense product meeting took place early in the day when her energy was still low
    • Jane is typically a late morning / early afternoon person and therefore this intense “brain zapper” early in the morning had conditioned the rest of her day
      • ACTION; Monitor this situation 2 more times & if the affect is the same, reschedule these types of activities for later in the day
  • The 3-4 Account calls, along with the account management / work-plan hand-over process was made extra draining as early, mid & late stage situations were all addressed at the same time
    • Like-minded tasks require less energy to process, and the thought / solution process required to address all three stages made it that much more difficult to cope with the mounting challenges of the day
      • ACTION; Whenever possible, group like-minded activities to facilitate  your execution of the same
        • HINT; take one stage in the morning, another stage around mid-day & the 3rd stage late in the afternoon
          • By grouping your activities, you get your brain into “auto-pilot” and become more effective due to the “repetitive assimilation / thought process”
          • Group phone calls: block out a 2-3h patch of time if necessary, but try not to spread phones call through the day
          • Group inter-personal activities: performance reviews, business meetings, business / non-business lunches
          • Group meetings that require travel: don’t fly off to Paris for the day & only one meeting, try to fill the day with prospecting activities if no further meetings are possible
            • just like you shouldn’t book meetings all over town unless there is a favorable pattern , like starting from home & ending in-town where you’ll have dinner
  • Schedule your e-mail time & action them immediately!!!
    • This has been my personal biggest learning over the course of the last few years!!
      • ACTION; Turn off the “automated push” in your e-mail & manually retrieve it when you’re ready to deal with it
      • Likewise, turn off all pop-ups & alarms, especially Skype or Instant Messagers
        • HINT; Don’t allow e-mail to follow you on your mobile phone! Personally, I only access e-mail on my iPhone when I have “time to kill”, which is rare, and even then I focus mainly on my personal e-mails
          • Educate your clients & colleagues as to the hours you check e-mail and in case of an emergency have them sms you with the header of the e-mail you need to action
            • discipline yourself to only view & action those limited emergency e-mails
          • Time-lock your e-mail viewing!
            • I review my e-mail twice per day at 10h00 & 17h00 for 1h block each time
          • Action your e-mails on-the-spot, or schedule time in your calendar to carry out the respective action if you first need to research / investigate of have someone get back to you with more details
        • HINT; Block out your calender for “to-do’s”!!
          • Unless you “make / reserve time” to do something, the likelihood is that it won’t get done!
            • STOP (!!) using “to-do” lists
          • Make sure you build rest / compensation blocks into your daily calendar
          • 5-10 minute window for unwinding / regrouping
          • 10-15 minute window in-between meetings when travel is not required
          • 15-30 minute window in-between meetings when travel is required

The next morning I got an sms from Jane, thanking me for our conversation! She had taken a lot of the key-points on-board, and even though the day was busier than before, Jane was having a very powerful & rewarding day!! 🙂

These actions will make the difference between you being able to manage your energy & time, when the same is limited. Time & energy, just like money & people are “resources”. You have to carefully plan & adjust the resources you have if you’re to use them at optimum levels. In this fashion, you’ll more easily be able to distinguish between urgent & important, thus you’ll get the right things done right at the right time!

Sacrifices in Business – Having your cake & eating it too!

I love the quote “every point of refuge has it’s price“. Another one that rings true is “nothing comes for free“.

No where is this more evident than in the world of fast growth business!

What have you had to sacrifice lately? Has it been your percentage of dedication to life or work? How many people do you know that work 8h or less? How many people do you know that are conscious of the true sacrifices they are making each and every day?

This article is more than just about time, energy or strategy management, it’s a “wake-up call” to anyone who thinks that any success comes easy!

It takes courage, moments of truth & at times allot of blind faith to take the necessary measures required to achieve the success you desire. Most of all, along the way, it takes allot of personal sacrifice to make your professional career eventuate into part of the formula which equals “work-life balance”.

A client & I were speaking last week when he shared with me the incredible amount of pressure that he’s under at work. He continued to share how he has recently tried to delegate to his next immediate level of management, hoping to help them grow. Upon reviewing his results, he was astonished at how he was able to deal with so many diverse situations within his workplace. His area is one of the most intense work environments of his entire global organization, and still they provide solid & leading results day-in day-out.

None of this surprised me! From the first time we started our Executive Coaching relationship, I had noted how stringent he was on his work-life balance. For the sake of confidentiality, let’s call him “Joe”, and he can celebrate his balance today because he prepared, trained & practiced for it. Most of all, he paid his dues earlier on & sacrificed when he needed to!

You don’t just wake up one day & have a balanced life! It takes hard work, sacrifices, dedication & lots of practice!

Today he typically splits his time working from home & office. He takes every opportunity to enjoy long weekends with his family. He has a ground rule not to mix work with pleasure on weekends, or after a certain hour of the day. He’s conscious that time is precious and that his young boy will quickly become a young man before the blink of an eye, and so he prioritizes his intensity very carefully. As we discovered, it’s all about energy management!

As an outside observer I had noticed that just like a body builder who rests certain muscles masses in-between workouts to witness effective growth, Joe was resting his brain and giving it different stimuli by engaging in non work related activities on the weekend. By not using the “work” part of the brain over the course of 2-3 days, it enables him to be that much more sharper Monday through Friday. It enables Joe to get allot more done in less time than before.

But it wasn’t always like this! Joe is the exception to the rule, and he has also “been at it” for the greater part of the last 15 years! It takes personal and or professional sacrifice to become really successful at something.

As evidence, I give you Malcom Gladwell’s CNN interview regarding his book Outliers, he briefly touches on the concept of the “10.000 Hour Rule”. I especially love his other interview comparison with The Beatles.

To put this into perspective, 10.000 hours of “practice” is the equivalent to

  • approximately 417 days (or 1.14 years) if you didn’t sleep at all
  • 625 days (or approximately 1.71 years) if you slept for 8 hours & dedicated the remaining 16h to a single task
  • 1.250 days (or approximately 3.42 years) if you only dedicated 8 hours to a single task

In comparison, how much time are you dedicating to what you want to be really good at?

People on many levels of an organization want their cake & eat it too, but contrary to Joe, they aren’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices!

There’s the entrepreneur who makes personal sacrifices on multiple levels just to keep his dream alive, running his start-up “on the smell of an oily rag“. It’s been a hard road but he’s within reach of his dream now!

There was the fast-climbing corporate executive that didn’t have time for a relationship because of the intensity of their business. Any wonder why they’re still “home alone” & without a life-partner at this stage?

Then there’s that guy who felt it necessary to hangout with his friends until the wee hours of the morning having a few beers & exchanging tall tales. Any wonder he typically didn’t get up to speed until noontime at work the next morning? Any wonder why his moments of brilliance were just that, limited to “moments”, even though what was required was more consistency? There are even more countless tales of people who “had the potential but just never materialized it consistently“. It all takes it’s tole and requires a delicate balance if you’re to have your cake & eat it too.

So where can you start?

  • Visualize the life or objective (professional & personal) that you want in 2-3 years (i.e. success.. “your cake”)
    • Make it really visual, to the point where you can smell, taste & almost touch your visualization
      • Quick Tip; Fill it with as many facts & details as possible
  • Visualize your current “reality”
    • If this is going to work, you’ll have to be brutally honest with yourself
      • Quick Tip; This will be the last time you “focus” on your “reality”
        • Focus on your objective, raising your reality toward it instead of focusing on your reality which will only downsize your objective
        • Remember that your reality is merely the accumulation or consequences of your past actions in life, and whilst it might influence the speed at which you can break free of your reality, it does not condition the achievement of your objective
  • Determine “what” is required to bridge your current reality to your visual image of success
    • If you can’t figure this out, get help form someone your trust
      • Quick Tip; Do an inventory and address it
        • There are only two things that stand in your way of success
          1. Limiting beliefs (in yourself or another)
          2. Lack of a strategy
  • Set a time-line to acquire the skills, network or resources you require to achieve your objective
    • Determine “what” activities you’re willing to sacrifice or give-up completely during this period to achieve your success
      • Quick Tip; What is non-negotiable?
  • Now set-up a discipline for yourself to measure your progress along the way
    • Make time in your calendar for reflection on your daily, weekly, monthly progress & make the necessary adjustments
      • Quick Tip; What isn’t measured doesn’t get done!

If you follow these basic guidelines, work hard at them and realize that there are NO SHORTCUTS (!!!), than I guarantee you too can have your cake & eat it too. I can also promise you it won’t be an easy journey! Why? Because “every point of refuge has it’s price“.

The delicate art of consulting

March 28, 2010 1 comment

Wikipedia’s definition of a consultant states; “from the Latin consultare means “to discuss”, from which we also derive words such as consul and counsel, and is a professional who provides advice in a particular area of expertise“.

A Swedish friend of mine’s father likes to refer to consultants as “animals that have been neutered, because they have the “tools” but don’t know what to do with them”.

I’m sure that a long time before I started to exert my profession, the profession itself was much more than just “giving advice”. That it was actually about someone coming into your organization, rolling up their sleeves, and standing toe-to-toe with you as you faced your, at times, seemingly insurmountable challenges. That latter image is NOT what I’ve seen for the past two decades and therefore why I often become uneasy when I’m referred to as a “consultant”.

Much like “coaching”, the term “consultant” has been used and abused in so many circumstances, typically taking advantage of clients in desperate situations, or larger organizations looking for someone else to make the decisions they’re too afraid to make themselves.

Now allow me to introduce you to “Winston Wolf“, the “Non-Consultant Consultant”, the guy who solves problems! Now that’s what I’m talking about, that’s what I’m passionate about, and that’s what I believe clients should be paying for; “solving problems“.

The non-consultant consultant takes on an assignment, bringing to the table years of proven experience as a senior executive in some of the most challenging circumstances. He’s not fresh out of an MBA loaded with someone else’s case studies , nor is he theory heavy & practical results light. He rolls up his sleeves & stands shoulder to shoulder with his client fixing problems & creating new opportunities along the way. He’s the first one into the office & one of the last to leave!

At times, clients may find themselves in challenging situations, economically challenged to pay our fees, and that’s when the non-consultant consultant agrees with them “what success looks like as a consequence of their engagement“. Following which they schedule partially guaranteed fees, with the remaining payout ONLY taking place in-lieu of the agreed successful outcome.

Now that really makes the client feel you’re taking just as many risks as they are, taking ownership for your proposed solutions, that you personally implement, or over see, and when they experience the joy of achievement, it becomes a mutual celebration!

Another characteristic of the non-consultant consultants’ engagements are that they ingrain themselves so much into the fabric of their clients’ workforce, empowering as many of them as possible, passing along knowledge & practical experience as is relevant to their specific situations. In doing so, they’re quickly adopted as “one of the team” & no longer seen as an “outside consultant”. The ensuing trust that is deposited allows for greater results in a shorter period of time.

Finally, irregardless of the specifics of the assignment, the non-consultant consultant works for their clients as if it were their own company, vigilant & attentive to provide additional value in areas outside of their direct intervention, thus creating significant collateral benefit without ever asking for an additional cent!

Key outcomes of the delicate art of consulting:

  1. Problems Solved
  2. Opportunities Created
  3. Shared Risk / Shared Reward
  4. Practical Hands-on Experience
  5. Empowering
  6. Effective Results
  7. Ownership

How does that sound to you?

Overcoming Adversity – Why it’s mission critical !!

February 11, 2010 3 comments

Adversity (Adversity = Obstacles) in our day-to-day lives is 10 times greater today than it was 21 years ago! In today’s competitive environment, this alarmingly record pace will only continue to grow! 21 years of research by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz‘s Adversity Quotient (AQ) program shows that we’ve gone from experiencing (on average) 3 instances of adversity, to 29 instances each day!

Having had my my fair share of adversity over the course of my yet young 😉 lifetime, I especially appreciated & identified with the recent HBR Article “How to Bounce Back from Adversity“.

Yesterday, as part of my own research process in search of ever improving tools for resolving my client’s “challenges”, I had the privilege to have a 1h exchange with this leading edge expert in dealing with adversity. What did I learn? Allot of what I already suspected, but putting it into a whole new perspective, and best yet, accompanied with some powerfully magnificent tools.

My key-take-away:

  • AQ is to Human Resilience what IQ is to Human Intelligence
  • As humans, in work, at home & at play, over our lifetime we all fall into 3 categories
    • Quitters
    • Campers
      • Typically settle for “what is”, even though they may “aspire” for more
      • Studies show 60 to 90% representative of a typical workforce
    • Climbers
      • Consistently action their “aspire” mode & aim to over-achieve
  • Our (instinctive or amygdala) Reptilian Response can be overridden by our (rational) Frontal Cortex
    • Reptilian Response is 10% genetic & 90% programed by external stimuli
      • initial “hard wiring” starts in our childhood/formative years
    • We’re not doomed to live as we have been “hardwired” and we can “choose” to act based on more rational judgment & thought
      • depending on many varying factors, professional help, including personal development such as a Landmark Forum program might be required to learn new habits & re-program/override your natural/instinctive responses

More detailed information from the source themselves can be found in 3 wonderful videos well worth investing 30 minutes (in total).

Let’s get practical! Obstacles can be anything from the expected phone call that isn’t returned, to the promotion we didn’t get, to the love that isn’t reciprocated as “we would have expected. And whilst the “quitter” will allow adversity to freeze them in their very tracks and give-in, the “camper” will settle for “that’s life” and there isn’t much I can do to change it (walking dead/drones), and the climber will momentarily “lick his/her wounds” and get on with the business of turning an obstacle into an opportunity.

Another practical example is the child or adult that based on the circumstantial surroundings of his upbringing, sees challenges as insurmountable obstacles that are “the end of the world” (basically “quits”), or the finance director that instead of taking the initiative of a 5 minute Google search to overcome an obstacle, delays a significant process by “camping” and adopting an ingrained habit of writing one more e-mail, resulting in a “found solution” being delayed to, at the very least, the next business day.

How is that last decision affecting your business these days?

The fact that “who you (currently) are” (different from “what you are”) has already been pre-determined when you were a child, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to succumb to that fact.  You can change “who you can become” at any time you want. Only 10% of our behavior is genetic, and therefore if the remaining 90% are externally influenced (yes, we’ve been programed by family, friends & surroundings), with the roots being established very early on in childhood when we naturally imitate the people that surround us, then we can make the choice to “re-program” our internal circuitry. I liken it to a phrase I commonly use which is “your current reality is only the consequence of your thoughts & ensuing actions to-date, whereas your future (or dream) is completely within your control, your choices only being limited by either the lack of a plan (strategy) or “limiting beliefs“. Pretty straightforward, no..?

Just because we are “programed” at an early age, this doesn’t take away our “choice” to act as we would like, it only means that we will have to work harder at it to reprogram ourselves by developing & ingraining new habits into our decision process. A decision is merely an action based on a previous thought, so by understanding & following this process, we can establish an “override” from our reptilian/instinctive part of our brain that has us “react”, moving our decisions & consequent actions/outcomes to our more rational frontal cortex of  our brain. Another way to state that is that the “re-programing” or “override” can be effectively done in many ways, and most effectively by creating control disciplines for ourselves to consciously make decisions that override our ingrained habits (reptilian brain) and re-wire new habits based on choices that are actually much better for us & well thought out. At least that’s my take on what happens, seeing as I’m merely an enthusiastic amateur in the field of psychology.

For myself, it’s taken allot of life mistakes, along with some professional counseling, including breakthrough Landmark Forum session a few years back, to get my head around how I can effectively gain greater control over what many would call our “monkey brain/mind“. AQ is an exceptionally robust and globally proven predictor of human resilience, energy, capacity, effectiveness, and performance. Your AQ also influences your optimism, innovation, problem-solving and decision-making abilities, income, health, and perseverance.

Like anything in life, in order for you to affect change, there are three basic steps that have to first take place before you experience “success”, and that is to:

  1. Gage it
  2. Understand it
  3. Improve it (reinforcement challenge)

I’ve worked with allot of different methods, but having taken the AQ Profile Exercise last night, I can say from first hand experience that it is a revolutionary simple 10-15 minute survey that will have you immediately understand your “starting point”, or “base-camp”, seeing as AQ’s tools like to comparison mountain climbing. And remember, that’s only the beginning, a full program will definitely get you (and your team) powerfully headed back on that journey to the top of your summit!

At our core, we are in our personal life as we are in our professional. The roots of your behavioral characteristics can’t be segmented in a sustainable & scalable fashion. You can either allow the energy of adversity to hold you back, or harness that same energy to fuel you powerfully forward!

It’s your choice.. so what’s your next move?

11 Quick Secrets for winning – What’s your Super Bowl?

February 8, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been an avid American Football fan ever since I can remember, and so I’m obviously one of the many who eagerly await the crowning of the National Football League Super Bowl Champions each year. I also love “sentimental favorites”, and so this year we hit the jackpot! After Hurricane Katrina 4,5 years ago, everyone on the planet had to have been cheering for the New Orleans Saints to upset the favorite Indianapolis (formerly Baltimore) Colts.

Drew Brees, the undersized and unlikely hero in a land of giants was voted the Most Valuable Player, and I just finished watching a pre-Super Bowl interview with Katie Couric which will give you 11 key secrets for a formula of success necessary for you to lead your team to your own Super Bowl victory.

These 11 gems, or pearls of practical wisdom that you can implement immediately, are all contained within the first 5 minutes. Here are the highlights, accompanied with my own questions to you:

  • @ 40s; I’m excited.. 4 years ago we had a dream, we had a goal that we would be here at some point, fighting through some ups & downs & adversity to get here
    • It’s never an easy road to victory, so..
      • What’s your plan?
      • How well is it articulated?
      • How prepared are you & your team to deal with adversity along the way?
  • @ 1m10s; I’m always going to be nervous.. feeling those butterflies.. the minute you loose that nervousness it’s time to get out because with that nervousness comes the edge, that edge keeps you locked in, keeps you focused, it’s that will to win..
    • It’s all about Passion, so..
      • What’s your WHY?
      • How Passionate & Focused are you about what you’re doing?
      • How Passionate & Focused are your team?
      • How “bad” does everyone want to win & what are the sacrifices that you’re all willing to make?
  • @ 1m36s; I have so many mentors in my life, coaches, teachers, people that I’ve worked with in my past, that I continue to talk to today. People that give me the best advice at the best time, and then I’m able to relay that to my teammates, or guys who need it, who may be going through the same thing that I went through at some point
    • You can’t do it on your own, so..
      • Who are you surrounding yourself with that’s going to give you the right answers at the right time for the right situation?
      • How are you going to engage & relay that information to your team, and with what frequency & intensity?
      • Are you surrounding yourself with practical people that have been there, “done that” before, or theorists that have studied it? What’s the right blend?
  • @ 2m03s; so much about being a Quarterback is that there are 10 other guys in that huddle, each one is motivated at times in different ways. Some guys.. all you have to is give them a look, other guys you might have to yell at them a little bit, each guy had a different trigger or button that you need to push in order to get their best
    • You have to know your team (Leadership part 1), so..
      • Are you prepared to give that stern look, or have that “hard conversation”, yet be empowering in the way that you do it?
      • Are you communicating, engaging & enrolling your player? Do you know their “triggers” and treating your team as a motivated group of individual performers?
      • Are you willing to follow-up on lack of performance & “bench”/sideline your players when they don’t perform? In a worst case scenario are you ready to let go & trade them to another team, or even league?
  • @ 2m35s; when you let people know how much you care, how much you care about them ,or in our case, how much you care about the game & winning the game, and being at my best, & that I’m going to lay it on the line for them.. they play for you
    • You have to set the example (Leadership part 2), so..
      • How much are you rallying around you own “WHY”, and are you communicating with passion?
      • How are you showing that you care? As much for the team as eh victory itself?
      • How are you striving to “be the best”, be your best?
      • How are you “laying it on the line” for your team? (walking your talk)
  • @ 3m16s; (Katie) A teacher told us that you’ve been teaching kids in New Orleans that anything is possible , and therefore you’re becoming responsible for the hopes & dreams of all these children looking to you for courage & inspiration.. do you some times feel like that’s too much pressure?  (Drew) It’s a source of strength for me.. a responsibility just knowing that as a quarterback of this football team, and a member of this community, I have the platform that I do to influence so many people in such a positive way, and in the end, I’m only being myself, I just embrace the opportunity & do as much as I can and give back as much as I can
    • Take responsibility for your team’s hopes & dreams (Leadership part 3), so..
      • Are you shying away from responsibility, or rather rising up to it & embracing it?
      • Are you leading a team, but still part of a community?
      • Are you leveraging the platform you have in order to positively influence your team’s performance?
      • Are you being yourself, allowing your true self to shine through?
      • How are you giving back?
  • @ 3m50s; the number one piece of advice I give to kids is that they can accomplish anything they want in life, don’t allow anyone else to tell you otherwise if you’re willing to work for it! That’s the truth, we can all be whoever we want to be as long as we’re willing to work for it. There’s no mountain that too high or task that’s too great!
    • If you can can dream it you can achieve it, so..
      • What’s your dream? Personal, Professional, and team?
      • How have you communicated it & how do you remind yourself & the team on a daily basis?
      • Is everyone putting in “the hard yards”? Is it a true team effort?
      • How hungry are you? How hungry is your team?
  • @ 4m25s; no Quarterback that’s too short.. impossible.. I’ll never let those people get the best of me.. they’ve been telling me that all my life!
    • It’s all about belief, so..
      • How much do you & your team believe in your dream or vision?
      • What are the reaffirming tools that are in place to make sure that the belief stays strong?
  • @ 5m00s; I’m supposed to be the calm, cool & collected one.. but that’s what I like about it.. going outside the norm, outside the box and something I started two years ago.. a special rally cry that get’s you going..
    • It’s all about communication & innovation (Leadership part 4), so..
      • When things aren’t working, how are you stepping outside the box to find new solutions?
      • How are you rallying your team?
      • What is your own unique & secret “rallying cry”?
  • @ 5m45s; that once you’re in that huddle, you’re part of a brother hood, now we’re going to go out onto that field & we have to play together, trust each other and win together
    • It’s all about teamwork, unity & trust, so..
      • What’s your “huddle” routine? How often & when do you look each other in the eyes & set the course of the next play that’s going to score you a touchdown?
      • What’s your pulse check to make sure everyone senses the responsibility of a “brotherhood” and steps up their game?
      • What’s your method of creating transparency that has everyone “play together” & trust one another enough to “pick-up the ball & run with it” when your teammate has fallen or faltered?

At the 13m50s mark, Drew talks about the perspective that an injury brought him early in his career. A downward cycle in his life that became a moment of reflection and gave him heightened perspective. A “time-out” of sorts, that possibly allowed him to gather his thoughts, strengthen his conviction and put together a master plan built on the sweat & tears of good old hard & honest work. A moment of reflection, that led him to stand on top of the biggest stage of his life only a few shorts hours ago.

What are the simple lessons you can learn from this interview, and from his story?

How an “Elevator Pitch” & is like Public Speaking

January 28, 2010 1 comment

A good mate of mine Conor Neill recently “enrolled” me to help him facilitate his Persuasive Speaking workshops, with which he’s very successfully engaged by the likes of big corporations & leading Executive MBA programs such as those at IESE.

Is he good at what he does? Well let’s just say that

  1. I chose the word “enroll” because that’s just what he does
  2. If you don’t believe me have a glimpse at his blog & get a taste for yourself
  3. This blog article is actually a part of a “homework assignment”

In a nutshell, what I’ve taken away from our frequent conversations is that Persuasive Speaking is all about getting people to do things that they wouldn’t typically do. And writing about Elevator Pitches & Public Speaking is not something I commonly do, so I guess you get my point 😉

Further on this topic, I want to leverage an HBR article I read this weekend on “The Elevator Pitch”, as I believe it bridges perfectly onto the topic of Pubic Speaking, and I would even dare say Persuasive Speaking itself.

The article starts off with the accounts of a famous casual encounter between an entrepreneur & Warren Buffet outside The Plaza Hotel in NYC, and how with one short sentence, he kicked the door of opportunity wide open! It goes on to describe the Elevator Pitch as “the ability to successfully deliver a quick and concise explanation of your case”. Now that sounds like the strong basis for a public speech, or even a persuasive conversation!

As I read further, I picked up the following points:

  • Grab the attention of listeners, convincing them with the promise of mutual benefit, and setting the stage for follow-up
  • Speak in terms your audience can relate to
  • And communicate with the passion that comes from knowing that this opportunity may never come again

How am I doing so far? Do you know of anyone who would sit through 90 minutes of chatter that didn’t fulfill on at least the above? Now allow me to continue with the following key tips of a successful elevator pitch as presented in the article:

  • Know the goal
  • Know the subject
  • Know the audience
  • Organize the pitch (a.k.a. speech)
  • Hook them from the opening
  • Plug into the connection
  • Presentation matters
  • Incorporate feedback

Again, sounds like the routine I often go through, tick-off & rehearse before I get up in front of any audience, even when it’s an audience of ONE.

Further supporting my rational, Milo O. Frank, author of How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less, suggests looking at each of the points in an extended presentation as individual 30-second messages. “During the two, three, five, or ten minutes that your speech lasts, you’ll have an opportunity to ask—and answer—several provocative questions, paint more than one picture, use more than one personal anecdote or experience”.

Now I’ll be the first one to admit that public speaking hasn’t come easily for me. A naturally introverted personality, as much as that may surprise the majority of the people I’ve engaged in the past, it’s taken me allot of hard work, discipline, practice & allot of receptiveness to constructive criticism to get me to where I am. Over the course of time, and many mistakes along the way, I will be the first one to admit that anytime I didn’t tick-off each of the above bullets, I walked away from my engagement very disappointed with m performance.

So what do you think? Have I made my case? It was allot longer than a 30 second elevator pitch, but then again I’m still working at getting better at it! 😉