Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Warning: You Are Being Watched! Do This And You’ll Never Have To Worry About Finding Good Talent For Your Team.

Your team is looking to you for leadership.  Don't sweat the small stuff and you'll keep your eye on what matters.There I was, standing in Terminal A of the San Jose Airport, waiting for the Director of Sales from a large technology company based in Southern California. We had been talking for a while and he was wooing me to work for him as a sales engineer at his company. So during one of his trips through the Bay Area, we agreed to meet at 8:00 AM at the San Jose Airport and I would meet the rest of the Bay Area team later.

Well, I arrived early and waited for his arrival in the concession area where we agreed to meet. Sure enough, at the agreed time, the Director walked up and introduced himself. He was cordial enough and he seemed genuinely excited about the prospect of having me join his team.

"Bob" (not his real name) asked if I needed anything and, as we were meeting in the morning, coffee was my drink of choice. We walked over to the concession area to get him some water and a cup of coffee for me.

Well, this was not a Starbucks shop.

The hired help was a little behind the eight ball and the big coffee urn was bone dry. In addition to an empty coffee urn, we had a little bit of trouble flagging down someone to notify them of the lack of "liquid enthusiasm".

When we finally did flag down somebody, he said that he was brewing more coffee and it would take a few minutes. Having done some time behind a counter, I can empathize with what the counter help goes through when these things happen.

Now, I have seen good service and I've seen poor service. I've seen servers push themselves to 110% when they only had 85% to give, and I've seen servers take a wholly apathetic attitude toward the clientele. This team was not equipped to handle the backup that they were experiencing and it was obvious that they were doing the best they could with what they had.

Which is why I was surprised at "Bob’s" reaction.

He went off talking about "how slow these people were". He called back several times in a huffed manner, asking where the coffee was and how much longer was it going to take. Even after I volunteered to forgo the coffee in the interest of time, he was insistent that the situation was insufferable and that the hired help needed to "get their act together". Mind you, he wasn't frothing at the mouth. But the behavior was far from a calm, controlled graciousness that I've come to expect from managers and leaders.

We finally did get an opportunity to sit down for about 15 minutes. We talked about the company, what he was planning to do with his group, and I did eventually talk to the rest of his team in the Bay Area. I did find it very appealing and in terms of my career, it would have been a very beneficial move.

However, when it came time to make a decision, that brief event at the airport constantly played out in my mind. It left me with a burning question: "If this small inconvenience threw him for a loop, what was going to happen when something bigger happened like his reps not meeting their numbers?"

I know that "Bob" was on a short time frame and he had to catch a flight out of the area. But in cases like these, we would do well to borrow a page from the US Marines’ play book: Adapt and Overcome.

In spite of liking the team in the Bay Area and liking what I knew about the company, when it came time to decide if I should take the position, I politely declined.

"Bob’s" reaction? Just what I expected based on my observations at the airport.

Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more.

Don’t fuss about trifles.

Taking it a step further, Richard Carlson wrote a whole book around Principle #9 entitled Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff -- And It’s All Small Stuff.

As leaders, we need to be mindful of the impact our attitude has on the people around us. Which means we have to decide how much anxiety we are willing to give to a particular circumstance and we can’t let the small stuff get to us.

Something to keep in mind when you’re out there hunting for new talent and leading your teams. You're being watched constantly.

Don’t sweat the small stuff and your team will always look to you for leadership.

Monday, January 28, 2008

For People Who Want To Increase Their Job Security: How To Make Yourself Indispensable

There I was, driving along I-275 at 8:30 in the morning. I had two hands on the wheel, and since the car was an automatic, I only needed one foot to work the brake and accelerator. "Jimmy", one of my co-workers, was finishing up a phone call in the shotgun seat. We sat for about a minute, watching the hills pass by when "Jimmy" turns to me and says, "Remind me to call Bob at ABC Company today."

Let’s see, I have both hands on the wheel, one free foot and my attention is on the road while "Jimmy" has 2 free hands, two free feet and is free to focus his attention on anything he wants. So why is he asking me to remind him to do something when he can remind himself or simply write it down?

The answer: Because he trusts my memory more than he trusts his own abilities.

Back when Dale Carnegie was first creating his methodology over 90 years ago, he discovered that the majority of people taking the program lacked a certain amount of self-confidence. One of the strategies that Dale Carnegie used to enhance self-confidence was to help people use their memory skills in an effective manner, thereby increasing their confidence in the rest of their abilities.

That’s right, I said memory skills.

Many people feel that memory is some magical thing that they are born with—they either have it or they don’t. While there are physiological and biological factor involved in memory, the major reason people don’t have a good memory is because they were never taught how to use it effectively. Memory strategies are not something that we learn in our schools. We typically find a strategy that works by trail and error and continue to use it even when it is inadequate for a given set of circumstances.

What’s interesting is how we deal with these limitations when we bump into them. When we outgrow a particular skills or strategy, we don’t say, "oh, I’ve outgrown this particular memory strategy, it’s just not adequate for what I need to do. Let me find a new one." We usually find a creative answer to justify our performance including:
  • I’ve got other things on my mind.
  • I’m not good at remembering names.
  • They say memory is the first to go when you get older.
And my personal favorite,
  • I’ve never had a good memory.
Tony Buzan has written a fair number of books on the physiological aspects of memory and some simple strategies to improve our recall. One of those strategies involves a method called stacking, taught in the first two sessions of the Dale Carnegie Course and used extensively throughout the rest of the program.

If you are not familiar stacking, this method is useful for remembering an ordered list of items. It’s a visual strategy that takes advantage of the fact that we remember things that are visually vibrant and out of the ordinary. In the stacking method, we take items that are representative or symbolic of things we want to remember and we strongly link them to each other in a certain order to create a flowing story.

So, if we wanted to remember a dish, a pencil, and a cow in that order, creating these items in our minds as separate entities would not help. So first, we place a huge dish made of bone china on the floor. We then plunge a huge, yellow, number 2 pencil into the dish cracking it. At the business end of the pencil, we then skewer a purple Jersey cow. Now we have a complete unit that is easier to remember.

There are other aspects that tend to make images stick in our minds and easier to recall. For example, making an image bigger (huge, gigantic), brighter and extremely colorful (yellow, purple) will make an image easier to recall for many people as opposed to a small, dull, black and white picture. Making a picture more graphic will also increase memory recall for many people. Just having a cow balance on the tip of a big pencil won’t make a lasting impression. But having a monstrous, yellow number 2 pencil skewering this poor purple cow with the tiniest amount of blood dripping down the length of the pencil… well, you get the picture.

If you tie your representations together well and the items are representations of the things that you want to remember, you’ll be able to impress your friends by reciting the list of items forward and backward

We introduce a number of different memory strategies in the first few sessions of the Dale Carnegie course. These strategies help individuals in remembering an ordered list, a list of items that they can remember out of sequence, remembering names and remembering talks that they want to give. If you are curious about the physiology of memory or other strategies that you can use for increasing your memory power, I would suggest reviewing Tony Buzan’s books on reading and memory.

You can also read a direct application to public speaking in Dale Carnegies book, How To Develop Self-Confidence And Influence People By Public Speaking.

But the best way to learn about the capabilities of your memory is to try some of these strategies starting with stacking. Try the stacking strategy at home or at work and see what kind of response you get from other people. Eventually, you will find that you have become the most indispensable person at work because everybody will trust your memory capabilities more than they trust their own.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

5 Secrets To Keep Your Audience’s Attention On Your Message

One more thing to keep in mind about PowerPoint and other presentation software. Actually there are 5 things to keep in mind.

In session 3 of the Dale Carnegie Course, we discuss and practice 5 rules for using an exhibit when giving a presentation:

  • Bring the exhibit out when you need it.
  • Hold it high so everyone can see it.
  • Talk to your audience, not to the exhibit.
  • Don’t hide behind it.
  • Put it down when you are finished with it.

You can find these rules in Dale Carnegie’s book, The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking. The idea here is to remove anything that will distract the audience from paying attention to your message.

When thinking about PowerPoint, these 5 rules translate as follows:

  • Turn on the projector when you need it.
  • Project it large and high enough so everyone can see it.
  • Talk to your audience, not to the screen, which translates to don’t read the slide.
  • Don’t stand in the projection path so you have your slide splashed across your face.
  • Turn off the projection when you don’t need it.

Your PowerPoint slides are visual exhibits. They follow the same rules that apply to all other exhibits.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Presentation Tip #126: Use PowerPoint To Put Visuals Into Your Presentation

Beginners and advanced presenters can benefit from photos in their Power Point slides.Another thought from the last High Impact Presentations program about PowerPoint.

When creating your message, you essentially have three types of element at your disposal:

  • Visual elements
  • Auditory elements
  • Words

In the High Impact Presentations program, we help participants design their presentations. In the process, we’ve seen slides that could best be described as a PowerPoint book with a fancy background. Keep in mind that PowerPoint is essentially a visual medium. It can convey a lot more feeling and power using visual imagery over using words alone.

If you really need to use words, the recommendation we use is the 6X6 rule. That is, 6 words per line, 6 lines per slide.

But words have to be read, a linear process, and that takes time.

People process visual imagery holistically and it’s done a lot faster than reading words. Let the slides deliver the full impact of the message quickly with visual drawings and photos.

After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and using pictures on a screen can make a bigger and longer-lasting impression over just using words alone.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Presentation Idea #125: How To Keep Your Audience’s Attention By Keeping Power Point In Its Place

Keep Your Audience's Attention By Staying Focused On The Message, Not The Power Point Slides.A few years back, I was interviewing for a sales engineering position with a large computer company on the West Coast. During the interview, the hiring manager asked me how I would put on a presentation for a client if I had to go out into the field with a sales rep.

Well, having spent some time in sales and participated in numerous Dale Carnegie programs on the West Coast, this was an easy question for me. So, I replied that I would first contact the client and ask him or her a few questions to make sure that we were on the same page and to understand why they chose us. Then I would ask them some questions about their objectives, what they were looking for and what type of limitations they were encountering. Of course, this also involves consulting the sales rep to review any information that they had gathered from the client.

His response stunned me. The interviewer told me that wasn’t the way to do it. The answer that he was looking for was: go down to marketing and get the PowerPoint presentation.

I don’t know if this is still a common practice at this company, but the strategy does have merit. First, the presenter doesn’t have to think about what is going to capture and maintain the audience’s attention, not when there’s a packet of PowerPoint slides to lean on. Second, the presenter has a suitable excuse if the presentation does not go well: It’s marketing’s fault for making a lousy PowerPoint presentation.

One of the points that we just covered in the most recent High Impact Presentations program is that the PowerPoint slides are not the message. They only enhance the message. When delivering a presentation in front of a group of people, remember that you are still the center of attention and the main message has to come from you. If you could deliver your message with nothing more than a bunch of slides, there would be no reason for you to stand in front of the group and perform the presentation. Just email out the slides to everyone and you’re done.

I’ve never been a big fan of giving a canned presentation based on a bunch of “professionally-created” slides. However, there is value to having visually stimulating and attention getting slides. If you are like me and you don’t have that visual flair, you will need to team up with an artist who can create your slides for you. Keep in mind that the artist probably doesn’t have a feel for the dynamics of platform presentations, and especially for the nuances of the message that you want to convey. Stay in control. This is your message, not the artist’s statement. The slides are there to accentuate your presentation, not to overpower it.

There were many other ideas and tactics that we covered in the most recent High Impact Presentations program. But if you are interested in the various aspects of using PowerPoint, I would suggest that you sneak a peek at Seth Godin’s Really Bad PowerPoint. The ideas that he suggests will be major wake up call for many presenters in spite of the fact that this document has been out in cyberspace for over 5 years.

Bottom-line here is this: Don’t use PowerPoint as a crutch. Stay in control when delivering your message

Now, if you do a lot of presentations and you are looking for other ideas that we cover in this program, leave a comment below or send email to me. We’ll discuss other aspects of PowerPoint and presentations in later posts.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Customer Service Secret #109: Make Your Clients Feel Important.

Good customer service starts by getting inside your customer's head.There is something to be said for being a known entity.

There I was, walking into my favorite Starbucks shop on Vista Way. The sun was out for a change, the wind had died down, and my mind was wandering amongst the 7 different things that I needed to accomplish today. As I walked in, there were a few people in the shop sitting at the various tables, but no one was standing in line. That is when I noticed Sarah standing behind the counter sliding a large (venti) coffee forward.

As I got to the counter, I looked at the coffee, looked at her and said, “This isn’t for me, is it?”

“Yes it is.” She replied with a smile. “I saw you coming across the parking lot.”

Not a big event, but it did stand out in my mind.

Can we call this customer service?

Yes!

And it was a very different experience.

Over a year ago, Time-Warner Cable took over the assets of Adelphia. In the process, they launched an ad campaign that focused on changing the perceptions of the customer base. I’m making an educated guess here, but in my opinion, the message they were intending to deliver was that there was a new sheriff in town and they were going to put the ”customer” back in “customer service”. The television ad that got the lion share of the airtime, however, sent another message. Again, this is only my opinion based on my observations.

This particular ad had one of their women customer service reps going through her normal everyday life. In every encounter she had with another person, she asked questions that just did not fit the circumstance. I do not know about you, but when I am in the grocery checkout lane, I don’t say to the cashier, “How may I help you?” When I answer the door to greet a smiling Girl Scout selling her cookies, I don’t say, “I’ll need to verify your account. What is your mother’s maiden name?”

So, what’s the message I got out of all of this?

“Our people are inflexible and incapable of independent thought. They do everything we tell them to do and we do everything by the book. We can’t do anything outside of normal established procedure and you, dear customer, are all the same to us.”

As I sit back and reflect on these events, my thoughts turn back to something I read, or rather heard, in Tom Peter’s book, Re-Imagine. According to Peters’:

“The quality of everything is terrific. Things that work are not usual. Things that don’t work are unusual. We are afloat, awash, adrift in a sea of sameness. High quality sameness, but sameness none-the-less. …”

He goes on to say:

“The surplus society has a surplus of similar companies employing similar people with similar educational backgrounds, coming up with similar ideas producing similar things with similar prices and similar quality. I call all this the 10x 10 phenomenon. 10 times better, 10 times less different.”

And finally:

“… to succeed we must stop being so normal. In a winner-take-all world, normal equals nothing.”

The point being here is that there are plenty of corporate people out there chasing after common definitions established by the experts. Customer service in particular is defined as “service with a smile”, “the customer is always right”, “saying please and thank you”, and “making the customer feel welcome”. Not that there is anything wrong with these ideals, but there’s nothing special about them either: everybody does them. They are the norm.

Here is what I find remarkable about the Starbucks stores. They don’t play by the book, at least not by the standardized customer support book that most other organizations use. Their people make up the rules as they go along and in the process, they make their customers feel special. They make me feel special every time I go into one of their stores. It doesn’t matter which store I visit. I could be up in Willoughby where a partner once remarked, “We haven’t seen you in a month. I’m glad your back.” Or I could be down in ValleyView where a partner went out of her way to find me a discontinued venti travel cup because I wanted to “go green” with 20 oz of java instead of the usual 16 oz.

Doesn’t matter where I go. The crew takes time to know their clients—to make them known quantities, and provide them with outstanding, individualized, personalized service, making their clients feel important in the process.

Everybody wants to feel important. In spite of all of the rhetoric about being treated equally, people want to be recognized for their individuality. In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie’s 9th principle states that we should, “Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.” He didn’t write, “Make other people feel important”, nor did he write, “Make everybody feel important”. He wrote, “Make the other person feel important”. This principle is very specific in its application. The specificity is the secret sauce that makes the most impact.

Take the time to know your clients. Turn them into known quantities. And by providing them with individualized, personalized service, you will succeed in making them feel important.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Technorati and BlogCatalog Resources

People -

We are now listed in two new blog directories. You can now find us listed in the BlogCatalog Directory and the Technorati Directory. See the social bookmark section in the sidebar to mark as favorites and see other resources available in these directories.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Registration Page for Insights into Leadership

If you are looking to register for the "Insights into Leadership" workshop, we have a new page that will make the process easier.

Click here to register online for the FREE "Insights into Leadership" workshop.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Insights Into Leadership

A quick update on the seminars and workshops in the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana metro areas. We’ve added several new events for the "Are You Promotable?" and "Are You Selling Enough?" seminars. The title of the newest seminar on the board is "Insights into Leadership".

In this seminar, we will address some of the challenges we face when we are in a managerial role and we need to balance our ability to manage against our ability to lead. Insights will be revealed that will have you thinking differently not just about how you interact with your direct reports, but also how you view yourself within the company. As with the other two seminars, "Insights into Leadership" is a free workshop where you will have an opportunity to build your own action plan for your advancement.

Times and dates for all workshops are included in the "Seminars and Workshops" section.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Secrets of Change Management Revealed

New Discoveries in neuroscience provides support for soft skill development.Change!

This is the new buzzword as we traverse today’s political environment. Each presidential hopeful is out there on the campaign trail saying that he or she is the agent of change or that the time for change is now.

But change is difficult, something any person who has been involved in business for the past 10 years knows all to well. Ask any manager, any director, anyone in IT, and they will tell you that change management has always been one of the hot topics for discussion and a major subject for corporate training.

For some reason, starting new projects, bringing in new technology, and changing business processes have always sparked a certain level of resistance regardless of the logical reasons to make the change. For a time, we had no concrete reasons why this resistance was so palpable.

No concrete reasons, that is, until now.

With new technology and advances made in neuroscience, understanding the reasons for resisting change are now coming into focus. Using new medical technology, scientists are able to view brain activity during certain thinking processes. In Christopher Koch’s CIO article "Change Management – Understanding the Science of Change":

Change lights up an area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, which is like RAM memory in a PC. The prefrontal cortex is fast and agile, able to hold multiple threads of logic at once to enable quick calculations. But like RAM, the prefrontal cortex’s capacity is finite—it can deal comfortably with only a handful of concepts before bumping up against limits. That bump generates a palpable sense of discomfort and produces fatigue and even anger.

The article also supports something that sales people have known for a long time. When I first started in sales, I remember hearing Tom Hopkins in one of his sales training seminars tell an audience of 2000 sales people, "If you say it, then it not real. If they say it, it’s believable." And in the book, How To Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie’s 16th human relations principle states, "Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers."

In support of this, Koch writes:

The way to get past the prefrontal cortex’s defenses is to help people come to their own resolution regarding the concepts causing their prefrontal cortex to bristle. These moments of resolution or insight—call them epiphanies—appear to be as soothing to the prefrontal cortex as the unfamiliar is threatening.

One of the methods to make this happen is outlined a little further down in Koch’s article when he quotes David Rock, founder and CEO of Results Coaching Systems. In the article:

Rock also says that asking questions gets people to voice their ideas. And according to the brain scans, voicing ideas creates more activity and connectivity in the brain than hearing an idea spoken by someone else. "The best way to get people to change is to lay out the objective in basic terms and then ask them how they would go about getting there," Rock says.

Again, in the book, "How To Win Friends And Influence People", Dale Carnegies 25th principle on leadership states, "Ask questions instead of giving direct orders." By asking questions, we get buy in from the team and they take ownership of the discoveries.

There is a wealth of information on change management in the article, and you can find several of Dale Carnegie’s human relations principles sprinkled liberally throughout its length. You can read it here on the CIO website.

How do you conduct change management in your organization? Let us know your thoughts by clicking on the comments link below.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

11 Ways to Slow Down Your Body's Aging

Slow down the biological clock by controlling your attitude, eating habits and exercising habits.Just found this post on the web that talks about anti-aging tactics. Dale Carnegie touches some of these upon in his book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”.

Here is the list of 11 things you can do to slow down your body’s aging:

  1. Change your perception of time. Don’t be in a hurry.
  2. Get restful sleep.
  3. Eat fresh, nutritious food.
  4. Take at least two multivitamins with minerals every day.
  5. Practice a mind-body technique such as yoga or tai chi.
  6. Exercise regularly.
  7. Don’t put toxins in your life, including toxic food, toxic emotions, toxic relationships and avoid toxic environments or toxic relationships.
  8. Have a flexible attitude to minor hassles.
  9. Look at so-called problems as opportunities.
  10. Nurture loving relationships.
  11. Always have an attitude of curiosity, learning, and wonder and spend time with children.
You can find the full text of the post here at Deepak Chopra’s blog, IntentBlog.

Back in the 1930’s, Dale Carnegie saw a need to help business people focus their attention on things that they could do to prevent stress and worry from keeping them from being effective (and affecting their health in a detrimental way). Some of the principles that correspond to the list above are as follows:

  1. Live in day tight compartments.
  2. Rest before you get tired.
  3. Fill you mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope.
  4. Don’t fuss about the trifles.
  5. Profit from your losses.
  6. Create happiness for others.
  7. Keep busy.
  8. Protect your health and appearance by relaxing at home.
  9. Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health.
  10. Count your blessings – not your troubles.

This is just a sampling of the worry principles. There are 30 principles covered in Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” as well as in the Dale Carnegie Course. We’ll talk about some of them in a future posting.

As an instructor, I’ve always talked about the effects that stress and worry can have on our health. However, I can’t remember ever instructing a session and tying these principles to the effects that they could possibly have on our biological age or on the longevity of our bodies. Nor can I recall sitting in on a session and observing another instructor talk about the effects that stress and worry has on the aging process.

If applying these principles could raise your life expectancy by 5 years, would it be worth your effort to put some of them into practice?

Which principles have you successfully applied in the past?

And which ones will you apply in the coming weeks to increase you life expectancy?

Let us know by writing your response in the comment section below.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Workshops in the Ohio Valley

New Tools in the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Area to Help You Build Your FutureHeads up Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. We’ve added a number of new programs to the workshop circuit. A new series of "Are You Promotable" workshops are slated to happen in the Cleveland, Columbus, and Indianapolis areas in addition to the programs currently on the books for Cincinnati and Dayton.

We are also introducing two new types of workshop in the region. One workshop, entitled "Are You Selling Enough", will touch on specific elements of the sales process. The other is entitled "Insights Into Leadership" and naturally touches on the various aspects of leadership.

We’ll have more on these two new workshops up within the week. Also, check the local area websites for dates and times.

At some point in the next week or two, we’ll also have a video excerpts from the "Are You Promotable" workshop held in Cleveland a few weeks ago. Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Communication Tip Number 119: You're Probably Making Your Audience Feel Dumb and Aren't Even Aware of It

A few months back I interviewed with a company out west. There I was, sitting with one of the sales people and I had their undivided attention for half an hour. As the interview began to approach the end, we hit the question and answer period. You know the piece. It's the point in the interview when the interviewer asks if you have any other questions that they can answer.

Well, I had several questions and proceeded to ask them. After one particular question, the interviewer thought for a moment and replied, “… that’s a very good question” before proceeding to answer the question.

Now I know that some people will use this particular speech pattern to buy themselves some time to collect their thoughts. However, that did not stop me from thinking, “I guess the rest of the questions I asked weren’t good questions.”

During my testing to become a Dale Carnegie Instructor, this is one point that the master trainer drilled into us newbie trainers. It is also one of the presentation tips covered in the High Impact Presentations program. When you grade a question with a statement like “that’s a very good question”, you are making the rest of the audience feel a little less smart.

Now, this point isn’t isolated to delivering a presentation or being an instructor. It certainly had relevance during my interview. And think about your next sales call when you in a one-on-one situation with a prospect. Will you sit there and tell them that one of their questions was very good and the others were, well, not so good? What about the next performance review you’ll be conducting?

So what do you say instead?

We cover a number of strategies in the High Impact Presentations program. One of them is to paraphrase the question back to the person who asked it. This way, you can insure that you both have agreement on understanding the question. In a larger audience, repeating the question also insure that everyone else understands the question as well.

As with any strategy, you will need to determine the appropriate time and frequency on its use. And as with any skill that you are developing, expertise comes with practice and coaching.