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Ira Koretsky
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Duane Bailey
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Guest Bloggers
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figure of speech, repetition, speaking, presenting, impact, messaging

I’m often asked, "When it comes to deciding what story to tell, where do I start?”

Great stories are those that touch people, that touch people with a personal experience shared in a memorable workplace message.

When you are thinking about the next strategic presentation, board meeting, report, etc. where a story will help advance your agenda (when won't it?), think about experience moments. These are times in your life where you gained new insights and where you changed because of these new insights. These insights should be profound such that they still affect your thinking and actions today.

Then take these experience moments and turn them into workplace stories with a specific message, a specific idea, a specific action you want your audiences to take.

Experience Moment Suggestions:
- Experiences that changed you a) Related to a person or b) "Aha" moments/epiphanies
- Firsts:  First win, first loss (playing sports, hobby, tournament), and first promotion
- Friends & Family:  Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, Mother, Father (always great sources of stories, sayings, messages)
- Media:  Movies, books, poems from childhood to adulthood

figure of speech, repetition, speaking, presenting, impact, messaging

The English language has hundreds of figures of speech to help you improve the effectiveness of your communications. Anaphora is an excellent example of repetition.

Look at the examples below. Find ways for you to experiment by including this figure of speech in your written, spoken, and online communications.

As always, test your use of language. Is it engaging, persuasive, and memorable? If not, (ruthlessly) revise.

 

- Definition:   A word or phrase is repeated at the beginning of a successive phrase, clause, or sentence, two or more times
- Pronunciation:  ah-NAF-oh-rah
- Also Known As:  Epanaphora, Iteratio, Relatio, and Repetitio
- Etymology:  Greek, “carrying back”

Example:  “Freedom's Forge," Book Launch Event, Author Arthur Herman, 5/2012
Now, what I want to do here tonight is to tell you a story. And this is a story that usually is told backwards. {If you go to the} textbooks, {if you go to the} movies, {if you go to the} usual discussions...

Example:  Rick Blaine in Casablanca the movie
{Of all the} gin joints {in all the} towns {in all the} world, she walks into mine

Example:  President John Kennedy, Inaugural Address, Jan 1961
{Let both sides} explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. {Let both sides}, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms, and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

{Let both sides} seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

{Let both sides} unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah--to 'undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free.'

In honor of Dr. King and celebration of his holiday, here is one of our favorite quotes.

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

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Everyone at The Chief Storyteller® wishes you a warm, safe, and relaxing holiday season. Here's a little storytelling humor.

secret-formula-for-great-storytelling

visual words

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” perfectly describes the necessity for you to tell your stories with engaging (and powerful) imagery.

Think of a story you were told recently while at work. Was it interesting? Engaging? Memorable? We bet you a billion (Monopoly®) dollars that for you to say yes to all three, the storyteller used visual words. Words like those of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, during a commencement she gave to the Harvard Business School Graduates:

Lori has a great metaphor for careers. She says they’re not a ladder; they’re a jungle gym. As you start your post-HBS career, look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission. Move sideways, move down, move on, move off. Build your skills, not your resume.

This excerpt is an excellent example of metaphor and descriptive language. People who love to tell stories...the good storytellers...think visually. When they create stories in their minds, they transform words into engaging and memorable experiences…experiences that draw you in and make you feel like you are part of the experience.

Watch videos of professional speakers. As you do, stop the video every so often. Think about the words you just heard. Do they move you? Try to determine why and why not? What can you learn from these examples?

- Watch videos on TED and TEDx.
- Watch speeches on YouTube from noted academics, business leaders, politicians, opinion leaders, and thought leaders (examples include LinkedIn Speakers, @Google Talks, and Harvard Business School)
- Watch movies with powerful dialogue and memorable scenes (IMDB is an excellent source of movie information)

attend experience events

Meeting new people is easy while attending conferences. Sit next to someone you don’t know at the keynotes and workshops. Eat lunch with someone new. Talk to a smiling face at a break.

All of this makes meeting new people easy. What isn’t easy is building relationships.

The events and activities just mentioned are typically short, sort of forced, and rarely give you a chance to get to know someone well.

Experience events are just the opposite. Consider attending events like a wine tasting, museum tour, city tour, play, etc. Here at these “after work” events, you will find people are more relaxed, more open, and more talkative. You have the activity to share together and to bond over. Experience events are where you really get to know people and really connect.

active listening

Children say the most honest things, don’t they? Over the weekend, my family went to Washington, DC National Zoo for a child’s birthday party. We walked visiting various animals like the elephants, sea otters, and lions.

After eating tasty cake and ice cream at the end of the party, we ended up walking with some friends. They happen to have an inquisitive, bright-eyed three-year old son. As we were almost to the exit, I overheard the little boy say to his mother, “We can’t go. It’s jail. We have to let them out.”

Wow! What a powerful statement. My wife and I talked about it. We take for granted the animals are in cages—it’s a zoo afterall. How insightful, how raw, how eye opening was that statement?

As we continued to walk to our car and for the ride home I thought more about what I don’t pay attention to as much as should, personally and professionally.

And I’ll ask you the same question I asked my team:  “Are we listening to our audiences enough?”

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Master the Art of Active Listening

active listening

James Nathan Miller made an interesting observation some 50 years ago—“Conversation in the U.S. is a competitive exercise in which the first person to draw a breath is declared the listener” (The Art of Intelligent Listening, Readers Digest, September 1965).

Don’t let Miller’s observation describe your conversations. Master the art of active listening.

Whether you are a government agency, association, charity, education institution, or corporation, we all have stakeholders—both internal and external. And what each person or persons needs, changes. Depending upon due dates, unforeseen events, new priorities, and the like, the needs can change quickly or slowly.

Whatever your situation, you really have to listen to “them” to really know what is important to them.

Effective listening benefits you in many ways such as: 
- Improves bonding and rapport building
- Reduces communication misunderstandings
- Reduces interpersonal conflicts
- Increases quality of work-related activities

Here are some suggestions to master the art of active listening:
- Use Non-verbal Body Language: Nod your head, smile, and lean forward are good ways to demonstrate your attentiveness. On the telephone, say words like Right, Sure, Understand, and Yes to demonstrate your attentiveness.
- Paraphrase: Summarize and repeat back to the person initiating the conversation the key points. This ensures common understanding. Use this suggestion for the more important discussion points.
- Communicate: Based on your mutual goals with your stakeholders, communicate in person (e.g., coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner, and meetings). Communicate in other ways such as by telephone, email, text message, and postal mail. 
- Wait Your Turn: Resist the temptation to interrupt and interject. Let your communication partner finish sharing her/his thoughts.

paul brandus book launch

Last year I had the honor and priviledge to co-present a program on messaging and the media with Paul Brandus. I'm not easily impressed. I was after working with Paul. I've met a lot of journalists over my career. He has a insightful grasp of the business side of journalism. And he wants the interviewee to be successful, really successful. 

After receiving my invite to his book launch party, I asked him if I could share it and invite othes. "The more the merrier," he said. Come out and join us on Tuesday 29 September. The reviews list reads like a Whose Who in Washington, DC communications leaders.

Here's some information about Paul, Under this Roof (Amazon link) book launch, and the book itself.  Email me know if you are joining.

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About Paul

An award-winning, independent member of the White House press corps, Paul Brandus is the founder of West Wing Reports® in 2009 (Twitter: @WestWingReport, 200k+ followers) and provides reports for television and radio outlets around the United States and overseas. In 2011, he won the Shorty Award for "Best Journalist on Twitter," sponsored by the Knight Foundation. The Atlantic calls Brandus “One of the top Washington Insiders You Should Follow on Twitter.” He lives in Reston, Virginia.

Book Launch

Every guest at the book launch receives their own copy of Under this Roof.

Army and Navy Club
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
5:00pm-7:00pm

on Farragut Square
901 Seventeenth Street
N.W, Washington,D.C. 20006

http://www.armynavyclub.org/

Farragut North Station (Red Line)
Farragut West Station (Orange/Blue/Silver Line)

UNDER THIS ROOF: The White House and the Presidency—21 Presidents, 21 Rooms, 21 Inside Stories

Why, in the hours before John F. Kennedy was murdered, was a blood-red carpet installed in the Oval Office? Did you know Abraham Lincoln never slept in the Lincoln Bedroom—so where did he sleep? What really happened in the Situation Room on September 11, 2001? And why was the White House itself—home to a head of state longer than London’s Buckingham Palace, Tokyo’s Imperial Palace and Moscow’s Kremlin—nearly torn down on multiple occasions and moved?

From John Adams—the first President to live in the White House—to Barack Obama, the story of the White House is the story of America itself. You’ll walk with Adams through the still-unfinished mansion, and watch Thomas Jefferson plot to buy the Louisiana Territory. Feel the fear and panic as the British approach the mansion in 1814—and stand with Dolley Madison as she frantically saves a painting of George Washington. Gaze out the window with Abraham Lincoln as Confederate flags flutter in the breeze on the other side of the Potomac. Brandus takes us into the room as one president is secretly sworn in, and another gambles away the White House china in a poker game. Through triumph and tragedy, boom and bust, secrets and scandals, Brandus takes you to the Situation Room, Presidential Bedroom, Oval Office and more. You’ll read stories of First Ladies—Abigail Adams to Mary Lincoln to Jacqueline Kennedy—that will amaze you, and, along the way, learn how advances in technology that changed the nation—telephones, electricity, radio and more—changed the White House and the presidency forever.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Select praise for Under This Roof:
“Inventive, smart and engaging” —Susan Page, Washington Bureau chief of USA Today

“Under This Roof is like taking a tour of the White House with a gifted storyteller at your side illuminating the most dramatic moments of American history…. Paul Brandus paints a vivid picture.” —Christina Bellantoni, Editor-in-Chief, Roll Call.

“This fascinating book is stuffed with secrets and little-known tales of presidential intrigue.” —Larry J. Sabato, New York Times bestselling author of The Kennedy Half-Century

“[A]n engaging, endearing profile of the world’s most famous residence and the families who called the White House home… I thought I knew just about everything interesting about the presidency—until I read his book!” —Ron Fournier, senior columnist for the National Journal

“[A] fast-moving and well-written history of the presidency… Brandus is a top-notch tour guide, filling his pages with vivid portraits of presidents and their families at work and play.” —Del Quentin Wilber, New York Times bestselling author of Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan


“[A] towering history . . . a riveting narrative.” —David A. Andelman, Editor & Publisher, World Policy Journal; Columnist, USA Today; and author of Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today

“Under this Roof sweeps us into a sensuous account of the history of both the home of the President, and the men and women who designed, inhabited, and decorated it. Paul Brandus captivates with surprising, gloriously raw observations.”—Mark Santangelo, Chief Librarian and Archivist, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington

LinkedIn Tips

Here's a total revision to of one of our more popular posts published a few years back (67 Tips for Using LinkedIn to Help You Find the Job You Want). I categorized the tips, added several, and removed the outdated ones. Suggestions, feedback, your favorite tips?  Please let me know in the comments.

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If you were not aware, LinkedIn is the number one business social media site in the world. Today, there are over 380,000,000 members with an average of 5,000,000 joining every month. Some interesting statistics:

- Officially launched on May 5, 2003.
- 4,500 members as of May 2003
- Available in 24 languages
- > 8,700 full-time employees with offices in 30 cities
- Members come from > 200 countries and territories
- Top Countries: USA 118M+; India 31M+; UK 19M+; Canada 11M+; France 10M+; China 10M+; Italy 8M+; Australia 7M+; Mexico 7M+; Spain 7M+

The tips are designed to improve your profile and for you job seekers, to help you find a job. These are the top ones that colleagues, clients, and friends have found most helpful. There are a lot more!

Suggest you identify the best tips for you. Then prioritize what you will do in what time frame. I did include a 30 Day Must Do, To Do list. Also, based on several suggestions from folks, each tip is on a separate line to facilitate a check-list approach.

Whatever you need from LinkedIn, be deliberate with your time and how you interact with the LI network.

30 Day Must Do, To-Do List

  • Customize your professional headline (it is critical to have a compelling and engaging headline...this is what people who search see first adjacent to your picture)
  • Check and correct grammar (copy/paste into your favorite word processing software - I have never seen anyone's profile with no grammar errors)
  • Check and correct spelling (copy/paste into your favorite word processing software - you might be surprised at finding a spelling error)
  • Check and correct readability (use Microsoft Word's Readability Tools). Generally, you should write at or below the 10th grade level. Most USA magazines write between the 6th and 8th grade levels. For comparison, The New York Times writes to the 10th grade level. For Readability, your goal should be greater than 50.
  • Omit your personal information that may lead to identity theft (e.g., birthday, marital status, and address...While its fun to get happy birthday notes. Today's hyper fraud and attack world, I'd suggest you omit it)
  • Spend time (a lot) on your summary. After your professional headline, it is the important section. It is what people read first (unless you changed the order of the sections).
  • Spend time (a lot) on your Skills. This is an important section as people can search on your skills.
  • Put your value proposition/elevator speech in your summary
  • Use action verbs and active voice. If you live and work in the USA, suggest you use first person voice. If you work a lot with people in the USA, also recommend first person voice.

  • Use a professional looking photograph. No cut-outs/cut-offs, boats, children, spouses, etc. There are exceptions to this rule of course (only a few). LinkedIn statistics show that profiles with pictures perform substantially better than those profiles without pictures
  • Use your personal email address for your account. This ensures you will always have access to your account

New to LinkedIn

  • Complete your profile (LinkedIn research shows members with complete profiles are more successful in securing employment and complete profiles show up higher in search results
  • Invite people to join your network with a personalized/customized note…EVERY time
  • Expand your network by adding people you know (Consider allowing LinkedIn to access your Outlook, Gmail, etc.)
  • Consider including your maiden name (women) in your profile name. This ensures people who knew you before you got married can still find you
  • Fill out your educational history (many people skip this. And join your alumni group)
  • Fill out your employment history, from right after college to present (many people skip this. And join your alumni groups if your organizations have them
  • Take advantage of the New User Guide from LinkedIn

Advanced LinkedIn Content, Positioning, & Messaging

  • Change the website link for your blog from "My Blog" to a proper name such as "The Chief Storyteller Blog"
  • Change the website link for your company/personal site from "My Company" to a proper name such as "The Chief Storyteller® Website"
  • Change the website link for your LinkedIn public profile to a proper name/organization name such as "http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/TheChiefStoryteller"
  • Change the website link for your Twitter account to "Twitter" or your Twitter name such as "chiefstoryteller" 
  • Add into your profile articles and publications you wrote
  • Add into your profile presentations you gave via SlideShare.net
  • Ask for recommendations (helpful article Every Accomplishment Should Be Great: 5 Steps to Compelling Resume Accomplishments)
  • Consider including your LinkedIn address in your email signature
  • Consider upgrading your account to LI Premium
  • Expand your network by adding people that are like-minded (use groups, keywords, 2nd degree connections, and suggestions from LinkedIn)
  • Seek out advice from some of the smartest people in the world (any member can answer your questions - LinkedIn Inmail is a good way)
  • Help write your recommendations to ensure it is on-message - the message you want to communicate
  • Identify and include keywords relevant to audiences that will search for you
  • Join alumni groups to ensure you stay connected with high school, college, and graduate friends and colleagues
  • Join groups for personal development
  • Join professional groups important to your career success
  • Consider re-ordering your Skills. There are two approaches:  Listing your top rated skills and listing the skills you want more "clicks" on.
  • Track statistics for Who's viewed your profile. Identify trends

  • Look closely at Who's viewed your profile. Consider reaching out via LinkedIn InMail or connecting directly
  • Track statistics for Who's viewed your posts
  • For those that viewed your post, consider reaching out via LinkedIn InMail or connecting directly
  • Track statistics for your Actions Taken. Examine what activities you have completed and what ones you should be working on. Don't get caught up in the "gamification" aspect. Do what is right for you.
  • Visit the LinkedIn blog to gain insights and to learn more about changes coming
  • Use the "Follow Company" feature to stay current with organizations you have an interest in joining or learning more about
  • Use the "Saved searches" option to save your favorite search queries
  • Turn off your update notification in your settings when you are revising your profile for content changes, then turn it back on. Leave it on if you want people to know about job changes and other significant changes to your profile.
  • Consider turning your profile summary into one that is story-based 
  • Add the appropriate key words to your profile. Add the words your prospective audiences are searching for and the words you want to be known for - emphasize what your audience's point of view.

Building and Nurturing Your Network  

Ensure what you do share is very interesting and very relevant. LinkedIn is still a "noisy" social media community with articles, updates, announcements, sales solicitations, LinkedIn InMails, Pulse, etc.

  • Send articles of interest you come across from your favorite websites
  • Send articles of interest you come across from your favorite bloggers
  • Answer interesting questions in your groups thoughtful, education-focused responses
  • Share content from your blogs in your updates
  • Share content from your blogs in your Company page
  • Share content from your blogs in your Showcase pages
  • Share content from your articles in your updates
  • Share content from your articles in your Company page
  • Share content from your articles in your Showcase pages
  • Share content from your newsletters in your updates
  • Share content from your newsletters in your Company page
  • Share content from your newsletters in your Showcase pages
  • Share content from your favorite groups (not private)
  • Connect strategically with selected LiONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) matching your interests to expand your network
  • Leverage advanced search functionality to locate/connect with people with experiences and education like yours to see where they work and where they worked
  • Look through your connections’ connections for good-fit additions for your network
  • Send notes to people in your network when you see status updates or changes to his/her network
  • Share news with appropriate Groups
  • Write recommendations for people in your network. Suggest you ask the person first for keywords and preferred concepts/ideas to write about

Career - Job Seekers / Job Hunters 

There may be some duplicate tips here. I wanted to ensure the tips specific to career were in this list.

  • Download Box.Net and then include your cover letter and resume
  • Help write your recommendations to ensure it is on-message - the message you want to communicate
  • Join professional groups important to your career success
  • Perform competitive intelligence research on the target organizations before applying for a position
  • Perform competitive intelligence research on the target organization's competitors before applying for a position
  • Perform competitive intelligence research on people (e.g., hiring managers) before applying for a position
  • Perform competitive intelligence research on interviewers before your phone screen or in-person interview (e.g., read profiles, do Internet searches, read articles, and read blogs they wrote)
  • Perform competitive intelligence research using the LinkedIn reference check tool on interviewers before your phone screen or in-person interview 
  • Perform competitive intelligence research use advanced search to find current employees. Send a personalized request for a telephone call to discover more information about the prospective organization
  • Perform competitive intelligence research use advanced search to find former employees. Send a personalized request for a telephone call to discover more information about the prospective organization
  • Spend time (a lot) on your Skills. This is an important section as people can search on your skills
  • Search frequently the LinkedIn job opportunities
  • Use the "Follow Company" feature to stay current with organizations you have an interest in joining or learning more about
  • Turn off your update notification in your settings when you are revising your profile then turn it back on. 

59 Veterans Project

I met Jeffrey Ehrenkrantz through an Army veterans LinkedIn group. He is working an awesome project helping both our veterans and national parks.

Here is more information about the 59 Veterans Project. They are expanding their core team and seeking veterans interested in this journey of video discovery.

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Join The 59 Veterans Project on an epic journey of education and discovery that will be created by U.S. Veterans training for a new career in 4K ultra high definition and 3D high-definition videography. The result will be a series of half-hour programs featuring each of America’s 59 National Parks.

Utilizing state of the art 4K ultra high definition and 3D high-definition cameras, our team of videography professionals will teach the veterans field video production techniques. During the course of the project, an onsite producer will provide assignments for these programs which will be viewable online, in various formats including mobile as well as over the air programs.

This ambitious and far reaching year-long project will kick off an ongoing educational program designed to train returning U.S. service men and women to become professional 4K ultra high definition and 3D high-definition videographers. The 59 Veterans Project is just the tip of the iceberg and is a jump starter project that will aid in our larger mission of creating a U.S. National Park Video enterprise that will educate and employ U.S. Veterans for years to come.

We are currently looking to fill positions on our team, both for core team members and veteran participants. If you are interested in applying for a core team position as a chef, assistant chef, driver, or associate producer, please click on their links and fill out our form. We are also looking for veterans, plus a teammate of their choice, as well as bloggers to help tell their story. Preference will given to veterans with the skill to write the stories; it is their unique viewpoint that will add another dimension to the project.

The 59 Veterans Project is a unique and potentially life changing project for all that are involved. We are excited to give back to the veteran community, not only by providing an incredible experience in one of the 59 National Parks, but also educating them in the field of videography by way of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

personalize linkedin profile

A few days ago I received this form-letter LinkedIn invite (see picture below).

I'm sure you get these...while sometimes fun to read, they have a variety of "bad" characteristics, some more than others. And to me, they really hurt your credibility. And always end up being deleted.

At The Chief Storyteller®, we often find if there is one error, there are at least three more errors.

The "Hi Ellen" greeting is what first caught my attention. Second, where was the personalization and more specifically, the relevance to me? What does "mutually benefit from connecting" mean?

Here is a list of the most common "bad" characteristics we see.

- Lacks personalization - overall, obviously a form-letter
- Lacks personalization - greeting - absence of a name (e.g., "Hello,")
- Generic subject line / irrelevant subject line
- Typos - misspelling, poor punctuation, poor grammar, bad word choice
- Lengthy - sentences and/or letter
- Poor organization of points and supporting points
- Lacks a strong and relevant call-to-action
- Inappropriate greeting and closings
- Far-fetched claims / chest-thumping
- Wrong names used (like this example) / misspelled names

For this invitation-to-connect form letter there are 5 bad characteristics:
- Lacks personalization - overall, obviously a form-letter
- Generic subject line / irrelevant subject line
- Unspecific body copy / irrelevant body copy
- Lacks a strong and relevant call-to-action
- Wrong names used

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Body Language Non Verbal Communications

As an Army veteran (that's me in the picture many years ago), I'm a member of several military and veteran LinkedIn groups. Recently someone posted a nice article titled, "19 Terrible LinkedIn Mistakes You're Making."

Several of the commenters were adamant in keeping a military-style profile picture. And I "adamantly" disagree.

And this is true of everyone. You should ONLY use a professional photograph - "No spouses, no friends, no boats, no dogs..."

Here's the comment I left.

 "If you are using LinkedIn to transition out of the service, then you really should have a corporate-style photograph. No spouses, no friends, no boats, no dogs…just a professional head-shot.

Are you wearing your A's or BDU's to your corporate office? No. I live and work in the Washington, DC area -- No matter where you are, there is a government agency or military office. We are very used to seeing people in and out of uniform, especially reservists. This is not an issue of pride or identity in regard to the uniform.

I’m a very proud vet and proud of those before me, serving now, and future. I want you to have the very best advantage you can when transitioning. You only have one chance for a first impression. Having helped hundreds of veterans from all services with their career transitions and LinkedIn profiles, I know people are hiring you for the future, based on your past (same is true for everyone).

They need to see you are ready for corporate/association/government life. And the picture is the first…the first element in LinkedIn someone will see. LinkedIn is not a resume…it is your representation of what image you want to present. It should be all about your accomplishments.

Since you are being hired based on your military experiences, put "Army Veteran" in your professional headline. If you really want to showcase your service accomplishments with pictures, create a PDF or PowerPoint and upload it to SlideShare for free and provide a link to prospective employers. [I’d be happy to share with anyone several career articles on resumes, answering “tell me about yourself,” and LinkedIn. Also be happy to review any current service member or vet’s LinkedIn profile]"

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Great CEOs are Lazy

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Friend and colleague Jim Schleckser writes some great CEO and executive-focused articles. I really liked this one and thought to share it. At the end are some links for more great ideas from Jim.  How about that title?  Grabs your attention...

 

 

Great CEOs Are Lazy

Jim Schleckser, CEO and Managing Director, The CEO Project, 2 June 2015

 

Great CEOs rarely enter into Player Mode. Rather, their first move is to find someone else to do the work.
 
When most CEOs find their company getting into some kind of bind, they jump in to personally help resolve the issue. We call this going into "Player Mode." "I'm just helping out for now," these CEOs tell themselves, "and later on I'll bring in someone else."
 
But the great CEOs out there rarely enter into Player Mode. Rather, his or her first move is to find someone else to do the work. They are very intentional about engaging the organization. That's why great CEOs are lazy.
 
Before you jump through the screen and strangle me, hear me out. Of course great CEOs work hard--but the hard work they do is in finding, recruiting, and engaging the best people to get the task at hand done as well as it can be.

Think back to your high school reading list and recall the story of Tom Sawyer and how he found a way to recruit his friends to help him paint a fence for his aunt. Tom found a way to make the job sound so exciting, he even got his friends to pay him for the privilege of doing it!  Now I'm not advocating using sleight of hand in tackling the issues at your workplace. What I am emphasizing is that as soon as you, as CEO, engage in Player Mode, you lose your ability to recruit other people to get the work done, because you are busy.
 
This notion is very counterintuitive. Many of us began our working lives at the age of 14 or 16, cutting lawns or busing tables or the like. We have worked our whole lives. The idea of not working is somehow offensive to our sense of an internal work ethic.
 
But being "lazy" in this case this is all about working smarter, not harder.

Case in point: I recently met up with the CEO of a professional services company. The top priority for his firm this year is growing its client base. In fact, they planned to double it. And when I talked to this CEO, he mentioned how he planned to work harder to help the firm meet its goals.
 
That's when I stopped him and asked what he meant by that. After all, he couldn't realistically work twice as hard as he was already, right? And how feasible was it that he could help the company literally double the rate at which it closed new deals? The only option on the table that might work, I explained, was to get more people involved in the process. What you need to do, I explained, is to get lazy. He needed to do less customer and sales work himself and do more recruiting of people who could handle that work for the company instead.

I will acknowledge that there will always be times where, when the stuff really hits the proverbial fan, you as CEO might have to step in to do some actual "work." But the great CEOs will make that their fourth or fifth option. In fact, I've known some CEOs who, the worse things get, get "lazier" still: They work harder to get the right people involved in solving the problem, while personally detaching themselves as much from it as they can to remain objective. Not only is that a great way to ensure the right person is doing the job, it's also a great empowerment and team-building approach. Rather than you as CEO parachuting in to save the day, your team will begin to learn that they are the ones who are trusted to save things for themselves. No one is coming to save them. That's powerful stuff.

The point is that unless you are really good at what needs to be done, or truly enjoy it, you're better off with the lazy solution. Heck, even Steve Jobs, who in some ways has become the epitome of the micromanager, really stuck with just a few things he cared about, like the design and look-and-feel of the products. You don't hear about him getting wrapped up in solving operational issues or things dealing with production and manufacturing. He wasn't designing circuit boards. He let the people who were pros at those tasks solve their own issues.
 
So the moral of the story, as you might have guessed by now, is that being lazy pays off for the best CEOs out there. You might ask yourself how your business might benefit if you started doing less and just got lazy.

* Find more about the Inc. CEO Project here including some great articles and insightful videos (scroll down).  Check out Jim's first of five videos on the roles of a CEO. The first one is "5 Roles of a CEO:  Architect."

 

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[Imagine you hear Walt Disney’s “It’s a small world after all” playing in the background] Everyday, we are meeting people from around the world. We are building relationships through email, telephone, Skype, Conferences, Webinars, and so forth.

One of the most important aspects of great relationship building is being appreciative of culture and traditions. Part of this appreciation is the diligent effort to learn a person’s name and how to pronounce it.

With Google Translate, it is super simple. 

1.  Visit Google Translate
2.  Copy and paste the person’s name into either field box
3.  Select from 90+ languages from the drop down arrow (see blue arrows)
4.  Press the “sound icon” (see the orange arrows)
5.  Listen to the pronunciation as many times as you need

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Note:  Thank you to Brandy Schantz from Synergy Home Sales for this terrific suggestion.

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About a week ago I was on LinkedIn.  In the “Whose Viewed Your Profile,” LinkedIn is always making suggestions for groups. This time the Harvard Business Review group was displayed.  I clicked on the [Join] button and was promptly "rejected." Just kidding. The group already had a million members and was full. LinkedIn was sorry, the screen message said.

Not to be deterred, for the next several days, when I would remember, I would click on the [Join] button. I would just sigh and resign myself to be rejected. It now was a matter of "when" I told myself.

After a few days of trying, I was accepted. I didn’t think anything of it.

About an hour later, my friend and colleague Dave (his LinkedIn Profile) sent me a screen shot of the LinkedIn update of me being the 1,000,000 member of the HBR group. His email was “1 in a 1,000,000.” I laughed out loud…quite loudly.

What are you doing to connect with your LinkedIn networks?

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Yesterday while meeting with a client and reviewing his LinkedIn profile, we were talking about how he can demonstrate his skills and, past performance. And how to do so with recommendations, which he only had two. While we were strategizing on a plan to request tailored recommendations, he asked, "Do you know how to send these recommendations easily?" I smiled and said, "yes I do."

I thought to share how as this week's tip.

One of the best reasons to use this LinkedIn hack is for job seekers, recruiters, and HR teams to easily view a candidate's recommendations for his/her ENTIRE profile with one click rather than having to search a person's profile, job-by-job.

A not-so-obvious reason is for organizations to demonstrate excellent customer service, past performance, etc. to prospective customers, partners, etc. Organizations should link to team member profiles with the representative recommendations.

Here's how:

1) Log-in to your LinkedIn profile
2) Click on the [Profile] menu option, top left of your screen, close to the blue LinkedIn logo
3) Scroll down to your summary information. This is the box with your picture, name, professional headline, etc.
4) Look at the bottom left of your summary box for a gray LinkedIn logo and a URL (see orange arrow below). This is your public profile URL.

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5) Copy your public profile URL, paste it into your browswer, then add #recommendations at the very end. Press and you'll see just your recommendations for all of your employement history. This is how the URL would look to view my recommendations.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/thechiefstoryteller#recommendations


Note:  If your LinkedIn profile is outside the United States, delete the country letters from your profile URL.

If you have any trouble email me.

 

Source:  I found the original article here (Showcase Imagery) and simplified it above for you.

 

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During a facilitation session to develop a new mission statement for a non-profit client, several of the executive team members encouraged the group to use “strive.”

We politely pointed out strive is a wishy-washy word, and should not be used.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states the definition of strive as “to try very hard to do or achieve something.” The implication is you achieve your goal. In reality, you may or may not.

In business, like Yoda from Star Wars aptly said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Avoid wishy-washy words such as strive, hope, surely, chiefly, usually, going to, often, sort of, possibly, and many more.

Words like these reduce your effectiveness when communicating with your stakeholders.

I was on Twitter recently when I stumbled upon a tweet by the Mother Nature Network on laughter. It contained a link to an article on the results of a recent study by Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at University College London and part-time stand-up comedian.

She concluded from her study that people don't just laugh at things they think are funny. They also laugh to show positive feelings of likability, agreement and commonality toward others. In her words, "laughter is an index of the strength of a relationship."

I once worked for a senior executive who almost never laughed. Within weeks of her hire, the culture of the entire office changed. It went from a collegial, "we're all in this together," results-oriented atmosphere to a self-centered, fear and intimidation, activity-focused environment. Morale took a nose-dive and sales and marketing results soon followed.

Without exception, every successful sales and marketing organization I've ever been a part of has been led by a "Chief Happiness Officer." These are people who, in spite of their formal titles or official roles, manage to keep the rest of us from taking ourselves too seriously. They know that employees who like each other will focus more on achieving quantifiable wins for the team than on useless activities designed to promote their own self-interests. They know strong personal relationships bring out the best in everyone and allow the team to achieve more.

Take a moment to look around your office. Does your organization have a Chief Happiness Officer?

 

For more on the impact leaders have on organizational culture, please see:
How Important Is Your Internal Customer Experience?
Wise and Selfless Leadership Is No Fairy Tale
How You Treat Your Employees Matters
Your Employees Play a Leading Role In Shaping Great Brands
What Story Is Your Organizational Culture Telling?

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Elmer Wheeler said, “Your first 10 words are more important than your next 10,000. In fact, if your first 10 words aren't the right words, you won't have a chance to use the next 10,000.”

Wheeler is one of the fathers of sales. Perhaps you know him from the famous phrase, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak,” which he coined in the 1940s?

Starting your presentation is one of the most important parts to a successful speaker and audience experience. The beginning sets the tone. The beginning puts your audience into a frame of mind. And the beginning sets up the expectations for what’s to come.

Your beginning should be well thought-out and rehearsed. It should grab them in the first 10 seconds. A great quote works very well. Everyone loves a great quote as it has a lot of meaning shared in just a few words.

Whether you realize it or not, the quotes you use are a reflection of who you are and how you think. As such, only use quotes that have had a profound impact on your thinking. Now when you share the quote with your audience, share a little story about how you discovered the quote and its impact on your life. Your audience will “feel” the authenticity in your story and better appreciate the quote’s message.

Here are a few sites to find great quotes:

- BrainyQuote
- World of Quotes
- Quoteland

A 2014 U.S. Harris Poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder found that 43% of hiring managers use social media to screen potential hires.

Among the top three reasons causing employers to eliminate candidates from consideration were the following types of posts by job candidates:
  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 46%
  • Information about them drinking or using drugs – 41%
  • Bad-mouthing their previous company or fellow employees – 36%

If these kinds of posts can derail a career, imagine the impact they can have on a client relationship. Social networking sites can also help to establish whether a salesperson is a good fit with a client's organizational culture, is professional and can be trusted. Inappropriate posts like the ones mentioned above can create the opposite impression and quickly sabotage an otherwise healthy business relationship. Salespeople should avoid posting comments on their social networks that portray themselves or their customers in an unprofessional or less than positive light.

When it comes to social media, including an "opinions are mine" disclaimer on your profile may not be enough to keep hiring managers and clients from forming negative impressions about a potential candidate or salesperson.

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Have you ever thought that someone else or some other organization has copied your website?  Using your LinkedIn profile picture? Incorporated your amazing graphic into their website?

It happens...

TinEye and Google Images are free sites that scour the Internet in just a few seconds showing you where your image or photo is being used. You can then determine if it is legitimate or if legal steps need to be taken. This is commonly called "Reverse Image Search."

At a minimum, search for uses of your profile pictures and key images/graphics important to your brand identity.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

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Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my Irish friends around the world...And to everyone, as today you are Irish (smile).

I look forward to St. Paddy's Day as it is always festive. You look for your best green to wear (today I wore my green tie and shamrock lapel pin). And people seem to be friendlier.

It also is a day that starts with an always grand breakfast event hosted by the Northern Ireland Bureau.  Having done some workshop programs in Belfast, Northern Ireland, NI holds a special place in my experiences. 

I included a few pictures from today's breakfast as well as a few from my trip to Belfast.

Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau, welcomes everyone. Every year the Northern Ireland Bureau sponsors a St. Patrick's Day breakfast. Invest NI and Visit Ireland help celebrate St Patrick's Day in style. I had the honor and pleasure of conducting several workshop sessions in Belfast, Northern Ireland. John from Invest NI was kind enough to invite me a few years back and I've been enjoying it every since. The entire NI team of Norman, Stewart, Lorraine, Tracy, Bronagh, and Christopher deserve a big round of applause. @ni_bureau #StPatricksDay

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Dr. Malcolm McKibbin, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service shares important information on economic, cultural, tourism, and political activities and issues in Northern Ireland.

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This is my third breakfast with the NI Bureau. Here I am with Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau. (great storyteller by the way)

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In front of the big welcome sign...

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Here's a little "Throwback Tuesday." I had the honor and pleasure of speaking in Northern Ireland several years ago. Here I am on my first night drinking a fantastic pint of Guinness. My program was with CO3, Chief Officers Third Sector (http://www.co3.bz/). Majella, Jackie, Tracey, Rachel, Tony from CO3 and Liz and Nick all made my experience one I will treasure for my lifetime.

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Here's another "Throwback Tuesday" picture from my trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland with the team at CO3, Chief Officers Third Sector (http://www.co3.bz/). 

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I was at a neighborhood social function recently when one of my friends, a C-level executive at his firm, asked me if I placed any stock in LinkedIn recommendations when making a hiring decision.

What prompted his question was a recent experience, where he had discovered glaring inconsistencies between a candidate's track record and the glowing recommendations that had been posted on behalf of the candidate in her LinkedIn profile.

While I'm a fan of LinkedIn recommendations, I've always believed it's important to consider them in the context of "doveryai no proveryai" (or "trust, but verify"), the old adage and Russian proverb made famous by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980's.

Without exception, every LinkedIn recommendation I've ever seen is a glowing one (mine included). The LinkedIn user has sole discretion regarding the content of the recommendations that get posted to his or her profile. So, yes, I suppose it's reasonable to think of them more in terms of owned media and less as earned media.

If you're wondering why this distinction is important, consider the results of Nielsen's 2012 Global Trust in Advertising Survey. Of more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries, 92% said they trusted earned media (e.g., word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family) vs. 58% who trusted owned media (e.g., messages on company websites). If I have that much control over the recommendations my friends and colleagues post on my online profile, are they really not just another form of messages on my "company website"?

What's a hiring manager to do? How can you be assured of the veracity of LinkedIn recommendations?

Let me offer a few suggestions:

• Look for evidence of impact elsewhere on a candidate's LinkedIn profile.

If a candidate's recommendations tout his or her ability to deliver results, the candidate's profile should list specific results, achievements and timeframes.

• Ask the candidate for more information and examples during the interview.

If a recommendation speaks to a candidate's history of fostering positive working environments, ask the candidate for two or three short stories attesting to his or her experience in creating and sustaining those kinds of organizational cultures.

• Insist on a commensurate number of recommendations from people with similar working relationships who have not provided reviews on LinkedIn.

No brand is without its detractors... and its share of less than flattering reviews. Insist on telephone references from others among the recommendation peer group, who have not provided them on LinkedIn, for a complete picture.

LinkedIn recommendations can be excellent and credible indicators of a candidate's qualifications as long as you take the time to "trust, but verify."

 

For more on personal brand authenticity on LinkedIn, please see:
If Everyone Else on LinkedIn Is Motivated, What Makes You Different?
Marketers: What Evidence of Impact Can You Provide?
Make Your Personal Brand Stand Out in LinkedIn
Truth in Advertising: Did They Really Do That?

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Expand your network by attending an event of your choice this week. For this event, your goal is to meet one new connection--partner or colleague—not a prospect.

This experience is geared toward expanding your network by building relationships. Each new person you bring into your network has his or her own network of people—likely several hundred. Instead of “qualifying,” get to know people. Think of it more as a Saturday afternoon party. Perhaps even offer some assistance in the form of referrals, suggestions, and introductions?

The true genius of networking is “who knows you.” With today’s world of LinkedIn, it becomes, “who is connected to you.” The power of relationships lay with the person on the other end of the connection.

As a result, a referral from this new business friend comes with a tremendous amount of relationship capital with his/her network. And the same when it comes to your introductions into your network.

 

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Did you know LinkedIn has a plug-in for Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010?

It seamlessly blends into Outlook. While in email, a person’s profile picture is automatically displayed in your People Pane View, whether they are one of your connections or not. Want to add the person, simply click on the green + adjacent to the picture, and the person will be invited to join your network.

Keep in mind, you can NOT personalize the invitation. The person will receive the plain vanilla invite.

LinkedIn Benefits include (from the site):
- Access Your Connections in Your Inbox:  See the latest LinkedIn activity and profile photo from any connection that sends you an e-mail.
- E-mail Your Connections Directly:  Just start typing a name and let the LinkedIn Outlook Connector fill in the rest.
- Keep Building Your Network:  Instantly send an invitation to connect from any Outlook e-mail.

Download it here
http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=microsoft_outlook

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Having traveled around the world both on vacation and speaking, I have come across a variety of interesting food names:

- Chicken with wilted spinach
- Stinky tofu
- Vegetarian meatballs

You may have heard, even tried some of these. By themselves, do the titles immediately make you think “yummy?” or do you mentally cringe? Personally, I cringed at "wilted spinach." Why would I order something out of date or not fresh? Because this was served at a very nice restaurant, I laughed out loud. It sparked quite an interesting conversation with my dining partners.

Quite unintended, I ended up liking the phrase wilted spinach quite a lot as a metaphor for bad messaging. As a result, I titled our approach to testing messages, “The Wilted Spinach Test.” At its core, the test looks to evaluate whether your words/messages resonate with your target audiences. At a detailed level, do your words/messages mean what you want them to mean? Words matter. A lot. To some, one word could be positive and to others, the very same word could be negative.

Do your written, spoken, and social media communications cause audiences to ask good questions, contact you, or skip right past you?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Words to Avoid - “Anxious”

altFor business communications, you should avoid using the word “anxious.” Anxious is a word all too often misused. You’ll hear people saying, “I’m anxious to meet Julie.” Or “I’m really anxious about xyz.”

By definition, anxious means: “characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency” (Merriam-Webster Online).

For business communications, always use “eager.” By definition, eager means: “marked by enthusiastic or impatient desire or interest” (Merriam-Webster Online).

If there is a cause to use “anxious” to convey worry, we suggest using “concern” or “concerned.”

Since all of your business communications to your target audiences are related to your relationship and what you offer to them, choose your words carefully.

When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Do you even have a LinkedIn profile?

A LinkedIn profile is a great way to tell others about your personal brand – who you are, the experience you have and the value you bring. A good LinkedIn profile is more than just an online resume. It's a form of marketing content designed to build an audience and generate interest in your brand. It is and should be an integral part of your overall job search strategy. A current profile reinforces the brand-building efforts you've made through prior job performance, volunteer activities, face-to-face networking, personal connections, informational interviews, social media outreach and engagement, job applications and, of course, the formal interview.

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If one or more of these characteristics apply to your LinkedIn profile, it might be time for a refresh:
  • A missing or outdated profile photo
  • A default headline that shows your current title and company
  • The presence of overused buzzwords and phrases (e.g., "extensive experience," "results-oriented," "proven track record," etc.)
  • An incomplete profile with a noticeable absence of employment history, experience or results
  • A lack of credibility (e.g., few or no endorsements and recommendations from supervisors, peers, subordinates, customers and suppliers)

Go ahead. Take a look. What is your LinkedIn profile saying about you and your brand?

 

For more insights on how you can improve your LinkedIn profile, please see:
Personal Branding: "What Do You Do?"
5 Insights for Marketing Your Brand on Social Media
LinkedIn Announces New Profile Section for Volunteer Experience
Make Your Personal Brand Stand Out in LinkedIn
Is Your LinkedIn Story a Best Seller?

On one of my military-focused LinkedIn Groups, Army Veterans, someon recently posted this question, "Can anyone recommend a good military to civilian resume writing service?"

For professionals who have spent a career in the military service, it can seem like a daunting task converting military speak to corporate speak.  It certainly does take time and patience. Here is my response I posted along with some how-to article links at the end I wrote.

 

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Four suggestions:

a) Assuming you seek out professionals, ask to see 10 or more samples of military to civilian resumes--make them prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, they can turn your experience into language/messages corporate professionals understand and in the end say, "I want to meet Troy;"

b) To avoid generic language, think Q&Q, qualify and quantify. Look at position descriptions posted on the Internet (e.g., Dice, Monster, Ladder, etc.). Examine critically the PD. What language/phrases do the PDs have? Can you identify and establish trends? Yes, consider including them. Next do searches (e.g., google, bing, yahoo) for position titles...you will be amazed what appears--full resumes from people around the world. Again, look for language/phrases you "should have" in your resume.

c) Do some some introspective thinking to develop your own ICP - Ideal Company Profile. Culture, work habits, zip code, industry, position, opportunity for advancement, etc. This will help you create a much more focused job hunting campaign--this makes it easier for everyone when you are searching for the right fit. Recruiters will ask you all of the questions anyway, friends will know what companies to make referrals into, and your time will be effectively used;

d) Visit the organizations mentioned above (phone, internet, in-person for Veterans Affairs, HireourHeros.com, Armed Forces Support Network, Disable Veteran Outreach Program (DVOP), and more). There are a lot of people with great ideas out there. Get different perspectives until you find the path that matches your style, personality, and goals.

Feel free to email me your ICP and resume. I can share some suggestions.

I have written several how-to articles, links below.

Tell Me About Yourself: How to Wow Your Interviewers
http://www.thechiefstoryteller.com/blog/item/746

Communications Audit: 10 Critical Communication Elements for Your Career Success
http://www.thechiefstoryteller.com/blog/item/694

Every Accomplishment Should Be Great: 5 Steps to Compelling Resume Accomplishments
http://www.thechiefstoryteller.com/blog/item/669

LinkedIn for Job Hunters: Tips to Create a Must-Read Profile
http://www.thechiefstoryteller.com/blog/item/646

67 Tips for Using LinkedIn to Help You Find the Job You Want
http://www.thechiefstoryteller.com/blog/item/753

18 Tips for Job Hunters, New and Experienced
http://www.thechiefstoryteller.com/blog/item/747

Does Your Resume’s Summary Scream? How to Write a Summary Section that Screams “Schedule an Interview with me Today!”
http://www.thechiefstoryteller.com/blog/item/612

The “What Do You Do?” Answer: A Key Tool in Your Sales Toolbox
http://www.thechiefstoryteller.com/blog/item/197

Tell Me About Yourself - It's the Most Important Answer in Your Interview
http://www.thechiefstoryteller.com/blog/item/736

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