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- Body Language and Gestures,
- Career Development,
- Customer Service,
- Elevator Speech or Mission Statement,
- Human Behavior,
- Marketing Communications,
- Messaging and Content Development,
- Networking and Relationship Building,
- Professional Speaking,
- Sales or Outreach,
- Series - Presentation Reviews,
- Social Media,
- Tip of the Week,
- Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship,
Wishing all of the active duty service members and veterans a happy and healthy Veterans Day.
It all started in college in ROTC. Great experiences that then lead me to active duty in the US Army. I spent five excellent years supporting military health.
I'm back! Back to kickoff the 2016 Business EXCELerator Series for Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. I had honor of kicking off the 2015 series, with my elevator speech program.
MCCC is an awesome organization that I'm proud to be a member of for years. They do so much for the community...
My topic is "Executive Storytelling: How Leaders Use Stories to Engage, Persuade, and Inspire."
Brief Description: Learn how to turn your personal experiences into powerful workplace stories that engage and inspire your stakeholders. Follow a proven framework complemented by practical training aides to develop your high-impact stories that influence change, motivate teams, obtain approval, and secure funding.
I'll be reviewing my executive storytelling framework, having fun with "That's Interesting, Tell Me More" exercise, sharing some powerful videos, and walking through the Leadership Story Framework.
What a great time. The room was filled with business owners, executives, sales professionals, marketing folks, and those in customer service from corporate, non profits, and government (boy that was a lot of lists!). I had them do my exercise, "That's Interesting, Tell Me More," to set a foundation for their leadership story. This foundation identified what was missing -- powerful words, powerful message, and powerful delivery. I reviewed my story framework, shared some insightful videos, and was engaged with a variety of great questions.
Here's the excellent write up from the Chamber...
"Ira Koretsky, CEO, The Chief Storyteller® presented “Executive Storytelling: How Leaders Use Stories to Engage, Persuade and Inspire.” A key differentiator in the marketplace for any business is customer service. Ira stressed the use of effective storytelling to be remembered and to demonstrate your value and that of your organization. When you tell a personal, workplace story, select one that that has a universal message. The best story is one that is easily shared. When developing your story, “start in the middle,” keep it under three minutes, and always inspire your audiences to think or act differently. Your organization can and will be changed by changing the stories executives tell, customers tell, and employees tell."
Just posted this on Instagram. Thought I would share it. Something I am very passionate about-- the connecting, the bonding, the relationship building humans need and thrive on.
People tend to forget that we all started off as strangers... our spouses, our best friends, our relatives before they became our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, and so forth. Everyone was first a stranger. And only through physical communication was that relationship cemented.
As a communications professional, adjunct professor teaching undergrads about career strategies, and voracious reader, I/we are witnessing a relationship building chasm...
Here's what I posted on Instagram:
I truly believe we need to get back to building relationships in a physical way… in meetings, over food, by telephone, networking, and more. Social media is not a replacement or substitute. It’s just another way. You truly can’t get to know someone until you look them in the eye and judge their spirit. To hear their stories with their body language and tone of voice. Video can do this…text can not.
I'm honored to be delivering the opening keynote for the 15th Annual Departement of Energy (DOE) Small Business Forum & Expo in Atlanta May 23 to 25.
My topic is "Awaken the Storytelling Giant in You."
Description: What if the right story inspired your company's targeted program, site office, or laboratory to add your company to their team? What if the right story persuaded the small business program manager to invite you to hear your ideas and company's capabilities? What if the right story prompted the small business program manager or contracting officer to recommend your company? What difference could that right story mean to your company? Join Ira for a lively and insightful keynote on how to turn your experiences into powerful stories that engage and inspire stakeholders throughout the DOE Community.
I will also deliver a complementary workshop that will be a hands-on program later in the day.
*** If you are attending, please send me a note and let's coordinate schedules.
Here's more information on the event:
The Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), is proud to present the 15th Annual DOE Small Business Forum & Expo at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, GA, May 23 - 25, 2016.
Dr. Ernest Moniz, United States Secretary of Energy, will welcome everyone Tuesday morning. Throughout the event, there will be plenaries, educational workshops, a large Exhibit Hall, as well as business matchmaking sessions. Over 800 attendees will represent all levels of Federal, state, and local government agencies, the small business community, large/prime contractors, and many more!
The OSDBU goal is to provide maximum practicable opportunities in the Departments' acquisitions to all small business concerns. The OSDBU created this 2 1/2 day event to connect small businesses with various DOE offices and programs to enhance DOE's overall mission of ensuring America's security and prosperity by:
- Strengthening and sustaining America's Energy Independence
- Introducing new innovations in areas of Science and Engineering
- Enhancing nuclear security through defense, nonproliferation, and environmental efforts
DOE2016 will provide small businesses with the information needed to help you navigate through the largest civilian agency within the Federal government. General sessions and breakouts will include subjects, such as:
- Finding and Winning Simplified Acquisitions, Part 1 & 2 (from my friend and colleague, Guy Timberlake of the American Small Business Coalition)
- DOE Headquarters Panel
- DOE National Laboratories and Site Office
- DOE IT Opportunities
- DOE's Supply Chain Management
- National Nuclear Security Administration (East Coast Locations)
- Executive Storytelling: How Leaders Use Stories to Engage, Persuade and Inspire (my breakout session)
You've been tasked with drafting a social media strategy for your brand. Initially, your goals are to build your company's reputation and raise brand awareness. As the brand takes hold in the market, your goals will include increases in customer engagement, conversions (a.k.a. sales) and loyalty.
Public relations? Marketing? Or both? Is there a difference?
Too often, these terms are used interchangeably – without a real understanding of the role each brings to your brand. One, public relations, is about building reputations and raising awareness among members of your target audience. The other, marketing, is about converting that audience into paying customers. As best-selling author and marketing consultant Al Ries sees it, public relations lights the fire and marketing fans the flames.
The purpose of public relations is to educate and build relations with all stakeholders – investors, community members, lawmakers and regulators, industry thought leaders, current and potential customers, etc. Marketing's role is to educate and influence current and potential customers. Public relations supports marketing by creating a favorable climate in which to operate and, the reality is, you need both to accomplish your goals.
Public relations, while different from marketing, is an integral part of your brand's overall marketing strategy.
For other insights on social media and content marketing, see:
• Absent Context, Your Content Is Meaningless
• You Are What You Tweet
• How Content Marketing Builds Stronger Relationships with Your Brand
Thom came to us as a successful 30-something ready for his next sales managerial role. After the meeting, he was pumped. He had all these great ideas to transform his ho-hum cover letter, resume, LinkedIn, etc. into exciting, tell me more experiences, stories, and bullets.
In fact, he was so excited and enthusiastic he wanted to send out the next version of his resume the very next day. We were scheduled to meet next week to review his updated materials after he spends time revising and obtaining feedback from his network and mentors.
After suggesting he send his resume to us for a quick review, he politely declined. We politely insisted. We knew he didn’t get anyone else’s feedback and certainly no one else did a quality check (e.g., spelling, grammar, format, white space, word choice, dashes consistency, etc.).
Thom emailed it. Among several things (see quality check items), this is what he had under his current position.
- Developed and executed the sales department. Supported a multi-national team of 12 sales professionals across five technical product lines.
We are embarrassed (a little) that we laughed loudly. After a quick telephone call to point out Thom’s mistake, he just didn’t see it. “What was wrong with what I wrote?” We had him delete the second sentence and just look at “Developed and executed the sales department.” He laughed. He asked that we not turn him into the police for murder (smile). Now he was convinced NOT to send it out until he obtained more feedback and at least two people helped with a quality review and we looked at it as well.
Whether it is brand new content on your website, a new YouTube video, a revised brochure, an updated LinkedIn® profile, and certainly your resume, please, please have some "outsiders" review the item. While a mistake isn't going to land you in jail, it may cost you a prospect? a client? or that job opportunity?
Want a good way of creating drama and adding suspense in your stories? Set near-impossible goals.
As an example, imagine you are watching an Indiana Jones movie. The rock wall falls away and Indiana has just seconds to jump. Everyone in the theatre is watching with rapt attention. Indy’s goal? To escape? And if you were in the audience, it would seem impossible and all hope would be lost? Right?
You too can heighten the emotional aspect of your story by adding organization limit goals or personal limit goals. Here are two quick examples of points to tell in a story.
- My boss gave me an ultimatum. When the calendar shows May 31, software development must stop. Get it done, do it right, and do it within a ridiculously meager budget.
- If it wasn’t done, we would lose one of our biggest clients and most importantly, our jobs. I could feel the sweat trickling down my back.
- Midway into my week-long hike up the mountain, I realized I was in over my head. The expected moderate difficulty hike to the top was everything OTHER than expected. I was not prepared for the drop in temperature. My gear was inadequate. I was dehydrated, I was hungry, and I was afraid.
- Mentally, I was giving up. Nothing, and I mean nothing, I could think of was working. I hadn’t slept for two days. I didn’t know what to do.
Everyone at The Chief Storyteller® wishes you a warm, safe, and relaxing holiday season. Here's a little storytelling humor.
An organization's vision statement proclaims its desire to be the very best. Its top leaders are the personification of excellence in everything they do.
Yet, many of its employees are content with mediocrity and the lackluster performance that invariably follows. It can be a frustrating experience for the movers and the shakers in any organization – who must confront a wall of indifference, a lack of engagement and an omnipresent sense of laziness at the office on a daily basis.
Why is this?
It all starts with attitude. Some years back, I wrote a post on the importance of attitude. When my youngest son, who is now a first-year student at the University of Virginia (UVa), was playing basketball in junior high, I noticed a poster on the wall of the gym that read, "Attitudes Are Contagious. Are Yours Worth Catching?" He took that idea to heart that day and let it guide him as he pursued his dream of gaining admission to Virginia's flagship university over the high school years that followed.
Attitude cannot be taught. I suppose that's the reason the Walt Disney Company is known for its practice of hiring more for attitude and less for experience. So, yes, a culture of excellence begins with attitude...at hiring time.
Beyond the initial hire, however, attitude can be cultivated. It takes a commitment from management to set measurable performance objectives, to be engaged and to hold people accountable – "inspect what you expect," if you will. It takes a realization that there are consequences – both positive and negative – to how employees perform or fail to deliver. Even my college-aged son knew early on in his high school career that unless he built sufficient rigor into his schedule, worked hard to earn a competitive grade point average and achieved an SAT score in the top percentile, gaining admission to UVa wasn't going to happen.
If you're a senior manager, my challenge to you is this: take stock of your organization as you begin the new year. Are the attitudes of your employees contributing to the culture of excellence you aspire to? Or, are they holding your organization back?
Remember, a culture of excellence begins with attitude.
“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)
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.
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?”
If your event managers are spending the bulk of their time on event logistics – shipping, delivery, set-up, staffing and tear-down of your exhibit booth and promoting it on social media – you may be missing the bigger picture. In the world of event marketing, booths are table stakes. While exhibit booths play a role in promoting your brand and engaging customers, event management requires a more holistic approach.
Achieving business outcomes involves other stakeholders in your organization, and requires a commitment to measuring and reporting on quantifiable results beyond the softer metrics of brand awareness and engagement.
Your customers want to know how your products and services speak to their needs and interests. Your sales managers want to know how your participation at an event is helping their teams turn qualified leads into closed sales. And your executive management team wants to know how your presence at a show or event is contributing to business outcomes, like revenue and return on investment (ROI) goals.
To ensure your event marketing program is meeting the needs of your stakeholders and achieving your desired business outcomes, develop and implement a scorecard for evaluating the success of each show or event. As a starting point, consider adding the following quantifiable metrics to your scorecard:
• Number of visitors
• Most and least popular discussion topics
• Number and type of social media mentions of your brand, key messages and event hashtag(s)
• Number of qualified leads
• Number of closed sales
• Average revenue per closed sale
• Cost of participating in the show or event
Follow each event with a post-event assessment, inviting candid feedback from the various stakeholders within your organization. Review and report on your results. Develop and implement corrective actions, when necessary, to improve performance. Use the output of each assessment to quantify your ROI and to inform your participation in future shows or events.
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.
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.
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.
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]"
Cultural differences are sometimes easy to see, understand, and adopt. Others, not to easy.
If you are traveling to another country or interacting with an audience with different cultural backgrounds, be sensitive to language, humor, traditions, and taboos.
For this tip of the week, let’s focus on hand gestures. There are many nuanced and obvious hand gesture differences. Research the country thoroughly to avoid embarrassment as well as the potential for your audience to focus on the "wrong" things rather than your message and you.
Purchase books, ask your local embassy for advice, and use your network to meet/talk with people who grew up in the respective country.
Here are two illustrative examples with answers immediately below.
If you've ever been to a live show at Radio City Music Hall, a performance on Broadway or an improv performance at a local comedy club, you've undoubtedly seen the different ways performers use their stage presence to connect with their audiences.
Great performers are masters at making each and every audience member feel special and appreciated. They do this by reading their audience – watching, listening and taking their cues from the feedback they receive. Some acknowledge the audience members for coming out to see them, interact with them by asking questions or simply thanking them for their applause. Others work the stage, using movement and gestures to engage their audience. All of this is possible because the performers are spending time on stage before live audiences.
Like great performers, brands that offer extraordinary customer experiences are masters at making each and every customer feel special and appreciated. I recently attended a customer experience forum in New York City where one of the recurring themes was the importance of talking with customers.
Focus groups and surveys are two common market research tools that are used to understand customer needs, preferences and motivations. However, they often fall short as predictors of customer behavior since participants and respondents do not always follow through on their stated intentions. As one presenter explained, the only way to really know what your customers are thinking is to spend time talking with them.
In short, spending time with your customers and talking with them is like performing before a live audience – not watching a scripted performance from behind a two-way mirror. Executives from the best brands are not afraid to engage customers (and their employees, for that matter) in an interactive setting and, as a result, will often uncover innovative ways to differentiate their brands with a superior customer experience.
For more insights on customer experience, please see:
• Customer Experience: This Is What It's All About
• How One Brand Is Growing Sales In a Weak Economy
• Apple's Genius Bar: Where the Extraordinary Happens
A few weeks ago, Ira presented a half-day “Executive Storytelling” program to nearly 70 social change leaders from more than 50 countries.
They were the Fellows from the Atlas Corps’ Class 18 “Welcome Week.” One of Ira’s big take-aways was Find the Right Balance. Here is his summary from his blog post.
“Many of the Fellows were tackling sensitive culture, justice, and historical issues. Some of the issues were heart breaking and would bring tears to your eyes hearing some of the stories. I encouraged the Fellows to share these stories while keeping in mind that tugging on someone's heart to inspire them to be part of the solution, you must find the right balance of emotion and benefit.
In general, people do not want to be overwhelmed with an emotional appeal. They want a reasoned set of arguments with clear benefits. Weave your emotional appeal just enough so that your audience truly understands what is at stake. Empathy over sympathy.”
Here is a helpful info graphic with a variety of interesting and highly relevant data/statistics.
The "Psychology of Influencer Marketing" infographic, by way of Fractl and BuzzStream, includes in the description, "Take your content promotion tactics to the next level by incorporating a few insights from psychology..."
How has been your success with these tactics? Or your own?
We couldn’t agree more…“We eat with our eyes first” is a common phrase from Master Chefs around the world. That is why so many restaurants spend time and money perfecting the presentation of your meal. Think of how much you are impressed when everything entices your senses, perhaps even all of your senses.
The smell from the freshly baked bread, the visual beauty of how everything is laid out on your plate, the sizzle of your fajitas, the texture of the moist cupcake, and of course, the expected taste tingling your brain to hurry up and eat already.
In the two study's below, Charles Spence, PhD, Professor of Experimental Psychology, was a co-author. He wrote, "People's perception is typically dominated by what their eyes see."
So, when it comes to your presentations, what can we learn from this age-old practice when it comes to your slides/visuals such as pictures, charts, and graphs?
Spend as much time as you can to ensure your visuals pass The 3-Second Test. Within three seconds, will your audience completely understand and appreciate what you are “trying” to communicate?
This means your slide has these three aspects well covered:
- Readable: fonts and graphical elements (boxes, circles, pull quotes, etc.) are easy to read
- Understandable: easy to understand with one key message
- Appealing: use colors to their maximum advantage and limit them to three colors with graphs and charts; use pictures where you can with minimal text
Next time you are reviewing or designing a slide, ask yourself, “Do I want to know more?”
1. “Assessing the Influence of the Color of the Plate on the Perception of a Complex Food in a Restaurant Setting” by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, Agnes Giboreau, and Charles Spence, Flavor Journal
2. “The Influence of the Color of the Cup on Consumers’ Perception of a Hot Beverage” by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and Charles Spence; August 23, 2012, Journal of Sensory Studies
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."
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?
I receive more cold calls each week than I can count. Phone calls, voice messages, emails, Twitter DMs, LinkedIn messages and sponsored Facebook posts.
I've witnessed no shortage of creative approaches. Early morning or late afternoon phone calls, intriguing email subject lines and targeted social media messages are among the many tactics eager salespeople have used to lure me into a conversation. And, yet, I return very few of the cold calls I receive.
If you want me to answer, inspire me.
Give me a reason to return the call. Show me you've done your homework and you truly understand my or my organization's needs. Offer me a solution to a problem or challenge I may be facing. You might even inspire me enough to answer your cold call.
For more on effective selling techniques, please see:
• Selling Beyond Price
• If You're Selling, Are You Showing or Telling?
• If You're in Sales, Tell Me Something I Don't Know
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:
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.
Imagine you are attending an event with a speaker or panel. It was fantastic. The line to talk to the speaker is long and you just don’t have the time to wait.
Here’s a tip that works most of the time.
Email the speaker explaining a) You attended the session and b1) You have a question about the topic he/she did cover or b2) You have a question about a topic he/she said would be covered (this option gets more responses by far).
Keep your request short and to the point. Ask for websites, articles, studies, SlideShare presentations, etc. to help address your question.
Perhaps this is a start of a new relationship...
Over the past five years or so, I've become a prolific online communicator – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, the ChiefStoryteller® blog, etc. I don't have a formal editorial calendar and never saw the need for one.
I recently began producing a weekly newsletter. Unlike my previous experience with social and other forms of online communication, I now rely on others for content, review and publication. There are workloads, vacation schedules, software updates, systems outages, family emergencies and unplanned absences to consider. The people I depend on require advanced notice and consideration of their time.
For me, an editorial calendar has become a necessity. Consider these benefits, which I'll refer to as the three C's:
• Cadence – Without one, it would be difficult to maintain a consistent cadence. Once you commit to publishing a weekly newsletter or blog, skipping a week is no longer an option. The same goes for social. Your audience expects to hear from you on a regular basis.
• Content – Planning your content updates helps to ensure the information you share is relevant to your target audience and consistent with your brand's identity and purpose. Followers of a brand committed to health and sustainability, for example, would not find stories of overindulgent nightclub experiences particularly relevant.
• Coordination – An editorial calendar is first and foremost a plan. It affords you the ability to coordinate your communications among the various channels you are using – online newsletters, blogs and social channels. It also ensures the people who are responsible for your brand's communications are coordinating their efforts around a singular purpose and strategy.
While developing an editorial calendar may seem like more work in the short run, the benefits I've identified will ultimately lead to a more efficient and rewarding process for everyone involved.
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?
I've yet to take my first ride in an Uber car. I've heard so many great things about the crowd-sourced car company from my high schooler and the interactive agency I work with, I feel like I'm missing out on something special.
I wasn't surprised when I recently read in a customer loyalty news publication that Uber had recently partnered with Starwood Hotels and Resorts in an effort to improve the hotel brand's guest experience and customer loyalty program. Through the new partnership, members of Starwood Preference Guest (SPG), the hotel's popular loyalty program, will now be able to earn extra points by booking an Uber ride to any destination.
At their most basic level, partnerships like these are a form of cross-selling, where customers are offered related items to enhance their experience with a brand. Cross-selling offers companies like Uber and Starwood a number of benefits, including increased customer exposure to higher margin services and increased loyalty through the suggestion of complementary items of perceived value. This partnership is a brilliant example.
A truly innovative idea rooted in a basic marketing principle – now that's worth tweeting... and blogging about.