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Article Summary:  [Part 2 of 2]  By a show of hands, who likes public speaking? A few hands go up. OK, who likes attending PowerPoint presentations? Again, a few of you. Both responses are what you would expect, right? In this column and the next one, I will show you the steps to change both answers to a loud and resounding "yes!" It is time to tell your great story — a story that melds passion with compelling business messages. Compelling presentations inspire others with your belief in your business and enable you to confidently give your presentation anywhere and anytime. Compelling presentations drive business results: increased membership, reduced client turnover, higher staff retention and enduring profits. 

If you have any preferences or requests for topics, contact us by telephone, email, or leave a comment on this blog entry.

To read other articles in The Chief Storyteller Blog, select the category, Articles.

Presenters Must Prepare Like Orchestra Conductors

© 2008. Washington Business Journal. Used by permission.
Ira J. Koretsky
September 5, 2008

As shared in my previous column, designing and delivering a winning presentation takes planning and practice. We developed an eight-step process that offers a proven framework for creating inspiring content, engaging visuals and messages that win more business.

To recap, the eight steps are:

1. Know your goals. 2. Know your target audience. 3. Develop a compelling message. 4. Identify your call-to-action. 5. Anticipate key questions. 6. Develop compelling talking points. 7. Add supporting content and visuals. 8. Deliver your great business story.

We previously covered steps 1 through 3, so let us explore 4 through 8.

Great presenters are like great orchestra conductors — each piece must fit together and be synchronized.

A specific call-to-action synchronizes the presentation. The call-to-action is what you want your audience to do during and after the presentation. Below are some examples.

* For a sales presentation: Purchase our product.
* For human resources training: Practice the new skills weekly.
* For management: Choose an alternative.
* For government: Select one system for beta test.
* For marketing: Gather more information to validate our assumptions.

It is now time to anticipate the questions your audience will ask. Knowing you are prepared goes a long way to reducing stress and impressing your audience. Pre-empt the tough questions by incorporating as many answers as possible into your presentation.

Be a master at questions and answers by testing your presentation in front of a practice audience. Count on them for frank and constructive suggestions.

Next, develop a compelling message with strong talking points. Each of these points should have their own compelling mini headline and offer clear benefits.

How much time you should devote to each part of a presentation? A rule of thumb is: opening 5 percent, support points 75 percent, closing 5 percent and Q-and-A 15 percent.

The first part of Step 7 is to develop the details and benefits for the talking points.

The best way to design a presentation is on paper. Use blank paper without lines or use large stickies. PowerPoint forces you to think linearly while the best storytellers think creatively and sometimes randomly.

After developing the supporting information, ensure that slide headlines are short and engaging.

When you design the visuals, synchronize the colors in your presentation to your organization’s style guide or to the colors on your Web site. Balance the use of text, pictures, graphics and charts.

To make your presentation more impressive, replace text, tables and graphs with professionally looking images. The images should tell your story through the visuals.

For example, replace a typical Microsoft Excel line chart with a large arrow pointing upward and the annual values to the right of the arrow in a column. There are hundreds of options for shape, size, text, font, colors, images, headlines, messages and metaphors.

Use photography and images that your audience can easily relate to and diagrams and charts that they can easily understand. Drop me a note and I will e-mail our Chart Your Success tip guide.

For professional photography, there are three options. One is free pictures from Microsoft. In PowerPoint, access the menu and select then separately select . The other options are fee-based photo CDs from a site like www.GettyImages.com and subscription services like www.photos.com.

With your title, talking points and imagery, create an inspiring and attention-getting opening with options like a personal story, an anecdote, a quote from a relevant industry expert, high-impact facts and statistics, and a well-told joke that readily supports your main message.

After developing your opening, create a powerful and memorable closing.

Last, practice, practice, practice. Experience shows that you should practice the complete presentation five times. The first two are for timing and identifying the gaps. The third is for smoothing out the transitions, the fourth for overall polish, and the fifth is for the ultimate in confidence. The fifth rehearsal ensures that you are ready — timing is perfect, Q-and-A is a slam-dunk, transitions are smooth, etc.

It is your responsibility to educate, entertain and inspire. If you want to be compelling and deliver a presentation that generates real business results, follow these proven steps.

Your audience will feel your passion, readily understand your messages, be informed about key concepts and make business decisions that favor your organization.

-----

Ira Koretsky is the president of The Chief Storyteller®, a boutique marketing and sales consulting firm. He has delighted audiences around the world helping them achieve better business outcomes and accelerate their revenue with highly effective written, spoken, and social media communications. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, columnist, consultant, and executive coach. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn®, and YouTube.

 

Last night I received a telephone call from a friendly at first "outreach" professional (aka donation requester) from a charity that I donate to regularly.

Quick background on our approach to donations:
We have a standard response to every call. Feel free to send us a request by mail. When the person tries to verify our address, we have a standard response of "use whatever information you have on file." We do not in any way provide or confirm our household information. Why? Because if the charity is truly on our giving list, then they will always have our correct address. Second, we do not give any personal information to people that called us–we have to initiate the call.

Back to our regularly scheduled program…
The requester became annoyed with me when I politely refused to verify my address. I responded with, "we do not provide any information to people where we do not initiate the call." So she started to read off our address and I interjected, reiterating my response. She became more annoyed and hung up in a huff.

Why?

Because she felt that she was completely in the right. I was a regular contributor, she was talking to the bonafide contributor on the telephone, and therefore wanted to only confirm my address, the third piece to the pie.

Now, my perspective. Sirens blaring as Robot from Lost in Space is going, Danger Ira Koretsky, Danger. Of course, I’m exaggerating a little. I have no idea who is on the other side of the telephone. Is this person legitimate or part of an identity scam? We have no established relationship or trust. That’s not just the test, it is an absolute for me.

Next time you are about to communicate and you know that it will likely be challenging or may even become a heated discussion, think about the other side’s perspective. What are they seeking? Acknowledgment? Recognition? Credit or discount? Time? or any number of things.

Several people emailed me about yesterday’s blog entry, "Storytelling is Essential to Great Leadership." They asked if I could expand upon the "What is the Half-Life of Your Story?" exercise.

During some of my keynotes and workshops I use an interesting, insightful, and fun exercise that prompts participants to (re)realize the power of words and stories. I truly believe that the "pen is mightier than the sword" (phrase written by playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu see Wikipedia).

Words and stories have context and perspective. One joke may be hilarious to one person while mildly amusing to another. One story may cause someone to cry while angering another. Some words have multiple meanings. For example, the word "set" has over 100 definitions. Or how about tone and delivery? "You are crazy" could be argumentative, condescending, or playful.

To illustrate, here is an example of "What is the Half-Life of Your Story?" exercise (I tailor the words and language with each client engagement). When you read the word, think of how the word makes you feel. What do you think of? Do you think of a person, a place, or an event? An emotion? A feeling? A mood?

Read them one at a time. Think and ponder on each of the words for a few moments…
- Happy
- Sad
- Angry
- Excited
- Dream
- Vacation

Let’s move toward the creative…
- Rocket ship
- Art
- Superhero/heroine

How about a little zany. Instead of thinking of how the next set of words makes you feel, imagine that you became the following words. How would you think? Act? Feel? Perhaps even imagine what words you would say…
- Brussels sprout
- Concrete block
- Manhole cover
- Shoe
- Park bench

Communication is a three-parter: body language, tone of voice, and words/language. My assertion is that words, languages, and stories, especially in writing (e.g., email), have a very long half-life, perhaps as long as you know the person.  Leaders who are constantly looked to for guidance, advice, and leadership, remember that it’s all about them. Think about your audience, the culture, backgrounds, expectations, knowledge, understanding, etc. If you are not in a leadership position, your words are just as important within your relationship circles.

Additional Resources:
- Storytelling is Essential to Great Leadership
- Mr. Right But
- Leave Your But’s Behind
- Can You Understand the 23rd Grade Level? I Can’t!

Over the past few months, I have witnessed (unfortunately) too many people in leadership positions use deconstructive words and language (the biggest culprit of course is but).

I am sure that there are times when someone says something unpleasant it stings inside, you may even outwardly show it. And of course, when someone say something pleasant, you are most likely to outwardly show it with a nice smile and some kind of "thank you" response.

Words are powerful, especially when uttered by leadership. This exercise just skims the surface of the importance of words and how they make people feel. It is called the "What is the Half-Life of Your Story?" exercise.

When you read the word, think of how the word makes you feel. What do you think of? Do you think of a person, a place, or an event? An emotion? A feeling? A mood? Think and ponder on each of the words for a few moments…

- Happy
- Sad
- Angry
- Excited

Each conjures up a different thought for each of us. I refer to the thoughts, emotions, feelings, senses, and memories as experiences.  And one of the best ways to dramatize and reinforce experiences is to associate them with memorable and well-told stories.

As a leader, what experiences are you sharing with your team? Are you encouraging them to relive negative or positive experiences? Encouraging growth through stories? Creating new experiences and offering opportunities to celebrate success with great stories?

Whether negative or positive, stories travel.

What stories are being told about you?

Words and stories are essential for great leaders. What stories are you telling? How are they being translated? Shared? Retold?

I recently attended The National Speakers Association annual conference in New York City. I reconnected with some old friends including Christine from ComedySportz Richmond that I have not seen in over 10 years (Christine and I used to perform improvisational humor with the Washington, DC team in the mid 1990s.  And of course I made some new friends (smile).

I wanted to share one sentence out of an email note from Diane (name changed). I met Diane through Christine. We chatted over the course of the few days about a variety of topics.

In her email back to me where we exchanged a follow up note, she wrote "It was great to meet you too. You have a great brain!" I laughed and smiled at the same time. What a nice thing to say. It was genuine, heartfelt, and different.

During my workshops and keynotes, I emphasize and re-emphasize the importance of tailoring and personalizing messages. In five short words, Diane made a difference in my life.

What kind of difference are you making in the lives of your staff, members, partners, prospects, clients, government agencies, etc.?

I am joining a board of advisors for a an exciting new venture (shhhh, still not public). I just recently met the new managing director. In an email today, she misspelled my name. Generally, I do not "correct" people. In this case, because it was an official document, it had to be accurate.

In a fun way, I let her know about the misspelling in the ps line. Instead of banging someone on the head with a hammer as I often hear about and witness, be creative. Mistakes happen. Life happens.

————
Hi Firstname,

Here is the draft of the document with my suggestions.

Have a great weekend,

Ira
ps when you get a chance, please change the spelling of my last name to Koretsky…your fingers slipped in an additional "s." You may want to return your fingers if they are still under warranty.

I am going to assume that you heard or read about The International Astronomical Union (IAU) declaring Pluto a non-planet. Personally, I shrugged off the whole thing and without hesitation, will always say that I live in a solar system with nine planets (photo Nasa).

Well, Space.com recently shared an article that shows that IAU is still ready to take on the world with more controversy. The IAU added more fire to the flames by coining a new term, "plutoid," as a name for dwarf planets like Pluto. Personal note…dwarf planet is a planet right? What’s the difference you may ask?

Well, the official definition of a plutoid is:
"Plutoids are celestial bodies in orbit around the sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical) shape, and that have not cleared the neighborhood around their orbit."

I’m willing to bet several million dollars worth of Monopoly money that even astronomers with three PhD’s are baffled by this definition. You know what it is…a compromise. A compromise by the participants to cover ever single contingency.

And ya know what else…according to Microsoft Word’s analysis of reading level, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Score (I wrote about this score a few years ago. click here) shows 23. That means students in the 23rd grade level can understand these 48 highly confusing words. For comparison, you graduate high school at the 12th grade, college at the 16th grade, masters at the 18th grade, and PhD anywhere after 20th grade.

Author Robert Roy Britt from Space.com makes it very easy to understand: "small round things beyond Neptune that orbit the sun and have lots of rocky neighbors."

I am sure that you can figure out the communication and business storytelling lessons here!

Resources:

- Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test from Wikipedia

- Talk at the 10th Grade level, Blog Entry

Article Summary:  [Part 1 of 2]  By a show of hands, who likes public speaking? A few hands go up. OK, who likes attending PowerPoint presentations? Again, a few of you. Both responses are what you would expect, right? In this column and the next one, I will show you the steps to change both answers to a loud and resounding "yes!" It is time to tell your great story — a story that melds passion with compelling business messages. Compelling presentations inspire others with your belief in your business and enable you to confidently give your presentation anywhere and anytime. Compelling presentations drive business results: increased membership, reduced client turnover, higher staff retention and enduring profits. 

If you have any preferences or requests for topics, contact us by telephone, email, or leave a comment on this blog entry.

To read other articles in The Chief Storyteller Blog, select the category, Articles.

Drop the Dry Presentation, Tell a Compelling Story

© 2008. Washington Business Journal. Used by permission.
Ira J. Koretsky
May 30, 2008

By a show of hands, who likes public speaking? A few hands go up. OK, who likes attending PowerPoint presentations? Again, a few of you.

Both responses are what you would expect, right? In this column and the next one, I will show you the steps to change both answers to a loud and resounding "yes!"

It is time to tell your great story — a story that melds passion with compelling business messages.

Compelling presentations inspire others with your belief in your business and enable you to confidently give your presentation anywhere and anytime. Compelling presentations drive business results: increased membership, reduced client turnover, higher staff retention and enduring profits.

Transform your Ideas into Action

Throughout our private lives, we experience great books, articles, movies, etc. The memorable ones stay with us for life.

Similarly, great business stories transform facts and details into ideas and ideas into measurable action. However, the typical speaker packs a presentation with text, diagrams and facts. The interpretation of the data is left to the audience.

You should offer an active message in which you specifically interpret the data, form a position and make recommendations. Help your audience (partners, prospects, members, staff, clients or others) make better decisions with a story that simultaneously educates, entertains and inspires.

One of my clients, "Paul," is a national expert. I affectionately call him presentation procrastinator. He creates a presentation just days before the delivery date. He merges slides from his library of PowerPoints to create the new version. He practices once at his desk–a magnet for distractions. He designs his opening on the way to the event and delivers a made-up-on-the-spot closing. And Paul wonders why his anxiety level shoots through the roof. All of us who have been a Paul(a) the procrastinator should become Paul(a) the planner.

To Plan is to Succeed

Designing and delivering a top-notch presentation takes planning and practice. Below is a process that offers a framework you can use to create inspiring content, engaging visuals and messages that increase sales.

It has eight steps: 1. Know your goals; 2. Know your target audience; 3. Develop a compelling message; 4. Identify your call-to-action; 5. Anticipate key questions; 6. Develop compelling talking points; 7. Add supporting content and visuals; 8. Deliver your great business story.

Customize the framework to fit your specific organization, presentation style and goals. Here is some more information about the first three steps:

1. Know your Goals. Determine the overall character and content of the presentation by starting with these questions: What is the purpose of the presentation? Making a decision, obtaining consensus, product demonstrations, lead generation, investor relations, conferences, compliance or training? How will the information, interpretations and recommendations be used? Over time, add questions appropriate to your goals.

2. Know your Target Audience. To ensure that your message is on-target, ask: What problems and issues are we trying to solve? Is the audience neutral, hostile or friendly toward the topic? What are the demographics (gender, age, culture, titles, etc.)? We apply a standard set of questions every time. Drop me a note and I will e-mail you our Analysis of Audience Tip Guide.

3. Develop a Compelling Message. In "Tested Sentences that Sell," Elmer Wheeler of the famed phrase, "Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle," said it best: "Your first ten words are more important than your next ten thousand!"

In reading a newspaper, what catches your attention? Compelling headlines. Listening to the radio, what catches your attention? Compelling verbal headlines. Your headline, your compelling message, must create a "Wow! Tell me more" feeling. Then throughout your presentation, explain how you will deliver on the promise offered in the headline.

That step is the most important and most difficult. Be patient and take your time. It will be worth the wait. You will feel it in your whole body when it is right. It will be a feeling much like the experience of eating a York Peppermint Pattie as expressed in the commercials of the 1980s. You will be saying out loud with arms stretched wide, YESSSSS!

Sell is a synonym for act. In your presentation, you are trying to influence others to buy from you, approve an option, consider a proposal, follow new training, attend a conference, reallocate staff, etc. The steps in this column are the key to an audience-centered presentation that helps you sell. In the next column, we will walk through your compelling talking points, opening and closing.

-----

Ira Koretsky is the president of The Chief Storyteller®, a boutique marketing and sales consulting firm. He has delighted audiences around the world helping them achieve better business outcomes and accelerate their revenue with highly effective written, spoken, and social media communications. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, columnist, consultant, and executive coach. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn®, and YouTube.

 

"Female bosses who are seen as unkind, insensitive and unaware of other people’s feelings are judged as worse managers while it’s not held against men with those qualities, according to" Kristin Byron, assistant professor of management in the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, New York. "She wanted to see if being good at spotting emotions meant managers had more satisfied staff."

"Byron tracked 44 part-time students who were working in a supervisory role as part of their course and 78 managers from four participating companies in the hospitality industry to see how good they were at spotting emotions."

Byron’s team surveyed the staff of each of the study participants along three dimensions:
- "Supportive: Statements included "My manager shows concern for me as a person."
- "Persuasive: Statements included "My manager can inspire enthusiasm for a project."
- "Overall satisfaction: Statements included "I am satisfied with the degree of respect and fair treatment I get from my boss."

"The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (from The British Psychological Society), found that female managers who couldn’t read unspoken emotions, such as facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice, were considered less caring and staff gave them lower ratings of satisfaction. But she found that male bosses who were bad at spotting emotions were not subject to the same expectations."

The study concluded that "It is far more important for male managers, and men, in general, to be seen as analytical, logical and good at reasoning than showing care and concern for others."

Reading the first review, my initial reaction was to blame stereotypes. After further research, Live Science provided the answer. "The study’s lead author suggests gender stereotypes are to blame." Ahhhh, the underlying cause.

It took me a few minutes to recall each of the bosses over my career. I can recollect 12 with four of the bosses being women. I liked or disliked them no more or no less than the male bosses. Perhaps that is why I do what I do now (smile)…

Study information
- Title: "Male and female managers’ ability to read emotions: Relationships with supervisor’s performance ratings and subordinates’ satisfaction ratings"
- Publisher: The British Psychological Society
- Reuter’s reporting on the study
- MSNBC’s reporting on the study
- LiveScience reporting on the study
- Professor Byron’s web site (personal note: I attended college at the Whitman School at Syracuse)

Thank you to Cindy from Ohio for the suggestion and link to the article.

David J. Collis and Michael G. Rukstad begin their newly published Harvard Business Review article, "Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?" with "Can you summarize your company’s strategy in 35 words or less? If so, would your colleagues put it the same way? It is our experience that very few executives can honestly answer these simple questions in the affirmative. And the companies that those executives work for are often the most successful in their industry." (Thanks to Rodney in Virginia for sending me the article)

The article talks about the importance of having a well-articulated strategy that can be expressed in 35 words or less.

They use an interesting and highly relevant metaphor:

"Think of a major business as a mound of 10,000 iron filings, each one representing an employee. If you scoop up that many filings and drop them onto a piece of paper, they’ll be pointing in every direction. It will be a big mess: 10,000 smart people working hard and making what they think are the right decisions for the company—but with the net result of confusion. Engineers in the R&D department are creating a product with “must have” features for which (as the marketing group could have told them) customers will not pay; the sales force is selling customers on quick turnaround times and customized offerings even though the manufacturing group has just invested in equipment designed for long production runs; and so on. If you pass a magnet over those filings, what happens? They line up. Similarly, a well-understood statement of strategy aligns behavior within the business. It allows everyone in the organization to make individual choices that reinforce one another, rendering those 10,000 employees exponentially more effective."

The same is true of a small organization as a large one. The difference. Depends upon the magnitude of the decision and its effects.

The authors "identified three critical components of a good strategy statement—objective, scope, and advantage." Read the in-depth article for suggestions and examples of creating a strategy statement.

Once you have a strategy statement…what’s next you ask (smile)? A short, well-articulated, and easy-to-understand core business story. It is commonly referred to as your elevator speech, unique selling proposition, value statement, 30-second me, 60-second me, infomercial, and martini monologue. It is the answer to the ubiquitous question, "What do you do?"

The article ends with a very powerful paragraph:

"The value of rhetoric should not be underestimated. A 35-word statement can have a substantial impact on a company’s success. Words do lead to action. Spending the time to develop the few words that truly capture your strategy and that will energize and empower your people will raise the long-term financial performance of your organization."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Today is Worldwide Good Deed Day

Did you know that today is Worldwide Good Deed Day? I should say "not" because I made it up today (smile).

On my way to an appointment this morning, I found this note on my windshield under the wiper blade. I just recently moved and I know very few people in the neighborhood. My first thought, "what a nice thing someone did!" And based on the condition of the note, I’d guess that the person had to look under the seat for this crumpled and coffee-stained paper.

As such, I do hereby declare today, "Worldwide Good Deed Day."

While filling the tire up with air, I also thought about other nice things people did for me over the years. It was really a moment for reflection. How about you? Think about all of the nice things you have done for others and what others have done for you…

Chiefstoryteller_goodsamaritan_2008

I have been very fortunate to have wonderfully creative, smart, and passionate people give me frank advice, ideas, and lessons learned.

For the past 10 years, I formalized being a mentor through The Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. I graduated with an MBA in 2000.

Every year one to four students are paired with me. We discuss various personal and professional aspirations and how I can help. Sometimes it is simply being a sounding board and other times it could be reviewing resumes or making introductions.

The other day, someone asked me, "what can I do to help you?" I responded, "become a mentor when you graduate." It is the same as the pay it forward concept made famous by the 2000 movie, "Pay it Forward." The world needs more volunteers, more Big Brothers, more Big Sisters, more mentors, more people giving back.

"Humor has a significant impact in organizations. Humor isn’t incompatible with goals of the workplace. It’s not incompatible with the organization’s desire to be competitive. In fact, we argue that humor is pretty important. It’s not just clowning around and having fun; it has meaningful impact on cohesiveness in the workplace and communication quality among workers. The ability to appreciate humor, the ability to laugh and make other people laugh actually has physiological effects on the body that cause people to become more bonded."

This is the finding by University of Missouri-Columbia researcher, Christopher Robert, assistant professor of management and presented by Science Daily.

"The conclusion was made by examining theories on humor and integrating literature from a wide variety of disciplines that touch on the subject. Several hundred sources were analyzed by Robert and collaborator Wan Yan, a business doctoral student, who have attempted to bring together literature from numerous disciplines to make the case that humor is serious business."

The study summary does not include the appropriate types of humor. My suggestion is to avoid political, sexual, most gender-biased, and religious humor.

Additional Resources

No Joke! The Workplace Needs a Good Laugh

Have a Funnier Day

This morning, I read a blog entry on the topic of gift giving during the holidays. People were discussing giving cash, giving gift cards, the ease, the convenience, and so on.

About half way down was a comment, "I have no clue what my secretary wants…I just get her a gift card every year." I was appalled.

Now you know why the blog shall remain anonymous.

Need I write any more?

From the website,

"A new kind of executive conference, [The Medici Summit], is unlike events you’ve attended in the past [is coming March 3 2008]. The brainchild of Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect (see previous posting), this unique conference is designed to educate, illuminate, and inspire.

Attendees will hear from successful innovators and thought leaders, but more importantly they will spend two days elbow-to-elbow interacting with our experts and practicing simple, but challenging exercises designed to generate new ideas and apply the lessons they will learn."

I have known Frans for over three years. His book is fantastic and filled with all sorts of ideas to stimulate big thinking. I give The Medici Effect away as gifts to people and during my speaking engagements.

Here is an image snapshot from the home page of the summit. Can you see the dinosaur, ant, bird, fish, and fisherman. You can mouse over each on the website for an interesting look at what Frans calls, creativity at the intersection of different ideas.

From the press release The Medici Summit, "which will be held March 3-4, 2008, in Scottsdale, Arizona, is designed for senior executives and entrepreneurs who realize that success in today’s business environment depends largely on a company’s ability to stay cutting edge, create new ideas and concepts, as well as develop new product. This event will bring together successful innovators from various industries, as well as creative thinkers in government, fashion, and the culinary world. While conference attendees will enjoy hearing the first-hand insights and perspectives of these leaders, registrants will do more than listen and take notes; all registrants will spend two days interacting with guest speakers and panelists, participating in exercises designed to create ideas and learning techniques which they can utilize immediately in their own organizations."

If my schedule allowed, I would be attending. Share a posting or send me an email if you have the opportunity to attend.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Imagine If…

During the past month, I have been doing quite a few hands-on workshops on brainstorming and being creative.

I just wanted to share a very powerful thought…

Imagine if…

Use "Imagine if [blank]" were true.

Then ask yourself/your team some questions:
- How would we get there? 
- What obstacles do we foresee? 
- Who should be involved? 
- Why is it important?
- Who will be the champion?
- What are the incremental steps and the big steps to success?
- [add your own questions]

Allow your mind, your imagination, your creativity to take over. Then work backward. Leave the naysayers, the critics, and the we-always-do-it-that-way-persons at home. And leave the inner critics at home too.

Image if… is and can be a tremendous tool.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CEO–Chief Emotional Officer

My friend Ann Oliveri writes a blog, "The Zen of Associations." One of her recent posts intrigued me. She referenced a Knowledge @ Wharton article from June 27, 2007. The article, "Many Family Firms Rely On a Largely Invisible CEO–Chief Emotional Officer," was an interesting read.

One of the more telling comments came from John Ward, co-director of the Center for Family Enterprises at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Ward says that the "chief emotional officers play a number of key roles. ‘Not only do they provide emotional support — smoothing things over and keeping communication open — but they also help acculturate in-laws, protect family traditions and values, and make sure the family gets together to socialize and have fun.’"

He elaborated later in the article. "The types of family dysfunction a chief emotional officer addresses are part of what has traditionally given family businesses a bad name. As Ward puts it: "There is still a prevailing assumption that family businesses are paternalistic, unprofessional and uninteresting."

My personal take on this is to extend the concept of Chief Emotional Officer to any person that manages at least one person. As a manager, you are a coach, leader, advisor, consultant, and mentor at any given time. We spend hours and hours at work. To me, emotions are everything. They are the cornerstone to sustained, long-term relationships.

- Ann’s Blog entry, "CEO–Chief Emotional Officer"
Ann’s Blog
Knowledge @ Wharton (free and requires sign up)

"I was attending a social event and bumped into Eric Garland. His ideas of the future intrigued me enough to buy my own copy of Future Inc. After reading his book, I have come to learn that the study of the future is its own discipline. Studying the future can help organizations "profit from what’s next." Truly, the future is something all of us should be thinking about more."

This is the introduction to my review of a "Future, Inc.: How Businesses Can Anticipate And Profit from What’s Next."

Over the past few months I have gotten to know Eric professionally and socially. I have come to enjoy his candor and passion. Now, his book is one that I give away at conferences when I speak. (note to speakers: relevant give aways such as books are tremendous in helping build short-term and long-term rapport with audience members.)

If you are in decision-making position, you may want to start thinking 5 to 20 years into the future to see how your organization can "profit from what’s next." Page 27 sums this concept nicely, "When you think about a problem or anything else, no matter how complex, take it apart. If it’s a product, find out where its supplies or components came from, who participated in its creation, and where it all began. If you can see all parts of the system, then you have a much better chance of seeing where the next change will come from."

During the past few months I started studying magazine advertising. The shape, colors, look and feel, gender, races, ages, visuals, call to action, messages–did I leave anything out (smile)?

I’m at my client’s office, which is a mortgage and mortgage solutions company. In his office I spotted a stack of Mortgage Originator magazines. I scanned through about ten issues when I found the following advertisement from June of 2005 (click on the image to see the larger ~500 k version).

I took a double take, triple take, and then grabbed Eric and said, did you see this?! He laughed and then looked at me with that look that said, "what, you don’t like it?"

I have been in the professional humor business for over 12 years performing improvisational humor on stage with ComedySportz. Been using humor in my presentations since 1981. And use humor in all of The Chief Storyteller’s workshops and keynotes. Humbly, I am 1000% confident that I know humor and what is and what is not funny.

My question is not whether the message and image are funny. My question is whether or not this type of humor is appropriate for a mainstream business magazine and appropriate for the audience? Mortgage Originator is in the serious business that emphasizes finance. I am sure that people do not readily associate humor with the mortgage business.

So with my curiosity antennae  perked up, I hungrily went through about 20 more magazines and was rewarded with this advertisement (click on the image to see the larger ~500 k version) from December of 2004.

My interest is piqued! Piqued minds want to know how successful the advertisements were?

And I want to know whether the two companies received any negative feedback–did they pay a price? (note: I only found one other instance of the American Fidelity ad)

Obviously, the humor was intentional and obviously was there to make the ads stand out. That they did.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Now, That’s a Dinner

I’m on the telephone today with two of my clients asking about the conference they just attended. They shared a quick story of their dinner with a friend and business partner whom they have known since 1998.

After the first day of the conference, they all met at the restaurant at 8:30pm. At midnight they left and had a few drinks. At 4:45am they were back in their hotel rooms. I interrupted at this point and exclaimed incredulously, "4:45?!" In unison, they replied, "yes, 4:45."

Now, that’s a dinner! Non stop conversation weaving together personal and professional topics. Now, that’s a relationship!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Story of Change (Book Recommendation)

Many organizations get seriously tripped up trying to change things. This happens so much that there is now a field of “change management.” That always struck me as absurd, because change happens all the time. Why do we need professionals to manage it?

One reason ties back to stories. People who think up changes in organizations spend a lot of time figuring out what the best course of action is, and when they start to move toward the change, everyone looks at them and says “Hey, what are you doing? This is different! This is a change!” At that moment, the change leaders need to tell a story. They need to provide a compelling story to people as to why this change is a good idea.

But they don’t. They want the “answer” they came up with to speak for itself, and they usually just get frustrated when the others don’t see the wisdom of their choice. The problem with this is, those people can drag a lot of feet. Without a compelling story, they will resist. And if you ask them, “Why won’t you change?” they will pull out their big-gun response:

“But we’ve always done it that way.”

And you won’t be able to respond. Because they are right. And until you can show them why that needs to change, they will stick with what they know has worked in the past. Even if it wasn’t the best solution, at least they know it.

So get to work on your stories. When you want to change things, don’t just come up with answers, start new conversations. Four colleagues of mine and I actually wrote a book called We Have Always Done It That Way: 101 Things About Associations We Must Change, just to get people engaged in new conversations. That way, when the change starts to emerge, the story about why should be clear and, more importantly, shared.

Jamie Notter
President
Notter Consulting
(240) 246-0586
www.notterconsulting.com
blog: www.getmejamienotter.com

On August 31, Forbes released its third annual Top 100 of the World’s Most Powerful Women special report. Forbes included a clickable link with each woman’s name, a photograph, and a well-written description and bio of sorts. It is truly a fascinating read.

2006 Top 100 of the World’s Most Powerful Women
2005 Top 100 of the World’s Most Powerful Women
2004 Top 100 of the World’s Most Powerful Women

From the special report article, “Our power rankings are based on a composite of visibility (measured by press citations) and economic impact. The latter, in turn, reflects three things: résumé (a prime minister is more powerful than a senator); the size of the economic sphere over which a leader holds sway; and a multiplier that aims to make different financial yardsticks comparable. For example, a politician is assigned a gross domestic product number but gets a low multiplier, while a foundation executive is assigned the foundation's assets but gets a high multiplier.”

I can’t imagine how challenging of a project this must have been. I also believe that it was a lot of fun for the team, choosing, sharing passionate conversations about who belonged on the list, where to rank someone, who had more “power,” and so on.

As such, I wanted to include the credits on compiling the list here…

From the Forbes’ article: “The World’s Most Powerful Women was edited by Elizabeth MacDonald and Chana R. Schoenberger.

The package was reported by Megha Bahree, Erika Brown, Helen Coster, Suzanne Hoppough and Tatiana Serafin. Additional reporting by Victoria Murphy Barret, Heidi Brown, Stephane Fitch, Jack Gage, Susan Kitchens, Luisa Kroll, Claire Miller, Anne P. Mintz, Zina Moukheiber and Cristina von Zeppelin.

With assistance from Catalyst, a research group; Laura Liswood, secretary general of the Council of Women World Leaders; and Marie Wilson, head of the White House Project.”

Those of you, who have been with the blog since February of 2006 or searched the archives, may remember the entry, “SmartCEOs Are On SmartBusiness Radio.” Well, five months later, I’m back as part of a panel of experts.

SmartBusiness Radio (570 AM, WTNT) is the only business radio show in the country exclusively for Chief Executive Officers. Considering the audience, suggestions, and topics of interest, hosts John Hrastar and John McCullough officially implemented a great idea on Saturday called the Smart Business Boost Program.

In conjunction with SmartCEO Magazine, the hosts and a panel of experts help an already successful company take it to the next level. The company progress is tracked over the year on the show and in SmartCEO magazine. Fran Craig, CEO, of Unanet, is the first participant.

The panel included: Alex Moussavi of Matrixx PartnersLaura Pasternak of MarketPoint, and yours truly.

The show’s description included: “We will focus our attention on developing the company's story and elevator pitch and discuss how to get that message out and drive sales and increase revenue through sales and marketing.” 

In the past, I have done several radio shows. By radio's very nature, you have to always be ready to think fast. It helps quite a lot (big chesire cat smile) to have 12 plus years of professional improvisational theatre under my belt with ComedySportz. (Note: Unlike last time, no wicked curve balls were thrown my way—I was ready. You can read and listen to the other show through my previous blog entry here and experience first hand, dead flies in a bottle as my elevator speech challenge).

The show started with Fran describing Unanet. Each of the panelists then asked her two key discovery questions. The remaining two-thirds of the show was an interactive dialogue between everyone addressing Fran’s key concerns as they related to business storytelling, marketing and branding, and selling the Unanet products. Alex, Laura, and I provided Fran with several concrete suggestions that she can start working on immediately. In about two to three months, we will be meeting back on the radio to check in on the progress of the Unanet team on the suggestions we made. 

I had a blast on the show. I am eager and look forward to getting to know Fran and the Unanet team better. And I’m excited to be part of the inaugural Smart Business Boost Program. Thanks everyone!

 

If you are a business executive who could use a little more knowledge, insight, and perspective, check out SmartBusiness Radio. If you are seriously thinking about growing your company, taking it to the next level, or exiting in the next few years or 20 years, give John M. or John H. team a call.

As soon as I get the audio files, I will post them here.

Group_foto_002

A good friend, colleague, and business partner, Michelle James, is paving the way for leaders to break patterns. And she is doing this with a unique approach that blends improvisational theater with business skill building.

Improv queen Michelle found me through LinkedIn about three years ago. Our first meeting, scheduled for one hour, lasted four…yes four! Since then we have collaborated on a few projects, fast became friends, and I had the honor of presenting my elevator speech workshop at her Capitol Creativity Network (CCN) in early June 2006.

Michelle’s new program, “Using the Practices of Improvisational Theater for Leadership Effectiveness,” is July 20, 2006 in the Washington, DC area. I have been performing improvisational theater professionally since 1994 with ComedySportz. It teaches you skills that once learned, stay with you for life. It improves your abilities to communicate effectively, listen with an active ear, use your body language positively, and incorporate humor appropriately. These skills form the foundation for improving a leader's ability to be a great mentor, coach, manager, and leader.

If you are the Wash, DC metro area, I encourage you to check it out.

I summarized the key info from her website.

Description: 

Today's business world requires leaders and entrepreneurs to be open to new ideas, flexible in thought and action, take risks, work within ambiguity and uncertainty and still boldly move forward -- just like improvisers. Effective leaders and good improvisers both have to make spur of the moment decisions, quickly synthesize information, make others look good, see things form different perspectives, create and innovate, make relevant connections, and serve the good of the whole. Leaders must be able to be able to navigate effectively change themselves. Change is about pattern breaking.

Why Improv:

Improv teaches you to think on your feet, develop a collaborative mindset, and create shared vision - even through difficult terrain and with "difficult" people. Improv-based learning helps people break patterns to influence and respond in new ways.

Who should attend?

Leaders, Executives, Managers, Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs, Changemakers, Directors, Project Managers, Supervisors -- and anyone who has influence over a team, group or organization and/or over the development of new products, services and processes.

Key Take-Aways and Learnings

. Getting past the inner critic

. The paradox of making it safe to take risks

. Thinking on Your feet and responsiveness

. Adapting as new information and situations emerge

. Discovery - new and surprising solutions to old and new situations

. Resourcefulness - using the unexpected as opportunity

. Influence - getting buy-in and support for your initiatives

Contact:

Michelle James

703- 760-9009

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

http://www.creativeemergence.com

I first discovered Dan Pink at a Great Ideas Conference through ASAE in 2005. I was a content session leader for my “How to tell your story: 8 steps to a perfect presentation.” Dan was the keynote.

It is more than a great book. It emphasizes, re-emphasizes, and emphasizes again the importance of our right brains, what Dan calls R-directed Thinking. One of the cornerstones to Business Storytelling is right brain thinking. Dan’s book is a perfect complement. As such, I have given 20+ copies as gifts over the past year.

He covered concepts from his new book, “A Whole New Mind.” Some of the chapter titles include Right Brain Rising; Design; Story; Play; and Meaning.

From the Amazon.com Website: Publishers Weekly wrote a great review that said, “Just as information workers surpassed physical laborers in economic importance, Pink claims, the workplace terrain is changing yet again, and power will inevitably shift to people who possess strong right brain qualities.

His advocacy of "R-directed thinking" begins with a bit of neuroscience tourism to a brain lab that will be extremely familiar to those who read Steven Johnson’s Mind Wide Open last year, but while Johnson was fascinated by the brain’s internal processes,

Whole_new_mind_bookPink is more concerned with how certain skill sets can be harnessed effectively in the dawning "Conceptual Age."

The second half of the book details the six "senses" Pink identifies as crucial to success in the new economy-design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning-while "portfolio" sections offer practical (and sometimes whimsical) advice on how to cultivate these skills within oneself.

Thought-provoking moments abound-from the results of an intensive drawing workshop to the claim that "bad design" created the chaos of the 2000 presidential election-but the basic premise may still strike some as unproven.

Furthermore, the warning that people who don’t nurture their right brains "may miss out, or worse, suffer" in the economy of tomorrow comes off as alarmist.”

John P. Kotter, an expert on leadership at the Harvard Business School, recently wrote a piece in Forbes called “The Power Of Stories.”

A quick read with some nice nuggets.

Here are a few…all are direct quotes from the article.

- “Those in leadership positions who fail to grasp or use the power of stories risk failure for their companies and for themselves.”

- “We learn best–and change–from hearing stories that strike a chord within us.”

- “Too few business leaders grasp the idea that stories can have a profound effect on people.”

- “The gestures made (or not made) by leaders can turn into the stories that powerfully affect behavior.”

- “Sam Walton was famous for the stories told by and about him, especially those that featured his visits to his [Wal-Mart] stores.”

- “The stories that a company broadcasts about itself can also have a powerful impact on customers, shareholders and employees.”

Kotter posed two very interesting and compelling questions that we should ask ourselves every day.

“What are the stories that define us in light of our customers, employees and shareholders? And are these the stories we want to tell–and have others tell about us?”

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Dewberry Way

A short time ago I attended an Association for Corporate Growth, National Capital event.

Sidney Dewberry, founder and Chairman of Dewberry gave a rousing and heartfelt presentation on The Dewberry Way. You felt Sidney's warmth, compassion, and authenticity.

The Dewberry Way is made up of eight "time-tested principles" that have been followed "since its founding." They are Priority #1: Our Clients; Our Team; Teamwork; Partnership...from start to finish; Excellence; Value; Intellectual Honesty; and Traditional Values. To read the principles in more detail, visit the website.

What resonated with me more than the principles were the "twenty-one ideas that helped Dewberry grow and develop over the last 50 years." Here are a few:

"1. Start young so you have plenty of time to learn from your mistakes."

"3. Hire good people."

"6. The importance of learning, and of course, teaching."

"8. Never turn down a job just because you think you can't get it done in time--figure out a way."

"12. The importance of mentors."

"21. As your business grows, so must YOU--"

Sidney provided each of the 200+ attendees with their own personal copy of both the principles and ideas. Both are what make a company a living, breathing entity. We sometimes forget that people form the foundation of every business, every idea, every mistake, and every success. These concepts all embody the organizational story. Great stories attract and retain great people.

And this is exactly what Ron Ewing said. Ron is the CEO of Dewberry. He followed Sidney and also spoke from a position of passion. He was eloquent, thoughtful, and poignant. He characterized his role of CEO as a cheerleader. Ron inspires, encourages, and guides the great minds at his company. After the presentation, I briefly spoke with Ron about an interview. I look forward to sharing more on how Ron blends culture, vision, and passion into the Dewberry Way.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

When I was visiting the LiveScience website, I came across a very interesting reference to a study that crushes the myth that adults do not grow new brain cells. The study clearly shows that we do.

The long held belief that as we move from adolescence into adulthood, our brains become more and more hard-wired is ready to be debunked.

I knew it all along! I say, HOGWASH! to anyone who says they can't learn something new. I have been learning since birth and will continue to do so until death. Period. We all have this capacity. Unfortunately, many have negative self-talk so that the adage “you can't teach an old dog new tricks” becomes a self-fulfilling statement.

I'm living proof and so are the thousands of clients and attendees that have attended my workshops.

I'd like to think that my sense of humor and how I approach "learning" is what makes it easier for me to have a positive impact. I use improvisational humor exercises and techniques throughout all of my services because they have made such a dramatic impact on my outlook and me.

I have always been an active learner--a sponge. When I was introduced to improv in 1993 at ComedySportz, I was immediately hooked and started performing professionally in 1994. To give you a frame of reference for those unfamiliar with improv, it is the same as Whose Line Is It Anyway, a show on both United States and British television. For a fantastic description of the show, visit AbsoluteAstronomy. Here's a little plug for my fellow improvers in the San Francisco/San Jose area. For great family fun, visit (www.national-comedy.com. When I lived in San Fran, I used to perform with them. They also have workshops that will stretch your brain while having a lot of fun.

Have you ever watched the show and said, how the heck do they do that? Here's the answer--practice, practice, and more practice. You must practice accessing the right side of our brain. My experiences with ComedySportz hammered this home.

Improv's two main concepts 1) Yes And and 2) Make your teammates look greatforce you to access the right side of your brain. The right side is where all of your big picture thinking occurs. It is the side where your brain makes the connections between things (things are anything and everything you experience and remember). I'll explore improv and in particular, Yes And, in future blog entries.

With the right frame of mind, practice, and fun exercises that are tied to business applications, everyone can learn and improve their own situations. Study after study show that constant challenges to our thinking (e.g., games of chance, games of cards, and games of strategy) improve our health and well being.

It came as no surprise to me when I read the study and read Professor Elli Nedivi's summation: “growth is tied to use, so even as adults, the more we use our minds, the more robust they can be.” My suggestion is to allow your mind to wander, challenge it, stretch it a little, embrace creativity, and learn new things (e.g., hobby, opinions, and skills). You will be amazed at how you will feel. Just don't forget to practice.

From the MIT News release, 12/2005, here are a few article extracts:

  • “What the researchers saw amazed them...In 3-D time-lapse images, the brain cells look like plants sprouting together”
  • “Despite the prevailing belief that adult brain cells don't grow, a researcher at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory reports in the Dec. 27 issue of Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology that structural remodeling of neurons does in fact occur in mature brains”
  • “Knowing that neurons are able to grow in the adult brain gives us a chance to enhance the process and explore under what conditions -- genetic, sensory or other -- we can make that happen," said study co-author Elly Nedivi, the Fred and Carole Middleton Assistant Professor of Neurobiology”
  • “This growth is tied to use, so even as adults, the more we use our minds, the more robust they can be”
  • About The Study:

    Researchers at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory Co-study released the findings in their study results, “Dynamic Remodeling of Dendritic Arbors in GABAergic Interneurons of Adult Visual Cortex,” in the December 27, 2005 issue of Public Library of Science (PLos) Biology. You can find the umbrella organization, Public Library of Science (PLos) at this site. If you want to read the online version of the study, select this link.

    "Nearly Everyone Has An Interesting Story To Tell"

    49 business visionaries were asked “what single philosophy they swear by more than any other -- in business, life or both.”  If you enjoy reading and soaking in other people's views, insights, suggestions, lessons, parables, and stories, you will definitely enjoy a number of these as I did.

    Here are a few excerpts from the Business 2.0 article (November 28, 2005):

    (a) Jim Collins, Management consultant; author, "Built to Last" and "Good to Great": “If you want to have an interesting dinner conversation, be interested. If you want to have interesting things to write, be interested. If you want to Collins_jimmeet interesting people, be interested in the people you meet -- their lives, their history, their story. Where are they from? How did they get here? What have they learned? By practicing the art of being interested, the majority of people can become fascinating teachers; nearly everyone has an interesting story to tell.”

    (b) Carol Bartz, CEO, Autodesk: “I have this core belief that you can do anything if you try.”

    (c) Brad Anderson, Vice-chairman and CEO, Best Buy: “Any organization is a human endeavor, but most big organizations work hard to dehumanize, to depersonalize. Why? They're scared, because we humans are unpredictable and messy. I say, Turn around and embrace it. Celebrate it. One of our employees said it best: Try to be ‘a company with a soul.’”

    (d) Dick Parsons, Chairman and CEO, Time Warner: “This came from my grandmother, and it was the best advice I ever got. If I think of anything on a daily basis, in terms of a moral compass, that is the one. You treat people the way you want to be treated. If you treat everyone with respect, somehow it comes back to you. If you are honest and aboveboard, somehow it comes back to you.”

    Bogusky_alex(e) Alex Bogusky, Executive creative director, Crispin Porter & Bogusky; “Reinvent yourself. Repeat.”

    (f) Richard Branson, Founder and chairman, Virgin Group” “To be a good leader, you've got to concentrate on bringing out the best in your people. People are no different than flowers -- they need to be cared for and watered all the time…people know when they've f***** up, and they don't need bosses ramming it down their throats.”

    (g)  Stephen Covey. Business consultant; motivational speaker; author, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People": “I have huge stacks of books that contain a lot of the wisdom literature from all sources…It helps me learn to listen to people and to empathize within their frame of reference. In other words, to free myself from my own agenda, and get into their agenda.”

     

    (h) Mireille Guiliano, CEO and president, Clicquot; author, "French Women Don't Get Fat": “We have to take "beach time" -- a space for ourselves -- every day because we live in a world of burnout. Even if you take 20 to 30 minutes for yourself, you'll be a better worker, a better colleague, a better person. It benefits the people around you as much as it benefits you.”

    Guiliano_mireille

    (i) Penn Jillette, Magician, author, and producer: “You can't enter into a contract with anyone that you wouldn't make a handshake deal with, because everything comes down to a handshake deal… If I can't make the deal in a phone call, and have them understand it, then it's not a worthwhile deal. You're making a deal with the people, not with the contract. That's a mistake that people make a lot: "We've got it in writing now." The contract is clarification, but it's not enforcement.”

    (j) Shelly Lazarus, Chairman and CEO, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide: “…happy people are better for business. They are more creative and productive, they build environments where success is more likely, and you have a much better chance of keeping your best players.

    Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Magazine's September issue had an interesting article titled, “Dream Weavers: Twelve of today's top marketers speak out about what it takes to stay creative.” The interviewees talked about credibility, trust, passion, permission, innovation, and creativity. Altschul offered insights based on the CMO telling great stories. Others hinted at the importance of telling a story. I've provided some highlights below.

    Marketers Included:

    - Joseph Perello: CMO, New York City
    - Beth Comstock: CMO, General Electric
    - Sergio Zyman: Chairman and CEO, Zyman Group
    - John Costello: EVP of merchandising and marketing, The Home Depot
    - Larry Weber: Chairman and founder, W2 Group
    - Cammie Dunaway: CMO, Yahoo
    - Joe Redling: CMO, America Online
    - David Altschul: President and founder, Character
    - Joe Duffy: Chairman and founder, Duffy & Partners
    - Bill Cahan: Founder and creative director, Cahan & Associates
    - John Gabrick: CEO, MindMatters Technologies
    - Anita Bizzotto: CMO, U.S. Postal Service

    Highlights...

    (a) Joseph Perello, CMO, New York City: “Innovation is also about making unprecedented connections. It requires thinking differently and following through on a well-thought-out plan.”

    (b) Sergio Zyman: “People often ask me where I get my inspiration, and I always give the same answer: 'Everywhere.'”

    (c) Cammie Dunaway: “Connect the unconnected. Take two items that are seemingly unrelated and put them together to create something new.” [Business Storyteller: The best reading on this is The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures by Frans Johansson]

    (d) David Altschul: “For many successful CMOs, story is the key…What are the underlying conflicts that make its story engaging? And what is the deeper human truth that connects the story of this brand to something that its consumers can identify with on an emotional level? Story has power because it is the principal tool by which the human mind comprehends meaning…

    (e) Joe Duffy, chairman and founder, Duffy & Partners: “Meetings are the death of innovation. Creativity doesn't click on and off at set times…Innovation begins with creative talent, which must be nurtured in order to flourish. Environment is key.”

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