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Ira Koretsky
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Duane Bailey
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Guest Bloggers
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networking workshop

Looking forward to my workshop with the Society for International Development (SID) Washington, DC Chapter, which is the "largest and most active chapter of SID (See below).

My program, "The Deliberate Networker: Build Stronger & More Valuable Relationships," is always hands-on. We'll be doing my "Treat Everyone Like a CEO" Exercise (watch example on YouTube). 

If you are not a member of SID, they welcome interested persons. Send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and mention me.

 

The Deliberate Networker: Build Stronger & More Valuable Relationships

The best networkers are relationship builders. They are deliberate with the people they spend time with, and at the events they attend. As an art, networking blends human behavior, storytelling, and trust. As a science, it requires you to act like a chess grandmaster. Join us for a fun and hands-on program as we explore proven ways to make the right “next moves” that can get you noticed by recruiters, accelerate career success, and promote your brand to establish yourself in your field.

Following the program, there will be an optional networking session with fellow participants in addition to a Happy Hour at Cities Restaurant & Lounge (1212 18th St NW, Washington D.C.).

 

* Young Professionals in Development Network (YPN) events are open to SID-W members only ($45 for young professionals). However, we welcome all first-time SID-W YPN Event attendees to participate in this "free preview" event. For more information on membership, please click here or contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

SID-Washington is the largest and most active chapter of the Society for International Development (SID), an international network founded in 1957 to serve as a global forum dedicated to sustainable economic, social and political development. Through the locally-driven programs of our member organizations and individuals, the majority of whom work on the front lines of development, we are uniquely positioned to inform and promote more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable international development.  Our network is spread across more than 30 chapters and 3,000 members in more than 50 countries. The Secretariat has offices in Dar es-Salaam (Tanzania), Nairobi (Kenya), and Rome (Italy).

Our individual and institutional members include development practitioners from NGOs, the private sector, bilateral and multilateral institutions, think tanks, embassies, and universities. Our expansive membership contributes to the dynamic exchange of ideas and information that lies at the heart of SID-Washington.

 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

st patricks day

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

I look forward to St. Paddy's Day as it is always festive. I wore my green tie and shamrock lapel pin.

It also is a day that starts with a fantastic breakfast event hosted by the Northern Ireland Bureau with Invest NI and Visit Ireland.  Having done some workshop programs in Belfast, Northern Ireland, NI holds a special place in my heart.

I included a few pictures from the breakfast.

Here I am with  Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau. And a big thanks to the entire team of Stewart, Lorraine, Tracy, Kirsten, and Kelsey.

 TheChiefStoryteller.Blog.2017-03-StPatricks-1

Inside teh beautiful Willard Hotel in Washington, DC.  Mr. Houston has just finished his remarks.

TheChiefStoryteller.Blog.2017-03-StPatricks-2

In front of the big Welcome sign.

TheChiefStoryteller.Blog.2017-03-StPatricks-3

A look into the goodie box everyone received. Delicious Irish Soda bread which we made at home, potato chips my daughter devoured, tea we enjoy, and fudge we have to bake with.

 TheChiefStoryteller.Blog.2017-03-StPatricks-4

presentation emergency kit checklist

All too often, I have witnessed less than successful presentations due to unplanned problems and issues.

Most, if not all, of the impact from an unplanned circumstance, can be minimized or eliminated with your own emergency presentation kit.

Here are some pre-event suggestions to ensure your presentation goes smoothly.

In next week's tip, I’ll cover some suggestions for you when you arrive on-site.

 

EMERGENCY PRESENTATION KIT

- Bring a flash drive with your presentation, workbook, video, and audio files. Test it from the flash drive
- Print your presentation with your delivery notes
- Bring a six-foot USB extension cord. You may need it for your flash drive and/or your presenter
- Bring your own presentation device with backup batteries. Bring only fully charged batteries
- Bring your own laptop with an extension cord. Charge fully your battery
- Print out your biography and/or introduction and bring with you
- Bring your own bottle of water (no caffeinated beverages)
- Bring your own timing device (e.g., watch, mini-sized clock, professional presentation timer) or purchase a reliable app for your smart device
- Print out driving directions

Two other pre-event suggestions:
- Test your presentation, every slide, ensuring the animations, audio, and videos work perfectly
- Research the organization’s key executive and planning staff including short biographies. Bring a printout and review.

Depending upon your own situation, some of the suggestions may or may not be appropriate. Make your own list. Print it out. Check items off.

USE YOUR CHECKLIST EVERY TIME.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy Veterans Day 2016

speaking, presenting, keynote, workshop, motivational speaker, storytelling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

speaking, presenting, keynote, workshop, motivational speaker, storytelling

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.

Agenda and More Information

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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."

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

branding, messaging, content marketing, marketing, positioning

I'm sure you have heard the phrase "Facts Tell…Stories Sell."

It is something I live everyday, especially when it comes to presentations.

That's why I have teamed up with Colleen Jolly from the 24 Hour Company to offer a hands-on webinar, "How to Tell Stories through Visuals:  3 Steps to Winning Presentations." It is a 90-minute webinar on June 15 at 10:00 PST, 13:00 EST, 18:00 BST, 18:30 IST, 23:00 AEST

I have known Colleen for years. One day over lunch we realized, "Why haven't we done this before?" She is a master at visuals - graphics, images, pictures, charts, graphs - you name it. She has an impressive portfolio you can see here.

Together, we will walk you through, in a hands-on approach with examples, how to develop better visuals complemented with high impact storytelling.

Description
Learn how to sell your story -- with words AND pictures -- in this 90 minute webinar and join from anywhere in the world! Ira Koretsky combines his storytelling expertise with Colleen Jolly's eye-catching visuals to give you a simple, three step process to win your pitches, every time. Practice honing your messages with slides that pop in this interactive session, learning from the best edu-tainers around!

Time
90-minutes, June 15, 10:00 PST, 13:00 EST, 18:00 BST, 18:30 IST, 23:00 AEST

Fee & Registration
$97 USD, registration at 24 Hour Company

 

 

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.

 branding, messaging, content marketing, marketing, positioning

branding, messaging, content marketing, marketing, positioning

If you were to watch the brand new advertisement from car sharing service Lyft, you might be tempted to dismiss it as absurd and ask "What's the point?"

I think the problem lies with the timing of the message. Lauren, the protoganist, exits her car and uses her mobile phone around :45 seconds. That's 45 seconds folks... of waiting to get to the point of the commercial. The key message, "Riding is the new driving," appears shorly therefater at the :55 second mark. 

In today's whiplash society of ad to ad to email subject line back to banner ad and so forth, 55 seconds may seem like an eternity.

Perhaps Lyft wants us to think of all the seeming visual cacophony as micro messages representing feelings we experience when in rush hour and similar unpleasant driving situations. Then of course, think positively about using Lyft (the fun, light music helps lighten the mood as well).

Now, if Lyft is pursuing a soft approach to branding instead of attracting more customers, this approach may work. Or perhaps, Lyft is relying on social media to drive interest and therefore visitors to its various social media platforms such as YouTube where the advertisement just went live. Since its launch on April 25, the ad has garnered about 116,500 views.

 

 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Just Be Nice with Your Words

speaking, leadership, leader, ceo, cxo, employee, language, positive, words

Negative words, whether used on purpose or by accident, can have a big impact on your audience. Potentially, an impact you did not want or plan for.

Imagine you are work. Think about when you hear someone say something negative about a co-worker? Or when someone says something critical about a work product such as a report? How does the negativity color your world about the person and the organization? Do you ignore it? Distance yourself from the person? Or even, offer excuses for him/her?

Whatever you say or write, we believe at The Chief Storyteller that whenever possible, be positive. In many cases, you can indeed turn negative words and phrases into positive ones, while still getting your point across.

Often people write sentences such as, “Bill, this is a great idea, but I don’t like xyz.” As such, everything after the “but” is negative…everything. Instead, make it positive with “Bill, this is a great idea. Let’s talk more about xyz to better understand your ideas.”

Examples of negative words include:
- But
- However
- Although
- Except
- Even though
- Unfortunately
- Let me be honest
- This is simple to do

Here are some suggestions to improve your interactions and relationships when it comes to using words:
- Eliminate “but.” Replace it with “and” or a “.” (period)
- Think about the negative aspect of what you are intending to say. Does it really have to be said? If you must communicate a negative idea, re-phrase it to make it more positive.
- Do not write/email while angry or upset. Wait at least 10 minutes.
- Read what you wrote aloud (not in your head). It helps you to “feel” the emotional level of the words.

speaking, presenting, keynote, workshop, motivational speaker, storytelling

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)
- More...

Agenda (click here)

Speakers (click here)

 

 

 

speaking, pause, pausing, art of the pause, presenting, presentation, motivational speaker

The art of the “pause” – knowing when to use a short pause or long pause – offers a lot of benefits to speakers, presenters, and trainers alike.

Everybody reads at a different speed.
Everyone listens at the same speed.
Everyone comprehends in a different way.
Pausing helps smooth out the learning speed bumps.

Here are a few benefits of employing effective pauses. Pauses…
a) Are an elegant way to emphasize points
b) Give your audience important moments to process what you say
c) Enable your audience to catch up, especially if you are a fast talker
d) Make you appear more confident, as you don’t need to fill every second with words
e) Can add tension and suspense
f) Are very effective with international audiences. They allow your audience and translator to catch up to you (similar to C)
g) Keep your audiences engaged

People frequently ask us, “Won’t my audiences notice I am pausing on purpose? It doesn’t seem natural.”

Our answer, “Used appropriately, no one will know you are deliberately pausing. What they will think is that you are an effective speaker.”

If you are new to pausing, start using short pauses in your next conversation. Test out your effectiveness until you are able to master the pause. Then move on to public speaking and training.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Write it Down Before You Forget

writing, memory, forget, forgetfulness, recordOur short-term memory is very short. Experts vary in their opinions sharing a range of 20 to 30 seconds. Whatever the right number of seconds, it really does not matter.

If you are like us, you forget the unimportant to the important. Think about when you are a in a meeting and an idea pops into your head. How often do you forget the idea? Or forget that important item your client asked about? Or…you get the idea.

Anytime you have an idea/thought you know you want to remember, write it down. To aid in recall, remove all judgment, your desire to analyze, your need to evaluate, etc. – this eliminates mental clutter competing with memory recall.

Use a sticky note, a napkin, text message yourself, email yourself, or call yourself and leave that important message.

Confucius, a famous Chinese philosopher (c. 551-c. 479 BC), said, "The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory."

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.

alt 

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

speaking, training, presenting, practice, practicingThere isn’t a prospect or client that tells us something close to “I really don’t have time to practice my [blank] like I should.” [Blank] is a presentation to the board, a story to inspire action, a sales presentation, an investor pitch, and so on.

Our response is something like, “There isn’t an Olympic athlete, celebrity actor, famous musician, and New York Times best-selling author that doesn’t practice his or her craft—and some practice daily. Not one.”

One of the more well respected researchers in expert performance, K. Anders Ericsson, PhD, has published numerous papers and articles. One paper is “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” (link here). According to Dr. Ericsson, at the intersection of expertise and habit is deliberate practice.

Whatever you do, make practice part of your planning. Practice at least a little. We suggest for really important events, three to five times.

Deliberate Practice helps you.....
- smooth out transitions from slide to slide and big concept to big concept
- identify "bumpy" areas--areas that sound awkward, cause you to hesitate and stumble, etc.
- feel (much) more confident, which then allows more authentic passion and the real you to shine

networking, eating, dining, relationship buildingEver been at a business meal and found yourself finished way before your dining partner? Or perhaps your dining partner was finished way before you?

Generally, this occurs for one of two reasons:  

1) Someone is talking much more than the other person

2) One person is a much faster eater

In either case, it is best to match your partner's eating speed when possible.

We have seen some people eat like vacuum cleaners and exclaim afterward, "Sorry, I know I am a fast eater." Please note, while men are the typical fast eaters, a conversation topic may skew the eating speed one way or the other.

Your goal...finish approximately at the same time.

reduce jargon complexity engage audiencePolish-born British novelist, Joseph Conrad said, “He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, in the right word.”

Words are power. They stir emotions. They cause people to make choices. That’s exactly what you want to do—get your target audiences to act.

Magazines and newspapers write between the 8th and 10th grade levels. Why so simple? To ensure EVERYONE understands the message and content, as quickly as possible.

Reducing jargon and sentence/word complexity are key to enhancing engagement with your stakeholders.

Here are some suggestions to increase your messaging impact:
- Reduce jargon and acronyms
- Use shorter words
- Keep your sentences short. Keep them to a maximum of 15 words
- Use the free Readability Tools included with Microsoft Word®. Target 50 and above for the Flesch Reading Ease and target 10th grade or lower for the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
- Ask the opinions of people outside your organization and industry. Do they REALLY understand your messages? And appreciate them?
- Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Edit ruthlessly

Experiences are enduring. Experiences are shared by people in writing, in social media, in person, in email, etc. How do your audiences respond and share your messages?

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

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

alt

marketing communications double check qa

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?

storytelling limit goals

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.

Organization Limits
- 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.

Personal Limits
- 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.

secret-formula-for-great-storytelling

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.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tweet with the End Result in Mind

tweet with end result in mind

Think about the actions you are trying to inspire among your followers before you send your next tweet. Give potential followers convincing reasons to “follow” you.

Send Tweets to:
- Share information
- Challenge trends and conventional thinking
- Entertain and make them laugh
- Help them bond with others
- Connect them to other like-minded individuals (remember Twitter is a community of communities)

Match the type of tweet to the preferences of your audience and your goals. Are these actions consistent with the results you are expecting? Social media rewards those who share the right information with their audience.

visual words

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

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

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

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

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

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

attend experience events

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

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

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

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

active listening

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Master the Art of Active Listening

active listening

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

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

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

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

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

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

LinkedIn Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

30 Day Must Do, To-Do List

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

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

New to LinkedIn

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

Advanced LinkedIn Content, Positioning, & Messaging

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

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

Building and Nurturing Your Network  

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

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

Career - Job Seekers / Job Hunters 

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

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