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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

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

Happy Lunar New Year or Happy Chinese New Year or Gong Xi Fa Cai. The Chief Storyteller® team wishes you a healthy and prosperous 2016.

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

secret-formula-for-great-storytelling

visual words

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

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

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

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

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

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

active listening

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Master the Art of Active Listening

active listening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

personalize linkedin profile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Body Language Non Verbal Communications

We laugh, we wince, and we empathize…sometimes.

We all receive the emails and telephone calls from non-native English speakers. It’s easy to tell the legitimate from the fake.

I received the email pictured below a few days ago from Flora Lawrence, her self-titled "non de plume." Flora is from India and the way the email is written gives me considerable pause.

As such, this is more of an extreme example of what not to do. This tip of the week is for the legitimate professionals and organizations doing business in countries with different languages.

Since Flora’s first email subject line was “Premium website design,” I deleted it while on my personal computer. Her second email, “Re: Premium website design,” I read because I was on my mobile phone and pressed the arrow for next email.

What caught my eye was the first line, “Have you got a chance to overlook my earlier email…” Ignoring the “got” error, “overlook” made me wince and laugh—I absolutely overlooked your first email.

It doesn’t matter what the language is, you have to translate and localize your materials.

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Speaking of localize, here is an example. As I was getting my haircut yesterday, I noticed the bottle in front of me. I read “light styling gel” and then saw the two smaller text lines in French and Spanish. Since I’m a decent conversationalist in Spanish, I gravitated to the message line, “gel un terminado suave.” To me, terminado means end or completed. In context, I knew I had to be wrong here as mine was a literal translation.

I then asked two women at the salon whom I knew were native Spanish speakers. For about three minutes they quickly discussed the word choice. Both agreed “un gel estilo suave” is a better choice. For the curious, in Google Translate “gel un terminado suave” means “over a soft gel” and “un gel estilo suave” means “style soft gel.” Now to me, the crux of this messaging conundrum is whether soft in Spanish is the same as light in English?

By the way, “Xie Xie” is Chinese for thank you.

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Body Language Non Verbal Communications

Imagine you are delivering your standard 60-minute presentation. Your audience will understand most of what you say quickly, appreciate your humor (hopefully...), assume your body language is coordinated with your talking points, recognize the use of appropriate colors for the points (e.g., red is a problem area while green is a positive area), and more.

Not always true with international audiences.

When speaking internationally, successfully engaging your audiences becomes more complex. You have to account for differences in greetings, customs, traditions, hand gestures, colors, and more. One common custom is to thank a variety of people – the host, guests, dignitaries, etc.–before you begin your talk. This could be as long as five minutes…not a big deal in a 60-minute presentation…a huge deal if you are speaking for 15 minutes.

With you words, you are leaving nuances, metaphors, sayings, body language, interpretation, etc. in the hands of your translator. Additionally, English is a “shorter” language. Many other languages require more words to say the same thing.

Ira Koretsky, our CEO, ALWAYS spends a few minutes with the translator beforehand, reviewing the purpose of the presentation, high-level ideas, and words/concepts not likely common (e.g., elevator speech, executive story, business story, and networking). He also asks for the words/phrases in the native language so that he may use them in his presentation.

As a result, we suggest reducing your content at least 30% and perhaps as much as 50%.

Items to consider:

- Synchronization: With a simultaneous translator, your audience will be at least 15 seconds behind you in comprehension and timing in your program. If you have complex ideas, perhaps 30 seconds. It takes a little getting used to.
- Language: There are numerous examples of poorly translated words from one language to another that are embarrassing. Check before you go or change your words.
- Examples: Instead of giving one example, we suggest giving two or three examples to illustrate your point.

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In describing Atlas Corps, Scott Beale, Founder and CEO, shares that Atlas Corps is "an international network of the world's best non profit leaders and social change organizations.  We bring leaders from around the world to serve in the U.S. to learn skills and share their perspectives. And then go back home to create a global network of the world's best social change professionals."

I met Scott about a year ago through a program hosted by CRDF Global and my good friend Natalia Pipia.  We talked briefly and then over the course of about a month outlined a communications program to be offered to the next class of Atlas Corps' Fellows.

Today, I had a the honor of spending a half-day with nearly 70 very passionate social change professionals from more than 50 countries (see picture below). My program was "Executive Storytelling: How to Use Stories to Engage, Persuade, and Inspire."

Two big take-aways:

- Passion opens the door to opportunities. Scalability opens the door to investment. Several of the Fellows are doing great things in their respective countries. They were looking for local partners and investors to help them expand outreach. Someone asked a question sparking a lively discussion of passion and scability. I emphasized investors around the world will always be more receptive to an idea that scales, whether it be for social good or for economic gain.

- Find the right balance. Many of the Fellows were tackling sensitive culture, justice, and historical issues.  Some of the issues were heart-breaking and would bring tears to your eyes hearing some of the stories. I encouraged the fellows to share these stories while keeping in mind that tugging on someone's heart to inspire them to be part of the solution, you must find the right balance of emotion and benefit. In general, people do not want to be overwhelmed with an emotional appeal. They want a reasoned set of arguments with clear benefits. Weave your emotional appeal just enough so that your audience truly understands what is at stake. Empathy over sympathy.

I really enjoyed spending time with the Atlas Corps' Class 18 Fellows. And I sincerely look forward to staying in touch and helping them continue to make a (big) difference in the world.

The next day, Scott posted this very nice recommendation/testimonial. 

Ira did a fantastic job with this public speaking and storytelling workshop to the Atlas Corps Fellows. He engaged a diverse and professional audience of nearly 70 leaders from over 50 different countries and after a four-day training on Marketing and Communication skills, Ira was the favorite presenter for the majority of the Fellows. He is fantastic!

 

With its fantastic history of excellence, Atlas Corps has built a world wide reputation, drawing thousands of applications each year (apply here). What it needs most are host organizations (contact Atlas Corps here). Host organizations receive a variety of benefits. If interested visit the website or email me.

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The Fellows sat at tables of six to eight. On some of the tables I saw name tents with each Fellow's name in a variety of languages. I didn't think of asking them to translate my name until my program was nearly over. I did manage a few...languages and countries of origin are labeled on the next photograph.

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I did manage a few...languages and countries of origin are labeled. Too bad I wasn't able to do more...next time!

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

- Chicken with wilted spinach
- Stinky tofu
- Vegetarian meatballs

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

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

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Words to Avoid - “Anxious”

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

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

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

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

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

When I showed up to my daughter's after school classroom, I was greeted by her class' election day voting.

For Governor, Jake won by a landslide. Superman barely earned Sheriff. Senators Pook and Eeyore won handily.

For the House, Elsa crushed and Anna sqeaked by Ariel.

I thought it quite clever how the teachers used the children's favorite characters to teach and demonstrate our voting.

What can you do to make learning/training more interesting?

 

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Join me at what will prove to be a highly useful business summit. Hosted at the beautiful Marriott Fairview, the Turkish American Business Group Annual Small Business Summit, offers a variety of speakers and panels all designed to help you grow your business.  The agenda includes:

2:00 - 2:40 Check-in

2:40 - 3:00 Opening Keynote by Varol Ablak, CEO of Vocelli Pizza with Emcee Dan Nainan (old friend of mine)

3:00 - 3:50 Access to Capital, Commercial Lending and Alternative Funding

3:50 - 4:00 Coffee Break

5:00 - 6:00 30 Tips in 30 Minutes by 3 Experts to Grow Your Small Business (Ira Koretsky's program)

6:00 - 7:00 Reception

8:00 - 9:00 Gala Dinner with Congressman Rob Wittman, Talha Sarac, President of PERA Construction and Chairman of the Turkish American Business Network, Nick Spanos Co-founder of Bitcoin Center at NYC, John S. Powell, SVP of EagleBank, and William D. Euille, Mayor of Alexandria

 

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Soon to be a Veteran? Veteran? Spouse? Looking for hands-on career advice? Join me and a distinguished group of presenters providing free career workshops at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference in Washington, DC.

I was part of the 2013 program and look forward to this year's event. While the event is Army-focused, any service member, veteran, and spouse is welcome.

The American Freedom Foundation workforce hiring event at AUSA is presented by Sourceamerica® and GES.  12 workshop sessions take place October 13 – 15 to provide resources and information for veterans and transitioning military.  I'll be giving my program, "“Your Upcoming Tour on Main Street:  How to Positively Engage and Influence Hiring Managers with Your Words and Stories" on Monday 10/13 10:30am to 12noon and Tuesday 10/14 1pm to 2:30pm (list of all programs)

AFF "mission is to honor the men and women of America’s armed forces, raise awareness for their service and sacrifice and raise money for organizations that serve and support our Veterans, active duty military and their families." 

If you need any more information please let me know (contact me here).
 

 American Freedom Foundation’s Warriors to the Workforce
Hiring Event at AUSA Announces Workshop Sessions  

12 Workshop sessions will take place October 13 – 15 to provide resources and information for veterans and transitioning military 

Attendance at Warriors to the Workforce Hiring Event is FREE and open to veterans, military service members and spouses.

Presentations will include topics such as mental readiness, confidence building, networking and presentation skills, resume writing, interviewing techniques, job searching, career planning through goal setting, translating military skills and training into civilian life and corporate experience, among others.

In addition to these transition workshops, veterans will have the opportunity to meet with some of the country’s largest and most veteran friendly employers including Aerotek, ASM Research, ATK, Inc., BAE Systems, Calibre Systems, CSC, Didlake, Inc., Easter Seals Veterans Staffing Network, esri, Elbit Systems of America, First Command Financial Services, General Dynamics Information T echnology, Goodwill Industries, Hendrickson International, Kaplan University, Linden Industries, Melwood, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pride Industries, RNDC-­?USA, SAIC, Still Serving Veterans, TFD Group, University of Phoenix, USACE, VETS Group, Working Warriors Nations–MVLE and Department of Veterans Affairs.

Attendance at Warriors to the Workforce Hiring Event is FREE and open to veterans, military service members and spouses.

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As an MBA graduate of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, I am excited about next week's presentation.  I'll be presenting "Executive Storytelling" with fellow part-time MBA students. 

It was a serendipitious meeting with Megan, the professional development program chair. We met at a Smith School Event for International Development. After chatting a bit, I learned Megan worked for the Department of the Army and I'm an Army veteran. Soon after, we talked about a variety of topics, which led to the "What do you do?" question.

A few months later, I'll be sharing some great video clips, thoughts, ideas, and exercises on business storytelling. I'm looking forward to a dynamic exchange of ideas.

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Here is more scientific proof that great visuals are integral to great presentations.  You need both. You need great stories, great messages, great content. And you need to ensure your PowerPoint/Keynote are also done well to ensure your audiences remember and act on what you say.

"As it turns out, there is merit to the Chinese proverb 'I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember,'" says graduate student James Bigelow. James and his colleague Amy Poremba PhD recently published "Achilles’ Ear? Inferior Human Short-Term and Recognition Memory in the Auditory Modality" in the Journal PLOS ONE, which "features reports of original research from all disciplines within science and medicine."

Medical News Today writer David McNamee, summarizes the study nicely. "We have a harder time remembering things we have heard, compared with things we have seen or felt." He goes on to quote the study: "We tend to think that the parts of our brain wired for memory are integrated,' says Professor Poremba. She also says the team's findings may indicate that the brain uses separate pathways to process information. Even more, our study suggests the brain may process auditory information differently than visual and tactile information, and alternative strategies - such as increased mental repetition - may be needed when trying to improve memory."

While doing some searching on the Internet, I came across an article on public speaking. The speaker said early in every presentation, he tells people

“This presentation is for you. So don’t hesitate to interrupt me and ask questions. In fact I encourage you to argue with me.  I’m here for you. In fact, I challenge you to throw me off.  That’s what makes this fun.”

While his intent is positive, how I could not DISAGREE more with most of what he said. Sentence by sentence, here are my comments and suggestions:
a) This presentation is for you
> I like it

b) “So” don’t hesitate to interrupt me and ask questions.
> “So” is a filler word. It is one thing to say it and another to write it. Don’t include it in your writing. One thing to note, “so” is one of my filler words and I continue to work on removing it from my speaking

c) “don’t hesitate to interrupt me and ask questions”
> “interrupt” is a negative word, 1,000%. It means to stop someone from doing what they were doing. No one likes to be interrupted.
> instead, say something like, “don’t hesitate to ask questions” or make it more positive by saying, “please ask questions at any time.”

d) In fact I encourage you to argue with me.
> Really, you want people to argue with you? In public? In front of everyone else in the room? In front of your superiors, colleagues, friends?
> I find this statement illogical. Can you think of any time in your personal or professional life you wanted to be sitting next to or standing next to two people arguing? People run from conflict…it’s human nature.
> Part of his audience are global professionals. There is a huge disconnect here as global audience members never ever, never ever, challenge the speaker.
> Make people feel good about interacting with you, the speaker. Perhaps something like, “if you have experiences different than what I am talking about, please share them. Different perspectives are helpful to everyone.”

e) I’m here for you
> It’s okay

f) In fact, I challenge you to throw me off.
> see comments under (d)

Here’s my suggestion for a revised introduction.

“This presentation is for you. Please ask questions at any time…don’t hesitate. If you have experiences different than what I am talking about, please share them. Different perspectives are helpful to everyone. Hearing from you is what makes this fun.”

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year 2014

Everyone at The Chief Storyteller® wishes you a warm, safe, and relaxing holiday season. Here's a little humor we shared years ago with our first holiday greeting card.

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The Latino Hotel and Restaurant Association, LHRA, is on of the preeminent organizations representing the business interests of Latino hotel owners, operators and developers. Internationally, members own and operate hotels representing more than 20,000 rooms, employing over 15,000 individuals, and whose assets are valued at more than $2 billion.

Over 300 people from the US, Mexico, Central and South America will be attend. Members are influential, decision-making executives.

If you are in the hotel or restaurant industry, join me and hundreds of professionals from around the world.  I will be delivering Thursday morning's keynote, "Get Funded: Design and Deliver the Perfect Investor Pitch."

Top 5 Reasons to Attend

1. Forecasting. We cannot predict the weather in Florida, but our expert speakers and panelists can make educated predictions on how they think hotels and restaurants will preform in 2014!

2. Education. Two action packed days of presentations and panels focusing on industry trends that will help attendees boost their performance.

3. Networking with colleagues. Mix with other successful hospitality business professionals at our unique receptions and breaks.Last year we had a chefs competition to close the event...this year savory dishes will kick it off!

4. Legacy Building. Join LHRA as they hosts this year's Battle of the Brands - High Stakes Golf Tournament to support Latino students seeking careers in the hospitality industry! Compete in this stimulating golf tournament and help us raise money for student scholarships!!!

5. Industry Recognition. Meet owners, operators, developers and industry suppliers who have proven themselves worthy of LHRA recognition at this year's Estrella Awards!

 

I received this advertisment from Flickr. I like the content, style, layout, and message.

I would prefer to see a smiling person(s) instead of a flower. The message, in bold white letters, is "Smile." If the folks at Flickr really want to use a flower (assuming a connection to Spring), then use smiling people holding flowers or running in a field.

Your photography and imagery should always match the picture. Otherwise you run the risk of creating messaging disconnects. Messaging disconnects reduce click-throughs, success of call-to-action buttons, signups, purchases, and so forth.

 

I have been a mentor and traveler with CRDF Global for many years. CRDF/Department of State have brought together (and continue to do so) some of the brightest minds from around the world in global innovation and entrepreneurship. If you are near the DC area, the event is on the GW Campus. Otherwise, enjoy the live streaming webinar. Register here.

Here are the details and links.

The Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative, a partnership led by CRDF Global and the U.S. Department of State, invites you to join us for a lunchtime panel discussion on global innovation and technology entrepreneurship. This luncheon will provide an opportunity to celebrate successes achieved by entrepreneurs from emerging economies and hear from speakers who work to enhance entrepreneurial communities around the globe. Participants will learn about innovation and entrepreneurship and how diaspora groups can take these tools to help bridge communities and create new opportunities. Register here.

Event Agenda

12:30-1:00pm       Registration and lunch

1:00-2:00pm         GIST panel discussion

2:00-3:00pm         DC-based live Q&A period and networking


How to get involved?

Join our 159K+ Facebook Community: http://www.facebook.com/GISTinitiative

Speakers:

Shari Loessberg, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan. LinkedIn
Shari is a seasoned entrepreneur in the US and emerging markets. She has lived five years in Moscow building leading Russian equity house. Shari has been at MIT Sloan for ten years, teaching about US venture capital investment and emerging market entrepreneurship. She also  consults on domestic and international startup issues. Her specialties are in emerging market entrepreneurship and investment, US venture capital investment, strategy and negotiation in funding US high-tech startups, domestic and international corporate governance and Russian capital markets.

 

 

 

 

Catherine Cook, Founder of Meet Me. LinkedIn
Catherine Cook graduated from Georgetown University (B’11), where she majored in OPIM and marketing. Catherine has been reported on extensively by CNBC, MTV, ABC News, Fox News, CosmoGIRL, BusinessWeek, the San Francisco Chronicle and CBS. She has spoken at a number of high profile conferences, including the Foursquare conference, and spoken at events at Princeton University, Boston College, and Georgetown University.

 

 

 

 


Wissam "Will" Yafi, Founder & CEO of TidWit Inc. LinkedIn
Wissam "Will" Yafi is the founder of TidWiT Inc. For the past 10 years, together with his team he has been responsible for launching worldwide e-learning and ICT initiatives to non-profits, high tech firms, and government organizations. With more than 20 years in the industry, Wissam often shares his experiences through workshops and planning sessions all over North America, Europe, LATAM, Asia, and Africa. Wissam and his team have successfully delivered hundreds of online courses using TidWiT's recognized Social Learning platform. Wissam balances work with community orientated activities such as training youth on entrepreneurship and technology and helping developing countries on incubation and ICT initiatives. His volunteer work earned Wissam recognition with VEGA in the US. Wissam is a published author of two books and is a regular contributor to several global media outlets.

 


GIST Moderator:

Ovidiu (Ovi) Bujorean, Sr. Manager of GIST Initiative. www.ovibees.com
Ovidiu Bujorean manages and directs the GIST Initiative. Mr. Bujorean is a professional speaker on topics such as professional networking, innovation and entrepreneurship and partnerships building. Previously, Mr. Bujorean was the Senior Associate at Rudyard Partners, a private equity firm focused on investing in consumer technologies. Mr. Bujorean serves as Chairman of the Board of Advisors of AIESEC DC and Vice-Chairman of MIT  Enterprise Forum of Washington DC. He founded LEADERS, an organization that impacted the lives of approximately 10000 young leaders and entrepreneurs in Romania and Southern-Eastern Europe and is a graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management (MBA) and Harvard’s Kennedy School (MPA).

 

 

 

Register here.

The other day, Geetesh Baraj, PowerPoint MVP and Manager of the "PowerPoint and Presenting Stuff" LinkedIn Group posted the following question to the group.  My suggestions follow below...

Creating Slides for Multi-Lingual Audiences
I am researching a blog post topic -- since it is still being researched, anything mentioned below is not set in stone. I am open to all your thoughts and the scenario and the suggestions can be broadly changed as required.
Here is the scenario, and as I said, this is a broad definition that can be changed:
1. You need to create slides for a multi-lingual audience.
2. Everyone in the audience understands English to some extent, but they are not necessarily fluent in the language.
3. The presentation needs to distributed later to audience members -- and some others who were not present at the actual event.
4. Before distribution, the presentation may need to be translated to other languages -- this means that there needs to be some basic amount of text.

What are your thoughts about the use of:
1. Story / Outline: How deep should this be? Should the depth level be low -- will that compromise the content?
2. Text: What level of simplification?
3. Visuals: Should pictures replace text, or complement it?
4. Design and Color: What works best?

 

My response:

Geetesh,

Interesting...

I've pondered this several years ago before I started presenting internationally. I have had the honor of conducting programs in 8 countries with six trips involving simultaneous translation. Here are some questions and suggestions.

1. How knowledgeable is the audience? Without knowing your answer, in general, I suggest ~30 to 50% reduction in complexity and content
2) The broad brush suggestion is to translate the presentation and handouts in advance. Bring your own version matched page-for-page with the translated version
3) Find people through your network whom have done business, worked in, or lived in the country/region and solicit feedback
4) Localize--always. For color, fonts, pictures, graphs, words, humor, etc. Some seemingly small things could actually backfire and you may never even know it
5) Consider an appendix or handouts with tips, examples, and how-to's
6) Solicit feedback from the audience afterward. Be gentle as you probe, as some cultures are not forthcoming with what they deem criticism of the speaker

One of our blog readers emailed me to let me know that Matt of "Where the Hell is Matt?" fame had a new video. I posted a blog in August of 2006 sharing a bit of background on Matt. This was before his three other videos and as it calls it, his "not-entirely-un-famous" status.

Once you read the About Matt page, you will really appreciate the storytelling behind his videos. The accompanying music in the 2012 video is fantastic. I even "Bought" the video from his home page despite being able to find it on the Internet. Why? Because Matt started out and I still think through today, to be genuinely selfless. He is honest, his videos reflect this, and the worldwide enjoyment is testament to his beliefs. With all of the messaging and organizations touting story this and story that, I truly believe the absolute genuine stories will be the ones that stand out.

Here is an excerpt from his About page:

He mostly just danced in front of iconic landmarks, but along the way he went to a country called Rwanda, and since there aren't any landmarks in Rwanda that you'd want to dance in front of, instead he just went to a small village and danced with a bunch of kids. The kids joined him immediately and without hesitation. That ended up being the best thing that happened to him on the trip. The kids taught him that people are a whole lot more interesting than old landmarks and monuments.

Matt went back to Stride and told them he did it all wrong and they needed to send him around the planet again. They said, "Okay," and in 2008 he put out another video that showed thousands of people laughing, smiling, and goofing around together. It took him five years and three tries, but he finally got it right that time. 

Where the Hell is Matt 2005 video    ~3,000,000 views

Where the Hell is Matt 2006 video   ~18,300,000 views

Where the Hell is Matt 2008 video    ~45,500,000 views

Where the Hell is Matt 2012 video    ~9,700.000 views

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Make Me Care

Today I was working with an executive client on her storytelling. Tanya wants to use more stories in her meetings, presentations, networking, etc.

As part of the first step of developing engaging business stories, we develop a story list.  This is simply a list of Tanya's favorite stories and a few notes beside each story title.

After sharing a variety of stories, I asked her to rank her favorite ones. When she identified her all-time favorite, I prompted Tanya to share it.

Nearly three minutes into telling it, I identified the "make me care" moment. 

During our discussions Tanya agreed that yes, this was the most important part...this was the business take-away. 

For you, two suggestions:

1) Shorten your business stories, generally to a max of two minutes. Three minutes if you are able to keep your audience's attention the entire time

2) Message/craft the words of your stories around your "make me care" concept. Be deliberate

For the past two years (2011 and 2012), I shared my top 50 business storytelling and communications mantras. As I plan for 2013, I always look to my list to light a small fire of inspiration.

As you look through this list, see what applies to your life or what you want to apply. Write your own list of mantras. Whatever you do, make a list (short or long) of your goals and aspirations. Every so often read, revise, and contemplate...

Here are the mantras at The Chief Storyteller. Think about this list and how it can help prompt new and fresh approaches to making your personal and organizational communications unforgettable. We would love to hear your mantras...please leave them in the comments.


Personal Storytelling & Communications
01.    People are at the heart of every great story.
02.    Stories are how people remember you.
03.    Use humor if you want to.
04.    Write in your authentic voice.
05.    Write and speak conversationally.
06.    Write emails as if they will be read on a smart phone.
07.    Tell more personal stories with relevant business messages

Brand/Organizational Storytelling
08.    Promise a better tomorrow.
09.    Know your elevator speech / elevator pitch / mission statement (core business story).
10.    Ensure your core business story is unified throughout all communication materials.
11.    Your brand story is everything.
12.    Success stories are key to differentiation.
13.    Social communities are built on personal and business stories.
14.    Deliver on the expected experience.

Relationships
15.    It’s all about them.
16.    Relationships matter.
17.    Business stories are the engine of relationships and relationships are the engine of continued success.
18.    Credibility is more important than expertise in the beginning of relationships.
19.    Send hand-written thank you notes, especially job hunters.
20.    Active listening is key to building great relationships.
21.    Treat everyone like a CEO.
22.    Stop listening to your Mother. Talk to strangers at networking events.
23.    It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
24.    Treat every client like your best client.
25.    Be a deliberate networker.
26.    Be a people bridge and make referrals.
27.    Be a mentor.
28.    People crave connection.
29.    First Impressions Make Lasting Impressions:  offer a warm smile, firm handshake, and good eye contact.

Communications
30.    Write to the 10th grade level.
31    Content is king.
32.    (Good) blog and article content matters the most.
33.    Strive for “interest” questions. Avoid “understanding” questions.
34.    Content first. Design second.
35.    Always have a second person read your content before publishing.
36.    Design your website for your target audiences (not your staff).
37.    Inspire Action:  facts do not persuade and inspire, people do.
38.    Audiences are hungry for original thought-provoking content.
39.    Get yourself known (e.g., LinkedIn questions and answers, post to SlideShare, and Tweet good information).
40.    Speak in headlines.
41.    Maintain a detailed Ideal Target Profile for your key target audiences.

Personal Development
42.    But is the worst word in the English language (and many other languages).
43.    Words really, really matter.
44.    Have positive self-talk conversations.
45.    Change is a choice.
46.    Create your own success momentum.
47.    Be a student everyday.
48.    Be a whole body communicator.
49.    Avoid fillers (um, ah, like, you know)
50.   Be a deliberate communicator

A few weeks ago LinkedIn published its annual "Most Overused Buzzwords." Here is a synopsis of the findings:

When we ran the analysis in 2011, we had 135 million members around the globe. Now we have more than 187 million. Even though we added more than 50 million new members since we did the last ranking, the data tells us that the number one buzzword globally is “creative” once again.

As was the case last year, “creative”, “organizational”, “effective” are in the top three. This year though, more members this year described themselves as “responsible” and “analytical”, which made an appearance on our ranking for the first time. As a result, “dynamic” and “communication skills” got knocked off the list. “Motivated” is now ranked higher than “extensive experience” which was the top buzzword in 2010.

 

Hope you can attend a great event next week -- "A panel of distinguished business leaders discuss doing business internationally and cultural competency as a strategic advantage."

Here's the text from the event:

Leverage Cultural Differences for Competitive Advantage!  Recognizing and leveraging cultural differences allows a company to be more successful and to gain a competitive advantage over those who do not.  To be successful a company must develop competencies that enable its workforce to move between various cultures and tailor their communications and problem solving skills in a way that is comfortable for each culture. 

How will your company win in markets that may be foreign to your business today but vital to its success tomorrow?  

Learn strategies to leverage cultural differences for competitive advantage from a distinguished roundtable of six business leaders.

Juanita Hardy of Tiger Management Consulting collaborated with The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center to bring you a stellar morning event, "Winning in The Global Market: Six Leaders Discuss Bridging Cultural Gaps."

I met Juanita a while back and we became fast friends. I am sincerely looking forward to this event. As someone who has conducted business internationally, the panel will surely share ideas gleaned from years of working nationally and abroad.  The panel includes:

- Andrew Sherman, Partner, Jones Day International (Panel Moderator)
- Dr. Douglas Guthrie, Dean of the Business School for George Washington University and Professor of International Business and Management, Washington, DC
- Roger Lawrence, Corporate Vice President, McCormick & Company
- Ted Dean, Chair, AmCham China (American Chamber of Commerce in China), Beijing
- Desmond Fraser, President, American Certification Body Inc (ACB Inc)
- William Burrell, Director, US Commercial Services, US Department of Commerce

Email me if you are planning on attending and we can meet for coffee before/after.

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