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

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

With Google Translate, it is super simple. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's how:

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

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

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


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

If you have any trouble email me.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few sites to find great quotes:

- BrainyQuote
- World of Quotes
- Quoteland

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Imagine you are attending an event with a speaker or panel. It was fantastic. The line to talk to the speaker is long and you just don’t have the time to wait.

Here’s a tip that works most of the time.

Email the speaker explaining a) You attended the session and b1) You have a question about the topic he/she did cover or b2) You have a question about a topic he/she said would be covered (this option gets more responses by far).

Keep your request short and to the point. Ask for websites, articles, studies, SlideShare presentations, etc. to help address your question.

Perhaps this is a start of a new relationship...

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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?

Geetesh Bajaj of Indezine.com shared a new post from Microsoft from January 22 titled, "The Next Chapter of Office on Windows."

Here's the introductory paragraph..

Yesterday’s unveil of Windows 10 showcased a new generation of experiences that will empower people and organizations to achieve more. In partnership with Windows 10, the Office team is bringing a fantastic new set of Office experiences to this platform, furthering our mission to bring the unparalleled productivity of Office to everyone, on every device. Over the past 12 months, you’ve seen us reimagine the traditional Office experience for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. The next step in this journey is the delivery of touch and mobile optimized versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook for Windows 10.

The post provides some hint at Office's “universal” apps on Windows 10 and Office 2016.

 

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.

One of the most common questions/statements we receive about storytelling is "I just don't know where to begin."

Choosing the right story, turning it into an engaging experience, and practicing to be a great storyteller of course takes time. What really doesn't take much time and very little preparation, is telling a “Today Story.”

It is an experience that happened to you the day of your presentation, before you begin.

Share your experiences:
- Airplane ride
- Conversation you had with someone previously (at the opening event night before is also a good source),
- Taxi cab ride from the airport with the person sitting next you
- Conversation you had with your spouse, child, parent
- "I was just talking to FirstName" about (a participant in the audience)

In three minutes or less, YOU CAN tell a great story. One that is relevant and interesting. And one that sets the stage for a great presentation to come to your audience.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It Is In Giving That We Receive

The rewards of volunteering are varied and many...and sometimes, not readily apparent.

Over a decade ago, I volunteered for a few years as a religious education instructor. My job was to teach middle school students the basics of their faith. I used to tell anyone who would listen at the time this was one of the toughest audiences I had ever faced. Students at this age are very transparent and I knew many of them would have preferred to be somewhere else during class time.

I spent untold hours trying to make the lectures fun, engaging and interactive. We played games, watched movies, did community service work outside the classroom and more. I gave each student a hard copy of the evening's class notes (which were filled with facts, stories and quotes from the Bible) – realizing then that they wouldn't read them until months or years later, perhaps when they were taking a religion course in college.

While it was clear I was able to reach some students during those formative years, there were others who just seemed disengaged and detached. It wasn't until the other night, during a service at my place of worship, that a former student and his family were sitting in the row in front of me. I remembered him as one who seemed particularly disengaged at the time.

I recognized him during the service and, at one point, he looked at me and smiled. After the service had ended, his mom turned around and told me her son had recognized me as one of his religious education teachers and had told her I was one of the best he ever had. It was a great gift to know my efforts were appreciated and remembered after so many years.

I tell this story because it's an inspiration to all of us on the importance of giving our best in all that we do in the New Year, for it is in giving that we truly receive.

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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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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"How to Create Your Unfair Competitive Advantage"

Snag your spot now for a jammed-packed program with Social Marketing Maven Kim Walsh-Phillips.

This is the next exciting event from my organization, Ignition Shift.

Join us for this interactive workshop to discover:

- How to get inside your prospects heads to close more sales without conducting expensive research
- The marketing formula of  promotion +  giveaways to produce more sales in 29 days
- How to leverage social media and advanced strategies to outpace your competitors without spending more on marketing

Plus when register, you will receive a Facebook Ads Guide, a step-by-step ads blueprint to create Facebook Ads that sell lead to market domination! (Discounts expire this week - so CLICK HERE to get your spot now!)

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Results you will get include changes you can make in your operations to drive deeper, more meaningful, and more valuable relationships with your marketing dollars!  Join us!

Location

The West End Cinema (best indy theatre in DC!) and patio is a great, convenient location for us to enjoy connecting with other growth minded, accomplished business executive teams.

Your Ignition Shift team is excited to craft a fun and socially engaging experience for all of us to connect with the ceos and executives joining us for Kim's workshop. We'll have a red carpet interaction before Kim starts, and a fun, gift filled, social opportunity to run your marketing challenges by Kim post event!

 

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About Your Speaker  
Kim Walsh-Phillips, www.Facebook.com/KWalshPhillips, is the award-winning Speaker, Author, Strategist and CEO of IO Creative Group, a direct response social media agency.  She is a techie marketing geek with great shoes, a hatred of awareness campaigns and an obsession for marketing with a sharp focus on ROI. Kim has worked with brands such as Sandler Training, Dan Kennedy, Pamela Yellen, Harley-Davidson, Chem-Dry, and Hilton Hotels to increase revenue through direct response marketing. Kim is the author of "Awareness Campaigns are Stupid and Other Secrets to Stop Being an Advertising Victim and Start Monetizing Your Marketing" and the upcoming book co-authored with direct response marketing legend Dan Kennedy, "The NO BS Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing."
 
(Again discounts expire this week -  CLICK HERE & grab your spot now!)

The other day I gave one of our Storytelling for Executives workshop programs. In it I showed one of my all-time favorite videos, the Turbo Encabulator.  I show it to demonstrate the best and worst aspects of using jargon. Most people do not even realize how much jargon they use in his or her various communications. This video is a humorous way of gently reminding everyone to minimize jargon. One of the program participants asked me for the actual text of the video (see below), prompting me to write this post.

You owe it to yourself to watch this one and half minute video to be completely awed at the delivery by a truly gifted presenter, Bud Haggert. If it wasn't for the fact that nearly every important word is made up, you might actually believe he is talking about a very technical, highly complex piece of machinery, the Turbo Encabulator.

Director Dave Rondot shares the background of how the video came to be...

This is the first time Turbo Encabulator was recorded with picture. I shot this in the late 70's at Regan Studios in Detroit on 16mm film. The narrator and writer is Bud Haggert. He was the top voice-over talent on technical films. He wrote the script because he rarely understood the technical copy he was asked to read and felt he shouldn't be alone.

We had just finished a production for GMC Trucks and Bud asked since this was the perfect setting could we film his Turbo Encabulator script. He was using an audio prompter referred to as "the ear". He was actually the pioneer of the ear. He was to deliver a live speech without a prompter. After struggling in his hotel room trying to commit to memory he went to plan B. He recorded it to a large Wollensak reel to reel recorder and placed it in the bottom of the podium. With a wired earplug he used it for the speech and the "ear" was invented.

Today every on-camera spokesperson uses a variation of Bud's innovation. Dave Rondot (me) was the director and John Choate was the DP on this production. The first laugh at the end is mine. My hat's off to Bud a true talent.

 

Wikipedia has an entry providing some nice background information on the origin of the Turbo Encabulator idea, posting by Time Magazine (I bought the issue), the actual GE product data sheet included in the General Electric Handbook (see picture below), and more.

Here's the text. Enjoy!

For a number of years now, work has been proceeding in order to bring perfection to the crudely conceived idea of a transmission that would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters. Such an instrument is the turbo encabulator.

Now basically the only new principle involved is that instead of power being generated by the relative motion of conductors and fluxes, it is produced by the modial interaction of magneto-reluctance and capacitive diractance.

The original machine had a base plate of pre-famulated amulite surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two spurving bearings were in a direct line with the panametric fan. The latter consisted simply of six hydrocoptic marzlevanes, so fitted to the ambifacient lunar waneshaft that side fumbling was effectively prevented.

The main winding was of the normal lotus-o-delta type placed in panendermic semi-boloid slots of the stator, every seventh conductor being connected by a non-reversible tremie pipe to the differential girdle spring on the "up" end of the grammeters.

The turbo-encabulator has now reached a high level of development, and it’s being successfully used in the operation of novertrunnions. Moreover, whenever a forescent skor motion is required, it may also be employed in conjunction with a drawn reciprocation dingle arm, to reduce sinusoidal repleneration.

 

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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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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Leadership and Lifelong Learning

President John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

Take a moment and think about the leaders you know. Leaders of industry, thought, government, sports and your community…the people who inspire us to give our very best are the ones who do not assume they know everything. They know they will make mistakes from time to time.  And they trust the people they lead to help them when they ask for answers to some of their toughest challenges.

Leaders who are lifelong learners are approachable. They ask questions and they encourage open and honest feedback. They foster a culture where team members tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.  They encourage others to take risks and they embrace each failure as an opportunity to learn.

A commitment to lifelong learning. Few attributes define the character of a leader more than this one.

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!

 

Article Summary:  With today’s communications so fast and furious, do you have the time to really process the multitude of messages demanding your attention? Of course you don’t. As a leader who has to communicate your own vision, how then do you ensure your messages resonate and generate the right actions? By surrounding them with compelling personal stories. Together, they make a business story. With our easy global access to diverse cultures and experiences, your words and stories matter to those around you more than ever before.  So Mr./Ms. Leader, what personal stories are you telling to inspire action? Do your audiences respond the way you intended?  [Note, this article was originally written for The Latino Hotel and Restaurant Association (LHRA)

 

Great Leaders are Great Storytellers:  Five Tips to Improve Your Leadership Effectiveness
Copyright © The Chief Storyteller® LLC. All rights reserved.
Ira J. Koretsky
July 2013, Published with The Latino Hotel and Restaurant Association (LHRA)


With today’s communications so fast and furious, do you have the time to really process the multitude of messages demanding your attention? Of course you don’t. You pick and choose based on what resonates.

So as a leader who has to communicate your own vision, how then do you ensure your messages resonate and generate the right actions? By surrounding them with compelling personal stories. Together, they make a business story.

If you were to look back over your career at the leaders that inspired you, I would bet part of what makes you smile when you think of them was their ability to connect to both your heart and your mind. Truly, only through business stories can you accomplish both.

During my career, two leaders have really stood out. When I think of Mike C. and Colonel M., I smile and remember fondly my time working with each of them. They stand out because of how each treated me—they were great listeners, they were great advisors, and they were great supporters. Over 26 years later, I am still friends with Mike C. Unfortunately, I lost track of Colonel M. when I left the US Army.

Why did Mike and the Colonel make such powerful and indelible impressions? Our shared experiences. Experiences define us. And it’s the stories we share about these experiences that help shape the world around us. We live through each other’s stories. The best stories have several key characteristics. They are simple; are easily understood; have immediate resonance; are delivered passionately; and have a positive outcome or learning experience.

Great leaders are great storytellers.

Whether you are speaking at a small, informal meeting; in front of investors; or before thousands at a shareholder’s meeting, use these five tips to improve your own business storytelling.

Identify the One Thing You Want them to Remember
Ensure your business story has only one key message. In the absence of a clear message, audience members will either forget what you said or create their own interpretation. Think of your message as a headline—about seven words in length. To see the potential power of a headline, try this: Type a phrase into your favorite search engine. You will be greeted with hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of pithy, short phrases all vying for your “click me” action. Which one will you click?

“Texture” Your Story
Use a variety of language styles. Imagine you were in an audience listening to some of our greatest contemporary storytellers. They use a variety of techniques and styles such as metaphors, alliteration, and repetition. Be deliberate in your word choices. Be deliberate in using character dialogue. Be deliberate with your rhetorical devices (by way of example, starting several consecutive sentences with the same words is a repetition figure of speech called “anaphora”).

Make the Journey Relevant
Make your story pass the “so what” test. Invite your audience into your experience by sharing the WIIFM?What’s In It For Me. Well-told stories create a shared experience, which enables your listeners to understand your business message on a personal level. Your words should crystallize common values and experiences. Be sure to answer the audience’s question of “Why is this important to me?”

Only Share the Good Parts
Edit ruthlessly. You have at most, three minutes to share your business story. Don’t think the whole story has to be shared. It doesn’t. And it shouldn’t. Instead, rethink how you tell your story in a business setting. Typical personal stories told at parties involve boring parts. Lots of boring parts, with the good parts interspersed. The good parts make your story interesting. If you need a little help identifying the good parts, ask your friends and colleagues for feedback. Or next time you tell a favorite story, listen for questions and look for favorable body language. Now edit or omit everything else. Then texture your words around the good parts.

It’s All About Them
Once you have identified your stories, think carefully about the words you are using. Words conjure feelings and emotions. The words you use and the stories you tell can elicit positive and negative feelings equally well. Words and stories have context and perspective. Many words have multiple meanings, and tone and delivery can be understood?or misunderstood?in a variety of ways. For example, the expression “You’re crazy,” can be playful, argumentative, or even condescending.

Leaders are constantly looked to for guidance and advice. Remember it’s all about them? It’s all about your audience. So Mr./Ms. Leader, what personal stories are you telling to inspire action? Do your audiences respond the way you intended?

With our easy global access to diverse cultures and experiences, your words and stories matter to those around you more than ever before. Be deliberate with the stories you tell and the messages you share. Follow the advice of famous novelist Joseph Conrad: “I have no use for engines. Give me the right word...and I will move the world.”

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

 

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 am a huge fan of audio books. On the plane, in the car, and on the subway I am catching up on my favorite business books and for pleasure books. A colleague introduced me to John Scalzi, who is primarily a sci-fi writer. As I do every time with new authors, I read reviews on Amazon, biographies on Wikipedia and Amazon, and ask the referrering person more about style and substance.

Reading John's bio on Amazon really piqued my interest. Reading the bio shows me he's a bit wry, funny, well-liked (he's won several awards), and has an interesting call-to-action at the end.

John Scalzi writes books, which, considering where you're reading this, makes perfect sense. He's best known for writing science fiction, for which he won the John W. Campbell Award (2006) and has been nominated for the Hugo Award for best novel (2006, 2008, 2009). He also writes non-fiction, on subjects ranging from personal finance to astronomy to film, and was the Creative Consultant for the Stargate: Universe television series. He enjoys pie, as should all right thinking people. You can get to his blog by typing the word "Whatever" into Google. No, seriously, try it.

I indeed typed "Whatever" into Google and John's blog came up first. I'm convinced. Now I have to figure out which book to read first.

Moral of the story:  If you have a personal bio on your website, LinkedIn profile, speaker one sheet, etc., have you considered, seriously considered changing it? Most bios are factual and chronological splashed at the end with the "Ira's married to the love of his life, has a wonderful daughter, and enjoys photography in his spare time." When I thought conservative was better, I didn't stand out. Today, my bio helps me more memorable and more engaging. My bio gives people reasons and opportunities to talk with me more about my background.

Try changing your bio....even if it is just a little.

Postscript 1:  I just looked at his LinkedIn page and this is his first sentence in his Summary:  "I write. I edit. I get paid. I fight crime! I lied about that last one."

Postscript 2:  Some people asked that I include my bio. The bio is available as a PDF on The Chief Storyteller website, is included with my speaking engagements, has a variation on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, is included in proposals, and the list goes on. People always ask me about something in the bio.

“Think deliberately.” The mantra of a person who has made improving communications his life’s work.

It all began some 30 years ago, at a high school science fair. Ira had presented his computer program on the heart and the circulatory system. One by one, the prizes were announced...third...second...first place. After nearly 100 hours of programming evenings and weekends, he slumped his shoulders and thought to himself, “I lost.” Then...Ira heard the chairwoman announce, “We are awarding the grand prize to a young man who could sell me my own pair of shoes!” And his name was called.

For more than 26 years nationally and internationally, Ira has been building his communication skills into a well-honed set of precision instruments. Within minutes, he will fundamentally change the way you communicate.

His most pivotal experience was serving as a public affairs officer in the United States Army Medical Service Corps. Trained in giving and preparing presentations for military and civilian executives, he gained invaluable insights into messaging, communications, and storytelling.

Living on both coasts, Ira has held various leadership roles in marketing and product management. After earning his MBA from the University of Maryland in 2000, Ira entered into the world of leading edge technology. It was while working in San Francisco and Silicon Valley he began to adapt his skills for use with the new, technology-driven tools today’s professionals have come to rely on.

And like all good communicators, Ira loves the stage. He performed improvisational humor professionally with ComedySportz in a career spanning 12 years and more than 1,000 shows. While performing, Ira had this epiphany: “improv mirrors life.” Life experiences stem from random and planned connections with people, and it is these experiences that help us to bond quickly with audiences.

Ira is an active blogger and writer, was a guest columnist for the Washington Business Journal, and an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland. He helped the a US government contracting firm win a $94 million multi-year project; Altum develop a proposal that had a 100% success rate in going to the final decision round; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) secure funding for the National Youth Fitness Survey.

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

Follow my logic to really appreciate why practice is an absolute to being successful. Let's use driving a car as our example.

For comparison, let's use the Automobile Manufacturer's average of 12,000. Think of the warranty offered as three years or 36,000 miles.

Thus, we can create an annual number of miles driven chart since age 25.

Age    # of Miles
25             60,000
30            120,000
35            180,000
40            240,000
45            300,000
50            360,000
55            420,000
60            480,000

If I were to ask anyone based on these numbers, "Are you an excellent driver," he/she would surely respond Yes. How about asking someone in their forties? Absolutely Yes.

Now, if I asked a 45 year old driver if he/she could beat an Indy 500 race car driver, the answer would be an unequivical "No." How come? The person drove three hunnnndreddd thousssanddd miles.

The reason is clear. Practice.

All too often people spend too little time practicing... practing a presentation, sharing a personal story for business impact, writing powerfully, responding to questions during an investor meeting, conducting an important board meeting, and so forth.

Next time, spend at least a little bit of time practicing. You'll never regret the time spent.

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

Today I delivered my "Presenting with Confidence" workshop to a lively and engaging audience.

At the end of the presentation, Judith (name changed) came up to me and we chatted about a variety of subjects. Then she politely asked if she could make a suggestion. "Of course" I responded. She suggested moving the "Story of a Sign" video from the middle to the beginning. "It's very moving and powerful" (or something similar).

Internally I cringed. She was right. I whispered to her, "Can I tell you a secret? I needed a change. It's one of my all time favorites...I have been using that video as the start to more than 50 presentations...I wanted to do something different...for me."

Then she dropped the hammer on my toes. She smiled and said something to the effect, "isn't one of your messages, it's all about the audience?" I laughed out loud. Again, I knew she was right.

My learning lesson for today...listen to the audience.

Friday's presentation on the Capabilities Clinic WILL start with Story of a Sign! Thank you Judith for the much-needed and gentle kick in the ...

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for the Nov16th Compelling Capabilities Statement Clinic.

It is *Free* for registered attendees of the NBPCI Executive Breakfast Event with Teresa Lewis.

Please visit our other website page with all of the details. www.thechiefstoryteller.com/services/compelling-capability-statement

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