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Ira Koretsky
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Duane Bailey
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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

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

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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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Are Best Practices Holding You Back?

I like to try new ideas. I like taking risks. And I embrace change. It's how people and organizations grow.

Old ideas (i.e., "what's worked before," "what others have done," "the way we've always done it," etc.) are all too often packaged as "best practices" by leaders who are risk averse and resistant to change. When someone tells me the reason for not trying something new or taking a risk is "best practices," my first instinct is to call them out on it. I'll ask them to show me their best practices or I'll go online and search for my own "best practices" on how to drive change and transformation.

We live in a dynamic world. Change is all around us. We can either embrace that change or we can fight it with legacy thinking and traditions.

"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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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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When it comes to business planning and strategy, I’ve noticed there are two types of people – those who believe they can and those who believe they cannot. The folks in the first group will generate a slew of ideas for making dreams come true, while those in the second group will offer only excuses for why the possible is really impossible.

One of the lessons I learned as a scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts of America is that the key to personal and organizational growth is empowerment. Empowering others gives them the freedom to try new things, to take risks and to learn (and grow) from their mistakes. Empowerment is allowing others to bring a “can-do” attitude to the challenges and opportunities they encounter. It is a sharing of decision-making authority and it drives accountability at all levels of an organization. And it encourages creative thinking and innovation, both prerequisites for growth.

This “can-do” attitude is one of the attributes I see consistently in entrepreneurs. Many of them start with a dream and an idea. One idea becomes several and as they implement their ideas, they take some risks. Not every idea is a home run and they learn from their mistakes. And this is how they grow their businesses and realize what, for many of them, has been a lifelong dream. As an example, I recently wrote about the story of Knockaround™ sunglasses and the role founder Adam “Ace” Moyer’s “can-do” attitude played in the growth of his business.

Which do your business planning and strategy discussions include more of: ideas for making dreams come true or excuses for why the possible is impossible?

 

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 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.

Last week I had the honor of being a semi-finalist judge for the The George Wasington University Business Plan Competition. About 35 judges discussed the merits and potential of some 30 business plans. Our focus was to select the eight lucky finalists. These finalists would then pitch on April 19, competing for over $60,000 in cash prizes.  We had some passionate discussions, laughed a bit, and in the end, chose some really interesting ideas. I am really looking forward to the presentations next week. If you are interested in attending, the link is at the bottom.

Brief Background
The GW Business Plan Competition, founded five years ago by Florida Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Annette Scott, awards over $60,000 in cash prizes to teams of GW students, faculty and alumni who have innovative ideas for new products and/or services. The Scotts' daughter, Allison Scott Guimard, is an alumna of GW's School of Business, class of 2005.

With 109 submissions from 12 schools at GW, participation has increased significantly over the years. From those initial submissions, 35 student-based teams were invited to write full business plans, and from them, eight teams made it to the GW Business Plan Competition Finals. These eight finalists will present their business plans and ideas to a panel of distinguished entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists and GW alumni.

Event
Eight student-led teams will present their winning business ideas and compete for over $60,000 in cash prizes during the GW Business Plan Competition. The GW Business Plan Competition Finals are the culmination of a year-long series of educational workshops and active mentorship on new venture creation. Finalists will present their business plans and ideas to a panel of distinguished entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists and GW alumni. In addition, winners from previous years will be present to talk about where they have taken their businesses since securing funding in a previous GW Business Plan Competition. Registration and a full schedule are available here.

Final presentations and awards will take place from 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 19. The event is open to GW students, alumni, faculty, staff and members of the general public.

The George Washington University
School of Business
Duques Hall, 6th Floor
2201 G Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

Schedule for the day and to register, click here.

If you are planning to attend let me know, we can meet up there for some coffee.

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

There are a few spots left for Wednesday's workshop in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Here is the information. Email Bjorn (contact info below) with any questions (or me).

There will be a meeting of entrepreneurs who want to learn the art of making great presentations. Mr. Ira Koretsky will lead this event. He has travelled the world training people and consulting to organizations on the art and science of great communications. Join us for a fun, engaging and insightful event.  

Ira will introduce us to his five-step approach. He will ask you to draft your pitch (any type of pitch). And he will ask for volunteers to deliver what you have done during the workshop. Ira makes your communications unforgettable. He helps you develop compelling messages to your target audiences. With better spoken, written, and online communications, you will expand brand awareness, improve business outcomes, and strengthen financial results.

Presenting with Confidence: Develop and Deliver Engaging Presentations in 5 Steps
Great presenters transform ideas into action. They put their messages, supporting points, facts, and personal stories into a meaningful context for their audiences. Great presenters do not just tell us what we should know, they tell us what we should do, and why we should do it. Learn the techniques of great presenters. Learn to develop engaging presentations of any type for any audience (e.g., investor,prospecting, partner, executive team, and board updates). Join us as we share the five key steps to becoming a more confident and persuasive presenter. Learn more at www.TheChiefStoryteller.com  

About Our Speaker
Ira Koretsky founded The Chief Storyteller® in 2002. Based on more than 26 years of experience, research, and refinement, he has developed a process shared internationally to over 25,600 people. This flexible process helps you develop and deliver highly targeted messages to your audiences. Ira looks at the world of communications and messaging differently than most. He looks at the world through the lens of storytelling, with a twist (come see the “twist” at this event).  

Meeting objectives
- Identify the best messages and words interesting to your listeners.
- Focus your content on answering the questions of your audience.
- Learn a new way of communicating and building relationships.
- Harness the power of storytelling to meet your objectives more effectively and more quickly. Facts can only prove, stories build value!  

Participants
Everybody, including entrepreneurs, need to pitch their stories to customers, investors, partners, and employees. Usually different pitches to different people.

Time and place
November 14, 2012 from 12:30 to 3:30 pm, Large seminar room at UMBC’s energy incubator (CETI)

1450 South Rolling Road, Halethorpe, MD 21227

Agenda
12:30 pm Doors open & networking.
1:00 pm Workshop conducted by Ira Koretsky.
3:00 pm More networking (Ira will leave for another commitment).  

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

We will limit the number of RSVPs to 60. This is likely to become a sold-out event.  This meeting is free and open to all.

Hosts
- Maryland Clean Energy Technology Incubator (CETI) @ bwtech @ UMBC.
- Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC).

Sponsors
- Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development (DBED).
- Whiteford Taylor Preston (WTP).
- SB & Company.

Contact
Bjorn Frogner, PhD
Entrepreneur in Residence, Tel: 443-534-7671
Maryland Clean Energy Technology Incubator(CETI) at bwtech@UMBC

I'm a big fan of Dan Pink...While his article is about politics...it's really about words and messaging.

Here's the beginning:

This year’s presidential race has now come down to ten days and two people. But like many exercises in persuading, influencing, and otherwise moving others, it has also come down to two words – one for President Barack Obama, another for Governor Mitt Romney.

Which word prevails may determine which man takes the oath of office three months from now – and therein lies a lesson for your own work.

A few years ago, British advertising pioneer Maurice Saatchi conceived the idea of “one-word equity.” His notion was that today -- when all of us feel blasted by a daily fire hose of text, images, and ideas from our computers, phones, and social networks -- the only way to be heard is to push succinctness to it limit.

“What I am describing here is a new business model for marketing, appropriate to the digital age,” Saatchi wrote. “In this model, companies compete for global ownership of one word in the public mind.”

And what goes for companies goes equally for political candidates.

Dan continue discussing President Obama's word of "Forward" and Governor Romney's words of "Believe in America."

If you are a fan of words, content, meaning, and messaging, you'll enjoy Dan's musings.

 

Robert Gaskins, inventor of PowerPoint shares some interesting stories, insights, and background information on PowerPoint.

In his BBC article, "How PowerPoint changed Microsoft and my life," he shares some interesting news.

- "PowerPoint was first launched on the Mac platform on 20 April 1987 after its developers decided Windows was not able to support it (see image below)"
- "Microsoft bought PowerPoint 25 years ago, on 31 July 1987...PowerPoint became the first acquisition made by the company, creating a new business unit located in Silicon Valley."
- "[Bill] Gates, wasn't keen to buy PowerPoint initially"
- "10 versions of PowerPoint released for both the Mac and Windows platforms"
- "After six months of talks, and tripling its offer price, Microsoft finally completed the deal for $14m."

Thank you Robert for thinking of PowerPoint! Read more at the BBC site here.

I'll leave you with a musing of mine I have shared with PowerPoint naysayers for many a year now...since 2000.

“PowerPoint, like any tool, is only as good as the person who wields it. If you want to blame PowerPoint for bad presentations, then blame Excel for poor financial performance and Word for terrible prose.”
- Ira Koretsky, CEO, The Chief Storyteller®

 

I am honored to be speaking at the local MIT Enterprise Forum® here in the Washington, DC area. Thank you to my good friend Oz from InnoEngineer for setting this event up.

Here is all of the information...

Get Funded - Design and Deliver the Perfect Investor Pitch [Open Workshop Event]
It is imperative to have a clear and concise message that gets prospective investors to say, "Let’s talk!"…especially in today's economy. In this interactive, hands-on workshop, you will learn how to create a powerful, clear message that wows prospective investors. Apply five proven steps taught internationally, to design and deliver the perfect investor pitch. Receive concrete suggestions on your presentation based on individual and partner exercises. Join us as we show you how to transform your ideas into action.

 

Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time: 6:30pm - 9:00pm

Location: Startup Lab, Johns Hopkins University, DC Campus, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Lower Level, Room 7

Parking:  Central Parking, 1800 Mass. Ave. NW. If you click http://washingtondc.centralparking.com/Washington-DC-1800-Massachusetts-Aven ue-NW-Parking.html you can get a coupon that reduces the cost to $6 after 5:00 PM. Nearest Metro stop is Dupont Circle. 

Last year I shared my top 50 business storytelling mantras. As I plan for 2012, 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 your business stories. We would love to hear your mantras...please leave them in the comments.

1.    It’s all about them.
2.    Business stories are the engine of relationships and relationships are the engine of continued success.
3.    Write to the 10th grade level.
4.    Be memorable.
5.    Use humor if you want to.
6.    Content is king.
7.    Relationships matter.
8.    Credibility is more important than expertise in the beginning of relationships.
9.    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.    (Good) blog and article content matters the most.
14.    Strive for “interest” questions. Avoid “understanding” questions.
15.    Social communities are built on personal and business stories.
16.    Everything you write, speak, and record online is a business story.
17.    Content first. Design second.
18.    Always have a second person read your content before publishing.
19.    Design your website for your target audiences (not your employees).
20.    Everyone builds relationships through networking.
21.    Send hand-written thank you notes, especially job hunters.
22.    Audiences are hungry for original thought-provoking content.
23.    Blogs are for sharing, educating, and inspiring…not selling.
24.    Get yourself known (e.g., LinkedIn questions and answers, post to SlideShare, and Tweet good information).
25.    Generating genuine interest in your product/service is the first step in building a relationship.
26.    Active listening is key to building great relationships.
27.    Write in your authentic voice.
28.    But is the worst word in the English language (and many other languages).
29.    Words really, really matter.
30.    Treat everyone like a CEO.
31.    Stop listening to your Mother. Talk to strangers at networking events.
32.    It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
33.    Speak in headlines.
34.    Write and speak conversationally.
35.    Treat every client like your best client.
36.    Maintain a detailed Ideal Target Profile for your key target audiences.
37.    Have positive self-talk conversations.
38.    Change is a choice.
39.    Deliver on the expected experience.
40.    Create your own success momentum.
41.    Be a student everyday.
42.    Be a deliberate networker.
43.    Be a deliberate communicator.
44.    Be a people bridge and make referrals.
45.    Be a mentor.
46.    Be a whole body communicator.
47.    Write emails as if they will be read on a smart phone.
48.    Inspire Action:  facts do not persuade and inspire, people do.
49.    First Impressions Make Lasting Impressions:  offer a warm smile, firm handshake, and good eye contact.
50.    People are at the heart of every great story.

I had the pleasure of seeing Dan Roam speak at an ASAE Great Idea's Conference. He was fun, kept my attention, and shared some great techniques for turning ideas into pictures.

In the past two months, I have purchased five copies for clients. I thought, "now that's a sign. I should write a quick book review."

Published in 2008, "Back of the Napkin," was Dan's first book. Now it is an international bestseller and according to his website, "the most popular visual-thinking business book of all time." I believe it is such a popular book because it is filled with helpful, illustrative pictures. Most business self-help books contain only a few pictures. Most of Dan's book is pictures. They include walk-throughs, tools, and examples. His whole approach is built on the simple premise that you don't have to be creative or know how to draw. If you can draw stick figures, then you are ready to tackle problem solving with pictures. If you find yourself sometimes at a loss for how to show a problem visually, consider reading Dan's book.

Resources:
- Back of the Napkin website
- Back of the Napkin book site on Amazon
- Back of the Napkin blog
- Change This Manifesto:  The 10 1/2 Commandments of Visual Thinking: The "Lost Chapter" from The Back of the Napkin
- Change This Manifesto:  Found In Translation: The Case for Pictures in Business

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"No" Often Hides the Door to "Yes"

Over the years I have learned to use the hidden power of "No" when working with certain types of people or with time-challenged teams. 

Today I have a client where the team is out of town half of every month. Saying that scheduling meetings is a challenge is sometimes an understatement.

With their personalities and time commitments, they are the perfect candidates for applying my "No" style of consulting.

For example, while developing a new presentation outlying the group's strategy, we would collaborate and develop the outline. I would then show them two to three options for each of the major concept storyboards/slides. The various team members inevitably would tell me more about what he/she didn't like than what he/she did like.

And that was perfect. I got the results I wanted. I learned what the team preferences were for the messaging and visuals.

Sometimes consultants shy away from what seems like a confrontational communication style. Try looking at how the client communicates, the reasons, and what you can do to adapt your style to achieve the same results.

We have various guides and templates in the office. Guides for writing blogs, articles, and tip guides. We have a brand guide for color, font, format, and logo use. What we don't have is a consolidated list, in one place, of all our mantras--the phrases, statements, aha's, rules, etc.--that "guide" us as we create and deliver content, messages, and great business stories.

Here are our top 50. Think about this list and how it can help prompt new and fresh approaches to your business stories. We would love to hear your mantras...please leave them in the comments.

1.    It’s all about them.
2.    Business stories are the engine of relationships and relationships are the engine of continued success.
3.    Write to the 10th grade level.
4.    Be memorable.
5.    Use humor if you want to.
6.    Content is king.
7.    Relationships matter.
8.    Credibility is more important than expertise in the beginning of relationships.
9.    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.    (Good) blog and article content matters the most.
14.    Strive for “interest” questions. Avoid “understanding” questions.
15.    Social communities are built on personal and business stories.
16.    Everything you write, speak, and record online is a business story.
17.    Content first. Design second.
18.    Always have a second person read your content before publishing.
19.    Design your website for your target audiences (not your employees).
20.    Everyone builds relationships through networking.
21.    Send hand-written thank you notes, especially job hunters.
22.    Audiences are hungry for original thought-provoking content.
23.    Blogs are for sharing, educating, and inspiring…not selling.
24.    Get yourself known (e.g., LinkedIn questions and answers, post to SlideShare, and Tweet good information).
25.    Generating genuine interest in your product/service is the first step in building a relationship.
26.    Active listening is key to building great relationships.
27.    Write in your authentic voice.
28.    But is the worst word in the English language (and many other languages).
29.    Words really, really matter.
30.    Treat everyone like a CEO.
31.    Stop listening to your Mother. Talk to strangers at networking events.
32.    It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
33.    Speak in headlines.
34.    Write and speak conversationally.
35.    Treat every client like your best client.
36.    Maintain a detailed Ideal Target Profile for your key target audiences.
37.    Have positive self-talk conversations.
38.    Change is a choice.
39.    Deliver on the expected experience.
40.    Create your own success momentum.
41.    Be a student everyday.
42.    Be a deliberate networker.
43.    Be a deliberate communicator.
44.    Be a people bridge and make referrals.
45.    Be a mentor.
46.    Be a whole body communicator.
47.    Write emails as if they will be read on a smart phone.
48.    Inspire Action: facts do not persuade and inspire, people do.
49.    First Impressions Make Lasting Impressions: offer a warm smile, firm handshake, and good eye contact.
50.    People are at the heart of every great story.

Charlie Crystle recently wrote a compelling article on venture finance and running a venture-backed company on CNN-Money titled, "What I Learned in Selling my Company for $100 Million." Crystle offers insights, advice, and lessons learned throughout the article.

He walks you through his ups and downs from $100 million sale of his company to the actual $28 million price tag. "How did my stock dropp by 62% in 6 months? Three things: escalating warrants, management shakedown, and the timing of one of the dips in Cobalt's wild ride in 2000."

Here are a few of his tips:

- Try to take over the world
- Floors are cheaper than hotel rooms
- They'll like you when you win
- You won't always be indispensable
- Sweat the details.



Last week I gave a workshop on pitching to investors and venture capitalists with The Entrepreneur Center @ the Northern Virginia Technology Council. I emphasized that since you only have a few minutes to grab your audience's attention, start with a story that evokes just the right of emotion and empathy. The story characteristics include:

1. Synchronized to your elevator speech (short, less than ten sentences)
2. Takes less than two minutes to share
3. Able to stand on its own without any props, video, PowerPoint, etc.
4. Something that make it personal to you or a loved one
5. Has a clear beginning, middle, and end
6. Includes proper names (they can be substituted if you are protecting someone's identity)
7. Clearly sets up the problem and solution situation that you are about to explain
8. Connects to your audience's emotional state. Just enough to make them care and not too much that they feel sorry. The emotional appeal should never create an imbalance of business versus emotional.
9. Quickly conveys "feel the same frustration" experience so that they nod their head in agreement
10. Ends strong

Your story must ensure that your audience, irrespective of their background, gender, age, etc. will be "right there" with you. They must be able to quickly and readily comprehend, appreciate, and feel empathy for the situation you product/service solves.

Every quarter here in the Washington, DC area, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) produce the MoneyTree™ Report based on data from Thomson Reuters.

Mark Esposito from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Julia Spicer, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA) presented the various findings.

I do a lot of trainng, workshops, speaking, and consulting to entrepreneurs interested in securing investment funding. As such, thought to share one of the key slides from the presentation. The map shows the investments by region across the United States for the second quarter of 2008 (click on the picture to see the full-sized image).

The quarterly report is chock-full of great information such as Total National Investments and Total Washington DC quarterly investments. Spicer shared some of her insights such as "Deal activity in Q2 2008 consistent with Q1 2008 and Q2 2007 with increase forecasted for Q3 2008 investments" and "interest in raising larger sized funds continues to rise."

Resources:
- PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree™ Report
- Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA)
- National Venture Capital Association (NVCA)

Click on the picture to bring up the full-sized image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources:

- Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test from Wikipedia

- Talk at the 10th Grade level, Blog Entry

As a partner of TiE-DC, The Chief Storyteller conducts training workshops for entrepreneurs seeking venture capital funding. A year ago I wrote about the 2007 “Venture Capital Entrepreneur Challenge.”

One thing in particular that I am especially proud of is that both the winner and runner-up attended our workshop. Both teams shared their passion, clear business message, and well-thought out strategy.

The recap of 2008 is below courtesy of TiE-DC and The Entrepreneur Center at NVTC.

Attracting over 100 Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, and Emerging Entrepreneurs, the event featured 10 presenters competing for the first place prize of $10,000 for seed funding.

The event started off with a special presentation – Aaron Sacks, NFTE‘s Young Entrepreneur broke the ice by giving a presentation on his company You’re On Deck. Presenters included Joe Ordia of Ordia Solutions, Dede Haskins of InTouch Systems, Greg Alexander of e210, Ranjan Pant of BPL Products, Jay Amirmokri of Ultracomm, Chris Hopkinson of TaxScan, David Sherbow of MPTrax, Daniel Odio of Maptimizer, Abid Chaudhry of Mobile Spectrum, and Mary Foltz of AirArts.

Phil Brown of Conflicts Authority ended up taking home top prize of $10,000. Manoj Ramnani of DubMeNow was the runner-up, and received free admission and airfare to TiECon 2008 in Silicon Valley, an annual conference of over 4,000 entrepreneurs, VCs, and angel investors.

Here is what some of our presenters thought:

Daniel Odio of Maptimizer.com – The TiE-DC Entrepreneur Challenge was an outstanding opportunity to showcase our Maptimizer.com technology to an experienced group of angel investors, venture capitalists and fellow entrepreneurs. We really enjoyed the thoughtful feedback from the panel of judges and look forward to continuing our relationship with TIE. Getting involved with TIE is one of the smartest moves an entrepreneur can make, and we’ve already benefitted greatly.

Chris Hopkinson of TaxScan – We received great feedback, were able to showcase TaxScan to a room of experienced entrepreneurs and found a potential investor. You can’t ask for much more than that from a pitch competition.

Joe Ordia of Ordia Solutions – The VC Entrepreneur Challenge was a great venue to meet some of the up-and-coming players in the DC-area entrepreneur community. Also, the exercise of condensing one’s pitch into a 5 minute presentation is a valuable exercise for any entrepreneur or sales professional.

Dede Haskins of InTouch Systems -  I thought it was an extremely well run event. We were particularly pleased with the number of angel investors and VCs who approached us with the desire to learn more about InTouch Systems.

Selected Questions & Answers with Conflicts Authority.

Q: How did you come up with the concept behind Conflicts Authority?
I was approached by a top legal librarian from one of the largest law firms in the country who stated that she spent over $2 million a year on conflicts checking with the dominant industry player. She was extremely dissatisfied with their accuracy, scope, service and “outrageous” price. She asked me to deliver a product that focused on the niche of conflicts checking and would meet the unmet needs in the marketplace. We subsequently hired an industry focus group of over 20 legal librarians to analyze the current marketplace and to make recommendations for a conflicts checking product and service.

Q: Could you tell us more about the various features of Conflicts Authority?
I spent close to 20 years developing trust within the legal and financial community by listening to and implementing customer feedback. We are following the feedback of the industry focus group in developing our online product “Affiliations One”. We will deliver unique data sets, accurate information, timely updates, easy to use intuitive search screens all coupled with top notch customer support.

Q: You participated in the largest event in the VC Elevator Pitch Series — the VC Entrepreneur Challenge. Do you feel that the process helped you to concentrate your business plan, concept, and pitch?
Yes. Most people can deliver a passionate description of their business idea and a long-winded summary of their product. I too know how to be verbose. The key is to deliver a concise clear statement (elevator message) without losing your audience. I have presented Conflicts Authority in different forums: 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 8 minutes…etc. The VC Elevator Pitch forced me to give a concise clear overview of the company in just 5 minutes. In that time, I covered the business overview, the management team, the industry challenge, our product and service, the market and competition, the customers, the financial projections, the future valuation for investors and the key take away parts. This exercise forced me to provide clear concise answers to all the basic questions we encounter.

Q: While there were many great concepts presented in the room March 6th, you were able to combine the necessary business plan facts and present them in an engaging and polished fashion. How were you able to give such an impeccable presentation?
A key in any presentation is to know your audience and deliver more than just an overview of your business idea. The judging panel consisted of key decision makers within the WDC Venture Capital community and there were additional Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors in the room. With this audience, we set out to deliver more than just an overview of our business. A goal was to present compelling and believable financial projections with a future valuation and exit strategy that would peak the financial interest of potential investors.

Sunday, March 9th, 2008 is the deadline for The 2008 Mid-Atlantic Business Plan Competition. The competition "is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. The judges function as venture capital investors deciding on which business venture they would most likely fund. The quality of the idea, the strength of the management team, and the clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan and oral presentation, all influence the judges’ decisions."

Hosted by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Washington-Baltimore, the event will be a great experience for the students participating.

Two of the eligibility rules are below. You can find the complete list of the rules here.

- Any undergraduate or graduate student attending a degree granting institution in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia and enrolled for classes in Spring 2008 at that institution is eligible to compete. Graduates who have earned a degree from one of those institutions since the Spring 2007 semester are also eligible. Team members are not required to be from the same institution.
- All business entries must be for-profit enterprises with a main line of business in the technology sector. Non-profit businesses are not eligible.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stay Secure or Step Out on My Own?

Stanley Bing, columnist for Fortune online, received a question from a guy who is contemplating the move from employed to entrepreneur. The guy says, "The disparity in risk and probability for success between the two career paths are truly breathtaking, and I’d appreciate your no-BS opinion as to whether I’m: A) certifiably crazy, B) stupid, C) brave."

Bing offers some frank insights and advice, starting with, "My friend, I think you’re all three. And as much as I’d like to do so, I can’t tell you what to do. I can tell you some things, though."

Own your own business? Thinking about it? What are your thoughts after reading the advice article?

As I’m a voracious reader for personal and business pleasure, I come across many good books. "Can you recommend a book for ______?" is a frequent question.

Of late, the book request I’m most often asked about is one for small business owners who need to generate revenue, persons new to sales, and association professionals new to the development world.

I readily respond with one of my favorites, "The Accidental Salesperson" by Chris Lytle. One of the more insightful phrases in the books comes from the introduction: "Every prospect you meet is silently saying, ‘Show me that you’re different.’" He has an approach based on a system and he shares insights, worksheets, and tools to help you develop your own system.

Lytle has a nice way of sharing information, he tells great stories that are relevant and high in business value, and provides practical tools to help you succeed.

Some of you may be saying, "I’m not a fan of high structure and systems." I’m with you. To be top in your field, you will need some structure.  How else are you going to measure success? How else are you going to identify areas for improvement? With the right system, you’ll know where your story and message are resonating and where you need to revise.

Lytle has his own website with free audio and print resources.

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