February 26, 2010
I continue to learn about life from my tennis coach (Nick Matthews).
"If you are just trying to get the ball back over the net, you are surviving - you are not playing in any sense of the word." He's right, no one plays to survive, they are simply in survival mode. (In that mode, you are so easily impressed with your lucky shots, you are usually trounced right after you've made a modicum of progress.)
"Instead," he continues, "you need to play to hit the ball well and to win." In other words, you have to play with a sense of confidence in yourself and trust in terms of where your senses tell you the ball will be. I'm sure that for a professional, it comes second nature, and unless you are returning a 100MPH serve, you are never in survival mode.
But I'm not a pro, and often I find myself in a tight spot.
"You can't get the technique right unless you relax, and you won't relax until you get it right. It's the what-comes-first paradox of playing and sport." The idea is, you have to relax UNTIL you get it right, then you'll fall into a positive feedback loop.
When I pushed him for more help on getting out of survival mode, he shared yet another Yoda-meets-Jimmy Conners piece of advice. "Key your focus on the opponent, then the ball, then after you hit it back to the opponent." We don't really do that, do we? In unfamiliar places, we key on ourselves (whether we will hit the ball, whether we just hit it well) and end up surprised by the next volley and often missing it all together.
Now, let's apply that to our professional life.
1. Play to win, regardless of the playing field, act 'as if' and you will be able to relax for easy power.
2. Never stop to admire your last shot (sale, pitch, design, post). Instead, focus on the other (customer, competitor, audience) and activate your predictive skills about where the 'ball' is going next. Glide to your next shot and start the process all over again. In my life as a speaker, this means I should key my focus on the audience and not my content (or whether I think I'm doing a good job).
Here's what this whole exercise gets to: Your reptilian brain. That primal 2nd brain that reacts before your conscious brain even springs into motion. When you free up your 2nd brain by letting go of fear, self-analysis or distraction, you are likely to play in the pocket be it on the court or the game of life.
February 25, 2010
If you want to succeed on any social media platform, there are a few rules to follow. My first rule was to be helpful, adding gold instead of junk to the social stream.
Here's the next rule: Be generous
Give yourself to your followers, from life situations to your network of personal relationships. If you use social media to share your life with us, share it fully, including pictures or video clips. Tell us what you are going through and how you are feeling. If you are guarded, your following will know, and it will be harder for them to become intimate with you.
Protect your private life, but at the same time, share parts of it that might help others or at least keep them up to date on your adventures. In many cases, I'm able to keep with my friends based on their generous updates on Facebook - without having to call or ping them to "check in."
Chris Brogan is one of the most generous people I know. If you haven't heard, we have a Lovefest going on in the blogosphere. He gives us a blow by blow account on life's ups and downs. He's very human and expressive. He share his secrets to social media success, going way beyond being helpful. He is also incredibly generous with his network of followers - well over one hundred thousand strong (making him a mini-Oprah of sorts). He uses Twitter as a public pay phone, having transparent conversations with just about anyone who engages with him. In every case, having Chris Brogan reply to you with your @ sign in the message means that you may pick up new followers out of his ranks. Why? To understand the complete conversation, his followers need to click over to your profile for the reference. They are now one click away from following you. NOTE: Don't abuse this with Chris, be authentic in your questions or comments to him. Whale baiting isn't cool.
You can do this too with your network, large or small. Devote some time reading your social stream to pan for information gold, then repost it or comment/like it. That introduces the post's author to your following, and shares the network accordingly. Think of retweeting as repeating with a purpose - to help Twitter gold rise to the top and grow.
February 23, 2010
Here's an excerpt of a recent keynote address I gave at Serious Business 2010.
This is something I'm developing for my next book: Feed your mind good stuff and be a better leader. If you can balance reality and hope in your mind, you can lead others to a great place.
However, if your thoughts and thinking patterns are negative, you'll wallow in reality until you can no longer lead. As you can see from this clip, I really enjoy my life on the lecture circuit.
If you know of an upcoming event, inquire about having me speak there.
February 22, 2010
How many lunch meetings will you have this year? If you are like me, dozens. In fact, many of our first meetings with people (new or old acquaintance) are over lunch.
This is especially true for entrepreneurs and small biz types. In many cases, the reason we are offered a lunch meeting as opposed to an office meeting is that we are an "extracurricular," not yet established as a core-business partner. For all they/we know, it's just a chance to catch up, socialize and explore the possibilities.
For me, lunch meetings are the culmination of networking and partner prospecting. If you get the lunch right, you'll be having your next meeting at the other's office -- and you have actually do some business together! Why don't we have training for lunch meetings?
After all a meal is an obstacle course we have to navigate. The service alone poses a set of interruptions, usually coming at the worst possible times. The server comes back three times to see if you are ready to order, then finally you randomly pick something to "get rid of him/her." Next, the food shows up and your dialogue must stop to eat, or even worse, you talk until your meal partner's food gets cold. Then there's your meal: Just as you get a bite in your mouth, your meal partner asks you a question.
The next obstacle is the table, full of dishes and condiments. Where the space for your laptop (to illustrate points with slides, charts or pictures)? Where is the space to write ideas down? Where is the space to show paperwork?
You can't change the realities of lunch, but you CAN adapt to it. Last week, I had an important lunch meeting about a potential business opportunity, so I created a plan to make it as effective as possible. It worked so well, I thought I'd share it with you.
1. PREPARE FOR THE SITUATION - That morning, I outlined what we'd talk about on my whiteboard. I thought of the beginning (The Premise), the main course (The Promise) and the desert & cafe (Action Items.) Since lunch isn't the ideal biz-meeting place, only prepare to talk about a single issue/opportunity. Two is one too many!
I created a single page document that outlined everything in bullet point form. The top half of the page contained the Premise and Promise of the idea. The bottom half the page contained details, back of envelope math and a Phase 2 (the upside.) This way, I brought two copies of this one pager with me, folded in half, just the size of a daily special menu. This makes it easy for both of us to review at the same time. This solves the time constraint (<1 hr) and physical constraint at the same time.
2. PICK YOUR CONVERSATION SPOTS - Much like comedy, great lunch meetings are a function of good timing. Here's the meeting schedule, taking into account meal service and dining.
* Seating/Menu/Ordering - Don't dive into conversation the second the host drops you off with menus. Make your decision, your partner will follow. Keep talk social until after the server takes the order. Now you have a small window of time before the salad comes. State the premise, give your meal partner the folded outline, and lay out the promise of the idea. Let your meal partner react around/through salad (while you eat and listen).
* Eating - If possible, listen and/or eat during the meal. Remember, your partner wants to eat too and will likely follow you. Patiently wait until the plates are up before diving back into the details. You can juggle objections or clarify until the bill comes.
* Settling - After the credit card floats away to pay the bill (you picked it up, right?) you pull out your pen and make notes of mutually agreed upon action items. (Bring a second pen for your partner.) Don't go back to premise/promise, focus on "what's next." Nothing is an OK conclusion too. At least you are now in his/her social stream. As I've said before, your friends may not have all the opportunities you need - but THIER friends do!
3. Follow Up - Later that afternoon, send an expanded idea sheet (up to two pages, incorporating comments from lunch.) Suggest a meeting the following week ... in the office.
February 18, 2010
Last week, I participated in a panel discussion at TED. The topic was CSR and there were two other panelists. Much like all TED events, the schedule was highly compressed and I needed to get my points across in seconds instead of minutes. TED is a speaker/author's South By Southwest: Get on the main stage, rock the house and you go viral (and your calendar gets really full - just ask Sir Ken Robinson.)
So, I psyched myself as I drove from Hollywood to Long Beach the morning of the conference. I rehearsed my two minute talk and the ten second answers to boilerplate questions I was expecting.
During the panel, all of my answers and comments were bullet point rapid fire to stay within the lines. I listened intensely to every comment and responded to questions from the audience like I was hitting the answer button on a game show.
Later that day, Scott (an audience member) came up to me and complemented me on my advice and content related to measuring the impact of sustainability and community service and how it helps the bottom line. He said that it was one of the most helpful TED sessions he'd ever attended.
Then he gave me one piece of constructive criticism: Lighten up.
"You are a wealth of business-centric knowledge on this topic, and it showed - maybe too much. The other panelists were light hearted and relaxed. You should find a way to be a little like them too, and still preserve your content rich approach."
Wow. The Lovecat needs to lighten up? I've always thought of myself as irreverent, off beat and a little wonky - but never heavy. Later that day when I got home, I reviewed the Flip footage I had someone shoot of me that day at TED. The footage did not lie. I was serious from the second the panel discussion started until the last comment. I could see it in my face. I was working too hard. TED got to me: the status of the event, the time constraints that define the event. I treated the whole thing like a debate competition. Where was the funny guy? Where was the Love? Where was the dude in the picture at the top of the post?
A few days later, I was reviewing keynote footage for a new branding campaign to support my speaking career. I noticed the seriousness there too. Then I realized that between 2002 and 2010 I must have lost a little bit of my innocence, my exuberance, my zest and my sense of humor. The more I thought of it, the more I realized why it happened: I am too dependent on a single line of revenue (corporate speaking fees) that come from a highly conservative group that seeks safe-serious people to speak to difficult economic times. It made sense, after all, I am a service oriented person that responds to the customer's demands.
My narrative went from "you are not alone" (think Love Is The Killer App) to "you are not doing it right, here's how to do it better." Much less Austin Powers and much more Yoda meets Dr. Phil.
This is not just a confessional post. This could be happening to you. Either the recession or the risk averse nature of business can get into your head and make you too serious to relate to other people. If you are just bursting on the scene (are you listening Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss?) you might need to set a date to read this post in five to eight years. If you have a big mortgage and a small savings account, you might be getting very conservative in your personality to "get by."
The only way to resonate with others and make your mark is to lighten up a little. Be a casual but helpful part of conversations. Never let 'em see you sweat. Never take a single meeting or event too seriously, so long as you know you are adding value at some point. Never forget to Love, to Live and to Laugh a little. If you can, record some of your meetings, talks, etc. Watch them back objectively and if possible, compare them to older videos. You'll see what I mean. If you don't have this, read some of your old emails (scour your Sent folder) and read your words for tone and seriousness.
From this day forward, I'm going to lighten up. I'm going to ignore the magnitude of events, meetings and business opportunities and focus more on how I can be helpful and enjoy myself along the way. It will not subtract one ounce of professionalism from my service, in fact, it will help me deliver the joyous point of view that got me a book deal and speaking career in the first place.
February 16, 2010
Almost 2 years ago, I was talking with Peter Yewell, a fellow broadcast.com alum about Facebook. He works there now in the sales group. He told me to immediately build a fan page/public page for my work (writing books and speaking).
At the time, like many other people I know, I didn't think it would be appropriate. I don't think of my readers or audiences as "fans." So I proceeded with my regular FB page, and it's grown over time.
A few weeks ago, as I consulted with a small biz owner on social media, I found myself making the same recommendation to him - build a fan page for your work. After thinking about it, I decided that I'd take the plunge. I created a fan page (Author Tim Sanders) and made some editorial decisions. It would be about my work, and offer news updates and excerpts from writing/speaking. My personal FB page would be, well, personal.
After just a week, I'm beginning to understand the value of the fan page. It's a place where I can share my content in real-time with people familiar with my work, whether or not they know me or know someone who knows me. In other words, there is no stigma about becoming a fan of a brand on FB. I don't have to accept them, and the followership can grow much more rapidly. You can market on it at a low cost, and your friends can market you easily, helping your following to grow beyond your marketing resources.
Unlike my official site, it's really easy to upload new content without any hassle factor. Fan pages are living documents when well executed.
As an author, it will also be a great place for me to post work in progress for people to react to. Unlike my personal FB page, I don't have to worry that I'm talking about myself or my work too much - the fan page is all about what I do in public. If you've been contemplating creating a fan/public page for your company or yourself, do it. You are not being a rock star, you are being generous and making it far easier for people to engage with you - even if they don't (yet) know you.
February 15, 2010
One of my Dirty Dozen Rules Of Email Etiquette is: "Don't Be So Heavy"
Simply put, you cannot be sure how fast your email recipient's connection speed is, so don't send something bigger than a few megabytes via an attachment. In my training program, I recommend using the YouSendIt service to park big files in the sky, notifying your recipient that it's waiting on them to download at their convenience.
Recently, I realized that regardless of size, most attachments don't need to be sent. Instead, they need to be parked in the cloud. Last month, I had a professional photog (Lesley Bohm) shoot new photos of me for a new website, new book cover, etc. She shot massive raw files, which gives me the freedom to use for blow up posters at speaking events or thumbnail size headshots for brochures, FB, etc.
After doing some photoshop work, she sent me the three top pics 8X12 300DPI (these are 7 - 10 meg files). I needed to send these to a meeting planner that was setting up promotion for an upcoming event. So I parked the three files on Typepad, and sent URLs to the meeting planner with "right click to save as or drag to desktop" instructions. No need for attachments.
A few days later, I was sending my customized reading recommendations for hair dressers and salon owners to a few dozen people who'd email me for one - and I did the same thing. Parked the PDF on Typepad, and sent the URL. It saves me time (no step to attach, no "ooops forgot to send attachment re-sends). Previously, when sending out PDFs or any type of non-pic attachment, I got the occasional response that they didn't receive the information or the attachment didn't come through. No more with my new cloud attachment program - It's just a click away.
Here's another email management advantage to this approach: Reduces the size of your Outlook/Entourage data file. (Video) You see, when you send an attachment, your computer stores an extra copy of it in your data file, and eventually you'll get a bloated file (multiple gigs) that causes your email client to take a long time to launch, run slow or produce the dreaded "broken data base" error message that requires rebuilding your file or using your backup/restore software. As part of my email training, I've always advised keeping your email data file slim by archiving and permanent delete. Using a no-attachment approach is another way to keep your file slim and speedy.
By the way, companies like Kraft Foods and Novell Software have licensed my Email Etiquette Training Program for their employees - it's no brainer training for the information age. Contact me for information on how you can bring it to your company.
February 12, 2010
Yesterday, I ran into Seth Godin at the TED Conference in Long Beach.
As usual, he was generous and brilliant. He's one of our nation's gems and IMHO the best marketing/life/business blogger in the world. We hung out, chewed the fat and talked about the history of the self-help movement.
He also agreed to a short interview, where he shared some thoughts about his new book Linchpin and gave advice to authors on how to market and launch their books.
February 09, 2010
Every year I watch the Super Bowl for the ads and sometimes the game. This year, I did both. As usual, the ads, and the public's response to them, are a source of marketing insight. After reviewing a few outlets (USA Today's Ad Meter, CSM Worst SB Ads, Washington Post) I have this to share:
1. Advertising is (still) a service - This is the mantra of ex-Coke CMO Sergio Zyman and he should know...his team made Coke 'refreshing' with good advertising. Successful Super Bowl ads fall into three areas: They inspire, they entertain and they demonstrate. An ad is not an interruption or a moving billboard, it should be designed to engage us and be helpful in some way. When you look at the USA Today rankings, this plays out.
2. Mature brands entertain, Legacy brands inspire and Startup brands demonstrate: Google got it right with their first ever SB ad. Taking a page from the iPhone commercials, they demonstrated how to use their search engine to run your personal life (from dating to babies). On the other hand, Budweiser usually focuses on entertaining us. During the first few decades of the brand's national advertising, you saw product usage and the social benefits that come with it. Coke, a bell weather brand, attempts to inspire and rarely talks about customer experience, etc. Knowing which type of brand you are helps you run the type of ad that gets you noticed, but still drives the business.
3. There is a fine line between stupid and clever - Ads that degrade women will never score high in total index results. So why does Go Daddy continue to blow the budget on this approach? The worst rated ad according to both above sources is the Sketchers Shape Up ad. While it is not offensive, the visual that attempts to demonstrate the product benefit is downright goofy and unfashionable. While the Snuggie robe might have worked a direct response ad, looking silly doesn't work on the world's biggest stage.
NOTE: Most media outlets immediately measure likeability (did you like/dislike the ad) right after the game and later settle in on measuring brand recall. I believe that when they do, there will be different results that catapult Doritos to the top of the pile. In particular, I love their promotion of airing submitted ads by brand fan producers. McManus Studios "Casket" was my favorite of the bunch. The spot was well produced, funny, a little dark and it showed the product being consumed.
February 08, 2010
Empathy occurs when you make an effort to see things from another person's point of view. When you feel it, it's a flash of intelligence. When you show it to others, it's a psychological gift. Too often, we feel/show empathy around tragedies.
It also works the other way. When you learn to absorb and catch joy from others, you are honing your ability to show empathy - which can boost your personality (Your L Factor). Last night (Super Bowl Sunday) many of you either felt empathy or sympathy for the people/fans of New Orleans.
I hope you felt empathy.
I felt happy with them. I tried to conjure up the range of positive emotions in the hearts of New Orleans residents and long time Saints fans. On the one hand, I felt a sigh of relief that the dark clouds are parting, and there's joy in the quarter and beyond tonight. On the other hand, I felt a surging sense of accomplishment that after forty three years, the Saints took it all.
I've been doing this exercise for a few years since I heard a young man comment, "your joy is my happiness!" one day at Yahoo. It wasn't lip service on his part, it was an empathy exercise which built bonds and brightened his day.
Here's the problem: We have a ridiculously high bar of what it takes to trigger that empathy moment - in this case a 43 year drought and a hurricane ravaged city. More often, we player hate. When someone wins it all, we grouse about how lucky he/she was instead of basking in their joy. This extends to our relationships too. If someone's been through tough times or put in a boatload of work, we cheer for their win. Otherwise, we often feel a pang of envy or wonder out loud why they were so successful.
So lower the bar and have more Who Dat?! moments in your life. It will deliver a powerful gift to people: Validation. When you are happy WITH someone (or sad, for that matter) you are sending the message to them that their feelings are facts. Research for my second book (The Likeability Factor) shows that it's the most power emotional experience you'll feel in a relationship.
If you focus your empathy exercises on the positive emotions, it will also pick up your days. At the airport: Join a happy party as a soldier returning from Iraq is met by his family. Feel a beam of pride as you observe a cell phone wielding suit chatter joyously about a deal he just closed. You'll have a better day in travel, that's what I've learned. The more you open yourself up to relating with others' joy, the lower the bar is and soon enough you'll find yourself being as emotionally attractive as your poodle or five year old.
It's likely you were happy for the Saints last night - it's just important for you to step back and understand why you were happy for them...and how more days of your life could be vicariously happy like yesterday!