How Do You Listen?

The focus of an influencer is always on the audience. If you are a speaker – it’s about the people listening to you. If you are in sales – it’s about your customer or prospect. If you are a leader – it’s about the people you are leading. If you are a teacher – it’s about your students. If you are a parent – it’s about your children Almost everyone has this backwards. They think being influential means they need to become polished or powerful. Influence, though, is all about the audience. Be it an audience of one or one thousand. When it’s about them, they get it, and we grow in their eyes. By thinking out instead of in, by concentrating on others instead of on us, a tremendous transformation takes place. We go from inner directed to outer directed, from taker to giver, from self-centered to others-focused, from
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Leaders Are Salespeople

  Last week I had a call with a CEO for a company I’m speaking for in a few weeks. He started the call by saying, “We are interested in your message around storytelling but our leaders don’t sell anything, I just believe storytelling is a crucial business skill.” I agree that storytelling is a key skill for leaders to develop. He told me more about the leaders that would be in the room when I speak. He explained their roles, challenges, fears and successes. He said he wanted to create common language so they would tell a unified story and he wanted to have me give them insights on how to tell stories effectively. I asked if there was a key story they need to tell or a scenario where they need to use storytelling. He said, “These leaders have to present often to the board to get buy
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Leaders Need To Tell More Stories

  Yesterday I had a pre-call for an upcoming event. Next month, in Las Vegas, I will be speaking to 150 CEO’s about The Power of Storytelling. As we went through what I would be sharing, the event organizer asked, “What led you to writing and speaking about storytelling? Why are you fascinated with stories?” There are probably several answers to that question, but here is the one I gave and I think it is vital for every leader to understand. Storytelling is one of the most underrated tools in business and effective storytelling just might be the most impactful leadership method there is. Here is why. A study by Uri Hasses of Princeton revealed surprising brain activity in audiences as they listened to a speaker tell a story. “The results showed that not only did all of the listeners show similar brain activity during the story, the speaker and
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A Common Mistake That Destroys Leadership

There are many mistakes that leaders make that undermine their leadership and influence. Most of them are based in self-interest, ego and apathy, but there is one common mistake that destroys leadership on a regular basis. Too many leaders are guilty of hypocritical expectations – meaning they expect their people to behave one way and exempt themselves from the same expectations. We just a large remodel of our house, so I have had the good fortune of dealing with a lot of different contractors. The truth is some were amazing and some were horrible. One of the horrible ones was the group who built the basketball court in the backyard; it seemed like a fairly easy project. They said it would take a few days. I gave them a 50% deposit and they got to work. After a couple of days the court was about 80% done and they disappeared.
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5 Powerfully Simple Presentation Tips

1. Get Rid of Pleasantries – There is no need to talk about the weather, how grateful you are to be there, to apologize, or reintroduce yourself. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention so start with a question or jump into your content. 2. Make it Conversational – Act like you are speaking to one person. Make it conversational. Ask questions. If it is a small group you might create dialogue, with a large audience ask questions and give a pause for people to think about the question. Keep them engaged in the conversation. 3. Tell Stories – People love stories. Stories inspire, stories motivate—stories evoke emotion in people that causes them to respond, to take action, to adopt your ideas, and buy your products. Robert McKee put it well when he said, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”
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There Is No Substitute For Hard Work

When I was 8 years old, my brother (age 10) and I started a paper route. We had to get up everyday of the year, with no exceptions, at 5 am and deliver around 100 newspapers. Rain, snow, and exhaustion didn’t matter – the papers had to be delivered. So we did it everyday for four years. Having this responsibility at a young age taught me how to work hard, be consistent and follow through even when I didn’t feel like it. My Mom recently sent me this letter she found from one of our customers and it reminded me how much learning how to work hard with a paper route has served me throughout my life. Learning how to work is an invaluable lesson to learn.  I’ve been able to take the lessons I learned from that paper route and apply them to everything I’ve endeavored to do. It
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Am I A Good Listener?

Steven Ash, “The Career Doctor” developed this listening test. It is a great way to see where you rate as a listener. Good luck! Give yourself 4 points if the answer to the following questions is Always; three points for Usually; two points for Rarely; and one point for Never.   __ Do I allow the speaker to finish without interrupting? __ Do I listen “between the lines”; that is for the subtext? __ When writing a message, do I listen for and set down the key facts and phrases? __ Do I repeat what the person just said to clarify the meaning? __ Do I avoid getting hostile and/or agitated when I disagree with the speaker? __ Do I tune out distractions when listening? __Do I make an effort to seem interested in what the other person is saying?   Scoring 26 or higher – You are an excellent
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People Do Business With People They Know, Like, Trust and Value

There’s a fundamental rule of business that states: “People do business with people they know, like and trust.” We’ve all heard that, and even repeated it, but ultimately it is wrong. Ok, maybe wrong is not the right word. But the rule is incomplete. The truth is, people do business with people they know, like, trust and VALUE. Honesty and likeability are important, but if people don’t see you as valuable, they will never do business with you. If you don’t come across as professional, knowledgeable, and credible with the right skill set to get the job done, you will never be as influential and successful as you would like. So what do we do about it? How do we make ourselves more valuable? By constantly developing our knowledge, our skills and continually striving to get better. The fundamental rule of Business should read: “People do business with people they
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Create Great Experiences & They Will Come Back

Last week I took my family to try a new pizza place by our house – Blaze Pizza. When we went to pay, the cashier told us that the man at the back of the line was covering our meal and the other family in line as well. I told him it wasn’t necessary but he insisted and so we thanked him for his kindness. Then as I waited for our pizza I talked to our generous new friend and he shared one of the best marketing ideas I have ever heard. He is friends with the franchisee who owns the restaurant and his friend often sends him gift cards to his restaurant and asks him when he comes to buy lunch or dinner for everyone in line. The owners philosophy is, ‘if you create great experiences they will talk about it to others and they will come back.” He’s
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All Excuses Are Equal

Over 10 years ago we were a couple weeks away from our first child being born. I was busy growing our business and Sarah was getting everything ready at home. I started the process of recruiting a new sales rep. We had a great discussion and he seemed like this could be a good fit. The next day Sarah went into labor early and our daughter was born. The whirlwind of our first baby took over. We were at the hospital making sure mother and baby were great. Then we brought her home and were trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. It took me more than a week to get back to the sales rep I was trying to recruit. I told him that we had a baby and I was sorry for the gap in our conversations and then he very honestly said,
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