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Showing posts from February, 2014

How to simplify your communication without dumbing it down

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I read a post today (I think it was from Fast Company but I can't find the link) that said to write email that will be read, keep it short and to the point. No explanations, no niceties. Just give the reader one reason to keep reading and another to respond.

At the same time, I have been experimenting with images for social media. I looked at all the quotations floating across my feeds, and decided to make some of my own with words taken from the book I will be releasing this spring (still hoping that spring is actually on the way). Here's a sample:



I think the concept comes from an Aesop's fable. While it didn't occur to me when I wrote it (and it didn't occur to my editor), there is a fable about a fox and some grapes that are just out of reach. I just checked, and that fox walked away. The grapes must have been a little too far out of reach to keep him engaged.

The idea of reaching for an apple has history (you remember Eve and the serpent?). The idea that somet…

What does it take to make a sale?

There are lots of sales training programs based on the idea that forcing yourself to manipulate people is the best route to making a sale. There are lots of companies running on the idea that quotas are the best route to drive people to make a sale. There are lots of people who believe that beating themselves into submission is the best route to making a sale.

All of those ways work. For a price.

What if there were another way? What if you could sell by making a real connection between someone else and work you value? What if selling was just the first step in allowing someone to experience what you have created or what you believe is worth doing?

What if?

The work I do is often about what ifs. It's about imagining that the situation could be better with such commitment that, more often than makes sense logically, the situation becomes better. It's about finding the counter examples, the times when things worked in a way that felt better or did more good.

There are lots of peo…

You will never win a gold medal at the Olympics. Now what?

We all hit transitions in life when we realize that the time for a dream is over. It's time to let go and find something new to hope and plan. The world often seems to belong to the young because they have lots of dreams left and lots of time. As we get older, we realize that it's too late for some dreams and that others would cost more than we are willing to give. What now? We wonder briefly and then get busy tending to the works in progress that take up most of our time and energy.

If a miracle happened and this problem disappeared, what would be different? In many ways, it is easier to imagine a problem disappearing than a goal forming. If a miracle happened and you got the one wish deep in your heart, how would you know? And, since we are grown ups and familiar with the reality within and around us, how can we shape an imagining that makes the best of what we are determined to keep (whether or not it fits into our miracle)?

I have been watching this year, as grown ups who …

What if you went to the Olympics with a cold?

As I sit down to write, I feel rotten. I've been coughing for days, I hurt all over, and I'm not confident that all the pieces of my brain are in working order. My most vivid goal for the day involves sipping tea and watching multiple episodes of Doctor Who.

Instead, I'm writing. The Olympics are ongoing and yesterday I watched a young woman do tricks on her way down a terribly dangerous slopeboarding course. Apparently, she has such a bad cold that her team has her quarantined outside the Olympic village. If it is the Olympics, you don't stay home and watch Doctor Who. You give more than you think you have racing headlong down a mountain.

Sometimes I talk to my college business students about days like this. I say: "What if you went to work in the state you are in now and it mattered? What would you do to find the energy and focus you needed to be at your best?" They usually look stumped for awhile, and then they start to notice that there are choices. Maybe…

The difference between resources and results

I was inspired by Chris Brogan's post at Owner this morning. Chris got me thinking about how what we notice drives our behaviours which drives our results.

What are you measuring when you try something new at work? We tend to move between two poles. At one extreme, we measure results. We know what we want and that's all we measure. At the other pole, we measure reassurance. Are we getting gold stars? Does someone who counts approve of our efforts?

As employees, we tend to work for some form of gold stars although we are more engaged and more successful when we are able to see the results of our work and measure those instead. As entrepreneurs, we want to measure results but until we get them, we would like some gold stars. It's hard to work on your own and hope you're doing something worthwhile. It's nice to get a gold star.

It's nice, but ultimately, your ability to continue to do what you want to do depends on your results. More than anything, as an entrepren…

The part of the story you do not hear

There's an important difference between telling a story and giving a lecture. In a lecture, it is important that the speaker include any detail necessary to understanding the key points. In a story, it is important that the storyteller use details to hook the attention of the listeners so that they will generate whatever is necessary for them to make meaning of the story.

Stories are always incomplete without the collaboration of the listener. That's why they get into our heads and stay there long after facts and figures and theories have faded. We didn't just consume them: we helped to create them.

If there's too much missing, then the story you hear and the story being told can be very different. This is most likely to happen when people tell a story without building up the context. No one exists in isolation. They live in a physical world of settings and relationships and connections. When the storyteller includes some of these, we use our experience to build up the…