Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What do you do?

For me, this is just one of the most important things I could ever get right myself and the thing that I get recurrently wrong. So, as a result, I threw myself into studying this to try and understand how to position and introduce myself well, how to answer the question “What do you do?” in any environmental context.

Some people call this elevator statement, some people call this positioning. Basically, what are the words that go with the business card? As the business card is given to someone, what words are coming out of your mouth?

So, the first thing I’ve realised is, for me personally, because I’m, I guess I’m a bit of a synaptic, organic, creative, destructive, all over the place person, I don’t want to be boxed down to say these words when I give the business card, but as a result, I’m not being consistent.

Every time I turn up, I’m not necessarily nailing what I want to achieve and I’m not necessarily creating the outcome I want, and that’s what forced me into the study of this as such an important idea. I don’t want to be boxed in, but I have to be a little bit more structured and organised.

Three Reasons

I think there are three reasons why you would bother to tell someone what you do. Now, there’s obviously going to be more than three, but these are the three that I think are critical.

Be Remembered

The first thing is I want to be remembered. I want you to know who I am. And I see people put photos on business cards in an attempt to be memorable. Now, it’s my opinion that that’s a bad move, but that’s just my opinion. The reason why I think it’s a bad move is that I think if you suck so much in your meeting that it takes a photo of you to be remembered, you need to work on how you introduce yourself. And I just say that so that you know where I stand on that.

Be Understood

So, the second thing is I want to really be understood, which means I don’t kind of understand myself first. So, a big part of this is for you to achieve some clarity around what exactly it is you do and how it’s unique or differentiated from other people.

Be Recommended

How you understand me, is key to the third part, which is about business. Honestly, for me, that is what it’s about. It’s “I want to be recommended”.

So, if you remember me, understand me and recommend me, we’re done. The whole introduction has served its purpose.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A picture paints a thousand words

I heard a rumour, some might call it an urban myth, that John MacFarlane - the turnaround CEO (some years back) of ANZ Bank, had a fabulous ability to translate complex messages into simple pictures.

The story goes, that he often would draw these messages on the back of coasters, paper napkins and scraps of paper. It’s also said that these ‘spontaneous illustrations’ were often carried around in the pockets of those who sat with him during the ‘conversation’.

This is literal evidence that a picture truly does paint a thousand words. There is an art to this illustrating, an art that you can learn.

Spend some time thinking through what you want to say to others and see if there is a simple diagram, illustration or model you could draw, that encapsulates what you are trying to say. In posh language, this is the art of communicating through context.

Here are some tips

  1. Keep it simple – the less words the better. It’s a picture you’re creating, not a shopping list.
  2. Think of a word picture (metaphor) that may support the diagram you are drawing.
  3. Create it in front of the audience, not in advance. They feel a part of the creation that way.
In my mind, this is the single most important communication skill you need when working in a world of too much information.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Who Are You?

You are a genius! No really you are. Maybe no one has ever said that to you before, but in my world, you really are.

You see I have a theory that everyone's a genius. I know that some of the people you work with probably contradict that statement every time they open their mouths. The point is, even if it is hard to discover it in others, we do have genius. To expose it we need only two things: Humility and Possession!

Let me explain:

Your genius lies not in what you are perfect at but in what you get wrong. This is where the HUMILITY comes in. To discover your genius you need to admit you have a recurring problem (I have at least two). For me, they are that I am ‘judgemental' and way to ‘sensitive'. You see after many years of stuffing up in these areas, I have unearthed what I am good at. It's not judging others or weeping at the drop of a hat and it's not being accepting or hardening up (the opposite of). I choose to be very ‘discerning' and highly ‘attuned'.

Try these three steps to discovering your genius:

Step 1: Identifying your greatest weakness

What do you get wrong? What is a recurring theme in your life? What challenges do you keep butting your head up against? In relationships with others, what do they say you need to work on?

It is important that you try to see this quality as a negative even if you don't normally. For example I may be too ‘direct' and actually see this as a good thing. Which it may very well, be but for the sake of this exercise try to define it as a negative.

Step 2: Anchor the opposite of this weakness

Ask yourself what is the opposite of Step 1's answer? Often others tell you "do this" or "become this" or "you need to develop more of this". We are going to ignore this quality and simply note it for reference so we don't get lured into the ‘work on your weaknesses' line. To be in your genius you need to live in your strengths!

Step 3: Flip the negative and make it a positive

Take the answer to Step 1 and now spin it into a good thing.

If the Negative is - Then the Positive is:

I tend to over commit - I am passionate about what I do

I am judgemental - I am discerning

Too direct - Productively honest

Stubborn - Not easily swayed from my convictions

You get the idea.

Then move onto the second key to working in your genius; Own It. Posses that identified quality and frame it up with others as something you are proud of. When a moment comes to create a great result, know yourself and turn on your genius.

Those who succeeded at school with high IQ's are not guaranteed a seat at the table of success. WHY? To me it's because IQ is only part of the intelligence debate. Find your GQ, your genius quotient, and use it to be your best.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Chemistry of Thought

Thoughts can affect your chemical balance profile in profound ways.

For example, when you’re asleep, you may have a nightmare which causes obvious physical changes – you sweat and our body pumps adrenalin and cortisol. And, when you lose a loved one, you go through a grieving process which causes low serotonin and leads to depression.

Author of Learned Optimism and leading researcher into cognitive therapy, Martin Selegman, believes it’s possible to think yourself happy.

It’s true that thoughts are affected by your chemistry, but it’s equally possible you can think unhappy thoughts as a result of too few ‘feel good’ chemicals in your system.

As you read this, there’s an internal dialogue going on between your ears isn’t there? If you’re thinking ‘No there isn’t’, you’ve just proved my point. This chatter becomes so customary it’s easily forgotten.

The language of your inner voice is the key to understanding your thoughts. Your internal dialogue and the words you speak out loud, reflect what state your mind is in and inturn, this reflects your chemical balance profile.

So, if you haven’t been able to get what you want in life – it could be because YOU are in the way! Whether you’re a born negative thinker or have become so because of your environment – you can change.

You have to want to and you must believe you can make a difference.

Here are some tips to help avoid negative thinking:
  • Slow down your thoughts
  • Do less, to have more – dump what’s not important
  • Avoid speed talking and speed thinking
  • Adjust your thought time lines – focus on the present
  • Maintain a sense of humour
  • Educate yourself & broaden your thinking
  • Build others up – don’t criticise
  • Get on with a variety of people – mixing with a variety of people will have you thinking differently
You can do it!