Coaching people for public speaking opportunities is one of
my favorite elements when it comes to professional development. There is
nothing better than seeing somebody positively influence an audience, generate
energy in a room and possibly even change lives for some of the attendees.
During speech preparation process, my job is to answer
questions while creating minimal anxiety.
Most importantly, the day of the speech the less advice, the
better. Before somebody steps on stage,
the hay is in the barn – time to block out all distractions and execute!
An hour before the talk I recommend three things:
A confidence-building activity that gets you a
little winded such as wind-sprints, shadow boxing or pushups. This will raise your heart rate and then
allow it to smoothly recover. You don’t
want your heart rate to elevate for the first time when on stage.
Deep breathing and meditation. Block out
everything and focus on the way you’ll take the stage and the first words that
will come out of your mouth.
Your first sentence. I don’t suggest memorizing speeches except
for the first line. Stick the landing on
the first line and you’ll flow from there!
I was once told that if you are making an ethically difficult decision you should ask yourself if you would be comfortable with that decision being printed on the front page of the New York Times. I call this the Times Cover Principle. While few of us are influential enough for the Times to use our likeness in the effort to boost circulation, the sentiment is a good guide for decisions both in and out of work.
The Times Cover Principle helps you gauge a few things.
At the time this was shared with me, the NY
Times had a very broad circulation.
Readers of the periodical span all walks of life
and many have large and influential networks.
Journalists who write for the Times are historically
not sensationalist but rather want to share a balanced story with the readers.
If your possible course of action doesn’t measure up well to
this scrutiny, it is probably a path not worth taking.
Do something hard for the sole sake of the challenge! It will be uncomfortable, but embracing that
discomfort and not the outcome that is the exact reason to do it.
Hard challenges open new learning opportunities. You’ll likely meet new people as you gather
information related to execution of the task and maybe even join a group of
people who have similar objectives. Undoubtedly,
you’ll gain a skill and grow as a person.
Most importantly, you’ll get outside of your comfort zone and learn how
to succeed when things are tough.
And when you succeed, you will have earned a feeling of
success but this is not the reason to do it initially. Preparation, living through the struggle and
willing your way to succeed are the rewards for this venture!
This year I implemented a prioritization tool that has
proven very useful. It is called the
Eisenhower Matrix as it was either designed or made famous by US President
The purpose of the matrix is to determine which tasks you
will do yourself, delegate, schedule or eliminate from your responsibility
set. This is done simply by putting
items in one of four camps related to importance and urgency.
I’ve found three elements imperative in using this matrix:
Communicate when items are urgent versus important, both when you request that somebody executes them and when something is asked of you.
Limit the items in each box to no more than eight. This includes both professional and personal items.
The items that are neither urgent nor important should be placed in the appropriate box only if their priority could be changed later when time frees up. When anything is moved into the bottom right box, inform stakeholders that you have no intention of executing that deliverable so they can reframe their expectations, demonstrate why it should be in a different box or look for another path to have the task handled.
A connector is somebody who freely makes and takes introductions. A separator is somebody who actively tries to
drive a wedge between relationships.
Connectors broker relationships because they intelligent
discourse among smart people.
Everybody wants to view themselves as connectors as it feels
magnanimous, friendly and congenial. But
how many introductions have you made this month? How many unsolicited recommendations
have you written and done so without demanding credit for it ? Connectors do
what they do to make the world a closer knit and open place.
Conversly, do you speak negatively about people not around
to defend themselves? Do you try to
discredit people? If so, you are likely
a separator and the world needs less of your type… but the good news is you can
The next time you’re asked for an intro between two people with
whom you have respect, make it. Set up a
mentoring session for somebody in your organization. Make a connection between
people who have a common interest. People
will remember it and will at some point repay the favor to the world. Even if they don’t connect you to somebody,
they will be more likely connect two people down the road.
On Monday I attended a lecture put on by the Horological Society
of New York. The lecture was delivered by
independent watchmakers Richard (formerly of IWC) and Maria Habring who traveled
from Austria to share their perspective on creating a fully integrated supply
chain to develop an inhouse watch movement.
Originally they used movements (the guts/heartbeat
of a watch) from Swatch owned ETA.
In 2012, ETA cut them off from all movements and
even the components to fix their prior models.
They had two choices, give up on their business or
find a way to make their own movements. If they gave up, they would never be
able to service prior customers.
Developed a new movement and all components to
not only to service prior models but also build new models.
Intended: Saved business, serviced prior movements
and built brand and credibility.
Unintended: Created a separate business to sell
components to small watchmakers.
Back to basics as Richard said with a “keep it
simple stupid” approach.
They stayed humble and consider themselves lucky
that they were in the right place at the right time.
This is a four person company, so if you call
them you have a 50% chance of speaking with somebody who has the same name as
the company (Habring).
When asked about Marketing budgets, they said their
plan to serve customers which is the best way to develop a strong brand.
This post went a little over 200 words but had to do the
Habring’s story justice.
Work, sports and relationships challenge us periodically, sometimes with more trying issues than others. These situations create varying levels of stress that will impact or determine the way we handle the issue. Prioritization of issues is important but asking the most basic questions can help in creating a plan to attack.
Will anybody die or face grave danger based on the outcome
of the decision? If the answer is yes, I’m
not the right person to provide advice.
If the outcome is anything less dire, it is helpful to ask
trusted advisors for a point of view. A different
vantage point can lend perspective on the importance of the problem and a
variety of ways to address.
Lastly, these challenges, as annoying as they can be, will serve
as good preparation for the truly life changing struggles we will inevitably
have in life. Embrace the challenge – It
is good to practice working through difficult decisions with slightly less
significant topics to build thicker skin, coping mechanisms and decision
processes that will help when bigger stakes are on the line.
Most people make the mistake of thinking
design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the
designers are handed this box and told, “Make it look good!” That’s not what we
think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how
This quote is not only a perfect fit for
objects such as iPhones, watches (both digital and analog) but also for organizations. A perfect watch design and movement makes the
complications flow without friction to the gears, creates the longest life/power
reserve, serves a purpose for the user and is aesthetically pleasing to the eye
adhering to certain design principles that may not guarantee acceptance but
greatly increase the likelihood.
Good org design cannot be focused only on appropriate spans of control and minimization of layers but it needs to address interaction between humans, the speed information can travel, optimization of learning and development across an organization and reduces friction where possible. Recreating an org structure is equivalent to building the movement of a watch. If done right, it perpetuates momentum. If done wrong, it is an expensive waste of time and money.
Improvement, achievement and success are great motivators.
Inevitably, there are times when we face challenges. Projects with longer time horizons lead to mounting
challenges that become overwhelming. This can take place around both physical
objectives and those of the intellectual nature.
An example for a marathoner is a nagging IT band or slight
hamstring pull. While we want to
continue our training to accomplish our goal race time, doubling down when an
injury persists is rarely the best solution and may create more serious
setbacks. Similarly, if you are working
through a difficult project at work without the necessary support and a
positive outcome seems nowhere in sight, you may tempted to soldier forward disregarding
your well-being. This approach could
lead a stressful breaking point where the anxiety itself reduces your chance of
In both cases, continued attempts at forward progress can be
detrimental in the long-term. Even
creating an effective plan when experiencing heavy stress can be difficult. It
is important to get back to your baseline, recover, reset mentally and recalculate
your course. A short recovery period will allow you to develop a clear and
unclouded path to success without adding greater risk to your project’s
Recently I enjoyed a working
dinner with a brilliant entrepreneur. He has a young but growing business, is
enjoying successes in the press and has no problem attracting great talent. He
is not encountering most of the startup issues normally experienced during this
phase. Instead he is facing a challenge normally reserved for more mature
He asked me “how
can I tell if my team is giving me the best feedback possible or simply
acquiescing because they fear my reaction?”
If this difficulty exists today, it will undoubtedly
compound each day ahead. Worse yet, there is little this founder can do to
mitigate this specific risk without direct attention. As the company continues
to chalk up wins, he will earn more and more credibility in the eyes of the
market, his board and the company’s employees. If it hasn’t already happened,
there will be a day when he will be unintentionally surrounded by bobble-heads
acquiescing to all recommendations coming from the C-Suite. The senior advisers
will be afraid to publicly debate in the event that their POV is seen as