Monthly Archives: August 2016

Focus – What should you stop looking at?

focus - what not to look atWe just bought a new camera. My daughter was showing us how you can change the picture so the subject is in focus and the background is blurred or the background is in focus and the subject is blurred. It’s a really neat effect that makes the same scene look totally different in the two pictures.

I think this is the same way in life and in work. Some people look out and see too much to do and say there is no way to get this all done. Other people see only what they choose to do and blur out the rest. The same scene looks totally different to each viewer.

Don’t focus on everything. In a good way there is always enormous opportunity to improve, enhance, or create almost anything and everything – and someday, someone should do that – maybe you. For now, some of those opportunities are less important than others. If you try to accomplish all of them or even a lot of them, you are likely to make only marginal progress for a very long time.

“Sticking things out is overrated, particularly if you stick out the wrong things.” – Seth Godin, Whatca Gonna Do With That Duck?

Do focus on what’s essential. Figure out which of the everythings are the best things and stop looking at the rest. Stephen Covey says you can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself within the bounds of time.

“The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey

Do what you focus on well. In his book on Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson said, “Jobs insisted that Apple focus on just two or three priorities at a time.” Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad…Just some of the successes that come from focus.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet

Presentations that make a difference

presentationsPresentations are not just opportunities for you to talk, show some numbers or pictures, and maybe get a laugh or two; they are much more than that. Let’s start with what a presentation is. It can be when you are up in front of a room with people listening to you talk about a specific topic. It can also be project meetings, one on one meetings, hallway conversations, and social media posts which are just as much presentations as the front of the room kind and deserve the same kind of preparation and intention.

With that definition in mind, the ultimate goal of each presentation is to cause something to stir in the audience so that each person leaves with a new idea, new goal, or new challenge. Your presentation is a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.

I keep these three ideas in mind as I prepare for each kind of presentation and throughout each presentation because sometimes you have to read the audience and adjust.

Who is the audience? Before you present, you need to know how many people you will be communicating with and their familiarity with the topic. If it’s a small groups of experts, then it will be an in depth discussion on a few points while a large group with little familiarity will mean an overview. Every presentation should be tailored to the audience and not be a rote reading of the same facts and telling of the same stories.

We’ve come to understand the power of knowing your audience on social media – everything is targeted to the finest detail possible – you should do no less for your presentations to the degree you can. If you stop and think about it, you likely know enough about most of your audiences to make it personal so your presentation makes a difference to them. 

“The most important thing to remember is you must know your audience.”– Lewis Howes

What does your audience need? Now that you know who your audience is, you should answer these questions: Why are they attending this presentation? Why should they care about what you are saying? If this is a hallway conversation on the way to lunch the answer to these two questions is: Because you were walking in the same direction, and you struck up a good conversation on the way. On the other hand, if it is a project meeting the answers are likely: To get or share an update, and because you have information/resources/approval authority they need.

When it comes to audience needs, think big picture and small picture. What are their career goals, personal goals, what happened today? You have to take all of this into consideration to have a presentation that makes a difference. Even if it is just a walk to lunch.

“If you target audience isn’t listening, it’s not their fault, it’s yours.” – Seth Godin

How can I add value to the audience? You know who the audience is and what they need, now it’s time to plan how you can deliver that to them. I believe that the presentation process works best when the audience is not given the answer but is lead through a series of stories, questions, challenges in which they find their answer. It’s not enough that you are passionate about your topic, your audience needs to be passionate for themselves.

Frank Capra, the director of It’s a Wonderful Life, and other great movies said it like this, “I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when the actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.”

Take your audience through an experience in your presentation where they can find their answer.

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner.


Are you ready for success?

ready for successWill you be ready when the perfect opportunity to have the success you always wanted comes along?

Johnny Carson was the host of the Tonight Show for thirty years where he interviewed thousands of talented people, many who received their big break on his show. Carson himself received a big break when Red Skelton asked him to be a comedy writer on his show. Not long after he joined, Skelton was unable to host one of his live shows and Carson successfully filled in for him. How did Carson get ready for this perfect opportunity?   His college major was speech and drama as he wanted to become a radio performer. His college thesis was titled “How to Write Comedian Jokes” where he analyzed and explained the comedic techniques from popular radio shows of the day.

Johnny Carson talked about becoming successful when he said, “Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: ‘Are you ready?’”

The first step in being ready for success is to define success. What is success? That is personal to you. Each of us defines success in our own way. In order to be ready for success, you must start with a clear picture of what success means to you. This is the light that will guide the choices that you make. It’s why you do what you do.

You should recognize that you are always working for a purpose, so you should make it a good one. As author and speaker Tony Gaskin says, “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”

The second step in being ready for success is to start getting ready. The best way to start is to start. Build a plan that includes what you need to know, who you need to know, and how you will obtain both then start with the first activity. Your path will become clearer as you move forward and you can and will adjust your plan.

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not.”– Napoleon Hill

The last step in being ready for success is to take the opportunities. Now that you have defined success and are getting ready for it, you must be on the lookout for and willing to grab hold of opportunities when they arrive. When you make a point of measuring each event against your plan for success you will find that there are more chances than you knew.

“If we are paying attention to our lives, we’ll recognize those defining moments…that if jumped on would get our careers and personal lives to a whole new level of wow.” – Robin S. Sharma

Are we willing to do what they did to get where they are?

long road of successWe admire successful people – and with good reason. Their accomplishments are often awe inspiring. We see what they do, what they have, and the impact they have on the world and we want the same for ourselves.

We want to be the sports star, the singer, the business person, but are we willing to do what they did to get where they are?

Overnight success rarely happens overnight. It’s only after years of hard work and often struggle, that someone is ready for their overnight success.

Baseball legend Willie Mays talked about what it took to be successful in his sport, “In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Without one-hundred percent dedication, you won’t be able to do this.”

What did they really do to get there? Mary Kay Ash founded Mary Kay Cosmetics in 1963 with a $5,000 investment. Today the company has over 3 million consultants worldwide and wholesale volume in excess of 3 billion. During her life, Mary Kay won many business honors including the Horatio Alger Award, was inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame, and authored four best-selling books. Mary Kay Cosmetics was named as one of “The 100 best companies to work for in America,” by Fortune Magazine.

On success, Mary Kay is quoted as saying, “You can have anything in this world you want, if you want it badly enough and you’re willing to pay the price.”

Here is a brief history of her rise to success. While in high school her father became ill and her mother supported the family working 14 hours a day in a restaurant. Mary Kay took care of her father along with attending high school. She married at 17 and she and her husband had three children. While he served in World War II she took a job selling books. Ash went on to work 25 years in corporate sales before resigning to turn her attention to writing a book, which became her plan for Mary Kay Cosmetics.

In 1963, Mary Kay and her second husband started the company, Mary Kay Cosmetics.  Before the company could open its operational storefront in Dallas, her second husband suddenly died and the rest, as they say, is history.

Are you ready for the journey? Og Mandino wrote the bestselling book The Greatest Salesman in the World in 1968 at the age of 35. He went on to write many others and his books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over 25 languages.

After graduating high school, Mandino planned to study journalism in college. When his mother died in the summer he chose not to attend college but to enter the Air Force and became a pilot during World War II. After the war he became an insurance salesman and found himself in a library despondent as he was not living the life he desired. Reading several self-help books here and in many other libraries he found the W. Clement Stone book, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude that changed his life.

Og Mandino commented on his journey and said, “The road to success, for me, was a long and arduous journey, strewn with obstacles and traps, pitfalls and hurdles. I speak of those sad and frustrating times in the hope that my personal experiences will serve as sufficient evidence for all who hear me that they have it in their own power to make their lives as glorious as they choose.”

Speak plainly about transitions.

transitionsTransitions can be difficult. What makes them even harder is when we don’t talk about what’s needed to succeed. Going off to college, starting a new job, retiring from your career are all transitions that require planning and the same three action steps.

“The key is to take small, conscious steps and prepare yourself for a successful transition.”– Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Self-motivation. Successful transitions require that you get yourself started. No one is going to make you succeed, you have to want to succeed. Determine to be the best at whatever this next phase of your life is and to not give up until you reach it.

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” – Les Brown

Self-sufficiency. Successful transitions require that you get what you need. Self-sufficiency is not having all that you want – It’s knowing how to connect, communicate and cooperate with other people to obtain what you need. Every transition means starting over in building your network of people that will help you.

“It is precisely because neither individuals nor small groups can be fully self-sufficient that cooperation is necessary.” – Tom Palmer

Selflessness. Successful transitions require that you give what others need. The end goal of transitions is to have made it to the next level. Once you are there, you help others who are trying to make it like you did if you want to fully reap the benefits of your work.

“Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.” – Tony Robbins

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