Archive for January, 2012

One Word Guarantees They’ll Say Yes

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

wordThere is one word that will undoubtedly get you on the way to that job interview, or a meeting with a prospect or referral source – even a potential investor.  This magical word will work for you when you use it in person, on the phone, in an email subject line, a text or a social media message. It’s that good.

There’s a caveat of course. You can’t just hurl this magic word or use it disingenuously. You can’t demand, cajole, nag or otherwise be irksome. You have to really mean what you’re asking for, with all your heart.

The magic word is “guidance.”

The caveat is that you must have honest curiosity about the subject – and no tinge of entitlement, irritation, or frustration. When you approach someone with a request for guidance, you may be expressing a bit of self-doubt, concern or just feeling unsettled by something you have experienced. You might even have a smidgen of hope or optimism in your tone. But, you can’t have or express any intention of taking advantage of the resource (the person you’re asking) or take a hard turn toward asking for anything more than guidance (for which you might prepare a number of questions that you really want answered).

Guidance – even more than advice – implies that you have specific questions or a problem that you can describe but can’t overcome on your own. Guidance means you have an ardent desire to sit with someone more experienced or with a broader reach than you could possibly have on your own.

Think of guidance, as mentoring’s little brother. What’s particularly amazing is that you can ask for guidance from complete strangers. And even more fantastic? It’s nearly impossible to get turned down. Of course, being humble, patient and grateful would be the winning trifecta.

It really is that simple. Here are some examples.

“Would you be able to give me some guidance on solving a problem I’m having?”

“I’m kind of stuck right now, and I’m hoping you might be able to give me some guidance about my job search.”

“There’s something that’s a bit of a mystery to me about working in this industry, and I wonder if you could give me some guidance on what I might be missing.”

“I’ve taken a class in your field of expertise, and I’d like to ask you for some guidance about how I could begin to approach a career like yours.”

“I hope you won’t mind my asking for some guidance from you.”

So this magic word “guidance” is a huge door opener. It can be a game changer for you because it’s so respectful and deferential; the object of your request might go way beyond answering your question. You may get a whole lot more. By that I mean, they might take you on as a cause, get you introductions and land you exactly where you were most hoping to go.

So use the word guidance with all due respect, and get the yes that can change your life.

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Avoid These 3 Killer Blogging Mistakes

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

6a00d8341c500653ef0147e3a5afdf970b-300wiMistakes even the smartest people make when they blog or produce email blasts are related to how they think about content.

  1. “Every post must be the same or similar length – because my audience expects consistency”
  2. “Every post must deliver my own original material”
  3. “I must post on a regular, predictable schedule”

I publish and publicize up-and-coming experts and business authors who produce blog posts and email newsletters. Plus, everyday they show up on social media with a pretty huge number of tweets, status updates and other posts.

Plus, most of them work in consulting and coaching or are keeping a “day job” until their writing or speaking revenue streams become too large to manage part-time.

I assure them that with some planning and practice, content production can take about 15 minutes each day.

I know their pain and fear about producing all that content. I am an author, too. I wrote Speak Up! & Succeed: How to get everything you want in meetings, presentations and conversations. Despite my greatest fears about getting my material out in the world, the results shouldn’t have been such a surprise. It’s the best thing I did in my career.

In getting out my book – and bestsellers I produced for my clients, I pretty much use everything I knew about selling real products. I am a former marketing executive at The Coca-Cola Company and director of marketing in the Fortune 500 technology sector. I sold syrup and micrographic retrieval systems – selling content is surprisingly the exact same thing.

The path to success begins by attracting an audience and creating a relationship with high value people (people who have a problem you solve and a nice-sized budget to remedy it).

Whether you want to write a book, offer consulting services or do group coaching, or get asked to speak at associations meetings and conferences (or all of the above): your success is completely dependent on your delivering useful, entertaining and compelling content to people who can use it.

You will totally enjoy being a content machine if you think Willy Wonka, not “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap.

How to easily and constantly produce great content

This is the right mindset: you are developing a relationship with your audience. Like a friendship, this will take time to grow. And, you can’t make friends if you do all the talking – or if every time to talk you harp on the same thing, in the same way!

Variety and satisfaction are the keys to your success – and not coincidentally, it’s those two factors that are the keys to happiness, according the latest literature on positive psychology.


Vary the size of your posts. A few sentences and a photo on your blog will delight people with a highly visual, bite-sized treat. Two posts in a day or a long piece you write on a rainy Sunday will mix things up.

Yes: you can choose which days your audience will receive posts (if it’s once a week, then it’s once a week). Yes, you can take a theme like romance on Valentine’s Day and somehow apply to a serious topic like IT services. Do a Q&A once in a while. Get a guest blogger – pick up the phone, sending an email or direct message someone in the business you want to meet! Maybe a potential client, association executive director or another thought leader?

Create some categories: like “Leadership Commandments” or “Leadership Quotations” (or whatever your topic lends itself to). Then, stock up on those when you’re browsing the web, so you can simply put a category title and 3-5 bullet points in a post when you want to write something super fast and easy.


Focus on what your audience wants – or wants to avoid. Seek to serve their needs with your own work and others’. Give examples of how someone is doing exactly what you believe. Tell stories about something you observed.

Develop simple formulas they can follow. Then ask them to tell you how those worked out – and share their experiences. Bring to light other thought leaders’ work – give them credit and ask for permission to re-post some of their material. Put in links to news stories, features, YouTube videos and the like.

This is the right mindset: neither you nor any other individual can produce enough content to satisfy one person even on one subject, much less an entire audience’s set of needs. You have some portion of 7 billion people to attract and engage AND leverage for their contributions.

As the author Michael Luckman says, when you overpower the fear that you are alone in your quest, you are filled with the capacity to attract what you want. With a collaborative approach to producing a cornucopia of content, you manifest a tribe of followers, contributors and customers who are delighted to buy what you most want to deliver.

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What Oprah Teaches You About “Audience”

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

2008-12-31-la-audience-01Consider you almost always have an audience. I use the term “audience” to reference any person who receives your messages. That could be spoken, written, live or archived words. They may be accompanied by sound, video, photos, graphics, slides, and links (or not).

I use the term audience with reverence and respect, because all around you are people who have the power to give you exactly what you want. That could be the ideal job or the go-ahead for the biggest deal of your life. Whether your audience is one person – a colleague, investor, prospect, hiring manager, client, boss or a guy sitting on a bus with you, or a crowd of 2 people to 7 billion: this life is your show and we are your audience. If you choose to live it that way: fully actualized, empowered and rewarded.

What’s the purpose of calling other people your audience, when it comes to your conduct, and daresay your performance and success?

The concept that we are your audience helps you erect a positive and powerful framework of your role in our lives. When you take each of us on as your audience, you take responsibility for our experience of you.  And, thus you control it.

For example, Oprah doesn’t leave home to get on stage or screen and wonder what she’ll talk about. She’s got all her talking points arranged in an arc that her audience will likely find compelling. She knows or she’s been briefed about who we are, what we’re interested in, what our hot buttons are, what we find entertaining and what we find meaningful.

She’s clear about what gaps in our lives we are hoping to fill by tuning her in or attending a function where she’ll be.

Ask yourself now:

  1. Do you know anything important about your audiences?
  2. Do you know why we are here and what matters to us?
  3. Do you know what gaps in our lives we are hoping to fill by tuning you in or attending a function where you’ll be?

Oprah sees herself as a star. But that’s not enough. She recognizes her audiences have needs she can fulfill, and she chooses to think she can fulfill them uniquely. With those expectations of herself on behalf of people she’ll be with,  she prepares to succeed. That conceptual framework gives her a tremendous advantage in thinking over almost everyone, even some other broadcasters who are largely talking to themselves.

Before she crafts her program and before she says one word (written by someone else or not), she shoulders the one-sided responsibility for our believing the “meeting” with her was a success in our minds. Note where the success meter is: our minds, not her mind.

She fully embraces a motive before going into every encounter. Her motive is almost always to create a transformation of some kind in our minds, bodies or spirits – because that’s her personal brand promise.  That personal motive is why she’ll do more than pass along information. She’ll do everything to help us experience what she wants us to know and do. She’ll reduce our resistance by admitting there’s both upsides and downsides. She’ll keep it lively when it should be amusing or solemn when it should be consternating. She’ll plan a great opening, streamlined content and a great closing so we come away feeling completely served.

Even in her latest role, Oprah takes responsibility for her relationship with her audiences. It’s how she continues to build her reputation every day – and attract endlessly engaging, productive and prosperous opportunities. So can you.

Are you seeking to prove up your personal brand promise when you’re speaking or typing, showing us pictures or sending us links?  Are you intentionally building your reputation with your audiences?

Here’s how to start:

  1. Make a list of the number of encounters, planned and unplanned, that you’ll likely have this week.
  2. Who is likely going to be in your audiences?
  3. How well do you know them – do you have to read up on them to know them better?
  4. What are their hot buttons or their pains, fears and burning, unfulfilled desires?
  5. Can you help them see the consequences of not taking action?
  6. Do you know what emotional transformation you’ll need to activate – and how to do just that?
  7. What content and approach can you create so they’ll be in the state of mind to do what you want them to do – exactly as you want them to do it?
  8. How will you help them take action?
  9. What time do you need – perhaps more than one encounter?
  10. Will you be prepared to set up the next link so that they come back to move further with you?

Starting today consider yourself a star. Take responsibility for our experience of you. No matter how minor or major your role is during any interaction: you’ll see signs of success. And as you get used to the spotlight, it only gets bigger, better and easier each time you meet.

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Personal Branding Pledge for 2012

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

new year 2012 background picturesThis year is about discovery, and complete recovery from what kills my drive

I allow impatience to test relationships to learn who’s stealing my time

I accurately judge who’s robbing me of what’s mine

I jettison people who are boring or ignoring me or angry that I am soaring

People who cast doubt, or those who need to learn what friendship is about

And suddenly I find space and suddenly I am free

This year I find the person whom I most wanted to be

I find me!

And with that comes a flurry of folks who know what life is about

I allow them to teach me, reach me, nourish me and treat me

I drop the baggage, the lead weight, old memories of what I wasn’t

I heal from the large wounds of life, the paper cuts and concussions

I find freedom and joy in uncovering my soul

I master the meaning of life and love what I come to know

I find happiness and optimism in the real person I am

Effortlessly eager, enthusiastic and encouraged by my passions

I see my destiny, I see success and I see that I am the plan

And for the first time I understand

I want nothing more and nothing less than the best for myself

And I want to share, I want to care, to be grateful and of service

I can do that this year because I am filled with my true purpose

I’m in my prime, I feel fine and I am who I define myself to be

This is my year; this is the best time in the world to be me

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