Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

How to Make Widespread Changes with Small Wins

If you ever wondered how some Olympic athletes, like swimmer Michael Phelps, can routinely outperform their competition at razor thin margins of victory, some credit can go to the keystone habits in their training regimen.

This is according to a new book called the Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize winning staff writer for the New York Times.

In the book, Duhigg outlines how Phelps used the power of positive habits to transform himself into a winner of 22 Olympic medals.

Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman believed creating the right routines were the key to victory. Routines, or keystones habits as Duhigg calls them, would set Phelps apart from his competition.

Duhigg goes into great length in describing Phelps’ seemingly mundane routines, such as:

1. Visualizing the perfect race before falling asleep
2. On raceday, waking at 6:30
3. Eating breakfast at 7 a.m.
4. Stretching at 8 a.m.
5. Listening to the same warmup music at 9:35 before a 10 a.m. race

This sounds so simple, and by itself, it’s hardly believable that it can turn someone into a world champion. And make no mistake, it’s only a piece of a much larger process. This is simply the building blocks to other tiny advantages Phelps gained by training this way. Habits, like these, save us mental energy & help us function productively.

Duhigg writes that once Coach Bowman established some core routines in Phelps’ life, other habits (his diet, practice schedule, sleeping habits, etc.) all fell into place. These keystone habits became “small wins,” which are how keystone habits create widespread change.

“Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win,” Duhigg writes in quoting an unnamed Cornell professor. Duhigg went on to say that small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.

One way of using this approach as a public speaker is to break down your prep into segments, like:

Day 1 – research/brainstorm your topic
Day 2: Write the first draft
Day 3: Edit/Rewrite the draft
Day 4: Create/incorporate visual slides, if necessary
Day 5: Rehearse your presentation

Small Wins Approach
Phelps’ practice regimen incorporated the “small wins” approach by finding tiny advantages in training to help him overcome chaotic situations that all swimmers face from time to time, such as goggles filling with water or slipping awkwardly out of place after a dive.

To combat that, Bowman would have Phelps – on some days – swim in the dark, so he could learn exactly how many strokes it took to get from one side of the pool to the other. A keystone habit would be to count his strokes, and know on which stroke number to lunge for the wall at the finish.

As a public speaker, you can use these techniques to learn exactly how long each segment of your presentation should take (i.e. – four segments broken into 15 minutes each). Preparing and rehearsing in this fashion, will prevent enormous headaches, when your boss or conference organizer tells you at the last minute: “We’re short on time, so your speaking time has been slashed from 60 minutes to 30.”

If you have other techniques 0r approaches, feel free to list them below in the comments section below.

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Why You Need a Mentor

As a longtime member and past president of the Lee Emerson Bassett Toastmasters club (located at Stanford University), I’ve gotten a lot out of both club mentors as well as being a mentor. Mentors can help expedite your growth as a speaker as well as a leader.

Mentors in public speaking can help your development in a wide range of areas, such as in speech content, structure and delivery, among many other things (For more examples, view the Why Seek an LEB Mentor pdf).

In the business world, mentors are also extremely valuable. CEO Jason Nazar wrote a Wall Street Journal guest column last spring on this topic. He notes the biggest challenges you’ll face in business are the things you don’t know you don’t know.

Mentors will help identify areas of opportunity or risk that weren’t even on your radar.

The full WSJ column is definitely worth reading, but here are a few nuggets.

He notes the quickest path to success is to simply model the person who has already achieved what you want to. Identify step by step how they achieved their goals, and you have a proven pathway to your own success. A valuable mentor will provide you this roadmap and a lot of sage wisdom along the way.

How to get the Most From Mentors. Nazar says you need to ask folks for help directly. To find them, start with personal relationships and identify people in your sphere of influence who have some sentimental or personal (and nonfinancial) incentive to help you.

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10 Powerful Insights from the book “Imagine: How Creativity Works”

10 Powerful Insights from the book “Imagine: How Creativity Works”

If you wonder how and when inspiration strikes, New Yorker staff writer Jonah Lehrer’s new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, is definitely worth a read.

Here are 10 insights I found fascinating.

1. Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with the feeling of frustration, having worked so hard, but yet hitting a wall. We have no idea what to do next. When the breakthrough comes, we tell that part of the creativity story and neglect to mention that we had almost quit. That’s because failures contradict the romantic version of events, so we skip to the happy ending first. However, the act of being stumped, is an essential part of the creative process.

2. The Bootlegging Hour: 3M pioneered the idea of allowing its employees to spend 15% of their time pursuing speculative ideas. (While Google often gets praised for something similar, 3M started doing this decades before Google’s existence).

3. Insight often arrives only after you stop looking for it. Therefore, you must allow yourself to relax at times. The imagination has a wicked sense of irony.

4. The key is persistence. Graphic designer Milton Glaser’s process for creating the “I Love NY” campaign is a testament of persistence. First, he created the campaign. Second, he got it approved. Third, he continued to refine it.

5. The importance of decompressing: When we are struggling with seemingly impossible problems, its important to find time to unwind, to eavesdrop on all those remote associations coming from the right hemisphere. Instead of drinking another cup of coffee, indulge in a little daydreaming, take a warm shower or walk on the beach.

6. Red for Alert: Studies have shown that certain colors in an environment can sharpen certain skills. People in a red room, for example, had sharper skills requiring attention to detail, like catching spelling errors. The scientists explained that those people associated red with danger, so they were more alert.

7. The color blue carried a completely different set of psychological benefits. People in the blue room performed better in skills requiring imagination, such as coming up with creative uses for a brick or designing a children’s toy.

8. Milton Glaser’s philosophy: There’s no such thing as a “creative type.” As if creative people can just show up and make stuff up. As if it’s that easy. I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb.

9. Fostering a culture of spontaneous meetings. “[Steve Jobs] really believed that the best meetings happened by accident, in the hallway, or parking lot. And you know what? He was right. I get more done having a bowl of cereal and striking up a conversation or walking to the bathroom and running into unexpected people than I do sitting at my desk.” – Pixar executive Darla Anderson.

10. Pixar realized that its creativity emerged from its culture of collaboration, its ability to get talented people from diverse backgrounds to work together.

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Google Replicates Adwords for Youtube Video

Google is taking its paid search model – which drives the majority of the company’s revenue – and replicating it for Youtube, the site Google purchased in 2007.

Google AdWords for Video, announced April 22, allows people (i.e. – speakers promoting their videos of public presentations) to bid for ad positioning on Youtube, and are only charged when a viewer chooses, or clicks, to view the ad (Cost-Per-Click). This differs from the original model, where advertisers were charged on a Cost-Per-thousand impressions (CPM).

For those who manage search engine campaigns in Google Adwords will be familiar with the Adwords for Video interface, because they will be able to create and manage video campaigns from the same platform as their search and display ads.

Adwords for Video provides the metrics and data analysis to help you identify which ads viewers respond best to, such as how long viewers watch the video or are viewers enticed by a particular Call-to-Action. You can also drive traffic from YouTube to your own site with Call-to-Action Overlays.

You can choose between four ad formats called TrueView:
1. TrueView In-search: ads appear on the Youtube & Google search pages
2. TrueView In-display: Ads appear next to videos on the Youtube watch page. They also appear on a collection of thousands of sites that have partnered with Youtube and Google.
3. TrueView In-stream: Ads play as a pre-, mid-, or post-roll on YouTube partner videos of all lengths.
4. TrueView In-slate: Ads play before long-form YouTube partner videos over 10 minutes.

Here’s Google’s promo video posted the day the service was launched.

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YouTube Insights gets Facelift as Youtube Analytics

YouTube Insights gets Facelift as Youtube Analytics

Google is rebranding Youtube Insights, the tool that provides you insight into whose watching your videos and from where. As of last month, the new name is now “Youtube Analytics,” and includes the following new features:

A Quick Overview: provides most of the information you want to see quickly, while also enabling you to easily access more detailed information.
More Detailed Reports: Analytics now includes more detailed statistics so that you can have a more precise understanding of your content and audiences.
Audience Builders: Discover which videos are driving the most views and subscriptions.
Audience Retention: See how far viewers are watching through your video in the new audience retention report.

UPDATE: Last August, I wrote about the newly released Youtube Creator Playbook, a guide on how to make your videos go viral. Google recently updated the Playbook, which can be downloaded here.

To learn what’s new, you can read Youtube’s blog post: How to make a great first impression for your (Youtube) Channel

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Building a Rapport With Your Audience Using Social Media Research

Social Media has made it easier than ever to research and connect with your audience. This was the topic of a blog item I posted last July. Here is a video of presentation I gave last October.

Feel free to repost, tweet, or like it.

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How Social Media’s Causing The End Of Business As Usual

How Social Media’s Causing The End Of Business As Usual

The rise of social media has propelled the “End of Business As Usual,” as suggested by the title of Brian Solis’ new book. And what that means is that retailers are no longer in control of the sales process. The social, or “connected,” consumer is. That’s the person, with a giant social following, who can derail a brand’s reputation with a single critical tweet or Facebook post.

Solis, in The End of Business As Usual, explains the evolution of social media has led to people not just tweeting to their audiences, but this fabric of today’s social network includes “audiences of audiences of audiences.”

This is nothing short of disruptive. And it extends to the actual buying experience, down to the very minute before a point of purchase in a brick and mortar store. Smartphone-wielding consumers have product information and peer reviews at their fingertips as they stroll through isles of a store. This access can make or break a buying decision.

Solis outlines how some retailers, like Target and Best Buy, have been forward-thinking and have created mobile apps that actually help customers navigate stores, look up prices and find special offers and promotions.

Best Buy has taken it a step further by providing customer reviews for a peer-to-peer perspective.

For businesses struggling to figure out how to develop a social media strategy, Solis says businesses must be able to answer these nine questions.

1. Why would a connected consumer “Like” us on Facebook, “Follow” us on Twitter?
2. How can we deliver value for them?
3. What is the experience they will take away?
4. What is it we want them to share?
5. Why would they want to stay connected over time?
6. Why would they choose to engage our updates in their social stream over those of their real friends?
7. What incentive do they have to tell everyone they know to follow us?
8. Why would they invest their time and express loyalty in their networks?
9. Why should they come back

This is part of a series of blog post running until the end of the year on business books in 2011 that can enhance the way you do presentations, improve the way you tell stories, engage with your audience, or market your business through social media or other channels.

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How Anyone Can Tell to Win, Hollywood-Style

How Anyone Can Tell to Win, Hollywood-Style

Whether your job is to encourage employees to perform a task, shareholders or business partners to believe in your vision or customers to buy your product, Hollywood executive Peter Gruber says we’re all in the emotional transportation business.

In his new book, Tell To Win, Gruber demonstrates how purposeful and emotional storytelling is the catalyst to propel people to act.

Gruber has a very colorful past, having produced blockbuster films (i.e. – Batman, Flashdance, The Color Purple, among others) for the past three decades and his films have earned more than 50 Academy Award nominations.

Developing these films along with some of the biggest egos in the movie industry serve as a backdrop to many of the stories he uses to vividly show rather than tell in this book. The basic screenwriting formula can be used to tell an inspiring story in a business setting:

Story building blocks:
1. Open with a challenge for the main character
2. Show how the character struggles through this challenge
3. Resolution: What was the result of the character overcoming this challenge

Gruber also outlines five core points in telling a great story:
1. Motivation: Contrary to what you may think, this point doesn’t center around motivating your audience, but rather knowing what motivates you, as the storyteller, moments before you speak to your audience. Gruber says you need to “get in state” before speaking the first word.
2. Audience: Render an experience to move them
3. Goal: All storytelling is purposeful. You are trying to create a relationship with the audience, not a transaction.
4. Interactive: A speech is not a monologue, it’s a dialogue. You want the audience to be a participant, not just a passenger.
5. Content: A story puts all key facts into an emotional context

This is part of a series of blog post running until the end of the year on business books in 2011 that can enhance the way you do presentations, improve the way you tell stories, engage with your audience, or market your business through social media or other channels.

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The Dragonfly Effect: Using Social Media for Social Good

The Dragonfly Effect: Using Social Media for Social Good

When 31-year-old entrepreneur Sameer Bhatia was diagnosed with leukemia, finding matching bone marrow in a matter of weeks to save his life seemed almost impossible. The odds: 1 in 20,000.

But his friends, a tight-knit group of entrepreneurs, figured it was a typical math problem. The solution: getting 20,000 South Asian individuals into a bone marrow registry.

In order to do this in such short time, Team Sameer used Web 2.0 services, like Facebook, Youtube and Google Docs to mobilize and empower others to organize bone marrow drives all over the country. This resulted in getting more than 24,000 South Asians into the bone marrow registry. And sure enough, a match was found and the tranplant was performed in 2007.

This is one of many examples of how social media can be used to power social good, outlined in the book, The Dragonfly Effect.

The book is co-authored by the husband/wife duo of Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith. The Dragonfly Effect demonstrates how to achieve both social good and customer loyalty by leveraging the power of design thinking with practical strategies

The Dragonfly Effect model has four key elements:
1. Focus on a single, concrete, measurable goal
2. Grab attention: Make someone look.
3. Engage: Foster personal connection.
4. Take Action: Enable and empower others.

This is part of a series of blog post running until the end of the year on business books in 2011 that can enhance the way you do presentations, improve the way you tell stories, engage with your audience, or market your business through social media or other channels.

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Building a Business Strategy in the Facebook Era

Building a Business Strategy in the Facebook Era

Just like the start of the Internet Era, or Web 1.0, the Facebook Era (the rise of social networking sites) has been a major transformation for the business world. For the first time, the customer is in the driver’s seat. Brands are being elevated or jeopardized overnight by a single customer’s opinion that goes viral.

As a result, most companies realize they need to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, but many are struggling to develop a strategy.

In the book The Facebook Era, entrepreneur and author Clara Shih, outlines how some companies have found early success in converting leads, engaging audiences and transforming customers into evangelists on social networking sites.

Shih and her contributing writers demonstrate the importance of using social media sites to build your sphere of influence by providing helpful tips and advice to your fans. And if this is done appropriately, only then can you earn the right to market products through these same channels.

The book notes that the leaders of today and tomorrow are learning to give up “control” and instead are inspiring and listening to their employees and customers.

This is part of a series of blog post running until the end of the year on business books in 2011 that can enhance the way you do presentations, improve the way you tell stories, engage with your audience, or market your business through social media or other channels.

Read the rest of: Building a Business Strategy in the Facebook Era »