Posts Tagged ‘networking’

Legacy of Geneva Anderson 1: GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT

September 30, 2018

(Note: Geneva Anderson was a friend who came to being a public speaking coach late in life. I have blogged about her previously–see May 30, 2018 and LEGACY 15 posts. She won the SC statewide Toastmasters’ competitions twice, once in the mid 2000’s and again the mid 2010’s. She died just before Christmas 2017. This is the written version of one of her hallmark speeches. You can see some of her videos and read her story and other speeches on her blog, http://www.GenevaAnderson.org.)

We all have a story. When we meet someone new and are asked to tell something about ourselves, we offer up a version of our lives, usually where we were born and the family we were raised in, and a run-down of our interests, pursuits, education, vocation, and marital status. In a business context, we do pretty much the same thing. We come to a networking event and the conversation goes something like this: “Hello, I’m Joe Blow with Lucky Leaf Lawn Care. And you are?” If you are the one Joe Blow has approached, and if you are like many people at networking events, your “tang gets tonguled over your eye teeth and you cannot see what you are saying”!

How many of you identify with that? I am a member of BNI, a business networking group. There is a builder in our chapter who is an excellent builder. His work and craftsmanship are outstanding. His name is Bob and we call him “Bob the Builder!” Bob played football for Georgia Tech. He has a tall, athletic build and carries himself well. He is the picture of confidence. Yet Bob once confessed that he starts tensing up as he is driving from his home in Anderson and does not relax until he walks out of that meeting every Wednesday!

At BNI every week every member of the group stands up to deliver a 60-second “elevator speech.” I know Bob well, and he is a quality builder; but because his presentations are not well thought out ahead of time, he often gets dinged for exceeding the time limit and has to stop before he finishes his points. From this, you might not be convinced that Bob is truly a good builder.

Many of you here today could easily identify with Bob. You are really good at what you do, but most people would never know it — or they don’t know it as well as they could know it — because you lack the speaking skills to accurately articulate your story.

We all know light travels faster than sound. Many people appear very bright until they open their mouths! If you are a business owner trying to solidify your “brand” in the minds of your customers, clients or potentials, you need to be able to skillfully deliver your story.

According to Bo Eason, NFL football player turned life coach and speaker, “Today’s success is built on relationship, authenticity, & deep personal connection.” He further states that many of us think we have everything we need, but the one thing we’re all lacking is deep personal connection.
The people we fall in love with are the ones whose heart is hanging out there. Their ability to show courage and vulnerability builds immediate intimacy and trust. Imagine how having the ability to build immediate intimacy and trust could affect your business life…

Think back to the lowest moment in your life — when you looked around and there were no answers — the story you feel shame or embarrassment about, the story you do not want to tell. In that moment you either said, “Hey, I am going to fight; I am going to stay in here.” Or you quit. Those are the only two choices. That’s what we are all looking for; those turning points in life that define who you are. When you have the ability to tell that story, people will connect with you. They will trust you.

If you want to be successful in anything, you need to master the narrative of your life. All of your leadership and moneymaking ability rests in that narrative, because that is how people will connect to you. We are all looking for other human beings to connect with, and stories do that.

In Rolf Jensen’s book THE DREAM SOCIETY, he predicts that the highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the ‘storyteller’ because he will be valued for his or her ability to produce ‘dreams’ for public consumption.

Let’s take a look at some legendary brands that are producing dreams by delivering a compelling story.

Laurence Vincent. in his insightful book LEGENDARY BRANDS: UNLEASHING THE POWER OF STORYTELLING TO CREATE A WINNING MARKET STRATEGY, says that effective advertisers draw consumers in with a story. By design, legendary brands such as Starbucks, Apple and Harley-Davidson develop narratives that forge deep bonds with consumers. You won’t see a Harley-Davidson loyalist on a Honda Gold Wing. His allegiance to Harley-

Davidson is rooted in emotion, identity, and personal philosophy. To a Harley man, his bike is not a product. It’s his road buddy, his best friend. The Harley brand has reached and maintains legendary status by using a library of narratives, creating timeless myths that captivate and hold the loyalty of its consumers. In the marketplace, a loyal consumer trumps a merely satisfied customer. (A loyal consumer is one who would rather fight than switch!)

So, how can you take your life, your achievements and failures and build a story that connects to the hearts of your audience?

It’s hard to do it on your own. You can start with coaching and getting some training to help you overcome your basic fear of public speaking. You can join Toastmasters and have a mutually supportive environment, a laboratory in which you can test the waters, fail forward, and learn to tell your story.

Storytelling is power! You unleash that power when you get your story straight.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

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LEGACY 17: The Significance of Productivity

June 2, 2018

My son raised a question about my last blogpost (about Gary M. and NOT FITTING THE MOLD), the question of what my point really was. And reading back through it, I realized I didn’t make that clear. I’ll do that in a later post, but for now I want to go on. I’ve committed to writing a post every day I can possibly manage it, so this is today’s.

Part of posting every day is being productive. And productivity is important to me. It adds significance to my life, makes me feel useful and valued, and in many cases, creates tangible results in other people’s lives. Our company does electrical contracting, and I like being able to look back at accomplishments that are concrete and visible: a Cracker Barrel, a Firestone Auto Care, retrofit lighting in some major buildings in the Greenville SC area (Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Brookwood Church auditorium, a Carolina Handling/Raymond facility, and others), a large generator installation at local assisted living facility (Capstone R&H in Easley), etc.

Personal and business connections are also a way of being productive. I can scroll through my memory and enjoy events, interactions, conversations that have added value. They are too numerous to even try to list—I’m almost 66, and having just completed 25 years full-time in business and 45 years doing electrical work (41 as a master electrician). But having just completed a celebratory event in which I listed a summary of accomplishments, I was surprised at the “long obedience” Nietszche spoke of

The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.

http://www.azquotes.com/quote/816360

I have to say that the productivity that has resulted from my “long obedience in the same direction” has made MY life worth living. I think it has made others feel the same. I have said many times that my goal is to get to the end of my life, so far as the power lies within me, with everyone feeling that they were better for having known me. There will be exceptions, obviously. Life isn’t perfect. Mistakes happen. But to do the best you can, and do the best you can to correct mistakes, is the best you can do. (Kind of circular, perhaps, but true.)

I told my pastor and his wife a week or so ago that the one thing I would want as my epitaph, to be spoken at a ceremony celebrating my life when I’m gone, is that my life fulfilled the quote by St. Irenaeus: The glory of God is man fully alive. I want to have been fully alive. I want to be fully alive now. I want to continue to be productive until I stop breathing. “Retirement” is an opportunity to be more productive in more ways than I’ve been before.

I like slogans like “Life is good” and “It doesn’t get any better than this” (in the positive sense that “This is great!” rather than the negative “It’s all bad, and it just doesn’t get any better.”).

I want to make people laugh longer and more often, love more deeply and more fully, live more vibrantly and jubilantly. I want to be deep-rooted with good-tasting and abundant fruit. Producing significance in our lives is our calling, our mandate. It can be our greatest joy.

This I want to be my legacy.

The Golden Rule of Blogging (and Most Other Things That Matter In Life)

March 20, 2012

Couple days ago, I read a blog called “The One Top Secret Blogging Tip You Can’t Live Without (Not Really).” It really is the best advice I’ve seen on how to spread your blogging (not that I’ve really seen that much—as you will see by what I say regarding his advice). It’s by chiefofleast.com, a guy named Bryan Daniels, by his own description “a budding husband, father, teacher, student, coach and friend.” His response was at least partly in response to a request by me (one he frequently gets) for help in figuring out how to make my blog better. His advice, in a single word, is this: Listen!

Listen to what other bloggers who are saying things similar to what you’re saying. Listen to bloggers who interest you. Listen, and network, and connect. Offer them honest praise.

And really, when you think about it, isn’t that what the “Golden Rule” says? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Duh. I want people to read my blog, so how do I translate that into the Golden Rule? Simple: Read their blogs. Connect with them. Make them feel the way I want to feel.

Honestly, I haven’t done that. Somehow I justified it with, “I don’t have time,” or some other blather I told myself. But I’ve started. Thank you, Chief of Least!

 In two short months it’s worked for Bryan—he’s gone from 16 subscribers (including his mom, wife, and good friends) for the entire fifteen months, to over 1,150 followers, according to his counter. Pretty good investment, I’d say—a 7200% return in two months, which translates into a 43,000% return in a year! (Man, if we could do that with money, we could wipe out the entire world’s debt in a few short years, and our own would only take the couple of months!)

Call it networking, call it connecting—at the heart of it, what makes it really work is listening. It’s about making the other person feel important. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Christian who stood against Hitler—at the wise young age of 33, six short years before he was martyred for that stand—wrote a little book titled Life Together, based on lessons he had learned as the leader of a small band of seminarians in pre-WW2 Germany. He identifies what he calls “Ministry” (chapter 4 in the translation by John W. Doberstein published by Harper & Row in 1974), and lists a number of little-thought-about “ministries,” the first being “The Ministry of Holding One’s Tongue.” The section on “The Ministry of Listening,” less than two short pages, has these gems (and this is about half the content that is there!):

The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them…

Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words. One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he may not be conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.

…There is a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say. It is an impatient, inattentive listening, that despises the brother and is only waiting for a chance to speak and thus get rid of the other person…It is little wonder that we are no longer capable of the greatest service of listening that God has committed to us, that of hearing our brother’s confession, if we refuse to give ear to our brother on lesser subjects. Secular education today [keep in mind, this was 1939] is aware that often a person can be helped merely by having someone who will listen to him seriously…But Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by Him who is Himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.

So, I want to offer myself to listen to you. I need to learn this. My email address is on my blog here if you want to write to me personally, or just comment below.

I’ll probably get overwhelmed, so if I don’t answer right away, please be patient with me. And while you’re waiting, maybe you could think about giving someone else the gift of listening…