Cheryl offers: I love to read, always have; but that doesn’t necessarily always translate into making a living, which I must also accomplish. When I was a corporate soul living inside the Big Blue walls of IBM, I was always reading about what other companies were doing, trying, and accomplishing. I wanted to learn how to help my company be more competitive, innovative, and creative. Now that I am an entrepreneur, I’m learning how reading connects us in business conversation. Just last week I was on a call with a potential client. Someone we both knew insisted we meet, so we did over the phone. It wasn’t an easy event either: first we had a bad line connecting Texas and Amsterdam, then his computer crashed and he had to call me 3 times before we actually got to talk. After going through the normal introductions, we both admitted we weren’t quite sure where the next part of the conversation was going. And then it happened. As we started to discuss what we were currently doing, the connection was made like a lightening rod and the book title I mentioned, “Women Mean Business” was the electric current. From that conversation we moved into new exciting territory and tremendous opportunities emerged. It appeared to be just as Joseph Jaworski describes in his book, Synchronicity, when he wrote “Synchronicity is the seemingly accidental meeting of two unrelated causal chains in a coincidental event which appears both highly improbable and highly significant. The people who come to you are the very people you need in relation to your commitment.”
The First Step Toward Persuasion is Getting Someone’s Attention – The Idea Behind those Quiet John Hancock Commercials
In my classes (I teach speech) I teach that persuasion is to change someone’s mind, attitude, or behavior. Of course, I can never change anyone’s mind, attitude, or behavior. And neither can anyone else. The best we can do is to provide the message so that an individual can change his or her own mind, attitude, or behavior.
And persuasion is the whole ball game. In a marriage, in a family, in a job, in sales and marketing, I am always trying to get the other person (my wife, my children, my boss, my customer) to agree with me.
You may have noticed – we have a lot of messages thrown our way. A whole lot. And the message clutter is perpetually overwhelming. Getting someone to pay attention to “my message” over the noise of all the other messages is a great step toward persuasion. But this is no small task.
These ads have been airing for almost two years now. They continue to be the quietest moments you’ll find anywhere on television (save for the occasional CBS Sunday Morning segment consisting solely of static wheat-field footage). “The reality is that very few people only watch TV today—they watch while they’re reading a magazine, looking at email, or answering a text,” says Jim Bacharach, vice president of brand communications for John Hancock. “What we have found, and confirmed in our tracking studies, is that the quiet of our ads makes people lift their heads and look up.”
Getting someone to look up, to listen, is a great first step. And until that happens, persuasion is simply impossible.
Before they become full-fledged enemies, Susan Cramm recommends the following:
• Stick to the facts. No one has “enemies everywhere.” The leader above has two — not 10 — people who are making his life difficult: A boss who wants more information and a peer who expects adherence to the standard process. Settle down, breath deeply, and write down what you know for sure — the facts, not your interpretation of the facts.
• Don’t take it personally. No one is trying to make you fail. People are way too self-involved and much too worried about their own failure to give much concern to yours. If you ever find yourself thinking, “If it were me, I would never…” stop right there. Trying to psyche out someone else’s motivators with our “me-oriented” brains is always fruitless.
• Talk it out. If someone is bugging you, odds are, you are bugging him. If left unresolved, negative feelings reverberate back and forth and ultimately harm the relationship. “He cancelled my meeting,” becomes, “He always cancels my meetings,” and balloons into, “He doesn’t respect me.” Talking it out requires stating the facts, tentatively offering up your interpretation, and asking for feedback.
• If you can’t talk it out, work it out. If a colleague repeatedly cancels your meetings, drop by her office to chat. If she requires more information, inundate her. If she wants you to jump through process hoops, jump early and jump often, so that her hurdles don’t slow you down.
• While you are working it out, spread it out. Distribute authority by forming a governance board, consisting of your frenemies and the powers-that-be, so that key decisions are made collectively, not individually.
• If all else fails, relax. Adjust your aspirations and your timelines to align with the tempo of the organization. Some organizations embrace leaders who judge their progress every 10 minutes, some every 10 days or 10 months. If you are holding yourself and others to a standard that is higher than the organization at large, your nagging will do nothing more than label you as a leader who lacks political savvy and “doesn’t know how things get done around here.”
• Rinse and repeat. As work changes, relationships need to change as well. At the end of each day, clear your head, review this list, and get ready to do this again (and again, and again).
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Susan Cramm is the founder and president of Valuedance. A former CFO and CIO, she is an expert on IT leadership. She is the author of 8 Things We Hate About IT.
Bryant: How to keep everyone involved when you’re not around?
Pincus: I’d turn people into CEOs. One thing I did at my second company was to put white sticky sheets on the wall, and I out everyone’s name on one of the sheets. I said, “By the end of the week everybody needs to write what they’re CEO of, and it needs to be something meaningful. “ That way everyone knows who’s CEO of what and knows whom to ask instead of me. People liked it. Also, there’s nowhere to hide.
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Bryant: What else is unusual about how you run the company?
Pincus: John Doerr [the venture capitalist] sold me on this idea of O.K.R.’s. which stands for objectives and key results. It was developed at Intel and used at Google, and the idea is that the whole company and every group has one objective and three measurable key results. We put the whole company on that, so everyone knows their O.K.R.’s. It’s a simple principle that keeps people focused on the three things that matter – not the 120.
I ask everybody to write down on Sunday night or Monday morning their three priorities for the week, and then on Friday see how they did against them. It’s the only way people can stay focused and not burn out. I think these road maps are a great principle for managing your life. It keeps everybody focused, and it lets me know what trains are on or off the tracks.
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To read a longer version of this interview and of several others of prominent CEOs, please visit nytimes.com/business.
To check out the video of Charlie Rose’s interview of Pincus on December 29, 2009, please visit http://www.charlierose.com/guest/view/6798.
1. Thinking outside the box
2. Touch base
3. At the end of the day
4. Going forward
5. All of it
6. Blue-sky thinking
7. Out of the box
8. Credit crunch
10. Singing from the same hymn sheet
To these she adds the following from her personal list of things [a word I detest] she would prefer not to hear her clients say:
1. Pick your brain
2. Drill down
3. Throw it against the wall and see what sticks
4. At this moment in time
6. I, personally
7. The ball’s in your court
8. It’s not rocket science
[Note: Back to “thing,” a word that has no meaning. It could refer to an idea, a feeling, a list, an aroma, a whack on the side of the head, a kick in the seat of the pants, a moose call, etc. Because it could refer to anything, it refers to nothing. Even worse is the phrase, “The thing of it is….” Ugh!]
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Frances Cole Jones founded Cole Media Management in 1997. She prepares people to stand out from the competition in every interaction—in business and in life, helping countless CEOs, celebrities and public personalities present their best selves on camera and onstage, in boardrooms and in person. She conducts presentation skill seminars and sales trainings for companies nationwide. She also speaks at colleges around the country preparing students for job interviews and their professional futures. Her published books include How to Wow and, more recently, The Wow Factor.
She invites you to visit these Web sites: