My friend and colleague, Marty Baum of Edgewood Consulting Group (www.edgewoodcg.com), a firm that specializes in working with major consumer packaged goods manufacturers and their retail customers, wrote to agree with me about the importance of knowing your call to action before you start speaking. He said that, as a sales consultant, in both his industry and in society, while everyone is so inundated with data and “information,” being able to communicate in a compelling way is even more important than ever. People’s attention spans are shorter, not only the younger generations but older ones as well, so nailing that call to action is more and more critical.
At Edgewood Consulting they are increasingly focused on developing the STORY as well. The focus is on creating a powerful narrative with great flow, a compelling open and strong close. Marty told me that they chide one another about how the story, or message itself is becoming more important than strong data, which goes somewhat against their training as MBAs. My colleagues would agree! Finding good data is relatively easy with the Internet but developing a powerful and “sticky” story is tricky. It takes time and expertise.
What story does your company tell?
No, I’m not 45. I am older. That’s what the woman in the meeting said out loud to her colleagues.
There are a myriad of ways this is expressed:
“This is the way I have always been, I’m not going to change now.”
“My mother/father was this way, what do you expect?”
“I’m an old dog, I can’t learn new tricks!”
“I’m Italian/German/Jewish/Catholic/Southern…this is just the way we are.”
“I’m a millennial/Gen-Xer, this is how we do things.”
“I’m just a dumb jock, what do you expect?”
When I was in college, my mentor said to me, “At what point will you accept responsibility for your own actions rather than blaming them on your background/parents/education?”
What a powerful question. Have you stopped?
Years ago at a presentations skills program I attended, my mentor, Glenna Salsbury, instructed us to do the “What If Tomorrow It Is Gone” exercise. The exercise is rather simple: “What if you woke up tomorrow and everything you failed to be grateful for today was gone?” Think about this for a few moments.
Answers can range from the people you love, to your material possessions, to the foods you enjoy, to the outdoors and nature, to your spirit guides, and to the practicalities we take for granted such as clean water and heat. It can also include the special people who maybe you aren’t particularly close to, but who you enjoy, like the smiley clerk at CVS or the UPS driver who always waves. Don’t forget your wonderful pets and your friends’ pets too!
I have been doing this exercise for years. When I am with a troubled group, I think about all the people in the group who contributed and added value to the day. When I feel sick, I think about the parts of my body that are well. It’s a great exercise to fall asleep to or to take a walk with.
And it works in a group very well. You can do it for hours. Do you love the Thanksgiving souffle? How about the eggs that went into it? And the chickens that produced the eggs? And the farm that raised the chickens, and the truck driver who transported the eggs, and the grocery store that sold the eggs, and the cook who shared the recipe?
As I said, this exercise is endless. Have fun with it and remember that you can never be too grateful.
This Thanksgiving, as I coordinate flights, find a fresh tablecloth, and prepare for a few days of non-work, I turn my thoughts to you. I am grateful for my readers – to those of you who have passed through my life and have honored me by reading my blog, and to those of you who are still an active part of my life. Thank you all for being a part of the circle that is my life.