Listening with Half An Ear–Message is…

Daily Quote: “Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.” Carl Rogers

Reflection: Ever zone out during a conversation or check your email while you’re talking to someone on the phone? You may think you’re being clever, but the other person can almost always tell and it sends a message that they’re irrelevant and what they have to say is unimportant.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Giving someone your full attention by listening is the best way to connect. This is what I call being “Being fully present”. It says ‘I really care about you and what you need. You are my top priority right now. So your challenge is to practice more effective listening at home this weekend with your partner or your kids and capture in your Learning and Growth Journal what you learned and how can you make the practice of listening a key cornerstone of who you are and how you want to be perceived.  Want to learn more about active listening or checkout this post

Part III: Career Audit-Measuring Your Career Network’s Viability

Daily Quote: “Your core circle and the way you treat people will have a dramatic impact on your ability to achieve your purpose.” Tom Peters 

A portfolio of experience and learned skills allow you to take your career in multiple directions, which is ever more important in constantly changing job market. Yet an even more important factor in moving your career forward is the viability and relationship you have with your network.

George John, Founder & CEO of Rocketfuel puts it this way:  “The present value of my network has always eclipsed the value of my current assets by millions… I just tried to be helpful, and the result was that all of my favors were repaid 10 times or more.”

Clearly, networking with successful individuals is a key element in furthering your career. Your responsibility and ultimately the responsiveness of your network is the special connection you have with them and your ability to giving service to others before any reward is given back.

“Your core circle and the way you treat people will have a dramatic impact on your ability to achieve your purpose.” Tom Peters

Self-Coaching Challenge: Over the next few days of the New Year write down the names of the top ten people in your network and schedule a coffee, lunch or drink with them. The purpose of this meeting is to catch-up with them and see how you can be of service to them in the new year.

Secrets for Excellent Presentations—There are None. Just Lessons Learned.

I am going to share some idiosyncratic and insightful stuff today from Dr.Tom Peters, famed management and leadership guru for over forty years, In this rambling and some times incoherent reflections on Presentations and public speaking Tom nails a few great points for all of us to learn from in the art of speech giving. Here are a few of his ideas for you to noodle on today or review before your next speech.

Quotes that say it all:

“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.”—JFK

“In classical times when Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, ‘How well he spoke,’ but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, ‘Let us march.’”—Adlai Stevenson

Tom’s stuff  reinforcing the quotes— ” Reason’s for Total commitment to the Problem/Project/Outcome.

As JFK told us, above, keep your mouth shut unless you commit yourself 100% to moving a mountain—or at least a hillock.

Reason #1: Why bother to go through this hell unless “it” matters to you—a lot!

Reason #2: If you are not committed, somehow or other it will show through like a spotlight as you present. People can smell belief, passion and commitment and energy and determination—or the absence thereof .

Reason #3 . Fix Your Attitude before Presenting–Have you ever said to yourself before a speech I don’t want to be here. I have to be here. Well, that’s not true—except in a way it is. The peerless leadership guru Warren Bennis made an extraordinary assertion. He said: “leaders have no particular desire to be leaders. Instead, there is something they must get done. And to get it done, they must put on the leader’s mantle”. You could say the same thing about speechgiving—or you ought to be able to. I haven’t traveled my 5,000,000 miles or so to give speeches. I’ve traveled those miles to have the opportunity to present a set of ideas I care deeply about; and, at 70, I’m still traveling. (I assure you the thrill of air travel has long faded.) Change the world? That’s a bit grandiose. But, try to make a wee difference? That’s my story—and, within reason, I judge that it will be the case for any long-term successful speechgiver.

Reason # 4. Know what the hell you’re doing unless you specifically make it clear that you are merely providing early conjectures. JFK tells us not to open our mouths unless we aim to change the world. I’d add, perhaps unnecessarily, don’t open your mouth until you know what the hell you’re talking about. You’ve got to be clear, albeit indirect, that you’ve worked your ass off on this topic—and would not ask the audience to waste their time listening to you pontificate.

Reason #5. A compelling “Story line”/“Plot.” A speech, long or short, to an audience of 1 or 1,001, will only grab the recipient if there’s a powerful/compelling story-with-a-plot unspooling. First, evidence from the neurosciences supports this—our brain reacts to stories. Second, please listen up, research by the likes of Steve Denning reveals that stories are as important as hooks to techies and economists as to an audience, presumably, of poets. A good speech has a good story at its core. A good speech is, in effect, a string of stories that takes us from here to there—and makes us, in effect, say, “Let us march.” Stories. Stories. And more stories. Use personalized stories or short vignettes you believe in and are relevant to audience members.

Reason #6 Negative doesn’t sell. Period. Negativism can kill a speech in … 30 seconds.

Final Tips and challenges–

 Speech giving is a “One 2 One” conversation:

Talking and connecting to one-guy-at a-time with good body language on both of our parts,

I’m getting through to all 1,500 people. If I’m talking to “everyone,” from behind a podium, I’m getting to no one!

A Presentation is an Act. Never forget you are an ACTOR.


Relax! Be yourself! ARE YOU NUTS? One of the most commonplace pieces of speaking advice is to “be yourself.” What a crock. No, you should not be stiff. Or look as if you were on the way to the guillotine. But you are performing a professional act.

And  as I—and FDR—said, you are an actor when you’re on stage. And you are putting on a performance. Can you imagine a coach telling one of his players before the Super Bowl,“go out there and be yourself”? I want to look as though I’m comfortable, sure, but I am also controlling every move and every breath to achieve an end that is a matter of professional life or death to me—not in terms of “success” or “failure,” but in terms of my determination to pass on a message I believe is of the utmost importance. Indeed, enjoy yourself—in the Green Room after the speech!


You have all the time in the world to connect. Of course you don’t! But you must spend the opening minutes creating trust and camaraderie—not silly camaraderie, but something more like empathy. You can’t appear to be wasting time, but you must sink your personalized hooks to connect with others. (I am adding these examples of how to gather info and build rapport with audience members. Before the speech arrive early and talk with a few people to get a sense of who they are and what is relevant or important to them about managing others? Personalize the conversation by asking inquiry type of questions.. Where did they grow-up? Where did they go to school?. How long have they been with the company and in there present position? How much technical or management training have they been required to get annually? What is their biggest problem in managing others? What one thing or question if answered would make this a great speech? )


Only connect! For example,

“ That was the whole of her sermon.

Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted.

And human love will be seen at its height.

Live in the fragments no longer.

Only connect …

—E.M. Forster, Howards End

I am sure if you read Tom’s full paper on presenting you will pick-up other stuff I did not touch on here. So do yourself a favor and read his entire piece because it is very insightful and we seldom get someone who for 45 years has been successful in captivating and inspiring audiences all over the world. Oh, and by the way Tom Peters receives 65,000 to 70,000 dollars in speaking fee his performances.

Have fun with his material and let us know what stuff you found important. Coach Mark

Daily Quote and Reflection: Greatest Gift

Daily Quote” I believe the greatest gift I can conceive of having from anyone is to be seen, heard, understood and touched by them. The greatest gift I can give is to see, hear, understand and touch another person. When this is done, I feel contact has been made “–Virginia Satir

Reflection: Now it is your turn to absorb, focus and capture your own reflection. You can’t hope to become an effective leader without self-awareness and looking at how words and experiences effect your daily interactions. Learning to learn how to reflect on experiences and the lessons life offers will enhance your ability to relate, communicate and develop as a fully functioning leader and congruent person. So give it a try by reflecting on what it means in your life to truly connect with others. Share your ideas with the rest of our community at the wick. 

Daily Quotes and Reflection : Zen of Presentations shows how to eliminate Power Point Abuses

Today I am going to encourage you to reflect on how Power Point presentations are blocking our ability to connect and communicate more effectively with your audience. One of the best sources for you is the Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.  Below are some of his quotes:

Zen and effective presentations by Garr Reynolds. I hope this article stimulates your thinking and provides insights for change  
"In the presentation, we discussed the current state of business presentations today which, more often than
not, incorporate the use of PowerPoint in ways that actually undermine the speaker’s good intentions.  Bullet point filled slides with reams of text become a barrier to good communication.  We have become accustomed to a “PowerPoint culture” in which a disconnect exists between the audience and the presenter.  Many
people, including many top business leaders, are fed up with PowerPoint.  But it is not PowerPoint’s fault —
PowerPoint is just a tool."

Technical knowledge is not enough. One must transcend techniques so that
the art becomes an artless art, growing out of the unconscious."
                                                                     — Daisetsu Suzuki

If we apply some basic, accessible concepts borrowed from the world of Zen, we can improve our
effectiveness and allow our content to connect in more powerful ways. One key concept is simplicity.
However, simplicity is not merely a means to more effective communication. Rather, it is a consequence of
our “Letting Go” of bad habits and much of what we have learned about multimedia presentations in the era
of PowerPoint. 

“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the
complicated simple, awesome simple, that's creativity.” — Charles Mingus

Reflection: We ar not going to eliminate the use of Power Point and yet we must find ways to use the tool to support the presentation and not be the presentation. Bottom line I think In a nut shell: PowerPoint culture causes both audiences and presenters to suffer.

Learning how to use multimedia tools like Poer point maybe a first step for all of in becoming be more effective and powerful presenters.

Secret to Connecting with Others: Seek Feedback

Steps of Feedback Model

“The gap in most communication is the belief that the other person understands what we said. If you don’t give feedback with care and respect it will be rejected as criticism. Show you care and value the other person”. Mark W. Hardwick, Ph.D.

1. First rule is most that most people do not want unsolicited feedback. So you need to ask permission to give feedback. For example, I have some feedback and observations I think would be useful for your next team meeting. Would you like to hear it?

2. Let them go first. Most people are adapt at self-critics and improvement ideas. It is important for you as a coach to get their perspective before providing your feedback. This a powerful technique because it usually is received as an empowering and respectful act your part. It motivates people to be invovled in improving their performance. For example, So that I don’t tell you things you already have identified or are aware of, tell me –What worked? Where did you get stuck? What help you succeed? What would you do differently next time? Then I will provide my observations for us to discuss. Is that the way you would like to proceed?

3. Seek to find agreements in observations and reinforce their accurate perceptions. After settling in on agreements offer your feedback and observations. I have some additional ideas would you like to hear them?

4. Build on agreements and what your colleague has already identified and said. Then, explore other options and improvement suggestions.

5. Develop an action plan for improvement. What to do? How to overcome difficulties or obstacles? When they will try out new behavior? How are they going to get continuous feedback and from whom?

Remember the important components of feedback : Feedback is asked for ( get permission), feedback needs to be as close to the performance as possible ( immediate), be concrete and tangible in feedback (specific) check to see if it is understood and agreed with ( check-in} and done with caring and matter of fact tone and style. ( non-judgmental).

Authentic Communications: Obama Leadership Effect

When we reflect on and look at the way we communicate and speak we are talking about leadership.  Leaders lead with their ideas, insights, words, presence and action. The way people speak and deliver words of praise or criticism reveals their values, beliefs and philosophy of life. It can make or break leaders because without trust there will be no followers“Obama or leadership effect” hypothesizes that leaders will be measured and judged by their empathy, confidence, clarity, authenticity, and the impact of their communications and behavior, not intentions. Leadership is all about connecting, inspiring, and influencing others to come together and take united action.

Like it or not, our self awareness, mental presence, and confidence (mental state); elocution or mechanics (voice, gestures, movement, body language, and eye contact); and messages (verbal impact of content) determine how we are perceived by others and effect our ability to influence them.  Effective leadership and extraordinary communication integrates ideas, insights, and information to inspire and influence others to act on their message. Authentic communication must challenge individuals in profound ways to choose action over words. (Obama Effect)

Lessons Learned from the Obama Communication Style 

  1. Know and go with what you got –Be authentic
  2. Show understanding through empathy asking: “How do you think that would make you feel?” (Obama’s mother always asked him to answer this question when dealing with others)
  3. Do not fear or over react to comments by others–Be true to your values and take the high road when building relationships.
  4. Reflecting on life experiences keeps us grounded and our mental maps updated.
  5. Keep your on eyes on the prize – Have a vision
  6. Replace Yes, but… thinking  with Yes, we can… and positive action will follow.
  7. Keep things in perspective and balance-Take vacations and pay attention to your family needs.
  8. No one is optimistic all the time. But anyone can learn how to adopt a more positive, healthier attitude. When you practice being an optimist, you’ll be on your way to being more confident, relaxed, humorous, and effective as a connector and communicator.
  9. Create “unique connections” by treating others with respect and dignity.  When people feel accepted and respected they have the desire and motivation to collaborate, share information, and work together to accomplish goals.
  10. Provide a common language and powerful theme based on building coalitions and cooperation.  Yes, we can. The focus is providing a vision, strategy, and tactics to support grassroots coalitions in understanding the need for change by building a strong vision for the future and creating trust through open and ongoing communications. 

Finally, one of the most powerful lessons is to be an effective listener by seeking to understand others before being understood. You can do this by using the skills of clarification, restatement, and reflection. This type of authentic and active listening shows your desire to forge a partnership not just impose your ideas. You signal to others your desire to establish yourself as someone who is  open, responsive, and flexible. Your goal in active listening is to create a positive and comfortable environment where participants feel free to confront different points of view because you are confident that listening doesn’t always mean agreement. By being an effective listener you show acceptance –without sacrificing your own style or point of view. To be an extraordinary communicator it is critical that the “message, mechanics, and mental frame” be in-sync through a common language of ideas and information that say, ‘I care and respect you and understand your needs and issues‘.  This approach is vastly different from many leadership approaches that promote “polish and presence” as keys to effective communication. By utilizing The Obama-Leadership Effect ™, leader-communicators can authentically lead in diverse situations and strategically build trust and inspire others to believe in their message and vision. Leaders must find their own voice, so they can connect with followers and present themselves as authentic, inspiring and memorable leaders. Given your experience and perceptions–What do you think makes a leader able to connect and be perceived as authentic?