Leading Value to Your Target Customer

Leading Technology

Leadership metrics are almost always visible from an organization’s bottom-line. And nowhere is this more clear than in sales and growth figures.

But how does a leader retain existing customers and grow with new ones?

Reeling in a new customer and getting them to commit to buying a product or service takes time and money, and it can be kind of tricky since customers can be forgetful, finicky and often have no loyalty to a business.

It is really up to an entrepreneur or business employees to create that loyalty and make sure a great long-term relationship with the customer.

Re-Targeting Your Target Customer

If you’re looking to do this, make sure to re-target any potential customers in a tactful, inexpensive and efficient manner. Of course, this is easier said than done as it is not that easy to do without the possibility of causing some strife with the customer.

With this in mind, here is a quick guide on re-targeting a customer.

Follow-Up Phone Call or Email

When selling a product or service, a business should not stop at this point. No, instead, an employee should call the client and ask them if they have any questions, need any help or want to buy any more products. Now, when doing this, it is important to make it sound genuine and not like a sales call.

Customers will catch on and will grow frustrated with a sales call in the middle of the day.

However, when making it about the customers’ needs and wants, a business will go a long way in closing another sale and creating a better relationship with the customer. There are massive amounts of data available on when to do a follow-up call or email.

Mail

With a simple postcard, flyer or letter, a company can reach out to a current satisfied customer. With a target direct mail list, an entrepreneur will be a step ahead of the competition who is lost when looking for clients. In the postcard or letter, a company should send a coupon discount code for the current client.

At the same time, it is wise to stay cordial, respectful and informative.

To do so without spending a lot of money or using much effort, one should also keep it personal and put the first and last name of the customer on the letterhead. Otherwise, with an informal and indirect approach, one will possibly anger the receiver of a letter. Remember, a wise customer will sniff out a promotional flyer, and a business that can fly under the radar will enjoy a higher conversion rate when using direct mail.

Email

In this day and age, email is popular and most people will have an address or two. For this reason, this is a cost-effective and easy medium for one to communicate with clients. Now, it is important to avoid sending out spam messages as people will quickly tire of sales pitches or marketing material. Instead, when sending out emails, a business should opt for a calm approach and try to give value to the client.

The easiest way to do so is to offer free shipping or a coupon code for a discount on a future purchase.

By doing this, and complying with all spam regulations, a company can reach out to clients without spending much money or time. At the same time, customers will appreciate freebies or discounts as most people love a good bargain.

Social Media

Now, more than ever, one should use social media to communicate with current and potential customers. Just like with email, it is wise to avoid annoying or otherwise bothering customers. However, when offering true value or support to a client, one can go a long way in securing another sale.

Since social media is relatively new, most people will not have a problem receiving marketing messages as it is a cool and unique way to communicate. Of course, a company should keep it tactful and avoid sending out too many messages to followers.

When running an organization, it is crucial to re-target old customers. Without this step, a business will have to spend too much money on marketing and will likely have a hard time finding success in its niche.

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Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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On Leadership, Feedback and the Fuel of Achievement

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

The experience of giving and receiving feedback at best is a wonderful and enlivening experience, and at its worst can de-motivate and drive wedges between managers and their reports.

As Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said “People join companies but leave managers.

So is it the sole responsibility of managers to look after feedback? This theme invites you as a leader to take a more global view of feedback by fundamentally re-framing why it is needed, how it is done, what might be the overall benefits, consequences which can arise and what is everyone going to do about it?

Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It’s what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes.” ~ Jack Canfield

Feedback Gone Wrong

A major Achilles heel of typical feedback is that it is only viewed as an interaction between a manager and an individual report or possibly a team. It’s often one-way traffic and an unpleasant experience for those receiving feedback. Reasons for this may arise from poor manager awareness, poor training, pressure, etc. but perhaps the most pernicious is patchiness in the quality and quantity of feedback.

Interpersonal feedback functions best as an integral component of an organisation’s overall multidimensional communications system. The intention is to establish an atmosphere where senior management elicits information, opinion and perceptions from their staff, acts on them and reports back on their actions.

6-Stage Process for Feedback

Jack Stahl’s (Revlon’s CEO) 6-stage process for feedback aligns organisational conversations and manager – report feedback.

 

  Individual & Organisational Feedback
Stage 1 Value the person/people
Stage 2 Identify personal/organisational challenges
Stage 3 Provide targeted meaningful feedback
Stage 4 Identify and agree areas for improvement/development
Stage 5 Identify and agree benefits and consequences of improvement options
Stage 6 Commit your support and reaffirm person/staffs effort and value

 

Feedback is generally most effective when considered as part of staff engagement efforts as described by Gruman and Sacs in their research published in Human Resource management Review.

Setting the Tone

It’s vital for leaders to set the tone by encouraging an overall culture of open information exchange to develop (supported by robust and accessible HR & IT systems) making it possible to:

  1. Provide safe environments to build trust based on knowledge and rapport.
  2. Exchange authentic criticism and affirmative feedback
  3. Establish a cultural norm based on accepted feedback behaviours.
  4. Create feedback based on personal and organisational accountability

Steve Jobs says it all in his interview on managing people and the Apple ideas-based ethos.

He said, ideas always beat hierarchy.”

Re-framing Our Perceptions

If we re-frame our perception of and intention for feedback to mean honest, authentic, empathic, creative, effective  and productive conversation across an entire organisation then great things will follow.

Your Actions Today

  • Does your organisation have a communication system aligned with interpersonal feedback practices?
  • Do your reports get to provide feedback on you do you listen and do you act on it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 most effective) do you know how effective your feedback to reports actually is?
  • Does your organisation act upon synthesised from all staff feedback?

Recommended Reading

Feedback Revolution: -From Water Cooler Conversations To Annual Reviews — HOW TO GIVE AND RECEIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK – Peter McLaughlin

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

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On Leadership and Morning Routines

Businessman Breakfast

Hey Leader: Does Your Morning Routine Matter?

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs

Successful CEOs and business leaders have different ways of starting their days. Some depend on established routines, mapped out almost minute-to-minute, in order to extract the greatest productivity out of every day.

Others take a more chaotic approach, believing that winging it actually gets more done than some preordained system.

Top 3 Things in the Morning

The sheer variety by which CEOs and others start the day begs the question — does your morning routine really matter?

Yes, says corporate wellness coach Mike Iamele, and here’s why:

Three compelling reasons for a morning routine

  1. This is ideally the time to focus on yourself (there may not be another chance to do so all day). This is when you “consistently remind yourself that you’ve got to take care of yourself first before you can possibly be effective at helping others.” Those who adhere to a regular routine generally get more done because their morning routine acts as a reminder to first of all, take care of yourself.
  1. An established morning routine doesn’t have to be perfect — you don’t have to run five miles every day, your eggs don’t have to be perfectly cooked, etc. What truly matters is your willingness to get up and get moving according to a set pattern that propels you through the day. As Iamele says, “The fear of failure can’t hold you back, because if you do it every day, you’re inevitably going to fail once in a while. But that’s OK. You’ve got a routine, so you just get up the next day and do it again.”
  1. The previous day may have been difficult, overly demanding, even a bit traumatic. A solid morning routine acts as a “reset button” — a time to pause, meditate and shake yourself free of yesterday’s distress.

Breakfast Counts

Not everyone needs a big breakfast to get moving in the morning. But health experts generally agree some type of breakfast is important for your physical health.

If preparing breakfast seems to take too much time, consider doing some prep work the night before. Slice up the fruit you intend to eat and store it in the refrigerator. Set out dishes you plan to use. Do everything you can to hit the ground running come morning.

Keeping things simple is another no-nonsense approach. For many people, a cup of coffee and an oatmeal muffin will suffice — or some other easy option like yogurt with fruit, a frozen fruit smoothie or a peanut butter breakfast bar.

Exercise Makes a Big Difference

Exercising at the crack of dawn isn’t for everyone, but even a little bit of physical movement can help clear your mind for the day ahead.

The good news is you don’t have to do the same type of workout every day.

Running, push-ups, swimming laps — whatever you choose, some strenuous activity boosts your energy level and helps you stay charged and focused throughout the day.

Start the Morning the Night Before

Some business leaders incorporate a brief evening ritual into their daily routine. At the end of the day, for example, Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, writes down the three top things he intends to accomplish the following day.

He uses that list to get started in the morning.

Tackle the Hardest Stuff First

Once you’re in the office, don’t waste valuable creative time looking over emails or listening to voicemails. “In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day,” says Kevan Lee of Buffer.

Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage.”

A growing school of thought proposes that CEOs tackle their most challenging task or project at the beginning of the day. Proponents cite the fact that for most of us, the early hours of our workday are our most creative, energetic and productive (or have the potential to be). Why waste that precious time and energy on niggling administrative matters or chitchat with others that gets nothing done?

Corporate trainer Jennifer Cohen urges business leaders to start the day by focusing on what they least want to do.

Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it from first coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way,” she says. “Look at this way, your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around.

What’s your tried-and-true morning routine? Do you have a favorite breakfast item to start the day? What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay
She serves in Sales, Operations, coordinating, and Business Development
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On Leadership, Fear and The Under Use of Power

Power Button

Years ago I shared an office in a house that had been converted to offices for independent practitioners. One day, in a session with a client, things admittedly got a little noisy.

The next day, I found a typewritten letter under my door, addressed to “The Occupants of Room 4.”

It read:

“On Wednesday April 16th, at approximately 10 am, there was an excessive amount of noise from Room 4 that disturbed the other tenants. Please be reminded this is a shared building, and noise should be kept to a minimum.”

It was signed by Greg, the physical therapist upstairs. I saw this guy every day on my coffee break.

So What’s Up?

Since I know this guy and saw him every day, I wondered why didn’t he simply knock on my door and ask me to keep it down? Or why didn’t he just leave a note in my box, asking me to be more sensitive next time? So in response, I wrote him a note of apology and agreed to keep it down.

But his method of notifying me really bothered me. Why did Greg have to act so bureaucratic when we had a friendly, collegial relationship. I thought about it for weeks, and then it struck me. Greg felt weak.

He was afraid to approach me directly, so he relied on rules, on legalese, rather than on our relationship.

The Under Use of Power

When we think of the misuse of power, our thoughts inevitably fly to the headline grabbers: the tyrants and bullies, schemers and scammers, or our first boss or sixth grade teacher.

Yet surprisingly, some of the biggest power problems stem from under use, not overuse of power.

Like Greg, not being comfortable with power, not identifying with one’s authority, whether it stems from a formal position, or an informal personal power, can cause just as much conflict and mayhem as does the overuse and abuse of power.

As John Adams said:

“It is weakness, rather than wickedness, which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power.”

Immature Understanding of Power

The cliché, “I won’t be like my mother (or father)” holds especially true when it comes to power. We grow up in a context where power was used on us: by parents, siblings, on the playground, by teachers, and other adults. If we’re lucky, we were the beneficiaries of good, healthy uses of power. Chances are we weren’t entirely lucky.

A common response we develop is to blame power and to determine never to misuse it. But, here’s the thing: The more you hate it, the worse you’ll use it. You can’t enact authority simply by vowing “never to be like others.”

Hating power is the worst preparation you can have for occupying a position of authority.

The challenges I see in my coaching practice more often are the “Greg variety,” more often stem from avoiding using our authority, and trying to minimize our power footprint.

But these following behaviors wreak just as much havoc – albeit a different kind of havoc.

4 Misuses of Power

1) Avoiding Difficult Conversations

Trying to avoid one difficult conversation quickly spirals into a department wide mess.

  • A boss who refuses to deal with the conflict on her team, hoping it’ll just “work itself out,” is at risk of losing valuable team members.
  • Teachers who don’t take control of classroom dynamics let unsafe atmospheres detract from learning.
  • Team leaders who won’t intervene when someone dominates the meeting allow projects to degenerate into frustrating and pointless endeavors.
  • Parents who don’t set limits inadvertently teach their children that they’ll always get their way in relationships, and never develop the self-discipline and frustration tolerance necessary to work towards goals.  

Maybe we’re afraid of conflict, or just want to side step the awkwardness, but if things aren’t already ‘working themselves out,’ chances are they will just get worse without some kind of intervention.

2)  Not Making the Tough Call

Discussion airs issues and is good for creative problem solving, and an egalitarian atmosphere is critical for open discussion. But at some point, decisions have to be made. Too much discussion inevitably plunges a group into conflict. If a leader is vague, uncertain, or hesitant to make decisions, it creates chaos, confusion and conflict for others.

People don’t know what to do, outcomes are uncertain, work is often done for naught. And in the leadership void created by uncertainty, people jump in and fight for the reins.

The group can spend a lot of time sorting through conflicts about direction and inevitably get mired in power struggles. When power is not directly inhabited, it doesn’t just disappear but seeps into the interactional field, and is contested there, without awareness and without facilitation.

It’s an extremely exhausting and taxing process for organizations.

3) Using Too Much Ammo

Feeling like you have too little power often leads to the opposite: using more firepower than the situation calls for. If you underestimate your own rank, and are convinced you’re the weaker party, you tend to increase your fire power.

You use too much ammo out of fear you’ll be defeated, or not getting your point across. Whenever we feel one-down, we use extra force. We don’t see that we come across as an aggressor, and then we interpret the other’s defensive response as proof that they are the aggressor.

We then increase our firepower yet again, and suddenly we’re in a runaway escalation of our own making.

4) Relying On rules

Like Greg, who wrote me the officious letter about noise, reaching for a rule before trying to address things through relationship can create rather than resolve conflict. It stems from feeling weak. Unable to represent our side without an ally, we cc the boss, HR, or others onto the email.

Or, we threaten indirectly, by sounding legal or referring to procedures.

But reaching for rules, guidelines, or procedures when things go awry, or as a way to influence someone, should be a last resort, not a first step.

Just because power can be used poorly, and often is used poorly, doesn’t mean we need to avoid it. We need power. We need strength to be direct, to have tough conversations, to take responsibility, to minimize conflict, and most importantly, as leaders, to develop those around us.

So, are you guilty of misusing power by not using it wisely? Or are you subject to this in your workplace, home, or recreational life? How can you improve your understand of power and use it more effectively as you lead others? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Julie Diamond

Julie Diamond is a Leadership Consultant, Coach, and Trainer
She specializes in Designing and Delivering Leadership Development Programs
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Blog | Skype: juliediamond8559

Image Sources: fasttrack.hk

On Leadership, Anxiety and Stressful Decisions

Making Tough Decisions

So as a leader, do you feel like you are forced to make decisions much quicker and under more stress than you would like? Are you finding yourself in an anxious state when decision-time is near? And how do these decisions work out for you and your team?

Chances are that making great decisions while you are feeling anxious and stressed just might surprise you…

On Making Decisions

There is no escaping it: we all have to make decisions:

  • Some will be small and inconsequential whilst others will change the course of world history.
  • Some we can mull over and others must be instant; we may not get a choice.
  • The one thing we hope for is freedom to make decisions objectively based on best information and in a calm frame of mind.

But most often life is just not like this. We are faced with rapidly changing, high stakes emotionally charged decisions that fuel anxiety and over time cause emotional and physical stress.

Wouldn’t it be great to sit back let the anxiety subside and then decide? If you were a field commander faced with the possibility of being overrun by the enemy YOU DON’T HAVE TIME – DECIDE NOW!

“Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety. ~Rose Kennedy

On Anxious Decisions

There is a strange but eventually understandable phenomenon where anxious decision makers are more likely to seek external advice, are less able to discern good from bad advice and will accept advice even from people with conflicts of interest. The greater the intensity of anxiety and stress the more driven to habitual and external advice we become.

Maturity is achieved when a person accepts life as full of tension.”  Joshua L. Liebman

Re-framing anxiety can free us from seeking questionable advice and making inappropriate habit-based decisions. Fear drives anxiety and when we misunderstand the physical sensations triggered by fear, excitement, uncertainty, time pressure and importance we view the decision from a skewed perspective.

On Living In Reverse

Well, the good news arising from the basic research of Soares and colleagues is that “Stress-induced changes in human decision-making are reversible.

For those of you with a neuroscience inclination the author’s general conclusion can be interpreted as “chronic stress biases decision-making strategies in humans toward habits, as choices of stressed subjects become insensitive to changes in outcome value“.

Using functional brain imaging techniques, they demonstrate prolonged exposure to stress in humans causes an imbalanced activation of specific brain networks governing decision processes.

Importantly and reassuringly, a longitudinal assessment of the stressed individuals showed that both the structural and functional changes triggered by stress are reversible and that decisions become again goal-directed once the stress is removed.

Stress As An Option

I can hear you saying something along the lines of, “but the stress never goes.” This may be true, but you can alter the way you perceive the stressors and adopt mitigating measures such as mindfulness meditation, yoga or tai Chi to offset the downsides of pressure and stress. All of these practices have been proven to reduce physical symptoms of stress.

Stress is an ignorant state.  It believes that everything is an emergency.”  Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind

Q: How can you re-frame your perception of anxiety generating situations? Let’s assume you can’t simply sit waiting for anxiety to subside or rely on advice or look for perfect solutions?

A: Don’t wait until you’re faced with high stakes instant decisions.

  • Start small and become accustomed to physically and emotionally sensing anxiety associated with small low impact decisions.
  • Appreciate the small buzzes you get next time you have to select from a complex menu, or your partner asks for a decision on which dress or suit they should buy. This is what I call “decision-making homeopathy.”

It gets you comfortable with the physical and mental sensations of anxiety. Then later up the stakes by taking notice of your reaction to decision-making in increasingly stressful situations until you know you can make decisions under heavy incoming fire.

Your objective isn’t to squash anxiety but to function effectively alongside it, doing what must be done.

If you don’t believe me then take a short while to watch Kelly McGonigal’s fantastic TED talkHow to make stress your friend” where she shows you that stress can actually protect you and help you live longer; it’s just how you view stress that matters.

Your Actions Today

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 rate your anxiety prior to, during and after today’s decisions?
  • Whose advice did you seek for today’s decisions?
  • Did this advice alter your decision?
  • How anxious do you feel others are when they make decisions (scale of 1 to 10)?
  • Did they seek you advice?
  • Did your advice bias their decision in your favour?
  • Did you make decisions based on habit or adaptation to new circumstance?

Recommended Reading

Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan by Francesca Gino

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Web | Book

Image Sources: success.com

On Leadership, Culture and International Expansion

Telescope

The day you decide to expand your business into a foreign market is one for the books.

It’s an exciting and impressive moment!

The Biggest Mistakes in International Expansion

You put in the work to prove your domestic worth, and now you’re ready to make it big across the pond. Through research and development, major investments, and daily learning, you finally understand what makes your customers tick.

So transitioning into a foreign market should be no problem, right?

Well, not quite. The No. 1 mistake company leaders make when transitioning overseas is thinking they can use a one-size-fits-all business model for their venture abroad and still see positive results. Think again. You still need to make adjustments to suit the new country’s culture and shopping style.

Why Companies Fail Overseas

Most companies fail overseas simply because they don’t understand the market, and even big-name American companies aren’t immune to this pitfall.

Take Walmart, for example. The retail powerhouse completely missed the mark in Germany. Rather than studying cultural nuances, Walmart stuck with its customer service standards (like smiling at customers) and disregarded Germany’s co-determination rules that allow employees to weigh in on corporate decisions affecting working conditions.

Walmart’s strategy didn’t work, and it was an all-around flop.

Formulating a Strategy

As a leader, it’s your job to gauge the market and local customs and formulate a business strategy that fits seamlessly. Here are three signs that you may have missed the mark on your foreign business strategy:

  • You encounter open opposition to a policy or procedure. If employees aren’t on board with the way you do things, there’s a good chance your customers won’t be either.
  • Nobody understands your business. You won’t connect with the locals if they don’t “get” your elevator pitch or see an attractive difference in your business operations.
  • Conversion rates don’t meet expectations. If web visitors aren’t converting and callers aren’t signing up, it’s time to reconsider your move.

How to Salvage Your International Location

If you’ve already made the move and these signs seem familiar in hindsight, you need to make some fast changes to survive in your chosen market. Here are four steps you can take to get your business back on track:

  1. Stop the train wreck before it gets ugly. Listen to phone calls, shop your own stores, and talk to customers about what they like and don’t like.
  2. Find the underlying issue. Figure out the real reason consumers aren’t responding to your business. In the Walmart example, having employees smile at customers seemed like a no-brainer given the company’s success in the U.S., but German customers translate that interaction as a come-on. Identifying the real problem allows you to take swift and decisive action to mitigate your losses.
  3. Enlist your staff’s help. Employees will appreciate that you’re working to resolve the issue and that you value their input. This can also generate positive word of mouth that may speed up recovery.
  4. Appeal to the locals. Ask your staff for suggestions, and start something new that will resonate with the local culture. This shows you value your new customers, and it may earn their loyalty.

Think Like Starbucks

Although Starbucks struggled to break out in Europe, it nailed its international expansion in China.

To win over a market where tea ruled supreme, Starbucks didn’t copy and paste its American strategy in China. Instead, it created a need in the market by figuring out a way to complement the culture.

Starbucks appealed to the emerging middle class and younger generation with a taste for Western goods (without threatening the ancient tea-drinking culture). Additionally, it worked with Chinese partner companies to tailor its strategy to different regions of the country, ensuring it would appeal to local demographics.

Your business may not be a multinational coffee company, but the lessons still apply.

Once you’ve identified your ideal market, you need to get on the ground. You’re not simply looking at the competition. You’re feeling for the country’s pulse and learning how you can assimilate.

Preventing a Crisis

Here are a few ways to gauge the scene to prevent a crisis:

  • Study the culture. Understand the society’s values and the nuances among generations. Learn the thread that runs through communities and what makes people tick. This will go a long way when you’re rolling out a marketing plan or trying to attract customers to your grand opening.
  • Visit shops, restaurants, and potential competitors. Identifying which places are practically turning customers away and which are begging for them to come in will provide great insights for your own business strategy.
  • Immerse yourself. Go for long walks and get a local’s view of the city where you’ll do business. Talk to people about how they live and shop. Ask yourself which parts of your domestic business model won’t work and which will be well received.

Becoming Better Equipped

Understanding the market is key to a successful foreign expansion.

The more intimately you know the country where you operate, the better equipped you are to conduct business there.

As a company leader, if you can’t immerse yourself, recruit key on-site employees or partner with local companies and consultants. Let your customers know you value and respect their culture, and you’ll be on solid ground to make your big move.

So what are you doing to make sure you are understanding your customers in new markets? How are you learning more about them? How are you conditioning your employees to make the transition to new markets most effective? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————–

Cris Burnam is the president and co-founder of StorageMart
Cris was named a 2014 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Email | LinkedIn | Web

On Leadership, Communication and Learning From the Arts

For anyone to be a successful leader, they will have to master the art of communication. This is because leaders are judged by their communication skills, whether they know this or not.

And one of the most notable ways that leaders are judged in their communication efforts is by their ability to effectively speak before audiences or crowds.

Speaking Tips for Leaders

Here are some speaking tips from 3 unusual sources that will help in ,making great speeches:

  • A Music Composer
  • A Painter
  • And a Chef

So what does writing and delivering speeches have in common with other art forms like composing music, painting and cooking food?

A lot!

Working With Emotions

Speakers, like other artists, are working with the emotions of their audience. Most good speakers take their audience on an emotional journey, ending with a strong Final Emotion that propels their audience to act on the message of their speech.

In this regard, speakers are remarkably similar to other artists and can glean valuable tips on delivering memorable speeches by studying artists who have achieved greatness in their fields.

On Music, Painting, and Cooking

Here are 3 insightful learning’s for speakers from the fields of music, painting and cooking.

1) Planning the Emotional Journey : Music by Ennio Morricone

Music by Ennio MorriconeEnnio Morricone, a prolific composer of movie scores, constantly uses his music to transform the emotional state of his audience. His ability to take his listeners on an emotional journey, from emotion A to emotion B, via his music is truly remarkable.

For example, in his composition entitled “The Ecstasy of Gold,” Morricone takes his audience up an emotional cliff in a very deliberate manner, leaving them with strong emotions of victory and achievement.

The emotional climb is in phases with bursts of emotional music followed by periods of ‘rest’, as if Morricone knows that the emotional transformation he is trying to achieve is too “steep” for his audience.

The emotional journey makes us part of a movement born out of necessity, which runs into phases of “confusion” where the purpose is lost before a final re-commitment to the mission and the eventual victory.

The final “triumph” leaves you with a sense of victory, so charged with energy and you feel like walking out to the street and beating someone up.

The Ecstasy of Gold and other music compositions by Morricone extol the need for a speaker to plan the emotional journey of their audience. They show the power of ending speeches at emotional peaks that are aligned with the purpose of the speech, providing the audience the emotional energy needed to make the big decisions.

Morricone’s use of emotional high’s and low’s to make the journey interesting as well as providing the audience with periods of ‘emotional rest’ are excellent lessons for any speaker.

2) Understanding Transitions : The Paintings by M.C. Escher

Optical IllusionM.C. Escher, a Dutch artist who lived from 1898 to 1972, is most remembered for making physically impossible concepts, like water flowing uphill, look possible. The transitions in his paintings are so smooth that they do not obstruct flow, of sight and emotions, even when the content defies logic.

This allows the eye to follow the painting, from one end to the other, to unnatural places without questioning the validity about what is presented.

In one famous painting called Metamorphose, Escher starts from an initial pattern, transitions to various figures and shapes and then to an elaborate city near the sea before returning to the initial pattern.

The transitions in this long rectangular painting, that flows from left to right, are so smooth that the eye does not stop to question the flow. As square shape patterns turn to lizard shapes and birds turn into cities, the painting always maintains its flow.

The paintings by Escher are a case study for speakers learning to manage transitions. They highlight that when emotional flow in maintained in speeches, the audience goes wherever the speech takes them emotionally, even if logical inconsistencies exist.

The audience will not seek to understand the logic of the speech but soak the message as they go on the emotional journey that has been planned by the speaker. Speakers should, as Escher does in Metamorphose, manage difficult transitions slowly to remove abruptness while enabling easier transitions more quickly.

3) Using emotional triggers : Food by Chef Grant Achatz

Chef Grant AchatzChef Grant Achatz owns an avant-garde restaurant in Chicago called Alinea. This unique restaurant serves just one menu, a seasonal 18 to 23 course meal, that, on average, takes three hours to go through.

The dining experience at Alinea is as much about food as it is about emotion. In particular, Chef Grant uses emotional triggers to enhance the dining experience of his patrons.

For example, as a child he used to rake the leaves that were falling off the oak trees, jump in them a couple of times and then light that pile on fire. The smell of smoldering oak leaves transports him back to being eight years old and growing up in Michigan. He wanted to trigger this nostalgic emotion in his customers.

Thus he created a dish with pheasant and apple cider that are tempura-fried and then impaled, on a bamboo skewer, with oak twigs that have leaves attached. The twig pierces through the pheasant, through a gelee of apple cider.

Only the very end gets tempura-fried, and then right before it goes out to the dining room, he lights the leaves on fire. He has had patrons cry when they smell the burning oak leaves because it literally transports them back to a place or a time that they have fond memories of.

Using Emotional Triggers

This use of emotional triggers to connect with and emotionally charge an audience is a master lesson for a speaker. Speakers, even when they do not have strong emotional content, can use their words, phrases, anecdotes and stories that take the audience to a place and time that arouses strong emotions.

These emotional triggers evoke deep emotions in the audience and enables the speaker to form a strong connection with them. This typically leads to the speakers message being remembered long after the speech is over.

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Vikas Jhingran

Dr. Vikas Jhingran is an Author, Speaker and Engineer at Shell Oil
He talks about the role of Emotions in Verbal Communications
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Book

Image Sources: funderstanding.com, milenio.com, webneel.com, rentcafe.com

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