Monday, July 30, 2007

The F-L-I-G-H-T of On-Site Executive Coaching

While the vast majority of my work is done by telephone, I've been doing more in-person/on-site work this year, shadowing, observing, debriefing, and coaching my executive clients as they do whatever it is they they have to do on a given day. It's a fascinating, informative, enlightening, fun - yes fun -, intense, different, and often quite powerful day-in-the-life for both me and the individual executive I'm working with that day.

With this, a fair amount of air travel has come, which I've found to be pretty okay, actually - certainly far better than I first expected. I dunno. I guess you could say that there's just something about the flight that I've really come to enjoy:
  • F - Figuring out what to pack, bring, etc. to look and feel my best
  • L - Letting check-in and security personnel do their thing without affecting my mood
  • I - In the air with my thoughts, a good book, some new tunes, or just some pleasant conversation with a fellow passenger
  • G - Getting ready for a full-day of shadowing, and all that implies
  • H - Harvesting whatever observations, insights, and implications the day has to offer and putting them in whatever context best serves my client
  • T - Turning around after a good day's work and heading back home, a bit wired, a bit tired, and very much at ease
I think my clients enjoy the 'flight' too, although perhaps for slightly different reasons:
  • F - Figuring out what meetings to schedule and the agenda for the day
  • L - Letting me interact with more and more of their 'true self' as the day progresses
  • I - Inquiring more and more about what else I was noticing - and what else they seemingly weren't
  • G - Getting more conscious and purposeful about the impact and influence they're having - and can have - on others
  • H - Holding the day just completed as an invigorating, albeit slightly exhausting, growth experience
  • T - Thinking deeply about their Lessons Learned and how best to integrate them on an ongoing basis
So to all those I've shadowed so far, thanks. To all those on the docket to be shadowed, start planning your pre-flight checklist. And to anyone else interested in being shadowed for a day, please give me a call!


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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Goals, Priorities, Procrastination, and Deadlines

According to, the word goal was coined in 1275. (I actually thought it would have been penned earlier than that. You, too?) In contrast, the word procrastination didn't get formalized until the mid-to-late 1500's.

So it sure must've been a particularly productive 300 intervening years, don't you think?!

Or maybe, just maybe, they had the word procrastination all ready to go, but just kept putting it off, day after day, until someone finally put their foot down and made it a priority. (The word priority was formally recognized sometime between 1350-1400, placing it after the goal was established - and after it was probably due - but before anyone really got around to working it!)

So let's review:
  • Goals were established in the late 1200's.
  • Some 75 years later they were made into priorities.
  • About 150 years later people started to admit that, yes, maybe there was a bit of procrastination going on.
  • And 450 years after that, the boss got totally fed up and invented the word, deadline!!!
Perfect, no?!

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Maximizing the Probabilities of Agreement

I was going through some old papers last night and came upon an article I saved from the August 2005 issue of Business 2.0 magazine. Titled "This is Your Brain on Advertising," it offered a three-step process for "deliver[ing] the right sensory elements, at just the right time, to maximize the impact" of what you have to say:

  1. Establish the Mood

  2. Build the Tension

  3. Deliver the Message

Yet while these three steps (in this particular order) have worked very well in B-to-C (Businesses selling to Consumers) communiques, don't automatically assume that they're the solution for B-to-B-type communications - like when you're trying to sell your boss or coworkers or customers on a new idea or creative solution.

My suspicion ... the steps to take, and order to take them in, are decidedly different for such B-to-B interactions.

If so, how?


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Networking Mnemonic

Ever not sure how to keep a conversation going when networking?

Here's an easy-to-remember acronym attributed to Dexter Yager by Bob Burg in his book, Winning Without Intimidation (subtitled: How to Master the Art of Positive Persuasion in Today's Real World in Order to Get What You Want, When You Want It, and from Whom You Want It - Including the Difficult People You Come Across Everyday!) - The F.O.R.M. method of asking questions:
  • F stands for a question about their Family.
  • O stands for a question about their Occupation.
  • R stands for a question about their favorite types of Recreation.
  • M stands for a question about their Message, or what they want you to know about them.*

Should you find yourself in one of those Awkward Silence moments with someone you don't really know, ask a F-O-R-M question. In other words, ask a question about their Family. Or ask a question about their Occupation. Or ask a question about their favorite types of Recreation. Or ask a question about their Message.

Another Tip: If they just said something particularly (or even reasonably) interesting, but you're not sure what to ask next, simply say, "Really, tell me more." Then breathe!

Great ways to keep the networking badminton birdie in the air, don't you think?

* "Message" was originally meant to mean, "what they deem important," but I took the liberty to tweak it and make it a bit easier to actually apply.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Handling Your Mistakes

It's often said that if you're not making mistakes, you're not learning. But in that mistakes can sometimes be messy, how you clean them up after them is an important skill to learn.
  1. Respond quickly. Once you realize you've made a mistake, deal with it sooner rather than later - even if what happened was completely unintentional, or not entirely your fault.
  2. Apologize, thoroughly. Don't just regret that you did something wrong; apologize sincerely for what you did wrong - even if it resulted from the best of intentions.
  3. Take responsibility. Sure there were probably mitigating circumstances, but in most cases, they're irrelevant. These situations are often more about insuring that whatever you let happen (or failed to make happen) doesn't happen again. Resist the urge to blame others or wiggle out of things. That rarely works as well as you think it might.
  4. Check in. See if your apology was received as complete and sufficient. Remember, while it starts with how you clean up after yourself, it doesn't end until your apology is actually accepted.
  5. Accept accountability. Sometimes, you'll still be warned or reprimanded for what you did. If that's the case, accept whatever lumps you have coming. Hopefully, they'll be few.
  6. Get back to work. You made a mistake, responded quickly, apologized thoroughly, took responsibility, checked in, and accepted accountability for your actions. Now it's time let it go and refocus back on the tasks at hand.

Failing to take responsibility for the mistakes we make can often have career-limiting implications. But if handled appropriately, mistakes can actually help one's career - by showing others how we deal with pressure, how we handle criticism, how we learn from what doesn't go well, etc.

As with so many things, the choice of how you respond is up to you.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In Lieu of Email Abandonment

More and more, people are wanting to literally abandon their email inboxes. And increasingly, messages like this are wanting to be sent:
"Sorry, but in my effort to catch up on my unread emails, I've "accidentally" deleted most everything in my inbox. If you've been patiently waiting for me to reply to something you sent - or waiting not-so-patiently, for that matter - please resend it at this time."
If this feels like a breath of fresh air for you, maybe you need to start training your associates how to send better emails. Here are some suggestions:
  • Inform others that each new topic within a given email is to be numbered and bolded to make identifying their segues not only possible, but easy.
  • Inform others that email subject lines are to be used more meaningfully and to indicate more precisely what is to follow and what is expected from you - Approval Needed, Vacation Request, Policy Issue, Project Status, Critical Update, Some Good News, Yikes!, etc.
  • Inform others that their FYI-type updates and emails providing answers to your questions are to be obviously marked as such.
  • Inform others that you're now scheduling your email inbox 'work' (not unlike how the USPS schedules their suburban mailbox pickups) so that the onus is on them to send emails needing your attention on a more timely basis.
  • Inform others that time-sensitive queries are better made in person or by phone, and NOT by email, unless you prefer otherwise.
  • Inform others that 'reply all' responses are to be used judiciously and cc's selectively.
  • Inform others that you will, unabashedly, and as a matter of courtesy, return to sender any email messages that do not comply with these simple criteria. (After all, they'd probably appreciate knowing that you're ignoring whatever it is that they wrote because you don't have the time or interest to try and decipher whatever it is that they intended for you to glean from the obfuscated email they just sent you, right?!)

Sound harsh? Maybe, but the July/August edition of Fast Company (page 46) indicates that improved email sending practices is saving Capital One approximately 11 workdays - that's more than TWO WEEKS - per employee per year, and that Union Bank is saving in excess of $750,000 (based on employees spending just 30-minutes less per week reading emails) per annum.

If none of this works for you, don't worry - there's always Email Abandonment!

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

GottaGettaCoach! Celebrates 7-year Anniversary

Thanks for your continued support, everyone!

- bz (7/4/2007)