Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hilary Clinton's Defining Moment

There are defining moments in our lives- times where we have to show our true colors and the impact can either make or break us. Last night in the debate was a defining time for Hilary Clinton. In terms of having knowledge, background and insights she was the better prepared with facts and figures, so why would I say she didn't win the debate? Because we don't look to the President to only know facts and figures.

We look to the President to have the wisdom to know what information to hold close to the vest, when to use it, and the ability to listen and reason from a balanced platform. We look at the person and intuitively want to FEEL that this is a person that will keep a balanced perspective; a person that will hear and weigh all sides; a person that won't rush in to things but instead will give us the best decision based on the best information available. We need to FEEL that this person will have the ability to see the unintentional consequences of any decision they make BEFORE they make it.

And, Hilary's body language didn't give that feeling at all. Her squinted eyes, tight upturned mouth and hooded eyes gave the impression of a viper waiting to strike out and attack. Now Tim Russert, the moderator, had similar body language. His leaning forward and being aggressive around the questions boarded on ridiculous at times. He seemed to be spoiling for a fight rather than trying to get well informed and facts and decisions. You saw this in his push with the NAFTA question about withdraw in 6 months.

Imagine you are the potential candidate lobbying for the CEO job of a major corporations. This corporation has offices in 20 countries around the world. You have been in the company for 5 years but you only get limited information as you are not privy to all the information that the current CEO is. They ask you in the interview if you would evoke the right to pull out of six countries. Now, I ask you, would you ever say, Absolutely? No, and it wouldn't show good Executive Intelligence if you did say yes. You may know surface information about the company but you better realize that you need to have good grasp of facts and decisions prior to being able to make a solid decision like that. So you should answer that you would evaluate and if changes can't be made, then yes you would be willing to pull out. Would you really want a CEO to say, "I don't have all the facts but sure I would pull the plug"?

The stance Tim took on this showed the anger, frustration and desire to pick a fight more than to enlighten the audience to the leaders decision-making power. I found it fascinating that both Tim and Hilary's body language was that of a fighter- leaning forward, eyes big when talking and hooded when listening, and tightness around the mouth. While Barack and Brian's body language was relaxed with the head tilted to one side, the hands used gracefully when talking and the eyes relaxed and open. This body language shows confidence in their ability to listen, hear and respond appropriately. They weren't trying to prove with passion but instead to display emotional reasoning.

Did you notice how half way through the body language of Hilary and Barack became more relaxed with each other and more of a unit away from Tim Russert?

Here, though was Hilary's defining moment, the minute she ranted about taking the first questions and giving Barack pillows. At that moment she showed that IN HER MIND she was the underdog and that she believes EVERY ONE knows that. This leads you to think, would I want a President that would get in a pissing match with a foreign country so the other leaders know when they have the edge or do I want a President that could be so cool and calm the other country would be left guessing?

Imagine if she instead had said, "I have noticed that I continue to get the first questions in debates and I appreciate the advantage it gives me in sharing the facts and figures I know right upfront with the audience. You want a President that is quick on their feet and able to support what they say. So thank you for that opportunity."

Now, do you think, Obama's camp would be trying to get the first question next time? Do you think the moderators would rethink their position and try to even out the questioning? Sure!

It would remind you of the time that Reagan was being accused by his opponent of being too old for the job. Did Reagan come out swinging and quoting facts? No, he simply said, "my opponent has made a big deal about age in this campaign. I assure you I will not hold my opponents youth against him." We laughed and right away our thoughts went to Reagan's EXPERIENCE versus his opponents INEXPERIENCE. Point well taken!

Action: As an executive, learn from these debates. Watch to see the FEELING created as they all speak. These are times that show you good and bad leadership. This is how your employees view you at times. You only have a few moments to demonstrate your solid skills. Make sure you come through with flying colors.

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What does the salsa have to do with Marketing?

Critical thinkers look for new learning's, not only from their industry, company or peers, but by observing things around them and using their curiosity to ask, "what can I learn from that?"

I just attended my 2nd grade daughters salsa dance at the Spanish Immersion School. They have already performed various Spanish dances at the Northrop Auditorium, multiple times at school for parents and have traveled out to other schools in the community to do their dances.

At the same time, I have noticed that the focus, attention and enrollment at the Spanish Immersion school is growing by about 25% a year. Why?

Imagine you are someone in the community that hears about the Spanish Immersion school. Are you going to be more persuaded to support it if you hear the curriculum and learning? Or if you see a bunch of kids in Spanish costumes dancing their little hearts out while the infectious music has you clapping your hands and smiling in rhythm? One way engages only your brain while the other engages all of your senses.

I think the Spanish Immersion School is on to something. These kids are infecting the community with a passion for Spanish that achieved it roots in seeing little kids dance their hearts out.

So what in your marketing makes people feel good? Do you do anything outrageous? Do you involve all parts of the customer? How do you make the customer FEEL? The rhythm and pace you reach with a client comes, not only from the knowledge they share, but the mood you create that gets them to say, "how do you do that?"

Anne Warfield,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What to do when life hits you with a frieght truck

How do you handle disappointment? Do you get angry, upset, quiet, reserved? We all deal with disappointment in different ways. The key is to make disappointment work FOR you rather than AGAINST you.

I use disappointment as a time to reassess a situation. I figure it is the Universe's way of redirectng me when I might otherwise have blindly kept going. In hindsight, most disappointments end up being great lessons for me and I come out much stronger.

So how long do you let yourself wallow in the disappointment? For me, I put on soothing music, calm my mind and then look for learnings, insights and ways to redirect my energy. I have found that key appointments that get moved often result in longer time being given to the appointment at another time. Strategies that have to be delayed end up with a key component being added that would have been overlooked if I had launched at the time I wanted.

So take the next disappointment you face and use it as a rethinking, retooling, relaunching time. If you are in sales, use the disappointment as a time to debrief what did or didn't happen in the sale and how you could fix it for next time. If you are in managemnt, use the time to think about how you could have been more strategic upfront to handle the situation even better.

Think of disappointments as forks in the road. It will take your brain a moment to catch up and redirect so you can enjoy the new journey. But remember if you keep your eyes on the rearview mirror all you will see is disappointment and most likely will run into another obtacle quickly!

Anne Warfield,

Monday, February 18, 2008

Setting the Stage for Results

Jim is an artist. As an artist his booth at a show has to create a feeling that draws people in, matches his art work, and creates the right ambiance for buying. When it came time to create just the right booth, Jim headed to Home Depot to get assistance on some carpeting for the booth. He explained that he had a booth, it would have lots of traffic and that he needed carpet to fit the booth.

Of course the sales person approached it, trying to help him find the best looking, most durable carpet that would stand up to lots of traffic and packing. Jim and Lois became more frustrated as they looked at ugly and uglier swatches of carpet. Finally, Lois stepped back and shared, not ony the vision of the booth, but also who the clients were that buy Jim's paintings, what feeling they wanted to create and what uniqueness they were after.

She watched the Home Depot guy's eyes light up. He told them to wait right here while he went in the back and dug around. Viola! Out he came with the perfect carpet!

So what possessed him to go in the back room and dig up carpet that wasn't even on the floor? What changed in the fifteen minutes they stood talking with him?

In the first scenario, Jim explained to the sales guy what he needed the carpet for in functional terms. This caused the sales guy to focus on the features of the carpet such as durability, functionality, and ease of packing.

Lois described to the sales guy the emotional side of the carpet- what mood it had to set, how it had to match Jim's creativity, how it had to align with the buying experience. All of this led the sales guy to think in bigger terms. As soon as he got the big picture, he was able to offer a solution that didn't even exist for today as the carpet wasn't even available on the selling floor!

Ask yourself, do you describe things to people in functional terms? Or do you give them the entire big picture so they can see the vision and play in that vision?

People can do extraordinary things when their thinking is stretched to its full capacity. Stretch your thinking today!

Anne Warfield,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now

I can see clearly now the rain is gone. All obstacles disappear..

Remember that song? It is a great metaphor for how we can clutter our communication so it no longer makes any sense. When we try to be everything to every one we tend to dilute the message down so much that it no longer makes any sense.

Okay, so how do you get your message to cascade down in your organization if you aren't addressing all of the different concerns and needs? Most leaders get so frustrated that they strip the message down to a point that makes sense to them. What they forget is that the party reading or listening to their message will filter the message through experiences and knowledge that they, the listener or reader, has in their own brain. Therefore you are almost always guaranteed that they will misinterpret a stripped down message.

So the point is not to put tons in the message but instead to understand the message as it will be received. You need to tune in to your audience first or else they will tune you out. Make sure you read or listen to your message from the other person's perspective to make sure it makes sense.

Anne Warfield,

Monday, February 11, 2008

Buidling Strategic versus Tactical Leaders

IQ is your intelligence-your ability to capture information and store it in your brain and then extract it when needed. But all of us have run in to people that are highly intelligent but that lack common sense. So if you are looking for a great leader what are the essential ingredients that make a great leader? What makes one stand out? Why do some people do great at one level of a job but when you promote them they struggle?

In order to grow great leaders you need to understand the difference knowledge and critical thinking play in HOW a leader makes decisions. Knowledge is based on learning or experiences that you then anchor in your mind and can extract when you need to apply it. This is great and can really get you promoted in a company fast. The problem comes when you become faced with situations you have never experienced before. How do you make good decisions then? What do you base it on when you can't achor it to any experience you have ever had?

This is where in many companies things fall apart All of a sudden Joe that was a great foreman is struggling as a Operations Manager. In unknown situations it becomes far more important that you make decisions based on Critical Thinking skills, not knowledge. Critical Thinking skills help you determine what the correct assumptions are, what the root of the problem is and creates a more strategical way of looking at things. Outcome Thinking is all about how you critical think about situations so you can be more strategic and transformational versus tactical and transactional. I find way too many leaders are tactical in how they approach problems or situations and they base the rational of their thinking on the knowledge they have today. This limits their ability to really LISTEN so they can uncover what is not being thought or talked about.

A tactical leader when asked to put together a presentation on an expansion will pull together the cost of the expansion, why we are doing the expansion and what are the steps for the expansion. A strategical leader will pull together a presentation that shares what problem we are trying to solve, how the expansion will help solve this problem, what are the pros and cons of the expansion (what is it NOT addressing), what the cost will be and how it will fit in to the overal company mission. A tactical leader will try to make the expansion fit the budget. A strategical leader will ask how the expansion will solve the problem and then what cost it needs to be to work long-term. A strategical leader is not afraid to say we are thinking too small. A tactical leader wants the steps to the thinking.

If your organization is weighted down with people delivering "book report" presentations, people looking for strategy to come from the senior management, people misexecuting on corporate initiatives (which means they didn't understand the message at a strategic level) then you are most likely creating more tactical versus strategic leaders.

In today's world where you need to move at a fast pace you need to have leaders that can be critical thinkers at multiple levels in your organization. Without that you will end up creating more and more "rules" for people to make decisions by rather than systems that allow people to achieve excellence as a base.

Anne Warfield,

Friday, February 8, 2008

Out Of the Mouth Of Babes- Mistake and Corrections

Yesterday my daughter and son received a package filled with birthday gifts for them since their birthday's are in January. They deliciously tore in to their packages to see what was in their presents all while their little sister stood with a dejected look on her face. Oh, yes, she did a quick scan to see if any of the presents were for her, even though she knew it was not her birthday.

So we called Auntie Sarah to thank her for the gifts but got her voice mail instead. So Rory grabbed the phone and said thanks for his gift card, Ce'Anna enthusiastically thanked her all of her presents and as I walked the phone to back to hang it up, Michaela belted out, "thanks for nothing." I wasn't sure if I had hung up the phone fast enough or if that was caught on the message to my sister.

Well, I tell you it is one of those moments that you discipline them right there but you laugh about later and can't wait to share with your friends. So up to her room, Michaela goes to think about greed and what she did wrong.

Since we have already punished her and we weren't sure if my sister had heard it, we didn't know if we should have Michaela call back or let it go. We decided to not have her call back.

The next night at dinner, Michaela brought it up and asked if she should call back and say she was sorry. But she hastly added that maybe I should call first and see if Auntie Sarah even heard it as if she didn't , no need to call and say sorry! (and yes, we now know she did hear it and she has had a blast telling all of her friends about it!!)

So we called and Michaela bravely said she was sorry. When I told her that her aunt's opinion of her had gone up because she took the leadership route and admitted and corrected a mistake she made she beamed from ear to ear.

You see, it is not important if you make blunders, what is important is how you handle the blunders aferwards. The earlier you start teaching how to gracefully admit to mistakes and correct them the better off you are.

In a corporation this means leaders admitting if a new initiative is wrong, a sales person owning up to a shipping problem to a client or an employee admitting a mistake was made and then correcting it. Remember people mind less about the mistake made if they know you will always admit to it, correct it and adjust so you don't make the same mistake again and again.

Anne Warfield,

Monday, February 4, 2008

Why Traditional Communication Often Backfires

Outcome Thinking is about the ability to listen, hear and speak in a direct but nonjudgmental way. It means being able to think positively about why people might do what they do.

In reading Ask Amy this weekend I found a great example of how traditional thinking can cause you to think and do things that can cause you big problems down the line.

In today's blog I will just use one of the situations to illustrate the difference between traditional thinking and Outcome Thinking.

Here is the situation: Wondering wrote in that for the second Christmas in a row her late husband's niece and family have sent a card to her addressed on the computerized label to both her late husband (he died in 2006) and her. She states that they don't have a very close relationship, but have maintained contact for over 60 years. She says she felt very bad when no one from the niece's family came to the husband's memorial stating that "geographical distances are not great."

Wondering wants to know how she should handle the problem with the label being addressed to both her and her dead husband.

Here is the traditional thinking response from Ask Amy, as you read it think about how you would feel if you received this,: "you should enclose the outer evenlope from their card- the one containg the address label-and send it to this family, along with a note saying, 'I notice that you haven't updated your address files to allow for Gerald's death. I have to admit, it makes me sad each year to receive a card addressed to the two of us, knowing that he is no longer here to enjoy the holidays with me. I enjoy hearing from you, but I hope you can correct this for next year."

Ouch, as you can see the above statement has a lot of judgment. "I hope you can correct this" implies that you may or may not have the ability and it implies that you knowingly did this. There is also the burden that you have made her sad by sending her a card (meant to be cheery) but that you put on the wrong label. This type of reply, if sent, can lead the recipient to thinking about how they at least sent a card and trying to justify their good intents.

Let's skip all that and believe in the good intents all around. Think about how you would feel if you received this reply instead, "Having lost Gerald in 2006 it does my heart good to be remembered by you at the special times such as Christmas. The holidays are ones that can be the hardest on me so it means a lot to receive a card from you. Since I realize how computerized things are today, I thought you might like to know, so you could remove it for next year, that your address label still has Gerald's name on it as well as mine. I hope all is well with all of you and look forward to our keeping in touch."

Review all of your replies to people and make sure they are clear on the good intent.

Anne Warfield,

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Presentation needs to be a Present to your audience

Have you ever gotten a gift from someone that doesn't fit who you are? You may have found you were more irritated to recieve something that was so unlike you than it would hve been to receive nothing at all. Why? Isn't a present a present?

Not if it actually blocks the relationship or is one more reminder of how little you really notice about the other person. You want to make sure that whatever you give fits that person, makes them feel more connected to you and demonstrates that you truly have noticed their own tastes and uniqueness. But surprisingly what most of us do is give people gifts that WE would want to recieve.

I see this all the time with presentations. I see people presenting their information in a way they think is neat and exciting. Questions from audience are often treated as irritating interruptions and I see audiences shut down time and again.

Your presentation should be a PRESENT to your audience and involve their PRESENCE. You shouldn't talk AT your audience but rather WITH them.

If your time is focused on delivering a PRESENT to your listener that they will want to hold, listen to, and play with then you are on the right track. Relook at your presentation and see it from the recipient's side. Will they want it? If not, how can you modify it so they do want it? Does it add value to the recipient? Does it invite them in?

Challenge yourself to review your next presentation and make sure it is truly a PRESENT the audience will value.

Anne Warfield,