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How to Deal with a Mean Person

balance We hear a lot about violence on television, in the movies, and in video games. When violence is discussed, it’s usually physical violence. USA Today cites a recent study at Brigham Young University that shows that seeing people being mean to others affects us as well.

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Participants responded just as aggressively, no matter what type of aggression they had encountered – be it physical aggression or relational aggression, as the study defined it.

We’ll call the latter mental aggression – seeing people being mean to other people.
We all deal with mean people, or at least people who can be mean from time to time. 

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marylynn Prime example – when I was a Production Director, which means I oversaw commercial production for a group of five radio stations, I implemented a new procedure that some of the sales people didn’t like. I was back in the sales area, with all the sales people in their cubicles, and one decided to call me out. He was rude and confrontational.

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georgeI remember someone we were grooming for management. He seemed to have all the right characteristics. However, when he faced a situation where someone was angry or upset, he only made it worse. As a leader, you have to learn how to diffuse situations, not inflame them.

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How to diffuse a situation

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marylynn Back to my story of being confronted by a sales person in front of the sales staff – it caught me off guard, but I stopped and collected my thoughts. Then I said, “I’d be more than happy to talk with you about this my office. But your sales manager signed off on this procedure. So if you really have a problem with it, I’d suggest you talk to him.

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Get away

When you feel your blood start to boil, get away before you say the wrong thing. If you’re face-to-face, suggest you take up the issue again in a little bit. If you’re on the phone, excuse yourself and let the other person know you’ll need to call them back. Even with e-mail, refrain from being too quick to reply.

Talk it out

Tell a friend, a colleague, or your spouse how upset you are. Get it off your chest, as they say. Let it all out. By talking to someone, you get to say what you’d like to say. Now you can start focusing on how to say it productively.

Write it down

If no one is available to talk to, write it down so you get the cathartic release you need. Don’t do it as a “Reply” just in case you hit the wrong key and the message gets sent!

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georgeWhen I get really upset, I feel sorry for my keyboard. I’m pounding away, but it gets it out of my system rather quickly. Then I get away for awhile. When I come back to it, I’m ready to construct a response that will move things forward.

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Report what happened

Show the other person that you understand their concerns. State it back to them in the way in which they should have stated it. When they know you have heard their concerns, they’re more likely to listen to your response.

Focus on resolutions

A great leader has to meet confrontation head-on, but also must always keep the bigger purpose in mind. Find a way to respond that doesn’t make the other person defensive. Move the conversation’s focus to solutions, not problems. 

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A recent study shows that eighty percent of all employed people want to start their own business. Next time, we’ll see if we can talk you out of it.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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How to Get Your Employees to Own Their Job, Not Just Do It

employee As business owners, we’re told that we should work on our business, not in it. But how do you do that when you’re just getting started? How can you do that if you don’t have any employees? Here’s the secret …

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At first, you work on your business by working in your business.

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george
Mary-Lynn’s always trying to get me out of the business!

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Seriously though, you begin working on your business by documenting your procedures, position by position, as you work in your business. Before you hire your first employee, it’s essential to put this structure in place so that, when you do hire someone, you can train him or her them effectively.

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marylynn My favorite General Managers in radio had worked in all areas of the business. They had been on the air. They had produced commercials. They had sold commercials. So they knew the business because they had worked the whole business.

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As a new business owner, you do that anyway, right? All you have to do is document what you do, position by position. Maybe you don’t do it all – you’re not comfortable with accounting, for example. So you get a partner who documents the procedures for those positions. Or you outsource them.

You’ll work through each position that your business will need. As you do, you will document every task that your business performs.

This leads to your employees OWNING their jobs

Now you’re going to build upon the work you’ve done. Put together two or more procedures and you have a process. Two or more processes start to build your system. You’ll end up with a full-fledged Operations Manual.

You get there by working on your business as you work in your business. Because while you’re doing that, you can test your procedures to make sure they are effective and efficient.

Assume you own a retail store. You would want to greet your customers as they come into your store. Here’s a typical conversation:

You: “Hi, may I help you?”

Customer: “No, I’m just looking.”

End of conversation.

Michael Gerber, in his great book The E-Myth Revisited, said he has consulted with retailers who increased sales by 10 to 16 percent when the following question was asked:

“Hi, have you been in here before?”

Now, if the customer says “Yes”, you can offer a special program for repeat customers. If the customer says “No”, you can make another offer for new customers.

So you set up one procedure to greet your customers. Then you test it. That’s working on your business. You’ll have a separate procedure to promote your special offer for customers. These two procedures are the beginnings of your process.

Keep doing this, procedure by procedure, process by process until you have a complete operating system. Document that and you have your Operations Manual.

Now when you hire an employee and start to train him or her, you can involve them in the process because you have it in writing. You’re ready for the five step process for training your employees.

Since you’ve tested your procedures, you can tell your new employee why you do things the way you do. This helps them understand the idea behind the procedure which helps get their buy in.

You’ll also tell your employee that your testing isn’t over yet. In fact, you want them to help you test new ideas. You’ll emphasize that it’s important to follow your system, but you also want them suggesting ways to improve how you do things.

That’s how you get employees who don’t just do their jobs; they own them!

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Next time, we’ll look at an inexpensive way for families to connect and compete. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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5 Steps to Make an Unhappy Customer Happy Again

love We’ve all heard the basic rules of customer service. But they deserve repeating before we discuss how to resolve a customer complaint.

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Rule #1: The customer is always right.

Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule #1.

These two rules are sufficient most of the time. However, sometimes we must realize:

Rule #3: The customer may not always reasonable.

You must know your boundaries in dealing with an unreasonable customer. If you’re a leader, you must communicate these boundaries to your people so they are effective when customers complain.

5 steps to make an unhappy customer happy again

Step #1 – Let the customer vent.
Before you can attempt to resolve the situation, you must understand it. Find out exactly what is troubling your customer. 

Step #2 – Listen attentively.
While this is really part of Step #1, it is so important that it bears special emphasis. Pay attention to what your customer is and isn’t saying. What are his or her specific objections?

#3 – Restate the complaint or complaints.
Wait until he or she has completely “unloaded”. Then, repeat back to your customer the complaints he or she has registered.

You may say, “Please let me make sure I completely understand your concerns.”  Then restate the complaint.

Step #4 – Assure them.

This is not to say that you agree with him or her. It simply lets your customer know that you recognize how they feel.  There is a difference!    You may say things like:

* “I can understand why you might feel that way.”
* “I can see your point.”
* “I can appreciate that.”

#5 – Find out what they want.

Everything has led to this point.  Simply ask the customer this question: “What would you like me to do?”

If you have handled yourself correctly up to now, you will find they will usually ask for less than you would expect.  If so, give it to them! If not, offer them a reasonable option to resolve the issue. 

Let them decide how they can be happy again.  It will be rare when you can’t find a good solution that makes both of you happy.

Complaints are an opportunity

Good things can come from a customer complaint. You can learn how to improve your procedures.

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georgeI once owned a carpet cleaning business. I remember a customer complained because we didn’t get the furniture put back exactly where she had it. We had a chair misplaced by about an eighth of an inch. From that day on, we asked every customer to look at the room before we left to make sure we had everything in the right place. Our customers were thrilled at this simple change in process!

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Remember this, if a customer is unhappy, they’ll usually do one of two things:

Take their business elsewhere or complain. Which do you prefer?

Research shows that customers, who have had problems resolved to their satisfaction, produce three times the revenue of a customer without a problem. On top of that, they are much more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

Sounds like a good reason to try to make unhappy customers happy again!
 

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Next time, we’ll discuss what you have to do BEFORE you hire an employee. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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2 Tips for More Effective Project Status Reports

pm411_logo We visited with Ron Holohan today on The Bigg Success Show. Ron is a Certified Project Management Professional and is currently the Director of Program Management at Shure in Chicago. Ron also hosts a weekly project management internet radio show called The pm411.org Project Management Podcast, which has consistently been one of the top four project management shows on iTunes.

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marylynn We all know that project management can be a stickler. So we asked Ron to share two tips with us to create more effective project status reports.

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ronThe first tip is to focus only on the exceptions. What I mean by that is that you don’t want to throw everything in the kitchen sink into your status reports. No one wants to read all that. They want to be able to look at your status report and pull out just the information they need. So focus on the exceptions – those issues that have changed since your previous report. Your audience only gets the information they need so your status report is short and concise.

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georgeI think that’s a bigg one. It seems that you often see status reports that look like a “mind dump.” You see all the activity that’s happened since the last report. You get bored with it so you’re not able to help them. might call it stubborn.

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ronThat’s right. If someone wants to go back, they can always look at one of your previous reports for more information.

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marylynn Cut the fat … get to the meat. What’s another tip?

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ronAnother tip is to make your report as easy as possible to read. This is the same kind of ideas as Tip #1. You want to allow your audience to easily scan for details that interest them the most. One way to do that is by using something called “Stoplight Reporting” – you communicate progress by using different colors. A bullet point in green may mean this item is going according to plan. Yellow means that particular item needs to be watched. Red means action is required because that item is starting to go off track. You can actually use blue as well to indicate that particular item has been resolved or completed.

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marylynn Can you put a “Don’t Walk” in there?

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ronThat would be nice! Use short bullet points. You don’t want to write a paragraph; this isn’t going to win you a Pulitzer Prize. You’re just trying to convey simple facts to your audience. Also, use tables where you can. They’re great for listing things like milestones, budget information, or product material cost.

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georgeWhat’s interesting about this to me is that some people are good with words or numbers, but other people are very visual. So you’re giving your report in a way that allows your audience to consume it the way they prefer.

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marylynn I prefer stick figures!

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georgeIt’s a great system that you’ve outlined with the different colors. You instantly can see what’s going on. Now I assume what you talk about are the “yellows” and the “reds”.

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ronThat’s right. So if I was reading the report, my eyes would naturally look for those yellow and red bullets that need my attention the most.

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Ron’s freebie!
Ron has a free status report template available for you, complete with a Stoplight along with other great templates.

Thanks Ron for sharing your fantastic tips with us!

 

 

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How to Get Noticed in Job Market 2.0

Today on The Bigg Success Show, we welcomed Phil Rosenberg. Phil is the founder of reCareered, a career coaching service that helps job searchers get past the biggest challenge in today’s competitive jobs market – to get noticed.

 

Phil, what does reCareered mean?

 

 

It means someone who is seeking a job change, or trying to revitalize their career, or someone who is between jobs and wants help with how the job markets have changed in the last eight years or so.

 

How has the job market changed?

 

 

Eight years ago, the majority of resumes were delivered on paper. Around 2000, it changed to where most resumes were delivered digitally.

 

And how does that change the resume itself?

 

 

It changes it completely. The paper-based resume had to be static. The only way to customize it was by a cover letter. A digital resume can be searched. It also increased the number of resumes that went into most companies, by as many as ten-fold.

 

We always hear about search engine optimization and how you want to rank at the tops of the pages for Google. But apparently you can do the same for your resume … it can be optimized?

 

You bet, and it’s especially critical in today’s world. Most major employers get thousands of resumes for each job, but they only staff to look at twenty to thirty. That’s two to three percent. So your goal, in submitting your resume today, is getting to the top two or three percent. Through resume search optimization, you can manage that process rather than have it be random. My strategy with my clients is to make a resume a single-use document – to have it infinitely customizable so that you’re gaming the search engine and forcing it higher up the search page.

 

How do we make a good impression right upfront?

 

 

There’s been research from the University of Toledo and Stanford University that states that interview decisions are made within the first two to thirty seconds. That blew me away. The rest of the interview is just somebody justifying their initial decision. So it’s a “gut feel” decision that may occur even before you shake hands. It’s all about preparation. Learn about your client – how they communicate (verbally and non-verbally), how they dress, how they look. If you want a job, go to a place that’s close to their office and sit there during lunch. Talk to people from that company who are getting lunch there. On a Friday night, go to Happy Hour at a bar close to their office and talk to people from that company. When you talk to them, watch their body movements. What’s the tone they use? What’s the speed they use to talk? You can also do that with their written communication – their web site, annual reports, press releases. The key to all this is communicating to your audience that it seems like you already work there.

 

It reminds me of the book, Guerilla Selling. It’s all about learning about your customer, in that case, but in the case the employer you’re going after – getting as much information as you can, wherever you can. It’s amazing how much information you can gather.

 

Sure. That’s also an effective way to use LinkedIn, Facebook or your own personal network. Chances are you have contacts within that company. A lot of people only use those contacts to see what jobs are available and to ask them to pass their resume along. They leave out some of the greatest uses of a network – talking to people within an organization to find out what an organization is like and what the communication style is like. Listening for how they’re answering questions rather than just what they’re saying.

 

This is fantastic advice because you do want to fit in. It’s all about mimicking. When you’re at an interview, should you sit up straight and lean forward or should you try to have your body language be similar to the body language of the interviewer? From what I’ve read, you should try to mimic that person.

 

That’s exactly what you’re doing – it’s called mirroring. You’re trying to show that you fit in. You speak the same language. You’re really trying to act like you already work at the company. It takes a ton of preparation. A lot of people aren’t willing to put that preparation in, but the people who do get a huge, almost an unfair, advantage.

Phil's links

You can get free daily job tips from Phil at his blog or visit his main site, reCareered, the place for resume search optimization and job search 2.0. 

 

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Write Right

By Bigg Success Staff
01-18-08

Career Builders

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We move rapidly through our day. We shoot off a quick e-mail. txt msg a frend with abrve8d wrds. We may spell check our work, but we probably won’t read it. Do we check the grammar with our software program? Maybe. Proofread it? No way.

Writing is a lost art. Proofreading seems disdained. Great writers know that great writing is a process. They don’t expect a work of art on their first draft.

They write. They proofread. They edit. They repeat.

Finally, they sign off on their great work.

You communicate your message clearly when you write right. You build relationships. You advance your career!  Toward that end, here are five tips to write right!

#1 – Write to your audience.
Your audience loves seeing the word “you.” They feel like you are writing to them. They want you to include them. Give them what they want! Use the “you-view” when you write.

#2 – Keep it simple.
Journalists write to eighth-graders. Does that show you what they think of our mental abilities? They don’t do it because they don’t think we will understand it. They do it to make sure that they don’t make their material overly complicated.

#3 – Don’t be pretentious.
Don’t use too many multi-syllabic words. You won’t impress anyone if they don’t understand you. Speaking of that, get rid of all jargon. It interferes with your message. Use real words.

#4 – Don’t be redundant.
Length doesn’t matter. Resist the urge to “fill.” Make your point. Then quit.

#5 – Use your active voice.
Remember this phrase – actor action. Write your sentences with that phrase in mind. Which one of the following two sentences communicates better?

Michael played his guitar.
The guitar was played by Michael.

Many people write passively – like the second sentence. Yet you get the picture more clearly with the first sentence, don’t you? 

Now you’re ready to proofread. Then edit. Repeat until you’re satisfied! Keep these five tips in mind on your next writing project.

Do you have a writing tip? We would love to hear it! Leave us a comment.


Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

(Image of pen by StaR_DusT, CC 2.0)

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6 Easy Steps To Financial Freedom

By Bigg Success Staff
01-17-08

Bigg On Money

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It’s easier than you might think to accumulate a nest egg. However, it’s becomes more difficult every day. That’s because time is on your side, when it comes to money.

Let’s say you want at least $1 million when you retire at 65. We know … you want to retire earlier than that. We’re glad to hear it! But keep reading our example so you understand the point. It’s important!

At 25, all you need to do is invest $10 a day to reach that goal. If you wait ten years to start, you’ll have to set aside $22 a day. So our point is …

Start today!

Here’s how to retire earlier – if you’re 25 and you want to retire at 55, just find $22 a day to invest. But no matter how old you are, get started right away!

In the above example, we assumed you could earn 8 percent on your investments. If you can earn more, you could retire earlier. But be careful – increased returns usually carry higher risks.

Before we get started on the steps, there’s one thing we want to talk about. It’s important that you have a well-defined goal. For example, our goal above was to accumulate $1 million.

Want some help writing a well-defined goal?

Our Bigg Goal-Setters Workbook is your answer!
It’s FREE when you subscribe to our FREE newsletter

At Bigg Success, we think about this way –

Your money makes money so you don’t have to.
Then you’re free to do what you want.

How much will that take for you? That’s your goal! Now, let’s talk about the six steps to get there.

#1 – Automatically pay yourself first.
Many people are confused by this concept. Of course, you pay yourself first, right? After all, your money is yours to do with as you please. However, they miss the point – at the end of the month, they have nothing left! Pay for your future just like you pay for every other bill.

Set up an automatic deduction from your paycheck or your bank account. People report that if they don’t see the money, they don’t miss it! This is the most critical step because it gets everything started. Don’t stop until you reach your goal.

#2 – Purchase with purpose.
We all make many spending choices every day. Do you really need that plasma TV now, or could you wait awhile? If you don’t have the cash, don’t spend it. Also, look at the annual effect of your daily decisions (e.g. coffee or lunch out every day).

Can you find a way to save an extra $10 every day? As we’ve already seen, that can turn into $1 million in 40 years. As you see your accounts grow, you’ll be inspired to keep going.

Keep your financial goals fixed clearly in your mind. Picture yourself free of all financial worries. That helps you make the best choices today. See our blog on The Marshmallow Test for more tips.

#3 – Own your own home.
We can make a good case for renting. Research shows that you’re better off “renting and investing” than owning your own home. However, most renters never get to the second half of that phrase.

That’s one of the reasons why the net worth of homeowners is so much greater than that of renters. Owning your own home forces you to save money. It’s very much related to the first step.

Don’t be “house-poor” – it’s not that good of an investment! Find a house that meets your needs. You can always trade up when you don’t have to worry about money anymore!

#4 – Pay off debt.
You’ve probably heard people say, “I want to buy a house because renting is just throwing money away.” Why are we so opposed to “throwing money away” to our landlord, but we think nothing of throwing it away to our banker or credit card company?

After all, the interest they charge is a rental fee on the money you’re using. There’s no difference! So pay off your debt so you stop paying interest.

Start with one obligation, like the one with the highest interest rate. Pay it off. Take the payment you’ve been making on that and add it to another one. Pay that one off. Eventually you’re debt-free! Don’t stop! Keep making those payments – to yourself! It will jump start your future! That’s another secret to reaching your goal early!

#5 – Invest wisely.
A lot of people don’t accept enough risk. If you invest too conservatively, it’s hard to reach your goal. There’s a basic financial principle – increased risk deserves increased rewards.

But here’s the secret – time takes away much of the risk. If you’re investing money that you don’t need for five years your risk is generally less than if you need it in one year.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The easiest way to do this is to invest in a no-load mutual fund balanced for people in your age bracket. Don’t touch this money until you’ve reached your goal.

#6 – Prepare for the unexpected.
Here’s what you can expect – you will face some obstacles on the way to your financial freedom. Prepare for them. Make sure you’re insured properly, including disability insurance.

Stash away an emergency cash reserve. Most experts recommend that you have three to six months of living expenses in an account for unexpected events. If you have equity in your own home, you may be able to establish a home equity line-of-credit to cover these emergencies. Then you can invest the money you have kept in reserve.

You won’t get rich quick with these six steps. However, they will put you on the road to financial freedom. Enjoy the trip!

Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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Getting Aggressively Passive: Creating A Passive Income That Sets You Free

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The Richest Man In Babylon

Climbing The Stairway To Success

Does It Pay To Be Smart?
 

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These Presentation Pointers Pack A Powerful Punch

By Big

By Bigg Success Staff
12-27-07 

Career Builders

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Just like public speaking, many people are frightened by the thought of making a presentation. Yet learning how to present your ideas well is a sure-fire way to advance in your career. Here are nine tips to make your next presentation unforgettable:

  • Define your purpose.
  • What is the desired outcome of your presentation? Once you know the answer to this question, you can start preparing for it. You’ll make a lot of choices as you get ready for your presentation. You’ll make better decisions with your purpose firmly in your mind.

  • Do your research.
  • Find out all you can about the person or persons to whom you will be presenting. What’s their background? What are their preferences? What has worked well for people who have made presentations to them before? What didn’t work? By knowing your audience, you’ll be more successful in designing your presentation for their needs.

  • Develop the appropriate collateral materials.
  • What are the right materials for your audience? What materials fit your content? For example, believe it or not, some people hate PowerPoint presentations. If you know that in advance, you might use flip charts or some other tool instead. Of course, your supporting documentation needs to fit your content as well.

  • Develop a back-up plan.
  • Ask yourself, “What if …?” For example, what if your computer crashes?

    We’re reminded of the entrepreneur who was scheduled to make a presentation to a venture capital firm. When he tried to start his computer, it wouldn’t come on. Which meant no PowerPoint presentation. Which meant no presentation at all.

    The financiers were put off by this because they felt that he should have prepared for such a possibility. They reasoned that, if he wasn’t prepared for something as simple as this, how could he be trusted to prepare for complex market situations?

    What could go wrong? Prepare for it in advance. Your show must go on!

  • Plan for interaction.
  • Think about questions or comments that might arise during your presentation. Prepare for questions that you want to answer then and there. Plan for questions that you may not want to answer (e.g. price discussions). Know how you’ll get back on track when a comment is made that strays from your focus.

  • Put yourself in the role.
  • Find someone who knows your audience and practice on them. By rehearsing your presentation beforehand, you’ll be better prepared when you’re doing it for real. You’ll be in familiar territory. For more information, see The Role of Role Playing.

  • Focus on making a connection.
  • With most people, what you say and how you say it are less important than the perception they form of you during your presentation. Seek, most of all, to develop and build trust as you present. Relax. Let the real you shine through.

  • Don’t waste time.
  • Depending on the formality of the situation, a little small talk (no redundancy intended) may be appropriate. Then, get to your points. Don’t waste their time, or yours. Getting to your key points early in the presentation insures you get the most attention for them.

  • Call for action.
  • You started planning for your presentation by determining its purpose. Close by asking the person or persons to whom you’re presenting to do what you want them to do.

Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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Work Life Teeter-Totter

By Bigg Success Staff
November, 25 2007

teeter-totter

Work-Life Balance 

There’s a fantastic article by Stephanie N. Mehta with Fortune magazine. It’s entitled Confessions of a CEO, but it’s less CEO, more confession about one man’s dilemma to balance work and life.

The subject is Dominic Orr, who’s generally regarded as a very successful CEO. We admire Mr. Orr for sharing some of the difficulties he faced as he tried to become a complete man.

We also applaud Ms. Mehta for this piece. We’ll hit some highlights here, but you should check out the full article to gain insight from a person who has, and still is, struggling to strike the proper balance.

We refer to a teeter-totter, in the title to our article, because it seems we often are up on one side of the equation while being down on the other. This is evidenced by a common problem faced by many of us today.

When you’re home, do you ever find yourself catching up on all the work you didn’t get done that day? At work, do you find challenges from home spilling into your day? So what lessons can we learn from Mr. Orr?

Organize your day. One solution Mr. Orr discovered was to work different hours. He didn’t work less; instead, he organized his day so he could spend time with his kids when they were available.

Define success properly. Mr. Orr felt constant pressure to not screw anything up. That’s a tough standard to uphold. You should allow yourself to be human. Humans aren’t perfect. For a realistic standard, see four things you must do to insure success.

Do the right things right. First, determine what the right things to do are. In other words, visualize the future you want. Then, you can do the right things right. If it involves things, focus on efficiency. Find the shortest path to get your project completed. If it involves people, focus on effectiveness. Connect with the person you’re trying to reach. Mr. Orr’s vision was to die a complete man. This meant changing his ways.

Use balance to your advantage. Mr. Orr’s management style has changed as part of his journey. He’s more rounded now. That comes into play at work and home. Find ways to use lessons learned in one world to benefit the other. Now you’re using your balance to your advantage. Let your balance drive your success, rather than detract from it.

Get the cat out of the cradle. Note how Mr. Orr used the only model of parenthood he knew. What kind of a model are you setting for your kids? You’re creating your granchildrens’ childhoods now. Are you happy with how they’ll grow up?

Work your teeter-totter. Mr. Orr took time away from work after selling his business. He focused on his children. He tried going back to work and still found it difficult to balance his career and family. Make the teeter-totter your friend. Accept the fact that at times your work will be up, family down. Then make it reverse. Work the teeter-totter, don’t let it work you.

A balanced life is one of the most difficult challenges we face today. Following these tips will help you work toward a more balanced life. It’s a process. Take baby steps, but be sure you take at least one today.

(Image of teeter-totter by mayr, CC 2.0)