Category Archives: Advice

How Can You Make Your Resolution a Reality? It’s all in the Timing

“Timing: the alpha and omega of aerialists, jugglers, actors, diplomats, publicists, generals, prize fighters, revolutionists, financiers, dictators, lovers.”

Marlene Dietrich didn’t speak often, but in this instance it was worth waiting for.

I bring this up today as it is currently the time of year when we are fired with resolutions, goals, plans…. But while our New Year’s resolutions are at the forefront of our mind, our sense of purpose may already be tinged with doubt, dread, dismay, etc, as we realize that it’s not enough for us to want or need to re-shape our lives. We need to consider the lives of those impacted in order for us to be truly effective.

Why? Because although most of us pay lip service to the idea of “waiting until the time is right,” we also live in a culture of immediate gratification, which I believe has thrown off our sense of timing, and causing distortion in our judgment—ranging from the slight to the extreme—but inevitably causing an enormous amount of unnecessary push/pull within our relationships.

For instance, we send someone an email requesting their participation, reaction, decision, and because we know when we sent it, we have a pre-conceived idea about when we might hear back from them. When we don’t, we begin our internal storytelling, ‘He must be thinking this,” “She must be doing that.”

And while this might seem a small thing, it’s small like a hangnail: until it’s addressed, it occupies an inordinate amount of our mental space.

For example, we might call a long-term customer on the day his annual report is due, and take it personally when he doesn’t have the bandwidth to give us feedback on our new product offering, or we might take rejection personally when a new sales call tells us it’s not a good time, not knowing that he’s late for his anniversary dinner.

We don’t recognize that these are important plot points in the other person’s life.

So how can you begin to raise your awareness of the importance of timing in a relationship? One way is to watch a little more TV or a few more movies. (I bet you didn’t see that coming.) I recommend this because most of have heard of television shows and screenplays having ‘beats’: moments within their structure where we feel the need for something to happen. Beginning to think of a relationship having ‘beats’ is one way to step back from the particulars of the situation and look at the larger whole.

What’s an example of ‘beats’ with a movie? Well, screenplay calculator offers the following formula for a screenplay of 110 pages:

Opening Image: pg 1

Establish Theme: pgs 1 – 5

Setup: pgs 1 – 10

Inciting Incident: 12

Debate – Half Commitment: pgs 12 – 25

Turn to Act II: 25

Subplot intro by: pg 30

Fun – Games – Puzzles: pgs 30 – 55

Tentpole – Midpoint – Reversal: pg 55

Enemy Closes In: pgs 55 – 75

Low Point: pg 75

Darkest Decision: pgs 75 – 85

Turn to Act III: pg 85

Finale – Confrontation: pgs 85 – 107

Aftermath: pgs 107 – 110

Final Image: pg 110

As you can see, there are multiple moves within the narrative. Similarly, there are likely to be multiple moves within your relationship with another person. Learning to recognize these will help you to know when to show up with the gift, and when to withdraw the olive branch; when to hang back and let time go by, and when to lean in and ask for the favor, the money, the deal—could, in fact, cause you– when someone doesn’t offer you the immediate response you seek—to ask yourself, “Hmmm, I wonder where they are in their thinking/their day? Although I see this as an ‘inciting incident,’ they might be midway through ‘fun, games, and puzzles’ in another conversation; or contemplating their version of today’s ‘darkest decision.’”

Keeping these beats in mind is likely to ensure greater proportionality in the beats of your day, and your life— ensuring this year’s New Year’s resolution becomes a reality.

 

Lift Your Public Persona

By MICHAEL MINK Posted 12/20/2010 04:53 PM ET

When the publicity spotlight finds your company, your skills can maximize a good situation or salvage a bad one. Here’s how:

Be prepared. Before facing the media and public, know exactly what you want to say by crafting your message in detail. This includes anticipating questions. Ask yourself: How do we want our customers or stakeholders to see us?

“It’s too easy for anyone in the C-suite or for a spokesperson to say the wrong thing publicly, and the damage can be significant,” Jeff Ansell, co-author of “When the Headline Is You,” told IBD.

“When John Walter was named CEO of AT&T (T) (in 1996), a reporter at the news conference asked who his service provider is. Walter didn’t know and within four hours of that exchange, AT&T’s market cap plummeted $4 billion. And that was supposed to be a good news story,” Ansell said.

How to avoid that? “Don’t say or write anything you wouldn’t want to see out there publicly,” said Frances Cole Jones, founder of Cole Media Management.

Practice messages. Do this out loud and get feedback. Rehearse answers and ways to move the conversation to the points you want to convey. “Recognize that the first words out of your mouth form the first draft of the story,” Ansell said.

Jones suggests practicing in front of a mirror, especially when doing telephone interviews. “This will remind you to smile and your voice will follow, making you much more interesting to listen to,” she said.

Another benefit: If someone asks you about something that makes you feel tense, “you’re going to see your face tense up, and that’s going to remind you to take a breath and then speak,” she said.

Be accessible. This is especially true when a crisis emerges.

“Not engaging media only leaves your critics with an open field, allowing them to hammer home their messages while you’re hiding behind the door,” Ansell said.

In good times, Jones says, no media opportunity or event is too small. Consider doing all you can.

Follow social media. Dedicate corporate resources to monitor the Web, Ansell said, and respond accordingly: “See what people are saying, and more often than not engage bloggers in conversation. Like Mark Twain said, ‘a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.'”

Jones said, “Tweet wisely or forever hold your peace. Consumers have the power to talk back, and companies need to realize that.”

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Wow—It’s Time to Buy My Boss/Colleague/Client a Gift Video

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Wow—It’s Time to Buy My Boss/Colleague/Client a Gift

Yes, it seems it’s that time of year—not my favorite, if you must know. (In fact, in my dream world, I would be like Sleeping Beauty: eating the apple that has me fall asleep just before Thanksgiving, and having Prince Charming Heimlich it out of me on January 2nd.)

Since it’s unlikely that particular wish will come true, however, I thought I’d do a quick roundup of possible gifts for your boss, colleagues or clients, as well as cover a few I’d prefer you steer clear of.

In fact, why don’t we begin with those:

I think we can all agree that anything along the lines of a thong-party-pack/a full-body-wax/a gift certificate for a home visit from Super Nanny is likely to end poorly.

I’m also not a fan of a gag gifts/toys: magic 8 balls, miniature putting greens, desk-sized Zen gardens and the like. While they may be funny in the moment, they generally just end up being clutter.

What then, do I recommend?

While I understand this might seem like shameless self-promotion (likely because it is) the items I included in the Wow Store really are appropriate and thoughtful, and provide a nice mix of choices. They include items for:

  1. The tech-friendly: the charge-pod “spider” keeps all your devices fully charged, and allows you to extend the party to those around you
  2. The networker: a lovely card case will keep you from exchanging cards like you’re doing a drug deal—which makes me nuts. You need to make a big deal out of receiving someone’s card. Putting it away in your card case at the exchange, reassures the giver that your drycleaner won’t be the next person seeing it
  3. The control freak: elegant in-and-out trays and an 8-day-a-week planner keep your office from looking like you’re working in a goat’s stomach
  4. The frequent traveler: the ultimate piece of carry on luggage. Remember George Clooney in “Up in the Air”? Like that. Enough said.

Most importantly, everything in the store comes in at a variety of price points, so (with luck!) there will be something for everyone on your list.

Happy browsing!

SHOP the WOW Store Now >

Frances

 

3 Rules for Wowing Your Holiday Office Party

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Mixing Business With Dating Doesn’t Work

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a business negotiation, and suddenly realized that a new element has been – sometimes delicately, sometimes not—added to the mix? And that that element is no less than– surprise– you?

Now I’m a big fan of business, and I’m a big fan of pleasure. I am not, however, enamored of the business and pleasure mix. For every one situation that works out, there are thousands and thousands of examples of situations gone awry.

And that’s when both parties are interested and free to become involved. Further complications ensue when you’re not interested, and/or when he’s not, in fact, single.

But let’s begin with the fairly straightforward scenario:

You’re single. He’s single. Everybody’s Interested–and No Company Policies are Being Violated.

Let’s tackle company policies first. Before entering into any kind of romantic relationship, you need to know that no ethics/corporate regulations are being violated.

In addition to checking in on the black-and-white version of the company policy, I also recommend doing a bit of asking around to see if there are any unspoken rules and regulations around inter-office/inter-client etc. relationships; not to mention any thoughts on “sleeping with the enemy,” should the person you’re interested in work in a competing arena.

If you get the green light, and the signals are overt–“Maybe we can have dinner tonight?” or “I’d like to see you outside of the office,” etc.–I think it’s important to be both kind and clear.

You might say, for example, “I would like that a lot. At the moment, however, we’re in the midst of a business negotiation/company project, and I don’t want either our deal/ project–not to mention our date–to be impacted by mixing business and pleasure. I’d love to take you up on your offer once we’re not professionally involved.”

If you’re working with someone who’s not as overt about their intentions you might say, “It seems like we’d have a lot to talk about outside the office, but I know you would agree that this deal/project is our first priority right now. Once this is complete, however, maybe we can get together for a drink?”

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10 Things Women Can Do Today to WOW Tomorrow

12/09 - 10 Things Women Can Do Today to WOW Tomorrow with...

Register for my upcoming teleclass, “10 Things Women Can Do Today to WOW Tomorrow” presented by the Downtown Women’s Club.

Register Now >

Event Details

Join author, corporate coach and career expert Frances Cole Jones and learn (at least!) 10 practical, immediately applicable changes you can make today to guarantee you are more effective tomorrow, including:

  • How to ensure you are projecting your most authoritative self — in person, on the phone, and on the page
  • The proven formula for selling anybody, anything, anytime
  • Ways to gracefully handle interruptions, circumlocutions, and the occasional (preposterous) interjection

To view or download the presentation for this teleclass, visit the following link.