Category Archives: Meetings

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

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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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Five Tips for Confidently Speaking Up at Meetings

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The way you present yourself in company meetings can have a big impact on your career.

If you take the role of passive onlooker, for example, and never offer an opinion or comment, you may be giving off the impression that you’re not sure what’s going on — or that you just don’t care.

At the same time, if you speak up every chance you get, dominating everything to from the department budget meeting to the planning session for the holiday party, your colleagues may end up thinking that you’re overbearing — or that you just like to hear yourself talk.

Whether you’re the shy type who usually opts not to speak up — or you’re just the opposite — here are a five expert tips on making your point effectively in front of a crowd.

Here are a five expert tips on making your point effectively in front of a crowd.

1. Practice: Like anything, practice makes perfect when it comes to speaking up — especially if you’re shy.

“One way shy people can gain confidence to speak in meetings is to practice outside of meetings,” says Susan Newman, co-founder ofSchool2Life, an organization that helps students transition to the workforce.

“Share your point of view and participate in conversations in and out of the workplace. Doing this helps you recognize where the discomfort sets in. In time, it will get easier or more manageable because you’ll know what to expect from your nerves. So speak up and speak often.”

One of the best ways to get practice outside of the workplace is to join your local chapter of ToastMasters, a group specifically designed for helping people to improve their public speaking skills. The organization currently has more than 12,500 chapters globally, so chances are there’s one in your area. Have an incompetent boss? You’re not alone

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The All-Important Informational Interview

When I was thinking about switching professions, from teaching to publishing, I kept going on interviews and striking out, and I couldn’t figure it out. There had to be something I was doing incorrectly, but what was it? To discover, I began going on informational interviews—setting up meetings with people whom I would have loved to have as bosses, but who weren’t looking for help. This turned out to be how I made the jump.

The purpose of an informational interview is to find out both what companies in your field is looking for and—just as importantly—what they are not. Also, to discover what their concerns might be from looking at you, and your resume.

The fact that the interview is informational doesn’t mean you don’t have to prep just as carefully as you would if there were a job at stake. In addition to knowing your interviewer’s resume inside and out, you should have a list of questions you’d like to have answered:

  1. Are there any immediate red flags you see when you look at my resume?
  2. Are there any skills I should fine tune?
  3. Are there any new trends in the industry I should be aware of?

Additionally, information interviews are a great place to find out what not to say as well as what you should say—because every industry has one question you can ask, or statement you can make, that just drives people wild.

(For example, when I worked in publishing that phrase was, “And I know my book would be great on Oprah.” Aaaaauugh. I mean, their book might very well be great on Oprah—but getting your book on Oprah is a bit like getting struck by lightning. The effect of a prospective author saying this was only to make everyone in the room think, “High maintenance. Back away slowly.”)

Now it might seem that people in these positions don’t have the time or energy to give to these interviews. I rarely found this to be true. The people I know who’ve been shut down had opened with, “Let me take you to lunch.” While this is a lovely offer, people are busy so respect their time limits up front. Ask them, “May I come in to speak with you for fifteen minutes at the beginning or end of your day?”

Another benefit of this kind of interviewing is that if they are sufficiently impressed with you, they will have you in mind when someone in their field is looking to hire a new person for their team.

Informational interviews are a win/win/win—and all those wins are for you. You get the experience of interviewing, you get the information, and you get the future connection.

Frances Cole Jones

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Three Memorable, Easy, Lasting Ways to Inspire Your Team

In this economy, keeping your team motivated can be difficult– with everything from travel to office supply budgets being slashed how can you ensure you keep your team working to their full potential? Following are three suggestions that don’t necessitate scratching around for additional funds. Additionally, each of these tools does more than motivate those involved: ideally they’re inspired by them. Because, let’s face it, too often motivation is like a cup of coffee: it wears off over time. Inspiration, however, provides your team with ideas and tactics that can be used as fuel for years to come.

“Tell me more.”

We often approach our goals with our minds already made up about our desired outcomes. The tricky thing about this is that it doesn’t leave room for our team to contribute-and when there’s no room for them to contribute, they lose motivation. How, then, can you ensure you offer them the input-opportunity they require, but still stay on track? With the magic phrase, “Tell me more.” The beauty of “Tell me more,” is that it doesn’t commit you to actually incorporating each suggestion you receive. It does, however, give each speaker a platform for offering an opinion. If you like their idea, then, excellent! You can incorporate it. If not, look for a piece of their idea that can be included.

How do I recommend you finesse this? With the phrase, “I think there’s some strong DNA in your thinking— let’s take a piece of it and add it to what we’ve got.”

If it isn’t possible to incorporate their contribution, “Tell me more,” is also a great path to a conversation about the “because” behind some of your choices-and giving people the “because” behind why something is being done increases the possibility of cooperation from 60 to 94%. (Social Psychologist Ellen Langer Study).

Mix and Match Your Experts

In sports we idolize the players who know how to leverage time and room (T& R) whether it be in basketball, football, lacrosse. In life, however, we rarely give the same kudos to the unsung heroes whose expertise offers us the time and room we need to maneuver when we go in to make our pitch, sell our product, or ask for the deal: our teammates in Research and Development (R & D). With this in mind, I strongly recommend glorifying your R & D members whenever possible.  What’s another way to motivate? Create an occasion for Research and Development to mix with Sales and Marketing, as you may be surprised by what might comes out of such an encounter.  Why? Well, Sales and Marketing tend to focus on “listening to the customer”, but as Henry Ford once said, if he had listened to the customer he would simply built better horse carriages! It was R & D that showed him cars were the way of the future.

Mixing, matching, and cheering on your teams builds the camaraderie that will give all of you the time and room you need to relax and celebrate when you win the contract, make the deal, or take home the honors.

Operation Inspiration

While many of us have the tendency to flip past the five o’clock news, preferring our favorite talking head on CNN, MSNBC, Fox etc, one thing we can take away (that’s shared by NASA, the US Military, etc) is the tendency to give special projects special names. Why do they do this?  Well one of the roles of a leader is to narrate the macro events in our lives, thus making sense of them. What these institutions recognized is that there’s a significant difference between hearing, “Today’s conflict was marked by casualties in “Operation GT7, Sector Four,”” and “Today’s conflict was marked by casualties in Operation “Enduring Freedom””.

History’s best leaders have always been storytellers, and the valorization of unavoidable hardship will always be stirring. Shakespeare himself recognized this as he showed us in Henry V when Henry’s comrades are reminded they are, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” Henry V video on Despite being exhausted and outnumbered, Henry’s men rode into battle gladly having been told they would consequently, and forevermore, be remembered by the rest of the world– and we do.

Your team can do the same, and-with your inclusion of their ideas, acknowledgement of their hard work, and celebration of their willingness to ‘take one for the team’ -they will.