This is going to sound like bragging (because, let’s be honest—it is), but I was recently inducted into the Professional Speaker Hall of Fame. It’s kind of a big deal in my industry, because there are fewer than 185 of us alive on the planet. If we were a species, we’d be endangered.
Here’s the interesting thing that I’ve found about reaching an “elite” level in your profession:
At the higher levels, you actually have to be better, and work harder.
Maybe you’ve had it too. It’s the dream where you’ve got a final exam coming up, but you haven’t been to a single class all year.
Have you had that one?
For me, it’s typically a math test, and I have to try to read (and understand) the entire textbook in one night. Usually, I wake up before the actual exam (and it generally takes me a panicked moment or two before I realize that it ...
It was during a focus group that I realized my customers were lying to me.
I was working at a TV station in Portland, Oregon, and we were developing a new, nightly game show. Part of that development involved focus groups.
Maybe you’ve participated in a focus group. In our case, the process went like this. Our focus group research company somehow found several groups of likely viewers, paid them twenty bucks or so to come to a meeting room, and then ...
For fifteen years, I was not allowed to get sick on Saturday. Sunday and Monday were fine; I could be sick then. Tuesday through Friday weren’t ideal, although if push came to shove, I could be sick then too.
But not Saturday. I couldn’t get sick on Saturday. Why?
Because Saturday was showtime.
See, for fifteen years, I was the Executive Producer of a hit comedy TV show in Seattle called Almost Live!, and we taped the show in front of a live ...
Here’s the scene: You’re at a party, or a conference, or a meeting—somewhere with a lot of people around. You see someone whom you’d like to talk to, so you walk over and start a conversation. And after a few seconds, they begin The Scan. You know what I’m talking about, right? It’s the moment when they break eye contact and start surveying the room, looking for someone better to talk to.
I don’t know Janie’s boss. I’ve never met Janie’s boss. But I do know Janie. Janie is one of the most diligent, hard-working, eager-to-learn people I’ve ever met. But because Janie’s boss doesn’t understand one of the basic rules of leadership, Janie is being made to feel like a failure in her job, and is thinking about leaving. So what’s the rule that Janie’s boss doesn’t understand? It’s this:
It would be good to be Shonda Rhimes, wouldn’t it? She’s the creator and producer of not one, not two, but three hit TV shows: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. Along the way she’s made the careers of numerous actors, entertained millions of viewers, and, by the way, amassed a net worth of some $60 million. Not too bad! So how can you achieve results like this in your world, and with your people?
Here’s a quick quiz for you. If you want to have a great conversation with someone who speaks only Italian, and you speak both English and Italian, which language are you going to choose? If you said “Italian,” congratulations! You understand how communication works! Why then is it so often a different story when we want to have a great conversation with our customers?