Teams

How to Be the Idea Person on Your Team

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Are all of your dots the same color?

I talk about dots a lot. That’s because dots are the key to innovation, creativity, and breakthrough thinking.

Most people get this wrong. They think that breakthrough ideas—the creative innovations that make the competition whimper like scared puppies—are the result of some divine lightning bolt that only strikes the gifted few. This is the common myth. But it’s just that—a myth.

The truth is that breakthrough ideas ...

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What It Really Takes for You to Be in the Hall of Fame

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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.

It’s easy ...

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Why Fixing a Problem Isn’t Always the Best Solution

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“Let it go!”

That was the sole message of an acclaimed keynote speech that my colleague Joe Calloway delivered at the annual convention of the National Speakers Association some years ago.

Let it go.

In his speech, Joe encouraged us to look at all the manifold things we had on our respective plates and think about how we could simplify, how we could focus. In short, what could we let go of so that we could really shine at what was left.

About a ...

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The Joy of Deadlines (for Fun and Profit)

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In the early days, I would panic.

Friday night. The day before show day. 24 hours from now every seat in the TV studio will be filled, and a million more viewers will be watching the show on television.

And we don’t have a show for them.

It could be any number of reasons: that big piece we’d worked so hard on all week just didn’t come together in editing; the guest we’d booked and promoted canceled earlier today; the perfect monolog we’d ...

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Why You Need To Let The Blocks Fall Down Go Boom

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I think my friend Steve made a mistake.

Steve was a high school friend of mine. Unlike me, he chose to breed just a few years after high school. I remember visiting him when his first-born was maybe two or three years old. And because this was in the olden days, when iPads were not a toy option, his toddler was playing with blocks. Quite happily, in fact. He would try to stack the blocks and, because he was a toddler, ...

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Why Your External Pressure Is Really Internal Pressure

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You’ve felt the pressure, haven’t you?

There’s the clock. Just hanging up there on the wall, silently mocking you with its impending deadline.

There’s your team, watching you, judging you, wondering if you’re going to save the day…or blow it in spectacular fashion.

There’s your boss, ever critical, with her unrealistic expectations and her long list of other highly qualified people who want your job.

These are some of the external pressures that you’ve faced in the past, may be facing right now, and ...

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The #1 Question Your Team Is Asking When Under Pressure

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“Is it safe?”

If you’ve ever seen the movie Marathon Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier, you know just how scary this question can be.

It can be a scary question for your team as well (although without the unpleasant dental work—watch the movie if you’re confused).

When you’re leading your team through a high-pressure situation, they’re looking to you (I’ve written about this before). They’re looking to you…

  • …to see what you’re going to do (how you’re going to solve the ...
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Are You Ready For Your Emergency Landing?

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“Your engine just quit. Where are you going to land?”

The voice came from the right-hand seat—the co-pilot’s seat.

Sounds dramatic, right? Actually, it was quite routine. The person in the right-hand seat was my flight instructor, and it was, like, the thousandth time he’d asked that question over the past few months. If you’ve ever had any flight instruction, you’ve probably heard this question as well. And probably more than once.

See, in flight training, you’re always preparing for the worst. (And, ...

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To Be More Effective, Simplify Your Message

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“The confused mind says no.”

You’ve heard this before, right? It means that, when faced with too many options, the brain doesn’t make any decision and simply shuts down. This is why you will often see well-dressed people standing, zombie-like, in front of the mustards section of Whole Foods. Eventually, a Whole Foods employee will check the zombies’ wallets for IDs and arrange for Ubers to take them home, where a nice Pinot will bring them back to consciousness.

For those of ...

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Why You Need To Be Encouraging Bad Ideas

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According to the traditional rules, I could never run for public office.

Not that I want to run for public office. I don’t! I’d be terrible at it. But my point is that, according to the traditional rules (which may not even be a thing anymore), I couldn’t run. That’s because, at some point during my campaign, some reporter would begin a question with:

“Mr. Stainton, isn’t it true that you once said…”

And my honest answer, even without hearing the rest of ...

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