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Archive for April, 2010

Be Wary of Advice that Comes Knocking on your Door Unexpectedly

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Be careful of who you take advice from – especially if it comes unsolicited.

Our culture has become infatuated with judging. Reality television shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, and Chopped entertain us with celebrity judges critiquing “real” people like us, booting them off shows, and heaping them with suggestions and often brutal tongue-lashing. And that’s why we in the viewing audience keep coming back for more every week.

Be careful in your business and personal life of advice that comes unexpectedly knocking on your door.

I’m a huge believer in coaching and mentoring. Heck, I’d better be since I am one. As I heard Patricia Fripp once say, “You can’t be brilliant by yourself.” Having a trusted adviser to help you along your path is crucial for success and sanity. Obviously, this is solicited advice. My issue comes when people want to give you their expert “judging” without your consent or desire. Unsolicited advice is always for the giver not the person it’s being given to.

You may ask, “But aren’t they just trying to be helpful?” Maybe. But what makes them think that you even want or need the advice? If you want it, you will ask. Just because they think they are right doesn’t mean they should force it on you. It may not be right for what you are doing. This unsolicited advice applies to many things you do in your life – speaking, writing, your business decisions, your civic activities, your website or blog,  parenting, how you dress, where your kids go to school, etc. As an example, those of us in Toastmasters are used to offering evaluations. When done in the context of the meeting, it’s a terrific tool. When done outside, it’s simply rude. The same can be said for all the other areas stated. The worst thing for you to do is to take it to heart as if it were gospel, when in fact, you may have more knowledge and experience.

A couple final thoughts on “advice:”

  • Always solicit advice from people you trust and who are where you want to be as a professional or person. That’s smart.
  • Never accept advice without the person offering it even asking if you want it. You should have the right to accept or reject it.
  • The amount of emphasis you should place on it should be equal with who is giving it to you. In other words, if you asked for it from a trusted adviser, put a lot of stock in it. If someone is telling you how to “improve” just to hear themselves pontificate, then dismiss it and run swiftly.

Finally, don’t offer unsolicited advice yourself. You should never assume the other person is “damaged” unless they give you proof of it. If you sincerely want to offer help, ask first. If they decline, that’s fine; it’s not an assault on your character or competence. Don’t take it personally.

Keep this final thought in mind when it comes to unsolicited advice – what is the motivation of the “judge?” Is it to really improve you or is it meant to help them boost their ego? Advice should always be for the benefit of the recipient and that’s why it should be asked for by them.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Effective Slide Presentations

April 23, 2010 1 comment

Between Rotary and school board meetings, I see a ton of slide presentations (Powerpoint™ has such a strong brand like Xerox once had – people use it as a verb) and the one common denominator is too much text. Whenever you hear the presenter say, “I don’t know if you can read this…” you know there’s a problem. I’ve published on this a gazillion times, so let’s start on the next gazillion…

  • Stop using images that no one can read. If you have to say “I don’t know if you can read this…” out loud, they can’t, and you shouldn’t.
  • If you must use slides, practice at least once. Otherwise you end up speaking to the screen rather than your audience.
  • Slides are for IMAGES, not text. Please, please…on behalf of the audiences of the world, stop the insane text.
  • Cut out the goofy animation and sounds. Leave that for the movies. Nobody likes them.
  • Before you use slides, ask yourself this question – “Do I really need them to give a powerful presentation?” In most cases, I think you don’t.

Last word on the subject for now – Remember, the worst sin of a speaker is boring your audience. When you choose to use slides, you need to be better and more compelling than without them, otherwise you will see everyone checking their Facebook status instead of listening to you!

Cheers,

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© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Framing Questions and Getting Solutions

April 21, 2010 1 comment

I love my daughter. She does have a slightly different style in asking questions than I do, though. She has this habit of asking, “May I ask your opinion on something?” After receiving an affirmative answer, she starts at about the time of her birth with background information. Some of it is needed, most is extraneous. As much as I’d love to have her ask the question first so I can digest it, this is her style (Note – I’ve allowed this with her. Don’t allow it in business conversations. Get to the point quickly).

After she’s done, I work to frame her problem. In other words, what is the real issue or question? It should be about one sentence and no more than three points. Once you’ve done this, you can begin to figure out a solution.

Your clients need your help. Sometimes their issues see overwhelming. That’s why you need to frame their problem and offer solutions. Peel away the onion and concisely state their angst. That helps them to be more clear, and you to be more valuable.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Why You?

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Can you answer the question, “Why you?”

When I interview insurance agents for my clients, I always ask this question at some point of the conversation. The answers vary greatly. Most agents will talk about what they do, the services they provide, the years in the business, blah, blah, blah…

The same thing seems to happen frequently in any business conversation. The “why you” question is a good one. But, it means you haven’t built up enough credibility yet to make them take the leap of faith.

The next time you are asked this simple question, instead of rattling off the things you do or the services you provide, deluge them with value . Things like:

  • Improving profit margin
  • Minimizing risk
  • Increasing sales
  • Improving market reach
  • Enhancing reputation
  • Saving time
  • Improving efficiency

Your prospect only cares about what’s in it for them when choosing someone to work with. Don’t tell them what you do – provide them with the reasons they can’t be without you!

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Patience

April 17, 2010 Leave a comment

One of my hobbies is playing fantasy baseball. Baseball has always been all about statistics and for us baseball geeks, it’s a great way to add fun to watching a season. My team looked pretty good before the season started. I was ready to get off to a fast start. Well, as often is the case, my bats were silent and my pitchers got shelled. By the end of the first week, I found my wife and daughter both beating me in the standings.

However, in baseball there’s another great axiom. Patience. I tweaked my roster just a bit to catch hot players, but basically stayed the course. Now through 2 weeks I’ve gone from the bottom to the top of the standings. Of course, that will undoubtedly be a fluid situation for only the next 6 months, but that’s the fun of it.

The lessons to take from this are pretty simple:

  • Patience and staying the course through rough waters generally pays off
  • Making smart “tweaks” to your strategies, activities, attitude, and life provide much needed spark, positive energy, and results
  • Just because your on the bottom now doesn’t mean you’ll stay there unless you want to. Likewise, being on top can also be temporary unless you diligently continue to work on improving yourself

If you believe in what you are doing, be patient and stay the course. If it makes sense to tweak things to test or gain better results, do it. But most of all, have confidence in yourself and your plan.

Batter up!

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Use Testimonials for Value Proposition

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

I spoke to a group of business leaders yesterday on the topic of value propositions. I recently wrote an article in the Kitsap Business Journal encouraging you to dump your elevator speech and take the stairs with a powerful value proposition. One of the best ways to get ideas to create a terrific value propositions is with using testimonials.

Ask your best clients why they use your services, what values they realized, and what they would tell others about you. It’s often difficult to think up your own value, but when you use the words of others, it provides you with two things:

  1. Great ideas on key words, phrases, and sound bytes to your value. You may even learn that you are giving value that you didn’t know about!
  2. It’s always best to use the words of others to describe your value. It carries more weight with prospects.

Ask your clients why they like working with you to help you develop a killer value proposition. Then go out and find people and business to help!

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Blogging for Gravity

April 13, 2010 Leave a comment

I was a guest speaker for the North Mason Chamber of Commerce this morning. The topic was how to create, write, and leverage the marketing gravity for a blog.

One of the great things about blogs are that they can build credibility globally. One lady in the audience is an interior designer that also specializes in “staging” homes for sale. I asked the question, “What does she gain by having a global blog?”  Here are a few answers:

  1. She can use it as credibility in the marketplace to gain publishing opportunities – books, e-books, articles, columns, syndication, etc.
  2. She can become a speaker for national conferences for realtors, architects, construction, interior designers, etc.
  3. She can gain opportunities to be used as a source for interviews in national publications.

That’s just 3 things. What about you? What marketing gravity can you gain from your expertise? It can all start with a provocative, value-laden blog.

© 2010. Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved