Lessons from Project Runway

I just finished lunch upstairs and was listening to Project Runway. Really.

My wife has the day off and so does my daughter. They love the show and were watching it when I came upstairs to eat. Understand that tonight features Opening Day for the Mariners and the National Championship game in college basketball (and I still have Butler playing). You get my point.

I did hear one thing that caught my attention. Host Heidi Klum (another good reason to occasionally tune in) made a comment to one of the contestants that I belive transfers over to business. She told him, “You are consistent. Consistently safe. That is a bad thing in this business.”

Being safe is a bad thing in any business. You must be willing to be contrarian; to push back; to offer opinions outside of the mainstream. Otherwise, you’re just part of the white noise. Look at the people in your industry who are most successful. More than likely, you will find that they were willing to take risks; to be unconventional; and to buck the trend.

Do you play it “safe?” If so, how can you change that? That will be your key to enhancing your name, brand, and product or service.

Maybe I need to keep watching Heidi Klum for more blog fodder….

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Need to Get Away? Not Good for Frontier Bank President

Frontier Bank’s president John Dickson was fired this week by CEO Pat Fahey because he went on vacation. Really.

The bank is in deep trouble and has until April 15th to get better or sell. CEO Fahey was angered that President Dickson took a planned vacation with his family to Hawaii when the bank was in such crisis. In his words, “it was not the appropriate time for either of the two leaders to be gone.” Dickson countered that he was always available by phone and e-mail. Dickson is actually the son of the founder of Frontier Bank.

Read the story from the Puget Sound Business Journal

Here are my thoughts:

  1. If Dickson was as accessible as he said he was by phone, internet connection, and being able to fly back for an investor, then what difference did it make? Business is now done globally, 24/7, wherever you are. Did he have to be physically in the bank? I don’t think he did.
  2. Fahey may argue that from a morale standpoint, he did. But, let’s be serious. The employees have nothing to do with this. It’s about investors. As long as he could do whatever it took to raise capital, who cares where he is?
  3. Does it look any better to investors or customers that the CEO fired the president two weeks before the deadline? Does that help morale? Does that get you closer to making a sale? My guess is no.

Certainly, in an era where bank executives are being scrutinized every which way, Dickson could have opted for a different time. Certainly, Fahey is hunkering down and wanted all hands on deck. He most assuredly requested Dickson not leave. Dickson defied that and it was his undoing. I’m thinking there has been more to this story than this one episode.

If you were the CEO, what would you have done?

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Confidence

The first sale is to yourself.

Confidence is the most important tool for any business professional. Ironically, it’s one that is most often lacking.

This past weekend, I was a judge for the Miss Moses Lake Scholarship pageant. They crowned three winners who will each go to the Miss Washington event. I was impressed with all the young ladies because it takes a great deal of confidence to speak and perform in front of judges and a large audience. That being said, you could tell the different levels of confidence for each. Those that had competed before showed more confidence than those who hadn’t. That confidence comes out in all you do and usually means you come out on top. The more these young ladies compete and practice, the more confident they will become and it will carry over into all phases of their lives.

The same can be said for business. You have to have confidence to toot your own horn; to take risks; to be contrarian; to be in the spotlight. If you don’t have great self-confidence, you just won’t be as successful as you could be. Business is tough and can be “dog-eat-dog.” It’s easy to become discouraged. But if you’ve made that first sale to yourself, then you will have the true belief in your services and products to help others. But that first sale must be made, and it’s often to most difficult.

How strong is your confidence? What must you do to make it stronger?

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Big Mo is Good for Basketball and Business

Watching the NCAA tournament reminds me of the power of momentum. As a former high school basketball coach, I remember pounding the idea of “Big Mo” into my players on a regular basis. Momentum, both positive and negative, is contagious. It often decides the outcome of a basketball game. It also often determines the outcome of your business.

Where is your momentum? If it’s on a negative slide, you must do whatever it takes to change it. Make alterations to your schedule, try new techniques, visit clients, ask for more referrals, etc. Take calculated risks and get the momentum turned.

If you are on a good cycle, put your foot on the accelerator. Keep momentum going as long as you can because it will literally “will” you to success.

“Big Mo” is decisive in basketball and in your business. Get it on your side.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Disaster Recovery

Are you prepared to handle adversity?

I got an opportunity to practice what I preach today. I was holding a free teleconference today on Extemporaneous Excellence. I was sitting on hold with two minutes to go…alone. I was supposed to have 25 people on the line. With one minute to go, I saw my cell phone ringing. It was a friend who was taking part in the call. “Dan, the phone number you gave out says it’s not in service.” Upon checking closely, I realized that I had inverted two numbers when transposing to my memo to everyone (Dyscalculia as I have later learned is the term). At that moment, e-mails and phone calls started flooding in. Now was the time for Extemporaneous Excellence!

I managed to shoot out urgent e-mails as quick as a the fastest gun in the wild west. Within 12 minutes, we had almost 100% of the group in. A little tardy, but we went the whole 60 minutes and I believe no worse for wear. At least that’s what I heard back from people…I am looking forward to hearing the recording!

Here’s your message. Mistakes will happen to the best of us. How you respond is critical. Recovery means making the best decisions you can at the time with the knowledge you have. My decision could have been one of two things:

  1. Cancel today and send out a re-scheduled day and time
  2. Try like heck to get everyone on board, start a little late, and do my best

I opted for the latter. Either one could have worked but my gut feeling was to get these folks taken care of today because another time might not work. I had the recording so for those who never made it in, or were late, we had a solution for.

What’s your disaster recovery plan? You can’t know them all (that’s why they are called disasters), but you can know your own personal style and have a standard response. This happens to be mine. If you can identify what yours is, the next disaster won’t end up being so disastrous.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

How to Find Stories to Blog About

One of my mentor clients asked me today, “Where do you find things to blog about?” A good question that I thought many of you may also be asking.  Here it is. Get ready to cut and paste this interminable answer in your brain. Ready?

Life.

I guarantee that things happen to you every single day that you can write about, blog about, or use for a story in a speech. You just have to be in the moment and be able to use your life as a metaphor.

Here’s an example from today for me. I was working around the house and I love to listen to Pandora while I work. I had it on the Greased Lightning station and listening to an oldie song called, “What a Wonderful World it Would Be.” One of the lines said something like, “I don’t know what a slide rule does…” I chuckled. Neither does about 2/3 of the world anymore. However 40 years ago, everyone not only did, but used them all the time. So how do you use this as a blog post?

My mentee is in the technology world. The changes in technology are happening at warp speed. Just like the slide rule, many things we take for granted today may be obsolete in just a short time. In fact, much shorter than ever before! If you are unwilling to change and learn about new technologies in real-time, you and your business will be left behind playing with your slide rule.

OR…

If you are a consultant for helping businesses work with a diverse generational workforce, you might find a way to use this story in a speech comparing the slide rule to the Texas Instruments calculator to an iPhone app. You get the picture.

The key is to be aware of things around you; note peculiar things that happen or that make you laugh; find irony in everyday happenings; and make note of all of them. The next step is to try to relate them as a metaphor to something in your business. Then start writing…

The reality is that your audience will better understand a difficult topic or be more engaged in your speech when you use everyday life occurrences that seemingly have no commonality. It’s a great way to never run out of stories. All you have to do is live!

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

How Do You Develop a Writing Style?

A client of mine recently commented on a blog post I wrote, and asked where I learned to write the way I did.  His comments were appreciated and I thought I would also share with you…

  1. Don’t be afraid to offend. Really. If your writing doesn’t challenge, provoke, anger, or inspire a diverse range of your audience, you’re not doing your job. Apathy is the enemy. Your message needs to be direct and clear. You don’t have to be inflammatory, but you must be interesting.
  2. Read others who you respect. You don’t have to agree with everything (or anything) they say. But key in on writing styles and learn why they are successful.
  3. Practice. Practice. Practice.  The more you write, the better you will be. Writing can include blog posts, newsletters, books, articles and op-eds.
  4. Get help. Education is critical to any success. Use coaches, mentors, teachers in your development. Heck, take a class from your local community college to improve your skills. Just remember, writing in business differs from creative writing. They are both good, but have different messages.

Bottom line – a huge part of creating marketing gravity is publishing and writing. Make sure yours is read!

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Shameless Promotion

I recently was leaving a parking lot when I noticed an old, blue pickup truck with a graphic promotion printed on the gate. I was half-expecting to see a landscaping or construction company promo based on the vehicle, but was surprised to read this…

“Grandpa seeks female for friendship” followed by the old guys phone number.

Now that’s shameless promotion!

If you really believe the product or service you offer is truly valuable in improving the lives and businesses of others, then you must practice shameless promotion. This fact was really drilled into my brain by my mentor, Alan Weiss. We are not in the snake-oil salesman game. What we do as consultants, entrepreneurs, small and large businesses, and professional services really do help others and they need to know about it. The only one who can get the word out with passion and conviction is you!

Here are a five painless ways to practice shameless promotion:

  • Consistent press releases
  • Speaking
  • Publishing
  • Networking
  • Referrals

In everything you do, you must provide value. You must be credible. You must be sincere. It ends up being a win-win for everyone when you can improve the lives and business of others. The only way you can do that is if they know you exist.

There are now plenty of ladies in my community that know “Grandpa” is looking for friendship.  Take a cue from him and shamelessly promote your value.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Seth Kahan Interviews Alan Weiss on Mentor Program

You may have seen me announce that I am thrilled to be the 21st person in the world to become a Master Mentor in the Alan Weiss global community.  Seth Kahan, a world-class consultant from the Washington D.C. area (and the first Master Mentor) just interviewed Alan on his mentor program and the new Mentor Mastery program.  It’s about 24 minutes and well worth the listen.

Click here to listen to the interview.

If you are interested in dramatically transforming your consulting, speaking, or entrepreneurial career, take the half hour and listen to this interview.  If you have questions about my experience, I’d be glad to share it with you. Obviously, the experience has had a profound impact on me both professionally and personally.  It can for you, too.

To learn more about my new mentor program as part of Alan’s community, click here.

Cheers,

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

What Can You Learn from the Saints and the Super Bowl?

What can you learn to help your business thrive from yesterday’s Super Bowl?  How about this:

  • The Saints were coached more aggressively.  The 4th down attempt, the onside kick to start the 2nd half, and blitzing Peyton Manning late in the game are examples.  They were willing to be courageous to win the big game. Are you willing to be courageous in your career?
  • The 4th down attempt didn’t work, and sometimes that happens in business.  If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.
  • The Colts didn’t make the plays when they had the lead. Up 10-3, Pierre Garcon dropped a pass that could have gone the distance. It was a game-changer.  When you have the lead in your line of business, do you take your foot off the gas or make the right play?  Execution of skills is as critical as dropping a pass in the Super Bowl. You must be ready for success.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved