Wardrobe Malfunction…

Here’s a best practices for all you speakers, trainers, and presenters.  Bring an extra shirt.

I’m in Leavenworth, WA about to give a training on leadership, team building, and goal setting.  I am just getting into my suit with about 2 hours to go before start time.  I avoid eating breakfast with my “good clothes” to miss the inevitable spillage.  Here’s a new one…

I put on my favorite blue mock sweater to go with my black suit.  I love that outfit.  To my horror, I notice a tear on the seam of the sweater under my left armpit!  OUCH!  I brought no other shirts other than the golf shirt I wore to drive in yesterday and that won’t work.  After a call to my wife, she assures me it won’t tear further and I don’t need to rush and uy a new shirt.  I guess I’m wearing my jacket all day.

The morale of the story is this…

Bring an extra dress shirt to your presentations.  You never know when you will spill, stain, or tear.  That will now be added to my checklist!

Cheers,

How Do You Communicate Your Message?

If you’re in business, you know one of the base fundamentals for success is developing your brand.  Once you’ve got a brand, you have to make sure people know about you.  In today’s technologically adept world, it’s easier than ever.  The question is, are you doing it?

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in social media and technology to the point of it being a time dump.  As I sit here and type out this blog, I already know my marketing strategy for it – Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Plaxo.  Most of these sites are inter-related so when I post to one, I post to all.  A huge time saver.

Are you utilizing You Tube?  If you’re like me, you are a visual learner.  I enjoy watching people on video, whether its a training or a testimonial.  What can you do for your business to promote your services and provide value?  It’s free and it’s viral.  What are you waiting for?

Bottom line – if you are in business, you need people to understand how they can be improved by your services, advice, or work.  People still buy on trust and need.  The more you can disseminate your message to more people in varied ways, the more opportunities you will have to help them.

How do you communicate your message?

Newport Journal 2

It’s quite something to wake up to the sound of waves crashing outside your window, rather than an alarm clock.  I think my body is now completely used to the time change, although it makes it more difficult to communicate with my family back home. My daughter texted me late last night telling me she was at Safeco Field for the Mariners game.  I asked how they were doing and she informed that the game hadn’t even started yet!  And I was ready for bed!

It has been a fabulous Million Dollar Consulting ® College and we are only 44% through.  I’ve made fantastic new friends and last night we all went out to dinner to an Italian place that Alan Weiss recommended.  The food was great, the company even better.  There is a camaraderie that develops in teams, military units, and workshop groups when you are all working toward a similar goal.  Even though we are all solo practitioner consultants in different fields, our goal for professional development and growth is the same.  In my experience, these friendships that you make with your peers in small groups become strong and lasting.  I’m sure this will be the case with us.  After all, once you’ve gone through role playing together with Alan, you become a kindred spirit!

I’ve decided that Newport is definitely a place to return with my family.  I’m sure they take great solace in the fact that I took the risk to reconnoiter the area first!  Based on the photos, I think they would fly out here now!

More to come…

Cheers,

Dan Weedin’s 19 Tips for Better Business Travel

As I sit and type this, my Mac Book is scrunched up to my stomach as the guy in front of me has leaned back as far as possible, thus eliminating the already limited room I had to move. As all of you who have traveled by air already know, all the best laid plans and precautions are not foolproof. Inevitably, you end up with your laptop on your stomach.

That being said, this trip I am taking to Las Vegas to study risk management principles (what are the odds of that) has led me to write this quick, down and dirty, guide to help you enjoy your business travel. Let’s also agree that these strategies apply to your personal travel as well, though much will be geared to the business warriors who must on a regular basis disrobe, delay, and de-plane.

In no particular order here are my 19 strategies for better travel when flying:

1. Leave early. My wife laughs at me for being a stickler to getting to the airport early, but I hate the stress of being rushed. “Stuff” happens – traffic delays, bridge closures, construction, and detours to name a few. I’ve even had to turn around and go back home to get important things I’ve forgotten! I doubt I’m the only one to do that, although my wife thinks it’s only me. If you commit to leaving in time to get to the airport 90 minutes in advance to carry-on and 2 hours to check baggage, you will ease your stress from the start.

Note – More often than not, my wife or daughter drives me to the airport. We enjoy the time to relax and talk. However, there are many times they can’t make it work. Do yourself a favor and rent a town car or limousine. You will find the majority of limo services are only slightly more cost than taxis, but the investment is worth it. You get friendlier drivers, more comfort, air conditioning, better driving, and a more relaxed experience. I’ve found a regular service in Seattle that will frequently pick me up at the ferry terminal and drive me to the airport. My cost, including a generous tip, is $50. The taxi is $38 without tip. Do the math on your comfort and take the limo.

2. Bring snacks. I always carry a couple energy bars with me on my carry on bag. I learned my lesson the hard way. In December of 2001, on a flight to Juneau, AK, we were diverted twice to Sitka. The first time they wouldn’t let us off due to security issues from a few months earlier after September 11th. They almost didn’t let us off the second time, except a different type of mutiny almost occurred. I was starving, and if you know me that tends to make me cranky. I now make sure I have at least something edible to munch on so I don’t have to rely on airplane food (if there is any left).

3. Carry-on if at all possible. I’m headed to Vegas for four days. I was able to get everything in one duffle bag and my briefcase. I will be in class all week, it’s 95 degrees out, and I have nothing that requires business attire. Carrying-on is the only way to go. I understand business travel often requires that you must check baggage, BUT I encourage you to find ways to avoid it if you can. I purchased a fantastic roll-up carry-on case for my suit from Men’s Wearhouse. He suit stays wrinkle-free and I can carry it on with shoes and accessories. It’s by far the best travel purchase I’ve ever made. Same time and frustration whenever possible by carrying-on.

4. Charge your laptop the night before. If your airport is anything like Seattle-Tacoma International, outlets are few in number, in difficult locations, and in great demand. Take the time the evening prior to fully charge your laptop AND cell phone. Eliminate that stress with a little planning.

5. Carry George W. with you. No not George W. Bush’s photo! I’m talking about the other President named George W. You will constantly need one-dollar bills for tipping, vending machines, newspapers, or other items. I hate wanting to give a $3 tip and only having a $20 bill. If you’re rushing off to the cash machine on your way to the airport, don’t expect them to distribute anything less than a $10 bill. You may get an occasional $5, but that’s it. Keep a stash of George W’s on hand.

6. Become a frequent flyer member for your most used airlines. This should be a no-brainer but just in case, I’ve included it. The membership s free and you often get advantages in addition to miles. I have memberships in Alaska, Southwest, and Delta because those are my most used airlines. If you fly on any regular basis, consider joining their “board room” or whatever each one calls their special membership in the airport. You have better availability for high-speed Internet, food and beverage, and comfortable seats while you wait for your departure.

7. Fly first-class when possible. I wish I could fly first-class all the time I travel, but I don’t. That being said, about 35% of the time, I’m able to for just a few extra bucks. One of the airlines I frequently use, Alaska Air, will upgrade you to first-class if there is room for only $50. That’s a great deal! I usually check in early and get on the waiting list. More often than you might think, I get called and get to enjoy a more comfortable journey. Remember, I’m writing this with my Mac Book squarely in my stomach. If you have an extended trip cross-country, use whatever perks you have to go first-class because it will be worth it. The investment of you being fresh for your meeting or business event will be worth the extra cost.

8. Get your laptop or book out before you get comfy. I’ve finally learned (after too many mistakes) to get anything I plan on using out of my bag before I sit down. It eliminates the gymnastics you have to go through to pull out your bag from under the seat or above in the bin.

9. Sit on the aisle. I like to look out the window as much as anyone, but if you are traveling for business consider the following:

  • You’ve travelled enough in your life and one cloud looks like the next

  • It’s easier to get out to go to the restroom.
  • My favorite – you can at least stand up when the plane stops and you are waiting to get off.

10. Plan on using your time wisely. It might be sleep, reading the newspaper or a book, or writing your next position paper. The bottom line is that your time is valuable so take advantage of the time in the air. Get work done, catch up on rest, or improve yourself in the time you are flying at 33,000 feet.

11. Stake out your airports. I’ve found the best food places, quickest security lines, and most convenient ground transportation in my most common destinations. I’ve got my favorite shoeshine guy in Seattle and save time by getting my shoes shined every time I travel. Security gates are not all the same. Some are made to move quicker and it pays especially if you are in a rush. Know your airport and save time and frustration. As an aside, I learned on this trip that all coffee shops are not made equal. I wish I had waited in line for Starbucks instead of heading to my gate and going to another place. The coffee was average and the scone terribly dry. That’s the last time I make that mistake. I know what to expect at Starbucks and it would have been worth it.

12. Be courteous to others. I don’t like hearing other people’s cell phone conversations sitting on the plane. The thing in the ear, the histrionics of talking with your hands, the rising voice levels…give me a break. I’m not sure what’s so urgent that it can’t wait until you get off the plane. Think about the comfort of the other passengers. Okay, I’m now off my soapbox.

13. Print out your boarding pass at home before you leave. It makes life easier for you. Technology can be a great thing and being able to have that pass on hand is golden. In addition, use the business center of your hotel to print out your return trip-boarding pass in the same way.

14. Print out your hotel confirmation with your boarding pass. If you’re like me, you’ve had hotel personnel look at you funny when you gave your name to check in. Have it handy as proof that you are in the right place. By the way, you should make sure you ARE in the right place!

15. Buy travel insurance. I used to not do it and now almost always do. You never know when you will be delayed, lose luggage, or miss a plane. Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive and worth the small investment.

16. Get updates on your flight by text on your phone. You will find this to be critical to advise you of gate changes, flight delays, and other important things related to your flight. Don’t use text? Learn! It’s a free service available with every carrier.

17. Stay hydrated. Traveling takes a physical toll. It’s even more important to drink water.

18. This has been an issue for me at times – pack over-the-counter medications just in case. I’ve caught the flu and recently had a stomach virus on a trip. Packing your favorite “feel better” medications, like Alka-Seltzer, Sudafed, or Tylenol may come in handy, so you don’t have to run to the nearest drug store.

19. Relax! This may be the most important. There are very few issues in travelling that are critical. Even the most pressing business meeting can be missed due to a travel snafu without detrimental consequences. Understand that when you travel you will inevitably run into delays, missed connections, crying babies, and rude people. Don’t let it add stress to your day. Life is too short to be worrying about travel related issues. It’s bad for your attitude, which affects your business and stress level. Relax and enjoy the flight.

As I said, even if you do all of these things, there are too many factors out of your control. However, if you commit to most of these strategies, you will find that a lot of “luck” will come your way and you will enjoy a more stress-free and relaxed business trip.

You may now return your tray tables to their upright and locked position…

© 2009 Dan Weedin All Rights Reserved

This Killing Time…Is It Killing You?

How do you manage time?

As I write this, my computer is being worked on to update things.  I say “things” because I have no idea what they are, nor do I want to.  The deal is that I’m highly dependent on being on the computer to do things like write articles and blog posts.

While Justin works on fixing the minor irritations I have with technology, I’ve pulled out my MacBook and started working.  I’ve read by RSS Feed, caught up on reading the newspapers online, updated my new forum, posted a Tweet for my Rotary Club, and am now writing this blog post.

Technology has made it simpler for us to work and be efficient in my time.  Too many of us don’t think big enough when trying to determine how to not waste time.  I used to bemoan the fact that my big “project” was losing momentum if I was delayed in accessing it.  Now, I realize there are several smaller projects I can complete and get off my table.  In the end, I’m being productive. What about you?

One tip is to always be prepared with a back up plan.  Carry a book, have an audio book on your iPod or MP3, keep a pad and pen to jot notes, or just have that next “to-do” handy in case something comes up to derail your plans.  It’s not about always needing to be busy.  Sometimes, you may just need to think.  That’s why you carry something to write down all those great ideas.

Don’t just kill time.  Make it useful.  Be prepared with your lap top, your book, or your iPod to be effective and efficient.  You will find you will get more done giving you more discretionary time in the end.

Cheers,

The Weedin Forums

I am very excited to announce that I’ve just launched my exclusive forums for my professional community and it’s available to join immediately.

The Weedin Forums will be a place where C-level executives, small business owners, business professionals, and business leaders can come to learn, grow, and be challenged.  The forums have many categories meant to discuss and debate with peers so you can learn and constantly develop your business or organization.

Topic you will find include:

  • Leadership
  • Insurance & Risk Management
  • Effective Communications Skills
  • Networking & Marketing
  • Current Events
  • Life Balance Techniques
  • Much, much more

There is also a forum for you to ask me any question that you need a quick response to.  I’ve been a member of my mentor’s community just like this for consultants and have benefited greatly.

Membership is a lifetime $500 one-time fee.  You will get a huge return on your investment just by being active and participating.  I encourage you to join and become active in my forums.  It will be good for your business!

Click here to register.

Cheers,

The Business of Golf: 18 Rules to Play By

Dan Weedin’s Best Practices for Winning the Business of Golf

If you’re anything like me, you love to mix work with pleasure. Especially, if it’s on the golf course. The links offers a great opportunity to tee it up with clients and prospects. Even if you don’t play a lot, charity golf tournaments make it easy for even the novice to take advantage of the opportunity to build business relationships.

But, it’s just as big an opportunity for embarrassment and I’m not talking about your game. You can find yourself in the worst bunker of all – out of a job or losing business. And in this game, there are no mulligans! So regardless of whether you’re playing a round with your boss, a client, a prospect, or some other VIP, make sure you know the rules of play.

Just like a golf course has 18 holes, I have 18 best practices that you can use to avoid the hazards and build better business relationships through the grand old game of golf.

Front Nine

  1. Never ever sell on the course. This is an opportunity to build a relationship and trust.  Nothing will turn off a prospective client more than hearing a sales pitch right before he lines up his birdie putt.
  2. Never try to schedule a meeting on the course. You can do this while you’re having a beer after.  If they can’t stick around, simply ask if you can call them the next business day to schedule an appointment.  Make sure you get their approval and their business card.
  3. Keep your temper in check. Never swear, mope, throw your club, or complain (even if your prospect/client/boss does).  They need to understand that you don’t take yourself too seriously and that you’re not a maniac.
  4. Make sure you know golf etiquette. If the game is fairly new to you, brush up online for tips on how to behave on the course.  Your client will have an expectation that you can carry yourself well in any situation, including the links.
  5. Do not over consume alcohol on the course. This should be a no-brainer but I’ve seen it.
  6. Offer to buy refreshments as the snack cart drives around. Make sure you have plenty of five’s and one’s available and don’t scrimp on the tip. They will notice!
  7. Be conservative in your dress. I know seasoned golfers have seen John Daly’s latest outrageous wear. This isn’t the place to show off your multi-colored pants. I’m not saying be a prude. Just be smart.
  8. Don’t play slow. I don’t mean that you have to be a good golfer. I mean don’t take seven practice swings before each shot or check every angle when lining up a putt. Keep the pace going.
  9. You don’t have to let the boss/client win. Really. Golf is a gentleman’s game, not a brown-noser’s. If you’re keeping score, as long as you are gracious either way, you will be a winner.

Back Nine

  1. Pick up lunch at the turn. The “turn” is going from the front nine to the back nine and always offers the opportunity to eat.
  2. Be willing to accept reciprocation. They may offer to buy you food or drink. Don’t embarrass them by refusing and forcing the issue that you buy. You might be at their club, or you might be their guest. Be willing to graciously accept.
  3. Don’t Crash the Cart. I’ve seen it. Really. Most charity golf events require a cart, as do many of the newer courses. This may go hand in hand in avoiding overconsumption of alcohol. Putting your boss in the hospital doesn’t lend itself to a stable long-term relationship!
  4. Play for par, hope for birdie. Here’s what I mean. Don’t try to do the spectacular like fishing out the client’s golf ball from the lake when you can’t reach it easily. You may end up all wet in the drink (seen this too). Looking for his or her ball in poison ivy – that’s a double-bogey! Be smart when making decisions that could impact the remaining part of your game.
  5. Ask Questions. This is your opportunity to learn a little something about your playing partner. Find out about family, hobbies, and even about their work. Be sincerely interested and listen.
  6. If they ask, go for it! I know I told you not to sell or schedule appointments earlier. But, if your prospect starts the conversation down that line, play on. It’s their prerogative to talk business, so if they want to, by all means take advantage. But remember to stop when they do.
  7. Shake their hand. At the end of the round, shake their hand as well as every other playing partner. I’ve always liked how Tiger Woods doffs his cap while shaking hands. I never seem to get the holding on to the putter and ball while shaking. Helps to have a caddy, I guess!
  8. Offer to eat after the round. The 19th hole is a great place to enjoy a burger and beer (moderately). If they can’t stay, don’t make them feel bad. It’s the right thing to offer.
  9. Have fun! This is the most important item. Don’t psyche yourself out, try to be perfect, or worry about business. People can tell. Enjoy the day, the company, and the game.

You will learn a lot about a person over 18 holes. Your client/prospect/boss will learn a lot about you.  Make sure you are giving the best impression you can.  This is a golden opportunity to build relationships and show that you are worthy of their trust. People do business with those they trust and like. Make sure they walk off the course with a “birdie” feeling about you.

© 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved

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Saying Thank You Still Works

Not five minutes ago, I received a personal phone call from the head of a non-profit organization that I recently donated to.  His call was to simply say “thank you” by phone.  He acknowledged my contribution and said that in today’s economic challenges, every dollar counts.  He finished by reiterating his thanks and said goodbye.

That’s it.  Five minutes on a Wednesday morning and I will always be supporting that charity.

Think about it.  How a simple thank you can change how your business succeeds.  Whether you are a non-profit executive or a business owner, simply taking a few minutes to express your thanks with a phone call or card makes a huge impression.  I was most impressed that he called.  In today’s e-mail world, it would have been easy to just send it electronically, which in and of itself would have been nice.  By being “old school” and calling, it made it even more memorable.

How do you express thanks to your clients and customers?  Do you do it often enough?  This was a great reminder for me.  It should be for you, too!

Cheers,

Are You Willing to Push Back?

One of the biggest metamorphosis I’ve experienced since becoming a consultant in 2005 is the art of the “push back.”  As an insurance sales professional for nearly 20 years, I studied many sales approaches and most always preached that the client or prospect are “always right.”  You never wanted to cause any waves, take any chances on creating friction, or take an alternate view because you were scared to death of losing the sale.

For those of you in business, I have two words for you – STOP IT!

All this timidness ever produces is a “yes man” mentality and even worse, a relationship where the client or prospect is more important than you.

The reality is that your client and you are peers.  This doesn’t mean you should ever be rude, snide, arrogant, or bossy.  What it means is that you have a healthy enough relationship where you can push back in confidence, especially when it means your client benefits.

I’ve recently had several excellent debates on Facebook with friends on topics related to politics and current events.  We often don’t agree and respectfully spar with each other.  In the old days, I may have held my tongue in fear that someone “important” might read it, disagree, and never want to do business with me.  Well, my viewpoint is also important.  I may not always be right (as my wife often points out to me), but I’m willing to debate, learn more, and be interesting.  I’ve yet to lose a friend (as far as I know) and often develop a better relationship.

Your client or prospect doesn’t need a “yes man.”  They need someone to hold them accountable, challenge their ideas, help them to grow, create more opportunities, and in the end improve their condition.

Here are five strategies you can employ in your business AND personal life:

  1. Don’t be afraid to offer a differing opinon.  Someone may learn from the process or at the very least be better educated from it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to push back to a client or prospect.  If it’s in their best interest based on your expertise, they will respect it.  Think of it this way, if you are always agreeing with them, why do they need you?
  3. Challenge ideas.  Ask why they feel that a particular strategy will work; offer alternatives; find potential flaws.  Better in the beginning than when in motion.
  4. Become an object of interest.  My mentor, Dr. Alan Weiss always stresses this and I am a big believer in it.  Read newspapers, follow current events, have opinions.  In addition, ask questions and respond.  This is part of becoming intelligent and interesting person to others.
  5. Be provocative.  I’ve been thrilled that many of my blog posts have drawn comments, especially ones that disagree.  We can agree to debate issues while being respectful.  It adds value and educates.

Bottom line – in order to become someone of value to your market, then you need to stay away from being robotic “yes men and women.”  Commit to helping others by pushing back when you need to, creating a buzz, and becoming an object if interest and intrigue.  In the end, you will find that it improves your career and your life.

Cheers,

23 Best Practices for Business Communications

Here are my 23 Best Practices for Business Communications.  They are not in any priority order or all-inclusive.  They are a good start.  If you commit to all 23, you will go a long way into providing more value for your clients, prospects, and business associates.

•    Learn to anticipate potential questions from clients, prospects, and audience
•    Use role playing as a practice aid for sales calls and networking
•    Arrive early for your speeches
•    Always check audio visual in advance
•    Be prepared for technology malfunctions
•    Internalize your value proposition
•    Write out your introduction and give it in advance to your presenter
•    Don’t try to sell in networking events
•    Build relationships first
•    Ask questions and be an active listener
•    If you’re at a meal, don’t talk with your mouth full
•    Make eye contact on hand shakes
•    Hold eye contact in speeches
•    Use personal stories to advance your message
•    Never stop learning – use professional development opportunities
•    Avoid filler words like uhm, ah, and so
•    Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes – learn and move on
•    Watch great speakers
•    Repeat names to help you remember them
•    Learn to improve your vocal variety and pace to match your message
•    Be likeable
•    Provide value in all your conversations, writings, and speeches
•    Use “you-focused” questions and terms

Cheers,