What’s in a Book

Many of you Toastmasters may be familiar with the name Craig Valentine. Craig is the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking. I recently completed a home-study course he has on storytelling and heard an interesting fact. Craig read that most Americans never read another non-fiction book after high school. I forgot the actual percentage but that is a mind-boggling statistic.

Where do you fall into that category? Until a few years ago, I have to admit I rarely read anything other than a non-fiction book, unless it had to do with sports. Actually, sports are what got me into reading self-development books again. When I became a high school coach, reading books by great coaches like John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski became a necessity. Now that coaching sports is in my past (for now), I’ve taken that same stance on improving my skills as a speaker and consultant. In the past year, I’ve read or listened to Alan Weiss, Darren LaCroix, Craig Valentine, and Seth Godin. Each of them has brought great value to my development as a speaker and consultant.

How about you? If you’re not learning from your industry leaders, how can you improve your career? Take the same challenge I gave myself and read or listen to at least one book per month that will improve your career or personal life. By learning something new every month, you will find your life has been enriched with new ideas, improved skills, and probably more money!

Dan

P.S. Let me help you get started. Darren LaCroix and Rick Segal have a fabulous book called Laugh & Get Rich. You will learn how to bring humor into your work environment, business relationships, and marketing. You will even have fun reading it. To purchase or learn more simply click here.

What You Can Learn from Tiger Woods

If you’ve ever watched Tiger Woods play golf, you know you’re looking at arguably the greatest golfer of all time. He unquestionably fits that title for this generation at least. Even if you’re not a golfer, you are certainly aware of his dominance in his profession. This past weekend, he picked up his 13th career major victory at the PGA Championship in Tulsa, OK; moving him ever closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins.

So what can we learn from Tiger? No, I’m not talking about his thunderous drives or his precision putting. We can however learn something about work ethic, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence.

Tiger Woods has been called a “phenom” by many. However, his phenomenal play really comes from an endless regimen that strengthens his mind, body, and skills. The mental focus he brings to his game is really what sets him apart from his competitors. Think about this weekend. After 72 holes in temperatures that soured to over 100 degrees each day, he won a tournament by a mere 2 strokes. Two strokes over 72 holes isn’t a lot by numbers, but it’s that little “extra” that Tiger brings from the mental side that puts him over the top time and time again. His ability to focus on the task at hand, without being distracted about what happened in the past, or what will happen in the future, has made him the most dominant athlete in sports since Michael Jordan.

Do you bring that type of focus to your “game”?

Consider each sales call, Toastmaster speech, or presentation to a group your own PGA Championship. Have you prepared mentally for anything that can happen? Have you practiced your materials so well that you can fall out of bed at 2AM and be able to recite it? Is your focus on the “now” or are you distracted by failures in the past?

Take a real playing lesson from Tiger Woods. In golf, the course is actually just 5 inches long. That’s about the distance between our ears. In our world, our playing field is the same. Remember that being prepared both mentally and physically for your “major” will help you become the Tiger Woods of your profession. Hit it straight!

Dan

P.S. If you’re serious about taking you game to the next level, you should consider attending my Panic to Power Boot Camp on November 6 in Port Gamble. You will learn how to become a “Tiger” when you present and turn that into more $$$. Take advantage of my Early Bird special and register today. Click here to learn more…

Crowning Achievement

Have you ever had a crown put on your teeth? If you have, you know the discomfort I just went through over the past two weeks. First, the preliminary visit is worse than putting the actual crown on. It’s an hour and a half of misery…from the Novocain shots, the drilling and sawing, and the worst part of all, the plaster mold. Reminds me of that pink Paper Mache stuff we used in grade school for art projects.

In fact, the assistant tightened my upper mold too tight and couldn’t get it off. I felt like I was in a Seinfeld episode as she pulled, tugged, and wiggled with all her might while pulling me literally out of my chair. It’s one of those events that you always say that you will look back and laugh about later…still not laughing! The actual “crowning” part wasn’t bad at all and only took about 20 minutes. Seemed like a lot of preparation for just a short fix.

This process reminds me of preparing a speaking presentation. Whether it’s for a Toastmasters speech, a big-money sales call, or addressing your local City Hall, the hardest and most difficult part of the process is your preparation. It seems like a lot of work for just a short end result. Just like a new crown in your mouth, the more diligent your prep work, the better “fit” you will have.

Too bad I wasn’t thinking about that when that plaster mold was stuck in my mouth!

Dan

P.S. Do you need help learning HOW to prepare for those big presentations? That’s why I’m holding my Panic to Power Boot Camp on November 6, 2007 in Port Gamble, WA. You will learn how to go from panic to profit with your communication skills. Click here to learn more.

Grace Stands the Test of Time

It was April 8th, 1974 and I was 9 years old. I was watching a nationally televised baseball game featuring the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. Glued to the television and clutching my brand-new Hank Aaron “714” baseball mitt, I was waiting anxiously to watch my hero come to the plate. I can still smell the leather of the glove. Aaron was tied with Babe Ruth as the Home Run King and his next homer would leave him standing alone. I’ll never forget it – his second at bat against Al Downing was hit over the left-field wall and as he rounded the bases, he was mobbed by two fans who somehow managed to elude the police. It was quite a scene and a thrill for this young fan. I remember how gracious “The Hammer” was in his comments before, during, and after the chase. Ruth was a legend and Aaron endured much hatred and contempt. His graciousness under these circumstances was more heroic than his accomplishment.

Now, 12,173 days later, Bobby Bonds stands alone as the new Home Run King. This article isn’t about blasting Barry Bonds. This is his time, plus there are enough people to tackle that job anyway. This is about a man who 33 years later still exudes graciousness. Hank Aaron wasn’t in San Francisco last night for the festivities. He had said all along he had no interest in attending and stuck to his word. However, he did issue a video statement that was played on the big screen congratulating Bonds for his “skill, longevity, and determination.” He considered himself “privileged” to have held the record and sent his best wishes to Bonds and his family. In conclusion, he said this, “My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams”.

It makes mo wonder if I’m always gracious in challenging times. How about you? If we can learn anything from Henry Aaron, it’s this; baseball records will come and go, but what stands forever is the character of a human being.

Oh, by the way, read his final statement one more time. Are you still chasing your dreams? As my friend Jim Key has said, “It’s never too late to dream”! My hope is that you will be inspired to keep your dreams, whatever they may be, alive and well.

Dan

Dial One for Frustration, Two for “I need a LIVE person!"

Do you remember the last time you called a big company and got stuck in their voice mail system that left you feeling you were in the Twilight Zone? Just this morning, I spent at least 45 minutes on the phone with Dell, speaking to 4 different people on at least three different continents trying to figure out how to buy two notebooks. Alan Weiss, the famed consultant and speaker, always says “Make it easy for the customer to buy”. Geez! I found myself screaming at my phone begging to talk to a real person. The phone just kept telling me that wasn’t an option.

Last Friday, I went online to buy a notebook for me and one for my daughter, Mindy who is going away to college. I have a Dell Business account so I wanted to purchase them with that. The system didn’t recognize me because I wasn’t a “personal” customer, so I had to wait through the weekend to talk to the business office. Between the phone and the “real” people I talked to, I got transferred, switched and stymied all over the place until I reached a guy named Guy (really). The guy named Guy figured out that my orders needed to be re-built into the business section because, well I guess the “personal” and “business” side of Dell must have as hard a time communicating with each other as their customers do! Bottom line…Guy could fix the problem (I think. I haven’t heard back from him yet as I write this article). I guess Dell is lucky I have a business account with them or else I would have taken my business elsewhere.

This is a great lesson in communications and customer service. If you’re in the business world, make it easy for your customer to buy AND to talk to a real live person. Technology is great but the advent of convoluted answering services has really made personal communications much more difficult. In the end, that’s how we build relationships and sell more of our wares. This has made me look at my distribution system to make sure I’m client-friendly. Perhaps it’s a good time for you to look at yours, too.

P.S. Want to learn how adding humor to your business marketing and practices will make you more attractive to customers? Why don’t you sign up for my workshop with Sandra Kolb on Tuesday, October 23rd in Bremerton, WA? Click here to learn more. You can also buy the book Laugh and Get Rich by Darren LaCroix and Rick Segal. It’s a groundbreaking look at how humor will leave you laughing all the way to the bank while having fun yourself. What a concept! Click here to learn more.

Facts Tell, Stories Sell

If you are in sales and/or marketing, you may have heard this phrase before. It’s as true in any presentation as it is in sales and marketing. Stories have a unique way of connecting with people in a very personal way. Your stories used in a presentation or speech will likely invoke memories and feelings in your audience that you desire to help promote your message.

Have you ever been at the buying end of a sales pitch that just spent most of your time presenting facts and figures about a car, vacation plan, or some other major purchase? Did you feel disconnected from the “seller”? If you’re like me, you probably did. But, was there a time when someone presented you with a story that helped you to see the message they were conveying more clearly? If you were with me and my clients in an insurance agent’s office last month, you would have seen the power of storytelling.

As an insurance consultant, I frequently sit in on proposals given by agents to my clients. I had the opportunity to hear an agent very poignantly tell a story of a close friend who had been involved in a terrible car accident. His friend’s life had been permanently altered by the consequences of the accident. A once very active athlete, he was now physically wracked with pain and had huge medical costs. This chilling example hit home to my clients in making financial decisions on their insurance. The agent didn’t make up a story purely as a sales gimmick. It was a true and personally touching story meant to give a real-life scenario to an intangible product. In the end, it was a win-win for both parties.

Regardless of the message you are going to deliver, or the audiences you will deliver it to, stories are your key to success. Whether you are in the board room, the locker room, or your teenager’s room, your message will be best delivered with examples of true stories that happened to you.

Do you need help remembering stories? Create a document file in your computer and keep track of stories – humorous, sad, or dramatic – that you feel will help you “sell” an idea or message later. Use it as a resource as you plan your next presentation and it will help you connect with your audience.

P.S. My educational CD called Panic to Power: Swift and Simple Speaking Strategies Anyone Can Use will help you overcome any anxiety you have in communicating your message and give you valuable tools even if you are an experienced presenter. Take a look to your right and look for the giant CD to buy it today!

P.S.S. I have a new workshop called Panic to Power for Business: Turning Panic into $$$$. It’s so new it’s not even on my web site yet! Call me at (360) 271-1592 or send me an e-mail at dan@danweedin.com to find out more, including how to get my CD free!

Shake On It!

FROM MY JULY NEWSLETTER – THE VOICE

Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you go to shake another person’s hand, that their eyes are looking somewhere else? How does that make you feel? If you’re like me, it probably makes you feel that you’re not very important to that person. Just another hand in the line to shake, right?

Shaking hands is one of the oldest forms of communications. It originated by showing the person you are greeting that you come unarmed. It’s a standard business and personal practice, particularly in the western world.

Too bad we are often thinking about something else when making that communication link. It might be about the sales presentation we are about to give. Or, if you’re in a group of people, you might wonder if the other person is scanning the crowd to see who else’s hand they need to shake instead of greeting you. Does this make you wonder where your eyes are when you shake? It did for me.

Why don’t you take the same challenge I gave myself. Make a concerted effort to slow down and enjoy the greeting of the person who’s attached to that hand. Making solid eye contact along with a firm hand shake and kind word not only is good for business, it’s also good manners. It will make you memorable to that person.

The next time you’re in a situation to meet and greet, think about your posture and the message you’re sending. Remember, eye contact is a form of communication. I believe you will find the quality of this communication as well as your relationships will improve. They have for me.