Extra Points – The Post-Rapture Edition!

This week’s focus point –

Post-Rapture Special – Cliffhangers.

Hello? Hello? Is there anyone else out there?

If you’re reading this, either the rapture didn’t happen “as expected” or you and I are in the throws of a planet upheaval over the next 5 months, if I read the article in the New York Times on Friday correctly. It would certainly figure that the end of the world would come right when the Seattle Mariners are playing great baseball. wouldn’t it?

It would also mean that I would miss out on all the great shows I enjoy watching that have major cliffhangers that just aired and won’t be solved until September. I think the 1980’s iconic series Dallas made cliffhangers a “must” for all serious dramas on television.

In business, you can learn from cliffhangers. A terrific season finale will create curiosity, emotion, suspense, foreboding, and an actual passion to find out what happens. If you’re a speaker on any professional level, you must create that same emotional response to engage your audience and have them focus on you, not their text messages. If you’re in sales, you must know that logic makes people think, and emotion makes people act. Creating curiosity, suspense and passion will more quickly get you the business than spouting out statistics. What can you do in your business to create the same emotions the great television dramas do that keep their audience coming back for more? If you can figure that out, then you have your own hit series!

That is, unless the calculations are a week off and the end of the world is actually next week instead. I think I’ll still keep my golf tee time just in case…

This week’s quote – “If evil be said of thee, and it be true, correct thyself. If it be a lie, laugh at it.”
– Epictetus (Greek sage and stoic philosopher from the 2nd century)

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Saving Time and Money

I’ve had my new iPhone now for a month and am wondering how I ever lived without it. Yes, I’ve added a few games (I’m still not proficient in Angry Birds, but working on it), however the majority of the apps I’ve either downloaded or purchased have been great time saving tools. For instance…

  • I get all my business reading done quickly, efficiently, and often while standing in line or waiting for someone. I have Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Seattle Times, CNN and the two local papers on my phone. Tom Petty was right…the waiting is the hardest part! Use your time wisely.
  • Every contact I need is stored and backed up on the phone. I always have the information I need at my finger tips. My ability to quickly and easily find locations, restaurants, and contacts saves me time. My calendar is always handy (I keep it on Google Calendar). I can’t tell you how many times those features have saved me embarrassment and/or valuable time.
  • On a personal note, I’m surprised how often I’ve used my flashlight and level apps. I’m not good at keeping the real-life tools handy, but when you need a flashlight, you need it now. Have phone will flashlight travel!

Bottom line – a smart phone is an investment, especially if you’re in business. Apps were developed to make your life easier. Find the tools that best fit your situation and take advantage of them.

Now it’s time to get those dumb pigs!

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Crisis…your name is Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen

I just received a New York Times e-mail notice that Charlie Sheen was fired from CBS’s sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” Sheen was the lead character and highest paid television star. He recently made big news for all the wrong reasons. His troubles with the law, bizarre behavior, and recent antics on television and radio was finally too much for CBS. They canned the troubled star today, probably putting the final nails in the coffin for the show and the rest of the cast. This situation isn’t too unlike Tiger Woods’s travails in November of 2009. His auto accident which led to his dirty laundry of exploits resulted in many of his sponsors dumping him. You can throw in Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended for 4 games this year for embarrassing his team and the NFL after accusations (of which he was never formally found guilty of) were levied against him by a woman he met in a bar (sound familiar?).

Reputation is one of my 5 key areas of impact when it comes to crisis management. Make no mistake about it…this was a crisis for CBS. Media outlets are always vulnerable to reputation hits from their “stars.” Corporations who sponsor celebrity athletes, move stars, and the like are in the same boat. How they handle these crises will ultimately determine how they are preceived, and how badly the crisis will hurt.

CBS wasted very little time. Sheen spent last week making a fool of himself to any media outlet that would give him time. CBS at some point has made a decision on how it wants to be perceived and held the line with its biggest (by dollar amount at least) star. Their crisis management decision has huge implications – loss of revenue, legal action from cast members or employees, loss of fans, etc. However, in their organization, they set a standard of appropriate behavior for their employees.

These types of decisions can’t be made on the fly. Your organization must determine it’s own vulnerabilities and decide to make commitments to action in advance, not in real time. You may not ever have the same exposure of a renegade television star. However, you may have employees who can get into their own behavior problems. How do you deal with substance abuse, driving while intoxicated, criminal charges, public humiliation, libel, slander, or other issues? Are you willing to fire your best employee for conduct detrimental to your organization? Do you have a policy stating that?

Recently, Washington State University benched its star basketball player, Klay Thompson just before a huge game against UCLA for possession of marijuana. I’m not saying it was the right or wrong move; too much or too little. What I am saying is that they have a policy that includes everyone and they are prepared to deal with behavior crises on their team.

My question for you is this – are you?

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Crisis Management – A Case Study of Disaster

My morning New York Times alert reads about the state of New York taking over Nassau County’s finances after months of ominous warnings. The county may sue to block the takeover by the state.

Read the story on NY Times

This is certainly a crisis for the county and it’s customers (the taxpayers). They may find lawsuits being flung their way. This is a crisis that affects their liability, human resources, income, and reputation. Makes you wonder what strategy the leaders had in going in to a situation. It should also be a case study for you and your business on proper planning, implementation, and response.

In any crisis, there is always an initial threat (county in the hole a cool $350M); a warning (the state is going to do a takeover); an event (today’s takeover); a response and an impact (waiting). How they respond will ultimately produce an impact, either bad or good. There is a lot at stake for this entity, even though it is a government. Loss of reputation, potential lawsuits, and morale of the taxpayers is at stake, as are many jobs.

What crisis can you imagine that might touch you in similar ways? You may not soon be in danger of being taken over by the state of New York, however issues related to bankruptcy due to a catastrophic event is always a possibility for any organization regardless of size. It behooves you to proactively plan, implement, and practice situations that could threaten your very survival.

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Never Having to Say Your Sorry

An article in today’s New York Times details President Barack Obama’s retraction for a comment he made regarding the arrest of an African-American Harvard professor by a white law enforcement officer.  He said that the police had “acted stupidly” in the arrest.  What’s more, the comments came in a press conference on his health care package.

President Obama said he regrets his words, but my issue is how he did it.  He said he could “have calibrated my words more carefully.”  To continue, the President said, “To the extent that my choice of words didn’t illuminate, but rather contributed to more media, I think that was unfortunate.”

Memo to the President – Just say “I’m sorry.”

Ditch the words “illuminate,” “calibrated,” and unfortunate.”  You messed up, just fess up.  Nothing is worse than hearing a bunch of $100 words when a $3 word will do just fine.  If you are trying to be influential as a communicator, then be straightforward, sincere, and pithy.

By the way, from a leadership standpoint this is weak.  Have you ever had a boss who danced around saying “I’m sorry” and basically made it out that it was someone else’s fault anyway?  That’s exactly what this sounds like from my point of view.

For a guy who has been widely proclaimed as an excellent communicator, this adds to a series of extemporaneous boo-boos from President Obama (note boo-boo is a $1 word).

When you next find yourself in a position to have to apologize for something (and we all will), whether it’s professionally or personally, make the right choice and pull out those two simple words I noted above – “I’m sorry.”  Pithy, sincere, and humble.

Better luck next time Mr. President.

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