Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Holidays Everyone

(I can't say it better than this submission in Toronto's Globe and Mail by Farzana Hassan-Shahid who is the president of the Muslim Canadian Congress and author of the book titled Islam, Women and the Challenges of Today.

One good turn deserves another

As she helped me, and I tried to find a way to repay her, she looked at me with her blue eyes and said: 'Just pay it forward.'

The Wal-Mart in Mississauga can be a bustlingly busy place at Christmas or in the swelter of the summer -- or , indeed, at any time of year. It was on one of those hot summer days that I met Cindy in the busy parking lot of the massive department store.
For a while, she calmly observed the predicament I found myself in -- too many items, too little space in the trunk of my tiny vehicle -- and smiled occasionally. Perhaps she noticed my colourful South Asian garb and hesitated to make conversation with me. She may have thought I didn't know any English as the chatter in Urdu among my three children and niece was definitely beyond her ken.

Therefore, it was I who decided to break the cordial silence between us.
"We may have to make two trips to the house since we have so many items," I said.

"Where do you live?" she inquired. I told her I didn't live too far from the shopping mall.
"I can take you home," was her warm-hearted, instantaneous response. What a nice person, I thought.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"Oh, of course. Just hop in and let me help you put some of your items in the trunk."
My three children were clearly intrigued by such instant generosity from a total stranger. I asked my son to drive my car and for them to follow us with the other items, one of which was a new area rug for my daughter's room.
During the 10-minute drive from Wal-Mart to my house, Cindy informed me that she was mother to seven children, three of whom were in her foster care. Only such a loving and kind woman could agree to foster three children, I thought.
Ranging from age 7 to 14, she must have her hands full -- but she still found time to do a perfect stranger an act of kindness.

She turned into my street and then into my driveway.

"Thank you so much, Cindy." I said, feeling somewhat inadequate about those words not doing justice to the spontaneous goodwill she had demonstrated toward me.
"I would very much like it if you came and met my family over a cup of tea. Let me at least offer you some tea," I said.
"I really have to get going to those children of mine," she responded with a smile. I thanked her again and invited her to come in once more. As she helped me unload my items, she looked at me through her wide blue eyes as she said: "Just pay it forward.
"Do someone else a good turn."
If we were all to adopt this as a motto for life, the world would indeed be a blessed place.

In today's world full of hostility, broken trusts, bigotry and rivalry, if we only learned to perpetuate simple acts of kindness, perhaps our troubled world would turn into a more peaceful and compassionate abode for all. Cindy made me realize that small acts of kindness could come with huge dividends if they were "paid forward."

She taught me a lesson that I wish to share with all caring individuals this Christmas season. I will probably never run into her again, but that blue-eyed, fair-haired woman who helped a strange woman from a visible minority in colourful South Asian garb, overcoming all barriers of race, language and ethnicity despite the mistrust and hostility that pervades our world -- she forever left an imprint on my mind.

Thank you, Cindy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I need your help -

Hi Everyone,

I am writing a book on "Becoming the good guy*
* (or being a smart, personable, reliable, giving woman. )

It's about why people speak well of you, refer you business and open doors for you.

I am looking for the term (usually one or two words) in other languages that someone uses when they are referring business to someone else In Canada, it's often a "good guy." eg. If you need a lawyer, go see Steve, he's a good guy. Tell him I sent you!
It may or may not be a direct translation ( e.g. in French it is bons gars but in in Spanish it is chevere) . It may be generic (e.g. a mensch) or it could be gender specific (e.g. if you need a great doctor, go see Susan, she's amazing). I have also seen older phrases (she's really top drawer) and very new ones (he's solid).

If you speak another language or dialect or know someone who does, could you please find a translation for me?

Friday, December 08, 2006

All things are possible

Let me offer a version of the snakes-on-a-plane/lawyer-on-a-flight account that may prove redemption into a "good guy" is possible (I have used this anecdote in seminars to lawyers)

On a flight a few years back my seatmate was a high powered litigator from a major NY firm. Cuff-links, wingtips, power suit, the whole she-bang. I mentally rolled my eyes as the guy plunked down next to me as I expected the standard dog-and-pony look-what-I-can-do show.

Instead, the guy was the epitome of niceness. He jumped up to assist the attendant in closing the overhead compartments. He courteously left the center rest free for my arm. He proceeded to ask me some open-ended questions and expressed genuine interest in what I did for my company. Hell, he even picked up a soother an infant had dropped from the seat across the aisle. The guy actually wiped it off with a napkin and gave it back to the mother.

When I commented on what a nice guy he was, he told me his story.

In his words:

I wasn’t always like this. There’s nothing more intimidating to most people than a) a New Yorker b) a New Yorker who’s a lawyer and c) a New Yorker who’s a lawyer and a litigator. I beat the hell out of everyone as I climbed my way the way to the top of my firm. Manners? Those were for suckers. I used to enjoy harassing people in the courtroom and out on the street. Car service guys. Coffee shop waitresses. Hotel staff. What’s a few tears and some red faces? A squeaky wheel gets the grease and the way I squeaked, I got a hell of a lot of grease. Sure I pissed a lot of people off but I was a pit-bull for my clients and the money came rolling in. Rough around the edges? Hell, I didn’t even have edges!

The only person whose opinion really mattered was my wife. We had been married for 20 years and she was the best thing that ever happened to me. She put up with my crap because I guess she was used to it.

So one time I had to go to San Francisco on business and my wife wanted to come along to do some shopping. As usual, I harangued the staff at the airport counter for an upgrade on the flight, and when we arrived, I took a run at the car rental staff as well. By the time I was finished with the girl at the counter, I had another upgrade and she had a quivering lip.

So we are walking over to the full-sized lot and wife grabs my arm and stops me. She looks me right in the eye and says…you’re an asshole. You leave this trail of destruction behind you wherever you go and I have to tell you something… I am really ashamed of you. I never want to travel with you again.

My wife had never said anything like that to me in my life. I was severely shocked. It was a pretty quiet ride to the hotel. So I thought: I’ll show her. She wants me to be nice? I’ll be sickingly sweet nice.

My routine at a hotel is usually the same. I go up to the first room they put me in, and turn right around back to the front desk and complain for a better room. This time, I see this girl at the front desk who seems a little tired. I asked her how her day was going. She smiles and says she’ll be glad to go off shift. I ask her if I can get her some water or a coffee from the hotel lounge. She gracefully declines. I tell her my wife and I have just arrived from NYC and she says she would love to go there one day. I give her my business card and tell her to look us up and that I can recommend some great places to stay and some nice restaurants if she is interested. Guess what? We get the nicest room at that hotel I’ve ever had!

So now I’m thinking…maybe I can get nicer stuff from people by being sweet that I can by beating them up. So the rest of the trip, I’m smiling, I’m courteous, I’m handing out compliments, and people are actually talking to me. I start getting great service, some upgrades and my wife is happy …it’s great! And that was 10 years ago.

Then the lawyer looked over at me and laughed…yeah…that was 10 years ago and the best part is…I’m still a nice guy…but I don’t do it for upgrades or stuff anymore. I do it because I guess it’s the right thing to do.

"A Good Guy"

Thanks Nicola for submitting this.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Let's help "B" out.

Dear Dave,

Last week I got the chance to go to a seminar and heard a CEO talk about her company and opportunities in the industry. I wanted to talk to her afterwards but she was surrounded by too many people. They were all trying to speak with her, to offer her their business card or resume or literature from their company. I couldn't even get close!

How do you stand out from crowd and get people to notice you? I get frustrated because of all the competition.



Thursday, November 23, 2006


When you send your thank you card this week don't forget to include both your return address and a stamp. Otherwise Canada Post will bill the recipient for the postage - and that's not a message you want to send!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Let's help A. out!

Here's an email I just received - please post a comment and pass along your suggestions as a networking or sales professional!

Dear Mr.Howlett,
I was just reading your most recent blog and I completely 100% agree
with you that emails are just not as effective at establishing a
rapport. But it seems like the alternative routes (having a face to
face meeting, etc) don't work either. As a recent graduate, I have
been looking for jobs. My strategy is to use both methods: I send an
email (or worse complete the online application!!!) and then drop by
their office/company to see if I can speak to someone face to face.
And frankly I can't get past the receptionists!!!! (Thank god some of
those receptionists/greeters are also "Directors of First Impressions"
and some like me and pass my message along!!!! which gives me at
least a little bit of hope after driving all the way from Richmond
Hill to Mississauga to see someone) but otherwise it is difficult to
directly get in touch with someone who is in charge!!!!
I am really in a state of ambivalence regarding technology; from
phones to emails to text messages, technology makes life more and more
impersonal everyday, I wonder what next?!

Anyways just a thought! Have a great day!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Efficient but not Effective

If you are trying to get someone to change their mind, why the heck are you just using email?I was in a meeting yesterday with one of Canada's largest law firms. They mentioned some of their lawyers receive 2 ,000 to 3,000 emails a day.

Ask the average recruiter to tell you how many emails are in their inbox. Ask your friends how much spam ends up on their screen.

Don't get me wrong, email has its place. Lawyers establish paper-trails, insurance brokers track client conversations, job applicants attach resumes.

But my concept of "Pass the POI" means that it's people first, objects second and ideas third. If your desire is to change someone's mind (rally them to your cause, sell a complex product, fill a seminar) then you need to create advocates. Pick up the phone, sit down over a coffee, have a conversation. Then, follow up with an email to establish the details.

The quickest way to change from an "A friend" to a "B friend" is to stop interacting with people and start sending them impersonal blasts of email jokes and newsflyers (or resumes). Remember, the definition of a "B friend" is someone who contacts you only when they need something and then proceed to talk about themselves. If you are not convinced, think about what you do to 99% of the flyers you receive everyday in your mailbox.

Most of you are reading this blog because you either know me personally or have heard about me from someone else. That came as a result of a lot of face to face meetings, coffees and seminars.

I never make the mistake of thinking this blog or my emails will make people my advocates. Loyalty and advocacy comes from inspiring people to your cause. Neither you nor I can do that by little typing and a lot of sending...pick up the phone or get out the door!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rate yourself (from a job ad for a CEO position)

Personal Attributes
§ Exhibits high energy and positive proactive attitude
§ Profit-oriented philosophy
§ Creative and courageous risk taker
§ Strong self confidence with ego in check
§ A ‘straight-shooter’ who earns trust through open, honest relationships
§ An intuitive thinker who anticipates issues
§ A natural and effective communicator
§ Believes in being part of a team, coaching and mentoring
§ Tactful and possessing good judgment and political savvy
§ Has attention for critical detail
§ Enjoys handling multiple priorities
§ Has entrepreneurial and broad based interests
§ A genuine people person

The most empowering sentence you'll ever use

I have had two conversations over the last two days with "good guys" who were asking me if I knew of any job opportunities in their industry. Both have taken some hard hits lately (employment, family health issues). It's tough enough dealing with all that and then having to go out and network (aka "beg") for leads from friends, family and associates. Talk about a psychological downer. It's the networking equivalent of sitting on the sidewalk with a Tim Hortons coffee cup looking for change. I've been there.

Because I know them both as nice people and "good guys", I opened up my Rolodex and offered to introduce them to lots of great people and vouch for their character.Networking doesn't mean you have to get someone a job or sell their product; it means you offer to get them a conversation. And at the end of my enthusiastic offerings...I waited...waited for them to ask the most important sentence... Neither of them asked.

So, hard-wired coach that I am, I told them about the question:

And what can I do to help you Dave?

Their response to the question was identical: a blank look.

But Dave, I look at you as this really successful guy and there's nothing I can think of that I can offer you!

Hey guys, everyone needs something. Here are a few of my current challenges:

1. I want to write and book and would be interested in talking with folks who have successfully published or have insights into the publishing world.

2. I am building my speaking business and am always looking for opportunities with companies who need a keynote speaker on networking skills.

3. At MAGNES Group, I would always appreciate an introduction to the CFO or president of a life science company

4. I'm looking for the name of a good electrician in the Oakville area (I need some wiring in my house)

5. I am always looking for ways to promote next my marathon class - Howlett's Heavy Breathers

Asking What is your biggest challenge this week and how can I help you? empowers you and lets you put something in the emotional bank. I appreciate it and so will others.

No matter how low you feel, you possess experiences and contacts that others value.

It turns out one of my friends worked formerly as a car salesman. He said he would be happy to give some tips on car-buying to any business associates of mine. In fact, he could go to a GTA dealrership in person and help them negotiate the price of a new car!

The other friend is a master salesperson in the spa industry and can get me a great “insider price” price for any of my clients and friends who wants to buy a hot tub.

I can use them both to add and reinforce relationships with my customers and clients (and all of you!). That really helps me!

We all have something to offer, we just need to be reminded of that.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The 4th Element

I live in a society that is designed to continually cater to my personal needs. Every day I receive a myriad of marketing messages telling me how I can look younger, stay fitter, be more wealthy and have more sex. If I give in to those missives, I'd be a wrinkle-free, tight-abbed social dilettante. But something would be missing.

Word of mouth is what people say about me when I'm are not in the room. There are 4 elements of being "a good guy" and the 4th is altruism. Giving back. Thinking about others. Caring about the big picture and about others who "aren't in the room."

This Saturday November 11 is Remembrance Day in Canada. Buy and wear a poppy this week. It will let people know you possess that 4th element. Even better, buy a number of poppies and hand them out to friends and associates this week. You will find they are grateful for your thoughtfulness. This was a great suggestion offered up by Diana Birrell of The James Fund (our charity benefactor from last week's Knocking down Silos in Toronto) .

A final thought: When I served in the Canadian Navy, we had a tradition of a toast for every day of the week:

Monday: To our ships
Tuesday: To our men
Wednesday: To ourselves
Thursday: To bloody wars or a sickly season [a chance of promotion if senior officers died!]
Friday: To a willing foe and sea room
Saturday: To wives and lovers
Sunday: To absent friends

When you send your 2 cards this week, think about some absent friends.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Help a Student - they will get you much more in return

People seeking opportunities to network in industry often focus on meeting decision makers and senior management. Building a CRM usually ignores those who are new to industry or perceived to be "without power." Students are generally never thought of as contributors.

However students are an excellent way for the average businessperson to make entry into certain markets (e.g. biotech, finance, accounting, engineering). They present a number of advantages: easy accessibility, knowledge of industry issues, connections via co-op programs to certain companies and alumni. There are also many opportunities to interact and meet students; colleges and universities are continually trying to build bridges to industry.

This is a win-win situation.

Students are appreciative of the opportunity to talk with an industry service provider and usually want one thing: a warm referral to an individual or company. The service provider can then turn a cold call to a prospect account into a request for an informational interview. This changes the perception of the caller from "salesperson" to "helper." In fact, very senior management often take the time to talk to those trying to help a student new to their industry.

In many cases, students end up being "information brokers" to the business person.. Inevitably they will be employed. Everyone remembers the person who helped them in the beginning. The goodwill generated guarantees great connections with their companies.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Try this for a week.

Great word of mouth only comes when people are happy with you. Your resume. Your service. Your appearance. Canadians are tremendously bad at complaining - they don't tell you what you are doing wrong, they just walk away and tell other people.

e.g. I know a really nice guy who has introduced me to some really important people. But over the last month, everytime he would send me an e-mail, it was marked "high importance" (with the little red exclamation mark). Of course I would read it right away and it would drive me nuts that it wasn't of ultimate importance. It seemed he was always yelling wolf on the internet!

Because he's a good guy, I added this to the bottom of an email:

BTW - could I offer a suggestion? You mark many of your emails as "high importance." I'm not sure if you do this a lot but it may dilute the effectiveness of your emails to people. Just a suggestion. D.

Here is his response:

Actually Dave, It may be happening more inadvertently rather than on purpose and thanks for bringing it to my notice bud; I will be more guarded.


Try this for a week:

Ask 10 of your associates or clients: "If I could do one thing better, what would it be?"
Then listen.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Did you fall off the wagon?

Are you still sending two cards a week?

Nothing is the world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education alone will note; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

- Calvin Coolidge

Friday, October 20, 2006

2 problems - 2 solutions

No one returning your calls? No one leaving comments on your blog site? Feeling isolated and unappreciated?

Two suggestions:

1. People will often remember you based on your outside interests (e.g. what you do for fun on weekends). They may either have the same interest or just find you darned fascinating. And if you aren't interetesting or fascinating - get up off the couch and do something!

2. People will contribute to your life and your blog if you provide them a forum for discussion and interface.

Check out and read the comments.

Friday, October 13, 2006

How a photograph can get you remembered (and appreciated)

Heading to a conference? Trying to find a way to "keep in touch" and "add value" when you follow-up so a luminary speaker remembers you? Rita Bauer is manager of media services at the University of Toronto and is also an international speaker on digital photography. Five years ago, we were presenting at a seminar together and Rita passed along a great idea that I had forgotten until this week. She suggested most speakers at conferences never have photographs of themselves and are appreciative when someone takes to time to follow-up with a frame or two.

I was presenting a Knocking down Silos evening in Waterloo on Oct 3 and received this very nice email from one of the students afterwards. Attached were two digital photos he had taken for my records. I immediately called him and thanked him for his thoughtfulness.

Want to stand out from the crowd? Think about carrying a camera with you to that next seminar.


Dear Mr. Howlett:
First of all I wanted to say a personal thank you for coming to University of Waterloo again after the Science and Business the Driving Force Conference and speak at Knocking Down Silos last week. We as the Science and Business Students' Association had been planning, coordinating and marketing about this event since summer, but it would not have been such a great success without your truly insightful and awakening lessons.
Although the time was brief, it was a sheer pleasure having to chat you one on one and walk with you to your car. You spoke about your upcoming KDS event in November at University of Toronto with the Institute of Medical Science Students Association and I have been promoting this event to my University of Toronto friends ever since. As well, emails were sent to the many accounting professionals I've met and kept in contact with from all the accounting firm information sessions during my first university year. One thing I kept on forgetting mentioning to you actually, was that your friend Mr. Ronnie Tam from PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP recommended Knocking Down Silos and your to me at beginning of year 2006; it had been one of the main incentives for I to become involved with SBSA and the Conference ever since, having able to get "front row seat" for your speeches.
Is there anything else I can do for you for the time being? I will be updating the SBSA website <> very soon with the pictures taken at KDS. You are more than welcome to hyperlink our site and use the pictures for your own purposes. For now, there are two representative pictures attached, one is you and the group. Enjoy!

Sincerely yours,
Han Shu
2A Biotech/Chartered Accountancy CIO -SBSA

"To get you have to give" - or do people consider you a threat?

In today's Globe and Mail:

"There is a widespread belief that ruthless and self-centred people are the most successful when it comes to their careers. But being prepared to do anything to get ahead does not mean you will succeed in your ambitions," contends Stefan Einhorn, author of the recently published The Art of Being Kind. The author is chairman of the ethics council at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He believes that generosity toward others can lead us to succeeding in life because a generous person is not regarded as a threat.

1. "When people do not perceive any competition, they themselves stop competing and instead start to co-operate, which everyone benefits from," he says.

2. Another reason, he suggests, is that if we are generous toward those around us, they will be generous in return.

3. And a third reason to be generous is that we get pleasure from it.

Source: The London Observer

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A great phrase for a bad habit

I just got off the phone with Patricia Diver, Career Coach from McMaster Univeristy. Patricia attended one of my Knocking down Silos events 2 weeks ago at McMaster, and was good enough to follow up.

Patricia commented that most people make the mistake of employing "transactional networking." They assume great word of mouth is generated purely as a result of one or more successful transactions. A great phrase for a bad habit!

In reality, great word of mouth is generated from a) being different b) exceeding client expectations and c) keeping in touch and d) being an "A" friend.

Thanks Patricia!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Knocking down Silos" as a business development tool

Many of the industry associates I know use "Knocking down Silos" as a business development tool. Can I show you how to do this as well? It may help you get more sales or receive that great job offer.

If you have been to a "Knocking down Silos" event, you know it is an interactive evening that reviews the basics of proper networking behaviour. Hundreds of people show up to learn how to increase their effectiveness in the business (and personal) world. I use examples from many industries and cultures. Every 20 minutes, people have to turn to the person next to them and ask key questions (e.g. "what's your biggest challenge and how can I help you?). Here is a video preview.

Who would you like sitting next to you when they ask you that question? Then invite them!

1. Download the PDF of the November 2 KDS event. This event is filling fast, please ensure you have registered).

2. Send the PDF to people you either know or wish to get to know better. These could be clients, prospects, key industry people, potential bosses.

You can simply forward the email with your endorsement. Here's an paraphrased email I saw come across my desk 2 weeks ago from Peter West:

“Normally I don’t send out these types of flyers to marketing events, but I will make an exception for Howlett’s talk on networking skills called “Knocking down Silos” He donates the gate to charity and it's well worth the evening.

Here's another on a bulletin board by Jim Love - another "good guy!"

"If you haven't seen Howlett on Networking, you have missed something.He's doing a benefit engagement in Toronto on November 2nd. You maystill be able to get seats. Mention my name. It might help."


You can ask a few clients to come as your personal guests. Of course, you will need to pick up the entry fee. (a small donation to the James Fund).

3. Sit next to your key people and watch what happens.

The best part of this strategy is that even if your people can't make it to KDS, getting an invitation from you lets them know you were thinking about them. (it keeps you top of mind). And that's one of the best ways to get great word of mouth...offering value when you touch someone... being an "A" friend! Below are a few emails that you may get from your clients afterwards.

I really enjoyed Dave's talk and I learned some very useful ways of thinking about how I interact with people. Thanks for sending me the invitation.

I am writing this email to thank you for inviting me to Dave's Talk. It was a wonderful, professional, and enthusiastic presentation in McMaster University last night.

Networking has always been a little scary for me. I always have a hard time knowing where to start and what approach to take. I am definitely going to be giving out more compliments now! Thanks for bugging me to go.

That was an amazing speech Tuesday night. Man, it was as long as a feature Hollywood film! It's amazing that he can find enough content to keep people engaged like that.

Friday, September 29, 2006

"Call these guys...use my name"

Last week, I was one of the sponsors of Toronto Biotech Initiative's second annual Research to Revenue seminar. This was a forum where CEOs, CFOs and CSOs from the biotechnology sector met to discuss and network to drive through their commercialization strategies.

One of the presenters was by Michael Denny, managing partner of Westwind Partners. Michael is a captivating speaker and had some key messages for anyone trying to gain influence.

- are you interested in being #1 or are you serious about being #1? The difference is self-discipline and execution.

- you should have a memorable pitch that sums you or your company up in one sentence. e.g. Chrondrogene is going to diagnose colon cancer from a drop of blood rather than a colonoscopy. [now that's memorable!]

- Michael told a revealing story about a founder of a new Canadian life science company. He was trying to raise capital from American Venture Capitalists. Rather than the standard cold-calls or unsolicited submisssions, he phoned 2 influential friends in New York and Los Angeles. Both gave him phone numbers of key US VC with the instructions "call these guys, use my name." Concurrently, he also sent out a number of unsolicited submissions to other VCs. None of the latter resulted in interviews or investments but the referred VCs ended up in a "pile-on" of capital as they were all competing to invest in his new company. Same company...different response.

What can we all learn from Michael's presentation?

1. Don't waste peoples' time. Get serious about what you want. When I talk about the 4 attributes of "a good guy" - reliability and accountability is the area many people need to improve.

2. If you can't be first - be different.

3. Reputation matters. Being "a good guy" will open doors and may results in millions of dollars. And it's all about POI> People first, objects second, ideas third.

Sign up for for the November 2 talk - practise these concepts and let's figure out a way to keep Canada's knowledge-based companies in Canada!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Left side - Right Side : Idiot or Hypocrite?

Becoming "a good guy" or "a good person" is really the essence of good networking.

Do you want a client, friend or associate to be your advocate? Someone to vouch for you? Open up their Rolodex? Pass along your resume? Attach their reputation to yours? Then you need to exemplify the 4 characteristics of knowledge, personality, reliability and altrusim.

On the other hand, if you want to ensure you never receive good word of mouth - just emulate the characters identified in the recent article by Jessica Leeder and Robert Cribb from the Toronto Star
about driving school instructors with unpaid fines and driving demerits.

One instructor argues that his poor driving record doesn't detract from his ability to teach and inspire others:

"When I'm sitting on the right side of the car, I'm a much different person. When I'm sitting in the driver's seat, I'm just like a normal driver," he said.

I have news for you pal...people talk. And if you're preaching one thing in front of your customers and doing something else in your spare time...then you're vacillating between being a hypocrite and an idiot.

Neither of which makes me your advocate.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lost in Translation

The purpose of networking is to generate a good impression and have people pass you along the line. But the danger of networking via word of mouth is that sometimes your message gets "lost in translation".

When associates say they they would be happy to introduce me to someone, they always ask:

"What do you want me to tell them about you?"

I always respond:

"Just tell them I'm a good guy, I'm an expert in their field and can I chat with them for about 5 minutes on the phone?"

If you ask your friend or associate to explain too much about you... your message may get lost in translation and you will never get that chat!

I used to give you an idea of what happens if you get your friend to translate:

1. Dear Dave,

Dear dave,
I was wondering if you could introduce me to your associate at GSK? I am a hard working person who has a Masters of Biotechnology degree and has a special interest in toxicology. I would like to combine business and science and perhaps get into a business development role iin Ontario or British Columbia. I don;t want to work in a lab as I find the conditions very boring and they do not challenge me much. I haven't had much success getting people to return my phone calls, I think this is because too many people are applying for these positions. This is really urgent as I need to find some work soon and am getting really frustrated. Please also ask your friend if the hiring cycle is now on. Please also tell your friend that I am enthusiastic and also worked for 5 years with a medium sized pharma company in Quebec where I helped develop some early stage generic drugs.

Thanks, Steve

(translate to Chinese)

2. 亲爱的菲, 不知你能支持我在美推出. 我奋斗的人掌握了技术,特别关心程度中毒. 我把科技企业或进入企业发展的作用和不列颠哥伦比亚省Iin. 我穿上. t要在实验室工作,我感到非常沉闷的情况,我不挑战很大. 我没什么成功使人们回到我的电话,就是因为太多人申请该职位. 这是我迫切需要尽快找到工作,让我很失望. 也请朋友提出,现在雇用周期. 也请告诉你们的朋友,我也积极努力,5年中型公司1049pharma,我培养出一些早期非专利药物. 由于Steve

(translate back to English)

3. Dear Philippines, launched in the United States, if you will support me. I who have struggled to master the technology, in particular concern poisoning. I role in the development of science and technology enterprises or enterprises and the Province of British Columbia, Iin. I wear. T to work in the laboratory, I am very boring, I am not an enormous challenge. I have nothing to ensure the success of returning my calls. This is because too many people for the jobs. This is the urgent need to find jobs as quickly as possible, so I am very disappointed. Please also note that the employment cycle now. also tell your friend, I would make positive efforts to medium-sized companies 1049pharma five years, I was able to cultivate some of the earliest generic drugs. As Steve

Monday, September 11, 2006

Putting things in perspective

Given today's date - I thought you might want to read a note I sent to my running class. While you are reading it, substitute your current goal for "marathon" and you'll find it helps put things in perspective.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Your outreach Document!

Whether we are looking for employment or new business, we should all have an "Outreach Document" in our briefcases.

Sample question: "Do you know of any opportunities for me?"

Reaction: "Uhhh...sorry"

Better question: "Can you take a look at this list and see if you know anyone from any of these companies?"

Reaction: "Let me look at your cousin works at this company, my wife's boss used to work at this one and I actually golfed with the CFO from this company last month - I had a great time, although he beat me by 5 strokes!"

Dorothea Schramm and Dave Freeman (both marketing whizzes) are responsible for me being able to offer this Outreach Document for you to use. I have left it in Word format so you can customize it and carry it with you! Thanks Dorothea and Dave. To get you have to give and you both have given generously.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Why doesn't anyone return my email? An article in today's Globe and Mail

...a new survey which found that 80 per cent of U.S. executives believe they receive too much regular communication every day from both internal and external sources. To cope, they are increasingly looking for ways to filter out non-essential e-mails, voicemail, memos and messages, according to the survey of 237 senior executives and managers....*

Remember to: Pass the POI. People respond best to People, then Objects, then Ideas. No email will ever be as effective as your personality in selling yourself or your product. A warm referral is better than the most effective email.

Want to read the article? Go to and search for "Is anyone really listening?"

Thursday, August 17, 2006

An email from a nice person - and my response

Dear Dave,

My friend, [________ _____] spoke very highly of you and suggested that I contact you. I'm finishing my PhD in pharmacokinetics, and I'm starting my job search. I was wondering if you could give me some names of specific people in the PK/PD field that I could contact? I'm hoping to be able to work in the GTA, but anything, anywhere in Canada would be of tremendous help!

Thanks very much,

Dear ________,

Thanks for your email - I'd be delighted to help you but first, may I ask a favour? Please go to my blog site and read through the postings - starting in March 2006. They outline my way of helping people (e.g. I can't get you a job, just an introduction, I also can't introduce you to someone unless I know what company you want an introduction to).

I'm afraid I don't know a lot about PK/PD but do have a lot of connections with many different companies in many different industries.

You may also consider coming to one of our huge networking nights this Fall in Hamilton, Waterloo and Toronto (see below). You'll have fun, learn a lot about networking and meet some great people! If you can't make it, I am producing a DVD based on the last 2.5 hour evening - let me know if you want to get one.

And please me know when you've finished your homework!



Networking Tip of the Week at

Knocking down Silos Networking Night - benefits "McMaster Bread Bin"
September 26, 2006
To register:

Knocking down Silos Networking Night - benefits "Sunshine Dreams for Kids"
October 3, 2006
To register:

Knocking down Silos Networking Night
November 2, 2006 - save the date!

Monday, August 14, 2006

What goes around - comes around.

Dave talks about going outside your comfort zone. The other day, I pulled a "Dave Howlett" and talked to a stranger...something I had never done before.
I am a senior claims adjuster with over 20 years in the insurance industry.
In 2003, I was transferred from Ottawa to Mississauga and looking for ways to meet people in our Oakville community. I had taken some running classes with the Running Room in Ottawa and thought I could meet some runners through the local Running Room store, but it's not easy to make new friends and I ran alone most of the time.

One Sunday a large group of joggers came up behind me and the next thing I knew, this smiling guy was chatting with me. We discovered we had both lived in Ottawa and discussed places and people we knew. He invited me to run with his group, later I discovered that he was teaching the marathon clinic at the store. It's been 2 years since then, I am on my 5th clinic, one of the group leaders and we have made terrific friends in the Oakville community.

So now I get to "pay it forward" - watch out if you are jogging on your own!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

To get, you have to about the gift of a smile?

Another way of keeping in touch with people (and keep on their radar screen) is something many of us do instinctively ...we send them a joke or a small movie to make them smile. They send this on in turn to friends and family.

Just like everything else though, it has to be personal and applicable. Sending one to a person with a brief header telling them you were thinking of them and that the attachment might cheer up their day...can be very powerful.

Need an example? Go to ... listen to the little song about a cubicle. Save it on your computer. Then think about who you can send it to (someone who works in an office?) This way, when you contact them later, you have something to chuckle over...and you gave them the gift of a smile.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I was wondering if you could help a friend?

Dear Dave,

I have a connection favour to ask...Attached is a resume from a friend of mine who is looking for employment..she is a hardworking and decent person who is truly in need of employment..any employment after the ending of a personal partnership and the resulting turmoil that creates. I offered to email you. I understand if you are not able to assist her with the "famous five" connection you are infamous for! She has a varied background but would love to work for...

Signed Helpful Friend

Dear Friend,

It's great to hear from you! Can you ask your friend to contact me directly please? Between you and me, I have stopped doing a lot of networking for 3rd parties. I have found much gets lost in the translation and sometimes the enthusiasm comes from the middle party, not the person who needs the opportunity or job. (I really see this with parents of kids looking for employment.)

Besides, networking takes courage and the easiest first step is to call someone who is offering to help you. That’s actually my first filter and you would be surprised how many times I never get a call from the person who needed the help (it happened 3 times last month).

I know you understand this type of thing and compliments to you again for your generosity in helping people. Tell her to please contact me with her "wish list" and we'll put the wheels in motion!


PS Please tell your friend that I’m doing more Knocking Down Silo events this Fall – details are at

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wearing a pin - trying to practice what I preach

People look for points of commonality with you. Where you came from. The school your kids go to. Whether you own cats or dogs. Even the pin you wear on your suit gives people an opportunity to find out what you do for fun on weekends. That invites conversation and relationship-building.

My wife and I just completed another Ironman competition (you can find our story by clicking on the marathon site at

And of course....I bought a pin!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Paying it Forward

Dave, Thanks to you, B's assistant got in touch with me, on instructions from B and asked me to send my resume. In line with your coaching, I sent her an email with my resume asking her as to the career opportunities for someone with my background! I’ll let you know what happens. Cheers.

Warm Regards

Dear MA,

That's great to hear- good luck! BTW - B is a runner training for a marathon, so when you send him a thank you card, you can wish him the best on his upcoming race; or you can even pick out a card with a sailboat on the cover as I'm sure he will appreciate the reference to his Catalina sailboat story. (it's all about get people to remember you and like you).

Thanks for keeping me informed.


Dear Dave

I deeply appreciate you coaching me on these things; absolutely precious and while I am 100% genuine, the semantics are different. I’ve never been good at this card thing but I am learning from the best. Mighty thanks. Should I send him a card before he talks to me or after?

Warm Regards

Dear MA,

You can send him the card after - remember the purpose of the card is to thank someone for something they did for you (in this case, their time, their advice, their referral to someone else). I have a good friend, Adi Treasurywala, who says in his culture, if someone helps you, a thank is best expressed by helping someone else and using their name in the process. I really like that as well ; it's a "pay it forward" philosphy.

In fact, I just did it by helping you and using Adi's name in the process.

Monday, July 10, 2006

From the 10,000 pile and put into the 300 pile

Building great word of mouth and developing a network can "scoot your file to the top of the pile"

That file could be your resume. But sometimes it's a business plan and a request for funding from a venture capitalist:

Here is a great article by David Robinson of "The Buffalo News"
Check out especially the last paragraph.

Friday, July 07, 2006

2 cards a week - for the rest of your life

Make sure the card says "Thank You" on the front.

Sincere: mean what you say
Specific: tell them exactly what you are thanking them for
Succinct: keep your thoughts direct and your handwriting legible
Summarize: include your address and email

We don't accomplish anything in this world alone ... and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.
-Sandra Day O'Connor, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Got your prospect list?

Dear Dave,

There is nothing I would like better than to find an entry level IT position which will allow me to develop my software development/systems analysis skills in the banking/consulting/software industries. Any chance you can help me in my search?

Signed, Searching

Dear Searching,

During your job search, do you have a list of companies you are looking for entry to? A prospect list? Banking/consulting/software is too general for someone like me (and most other people) and unless you know of a specific position available, I can't help you too much. A lot of my conversations with job seekers go like this:

Could you please help me with some assistance?"

"Sure! How can I help?"

"I'm looking for employment?"

"I'm afraid that's too general for me, please be more specific."

"I'm looking for a position in marketing."

"I'm afraid that's still too general, please be more specific."

"I'm looking for a job in the pharma sector in marketing."

"Still too general, what company?"

"I don't know."

"Toronto based? Ontario based? Large company? Small company? Private? Public? Generic? Brand?"

"I don't know."

"That's OK, but you are making me (and other people) work too much on your behalf. Pick 5 companies to start with, write them down and start showing them to friends and family. Ask if they know anyone who works there and could you have a conversation with them? Most people response very well to this.

"But who do I know they are the right companies to work for?"

"This isn't a job interview, it's an informational interview. They may reveal this is NOT a company you want to work for. Often these talks result in the person telling you about another company in their industry with another opening. You just have to start getting in front of people and quit just being a resume."


Could you please help me with some assistance?"

"Sure! How can I help?"

"Do you know anyone who works at GSK, Pfizer, Altana, Roche or Medical Futures?"

"Sure, I know folks who work in all those companies."

"I'm looking for a job in the pharma sector in marketing; any chance I could chat with one of them and get an informational interview for 5 minutes, or maybe a chnce for a face to face?

"Sure, don't send me your resume, just a one-paragraph outline listing your degree and experience and what you are looking for . I'll send it over to them and I'm certain they would be happy to take your call."


1. Use this script:

"Hello, Dr. Brown? My name is Dave Howlett. I am looking to acquire some information into [their industry]; Susan Smith recommended you as someone having insights in this industry and into some opportunities where someone of my background and education could have a fit. I would really love the opportunity to meet with you."

(This gives you an introduction though an associate, it compliments them as an industry expert and accomplishes the purpose of having a meeting with them. Many positions in companies are unadvertised and something may be available. )

Don't forget:

- respect their time - they are busy people.
- make sure you have done research on their company and can speak about their successes and challenges (use
- ask the person you are talking to how you can help them in turn? (just offer it, people are charmed and complimented when you do)
- send them a thank you card (not just an email)
- let the original person who gave you the contact know how the conversation went.
- remember they will open door for you as a person (not as a resume) if they think you will make them look good and not embarrass them in front of others. Be nice, brush your teeth, polish your shoes, be courteous.

I hope this helps!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Keep track of all your Contacts and Leads

Dear Dave. Hope you are well. I'm starting to realize that my methodology for tracking, archiving, and storing contacts is somewhat limited. I'm just using excel spreadsheets (and my brain); but am reaching capacity :-). I thought I'd ask the expert... Do you a certain piece of software to keep track of contacts etc..?

Signed, K.

Dear K,

Yes, there is a Free edition of Salesforce at This is a business development tool offered by Salesforce in the hope that this "viral marketing" will get their product into companies. I've used SF for years. It's a follow-you CRM that you can access anywhere (no software) and customize to your needs. Take some time and go through the tutorials as the important thing is to make sure you have the correct fields set up (garbage in- garbage out). They also have a great Stay in Touch feature you can send to people to allow them to update their information. You can also generate pipelines and appointments when and how to keep in touch!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Word of Mouth - Your reputation matters

Some of you who have attended my "Knocking Down Silos" seminars know that I ask you to write down what you want people to say about you when you are not in the room. In reality, you are writing your own epitaph.

Last week, I was in Vancouver presenting to the Canadian Society of Association Executives and talked about this concept. Tamera Olsen of MBABC related the poignant story of her mother-in-law who is adamant that her tombstone will NOT read: "I kept a clean house."

I thought that was terrific, then Angela Hold of CUFABC chipped in. The inscription Angela wants on her tombstone?

"If you can read're not crying hard enough."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How do you keep in touch so they don't forget about you?

1. Set up a Google Alert to send you information that they would find interesting
2. Send them an email that a) tells them you were thinking about them b) gives them something of value c) refers to something about them as a person. Keep it short.

Lyndsey knows how to do it well!


Hi Dave,

I'm in Edmonton right now for a Pharmacy conference, and do not have your regular email address. I was checking my email, and came across an article on networking - and obviously thought of you!

It's mostly what you explained to us during our cycle meeting, but I thought it might still be of interest to you. It can be found at

How's the training going? I'm loving this hot weather lately - I find it great for motivating me to get out there and run more often!


Monday, June 05, 2006

There's Millions of Dollars in being "a good guy"

(overheard by a US Venture Capitalist at BioFinance 2006, in Toronto , Canada)

"Your personality determines whether I invest in your company. Your science determines how much I invest."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Want good word of mouth: Just be Convenient

Be convenient. Which phone call would YOU return?

"Hi - umm, this is Steve, I got your business card last week and you said I should call you this week to talk. Maybe I'll call back later.

"Hi, this is Steve Ong, it's 9:30 Monday morning. You and I met last week at the BioFinance seminar. I was the gentleman who went to Queens University as well; you and I also talked about John Daley's career as a golfer. Robert, you had asked me to call you this week about some opportunities with your company. My number is ____ - __________ . I'll be in this morning and out this afternoon. If you do get my voicemail, please leave a good time for you and I'll call you back then. I appreciate the chance to touch base with you Robert, again, it's Steve Ong, my number is ____ - __________. Have a great day."

Monday, May 08, 2006

Conversation Starter

Dear Dave,

I have been trying to network the past couple of weeks and now I have accumulated a lot of phone numbers. However, I am not sure how to call these people and start up a conversation regarding a possible job opportunity. Do you have any advice?


Dear N,

Two weeks of networking should have gotten you a lot more than just phone numbers. If you met them already at a function or seminar, you should know:

- what their greatest challenge is
- what they like about their job
- what they do for fun on weekends

Use any of these to touch base again with this individual and bridge the gap to positioning you as a solution to their needs.

If all you have is a name and a phone number, do you have a name of the person who gave you the number? If so, try this:

"Hello, Dr. Brown? My name is Dave Howlett. I am looking to acquire some information into [their industry]; Susan Smith recommended you as someone having insights in this industry and into some opportunities where someone of my background and education could have a fit. I would really love the opportunity to speak with you for a few minutes."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

If people upset you

Ever get frustrated or upset with certain people? They don't return your calls or emails and you assume this is because:

- you may have done something wrong to upset
or anger them
- they don't like or respect you
- they think they are better than you.

Whenever I feel this way, I think back to the wise words of my friend Pastor Joe Paluschak (he provided counselling to the rescue workers during 911 at the World Trade Towers).

"You would care less about what other people thought about you, if you knew just how little time they spent thinking about you."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

To get you have to give

Oscar sent me a great email on Guy Kawasaki's blogsite on entrepreneurship and networking (see below in comments)

If you cruise through Guy's blog, you'll see oodles of hints, tips and links to other great people and resources.

If you want great word of mouth, be generous in your mentorship and your connections. Watch the hits on Guy's blogsite and you'll see he attracts huge success with his largesse.

Another example of this generosity is the assistance I've received from an Ellusive Fish. Rob shot me an email after he reviewed WOMBLOG and gave me some suggestions on linking.

Hide your knowledge and release it only when the purchase order is written, you'll be one of the crowd.

Share your wisdom and you'll gain that most valued description: "he's a good guy" or
"she's a nice person"

Friday, April 21, 2006

WOMBAT: it's not always about the product

[an actual email received by an associate of mine]

Dear _____________,

Today, I received your thank-you card. Thank you for this extremely kind behaviour which is very rare to find in this decade and in this continent. As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, I am also looking forward to cooperate with yourself and develop more business.


[senior executive from _________with previous experience in Europe and the Middle East. ]

What's the secret to goal setting?

Here's an email from one of the people on my running clinic:

On March 15, 2005 at my yearly physical my doctor told me to lose 60 lbs. She indicated that my 226 lbs was not ideal and I should be between 160 and 170 for my height. I told her I haven't weighed that since maybe grade 8 but I was now on a mission. I began training (swimming, biking and running) on March 16th and signed up to do an Olympic Triathlon in Sept. 2005. I completed my Triathlon goal and this year's goal as you may have figured out is a marathon. Over the past year, I've worked hard in terms of exercise, no so hard in terms of diet, but that's next. Anyway, yesterday was my yearly physical. Time to hit the scale and see was the year of training and getting off my a$$ did for me. I'm happy to say I'm down 49 lbs and now weigh 177lb. I have 7 more to go, but I know that it will happen. With the weight loss has come many benefits. I'm sick much less often, I can keep up with my 4 kids, and I'm just generally happier.

What's the secret to goal setting? Just write one out. Print it out. Draw a line in the sand. Make a deadline. Tell all your friends. Hang around good people.

Sure...we may stumble but better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Not just another branch office

So what's the secret in getting people to return your call? How do you stay "top of mind" so people remember you?

About 10 years ago, I had to make a trip to a local shopping mall. On my way back to the car, I came face to face with a parked truck. "Baldy's Tree Service" was prominantly painted on the side. My first reaction was "that's a funny name for a business". Around the front side of the truck, a guy was trimming shrubbery.

I struck up a conversation with him and asked him if he worked on residential homes. Turned out he did. Then I had to ask about the name. He mentioned that originally Baldy was just a nickname but his customers said it was a name they found easy to remember.

Rod's been back to my property 4 times in the last 10 years doing treework.

He's conscientious about tidiness, shows up on time and seems to do a good job. I've never really shopped around for another quote because it's so darned easy to remember to remember "Baldy's."

Sometimes you don't have to be better than your competition, just different enough to stay on someone's mind so they think of you when the need arises.

So how are YOU different?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Engineering Angst

How the heck do you get past the awkwardness of opening a new relationship?

I recently received an email from a "good guy" who had attended one of my seminars. We'll call him "Ed". In keeping with the WOMBAT philosophy, Ed sent me a thank you card and enclosed a great article titled As luck would have it. The he sent me the link by email:

It was an amazing read and contained information I can use for my next Knocking down Silos seminar. I also forwarded to to several clients and prospects; and that made me look great.

Ed did exactly what it took to reinforce a relationship: to get you have to give.

But here's the kicker: Ed's got incredible knowledge and drive but (like many engineers and finance folks) he finds himself fixated on needing "things" to get in the door: business cards, catalogues, presentations. In fact, he's thinking of giving up on selling himself as he finds that he can't simply walk in and start talking to someone without a place to start.

I've got one suggestion and am challenging readers of WOMBLOG to chip in with their own.

Ed, if in doubt, start off with a compliment. People surround themselves with clothing, jewelry and decorations that reflect their taste.They are always flattered when someone picks up on it.

These have worked well for me for years:

"I was admiring your watch, it's really unsual."
"So I see you work for _________. I've heard a lot of good things about them. How long have you worked there?"
"Is that a Saab you drive? I've always thought about getting one of those, do you like yours?"
"You're a graduate of ________________? That's a great school! What was your degree in?"
"You say you're from India? Bombay? I'd love to go there one day. I've always had a fascination for history and I'd love to visit some of the beautiful temples in India."

These have to be sincere and honest - so find a compliment that works for you. Many people I know in the science and finance world don't lack sincerity; so this technique will work to open a relationship.

Any other suggestions for Ed?

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Iron Apple

Someone I know recently returned from a business trip to that mecca of business and brusqueness: New York City.

We all get a little intimidated when meeting people - especially when they have more seniority and knowledge. And it's a triple whammy when you are a) a woman in a group of older men b) a Canadian surrounded by New Yorkers and c) just introducing a product line (in this case: cross-border financial solutions).

But is it all about business? Sometimes people respect you more for page 3 of your resume than the quality of material in your briefcase. When asked what she did when she wasn't talking finance, she mentioned she was training for Ironman USA in July. The dynamics of the conversation instantly changed and instead of just another vendor, she was elevated in their eyes to someone who was focused, driven and definitely different. In fact, a point of commonality was made when one director revealed his wife was an Olympian who competed in Sarajavo.

Never be reluctant to share your outside interests; it may get you the business.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Peter West: Exceeding Expectations

One of the mantras I teach about WOMBAT (word of mouth beats all techniques) is exceeding expectations. Peter West is a media relations pro with a lot of experience dealing with the LE world (that's law enforcement for you civilians!). Peter just completed a media-relations/communications training session for some Southern Ontario police officers. Now you and I know that there is nothing more intimidating than a bunch of burly peace officers who view the world in black and white. Their reception of this civilian (and ex-reporter to boot) was pretty cool for the first 10 minutes.

But apparently they warmed up to Peter pretty quickly because (in one of the officer's words) "he wasn't afraid of us."

The best thing about a customer with low expectations is that their word of mouth is tremendous when you exceed them. Well done Peter!