Thursday, May 24, 2007

Got an opinion on this question? Let's help K. out!

Hey Gang,

Whether you are a student, a service profider or a decision maker, how do you feel about elevator pitches? Below is an email I just received. Do you use them, find them effective, or respond when someone else gives you one? Let's help K. out!


Dear Dave,

I just came back from a seminar on how to give a 30 second elevator pitch. But it feels very stiff and insincere and I don't feel comfortable doing it. Do you use elevator pitches?

Signed K.


Friday, May 18, 2007

It's Friday - do you have your cards?

Photo was in my in-box this morning; sent to me by Dr. Sam Lee: a "good guy."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thank you cards: Pick a level

For those of you who have attended a Knocking down Silos event, you understand the power and poignancy of a sincere, specific and unexpected thank you card. Let me frame that gesture under my philosophy of three levels:

Level 1: What's in it for me? Not sending a card. Employees should perform because that is their job. Children should behave because that is their responsibility. Expressing appreciation is superfluous.

Level 2: I help you, you help me. Reciprocity. Sending a thank-you card (e.g. birthdays, job performance, anniversaries, client's purchases etc) with the expectation that something will occur in return. The expectation is that a happy client/family member will appreciate your gesture and reciprocate in the future (e.g. with more business, better behaviour, a job-offer). See as an example of sending a card as Level 2 in networking.

Level 2 is how many world governments work. I'll let your goods enter my market tariff-free and in return you allow our access into your market.

Level 3: Generosity without expectation of gratitude. Sending a "just-because" thank you card to acknowledge the works of others and not demanding reciprication.
Below is an example of a wonderful note crafted by "a good guy" to a former mentor. Anonymity has been preserved but the message is intact:
Dear Paul,
No matter where a person is in their life, and no matter how much where they are is about how they "be", there are always an untold number of contributions that other people make to them along the way – especially if one is open to receiving/recognizing/using those contributions.

I could pick any number of instances of contributions you have made to me, but the one that really stands out is the way you nurtured courage for my vision. The two-plus years in 2001-02 we spent trying to crack the Radical Results /Realtime Enterprise work has had a profound impact in my work and vision that I have only just begun to realize.

You taught me about disruption, about driving ideas toward their longer-range effect, about speaking about what will happen instead about what could happen, about profound technology and change cycles, about looking for where the money will land, about knowing that an idea can be right even though you are alone in it. (I think BEA would have done better if they hired you directly in 2002. By now they've missed the crown).

For over a thousand mornings from 2003 to late 2006, I woke up and said: "This can't work, it is too big, too complicated, the vast majority is telling me it can't work, and I have no money to staff this". It sometimes took 10 minutes, sometimes an hour to shake it off, to know that all real change is disruptive and is generated by a person with a vision and a person for whom a big employer would be a detriment. Of course the ontological tools I use to reject defeat are from my work at Landmark, but the intellectual and structural tools to go back to work the same day, every day, and to write, solve and innovate – i.e. to make some actual progress – came from a thousand hours with you.

You have provided a critical piece to Skymeter, without which this would not be happened. And it is happening.

Thank You.
With Gratitude and Love,

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sometimes it's the little things that count.

I had a great phone conversation this morning with C: a VP who attended a recent Knocking down Silos talk I did 2 weeks ago for a major Canadian Financial Institution.

He related that he was getting on an elevator this morning and as the doors were closing, he saw someone racing for the door. C. held the doors open and was thanked with a smile and the phrase:

Thanks, you restored my faith in humanity!

If you want to have people like you, trust you, keep you top of mind, promote you, send you business and be your advocates...sometimes it's as simple as waiting a few seconds and holding open a door.

KDS Level Two: To attract success, you need to stop thinking about yourself and serve others.

And besides - doesn't it feel good when you get that smile!?

Friday, May 04, 2007

On marathon running and Silos

Dear Dave,

Thanks for mentioning what you did about the slower runners; sometimes I get intimidated by all the talk of Boston qualifiers and personal bests and I don't feel I belong among the speedy runners.

Signed First Timer,

Dear FT,

You know, in my talks across North America I speak about the concept of "silos". We tend to classify other people and put them in silos or catagories and that limits us in many ways.
We see a fast runner and characterize them as "elite". We see someone going for a personal best and we rationalize "I could never do that, they must be intense."
This tendency is reinforced by our desire to stick with people who look, sound and run at the same speed. That's why 4:30 marathoners tend to stick together and 3:45 marathoners have the same inclination (it's no different in society, just look at how people form religions, political parties, sports teams and then classify others because they are ...different).

In a marathon class (as in business and life ), I define courage as someone who perseveres through adversity.

I admire "a speedy runner" because (independent of their natural talent and genetics) they have stuck to a plan, watched their nutrition and spent a lot of lonely hours on their own running towards a goal. For example, did you know it took one of our runners 5 marathons to qualify for Boston and that she is always astonished when she hears someone refer to her as an "elite"?

I admire a first time marathon runner for exactly the same reason: they are chasing a goal. And for one more reason as well. Did you know that a lot of faster runners cannot physically run for the length of time some of you can? Did you hear Joe's comments when he had to lead the 4 hour pace group on a long run? It was very difficult on his body to run at that pace for such a long period of time. When a 3:15 marathoners comes across the finishing line, they are very tired. But some of you will be running for another 2-3 hours as well! They literally cannot do what some of you will be doing.

The people I truly admire the most are the people who resist the silo mentality. They have the spirit to run towards a dream but they take the time to speak with the people just starting their own dream. Their speed AND their empathy are the reasons they inspire you. I call them "good guys."

One last thought for all of you. As you get faster, fitter and firmer, you will be tempted to hang around others who are even more fast, fit and firmer.
You'll start to build your own silo. Others will be reluctant to speak with you... they'll classify you as an elite and then they will start to judge you.
So don't just hang around your one or two friends. Make an effort to speak to people ourside your group. And whether they are in another pace group, are of another age, a religion or a nationality...I'll bet you will find you have more in common that you reaize.

You just need to make the effort.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Every once in awhile

For those of you who have attended one of my Knocking down Silos talks, you will understand my concept of "the good guy." This is a gender neutral quality that epitomizes knowledge, personality, reliability and altruism. It is my firm conviction that human history is populated by great people (aka "good guys") who inspire others to follow them by their vision and their desire to serve others.

Humans are hard-wired to talk about others and a "good-guy reputation" is invaluable whether finding a job, leading a company, looking for investors or asking others to follow you over the ramparts and into a hail of bullets.

But every once in awhile you meet the opposite. An associate recently related how his company has severed their professional relationship with a client company precisely because of the personality of its leader.

In his words, " this guy's personality is worth a mention in the next KDS as to how to run a company into the ground by ticking off service providers and his own people!!"

Further inquiry reveals a president who is brilliant in his field but arrogant, abrupt and inconsiderate with employees and his service providers. It's an interesting insight that, although bricks and mortar have no personality, a company actually takes on the personality of its leader.

Does his ego allow him to look in the mirror and admit that his personality is affecting his bottom line?

Does he realize that his employees and service providers (bankers, accountants, lawyers, recruiter etc) will slam the book on his company's file at 5pm on a Friday afternoon as they won't go that extra mile when their spouse and kids are asking them to come home?

Does he blame the turnover and low morale in his company on himself or does he look for external factors?

Do the shareholders in his company know that his personality is affecting the bottom line?

Moral of the story: 20% of society is made up of "good guys" 79% are people who have the ability to achieve that persona (especially if they come to Knocking down Silos!) But every once in awhile you meet a psycho. Learn from them, be cautious of them, but don't let them affect how you treat the rest of society.

Or as my dad ( a 30 year veteran of the Canadian military) would say of an inept officer:

The only way anyone would follow that out of curiosity.