Archive for the ‘Meetings’ Category

New Year’s Resolutions For The Successful Executive, Manager & Employee

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Yes, it’s that time of the year.
The time to assess the good, the bad and that ugly sweater that, even though it was on sale, you should never have bought.
The time to promise that we really do need to lose those extra 15 pounds, visit Tahiti and read that massively boring book that has been sitting on our shelf for months.

Whatever your personal resolutions are, these are the ones that all ambitious and capable businesspersons need to embrace.
Yes, that means you.

Paste these to your fridge, observe them religiously and contact me when you get promoted or land the big deal.

Here we go:

  • I will not use my Blackberry during a meeting, a meal or when anyone else is speaking.
  • I will memorize the names of everyone in the room and use their names when addressing them.
  • I will take that extra minute to double-check my clothing and attire for holes, stains, wear and odors BEFORE I walk out the door to start my day.
  • I will show up to meetings on time and take notes that I will actually be able to read and understand tomorrow.
  • I will not talk about others behind their back (no matter how tempting).
  • I will deliver projects on time or early.
  • I will take the blame alone, but share the credit with others.
  • I will publicly acknowledge and praise those that deserve it.
  • I will actually read resumes that get sent to me.
  • I will serve as a mentor to someone younger.
  • I will volunteer to work on a project.
  • I will work on improving my listening skills.
  • I will not agree with everything my Boss says and explain so, in respectful and persuasive language.
  • I will try to be the most prepared person in the room.
  • I will not add needless cc:s to my e-mails and will not automatically hit “Reply All.”
  • I will offer to pick up a lunch bill every once in a while.
  • I will surprise my colleagues by bringing in donuts and coffee.
  • I will arrive to work early and leave late.
  • I will develop a workable filing system and keep my desk uncluttered.
  • I will say “thank you” and “yes”more frequently and “no” less often.
  • I will zig when others zag.

    Today’s Tip: The end of a very tough year has finally arrived. 2009 will have new challenges and a new rhythm. You can’t control everything—just yourself and your approach to work. You can start by “raising your game.” Others will notice the new you…and that may make all the difference.

    Just remember, you always have Verbal Dexterity!

    Be well, be happy, be healthy and have a great 2009!

  • Your Mont Blanc Pen Says “Yes”, But Your Eyes Say “Get Me Out Of Here”–How To Recognize A Disinterested Audience

    Thursday, December 4th, 2008

    We all tend to believe that we are worth listening to. Unfortunately, we are not all correct. There are some business leaders and speakers out there (and they may not know whom they are) that just drone on and on and on.

    For some reason, I tend to have lots of meetings with these individuals.

    While they are numbing their audience into submission (be it in a small meeting or at a large conference), their listeners are completing their “chores to do” list and trying to draw a doodle that looks like Obama. During a one-on-one meeting or interview these oblivious “babbling brooks” (think 1950’s insurance salesman) have no clue that their prospective client has mentally checked out of the conversation minutes or even hours ago.

    So, what are the signs to look for that can give you, future speaker, insight into where your audience’s head and ears are?

    Here are some tips:

  • Work on developing great peripheral vision. You need to engage and include all listeners in your speech and notice and account for their reactions as well.
  • Observe their body posture. A slanted or slumped body means disinterest, disrespect or boredom.
  • Focus on the listener’s eyes. It will be hard for them to not look at you while you are looking at them. Their indirect eye contact, even for a few milliseconds, may reflect their desire to find a literal and figurative “exit.”
  • A listener’s lips can also unconsciously reveal anger, interest or faked neutrality. People show teeth and subtle smile lines when they are engaged.
  • If you are close enough, listen to their exhalations. Slow exhaling through their nose or more audible releases through their mouth can demonstrate a lack of patience with the speaker or the topic.
  • Excessive self-caressing (rubbing hair or arms) by the listener signals uncomfortability.
  • Numerous leg crosses reveals nervousness or a desire to change the topic.
  • Arms folded is a conspicuousious gesture that screams “keep your distance, buddy!”
  • Audience members looking at their wrist watch are not hoping that you will talk longer.
  • Attendees spending most of their time looking at their Blackberry instead of you are not thinking about giving you a standing ovation.
  • Ok. So your audience is about to fall asleep. What can you do?

  • Vary your voice volume, inflection, speed and pentameter. If your voice bounces, so will your audience.
  • Move around while you speak. If the audience has to follow you, they won’t zone out.
  • Don’t make it a one-way communication. Engage the listener. Ask personal questions and opinions. People love to talk about themselves.
  • In the middle of your spiel, clap your hands or purposely drop something on the table. The noise will jolt them out of submission.
  • Have chocolate or coffee nearby. Caffeine always helps.
  • Have a humorous anecdote or joke at the ready. Laughter improves blood flow and keeps the audience on your side.
  • Give the audience an exercise to complete or participate in. Physical and mental stimulation can keep their juices flowing.
  • Have something interesting to say, with great transitions.

  • Today’s Tip: Don’t just talk in a vacuum. Pay really close attention to your audience and their eyes, body language and gestures. They are giving you instantaneous feedback on how you are doing. Sure, they can fake it here and there, but not during your entire speech. If and when you see that you are losing them, shake things up with your voice, body and, of course, really good content.

    Phoning It In: A Workers Guide To Telephone Effectiveness

    Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

    A modern and simple truth:
    More people conduct business by phone than by face-to-face meetings.

    It’s quicker, less expensive, less intrusive and it even comes with a “Mute Button.”
    Despite the frequency of these phone calls, most business persons do not properly recognize the dynamics of such communication and how to get the most out of each call.

    Here are some things to remember:

  • The person on the other end of the phone cannot see you. Therefore, your body language, gesticulating and pointing is meaningless.
  • A call’s success will be decided on only two things: 1) your voice and 2) your content.
  • Your voice: elocution basics like inflection, pentameter, volume, speed and enunciation are going to filter and influence your message. The better the conduit, the faster and cleaner the message.
  • Your content: no one wants to hear long-winded, circuitous meanderings. Get to the point and don’t step on everyone else’s words (let others comment and question).
  • Reflect an upbeat attitude in your voice. An animated receptionist that speaks clearly and listens well is a wonderful reflection of a professional organization. A telephone answerer that is short, curt, rude and who mumbles at 150 miles per hour is a mess.
  • Never eat anything while you are on the phone. We can hear every chew…and now I am hungry.
  • Pick up the phone after no more than 3 rings. Let’s face it, you are not that important. If you were, you would have a secretary screening your calls.
  • Don’t put your hand over the mouthpiece while you speak to the (apparently more important) person that just walked into your office. We really can hear every word…even the juicy ones. Better to politely put us on hold or to not stop the conversation.
  • Avoid profanity. There is no safe haven for the listener to escape to and it’s just not professional.
  • Always tell the other party when you are putting them on speakerphone. You never know when “Mr. Bad Comb-Over” or “Ms. Slut-face” will unexpectedly walk-in.
  • Don’t read the newspaper or finish your budget while on the phone with me. I can tell when you are distracted. Perhaps, one clue was when you didn’t respond to my first six questions.
  • It’s OK to pause or have a little dead air. Not every millisecond needs to be filled with noise. Just avoid extra long (more than 30 seconds) or frequent gaps.
  • Never (except a medical emergency) put your client on hold due to call-waiting.
  • As you conclude, re-confirm the follow-up and each participant’s assignment.
  • Make sure that the phone is off before you start mocking the participants.
  • Today’s Tip: “Call” it what you want, but good telephone skills = great business. If the listener can’t focus on anything but your voice…your hodgepodge of words, slurs, pauses, stumbles, stammers, and mumbles will become even more apparent. Impress the other party with well chosen and animated phrases. If you can be articulate, inviting and interesting, you will establish a great “connection” with your client and avoid many types of “disconnects.”

    Don’t Kill The Messenger (It’s Me): How To Deliver Bad News To Your Employees

    Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

    In these challenging economic times, it is far more likely that you, as a manager, will have to share some bad news with a colleague or a direct-report.

    Not an easy thing to do.

    Whether it is a performance appraisal, a layoff, a termination or a consolidation, there are some prudent things that you can do to prepare for this awkward scenario:

  • Spend some time thinking about your opening line. Tone, inflection and brevity can communicate far more than a circuitous, nervous fumpher.
  • Be very aware of your body language: big smiles and close proximity could contradict your theme.
  • Be candid and direct. Listeners can smell bullsh_t immediately.
  • For terminations of potentially volatile personalities, have a 3rd person present. Even for even-keeled individuals, it is not a bad idea to have an HR person present.
  • Spend time, in advance, anticipating the 10 most likely questions that your listener is going to ask…and have answers ready. Clarity and comprehensiveness go a long way.
  • Don’t discuss what might/will happen to other associates. This is a legal tripwire that can cause you problems (plus, it’s really not the purpose of your meeting).
  • Close your door, shut your phone and turn-off your Blackberry. These interruptions will affect the flow of this very tense meeting…and make it worse.
  • Speak in a clear, soft and non-confrontational manner.
  • Avoid personalizing any part of the message.
  • Don’t linger or prolong this interaction. Know what you want to say, say it, respond to questions and conclude.
  • Make sure that your closing line/call to action is clear, professional and thoughtful.
  • Even if you have mixed feelings about this message, NEVER suggest that you disagree with this “corporate” decision. You are not there to make friends.
  • Today’s Tip: No one likes to be the bad guy…and no one likes to be the bearer of bad news. But, sometimes it is necessary. Don’t run away or plaster a fake smile on your face. Prepare your message, deliver it candidly in a neutral manner and get through this with dignity and professionalism. It’s the only way.

    The “Get Out Of Jail” Kit: How To Prepare For The Inevitable Office Emergency

    Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

    Sometimes the workplace can provide more adventure than you bargained for.

    Files go missing, drinks get spilled, heels break, seams rip and clients show up early. It’s enough to make you feel like a character in a British farce (anyone remember “Noises Off?”). So, other than running away or drinking heavily, what can you do to prepare yourself for that office emergency?

    Here are some items that you should keep in your office to help get you through an “obstacle course” kind of day:

  • Crazy glue and duct tape: Why? Because they can solve 90% of all emergencies.
  • Dental floss, a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash: Sure, no one thought that your primary client would show up just as you returned from “all you can eat garlic bread day” at the local pizza joint…but you need to freshen up quickly. Excuse yourself and get that breath minty fresh.
  • Clean underwear, a dress shirt/blouse and a blazer/sport jacket: When, out of the blue, the Boss wants you to accompany him to an “event” because his wife bailed at the last minute, you need to be ready to go. Keep this on a hangar behind your desk in a suit bag. It’s time will come.
  • A spare set of glasses or contact lenses: Squinting during your big presentation (because you lost a lens or your glasses broke) is neither endearing nor persuasive.
  • Extra cash: Find a good hiding place and keep some petty cash around for the next emergency. You can’t schmear a restaurant Maitre’D with a credit card.
  • A small toilet kit with deoderant, cologne and a hair brush: Because you were just informed that YOU will be entertaining that opposite-sex client who is in from out-of-town and anticipating a nice dinner. It doesn’t matter who you are– at 6:00 PM, everyone’s personal hygiene could use a little “freshening up.”
  • Band-aids and bactene: That paper cut is more serious than you thought and none of us want to watch you bleed on the McGregor file.
  • Instant stain remover: It only takes one leaky pen or one messy pasta lunch, to turn that crisp white shirt into an ink blot. Get one of those portable stain removers and keep it in your desk.
  • Aspirin and cold medicine: No one cares if you have a headache or a cold. Shut-up and make the presentation without sneezing all over us.
  • A nail-clipper: No one is impressed with a nail-biter and no one cares if you just ripped a nail. You do not have time to go to a drugstore. Be prepared to trim as needed.
  • Some bottled water and some food that can last awhile (nuts, crackers, chocolate, etc): Hey, the 4-year analysis is suddenly due tomorrow and there’s no one delivering take-out at this hour…so this is your dinner tonight. Bon appetit!
  • Today’s Tip: Perhaps the Boy Scouts have it right…”Be prepared.”
    You never really know where your workday will take you: surprise client visits, demands from the Boss, new projects, re-jiggered analyses, corporate turmoil…and on and on. The key is that while you can’t prepare for everything, you can prepare for most office emergencies. That’s why when the sh_t hits the fan, I am coming to your office.

    Summary Of All Tips: The Best In Verbal Dexterity (So Far)…

    Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

    To get your full dose of Verbal Dexterity,
    please visit us at or our website at

    The Art Of The Business Handshake: Yes. In business, you will have to “Shake” your moneymaker. Like a tie, pin or pair of shoes, how one shakes reinforces or reveals a little more about you or your counterpart. Use it as an opportunity to radiate confidence, control and deliberation. If done right, you will leave the other person in a state best described as a “James Bond Martini.”
    That’s right. “Shaken, not stirred.” (from Blog Article dated 9-2-08: “You Must Be Made Of Jelly Because Jam Don’t Shake That Way”)

    How To Get Rid Of An Annoying Caller: Telephone salespersons are people too. Treat them with respect and politeness. However, if they are not willing to stop when you say so, it’s time to be a little more aggressive. Turn the tables on them and watch how fast they run. Respect deserves respect, but abuse deserves your clever on-the-phone reaction. (from Blog Article dated 8-19-08: “Sorry Wrong Number”).

    How To Take Criticism From Your Boss: It’s hard to believe that there are others that might not recognize or appreciate the perfection that is you…but it can happen. If the Boss calls you in and criticizes you: listen, focus, react intelligently and deliberately and maintain a professional composure. How you react to criticism may leave more of an impression on your Supervisor than your screw-up. Exhale, react and move-on…and try not to let the air out of his tires tonight. (from Blog Article dated 8-12-08: “Sticks & Stones & My Performance Bonus”).

    The Small Stuff That Makes You Credible : Before you have even opened your mouth, we have all formed an impression of you. Make it a good one. Crappy, dirty and cheap accessories (as well as childish behavior) will persuade us that that’s who you really are. Dazzle us, impress us, wow us. We will pay that much more attention to you when you speak. (from Blog Article dated 8-5-08: “Matching Socks, Combed Hair & Pens that Don’t Leak”).

    Knowing How To Make A Good Mistake: NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT: The worst mistake that you can make is to make the “wrong” kind of mistake. Take a shot and go face this week’s challenge on your own: just be thoughtful, flexible and responsible. Remember, a baseball team can still win the game with a couple of errors.
    Just make the right kind of errors. (from Blog Article dated 7-29-08: “The Error Of Your Ways”).

    The Office Romance: Let’s be careful out there. At the end of the day, co-workers should share a vision, not a bed. Don’t dip your pen where the Company keeps its ink. It’s messy, unpredictable and really hard to get out the stains. (from Blog Article dated 7-20-08: “Love On The Photocopier”).

    How To Deal With The Pain-In-The-Ass Client: You can’t turn an Asshole into a Princess…but you can avoid making things worse. Understand your P-I-T-A’s personality, hobbies, preferences and never let them see you sweat. In the long run, preparation, stoicism and successful execution can tame and impress that difficult client. (from Blog Article dated 7-8-08: “If You Weren’t Paying Us I’d Kill You”).

    How To Pitch An Idea To Your Supervisor: Don’t just blurt out ideas to your Boss. Prepare and strategize. Treat it like a negotiation. Know their concerns and their next question…and be ready to persuade them. You have a great idea, so go for it and share it with your Supervisor. Clearly, you should Speak Up! (from Blog Article dated 7-1-08: “Speaking Upwards”).

    How To Change Your Speech in Mid-Stream: The shortest distance between a speaker and his audience may not be a straight line. Don’t leave home without a knapsack of options, alternatives and tap shoes…and always be prepared to make a sharp left turn! (from Blog Article dated 6-25-08: “Making A Sharp Left Turn”).

    Who Can Put The Point In Power Point : Slides should be a thoughtful supplement to an already stimulating presentation. Use them sparingly and don’t make them the center of your speech. You’re too good a speaker to share applause with a screen. (from Blog Article dated 6-18-08: “Hiding Behind The Slides”).

    Incentives & Discipline In The Workplace: Only the enlightened Employer can properly decide how to serve the “carrots” or throw the “sticks.” Just make sure that each is serving its purpose (it’s hard to throw a carrot and no one likes to eat a stick). (from Blog Article dated 6-11-08: “Don’t Like Carrots, Not Afraid Of Sticks”).

    Using Your Hands While You Speak: Your hands can help or hinder your oral effectiveness. Words and gestures should complement, not conflict with, one another. Clever use of your hands will get you the handshake that you are looking for. (from Blog Article dated 6-3-08: “These Hands Were Made For Talking”).

    Returning To Work After A Vacation: Vacation Get-Aways are for getting away. Make the most of your down time and relax. However, easing your transition back requires foresight, planning and a pink umbrella. (from Blog Article dated 5-27-08: “Where Did My Drink With The Pink Umbrella Go”).

    The Over-prioritization Of Work In Your Life: You need to be focused and driven to succeed in today’s business world. The pace is relentless…but can come at a real cost: to your spouse, your kids and your health. Just remember that if you actually win the “rat race,” you are nothing more than the best rat. (from Blog Article dated 5-14-08: “Praying To The Work Deity”).

    Humor In The Workplace: Everyone wants to make their colleagues laugh. The real question is: What is the cost of a workplace guffaw? People love when others are made fun of (it eases tension and keeps attention away from them) but always remember when they were the butt of the joke. So, be funny, respectful and make sure that your next “punch-line” doesn’t knock you out. (from Blog Article dated 5-6-08: “Your Boss Slips On A Banana, Crashes Into A Stack of Dishes and Gets His Tie Stuck in The Shredder”).

    Differentiation: Kermit the Frog was wrong. It IS fun being green! Recognize your competitive difference (size, location, volume, flair, service, uniqueness, background, language, etc.) and shout it to the marketplace. Differentiation is the spice of life and utilizing it is the key to success! (from Blog Article dated 4-28-08; “Viva La Difference!! -Differentiation In The Market Place”).

    Bargaining For Everything: Consider all purchases to be subject to negotiation. Sellers want to sell and buyers want a bargain. Try to find the secret middle ground (4-23-08: “Bargaining For Bread, CDs and Carpet”).

    Feeling Sick At Work: Getting sick on the Big Day is a prescription for disaster if not handled properly. Don’t let your ego get in the way of the correct remedy. Take two minutes to assess…and call me in the morning (4-18-08; “Getting Sick On The Big Day”).

    Being On Time: Lateness does not reflect well on you or your troops. “Watch” the clock, manage your calendar, take control of meetings and try to beat deadlines. Anything less is going to “tick” someone off (4-10-08; “Johnny Come Lately -Timely Advice To Beat The Clock”).

    How To Pitch A Prospective Client: If you want to throw the right business pitch: get a firm grip on the ball, measure your strike zone, size up the batter and always be prepared to throw the curve. Further, a client (or prospect) will always respect the high heat or an inside pitch (4-7-08; “How To Pitch Business Like A Pro”).

    Real Teamwork: A Team needs to be nurtured, trimmed, fed and cared for. Don’t just bring strangers together and hope. Help create the proper “chemistry” and watch the Team flourish (3-26-08; “There Is No Jerk In “T E A M” ).

    Trade Show Success: Trade shows can be wonderful opportunities to meet fellow specialists, network, to learn or to drive new business. Be polite, aware, aggressive, strategic and always be ready to put on your Spock ears (3-24-08; “Who Put The Swag in Swagger-Trade Show Strategies”).

    Good E-Mailing: Write your business e-mails in a pithy, spare manner and think about who really needs to be a (cc: or bcc:) recipient. Before sending out an enraged diatribe, take a couple of hours to cool down and assess. You can never delete a bad impression (3-17-08; “Mail Pattern Boldness -The Secrets to Good Business E-Mailing”).

    Attaining A Verbal Return-On-Investment: Businesses that truly invest in their associates’ verbal skills (speaking, presenting and persuading) will see a significant and dramatic ROI (3-11-08; “Does Your Business Have A Favorable Verbal ROI?”).

    Improved Sales: Sales don’t improve because they need to. They improve because the pitch, the execution and the follow-up are thoughtful, honest and energized. Clients (new and old) are magnetically drawn to superior fundamentals (3-4-08; “How To Triple Your Sales In 5 Minutes”).

    Tele-communications & You: Always keep all of your business contact info (telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.) in at least two separate databases/locations. Otherwise, you will be only one computer meltdown away from a personal meltdown 2-28-08; “Giving Good Phone”).

    Summarizing You & Your Business: Don’t watch the elevator doors close. Always be ready to explain your business to others in a concise, clever and alluring manner (2-25-08; “Your Elevator Speech: Is The Elevator Going Up or Down?”).

    Corporate Jargon: Don’t fall into the corp-speak trap. Use clear, concise language to direct others or ask your leader to clarify. Nodding your head to phrases that are meaningless WILL come back to haunt you. You can bet your evolving paradigm on it! (2-21-08; “Drilling Down To The Synergies Of Leveraged Empowerment Opportunities…or Does Anyone Speak Plain English In Corporate America Anymore?”).

    Complaining: Before you go into a stream of consciousness rage, think before you complain. Use logic, past relationships and respect to score points with the listener.
    Your goal is to get what you expected, not a pound of flesh(2-14-08; “The Sweetest Whine Of All”).

    Networking: Your business card is a reflection of you.
    High quality, dependable and memorable individuals have cards of similar construction (2-11-08; “A Font Of Information”).

    Meetings: Schedule some unscheduled time into your workday to cover extended meetings and unexpected developments, emergencies and delays.
    It will help you finish the day “on time” (2-6-08; “Minutes To Go Before I Meet”).

    The Business Meal: A business meal is not a relaxing event. You need to be “on” from beginning to end and very aware of your manners.
    Others may judge your credibility and competence by your table behavior (2-4-08; “Some Things Are Hard To Swallow”).

    Conducting An Interview: An interview is like a first date. Your candidate will never look, sound or act better.
    Develop your interviewing X-ray vision and figure out exactly who the person across from you really is (1-31-08; “How To Interview Applicants With X-ray Vision”).

    Standing In Front Of A Room: Don’t let an upcoming speech stress you out. Forget the imaginary naked people in the audience
    Believe in yourself, ooze self-confidence and never let them see you sweat (1-28-08; “The Naked Truth”).

    Eye Contact: In any business context, eye contact can make or break you (1-25-08; “The Eyes Are The Window To The Goal”).

    Public Speaking: If you shake it up by changing your speaking location, voice and presentation, your audience will follow (from Article dated 1-23-08; “Is This Mike On”).

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    Matching Socks, Combed Hair & Pens that Don’t Leak: The Small Stuff That Makes You Credible

    Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

    None of us are supposed to “judge a book by its cover”…but we do.
    All the time.

    Most people understand the importance of doing good work, having a great attitude, being a team player and being punctual.
    However, many smart employees miss the opportunity to score even more points by managing their “observable peripherals”.

    So, go ahead. Ask away. Don’t be shy.

    What the heck is an observable peripheral?

    It’s all of the little and subtle cues that cause someone to form an impression about you.

    Here are some examples and suggestions that will make a significant difference in what others think about you:

  • You see that leaky 19 cent pen in your hand? Throw it out. Right now. Go buy a nice Waterman (or something similar), with weight, and use that from now on. A serious pen means you are a serious worker.
  • Taking notes in one of your daughter’s 4th grade Composition books is equally unimpressive. Dump it and go get a leather binder that allows you to use 8 1/2 X 11 or X 14 note pads. Jotting down today’s meeting assignments on the back of your Wendy’s receipt isn’t going to get anyone to take you seriously.
  • Upgrade that disgusting watch with the dried paint chips on it, to something elegant and attractive.
  • Stop wearing that Disney sweatshirt into the office. We see you wearing it as you come through the door and can only suppress the laughter some of the time.
    (If you dress like a joke, you will be treated like one).
  • Sorry to tell you this one…but that tie that your wife/daughter gave you with “Sponge Bob” on it is ridiculous. You are not a cartoon character (and your crabby pattys don’t taste so great either).
  • Your shoes always need to be shined and clean.
  • Your glasses cannot have any kind of tape holding them together.
  • Kiss that pocket protector goodbye.
  • Men, please put collar stays in your shirts and always button the top button if you are wearing a tie.
  • Ladies, regardless of our fantasies, please do not show us your bellybutton or wear any garment that has a phrase more appropriate for a strip club than an office (”Sexy,” “Man killer’,” “Good In Bed”). You get the idea.
  • Wearing your college ring beyond the age of 30 screams “loser” to the rest of us…even if it was an Ivy league school.
  • Get rid of that uni-brow.
  • Use perfume or cologne sparingly. If I can smell you on the Interstate, you may have put a tad too much on.
  • Never leave uneaten/open bags of food/candy on your desk.
  • Never wear the same outfit in the same week. If we see that blouse one more time, we are going to puke.
  • If you borrow money for the soda machine, pay it back the next morning. We will remember.
  • We are watching and observing you from the moment you park to the moment you leave (and yes, we did note that you took more than an hour for lunch).
  • Assume that we are all looking into your car when we walk by it (we loved spying that DVD of “Teenage Love Vixens” in the backseat, right next to the empty Coors 24 pack and 1500 of your scattered business receipts).
  • Use your “indoor voice” when taking a call on your cell phone.
  • Never be the last one to walk into a meeting or the first one to leave.
  • Today’s Tip: Before you have even opened your mouth, we have all formed an impression of you. Make it a good one. Crappy, dirty and cheap accessories (as well as childish behavior) will persuade us that that’s who you really are. Dazzle us, impress us, wow us.
    We will pay that much more attention to you when you speak.

    The Error Of Your Ways: Knowing How To Make A Good Mistake

    Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

    We all screw up…and when we do, there is usually someone watching.

    In addition, it frequently happens at work. Whether its forgetting to feed the Boss’ fish or providing the wrong data to a client…we have all done it.

    My all-time favorite: The newly hired legal secretary who faxed 73 copies of the same contract to the firm’s client. After the client complained to her Boss, he asked her why did she fax so many copies. Her reply: “I didn’t think that the fax machine was working properly. Every time I put the contract in the feeder it still kept coming out the other end.” (She though the fax machine magically sent it through the air).

    This was a “Careless Mistake.” That poor secretary didn’t know how the device functioned and, as a result, she made a ignorant, thoughtless, negligent (and humorous) error.

    There is another kind of error:
    Tony was about to pitch a prospective client on a new advertising campaign. He did the research and made a great presentation. Unfortunately, the client just saw a very similar presentation (from a competing agency) 45 minutes ago.

    This was a “Thinking Mistake.”Tony was deliberative and thoughtful. He just happened to pick an approach that someone else already took. He wasn’t careless, just a little short of the mark.

    His was a better kind of mistake.

    Here’s how to make fewer and “better” mistakes:

  • Do your homework really well. Ignorance can be very dangerous.
  • Make sure that your ideas are reflected in an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand manner.
  • As soon as you get your assignment/project, brainstorm with others on multiple approaches.
  • Create a realistic but flexible timeline (speed tends to provoke errors).
  • If your Boss is OK with it: Take some chances. A good Supervisor will be much more appreciative of you “going for it” and missing than if you never “go for it” at all.
  • Observe others well. What works and what doesn’t? The more approaches that you can include in your arsenal, the better (Even Batman has a utility belt that he needs to go to from time to time!).
  • Listen well. Most mistakes derive from a basic misunderstanding of the assignment, the rules, the deadline and the obstacles. How can you come up with a solution when you don’t even understand the problem?
  • Always have a contingency plan. If you lost your notes or your materials, could you still go forward with your presentation? Have you built in extra time in your timeline to handle the unexpected curve ball?
  • Trust your teammates, but verify. In a team project, it’s always good to have “state of the state” meetings to see where everyone is in their respective assignments and responsibilities.
  • If you screw up, admit it and move on. Lame excuses (e.g. sunspot activity; dog ate my Excel spreadsheet; I forgot that today was Wednesday) are obvious to your Boss and make you look like a child (and children don’t get promotions or big raises).
  • Today’s Tip: NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT: The worst mistake that you can make is to make the “wrong” kind of mistake. Take a shot and go face this week’s challenge on your own: just be thoughtful, flexible and responsible. Remember, a baseball team can still win the game with a couple of errors.
    Just make the right kind of errors.