Best Advice: Establish Dialogue and Invest in Communication

"Earth thinking or talking". Freedigitalphotos.net.
“Earth thinking or talking”. Freedigitalphotos.net.

This may sound a little bit idealistic, but when I go to my blog, my Facebook page, my Twitter account, I talk to different people from all over the world, and you see how it’s easy to establish a dialogue. (Author Paulo Coelho)

Whether you are an author aspiring to become a living legend such as Paulo Coelho, an entrepreneur looking for new clients, representing a brand or an organization/corporation – establishing dialogue and investing in communication are essential for forming partnerships, creating lasting relationships, and for success.

“The new information technology… Internet and e-mail… have practically eliminated the physical costs of communications”. (Peter Drucker)

How do you establish dialogue and communicate online (and offline)?

Are you aware of the actual potential and value of online media, social networks, and a continuously growing online business platform such as LinkedIn? LinkedIn as an online business communication and networking platform offers more than many people and professionals have realized.

As an example of this, I want to share with you my experience of collaboration with a number of business professionals from around the world – people who I approached on LinkedIn.

What started out as an endeavor to establish dialogue online, resulted in MBA Career Stories, a free online publication which you can access here:

http://bitly.com/MBACareersAMY

MBA Career Stories was written in collaboration by 33 MBA´s with different career and life paths across the globe. The e-publication serves as a career guide not only for aspiring MBA´s or students in general, but offers career, and life advice for practically anyone who enjoys reading true stories.

Extracts and best advice from MBA Career Stories:

“Always take action. You can take further corrective later if needed. This keeps your business moving forward and it is something that a customer likes to see”.

“Build relationships even with your competitors, as you never know how you can help one another”.

“Always build your network and consciously keep extending your reach”.

“Continuous learning and self-development is vital in today’s work”.

“Remember that you have two ears and one mouth” (Japanese proverb)

“Remember that you have two eyes, too”!

“Don’t ask for permission to be successful! What you choose to do with your life is not based on your parents expectations, what your teachers thought you were capable of, what your husband or partner thinks you should do or even what your friends are doing with their lives. It is all about what moves and inspires you. You should never need anyone else to tell you what that is or should be”.

http://bitly.com/MBACareersAMY

There is Always Audience for Those Who Have Something To Say

Are you one of those people who disguise public speaking? Whose chins become red just from the thought of having to stand before a crowd of people, whose hands get wet, and whose heart begins to beat at an unnatural rate?

No worries. No one can force you into public speaking. You will know when you are ready. 

I am one of those people who love public speaking, despite of my limited experience. I have spoken to complete strangers without preparation. I have spoken to class mates about study topics. My biggest fear in regard with public speaking has been the fear of not having anything interesting to say, nothing worth of acknowledgement, nothing new, nothing exciting. 

Mastering public speaking is like mastering any other skill. The more you practice, the better, and more confident, you get. I have learned that the most important factors in public speaking are a personal connection to the topic itself, and not being afraid of failure. The best public speakers speak from their hearts, from their experiences, and know how to connect with their audience. They are not afraid of embarrassment, and they know how to laugh at themselves. Allowing you the possibility of failure is as important in public speaking as in any other activity. Just do not take yourself too seriously. The audience does not know you; they have no idea about your experience from public speaking. As soon as you realize this, and connect as a spirit with your audience, you will notice that the fear your fear was irrelevant. 

Tips for becoming a great public speaker: 

1) Be self-confident – people love self-confidence, and you shining a light upon them.

2) Be thankful for the opportunity to speak in public – not everyone has the opportunity! 

3) Practice in advance through watching inspirational videos on the Internet, and attend public speaking events if needed.

4) Connect with your audience, and be spiritually present. 

5) Respect yourself. 

6) Respect your audience.

7) Speak from your heart, not from a piece of paper. A great speech is not read from a piece of paper.

8) Speak from and about your experiences, not about numbers. Even if you are a Fortune500 CEO. Successful measures are led and achieved by people, not by numbers. People, and great leadership, are the key to success (and key to increases in profitability, returns on investment and so on).

9) Involve your audience. Ask them for feedback, questions, make them enjoy the experience.

10) Take yourself seriously (but not too seriously), and your audience as well. They may have traveled from far away just to hear you speak. 

11) Be grateful. Grateful for the fact that you have the possibility to give a speech, grateful for having such a great audience. 

12) Your audience will sense your emotions, so be inspirational. 

13) Remember to thank your audience! Take all kinds of critics as a learning lesson. If something went wrong, embrace the failure and improve for your next public speaking event. 

14) Benchmark – Learn from the best!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
(Maya Angelou)

Watch this video to learn from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, who speaks straight from his heart: 

http://bit.ly/GettingWhatYouReallyWant

How Can You Be Truly Convincing?

“By 2029, computers will have emotional intelligence and be convincing as people”. (Ray Kurzweil, Brainyquote.com. 12.11.2014)

Do you believe in a future where computers have emotional intelligence? Can emotional intelligence be integrated into computers, when not even all human beings are capable of maximizing their potential in terms of emotional intelligence? 

If you have ever worked in sales, you know how important it is to not only sound, but to actually BE, convincing. In fact, this applies to others than just salespeople, or, put in a wider perspective, we all kind of work in sales, at all times, and in all situations in life. 

However, being convincing is not a synonym to being truthful. Although sales, as any other performance, should always include being truthful, there are always people who do not care so much about the truth, or who prefer creating their own truth. We find examples of these across society, of people who convince themselves first, and are color-blind to truth. I have once before quoted Anaïs Nin in this perspective: “We do not see the world as it is. We see it as we are”. 

Throughout centuries, truth has been discussed by philosophers, with a number of frameworks and theories built around a single word with so much meaning. Without going deeper into the different philosophical theories about truth, I just want to pinpoint that truth can be personal, and what is true to another individual, is not necessarily true to you. Some people are very convincing without actually telling the truth (a common truth that applies to the majority of people). There are many sad stories about individuals living their personal truths with a lack of morals, and humanity. Without having to explain further, I am pretty sure that you can think of a number of these. 

What does it take to be convincing? It is quite simple: 

Being convincing requires having confidence and trust in yourself. 

You also need to be convinced about the matter/product/situation. Selling Snow from the Sahara requires your personal conviction about the existence of snow in the Sahara. It is impossible to sell something that actually does not exist – that would equal to fooling your clients. 

In solution-based, client-oriented selling you can of course, in cooperation with your customer, define their needs, and based on those needs, create a tailored solution for them. That is problem-solving with and for the client. But you cannot promise a client that you can provide them with snow from the Sahara when you both know that there is no snow in the Sahara. And even if your customer does not know this, YOU know. 

Conviction includes taking moral responsibility in the first place. It also requires technical knowledge about what it is you are offering. All too often it is a fact that clients are offered various kinds of solutions by people who do not even know their products well enough. This includes not only a risk for the customer, who pays for the service/product, but also risks for the service/product provider: low quality leads to unsatisfied customers, and is a real slap in the face in regards to your brand’s image and reputation. 

Want to act morally and truthfully correct? Integrate the following into your (work) life: 

– Do not get involved into anything that is against your personal values/morals/knowledge/beliefs.

– Always be truthful to your clients/people around you.

– Know your product/service before actually offering it to your clients. If there is something you do not know, make sure to inform yourself so that you do not let your clients down.

– Take responsibility. True professionals and experts have not only a broad knowledge in their field, but are also continuously developing themselves, and seek to transform their knowledge into wisdom. 

– Live as you teach. There is no point in saying something, but acting in the opposite way. 

“You cannot convince anyone of anything. You can only give them the right information in order for them to convince themselves”. (Eben Pagan. Quote Essays.com. 12.11.2014). 

 

 

What is Successful Change Leadership?

Change Leadership, in its very essence, should focus upon improvement and growth. Without an actual purpose, and driving change only for the sake of change, change is a waste of everyone’s time.

Well organized is half done, but only very successful plans always have space for modifications. Only geniuses can master chaos, and however much we love agile project management, an essential skill for any change leader is the ability of focusing on key strategic issues, drive change with a dynamic effort, and with the goal in mind. (Green, M. Change Management Masterclass. 2007.)

Leading change equals the ability of leading development through enabling continuous growth, and improvement. Leading change is also strategy, and an ability of analyzing the PESTLE environment. In organizational settings, change management programs and projects need to be based upon the organization’s vision, mission, and strategy. Change projects, however narrow or extensive, will be successful when core values, goals, constant work, and communication are well aligned. Depending upon the needs and the breadth of the change initiative, mobilizing everyone involved is of utmost importance. In the organizational setting, change has to be led simultaneously and with consistent throughout the whole organization, and on an individual level. Traditionally, change has been thought of as something activated and triggered from top management, but in today’s learning organizations change initiatives can come from anyone, and basically anyone in an organization can be a change agent, formally or informally. In any organization, it is important for management to understand, that the needs for change may also be communicated from employees who are in direct customer contact, e.g. based upon feedback from customers. Therefore, in traditional, hierarchical settings, change can very well be initiated from a “lower” organizational level upwards. In democratic, low-hierarchy organizations, change projects can be successfully executed through participation of everyone involved. Successful involvement also increases the level of integrity. The most successful organizations also know how to involve their clients when driving change.  

 

                   “One person can be a change catalyst, a transformer in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader”. (Mike Green. Change Management Masterclass. 2007)

Successful change management projects do require realistic, but also optimistic individuals with a strong desire for achievement. Change management also requires a lot of dreaming, and daring. A change project must be managed skillfully, and if there is a strict budget, it is even more important to meet the financial target. However, how can the final financial gain be calculated if the project is successful in for example advancement of knowledge and learning, or even satisfaction index of employees? If the organization e.g. sets a goal to develop sales skills, the return on investment may be a lot better than first calculated. Therefore, e.g. employee development is a very important factor for organizational development. 

In short, before becoming a change agent and thus a catalyst for change, practice on your pitch and make sure to have responses to the following questions:  

– What kind of change do I want to initiate?

– What are the circumstances (i.e. am I acting as an informal/formal change agent, and in what kind of setting, e.g. as an entrepreneur, a consultant, an employee, a middle manager, a customer/client, a member of an organization, a citizen and so on)?

– Who do I need to involve in successfully driving the change initiative? 

– What is/are the goal/s? 

– What kinds of risks are involved (if any)?

– What kind of communication does this require, and how will I communicate successfully?

 

 

 

Virtues and Sins Part 2: Patience vs. Wrath

Have you ever felt impatient? Full of wrath, not knowing how to calm down or how to relax? Letting off steam in a proper manner e.g. through regular physical activities is good for anyone´s health, but if and when we do exercise wrath in maliscious ways, we end up harming not only others around us but most of all ourselves. Do you agree?

Having the gift of the tongue may be helpful in some situations, but playing a smart aleck can sometimes turn against you. Therefore, patience and the ability of listening, truly attentive listening often brings one further and enhances the birth of a true dialogue.

Then, what is a dialogue? And how is it related to patience and wrath? Simple questions, non?

A few years ago I had the privilege of attending a class held by Shawn Spano, Ph.D., about communication and dialogue at SJSU in Silicon Valley. According to Spano, there are many different approaches to dialogue. As an example, he used a unique form of human communication relating it to the social construction theory.

“Communication is the process through which we collectively create our social worlds. Rather than see communication as a neutral vehicle for transmitting information from one person to another, social construction treats communication as a primary activity, one that not only reflects meaning but shapes it as well”.

Seen from this perspective, everything comprising our social worlds (emotions, personalities, relationships, beliefs, attitudes, identities etc.) are being created in patterns of communication.

Social construction in key words:

– Individuals co-construct their social worlds through communication processes

– Communication is a process of action, not only transmission of information

– To widen the boundaries of people´s social worlds, there is a need to create communication bridges in-between these.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ARGUMENT AND DIALOGUE:

In Argument we…:

  • Try to win
  • Compete for speaking time
  • Speak for others
  • Create a potentially threatening and uncomfortable environment
  • Take sides with others
  • Polarize ourselves from those with whom we disagree
  • Feel unswerving commitment to a point of view
  • Ask questions to make a point or put the other person down
  • Make predictable statements
  • Make simplistic statements
  • COMPETE

In dialogue, we…:

  • Try to understand
  • Value listening
  • Speak from personal experience
  • Create an atmosphere of safety
  • Discover differences even among those with whom we agree
  • Discover shared concerns between ourselves and others
  • Discover our uncertainties as well as deeply held beliefs
  • Ask questions out of true curiosity and the desire to know more
  • Discover significant new things
  • Explore the complexity of the issues being discussed
  • COLLABORATE

(Source: http://www.publicconversations.org)

Once again: what has this got to do with patience and wrath?

Just about everything, since we all have the ability of constructing our social worlds through our means of communication. Communication and dialogue are at the core of every individual´s and organization´s success, but still, more often than not, undervalued.

Through the development of communication and dialogue we can all become successful at what we do, both in business and private.

For more information, feel free to contact me and to comment my posts. I love being in dialogue with people.

Leadership Lessons Learned

Leadership Lessons Learned

“Lighthouses don´t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” (Anne Lamott)

Everything in life happens for a reason. It is just not always so clear what that reason is. This illegibility may be the reason why I personally often philosophize and reflect the deeper purpose of worldly issues. It is quite obvious that our planet is far from being black or white, but still I often do wonder what the purpose is of having, on one side, so much beauty and goodness, and on the other side, so much evil and darkness.

Why are some people rich, and others poor? And how should the word “rich” be defined anyway? Some people are wealthy in terms of monetary value and materialism, but does this make them happier as individuals? And how is happiness defined? What makes me happy? What makes you happy? Perhaps true happiness begins with having the right mindset, by valuing everything that you have in life, both the good and the less good experiences. By being thankful even for the hardships in life – how could we otherwise grow as individuals, develop our leadership skills and grow as spiritual beings? After all, we are souls with physical bodies. Every person we meet is our teacher.

Leadership begins with knowing oneself, in understanding and in living our personal values. Each one of us has a core personality that remains the same no matter how much we develop, learn and change throughout our lives. The power of authentic leadership comes from the recognition of your true identity and living up to it. The better you are capable of connecting with your true self, and the stronger you identify yourself with your true source of being, increases the satisfaction of everything you do.

It can sometimes be difficult to remain true to yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you, and to influence you. Our world today is so full of stimulus – an endless ocean of possibilities – which makes it more difficult to choose where to put your effort and your energy. The oversupply of almost everything on our planet has actually led to many people worldwide having difficulties in decision-making, often starting from the simplest resolution. If you are interested in knowing more about this topic, I warmly recommend you to read “The Art of Choosing”, written by Sheena Iyengar.

Much has changed globally in the past century. We have traveled from the industrial revolution to the breakthrough and the new era of information technology. According to some research we are about to enter a new time of creativity, and who knows what our future keeps in storage for us. It is obvious that we are all partly responsible for the creation of our future. Since a few years, social media has grown to become a huge global industry, and whole new jobs are constantly being created through these changes. New job titles such as social media or network marketer, social media expert, SEO consultant and so on, are now commonplace. Recruitment is increasingly moving towards finding suitable candidates through different social media sites, but also through networks established by people on social media. Traditional media is, at least to some point, at a peak of change – from newspapers and television to online media and digital channels. Online business, the sense of having a global reach through social media, increases the sense of faster changes than ever. But is this actually the truth? Does change occur faster today than a few decades ago? Or is it just an illusion? I do not have the answer. I am personally just aware of the fact that we people tend to create our own time management systems, and we are both personally, as well as collectively, responsible for the hectic lifestyles that many of us lead today. Daily stress factors have already led to new global movements, such as Slow Food and people spending their vacations in retreats – just to practice yoga, and to meditate, in order to find some stillness and peace from the otherwise so noisy and hectic lifestyles.

But to get back to the actual topic: one of the important leadership lessons that I have personally learned is that we are all, in the end, personally responsible for the way we live. I do not think there is any actual measure for success. What is important for someone might not be important for another person. Each and one of us lead a personal life. Success should never be compared or measured with the achievements of other people, but rather for you as an individual. Focus on your personal life, and your values. Set personal goals. Don´t be afraid of going beyond your comfort zone! If you always stick to the same routine, without ever challenging yourself, you will not grow as a person. And if your life is too comfortable, you will not develop. Therefore, it is important to have goals, whatever their nature, spiritual or material.

Having a clear focus is also important, if you want to progress in life and career. This may be the number one lesson for me. I know from personal experience that despite of being a big picture thinker, ambitious, and determined, I have sometimes had thoughts about getting nowhere in life. But it is actually wrong, and realizing this has developed my patience to whole new levels. Life is actually about the journey – not just about reaching destinations. I know many stories about people who have reached whatever goals they have set themselves. Despite of this, many have a feeling of emptiness afterwards. When this happens, the destination has not been worth the journey – or, even worse, the journey itself was not enjoyed while trying so hard to reach the destination. Focus and determination can move mountains. I do believe that we can reach any goals we set ourselves, and fulfill any dreams we dare to dream. They just have to be worth the actual journey.

To end this writing, I´d like to share a small story about humanity.

“Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the
military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by
describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be
broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while
children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color
and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of
the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the
gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body
of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window.
The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left
him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world
outside.

He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had
described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said: “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you”.

Epilogue:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.
Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

“Today is a gift, which is why it is called The Present “.”