It’s Showtime!

Whether you deliver one or a thousand presentations, the last thing you need to address is your own energy.  Yes, you’ve followed the rules to design and deliver a totally ADAP Presentation (Audience-Drive, Authentic Presentation), and in a few minutes before “the rubber meets the road”, it’s up to you. How do you become laser-focused, totally immersed in the process?

Years ago, a colleague of mine gave me his formula. In the last few weeks, I’ve heard the same great advice with different stories leading them to the same conclusion from Shizard Carmine, CEO of Positive Intelligence (with whom I’ve been taking a course to master PQ and how to use it in a new coaching program that will soon be available) and Marshall Goldsmith, one of the world’s top executive coaches. So, try it!

Murphy’s law sets the scenario:  "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong". So, regardless of all the preparation, negative forces can get in the way. The equipment suddenly breaks down; your flight to the presentation is delayed and the flight took 18 hours and your suitcase was lost, or the customer can’t make it and her intimidating boss is leading the meeting. How do you possibly step onto the “stage” with enthusiasm?

Just before getting on the “stage”, take a minute to remind yourself that “It’s Showtime”, and the show must go on, and YOU are the show. Stop into a restroom or its equivalent, put everything down, and look into the mirror. Look yourself in the eye, fix straighten your dress, tie, suit, or whatever “suit of armor” You’re wearing, and enthusiastically and out loud tell yourself “It’s Showtime”! And as you repeat it out loud watch how you stand straighter, smile, and feel more relaxed. 

In a recent blog, Marshall observed that’s how Broadway actors launch themselves despite the “headache”, foot pain, etc. If you’re a Positive Intelligence user, do a couple of PQs to switch your brain from one dominated by your saboteurs who are focused on the negatives to one which allows you to adopt the Sage perspective and its five powers.  In both cases, your positive, enthusiastic self walks on stage. And even though you may have stage-fright (which most people do have), you know that within 15 seconds you’ll be immersed in the ADAP delivery and focused on the audience impact.  Indeed, when Barbra Streisand opened at the Barclay Center many years ago, she confessed to still having butterflies when walking on stage, but knowing that they would end within a few seconds, enabled her to perform with the excellence she and her fans expected.

So, the next time you present – remember:  It’s Showtime!

(P. S. To learn more about Positive Intelligence, visit their website take the free assessment, and then contact me to discuss it; jerrycahn@presentationexcellence.com)

Build the Post Pandemic Life You Want

Some of the changes we’ve seen take place during the pandemic, such as engaged workers successfully working at home productively, actually are continuations of trends that started prior to 2020 (e.g.,  the rise of “gig” workers). At the same time, new trends were started… and now is the time to focus on some which will have positive outcomes in the post-pandemic era. In “The Important Role of “Responder’ in Leadership”, the author, a retired Navy captain, reminds us that one is to increase the extent to which we should challenge limiting beliefs; let’s unleash our potential for growth.

Among many important points she makes concerning leadership, is Dr. Morro’s comment that we can turn “predicaments into progress”.  “When I ran a VA hospital in rural Georgia, I knew telehealth would open us up to recruit better talent and the level of care we needed. We had such modest goals because of buy-in, regulation requirements, and adoption – then COVID hit and wiped those barriers away. What would have taken years to implement happened in a matter of days.”

In the first months of the pandemic, I shared examples of seemingly “impossible” feats of people and companies, as reported by McKinsey & Company and other observers.  Activities that were considered impossible to do or take years to implement, were accomplished in days and weeks because the goals outweighed worrying about the “resistance”. 

For instance, in one of McKinsey’s best reports on this topic, From Surviving to Thriving: Business after Coronavirus, they relate the story of a leading retailer who was exploring how to launch a curbside-delivery business; the plan stretched over 18 months. When the COVID-19 lockdown hit the United States, it went live in two days. There are many more examples of faster, smarter, ways of thinking.

Suddenly the need to keep business going by empowering responsible people to do the “right thing” enabled people to work from home on imperfect devices, without all the rules, regulations, safeguards, etc. that “centralized” office teams” had been using to slow progress. It may not have always been perfect, but with the right intentions, it generally worked. The key was to assess the risk, and then learn from the experience until a new better, faster, and/.or cheaper solution was apparent.

Think of things you, your family and close friends/colleagues were engaged in throughout this last year; how often did the traditional norms and rules serve as limitations and restrictions – only to lose those powers as we progressed forward? We thought we had to work during ”working hours” but now we create them by adding in time that used to be used for commutes; we thought deals needed our personal presence; Zoom filled the gap and will in many cases continue to do so.

As we forge the new “post-pandemic” normal, challenge assumptions, reduce red-tape, find new ways to be agile and service-oriented. Control has shifted; this is your chance to make the next normal more conducive to more responsive, efficient and effective processes!

Your Life Purpose: Rethinking It?

We’re privileged to work with people through several organizational perspectives, and by integrating them,  we have a sharper understanding of what’s important to people today.   We’re seeing people of all ages challenging career and life-style decisions that are made, and looking for new answers.

Through Age Brilliantly, we work with adults of all ages who want to lead fulfilling lives in today’s life-stage and future ones, and seek more information, inspiration, tools and support from peers, experts and resources to make better planning decisions. Through Presentation Excellence, we work with executives making important business presentations to clients, investors, management and employees. Through Vistage Worldwide, we work with company CEOs (often $5-500M firms) who are challenging company practices as well as their own desires to continue in the company.

As Lauren Weber noted in “Workers Wonder: Is My Job Relevant?” Covid-19 has exposed the fragility of life and the prior assumptions we made when we made career decisions; the brutal killings by police has exposed the systemic racial biases in our society and mobilized the Black Lives Matter movement. Both are forcing people to rethink what they want for themselves and others, and how to get it.  People are asking, “Does my work matter? And do I matter?”

In Reflections In Crisis, McKinsey & Co. shares a number of interviews that may resonate with  you. Imagine you’re in the early stage of your career and family, and often spend hours commuting to work and to clients. Because you’re on the road, you engage caretakers to take care of our young children – which makes you feel guilty because you know you could do a better job if you only had the time. Then, the lockdown comes and you find a way to juggle your schedule to provide quality care for your children and get your work done, because Zoom allows you to communicate without commuting. Should you go back to the old way of life or integrate how you attend to the different Age Brilliantly essentials of life (in this case: relationships, health, purpose and passion)? 

Creditcards.com (June, 2020) released a study in which 82% of the people in lockdowns reported not wanting to return to going back to work 5 days a week. (35% don’t want to return at all!) So, if you’re challenging your prior decisions, you’re not alone.

As more people share with us their perspectives, insights and decisions, we’ll share them with you. Please share your thoughts, by using the Purpose Forum on AgeBrilliantly. It’s the wisdom of our entire group that will help each of us make better decisions.

Beware of Cognitive Biases, Especially Now

In times of great change and uncertainty, it’s important that you take the time to think things through.  Daniel Kahneman made that point in his classic “Thinking, Fast and Slow”.   Especially when under pressure, we often use shortcuts or heuristics to reach the goal quickly. One set of these are cognitive biases.

In a recent blog, Seth Godin’s blog recognized his own use of a cognitive bias. He asked: “How many moons in our solar system?” Then, he did a quick calculation: “with 8 or so planets, how many moons in total?

My guess, when challenged, was 22. I figured Earth had one, rounded up, etc.

It turns out that it’s more than 200. Saturn alone has more than 80 moons.” 

He recognized that he fell victim to the availability bias – relying on information that’s immediately accessible, rather than look at the total picture. “We assume that our neighborhood is like every neighborhood, that our situation and experience is universal. That’s rarely true.” In his wisdom, he shared this conclusion: “Embracing that on the path to empathy is a competitive advantage.”

At this time of twin crises, this is especially important. We need to address the pandemic and its consequences – we want people to be healthy and safe, and open our economy; we need to end systemic racial prejudice and brutality, and use our resources to help all people thrive.  And with no-one sure what’s the best strategy to take, we need to be on our guard to avoid simple answers that may be wrong.

That’s why I decided to share his story and bring to your attention 12 Cognitive Biases, so you can catch yourself and your team when you’re about to make them; this way you can avoid negative consequences.   How many do you make? Which is the most common? Share with us!

Lifelong Learning: Are You Doing It ?

How are you using the extra time you have at home, now that you don’t have to travel to work? One answer from many of my CEO members is that they and their families are increasing their dose of online learning.

Most of my clients, CEO members, and friends are, like me, lifelong learners. We have, what Investor Business Daily calls, “a beginner’s mindset”.  We’re motivated to learn new things, and when time permits or when we’re under stress and need a positive distraction, learning something new is a great option. Today, there are countless online programs, including MOOCS with professors from top schools, available. 

As we move from 2019 to a new normal, we all need to adopt a beginner’s mindset when exploring the many changes that will occur post-pandemic. As we’ve been collecting people’s projections, forecasts and  predictions for how society will change, it became obvious that many of these people are lifelong  learners constantly asking why things are the way they’ve been and how the can be different. Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, adopted a beginners mindset when he wondered why computers and music couldn’t be made portable.  Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, did the same when he wondered why sales database software couldn’t be in the cloud, instead of on hard-drives. Both created new products and transformed industries.

So while you’re still spending more time at home, unleash your beginner’s mindset and learn something new that can propel you to new adventures, knowledge, wisdom and/or innovations.  Then share with us what you’re learning and where it might take you!

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January 2022