How to be great at…

Sunrise-RunnerThis week I had the pleasure of working with a new client in Wellington, New Zeland.  In the evening I was running along Wellington harbor when in the distance I saw what looked like a strange sight.  Two runners were running side by side, holding what looked like a tambourine between them.

When they came close I realised one of them was blind and the tambourine allowed her friend to run with her and guide her.  It was both moving and inspiring.  I immediately started thinking about where in life do we need a guide, and the metaphorical equivalent of a tambourine.  Don’t immediately go to your weaknesses, but think of stuff you are already good at.  What sort of help do you need to help you become great?  As my mentor Matt Church says ‘Good is the enemy of great’.

For me this year my challenge is with running.  I’m not happy anymore just being an OK runner and running distances that I can do comfortably.  So I have got a personal trainer, (my guide and tambourine) and have set myself the goal of running the Melbourne Marathon.  What about you?  What are you already good at, that if you got the right mentoring, help or coaching you could become great at?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

3 instant presentation success secrets

ApplauseOn Tuesday I had the pleasure of presenting at Agile Melbourne.  After I finished speaking Kerri Rusnak the amazing organiser asked the audience 3 questions:

  1. Did you learn something?
  2. Did you have fun?
  3. Are you inspired?

I was immediately struck by what a powerful frame this is, not just for the audience but for all presenters. A universal brief for presenters should be: ‘Go forth, Inform, Interact and Inspire!’

Sadly a lot of presenters get bogged down in ‘Inform’.  We front load our presentations with content, content and more content.  ‘Interac’t is when you connect the audience to your content.  This can be as simple as asking a question or inviting your audience to think of an example.  Interact is about making your messages fun, entertaining even to get your point across. ‘Inspire’ is about clicking, where your audience clicks with you and your content.  They get you, they like you and they are inspired by your messages.  The most compelling way to do this is through storytelling.

Score yourself out of 10 for each of these areas, Inform, Interact and Inspire. Where do you rock and where do you need to do more work?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

PS The audience said a ‘Big Yes’ to all Kerri’s 3 questions!  So if you are looking for a speaker for your next event, please get in touch.

A few years ago a friend and I …Business Storytelling at its best

Powerful Grizzly BearA few years ago a friend and I went backpacking in the pristine wilderness of Denali National Park in Alaska. We bought every piece of equipment known to man to fight off Grizzly Bears, like pepper spray, bells etc.  Before we set off, the rangers made us watch a video in which we were instructed to simply wave our arms in the air in the unlikely event we encountered a bear. My friend and I laughed so hard at the actors in the video and made fun of the idea that something so ridiculous would scare away a bear.

The very next day we set off and had barely turned the corner when there right in front of us was a giant grizzly bear. My knees started knocking and my friend shouted ‘Hand me the pepper spray!’. And for some reason I replied ‘No just wave your arms in the air, and we both did. To our shock the bear ambled off. When we returned we told the ranger about our encounter and he replied ‘I am so glad you did not use the pepper spray as that just makes the bears mad. Either that or you accidentally spray yourself!’.

I am sharing this with you because it reminds me of our daily choices with technology. Of course we can choose the ‘bells whistles’ version for our customers but sometimes just like waving your arms can scare off a grown grizzly, all that is needed is the simple and effective version.

This story was shared by Bill Arconati, of Atlassian.  It  ticks all the boxes for a great business story.  It hooks us in immediately, is engaging,  funny, purposeful and marries story and message  beautifully.    Paradoxically in ‘Business Storytelling’  personal stories are the most powerful.  Would love to hear your thoughts.




Samurais don’t run in the rain…

japan-flagThe plane was on the tarmac and the clock ticked past departure time.  The captain then announced ‘Ladies and gentlemen apologies for the delay.  A passenger was running to get to the aircraft and tripped and hurt himself.  Ground staff are attending to him and medical help is on the way.  His luggage is also being off loaded’.  You could feel a wave of empathy through the packed aircraft, a lot of people were possibly thinking ‘That could have been me’.

While we were waiting for the plane to depart I was immediately reminded what my mentor Peter Cook often says ‘Samurais don’t run in the rain’.  Samurais in Japan operate from a deep place of calm, even when it’s raining, instead of dodging and ducking among eaves, and messing with umbrellas, they choose to calmly stride through the rain.  What a powerful image.

The rain for me is a metaphor for life, with all it’s busyness, meetings, over flowing in boxes, multiple projects, pressing deadline, demands of work and life.  In our busy, busy time poor lives it’s always raining.  Everyday we have to make the choice. Do we walk through the rain, still with a sense of purpose, achievement and urgency or do we run, living right on the edge of chaos, never knowing when that chaos might swallow us?

I know I certainly have days where I feel I am running in the rain. This is when perhaps I do my least good work and perhaps serve my clients and myself least.  But on days when I walk in the rain, I not only do my best work, I achieve more, serve my clients better and am a better person to be around, more relaxed and funny (even if I say so myself!).  What about you?  What strategies do you use to walk in the rain?  I would love to hear your thoughts.