Monday, 23 March 2015

The secret to making better decisions

Everyone wants to make good decisions. So why don't we make more of them more of the time?

The reason, of course, is that we’re human. But that’s not a very helpful answer, is it? If we want to be better decision-makers, we need to go a little deeper and try to discover the why behind the what. What’s the root cause behind so many of our poor decisions?

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Ten-year-old Offers A Lesson In Persuasion

When I studied screenwriting a decade ago, one of the most important concepts I learned was specificity. When writing a story, push hard for the telling detail, said my teacher, the incomparable Nika Rylski. Don't say it is a late model sedan. Say it is a midnight blue Lexus with a broken right headlight. Don't tell us it's a Sunday. Let us feel the Sunday morning drizzle.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

True Leaders Aren't Afraid to Get Naked

The art of being vulnerable

Leadership isn't just about being open to employees’ thoughts and insights and ideas. It’s about giving your employees permission to be open as well. But if leaders don't open up and show their vulnerability first, it's highly unlikely employees will take the risk. As a result, leaders won't get what they really need from their employees: actionable feedback.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Forgetting to ask Why

Why do we ask WHY so often when we are growing up, yet ask it so little as we grow older? Perhaps we are no longer curious. Or perhaps we think we know all the answers. Or perhaps we’ll feel stupid. But we risk missing out on a key life lesson if we fall into that trap. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Are CEOs Using Outdated Leadership Ideas?

[This post appeared yesterday on the APQC blog.]

Majority of respondents to an APQC study 

say today’s leadership style is outdated

CEOs are the racehorses of the business world. They move fast, they’re accustomed to finishing first, and they often wear blinders to avoid distractions and stay focused. And that may be a problem because today’s CEOs face a wider and deeper set of challenges than ever before.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

How to grow your professional services firm - Part 3

Not too long ago, buyers would do their pre-purchase research the old fashioned way – word of mouth and brochures and directories. Not anymore. The internet has completely changed how buyers go about purchasing professional services, and your firm can benefit big time.

Friday, 25 July 2014

How to grow your professional services firm - Part 2

(And why thought leadership is like barbecue sauce)

In Part 1 of this post, I suggested that maybe it was time for marketers to get back to basics. CEOs certainly feel that way, as a survey by the Fournaise Marketing Group revealed: 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

How to grow your professional services firm - Part 1

What do financial advisers, accountants and lawyers have in common? 

They all want to grow their business, but have trouble differentiating themselves from the competition. 


What can they do to change this picture?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Why is everyone starving for content?

Most of today's customers begin their buying process by researching online -- seeking out content in order to educate themselves. Yet much of the content they find is overly promotional or poorly thought out, even as the need for higher quality content continues to grow.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Abraham Lincoln: "I don't need no ghostwriter"

Courtesy, Library of Congress

Abraham Lincoln is not known as a great writer. He is known as one of America’s greatest presidents. Yet he penned one of the most memorable pieces of writing in history: the Gettysburg Address. He loved writing and understood its power to provoke and inspire and create change.

Friday, 10 January 2014

People don't want creativity, they want results

As the frigid start to 2014 begins to recede from our memories, it's worth remembering that risk is a four letter word for many people. Especially those in large corporations.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Want to self-publish? This Forbes article is an eye-opener

Considering Self-Publishing? Don't Bother

(Unless You Follow Guy Kawasaki's Advice)

....If you’re writing a book simply as a means to an end – to get rich, or to get the word out about your expertise, or to attract more consulting or coaching business – forget it.  Stop what you’re doing right now.  If you’re thinking just about what you can get out of it, you’re probably writing a “crappy” book (Guy’s word), and your “crap” will be forever immortalized in black and white.  Something you definitely don’t want.
Guy advises, “Write a book because you have something important to say. If you have a life story that inspires, or information that you believe everyone in a particular niche NEEDS to know, then do it.”  But don’t just rush to get something out because you think it will enhance your career, profile, business, or bank account.  You just won’t succeed with those inner motives....
Read the full article at:

Monday, 28 October 2013

An Action Plan for Women Entrepreneurs (Part 2)

If you’re a woman entrepreneur, your time is now. 

In Part 1 of this two-part post, I talked to Andrea Guendelman and Fran Maier about the challenges facing women entrepreneurs. Female tech entrepreneurs, in particular, are few and far between, and they get funded far less often than men. Part of the reason is that angel investors and venture capitalists are predominantly male (85 per cent and 95 per cent, respectively) so they tend to relate better to male than female entrepreneurs. There is clear evidence that a subtle gender bias is at work in the VC industry.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Where are all the women entrepreneurs?

My thanks go out to Andrea Guendelman and Fran Maier for taking the time to share their thoughts on an important subject: women entrepreneurs and startups. Here is the first of two articles I wrote as a result:

Building a business is never easy, but do women entrepreneurs have an extra hurdle to overcome?

"Only 8 per cent of venture backed companies are women-owned. Only 11 per cent of venture capital partners are female. Only 15 per cent of angel investors are female."

Monday, 21 October 2013

Sell without selling

I wrote the following on my website and also my LinkedIn page and felt it was important enough to reiterate it here.

Story = Value
The old ways of advertising and selling are disappearing fast. Today, selling is all about telling the customer's story, not the seller's. Relevant, useful, findable content has replaced glitter and gloss because the only thing more relevant to the customer than money is WIIFM -- What's in it for me? 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

How to write a compelling business plan (Part 2)

"It's the narrative, stupid"

"Despite Steve Job's aversion to selling by PowerPoint, pitch decks have become the preferred option, and for early stage startups, narrative is more important than hard data. Identifying a secular trend is the key. Maybe it's the Zuckerberg effect."

In Silicon Valley, for example, most venture capitalists (and entrepreneurs) have foregone the bulky Business Plan in favour of a short PowerPoint (pitch deck) plus an Executive Summary, plus a pro forma, that lets them understand the entrepreneur's business proposition, market size, goals, direction and management team in just a few moments (VCs are very busy people). Despite Steve Job's aversion to selling by PowerPoint, pitch decks have become the preferred option, and for early stage startups, narrative is more important than hard data. Identifying a secular trend is the key. Maybe it's the Zuckerberg effect.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

How to write a compelling business plan (Part 1)

Ever wondered if your business plans are as compelling and persuasive as they could be? For many top executives and entrepreneurs, a business plan is the most important document they will ever write, because the future of a company or product is at stake and once in a lifetime monetary gain often rides on the outcome. Yet business plans are seldom written as persuasively as they could be.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Why managers need to become storytellers (Part 2)

When interviewed by the Harvard Business Review a while ago, the interviewer asked media mogul Peter Guber a very pertinent question:

Why does a regional manager at a branch plant need to understand and practice storytelling for business? 

Why managers need to become storytellers (Part 1)

The very short video (below) touches on the most compelling reason why businesses of all sizes should concentrate their efforts on to writing stories that are relevant to their customers and prospects.
The reason?

All buyers -- yes, that includes business buyers -- make their purchasing decisions based on emotion, not reason. 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Always leave out the boring parts

Elmore Leonard is one of the most gifted writers of dialogue of this or any generation. He has 10 pieces of advice for writers, which can be seen in the graphic above. I especially love #10. If you can solve that one, you will be happy, wealthy and wise.

Elmore Leonard's advice to writers

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Want to win more business? Articulate your value proposition.

It's amazing how easy it is for us to miss the obvious, simply because we can't see the forest for the trees. We sometimes forget why we're in business. Our knee jerk reaction is to say that we're in business to make money. If you think that's the answer..

You would be dead wrong.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Friday, 26 July 2013

Can a story be too short? (Part 1)

Perhaps you've read the short story attributed to Ernest Hemingway. His fellow writers bet that he couldn't write a story in six words. They lost the bet:

For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.

This may be the shortest story ever told. And it works on every storytelling level. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. It tells the truth, it has a hero (probably two), a goal,  and an obstacle which in this case turned the story into a tragedy. Above all,  these six words created an experience that made us think and feel and imagine.

But can a story be too short? The answer is yes and no. Hemingway's story wasn't too short. But many of the stories we read today are too short or too long. Examples abound. In fact, many of the blog postings that appear in my mailbox are far too short, if I define short as un-meaningful. Not to pick on a posting from Good Life Fitness, because they are one of many examples, but they do provide a great example of a story that is too short. Here's the story. Below the post I will try and explain why it was too short.

Posted on  by 

Fitness partners for life: How one couple really is living the good life

Most people walk into a gym to make their life better through fitness, little did I know walking into the gym would lead to finding my ultimate partner in life and fitness! Last year my husband Kevin and I met at a GoodLife Fitness gym. Minutes into our first date it was clear, a shared love of health and fitness would be the most stable building ground for an amazing connection.
I’d always seen my commitment to health as a solo event. Our relationship has taught me true lasting commitment is built on same values and true passion which we held separately before finding the other. Now, each day when we work out together as we support each other and cheer each other on through every pull up or curl it reminds to do the same in our daily lives. Just over a year after that first interrupted workout we are now husband and wife have hundreds of sets under our belts and thousand more workouts to do together, there’s barely enough time in our lifetime to get it all! We love living the good life!

Why is this "story" too short?

There are at least a couple of reasons. I think part of the problem is that we don't know who these people really are. They could almost be a fictitious couple, given how little we know about them. As a result, let's face it, they come across as cardboard characters. And because we're human and not termites (who care mightily about cardboard) our emotional commitment to their story fades away rather quickly.

It's also because there isn't really any obstacle. "We met at the gym, we got married." Great. But where is the test? Where are the trials and tribulations? I read somewhere that stories are heightened versions of our own reality. They're not simply tales of our day to day lives. Even soap operas are more than that.

Sometimes it's important to remember that reading a great story is like watching Wayne Gretzky (or Sydney Crosby) play hockey. It seems effortless, but in reality what we are witnessing is years of training combined with talent. Training is critical to superior achievement, and the craft and the skill is as important as the innate genius - whatever genius is.

More to come in Part 2.