I was reminded this week of something I frequently began presentations with in years past.
I would show pictures of silly, random things I had observed that week and kid that the world puts all kinds of entertainment out there for you if you pay attention.
Plus, there is never a shortage of humor around you when you learn to laugh at yourself.
Those thoughts came to me as I addressed an international banker group this week… while wearing shorts. Okay, they were in Prague, and I was in Texas.
I had never given a Skype video presentation to a large group before, and I figured this would be a good time to give it a shot.
When it was my time to speak, the conference folks turned a laptop on the speaker’s podium around and I had a visual of the audience. They could see my slides on the big screen, with the video of me (from the chest up) from my home office.
While their room was darkened, I could still see many of their faces. Your mind (okay, my mind) goes to funny places when you find yourself in surreal situations.
I was the one American on their conference agenda, addressing a well-dressed and proper banker group in Europe, while sitting in my office in Sugar Land, TX… wearing a dress shirt… shorts… and sandals. (Hey, technically, they are shoes.)
It took a while to get used to delayed reactions to comments. I’d say something I thought was funny… and see little response.
Then, as soon as I’d move on, I’d see smiles and chuckles spread as they were “getting” what I said. I felt like I was in one of those awkward satellite-delay interviews.
I found myself marveling at the world we live in and the technology that enabled that scenario.
I also wondered if any of the perspectives I shared would resonate. Thankfully, many did.
The concept that healthy “sales cultures” are created by first building and maintaining cultures of goodwill and reciprocal relationships especially resonated.
It generated similar note taking, head nods and positive feedback as here in the states.
Languages and cultures may differ. However, the human desire to associate with people we know, like, and trust is universal.
When we strive to earn customers’ trust, respect, and friendship, we tend to do the things needed to earn their business relationships as well.
Are you earning those today?
My oldest nephew enlisted with the Marines and has been in Parris Island for a little over a month longer than was originally planned.
After getting off to an exceptional start, he was injured in a training mishap a few weeks in.
Fortunately, he rehabilitated over the course of a month and was able to join another platoon. A couple of weeks later, his group was evacuated to Georgia to get them out of the path of a hurricane.
I’m looking forward to seeing our new Marine when he returns home in a few weeks… barring a tsunami, locust swarm, or other curveballs thrown at the young man. Nothing surprises us anymore.
Not long after my nephew enlisted, I began reading various articles and columns and watching videos about the facts and myths of Marine boot camp.
As his turn to go through “The Crucible” approaches, I have thought often of a chapter from a book I read a few months back.
In Smarter, Faster, Better, Charles Duhigg shared the story of how a Marine Commandant set out to improve, among other things, boot camp’s effectiveness in creating self-motivated soldiers.
They especially focused on improving recruits’ perspectives on the control they have over their own destinies and their abilities to motivate themselves during hard decisions and difficult tasks.
One “coaching” approach that stood out to me was that recruits were trained to ask a simple question to a team member struggling with a difficult and/or overwhelming task.
They were conditioned to ask the exhausted, intimidated, or demoralized person, “Why are you doing this?”
The correct answer is not, “Because I was told to.” The answers may be things like making his family proud, giving her daughter a role model, or getting away from a troubled past and creating a better future.
These are personal and often unique reasons that motivate people.
When a person focuses on their personal “why’s”, they’re more likely to endure what it takes to accomplish the “what’s.”
Why do you get up and go to work each day?
Why do you care about being excellent at what you do?
Who or what benefits from your extra effort?
Regularly answer those questions, and you’ll be better prepared to succeed.
Help your team identify and answer their personal “why’s”, and you’ll be a more effective coach and leader, as well.