Success strategy: tie the outcome to the process

Top performers practice what they’re bad at, even though it’s frustrating, and they do it to the point of mental and physical exhaustion. They go until they break down old habits and develop new ones.

I believe in this approach–that is, I believe that it’s helpful to people to first acquire a new set of skills and then push themselves to continue to refine those skills until they become second nature.

The process of gaining, practicing, and refining skills through feedback ...

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Rehearsing Presentations: Is there a better way to practice?

Creating 10,000 presentations in the course of your career and rehearsing them all with great care will not necessarily guarantee you presentation mastery.

Neuroscience, and common sense, show that factors other than blind repetition must prevail. For example, if your golf swing isn’t any good, and you hit the driving range everyday of the summer, chances are that your swing won’t be any better on Labor Day.

Why? Because you’re practicing the same thing over and over–and it’s a thing ...

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Business Communication: You Are a Professional Speaker

If you work for a company, and your job entails public speaking, you are paid to speak.

That’s right, you are a professional speaker–in the same business as Anthony Robbins, Jack Welch, and Malcolm Gladwell.

Your company is paying you to make something happen when you stand up to address a group.  They are paying you to be clear, hold attention, and get results–value for the company and the audience.

That value may be financial in nature, an improved ...

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Welcome to the game

On a train to New York, I saw a man unpack a portable electric guitar, assemble it, plug earphones into it, and begin to play.  He was sitting at the window with two people packed next to him.  No one heard a sound.

On the way out of the train, I asked him how long he’d had the instrument.  “About a year,” he said.

“Are you a professional?” I asked.

“No, I’m a lawyer.”

I said I was a crude folky taking lessons, and ...

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Two kinds of selling

I spent a day working on sales messages and presentation of those messages with a sales force, except the sales force was divided in two—half were an outside field force, and half were inside sales.

We discovered that it was very difficult for the inside sales force to deliver a complete presentation because they were used to connecting with prospects through conversation by phone.

They seemed to rely on the give and take of a phone call, including the small ...

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The fourth wall or not

Over cigars and Chivas on Sunday night with Dikki Ellis, Michael Christensen and Zach Grenier, we came across an interesting distinction between clowning and acting, and one that is helpful to business speakers.

Michael is a Co-Founder of the Big Apple Circus and the Founder of the circus’s Clown Care Unit.  Dikki is a senior member of that troupe, and a well-known clown and educator.  He is also one of my oldest friends.

Zach, on the other hand, ...

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