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Sunday, December 16th, 2012

“Alienate the Non-Prospect” to Truly Dominate Your Market

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Is attracting people to your product always a good idea?

No!

No, attracting potential customers isn’t always a good idea because there is a cost to attracting certain prospects.

The Apple ad with mac guy versus the pc guy | alienating the non-prospect

Apple is ok alienating 80%+ of computer prospects (represented by PC/Windows guy on the left) in order to attract hipper prospects like the Mac Guy (on right).

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Friday, April 30th, 2010

3 Tips To Developing Your Talent (From The World’s Secret Talent Hotbeds)

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I just finished reading an amazing book called The Talent Code (I recommend it to any person wanting to further develop their talent).

The author Daniel Coyle visited the the talent development programs responsible for some of the top talent in the world, such as:

  • Moscow for tennis
  • Soccer in Sao Paolo, Brazil
  • Dallas, Texas for a vocal studio
  • A music academy in New York’s Adirondacks
  • Baseball in the Caribbean

But you don’t have to attend one of these talent pools to improve yourself.

Coyle says that the key to talent development is a neural insulator that we all have inside us called myelin.

He argues that every human skill — whether its leadership, computer programming, sports, music or anything else — is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying signals.

And it is myelin that wraps layers around these fibers…and there are certain things we can do to increase the thickness of this myelin, resulting in faster and more accurate movement and thoughts.

He recommends a few approaches to increasing your myelin (and thus your talent).

The 3 Keys To Talent Development

1) Deep Practice

Focus your practice on repeating core skills, attend to your mistakes, practice those skills again.

“Struggle is not an option: it’s a biological requirement.”

The “Ten-Year, Ten-Thousand Hour Rule” is indeed valid — This finding from 1899 stated that world-class expertise in every domain (whether it’s cello, chess or tennis) requires roughly a decade or 10,000 hours (that would be about 3 hours a day, every day for a decade).

It’s the Ten-year rule that is often used in developing talent in young people (many parents try to time the beginning of a child’s practice of a skill to be about 10 years before that child will peak physically.

That’s why some children are best to start practicing certain skills when they’re 5 to 10 years old).

Did you know that comedian Jerry Seinfeld practiced his first Tonight Show set 200 times beforehand, according to this awesome profile of Seinfeld in the New York Times.

Overall, Coyle identifies three tips for improving practice:

  1. Chunk it Down — Break down the components of the skills into as many parts as you can (and practice those slowly).
  2. Repetition –  Repeat the chunked-down components around three hours a day.
  3. “Feel It” — You should feel in tune with what you’re practicing, especially to identify the mistakes you make (so as to immediately work on correcting them).

2) Ignition

Coyle points out that ignition is key to developing talents — it’s a secret source of energy that we can tap into.

Some examples:

“I Want To Be Like Them”

There are examples of entire countries being “ignited” by the display of talent of one individual.

For example, in South Korea’s case it was on May 18th, 1998 when Se Ri Pak won the McDonald’s LPGA Championship — she was the first to do so from her country.

Pak “ignited” many women in her country as shown by stats over the following 10 years later: by 2007, 45 players from South Korean had one about one-third of the LPGA Tour events.

Anna Kournikova is Coyle’s other example of  “I want to be like them.”

That same summer of 1998, Kournikova reached the Wimbledon semifinals and became an overnight sensation (her good looks certainly helped).

Russia was ignited and within 10 years the World Tennis Association Top 100 was home to five times as many Russian tennis players.

“Primal Cues”

Ignition can come in other forms — one study showed that an extremely high percentage of political leaders (Ghandi, Caesar, Napoleon, Bill Clinton) had one thing in common: they had lost their parents at a very early age.

Coyle reasons that the leader group’s loss of a parent triggered a primal cue that they were no longer safe…and that unlocked a massive energy source for them to tap into.

He points out that of history’s fastest runners, for example, they were on average the fourth child of 4.6 children — in other words, there is a pattern of the younger you are in your family, the faster you can run.

In this case, the primal cue is” You’re behind, better keep up!”

3) Master Coaches

Finally, Coyle says that a “master coach” is key to developing talent.

He says that a master coach possesses the following virtues:

  • Vast knowledge
  • Perceptiveness
  • A habit of providing short and rapid feedback
  • High moral standards (honesty)

I was thrilled that Coyle identified John Wooden, my favorite coach/teacher, as an example of a master coach.

I hope you enjoyed these highlights on developing talents…but I only just scratch the surface of Coyle’s amazing book.

Buy/read it!

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Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

My First Experience With Toastmasters Public Speaking

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Public speaking is people’s number one fear…#2 is death…as Comedian Jerry Seinfeld put it: “That means you’d rather be laying in the casket at a funeral than giving the eulogy.”

I’ve had a couple of smart friends recommend that I check out Toastmasters as a tool to sharpen my public speaking saw for a few years now…so I finally took the plunge.

I highly recommend that you try it out — you can find one of 12,000 Toastmasters locations in 130 countries. Toastmasters International is a non-profit (though they do charge you if you want to be a member) that began in Santa Ana, California in 1924.

I picked a Toastmasters club in San Francisco (there were a dozen to choose from!)…coincidentally, one of them was located in a building I used to work.

Common Questions People Have About Toastmasters Public Speaking

How much does Toastmasters cost?

You don’t need to pay anything to check it out. You can be a free guest for as long as you want which allows you to both observe others giving speeches and also give your own short speeches (I’ll explain what guests do in a moment).

If you’d like to become a member (which means you’ll receive some curriculum and the opportunity to do longer speeches (and get feedback on them), the Toastmasters dues are $20 one-time and then $27 every six months.

Do I have to give a speech at the first Toastmasters meeting?

Yes, though it’s a short one. At your first meeting, you are asked to stand up and introduce yourself and how you came about choosing Toastmasters. You will also have the option to do a Toastmasters table topics speech at your first meeting.

What is a Toastmaster table-topics speech?

A Toastmasters member at each meeting will give guests a random topic or theme for a speech (called a table-topic) and the guest is asked if he or she would like to speak about that topic right there on the spot (without preparation) for a couple of minutes. Table-topic speeches are designed to help you think on your feet — my first table-topic was a college graduation commencement speech.

What are the different Toastmaster parts/roles that people play?

  • Toastmaster — They open and close each meeting as well as introduce speakers throughout the meeting
  • Toastmaster Grammarian — They give a speech on what the Grammarian does (which is to count how many times speakers say words such as “like” or “uh”) and give a Grammarian’s Report speech of all Speakers.
  • Toastmaster Timer — They give a speech on what the Timer does and another speech on how much time each Speaker took.
  • Toastmaster Guests — They give a brief speech (standing up behind their chair) about how they learned of Toastmasters.
  • Toastmaster Speaker — They give a speech on some topic that they were given a week or two earlier.
  • Toastmaster Master Evaluator — They give a speech providing feedback on all of the speakers
  • Toastmaster Evaluator — They give a speech on the Toastmaster Speaker.

Note: Every single person in attendance at a Toastmasters meeting is asked to speak (you may decline) and every person is there to learn (there are no Toastmasters employees in attendance!).

How frequently do Toastmasters meetings take place and how long are they?

Toastmasters meetings are typically weekly for one hour. But you’re under no obligation to attend every one (I attended my first three over a two-month period (because I was traveling).

Toastmasters provides two good top 10 lists for public speakingj. Here they are:

10 Tips for Better Public Speaking

1. Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
3. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
5. Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
6. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
7. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.
8. Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.
9. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
10. Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you – as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. A Toastmasters club can provide the experience you need in a safe and friendly environment.

Top 10 Public Speaking Mistakes

  1. Starting with a whimper. Don’t start with “Thank you for that kind introduction.” Start with a bang! Give the audience a startling statistic, an interesting quote, a news headline – something powerful that will get their attention immediately.’
  2. Attempting to imitate other speakers. Authenticity is lost when you aren’t yourself.
  3. Failing to “work” the room. Your audience wants to meet you. If you don’t take time to mingle before the presentation, you lose an opportunity to enhance your credibility with your listeners.
  4. Failing to use relaxation techniques. Do whatever it takes – listening to music, breathing deeply, shrugging your shoulders – to relieve nervous tension.
  5. Reading a speech word for word. This will put the audience to sleep. Instead use a “keyword” outline: Look at the keyword to prompt your thoughts. Look into the eyes of the audience, then speak.
  6. Using someone else’s stories. It’s okay to use brief quotes from other sources, but to connect with the audience, you must illustrate your most profound thoughts from your own life experiences. If you think you don’t have any interesting stories to tell, you are not looking hard enough.
  7. Speaking without passion. The more passionate you are about your topic, the more likely your audience will act on your suggestions.
  8. Ending a speech with questions and answers. Instead, tell the audience that you will take questions and then say, “We will move to our closing point.” After the Q and A, tell a story that ties in with your main theme, or summarize your key points. Conclude with a quote or call to action.
  9. Failing to prepare. Your reputation is at stake every time you face an audience – so rehearse well enough to ensure you’ll leave a good impression!
  10. Failing to recognize that speaking is an acquired skill. Effective executives learn how to present in the same way they learn to use other tools to operate their businesses.

I hope you try Toastmasters out — I’d be surprised if you didn’t find it a super-positive experience.

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