An Interview by Speaking.com with Tim Sanders
Tim Sanders, a former Yahoo! executive, uses his experience and business expertise, to help some of the biggest brands in the world as a corporate consultant. From Leadership Consulting to Strategic Marketing Consulting, Tim has helped clients explore new opportunities and develop new innovations to drive growth and maximize revenue.
SPEAKING.COM: Can you give us five tips for how to build better business relationships?
1 – Listen more than you talk.
2 – When you can, teach others and share knowledge.
3 – Connect people with new contacts and expect nothing in return.
4 – Be thoughtful about the emotional experience others have as a result of our actions. Approach relationships from a design standpoint, to weed out pain points and whenever possible, deliver signature moments.
5 – Hug people, letting them know that you care about them as a person.
SPEAKING.COM: What is “emotional talent” and why is it an important leadership quality?
SANDERS: Emotional talent is your ability to manage your own emotions and respond generously to the emotions of others.
Leaders must “Define reality, then give hope,” according to Napoleon Bonaparte. To do this, a sense of emotional balance is required.
Followers stop listening to leaders that consistently produce negative emotions or ignore/judge their emotions. Dr. Daniel Goleman wrote that the emotional brain is 35 times more powerful than the logical brain – So leaders must seriously evaluate the Emotional Comp Plan they are offering talent.
SPEAKING.COM: How can organizations integrate employee experience design into leadership?
SANDERS: By segmenting the employee’s experience down to every transaction around the talent life cycle (hiring, onboarding, development, reward).
By observing the mood state with the same level of attention as one measures the profit and loss statements. After all, it’s the #1 way to predict future levels of service and innovation.
SANDERS: When people are sad, they tip their heads. When they are surprised, most cover their mouth with their hand or bottom lip. Knowing the difference between the two can make you the smartest, most perceptive person in a meeting.
SPEAKING.COM: How can developing a more empathetic culture lead to a more customer-centric approach to selling and delivering?
SANDERS: People emulate a leader’s style when they serve customers. If you treat your talent’s feelings as facts instead of replying, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” when they experience negative emotions, they will do the same. This validation factor underlies both the greatest leaders and most effective service providers in the world.
SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the talent management trends you see emerging within the next ten years?
• Finding ways to stretch and challenge the Millennials, who will ask for promotions when they really want a “harder level to play.”
• Restoring work life balance by cutting off the digital-leash that requires 24-7-365 attention to email and social media.
• Giving talent a sense of cause that’s deeply integrated into their roles.
SPEAKING.COM:What do you want people to learn / take away from your presentations?
SANDERS: The answer to all your business challenges, be they talent acquisition or dealing with technology disruption, is LOVE. It’s the breakthrough strategy for leaders to forge powerful connections, drive innovation and spur collaboration.
Rapid problem solving is the only sustainable competitive advantage in business. It comes from the tendency of leaders to treat innovation as a team sport, put a process in place to drive collaboration and to recognize success in a big way.
Relationships are the foundation of our leadership quality and professional success. They are built through our generosity to others and specifically, our habit of sharing knowledge, generously networking and giving compassion and empathy to those in need.
SPEAKING.COM: How to you prepare for your speaking engagements?
SANDERS: I conduct multiple phone calls with meeting stakeholders to determine their meeting objectives, audience needs and goals for my talk. If possible, I conduct even more interviews with meeting attendees to deepen my understanding of what they want to take home from the conference.
My team and I conduct research to understand the industry, market or company I’m speaking for. We look at trends, threats, opportunities as well as psychological issues underpinning the bigger picture.
We comb tweets and posts from previous conferences to better understand the tone of the key influencers and how to engage them.
SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?
SANDERS: My talk for the CIA (Leadership Academy) was unique in that I was told that most outsiders and specifically non-intelligence community experts aren’t well received by this group. We rolled up our sleeves, did our research and won the group over with actionable advice, peppered with my out-of-their-box perspective about relationship building and what it can do for intelligence gathering and resource getting.
SANDERS: My favorite audiences are those who come to events seeking actionable advice and wanting something greater in their professional lives. I’m especially drawn to those that serve others, such as health care or financial service professionals.
SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?
SANDERS: Those dealing with change, disruption, complexity and fractured relationships. They are ripe for my key takeaways. These days, as I’m writing a book on Team Work and One Company, I’m looking to talk to cultures where leaders are looking for more cross-department collaboration.
SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements? What got you started?
SANDERS: I’ve been a speaker since I joined the debate team in the 8th grade. I was national collegiate extemporaneous speaking champion my freshman year of college and won several national debate championships. Whenever I could, I’d volunteer to speak at industry events while working at broadcast.com and yahoo.
When my first book came out in 2002 (Love is the Killer App: How To Win Business and Influence Friends), it was featured on the cover of Fast Company. When I got to work the week after it hit the newsstands, my voice mail was full of messages from speaker bureaus —
because their clients were asking them to book me for their next event.
Once I started to perform on the lecture circuit, I knew it was my calling. Since I’m a loyal business partner to speaker bureaus, they’ve reciprocated by giving the almost 800 engagements since then.
SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speeches do you, and your audiences, enjoy the most and why?
- Love Is the Killer App: How To Win Business and Influence Friends
- The Power Of Great Relationships
- Sales Genius Is a Team Sport
- Lead Your Teams To Collaborate, Co-Create and Win!
Speaking on Love and generosity is my favorite thing. It’s a unique message that validates so many nice-smart people who need to understand that they are successful because of their intelligent giving nature and not despite it.
SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes you’ve helped clients make?
SANDERS: I’ve helped associations find new charters, based on audience feedback to their member education services. I’ve helped companies rally around senior leaders, who have been preaching my message (unsuccessfully), but through our event, we tipped the balance to acceptance. By the way, I think that’s the purpose of an outside professional speaker: To validate the agenda and perspective of inside leaders.
SPEAKING.COM: How much do case studies, personal stories and or humor factor into your keynote speech content?
SANDERS: Every talk has several case studies that lead to action items for the audience to seize. In some situations, we find ones just for the talk; and in others I cross-pollinate industries with “out-of-their-market” examples.
I love to share personal stories, so long as they lead to a takeaway. I like to talk about my relationships at work and at home, to illustrate the value of deep listening, mentorship, generosity and showing empathy.
And I like to make fun of myself, and things we all do that make us crazy.
This interview was originally published in the Speaking.com blog
SELF-Made Woman Who Inspires
The founder of Project Athena, a non-profit that helps women overcome life-altering medical setbacks, shares some major motivation tips with us.
By Madeline Buxton
When Robyn Benincasa, a life-long athlete and firefighter based in San Diego, had to undergo major surgery, she was inspired to start a non-profit organization, dubbed Project Athena, that would help other women experiencing medical setbacks regain physical prowess. Launched in 2009, Project Athena has helped over 150 women who’ve survived various medical maladies—think cancer, brain surgery—and have helped these ladies take on bucket-list-style adventures. The non-profit covers all of its beneficiaries’ expenses, like coaching and equipment, and has sponsored everything from a trek across the Grand Canyon to a climb up the San Jacinto Mountains. Benincasa spoke with us about her daily life as a full-time firefighter, why she doesn’t consider running Project Athena a “job” and what the keys are to really being a good leader.
A Good Leader Always… “Focuses on inspiring the people around her versus impressing them.”
Why I Love Volunteering… “I love helping people discover how strong they are, and what great leaders and teammates they can be. I’m lucky and grateful that I get to do that almost every day.”
On Achieving Work-Life Balance… “I always tell people that I haven’t worked a day in years. I actually have two full-time jobs, as a firefighter and as a motivational speaker, but neither of them feels like work because I love them both so much. My part-time, volunteer job of running the operations and adventures of the Project Athena Foundation is the icing on the cake. It all works because I’m surrounded by the best team in the world.”
On My To-Do List… “Clean, consolidate and reorganize my house! There’s half packed and unpacked bags and suitcases everywhere. I’d rather travel than have a nice house, so scaling down and reorganizing has been on my to-do list for a couple of years now.”
In My Purse Is… “I don’t own a purse, but I have a backpack that has my entire life in it! We call it the Intergalactic Headquarters for the World Class Teams and the Project Athena Foundation. Inside you’ll always find dental floss, a Think Thin or other protein bar, my iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, power cords, and, yes, an old school Franklin day planner. I love my paper calendar!”
My Daily Workout… “I use my indoor Kayak ERG machine and do intervals while watching sports on my iPad, go to workout classes at Orangetheory or run the stairs at the beach in Cardiff.”
The Most Influential Book I’ve Read… “The Catcher in the Rye. It was the first time I realized that everyone is weird and weird is pretty normal. In fact, the statement ‘people are weird’ is something I say just about every day. And it’s true—we all are. And it’s OK!”
The Last Thing I Do Before Bed… “Kiss my dog, Valentine—and my fiancé, Jeff, who has been my foundation and most awesome support system for the last sixteen years. We met in the fire academy.”
To learn more about Robyn Benincasa and her role as a leader check out her page here
New Book By Ty Bennett
Ty Bennett, in collaboration with Don Yaeger and Chad Hymas, has written a new fable about The Two Most Important Days of Your Life. The book tells the story of Coach Michael Coleman. One week before he gives the commencement address at Thompson High School’s graduation, Coach Coleman is asked to speak at the funeral of one of his former students who tragically took his own life. The funeral and subsequent encounters lead Coach Coleman to discovering what life is really about and to sharing a message at graduation that everyone needs to hear.
Watch the Video Trailer:
Why is exceptionalism so important now? Thee answer is quite simple. You have no other choice. Meeting expectations is no longer sufficient. Doing your job is not a reason to keep you as an employee. Customers expect exceptional experiences. Managers demand exceptional performance. And ultimately, your commitment to excellence requires it. This is a manifesto of how to rise up to the exceptional performance within organizations and us as individuals. It is a wake-up call to stop accepting mediocrity and average performance. And yes, these pages will be a mirror that may reveal an inconvenient truth. While respecting your achievements to date, staying relevant requires you to constantly examine the simple question: Are You Exceptional?
Stop Being Medium Quality Maximum Quantity
Too many <entrepreneurial> people I know are constantly multi-tasking in their careers.
Sure, when Benjamin Franklin endorsed pursuing “a network of enterprises,” he was promoting career and interest diversity. It was good for our creative thinking. But he emphasized they be “networked” with each other.
Lately, I’ve wondered if our constant spreading out of business ventures is good for our level of quality. Some have a career consulting, supplanted by writing, overlaid with blogging, and then they develop myriad products on top of that. The result? A thinner voice and less you can sink your teeth into.
I’ve taken a new approach lately: My projects must feed each other to remain on my calendar. Since I’ve started writing my next book (more on that later), you might have noticed that I’ve stopped blogging. In fact, this is just a short break from my singular focus on the book to tell you I’m alive and well…and that I’m trying a new tact in life by focusing on the book above all.
Sure, I still do my speaking engagements (which have either been about Love Is the Killer App principles or my new book subject). But other ventures, not so much.
You should give this a try also. Look at your calendar or your To-Do list or your project list and ask yourself: Are they all connected to the point that work on one improves the quality of the other?
This is beyond time management. It’s about the quality of our work in a try-everything society.
I N T E R V I E W W I T H M I K E W A L S H
Interview by Michelle Sullivan
Photography Daniel Nadel
Mike Walsh is the CEO of global business consultancy, Tomorrow. His best-selling book FUTURETAINMENT won an award at the Art Director’s Club in New York. Based in Istanbul, he advises business leaders about thriving in the era of changing technology.
How does one become a Futurist?
Mike: When I was 23, I set up a technology company and I was studying what consumers were doing in digital. This was in the late 90s; it was the first internet boom so I think that really got me started. I’ve never had a normal job since. Then about five or six years later I met one of the Murdoch’s in a bar and I ended up working for News Corp and that was in the newspaper business so I worked for them for a while in newspapers and then worked with them in television in Asia. I think when I was up in Asia that was the beginning, when I realized what my real path was. Long before the iPhone, long before a lot of the stuff we use every day I saw kids in China, Japan, Korea, living these incredible mobile lives and when I saw that I realized that this was really the future. So I quit, set up my own company, wrote a book and that’s how I would up becoming a futurist.
What’s your next book about?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this question of what the future of the company should be. It’s actually more interesting than it sounds, in that we design lots of things. We design products, we design brands and we even come up with amazing ideas for how we think businesses should work. So we take all of that important information and then we shove it into a 17th century construct. You can have the most disruptive idea for a new type of platform but then all the mechanisms of the business and the scale are the same. The HR Department’s the same, you still have Lawyers, you still have Accountants, Finance department. So I want to write a book about how you design a company for the 21st century.
Have you ever worked with any music companies?, do you have any experience on that level?
Music to me is fascinating because in some ways it was the first real crucible of the digital age; all of the most difficult issues were faced first by the music industry, it became a real litmus test for what has now happened in other industries, for example television and movies. So if you think about what’s changed in the music industry, we’ve sort of gone from a huge war of traditional music against consumers.
Consumers were the ones who disrupted the industry. They were the ones who said we’re interested in songs not albums, we want to change the business model of how we consume music and we don’t want to be told on how we listen or how we engage with it, and to some extent they ran ahead of where the industry was prepared to follow.
If you think about it, in media traditionally technology has been about incremental improvements in fidelity – so we went from AM to FM. Each advance in the music industry was about making quality, but the internet was actually a step backwards because suddenly people were willing to trade off high quality CD sound for dramatically worse MP3 quality tracks. They could have gone the other way. Remember super audio CD was the technology at the time that the music industry was really starting to push, because they made so much money when people upgraded from tapes to CDs. They felt ‘what’s the next thing’, you know? Can we get everybody now to replace their CD collection for better CDs – that’s what they would have liked. People did the completely unexpected. They were like OK, I’m actually happy listening to really crap sound now because I can have more freedom with how I listen to music. I can download it the minute I hear it, I can maybe even not pay for it, and so this changed the whole dynamics in the industry. That was a behavioral thing – that wasn’t a technological thing, and what it forced the industry I think to do was after years of fighting it and denying it, they then embraced it and then realized that the economics in the industry changed. So for me the economics and the music industry are now about artists building direct connection with their fans and then commercializing that in new ways, whether it’s concerts or merchandise or other things. And that’s happened in the last 10 years.
So, one of the topics that we talk about incessantly in music is making money in music. What do you think is the next step in this process?
I mean in some ways this is what people have under-estimated. They thought these new tools would allow everyone to become a mega star. What they’ve actually done is made it harder, because now that everyone has access to the same technology that Madonna does, the same distribution models – the challenge is not actually producing an album or releasing an album, the challenge is getting anyone to pay attention to you. This has happened in every industry now from music to publishing, and in some ways it becomes a winner takes all game.
There’ll be fewer and fewer people who make mega star status because the chances of that happening are this – you either need lots of money behind you or you need to basically win the lottery. The good news is that there’ll be lots of people for whom music will become a cottage industry and they’ll be able to survive. It will be harder and harder for people to become mega famous.
I think it’s quite a complex question. To me it’s a question of survival. What is the new model for really commercializing your fans? This is the key question, and I think the starting point is you have to build yourself a direct relationship with the people who are interested with you; you have to own them, you have to actually be able to measure in concrete terms not just how many people follow you on Facebook or twitter or anything else, you’ve got to say ‘I literally have a data base of this many people, and there are X number of things I can do to commercialism that relationship’. It’s not just selling music or concert tickets or a release, it’s selling yourself as a brand and more.
What is your position in the discussion of free content; whether free music degrades the value of it?
The real threat to all of this is that the pattern of consumption of music has changed. I even saw this years ago as I noticed that teenagers were not only not listening to stuff on CDs, they were listening to music on YouTube. So if you asked a kid to play you a song they’d go and load up YouTube and then use YouTube as their juke box, and it’s not because they want to watch the video, it’s because they like the experience of streaming. That’s why Spotify was so successful in Europe. It actually makes logical sense to kids that they don’t need to actually own it, they just need access to it. So this makes it really hard – because then what are you actually selling as a musician? Whatever you can earn relative to your stream rights is actually tiny compared to sales. It’s actually almost pointless. I think the idea of ownership is fast coming to an end. Even the iTunes model, I think, is in big, big trouble, digital downloads model is in big trouble.
So if we’ve move through a download phase, to a streaming phase, what comes after that?
Well I think what you then pay for is this – Let’s say brand X eventually has to own their own platform; so you literally become a member of their club, that’s how they commercialism it. So you pay x number of dollars a year and it’s all things Billy Joel, for example. You’ll get personalized messages from him, you’ll get invitations to his concerts, you’ll get updates of when he’s writing new material and basically pay a certain amount of money to enter his world. It’s loosely like following someone. I mean there’ll be degrees of following – when you just kind of vaguely paying attention to stuff; you listen to free songs and then there’s the deeper commercial premium following where you move deeper into their world. I think what artists will start to do is to draw people deeper into the fold. They’ll release lots of stuff out to the world and hope people will engage with them and then they’ll try to pull those people into a deeper relationship. There’s broader degrees of engagement and this is what’s happening in other industries – that you try and engage people with your material and then you bring them closer. There’s a lot of science behind how you do that.
After leaving Harvard, Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss had the insight that women might rather rent high fashion items than own them. Fashion is expensive and has a limited shelf life. The two founders decided to start a company based on a simple idea – a woman should never have to wear the same outfit twice, and shouldn’t have to buy it at all.
Rent the Runway was born. Many of their earliest customers were Millennials, who intuitively understood the value of access rather than ownership. After all, if you can use Spotify to listen to music rather than buying albums, and Uber to get to places rather than owning a car – how hard might it be to ‘stream’ a designer dress?
As it turns out—more difficult than it might seem. In their early years, Rent the Runway struggled to meet their targets. It took a radical mindset change in marketing to turn things around. The founders realized that to fix engagement, they needed to focus their efforts on data science, pricing models and their mobile platform.
Like Amazon, Rent the Runway had to become a logistics and data business, not merely a retail and fashion
one. Their new data driven approach paid off, and now the company ships more than 90,000 items a day to 5 million members, and not surprisingly, also operates the country’s largest dry-cleaning facility.
For CMOs, the story of Rent the Runway illustrates the central role that data plays in business today. No longer just a measure of past activity, it has become a pro- active metric capable of changing your entire approach to customer value creation. Data is not just for IT geeks, it belongs at the heart of your growth strategy.
“Data’s a big part of our business, encompassing everything from the whole fashion component to metrics around utilization of a given dress,” Jennifer Fleiss said in an interview with Forbes last year. “We have an analytics team of six people internally, who look at rental statistics, such as how many long dresses get rented, how many short, how many red, black, orange and so on. What trends worked last season, what fabrics last the longest, which dresses are being turned and utilized the most?”
Ultimately, for smart marketers, data changes the way you design your business. Rather than buying their dresses from retail, Hyman and Fleiss now partner with designers – providing them data on what styles are the most popular in return for discounts and better availability of sizes. In the same way that Netflix uses data from its customers to commission original programming, Rent the Runway has approached emerging designers to create collections exclusively for their platform.
To read the rest of Mike Walsh’s CMO Playbook Click Here
Guest post by keynote speaker Tim Sanders
You are only as strong as the voices around you. You think you can resist their message, but you are only human, and will succumb to their tone eventually. Everywhere you turn, there are voices broadcasting gloom, doom and misery. Your attention might be trapped by current events (Disease, Recession, War, etc.) and you can’t focus. You are unable to work-on-your-work.
As a leader, you are flailing at your job. Napoleon Bonaparte was often quoted as saying that, “the leader’s role is to define reality, then give hope.” And those voices go way beyond recognizing reality – the crush hope by conjuring up end-0f-your-world messages. Those voices are often internalized, becoming your voice…which is not moving the conversation at work forward.
You are only as hopeful as the people you listen to. Think about the voices around you: The cable newscaster, the radio announcer, the people at work, the stars/celbs you follow, your social media feed. Are these positive or negative voices in your head? Are you getting smarter and better at your job from ALL of them?
You should be as careful as to what you put into your head as what you put into your mouth. Voices of doom are toxic to your confidence and creative thinking capacity. So vanquish them. Shun them. Dismiss them. Ignore them.
Although all of that sounds simple enough, you’ll have a hard time managing these voices. So let me help you. First, turn off the TV. These days it is literally the boob tube. There is NOTHING there for your as a leader or a contributor. Next, scrutinize the radio shows and podcasts you listen to. Are they constructive, helpful or are they newsy (bad, mostly). Keep listening to just the ones that pass the “reality, then hope” sniff test.
Next, reduce your time grazing online. Whether it’s blogs, news websites of social media networks…there’s bad stuff out there waiting to infect your mind and drag you down. I’m only on facebook these days to post helpful content. Any time spent surfing leads to Ebola or stock market or ISIS hysteria and various link-baiting headlines on fear-aggregation sites. Be intentional about how you use the internet…make it a tool and not a mentally carciogenic habit.
Finally, clean house when it comes to the people you hang out with at work, home and in your community. Give them a warning, and if they persist beating the drum, cut them off. You can’t be any good to anyone when you let them bring you down.
Managers: Don’t reward Chicken Little for his or her declarations that the sky if falling. They aren’t adding value. Tell them, “You can’t be freaked out enough to improve our Customer experience 1%!.” In fact, it’s during times of turmoil that all the great innovative leaps happen (read Hanging Tough for the proof.) This is your time to shine, not shirk in horror.
If you feed your mind good stuff, even during these times, you will be part of the solution instead of a source of the problem. See the video for a clip of me talking about a potential solution for managers at embattled companies during tough times.
Exceptionalize It: Excite Your Customers
In order to get new customers, you need people to come away from an experience with your company wanting more. Also, it is important that the responsibility to excite your customers is felt by everyone on your team. In this week’s Getting Customers, Lior Arussy, Strativity Group founder and president & author of the book, “Exceptionalize It! Stop Boring. Start Exciting Your Customers, Your Employees, and Yourself,” joins us. He tells us what you need to focus on to keep people coming back.
Click here to pre-order your updated copy of Exceptionalize It!
How do you know when you’re truly committed to something? The fervor of deciding to unite as a team to reach goals can seem like the beginning of commitment. However, keynote speaker Robyn Benincasa says that commitment doesn’t start until later – when the fun stops.
Robyn not only talks about teamwork, but also lives it. She’s a full time San Diego Firefighter and a World Champion Eco-Challenge Adventure Racer. She’s competed in some of the most grueling territory in the world, and knows first-hand how powerful a team can be when they commit during difficulty. Watch her explain the definition of commitment.
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