Professional Life

29 Jul: Setting the stage

We so often forget the importance of how we begin. How we begin discussions, how we begin meetings, how we begin making decisions.  A couple days ago I was running a workshop with the executive leadership team of a healthcare company and was instantly reminded of this. We were tasked to help them position their company as they burst onto the market place riding the waves of some very interesting clinical data. Right at the beginning of the workshop, the CEO opened by noting a few important points to make sure his executives were fully engaged and understand the significance of this moment and why we were gathered there. Simple words, but highly impactful. It set the tone for the rest of the day and we were engaged throughout the session. An astute leader never misses the chance to raise the performance of the team, and I’m always excited to work…

24 Jul: We are all leaders, whether you like it or not

I do not agree with the idea that you need followers in order to lead. I’d rather say that if you’re a leader, there will naturally be followers. Leadership in the end is about the influence you exert on others, and unless you are a hermit, cut off from the rest of the world, you have the opportunity to influence. And this influence could be either a negative or a positive one. You cannot control who you influence and who you don’t, everyone that comes into contact with you leaves with an impression, whether you want to or not. Picking up a plastic bottle on the side walk and depositing it in a recycling bin influences all those witnessing this seemingly benign action. But this action may have spurred the conscience of all those people; they now perhaps pay a little more attention to recycling throughout the day or even weeks….

21 Jul: Self-awareness cannot be taught

Becoming self-aware is a process. It’s a process that continues as you change and the environment around you change. Starting this process is something that is fundamentally your decision. You and only you can decide to open up and embark upon this journey of self discovery. You cannot be forced and you cannot be taught to take the first step. Much like falling in love, you cannot be forced to love. Perhaps if we recognized that by being self-aware, you may become happier. You may start to move towards doing the things that is truly you, not “forced upon” by society, by your parents, by your professors. You may start to care about the things that truly matter to you, instead of spending time focusing on things that you think you should care about. Take that journey of self-awareness, for life is too short to be living a lie.

05 Jul: Please don’t follow your passion

Passion is a dangerous word. I am absolutely convinced that the word Passion has caused millions of people to be unhappy and unfulfilled (I was one of those people). In the book by Cal Newport: So Good They Can’t Ignore You, he tells us not to follow our passions, instead bring our passions to where ever we are. Deliver rare value instead and build your expertise/ career capital. In fact, when he studied the path of Steve Jobs, who infamously said in his Stanford graduation speech in 2005, “you’ve got to find what you love…”, if Steve actually followed his passions at the very beginning, he would have become a zen priest! The fact is that Jobs did love what he was doing at Apple, but only after years of pursuing what was in front of him. By constantly perfecting our craft, we will come to love what we do. Mike…

01 Jul: Go the other way

We hear the word “differentiation” in the world of marketing and branding very often. How can you differentiate from the competition? What is your secret sauce? In the land of brown cows, the “purple cow” stands out, as marketing guru Seth Godin puts it. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, if you want to become more successful, become more fulfilled, you need to take risks, you need to be different. This idea of swimming against the tide, doing the opposite in order to stand out is a very intuitive one. So why don’t most people or most organizations dare to be truly different? Because being different requires a vision. Because being different means we need to know who we are and be ok with it. Because being different attracts scrutiny. Being different is hard, but being different means you have a shot at being heard. In todays infinitely cluttered environment,…

09 Jun: What silent films reveal about great storytelling

A recent trip to the Castro Theater during the Silent Film Festival immersed me in a surreal experience. It was simple, delightful and innocent. It was back to the basics of storytelling. We watched movies made by the Amazing Charlie Bowers, a comedian that used animation and invention themes to tell his stories. The single most powerful way great stories are told is allowing the audience to fill in the blanks. Michel Hazanavicius, the French director of the award winning film The Artist, which took home 5 Oscars including best film and director in 2012 said it best in an interview with The Atlantic “The less you do, the more the audience does”. He recounts a film by Fritz Lang called M, where the killer in the movie grabs a girl with a balloon and the camera follows the balloon. There is no violence, just the balloon. What happened? What…

30 May: Storytelling tips #7: Use it to motivate

One of the biggest factor of productivity and retention for employees is feeling connected to the organization. By constantly telling stories from your customers, you help the organization understand their purpose and how each individual contributes to the customer experience. In the medical device industry, patients are often brought into the companies to share how the products have touched their lives through touching and thoughtful stories. Use those stories, we all deserve them.

24 May: Storytelling tip #4: What’s your AIM?

The purpose of a story is to influence. In order to craft a story that can elicit a desired response, work from your audience’s perspective. Who are you talking to? What are their beliefs? What do you want them to do? What do they need to understand in order to take that action? Answer these questions as a foundation to building your story. A clear message means a compelling story. You can find other storytelling resources on the #9story9 page. Enjoy!