How to Meet People Where They Are

Today’s business landscape can feel overwhelming. There’s a lot of new technology to keep up with, and that technology is keeping us connected around the clock. When people ask us how we’re doing, our default answer is “busy.”

In the enclosed video, keynote speaker Seth Mattison and I continue our conversation about changing technology and communication.

We touch on big questions like:

  • How can business leaders find balance while managing all of the information available to them?

  • How can you meet employees and customers where they are — without losing who you are?

  • How should professionals of all ages adapt to changing technology, a shifting workforce and new customer preferences?

Watch the video, then weigh in.

Communication Revolution from Ryan Estis on Vimeo.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

Tapping the Collective Consciousness

Change.

Customers are changing, the marketplace is changing, the competition is changing. What does that mean for corporate strategy and forecasting? It means executive teams can’t go into board rooms, shut the door, and determine all the right moves to deliver the best strategy for the business. That just doesn’t work anymore.

Good ideas are everywhere and I recently had the opportunity sit down with keynote speaker and collaborator Seth Mattison to talk through how leaders can open the lines of communication inside an organization, tap into employees’ best thinking and bring forward the very best ideas to fuel creativity, innovation and growth.

How can leaders and managers identify important changes and trends? How can we listen to everyone inside an organization to find good ideas? Check out the enclosed video, where Seth and I explore the topic further.

Tapping The Collective Consciousness from Ryan Estis on Vimeo.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

How to Get the Most Out of Feedback

How To Get The Most Out of FeedbackOne of the benefits of my business is the feedback loop available from our live events. I usually know exactly how the customer felt about the experience. Today, it comes both in real time (#feedback) and often in a more formal evaluation.

This weekend, I reviewed a conference evaluation sent by a meeting planner for a recent event where I delivered the closing keynote. In addition to the feedback on my session, I also read through the general comments intended for the conference planning committee. I couldn’t help but pause and reflect on the contradiction in the following two comments, listed in succession on the evaluation:
The conference auditorium was too cold.
The conference auditorium was too hot.

Generally speaking, I consider feedback to be an incredible gift and a beneficial business tool. I also think it’s important to put it in perspective. While this feedback was intended to be constructive, the conference planning committee can’t do much with it. They have to accept that they aren’t going to please everyone.

In my work I receive all kinds of interesting feedback, some of it actually having nothing to do with my work at all. I’ve received feedback (and criticism) on my choice in clothes, grooming, likeness, accent and even how long I’ve kept my hand in my pocket (I promise the hand in the pocket move wasn’t rehearsed).

I take the opportunity to thoroughly review every ounce of feedback that is available to me. I’ve also learned to consider the following factors to make sure I understand and maximize the way I put it into practice:

  • The Source: Is the source trusted? Respected? Anonymous? Expert? Paid? Objective? The market you want to move? Feedback is valuable but it doesn’t need to be treated equally. It’s always wise to consider the source.
  • The Intent: Is the feedback authentically trying to help? Hurt? Inform? The intent matters. If my ideas don’t resonate or add value, I really want to know and understand how I can improve. If you take serious issue with the fact I didn’t shave this morning, it’s on you.
  • The Context: Is the commentary consistent? It’s easy to overreact to an isolated critique or an outlier comment. But, sometimes it might be better to recognize that you just can’t please everyone. One person is too hot when someone else is too cold.
  • The Quality: Is the feedback offering insight you can leverage to improve? After all, isn’t that really the point?

Recently we received a little unsolicited advice from a prospective customer who visited our website:
“Your website has a lot of great information however I think it could be organized a little differently. Your brand is powerful because when you present you are clear, focused, and the message is simple. This is rare. Your site is not an optimal reflection of who you are. I know it’s impossible to accomplish but a good start may be to simplify the landing page. Less is always more powerful.”

I made a point to let her know how much I appreciated that she took the time to offer a little insight. We happen to be in the middle of a website upgrade and her feedback was valuable. That little exchange opened up a dialogue where I was able to get her expanded thinking, which we actually included as a discussion point during our project planning. Home run!

It’s important to remember that when it comes to feedback it is not the critic that counts, it’s the person who cares.

I don’t ignore feedback. I also don’t take it personally. Being objective and having a system to categorize constructive criticism, advice and input helps me determine the feedback that I can use. I hope these feedback guidelines help you too.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sellers and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

When Technology Fails During A Presentation

ERA_2013I walked onto the stage last Saturday afternoon in Austin, TX and immediately realized something was wrong. As I advanced my slide deck, the presentation staring back at me was something entirely unexpected. I knew right away what had happened: the AV team loaded an earlier draft of the deck and my final version with updates and edits was nowhere to be found.

My move?  Soldier on.  Fortunately, I use images in lieu of text, which gives me the flexibility to deliver the most important ideas regardless of what is on the screen.  I seriously doubt the audience knew I was working from the wrong presentation.  And that’s the point: when something goes wrong, you have to be flexible enough to adjust, adapt and deliver a meaningful and memorable experience for the audience. No matter what.

Technology failures can test even the most experienced presenter.  Of course, it goes without saying that you should back up your work.  I even travel with two computers most of the time.  But, what I’m talking about is the mid-presentation meltdown. Based on my experience as a presenter, here are the 4 best remedies for technology mishaps during a presentation:

Ignore the technology:  I never mentioned the slide confusion last Saturday during or following the presentation. What would have been the point?  I would have only set up the audience for a less than desirable experience.  If you can deliver relevant ideas that resonate with the audience, then the presentation is a success.  Whether technology is cooperating or not, your big objective needs to stay sharply in focus.

Make light of the situation and reboot: In the middle of a two hour presentation to 20 executives at John Deere, we lost power.  The laptop wasn’t plugged in to a power source. I was mid-sentence when the screen faded to black, and as I paused, it was abundantly clear to everyone in the room what had just happened. I simply indicated that we were half way through our presentation and wanted to pause for 10 minutes of Q&A prior to presenting the next portion of the pitch.  The room actually laughed (acknowledging my tap dancing) and it worked.  We did a brief Q&A and were up and running again in no time. We won that business!

Shift the focus: I once watched a great keynote speaker deliver his entire presentation sans media when technology presented an unexpected hiccup. He didn’t miss a beat. He brilliantly shifted the audience’s focus and attention back onto him and delivered what everyone wanted: entertaining insight and a few ideas that could be implemented immediately.

Don’t rely on technology in the first place: I love a presentation with great audio/visual/media. Technology and tools can add a lot to a presentation. But, tech-heavy presentations always carry the risk that something could go wrong. So, when preparing to present, always remember that when the pressure is on, you could end up armed only with your ideas (and none of the bells and whistles).  The best presenters don’t rely too much on technology; they simply leverage tools to add something more to the overall experience.

Early in my career, we were giving a sales presentation to US Bank and had a massive technology meltdown.  Literally.  Something was melting and the machine started to smell an awful lot like smoke. We couldn’t get the equipment to work and in expert agency fashion, we cut the presentation short knowing full well that we just went down in flames (gear included). When you are about to set the room on fire, it’s usually time to leave.

These days, I always try to have a Plan B that keeps me from going down in flames.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sellers and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

 

Bold. Fearless. Authentic.

I’ll be working with two of my favorite clients in two of my favorite cities this week!

I am heading to Denver to deliver Leading Breakthrough Sales Performance for the National Basketball Association Sales & Marketing Summit.

Then it’s off to Austin for the 2013 ERA Real Estate International Business Conference, where we will continue the conversation on Driving Value in the New Economy.

A winning value proposition is top of mind top for any organization attempting to differentiate and drive sales growth.  My friends from ERA Strother got it right.  They invited me to help them kick off their their value proposition project this year.

I was happy to help!  What followed was a thorough discovery, definition and design process that included the input of their most important stakeholders:  employees and customers.  They captured the essence of their culture and what separates them from the competition this way.

Bold.  Fearless.  Authentic.  That is exactly the kind of energy they are going to bring to Austin! Check them out:

Take that!  This should be a fun week!

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

Digital Storytelling on Mastercard’s Morning Brew

I recently had the opportunity to spend the morning with Mastercard as a contributor to their first Global Inclusion Summit. The conversation included perspective from leadership around the world celebrating the Mastercard commitment to being diverse and inclusive in a world beyond cash.

Mastercard featured the Inclusion Summit on an episode of Morning Brew, their social-friendly tool for keeping the Mastercard community engaged and up to date on latest news and developments from around the world.  I was impressed with the program and traded notes with Morning Brew Producer Nicole Ward, who shared with me that the Morning Brew objective is to keep employees in the loop about all the cool things they’re doing, as well as to connect with consumers, merchants, governments and other stakeholders.  “We’re trying to reach them where they are – on social media.”

Meet people where they are.

“Morning Brew is a breakthrough approach by our company to go beyond traditional storytelling,” said Jennifer Stalzer from Mastercard Corporate Communications. “Social media has given us the opportunity to tell our story directly to our community versus solely relying on traditional media.  We’ve given corporate news-telling a makeover, sharing the MasterCard story in a consistent and engaging way through a canvas media approach well-fit for today’s digital age.”

The Morning Brew weekly broadcast runs on the Cashless Conversations Blog, where Mastercard shares trending news and perspectives, such as this this post/video from Chief Diversity Officer Donna Johnson about the MasterCard partnership with Lean In, which encourages employees to be more risk-tolerant and to reach beyond their perceived boundaries so they can leverage all of their skills.

Mastercard is a technology company focused on innovation and that idea clearly extends to how they connect, communicate and continue to shape and share their corporate culture.  Content matters and this is a company committed to consistently pushing new ideas to their community.  When you have a story worth telling it works!

Mastercard is kicking off their Interns Wanted campaign this week – and looking for the best, most creative, most motivated talent to intern and ultimately work there.  Check out the new episode of Morning Brew for details!

The most recent episode follows.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

Sharing Is Caring

Big news out of Facebook this week with the introduction of Graph Search, a new search tool for finding people, photos, places and interests in a way that is very different from web search.  The social experience keeps shifting and becoming a whole lot more customized and personal.

Does it matter to you?  It should.  This is where attention is moving (social networking eats up 3+ hours a day for the average user) and that matters if you are in the business of client acquisition, engagement and experience. (Who isn’t?)

We’re social creatures, and we’re inclined to share.  Brand experience and business decisions are increasingly being shaped by the social graph. In the video below, I talk about how my own decision making is most heavily influenced by the people I trust.  Your customers aren’t any different.  Business works better when it’s more social.

Sharing is Caring from Ryan Estis on Vimeo.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sellers and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

Top 10 Posts of the Year

Thank you for your readership in 2012! During my year-end review I spent a little time reviewing the most popular posts published on the blog this past year. Here they are, in case you missed them the first time.


  • The Gift of Happiness.
    “People like Lily remind us that there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, Keeping Christmas.”

 

  • What the Best Sales Organizations Know. “The best sales organizations we’ve spent time with in 2012 are leveraging this transformation as an opportunity to outmaneuver the competition and effectively position for a big 2013. How can you do the same? Here are three year end keys for getting the sales organization ready to compete in 2013.”

 

  • Selling the Dallas Cowboys. “Some people might assume ‘if you build it, they will come.’ Indeed, they will, but not without a world class sales organization. Not without talent, process, discipline, rigor, activity, benchmarking, cycle analysis, question mapping, simulation strategy, competition, incentives, pride and a very public record of results. This is a company for closers.”

 

  • Finding Meaningful Work. “If more meaning and fulfillment from work is a personal quest, there is no time like the present. You may also be able to cash in on that passion. Many of the traditional barriers to entry no longer exist and long term career planning is fading fast. This is becoming the era of the Change Agent, where adaptability, creativity and risk are rewarded.”

 

  • 3 Years Old and 50 Lessons Learned. “In reflecting back and forward I have gained some valuable insight into business performance, leadership, culture, work, relationships, money, fear, happiness, love, life and legacy. Here are 50 top of mind lessons learned.”

 

 

  • How The Sales Pro Uses December to Jump Start 2013. “December represents a natural slowdown in the pace of business as people begin to embrace the holiday spirit. Top producers know this also represents an opportunity to prepare for a big jump start for the new year. How do top producers use the month of December to jump start 2013? Here are 4 keys to consider as you work to improve your sales skills.”

 

  • Where Do You Get the Energy? “I know that if you want to live inspired it helps to spend time around other people that embrace inspired living. The people around us have enormous impact on our being. How we think, act and experience the world around us.”

 

  • The Future Of Work. “Last week I had the good fortune of delivering a new strategic workshop in collaboration with Don MacPherson of Modern Survey. Don and I examined the future of work and the opportunity that HR professionals have to drive business performance through employee engagement. We leveraged the most current data set from Modern Survey research in an effort to facilitate a robust discussion related to what is next in talent strategy and workforce readiness.”

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sellers and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

Conversations That Matter

The high-impact conversation is a critical leadership tool today.  We are solving more complex problems, and everyone is feeling strapped for time and distracted. We’re diverting more communications online, which makes sense but they can’t replace those crucial face-to-face conversations.

In this video, I talk about having “conversations that matter” and the role they play in contributing to corporate culture.

Conversations that Matter from Ryan Estis on Vimeo.

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