Is Your Team Ready for Success in 2019?

With 2018 hitting the rearview mirror, many companies are asking what they can do to kick off 2019. They recognize that what happens in January sets the trajectory for the year ahead. Have you made plans to motivate your team?

If you haven’t planned an event to kick off the new year, don’t fret. It’s not too late. And Jeff’s story and message could be the silver bullet your team needs.

Consider this:

  • 62% of employees dislike their jobs because of communications issues
  • Companies with poor communications practices are being outperformed up to 3.5 times by their competitors
  • The number one reason teams fail is poor communication
So Jeff’s message matters. And his audacious promise to his audiences is that, as a result of our time together, they will gain the following:
  • An increase in their effectiveness
  • A powerful tool to help reach their goals and dreams
  • A positive impact on their organization or business

As a result of these three improvements, imagine the increase in productivity, morale and ultimately profits, for a company or organization.

Jeff can motivate your team while providing actionable content that helps bring about positive change, both personally and professionally.

Want to book Jeff for your upcoming podcast, event or seminar? Contact us today!

What if you could chose any superpower? What would it be? The ability to fly? Climb buildings? Have laser vision?

In this informative book, Jeff argues that the only superpower anyone needs is the ability to persuade. After all, we all live or die based on our ability to persuade others.

Coming in January.

Trust (Part 3)

3. Be open and authentic

I acknowledge that being open and authentic within the business community often raises eyebrows. Most of us have been trained to leave our personal self outside the door when we walk into the office. I disagree with that.

But let me add this disclaimer (one you’ve heard from me before): Know your audience. Know to what extent they’re willing to “get real with you” — where the boundaries lie.

To the extent that your audience is willing to be open and authentic, I encourage you to respond to the full extent to which you’re comfortable. This authenticity will allow your audience to trust you more profoundly. Besides, you don’t want them wondering what you might be hiding.

4. Show confidence

Your audience will pick up on how you view yourself. If you lack confidence, they’ll know. And if you’re too confident, they’ll notice that too. Neither will serve you well. It’s important that you establish your expertise. But you certainly don’t want to do it in a boastful way. The trick is to frame your past success in terms of why it matters now. What role does it have to play in meeting your audience’s objectives?

Your confidence can be contagious. It’ll help build a mutual natural trust. You know what you’re doing and they’ll take note. And they’ll likely trust you. But you must also show an openness to continuing to learn.

As an expert in your field, if you can show your confidence along with a willingness to listen and grow, you’ll likely score big on the trust meter.

5. Be truthful

This sounds like a foregone conclusion, right? But, according to liespotting.com, human beings are lied to as many as 200 times a day.

In swearing-in ceremonies, you’ll likely hear this affirmation on something similar: “I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Being truly honest with your audience requires more than speaking simple truths. It requires giving them complete information. That may mean telling them things they don’t want to hear. That’s the whole truth.

Click here to see parts 1&2

Trust (Part 2) — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

1. Be consistent

It takes multiple interactions for your audience to begin to get a feel for who you are. These could be F2F meetings, phone calls or social media communication. And you’ll need precise consistency for people to begin to fully understand you, know your story and begin to trust you. Often, even the slightest deviation can set you back.

Since I’ve brought up social media, let’s pause there a moment. Every interaction – whether posting, sharing or commenting – gives your audience clues to your brand presence. And unless your social accounts are locked down tight (and even then, your audience can often still find you), every action matters. I would argue that every single post – no exceptions – has to support the brand you are creating. Any deviation can derail your quest to earn the trust of others.

2. Deliver as promised

We’ve probably all had someone promise us a deliverable – whether a creative asset, meeting time, contract, phone call, email, etc. – and not, in fact, deliver. Failing to deliver as promised can harm your brand and the fragile trust you’re building with your audience.

We’re often so eager to please that we commit to things that, realistically, we know we can’t deliver. In the moment, that promise feels comforting. It’s nice to think that you’re going to fulfill someone’s wants or needs. But while your audience may be happy in the moment that you said yes to their request – and that makes you feel good as well – nobody’s going to feel good when expectations aren’t met. Overpromising will not only likely disappoint, it will set back your quest for trust.

It’s better then to under-promise and over-deliver. If your audience is asking for something and you know you can’t deliver, manage expectations. Explain the rationale for why you can’t deliver. Even better, frame your response in a way that shows why your decision is best for them.

I recently had a speakers’ bureau reach out to me because they wanted to represent me. I responded that I was interested, and asked the next steps. Well, the decision and onboarding process was extremely laborious. And I knew that current demands on my time would not allow me to complete that process in the given timeframe.

Given that I do have interest in working with this bureau, I explained to them my current commitments. I told them that I wanted to complete all the forms and provide what they needed in a thorough manner. Further, I told them that I wanted to give them quality assets, and I couldn’t do that at the present moment.

I then told them when I could reasonably expect to get everything to them, and they accepted my timeline.

Now contrast that approach to overpromising. Had I done that, and not provided the requested information on time, we would have begun what could be a mutually financially beneficial arrangement on the wrong foot. And if this bureau can’t trust me with the initial process, certainly they won’t be able to trust me when it matters to their clients.

Under-promise. Over-deliver. Every time. It’s a winning formula.

Trust — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

“Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.” – Arthur Ashe

This is, perhaps, the most important chapter in this book. If you master every skill in every chapter but others don’t trust you, you won’t persuade. Period.

Most people think of trust in terms of the things we do to earn it. And while, yes, I’ll focus there as well, we need to start much deeper. The foundation for building trust is your motivations, what’s in your heart, the spirit in which you eventually do those things to earn it. A well-trained salesperson can easily fool others for a while, but in the end, I don’t think that it’s sustainable.

I encourage you to pause and look within. I believe that others’ trust in you begins with who you are as a person and what your intentions are. And, ultimately, no amount of smooth talking can make up for the wrong intentions.

At the outset, most of your audience will either be neutral or slightly disinclined to trust you. But you now have what you need to begin earning their trust. If you took my “Industry Expert” chapter seriously, answered the questions and have started building out your personal brand, you have a leg up in this process. You’re working from a solid foundation for building trust.

In the chapter titled “Help Others Find Their Win (So You Win),” we briefly discussed intentions. Now, in this chapter, it’s important to hit this concept head-on. We have to check our motivations and determine what drives us. Is our primary focus on ourselves and what we want in life or do we place a priority and importance on others. Just this simple yet often overlooked mindset can make drastic changes in how people perceive us and ultimately our ability to persuade them.

Self-examination is good, and a conversation with those who know you could be even more beneficial. (But don’t start with your best friends. Because they love you, they may lack objectivity.)

Remove Jargon — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

Remove all internal (or generally unknown) jargon

We often communicate with insider language that isolates those who aren’t “in the know.” Perhaps it makes us feel smarter – a member of some inner circle – to use esoteric terms. But anytime there’s an inner circle, there are, by definition, people left outside.

There’s a fine line between conveying that you’re the expert and using “insider-y” language. Old-school thinking was that when you pitch, you want to wow them with the jargon. Those days are gone.

Be careful not to unnecessarily alienate the people you’re actually trying to persuade. If the internal jargon isn’t necessary, strike it. If you use an acronym, define it. Then stick with it.

Here’s an example of what can go wrong when you use an unnecessary acronym:

While writing copy, you use an obscure, undefined acronym. Your user Googles it to learn its meaning. Another person, vying for your user’s attention, serves up an interesting ad on that page. Your user clicks that ad, which is actually an action-packed video. While watching the video, a text message pops in. It’s an invite to dinner. Think your user cares about your message now? Probably not. Now the question is, “What’s for dinner?”

Bottom line: Don’t create barriers with language. When it’s time to introduce denser language, introduce it with some context.

“Simplicity is an exact medium between too little and too much.” – Sir Joshua Reynolds

Here’s what we learned: less is more. Focus only on what is necessary and important. Everything can be saved for later.

Ask What is Crucial. Strike Everything Else. — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak.”

– Hans Hoffman

I vividly remember the first paper I submitted in graduate school. I was rather proud of it, actually. I put a lot of thought and work into the paper. I was quite certain it was probably the best in the class.

But my English professor didn’t see my work in exactly the same light. My masterpiece was returned to me, bleeding a slow death of red ink, with a note asking me to speak with her.

How could this be? My undergraduate English professors loved my work. Though they consistently offered ways to improve, they never totally rejected my writing. But, in this case, I was called out for verbosity. In my quest to appear smart, I’d loaded every paragraph with every concept within the universe. And as a result, I’d failed. Miserably.

I’d like to say that my “masterpiece” just needed some slight revisions. But, in reality, it needed total reconstruction. My writing needed to be reborn.

I’m convinced that as you’ve started drafting your thoughts, you’re a lot closer to your intent than I was with my first grad school paper. But there’s likely some bloat. As you craft your message, read with a critical eye. You’ll likely immediately begin to see what needs to be trimmed. Focus on eliminating any and all unnecessary elements.

Let’s go ahead and get this out there now: Most likely your users won’t care as much as you do. So give them only what’s necessary.

One of the greatest lessons Twitter has taught me is how to reduce content and communicate only what’s most important. Maybe you’ve done this too: You type out your tweet and it’s 180 characters long. You then begin to remove unnecessary words, even letters, until you hit that magical 140.

This is the same process that I’m advocating for here, just on a larger scale. Take out your red pen. Start striking through non-crucial elements. Ask yourself what details really don’t matter. Everything else must go!

But what I mean by that is that it must go for now. Just for now. There’s probably value in that content, just not quite yet – not here in the core. Don’t discard it; just file it away for now. There may well be some very important points in there that will come in handy later.

Think in terms of creating an inverted funnel of information, and share that information in stages. For example, if your messaging lives in an online petition, you can capture email addresses as people sign it. If they allow you to keep the communication alive via email, you can develop a campaign that feeds them this additional information. You can take a similar approach if you’re communicating about a product you’re selling.

Prior to Twitter, most of us didn’t appreciate the value of shorter messages. But shorter is where we’ve arrived. Facebook is now prompting you to write more succinct messages. They know people will respond better, and so they’ll put it in a bigger font.

So ask yourself: What does this word add? If it adds nothing, lose it. Take it to the extreme: Can you can convey everything you want to say in a single word? If so, do so. It’s more likely that your reader will stick around.

This is all about honing your message, then broadening it as your opportunities unfold. There will soon be opportunities to delve deeper. But start off too deep, and you’re going to lose your audience. Save that more penetrating material. You’ll need it later.

Think one word at a time. People are making decisions one word at a time. Too many details, too much embellishment too soon – they’re gone.

“What Problem Does This Solve?” — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

Every human being has three fundamental areas of concern: money, relationships and health. Given all of life’s complexities, most all problems can be tossed into one of these buckets. Offering solutions to issues in one of those categories is a great way to motivate people to take action.

The common practice in marketing a product or service is to stress its selling points. But that’s not often the most effective motivation. If you want people to care, show them how what you’re offering will solve a real problem they face.

Start with the problem/solution model: My audience has a problem and I can solve it. If nothing immediately stands out, this would be a great time to reread all your content and identify the problems that you can potentially solve. People will pay attention if you’re solving a real problem for them.

I regularly use an app called SendJim. It’s a service that sends out hand-written notes, has gifts delivered – it does all kinds of things that I have difficulty finding time to do on my own. I understand the value of the extra gesture, of a personalized service. But I’m a businessman and a dad, and I generally just don’t have the time to do all that on my own. So I’m willing to pay a surcharge for it.

My monthly razor service is another example. It saves me time. It solves a problem.

So what are you bringing to people that they’re willing to pay you for? That’s what you need to focus on – not on all the bells and whistles and all the wonderful things your product or service can deliver – at least not yet. No. First you need to articulate what problem you’ve arrived to solve.

So can you, in one succinct sentence, explain what that is?

Look at these two sentences. What’s different about them?

  1. My new book, PIxels Are the New Ink, gives advice for building your social profiles.
  2. My new book, Pixels Are the New Ink, teaches thought leaders like you how to make money sharing information already in your head – online.

While the first sentence is true, it isn’t persuasive. The second sentence, on the other hand, assumes that my reader would like to make more money (and that’s probably a fair assumption of most people) and offers the opportunity to do so.

Do you think I have their attention? Likely so.

Time to move on to the next step.

“Crafting a Simple Message” — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

“If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t know enough about it.” – Albert Einstein

Whether conveying a policy position, business concepts or the attributes of a product whatever it is that you need to share in order to pull your audience along no one will jump on board if they don’t clearly grasp your message. Almost all effective, persuasive messaging has one common core component: simplicity.

But here’s the thing: If you don’t capture them quickly, you’ll lose them forever. You have seconds to capture your audience. If they can’t quickly as in seconds  grasp your core message, you’re sure to lose them. And if you don’t capture them at the get-go, you’re not likely to regain their attention.

There’s been a lot of research recently on the complexity of language and people’s attention spans. This book isn’t designed to explore, dissect and/or validate this research. But I do think it’s fair to assert that reading comprehension is on the decline and attention spans grow shorter.

Most people don’t read; they scan. And they gravitate toward stylistic devices like bullet points that offer simple content and lots of white space. That’s how we grab people these days.

We can express disappointment, advocate for change all day long but, at least for now, we have to accept that if you want to persuade, you need to structure your content succinctly. You need to craft simple, impactful messaging.

In later chapters, we’ll discuss how to select and structure language that persuades. But for now, let’s focus on how to craft simple messaging.

First and foremost is making certain that your core message is easily accessible to your audience – that you’re using language that isn’t unnecessarily busy. We’ve established that the message is rarely simple; it is, in most cases, multifaceted. And you probably know the issue at it’s deepest and most complex level. You probably know every intricacy. And you should.

But when it comes to persuading others, you must – at least at the outset – keep it simple. Here are some suggestions to help with that.  

  1. Debrief Yourself

When I set about to craft a message, ideas begin to bounce around my head like ping-pong balls. I see all the dimensions, curves, angles, various components. I’ve now got to get all that out of my head.

So get it all out, all those concepts. Explore how to best do so. We all have different ways of working. Find the way that’s right for you.

Here are a few tips to try:

    • Write everything on a whiteboard
    • Sit with a friend; say it all, record it
    • Talk into your iphone
    • Type into a document
  • Take a pad of paper and start writing

Personally, I like to sit with a piece of paper and just go crazy. Or sometimes I use a whiteboard. I fill up one side, flip it over, and fill up the other. The objective is to get all the concepts floating around in my head into some physical form. This brings clarity.

What you now have are pieces of a puzzle. Move them around. This fits here, that fits there. That piece over there? You’re not yet quite sure where it fits, but sense that it fits somewhere. Put it aside; save it for later.

Now focus on what’s most immediately relevant. Commence to tinkering. Tweak it, refine it, hone it down to its essence.

There may multiple methods of getting it all out there that work well for you. Investigate. Explore. Try out a few. I sometimes use a combination. There’s no right way, no one-size-fits-all approach.  

(Here’s another tip: Take advantage of quiet time in your car to gather your thoughts. Appreciate it. Take advantage of it to generate ideas. Talk into your phone. I used to be afraid of silence. Now I often crave it. A respite from all the noise.)

No matter what format you opt for, forget about form, sentence structure, complete sentences, fully formed thoughts, etc. Don’t even worry yet about it all making good sense.

And please don’t focus on narrowing the messaging. Go broad. Get it all out there, even things that might seem (at present) silly or irrelevant. It popped into your head; maybe there’s a good reason, one that just hasn’t yet revealed itself. Just capture it all. 

Once it’s all out there, it’s time to begin the process of crafting that simple, persuasive message. This content will be a living message; it’ll continue to evolve over time. Don’t aim for perfection. Your goal is to refine and improve the messaging as you walk through these steps.

“Everything Lies Ahead” — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower

I walked out of immigration in the Miami airport with Nina now sleeping in my arms. I paused. I looked at her. I reflected on the past six and a half months, and felt the tears fill my eyes. The feeling of accomplishment was overshadowed by a greater understanding. Throughout the process, I had dozens of people that I needed to make respond in my favor. This adoption could not have happened on my own. I needed others to do what was best. This journey had taught me that I don’t have to accept what is. I can persuade.

My ability to get things done was limited; every success was dependent upon my actions. Every step was dependent on coaxing others to action.

In this book, I’ll be guiding you in crafting a captivating message and developing an irresistible call to action. What I hope to convey is that whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish – whether it’s policy you’re trying to move forward, a business deal you’re striving to seal or an election you’re trying to win – it isn’t just about this one moment. It’s about the unknown that lies ahead – the possibilities it opens up – that wouldn’t, couldn’t, have happened if you hadn’t employed the powers of persuasion.

Now everything lies ahead – the unknown, the potential.

And it clicked for me in that moment in the Miami airport. Up until then, the checklist was the objective. Now I realized that this was no longer it. All of this was toward a greater good. I want you to see that it’s almost always about more than the immediate task at hand – that all such things lead to something much bigger.

The first time I really knew that it was all going to be OK was one day when Nina was about 3. She was sitting in the floor arranging different toys, and I asked her what she was doing. She said she was making families. They don’t all match, she said, but they’re still a family. Just like I don’t match but we’re still a family.

What a feeling that was. So much lay ahead.

It’s not like anything has yet been completed. There’s no nicely wrapped package. It’s an awareness that starts a spark, leads to the next, and then the next. It just gets bigger and bigger.

Bottom line: This isn’t about the quick win. It’s not about selling one car and you’re done. It’s about how we approach life, in all its aspects. It’s about how each little win can lead to transformational change.

I’m going to be asking you to embrace the power of persuasion – to open yourself to its full potential.

Some people view the world as a pie; there are a limited number of slices, and once they’re gone the pie is no more. I’m more of a banquet-table guy. The more people that come to dinner, the better. We can always pull up another chair.

The greatest success I can hope for with this book will be if you tell me you’ve experienced a win. That you persuaded people along on your journey. While you may master some of the tips in this book, if you close its back cover and have just one new tool in your arsenal, I believe it will be worth the read. Just one minor shift of a rudder can take a boat in a whole new direction.

Again, I don’t think persuasion is about one-off wins. I think it’s about mindset. It’s a mindset to forever strive to win.

So you’ve made it through the introduction with me. I’d now like to ask you to proceed with me through these chapters, and then to begin to practice it all on your own. Why start if you’re not going to finish? And why finish if you’re not going to put the skills to practice?

To paraphrase Aristotle, “We need the means to persuade.” This book gives you those means.

Let’s do this!

Live Podcast with Jen Arnold

Jeff recently appeared on a podcast with Jen Arnold, MS, RD/LDN, the owner of Redesigning Wellness, Inc. With over 17 years of various wellness experience, Jen is using her business to ensure that employees are given the tools to thrive in their office environment. On the podcast they will be discussing Jeff’s upcoming book, Unleashing Your Superpower: Why Persuasive Communication is the Only Force You Will Ever Need. They are also exploring how persuasive communication can be an effective tool in any industry.