Posts from — March 2010
I’ve been thinking about one of the themes that appeared here and there during The Economist Innovation Conference…fear and failure. They appeared independently and together in many situations. And then I got thinking about fear of failure…which seems to be geometrically more destructive to success than either one appearing along.
Fear causes you to close in and become unwilling to take risks…even the teeny tiny risk of meeting someone new. Failure at something often leads to an inability to try something new because failing can be so debilitating…even if all you failed at was managing to establish a new connection. And fear of failure…wow!…talk about magnifying the effect.
So many people just don’t do anything to expand their horizons. They live the same old story with the same old people doing the same old things. And then complain that they never meet anyone new, do anything new and exciting, have new adventures. (Anyone out there resemble this? If so, here’s a spring picture in Birchrunville to cheer you up.)
Luckily, I am going to tell you in a few short words how to overcome fear, failure, and even fear of failure. Of course, on some level…probably many levels…this is really ridiculous since these are very huge issues but, what the heck, I can hardly show fear of failure.
So here’s my simple solution: Next time you are worried about doing something relatively low risk…say, going to a networking event…take a deep breathe. Take a few more. Maybe even a few more. Big deep breathes accompanied by shaking your body and waving your arms around. You’ll probably notice that you feel different when you do this and might even be smiling and laughing a bit.
Now think of the worst things that can happen. Maybe people won’t want to talk to you. Perhaps you’ll be unable to think of something to say. You could spill your drink on yourself…or someone else. You’ll see someone you know and forget their name. And maybe worst of all…you’ll be boring!
Now that all the roadblocks to success are out in the open…solve each one. What will you do if they happen? In your energized state with your brain fully engaged (remember all that jumping around and breathing?) you will easily prepare yourself to address whatever might happen. Armed with this knowledge go off and conquer.
I know, you’re thinking that this is ridiculous and will never work. Well, there’s that fear of failure again. So what do you do? Yup, that whole breathe and jump around thing again. Just keep doing this everytime you find yourself with fear, failure, or fear of failure creeping up on you. Start with small things and work up to Big Things.
It really does work.
Fear, Failure, Fear of Failure Tip: Energize your brain…overcome anything
Here are a few examples of how you’ll feel after following my advice:
And for my furry followers:
March 31, 2010 No Comments
After a whirlwind trip to Berkeley…I’m back in Birchrunville. Talk about culture shock. Those people at The Economist jammed about two weeks worth of amazingly interesting people into a day and a half at this Innovation: Fresh Thinking for the Ideas Economy conference. They don’t even know about giving people time to stretch between talks.
But then, after an hour or two I figured it out. The audience were a bunch of shils for their show. They were really producing content for who knows how many outlets and needed a nice appreciative audience…never mind that I felt like I was sitting in a center coach seat on a flight from Washington DC to Johannesburg.
But, I must admit, it was a spectacular array of people who have had huge impact on society. People there ranged from Arianna Huffington to Robert Reich, Jared Diamond to Ed Catmull. Even Peter Ackworth was there. If you check him out, it’s adults only. (Actually, I decided not to send you to his site but only to a bio. I leave it to you to think about what that means.)
It was great fun. I met lots of interesting people including Guillermo Paredes Larco who runs Peru for alicorp…which is a client of mine for the Global Consulting Practicum. He invited me to dinner next time I’m in Lima. And there were several people who asked me about helping them out with this and that…mostly focused on getting their story straight for branding and marketing and just running their organization better.
The speakers and panels were spectacular, the attendees were just as interesting, the food was lousy, the weather spectacular, the Economist people fun, the Durant Hotel people exceptionally nice, and my butt still hurts. But…or is it butt? have to ask Peter…all in all a great time and worth flying out Monday afternoon and back on Wednesday night’s red eye.
And now, in addition to everything else, I’m an Innovation Expert and have lots of Fresh Thinking for the Ideas Economy. And I have the personal email of Arianna Huffington…
So all in all a great trip. Interesting people both along the way and during the event. Several new business opportunities, some great new random connections, and I get to talk about it for weeks when people ask me “What’s New?” What a conversation starter.
Innovation Tip: It’s not the spark it’s the fire that comes after
So remember, don’t think about it…just take a leap and go someplace far away. You never know who you’ll run into but they’ll undoubtedly be different from the people you usually see.
I didn’t take any pictures at all in Berkeley so here’s one I lifted from the college site:
Here’s one more from spring in Birchrunville. I think it’s some of the gremlins who seem to harrass my computer being born….
And lest I forget, even got to see Matt Mullenweg…the founder of WordPress. Yup, the very company that this blog rides on.
March 27, 2010 No Comments
Some of you managed to get in to the amazing Talkfest I put together last year at the extraordinary Birchrunville Store Cafe. I prevailed upon my friends Francis Trzeciak (master chef) and Marnie Old (sommelier superb) to do their thing with stupendous oardoors paired with unbelievable wine. It went on for hours…we had to shove people out the door to get them to leave.
And I’m doing it again and so are Francis and Marnie! The Talkfest is a benefit for Camphill Village Kimberton Hills and only fits 50 people. We already have about 25 reservations so you need to immediately find out more here , make a reservation, and come on over. Otherwise you might be looking at flat soda and stale soft pretzels.
And on the networking front, I flew out to Berkeley the other day. To my amazement I wound up sitting next to this spectacularly lovely lady who yakked away with me the entire 4 hour flight! Wow! We had a great time talking about living in Dunkirk NY…wherever that is…and how Sharon is a scuba diver, horseback rider, long distance runner, sailor, and fantastic baker of apple pies. Of course she also has a boy friend with a 37 foot sailboat.
But, all is not lost. Along the way we chatted about what we each do and discovered that we have some intersecting interests. And it turns out she reports to the CEO (yup, in addition to all that other stuff she’s one great executive) and wondered if I might like to meet him. Seems she thinks I might be able to help him out with an issue or three.
How cool is this? A long boring flight turns into a nice new connection and a chance to meet the CEO of a quite large company. And if I’m really lucky, who knows, maybe an apple pie.
Food and Wine Tip: Talkfest…the place to be
Random pictures of spring around Birchrunville (yes, these are from my silly Blackberry camera):
Flight Tip: Your next great connection might be on the other side of the armrest
And my favorite spring picture:
March 23, 2010 No Comments
People seem to find it amazing that I manage to find great projects for the Wharton Global Consulting Practicum to do in Africa…while I sit in Birchrunville PA. Actually, I sometimes find it a bit amazing myself since Wharton is only willing to send me to Africa now and then rather than weekly as I’d like. But then I remember that I actually am following a principle Kay and I have talked about for years: talk to everyone.
In the latest for instance, this week I had an absolutely delightful lunch at Cedar Hollow Inn (a wonderful place, by the way) with a fellow name Clarke Blynn. He is a board member of Nurturing Minds. This is a hugely successful boarding school program for at risk girls. And where is it locate? (hint…look at the map above) Yup, Tanzania, which is in…Africa. Now how about that?
And my path to Clarke, you might be asking. It’s simple…networking. But you already knew that. I wandering in to a breakfast meeting some months ago and happened to meet John Stine, Senior Managing Director (whoa!) of Smart…which is now LECG. I have no idea why a company with the cool name of Smart would chuck it for LECG.
Anyway, John invites me to lunch. There we yak on for a bit and my travels to Africa come up. Next thing I know, an introduction to Clarke who invites me to lunch. And here we are, a few months later, talking about how I can help Nurturing Minds develop a great story for improving their branding, marketing, and communications so they can expand their programs and help out even more girls in Tanzania.
Nurturing Minds not only nurtures minds through education. They are working to be a self sustainable operation so are beginning to establish small businesses to make some money for the school. It is so exciting. But in the meantime, they could use some support.
Get to Africa Tip: Tell everyone you’d like to go
March 19, 2010 No Comments
One of the things that I find odd is how people often seem to think that other people are psychic. I must admit that we all do have those moments when we might just be psychic…but for most of us it’s not something we can count on.
So most of us need to tell people what’s going on that we want others to know. Most importantly, we need to let people know about those things we’d like them to help us with.
Along these lines, I’m overseeing putting on the Camphill Village Kimberton Hills Second Annual Birchrunville Store Cafe Wine & Dine Talkfest. (I’d send you there but it doesn’t seem to be on the website yet, but you can go to Kimberton Hills) Since the title is quite the mouthful, I’m just calling it The Talkfest. (and now consider that I just told all of you about the spectacular event so if you miss it…it’s all your fault!)
It was great fun last year with fantastic food and great wine from Marnie Old the world famous wine expert and owner of Old Wines…and my good friend. But how I met her is a story for another day…suffice it to say, networking. People had such a good time that we couldn’t get them out the door at the end and I immediately got asked if we were going to do it again. Oh, the pressure!
But back to the “tell people things” I was talking about. Yesterday I went off to help Marnie…yup, Marnie Old…pour beer at the Brewer’s Plate event…which led to my getting a free VIP pass. That “help out and be helped” thing really does work.
It was great fun and it turned out that Marnie and Bill Covaleski, another friend (who I haven’t seen in quite awhile) and co-founder of most excellent and award winning Victory Brewing, were presenting a talk together. So I got to talk to Bill for a bit and mentioned…The Talkfest. He immediately looks at his calendar and said “I’m coming.”
During our chat I ask him if he is willing to be a story in the new book I’m beginning to write…about story. He says “sure”. Bill has a great tale about how he and his partner have been friends since they were ten and began to…but that’s also a story for another day.
Talkfest Tip: Mention it to everyone
March 15, 2010 No Comments
Yup, it’s me doing the above. They…the web overseers at Dinkum Interactive…have been forcing me to do all this technological stuff. Me, Mr Meet Them And Shake Their Hand.
So now in addition to The Newsletter and Steve’s Blog (what you’re reading in case you didn’t realize it) they have me being some sort of twit. And they figured out how to get Twit Steve right here next to Blog Steve. I think they must be geniuses to make all this work. It’s all very odd…not to mention time consuming!
Especially since you all know my favored method of communication…
Picture above courtesy of Jonathan Evans, Artville.
The oddest thing is that I seem to be getting more and more people who actually are signing up for all these electrons I’ve been sending out. Which causes quite the conundrum…sending electrons to people I’ve never met to talk to them about how you really do develop a better connection if you get to actually meet someone and stare into their eyes. (I hear that sometimes this actually leads to a date but don’t know anything about this)
The most amazing thing is that my random musings on my travels, networking, and now story have led to people wanting to meet me…and me getting invited to become a roving reporter at a very cool international conference that the Economist newspaper (as the British call what Americans call a magazine) is putting on. Where I will get to actually talk to all kinds of interesting people…and shake some hands, spread some oxytocin (look it up), and develop some new connections.
Of course I’ll report back from the Economist Innovation – Fresh thinking for the Ideas Economy conference. Somehow it all connects…and so will you.
Keep Current Tip: You need to stay on top of new things…and still keep doing the old ones that work
Bonus picture of Steve’s other favored method of long distance communication:
And if you want to apply for a job:
March 10, 2010 1 Comment
Most people seem to want to blend into the background. Sure, we have people whose only skill is attracting attention…Paris Hilton comes to mind. Buts mostly people are wandering around in anonymity, and happy about it. After all, whether it’s true or not, we all have heard that people are more afraid of public speaking than of being run over by a beer truck.
As someone who would much rather be on a stage than under a beer truck, I don’t understand this but find it hugely wonderful. People love to have other people on stage as much as they hate to be on stage themselves. What an opportunity!
I’ve been helping companies and individuals create their story and then be totally congruent at using it for branding, marketing, and communication both internal and external. And what does this have to do with being on stage? Well, think about it.
And how do you get the best impact, be it for personal reasons of networking or company reasons of becoming more successful…or is it personal reasons of becoming more successful or company reasons of networking? Hmmmm.
In any of these cases, it’s by having an impactful, interesting, useful, entertaining, energetic, exciting, and totally congruent story that others want to be part of. And since most companies…and people (not you dear readers)…have a boring, uninteresting, not entertaining, low energy, send you running, incongruent story…those in the first case have a huge advantage.
So break out of your box. Find your story. Discover how to express it well. And go forth and conquer. And do it now!
Success Tip: Create a great story, then…Charge!
March 5, 2010 No Comments
I love the Financial Times, a daily business newspaper from England. Among other things it comes on pink paper for some historic reason I don’t know. But it does stand out for that reason as well as for the world view it takes which is so unlike the self centered view of those of us in the US.
Among other great columnists, there is one called The Secret Agent. Recently this unknown writer presented a column called “When to share, when to care”. It started with this spectacular sentence: “It has been said that people are either radiators or drains.” I figure you have already applied this to yourself as a networker and connector as I immediately did.
This clever hidden scribe then follows that first sentence by adding “It is fairly self-explanatory statement but I often think of it and categorize people.” (and no, I did not miss a word but have quoted accurately)
First you immediately thought of where you stand on the radiator/drain scale and now you have a method for rating those you meet. And which would you rather be and which would you rather meet and spend time with?
And that seems like a great thought to leave you with as you go about your day and now look at everyone you meet from a somewhat different perspective. Have fun.
Secret Agent Tip: **************************************
March 2, 2010 No Comments