Jam Session. Where the FORTE team rocks out.

Want to make it big? Do this one thing…

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As I prepare for our first ever online leadership course that begins in a few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership and what it takes to be a leader.

Here at FORTE we say to be a leader you must have two things: a destination and a following. Meaning, if you aren’t going anywhere, there’s no reason for people to follow. Likewise, if you are heading somewhere, and no one cares, you aren’t a leader either.

There are several ways to engender a following, many of which we’ll discuss in the class. But this past week, I hit upon one very simple and enormously effective ingredient that, when coupled with other leadership qualities, has the power to catapult you to the top of your field.

Kindness.

This week I was in Minnesota where I was invited to speak at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Months ago I was perusing the NCSL website when I saw that one of my fellow vf_363888635_sirkenrobinsonspeakers was Sir Ken Robinson. Sir Robinson is a personal hero of mine. He holds the distinction of having one of the most watched TED talks in history, and is an incredible speaker. He often speaks on education and creativity, but this man could talk about the tax code and I would be first in line to hear him speak.

Which, as it turns out, I was. Kevin and I flew in early just to hear Sir Robinson’s presentation and were one of the first people in the auditorium. When he finally made his way on stage, the first words out of his mouth were a joke about his limp and the crowd roared. I could barely contain my excitement. I had to meet him.

We waited afterwards to see if he would greet the audience, but he never appeared. So we walked to the back of the auditorium to see if he would come out that way. No sign of him. We walked back to the front of the auditorium to check one more time when I saw him slowly making his way up the ramp, entourage in tow. I boldly stepped forward and began to tell him how much of a fan I was when Continue reading: “Want to make it big? Do this one thing…”

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Autopilot: A Great Way to Crash & Burn

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Over the past few months, as Sari and I have prepared for numerous workshops, events, and products, one theme keeps coming up: Excellent communication requires you to be right here, right now.

If you want to get your point across and deliver your message with the highest possible impact, you MUST be aware of your surroundings and take your audience into account. Perhaps this seems obvious, and yet most people routinely fail to do this.

Why? That very word “routinely” gives us a clue: We are slaves to our routines, habits, and preconceived notions. It takes a lot less mental energy to go through life on autopilot than it does to be aware and adjust. Sure, there is a time and a place for mindlessness. Routines help us automate things that we don’t need to waste attention on. But when they aren’t working, we often still cling to them doggedly and wonder what’s wrong.  Continue reading: “Autopilot: A Great Way to Crash & Burn”

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Yahtzee!

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Kevin and I just returned from vacation. We spent a week on the road, stopping in various places on the California coast and then spent a week at a beautiful beach house in Lincoln City.

When we first arrived I noticed that they had the game Yahtzee. I LOVE Yahtzee. For those of you haven’t played, it’s basically poker with dice. You have three chances each turn to roll three of a kind, four of a kind, a full house (two of one number and three of another), various other “hands” and of course Yahtzee itself (all the same number.)

Kevin has played a few times but isn’t as familiar with the game as I am. When we were in the middle of our first game, he rolled a 1, 2, 4 and two 6’s. Looking at his score sheet and recognizing he still needed fives he said, “I’m going to go for 5’s.”

I said, “But you didn’t roll any 5’s!”

He answered, looking at his sheet, “But I need 5’s!”

“Yes,” I said, “But the way to win at Yahtzee is to work with whatever you get on your first roll. For example, you have two 6’s.”

“Oh,” he said. “I didn’t even think of that!”

And that’s when it hit me. Yahtzee is a great way to understand why it’s important to detach from outcomes.

(You know you’ve been on vacation for awhile when you start finding life lessons playing Yahtzee.)

The need to detach from outcomes has come up a lot in my work recently, particularly with lawyers. And it’s a hard concept to understand. On one hand, we have to detach from the outcome so we can focus on what’s right in front of us. On the other hand, we care, and should care, very much about the outcome. So how is it possible to do both?

Look to the Yahtzee young grasshopper. Look to the Yahtzee. Continue reading: “Yahtzee!”

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Do You Really Want to Be Charismatic? (Maybe not.)

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Charisma is a hot topic these days. Books try to define it, people want it, heck, even we at FORTE have bandied that word around.

But after lots of reflection, I’m not sure charisma is something we should aspire to.

Here’s why: charisma is when people can’t help but buy into you and your ideas. You’re irresistible. You’re charming. People can’t say no.

I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

For example, I’ve come in contact with two marketing “gurus” in the past few years. One was very charismatic. I came across a few of his free videos and thought they were great. Then I started receiving emails saying that the paid marketing class was now available, but only for a short time, and there were limited copies. It was $2000. I practically lost my mind. Suddenly I HAD to have it. So I bought it.

There’s nothing wrong with the content, it’s quite good. But the guru himself? He absolutely drives me crazy. I can’t stand his emails, his tone of voice, or anything about him. And I can’t help wonder if it’s because I was under some sort of a charismatic “spell” when I plunked down my $2000 buckeroos.

Audience Listening To Presentation At Conference

I came across the other marketing guru by word of mouth. Someone suggested I sign up for his newsletter, and I did. It was full of good information but nothing was for sale. For months I’d get great advice but I was never asked to buy anything. Eventually he announced a one-year marketing class. It cost nearly twice as much as the other program. I enrolled immediately. But not because I felt an irresistible draw, but because he built trust with me over time. In fact, the more time goes by, the more valuable I find him and his work. I sing his praises wherever I go and have brought him several clients.

I realized that the first guru was marketing to me based on loss: here’s what you’ll LOSE if you don’t buy this program. The second guru marketed to me based on gain: here’s what you’ll GET if you buy this program.

Fear can be a great motivator, but it’s a terrible way to make decisions. Continue reading: “Do You Really Want to Be Charismatic? (Maybe not.)”

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Claim Your Space

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“How tall are you?” I asked my client, at our first meeting. He was sitting all scrunched up in the corner of his armchair, as if to make himself as small as possible. He was tall, but awkward, as if he didn’t quite know what to do with his long limbs, even after having at least a decade to get used to them.

He answered, “Six-five.” I was shocked! Despite his height, he seemed small.

“This is my made up story,” I told him, “But I’m guessing that you’re afraid of intimidating people because of your height, so you don’t own your size and space.”

He stared at me with his mouth open. After a second, he said, “I’ve been ashamed of my height my whole life.”

When we own our bodies and claim space, it is felt by those around us, though they may not be able to define what they sense. We nonverbally send signals that tell others how comfortable we are in our bodies and our surroundings. Our level of confidence is on display for all to see. One way we convey confidence—or our lack of it—is by claiming space. Continue reading: “Claim Your Space”

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