Online Personal Branding: You in a Crowded Online World
Caught an interesting presentation today by Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla, the developers of Firefox, on “How to Stand out in the Noise of the Internet”.
The focus of the presentation was personal branding. He talked about how he uses a personal dashboard to monitor the masses of internet behaviour online – and that in almost every field, a person’s “job” will change significantly every 2 – 4 years, or more often. He says it’s critical to make your mission clear and simple to the world, and find a balance between “poetry” and “pragmatics”, i.e. your values/beliefs, and the skills you get to accompany them. In other words, don’t just tell the world you’re a pf
Along with this, he could not under-emphasize the amount of information on the web that exists about almost every person. Apparently there are even GPS satellites tracking consumer locations, and telecommunications companies saving records of every text message for up to 4 years! Shocking.
I asked him a question spurred by a CBC radio panel not long ago. The panelists had said something along the lines of, “By the year 2030, there will be ZERO North Americans suitable to run for public office because of all the incriminating and embarrassing things they are posting as teens on the web today.” My question was — will there ever be a way to erase old profiles?
Gary said that there is some work being done in this area — Germany’s privacy commission is working on technology to erase public profiles, and it will take a long time, expense and a lot of legislation to work through some kind of method to do this. Facebook in particular seems to be a long way from this thinking, he said — in particular because their user agreement states that they “own” the rights to all the data that users post — pictures included.
So there you go — be careful what you post online — getting it back may be possible someday, but it could be well beyond your lifetime, or before say, you want to run for office.
P.S. And another good idea: Google yourself regularly, just to be sure of what’s out there!
Support to Write Better Proposals and RFP bids
Are you wondering how to write better RFP responses and boost your chances of winning important bids? You’ve found the right place.
Our proposal, RFP and bid support capabilities have been greatly enhanced recently. A new addition to our team, Michele Rochon, BA, AM. APMP is an accredited member of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, and is a 15 year veteran in this specialized area. Not only does she help to strategize the proposal process (Should you bid? Can you win? ), but she also provides seasoned writing and design skills to make sure your bid is a worthy, outstanding and passionate example of all you have to offer.
In conversation with Michele recently, she memorably said to me, “When evaluating proposals, clients can tell who really wants the job, and who doesn’t. They’re not dumb. They are looking for that spark. Something extra. If you bore them or give them a boilerplate with nothing original, you are dead in the water.” CLICK HERE to read more about our newly expanded proposal services.
What Hollywood Romance Can Teach Us About Branding
Along with When Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman was responsible for the rebirth of the romantic comedy for a new era in the early nineties, bringing sexually-charged storylines into the PG world and establishing an entire genre devoted to women and their reluctant husbands and boyfriends: The Chick Flick. Relationship politics and the new generation’s struggles with the modern role of women provided an endless source of humor and drama, and the couples poured into the theatres en masse to be properly cloyed for date night.
If you recall, Richard Gere plays Edward Lewis, a business man who has made his fortune by ruthlessly buying up companies in financial trouble and selling them off piece by piece. Julia Roberts plays a prostitute named Vivien who helps Edward find Beverly Hills when he gets lost on Hollywood Blvd. After one night together she agrees to stay with him for a week and accompany him to various meetings and events in exchange for $3,000, which she believes to be a fortune. After one of these business meetings they are in the hotel room on the balcony.
Edward? Edward, you said you never come out here.
Well, I’m only halfway out.
Didn’t say much in the car on the way home. You thinkin’ about dinner? I mean, the business was good, I think. You know? He’s in trouble. You want his company. He doesn’t want to let it go.
Thanks for the recap.
The problem is, I think you liked Mr. Morse.
I’d like for you to get down from there; you’re making me very nervous.
It’s making you nervous? What if I just leaned back a little bit like this? Would you– Would you rescue me if I fell?
Vivian, I’m serious. Come– I’m not looking.
It’s really high. Look, no hands, no hands! Okay, all right. I’m sorry.
The truth is, it really is totally irrelevant whether I like this man or not. I will not let myself become emotionally involved in business.
I know. Kit’s always saying to me, “Don’t get emotional when you turn tricks.” That’s why no kissing. It’s too personal. It’s like what you’re saying: You stay numb, you don’t get involved. When I’m with a guy, I’m like a robot. I just do it. I mean… except with you.
Oh, of course, not with me. You and I are such similar creatures, Vivian. We both screw people for money.
Clearly both Edward and Vivien believe that their respective businesses are invulnerable to emotion. Let’s consider each of them.
In the penthouse bathtub later in the film, Edward confesses that the third company he bought and sold off was his father’s, a man who had abandoned the 11-year-old Edward and his mother and as soon as Edward was able, he reveals, he took the opportunity to strike his father where it would hurt him the most – destroying a company he had spent his career building. He’s been doing this ever since. Though he conducts meetings unemotionally, his motives appear to be mired in emotion.
Vivien confesses that she left home very young, following one in a long line of “bums.” Eventually she wound up penniless and unable to pay rent. She resorted to hooking and reveals that with her first john she “cried the whole time.” Throughout the film, Vivien experiences a gamut of emotions: in seconds she goes from hopeful to despondent, excited to downtrodden. As Edward takes her to polo matches, shopping in Beverly Hills and to the opera, she tastes the high life. She weeps at the sight of La Traviata, thereby demonstrating her aptitude for intense emotion, and assuring us of her certain failure in avoiding falling in love with Edward.
The romantic comedy is a force of nature. It has lost no steam in almost 100 years and continues to grow – Silver Linings Playbook nearly swept the Oscars in 2013. The formula has been a raging success for the same reason that any widely appealing art form is successful. It reaches our emotions and rings true to either our reality or fantasies.
As a single woman myself, they ring true for me because they stray so far from reality that they are comical. I’m validated by the absurdity, but at the same time secretly long for them to be real.
Men watch romantic comedies to placate their wives and girlfriends, sometimes mining them for material they can use to increase their chances of getting the female attention they crave. Some women have had fleeting experiences similar to what they see in the films, and watching the movies validates their struggle to cling to them. Young girls watch them because they want to believe that the experience awaits them. Boys watch them for the painful awakening; the outlandish demands their future lovers will surely make on them render them chronically inadequate, but at the same time determined to prove the universe wrong. Pretty much everyone has some indulgent reason, for pleasure or pain, to devour the romantic comedy, which is why it has made movie producers rich for the past century.
In reality, the movie producers are the only ones who get the happy ending. They have produced something for which the emotional experience (the one other product and service sellers struggle to produce) is built in. They place an amusing trailer on various media and the product itself achieves the job of selling the product. Quite beautifully, in fact.
I always wonder if we’re fooling ourselves, though. We want our customers to fall in love with our brands and live happily ever after, but do they?
Coach and I met at the local mall in the designer section for a romantic evening a few years ago, where the halogen lights sparkle and soft music plays. I go often, trying to recapture some of the enchantment of that first encounter. Sometimes we have wild trysts at the factory outlet on the weekend. We once met near Central Park in New York City – that was quite magical. Coach routinely woos me with naughty emails, romantic cards in the mail and 30%-off coupons. But of course in any relationship there is give and take. The coupons demand much from me in return, often more than my working class income can produce. This lover torments me daily, dangling from the arms of younger, more beautiful women everywhere. Sometimes I seethe. I admit it. But I’ve felt us growing apart lately. That color palette just isn’t lighting my fire anymore. And why are the shoes so matronly and dowdy? Can’t you put on something sexy again?
Our customers experience romance, honeymoons and lovers quarrels with our brands every day. As far as we have come, the human animal is still a very primitive being. He responds most favorably to things that appeal to his deepest desires. The most successful brands are the ones whose behavior mirrors that of an attentive lover, who:
Listens and Meets Your Needs
Here we have the market research that tells us what the customer base wants. Like a needy lover, however, the customer doesn’t always know how to express what he wants. You have to ask in many different ways with surveys, social media, and test markets to discover their true desires. You must decode their circuitous, conflicting pleas. “If you really loved me, you would know what I want!”
Adapts To Your Expectations, Even the Ridiculous Ones
The market is fickle like a lover. Something works this week that will fall flat the next. Your cycle must be continually renewing itself. Research can never be complete. Customers are never won over. The brand has no destination – only a journey. A marriage never stops needing your investment.
“Do my hips look fat?”
“Not in You’re Gorgeous Baby jeans, proven to flatten your tummy and lift your butt, only $99.95. Designer fit without designer prices.”
Does The “Little” Things
IKEA lets you put the product together yourself. So does Betty Crocker. “Oh, Darling, how thoughtful! You know how much I love to build things/bake!”
Romances and Seduces You
I love how Coach sets a handbag on a shelf all on its own. It looks so seductive there all alone, calling me to whisk it away and give it a new home. The smell of the leather when I open the zipper…
Have you noticed how retailers have embraced social media? How they continually seem to be asking you to change your relationship status and reassure them of your devotion? It makes you feel wanted.
But remember to enjoy it while it lasts. We live in the real world, after all.
What Really Matters in Responding to RFPs
Check out our upcoming May 7 webinar on proposal skills, presented by one of our associates, Michele Rochon, who is an Accredited Member of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. Proposal writing, particularly preparation of large or technical bids, is an area of great strength for her — and yet one which most people understandably find quite daunting!
According to Michele, of the most important “fundamentals” of proposals is that people need training in the fundamentals! Not only new proposal coordinators, but everyone who works on proposals needs refreshers, sometimes even those who have been in the business for a long time.
Although few formal post-secondary learning opportunities exist in proposals, training programs and webinars for proposal basics are everywhere. But what if you want to venture beyond the basics? How do you find training opportunities that offer sufficient depth? With proposal training, the two key challenges are:
1) distinguishing the best proposal practices—the ones that actually produce wins—from those that add little real value
2) growing beyond the basics when only a few programs actually go there.
This webinar presents a review of recommended training programs and rates them against a list of well-known proposal best practices. For each best practice, the paper provides a summary of how to implement it and rates its impact on win rates and business results – “best” practices have the highest impact on win rates, followed by “better” practices and “good” practices. Learn:
…why even senior professionals need refreshers on proposal fundamentals.
…training programs available in the industry and how they compare.
…other skills applicable to proposal writing and management.
…the most important best practice in proposals and why it is more important than all the others.
…best practices that technical supervisors won’t tell you about.
…why “extensive experience” is not value or a win theme.
…color team reviews, strategic page design, proposal resource centers, post mortems, flowcharts, proposal templates, storyboards and more.
Date: May 7, 2013
Time: 10:00am MST to 12:00pm MST
Early Bird Registration: $96/attendee (up to April 26)
(up to 3 additional registrations for your organization $96/attendee, more than 3 additional registrations $75/attendee)
MICHELE’S WHITE PAPER ON THIS TOPIC IS INCLUDED WITH THE REGISTRATION FEE. IT WILL BE EMAILED TO YOU THE DAY BEFORE THE WEBINAR.
To register, CLICK HERE to email Michele. She is handling the registrations.
How do you help a “rainmaker”, or in other words, the Seller Doer?
Seller doers can benefit from coaching, but they usually don’t get it from their supervisors, because their supervisors are stretched even thinner than they are. Marketing and proposal professionals can fill the gap by first nurturing a culture of upward leadership in their firm, gaining the coaching skills that can be employed in a hierarchical environment and making strides over time, which provides the opportunity to gain respect in the field and advance your careers as well as making your organization stronger and more successful.
Tenato is pleased to announce an upcoming webinar on April 11, 2013 10am – 12pm, by our new Associate, Michele Rochon. This two-hour webinar explores the idea of “leading upward” and provides a list of ways you can coach seller doers.
Your work can make your seller doers more successful, and you a better leader. The webinar includes:
• The 12 Qualities for Success as a Coach and Leader
• Creating a Leadership Culture
• Leading Upward in a Rigid Hierarchy
• 9 Listening Strategies
• Questioning Techniques
• Coaching people even when they don’t know they’re being coached
• 5 Categories of Revenue Growth Drivers for Professional Services Firms and How to Coach in those Categories
• Learning What your Seller Doers Need to Learn
• Coaching Seller Doers in 6 Steps
• Observe a 15 Minute Coaching Session with a Seller Doer
COST: $111, or lower, depending on date registered and # of registrants in your group.
To register: CLICK HERE for the registration form.
There are a herd of sacred cows about the professional services brand, not the least of which is the unadventurous perception that professional service brand is more successful the more elitist it is, the more luxuriant the experience for the customer, as if the word “services” stipulates such strict superlative. With this comes the idea that the challenge of winning projects falls down to delivering design with enough feel-good extras to make clients loyal. It means addicting clients to your high-brow customer service techniques so that they feel dispossessed when they go elsewhere.
But consider this. If you were to describe the most indulgent dining experience available to a reasonable segment of the population, it would probably look something like this: Escargot, pear salad with pomegranate vinaigrette and Sicilian goat cheese, lobster bisque, duck with thyme and truffle butter, sorbet and wine with each course, live jazz in the background.
Also keep in mind that no one has yet successfully branded this experience on a global scale.
The “Happy Meal”, however, has been branded on a global scale. This is partly due to the wider access created by the price, but also to the speed and convenience – despite the conspicuous lack of service-related features. You see, sometimes a Happy Meal is what people want, even if they’ve had the thyme and truffle duck before, even if they know the duck is a superior experience. Sometimes they want to get what they need quickly and – more importantly –anonymously. Customers tire of building deep, intimate connections with vendors because sometimes it is exhausting. Sometimes they want to buy and use services without allowing the service provider to probe their inner most thoughts and feelings, poke at their buttons to find the hot ones or invade their Friday nights to entertain and curry favor with them.
I recently interviewed two customers on this topic. One was a county engineer, the other a VP of a residential land development company. The county engineer told me that his pet peeve with vendors was how they insisted on asking personal questions. He hated it because he knew they weren’t genuinely interested in his personal life, but only harvesting information to create a false sense of intimacy. And the VP got hot under the collar when I mentioned the evenings at sporting events. “Do they think I have nothing better to do on a Friday night?” he asked me. “I’d rather spend my evenings with my two young daughters. I work enough as it is.”
The professional services brand is tasked with creating a project “experience” for a customer base showing a variety of preferences. The experience must reach each different buyer on a personal level, while still remaining consistent and recognizable to all. So the successful brand is not necessarily the one that delivers the most decadent experience. It is the one that delivers the desired experience at the appropriate time at the right price. It might be a Happy Meal, but it’s got to be the best damn Happy Meal this buyer has ever had.
Your brand should be obvious to your employees and buyers in your mission, values, vision or approach (or whatever you like to call it). They should ideally sum up a brand’s current and envisioned position in the market. Altogether on a macro-level these should state:
Positioning a Professional Services Brand
1) Who we are (top 10, national, world, global, leading 100, Fortune 500). The more specific this is, the easier it is to measure whether or not you have arrived. “The leading,” “the premier,” or “the best” are all defenseless to interpretation and show diluted, indecisive business commitment. “Top 10” or “Fortune 500” show no ambivalence.
2) What we do (create, enhance, sustain, design, build, improve, grow, manage, lead). If “design” doesn’t cover all that you do for the world, opt for a loftier, almost spiritual term like “create.” Limit your list to three – each one beyond three weakens the statement.
3) For which part of our world (infrastructure, transportation, buildings, energy, resources, life sciences, environment). Remember… macro-level.
4) Where (North America, globally). Just because you limit your locale doesn’t mean you’re limiting growth and profit. It rather defines your territory in a way that helps you stay on task for the present time. “Global” might sound big and impressive, but it can open a chaos of opportunities your strategy is not equipped to process.
5) How (customer service, price, an original system or method, the “company A” way). This is where you choose your “secret sauce,” your caliber of experience, the precise plate of food you’re placing on your customer’s table. It shows what they will be buying and how it will be served to them. Remember that the customer sometimes wants less, not more. The fact that you’re offering less than Company A does not weaken your brand. It places you unambiguously on the menu of choices and makes it easier to order you up when they want you.
6) What we value in doing it (ethical practices, excellence, quality, safety, sustainability, integrity, respect, community, profitability, innovation, culture, growth). Customers want to know what you value because their money is supporting it. The most successful companies in the world seem to limit their list to about seven, including McDonald’s. You can value more than seven, but your top seven seem to most interest the market.
Food for thought!
The Professional Services Brand
Consumer goods and their brands are largely inseparable in their markets. Coke and Pepsi deliver globally recognized products to customers using a rigid formula for production and packaging that never varies, no matter where in the world the product is sold. Neither soft drink manufacturer would imagine doing it any differently. Any mongrelization of Coke or Pepsi products would be swiftly halted by either company, because they know how brand integrity contributes to success.
A professional services brand comes with no packaging, no distinct flavor or aroma and generally has nothing the customer can feel with their hands. Professional services brands are further governed (and homogenized) by professional standards often guiding billing rates, processes and methods of service. In many cases professional services brands are further homogenized by the habits of their employees, virulent carriers of the ménage of behaviors learned at an average of three other firms in their career. And what goes around comes around—when a brand relies on the experts working for the company, inevitably an expert will defect.
How can a firm stand out?
The first step is to recognize the challenge. An engineer or architect’s “secret sauce” is comprised of a set of distinct, repeatable behaviors demonstrated consistently in services delivered to all clients across the company. In other words, the A/E/P firm must identify a method of service delivery that differs enough from that of competitors to be recognizable to clients. The method must add value to be worthy of brand loyalty and all employees delivering services must deliver the method every time in every way. It won’t be accomplished overnight.
Think of Disneyworld, where all employees, from the tall to the small, are taught that each interaction with a customer is part of the Disney “experience.” Every transaction must be like wishing upon a star, a veritable fairy-tale for the price of admission, because Disney execs know that as soon as a customer meets a cranky janitor, the dream is shattered. No Disneyworld employee starts their job without first stocking up on happy. Rigorous customer service training defines the work experience at Disney, because these people are the variables that define the theme park brand.
Four key words should guide brand management for professional services: value, consistency, simplicity and ubiquity.
The word “value” fails to grab the attention of the professional services firm these days. It’s simply everywhere and so widely misinterpreted that no one finds epiphany in it anymore. But in professional services brand management it is critical. The thing that defines your brand must be valuable to the customer in some way, and more than that, valuable enough to make it distinguishable from competitors. Any senior guru or project delivery system must be more or better than what they can get elsewhere, or it isn’t a brand, it’s an industry baseline.
Your services may be delivered from multiple offices in multiple regions from multiple business units. This should never mean that customers perceive multiple brands. The global reach and dominance of the soft drink sellers was achieved because they understood this. It doesn’t mean your brand can never evolve; it just has to as one company. When you have rogue regions or business units, gel their successful strategies with the brand and quickly phase out what isn’t working. Make consistency a priority.
Brand management is a global responsibility in a professional services firm, stewarded by all employees. Resist the urge to complicate the issue with graphics and diagrams and process. A globally-adopted system is more successful the simpler it is. You don’t even have to call it “branding”; just like people (particularly the technical types) switch off when they see complex process diagrams, they tune out marketing terminology. Teach your people to make every conversation with a customer a pleasant and productive experience. Customer service training is a must for hotel chains, theme parks, food services or airlines – why not for professional services? Consider how deeply you could trust your brand integrity if project management training was delivered concurrently with customer service coaching. (The two ARE different, by the way.)
One thing that plagues the multi-disciplinary firm is the inclination to brand different services separately. Some companies even try to dream up a new expression of the company’s logo, thinking this will bolster the fledgling business unit’s brand. Think of this as Cherry Coke or Clear Pepsi. It does the opposite, and also erodes the integrity of the company’s global brand. It also quickly fizzles flat in the market. Your firm has one brand offering; multiple services, not several brands, each offering its own services. Imagine what happens when you cross-sell. You would have to prove the quality of two brands instead of one! And when purchasing, the customer’s mind has to process many brands as it is. Never complicate his or her task.
Rather than think about how rewarding a ubiquitous brand can be, think for a moment about the damage that can be done by a project manager who doesn’t get it. If flattering stories about service quality travel at the speed of sound, unflattering ones travel at the speed of light. They go further and last longer too. If your dream brand lives in the service provided by the project managers, then every last one of them has to know that dream and how to live it…the same way, every time.
Another strategic addition has been made to Team Tenato. Michele Rochon, BA, AM.APMP (BA in Business and English, and Proposal Management Professionals Designation) has extensive experience in business to business marketing and proposal development for technical sectors such as engineering, construction and oil/gas services. Her articles have appeared in global publications such as Proposal Management, the journal of the Association of Proposal Management professionals, the Zweig Marketing Letter and Canadian Consulting Engineer.
Michele’s experience includes helping major corporations companies put together multi-million dollar bids packages for a wide variety of technical projects. Since many of Tenato’s clients over the years have been in the oil and gas and service sector, Michele’s skill set allows us to strongly enhance our capabilities in this area.
In addition, Michele is a very accomplished and eloquent writer, and this was what initially made us take notice. As a writer myself, reading her sample, I started out skimming, and then slowed down, and slowed down again, and then went, “Holy smokes, this gal is really sharp, and what a writer!” Then I learned she is completing and publishing her first book, “The Career Path of the Non-Technical Marketer in the Technical Industry.” I’m sure this will be a remarkable resource for any marketers who are sitting inside technically-bent employers, wondering where they will go from here.
But it’s more than writing — it’s writing about knowing “what to say.” Several of her white papers on proposal storytelling and applying plot principles (she has also written plays, which show strong in her vocabulary and literary skills) show just how well she organizes complex information. You can now look forward to reading some of her comprehensive publications and blogs here on Tenato’s website.
On a non-business note, Michele and I both have teenage kids, and we both sing– so we also click on the creative and personal front too….it seemed like a good excuse to bang out a tune or two on Tenato’s piano here at the office! Michele, we are so glad to have you on our Associate team, and we look forward to working with you!
Tamania J. Naqi, BSc, MBA
Marketing and Public Relations Associate
A lovely woman with a lovely name, pronounced “Tah – MAHN- ee- a,” I met Tamania while doing my keynote presentation at the CPRS/IABC conference a few weeks ago. She was volunteering with the Canadian Public Relations Society, and shot some of the great photos for the presentation. When we got chatting, I was really impressed by her energy, sharp intellect and honesty. We hit it off instantly.
Tamania began her career in Computer Science (she has a BSc), and decided she enjoyed the business and marketing aspects of her career much better than she did the programming. She went on to complete her MBA, and worked in the telecommunications industry. Since then, she has also completed an extension certificate in public relations, a night course in graphic design, and began working as a freelance consultant to several non-profit clients. And did I mention she also takes very good photographs (better than this quick one I shot of her!)? In short, I was amazed with the versatility of her skills and her drive to continually learn new skills.
We are thrilled she will be working as an Associate of Tenato. Tamania, welcome to Team Tenato!
A New Chapter as a Keynote Speaker
Have you ever had a career experience that impacted that you so much that you feel it could greatly affect your future? This is mine — perhaps because it help me see myself in a new light.
On Friday, I had the amazing experience of delivering a new keynote presentation at the CPRS (Canadian Public Relations Society) and IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) conference. This was really was the accumulation of the past 18 months or so of preparation — I knew I wanted to do more speaking, so in the past year I took CAPS (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers) Calgary’s Fast Track program and paired that with a Toastmasters membership to get myself going.
Getting Started as a New Keynote Speaker with Training and Mentoring
While Toastmasters gave me lots of great feedback and practice, it was the Fast Track program that really challenged me. Through the Fast Track program, I discovered that to launch oneself as a keynoter, you really needed to dig deep inside your soul and be find out what your “message” was. Did you have something to say? What is unique about you that can really help others? It’s a journey in confidence, marketing and trying to see yourself honestly. The program gives you lots of peer feedback and mentoring from other professional speakers.
What I learned was that in order to make the most of what I had to offer as a speaker, I needed to combine my professional skills as a strategy consultant with my experience as a singer/songwriter and performer. This was a revelation to me — because although I knew the processes of developing strategy and songwriting were similar, I wasn’t sure I could make a keynote around it believable and relevant. I was also very accustomed to keeping the two careers quite separate. And would songwriting be a helpful metaphor for strategy development? Could I make it clear and entertaining? The CAPS course and the very supportive people in it made me believe it was possible, although I had a lot of work to do. In fact, after the course ended, I procrastinated actually finishing the keynote for a few months, intending to “get back to it” when I had more time.
The First Keynote Speaking Gig: Rubber Hits the Road
I’d forgotten that I shown my draft 1-sheet (a promo sheet about my keynote, which was an assignment for the Fast Track program) to my dear friend and associate, Judi Gunter (asking her to proof it for me) that the rubber hit the road. It turned out she was now planning a conference for her industry association, and needed a keynoter. She decided mine would be perfect — the audience was mainly women business owners, and my example offered something to learn about strategy, an entertainment aspect, and a first-hand example of a woman juggler of two careers and two kids. Knowing I might not get another opportunity like this for a long time, I said yes, and the gauntlet was dropped — I had 6 weeks to get my “act” together and be ready to present it, and I wasn’t about to let Judi down!
Preparing for the First Keynote
The pressure to do well in front of fellow peers in marketing and communications inspired numerous drafts and rehearsals. The process was – concept outline, draft, practice, re-draft, practice, practice, practice, practice, tweak practice, more and more and more. Instead of aiming for a word-for-word, I focused on key segue lines until I knew excatly where I was and where I was going next. I practiced the “acting bits” – I had to put on a couple Newfie accents (refreshed by listening to YouTube examples) — and directing the crowd to interact. I spoke through the whole thing 2 – 3 times a day, in my office and in my car to and from work. Over and over, until I knew it down pat. There was no way I would read notes, cards, or Power Point slides. I’d seen the pros, and I wasn’t going to be anything less. In addition, my husband Gary, who has done hundreds of presentations during his career, had fantastic ideas and I soaked up every one. I must say that as a singer/performer, I have been in front of 6000 people and performed live on many radio stations, and not even been even fractionally as nervous or worked nearly as hard as I did for this performance. This was a whole new kettle of fish. Here’s why.
How it Stretched me as Professional
I have been accustomed to sharing one or maybe two aspects of myself at once — either as a strategy consultant OR as a singer/songwriter. The keynote combined the whole thing, and shared a lot of personal background too. It was the WHY of who I was, and the whole picture — I talked about what strategy was, where songs came from, sang/played musical demonstrations, showed how songs related to developing a persuasive business strategy, and even wrapped it all up with an original song. As a bonus I finished off the conference at the end of the day with a second song which was a first-time debut written just for the people in the conference (many of whom were women business owners) called “The Boss is a Woman.” I’m sure that the experience was one of the greatest career moments of my life. No longer would the people in this audience know me as “either” a strategist “or” a singer/songwriter. Now people would be getting to know me as BOTH — the whole picture.
This perhaps explains why I didn’t sleep the night before – and I’m kind of proud of that – because just knowing I have stretched my comfort zone that much (more than in YEARS) makes me happy, and means I’ve made personal headway. Somehow the speaking has made my unconventional life make more sense to ME as well.
How it Turned Out
The feedback I got from the keynote was amazingly wonderful — I “entertained” “inspired” and was “wonderfully authentic”…. and the positive feedback was like a bonus gift of just getting the chance to do it in the first place. I also got some wonderfully constructive new ideas from these expert listeners which I cannot wait to incorporate!
Judi, Gary, CAPS Calgary, Foothills Toastmasters, CPRS and IABC, I cannot thank you enough. This experience made me view myself in a new light –in fact I was so moved by the it all that I have already written another song to get it out of my system (seriously!). I hope there is a next time, in the not too distant future. You may never know what a difference you have made to my self-view and my personal career growth. As for future keynoting — YES — like getting on the greatest roller coaster of your life– I WANNA DO IT AGAIN! The sooner the better! Wohoo!!!
After all, who knows where the future will take me now? If you would like to learn more about the keynote itself, please visit our Keynote Speaking page.