Never Again Give an Elevator Speech

“It’s not about you. It never was.” – Diane Keaton

Do you know anyone who likes listening to a speech? Me neither.

know anyone who likes listening to a speech

Speeches are lectures. Who wants to be lectured?

That’s why, from now on when someone asks, “What do you do?” never again TELL them.  What?! Here’s an example to show what I mean.

Years ago, I was on a speaking tour with my sons. We had a night free in Denver, so we went downstairs to ask the concierge, “What do you suggest?”

He took one look at Tom and Andrew and said, “You’ve got to go to D & B’s.”

We were from Maui at the time and had no idea what he was talking about. We asked, “What’s that?”

He must have known that trying to explain it would only confuse us. Instead, he asked a qualifying question, “Have you ever been to Chuck E. Cheese?”

My sons nodded enthusiastically.

He smiled and said, “D & B’s is like a Chuck E. Cheese … for adults.”

Bingo. Ten seconds and we knew exactly what it was and wanted to go there. They should have put him on commission.

Why did that work so well? He turned a one-way elevator speech into a two-way elevator connection.  Here’s an example of how you can do the same.

A man approached me before a presentation and said, “I’m going to tell you something I haven’t told many people. I’m an introvert. I go to conferences all the time, but then I hide out in my hotel room because I hate networking.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m uncomfortable with small talk. Plus, I work in tech. I can never explain what I do in a way people can understand it. It’s so awkward, I rather just avoid it.”

I asked, “Want a way to introduce yourself that isn’t confusing or awkward, and that can actually lead to a meaningful conversation?”

He came back with, “Is that a rhetorical question?”

I asked, “Don’t tell to explain what you do. That’s like trying to explain electricity.  Instead, describe the real-world results of what you do that we can see, smell, taste and touch.”

He thought about it for a moment and said something about credit cards, online retailers, financial software and computers. The light bulb went off in my mind. “Do you make the software that makes it safe for us to buy stuff online?”

He lit up. “Yes! That’s exactly what I do.”

“That’s good … but don’t tell people that.”

He looked at me, puzzled. “Why not?”

“Because if you explain, ‘I make the software that makes it safe for you to buy things online, they’ll go, ‘Oh,’ and that’ll be the end of the conversation.

You don’t want to end the conversation; you want to open a conversation.”

“So what do I do instead?”

“Ask a three-part question that gives people an opportunity to share how they – or someone they know – may have experienced what you do.”

“What’s this about a three part question?”

“If you ask, ‘Have YOU ever bought anything online,’ and they say ‘No,’ you just ran into a conversation cul de sac.

If you ask, ‘Have you, a friend or a family member ever bought anything online … like on eBay, Travelocity or Amazon?’ you just increased the odds they’ve benefitted from what you do or know someone who has.

They may say, ‘Well, I never shop online. But my wife’s on Amazon all the time. She loves the free shipping.’

Now, link what you do to what they just said, ‘Well, our company makes the software that makes it safe for your wife to buy things on Amazon.’

‘OOHH,’ they’ll probably say.  Believe me, an intrigued ‘OOOHH’ is a lot better than a confused ‘Huh?!’ or a disinterested ‘oh.’

Their eyes will probably light up and their eyebrows will probably go up. They now relate to you and are more likely to remember you. Furthermore, you now have a mutually-relevant hook on which to hang a conversation which means you’re both more likely to want to continue the conversation.

All this in 60 seconds and all because you stopped TELLING people what you do and started ASKING how they may have experienced what you do.”

He actually got a little misty-eyed. I asked him, “What’s going on?”

He told me, “I can’t wait to get home after this conference.”

“Why?”

” I can finally get across to my eight year old son what I do in a way he understands it.”

Elevator Speech

That’s the power of turning an elevator speech into an elevator connection.

How about you?  What do you say when asked, “What do you do?” What do your co-workers say?  Do your responses cause confusion or create connections?

You might want to turn your next staff meeting into a brainstorming session where everyone crafts two-way introductions that genuinely engage people in mutually-relevant conversations that are a win for all involved.

By the way, this is just one of 25 ways to create more mutually-meaningful communications featured in my latest book – Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? Discover for yourself why it’s been endorsed by Dan Pink, Miki Agrawal, Terry Jones (founder of Travelocity), Keith Ferrazzi (Never Eat Alone) and Marshall Goldsmith who says it’s a “must for every leader.”

Want your employees and association members to actually enjoy networking at your next event and create more relevant, meaningful conversations? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to arrange for Sam to deliver her fun, inspiring, interactive keynote that gets everyone interacting and genuinely connecting in the room and in the halls.

Never Again Give an Elevator SPEECH

“It’s not about you. It never was.” – Diane Keaton

Do you know anyone who likes listening to a speech? Me neither.

Speeches are lectures. Who wants to be lectured?

That’s why, from now on when someone asks, “What do you do?” never again TELL them.  What?! Here’s an example to show what I mean.

Years ago, I was on a speaking tour with my sons. We had a night free in Denver, so we went downstairs to ask the concierge, “What do you suggest?”

He took one look at Tom and Andrew and said, “You’ve got to go to D & B’s.”

We were from Maui at the time and had no idea what he was talking about. We asked, “What’s that?”

He must have known that trying to explain it would only confuse us. Instead, he asked a qualifying question, “Have you ever been to Chuck E. Cheese?”

My sons nodded enthusiastically.

He smiled and said, “D & B’s is like a Chuck E. Cheese … for adults.”

Bingo. Ten seconds and we knew exactly what it was and wanted to go there. They should have put him on commission.

Why did that work so well? He turned a one-way elevator speech into a two-way elevator connection.  Here’s an example of how you can do the same.

A man approached me before a presentation and said, “I’m going to tell you something I haven’t told many people. I’m an introvert. I go to conferences all the time, but then I hide out in my hotel room because I hate networking.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m uncomfortable with small talk. Plus, I work in tech. I can never explain what I do in a way people can understand it. It’s so awkward, I rather just avoid it.”

I asked, “Want a way to introduce yourself that isn’t confusing or awkward, and that can actually lead to a meaningful conversation?”

He came back with, “Is that a rhetorical question?”

I asked, “Don’t tell to explain what you do. That’s like trying to explain electricity.  Instead, describe the real-world results of what you do that we can see, smell, taste and touch.”

He thought about it for a moment and said something about credit cards, online retailers, financial software and computers. The light bulb went off in my mind. “Do you make the software that makes it safe for us to buy stuff online?”

He lit up. “Yes! That’s exactly what I do.”

“That’s good … but don’t tell people that.”

He looked at me, puzzled. “Why not?”

“Because if you explain, ‘I make the software that makes it safe for you to buy things online, they’ll go, ‘Oh,’ and that’ll be the end of the conversation.

You don’t want to end the conversation; you want to open a conversation.”

“So what do I do instead?”

“Ask a three-part question that gives people an opportunity to share how they – or someone they know – may have experienced what you do.”

“What’s this about a three part question?”

“If you ask, ‘Have YOU ever bought anything online,’ and they say ‘No,’ you just ran into a conversation cul de sac.

If you ask, ‘Have you, a friend or a family member ever bought anything online … like on eBay, Travelocity or Amazon?’ you just increased the odds they’ve benefitted from what you do or know someone who has.

They may say, ‘Well, I never shop online. But my wife’s on Amazon all the time. She loves the free shipping.’

Now, link what you do to what they just said, ‘Well, our company makes the software that makes it safe for your wife to buy things on Amazon.’

‘OOHH,’ they’ll probably say.  Believe me, an intrigued ‘OOOHH’ is a lot better than a confused ‘Huh?!’ or a disinterested ‘oh.’

Their eyes will probably light up and their eyebrows will probably go up. They now relate to you and are more likely to remember you. Furthermore, you now have a mutually-relevant hook on which to hang a conversation which means you’re both more likely to want to continue the conversation.

All this in 60 seconds and all because you stopped TELLING people what you do and started ASKING how they may have experienced what you do.”

He actually got a little misty-eyed. I asked him, “What’s going on?”

He told me, “I can’t wait to get home after this conference.”

“Why?”

” I can finally get across to my eight year old son what I do in a way he understands it.”

That’s the power of turning an elevator speech into an elevator connection.

How about you?  What do you say when asked, “What do you do?” What do your co-workers say?  Do your responses cause confusion or create connections?

You might want to turn your next staff meeting into a brainstorming session where everyone crafts two-way introductions that genuinely engage people in mutually-relevant conversations that are a win for all involved.

By the way, this is just one of 25 ways to create more mutually-meaningful communications featured in my  book Got Your Attention? How to Create Intrigue and Connect with Anyone.  Discover for yourself why it’s been endorsed by Keith Ferrazzi (Never Eat Alone) and Marshall Goldsmith who says it’s a “must for every leader.”

Want your employees and association members to overcome create more genuine conversations and connections at your next event? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to arrange for Sam to deliver her inspiring, interactive keynote to get everyone involved in instantly creating more meaningful elevator introductions that benefit them, their organization and your event.

Start with a Story

A new client told me, “I don’t have any stories.” I told her, “We ALL have stories. Stories are simply the intriguing things that happen to or around us.”
stories-are-simply-the-intriguing-things

She came back with, “But I wouldn’t know how to tell a story even if I had one.”

I promised to share this post which shows how to notice and collect real-life stories and re-enact them so they come alive. First, I’ll start with a story.

Several summers ago, I realized how sedentary I’d become. Like many Americans, I spend 12 hours a DAY sitting and it had taken a toll on my health.

I decided to change things up. I lived on a lake outside Washington DC in a community with 20 public pools. I vowed to swim four times a week and to visit every single one of the pools in my neighborhood by Labor Day weekend.

One sunny afternoon, after a long day of writing, I decided it was time to get up and get moving. I jumped in my van and went “pool shopping.” I noticed a new pool I hadn’t tried before tucked under some shade trees, parked and went in.

As soon as I walked in, I realized I’d found the “family” pool. The place was packed with kids playing Marco Polo and featured one of those mushroom-shaped fountains in the wading pool. It did my heart good to know kids still play Marco Polo.

I found a chaise lounge next to a woman watching her three young kids. Just then, a man wearing a business suit walked in. The three kids bounded out of the pool and ran to meet him, calling out “Daddy, Daddy.”

He hugged them, gave his wife a peck on the cheek and headed to the locker room to change into his swim trunks. Moments later, he was in the pool with his kids. They were diving off his shoulders and proudly showing him the strokes they’d learned in their swim lessons. It was a scene right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

All of a sudden, he paused, looked up at his wife almost in a state of wonderment and said, “Hon, why don’t we make this our default? Why don’t we meet at the pool every night after work?”

I have to admit, I held my breath. I looked at her, thinking, “Please say yes.”

She thought about it for a moment, nodded and said simply, “Why don’t we?”

In five seconds, they abandoned an old default and adopted a new one. Instead of, “Get up, go to work, come home;” it was now “Get up, go to work, go to the pool, come home.”

Who knows, that family may always remember that summer as the one they met Dad at the pool every night after work. Perhaps I”m being a Pollyanna about this, but maybe they will remember that summer as the one everything was right with their world.

So, what’s this got to do with you? Imagine you’re giving a presentation about changing habits. Or you’re talking to your team about the dangers of sitting for hours at at a time, all day, every day.

You could start by sharing research that explains how difficult it is to adopt new habits. You could begin with a study that reveals sitting is considered the “cigarettes of our era” in terms of how hazardous it is to our health.

Or you could start off with a story SHOWING how someone changed a habit that lead to a more positive, productive, proactive life. You could start off with a real-life example of someone who, in seconds, replaced an old default with a new default that immediately benefited them and everyone involved.

Which do you think will be more effective?

In today’s world of INFObesity (information that comes across as blah-blah-blah) people are more likely to relate to and remember real-life stories that show vs. tell.

Are you thinking, “But I don’t have any stories.” or “I’m not good at telling stories?”The good news? Remember, stories are simply the intriguing things that happen to you and around you.

Ask yourself, “What point do I want to make in my presentation or in this meeting?” Or, “What is the SHIFT I want my listeners, readers, employees to make?” Then ask yourself, ‘Where have I seen someone DO that, LEARN that, EXPERIENCE that at work, at home or in my community?”

Now, all you have to make that story come alive is to “put people in the S.C.E.N.E” by re-creating what was said and done. Re-enact that experience with these five tips so people feel it’s happening to or around them, right now.

The key to making a story believable and relatable is not to make it up. it’s to re-enact something that actually happened so people trust it and you.

When you put people in the S.C.E.N.E., you’re not “telling a story,” (which some skeptics may suspect you got off the internet); you’re sharing a real-life example that shows what you’re suggesting has worked for others – and how it can work for everyone listening and reading too.

TIPS FOR SHARING A STORY BY PUTTING PEOPLE IN THE S.C.E.N.E.

S = SENSORY DETAIL: Describe the time, place and location with just enough vivid sensory detail so we feel like we’re standing or sitting right next to you. Describe what it looked like – maybe even what it smelled like, tasted like, felt like, sounded like – so we’re seeing it in our mind’s eye.

C = CHARACTERS: Who is in the scene? Describe the individuals involved so we can picture them and so we know their MOOD. Are they busy, frazzled and stressed? Happy? Angry? Excited? What’s his/his name? If you want us to CARE about your CAREacters, flesh them out so we feel we know them.

E = EXPERIENCE IT: Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” I think, “No epiphany in the speaker, no epiphany in the listener.” This may be the hundredth time you’ve told this story, but if you mentally put yourself back in the scene, re-experience it as if it’s the first time, and re-enact it as if it’s happening NOW, you will feel what you felt then – and we will too.

N =NARRATIVE: Why can we read novels for hours at a time and it’s not hard work? It’s because authors use narrative – e.g., “He said, She said” – so we feel we’re right in the middle of the conversation. Simple said, narrative is a non-negotiable if you want your story to come alive. Include who said what with comma/quotes “(i.e., “He said, “Why don’t we change our default.” She said, ”Why don’t we?.”) so your story is organic, original and REAL.

E = EPIPHANY: What is the lesson-learned, the happy ending, the problem that was solved, the shift that occurred, the aha where the light comes on, the band plays and it all makes sense? Every story needs a “moral of the story” so it achieves a purpose and the audience gets the point. What’s yours?

A mantra of the speaking profession used to be, “Make a point, tell a story.” That advice is outdated. In these days of short-attention-spans and INFObesity, if you take too long to make your point, people will never make it to the story.

As John Steinbeck said, “If there’s magic in story-telling, and I’m convinced there is, the formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge to convey something you feel is important.”

If you START WITH A STORY and put people in the S.C.E.N.E of a true experience that’s important to you and that illustrates your idea … it will eloquently make your point for you.

Better yet, if you relive that experience in your mind and vividly remember what it felt like, your audience will feel what you felt. That is connection, and that is the point of all communication … to connect, always to connect.

– – – –

Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create respectful, one-of-a-kind communications that add value for all involved. Her work – including IDEApreneur, Tongue Fu! POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – has been featured on NPR and in New York Times and presented to National Geographic, Boeing, Cisco, Capital One.

Creative Projects in Your Head Help No One: 36 Quotes to Inspire You to FINISH What You Start

“One day you’ll wake up and there won’t be any time left to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.” – Paulo Coelho.

When people tell me they’re thinking about staring a creative project, I tell them, “Creative projects in your head help no one.”

Have you ever thought of it that way? If you have ideas, stories, skills or talents that would benefit others; it’s almost selfish to keep them to yourself.

Sharing your creative work doesn’t come from arrogance, it comes from service.  It’s an offering, a way of saying “Here’s something I think, feel, believe, see or have experienced. I hope it might be of interest and value to you.”

Yet, many people start with the best of intentions and then life intervenes. They get distracted, busy, overwhelmed, tired.

They put their creative project aside to deal with other priorities – and never get back to it. That’s a path to regrets.

Are you procrastinating, waiting for more time?

Face it. You’ll never have more time than you have right now.  If you want results … carve out ten minutes a day to move your creative project forward.

Select one of these quotes that resonates with you and post it where you’ll see it every morning (your bathroom mirror?)  It will help keep your good intentions IN SIGHT – IN MIND instead of allowing them to be out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

  1. “If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” – Dan Poynter
  2. “Creativity is just connecting things.” – Steve Jobs
  3. “Every creative project needs a spine. What’s yours?” – Twyla Tharp
  4. “When asked the secret to finishing his 500-page masterpiece The Power of One, author Bryce Courtenay growled, “Bum glue!”
  5. “Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage … and you need to jump into it.” – Julia Cameron
  6.  “At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results.” – aviation pioneer Chuck Yeager  
  7. “If my doctor told me I had only 6 months to live, I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov
  8. “Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.” – Sue Grafton
  9. “Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it.” – Madeleine L’Engle
  10. “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 a.m. every morning.” – Peter DeVriesqu
  11. “If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs don’t show up. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” – Steven Pressfield
  12. “I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.” – Steve Martin
  13. “I made a startling discovery. Time spent writing = output of work. Amazing.” – Ann Pachett
  14. “Ever tried and failed? No matter. Try again and fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
  15. “Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” Christopher Parker
  16.  “It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.” – Nancy Thayer  
  17. “If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me? You are a human being with a unique story to tell. You have every right.” – Richard Rhodes
  18. “The way to resume is to resume. It is the only way. To resume.” – Gertrude Stein
  19. “Best advice on writing I’ve ever received. Finish.” – Peter Mayle
  20. “If you want to be certain, you should never get married, change jobs or attempt anything creative. In fact, you might as well just stay home. Because I don’t know anybody who is certain. That need to be certain is just procrastination.” – Mark Burnett
  21. “When I am writing, I am doing the thing I was meant to do.” – Anne Sexton
  22. “You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something. It doesn’t matter what. In five or ten minutes, the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over.” – Leonard Bernstein
  23. “I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. I had pieces that were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.” – Erica Jong
  24. “Once you’ve done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into action and put your heart on the line.” – Lakers basketball coach Phil Jackson
  25. “The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.” – Raymond Chandler
  26. “When you speak, your words echo across the room. When you write, your words echo across the ages.” – Chicken Soup for the Writers Soul author Bud Gardner
  27.  “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso
  28.   
  29. “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind has to know it has to get down to work.” – Pearl S. Buck
  30.  “Planning to write is not writing.  Writing is writing.” – E. L. Doctorow
  31. “Time is the only coin of your life.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandberg
  32. “I think the worst, most insidious procrastination for me is research. I will be looking for some bit of fact to include in the novel, and before I know, I’ve wasted an entire morning delving into that subject matter without a word written.” – James Rollins
  33. “There’s a trick I’m going to share with you.  I learned it almost twenty years ago and I’ve never forgotten it … so pay attention.  Don’t begin at the beginning.” – Lawrence Block
  34.  “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.  You wait and watch and work and write; you don’t give up.” -Anne Lamott
  35. “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
  36. “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” – Rollo May        Author John Kotter said, “Do you know the #1 precursor to change?  A sense of urgency.”  It’s time to feel a sense of urgency about getting your ideas out in the world. What’s the story you’re born to tell? The knowledge you’d like to pass along?  The legacy message that could inspire others?  The time to share it is NOW.  Promise yourself you’ll sit down somewhere, sometime each day and take ten minutes to move your project forward. You will never regret getting your creative projects into the world. You will only regret not getting them out there … sooner.  As my mom used to tell me, “A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today.”        -   –   –   –   –   -

SAM HORN, CEO of the INTRIGUE AGENCY, TEDx speaker and 17-time Emcee of the world-renowned Maui Writers Conference, helps people create one-of-a-kind projects – businesses, books, presentations, funding pitches –  that scale their influence for good.  Her work – including IDEApreneur, POP!, Tongue Fu!  andWashington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – has been endorsed by Stephen Covey, Dan Pink, Tony Robbins, Marshall Goldsmith and featured in Fast Company, New York Times, Forbes, INC.  Her inspiring keynotes receive rave reviews from NASA, Intel, Cisco, Accenture, National Geographic, EO, Four Seasons Resorts and Capital One.

Tongue Fu!® How to Lead and Influence with Respect

Thanks to ChosunBiz – South Korea’s largest newspaper – for interviewing me for a cover story. Thought you might enjoy highlights from our interview with these Tongue Fu! tips on how to lead and influence with respect … because everyone wants, needs and deserves to be treated with respect.

1.   What is the core of new elements for 21st Century leadership?

We are no longer in the information age; we are in the connection age. Information is no longer enough to earn people’s attention and respect. If what we’re trying to communicate isn’t connecting, we’re wasting everyone’s time.

This is different from the 20th-century charismatic leadership because that was based on “I am the boss, you have to listen to me. I’m  senior to you, you must pay attention and do what I say.”

Journalist Eleanor Clift says, ‘We’re all in a race to be relevant. ” In today’s short-attention-span world of INFObesity, if we don’t make what we’re saying personally relevant to whoever we’re trying to connect with; they will ignore us and nothing will get done.

2.  How can leaders express their empathy when talking to employees?

First, ask themselves before they say anything, “How would I feel if this was happening to me? How would it feel to be on the receiving end of this message?”

Those four words “How would I feel ” are the quickest way to understand – and empathize with – what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.

Second, by prefacing what you say with “.” and then inserting how you anticipate the employee is feeling.

For  example, ” I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to find out we’re going to have to start from scratch after you’ve spent several weeks on this.”

Or “I can only imagine how tired you must be after putting in a 10 hour day yesterday, so please know how much I appreciate you staying late again to get this project finished.”

3. How can CEO’s make other people feel comfortable and empowered when they’re talking?

SIT DOWN. As long as you are standing up and other people are seated, your body language is reinforcing that you are in the superior position and they are in the inferior position. It seems like you’re  towering over them. It diminishes them, makes them feel small and makes them feel you’re the teacher and they’re the students. This perpetuates the “I’m in control, you’re not” leadership style.

When you sit down, you level the playing field. It’s a way of saying, “We are on equal ground, we can see things eye to eye. It encourages people to speak up because they feel you are one of them instead of above them.”

Next, say “In the past …” For example, “in the past, you may have felt your opinion didn’t matter.”

“In the past, employees may have been punished for sharing honest feedback that appeared to be critical.”

Then,  bridge with “and now…”

“And now, we welcome your honest input because we rather know what’s not working so we can fix it.”

“And now, we encourage you to point out what we can do better because we want our company to be more productive and profitable.”

4.   How can senior CEOs overcome the generation gap and connect with younger employees?

First, make young people the expert. Give Millennials an opportunity to showcase and share what they know, what they’re good at.

For example, say “Our organization wants to be even more relevant to millennials. As a 20-something, we welcome your suggestions on how we can describe our products and services in ways that make them more appealing to your friends. What are your recommendations on how we can do that?”

Or, ask for advice on how to leverage social media and new tech devices.

Say, “We know we could do a better job being more current and staying up-to-date with all things digital. What do you think we could be doing to reach more young people with apps,  Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or other popular online options?”

5.  How can young CEOs and leaders communicate better with older managers?

First, take notes.

Young people are often quick thinkers who tend to get impatient when older managers start talking about “In the old days…”  or “How we used to do this …”

Carry a notepad with you and jot down what people are saying. Instead of getting distracted, interrupting or cutting them off, it helps you stay focused on what they’re saying.

When they’re finished talking, paraphrase what they said from your notes. This shows respect and that you really heard them.

Then,  move the conversation to what can be done about the situation.

Resist the urge to check a digital device (a laptop, iPad or smartphone) when older people are talking. Put it face down on a nearby surface or turn away from your laptop and LOOK at the person speaking.

Don’t even glance at your smartphone if it pings. Non-digital natives will never believe you’re listening if you’re checking your digital device. They feel disrespected.

6.  What kind of TONGUE FU!® or INTRIGUE skills can be used to earn people’s respect and favorable attention in the following situations?

A) Town hall:

Address the time.   Anxiety is defined in two words – not knowing. If people don’t know how long you’re going to talk, they’re not listening, they’re in a state of resentful anxiety.

For example, say, “I know it’s 7 PM on a weeknight and you’ve already put in a long day and many of you have children waiting for you at home… so we’re going to keep this town hall meeting to 45 minutes so you can all get back to your families at a reasonable hour.”

Or, if this is a controversial issue, address the elephant in the room.

Say, “We know this is a highly charged issue and people have strong feelings. So, to make sure the discussion stays pro-active and everyone has an opportunity to speak, we are going to follow these ground rules.”

B) a meeting with managers when you want the truth.

Be straightforward that you want the whole truth and nothing but the truth – even if it’s not good news.

Say, “I can only imagine you might be reluctant to tell us what’s not working because you wonder if you’ll be blamed for it. Our priority here is not to find fault, it is to find solutions. We ask you to please share your honest assessment of what’s undermining our effectiveness. We can’t fix what’s wrong if we don’t know what’s wrong. Thank you in advance for giving us the truth even if it’s not pretty. We will all be better for it.”

You’re welcome to share these questions/answers with your team at your next staff meeting.  Hope it catalyzes an important conversation about how to earn people’s attention and cooperation by influencing with respect.

–    –   –    –

Want to share these Tongue Fu!® and INTRIGUE leadership approaches with your group?  Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to arrange for Sam Horn to keynote your convention or company meeting. Discover for yourself why her inspiring presentations receive raves from such clients as Boeing, Cisco, Intel, Four Seasons, Capital One and National Geographic,  Also,  check out her TEDx talk on Intrigue and Influence with Respect – and her books Tongue Fu!® POP! and Washington Post Bestseller Got Your Attention?

Down with Elevator Speeches

“Enough about me.  What do you think about me?” – Bette Midler in the movie Beaches

While speaking at an INC 500 event, I introduced a new approach for replacing elevator SPEECHES with elevator CONNECTIONS.

sam tedx image

An entrepreneur named Colleen raised her hand and said, “I can’t figure out how to do this for my business.”

I asked what she normally said when meeting people. She started explaining her job, using technical terms like magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography. None of us had any idea what she did.

I asked, “Want to brainstorm a better way to answer the ‘What do you do?’ question.”  She said a heartfelt “YES.”

“Okay, from now on, instead of EXPLAINING what you do (which is kind of like trying to explain electricity), focus on the real-world results of what you do that people can see or may have experienced.  What are those?“

She said, “Hmm.  Well, I run medical facilities that offer MRI’s and CT scans.”

“That’s better already because we can mentally picture what you’re talking about. It’s no longer conceptual or highly technical.  Plus, we probably know someone who has had an MRI or CT scan so now we can relate to it.

But don’t stop there. If you TELL people what you do, they’ll go, ‘Oh,’ and that’ll be the end of the conversation. We don’t want to CLOSE conversations, we want to OPEN conversations. You can do by asking a three-person question.”

“What’s this about a three-person question?”

“If you ask, ‘Have YOU ever had an MRI?’ and this person hasn’t, the conversation comes to an awkward dead-end. If you ask, ‘‘Have you, a friend, or a family member ever had an MRI?’ you just increased the likelihood they’ll know someone who is familiar with what you and your organization offers.”

“Okay, what next?” 

“You LISTEN.  Imagine the person says, ‘Yeah, my daughter hurt her knee playing soccer. She had an MRI.’ Just link what you do to what they just said. ‘Oh, I run the medical facilities that offer MRI’s … like the one your daughter had when she hurt her knee playing soccer.’

They’ll probably say an intrigued “Aaahh.” which is a lot better than an apathetic “Oh” or a confused “huh?” It means they GET what you do which means they’re more likely to remember you. As a bonus, if they ever need what you do, they’re more likely to contact you because people like to do business with people they know and like.”

She said, “Why is it so important to use the same words they used? I don’t want to parrot them.”

“Good point. I’m not suggesting we repeat what they said word for word. I’m suggesting we use a few of the same words because common language is what connects two strangers who, a moment ago, didn’t know if they had anything in common.”

She thanked me, sighed and said, “I wish someone had taught me this years ago.  I can’t wait to get back to work and share this with my staff.”

How about you?  What do YOU say when people ask, “What do you do?” What do your employees and team members say?

Think about it. Whether we like it or not, wherever we go, the people we meet will ask “What do you do?” And what we say MATTERS.  

That CEO’s inability to answer that question at the INC 500 conference could have meant millions of dollars in lost opportunity costs. She was surrounded by highly successful entrepreneurs, all in a position to partner with her, refer business to her or use her services. But that wasn’t going to happen because they didn’t know what she did – which meant they didn’t value it and wouldn’t remember it. 

Many people tell me they hate this question, for a variety of reasons. They don’t know how to answer it. They feel it pigeon-holes them and they don’t want to be defined by their job. They’re out of work. Or, they don’t have a position or profession people respect. Some tell me they dread “networking” because it means being subjected to a series of long-winded, boring, confusing elevator speeches.

I tell them, it can be helpful to realize that when people ask “What do you do?”, they’re not really trying to find out what you do; they’re trying to connect. They’re trying to identify what you have in common you both care about so they have a hook on which to hang a mutually-interesting conversation.

Which is why it’s so important to stop TELLING people what you do. An elevator speech is a monologue delivered in the presence of witnesses. A scripted, rehearsed-to-death elevator speech borders on being offensive because it’s a one-way lecture.

Elevator Speech

Instead, next time someone asks what you do, you might want to say, “I’d be happy to talk about what I do, and first may I find out more about you?” By giving other people an opportunity to go first, you’ve not only set a precedent that you’re genuinely interested in them and it’s not going to be “me, me, me;”  you’re sure to discover something relevant you can use to customize your opening so it reflects and integrates what you already know about them.  

When it’s your turn, remember, instead of launching into an explanation, ASK a three-person question that gives the other person an opportunity to share how they – or someone they know – have experienced or benefitted from what you do.

Truly listen to their response, and then link what you do to what they just said.

Voila.  You’ve just created a two-way conversation (dialogue vs. a monologue) that is a lot more likely to lead to a mutually-meaningful CONNECTION.  Furthermore, you’re also acting as an eloquent ambassador for your profession because the people you meet will have new-found appreciation for the work you do and the positive difference it makes for so many.

Want to see how this is done?  Watch this TEDx talk and share it at your next staff meeting. Be sure to have paper and pen or your laptop ready so you can take notes on how to adapt this approach to upcoming, real-life situations.

The first example in the TEDx talk shows how to introduce your idea or organization in a business setting where you’re trying to win buy-in, support, a green light or funding from decision-makers. The difference is,  by ASKING (a dialogue) instead of TELLING or SELLING (a monologue); you’re genuinely engaging people instead of lecturing them with INFObesity.

The second example in the TEDx talk shows how to introduce yourself at networking events or conferences when you’re meeting people for the first time.

Hope you find this approach and short video useful, and they help you genuinely enjoy meeting people and create more mutually-rewarding connections that benefit all involved. 

-   –   – 

Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency, helps people create intriguing respectful, collaborative communications and projects that scale their influence – for good. Her work – including POP!, Tongue Fu! ConZentrate and Sam Horn’s Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? How to Create Intrigue and Connect with Anyone – has been featured in New York Times, Fast Company, Forbes and on NPR.  Her inspiring, interactive presentations receive raves from Intel, Cisco, NASA, National Geographic and Capital One. Contact Cheri Grimm at 805 528-4351if you’d like to arrange for Sam to speak at your convention or train your team.     

Reporting in from United Nations

Thanks to Kunal Sood for giving me the opportunity to be a delegate at the inspiring Novus Summit at the United Nations this past Sunday.

Here are just a few of the many highlights of that incredible day.

One of the speakers talked about there being two types of people in the world – those who wear a red cape and “fight bad things”- and those who wear a blue cape and “grow good things.”

The speaker who originated this insight (and I would love to attribute this to the right speaker – so if you know who said this, please contact me so I can give credit where credit is due) claims we NEED BOTH red cape people and blue cape people.

We need people who are willing to step up, take on the dark forces and do something about them.

And we need people who initiate and create positive breakthroughs and technological advances that benefit us all.

(Personally, I think there is a third kind of person. Black cape people who choose to rant and rave or complain about what’s wrong. It’s tempting and oh-so-easy to do that. Especially when we watch what’s happening on the news and are outraged, worried or discouraged by it. But .. it … doesn’t … help. It only adds to the darkness – only amplifies what’s wrong.)

Closing speaker Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize Foundation and co-founder of Singularity University, is a walking-talking example of a blue caper-talking example of a blue caper.

peter diamandis

Whether it is his book on Abundance; or his passion and purpose for leveraging innovation in the various X Prize competitions; he is a model for how we can choose to allocate our time, attention and resources to creating initiatives that proactively address issues and add value for all involved.

As Peter says, “Lots of people dream big and talk about big bold ideas but never do anything. I judge people by what they’ve done. The ratio of something to nothing is infinite. So just do something.”

Peter is a 100% blue cape DOER – as was every single one of the thought-leaders featured on Sunday including:

* Peabody winner and former head of the CNN International desk Parisa Khosravi, who asked the provocative question, “What if were to COME BACK to earth? Would we see it with fresh, more empathetic, proactive eyes?”

* astronauts Anousheh Ansari, Dan Barry and Scott Parazynski, who all made good on their childhood dreams of going into space and who are now leveraging what they’ve learned “up there” by applying it “down here.”

* Maysoon Zayid, who has the most watched TED talk of 2014 with more than 7 1/2 million views. Within the first two minutes, we all understood why. Maysoon, an Arab-American actress, stand-up comic, philanthropist and advocate for the disabled, is a force of nature. As she says, “I’m like Shakira meets Muhammad Ali. I shake all the time. I have 99 problems; cerebral palsy is just one of them.”

* Martin Seligman, often called the “Father of Positive Psychology,” who gave this piece of deceptively simple – yet profound – advice.
Before you go to bed tonight (and every night), ask yourself, “What are three things that went well today? How did I contribute to that?

I love this idea because it’s a way to “blue cape” our perspective.

Think about it. When we reflect on our day, we have a choice.

We can focus on – and rant and rave about or be discouraged by – what went wrong (a black cape).

Or we can focus on – and celebrate, appreciate and elevate – what went well (a blue cape).

Choosing to focus on what went well renews our appreciation keeps our blessings front and center and top of mind.

Perhaps even more importantly, thinking about how we might have played a role in what went well helps us understand and own the fact that we can – in fact, we are – contributing to the well-being of ourselves and others’, right here, right now

We don’t have to be a thought-leader at the UN to be a blue caper.

That’s wonderful and welcome. But on a daily basis, every single one of us can choose to focus on growing good things. And when we do, everyone benefits.

Thanks again Kunal – and kudos to you and your team – for creating an event that focused on and grew good things – not just for everyone in that grand hall – but for everyone who will be positively impacted by what was shared and initiated on Sunday.

sam novus

Want more insights from Sam’s conferences, travels, and connections?  Visit www.SerenDestiny.com and her LinkedIn blog.

Got Focus?

Do you know one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a result of researching, writing and speaking about attention, concentration and focus?

If we want to truly FOCUS, we must first truly SEE.

Yet, to really SEE someone – or something – takes time, attention and intent.

Yet, as explained in Got Your Attention? … goldfish have longer attention spans than we do.

I’m not making that up. That’s from research by Harvard professor Nancy F. Koehn. Goldfish = 9 seconds. Human beings = 8 seconds.

What that means is we tend to rush through life distracted, impatient, perpetually on to the next thing.

At work, we’re constantly interrupted and besieged with conflicting priorities.

We rarely really focus on anything. As a result, we don’t really engage, we don’t really connect.

The good news? There’s an antidote to this.

Three times a day, take three minutes to do this simple ConZentration exercise:  stop what you’re doing and really SEE who you’re talking to, SEE what you’re doing.

As soon as you do, you will feel a newfound appreciation for that person or activity. You will find yourself really listening to that person. You’ll find yourself more deeply engaged in that task.

It’s amazing how accessible focus, engagement and connection are. They are, literally and figuratively, a moment’s NOTICE away.

I’ve collected my six favorite quotes about seeing – with some added comments – and share them here. they’re excerpted from Got Your Attention? on how to connect with anyone, anytime, anywhere  … and ConZentrate, a book I wrote about how to stay focused in an unfocused world.

Hope you find them thought-provoking. You might even want to post a favorite where you’ll see it every day as a reminder to stop and really SEE who you’re talking to, SEE what you’re doing.

Really seeing is the first step to being IN your life and truly experiencing and appreciating it – rather than rushing through it,  missing it and wondering what it was all about.

It’s the first step to staying focused at work instead of feeling constantly frazzled, frustrated and frenetic.

Six Quotes on How to SEE Your Way to Improved Focus and Connection

1.  The first words of our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, are, “Oh, say, can you see…” The real question is, “Oh, say do you see…”

2. “Nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small, we haven’t time, and to see takes time.” – Georgia O’Keefe As mentioned, to see takes time and intent. We must give our mind an order and decide to focus our attention on THIS thing for THIS amount of time.

look closer

3. “Develop interest in life, in people, things, literature, music. The world is simply throbbing with rich treasure, beautiful souls, fascinating people.” – Henry Miller There is no excuse, ever, for being bored. That is simply a lack of imagination.  Give your full focus to what you’re doing. Instead of doing things by rote, NOTE. Remind yourself what a miracle it is that you’re seeing, breathing, thinking, hearing, moving, feeling.

4. “Life is postponed until further notice.” -Sam Horn The quality of your life and work are directly proportionate to the quality of your attention and connection. Notice someone or something NOW.

5. “When the eye wakes up to see again, it suddenly stops taking anything for granted.” – Frederick Franck The second you really SEE someone or something; you’re flooded with renewed appreciation. Attention = appreciation.

6. “The whole of life lies in the verb seeing.” – Teilhard de Chardin Every time I see this quote, something deep within me says, “YES, emphatically YES.” Not seeing = not connecting.   Fully seeing = fully connecting.

–   –   –

Want more? Check out Sam Horn’s books –  Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? which Marshall Goldsmith calls “a must for every leader” and  ConZentrate which Dr. Stephen Covey ( 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) endorsed as “Remarkable, fascinating, thought-provoking, motivating.”

Or, contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to arrange for Sam Horn to present her GOT FOCUS? keynote to your convention or corporate meeting. Discover for yourself why her programs on how to focus and concentrate have received excellent ratings from NASA, been featured on NPR; and how they can help your employees be more focused, mindful, connected and productive at work.

Turn a NO into a YES

“If you stick to what you know; you’ll sell yourself short.” – singer Carrie Underwood

If you stick to what you know … you’ll get a no.

No

Instead, ask yourself, “Why will my decision-makers say no?” and say it first.

If you don’t, they won’t be listening; they’ll be waiting for their turn to talk so they can tell you why what you’re requesting/recommending won’t work.

Here’s an example of someone who did this brilliantly.

Several years ago I went to BIF – Business Innovation Factory – in Providence, RI for a fascinating couple of days with leading-edge innovators from around the world, (e.g.,  Tony Hsieh of Zappos and Alan Webber of Fast Company).

The most impressive speaker was a surprise. She walked to the center of the stage and waited until everyone was quiet. Then, with a big smile, she leaned out to the group and said …

I know what you’re thinking. What’s a 13-year-old going to teach me about innovation?”

She paused for a moment, and with a twinkle in her eye said, “We 13-year-olds know a thing or two … like how to flip our hair.”

In 30 seconds, Cassandra Lin had won everyone’s favorable attention.

Why? She read their mind.  She realized these global thought-leaders might be a wee bit skeptical that a 7th grader would have anything to teach them. She anticipated those objections and brought them up first. In doing so, she turned their resistance into receptivity.

By the way, Cassandra continued to earn our respect by describing how she and her fellow 7th graders had taken a field trip to the sewers of Providence and discovered they were filled to bursting with F.O.G. – Fat, Oil and Grease.

Cassandra thought, “Somebody’s got to DO something about this.”  She realized SHE was as much a somebody as anybody, so she and her classmates founded T.G.I.F. – Turn Grease into Fuel. Every Saturday, they collect F.O.G from restaurants and industrial parks, recycle it and donate the money they receive to needy families. Go Cassandra.

Want to Turn Resistance into Receptivity?

“Let’s address the elephant in the room. ‘YO ELEPHANT!'” – Gene Weingarten

When and where will you be making a request or recommendation?

Want to increase your likelihood of success?

Ask yourself, “Why will my decision-makers say, “You’ve got to be kidding?!”

Ask, “What’s the elephant in the room?” and address it … first.

elephant in the room text image

If you’re chairing a meeting at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, anticipate that everyone will be wondering how long this will take and will have one mental foot out the door.

Say, “I can only imagine you’re thinking about rush hour traffic. I promise you we’ll wrap up in twenty minutes so you can be out of here before 5 pm.”  That will pleasantly surprise everyone and help win buy-in.

Perhaps you’re proposing an expensive program and anticipate your boss will be sitting there with his mental arms crossed thinking, “We don’t have any money in our budget for this.”

Start off by saying, “You may be thinking we don’t have any money in our budget for this. If I can have your attention for the next three minutes, I’ll point out where we can find that money, how we’ll make it back in the first three months, and turn it into profits from then on.”

Imagine you’re suggesting a new membership recruitment program to your association board. You predict push-back because a similar program failed last year.

Open with, “You may be thinking we tried this before and it didn’t work. You’re right, and I’ve identified three mistakes we made last time and have ways to prevent those from happening again this time.”

Are you pitching a book to an agent or editor and predict they might reject it because there are a LOT of books in your genre on this topic?

Lead with, “You may be thinking this is a crowded gene. You’re right. That’s why I introduce a contrarian, first-of-its-kind approach people haven’t seen before that has produced proven, bottom-line results. Several top experts in our industry are ready to endorse the book and have committed to buying several thousand copies for their companies upon publication.”

THAT will get their attention:-)

Remember, if you don’t voice nay-sayers’ objections, they won’t be listening; they’ll be waiting for you to stop talking so they can tell you why this won’t work.

If you want to INTRIUGE decision-makers and win their favorable attention; start with with WHY they might say NO, bridge with the word AND (not but), and then ask for three minutes of their time so you can show how what you’re suggesting will be a win for them.

This can help you turn a NO into a YES … sometimes in 60 seconds or less.

Want more ways to turn resistance into receptivity and get a YES to your ideas, products, services, company and cause?  Click here. 

Highlights from White House United State of Women Summit

What a joy it was being immersed in a sea of 5000 women at The White House The United State of Women Summit.

Everywhere you looked, there were women swapping cards, sharing resources and recommendations, and discussing how their startup, company or cause is educating and elevating women.

What I loved most was how the vast majority of speakers role-modeled the essence of entrepreneurialism. They saw a problem, opportunity or need and thought, “Somebody should DO something about this.”

Then they realized, “I’m as much a somebody as anybody, I’ll do something about it.”

Mikaila-Ulmer-e-la-sua-limonata

For example, 11-year-old (you got that right) 11-year-old Mikaila Ulmer was stung twice by bees in the same week when she was 4.

She said, ‘First I got angry, then I got curious.” (What a wonderful sequence of responses).

She decided to do some research and discovered the important role bees play in our ecosystem but they’re endangered, so (like you do) she created her own BeeSweet Lemonade line that is now at Whole Foods.

Perhaps you saw Mikaila on Shark Tank when she rocked the judges and received $60,000 in funding. This young woman captured the attention and respect of everyone in the room as she discussed cash flow, how she donates part of her profits to protect bees, and how her little brother is her #1 sales rep.

And who did they ask to introduce The President of the United States? None other than the uber-confident Mikaila.

Barack Obama was as impressed with Mikaila as everyone else. He started his speech by saying, “When Mikaila was asked backstage if she was nervous about speaking in front of 5000 people, she said, ‘Oh no, I spoke in front of 11,000 people last week.’”

Then, Sophia Bush interviewed 11-year-old Marley Dias about what motivated her to start ‪#‎1000BlackGirlBooks‬.

Marley said, “We all need a hero who looks like us, but I couldn’t find any books that featured young black girls as heroes. I finally discovered ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’ by Jacqueline Woodson. It made such a difference for me, I wanted to give other girls the opportunity to read it.”

Check out this fascinating ‪#‎NPR‬ interview with Marley.

I could go on all day with highlights; however, we’ve all got work to do so here are just a few more.

At the Entrepreneurship Summit co-sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration the day before, Amy Millman of Springboard Enterprises coined the sound-bite of the day.

When her panel was asked for best-practices on how to approach investors/venture capitalists to raise funding, Amy said three succinct words … “ADD A ZERO.”

Now that’s how to say a lot in a little.

Instead of taking hundreds (thousands?) of words to explain that many startup founders are too timid and conservative when making their ask, and how important it is for them to “think bigger and be bolder” … she turned what could have been ‪#‎INFObesity‬ into a repeatable, retweetable sound-bite.

I was particular impressed with the White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. She showed a slide of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and then promptly gave example after inspiring example of how female makers, hackers, and techies are addressing and solving those issues.

For example, she showed a 10th grader teaching the New Orleans Police Chief how to code, lauded the 11,000 participants from around the world at the Grace Hopper Conference, and championed “Take Your Kids to the Lab Day.”

In conclusion, she quoted Gloria Steinem as saying, “Women have always been part of the past, but they haven’t been part of our history.”

Megan’s on a mission to tell the stories of how women have, and are, playing a crucial role in America’s progress so they get the credit and recognition they deserve.

That theme was picked up by President Obama in his stirring address in which he first poked fun at himself, noting he had “a few more” gray hairs than when he took office, but “This is what a feminist looks like.”

He then launched into his trademark blend of what I call ORASTORY – a combination of crafted rhythmic words delivered in a rising cadence that elicited a ROAR from the room.

He said, “Our country is not just all about the Benjamins—it’s about the Tubmans, too. We need all our young people to know that Clara Barton and Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth and Eleanor Roosevelt and Dorothy Height aren’t just names for Women’s History Month, they are authors of our history, architects of our destiny.”

Oprah interviewed First Lady Michelle Obama and it was obvious how much the two of each other enjoy, respect and admire each other.  They were so relaxed and natural with each other, they might as well have been sitting on a couch in their living room “talking story.”

michelle obama and oprah - great picture

When asked her biggest lessons learned, Michelle said, “The importance of protecting my time.” Within the first week of moving into the White House, she was overwhelmed with demands and obligations, and she realized that if she wasn’t clear about her priorities (her daughters being her #1 priority) that she would get swallowed up in the job.

Oprah commented on how “brave” she was and Michelle said, “You don’t have to be brave if you know what your values are.”

Shifting gears …. when asked when he was going to retire, Warren Buffet said, “Why would I? At 85, I tap dance to work because I get to do what I love with people I love. “  (I hope to make it to 85 .. and when I do that’s exactly how I feel about the work I get to do:-)

Along with millions of other women athletes, I will always be grateful to Billie Jean King for her pioneering role in getting Title IX passed.

As I tell my sons, when it was time for me to go to college, there were NO athletic scholarships for women. Now, thanks to Billie and the many other committed women of the Women’s Sports Foundation who fought for equity in sports, there are 30,000 given to women every year.

billie jean king

As to what catalyzed her to tackle this issue, she said, “I had an epiphany when I was 12 years old. My opponent and I were both wearing white clothes, playing with white balls, and everyone around me was white. I thought, “WHERE IS EVERYBODY ELSE?”

Billie decided then and there, (yes at 12 years old), that sports should be equal access, equal opportunity and she was going to use tennis as a platform to make that happen globally. Talk about a visionary whose dedication and perseverance has benefitted millions.

She and Shonda Rhimes (the creative genius behind ABC Thursday night’s blockbusters Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder) were asked: “How do you handle the haters?”

Shonda echoed what everyone else (including First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah) said, “I ignore them.”

Billie went on to explain, “I learned how important it was to do this from my dad. When I was 14, I lost an important match 6-0 6-0 and it was splashed all over the front page of the sports section.

I was really upset until my dad asked me, ‘When did that happen?’ I looked at him and said, ‘Yesterday.’

‘Exactly,’ he said, which was his way of reminding me that paying attention to something I can’t do anything about is a waste of time.”

There is so much more, for example, Julie Hanna’s (Executive Chair of the Board of KIVA) brilliant insights, “Pity is the enemy of compassion” and “Funding entrepreneurs is the ally of empowerment” and her mission to fund a billion deserving small business owners.

There were more galvanizing insights from this event, however, I need to practice what I teach and not overstay my welcome by going on too long …

…so, I’ll wrap up with Lilly Tomlin’s tongue-in-cheek observation, “Remember, we’re all in this … alone.”

Thanks to inspiring “rising tide raising all hopes” gatherings like these, we don’t have to go it alone; we can go it together.

And when we do, we turn struggles into strength and scale our impact – for good.

P.S.  If you’d like a preview of Sam’s popular keynote on Women’s Leadership, check out this post on “Don’t Like What’s Being Said?  Change the Conversation.”