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.”

Updates from Sam’s Year by the Water

I was on the West Coast recently presenting “Got Your Attention?” for a conference.

POP! Out of Your Crowd by Being One-of-a-Kind

FlowerSam“You gotta be original.  If you’re not, what do they need you for?” – actress Bernadette Peters.

Do you think everything’s been said and done?

Do you think there’s nothing new under the sun?

Au contraire.

There ARE original ideas, first-of-their-kind brands and businesses, and individuals who stand out from their crowd.

In fact, your success depends on your ability to say, do and offer something people haven’t heard or seen before, something that motivates them to say “Tell me more.”

Are you thinking, “Easier said than done?”

Agreed. That’s why I introduce step-by-step processes in my POP! and Got Your Attention? books that show you EXACTLY HOW to create new ideas, original approaches, and innovative messages that give you a competitive edge.

Think about it. Whatever you do, you’re probably one-of-many. One of many consultants.  One of many companies.  One of many job-seekers.

You don’t want to be one-of-a-many. You want to be one-of-a-kind.

When you’re one-of-a-kind, you have no competition

Are you thinking, “Okay Sam, I agree with this, but how can I create an original approach or innovative brand name?”

Here’s just one of the replicable POP! processes you can use to create something that’s new, something that helps you break out instead of blend in. It’s called the Half and Half Technique.

Here’s an example of someone who coined a Half and Half Brand Name and then I’ll show how you can do it too.

Dr. Francine Kaufman was concerned about the numbers of children coming into L.A.’s Children’s Hospital with Type 2 Diabetes.

She said, “A decade ago, this would have been so rare, it would have been written up in a medical journal. Now, such children fill my medical clinic.”

She wanted to do something about this, yet there were many doctors and nutritionists addressing this issue. She would have blended in.

And when you care about something and want other people to care about it too; you don’t want to blend in, you want to break out.

So, what did Dr. Francine Kaufman do? She coined a Half-and-Half word by combining the words diabetes and obesity into … DIABESITY.

Boom. Not only did her original word get attention for this important issue – it helped her become the go-to-media resource, author and expert on this topic. She scaled her influence and income by coming up with an innovative name.

A fast food restaurant that specializes in hot dogs and beer came up with a fantastic Half and Half Name… Frank ‘n Stein.   An Italian-Chinese restaurant calls itself Ciao Mein. An Indian-Hawaiian café’ named itself Taj Mahalo.

My son Tom loved a class at Virginia Tech where Professor Cole introduced students to the joys of Wagner, Verdi and Puccini. He called it Operatunity.

You may be thinking, “Okay, those are clever names. Big whoop. But I don’t want to be ‘cutesy.’ How can this help grow my business bottom line?”

Good question. Here’s the backstory of how an entire industry was transformed because a shop owner came up with a new, original way to “do business.”

About a decade ago, the scuba industry had a serious problem.  Fewer and fewer people were going scuba diving. Many dive shop operators were on the verge of bankruptcy.  So, how did they solve this problem?

Well, let’s use the 6 P’s of Disruption (featured in Got Your Attention?) to show how to attract new customers and generate new revenue with a fresh approach and positioning that gives you a competitive edge, all at the same time.

P – Purpose: What was the Purpose of these scuba operators? They wanted to get new customers and more customers so they wouldn’t go bankrupt.

P – Person: Who is the person who has the power to buy or try what you’re offering? Here’s where it gets interesting. 20 years ago, who made the decision about how families  spent their time in Hawaii? Probably Mom or Dad. Ten years ago, it changed.

Guess who now makes the decision about how families spend their time in Hawaii? THE KIDS. Uh-oh. Kids can’t go scuba diving. No wonder the industry was struggling. The person who had the power to try and buy what they were selling … couldn’t.

P – Problem: Okay, put yourself in the mental shoes of the person who has the power to buy what you’ve got. Let’s call this person Andy. Ask Andy, “What Problems do you have with my product or service?”  Andy would answer, “Well, I can’t go scuba diving because I can’t afford it. And I can’t get certified. And I’m scared to go down 100 feet. What if I drown? What if I can’t equalize my ears? And I can’t carry those heavy oxygen tanks on my back.”

All those problems are barriers to entry. And the more barriers to entry your business has, the more likely it is to go bankrupt.

P – Premise: Your Premise is, “Why does it have to be that way? What if there was a better way, safer way, less expensive way, more appealing way,  easier, less risky way? What if I could make those problems go away?”

P – Process/Approach: In answering those questions, you often come up with an original Process/Approach (or program/product) that  eliminates the problems that were keeping people from trying and buying what you’re offering.

For example, Andy might say, “What if I didn’t have to carry those heavy oxygen tanks on my back? What if I could just leave them on the boat? Then, you could just run a long air hose from the oxygen tank to my snorkel mask. And then I wouldn’t have to go down 100 feet. I wouldn’t have to worry about drowning or equalizing my ears. I could go down ten feet and have fun swimming with the humuhumunukunukuapaaa’. Plus, I wouldn’t have to get certified. So I could afford it. And my whole family could go.  This would be a whole  NEW way to enjoy the ocean without all the problems of scuba. I would happily do it then.”

P – Pop:   If you want your new entity to break out vs. blend in out, you’ll want to give it a new name.  Use my Half and Half Technique to create an intriguing word that will drive media attention, buzz and new customers.

Let’s see, it’s half scuba, half snorkel. Take the first syllable of the first word and blend it with the second syllable of the second word and you get … SNUBA.

Tah dah. An original word and a new multi-million dollar industry that saved many mom and pop operators from bankruptcy and revitalized their business.

Want more examples of how to create new brand names,  first-of-its-kind products, programs and services, and a unique positioning/messaging that help you break out instead of blend in?

Check out these posts that feature additional ways to EARN your decision-makers’ favorable attention. 

Confused People Don’t Say Yes

Can We Really Win People’s Attention in 60 Seconds?

Want Sam to share her intriguing, inspiring and innovative insights with your group? Discover why her presentations receive raves from such clients as National Geographic, Intel, NASA and Capital One.  Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to share your group’s priorities so Sam can customize a program for your event; or to arrange to consult one-on-one with Sam on your project.