Monthly Archives: April 2019

WHAT CONSTITUTES GOOD STORYTELLING?

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Before continuing to develop their leadership stories, leaders should understand what makes a good story. Leaders must know the messages they want to communicate, know the audience to which they want to communicate it, and enlist others to also tell the stories. Authenticity makes leaders’ stories more memorable. Ultimately, no matter what story is told or how it is told, the actions of the leaders will speak the loudest.

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Story telling session with leading consulting firm 

Most well-formed stories have a beginning, middle, and end–or a narrative arc. The narrative arc in the story includes action that rises until a big climax, or turning point, and then descends. A leader’s story should build up to a high point in his or her career when everything has come together.

To develop their stories, leaders should determine their leadership purpose and goals, and how they will reach them. Leaders can define their narrative arcs by mapping a time line containing the major milestones of their leadership journeys. Also, they can identify the events and people–whether from early in their lives or sometime in their business careers–that impacted what they value and how they think as leaders. Not everything that leaders remember about their journeys will be positive or affirming; some events and people might have had a negative influence. The purpose of charting their narrative arcs is for leaders to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and what has shaped their leadership.

It is not sufficient to simply have a good leadership story–it must be communicated well, at the right time, and to the right people. Leaders must be aware of how the telling of their stories is perceived by others. Effective communication of a story includes the following:

*Proactively planning the messages to communicate.

*Finding unique opportunities to communicate the story appropriately.

*Identifying who else has a role in communicating the story.

Step 1: Knowing the Message

To be a good storyteller, a leader must know what to communicate and why. The story must be simple, clear, and motivational, without exaggeration. Depending on the situation and the audience, a leader might want to convey some aspects of the story but not others.

The most important aspect of communicating a story is framing–matching the story to the audience. Framing helps leaders illustrate ideas in a way that makes them relevant, helps others draw conclusions, and creates a common understanding. Leaders might not want to directly boast about their attributes, but by using framing, they can help their audiences reach certain conclusions about their skills, attributes, and capabilities. Framing also allows a leader to fit his or her story into the purpose and objectives of the company, or relate it to a specific outcome or purpose. Also, the message of the story can be framed with a tale that brings the story to life.

Step 2: Knowing the Audience

A leadership story lives in the hearts and minds of others. Therefore, a story must be relevant to the audience. Leaders should be aware of how their stories support the stories of others and the stories of their organizations.

Audiences include direct reports, supervisors, peers, and important clients. Each audience, however, has different needs and might interpret the leaders’ stories differently. Although a leader can easily identify who his or her audience is, the challenge is to know how members of a specific audience already perceive the leader, what information will be important to them, and how the audience will make sense of what they are hearing.

Effectively communicating a story starts with being empathetic and establishing relevance for the audience. The choice of medium used to communicate the message is important, too. Leaders should not rely on one-way communication technology, especially if the message could evoke an emotional response.

Step 3: Maximizing Moments of Truth

There are times in a leadership story when something was gained or lost–known as moments of truth. These moments offer opportunities for leaders to share or reinforce their stories. A moment of truth can be thought of as a great awakening or a revelation that made an important change in the life of the leader. Such moments make the stories more memorable.

A leader can plan for those moments of truth when it would be appropriate to share all or part of the leadership story. A leader should also be prepared to communicate his or her story during chance encounters and unplanned events. In either case, these moments allow leaders to clarify, inspire, and enlist other protagonists in their stories.

Step 4: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Leaders are “on stage” all the time, so their choices of words, actions, and nonverbal cues to communicate their stories also communicate something about themselves. To be perceived as authentic, these three elements must align. Therefore, leaders must have a strong self-awareness of what they believe and value, and ensure their words and actions reflect that awareness.

Step 5: Enlisting Others to Tell the Leadership Story

Some leaders are wary of telling their stories, believing that it comes across as self-promotion. This cautiousness is justified. Leaders should be careful about what they say about themselves in comparison with what others say about them. A leader’s story is best communicated through the words of others; therefore, a challenge for leaders is to find others who will sing their praises. Those who are recruited can act as credibility substitutes. Their credibility rubs off on the leaders whose stories they are telling. Leaders should foster sound relationships with several people who can act as their credibility substitutes. The effort takes time and commitment; reaching out to the protagonists they identified earlier can be a good start.

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My Name is Awesome

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The best brand names are those that entertain customers and make them feel intelligent and happy. This simple fact is the foundation for the SMILE and SCRATCH name fullsizeoutput_41c2evaluation tests, which argue that a brand name should make people smile–not scratch their heads. Entrepreneurs can use the components of the SMILE acronym as guideposts to achieve the five essential qualities of great brand names:

  1. Suggestive. A name should say something about the brand. To accomplish this, entrepreneurs can combine two suggestive words, similar to Groupon, or select a name that is inspired by the brand’s personality. While the first half of the name may be creative or metaphorical, the second word should establish trust and credibility. Neato Robotics is an example of a suggestive name with a trustworthy modifier.
  2. Meaningful. Entrepreneurs must ensure that their names have some kind of meaning and do not require any explanation. Meaningful long name are more likely to be remembered than short, meaningless ones. Entrepreneurs should avoid using their own names, unless they lend themselves to clever wordplay.
  3. Imagery. Great names are visually evocative and therefore easier to remember. Names with imagery include Irish Spring, Range Rover, or Timberland.
  4. Legs. An effective name has “legs” in that it connects to a theme that the brand can be built around. Brand themes, after all, pave the way for ample wordplay and branding opportunities in everything from the company’s taglines to its job titles to its merchandise. By developing a theme early on, entrepreneurs make the later naming products and services easier. This is illustrated well by Apple’s iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
  5. Emotional. Research shows that 50 percent of every purchasing decision is driven by emotion. Consequently, entrepreneurs must create names that make customers feel something. Grandma’s Chicken Soup, for example, is an emotionally engaging name. Names that make us

SCRATCH

Entrepreneurs often mistake uniquely spelled or nonsensical words for creative names. To avoid these common naming mistakes, entrepreneurs must understand what name qualities are disadvantageous. To know when to scratch names off their lists, entrepreneurs must keep in mind the seven deadly sins:

  1. Spelling Challenged. Entrepreneurs must avoid names that look like typos or are not spelled like they sound. Additionally, it is important not to use numbers in the place of words; for example, “Coast to Coast” is easier to find online than”Coast2Coast.”
  2. Copycat. When a name is too similar to a competitor’s name, customers are less likely to trust it. Copycat names also suggest laziness and a lack of originality, and they can even lead to costly trademark infringement cases. In order to prevent copying popular trends, entrepreneurs must avoid any names that begin with Apple’s distinct lowercase “i,” like iPod, or a lowercase “e,” similar to eHarmony. Another trend to steer clear of is the combination of a random color and a noun.
  3. Restrictive. Bad names restrict brands and limit their potential for growth. Therefore, entrepreneurs must not get locked into names they may outgrow in the future. Effective names do not paint themselves into a corner; they are wide enough to include new potential products.
  4. Annoying. Names must not cause customers frustration by appearing forced, random, or grammatically incorrect. If an entrepreneur combines two words it is important that the end result does not sound clunky or unnatural. To this end, entrepreneurs should not drop a vowel or two at the end of a real word, like “Innova,” or use trendy suffixes like -ology, -palooza, or -topia. Additionally, entrepreneurs must steer clear of random and meaningless names like Magoosh, grammatically challenged names like Toys “R” Us, and any names that include only initials.
  5. Tame. To stand out among competitors, brand names should be neither flat nor uninspired. More often than not, tame names are too descriptive of a product or service and therefore require little imagination. Descriptive names only make sense when customers will be trying to find information quickly and there are multiple choices, like FedEx Priority Overnight and FedEx Ground. Otherwise, entrepreneurs should aim for names that are mentally stimulating and demonstrate creativity.
  6. Curse of Knowledge. Names that only insiders understand exclude potential customers who may be unfamiliar with an industry. For this reason that entrepreneurs must avoid any alienating acronyms, internal shorthand, and insider jargon. Equally important is avoiding alphanumeric names as well as anything that might have a vulgar meaning in a foreign language.
  7. Hard to Pronounce. Customers do not like feeling foolish and subsequently will avoid companies or products they cannot pronounce the names of. Problematic names include anything that has two potential pronunciations, foreign words, names spelled with all capital letters, or acronyms.

DOMAINS

Today many entrepreneurs and startups are forgoing perfectly good names because their corresponding URLs are unavailable. The truth is that URLs are simply not as important as many people believe. If customers land on the wrong website because a URL was not what they expected, they will simply Google the brand name and find the site they were originally looking for.

According to Watkins, entrepreneurs can easily buy excellent domain names by following three strategies:

  1. Add another word or two. By adding a modifier or two to brand names, there to explain it to entrepreneurs can find available domain names that can be easily located them through search engines. The skincare company Bliss, for example, uses the do main name BlissWorld.com.
  2. Use a creative phrase. Domain names can also include creative phrases that reinforce brands. For example, the domain name of Peanut Butter & Co. is ILovePeanutButter.com. It includes the brand name and uses a phrase that is fun and memorable.
  3. Get a .net or .biz extension. Domain names with these extensions are viewed as equally trustworthy as businesses with .com domains.

In addition to these strategies, entrepreneurs should adhere to the following five domain name secrets:

  1. Take time to really look; contrary to popular belief, not all domain names are taken.
  2. When a name is listed for sale, make a low offer and negotiate.
  3. Buy domains of the brand name that include commonly misspelled words and have them redirected to the correctly spelled domain.
  4. Since URLs no longer need keywords to be found, domain names and site content should be written primarily for customers and not just search engines.
  5. Long, descriptive domain names are more memorable than short and meaningless ones. Finally, entrepreneurs must consider the following five silly ideas to steer clear of:

Spelling the domain “creatively” or not how it is usually spelled.

  • Using obscure domain extensions, like Libya’s .ly instead of .com, in the domain name.
  • Using .org when the company is for profit.
  •  Not checking that a domain name is similar to an existing trademark or service mark before buying it.
  • Not checking that the words that compose the URL spell something offensive when there are no spaces between them.

CREATIVE BRIEF

Before an entrepreneur can begin brainstorming names, he or she must first complete a creative brief, a detailed outline of all the elements necessary to create the perfect name. Not only do creative briefs help entrepreneurs define exactly what their brands are and what they want to communicate, but they also help prevent entrepreneurs from straying away from the wrong names altogether. An effective creative brief should include the following:

* Goal of assignment: What the entrepreneur wants to accomplish. When people can

* In a nutshell: A summary of what the company will do in 140 characters or visualize your name less

* Brand positioning: How the entrepreneur wants his or her brand to be po- much easier for them sitioned in the marketplace.

* Consumer insights: Insights regarding people’s behaviors rather than their unfamiliar word or preferences. These behaviors will affect their purchasing decisions.

* Target audience: The customers that a company wants to reach in specific give their mind anydemographic terms.

* Competition: Similar organizations that a company is up against in the market.

* Desired brand experience: Positive brand experiences that foster strong emotional engagement.

* Brand personality: Five to twelve adjectives that effectively capture the brand’s tone and personality.

* Words to explore: Words an entrepreneur wants in his or her brand name.

* Words to avoid: Any words an entrepreneur does not want in his or her brand name.

* Themes/ideas to avoid: Any related concepts that will not be appealing to customers or have been overdone by competitors.

* Domain name modifiers: Potential modifier words that will help a company secure a domain.

* Name style likes and dislikes: A list of five brand names that entrepreneurs like and five they dislike along with the reasons why.

* Acid test: A test to see how brand names would be used in a sentence.

* Also good to know: Any other information that could be helpful in name development.

BRAINSTORMING

When entrepreneurs brainstorm online, they often end up clicking on unexpected links and going down various, inspirational rabbit holes. In order to brainstorm effectively, entrepreneurs must be sure to:

* Keep an open mind.

* Write down all name ideas–even the bad ones.

* Have their creative briefs readily available as a reference.

To warm up before brainstorming, entrepreneurs can use the following word association exercise. First, they should write down a dozen words related to their brands or brand experiences. These words are not intended to become potential names, but instead are fuel for the creative process. Next, they should select one of these words and plug it into the following online brainstorming tools:

* A thesaurus. Interesting synonyms and related words can be great name fodder.

* An image search. Entering the selected word into an image search brings up pictures of relevant information the entrepreneur may not have even thought of.

* Glossaries. Entrepreneurs can use online glossaries like Urban Dictionary to find slang that is connected to their selected words.

* Dictionaries. Dictionaries can provide related definitions and phrases.

* Clichés. Inspiration can be found in related idioms and expressions.

* Search engines. Googlestorming is the process of using the selected word in a longer search query. If the selected word is “cold,” for example, the entrepreneur could type the keywords “coldest places on earth” into Google. This could result in engaging articles and relevant information that could spark an idea for a sticky brand name.

* Movie titles, book titles, and song names. By searching for popular movies, books, and songs with specific words in their titles, entrepreneurs can stumble upon new ways to use their selected words as well as find new phraseology and associated terms to consider.

NAME REVIEW

Before distributing a list of potential brand names among colleagues, an entrepreneur should write a sentence next to each name that describes its rationale and how it would be used in a sentence. Beyond this, there are 12 rules at entrepreneurs must use when conducting a group review of potential names:

  1. Have participants review the list independently so they can express to come up with great which names they like without any group presentation anxiety. This also pre., vents participants from echoing their superiors’ opinions.
  2. Ensure that participants discern that it is the right name–not just a name they like.
  3. Avoid negative comments and instead focus on what is working. This helps build consensus.
  4. Clarify that the job of the brand is not to say everything, but rather to hint at what the brand does.
  5. Provide tangible copies of the list that can be read multiple times over a few days.
  6. Do not let outsiders, like focus groups, weigh in until later on in the process.
  7. Remember that the name will be seen in the context of the logo or alongside marketing materials. Try to imagine the name on a sign or business card.
  8. Do not fear a name that is different.
  9. Do not check to see if domain names are available too early in the process.
  10. Allow participants to select at least 10 names they like from the list.
  11. Refrain from falling in love with any of the names until after confirming that the desired names are available and do not pose any trademark conflicts.
  12. Make the process fun. After determining that there is a consensus, reflect on the attributes of the top contenders, rank the top five picks, and then begin the trademark screening process.

NAME CHANGE

While every company’s situation is different, a brand name change is worth considering when the name in question requires explanations or lacks dynamism. To make the right decisions, entrepreneurs must consider the pros and cons of changing their brands’ names. For example:

PROS:

* A name change can refresh a brand.

* Not having to explain the previous confusing brand name will save time.

* It will give the company an excuse to get in touch with customers.

* There are thousands of future customers who do not know the current name and will only know the new name.

Cons:

* There is an emotional attachment to the name.

* It will be difficult to get the whole company to agree to the change.

* The person who developed the original name will be hurt.

* It will be expensive to print new promotional materials and signs.

* It may require facing the difficult truth that the original name was bad.

TRADEMARKING

Trademarking is an essential part of the brand naming process. Entrepreneurs must not only check that the names they want are legally available, but also make sure to trademark them immediately so no one else can steal them. Professional trademark screening services are available at affordable prices

Share your sucess with a STORY

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All stories, including leadership stories, have a plot, characters, conflict, theme, and setting. For leadership stories or for followership stories to be authentic, details need to be added to each element. We have been awarded for best research on Followership and now sharing to the world through our programs with simple steps.
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Step 1: Defining the Plot

A story’s plot provides the reason why actions are taken. As the basis for a leadership story, it can also be called the mission or purpose, and it is most likely driven by what a leader values. The plot of a leader’s story can inspire both the leader and others around him or her.

To determine the plots of their stories, leaders can reflect on what has been rewarding in their careers, what has challenged and energized them, and what they would like to accomplish. Leaders can perform five activities to help them understand and develop their leadership stories:

  1. Define what makes an effective leader from their own points of view.
  2. Understand what they believe and how it drives their behaviors, learn how others perceive what they value as leaders, and develop a plan to act differently.
  3. Determine the things on which they will not compromise, based on their core values.
  4. List those parts of their career journeys that inspired or excited them, focusing on the positive to determine what energizes them.
  5. Write their personal leadership mission statements, being sure to include the contributions they want to make and convey the purpose behind why they lead.

Step 2: Connecting with Key Characters

Leadership is about having the emotional intelligence that fosters a strong awareness of oneself and others. In a leadership story, the role of each character (including the leader) revolves around the quality and quantity of relationships. Leaders must be able to identify and take into account their own emotions and feelings as well as those of others.

The most important step that leaders can take toward authoring their leadership stories is to understand how other people perceive their leadership skills. Various assessment tools exist to gather anonymous and candid opinions from others. Others’ perceptions can influence a leader’s story positively or negatively, without the leader knowing it.

In every story, there are protagonists and antagonists. Protagonists believe in the leaders and their potential. Antagonists are detractors, and their desire to see leaders fail can be based on any number of factors. Leaders can even be their own antagonists if they do not have faith in themselves, fail to meet commitments, never learn or grow, or do not respect others.

Leaders can mitigate the efforts and influences of antagonists by demonstrating fairness and good leadership practices. If a leader identifies an antagonist, he or she should work to repair the relationship and learn what has motivated the person, because left unchecked, the efforts of an antagonist can irreparably harm a leader’s story.

Leaders can foster good relationships by:

*Identifying nonwork-related things they have in common with others.

*Working to build trust within each relationship.

*Connecting with three to five leaders to be trusted advisors who can provide mentoring and guidance.

*Expressing gratitude and giving credit to those who have had positive influences on their lives and leadership abilities.

Step 3: Preparing for Conflict

Leaders’ characters and abilities are revealed in how they respond to conflict, struggles, and adversity. Leaders will inevitably encounter unexpected conflicts, both great and small, and they should be prepared to deal with them, learn from them, and become better prepared by them for future challenges.

Leaders may experience negative interpersonal conflicts, which can be based on differences of opinion, personalities, or motivations. Patience and good communication skills help leaders ensure that conflicts do not damage relationships or their leadership stories. However, conflicts can also be positive–for example, among team members with differing opinions, which help great ideas to emerge.

A leader needs to assess the source of conflict, determine how he or she will respond to it, and observe how the response impacts others. Sometimes, gaining this skill requires leaders to react differently than they are accustomed to responding. To build a conflict-management capability, leaders can review how they successfully responded to conflict in the past, practice better responses, and ask for additional guidance from mentors.

Sometimes leaders struggle with internal conflicts, believing they might be exposed as leadership imposters. Such leaders can learn to manage this feeling by becoming more competent with experience and becoming more self-aware. A lack of self-awareness will leave leaders unprepared for conflict and might cause them to respond in unproductive ways.

Step 4: Developing the Theme

The theme of a leadership story is built from personality characteristics, attitudes, technical skills, and interpersonal skills. For leaders to understand what they do well and where they require improvement, they must be aware of their abilities and limitations. Each leader has a different story with a different theme; such differences give a leader credibility. Therefore, a leader should never attempt to be something he or she is not.

Effective leaders are aware of which skills, characteristics, and attributes are most needed in their organizations and how well their abilities match with those needs. Good leaders recognize that each person requires a different approach to being led, which requires leaders to adapt by using different skills. Leaders can determine how others perceive their skills, characteristics, and attributes by encouraging anonymous feedback. Candid remarks can help leaders adjust their behaviors and start repairing relationships.

Self-assessments can be valuable tools if leaders are honest with themselves. Leaders can use another approach by assessing other leaders’ capabilities, negatively and positively, and comparing the results to how they themselves would respond in similar situations.

To help build their leadership stories, leaders can analyze their greatest professional or personal successes and failures and glean lessons from them. Successes show leaders what approaches and skills were used to succeed, which they can continue to use in the future. By analyzing failures, a leader can determine alternative ways to approach a situation and discover a better way to handle it next time.

Step 5: Finding the Optimal Setting

The setting of a leadership story involves the geographical location and organization in which the leader works, as well as the work itself. For many leaders, their stories have emerged from a number of different settings. Sometimes, the setting is the same, but the environment or corporate culture around the leader has changed.

Leaders need to determine how they are affected by their environments and which ones they will thrive in. Developing a plan helps leaders seek environments where they know they can be at their best. Leaders can determine where they want to be emotionally, geographically, culturally, and organizationally and make plans to guide their careers in those directions. Leaders also need to be aware of how settings affect others, and what those others need in order to be at their best. Leaders can then make the changes that are within their control to foster a better environment for others.

Wrap Up -Negotiation

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Once a successful agreement has been negotiated, there are a few final steps to take before considering the negotiation complete:

*Document the terms. Professionals must record where they ended so both parties have a shared understanding of the specifics. Both parties should review and agree to the document, and each party should retain a copy.

*Communicate to make sure there is an agreement. Everyone with decision rights should be consulted and the documentation and recommendations shared.

*Think through the implementation. Professionals should think about what steps will ensure a smooth transition from agreement to implementation.

*Put the agreement into action. Once the agreement is final, anyone involved should be briefed about the implementation, the intent behind it, what has been learned about counterparts and their interests, and any future risks.

Review What Happened

When the negotiation is finished, negotiators must take the opportunity to learn and improve their skills. They should set up a time to review the process, capture what they have learned, and get feedback. Areas to improve should be identified and everything discussed and practiced in the review should be documented.