Monthly Archives: May 2019

SUSTAINING OUTLIER PERFORMANCE

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Constructing a workable, tenacious career trajectory will result in sustained success over time. Individuals who put the effort, wisdom, and willpower into planning their professional futures will become positive outliers, or people who distinguish themselves from the crowd. Becoming a positive outlier requires an avoidance of rigidity and a constant eye to the changing future. Individuals operating at full capacity may not be the best or brightest in the room, but they will achieve sustained success based on their proven track records of excellent work.

Everyone ultimately controls his or her own success. Achieving full potential requires harnessing the power of self-esteem and positive thinking. Professionals should consistently and willfully visualize positive outcomes. Every significant challenge that comes down the professional pipe can be thought through and dealt with in advance, as positive outcomes are willed into existence and alternative or worst-case scenarios are dreamed up and dealt with. Individuals who put in the prep work of thoroughly visualizing challenges will be in a great position to respond to every possible factor thrown their way.

Visualization must be accompanied by self-efficacy, or a real belief in the inevitability of one’s success. High levels of self-efficacy generate a positive feedback loop, resulting in a higher sense of self-confidence and a greater likelihood of positive results. Self-efficacy can result in self-fulfilling prophecies, where positive expectations create positive outcomes. Positive expectations, when properly and realistically maintained, can result in a cycle of perpetual success where excellent results are visualized, worked toward, and achieved. Much of the energy needed to achieve this cycle comes from having an internal rather than external locus of control. Individuals who cultivate an internal locus of control accept and take responsibility for their failures and successes, while externally-oriented people consistently look to outside circumstances.

To achieve sustained success and truly enjoy it, individuals must align efforts with passions. Success can be achieved outside the realm of personal desires, but the best career trajectories come when individuals put their efforts toward activities they truly love. By cultivating passion and applying positive lessons to career development, anyone can construct a remarkable career trajectory.

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THINK BIG, ACT SMALL, MOVE QUICK

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Goal Oriented session for Leading bank by Prism Philosophy

Building and managing a trajectory involves breaking down professional goals into manageable steps. Everyone is familiar with the experience of dreaming big, but many people get lost in the execution. Setting goals is the first step in achieving a goal-oriented career trajectory. Difficult but attainable goals consistently result in the greatest success, but there is a tension between the hard and the impossible. If goals are too difficult, motivation is lost and individuals are discouraged from making future attempts. Professionals should set goals for the near future, as goals extrapolated too far out do not exert much influence.

 

Goals are best achieved through small, incremental progress. Patience can be a tricky subject to master, but it is well worth the effort. Most goals are not achieved in a rush of energy; they are reached over time as individuals put in day-to-day effort. Specifying intermediary milestones is a good way to measure progress. Professional choices are best made after careful consideration rather than through knee-jerk reactions to every new development. Incorporating the principle of delayed gratification into one’s goals will result in increased willpower and avoidance of an instant-reaction feedback loop.

While progress is best achieved in small increments after thoughtful exploration, that does not mean individuals should paralyze themselves by considering all options and refusing to move forward. Individuals must identify the right opportunities and seize them at the right time. While the decisiveness and responsibility this entails may seem overwhelming, a carefully mapped trajectory can provide the information needed to make good choices in a timely manner. As individuals think big, act small, and move quick, their confidence and ability will increase.

UNCOVERING THE HIDDEN AGENDA

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Uncovering a hidden agenda requires a highly developed emotional intelligence, or the ability to listen to and empathize with others. The pitching team can follow a series of steps to arrive at the hidden agenda:

1. Prepare by going beyond the client’s or prospect’s brief — the statement of the problem that needs solving. The pitching team must unearth additional information that will help them better understand the client.

2. Spend time with the client and focus not on the team’s capabilities but on what the client reveals.

3. Think like a shrink. The pitching team must discern the client’s personality profile and motivation and keep the speaker’s interests front and center. Acknowledging and paraphrasing the speaker is important, along with making the speaker feel supported.

4. The practice of careful listening focuses on the speaker. The careful listener acknowledges and paraphrases the speaker and makes him or her feel accepted and supported. The more comfortable the listener feels, the more the speaker will reveal.

5. Ask the right questions. At least some of the questions should go beyond the business issue and invite the prospect to express his or her feelings.

Because the hidden agenda is usually based in a visceral emotion, it is not directly stated, and the client often cannot express it clearly. To help clients articulate the hidden agenda, the pitching team can use laddering, a psychological technique that employs a series of questions to explore a path leading to a core motive or desire.

CORE, CREDO, AND REAL AMBITION

Core

When pitching, a person needs to connect with a client from his or her core — or the person’s essential nature — which is the most genuine part of the personality. An appeal to a person or organization will have gravitas only if it reflects something essential and true about the individual making the appeal. Identifying a core requires psychological mining, which can be done using one of four methods:

  1. The associative method uses words and images to uncover meanings that reflect the core. Two tools used in the associative method are thecore questionnaire, which employs essential questions about oneself or the organization to help define the core, and a word sort, which helps the inquirer arrive at the same place.
  2. The projective method is a psychological profile test that uses different stimuli to call up associations and emotions. This method can use photographs, for example, or celebrities, or anything else that can symbolize character or values.
  3. The footprint method combines elements of the associative and projective methods to arrive at three essential meanings that reflect the core.
  4. The profiling method involves identifying a type within a personality typology system.

By identifying their cores, individuals or organizations can easily convey how they add value and provide a compelling reason for the client to follow them.

Credo

It is important to crystallize an individual or organization’s belief system to create a following, as companies are now judged on what they believe as much as by what they sell. The credo is a statement of beliefs, and it follows from the core. A credo underlies organizational culture and dynamics; it is the thread that holds a community together. To articulate a credo, members of the pitching team can use the same methods that helped them uncover their core. For example, they may ask themselves what is important about the ways they live their lives or the ways in which they work. If the pitching team makes its credo clear and creates a shared bond with the client based on that credo, the team is sure to win the business.

Real Ambition

Real ambition may be defined as “the human desire to create something good where nothing existed before.” Such aspiration goes beyond what is good for the self and embraces what is good for the community. An individual with real ambition wishes to grow professionally and personally, and that desire must be connected to the hidden agenda in order to rally people to a cause. Real ambition has noble intentions, is a statement of clear intent, seems impossible (since it is an aspiration for a great leap), has a core that will fuel action, and is articulated in simple language. Discerning an individual’s or a company’s real ambition begins with some key questions, such as, “What was I put on earth to do?” or “How will others benefit from my (or our) special abilities?” Real ambition must be articulated in a statement of purpose, which should include the pitching team’s “noble intent” and how the team plans to transform the situation at hand.

A WINNING STRATEGY AND A WINNING ARGUMENT

In crafting a winning strategy, the team addresses not only a technical solution, but also connects one or more of its leverageable assets — core, credo, and real ambition — with the hidden agenda. One way to distill the winning strategy is to use the Allen Key, a tool that has six elements: the three leverageable assets (core, credo, and real ambition) and the three key elements of the prospect’s hidden agenda (wants, needs, and values). The pitching team’s real ambition is to use credo to connect with values and core to connect with needs. In the case of MasterCard, McCann’s core of a competitive culture and a winning track record connected with MasterCard’s need to score a victory over Visa.

When it is time to pitch to the client, the presentation can be thought of as a case being argued in a court of law. A pitch needs a powerful opening with a theme that reflects the hidden agenda, a well-organized presentation of “evidence,” and a compelling summation. While it may be tempting to overwhelm the audience or prospect with many arguments and ideas, it is more effective to craft one highly persuasive thesis. The narrative of evidence logically follows from the major premise or argument. This narrative should move the audience emotionally while logically presenting the facts, which have been gleaned from the extensive research the team has done on the prospect and its business problem. The summation synopsizes the facts and the argument and rouses the audience to the action the pitching team is recommending.

THE POWER OF STORYTELLING

Storytelling is the oldest and most beloved form of communication. Therefore, it is no surprise that pitching requires telling a story built around the hidden agenda of the prospect. In the case of MasterCard, McCann’s pitch included a story about a father and son at a baseball game. The tickets, refreshments, and autographed baseball were given price tags, while the conversation between father and son was labeled “priceless.”

Any good story has archetypal elements: a hero that goes on a journey toward fulfillment or enlightenment, a villain who presents obstacles or opposing forces, a supporting cast of characters that help or hinder the hero’s journey, and a sage that offers wisdom to the hero or articulates the meaning of the story. The journey of the hero includes the quest (for the object, purpose, or meaning), a reversal of fortune (when it looks like the hero will fail) a turning point, and a denouement (a moment of epiphany or discovery). At the end, there is a moral or takeaway. For the person pitching the idea, the hero is the prospect, the story is about what the prospect is trying to attain, and the moral is the hidden agenda. The pitch must be organized around the hidden agenda and dramatically highlight elements of the journey toward that goal.

Storytelling is compelling because it reminds people what it means to be human; it connects them emotionally to others. It also embodies people’s hopes and captures their imaginations, allowing them to believe that what they desire can happen. Finally, storytelling provides drama, the best form of entertainment.

UNCOVERING THE HIDDEN AGENDA

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Uncovering a hidden agenda requires a highly developed emotional intelligence, or the ability to listen to and empathize with others. The pitching team can follow a series of steps to arrive at the hidden agenda:

1. Prepare by going beyond the client’s or prospect’s brief — the statement of the problem that needs solving. The pitching team must unearth additional information that will help them better understand the client.

2. Spend time with the client and focus not on the team’s capabilities but on what the client reveals.

3. Think like a shrink. The pitching team must discern the client’s personality profile and motivation and keep the speaker’s interests front and center. Acknowledging and paraphrasing the speaker is important, along with making the speaker feel supported.

4. The practice of careful listening focuses on the speaker. The careful listener acknowledges and paraphrases the speaker and makes him or her feel accepted and supported. The more comfortable the listener feels, the more the speaker will reveal.

5. Ask the right questions. At least some of the questions should go beyond the business issue and invite the prospect to express his or her feelings.

Because the hidden agenda is usually based in a visceral emotion, it is not directly stated, and the client often cannot express it clearly. To help clients articulate the hidden agenda, the pitching team can use laddering, a psychological technique that employs a series of questions to explore a path leading to a core motive or desire.

CORE, CREDO, AND REAL AMBITION

Core

When pitching, a person needs to connect with a client from his or her core — or the person’s essential nature — which is the most genuine part of the personality. An appeal to a person or organization will have gravitas only if it reflects something essential and true about the individual making the appeal. Identifying a core requires psychological mining, which can be done using one of four methods:

  1. The associative method uses words and images to uncover meanings that reflect the core. Two tools used in the associative method are thecore questionnaire, which employs essential questions about oneself or the organization to help define the core, and a word sort, which helps the inquirer arrive at the same place.
  2. The projective method is a psychological profile test that uses different stimuli to call up associations and emotions. This method can use photographs, for example, or celebrities, or anything else that can symbolize character or values.
  3. The footprint method combines elements of the associative and projective methods to arrive at three essential meanings that reflect the core.
  4. The profiling method involves identifying a type within a personality typology system.

By identifying their cores, individuals or organizations can easily convey how they add value and provide a compelling reason for the client to follow them.

Credo

It is important to crystallize an individual or organization’s belief system to create a following, as companies are now judged on what they believe as much as by what they sell. The credo is a statement of beliefs, and it follows from the core. A credo underlies organizational culture and dynamics; it is the thread that holds a community together. To articulate a credo, members of the pitching team can use the same methods that helped them uncover their core. For example, they may ask themselves what is important about the ways they live their lives or the ways in which they work. If the pitching team makes its credo clear and creates a shared bond with the client based on that credo, the team is sure to win the business.

Real Ambition

Real ambition may be defined as “the human desire to create something good where nothing existed before.” Such aspiration goes beyond what is good for the self and embraces what is good for the community. An individual with real ambition wishes to grow professionally and personally, and that desire must be connected to the hidden agenda in order to rally people to a cause. Real ambition has noble intentions, is a statement of clear intent, seems impossible (since it is an aspiration for a great leap), has a core that will fuel action, and is articulated in simple language. Discerning an individual’s or a company’s real ambition begins with some key questions, such as, “What was I put on earth to do?” or “How will others benefit from my (or our) special abilities?” Real ambition must be articulated in a statement of purpose, which should include the pitching team’s “noble intent” and how the team plans to transform the situation at hand.

A WINNING STRATEGY AND A WINNING ARGUMENT

In crafting a winning strategy, the team addresses not only a technical solution, but also connects one or more of its leverageable assets — core, credo, and real ambition — with the hidden agenda. One way to distill the winning strategy is to use the Allen Key, a tool that has six elements: the three leverageable assets (core, credo, and real ambition) and the three key elements of the prospect’s hidden agenda (wants, needs, and values). The pitching team’s real ambition is to use credo to connect with values and core to connect with needs. In the case of MasterCard, McCann’s core of a competitive culture and a winning track record connected with MasterCard’s need to score a victory over Visa.

When it is time to pitch to the client, the presentation can be thought of as a case being argued in a court of law. A pitch needs a powerful opening with a theme that reflects the hidden agenda, a well-organized presentation of “evidence,” and a compelling summation. While it may be tempting to overwhelm the audience or prospect with many arguments and ideas, it is more effective to craft one highly persuasive thesis. The narrative of evidence logically follows from the major premise or argument. This narrative should move the audience emotionally while logically presenting the facts, which have been gleaned from the extensive research the team has done on the prospect and its business problem. The summation synopsizes the facts and the argument and rouses the audience to the action the pitching team is recommending.

THE POWER OF STORYTELLING

Storytelling is the oldest and most beloved form of communication. Therefore, it is no surprise that pitching requires telling a story built around the hidden agenda of the prospect. In the case of MasterCard, McCann’s pitch included a story about a father and son at a baseball game. The tickets, refreshments, and autographed baseball were given price tags, while the conversation between father and son was labeled “priceless.”

Any good story has archetypal elements: a hero that goes on a journey toward fulfillment or enlightenment, a villain who presents obstacles or opposing forces, a supporting cast of characters that help or hinder the hero’s journey, and a sage that offers wisdom to the hero or articulates the meaning of the story. The journey of the hero includes the quest (for the object, purpose, or meaning), a reversal of fortune (when it looks like the hero will fail) a turning point, and a denouement (a moment of epiphany or discovery). At the end, there is a moral or takeaway. For the person pitching the idea, the hero is the prospect, the story is about what the prospect is trying to attain, and the moral is the hidden agenda. The pitch must be organized around the hidden agenda and dramatically highlight elements of the journey toward that goal.

Storytelling is compelling because it reminds people what it means to be human; it connects them emotionally to others. It also embodies people’s hopes and captures their imaginations, allowing them to believe that what they desire can happen. Finally, storytelling provides drama, the best form of entertainment.

Power of Feedback

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The importance of feedback as a tool for personal change and professional development cannot be overstated. Deep feedback involves seeking out substantive, often critical advice on performance, attributes, and style. Asking for this type of feedback can be a distressing experience, especially in a culture conditioned to preserve self-esteem at all costs. The value of deep feedback, though, outweighs the possible unpleasantness of incurring a hit to one’s ego.

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Feedback session for the leading premier institute students of India 

 

A common mistake made by employees in the modern workplace is simply neglecting to ask for deep feedback in the first place. It is easy to avoid the harsh light of honest feedback by never seeking it out, but this strategy leads to complacency and professional mediocrity. People tend to overestimate the quality of their own performance, so avoiding deep feedback can leave them in an echo chamber of their own making, blissfully unaware of the way their work is perceived by those around them. Overcoming personal resistance to deep feedback is a key aspect of improvement and advancement.

The mere provision of feedback, even honest feedback, does not end the inquiry. How a person responds to feedback dictates how much it will be internalized. People can choose to either personalize the feedback and react destructively, or they can depersonalize the advice and not see it as an attack on their entire identity. No matter how eager a person is for feedback, a destructive reaction will make others unwilling to provide more feedback in the future.

People should view feedback as a compass, or something that will keep them on the straight and narrow. Carving out time to ask for feedback, internalizing it properly, taking advantage of mentorship opportunities, and being attuned to unconscious feedback from others’ actions and body language can allow individuals to capitalize on input and transform their career trajectories.