Category Archives: Box-Free Thinking

The Ideal Length Of Everything

Ideal length of everything

Who determines length?

It’s not about the length you want to write or how short you tweet, but what your ideal target client believes is an ideal length—enough, but not too much.

Journalists and copywriters are trained to write length “to count”—to fill the exact space available in print context, like column inches or above the fold in newspapers. Online lengths are measured in bytes and bandwidth. Digitally, “above the fold” continues to set limits, but it now means before the need to scroll. Publishers limit nonfiction authors “to count” in tens of thousands of words, especially when creating a print book which has size and weigh limitations for a lot of practical reasons. Yet these decisions may be flawed.

Don’t think about the length—number of words, number of lines, number of pages, amount of scrolling required—when you write or send messages to engage your target prospects and clients. Instead, carefully consider time—theirs.

Time is the precious and limiting resource for all of us and no less for your targets.

Make sure you consider length by determining exactly how much of their time your communication will use up. How long will it take prospects and clients to read, watch, or listen to content you’ve created, or had created, to promote you and your offerings? Be sure that you aren’t wasting their valued commodity:

  • Wasting time, because you are not on point, that is, clearly sharing valuable knowledge that targets can easily use to their own benefit.
  • Wasting time, because you’re not reaching them when it’s convenient for them to receive your information and ideas and to act.
  • Wasting time, because the result is not more revenue, more work, and more trust for you and your business or practice, but possibly less of all three.

Search the net and you’ll find lists of the ideal length for almost any communication product or service. Averages and generalities are ball-park figures. Unless these lengths were generated by or for your specific target, they may distract you from your target’s ideals.

Start by deciding how much time target prospects and clients might invest in a specific written, audio, and/or video message because they value your expertise. Remember, miss the point and deliver little targets consider relevant, and hard-won trust is eroded regardless of the length.

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Panel How-tos: Chronic Pain Forum

Panel discussion whole greater

Panel discussion = whole greater than sum

With panel discussions, the whole is not always greater than the sum of the parts.

An amazing group of expert panelists needs an amazing communicator and analyst as the moderator and more time than the event is usually assigned. The most important ingredient for an amazing panel discussion is a clearly-stated topic which has the breadth to showcase panelist expertise and allow them to drill down into the subject for inspired insight. If the panel topic tries to cover “everything you every wanted to know about…” the discussion can be superficial or just ordinary.

My work and research make me a frequent and enthusiastic conference and meeting attendee. I admit that I am drawn to panel discussions because communication and the lack of it are what fascinates me. Panel-fan that I am, many panels leave me wondering more about what wasn’t said than what was.

The Best Advice for Panel Design

When you plan a panel discussion for your conference, client-appreciation event, or professional-development meeting, my advice as a panel-fan is to always apply the best advice for successful travel. Why “travel”? When panels catch fire and generate transporting edu-tainment (education combined with entertainment) for their specific audience, the experience is “mind travel” to a new exciting, even surprising place.

My advice for a transporting panel discussion is the same I give for travel: Take half as many clothes and twice as much money.

  • For your panel discussion, the “half as many clothes” will be half as many topics, subjects, and perspectives. Just as novice travelers don’t travel light, panel planners can get carried away with the brain power at their disposal and pack in every subject possible. Ready for all occurrences, just in case, can mean missing the point of the panel discussion in the conference’s context.
  • The panel discussion’s “twice as much money” does not refer to paying panelists more (usually there is little or no payment for these experts). Instead, the “money” refers to how the panel’s value—knowledge, experience, humor, and insight—materializes for the audience. When designing a panel discussion, ramp up the value to audiences. “Twice as much” is just the beginning. At business events, audiences expect to make money from what they learn and who they meet during the conference or meeting. Concentrate on how audience members can take their exposure to the panel discussion “to the bank.”

Example: Chronic Pain Forum

This Panel Discussion, presented by The Forum at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, jointly with The Huffington Post, is deliberately tackling a big subject head-on to ramp-up attention to The Chronic Pain Epidemic—attention that is long overdue.

The expertise of Forum meeting planners, panelists, and audiences will make this event matter. I’m suggesting you take a look at this event to see how subsequent panel discussions within this umbrella topic could “take half as many clothes and twice as much money” to further ramp-up attention to the issues here.
(The Epidemic’s impact on business is a topic for another post.)

Forum advance notices state:

Panelists are open to exploring relevant pain care policies, including prescription monitoring program regulations, drug development, funding for research, and a variety of pain management options, including marijuana and mindfulness meditation.

With only one hour for the panel and diverse audiences invited, how will this talented panel rise to create value for audiences?

The Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Forums

THE CHRONIC PAIN EPIDEMIC: What’s to Be Done?

Presented by The Forum at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health jointly with The Huffington Post

Thursday, November 10, 2016
11am ET — a brief pre-event Q&A with panelist Vaughan Rees and moderator David Freeman. Post your questions during the Q&A on Facebook.
12:30-1:30pm ET — During the one-hour panel discussion, panelists will examine how clinicians can best serve their patients, highlighting the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recent National Pain Strategy.

  • Watch the webcast: ForumHSPH.org
    You do not need to register to watch Forum webcasts online.
  • In association with Harvard Health Publications
    You can also watch the live stream on Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/Forumhsph/
  • The Forum video will be on demand after the event.
  • Join the live chat on The Forum’s Chronic Pain Epidemic web page.
  • Tweet @ForumHSPH #chronicpain

The Panel of Experts

Josephine Briggs, Director, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH

Anne Louise Oaklander, Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and an attending neurologist, Massachusetts General Hospital

Vaughan Rees, addiction specialist and Lecturer on Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy, U.S. Pain Foundation; Member, Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, NIH; and Policy Council Chair, Massachusetts Pain Initiative

Moderator David Freeman is the managing editor of Impact & Innovation at The Huffington Post. He is also host of the weekly NPR radio program Science Insider.

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Clients Demand: Pay Attention To Earn TRUST

Pay attention duck legs unseen

Pay attention: What’s below the water with clients?

To engage and hold the attention of a prospect or client, professionals must first PAY ATTENTION.

The media and marketing are committed to distraction, interruption, and redirection to achieve their goals, not your client’s. The more information, phone time, and social media noise distracting a prospect or client, the less of their attention there is to apply to the client problem you expect to solve. Ignore this attention-diverting context, and you won’t be prepared for success with clients who are distracted from making decisions and commitments.

To ramp up your “attention paying” and attention receiving:

1. Tailor to Earn Trust: Your approach, delivery, and service design may have worked before smartphones took over. Now, changes may be necessary to counterbalance the level of information overload your client is operating under or coping with each day. For instance, you may prefer one phone call or meeting to cover everything that you need said, concluding with the client signing on-the-dotted-line and buying your product or service. What’s the client’s preference? Today, many clients need more time and different methods of information delivery to become confident enough to buy. Others may want to take themselves through the sales process online with opportunity to search out details, alternatives, and reviews as they go. What learning tools do your target clients prefer: video, audio, experiential?

2. Concentrate to Earn Trust: It’s not only paying attention to your client that matters, but demonstrating that you’re concentrating. Reduce your level of distraction to elevate concentration. Put down your phone. Eye contact matters. Ask for details; listen constructively to client answers by taking notes; think about the points they make; analyze what’s missing; ask for details to clarify needs and gaps that your product or service is designed to fill. Every time the client has to repeat something to you or remind you that their earlier answer dictates their response to subsequent questions, you’re not earning trust and you may be losing accumulated trust.

3. Prepare to Earn Trust: Take-away content in print, audio, video, digital, or email form may give the prospect or client confidence in your sincerity. During a meeting, give them time alone to review the details and decisions involved. This focused attention may be all they need to sign up. Prepare a client-centric sales or consulting process that incorporates follow up, product/service customizing, client satisfaction, and above-average results for the client. This may mean tweeking your pre-smartphone sales or consulting system or completely overhauling your existing process so it’s smartphone-friendly.

The smartphone changed everything. How have you changed the way you do business to accommodate this communication revolution?

More: An example of how distraction and multitasking can undermine client decision making during a common buying process…”Multitasking vs A Real Estate Frame of Mind

Pay attention: What’s below the water with clients?

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Entrepreneurship: What’s Your Edge?

kehindetunde

Serial entrepreneur Tunde Kehinde’s successful mimic of Amazon astounded Africa—and many others, too. Now, he fosters entrepreneurship across the emerging African market of 1 billion…and beyond.

Dynamic entrepreneur Tunde Kehinde, with three successful start-ups to his credit and another well on the way, shared ideas on entrepreneurship and emerging markets as a speaker, panelist, and attendee at the recent Global Forum. I had the privilege of speaking with Kehinde privately to explore entrepreneurship further.

Listening to Kehinde explain his business theories and strategies, I was struck by one question: “What gives Tunde Kehinde his unique entrepreneurial edge?

The list of career highlights for this man—who has many more decades ahead—is already impressive. When matched with essential entrepreneurial skills, the list explains a lot about his serial success, but not everything…

  • Nigerian Kehinde credits his education and work experience as the foundation of his entrepreneurial success. A finance major, he earned an MBA at Harvard Business School. Hands-on experience as a business development executive with Diageo in London and as an Investment Banking professional with Wachovia Securities in North Carolina and New York City revealed the difference between theory and reality. This experience accounts for his solid foundation in analysis, quick thinking, and flexibility, but it’s only the beginning.
  • This impressive communicator has a warm, natural style and a creative command of public speaking that facilitates his delivery of his point in any context. For all these reasons, he was a popular Forum speaker. One media colleague referred to him as a “rock star” since each time he spoke, lines of attendees gathered, eager to speak with him and snap a pic. Essential communication skills and salesmanship often separate successful entrepreneurs from those who merely have a good idea, but there’s more to this.
  • Kehinde’s track record has created a credibility and momentum that makes future success almost predictable:
  1. Kehinde began by co-founding Bandeka.com, an online dating platform identified by Forbes Magazine as one of the hottest tech start-ups in Africa.
  2. Then, he saw the need for a version of Amazon that would fill infrastructure and other system gaps for Africa and Jumia.com emerged as Nigeria’s leading ecommerce platform. As Co-Founder and former Managing Director of Jumia, Kehinde helped grow the business from 5 employees to almost 1,000 to serve customers across Nigeria.
  3. Next, he emerged as the Co-Founder and Co-Managing Director of Africa Courier Express (ACE) (www.ace.ng), a technology-driven logistics platform, that enables ecommerce companies, financial institutions, and healthcare businesses to ship items directly to consumers across Nigeria. ACE shipped to almost 400,000 customers and collected payments on behalf of 1,000 merchants. ACE plans to expand across Africa.
  4. To address financial and banking barriers for ACE clients, merchants, entrepreneurs, and the growing African online middle class, Kehinde co-launched Lidya.co which offers easy, reliable, secure online access to finances.

What gives Tunde Kehinde his unique entrepreneurial edge?

When I explained to Kehinde that I had met entrepreneurs with credentials similar to his that explained his and their polished professionalism, he nodded. When I went on to say that I saw more than the sum of these parts in his ability, magnetism, and calm resolve, he smiled. When I asked, “How’d you get so smart?” He laughed and began to explain…

Acknowledging the importance of education, career opportunities, and practical start-up experience, Kehinde revealed that his parents were both entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial mind set was ingrained in him. That’s what makes the difference for him.

That’s the key to a powerful entrepreneurial edge: a clear inner, empowering “you can do it” voice.

This inner determination is either instilled early in life or deliberately acquired later. Parents who embody entrepreneurial drive and repeat entrepreneurial sentiments to their children can be powerful role models. The resulting family environment, can make the business drive to succeed part of both conscious and unconscious thinking and decision making in the next generation.

Family is what gave Kehinde a very early start and a unique entrepreneurial edge. He’s taken it from there.

What gives you your entrepreneurial edge?

Even if your parents were not in business and never encouraged you—or, perhaps were even a discouraging force—that inner certainty came from somewhere. The more conscious you are of how your certainty arose, the more in control of it you’ll be, even in the toughest times.

For more from Tunde Kindhe…see “Harnessing the Potential of Emerging Middle-Class Markets” in “Explore New Markets At A Global Forum

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Disruptive Technologies: Hyper Local & Diamonds

“Disruptive” has evolved into an exciting business word, but it remains full of surprises, especially when linked to “disruptive technology” and its sea of opportunity.

“Disruptive” used to be a negative word meaning “burst asunder,” “throw into disorder,” or “dash to pieces.” Now, many see the term as a provocatively-positive invitation to dismantle or redirect the existing and drive home their over-riding point of view à la Uber and Amazon.

Lots of opportunity there but, new disruptive technologies do not automatically over-write everything. However, they will always require new ways of thinking and communicating. As a result, re-engineering and re-designing are now ongoing business processes, not once-in-a-while overhauls.

Professionals, entrepreneurs, and organizations ready to jump in and grab the emerging “brass ring”—that is, “disruptors”—benefit most when, from the start, they have client-centric vision. Once clear about existing target market needs, wants, and the untapped elements of both, opportunity emerges. As the new technology alters context for both disruptors and their target clients, competition can heat up. Client-centric disruptors can maintain their “first in” advantage because they understand how to communicate advantages, not disruption, to target markets.

At a recent Global Forum entitled “Leading in Uncertain Times,” arguably the most popular of the 11 break-out forums was “Riding the Wave of Disruptive Technologies.” A panel of forward thinkers explored the question: “What is the potential long-term economic impact of disruptive technologies?”

One panelist set the stage for disruption of globalization and emergence of a new “hyper local.”

“The path of light determines decentralized architecture,” said panelist Marcus Weldon, Chief Technology Officer of Nokia and President of Bell Labs. “It is the speed of light that determines this. [Light] can only travel about 100km (round trip, meaning there and back) in 1 millisecond. So any application or service requiring this latency/delay has to be located within 100km maximum, which we say [as] 50km allowing for some additional processing time.”

According to Weldon, this means that the “within 50 kilometers” necessity leads to a focus on “hyper local because it must be that way.”

This predicted disruptive shift from globalization to a new hyper local arises from internet of everything demands. Resulting significant change may open up local or small venture opportunity.

Weldon (by email): “Going local will require the deployment of cloud infrastructure within 50-100km from each user/enterprise and not everyone will be willing or able to build out the cloud to this level. That is not to say that Global providers cannot become local cloud providers, but they may choose not to, and just partner or federate with other cloud providers who do. Telecom operators are one potential local cloud provider for these local clouds as they own local facilities (switching offices etc.) with fiber running to those facilities, and [they] need to run their networks in this way anyway.”

How would this disruption alter context for your target markets and their income earning?

Panelist Adam Khan, Founder and CEO of Illinois-based Akhan Semiconductors and co-inventor of the Miraj Diamond™ Platform explained how diamond semiconductor technology provides “new pathways of flexibility” that have the potential to disrupt electronics, including consumer electronics and wearable applications.

If diamond—known as the “Ultimate Wide Bandgap semiconductor material”—were a key successor technology to silicon, where could disruption materialize in electronics? How would your target markets be affected? Or, would the change created open new targets for your venture?

Disruptive bonus: Later in a phone interview, Khan talked about how local and global interplay is growing his semiconductor business. He also candidly explained why disrupting his work schedule to spend three days at the Global Forum was the best use of his time:

How do you disrupt your routine to benefit your business and, therefore, your clients?

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Part 2: Framework Responsive to Millennials

Mobile-friendly or responsive websites and online content are vital if you aim to attract and serve millennials.

Research proved to Boston-based social enterprise Framework Homeownership, LLC that mobile-savvy millennials make up more than 35% of the target for their national online home buyer course, so creating a mobile-friendly or responsive version of their highly-regarded home education resource was a “no brainer.”

For-profit Framework arose out of the combined efforts of two leading national nonprofits that share empowerment mandates to build strong communities: the Housing Partnership Network and the Minnesota Homeownership Center. The social enterprise has two main directives:

  1. Access: Any time, anywhere, anyone…responsive home education which sets a high standard for home buying and home ownership
  2. Revenue Sharing: Framework’s future lies in partnerships—profits shared with non-profits and for-profits intent on serving their real-estate-intent clients with unbiased online education.

Framework’s Holly Mott, Vice President of Brand Marketing, reports that almost 80,000 Americans from all 50 states have completed the online course since its creation in 2013—including more than 49,000 this year!

Even if real-estate-intent millennials are not your prime target, you can learn a lot from how strategically this innovative home education organization serves users and partners.

Framework has done many things right in communicating its “responsive” intent in all senses of the word:

  • The online course, with optional downloadable content, is available in English for platforms from mobile to desktop. (The Spanish version is not yet mobile friendly.)
  • The course has proven to be such a strong buyer-be-aware starting point that Fannie Mae made it an eligibility requirement for a major program. Wells Fargo and others see the value of home education for their clients.
  • The $75 fee is counterbalanced by readily-available discounts and coupons (scholarships) from advisory partners and growing numbers of lending and real estate professionals.
  • Framework acknowledges that expanding product offerings and applications is essential for continued connections. For instance, free monthly email content concentrates on what new homeowners need to know. The expanding national network of free, unbiased expert advisors (not salespeople) keeps millennials and other buyers, sellers, and borrowers coming back to Framework.
  • Mott says they broke start-up rules by launching in 2012 with just one product—the online course. However, Framework has built significant credibility by developing the best-possible, high-standard responsive course and online platform. This effort is very deliberately balanced by establishment of an industry-wide advisory and partnership network. Now, next steps can be giant steps. Three new products are in the R&D phase. Future plans will transform the responsive site into a revolutionary online platform to create new national standards for home-buying and ownership education and to let consumers, including millennials, reap the real estate rewards.

How responsive is your online presence?
Do you understand your target markets well enough to be responsive—online and off—to what they want and to what they may not realize they need from you?

Resource:
To learn more about Framework:

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Trust Earning: Do You Deserve Client Trust?

Risk aversion stops many good things from happening when it is supposed to stop bad things. Trust is the antidote to risk aversion.

Professionals must communicate their trustworthiness to earn trust and build lasting relationships with prospects and clients.

Natural fear of taking action or making a decision is meant to preserve our health, property, way of life, and sanity, but it can do the opposite. As far as prospects and clients are concerned, their trust will be earned by professionals who show consistent, genuine interest in the wellbeing of the prospect or client. Unless this client concern is visible in every facet of the work carried out by the professional for and with clients, trust may not be achieved and the relationship will remain superficial.

Clients’ interests should be transparently and prominently placed above the professionals’ interests. This commitment materializes as services that are relevant to target client needs and as delivery methods that match the professional’s process and organizational support.

For instance, whether a client filters the world through their smartphone or prefers emails interspersed with phone or face-to-face meetings, they’ll be receptive to placing trust in professionals who respect client communication preferences. Professionals who commit to client needs and goals discover many ways to demonstrate their trustworthiness.

Trust is also earned by professionals who deliver on promises and responsibilities without prompting or excuses. If it’s not clear to clients that they are in sync with the professional, has the professional genuinely earned their trust?

Perception is the reality in earning client loyalty. The client’s definition of trust sets the standard for professionals to meet and exceed in everything from communication to service delivery:

  • Should trusting include the client questioning the professional, or is unquestioning acceptance demanded by the professional?
  • Is the professional’s reaction defensive or offensive if their knowledge or skill is challenged?
  • Does the client understand exactly what you, the professional, expect from them and from yourself as the relationship progresses?
  • From the start, clients deserve to understand what “trust” will mean to both of you, and to outcomes. Clients should trust themselves to be sure about this.

Will you share this post with your prospects and clients because you want to open up the lines of communication and earn trust?

© Source: What’s Your Point? PJ Wade The Catalyst

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Sao Miguel coast

Itinerary: 12 Days in the Azores

Itinerary: 12 days in the Azores

Azores vista

Green-blue vistas, red-roofed homes and rolling farmland…great places to ramble and explore

Lagoa harbor

Lagoa’s colorful harbor with kids swimming off the dock and fisherman preparing to launch

Arquipelago dos Acores

Portugal’s Azores Archipelago (Click to enlarge)

My first visit to the Azores, Portugal’s mid-Atlantic archipelago, landed me on São Miguel for a month and hooked me on this green-blue island, the largest of the nine islands. My recent 12-day trip combined a return to São Miguel and brief visits to three new islands: Faial, Pico, and Terceria. Now, I’m hooked on the Azores and I still have 5 more islands to go.

This adventure introduced a significant element of context. The Azores trip followed a month traveling throughout mainland Portugal, so how did my view of the mainland—its people, culture, and countryside—color my latest island explorations?

For now, I’m resisting the urge to rave about the natural beauty of the Azores—the stunning landscapes, striking coastlines, rolling green farm fields lined by blue Hydrangeas, inspiring sunrises and sunsets, colorful red-roofed homes, artistically cobblestoned plazas and streets…and much more. The accompanying photos were hard to select because the Azores is paradise for a photographer (or artist or traveler of any kind).

In subsequent posts, I’ll share ideas, observations, and inspiration from the Azores relevant to this whatsyourpoint blog’s themes: perspectives on context, extreme service excellence, entrepreneurship, meeting dynamics, and related communication topics, as well as suggestions for your trip to the Azores.

If you want travel details now, visit the Azores Promotion Board’s www.visitazores.com The regional airline, Azores Airlines, offers direct flights from North America: www.azoresairlines.pt

Faial surf

Surf’s up on Faial’s north coast

My itinerary: Courtesy of SATA Azores Airlines
Day 1: Leave Lisbon Portugal 12:30; arrive Ponta Delgado, São Miguel 13:45

Day 6: Leave Ponta Delgado 8:20; did not arrive at Horta, Faial at 9:20 but diverted to Pico Island airport because of fog on Faial. Short tour of Pico and then ferry ride to Horta, Faial.

Day 10: Leave Faial airport 11:20; arrive Terceira Island

Day 12: Leave Terceira 16:45

Why do I say the right hotel makes your visit?

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How Wanting Social Media ‘Likes’ Can Undermine Personal Service

Behaviorists and best-selling authors Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield of VitalSmarts surveyed 1623 people and discovered that obsession with posting photos and checking phones corresponds with lower enjoyment.

For professionals, “lower enjoyment” extrapolates to lowered personal service. Your clients may be shutting you out or down when they keep an eye on the screen, but are you doing the same thing to them by keeping an eye on your screen for social media updates and texts instead of giving clients your full attention?

The VitalSmarts survey “Society’s New Addiction: Getting a ‘Like’ over Having a Life” confirmed that social media isn’t only distracting, it’s dictating how we interact in person. Mashable.com and Entrepreneur.com featured the survey in articles that reviewed results like the 91% surveyed have seen tourists miss out on an important moment by trying to capture it on social media. (Maxfield’s own social media trophy-hunting behavior at his 60th birthday triggered the study.) You’ve been aware of this distraction trend and the fact it continues on the rise. What are you doing to take advantage of your knowledge and experience for your clients and your business?

My point is that distraction over superficial online responses should not take priority over giving your full, face-to-face attention to the client you’re with. Aren’t you curious why they believed a visit to you, not a text or phone call, was worth their time and effort?

1. If you can’t successfully juggle client relationships and social media, shouldn’t you reevaluate priorities, improve time management strategies, or hire an assistant? What are you intent on achieving with social media and your clients?
2. Curiosity about your clients feeds success with client service and satisfaction. If social media is burning up curiosity that should go to clients, what replacement value is social media contributing to you and your practice?

If you can’t give the client your full attention, why have a face-to-face meeting?

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CUBITAT: Think Around The Box

CUBITAT

CUBITAT: your unique “home in a box.”

CUBITAT, a 10’x10’x10′ (3-meter cube) with “plug and play elements” that seamlessly reveal and hide the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, laundry, entertainment area, and storage.

Exploring CUBITAT revealed the potential for future flexibility and mobility in the way we live, treat our “stuff,” and invest in ownership. The CUBITAT Project examines how our “stuff” and life functions could fit into a self-contained cube.

Take this concept a few steps further and consider that we could move the cube, or have it moved for us, when it was time for a change. This could foster Continue reading