Within 30secondsI guarantee you’ll be laughing. Next?What unexpected way can you also delight customers with the
unexpected extra value that gets them talking to their friends about your
company or cause?
Spending a fortune on sexy clothes and hair styling yet not
spending time to craft the acceptance speech that people refer to in
admiration. Why don’t more Oscar nominees nail it? They certainly know writers
who can help them and are adept at acting. Methinks the two most becoming ways
to accept an award or honor are to authentically, vividly and briefly honor
others- and to refer to something
bigger than yourself. (Of course you want to show people how much you are
delighted by the honor.)
These acceptance speeches display those qualities.I loved seeing them again and hope you
• Jack Nicholson for
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
For being interesting to watch even as he walks up the steps to
the stage.For starting with a
humorous line then delivering two more, interspersed with “first name only”
thank yous that made them seem especially personal - all while facing a wildly
For letting her emotion flow, then (somewhat) recovering to make
her praise specific. “This moment is so much bigger than me. It for Dorothy Dandridge…
and for all the nameless women of color… for tonight the door has been
“What I do really isn’t fishing. More like waterboarding for
worms.” - Man to man, overheard fishing off a public pier in San
Every year the New Yorker magazine invites
artists to remix their original cover image. Guess who got inserted.
"For the last 10 years people bought cars and refrigerators
and TVs like they were going grocery shopping. Now people are grocery shopping
like they're buying a car."- Mike Moriarty, A.T. Kearney business consultant
for Diagram Prize for the oddest book title include Baboon Metaphysics,
Curbside Consultation of the Colon and The Large Sieve and its Application.
“One cure for a country beset by government bureaucracy and
incompetence may be some old-fashioned corruption. In countries with robust
institutions, corruption decreases efficiency. But in weak states, graft and
bribes can ‘grease the wheels’ by enabling intelligent investors to circumvent
a crooked, incapable government and invest money directly in the private
sector.” - The Atlantic
"Will Americans embrace a heroine who skulks like a spy among
the intelligentsia, an apparently unlettered concierge..." - Caryn James on The Elegance of the Hedgehog
“Get the f#%k out of here or I'll throw you out the window.” - Pete Stark, in
discussing the national debt with interviewer, Jan Helfeld
"A belief that our prices are too high, that we run
misleading advertising, and that we care more about playing golf with doctors
than about helping them understand our medicines—all of this has earned our
industry a reputation near the bottom of all American institutions." - Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler, in a speech acknowledging that drug companies like Pfizer
don't have much credibility when discussing healthcare reform
"Don't you know?" one girl asked another in the Alameda,
California Library last week, "Ben Franklin is Aretha Franklin's father.
But he's, like, dead now. Way dead."
how can humans intervene to breed and teach the birds what they’ll need to
survive without also wearing away those birds’ natural apprehension of people;
without inadvertently building a race of whooping cranes that feels comfortable
hanging out on golf courses and in schoolyards and the fetid little ponds
around retirement communities?” - Joe Duff on using ultralights to lead
whooping cranes on a safer migration
“People don't ‘get’ the important messages leaders try to send the
first time around”, believes The Change Master Rosabeth Moss Kanter. “This
isn't intentional, but there's too much noise and too many distractions... so use the principle of redundancy.”
Yet you don’t have to be a “leader” to be heard, nor rely on
repetition. Just be relevant. It’s more likely that we don’t remember a message
because it didn’t matter to us.
To say it so it’s meaningful to others – enough that they’ll
remember and act, here’s some simple steps:
the single, specific behavioral change you seek.
Step into their shoes. See the
situation their way.
Find the emotional trigger within that situation or their lives (fear or
4.Among the many details in your head,
find the key comparison between “what is” and “what could be” that would matter
to them if they did #1.
Craft your three-part messsage:
a.What "is" (the bad situation)
What could be – when (not if) “we” act to change it.
Why act now.
Ask them to signify that they will join you in this act by doing something now.
(raise right hand, stand….)
Hone #5 and #6 steps so that every word counts.
Repeatedly practice saying it out loud and writing it so that your body moves
with the message.
you are crafting a message you will write rather than speak, you might as well
practice saying it too because:
•It will help you make your written
message more brief and conversational.
You’ll be so sought-after when they read you message they are going to want to
talk with you about “our” idea.
As West Wing fans suggested, Jimmy Smit’s character seemed to
foreshadow Obama’srise.Yet Roy
H. Williams describes other startling similarities (for starters Josh Lyman and Rahm Emanuel) – and why such storytelling offers insights to anyone who wants to make something well-known. He describes why “the public is more willing to
believe fiction than non-fiction.” One of the best undercover reporters with whom I ever had the honor to
work discovered that his editor was ”strongly discouraged” by certain high
level politicians from publishing much of what he uncovered in the Iran Contra
story. Not to be stopped, he turned his true story into a film treatment and
sold it to Oliver Stone, well-known for “adapting” historic happenings to match
his dramatic vision.While Oliver
was also warned to not move forward on the project my friend’s fee for the film
treatment was more money than he made in a decade as a reporter.
Suggestion. From your seat, use your expertise or imagination to
follow the money flooding out of Washington.Who really benefits?Who are the biggest influencers? Who
suffers? What compromises are being made by whom and how do they rationalize
them? Write your own true fictional story. See if it turns out to be true.
After the priest moved to a new parish he approached his superior to ask, "Would you mind if I smoked while
praying?" and was, not surprisingly, turned down.
Even if you, too, are an ardent non-smoker, it is wise to learn how to ask in a way that enables others to agree. For example, the
priest might have said, "Would you mind if I pray while I am
Setting the context with your initial comments is akin to
dressing in the fashion that the people you are going to be around will approve
or even admire, while still being true to yourself.
Because people like people who are like them. Like all
other animals, we are most comfortable with those who act and look right - like
us. In fact, the more you look familiar to me, the earlier in the
conversation I will literally hear your words, absorb their meaning and be more
able to accept them, and you.
The more you look and act different than me, the more my
peripheral vision narrows initially. Further my skin temperature will go
down and my heart beat up in anticipation of the possible need for
That is because the primitive triune part of our brains has not
changed. We are forever hardwired to respond to new, unfamiliar situations with
the "fight or flight" syndrome. Our vital signs literally shut down when we are first around
a person, setting or situation that is radically different, unfamiliar thus
initially potentially dangerous, until we have decided how we feel about our
You can pull people closer, and bring out their better side so
they can see and appreciate yours. In fact, this is probably the most
meaningful gift you can give someone else, other than the present of your warm
Continuously praise others' specific actions you admire, however
small they may seem to you. People eventually warm up to your evident warmth. Authentically praise to inspire happier, high-performing
behavior in others and yourself.
1. Praise someone directly. Whatever you praise you want to
flourish. The more specific your words, the more memorable your
message. Describe the actual act in as much rich detail so you honor the
person in acknowledging how vividly it affected you.
2. Even more powerfully, compliment the person to one or more
people who are very important to them. My client, the CFO of a
Berlin-based maker of wireless portal equipment named Punjabi, has had a rugged
and quite successful third year of operation where everyone has worked long
Instead of handing out the ten top team awards in the traditional
way, at a company event, the CEO took the time to find a significant group
related to each of the winners. For those winners the groups included a
place of worship, a rugby club, a college alumnae organization and an antique
With the permission of these organizations, the CEO arranged to
give the award and an eight-minute speech, describing both the winner's
accomplishments at Punjabi and a specific incident where the winner exemplified
the heroic character of a true team player. Thus each (surprised) winner
got to bask in the spotlight in front of valued people in her or his non-world
The CEO's greater effort also put his company in a genuinely
positive light in many new places. Although it did not appear that any of
the people who saw their friends receive the award were immediate, potential
customers of Punjabi, they were sufficiently inspired to stir some positive
word-of-mouth buzz about the awards ceremonies.
A month after these ceremonies a feature writer for the equivalent
of the "lifestyle" section of the main Berlin paper heard the story
through a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who was a rugby player with her
husband. Not one to be interested in business stories, she was
nevertheless touched by the way the ceremonies had rippled out to surround the
She tracked down the CEO and interviewed him, thus affording him
another chance to speak glowingly about specific examples of his
winners' dedication and ingenuity. As he praised each person, the
glow of the values he admired reflected back on him and his company. The
reporter also interviewed the winners and several of the people at the
organizations where the awards events occurred and then wrote a human interest
story that appeared, with photos, in a Sunday edition.
The article generated several glowing letters to the editor by
people who witnessed the ceremonies, the winners and others who were also moved
by the story. Mr. John Sunui, vice president of sales for Singapore-based
construction management company happened to read some of the letters in the
paper while eating his breakfast in a hotel while in Berlin on business.
Sunui emailed the reporter to request a copy of the original
article that the reporter emailed back the next day and he received when he
returned to Singapore.
That December holiday in Singapore -- and 14 other countries where
Sunui's company has offices, both the office director and one person in each
office who has done an outstanding job at their work, as voted by their
co-workers, will be happily surprised when they walk in the door at some place
that is special to them to be greeted by a company representative who will give
them a present and tell a story about another side of the winner that their
friends in that organization may not know about.
How can you give a lasting and perhaps the most widely-known gift
that ten people you admire can receive? For each person think of
the specific incident where that person has exemplified the quality that you
most admire or cherish. Re-play
the situation in your mind so you can describe it in all its story-building,
Practice saying the story, then notice how you now feel about the
person. Begin with the specific details before you end with the general
statement that summarizes your admiration. That way, you make the story,
and the person, more vividly memorable to others who read or hear it.
Next step: for each person envision what group to which they are
affiliated (family, religious organization, hobby or other interest or
professional group, etc.) would be most significant for that person if you were
to praise them among the members. You have several ways to pass along your
praise about the person you love or admire.
Call, email or write to someone in that person’s valued affinity
group and share your story of praise. Or you may, like the people in the
story above, ask for permission to confer a gift on the person at a gathering
of their group. In advertising this method is called a "third party
For example, when customers praise a product in an advertisement
they are providing a credible third party endorsement.Because we are all instinctive voyeurs,
naturally interested in the stories of each other's lives we are more drawn to
third party endorsements than to advertisements. Further, when we hear a
positive story about someone, told by another person we find it more credible
and compelling than if the person was to "boast" about it in telling
Here are other ways to offer heartfelt, long-lasting third party
endorsement gifts to those you hold dear:
Donate money or another gift to a charity or cause in which
that person is active, and ask that your story about them be included in any
acknowledgement of the gift.
Seek out places that person frequent and
see if you might buy a needed piece of equipment or repair in that person's
In our Sausalito church, for example, you can pay for a hymnal and
dedicate it with a related phrase, to someone you love. So every Sunday,
someone at my church opens up a hymnal with this hand calligraphic message on
the inside front, dedicated to my mother who loves piano music, "To
Lestelle whose piano playing washes away the dust of everyday life."
On an object that person might uses frequently (coffee mug, bath
towel, key holder) imprint or monogram a positive nickname or one phrase
characterization of the "hero's" action.
To my English rugby-playing friend, Richard, we're giving a glass
beer stein with these words etched on the bottom, "Great
giver of bone-crushing hugs."
Make a large, colorful postcard on which you write a description of the positive incident involving your hero, then ask your
colleagues who agree to join in signing it before sending it to that person's
home. Give a gift to the
person's partner in work or personal life, as an acknowledgement of your
Make a banner or poster, with a celebratory sentence and an
enlarged and flattering image of the hero and hang it in a prominent place
(wall or door of the person's office, home or event). Find a place the
person frequents (dry cleaner, golf club) and offer the business manager at
that site your credit card number with a set dollar limit. Ask the manager to
pay the next bill of your hero, fax you a copy of the bill, and hand the
manager a gift card with your inscription on it to be given to the hero at
their next visit. (You’ll create your own variation of this method, I'll bet.)
Two years ago I
learned that Janice, a skilled meeting planner who had hired me to speak at her
association several times over the years, and who was exceptionally gracious
and generous with me, had contracted leukemia. I
learned this from her assistant who called to confirm some details regarding my
next presentation at their annual meeting.
On a long plane flight back from another speaking engagement, I
looked out the window, thinking of Janice, and conjured up this idea for a
third party endorsement of the Hawaiian-born meeting planner which would
reflect one of her most passionate interests, gardening. I called the
association's executive director to share my idea and he immediately agreed.
Two months later, just after I was introduced to speak at that
association's convention's opening breakfast, I moved to the center of the
raised stage, signaling the 500 attendees to also rise from their seats as the
board president caught the elbow of our surprised meeting planner, Jana, who at
the bottom of the stage steps, still focused on making sure the room lighting
would be alright for my speech.
He guided her up the steps as I stepped back to the side of the
stage and the first person in the audience, roving mike in his hand told a vignette of how Jana had guided him at the beginning of his career.
As Jana reached the center of the stage, in front of the people she had served
for 14 years, eight other people in various parts of the room lifted their mike
and told their brief story about her.
Then a tenor saxaphone player stepped out from the side of the
stage to serenade Janice with a fragment of her favorite Kenny G song as the
screen on the stage was filled with purple words on an emerald green (her
favorite colors) background, "Jana is a special flower" followed by a
swift changing set of images of Janice in several situations.
As the song ended, on cue, all 500 people pulled from out of their
pockets and purses the fragrant Hawaiian-grown white flowers, the gardenias,
tuber roses and pikaki and held them aloft towards Jana. The board
president handed Jana a bouquet of the flowers and asked Jana to speak, which
she did, briefly, through her tears.
Even several of the hotel waiters were standing still, crying by
then. (My speech had, of course, been moved to the luncheon so people
could drop by Jana's table to say their warm greetings through the ensuing
blind spot was thinking that no one in the party would want a shot of him
smoking dope. Richardson’s dark spot was neglecting to mention a grand jury
investigation.Daschle’s dim spot
is not speaking up about not paying taxes on his special friend’s donated car
and driver. But the capper for comedians (wait until tonight on Colbert) is not mentioning to the president’s team (and their not checking) that $900 lien on your home from back in 2005- when you’re asked to become the
nation’s first chief performance officer.
you, I pay my taxes but (unlike you, of course) I’d have reason to squirm if my
whole life was put under a public microscope.But I’m not being nominated to live in a glass house.
I’d like to become the nation’s first Chief Plain Language Officer. I’d require
all regulations and legislation to be written in laymen’s language. But then my sometimes obtuse writing would be subject to
parody.I think I’ll stick to
enjoying "private" life.
title would you like to have bestowed on you in this administration? Beware.
Fame happens faster and reveals more details in an increasingly transparent