I hate you

“My eldest daughter told me she hated me when she was in the second grade.”

Bet that got your attention!

Which is the point.

Most articles, blogs and books start off with blah-blah preliminaries to “set the scene.”

Forget that.

Don’t set the scene. Jump into the scene.

That article could have started out predictably with, “This is a review of Sheryl’s Sandberg new book about women in the workplace.”

Yawn. Are you motivated to drop what you’re doing and keep reading?

I didn’t think so.

But instead, that first sentence popped off the page and motivated me to read the rest of this excellent article by Katharine Weymouth of the Washington Post entitled, How Can You LEAN IN If You Don’t Have Anyone to LEAN ON?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katharine-weymouth-how-do-you-lean-in-when-you-dont-have-someone-to-lean-on/2013/03/22/b117d730-8b24-11e2-b63f-f53fb9f2fcb4_story.html

What are you writing right now? A blog? Article? Report? Book chapter? Web copy? Marketing brochure?

Review your first sentence and paragraph.

Does it set the scene – or jump into the scene?

If you want to have readers at hello, pleasantly surprise them by JUMPING into a dialogue phrase pulled from the story that illustrates your point.

Readers will be intrigued, and they’ll want to know … the rest of your story.

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“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.” – Paulo Coelho

In the beginning, clients often tell me they think writing is hard work.

I tell them, “Not if you write when you’re flush with ideas.”

Do you know how flush is defined?

“A rushing or overspreading flow.

A sudden rise of emotion or excitement.

Glowing freshness or vigor.”

Wow. What writer wouldn’t want that?

Writing is only a chore or a bore when you over-think it.

From now on, don’t write when you’re grinding; write when you’re glowing.

Writing is joyous when you’ve just observed or experienced something different, something intense – and you’re simply transferring the aha’s running through your mind onto paper.

The thing is, many of us are busy so we set aside a time to write. We sit down at the appointed hour and expect flow to show up, on command.

Flow doesn’t like to take orders.

It has a mind of its own.

It happens IN THE MOMENT.

It happens when we’re one with something that just happened and the miracle of it is filling our mind, soul and spirit.

That’s when we need to sit down and write.

When those exquisite moments happen, we need to GO WITH THAT FLOW or it disappears.

Next time, you see something, feel something, understand something as if for the first time … and your mind starts racing with epiphanies … honor them.

Sit down (even though you have ‘other things to do) and get those thoughts out of your head and onto the screen or notepad … as fast as you can.

Without editing or critiquing.

Let what wants to be said come out in a vigorous rush … because what’s coming out is alive.

It may not be grammatically perfect … but it will have a voice, a passion, a pithy purity that only results when we’re swept up in what wants to be said.

When we do that, when we get out of the way and facilitate what wants to be said along its way, we collaborate with the muse.

It may sound grandiose, but writing those thoughts down in the moment is a way to render them immortal.

When we are in that pure state of flow, we are simply the conduit for whatever insights are blossoming within us.

We are merely the messenger and our role is to get those thoughts out of our head (where they serve only us) and into the world (where they have the opportunity to serve many).

You know you’re getting this “right,” when you look at what you’ve written and it’s better than you know how.

So, if you want writing to be a blessing instead of a burden; if you want to be at your intriguing best, write in the FLUSH of the moment to free up FLOW.

They don’t call them fleeting thoughts for nothing.

Next time you experience something that gets your juices flowing, get going.

Actually, sit down and let what wants to be said …. get said.

“In influencing others; example is not the main thing.  It’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Agreed.

What’s a situation coming up in which you want to influence someone to give you their time, mind or dime?

If you want to capture and keep their attention – if you want to open their mind and change their mind  – don’t open with information.

Open with an example.

In fact, follow Dr. Brene’ Brown’s shining example …

I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Brene’ Brown at a recent Leadership Colloquium at NASA Goddard.

Brene’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability is one of the top ten most-downloaded TED videos.

After the first 10 minutes of her NASA presentation, it’s easy to understand why.

She’s disarmingly honest about her journey from being a left-brained researcher who only valued bottom-line facts to discovering the transcendent, whole-hearted, free-flowing love that comes from having children.

What she didn’t anticipate was the fear that comes from being a mom.

She described how she used to stand in her kids’ rooms at night and watch them sleep … and weep.

Why?

She cherished them so much, she was afraid something would happen to them.

She knew this was illogical. They were perfectly healthy, perfectly fine.  Yet there she was … miserable.

She started researching why the emotion of happiness seems to be irrevocably tied with fear – and used an EXAMPLE to open our eyes to how common this phenomenon is.

A family is driving to their grandparents’s house for Christmas.  The parents are uptight because they’re running late.

The kids, sitting in the back seat, start singing Jingle Bells .

The parents realize how ridiculous they’re being and start singing Jingle Bells along with them.

At this point, Brene’ asked the audience, “And then what happened?”

Guess what the majority said??

“They get in a car accident.”

Is that what you thought?

Do you know what that means?

It means, deep down, you believe happiness is fleeting – you believe it is too good to be true.

How about you?  In the midst of things going well, are you, at some level, waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Arrgghh.

Say it ain’t so.

Brene’ went on to explain that, in an effort to protect ourselves against the pain we feel when something goes wrong  … we prepare ourselves by projecting it so we won’t be blindsided when the heartache happens.

Not only does that cut short any joy we might be feeling, that “failure forecasting” increases the likelihood of something going wrong because that’s what we’re focused on.  Then, if something does go wrong, it reinforces our worst fears and proves us “right.” This sets up an emotionally unhealthy spiral where we have even more cause to worry.

Brene’ continued with constructive ways to change this destructive default … if we choose.

Okay, what’s the point?

Look back over this post.

Were you engaged?  Were you thinking about that insight that some people are afraid of happiness – and thinking how it relates to you?

That’s because Brene’s EXAMPLE pulled you in and helped you SEE this situation.

If Brene (or I) had just talked about how some of us are waiting for the other shoe to drop – even when things are going well – that would have been wah-wah rhetoric.  You may not have related to it because it was information.

People today are suffering from InfoBesity.  They don’t want more information.

They can get all the information they want – anytime they want – online for the click of a button.

People want to be intrigued.

And one of the best ways to intrigue people is with EXAMPLES – not information.

Back to your upcoming situation where you’ll be trying to persuade someone to give you their valuable time, attention, respect, business, account or funding.

Don’t start with information.  Start with a real-life example that helps them SEE what you’re saying so they’re experiencing it – not just hearing it.

Be sure to check out Dr. Brene Brown’s website and blog.  Her insights on how we can be wholehearted – instead of going through life half-hearted because we’re protecting ourselves from pain – are brilliant.  http://www.brenebrown.com/

Bestselling Author Shares 3 Tips for Building Your Blog Audience.

Kudos to Rachel Bertsche – creator of www.MWFSeekingBFF.com  for sharing her insights on how you can create a  “rising tide raises all boats” community by finding related blogs and adding insightful comments that add value for all involved.

If you are looking to expand your “tribe” and connect with like-minded souls, her advice is right on.

Seek out bloggers who focus on similar topics and bring them to the attention of your readers.  Showcase their site and link back to them.

Everyone benefits when you do this.

Shakespeare said, “Be wealthy in your friends.”

When you spread your online colleagues’ wealth of wisdom; everyone wins.

One of the best conferences I’ve ever attended was BIF-6, held in Providence, RI and hosted by Saul Kaplan of the Business Innovation Factory.

was BIF-6, held in Providence, RI and hosted by Saul Kaplan of the Business Innovation Factory.

Saul Kaplan of the Business Innovation Factory.


Saul and his team collect an eclectic mix of pioneering thought leaders ranging from Tony Hsieh of Zappos to Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company, Jason Fried of Rework and Keith Yamashita, who believes many of us “fritter away our greatness.”

Each presented a TED-like 18 minute presentation introducing their latest invention or insight.

I was on the edge of my seat the entire two days.

There was a recurring, underlying theme to each presentation. These visionaries had either:

A) seen something wrong and thought, “Someone should DO something about this. After being bothered about it for awhile, they finally concluded, “I’m as much a someone as anyone. I’LL do something about this.”

B) witnessed something that wasn’t what it could be. They thought, “It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s got to be a better way. An easier, greener, more satisfying, profitable way. And I’m going to come up with that way.”

I’ll be featuring some of their intriguing stories in upcoming blogs.

For now, I want to share the opening of the individual who did the best job at winning buy-in the first 60 seconds.

Are you wondering, “Was this someone who’s given hundreds of presentations, who’s done lots of media?”

Nope. The person who had us at hello was a surprise.

She walked to the center of the stage, centered herself (literally and figuratively) and stood tall and confident until everyone in the room gave her their undivided attention.

Then, flashing a playful grin, she said, “I know what you’re thinking.”

Long pause.

“What can a 7th grader possibly teach me about innovation?!”

Big smile.

“Well, we 7th graders know a thing or two. Like,” and here she spoofed herself, “how to flip our hair.” At this point, she tossed her long hair over her shoulder.

The crowd laughed, (with her, not at her). Everyone was instantly engaged and impressed with this young woman’s moxie and presence.

“We also know we have the power to make things better if we put our minds to it. For example . . . ” and she was off and running.

12 year old Cassandra Lin had us at hello.

12 year old Cassandra Lin had us at hello.

12 year old Cassandra Lin had us at hello.

The Cliff Notes version of her story is that she and her class discovered the clogged sewer pipes in their city were the verge of causing a disaster because so many restaurants and industrial companies were pouring their F.O.G (Fat, Oil, Grease) down the closest drain.

After doing some resarch, she and her classmates started T.G.I.F – Turn Grease into Fuel – an award-winning recycling effort that generates money for needy families.

You can find out more about her brilliant social entrepreneurialism in the BIF-6 Summit Book and also find out how to register for this year’s BIF-7 summit.
Why did Cassandra have us in the palm of her hand in 60 seconds?

She anticipated what her audience might be thinking – and said it first.

She anticipated these successful executives and entrepreneurs might be a bit skeptical that a 12 year old could have anything valuable to contribute – so she addressed it and neutralized it up front.

She established instant credibility and earned the respect of everyone in the room.

How about you? Are you giving a presentation in the near future? Who are your decision-makers? Will they have their mental arms crossed?

If so, SAY WHAT THEY’RE THINKING.

If you don’t voice what’s on their mind, they won’t be listening. They’ll be resisting everything you say.

For example, if they’re thinking, “I can’t believe you’re asking for money. We don’t have any left in our budget” . . . then guess what your first words better be?

That’s right. “You may be thinking I’m crazy coming in here and asking for money because we don’t have any left in our budget . . . and if I can have your attention for the next three minutes, I can show you where we’re going to find this money and how we’re going to make it back, and more, in the first three months.”

Now you have your audience at hello . . . and now your idea has a chance.

“Everyone is a genius at least once a year; a real genius has his original ideas closer together.” – G. C. Lichtenberg

Blink and Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell is the poster child of a genius who has original ideas closer together than most.

His newest book Outlier is being published this week.

As Ronald Reagan famously said in the Presidential Debates, “There you go again.” Fortunately, in Gladwell’s case, this is in a good way.

There Malcolm Gladwell goes again:

1. Creating a pithy, original title that makes our eyebrows go up (a sure sign he’s broken through our preoccupation and captured our interest.)

2. Introducing a contrarian concept (e.g., success depends on more than smarts, ambition and hustle) that piques our curiosity and makes us to want to know more.

3. Coining a new word which is destined to become part of the cultural lexicon. Outlier is a “person who doesn’t fit into our normal understanding of achievement. Simply said, they are uncommonly successful (literally and figuratively). The Beatles and Bill Gates are examples of Outliers.”

4. Naming his epiphany or methodology to make it proprietary so it’s associated with him and him alone. In this book, he calls it The 10,000 Hour Rule which refers to the amount of time it takes to turn someone into “someone who is like no other.”

Malcolm Gladwell is a walking-talking example of an IDEApreneur who is not content to be common — and all his readers are wiser because of it.

Do you have a favorite “genius” who is not content to be common — who can be counted on to introduce original, pithy ideas that get YOUR eyebrows up?