How to be more Confident

Fake it.

Yes, pretend.

There are three benefits that grow from you “acting” confident:

  • Attitude follows Behavior: Over time, you become more like you act—self-assured, confident, and convinced of the truth of what you are saying.
  • Emotional Contagion: Walk down an airport corridor and smile, and watch people smile back; change your facial expression to a frown, and you will be met with frowns. Act confident, people respond with confidence in you.
  • Self-Reinforcing Emotions: if you smile and then others smile, you are more likely to feel happy and smile. You may have to act confident and knowledgeable at first, but as others “catch” that feeling, it will be reflected back, making you more confident.
The research is laid out in detail in “Power: Why Some People Have It—And Others Don’t” by Jeffrey Pfeffer.  Pfeffer says that in order to be Powerful it is vital that you appear Powerful.  In the words of Peter Ueberroth: “Authority is 20 percent given, 80 percent taken.” 

Try acting confident for an hour.  How does it feel?  How do people respond?  Try smiling.  Do people respond with smiles?  How do you feel?  Have a great weekend.

    4 ways of dealing with Anxiety

    There are 4 ways of dealing with Anxiety

    1. Remove the source of anxiety – avoid the stress.  This is a poor coping strategy.  There is no growth in capability. There will always be a reduction of my performance levels when the stressor is present.
    2. Manage my level of anxiety – learn to auto-adjust down (relaxation techniques, visualisation) or up (“come on, fight this point! never back down!”)
    3. Tolerate anxiety – Accept the existence of the anxiety without it affecting my level of performance.  I learn to co-exist with the anxiety.
    4. Enjoy the anxiety – Lean in to the stress!  Accept the emotions and feel it 100%  Some sports stars have learnt to deliver more than 100% in the most extreme situations – world cup final penalty, Ryder cup putt on the last green with the whole world watching.

    Pep Mari, Psychologist for the Spanish Olympic Team

    This comes from work of Pep Mari (check out Pep Mari’s youtube channel, in spanish).  Pep is the head of psychology for the high performance athletics center that is part of the Spanish government’s plan to help create a generation of Olympic gold medal winners.

    How do you deal with Anxiety?

    How do you deal with anxiety?  Do you manage your stress levels?  Are there any stresses that you have learnt to enjoy?  How did you achieve this?

    Writing to Reflect. Mindful Leadership.

    Writing is among the greatest inventions in human history, perhaps the greatest invention, since it made history possible. Yet it is a skill most writers take for granted. As adults we seldom stop to think about the mental-cum-physical process that turns our thoughts into symbols on a piece of paper.” Andrew Robinson, The Story of Writing.

    I talk regularly about Warren Buffett’s 3 most important criteria for success: Integrity, Energy and Intelligence.

    I have blogged about how to have more energy.  This blog post is about improving intelligence.

    How to improve your intelligence

    If you want to improve your intelligence, write stuff down.  Full stop.  Write stuff down, and 6 months from now you have the accumulated intelligence of 6 months of notes, ideas, quotes.

    More valuable perhaps than increased intelligence is the power of writing to reduce my feelings of stress or overwhelm when I confront uncertain or challenging decisions.

    Reflective writing gives me three benefits

    1. Writing slows down time (Mindfulness)
    2. Writing orders my thought (practice improves clear thinking)
    3. Writing allows perspective (separation of subject and object, separation of reason and emotion)

    Habits and Rituals to keep writing as a habit

    In order to develop a habit of reflective writing I would suggest you start with 5 to 10 minute sessions where you dedicate full attention.  Set a timer and remove all sources of interruption.  Close the door, disconnect internet, put mobile on silent.

    I use a pen and paper.  Others use computer.  Whatever you do, the key to getting the benefits is to separate the creative and edit processes.  Reflective writing is about capturing the flow of consciousness as you reflect on the decision, on an error, on a problematic relationship, on how to achieve a certain outcome – and not letting your inner editor get into the process until you have a draft of the ideas down on paper.

    There are times when I have to tell my brain “I will keep writing until I have 500 words on this page and if I have to write the word ‘the’ 500 times then that is what I will do”.  Inspiration comes when I tell my procrastination-oriented lizard brain that I am going to go on writing until I reach my goal.

    Some starting questions to use for reflection

    1. Tell the whole story from other perspectives – put yourself in someone elses shoes and tell the story the way you imagine they might see it.  Improves your imagination – humanity’s most important gift.
    2. What if? – take a fundamental assumption and imagine how things would change if it was not valid
    3. Rants, then reflect on underlying message – let the anger or frustration out and vent on the paper… then review what the source of the anger or frustration really is
    4. Practice conversations – script a difficult conversation
    5. Keep records – track what has happened today
    6. Reflect on your own performance (honestly)
    7. Note quotes, ideas, connections – write down words that impact you from newspapers, books, articles or that you hear from people that you speak to
    8. List good questions – “what other criteria are important to you in taking this decision?” (old post: How to ask the best questions)
    9. Draw diagrams – visually represent the problem, concept, flows
    10. 2×2 matrix – do what consultants do (I would welcome a post from any reader who is a consultant on 2×2 matrices…  :-)
    11. SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
    12. Political maps – draw a network map, reflect on the true organisation power structure
    13. Write about emotion and what the situation looked like when angry, frustrated, dissapointed
    14. Persuade yourself – make the case to yourself
    15. Devil’s Advocate – be your own skeptic
    16. Clear up objectives (realistic, tangible) – what do you really want achieve?  what will it feel like when you achieve the objective?  why is it important to you?
    17. Identify other’s interests, options, BATNA – how can you help other’s achieve their goals?
    18. Re-frame messages – historically, politically, scale up or down, viewed from 5 years in the future
    19. Capture stories – the best way to begin to remember them (Doorman, Cathedral, Tracks in the Sand, Cemetery of Youth, Geronimo the Apache and Entrepreneurs)
    20. Action plans – what are you going to do?  what series of steps take you closer to your goal?  how to engage the people whose support you need?

    And you?
    What other tools, questions, methods do you have for using writing as a tool for reflection?  Do you write regularly?  Why?  or Why not?

    I will finish with Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living”.  He was wise.  Although I might add that the over-examined life is a poor alternative – best to experience life than to think about experiencing life.  Reflection on experience is not a complete replacement for fully living today.

    The TED Commandments: 10 rules every speaker needs to know

    TED talks are some of the best speeches that I watch.  TED organisers have a set of 10 rules that no speaker is ever allowed to break.  This might be a lesson for all speakers.

    1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick
    2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before
    3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion
    4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story
    5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Skae of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy
    6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
    7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desparate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
    8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
    9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
    10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee
    This copy here from Tim Longhurst’s blog.   The photo of the actual TED Commandments tablet comes from Rives’ blog (scroll down to his 20 february 2006 post).

    How to tell great stories

    Ira Glass, presenter of This American Life, tells us that there are three basic building blocks of the story – the anecdote, “bait” and moments of reflection (video here).  We improve a story by building up the central conflict, ensuring that the listeners can relate to one of the central characters and by adding surprise.


    5 Step Story Structure

    Here goes my 5 step process for telling good stories (I have been practicing it with my 3 year old daughter for her bedtime stories… and getting to the point that she wants one of my stories instead of one from the book).

    1. Begin stating the moment in time:
      1. “A week ago” or
      2. “Twenty years ago today”, or
      3. “Once upon a time”.
    2. Introduce the situation and key characters: 
      1. “I was sitting with my grandfather. My grandfather was a tall man, always impeccably dressed in a suit. He had been a country bank manager all of his working life. I was 13 years old.  As we did every Sunday, we were sat watching the horse racing on television on Sunday afternoon.” or
      2. “A girl lived in a small cabin by the lake. She lived with two friends – her dog Ruff and her horse See-Saw. Each morning she set off around the lake to collect mushrooms for food and wood for a fire.  Each day she would set off on the walk with Ruff leading ahead and See-Saw walking behind. Some days it rained, some days it was warm and sunny.”
    3. Something out of the ordinary occurs
      1. “but on this particular Sunday he turned to me and said ‘would you like to see something?’. Before waiting for an answer he got up from his chair and left the room”
      2. “Now on this particular day, the girl began her walk… but Ruff stopped in his tracks and would not move.  There was a noise in the forest and a cold wind blew across the surface of the lake”
    4. Allow the tension to build – pause, add detail to the complication
      1. “I sat there for a moment not knowing whether to follow him or to stay where I was.  I was surprised and I wondered what it was that my grandfather was going to show me.”
      2. “The girl asked herself ‘what can it be? what might be making that noise?’  A few moments later she heard the sound clearly again.  There was something in the forest”.
    5. Resolve the complication
      1. “It was ten minutes before he returned to the room.  He came in with a large bundle under his arms.  I could see colours, fabrics…  clothes or robes of some sort.  He carefully laid the bundle down and started to separate the pieces.  ‘These are my freemason robes.  I have been a free mason for 50 years.  I am the head of the Leinster region.  These robes mean a lot to me.  These badges mean a lot to me.'”
      2. …at this point my daughter demands that the noise be a fairy or Barbie or a Princess or a flying horse called Dina…  and takes control of the story.

    Here is an example from Japanese folklore of a fable that shows the story steps put together into a longer flow:

    The Stonecutter

    The Stonecutter on Wikipedia.

    Many years ago, a poor stonecutter spent day after day in the quarry. He chipped away at the rockface with his simple tools.  Hour after hour, day after day, the clink, clank noise of

    his chisel and hammer rang through the quarry.  One day the man shouted out loud his frustration “why can I not be powerful like the rich man?”  A fairy heard his wish and appeared at his side and said “I will grant your wish.”

    As a rich man, the stonecutter felt powerful.  He gave his servants orders.  One day the rich man was outside and the sun shone hotly upon him.  He said “The sun is more powerful than I.  I wish I were the sun”.  The fairy granted his wish.

    Now he was the sun.  He shone down powerfully upon the earth.  One day a cloud passed in front of him.  “That cloud is more powerful than I.  I wish I were that cloud”.  The fairy granted his wish.

    As the cloud he blocked the sun day after day, causing darkness and cold.  But one day a wind blew up and pushed away the cloud.  “I wish I were the wind”.  The fairy granted his wish.

    As the wind he blew dust storms and hurricanes.  Nothing could stand in his way.  One day he came to the mountain and couldn’t move it.  “The mountain resists me.  I wish I were the mountain”.  The fairy granted his wish.

    As the mountain he was immovable.  Nothing could budge him.  But one day he felt something chipping away at him.  It was a poor stonecutter.  “The stonecutter is mightiest of all.  I wish I was the stonecutter”.  One last time, the fairy granted his wish.

    What is the meaning of this story?  What does it represent?  What does it make you think about?

    5 Techniques to Win Over the Masses

    A short note inspired by a post from Verne Harnish of Gazelles.  He wrote about a keynote speech by Dr. William Horton, author of Mind Control. After showing various debate clips featuring Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Obama, Horton outlined five techniques for winning over (manipulating) the masses:

    1. Encourage their dreams
    2. Justify their failures
    3. Allay their fears
    4. Confirm their suspicions
    5. Create a common enemy

    So this is how it’s done — cold and calculating.

    Entrepreneur? Business manager? Verne Harnish will be running his European Growth Summit on 15th June in Barcelona – a powerful event for anyone growing a business – two themes this year – Going Global, Getting Lean.  He has two free downloads on the site that are worth a read whether you can attend or not.

    (Technorati claim id VXPVKGJ62QU6 )

    What makes you a Well-Paid Expert?

    This is relevant for anyone who communicates regularly from a position of authority – doctors, scientists, professors…

    3 Types of Experts

    I have had several people who have expertise say to me “but I haven’t been successful myself”.  Toni Nadal isn’t better at tennis than Rafa, but he knows how to get results. Michael Porter hasn’t run a business, but he has spent a lifetime interviewing people that have.  There are 3 types of experts:

    1. The Result Expert – Proven ability to get specific results for others
    2. The Research Expert – Has interviewed performers and has a deep knowledge of tools, strategies and tactics in an area
    3. The Role Model – Has been successful

    Tim Ferriss has an interesting perspective: “you can learn more from the person who shouldn’t be good, but is than from the person who is naturally excellent.”  Roger Federer has every natural gift to be a top tennis player.  Rafa Nadal had to really fight to become number 1.  Most of us can learn more from Rafa’s approach than we could learn by understanding Federer.

    Four Actions of Experts

    There are four things that the best experts do:

    1. Choose mastery.  Choose continuous learning. Choose to read, to review, to focus intensely on a continuous process of learning and growing in the specific field in which they are experts.  Go deep rather than go broad.
    2. Regularly interview other experts looking for patterns and best practice.
    3. Create arguments based on four parts:
      1. What we should be paying attention to
      2. What things mean
      3. How things work
      4. What might happen
    4. Simplify complex ideas with frameworks

    Four Actions of Wealthy Experts

    There are four further things that can differentiate the wealthy expert from the plain expert:

    1. Package their knowledge: Write, speak, record – put knowledge into a form that people are willing to purchase
    2. Campaign vs Promote their knowledge – each interaction leads to a further interaction
    3. Charge expert fees – charge more than you are comfortable with
    4. Focus on:
      1. Distinction – Keep studying the competition and keep innovating
      2. Excellence – Be better
      3. Service – Be helpful and responsive

    These 8 actions come from this video from Brandon Burchard.  Brandon helps others become well-paid experts.

    I like his explanation of what differentiates a true expert from non-experts.

    I will finish with a thought from Charles Handy, the Irish business philosopher who was one of the founders of London Business School.

    “The aim of education is to give someone the self belief that enables them to take charge of their own life.” Charles Handy

    This is the true aim of any expert.

    Seven Speaking Suggestions from Reagan’s Speechwriter

    “When you forget yourself and your fear, when you get beyond self-consciousness because your mind is thinking about what you are trying to communicate, you become a better communicator” Peggy Noonan.

    On Speaking Well

    I have just read “On Speaking Well” by Peggy Noonan, speechwriter to Ronald Reagan.  She sums up persuasive speaking with seven suggestions (some good additions to my 12 tips for Public Speaking):

    1. Be not afraid.  Relax, it’s only a speech.
    2. Think logically about the case you are making, and make it.  Try to imagine your speech being reduced to a headline.
    3. Your style shouldn’t be taller than you are. Don’t imitate. Say it the way you would say it to a friend.
    4. The most moving thing in a speech is always the logic. Never try to make them cry, try to help them think.
    5. Use humour when you can. No one ever left a speech saying “I hated the way she made me laugh out loud”.
    6. Give your speech before you give it.  Read a draft or two aloud to friends or family. The fifth time you give your speech will be better than the first time.
    7. Use your own gestures, respect your own quirks.  Be you.  (Check out my previous blog post on 3 keys to powerful delivery)

    How to Sell

    “You either learn to sell, or you will always work for someone who has learnt to sell”

    This blog post is a summary of my notes on a session by Blair Singer on Sales. 

    Your ability to selling has a major influence on your income, your promotions, your relationships and ultimately where you take your life.

    Dan Sullivan has a wonderful definition of Sales: “

    Every sales process is essentially the following six steps:

    1. Find somebody with Money (“That guy looks good”)
    2. Approach and contact (“Hey, do you have a minute?”)
    3. Present and ask for the sale (“After 17 years experience with customers such as X, Y; I know our solution can be of help to you Mr Customer”)
    4. Handle objections (Turn No into Yes)
      1. First acknowledge the objection (“I understand that you are happy with the current product”)
      2. Second ask a question (“What are the existing levels of waste?”)
    5. Close (“Excellent, the product will leave our warehouse tomorrow first thing.  Cash or credit card?”)
    6. Ask for Testimonial
      1. Before and after, story with numbers (“Before I met Conor I was unable to string 5 words together, now I regularly give powerful persuasive speeches and kids ask me for autographs”)

    Most people’s best sales presentation is their explanation of why they haven’t sold anything.  Most salesmen think they are finished at number 5 in the process.

    Blair spoke of the “pipeline” and a need to understand the numbers. Roughly, 50 calls leads to 12 conversations, leads to 6 meetings, leads to 1 sale.  It will differ between products and industries but essentially there is no world in which everyone you contact will buy. Every “no” is a step closer to the sale. Every “no” opens up a moment of power. Do not fear the “no”. Do not censor yourself to avoid having your buyer say “no”. Get the “no” and then begin your objection handling process.

    Energy matters and you must learn how to give yourself energy. When you are full of energy you will be able to take more risks, go the extra mile, stay when others would leave. Celebrate all wins. Jim Rohn has a nice story called “The ant philosophy”. When do ants give up? Never. They will keep going until they find a way over, around or through the obstacle. The ant philosophy is a good philosophy for humans as well.

    School has taught us to fear mistakes, to fear giving the wrong answer. If you did well in school, you learned to work in that system – don’t take responsibility, don’t be too visible and don’t ever make mistakes.

    Further Resources

    Video Playlist: Develop your Sales Skills on my YouTube Channel

    Develop your Sales Skills Video Playlist

    SPIN Selling is a great book on high value sales by Neil Rackham. Effective high value selling (over $100) is different than low value, single decision maker sales. The aggressive salesman may be able to sell plenty of low value product, but is a failure when there is an extended sales cycle and multiple buyer decision makers. In high value sales, the key success factor is to be able to coach your buyer to be able to sell your solution when you are not there – you must help the buyer verbalise the current problem, the urgency, the needs that must be fulfilled and then connect with why your solution best meets those needs.

    A presentation on the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs

    I would place Steve Jobs way up there in my list of powerful public speakers. I think Steve is somebody well worth study because his presentations are so powerful because of how much hard work he puts in to making them that great.

    Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Barrack Obama are great speakers but somehow less useful to us mere mortals to study because such a huge part of their power comes from their intrinsic charisma – and it is extremely difficult for you or me to just become as charismatic as Barrack, Bill or Ronald by following a set of instructions.

    I would like to credit Sticky Slides, the blog of Jan Schultink for the link to this presentation.

    Those of you viewing via subcription/RSS feeds may need to view the original post here.

    And for a bonus, one of the greatest ever speeches (IMHO): here is a link to Ronald Reagan’s speech on the Challenger space shuttle disaster.