On Running 22 Marathons in 30 days (in Winter)

This is a guest post by Luca Rossini. Luca ran home. This is a big deal when you live in Paris and your family home is near Milan.  This post shares how he kept the journey going day after day after day... 

Over to Luca…

How I found the Strength to Run 900 kilometers through the Winter roads of France and Italy

I would like to share something I learnt in the winter of 2012 on the French roads of Bourgogne, on my 900 km run home to Italy.

It was the year when I lost my father, and my brother had been diagnosed with leukaemia. I had always loved running as an amateur, and so, despite hesitations and perplexities, I decided to take a month off from work and find the energy that I wanted for myself and my family, by running all the way from Paris, France (where I live) to Pavia, Italy (my hometown, close to Milan).

Luca’s planning for his 900km run from Paris to Pavia (Milan)

Starting my Days Slowly

On an evening two years ago, I listened to Conor’s speech (http://youtu.be/XUsvWP6seQE) in my apartment in Paris. He talks about the advice coming directly from Kenneth Blanchard, author of ‘The One Minute Manager’.

Conor had asked him if Blanchard had ever had that black day, the last after a month of efforts, that 30th when one feels that one’s leadership, the energy hoisting one’s organisation or project, isn’t there anymore; and if he did, what does or would he do on such a day.

After a pause, Blanchard replied, suggesting that you ‘start your day slowly’.

In practice, it implies that when you wake up in the mornings, take a moment to reflect on the reality of life. Take the time to feel your presence, consider where you are and why, and the reasons that will enable you to execute the endeavour that lies ahead, before you dive in and invest the energy in the whirlpool of life.

Learn to Spend Time with Yourself

As I closed my laptop after watching the video, I was reminded of something my father told me on a winter night when we were staying at a monastery, which also serves as a mountain hut, in the snow-capped Swiss Alps. After dinner, the monks requested ten minutes of silence, for them and us, bunch of ski-mountaineers in colourful fleeces and boots.

Ten minutes is a long time. I remember my father telling me that a few minutes into the silent reflection, he started asking himself, “Why am I here? What brought me to this point? What is the deeper meaning, the underlying reason that has brought us up here, now?”

Start your day slow. Ask yourself why.

I was quite surprised to arrive at the same answer, or more precisely, the same question, during my long run through France and Italy. It was my beacon through the cloudy, freezing December mornings that led me home.

In fact, as I progressed through the run, I began suffering from tendonitis and inflammation due to lack of training to cope with the intense pace of about 40 kms a day. Some days, I would wake up from the bunk beds of the hostel where I spent the night, feeling cramps as soon as I put my feet to the ground. It would make me wonder if that would be my 30th day, the day when I stop.

But then, I clearly remember, and remind myself ever since, something happened, every morning.

I would start walking early in the wintry morning lights, one stiff leg after another, feet cold in my running shows, and looking probably odd. After a few hundred meters, rain or shine, the walk softened, my dear Achilles tendon warmed up, realising this was anyway a great ride to do.

A kilometer or so later, I could risk running a few steps, often realising with pain that it was too early to do so.

The important thing was that, sooner or later in the morning, and every morning, I found myself, legs warm, feet in the air, round movement in the knees, running as I love to, headed to my destination behind the Alps.

Finding the Source of Inner Strength

Luca arrives home

I am not a professional, neither do I run regularly. My only preparation for the run consisted of my rucksack, spare t-shirts and socks, a smartphone for maps and a duvet. I reached my hometown with no fanfare, finishing alone on my usual training loop leading to the door of my childhood’s house, for a warm shower, just before Christmas.

One might wonder what such a lonely wolf experience would give you. I didn’t articulate it in words until now – what I can say is that it made me conscious of the fact that the reservoir of energy we can tap on is virtually infinite, because is constantly refuelled by the meaning we assign to it.

This is the well of inner strength, and it is something I will always bring with me. I hope it also inspires some amongst you.

About the Author

Luca has a blog that followed his run day by day The Long Run Home.  Luca has started the Bruno Rossini Marathon in memory of his father each year in Pavia.

The Big Question – by Bill Treasurer

This is a guest post by my good friend Bill Treasurer, who's latest book Leaders Open Doors makes its big time release this week!  Over to Bill...

If you’re a leader, there’s an important question on the minds of the people you lead. They may not say it directly, but it is the core question that defines the relationship between you and the people you lead. When people believe the answer is “yes,” they will be more committed to their work … and to you. But when they think the answer is “no,” their commitment to their jobs and their loyalty to you will suffer. The question is: Do you care about me?

Do you care about me?

The answer shows up in your treatment of people. You may say that you care about people, but if you never smile, constantly move up deadlines, rarely ask for their opinions or use their input, take credit for their good work, set unrealistic goals, and don’t say “thank you” for their hard work, then you don’t really care about them. And they know it.

To be a leader means to get results. But when the drive for results monopolizes a leader’s attention, people become a lesser priority. When a leader cares more about the “ends” (results) and less about the “means” (people), the leader becomes susceptible to treating people like objects. A single-minded focus on results often leads directly to treating people poorly. The drive to achieve results becomes the leader’s excuse for toughness, saying things like, “Sure, I’m tough. We’re under relentless pressure from our competitors, and margins are tight. Being tough creates urgency and motivates people to work hard. My boss is tough on me, so why shouldn’t I be tough on the people who work for me?”

To be sure, results matter. But people achieve those results, and when you treat people poorly you’ll get poor results. Answering “yes” to the core do-you-care-about-me question means taking a deep and genuine interest in those you are leading. Caring, in this sense, is obliging. For when you care about people, you give them more of your time, attention, and active support. A wise leader treats people as more important than results, because strong people produce those results. Period.

So what does caring look like? When you care about people, you:

  • take an interest in their career aspirations
  • seek, value, and apply their ideas
  • acknowledge people’s contributions and say “thank you” generously.

As a practical matter, it’s a good idea to care about your people. Here’s why: when they know you care about them, they will care about you … and your success.

In fact, you’ll know that you are truly a leader who cares when the people you lead start seeking and valuing your input, when they take an interest in your career aspirations, and when they are actively supportive of you. And when your people care about you, they’ll help you get better results.

About Bill Treasurer

Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting and author of Leaders Open Doors, which focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. 100% of the book’s royalties are being donated to programs that support children with special needs. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, Right Risk, and Courageous Leadership, and has led courage-building workshops across the world for NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and many others. Contact Bill at btreasurer@giantleapconsulting.com, or on Twitter at @btreasurer.

7 Life Lessons from a Broken Foot

This is a guest post by Tobias Rodrigues who will be collaborating with me next week in the IESE Executive MBA intensive week in Barcelona.  Tobias broke his foot this summer - and learnt some surprising lessons about himself, his family and what it means to be dependent on others.  

Over to Tobias…

39 Days, 11 Hours and 30 Minutes of Bandage

On June 29th at 10:30 pm, while I was out enjoying an evening jog, I tripped and broke the 5th metatarsus (the main bone of the pinky) of my right foot. On August 8th at 10:00 am the cast was removed.

What do you know now that you wish you knew then? #2

Last month, I asked my email subscribers a question:  What do you know now that you wish you knew then? (and wish you did).  Imagine you are having a coffee with a younger version of yourself. What would you say?  (If you still feel that you are the younger self… what would you ask the future you?)

I will be publishing a couple of the answers as I have really benefitted from the wonderful answers over the last 6 weeks.  Check out Lesley’s answer.

I am interested in these answers because I am in the process of preparing a speech to 1,600 undergraduates who are on the point of transition between the world of university and the world of work and building a career.

Fiamma’s Answer: What A Marketing Entrepreneur Would Say

Regarding your question about what do I know now that wish I knew then , there are 3 important things that I have learnt:

1. Listen to what people don’t say

Emotions play a substantial role in communications making most part of relevant messages non-verbal.  Moreover, we’re losing information in all our technological communications – for this an extra effort to listen to what people don’t say is needed in order to never miss the whole context.

2. Appreciate Failure.

Failure in a big company is a shared a responsibility and a learning experience for everyone. Failure offers huge thriving opportunities when you and those around you decide that a part of success is working through failed processes and learning from it.  The US military systematically makes this part of their culture.  After every project or exercise, they conduct “after action reviews” that are very harsh and ignore hierarchy in seeking what happened, what broke and how to fix it.  All project members from most junior to most senior are involved fully in the review.

And Most Important:

3. You Own Your Reputation

The most difficult thing to manage in a company are people, at all levels. Jealousy happens all the time, to unexpected people.

This is, even great leaders have shadows in their brightness. Making work mates or close managers green with envy can be quite common, suffering inappropriate comments, childish reactions or even disrespectful situations. Of course, time puts things in their place if you maintain firm, respectful and coherent… How can it be that the one that treated you the worst at work is now the one that recommends you on Linkedin and sends you birthday wishes 6 years after you left that job?

However, weird reactions from bosses are something extraordinary you can’t imagine and would never expect… In this case being firm and coherent to protect yourself is very tough; integrity, energy and emotional intelligence play a relevant role. For this, never lose control of your reputation, don’t let anyone’s opinion (even the CEO!)  define how you are and play with your values or your reputation.

About Fiamma Panerai

Fiamma Panerai is a Marketing Strategist specialised in digital media and luxury brands. She has dedicated her last 10 years to focus on luxury brand marketing in digital media.  She has launched 3 businesses (1 as founder, 2 as part of executive team).

Fiamma loves transforming insights into strategic ideas and make them happen with passion and disciplined execution.  As a person: “what you see is what you get”!  Fiamma enjoy’s life in Madrid and makes sure fun is a part of every day.

You should follow Fiamma on twitter @FiPanerai or learn more about her on LinkedIn.

Feed your brain: 10 Foods that Build Your Brain Strength

Are you a healthy eater?

This is a guest post by Julie Zimmer.  I asked her to share her wisdom on health by telling us some good foods to eat when we need our brain to be at its resilient, productive best.  Do you eat these 10 foods?  (BONUS: at the bottom of the post… 2 healthy recipes you can try)

About Julie Zimmer, HealthContinuum.Org

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience as a nurse, both directly in intensive/coronary care (medical-surgical) and as an advisor in public health.  Julie has degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN).  Julie has a wonderful blog on health at HealthContinuum.org.

Feed your Brain: 10 foods that Build Brain Strength

Yummy Healthy Food (see recipe below) photo credit: lablasco

We often think about reshaping our bodies through exercise, but have you ever thought about reshaping your brain?

The human brain has an incredible ability to adapt and react and make new connections and pathways. With the right kind of stimulation and the right kind of mindset, you can reshape your brain. A healthy lifestyle and a good diet will help you unleash the power inside your brain.

Check your sleep habit before changing your diet

The better you sleep, the healthier you eat. This is a scientific fact. If you are sleep deprived, your body secretes a digestive hormone called ghrelin, which increases your appetite. It also releases less leptin, a hormone that signals you to stop eating when you are full.

When these imbalances occur, your metabolism is out of whack and not only do you crave sugar and high fat foods, you eat them in large quantities to combat fatigue. With insufficient sleep, your body also secretes fewer feel good hormones – serotonin and dopamine. Your body will ache and feel cheated as it relies on these hormones to feel great. To compensate, you will eat plenty of sugary foods to re-capture that good feeling sensation. Should you eat this way for too long, unleashing the power inside your brain becomes a struggle.

What about glucose and caffeine?

Refined sugar contains glucose and fructose. When you eat sugary foods, your brain uses glucose for energy. Both glucose and caffeine react the same way – they quickly boost your mental ability and energize you, but their effect is short lived. Over a period of time, too much glucose or caffeine impairs mental and physical functions. I know what you’re thinking; there’s a lot of talk about coffee being good for you. A bit of coffee is fine; it contains antioxidants and it gives you a kick-start. Health experts recommend a daily intake of 300 mg of caffeine (3-4 cups) and 30-45 gm of sugar.

Ten foods to feed your brain

Your brain needs healthy blood vessels as much as your heart does. Choosing foods that are good for your heart will also be good for your brain. The key to healthy eating is moderation and variety.

  • Omega-3s: without these fatty acids, your brain is like a car running on empty. When a car is empty, it stops. Your brain won’t stop, but it can shrink. New studies show an increase in the hippocampus (where the brain forms and stores memories) and in gray matter volume in people with higher than average levels of omega-3s in their blood. Fatty acids are vital to brain tissues and cells. To get plenty of omega-3s in your diet, eat fish twice a week or take fish oil supplements. Other sources are nuts and seeds, flaxseed oil, squash, kidney beans, spinach, broccoli and soybeans.
  • Colorful food, photo credit: lablasco

    Colorful fruits and vegetables: contain antioxidants, the substances that protect your brain against cell damage by blocking free radicals. Free radicals are the “bad guys” that work with damaged cells that cause diseases, from skin wrinkles to cancer. Examples are dark green leafy vegetables, berries (especially blueberries), bananas, apricots, melons and mangos. Red coloured foods, such as tomatoes and red cabbage are rich in lycopene – a very powerful antioxidant.

  • Pumpkin seeds: when I crave a crunchy snack, I reach for pumpkin seeds instead of pretzels or crisps. Just a handful is packed with protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Both seeds and oil are rich in zinc and fatty acids. Either raw or roasted, they’re nature’s perfect snack that promotes healthy skin, improves your brainpower and protects against diseases such as high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis and cancer. The seeds are high in tryptophan, a compound that prevents depression and helps you sleep at night. At Halloween, when you carve that big pumpkin, think twice before throwing out those seeds.
  • Eggs: contain B12, lecithin and essential fatty acids that protect against brain shrinkage, which is often seen in Alzheimer’s. As we age, our body’s natural choline weakens. Egg yolk is high in choline, which nourishes brain cells and improves memory. Since the yolk is also high in cholesterol, healthy people shouldn’t eat more than three eggs a week. Other sources of choline are soybeans, peanuts, kidney beans, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and black beans.
  • Avocados: this fruit long deemed “too fat” has been put on the back burner. It’s time to bring the avocado at the front for brain health and anti-aging. It contains monounsaturated fats (good fat) and fiber. It’s high in vitamin E, potassium and magnesium. It has anti-inflammatory properties; it lowers blood pressure and improves circulation to the brain. A few slices of avocado per day and as a side dish is sufficient.
  • Whole grains: complex carbohydrate sources give a steady stream of energy to your brain. They contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. Choose whole-wheat bread and whole grain pasta, cereals or rice. Go brown instead of white. Wheat, bran, wheat germ, barley, oatmeal and quinoa contain folate and B vitamins that help brain function and memory. Lentils, whole beans and starchy vegetables are also complex carbohydrates.
  • Green tea: the anti-inflammatory compounds and catechins in the tea can keep your mind sharp and fresh. Green tea helps you to relax and resist mental fatigue. Drinking two cups of green tea per day can help prevent cognitive impairment.
  • Dark chocolate: a bit of dark chocolate is fine. Dark chocolate with 70 percent or more pure cocoa is naturally high in flavonols that increase blood flow to the brain and boost concentration. Before reaching for coffee, try a piece of chocolate instead.
  • Red wine (or grape juice):  red wine in moderation (1 glass a day for women; 2 for men) can improve memory and cognition. Red wine is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant that improves blood circulation in the brain. It can reduce the risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s. Cranberry juice, berries, grapes and peanuts contain resveratrol.
  • Spirulina:  the last, but not the least. My neighbor, out of concern, gave me a brochure on spirulina and she urged me to get some for my family and me. My two girls and I are vegetarian and my husband has significantly cut back on meat. We are all taking spirulina on a daily basis and we feel great.  Spirulina is a blue-green algae and is 100% natural. It is often described as the most complete food source. Spirulina comes in capsules, powder or flakes. It can be dissolved in juices or sprinkled on food. It is very high in protein, minerals and vitamins, including B complex vitamins. It is a source of iron, folic acid, magnesium and calcium. It is high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant vitamin important for your eyes. There is increasing evidence that spirulina prevents cognitive diseases and maintains brain health.

What foods or supplements have helped you unleash your brainpower?

Feed your brain with these recipes:  Continue reading “Feed your brain: 10 Foods that Build Your Brain Strength”

What do you know now that you wish you knew then? #1

Last month, I asked my email subscribers a question:  What do you know now that you wish you knew then? (and wish you did).  Imagine you are having a coffee with a younger version of yourself. What would you say?  (If you still feel that you are the younger self… what would you ask the future you?)

I will be publishing a couple of the answers as I have really benefitted from the wonderful answers over the last 6 weeks.

I am interested in these answers because I am in the process of preparing a speech to 1,600 undergraduates who are on the point of transition between the world of university and the world of work and building a career.

Lesley’s Answer: What An Independent Consultant Would Say

Your question stimulated a rather interesting ponder over a glass of wine listening to the waves in Cartagena! This is what I’d tell my younger self, but it definitely wouldn’t apply to everyone…

  1. People (clients, bosses etc) are more influenced by what you say about yourself than you might think so learn the art of self-promotion as quickly as possible and don’t rely on the quality of your work to speak for you.
  2. View feedback as potentially interesting information about yourself and the person giving it (not personal criticism).
  3. Individual differences between people are even greater than you think so learn some tools to help you make sense of those differences as quickly as possible (especially MBTI) so you can handle people as they need/want to be handled.
  4. Perfection is unnecessary and unattainable.
  5. It’s not cheating to play to your strengths and delegate/pass on the other stuff to people who are better at it. There are actually people who enjoy the routine stuff and they’re worth their weight in gold!. Be in ‘the flow’ as much as possible (ref Csikszentmihalyi).
  6. But the devil IS often in the detail, so you’re right not to try to wing it!
  7. Trust your intuition even if it’s hard to put into words how you know and you can’t back it up with hard evidence.

Years ago I went to see John Harvey-Jones speak and someone asked him the same question. I loved his surprising reply: “The shits always get theirs”. I’ve seen quite a few bullies rise up through corporate structures and unscrupulous individuals riding rough shod over people but sooner or later they have generally been derailed. So I’m delighted to say that I agree with him.

Sadly, I’m not sure any of the foregoing will help get any young Catalans/Spaniards into work. What I’d say to them is “Learn good English, think more about delighting customers and before trying to get funding for a big idea, get hands-on experience in a small business that makes and/or sells things to learn about business basics like cash flow, margins and understanding the customer.” Working in my Mum’s greasy spoon as a teenager was a great preparation for running my own consultancy!

About Lesley Cannell, C. Psychol. AFBPsS 

Lesley is a business psychologist who established her consultancy business, the Change Team, in the UK in 1993, with the mission of using psychology to enable people to change their behaviour and organisations to change their culture. Her clients are mainly multinational FMCG companies.  Lesley has lived in Barcelona since 2007. Like the birds she flies south to escape the cold… spending the winter months in Cartagena, Colombia.

Dealing with Conflict: the Problem is the Problem

Tobias Rodrigues

This is a guest post by Tobias Rodriguez. Tobias runs seminars on Conflict Management and is a leading member of Toastmasters in Barcelona. Follow him on twitter [twitter-follow screen_name=’conflictmentor’] or check out his blog.

An ancient Greek storyteller, called Aesop, said: An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. “Alas!” it cried, as it died.

Moral of Aesop’s Fable: We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction

The stories we tell ourselves shape our conflicts

The moral of Aesop’s fable is equally true when it comes to conflicts: We often give conflicts the means for our own frustration and breakdown. How? With the stories we tell ourselves about the situation, the other person and especially ourselves. For instance, we often surrender to the impulse of telling ourselves that certain situations will never change, that certain people are hopeless and that we ourselves don’t have what it takes to make it work. This means that, like in Aesop’s fable, we are giving the conflict the power to control us, and thus setting ourselves up for a breakdown. It means, we are preparing ourselves to interact with someone who is hopeless (whether he or she is or not). It means, we are determining that whatever efforts we make, we are intrinsically bond to be a slave to our own inability. With this mindset, the kind of results we can expect is rather obvious!

Voltaire said that common sense is not so common. This is a great example. We know that if we don’t believe in ourselves, there is no chance of achieving our goals. And yet, when we’re dealing with conflicts, the stories we tell ourselves often carry the moral “whatever you do, this is going nowhere.”

Let’s change that! The following are the three stories you can choose to tell yourself when you’re in a conflict. Using these stories, you’ll become empowered to see the conflict in a new light, stop perceiving the other person as fierce enemy, and recognize within yourself the skills and tools to manage the situation.

A conflict is an encounter of apparently incompatible forces

This is my definition of a conflict and I highly recommend it. A definition establishes the meaning of a specified thing. And positive definitions mean positive meanings. Thus, a positive definition of conflict is crucial for effective management. Among other things, this definition does two positive things for you:

  • it frames the conflict in terms of “compatibility / incompatibly,” instead of the more common “right or wrong” and “good or bad.” These latter terms are much more rigid to work with, because they are profoundly imbedded in us, while differing to some extent from person to person.
  • it places the focus on what appears to be (“apparently”), thus making the conflict a joint challenge instead of a rival fight: “Let’s see if these forces are in fact compatible or not.”

“The person is not the problem. The problem is the problem” — Michael White

This is also a fantastic story! Imagining that a person is the problem that needs fixing is a risky business, because to fix the problem you’ll need to change the person, and… good luck with that! (I find that people don’t tend to change that easily.) On the other hand, if we look at the conflict as a third party, as an independent object, as a “thing” with a life of its own, we can focus on understanding what effects the conflict has caused on our lives, and how we feel about that. The end result is that the recurring language of blaming and guilt, accusing and shame, criticizing and defensiveness will disappear! New air will invade our minds and enable new understandings.

Conflicts mean we care

This is perhaps the best story of the three, and the most enigmatic. It’s true that some people sometimes do wrong things for the wrong reasons on purpose. That is sometimes. If you take a good look at a good part of the conflicts you experience, you’ll discover otherwise. We’ll see that for some reason or another, we get into conflicts because we care and because the other party also cares. At some fundamental level, there is interest and concern, which means that we are not insignificant to the other person. On the contrary, conflicts mean you are that important to other person that he or she is willing to struggle with you for some good (think about: you would struggle with someone if they were insignificant to you?). And this is a whole new story, because it lets you acknowledge what you have in common and how much you both value it. A whole new frame for a conversation, I would say…

Just like Aesop’s story has come a long way to positively shape our lives, the positive stories we tell ourselves are the glue that keep our dream of happiness together.

Elvis and Self-Confidence

This is a guest post from Emily Matthews.  Emily is currently applying to masters degree programs across the U.S., and loves to read about new research into health care, gender issues, and literature. She lives and writes in Seattle, Washington.

Elvis and Self-Confidence

Elvis Presley is a man who radiated sexuality and confidence.

Early interviews show a nervous, timid person

However, early interviews with Elvis Presley show a young man who spends a lot of time staring down at his feet and who seems to have a hard time expressing himself without freezing up with nervousness. It doesn’t take a masters degree to know that something significant had to change. Somewhere between his first record and his comeback tour, Elvis came into his own and developed the swagger and self-confidence that became his trademark.

One possible explanation for this was that Elvis decided to adopt a public persona — one that exuded confidence and kept the real Elvis hidden.  Elvis memorized entire passages from James Dean movies, as well as films starring Marlon Brando. Both of those actors portrayed characters that seemed supremely self-confident and it seems quite possible that Elvis decided to emulate those characters when he appeared in public.

Fake it til you make it

The famous saying, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” rings true.  In Conor’s post on confidence, the first step is to pretend.  When Elvis appeared on stage, it seems as if parts of Dean and Brando had materialized into the way he presented himself.  This kind of persona-adoption would have translated from Elvis the performer into Elvis the person.

How can this help out today’s entrepreneurs and businesspeople?

Simple — anyone can take on aspects of a different persona. Naturally, it does not happen overnight, but it definitely can be done. The first step in doing this is understanding what kind of persona the individual is going to adopt. After all, while James Dean might seem to be the epitome of old-fashioned cool, he might not do well in today’s business environment. Look at people around you, and determine what characteristics of theirs you’d like to emulate. Don’t abandon your own personality, but augment it – what makes these people confident, and how can you adopt that?

Be yourself, but amplify the positive

For most people, using a persona that is similar to themselves but has some subtle differences is probably the best way to go. So, if an entrepreneur is shy about approaching strangers, he might imagine himself with confidence and style. Then, before approaching a new client, he might consider going through various “role-playing” scenarios with friends and associates, followed by using real-world experience.

Of course, part of Elvis’ later self-confidence came from focusing on his own natural talent. It is easy to find a form of self-confidence when everyone around a person is singing praises. For an entrepreneur, focus more on what it is that makes a product or service being sold unique. Tap into the passion that originally inspired you, and before you know it, your nervousness will dissipate.

Keep this journey of personal growth going

As more and more people appreciated Elvis, his shyness faded and his fame grew. In the same manner, as entrepreneurs and people in business stick to their vision of achieving success, each step towards reaching that success will help to eliminate some of the shyness — especially shyness caused by not having faith in one’s products or services.

Self-confidence is one of those intangible character traits that sometimes seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere, but the fact is the more a person focuses on what it is that makes what he or she has to offer unique and important, the less time a person will spend on being self-conscious and uncertain. Follow the example of The King, and learn how to swagger with the best of them.

What do you think?  Who has positive traits that you might benefit from emulating?

Another way to improve your confidence is regular practice.  I have been developing an online module of my Persuasive Communications seminar.  It is available here: Improve My Speaking. Feel free to share this resource with friends (and people who need it).

The Super-Power of Persuasive Communication

This is a guest post from Valerio Flumini.  Valerio is a business consultant.  He loves learning, problem solving and great people.  He combined all three during his MBA at IESE Business School in Barcelona; he will shortly start a new career at Averda.

The Super-Power of Persuasive Communication

Last night, I was watching an episode of X-men.

The X-Men are each gifted with one superpower.  Magneto has power to control, shape, and move metal.  Wolverine is indestructible.   Storm can control the weather and produce lightening bolts.

I was thinking: “If I could pick up one of these superpowers which one would I choose?” After reflecting for a while I came to the conclusion that the superpower I would desire most is that of Phoenix.  Phoenix has the power of mind control.

Mind control is the power to influence and persuade other people.  This is the single most useful super power that a person could have.

The single most useful super power

Imagine how sensational it would be to persuade companies to hire you; investors to put money behind your ideas or to get the most wonderful girl you know to come to dinner with you.

A moment later, I thought: “Hold on a second! That’s not a super power like passing through walls, transforming weather or manipulating metal!”

The super power of mind control can be developed.  The perfect example was a persuasive communications class I took during my IESE MBA. At the beginning of the program I was scared to raise my hand and say a single word; after 18 months I was happy to give speeches in front of 70 people and found myself relaxed during a conversation with the CEO of an important multinational.

This is a super power that I can choose to develop

There are tools and tactics that get people engaged and listening, there are ways to show my credibility, and there are ways to call for action.  These can be practiced.

Now the question is: “How much it can be improved? How far can I go?”

I have been developing an online module of my Persuasive Communications seminar.  This module is currently free.  Check it out at Improve My Speaking.  Feel free to share this resource with friends (and people who need it).

Body Language. We do not Move the World with Words Alone

This is a guest post from Tony Anagor who has been working with me this week in IESE.

Tony teaching at IESE Business School

Tony has built a multi-million euro event management business in Barcelona.  3 years ago he told me that he had found his true passion.  He works with individuals to clarify their purpose and give them the belief and confidence to take action to achieve their goals.  Connect with Tony on LinkedIn.

Can we talk?

I have been passionate about the art of communication for many years.

My journey began 29 years ago when I witnessed one man completely mesmerize an audience of 8000 people for 12 hours a day during a 3 day personal development weekend.  Today Anthony Robbins is world famous and has changed the lives of 1000s of people.  But… how does he do it?  Communicating with passion that’s how!

“Your body is your autobiography in motion”

Communication was never on the school curriculum when I was a child. I learnt the theories of Pythagoras.  I spent a whole term musing over the law of Parabolic Motion, and as interesting as it was, I use none of that knowledge today. Today I find myself fascinated at how a person can walk into a room and with just their body language announce “ here I am” whilst others can shuffle into a room and whisper  “oh there you are”.

The art of communication is often looked upon as a soft skill that attracts varying levels of importance in an academic curriculum. There is nothing soft about an orator who can whip a nation into a frenzy of emotion using a carefully written speech rich in metaphors and alliteration. Communication is a PRIMARY skill and should be given its due respect in our modern day education system.  Simple things like eye contact, breathing, hand movements and a smile can give 80% of yourself away to a keen communication skills expert. As Leil Lowndes says in his book How to Talk to Anyone: “ your body is your autobiography in motion”.

We do not move the world with words alone

Consider for a moment the unassuming diminutive shuffling figure of Gandhi, how was the world so enamored by his equanimity? How did he instil his message in others with such conviction? The next time you see a clip of his speech, watch how he uses his smile and his eyes.  Take a look at Ronald Reagan, we can debate his politics, but he transitioned from an actor to become president of the USA, next time take a look at his eye contact and his smile.

If we begin to notice and analyse the people around us who we admire for their communication skills, we will see that they use their bodies just ever so slightly differently to most people; we call it charm, X factor or charisma.

If I wished to become a pilot I would have to study and undergo hours and hours of practice and training.  Having qualified, it would be incumbent upon me to invest time in keeping my skill level updated to a globally accepted standard.

I wonder how the world of politics and business would be today if we did that with our communications skills.  Some people in positions of influence have not updated their skills since they were toddlers.

My first tip to making the step towards improving your communications skills is to buy a very simple book called Talk Language By Alan Pease.  I read this book 29 years ago and I was hooked!


Visit Conor’s Improve your Speaking page here on the blog.

Connect with Tony
Tony works with individuals to clarify their purpose and give them the belief and confidence to take action to achieve their goals.  Connect with Tony on LinkedIn.