Motivate Your Employees, Peers, Board, Investors, Audiences

October 1, 2015

This is adapted from a blog by Gary Genard, July 2013. The message to you as a leader is inescapable. When we address our team we are giving a speech, motivating people. Improve your message with a story that connects to the emotion you seek to move.

Most managers/leaders feel that when they address their employees their job is “to convey facts and figures.” That’s not it. More accurately their job is meeting the needs of the listeners and achieving a lasting influence. This applies if you are delivering a speech to a general audience or delivering a message to your employees.

Employees and audiences will remember their emotional response to you long after the information you deliver has faded from memory. The retention skills of audiences are notoriously shaky, and within a week, listeners will remember as little as 10% of the “critical” data you presented to them. Yet if you touched them emotionally, they may remember you for a lifetime. Consider these examples:

  • JFK’s inauguration speech
  • MLK’s “I have a dream speech”
  • FDR’s address to congress to declare war on Japan… “A day which will live in infamy”

Don’t just educate; move your audience. Don’t inform listeners; inspire them. To do so means creating an emotional connection. Even CFOs must put financial information into context for the C-suite, to help these executives process the information in terms of company goals and initiatives.

No leader succeeds merely by possessing the best information. True leaders use that information to motivate and activate employees and followers.

There is only one tool that allows you as speaker to accomplish this task: It is you—physically, emotionally, and in the ways you demonstrate leadership when you speak. In tough times or good times, you are the message. It’s a formula for succeeding as a speaker that goes far beyond “conveying facts and figures.”

Give your audiences the emotional connection and leadership they crave, and you’ll be delivering a powerful message indeed.214

He Was There to Show Us How

September 19, 2015

Stories of inspiration are all around us. We know people, incidents that carry a great message, or maybe we’ve lived it. I don’t think we’ll ever get an overload of assurances that we can and should take the next step, keep on going, never quit.

I’m going to leave most of the story to the video attached here. There is some background you should have first. This is about a football player at the University of Texas in 1969, Freddie Steinmark. He was ‘undersized’ and would absolutely hit you like a block of granite. He achieved something on Coach Royal’s team that only one other football player ever achieved. He started as a sophomore. Coach Royal didn’t believe in starting them with no experience. The other player?…One of the greatest  linebackers in college history, Tommy Nobis. Made a pretty good mark in the  pros as well.

Freddie played in every game, every defensive down in UT’s undefeated, National Championship 1969 season. The last game was vs. Arkansas in early December in one of the most heralded college football games in history. That’s not my UT bias, it’s from national sportswriters. His left leg was bruised. He was limping before the game. It hurt. After the game they sent Freddie for further examinations. Then it was recommended he go the M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston. Known for great medicine, especially treatment of cancer.

I’ll let his teammates pick it up from here. They speak for the entire Longhorn  Nation when they unveil their emotions about Freddie. Note the time line. Freddie played against Arkansas in early December, 1969, and the Cotton Bowl  game against Notre Dame was January 1, 1970. When you have watched the video… well I won’t have to tell you about the lessons. I had the great fortune to know Freddie, in a small way. I was not a teammate, so I can’t be in that club. He was quiet and soft spoken. Reserved and focused. Resolute in the values that governed his approach to life.  Inspiration? As we say in west Texas, Yep!

Here’s the link:


It’s What You Do Next That Counts: part 2

September 10, 2015


Several of you have asked what  the follow up is to this story. What did you do next? What happened? I will try to piece a few things together that I think will make sense and that you can use. Hopefully there is a worthy lesson here. Any story should have some value.

Honestly, I’ve never had to write it. I never wanted to re-live it. I didn’t think anyone really cared about it. Though I’ve never forgotten one grain of sand about that summer and the event, it’s been cozied away in a corner of my memory. I peek in less frequently now than I did in the ensuing 10 years of the event. But Rocky and his family are still there. The unbelievable noise and confusion of those 20 seconds still resound. The crushing pain I felt for Rocky and his family is a silent reminder.

After Rocky and his wife left to drive to Alpine to the hospital I returned to the rig, shut everything off and secured it. It was a shambles. I then drove to the nearest phone. Back then (1968)everything in that part of the world was miles and miles apart. From our quarters to the rig was 5 miles, the rig to a phone was another 3 miles. I first called the highway patrol, collect, to ask them to please find Rocky’s truck and escort it. I was crying like a baby. Then I called my boss in Austin, it was Saturday morning, called collect. I was crying even more. Then I called my parents in Midland, TX about 4 hours away, collect again. Still crying. I was a nineteen year old boy, not able to act very “grown up” for about 2 hours.

I pulled it together and 2 days later went to see Rocky. That’s when he gave me the advice: “But Rocky assured me it was no one’s fault. “Just one of those things.” Then he told me the greatest lesson I believe I’ve had from such an event. He said, “Ed, what’s happened is done. No one’s to blame. But… it’s what YOU do next that counts.”

What I do next, he said. It felt like a heavy load. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. But, I knew what he meant. I could quit and go home; gut it up and keep working; learn from the event; and more. There were several options. I knew I didn’t want to be on that rig any longer. So I returned to Austin and worked with the company in their well drilling and service business, on other rigs.  Since then the lessons from that summer and the actions to take have been numerous.

So, what lessons did I learn from that summer? I learned a lot about character from Rocky and his family. I saw a really tough and hard side of life in the people who inhabit the Big Bend. I enjoyed the stark beauty of the Big Bend country, still do. I learned there would be very few things life could throw my way that would compare to that summer. There would be very few things with which I had real difficulty dealing. In fact nothing has compared to that. It steeled something inside that allowed me to do some things that would have otherwise been very difficult.  I learned it’s ok to cry. Damn, I did a lot of that. I saw that you get up when you’ve been knocked down. I saw grace, strength and resilience in people and in a place that I thought maybe even the divine had forgotten.

Truly what I did next wasn’t very special. It’s been an accumulation of steps. And I am certain many of those steps were tempered by that summer. It was the old deal about one foot in front of the other. But, I now see the things that had surrounded me. I’m grateful for the people, the experience, for Rocky and his family, even for the geography. And I’m grateful I was spared that day. I was given an opportunity. A chance to see life and part of the world that doesn’t get a lot of exposure. Rocky, I hope what I did next has counted. Thank you.

It’s What You do Next that Counts

September 1, 2015

In college I worked for a drilling company to pay for school. We were in the Big Bend country of Texas. Whatever the word is after desolate, that’s the Big Bend. I worked with a driller who had brought his family with him to live in the desert southwest. We became close in a very short time. I had all of my meals with them, played with their 2 year old son, sat on the porch and drank beer with Rocky, my driller.

We worked 3 shifts on this site, Rocky and I had the 8am to 5pm shift. On this day we worked our shift, went back to our quarters (there was no motel, just an abandoned set of rooms we occupied…primitive) had dinner and went to bed. Rocky awakened me at 1 or 2 am. The graveyard shift couldn’t work. One of their crew had been seriously injured in a car wreck. So, off we went.

Working all night was different, but all the same things had to be done. Somewhere around first light we were pulling the drill stem (pipe) out of the hole. About 900+ feet of pipe at this point. We had only pulled a few  lengths of pipe when it happened. There was no warning. Nothing to anticipate. Just react. Something slipped. It did not hold the pipe in place as we disconnected lengths and reconnected the tools to lift the drill stem from the hole. I was in the tower, 20+ feet off the drill floor. Rocky was on the drill floor handling the 2” steel cable spool that lifted the pipe from the hole.

When “it” slipped all hell broke loose for about 20 seconds. The rig was bounced with a terrible jolt as Rocky pulled on the spool brake to stop the cable which was attached to almost 900 feet of pipe. That jolt bent some very strong iron platforms like it was cardboard. The steel cable snapped, flew into the air and grazed my face. Only a grease mark. Another ¼” and my eye was gone.

I looked down and that’s when I saw Rocky. Bent over, holding his right hand, in obvious agony and pain. Not a word, not a whimper. He was a big, tough German. He told me to cut his glove off. I did. What I saw next has never left my memory. Rocky worked with his hands and that was at an end. I got him back to our quarters, his wife packed his hand in ice, they drove 90 miles to the nearest hospital. There is a lot more to tell you about this event. The lessons I’ve taken from it are numerous and significant.

But here’s where THE lesson came from that terrible day. I stayed with the rig and our quarters. It was a very rough country of folks down there. About 2 days later I had everything secured and I went to see Rocky. Somehow I felt I had made a mistake. I knew he couldn’t. Somehow I blamed myself, and not all of that feeling has left me even today. But Rocky assured me it was no one’s fault. “Just one of those things.” Then he told me the greatest lesson I believe I’ve had from such an event. He said, “Ed, what’s happened is done. No one’s to blame. But… it’s what YOU do next that counts.”

So, we unpack the debris, both literal and figuratively. And we do it for all events good or bad. Because what we do next will count for a long, long time. Whether it’s a change in our company, setting goals, changing ourselves, whatever. It’s what you do next that counts.

Bring Potato Chips

August 28, 2015

Probably like you I receive these stories from various places.  They always seem to arrive when I need them. It’s a story you can use to make a point (or two) in a business presentation as well…

A little boy wanted to meet God.  He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with a bag of potato chips and a six-pack of root beer and started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man.  He was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons.  The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase.  He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old man looked hungry, so he offered him some chips. He gratefully accepted it and smiled at him.

His smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer.  Again, he smiled at him.  The boy was delighted!
They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As twilight approached, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave; but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man, and gave him a hug.  He gave him his biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face.     She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?”
He replied, “I had lunch with God.”  But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what?  He’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked, “dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?”

He replied “I ate potato chips in the park with God.”  However, before his son responded, he added,  “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.  People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime!  Embrace all equally!

Have lunch with God…….bring chips.

Grow Your Business

August 25, 2015

*Increase Your Sales

*Amplify Your Ability to Persuade, Build Trust, Influence & Communicate

*More effective Meetings, Sales Presentations

Seeking to better ourselves at communication we learn why stories are effective, why people respond to stories and where to look for them. We learn to engage, be authentic, real and relevant. Learn to paint a picture with words. This is not about jokes or inane stories. This is about PROFESSIONAL, EXECUTIVE communication so you can grow. And your  company.

Storytelling in business has emerged as a key leadership competency and communication skill. When done well it is a powerful method to connect, engage and influence people more effectively.” from blog by: Gabrielle Dolan

He Was Running for Me

August 13, 2015

Growing up we had 42 children on our block. We ranged from college to newborns. And if there were two people with the same name and you were the youngest, you were “Little” insert name. Little Richard was my neighbor. But he was always Little Richie to me. Of course he’s older now and not so little, but I can’t change that tag.

Little Richie was 4 or so years younger. He was always in our games and our ‘playing’. Nothing was going to keep him from being a part of the ‘big guys.’ Since in our age range I was a ‘big guy’ I always put Richie on my team for front yard football. One other boy my size was my teammate. Richie lined up behind us and off we went. Knocking the other team out of the way. Richie was our running back and touchdown scorer! We never lost.

His running style was a little different. Full leg braces on both legs kept his gait to a hop-run-hop. But he was 100% in. Richie had polio. The Salk vaccine was too late for him. As it was for large numbers of children and young adults in the 1950’s and 60’s. My beautiful cousin, Kay, was taken from us as a baby. She was 6 years old. My last memory of her was in an iron lung in her home.

So, Richard is all grown now. Never was a quit in his life, and there were times he could have chunked it all in. As a child his parents took him to the Shriner Children’s Hospital for an operation to help straighten his legs. The doctors broke both legs. Put him in traction and he stayed that way for weeks. His mother told me later that Richie just lay in the bed, let tears stream from the pain and never complained.

I don’t know what lessons you were given in your life. This is a big one for me. I’ve questioned my resolve and wanted to throw it in when it gets tough. Who hasn’t? Little Richie didn’t, and I’m not going to let him down now. Funny, I thought I was blocking for him in those front yard games, so he could excel. But he was running for me. So I could learn, grow and excel. So I could have a hero later on.

Story: Who will you Save

August 11, 2015

See how many lessons you can find in this to use with your  next message. One where you want to influence, persuade, communicate with a person or audience. Attaching a story to your message is just about infallible in connecting to another’s emotions.

A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.

“Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”
“Well,” said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, “These puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”

The boy dropped his head for moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”

“Sure,” said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” he called. Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse.

Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up…                                                             “I want that one,” the little boy said, pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”

With that, the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so, he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.

Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”

With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup. Holding it carefully, he handed it to the little boy.

“How much?” asked the little boy… “No charge,” answered the farmer, “There’s no charge for love.”

The world is full of people who need someone who understands.

Story with Clear Emotion & Message

August 6, 2015

This story is taken from a recent email I received. Pretty clear emotional contact and message. See if you can find a way to use it with your message.

Recently I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.
Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, ‘I love you and I wish you enough‘.
The daughter replied, ‘Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom’.
They kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, ‘Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?’
Yes, I have,’ I replied. ‘Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?’. ‘I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral,’ she said.
‘When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough’. May I ask what that means?’
She began to smile. ‘That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone’. She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more. ‘When we said , ‘I wish you enough’, we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them’. Then turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory:

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

She then began to cry and walked away.
They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them.    TAKE TIME TO LIVE….

Stories are Everywhere, Use this one

August 3, 2015

This is from an email I received a few days ago. Stories are all around us. The message here will be obvious. See if you can find other applications. A story always amplifies your message.

When negative people are doing their best to rain on your parade… remember this story:

A woman was at her hairdresser’s getting her hair styled for a trip to Rome with her husband.She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who responded: “Rome? Why would anyone want to go there? It’s crowded and dirty. You’re crazy to go to Rome. So, how are you getting there?” “We’re taking Continental,” was the reply. “We got a great rate!” “Continental?” exclaimed the hairdresser. “That’s a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they’re always late.

So, where are you staying in Rome?” “We’ll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome’s Tiber River called Teste.” “Don’t go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks it’s going to be something special and exclusive, but it’s really a dump.”

“We’re going to go to see the Vatican and maybe get to see the Pope.” “That’s rich,” laughed the hairdresser. “You and a million other people trying to see him. He’ll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You’re going to need it.”

A month later, the woman again came in for a hairdo. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome. “It was wonderful,” explained the woman, “not only were we on time in one of Continental’s brand new planes, but it was overbooked, and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot.

And the hotel was great! They’d just finished a $5 million remodeling job, and now it’s a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us their owner’s suite at no extra charge!”

“Well,” muttered the hairdresser, “that’s all well and good, but I know you didn’t get to see the Pope.” “Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I’d be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me.”

“Oh, really! What’d he say?”

He said: “Who gave you that awful hairdo?”


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