My latest newsletter is getting some great feedback and responses so I thought I’d post it below.
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To say it was a unusual day would be an understatement. Have you ever been in a situation, and suddenly wondered how on earth did you get there?
This was one of those days.
After the very nice people at The Yorkshire International Business Convention in Leeds ( http://www.yibc.biz ) gave me a ticket, I bizarrely found myself face-to-face of one of the most influential, followed and controversial people in the world. A simple friendly bespectacled monk who has devoted his life to a nation oppressed by a super-power, but this monk causes a stir wherever he visits, just by turning up. This visit was no different, only a few days beforehand the Chinese government had threatened to remove their Olympic athletes from the Leeds training camps just because he was visiting the city (nowhere near the athletes!).
I’m not a Buddhist, but I was keen to hear the Dalai Lama’s wisdom for us in these challenging times. His time was very limited and the media scrum and entourage was big, so I only got to ask one question.
After getting a “hurry up, get on with it” nod from the PR team I quickly asked: “What advice would you give to people living in the 21st century today?”
He answered with a smile: “The twentieth century became a century of bloodshed. That immense bloodshed failed to bring a better or happier world. If we use common sense, we must now find a different approach when we are facing problems; we should not be using violence. The only approach that there is left is dialogue…in order to create dialogue, you should first respect others’ rights…then compromise or reconciliation dialogue can be meaningful…a long time ago, people just thought ‘me, me, me, me, me’. Now we should think ‘us’. The whole world should be part of ‘us’, a part of ‘we’.”
He was polite, friendly, and as he spoke looked me square in the eye, like with every other interviewer, a real people person, I was impressed. But what impressed me more was that his interviews and his speech were all about people and relationships. Timely, after such a turbulent year in the business world.
Not only that, but he shared the stage earlier in the day with the retail guru Mary Portas and former Olympian Steve Cram too. When I asked them a few questions, their messages lined up with his in many ways. I don’t think this was planned, how could they have been? As a professional speaker myself I know how these things work, they seemed “off script”.
I asked Mary Portas about her journey from a Saturday job in Boots to one of the UK’s business gurus. She also looked at me straight in the eyes and talked about hard work but also the importance of integrity: “As you get older I think you must come from a place of honesty and integrity; that is the most essential thing to do in business today…every time I have gone for a new challenge I have thought, ‘Yes, if I do this from my heart then it will work’.”
And then I chatted to the Olympic legend Steve Cram about his sporting success, he was a great interviewee too: “You might be in business in a really good business, doing really well and being very positive and then your major suppliers go bust or your normal customers disappear; you have to react to things that are going on around you and you have to stay positive…you come second for now but you then have to go, ‘Right, you know I’m going to make sure…this doesn’t happen.’ You do your best to try and work on those things….I have learnt that as you move into other spheres, i.e. broadcasting, you have bad days; I have bad days commentating. You do not come off air saying: ‘I’m not doing this anymore’. You have got to be honest…sometimes outside of sport, people are not honest enough. Unless you are honest with what the truth is, it is really hard to put things right.”
I was starting to join the dots, at one of the biggest corporate business conferences in the UK where companies had paid serious money to attend, the main speakers were all talking about the importance of good relationships, honesty and integrity. Subjects that I’ve been passionate about for years.
Whether people took these messages any further of course is up for debate but I was encouraged. Often big business can do better and do more to foster real relationships and show integrity, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Don’t believe the hype, we aren’t / weren’t in a recession that we can never get out of, and there are good people running good businesses out there. We just have to look. But, as Michael Jackson cheesily put it, we can only start with the man/woman in the mirror!
We have a head start. Lets keep pushing on. Relationships, honesty and integrity are key, and we need keys to unlock doors we’ve never been through before.
The world is indeed full of good people and great stories… don’t believe all the doom and gloom…
Amazing people –
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PLAN EARLY – I often plan talks weeks in advance because I like ideas to “marinade” a bit. Fresh ideas aren’t always the best ones, as I am sure you’ve seen! Also a lot of stress comes from “what am I going to say tommorow?!” I have a booking for a new talk in March 2013, I’ve already started thinking about it, i scribble things down when they pop up and forget them until nearer the time.
I can teach you and your colleagues how to present better here – I can save you time, effort and stress.
And, if we all do our bit we can kill death by PowerPoint one presentation at a time, here’s my take on it here Peter .
If you want to chat about any events you have planned give my office a call, I look forward to working with you or finding you someone who can!
Until next time, enjoy the crisp weather, and remember what Billy Connolly said “Theres no such thing as bad weather, just inappropiate clothing!” 🙂