The title of the event was “It’s All About Getting a G.R.I.P.” (Global Readiness™ Improvement Plan). When you take the speaker’s role, you never know exactly what’s going to happen. In this case, surprises came right from the start, with the introduction by Tom Shockley, chair of the Independent Business Committee and vice-chair of the B2B Sales committee.
For example, I learned that one of my clients Tom had recommended over 15 years ago had, after going through our training, risen to be the first selected president of Uniqlo. By the time I got up to speak, I had lost count of the number of new things I heard about myself, my company, even my band. I felt grateful, humbled, and entertained. The stage was set.
Starting Out Positive
Along with Chamber Dates and other announcements, attendees received a handout, one with strange symbols on one side and six blank lines on the other. We used the six lines first. Up on the screen flashed the following: IOIMSIPTTC, IIESVOPT, AIONSSP, ELIISNN GT, EEEEAILURNTRRNP, AEDYR.
If you were at a table, you would have been challenged to unscramble the words as fast as you could. Greg Story of Dale Carnegie Associates finished in about 30 seconds. He won a signed copy of my book Get a G.R.I.P.
The six winning words were: OPTIMISTIC, POSITIVE, PASSION, LISTENING, ENTREPRENEURIAL, READY.
Why start with that? Because priming your brain with positive words, along with the experience of solving a problem, puts one in a positive frame of mind. Winning feels good. So does cheering for the winner. Rewarding participation leads to greater future participation. You might want to give this a try at your next informal meeting. Use a word-scramble or something else that primes the minds around your table to enter a positive, solution-focused and productive time together.
A Radical Approach to Leadership
With attendees now warmed up, I asked them to take a look at the other side of the paper. We used a mind-map for another purpose we’ll address in a future Ax, and then we took a look at the second symbol: √. Someone volunteered that this was a “square root” or “radical.”
What does a radical do?” I asked rhetorically to the group of ACCJ leaders, members and guests assembled.
“Go to Berkeley?” came the response from Ray Ribble, Chair of the Information Technology and Communications Committee and a partner with Fusion Systems. Ray was obviously paying attention to the introduction, when Tom said he graduated a few years prior to me from Cal. [Note to self and other speakers: You don’t need to encourage everyone in every audience to speak up].
I suppose some radicals still do go to Berkeley even 50 years after the Free Speech Movement, but I wanted to share what I learned about the mathematical purpose of a radical. You probably know it as “taking the root.” And you can also say “a radical can undo a power.” Thus, if you have a 64 under the radical sign, by taking its root you are also “undoing” its power.
Perhaps this gives some insight into why “radical” movements seek to unseat, or “undo” power. In this case, my aim was for the audience to experience “undoing” some of their thoughts and preconceptions about management, leadership and personal development. The first step in any improvement plan, and especially our G.R.I.P., is to see where you are today. And we were taking a look at, or taking the root of “Leadership.”
Enlightening Discuss ions–Starting at the Very Beginning
Next, we showed a music video clip. A minute of Julie Andrews signing “Do-Re-Mi” in The Sound of Music. Many in the audience quickly grasped why we would start a discussion of the “Roots of Leadership” with this song. I shared my reasons and the audience shared theirs: “It’s a scale that goes up and then comes full circle,” “It’s a step-by-step process,” and others. The notes are building blocks.
As Andrews’ character Maria explains in the movie clip, once you know the scale, y ou create an unlimited number of songs. But why any music at all? Because music engages your brain. If you don’t like Julie Andrews (amazingly, some people don’t!), I suggest listening to another song that will inspire your creativity before doing exercises like the first one, which was to complete the sentence stem, “To me management is…”
Completing “To me, management is….” can reveal a lot. One leader’s first response was, “To me, management is… wrong!” That, or something similar, may be your first answer too. But the exercise required six different answers. Funny, thoughtful, and even “radical” answers were shared.
Creating sentence stems is a great way to focus your meetings. The simplest one to use for your next meeting: “As a result of this meeting, I would like…”Whether or not you ask your participants to complete that stem, at least do it for yourself. We went through a couple of other “roots of leadership” stems and then moved on to an exercise specifically related to HR, since the HR Management committee was a co-sponsor of the event.
Feedback from the meeting was positive in terms of the energy and personal insights gained and the quality of networking. Some said they got to know people on a whole new level, people they had seen often but did not yet feel they “knew.” Ironically, a few participants asked me afterwards “Where can I get your book?” and “What about that Global Readiness™ Profile you showed for only a few seconds? I wanted to learn more about your business.”
I say this is ironic only because the ACCJ strives to ensure that speakers provide direct value and don’t “sell” from the stage. Unlike the US Congress, I wanted to make sure I followed all the rules we ACCJ leaders have put in place. Perhaps we went overboard on restraint. For the record, you can get an E-version of Get a G.R.I.P.* on Amazon.com, order the print copy from any bookstore starting this month, and you can e-mail me directly for an advance print copy if you so desire.
This is important because…
It’s all about getting a Global Readiness™Improvement Plan (G.R.I.P.). My book acts as a guide to those who seek inspiration and exercises they can do in 15 minutes per day. But ours is not the only place to start. In attendance were the leaders from Lumina Spark (which has a great tool for developing self awareness) and the aforementioned Dale Carnegie (pioneer in raising self-confidence).
And this is important because global competition is here to stay. Imagine you’ve just come back from your annual physical and found that both your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are dangerously high, and you’re overweight. You’ve got to do something or suffer the consequences.The “something” you’ve got to do is simple: get better sleep, eat right, and exercise. You might also need some medication. But it’s up to you to find the diet and exercise program that you will stick to, and it’s up to you to actually take the medicine your doctor prescribes.
Similarly, it’s up to you to have you and your teams assessed, and to do something positive with the results. How globally ready are you?
A radical solution is within your grasp. I closed the lunch with, “If you don’t have an improvement plan, you’d better get a G.R.I.P. And if you do have an improvement plan, then get a better G.R.I.P.!”