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  • feedwordpress 20:26:55 on 2019/01/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Pickleball   

    What Pickleball Can Teach You About Business 

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    I play pickleball. For those of you not familiar with perhaps the fastest growing sport in America, it’s a cross between tennis and ping-pong played on a badminton-sized court with a tennis style net that’s about a quarter of the size of a tennis court.

    However, this is not tennis, not even close. Unlike tennis, it’s played with a small, solid paddle and plastic whiffle ball. And, unlike tennis that typically requires reserving court time and bringing others to play, pickleball is a meet up game. That means in communities where people play, there is open court time. You don’t have to know anyone and don’t have to bring anyone. You just show up and play.

    It’s also incredibly addictive. Picklers like myself, will go to great lengths to rearrange their schedules to be available for those meet up times. Additionally, some people, especially retirees play every day. I would if I could, but I’m not there yet, though I do play often. My husband has started calling himself a ‘pickleball widower’. He plays a bit too, though I’m more of a pickleball addict.

    There are a lot of nice players in my group of neighborhood picklers. Robin takes her time returning the ball, strategically aiming for the far corners. Gary is tall, so he’s worked on perfecting his lob shot. Greg is very safety conscious, clearing leaves and debris from the court and always arrives early to squeegee away any puddles that may be left over from the rain.

    Then there’s Andy. Andy is a nice guy, but he hasn’t mastered the art of the game, specifically the dink. That’s a pickleball term for trying to position the ball just over the net, which can give you an advantage. Instead, Andy continually slams the ball, sometimes yelling ‘kill it’. The end result is many missed points and lost games as he hits the ball into the net or out of bounds.

    Andy reminds me of the guy at work who makes his own rules. Instead of focusing on a long-range goal that includes teamwork, strategy and the basics needed to maximize outcomes, he is short-sighted and focused only on the moment at hand.

    When you concentrate on ‘I’ and not on ‘we’, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

    In pickleball, advanced players will tell you to prepare for the slam by keeping your paddle up. You have no way to return a fast slam if your paddle is below the net or down by your knees. At work, you need to prepare, plan and anticipate the needs and reactions of prospects and clients or you’ll be caught off guard.

    In pickleball, experts will tell you instead of making the game more complex by trying to slam winning shots, keep it simple by going back to basics, such as getting it over the net. At work, it’s not that different. As your expertise expands, you will become more valuable to those around you.

    In sports or in business, it’s natural to focus on our selves. We want to develop skills to improve our game or get promoted at work. However, we shouldn’t do so at the expense of our teammates or co-workers. When we focus on executing shots more effectively on the court or in the boardroom, we have a better chance of hitting them where we want them to land.  

    Comparing sports to business is hardly new. You can google endless articles, books and videos on the subject. However, the excellent examples I see inside corporate meeting rooms every day is not that different from what I used to observe when my son first played soccer.

    He was four years old and his team played against a girl who lived across the street. They were best friends and wanted to be on the same team but were not. She used to tell him that when she grew up she was going to marry him. (she married someone else). On this particular day as my son’s team was moving in one direction and her team was moving in another direction, their eyes met, they grabbed hands and began skipping down the field together. When you’re four, it’s cute.

    We can also learn from these four-year old’s, specifically what I call the three C’s.


    Collaboration, interaction and building relationships with the other side goes a long way. When you interact with people who are different than you, you’re exposed to new ideas, insights and opinions. This can stimulate productivity, enthusiasm and unique approaches to problem solving.


    Every office has a cast of characters. Some are leaders while others follow. All have different backgrounds. What’s most important is to respect their quirks and personalities. We don’t all approach issues the same way. There isn’t always a right and a wrong, but there are other ways to accomplish goals.


    The importance of communicating on the field or in the office can’t be understated. Communication allows colleagues to build trust, credibility and permits people to speak openly without fear of being judged. The more we communicate, the more approachable we appear.

    Whether playing pickleball, soccer or negotiating a deal, to do it right takes hard work, preparation and perseverance. As we know, it doesn’t always go smoothly. It’s okay to hit hard and slam it out of bounds once in a while. And, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to win.

    However, in order for us to score points, we have to rely on others.

  • feedwordpress 00:46:43 on 2019/01/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , slide presentation   

    Quick Tip #84: Ditch the Slides 

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    What? Present without my slides? Not realistic. Not possible. Not how they do it at my company! Let’s learn how to turn slide filled presentations into message focused conversations.

  • feedwordpress 20:39:21 on 2018/12/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , satisfaction,   

    Lessons Learned at UPS: Keep Calm and Carry On 

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    2:11 p.m.

    I went to the UPS office to ship a small package before 3:00 p.m. which was the last pick up of the day. One woman was being waited on and there were two other people in front of me. However, the counter clerk appeared efficient, so I assumed the line would move quickly.

    Assumptions can be dangerous.

    The woman being waited on said she didn’t want to send her package through UPS. She just wanted to know what it would cost so she could compare it to other services. The employee was trying to determine a price but needed to enter information into the computer to be accurate. She didn’t have the information he needed and became irritated at him. Still trying to help her, he Facetimed with his supervisor. The supervisor couldn’t fix it, so he called a technician who promised to be at the store within ten minutes.

    At this point, the woman chastised the employee, said she didn’t understand why he couldn’t understand what she was saying and stormed out of the store.

    2:31 p.m.

    Next customer. This man gave the UPS clerk a package sealed in a United States Postal Service (USPS) envelope. The clerk explained that it couldn’t be sent in a USPS envelope from a UPS office as they were two different organizations. Clearly irritated, he began to give the worker a hard time. Once again, calm, polite and patient, the UPS man tried to find a solution and asked the customer if he had ever sent anything from UPS before. This way, he explained, he could look the account up in the computer and see what he could do. The customer responded, “let’s just pretend I have.” More explaining from the clerk. More defiance from the customer.

    2:50 p.m.

    Enter the UPS delivery man. He came to collect packages for his final pick up of the day. The woman in front of me interrupted the man in front of her to ask the clerk if she could get her package onto the truck. I said I had also come early to make sure my package went out today.

    The defiant customer turned toward me and exclaimed “are you blaming me for the delay?” Not wanting to end up as a post on social media that might go viral, I calmly said I wasn’t blaming anyone and just wanted to get my package out. The insolent customer muttered something to the clerk and stormed out of the store. The clerk thanked her for coming.

    Two down. One to go.

    3:04 p.m.

    The woman in front of me was returning a pair of shoes. Easy. I’d be waited on in no time. So, I thought. She originally purchased the shoes in a size 7 she told the clerk. Those were too small she continued, so she ordered them in an 8. They were shipped to her boyfriend’s house in another state, but her boyfriend broke up with her. She thought he loved her, but it turned out he has mental problems. He’s a mental health counselor, but in her opinion, he is the one who needs counseling. Anyway, she continued explaining to the UPS person behind the counter, she’s returning the size 8 because she thinks they are too big, but she’s not sure. They fit correctly at the toe, but her heels kept popping out. She wants to make sure that the return package shows her address and not the ex-boyfriend’s address.

    3:12 p.m.

    She also wrote a note explaining the situation that she’s included in the package. Would he like to hear it? Well, she’ll read it to him to see what he thinks. When she was done, she asked him if he thought it sounded okay. He nodded.

    At this point, I wasn’t sure whether I was really awake, or I was having a bad dream.

    3:22 p.m.

    The delivery driver returns. The shoe woman leaves. My turn. The clerk asks me if I’ve ever shipped from UPS before. I reply, “let’s pretend I have.” Not understanding my attempt at humor, I provided the information he needed, and he quickly completed the transaction.

    3:29 p.m.

    More than one hour later, I finally leave the store.

    Talking does not equal communication. Yet, many of us provide too many details, tend to over-explain, send long wordy emails and deliver hour long presentations that could have been presented in fifteen minutes. The results, especially at work, could be significant.

    If you’re not fully attentive, you may miss an email with important information. If you’re too busy talking and not listening, you may botch an important deal. If you’re too long winded, you could blow a job interview because you’re rambling, instead of making key points. Besides, according to author Joseph McCormack, our brains can’t handle it.

    McCormack says the human brain has the capacity to absorb 750 words per minute, but the average person can only speak 150 words per minute. That means an extra 600 words are floating around in there which gives us more time to tune out and get bored. So, if we’re chastising a worker, babbling to a clerk or taking too long to get to the point, chances are that person isn’t really hearing us.

    What’s the fix?

    Time Testing

    In our programs, we challenge people to present information in different time increments. For example, if their presentation is thirty minutes, we ask them to deliver it in thirty, twenty and even ten minutes. The results are typically astounding. Speakers start honing in on what’s important, eliminate unnecessary details and command attention for longer periods of time.

    Hit the Headline

    Since attention spans start dwindling after ten seconds, it’s important to grab attention as soon as you speak. Like a great headline that draws you in, your first few words should do the same. Make your most important point as soon as you start talking.


    There are many reasons people ramble including nerves, trying to impress and being unsure of how to draw others out. In business however, we observe the lack of preparation techniques. That’s not to say people don’t prepare. They do. But, instead of trying to cram ten pounds of information into a two-pound bag, learning how to effectively use message models will help even the most seasoned presenters condense information.

    Back to the UPS office. Perhaps the real communication lesson learned is from the UPS clerk. Attentive, calm, resourceful and patient. He was also outwardly non-judgmental, which is difficult when people appear hostile. He showed us that it’s important to take all kinds of communication seriously, but not personally. He barely talked. He just listened, which signals he understood their frustration even if he couldn’t fix the problem to their satisfaction.

  • feedwordpress 15:59:24 on 2018/12/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , story   

    Quick Tip #83: Opens and Closes 

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    Nailing your opens and closes will help you turn boring talks into brilliant ones. Learn how and why so you can engage listeners and command attention.


  • feedwordpress 20:43:26 on 2018/10/29 Permalink
    Tags: bison, , , Karen, negotiation,   

    Don’t get buffaloed in negotiations: Use bison logic to achieve your ends. 

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    We just returned from vacationing in Wyoming. Hiking, biking, rafting and kayaking through Grand Teton mountains and Yellowstone Park. What a great trip!

    Everywhere you go, you see bison, also known as buffalo. Like cows here at home, they calmly graze in the meadows, occasionally looking your way. Typically, if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. Only in Wyoming, these 2000-pound animals occasionally come down from the hills and out of the meadows to stroll along the side of the road alongside the traffic.

    On this particular day, our tour group was on bicycles, single file in a bike lane on a busy road. As we round the corner, we see them in front of us, less than 100 yards away. Not sure what to do, we quickly put on the brakes. Little by little, traffic on both sides of the road also comes to a standstill. Not knowing how these giant animals will react, you can’t exactly drive around them.

    As our guide pulled up, I asked, why do they do this, to which he answered because they can. What are you going to do, he joked, negotiate with them?

    I thought about it for a minute and answered yes because everything is a negotiation. That doesn’t mean acting foolishly. Like a chess game, it means paying attention, being patient and carefully calculating your next move.

    Let me tell you what I learned about negotiating with bison and how you can apply the same protocols in your life.

    1. Give them space

    Bison Protocol: Be patient and wait for them to cross the road or move ahead. Don’t beep your horn or try to pass them as you might agitate or scare them.

    People Protocol: When you are faced with an uncomfortable situation, it’s also important to be patient. That means being comfortable with the silence. Communicating, like negotiating is not always about talking.

    2. Don’t underestimate your opponent

    Bison Protocol: A bison, despite its enormous size, can run up to 35 mph if it feels like chasing you. It’s estimated the average human jogs at approximately 8 mph. So, it’s not likely you can outrun a bison. If he catches you, the outcome won’t be pretty.

    Earlier this year, a man was caught on video being chased by a bison after getting out of his car and taunting the animal as it walked on the side of the road in Yellowstone National park. The man is seen continually teasing the animal until it charged at him. He stopped, and the bison walked away. In July, a woman wasn’t so lucky. She was gored by a bison after she got too close.

    People Protocol: Think about the consequences of your words and actions in advance. This will prevent you from acting impulsively or saying whatever comes to mind at the moment. Even a few seconds of thoughtful preparation can help you gain greater control over the conversation.

    3. Provide value

    Bison Protocol: Writer Ayn Rand said, “a creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” When we put others first, outcomes are often different. Last year, tourists saw a baby bison and thought it was cold, so they picked it up and put it in the car. Unfortunately, when mommy came back, she wanted nothing to do with her baby and left it alone. Park rangers had to euthanize the animal because it would not have survived on its own.

    People Protocol: In business, the key to success is the value you provide for others. The people who put the bison in the car may have genuinely been trying to help. Unfortunately, they failed to anticipate reactions, responses and objections. When we do that in business, we are no longer seen as trusted advisors who have the best interest of others at heart.

    What’s interesting about the American bison is that they were almost hunted to extinction at the end of the 19th century. Earlier, in the 16th century, tens of millions of buffalo grazed in North America. Because they roam in herds, when one bison is killed, the other bison gather around it, making them easy targets. Public preservation efforts ultimately brought them back, but even today, the United States wild bison population is less than one percent of what it was in pre-colonial times.

    Yet, they are survivors. Their resilience and ability to overcome adversity is a great lesson for all of us.

    Lesson 1: The bison had a strong support network of people who wanted to save them. People also need to create strong networks to thrive.

    Lesson 2: Despite frigid winter temperatures, biting winds and land blanketed in snow, bison find alternative ways to survive. They move to lower elevations, grow a woolly undercoat and eat different vegetation. While most of us don’t have to survive such harsh elements, developing coping skills in different areas of our lives can help us overcome adversity.

    Lesson 3: Today, public and private groups actively help identify opportunities and create places where bison can safely thrive in large herds. Continually identifying new opportunities, educating ourselves and seeking solutions to challenges will help us flourish in our own environments.

    Even though I kept my distance, I learned a lot from the bison I saw. Their physical endurance, coping skills and ability to adapt through the centuries was truly inspiring and reminded me that anything is possible.

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