June 29, 2007

Inspire or Instruct?

Filed under: Speaking and Communication — Mark Sanborn @ 3:26 pm

Recently I presented a two-hour leadership seminar. I primarily keynote these days but occasionally do a longer program like this.

I received an email from a participant who liked my content but felt I didn’t inspire throughout the entire presentation. His primary criteria for a successful seminar, it seemed was inspiration.

That started me thinking. I believe inspiration and motivation are both important ingredients in a successful presentation. But in a longer program, the practicality and even desirability of being “inspirational” comes into question. Not all important and useful information needs to be inspirational. Sometimes a clear explanation is best, unencumbered with a search for a deeply emotional connection.

Someone once said “everything hyped equals nothing hyped.” If you put an exclamation point after every statement, it loses impact! Trust me! It does!

If you try to make everything inspirational, then nothing is inspirational. Inspiration is like a highlighter and focuses on the most worthy and significant of ideas. Highlighting everything makes everything the same.

Use inspiration as you choose. Like seasoning, it is a matter of personal taste. Just consider that sometimes instructing rather than inspiring is the goal.

June 28, 2007

A Good Way to Celebrate

Filed under: Observations, Success, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 10:02 am

Today is my 49th birthday and I’ll be enjoying the day with family and friends. My long-time friend Joe Sabah sent a card with a birthday homework assignment that was given to him several years ago:
1. Admit to your age

2. Count as many blessings in your life as you have years

3. Write them down

4. Read them often

5. Repeat next year

This strikes me as a very good way to celebrate.

June 26, 2007

No Chocolates

Filed under: Observations, Leadership, Customer Service Strategy — Mark Sanborn @ 8:31 pm

That’s what I discovered when I returned to my room at the JW Marriott Desert Springs. Since I’d requested turn-down service, I expected to find two chocolate squares on my pillow.

Was it an oversight? Not according to the operator and At Your Service representative I talked with. Both said only “VIPs” got chocolates anymore. Are Gold Elite members VIPs, I inquired hopefully? No, only Platinum Level (which I used to be).

Somebody recently wrote a book on customer service in the hospitality industry entitled “Chocolates On the Pillow Aren’t Enough.” I wholeheartedly agree. But chocolates on the pillow are a start, especially when we’ve been conditioned to expect them.

It isn’t unreasonable to expect such a little perk when you spend $2-300 a night for a room.

This hotel is one of my favorites, or has been historically. I got a nice email from the manager before I arrived telling me to give him a call if there was anything he could do. I thought it was a nice touch, but I’d trade the email in a heartbeat for a chocolate square right now. (In fairness to the operator and service rep, they both offered to have chocolates delivered which I declined.)

I’ve been flying for thirty years, and when passengers complain, my observation it is first and foremost about delays, but the second place complaint is no snacks. On a long flight coach passengers might get pretzels, but evidently peanuts–another conditioned expectation from the past–are too expensive for most airlines.

Lots of little stuff adds up to important stuff to a customer. I hope you’re not penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to meeting customer expectations.

Our Culture Seems to Care…

Filed under: Observations, Politics, Moral Leadership — Mark Sanborn @ 9:50 am

…but often about the wrong things.

Paris Hilton pranced out of jail and her cheery exit has been taking up network news time. Who cares? Evidently quite a few people care, based on the news coverage and the record amount of mail she received during her terrible 23 day ordeal.

Apathy doesn’t seem to be a cultural malaise these days. People seems to care a great deal but about lots of silly stuff. Yes, we do seem care about a missing mom in Canton, Ohio and floods and gas prices, but it gets squeezed between tons of reports about immature celebrities and reality TV shows.
And just who the heck am I to judge what is silly stuff?

Answer: a thinking adult. That’s what adults are supposed to do. We’re supposed to reflect on what is important in our personal lives, in our communities and in our culture. Adults are supposed to exercise mature discernment, not out of intolerance but concern. People often don’t agree with someone else’s conclusion. but that’s no reason to stop thinking and talking about what we think.

And our unbalanced obsession with Hilton and her ilk is pathetic and sad. A passing interest in the lifestyles of the rich and famous isn’t bad, but a displacement of news coverage to follow their every step and misstep is.

With the war in Iraq, genocide in Darfur, homelessness, missing children, hunger, poverty, education and even the simple challenge of raising happy, healthy kids–for heaven’s sake, let’s stop caring so much about the silly and trivial and free up some media attention, some thinking time and yes, even some action, to care about the important stuff.

Your Input Wanted for My Next Book

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Sanborn @ 9:00 am

The working title of my next book is The Encore Effect: How to Give a Remarkable Performance When it Really Matters. I’m going to explain an easy-to-follow system and techniques for performing in a way that is memorable and significant. I’ve got lots of great ideas from my own experience, study and observations, but I’d appreciate getting your input as well.
Here are two questions, and you can email your response to either or both to mark@marksanborn.com.

#1 What are the characteristics of a “remarkable performance” whether at work, home, in the arts, community or wherever?

#2 When are those times and circumstances in business and life when performance really matters? Filling out an expense report needs to be done correctly, but it doesn’t merit a “remarkable performance.” Pitching a client for a huge piece of business is one of those times that does matter. What’s your take about other times?

If you share an idea or insight that I use, you’ll be acknowledged in the book.

I look forward to hearing from you.

June 25, 2007

Fishin’

Filed under: Observations, Success — Mark Sanborn @ 3:51 pm

My wife Darla takes lots of pictures. LOTS. She has recorded so many terrific memories for our family that it would be hard to pick a few of my favorite pictures. They are all rich with meaning and emotion.

Now I have some new favorite pictures of my son Jackson. They were taken yesterday. The pictures show Jack catching his first fish.

We dropped Hunter off at camp for the week and on the way home we stopped at a place where you could pay to fish. It cost one dollar to rent the fishing rod, a dollar for worms and 70 cents per inch for the fish you caught. There was no catch and release. If you caught it, you bought it.
Jack had been fishing three times before and had yet to catch a fish, so mom and dad were going to make sure that didn’t happen again.
I worked with Jack to bait his hook and cast. He quickly got some serious nibbles.

After fifteen minutes he hooked his first fish. Darla took pictures of Jack reeling in the trout. In the next half hour he caught two more, and that meant more pictures.

One fish flipped back into the water creating its own “catch and release” program. The other two were cleaned and put on ice.

Jack stayed at Grandma’s house last night, and she and he cooked up the trout. Jack thought they tasted delicious. “You know what’s the most fun?” Jack asked us. “Catching your first fish!”

Darla and I looked at the photos last night after we got home. I can’t describe the joy in Jack’s eyes in those pictures but I don’t need to if you have children, because you know what I mean. Just looking at the pictures made Darla and me smile.

We all know how important moments like those are. And we often struggle to make time for those moments. The have-to’s sometimes crowd out the get-to’s. So I’m just writing this little blog, mostly for me because I’m still smiling, but also in the hope that you’ll go fishin’ and take some pictures.

New Book and Great Offer

Filed under: Leadership, Reviews, Success, Speaking and Communication — Mark Sanborn @ 2:33 pm

Communications expert Dianna Booher has written a terrific new book titled The Voice of Authority: 10 Communication Strategies Every Leader Needs to Know. Dianna is a personal friends and the author of 42 previous books. She really knows her stuff.

This book has been twenty years in the making and will be a great addition to your business library. Dianna covers key topics like the characteristics of personal credibility, selling your ideas and expanding your influence, delivering bad news in sensitive situations and creating a culture of information sharing. These are all important topics for leaders, whether or not you have a title.

If you order on Wednesday, June 26, you’ll receive lots of value-added extras from many respected thought-leaders of the day. To take advantage of this offer, click here.

June 19, 2007

The High Point of Leadership

Filed under: Leadership, Success, Difference Makers, Leadership Lessons — Sanborn & Associates @ 9:41 pm

Nido Qubein & Mark Sanborn with HPU MascotIn this month’s Leadership Lessons ezine, Mark interviews Roger C, Director of WOW! for High Point University. You’ll want to read how innovative leadership has led this once sleepy institution to a new level of national prominence and a position us as one of the most prestigious universities in their region.

We welcome your comments on this transformation and any stories you can share that relate how outstanding leadership and innovation can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The picture features HPU President Nido Qubein, Mark Sanborn and “Prowler”, the High Point University mascot.

Infused Thinking

Filed under: Professional Development, Success, Motivation — Mark Sanborn @ 10:30 am

On Fathers Day, I got up early and read some of my favorite thinkers: Oswald Chambers, C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. I also read a few pages of The Intellectual Devotional, which has become one of my favorites. The entire process took no more than fifteen minutes.

It was time invested well. Having the inspiration of great thinkers and worthy ideas is a powerful way to start the day, and I’ve renewed my commitment to this practice as a result.

What infuses our thinking at the beginning of the day shapes our activities throughout the day. How do you jump start your brain in the morning?

June 18, 2007

Hero or Zero, You Choose

Filed under: Difference Makers, Customer Service Strategy — Mark Sanborn @ 2:02 pm

My PDA battery fried and died which is something I’ve never had happen before. It wouldn’t take a charge. I was on the road and panicky as that is my main voice and data access.

I was flying to Bellevue, Washington. Maritza in my office found a store operated by my phone provider near the Hilton hotel downtown and, per my request asked: “If we buy the battery from you, can someone drop it off for my boss so it is there when he arrives at the hotel?”

Big request, I know, but a chance to be a hero.

The store rep’s answer: “Nope.”

So Martiza calls the hotel. Concierge says, “You pay for the battery and we’ll go pick it up for Mark.” It was waiting for me when I arrived, thanks not to my cell phone company but the hotel. Hilton became the hero.

What often appear to be unusual requests or inconveniences for a service provider are actually opportunities to become a hero. Choose well, and you’re a hero. Choose poorly, and you might still end up in a story, newsletter or blog, but you’ll show up as a zero.

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