Listen Hear

Think about the last conversation you had with – oh, I don’t know – your significant other, your child, a friend on the phone, your employee. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how would you score your attentiveness?

I’m giving me a 2.

Just last night, our oldest daughter was talking with me… and I made a comment. She looked at me and replied, “Dad, I literally just said that two sentences ago.” I smiled and said, “I knew I heard it somewhere.” It was a weak attempt to cover my lack of listening.

There are many reasons why this happens (too often for me).

I have other things on my mind. I’m having a strong reaction and trying to manage my response. I’m racing ahead to what I want to say. I’m processing the last few sentences and miss the next ones. Sports is on the television. I’m looking at my phone. I checked out of the conversation. I’m focused on myself and not the other person.

Humans have an inherent ability to listen. Words flow in and out of our ears all day long. Hearing the other person – focusing intently on what they’re saying – is a different skill that takes discipline and practice.

I’m beginning a new habit: put down my phone the next time my daughter wants to talk, clear my head and do my best to be fully present for her.

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Techno Flubs

Earlier this week a new look debuted on this blog for the first time since it started many years ago. I wasn’t looking to change the design. It’s just. Well. You know how technology works.

Last month I received a call from the company that hosts our Web site and blog. These ‘check-ins’ come every six months or so… and Kathy shakes her head afterward when I tell her how much more money I authorized to spend.

This time? Our blog security was no longer supported (think: spam) and to update that meant moving to a new hosting platform and to do that meant the previous look no longer worked.

Of course, as with all things tech, the transition didn’t go exactly as planned. First it was the site will be down for up to 24 hours… then there was an unexpected two-week delay due to an incorrect setting… and finally something about an ‘incompatible CDN’ that, candidly, I still don’t understand.

All told I spent three hours working with their experts to resolve everything… and, as always, they were polite and knowledgeable. Plus, they gave me a discount afterward for the trouble.

Which is why I don’t hesitate to recommend them. They always come through in the end. Go Daddy!

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Go Fourth

Vision is interesting. When Kathy and I started Success Handler, LLC – first client session 16 years ago September 25, if you’re counting – my focus was on coaching small business owners by phone… franchisees specifically, printers in particular.

A couple of years of experience and we segued into franchisors and I did some keynotes. In 2008, I had my first engagement with a corporate leader. Then came facilitating groups, working with teams – including traveling offshore to the world’s largest oil platform – training, strategic planning… and now… international coaching.

During the past few years, I’ve traveled to Canada a dozen times, worked with leaders in Amsterdam and Romania, coached by phone with Singapore, and soon will visit Lagos, Nigeria.

So… on July 3, I had phone coaching sessions with several international clients – all citizens of other countries. Every one of them took the time at the end of our call to say: “Have a great Fourth of July holiday.”

Think about that for just a minute.

Quite a vision, yes?

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Conference Calls

For the seventh straight year, I served as executive producer this month for a franchisor’s annual Conference. Planning these events begins in October and really kicks in come January. There are a lot of moving parts, as you might imagine if you’ve ever attended one.

Instead of a keynote speaker, for the first time the client wanted to hire a comedian to serve as emcee and provide standup interludes. The speaker’s bureau offered 15 people – and none ‘did it’ for me, so they sent a second batch. I saw one name on the list, and without even watching his video clip told my client, “That’s our guy.”

How did I know? Well, I’ve shared his YouTube video – 15 million views – with a lot of folks. It’s one of the most spot-on satires of corporate America you’ll see. It’s also hilarious… and when we played it as part of a funny way to introduce him, the audience roared in laughter.

Throughout our prep phone calls and during rehearsals before each show, he was professional and easy to work with – this despite fighting off a bad cold and nearly losing his voice. Nary a complaint about that, by the way.

Folks who make their living speaking typically utilize canned presentations with some tweaking for the sponsoring organization. He took a different approach – developing several bits to engage with the audience… and even brought along a videographer and created a ‘man-on-the-street’ video with attendees that was hilarious.

So, if you’re looking for a speaker – yes, he has a keynote, if that’s what you want – or emcee for your next event, consider… Tripp Crosby. You can thank me later.

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Just Believe

“I believe. I believe. It’s silly but I believe.”
~ Eight-year-old Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street

Like that little girl in the holiday classic film, a lot of people talk to themselves. In my case, sometimes it’s in hoping that a wish will come true. Often, it’s to reaffirm my positive attitude. Occasionally, negative thoughts pop into my head and, if I’m not careful, lead me down a path of imagining the worst possible outcome.

While the rest of the animal kingdom simply reacts to what’s right in front of it – based on thousands of years of flight-or-flight instincts, the gift of being human is that our complex minds are able to imagine and create new ways of doing things. Thus, we have Starbucks, Google and iTunes today… and some unknown ‘got to have’ tomorrow.

Of course, the downside is our complex minds are able to imagine things that have a nearly zero chance of coming to fruition. That’s why the zombie apocalypse is a thing, could explain why Bitcoin is up nearly 150 percent this year… and might be the reason insomnia impacts more than a quarter of the U.S. population.

Limiting the impact of our imaginations requires mindfulness – a highfalutin new age term that means being able to take a step back from the thoughts whirling around your head and make a conscious choice about your actions.

If you’re awake in the middle of the night worried about an 8 a.m. meeting with executives, rather than dwell on what could happen in six hours, spend five minutes writing down your thoughts, then turn out the light, allow your mind to focus on something that relaxes you… and go to sleep.

This isn’t easy to do. It’s takes practice. Then some more practice. However, if you master the art of letting it go, you’ll get a good night’s rest and be better prepared to address things in the morning.

Perhaps the words from a song by Josh Groban in a much more recent holiday film – The Polar Express – will serve as your mantra: “You have everything you need / If you just believe.”

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