Category Archives: Strategic Roll Out

Get to the Heart – Episode 5: The One-Three Punch that Gets You Buy-In


While delivering information is lovely, there’s a way to take your presentation much further. You can unleash passion so your stakeholders want to run with your ideas, and you can evoke confidence so they know and feel they can. Click on the episode and feel the punch for yourself.

Creativity’s Dirty Little Secret

creativeThose who make their living in a creative profession don’t like to admit it, but here’s the truth: everyone is creative. Everyone. It’s like singing—anyone can sing, it’s just about putting some work and concentration into it. With creativity, it’s the same thing—you just have to adopt the successful traits and utilize the right techniques.

In fact, the main reason I fell into a creative role is completely ridiculous: I was born left-handed so everyone told me “you must be creative.” I also liked that it made me seem a wee bit special, which sometimes got me girls.

But here are two facts that will put this randomness in perspective: while the creative world has a disproportionately large number of lefties, you know what other profession does? Hockey players. Something like 60% of hockey players shoot left (truth be told, I have no idea what the real stat is, but I’m sure it’s at least 60%). And yes, some of them are actually right-handed, but when I look at my teammates, at least 25% of us are bona fide lefties—a far higher percentage than those of us who have all our teeth.

So how are creatives different? Here are some of their traits and techniques:

  • We creatives allow ourselves space to dream and don’t censor ourselves until the very end. We know other people will criticize our ideas anyway, so self-censorship is completely unnecessary. The only reason we pick favorite ideas when presenting is because:
  • We can only present so many ideas (I prefer three).
  • We discard the ideas we know won’t fly, unless we truly believe in them (after all, even creatives don’t want to be seen as idiots).
  • It’s a lot of work to make an idea presentation-ready, and work cuts into our screwing-around time.
  • We creatives also know two axioms:
  • There is quality in quantity. If you want good ideas, you have to let the bad ones out. That’s where the work comes in. You have to pan through a lot of mud to get to the gold.
  • Don’t fall in love. Everyone loves their first good idea, but creatives press on, furiously filling notebooks and decorating walls with Post-its. You must keep creating until you drop, which actually doesn’t take long if you do it with intensity and purpose.

All the best creatives have a process. The legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp wrote about process in her book The Creative Habit, where she outlines her technique flawlessly. You’d think she just starts dancing until it comes to her, right? Nope. Like a true professional, she puts in the work, and reading her book is a revelation. She also agrees with me that everyone can do it. Here’s how she puts it:

Whether it’s a painter finding his way to the easel or a medical researcher returning the laboratory, the routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration (perhaps more). And it is available to everyone. If creativity is a habit, then the best creativity is a result of good work habits. They are the nuts and bolts of dreaming.”

Here’s the last dirty little secret for today, something we touched on earlier: at least three-quarters of creativity is just making things simpler. I can’t count the number of times my ideas have been called “creative” when I never made it past the simplicity stage. So if you read chapter 8 in my soon to be published book “Get to the Heart” (and put it into practice), you’re already 75% there.

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Using Emotion to Really Get Action on Your Project

We know that consumers make their decisions emotionally, and yet when it comes to our business presentations and deliverables, we forget about the emotional and speak almost exclusively to the rational. Maybe it’s because bullet points steer us that way.

But the truth is that business people are as emotion-driven as anyone. For instance, when someone interrupts your presentation by saying, “I need more data on this,” it sounds like they’re asking for rational input, right? No. What they’re really saying is “If I buy into this, I’m scared my boss is going to have my ass, so I need you to help me cover it.” In other words, the request is mostly emotional.

Jonathan Haidt constructed the perfect metaphor for the emotional and rational minds in his book, The Happiness Hypothesis. Haidt says that the rational mind is like a human driver, riding on top of the emotional mind, an elephant for example. The driver (rational mind) can steer and direct, but we all know who really decides if they go anywhere – the elephant (emotional mind). To get people to buy in, your audience needs more than just information. They need to care. They need to believe. That’s what makes actions happen.

Movie-style stories emphasize emotion by using heroes that have a desire for something (to save someone, to feel better, to win the girl, the game, etc.). You’ll see and hear the pain our hero goes through, the courage they must muster, and the thrill of following through.

All these make us care, and actually experience the emotional journey ourselves. You can do that too. Every data point, every strategy, everything can be expressed with emotion – even the seemingly boring. Take the movie Spellbound. It’s about a spelling bee. Talk about boring. But they make these kids into heroes, fill it with emotion, and make you root for them.

We recently completed a short video on a diabetes patient for the BioTech market. You can watch it below. We filled it with emotion to express our hero’s courage and struggle. Those who watch it immediately feel for her and want to be part of the solution.

I’ll bet that’s not too far off from what you’re looking for.



7 Steps to Get Everyone Behind Your Strategy

Even the most agile large companies have a hard time communicating the strategy to the workforce. There’s probably a fine PowerPoint deck outlining it, but how can anyone possibly give that many presentations, not to mention the costs involved?

How about a new way: a strategy video. Not a puff piece or an animated version of the deck, but a real production with customers, experts and all the sophistication of the strategy itself. Seems hard, doesn’t it? Not at all. Here’s how we storied one out:

  1. Open quickly. Grab their attention in a way that zips employees right into your company’s marketplace and the opportunities the company sees. That establishes context and gets people excited.
  2. Establish the urgency of right now. Stats and industry experts are great at doing it with maximum credibility.
  3. Challenge them. Someone’s going to jump on it, shouldn’t it be us.
  4. Use heroes and action. Give background on customer nuances and needs by showing one or two customers. Show customers in action so employees relate to them and will feel for them and want to help. In other words, edge the competition by doing it right.
  5. Build a cause. Frame recommendations with an “imagine if?” kind of framing so they’ll come away with the desire to make a difference.
  6. Give them confidence. Show the assets, distribution and partnerships already in place.
  7. Recruit them to your revolution. Again, inspire them with a theme song or a war cry. The Macintosh team had its pirate flag. You can take it even further.

Check out the sample below. Two caveats: It’s five years old so the technology will feel dated, and it’s fictional because we can’t show any of the real strategic videos we create. But it does contain all seven steps. Then imagine Verizon had sent this out to all its key teams and strategic partners. It would have cost just a few dollars an eye, and it might have even gotten us that smooth digital experience everyone’s been promising.

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