Be a Fog-Lifter (part 3) – Distill

{Note: I am now blogging at my brand-spanking-new site, SteveWoodruff.com. Just click here to subscribe to the new feed. Bonus – you can also sign up at the same time for my astonishingly brief  yet brilliant e-newsletter, Clarity Blend (see sample), and when you sign up, you’ll get a free download of my helpful new e-book, Make Yourself Clear: Six Steps to De-fogging Your Direction and Your Message.}

I’m fascinated by the process of fermentation and distillation. I’ll watch documentaries on the process, and find myself longing to spend an entire year traveling the world just to see more closely how wine, beer, whiskey, and other spirits are made.

{I’m guessing a lot of us would enjoy that tour…any sponsors out there?? :>}

MoonshineAlso, when it comes to ideas and words, distillation fascinates me. How do we boil down a plethora of concepts and messages into a distilled, compact, light-giving phrase? Can we take our business and boil it down to a clear summary?

You may not be able to offer your customers moonshine, but you can serve them a 100-proof message. <<–(click to tweet this).

Here’s how: Aim for 10 words. Craft a summary message that can be given out in 10 words of less. Aim for clarity, not comprehensiveness.

How did FedEx do this? The World on Time. Allstate’s striking and unforgettable message? You’re in good hands. How about blogger Dan Rockwell (Helping leaders reach higher in 300 words or less)? Can you grab one word and build your message around it, like Mark Schaefer (Grow)?

Brief. Punchy. Memorable. Non-technical.

Your <10 word message may be a quick tagline, or it may be a brief sentence, but either way, it’s compressed, like a verbal business card.

So, let’s get practical:

Start by creating this factual summary statement: I do (this) for (customers) in order to (end result) with (my particular differentiating quality). Excellent – you’re already at 40 proof.

Now, try to come up with an illustration or analogy that short-cuts right to the point in a vivid fashion. You’ve just jumped to 80 proof!

Finally, create a compact phrase that you can give to someone before the elevator door even closes. Think of this final product as a memory dart, not an elevator speech. You’re now at 100 proof!

We all need to break through the mists in the minds of our customers with a beam of distilled enlightenment. That’s lifting the fog.

(Part 1 – Job Number One is here. Part 2 – Steal! – is here.)

Learn more about Steve’s Clarity Therapy services.

Want to be Memorable? Use Word Pictures!

I was reading one of the typical articles about crafting your elevator speech – you know the one-minute summary of who you are, what you do, the features and benefits, etc.

I get the idea, but that’s about 50 seconds and 35 floors too long. People don’t have the headspace to absorb, process, and remember all that. And if they can’t remember it simply, how can they pass a referral along?

The answer: word pictures.

I remember talking to Shannon Whitley last year about the various creative programming projects he’s worked on, including all kinds of interfaces to other platforms. I blurted out, “Oh – so you’re the API Guy!”

That’s a very short compass of words, which can be uttered before the elevator door even closes. If you need help with anything to do with APIs, Shannon is THE go-to expert. Period. Memorable. Refer-able.

Let’s take a glance over at my tweetstream. There’s…C.C. Chapman. Now C.C. is a challenge, because he does so many different things well – all having to do with the use of media (all forms) in marketing. To my mind, he’s like a one-man marketing prism, a stained-glass window of media. But that doesn’t quite capture the consulting and expertise factor. The pushing-the-envelope stuff that’s always been part of his approach. Maybe he’s more of a Media Navigator. Have to think about that one more…

Then there’s my friend Sarah Morgan, who works in the pharma sphere (we were among the first pharma social media troublemakers), but that’s not what her blogging is about. Her Twitter bio states, “Bascially, I write.” – but that’s not really descriptive enough of Sarah. She writes heart-words.

Dan Rockwell (@LeadershipFreak) and I just exchanged messages. I could see him getting into an elevator with someone, and respond to the inevitable “What do you do?” question with three words: “I speak leader.”

These short, memorable expressions create images in the minds of others. They are meant to convey, not just information, but word pictures. You can spend thousands on advertising, but there is nothing as powerful as a well-chosen word picture.

That’s what will make you stick, when everyone else is forgotten.

___________

How’s your message? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

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Feeling Like a Leader

Ben Kenobi: Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.

Luke Skywalker: You mean it controls your actions?

Ben Kenobi: Partially, but it also obeys your commands.

As the wise Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi described the Force in Star Wars, so I would describe the leader’s relationship to his/her feelings – which is the topic of #LeadershipChat on Twitter this week.

Having and displaying emotions – and passions – is not necessarily a sign of joining the Dark Side. In fact, it’s just humanity. The key to effective leadership in relationship to emotions, however, is neither total suppression nor unfettered expression – it’s self-control (I do not have issues with the “c”-word, but if you do, substitute self-management – same meaning in this context).

At the risk of sounding like the semi-stoic Yankee that I am (my LeadershipChat co-host, Lisa Petrilli, provides the hand-waving Italian side of the equation!), I believe that it is important for any leader to have a strong filter through which “feelings” are passed before making their way out through our face, vocal cords, and actions. A red-faced, profanity-spewing, coffee mug-throwing “leader” is going to quickly find a following of cowed and fearful yes-men – or, just as likely, a place on the unemployment line.

It’s easy, however, to think of self-control as only on the side of throttling feeling. For some us (hand raised), it is actually a matter of learning to release passion and feeling. We don’t talk or think about that much, do we? It’s possible to have such a firm hand on all expression of emotion that people-motivation is lost due to cool detachment.

I still remember the heated rebuke from a boss in a factory where I worked one summer, when I pulled a stunt that I thought was funny (he seemed to have a different opinion). There was appropriate and highly motivating anger expressed. I didn’t need a clinical explanation of the undesirability of my actions. I needed a kick you-know-where, delivered with feeling. Lesson learned.

I would not want to follow a passion-less leader. Nor would I want to hitch my wagon to someone who is emotionally unstable or out-of-control. Both of those extremes raise red flags. Give me someone passionate about a worthy cause or goal, and able to express the range of human emotion appropriately (without all kinds of shrapnel-induced collateral damage from emotional excess). More accurately, give me someone growing in the practice of self-control, because we’re all in process.

Join us tonight as we discuss the Leader and Feelings – we have a special guest joining us, the @LeadershipFreak himself, Dan Rockwell! Here’s is Dan’s prep post (Control your Feelings – Don’t Express Them); and to further get your wheels turning, here is what Lisa Petrilli has written (Should Leaders Bring Feelings and Passion to Work?)

You DO want to join us for LeadershipChat at 8 pm ET. Search your feelings – you know it to be true!

And, in fact, to increase your feelings of motivation – we’ll be giving away 7 mobile device carrying cases, courtesy of the fine folks at CaseSMPL. Three are iPad/tablet size, one is thin-laptop size, and three are handheld size. High quality and versatile (I use mine regularly – see also Drew McLellan’s glowing review). If Obi-Wan or even Darth Vader were to have a mobile case for devices connected to the Force, undoubtedly this would be the choice!

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Business Identity Therapy)

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