Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Language Can Get You Into Trouble

I'm guessing, you too may have said something that didn't quite come out the right way? Can writing or saying the wrong thing hurt you or the people around you?

Misplaced words or expressions can feel like hitting a wall. Here's a tip or two that might keep you out of trouble...

In writing
(1) Never use slang or expressions you're not absolutely sure about. For instance, did you know that J is written internet slang for "joking"..?

Written in emails it actually has the potential to be misunderstood, but generally means "smiley face lost in translation".

(2) Read it through one more time before sending or publishing it. And in social media, think it through, as well. I do see people that are just not enough conscious about the way they appear or come across online. Making fun face-to-face can turn out a lot different from pulling a (permanent) joke online..!

When speaking
(3) Slow down. For instance, if you're an expressive type of personality, make a habit of thinking it through before blurting out feelings, thoughts or impressions, especially in a formal setting.

(4) Eliminate "power expressions", euphemisms or swearing. In my experience, a person that uses a language that's too colorful in the wrong setting misses a lot of information that's "floating around". I don't really know why, but that's just what I've witnessed over time.
In general, turning to google to check up on how to spell a word or what an expression means may be of great use. Got some others ideas you'd like to share on the topic..? I'm all ears.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You Too Can Influence the World

From interacting personally with internationally renowned thought leaders and experts like Mahan Khalsa, Chris McChesney and many others I've picked up quite a few lessons worth adopting.

First of all, being a people person, a networker or someone successful in sales is something you learn. You too can become an influential individual, doing much good wherever you are. Science supports this fact.

Secondly, you don't need to reinvent the wheel. Most of the challenges you're faced with have been solved in a principle based manner a long time ago. Listen to the experts and change your behavior to get different and better results.

Third... Sales skills are essential if you want so succeed together with other people.

Mahan Khalsa is now on Vidar Top's list of great people.

Monday, November 19, 2012

3 Gates to a Successful Sale

Sometimes skilled people in charge of sales waste time. What kind of wasted time are we talking about? And if you are wasting time, how can you make better use of your time?

By Hilde Kristine Rosenvold
Firstly, wasting time on opportunities that never turn into business. Secondly, spending too much time on trying to close the deal. Both are unnecessary.

What can you do to improve your sales and / or forecasting? Here are three critical gates that quickly will tell you whether or not the business is coming your way.

(1) Will the Customer Commit?
Never leave another call or meeting without inviting the client to do something to move the sale one step further. Think it through before every kind of customer interaction. If there's no commitment this is a clear indication you're going nowhere.

(2) Are You Overlapping on Price?
The final price or investment does not need to be decided, but at least find out if there's an overlap. Do not hesitate to raise the issue early on, preferably during the first face-to-face interaction.

(3) Do You Have Access to Every Decision Maker?
If you do not map out decision makers early on, you are bound to meet one or more decision makers at times when it's counterproductive. Take control from the start.

If one ore more of these three fail, tell him or her you look forward to doing business some time in the near future: e.g. "Next time, please, be prepared to grant me access to everyone involved."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Three Pillars of Communication

The presidential debates, with the second one coming up today, have underscored how we are influenced in this, the 21st century. In short, influence rests on three major pillars.

If you want to be a successful communicator, you need to master the three pillars of communication. They are the foundation of everything from rhetoric and persuasive power to personal chemistry.

Today, communication is mainly about three things:

(1) Energized communication (i.e. energation)
(2) Asking effective questions
(3) Online presence

(1) Energy
Does the level of energy have an impact on the people around you? Some have claimed a presidential debate has little or next to no effect on the outcome of an election. How wrong can they be? Obama, in his lackluster performance Oct 3rd, may have lost the entire election with his poor opening debate. Why? Some say it's because of his lack of energy. My book on energy provides insight into the details of energy in communication, or in one word energation.

(2) Questions
Do questions make a difference? Inevitably, you'll find that influential people, also higher up in organizational hierarchies, statistically ask more and better questions. Why? The person to ask the question sets the agenda, gets the information and holds all the cards. There literally are hundreds of reasons why questions are key to effective communication.

(3) Online presence
A few days ago I entered the room of a CEO I did not know. However, he knew me, and it made all the difference. Online branding and content precedes you. And if you're not there, others will be. It doesn't take much effort to be visible and in the right place if you know a little about how it works. It's a worthwhile investment.

So what? Well, it's pretty straightforward. If you're missing out on either energy, questioning skills or online presence, fix it. Without it you're struggling uphill.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Norwegian: Social Media Intro

I just stumbled upon a recording made last year...

Here's an (Norwegian speaking) intro to social media and how useful online tools may be to your business and organization. Much to my surprise, the content is still highly relevant. Maybe social media isn't moving as fast as we sometimes think it is, after all..?!

From kick-off Telemark best på web 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Are You Asking Effective Question?

(Recorded webcast in Norwegian)

Asking effective and appropriate questions is critical for success within any area. Are you asking the right questions in the best sequence? And how would you know if you are? Here are some of the basics.

Some time ago I filled a Norwegian guest speaker assignment on social media. Here's a recording (in Norwegian) of the online class presentation.

Stiller du gode spørsmål? from Vidar Top on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Inspiring Young People to Entrepreneurship

Yesterday I again spoke to a crowd of 200 youth, their parents and teachers on entrepreneurship. Our purpose; to highlight the creative powers of each one in the room - to unleash the natural abilities in every individual to create value.

How does one bring out innovation in young and old? Well, yesterday we did an interactive exercise where each one asked four key questions repeatedly; WHY, WHAT, WHO and HOW?

Think about it. If everything you ever did would pass through these gates, little time would ever be wasted again:

  1. WHY identifies mission and purpose
  2. WHAT brings clarity to goals and direction
  3. WHO defines responsiblity and opportunities
  4. HOW (and WHEN) inspires specific action
Always ask questions, preferably following the 3E sequence!

Skien - First Lego League 2011 from Deniz Production on Vimeo.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Inspiring Movie "Forever Strong"

Whatever brings out the passion does make a difference. I love passionate people. In fact, I believe passion reveals a persons true identity - the real you.

One movie I'd recommend is "Forever Strong" (2008) depicting a rugby player's entry onto a team that really makes a difference - both on an off the field.

The secret..? Shared greatness! Here's probably one of my favorite scenes when the players are doing the Haka. One to watch, for sure ;-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

Peter Drucker is attributed with first putting it this way: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". Well said. How does one execute strategy when culture doesn't comply? Tough job, for sure!

Who is the best individual to help change culture? This intangible phenomenon being the sum of all hands of those on the team.

Firstly, in my experience, whenever a company or an organization tries to change something they rarely are able to do so without one or more trustworthy people inside the company leading the way.

If change is sought by someone without sufficient trust, "change" remains wishful thinking. Why? Simply because only a trusted leader is in a position to challenge culture and tradition(s).

Secondly, because very few companies have such leaders, or because it's just too darn hard work, objective outside consultants are hired to do the job. E.g people like me.

However, and this is my point, even though I am a consultant hired to facilitate change and improvement, I'm still of the opinion that such processes are best led by the leader i-n-s-i-d-e the company, if possible. Are you a trusted leader? How do you know when someone is..?! Would you agree that this is a vital question to ask the very moment any desired change is defined?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Porsgrunn Leading The Way

Porsgrunn kommune is the best online municipality in Norway. It has received awards and honors. Other municipalities are now following in their footsteps.

Thomas Naper, Varden, 30/11-11
Porsgrunn kommune is actively pursuing continued state-of-the-art web friendliness.

One key strength of Porsgrunn kommune's web pages is their user oriented focus. Whereas the traditional paradigm has been "here's who we are and what we offer" Porsgrunn kommune has turned everything on its head, and rightly so. The question is always: "What do our web visitors want and how do they seek to find it"?

Thomas Naper is part of a great ICT team in Porsgrunn kommune with a wonderfully simplistic approach to serving citizens online. He is also a member of "The Expert Council in Telemark" facilitating "Telemark best på web". Today Thomas Naper was interviewed by Funka Nu in Sweden; a 105 second read well worth your time. (English readers are encouraged to use Google translate.)

Thomas Naper is now on Vidar Top's List of Great People.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Google Knows Where You Are

Trip to Holland last April easily traced
Should you allow Google to track your whereabouts?

Whether or not you should allow Google to track your location at any given time or not, that's a question a lot of people find difficult to answer.

Some are clearly against geo tracking. In fact, the thought alone is so repulsive to them they won't even consider whether or not it may have some advantages. After all, it remains a private matter. Or does it?

Is turning such functionality off sufficient enough to "protect yourself" against it, or do we continually witness an increasingly number of online interactions which eventually makes it impossible to hide our tracks?

Cons are easy to find. Any pros..? Easy to find friends and family when you need to. Supporting rescue teams to help save people from danger. Documenting holidays, like I did (see picture). Sophisticated augmented reality apps... There's more.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on Google geo tracking, as it remains an extremely sensitive issue, for sure. Should we allow it? If so, why? What are, in your opinion, the pros and cons of geo tracking?

BTW, a lot of interesting material online about the effects of geo tagging, and the like. As well a growing number of apps making clever use of it, e.g. foursquare. Does this mark the end of "Yellow pages" and the like!?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

World's Shortest Post on Business?

How short could a focused message on business really be? Here's my suggestion.

Are you somehow dependent on other people to reach targets? Then stay focused on:

(1) INFLUENCE to build *trust*
People can achieve anything if there's trust. Trust is the heart of human capital. To build trust you must know how to INFLUENCE them. Trust precedes results.

(2) EXECUTION to produce *results*
People thrive when they are focused on goals and deliver results. Results is the engine behind cashflow. To get results there must be EXECUTION and a clear path to how goals can be reached.

That's why INFLUENCE and EXECUTION is the essence of what I do ;-)

Share insights on trust! http://bit.ly/trust-is-it

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Are You Manage-able?

In case you didn't know, good managers are manageable first.

Manage-able, or "able to be managed", is a trait of leaders.

In other words, before becoming a great leader you should first qualify as an obedient follower with the ability "to be led" - willingly.

1st Level of Leadership
Managers and leaders who never learned the lesson of "manage able" tend to be anything but "able managers". Look up  manageable in the dictionary and you'll find a wonderful list of characteristics managers should posess. Not those attributes that most people think of first, but that's because most people have not yet understood real leadership.

How to get there? To become an able manager fully submit proactively to the management of your own manager. We may call it "effective leadership training".

2nd Level of Leadership
Wondering what the higher level of qualified leadership is? No more craving to always be in charge and to satisfy the need for "glory" by being in the spotlight with all the attention.

How to get there? You practice servant-leadership by serving the people you lead and turn them into leaders. In a very real way, the ultimate kind of leadership is returning to the position you were in when you began your journey, but this time, with rich perspective, you help others travel the same road more successfully than you did yourself.

BTW, management and leadership are not the same, but in this setting they are purposefully mixed ;-)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Higgs Boson

ʍǝıʌ ɟo ʇuıod ʇuǝɹǝɟɟıp ɐ ɯoɹɟ ǝɟıן ʇɐ ʞooן oʇ pǝǝu noʎ sǝɯıʇǝɯos...

The past few years I've been passionately following the search for the Higgs Boson, or in coloquial language "The Higgs". Being presented today, this is a major milestone in human history.

As I'm posting this the CERN presentation is shared as a live feed via the web in several places. Here's a picture of CMS - this is how it's done - how the particle is located.

Don't get it? Here's a brief explanation of "Higgs Boson", and underneath it how scientists have been looking to locate the Higgs with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Where to Find Experienced Board Members

A simple online survey question with more than 600 respondents makes for an interesting database of good people. Here's an indication of the experience this LinkedIn group offers collectively.

Some time ago I posted a question in the LinkedIn group for "board members in Norway" (Styremedlemmer i Norge). The question was simply "how much practical experience do you have as a board member?". If you consider the distribution of answers provided, I believe at least one interesting observation may be construed:

The people in this group have a keen interest for board work and new opportunities. 1,684 out of 5,974 participants have signed up as "available" (Ledig for styreverv), i.e. 28% of them are open to new challenges. From the survey it appears that appx 75% of the people in this group have 4+ years of board room experience. More than half of these exceed ten years as a board member.

I believe that makes for an exciting source to find possible candidates to help guide your organization in the right direction, don't you?

Friday, May 18, 2012

BI LinkedIn Group Reaches Second Milestone

The Norwegian Business School (BI) reaches its second milestone at LinkedIn. With more than ten thousand registered participants the BI LinkedIn group remains the largest academic online group in Norway.

BI LinkedIn moves beyond ten thousand participants. With 65% of its demographic population in Oslo, it appears the hub of current and former students is located in the capital of Norway. As the group increases in numbers the amount of discussions (green) and comments (blue) are gradually - ever so slowly - growing in frequency.

Comments (blue) and discussions (green) gradually growing in frequency at BI LinkedIn.

Today you'll find that almost every significant news coming from The Norwegian Business School is published via this channel. Smart way to stay up to date and tuned in on lifelong and continuing education from what I believe is the best academic institution for "a business mind set" in the Nordics.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The 4 Disciplines of Execution

Finally, "The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX)" book is out. I've been waiting for this reading experience since the day I got certified and met with its authors in the U.S.

Sooner or later you'll find yourself in a situation where you need to deliver some kind of results together with other people. It's called leadership. However, more specifically it's leadership split in two key areas: (1) Strategy and (2) Execution.

Strategy is having the guts to make a well thought out choice. Execution is following through on that choice. Hard? Difficult? Challenging? A lot of failure? Absolutely!

The art of execution is in screaming demand. Look no further. 4DX has arrived.

All 4DX Support Media In One Place
As you go through the pages of 4DX you'll find that it has a number of QR codes that bring you to case studies and other support material. As a help to find inspiration reading the 4DX book and to better grasp its powerful and focused message and methodology I've collected every reference to all publically available resource in this one post (in order of appearance) with three embedded video clips.

One of the authors of 4DX, Chris McChesney, is now on Vidar's list of great people!


Marriott Case Study

The State of Georgia: Department of Health & Human Services

4DX intro slideset

The WIG Session

Gwinnett Medical Center

Grady Memorial Hospital

Dekalb Medical Center

Store 334

My4DX.com Overview

The Strategy Map


More videos from FranklinCovey

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Your Identity and Brand Decides

Out of work? Want to secure your future? Consider this: Don't decide what you want to do, but rather who you want to be. Then go to it and create your personal brand.

I tell my kids; "if you're the renowned expert in an area where there's consistent demand for help, you will never be out of a job". Today's market is continually less about roles and increasingly more about results.

Consequently, your education should be focused on gaining expertice and not on entering a particular line of work. Today, even industry specific education has become less important. Whether it be knowledge or ability, just focus on becoming known for being the best at what you know and/or do, and you'll be fine.

And one more thing: You gotta be passionate about it!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cash Is King

Let's keep it simple: Your business is doing well when the money's coming in. The question is How do you develop people and teams that truly deliver that value?

Tell me, what's the value source that causes money to flow into your business?

Answer: High quality competent people!

Now, let me get in your face and point out the two key areas of focus it takes to mobilize the "people-power-money-making-machine" you want.

Everything else you're trying to do is swallowed up by these two: (1) Influence and (2) Execution

Help them understand influence. Your people are only as good as their degree of influence on key influencers. Yes, influence may appear in many different ways, but bottom line...

You want your people to be influential. Influential people will get the company whatever it needs. Period.

Influence is a lot more than just words. It's the whole person that influences. Always remember, to build a person with high impact you need to hire "attitude" and teach "skills", not the other way around. You get the people, I will teach them the skills they need.

Help them execute as a team whatever it is you need done. Influential people can execute and deliver great results together. Decades of research and best practice stresses the need for a "streamlined focus".

If individuals need to influence, teams need to execute. Everything else is an appendage to achieving just that. Period.

Execution is an art, and they certainly didn't teach you that in school. Always remember, to build a team with high impact you need a strategy and a lazer sharp focus on what generates minute-to-minute value. You tell me the strategy and I will get them focused.

Make It Happen!
To bring your organization to excellence center everything on these two:
  1. Influence to build TRUST: Trust => human capital
  2. Execution to get RESULTS: Results => cashflow
Learn more about how human capital and cashflow are connected!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Givers Gain

I've always spoken warmly about how giving first leads to greater gains in the long run. Today we met Laura Hurren from BNI who underscores the same principle.

You may have heard about the professor who every year sent a Christmas card to a complete stranger, and who every year received a happy response in kind.

People are inclined to "return the favour". Robert Cialdini has spoken on the topic for years. It's a rule, an unwritten law among humans. Give someone something and you can expect something in return. We naturally feel a need to even the score. In one word, "reciprocity".

Now here's the beauty of it: In my experience, if you truly give without thought of getting the returning benefits, what comes back tends to be even greater.

Laura Hurren's message today was enthusiastically received by 46 participants at BNI this morning, slightly paraphrased; "When we interact with people hungry for more business, inevitably we'll find more opportunities ourselves".

Laura Hurren speaking at the BNI Skien chapter.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I've Seen Something

(A) Insight # 1
WHY and WHAT makes so few people give it their all?

  (B) Insight # 2
     WHO really wants lasting success and understands synergy?

     (C) Insight # 3
          HOW does one find personal energy, making us unstoppable?

     (C') Insight # 4
          A person without PASSION will eventually give in to opposing forces

  (B') Insight # 5
     A person that does not CONNECT with others cannot succeed

(A') Insight # 6
Without passion and connection INTUITION, your potential, remains untapped

Lesson learned
If we do not regularly search purpose in quite moments we will not build a screaming "YES" inside. Without a clear mission burning in our hearts we lose the battle against laziness in the moment.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is Your Cashflow Suffering?

What is good business? Good business is determined by your cashflow. What impacts your cashflow most? The main driver behind a positive and increasing cashflow is ultimately one thing only. You can talk all you want about procesess, products, price and even principles, but the deciding factor in value creation with a capital p is People!

Without people your business is nothing. Whether they're inside or outside the company, you need good people to deal with even better people. And if by some strange coincidence you find a successful business with "bad people" it's always because the bad people found a way to exploit the value created by "good people".

There simply is no value creation or prosperous business without quality people and hard work in the other end.

Of course, you already knew this. Nothing new about that. But here's what you may have forgotten, in the middle of everything else you tend to focus on... What can we infer from the fact that "good people" are behind all "good business"?

Communication Makes Quality People
People need constant attention. They need to be understood and appreciated. If your cashflow is suffering today, it's because you neglected someone yesterday. There is no substitue for the one thing that builds people and value: EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION, which means carrying a heartfelt regular one-on-one conversation with the people that matter in your life.

Here's how regular one-on-one leads to better cashflow: One-on-one builds trust. Trust unleashes power in relationships and people. People with self esteem and direction focus on delivering value. Value has a price. Price is the basis for your invoice and the invoice decides whether or not the money is coming in. Don't you forget that. Go talk to someone - NOW!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Email Done the Right Way

Is email making your life too stressful? Here's good advice: Read email only once! And here's how and why.

You'd like to make email trouble a thing of the past..?

Yes, it's possible. In fact, it's simple: "Do not use your inbox as a task list."

The email inbox was not designed to be a task list. It gets way too cluttered. Keep your inbox much like you do your SMS messages. Read them, store them and move on. Don't ever return to old messages. It simply is not effective.

If you're asking why, my answer is very simple. Have you ever met someone that truly made it work? Sometimes I meet people who claim the inbox is their task list, and that it works. But then, if you dig deeper, you'll find these people are deeply frustrated and stressed with regular intervals. Don't believe it. Do not do it!

In order to make the change, all you need to do is decide one of three possible outcomes for each email you read:

  • NO ACTION REQUIRED: Archive it.
  • SIMPLE ACTION REQUIRED: If you can deal with it right away, or pass the ball back or to someone else, then hit reply or forward immediately. Keep messages as short as possible. Long emails tend to come back with more work.
  • WORK REQUIRED: Does the email take extra effort? If yes, move it to your task list with a deadline. Keep that task list prioritized and up to date.
Believe me, I've witnessed people increase their effectiveness by leaps and bounds this way. How to do it? Decide to never read emails more than once - from now on!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Millenial Education

Ask yourself this question: What are the most important factors of millenial education?

Education is a hugely important and complex topic and there are many important and "correct answers". However, just for once, can we keep it simple?

We already have the academics in place. Let's keep improving that aspect, for sure. In my opinion, real-life practioners and entrepreneurs is what Norwegian millenial education needs most.

Students need training not only from academians, but a balanced influence from "people who have done it" and know how the real world works. The balance between theory and practice is something I wish I myself had more of during my own schooling. What about you? Did you get that balance? What would have been different if you had been taught by both people who could provide theoretical knowledge as well as professionals with a sound record?

These days, Skien is considering the location of our high school. Some of the politicians seem to be completely off track! Klosterøya is an incredible opportunity to combine both hands-on expertise and "all the rest". What are they thinking?

Terje Klaussen said it well the other day, when interviewed by Varden: "The debate is without ambition"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Snipp Snapp Snute

"Snipp, snapp, snute" is the Norwegian expression used to end a fairy tale (pronounced: snip, snaap, snoota). Does storytelling end? I don't believe it does. We're all enchanted by a well told story. So a better question might be, how does storytelling evolve as we grow and mature?

This morning I again told the well-known stories of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" (Norwegian: Gullhår) and "Three Billy Goats Gruff" (Norwegian: De tre bukkene bruse) to our youngest kids. Or maybe I should rather say, I told the story together with them. Here's how storytelling develops, and each stage is deeply intriguing:

Stage # 1: Infant Years
Our children enjoy repetition in order to pick up communicative sounds and patterns. The more the story is told the eXact same way the better the story becomes. To our youngest a story is not understood, but rather experienced. Gradually sounds and pictures begin to make sense.

Stage # 2: Early Childhood
At this stage we are frequently corrected whenever we deviate from the story path. Even the smallest sound may trigger a reaction. Memory and identity is a major part of this.

Stage # 3: Childhood
Amusement and reflection hits in. Our three youngest children are between ages 6 and 10 years. This morning they did not only want to listen, but also participate. Every break offers an opportunity to pull jokes, discuss options and reflect on alternative (even better) versions. Storytelling is highly interactive, not only told by one person.

Stage # 4: Youth
Fantasy blossoms. If fantasy and mental pictures were important, to a teenager it's everything. It awakens emotions and feelings like never before. A good story is almost as real as the real thing. Stories are a means to provide a vision for the future and understand consequences and relationships.

Stage # 5: Adulthood
Of all aspects, the power of a story is by association and symbols. Abstract concepts are more easily understood by way of comparison and remains true also for adults. At this stage, however, a story requires more. It takes time and effort on both sides to enter the scene, and some, for a time, almost lose the ability of imagination and empathy entirely...

Stage # 6: Old Age
...until stories return when we grow older! Music and stories stir memories and through them we relive important moments of life. Some of the rich lessons of life may only fully be understood as we listen and reflect on our own (his)story.

Here's a charming clip telling this mornings "Three Billy Goats Gruff" story.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Marketing in Six Bullets

Do you want the six bullets of marketing?
Wheter it be teaching children...
reaching out to a large group of people...
...or penetrating markets
long term influence is about the heart.

The heart and soul ignites when a simple thought triggers a lot of feelings and emotions.

All we need is something to unleash associative stimulus.

When feelings are stirred we're caught.

That's why the message needs to be dead simple.

A few words may be used in slogans and tag lines.

But much more convincing than persuasive words is the "stuff" that triggers emotions.

I group emotional triggers in six categories...

Pictures and Symbols
Rythm and Tune

Mix them with a bucket full of practice...

...and a lot of enthusiasm.

And you have a winning combination

IF you believe in your own product!