Thursday, March 29, 2007

MC Rove

Sometimes it pays to be silly. Even when you're the top advisor to the most powerful man in the world. Check out Karl Rove at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association annual dinner and roast HERE. (Caution--white men dancing. Hide the children...)

When you're in a high-pressure job where everyone seems to be taking shots at you, it's good to let loose and show everyone--especially your critics--that you have a sense of humor. Even if you don't have a sense of rhythm.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Man With A Toothache

Life gets rough sometimes. Especially at work. Your boss gets mad, you miss a deadline, you lose a big account, or worst of all, you get fired. Studies show that:
  • 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful
  • Three fourths of employees believe that workers have more on-the-job stress than a generation ago
  • 26 percent of workers said they were "often or very often burned out or stressed by their work"
  • Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems.

No wonder that absenteeism is at an all-time high. So what's the solution? I think it's all in your perspective.

Sigmund Freud once said, "A man with a toothache cannot be in love." He meant that people tend to obsess over minor problems to the detriment of the more important things in life. A little attitude adjustment could go a long way toward fixing the problem. Dan Miller at has some terrific advice to help you ignore that "toothache"--

Make additional deposits of success in your physical well-being. The energy and creativity that can come from a sharp mind and body can generate the very ideas you need at this time. Organize a pot-luck with a group of your friends – you’ll be surprised how many of them are going through a similar experience and providing one dish will cost you no more than eating your own meal. Pick up a great book to read. If you read only 10 minutes a day you can read a new book a month – and that can transform your insight and preparation for new options. Stay connected spiritually. You’ll realize that in the scope of eternity, this event is probably a tiny spot on the timeline.

(I once got fired from a radio station where I had worked as a morning DJ for over 10 years...and the minute the GM broke the bad news to me, I drove home, kissed my wife and played on the floor with my 2 year-old son. Talk about perspective! )

It reminds me of a joke--these two brain surgeons were preparing for emergency surgery and one of the doctors was concerned about the prospects for success. The other doctor patted his peer on the back and said, "Don't worry...I mean, after all, it's not radio, it's just brain surgery." Again, perspective.

Your life cannot be broken without your permission. Find a way to triumph.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Can I Get A Witness?

One of the most important things you can have is an accountability partner--someone you trust and respect who loves you but doesn't have a problem telling you when you're off track. Most successful people have accountability partners and it's an invaluable asset. And it can make you a better speaker.

Have that trusted friend (or professional advisor) stop by a practice session or witness your presentation...and ask them to give you a constructive critique. What worked and what didn't and why. Things they heard the audience say afterwards. (It's great to have a friend hanging around, overhearing conversations about your performance. My wife loves to go to my shows and anonymously hear people complimenting my stuff!)

That witness can help you smooth out the rough spots and, better yet, praise you for the things that shine in your speech. You'll find your performance will improve dramatically!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Always Prepare To Over-Prepare

A great tip from professional coach Rick Frishman:

Being interviewed is giving a performance. For most of us, it's not something that we are accustomed to and the very thought can make us catatonic. If you know your stuff, the uneasiness usually dissipates as soon as the first words are out and the answers start to flow.

Before the interview, determine what you want to say. Prepare five main points to work into every interview. Also have three to four subpoints under each of the five main categories, because you never know how long an interview will run. The second step is to strengthen those points with anecdotes, jokes, and statistics so that they are more memorable and entertaining. The third step is to listen to the interviewer's questions carefully and take control of the interview. Always be prepared for the unexpected, and get help from media coaches. Lastly, appear natural, spontaneous and unrehearsed, which takes lots of practice.

That's the formula for success in any interview situation!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Savvy Schwartzenegger

Say what you want about his politics, but you can't deny that Arnold Schwartzenegger is a pretty smart cookie what it comes to working the media. Yesterday, he handled his latest controversy with perfect strategy and style.

Tuesday, the Governator called talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh "irrelevant," prompting the conservative Republican icon to accuse the governor of selling out his principles. Rush responded by calling Arnold a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and accused the governor of abandoning his conservative supporters.

Now, a politician has a number of options when he or she gets attacked by the media--none of them good. Ignore the comments and they become the "truth." Hold your own presser and try to refute the attacks--but then it turns into a ping-pong match you can't win.

Or you can do what Arnold did. Ask for an interview with the person who called you out. A risky proposition, because it usually backfires and you're left looking more ridiculous than before...unless you're a polished performer like Schwartzenegger. (Read the transcript HERE.)

He greeted Rush Limbaugh in a friendly, jovial manner, established they were old stogie-smokin' buddies--and then proceeded to dominate the conversation! Didn't let El Rushbo get a moment to respond. In fact, after the interview, Rush joked to his listeners:
Perhaps one of the reasons for Governor Schwarzenegger's sharp turn to the left under the guise of compromise has been owing to the ideology of his wife Maria. But after this interview, I'm not sure Maria gets a word in edgewise in their house. Governor Schwarzenegger obviously learned English and he hasn't stopped talking since!
The Governator's strategy was brilliant. Confront the media on their turf. Try it the next time you're under fire...but only if you're prepared to dominate the conversation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What's Your Time Worth? never have enough time to work out. The house is a mess because you're rushing from appointment to appointment. You can't finish that book you've always wanted to write because there's so much going on in your life. You're just. Too. Busy. Right?

Wrong. You'd be surprised to find out how much time you really have to do the things you really want. I found a terrific site on called Take Back Your Time that actually lets you calculate where you spend all that time every week. Then go to What's Your Time Worth? for lots of practical (and maybe a little pricey) personal services that help you find that extra time you've been dreaming about.

Now. You'll have time to lose weight--20 minutes x 4 days a week = 5 pounds a month. Hiring a cleaning service wipes away the guilt and gives you 9 hours a week to organize that hectic schedule. And about that book? Zig Ziglar writes a book a year, just by writing about a page and a half a day. Takes him around 45 minutes.

You can do all that. It just takes a little time.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Nailing That Job Interview

My career track will changing soon. Because I nailed the interview. I mean, flat out hit every pitch out of the park. Not many things are better than knowing you handled a job interview with style and substance, and walking out feeling the love in that board room.

Presentation skills are not limited to the platform. In fact, the close-quarter combat that typifies most job interviews requires a similar amount of research, preparation, and practice. So before you head into your next interview, here are some things to have ready:
  • Research. Doesn't matter if it's Microsoft or McDonalds, it really impresses the interviewer if you know all about the company's history, its products and services, and its customers. If you have Internet access, there's no excuse for not doing your homework.

  • Preparation. You know that you're the right person for the gig--but why? The moment you know you're getting an interview, start preparing your answers to questions like, "What are your strengths...and why are they important to this organization?", "Which career decision do you wish you could take back?", and most important, "Why do you want this job?" Develop a compelling answer to that question and the job is as good as yours.

  • Be Positive. Don't talk negatively about any previous job experience, especially about your old boss and what a loser he was. If you're openly complaining about your last job, chances are you'll be complaining about your new gig soon enough.

  • Dress For Success. Yes, I know, it sounds trite. And I know you really, really feel like your freedom of expression is being censored because you can't wear a kilt to the interview. But trust me, the business world is not a democracy. Think of it as a benevolent dictatorship. So unless you find in your research that the company wants rugged individuals with wild fashion taste (and there are those companies out there,) please wear something appropriate.

Job interviews don't have to feel like the corporate version of the Bataan Death March--in fact, they can be thrilling IF you've prepped and presented correctly. (Good luck!)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Passing The "Who Cares?" Test

My favorite radio consultant, Mike McVay, was famous for going over my air check tapes and saying after every break, "So....does this pass the 'Who Cares' test?" He meant for me to determine, every time I cracked the mike, whether I was about to talk about something the listener really wanted to hear or was it just something that I was interested in. That philosophy has helped me become a successful morning radio personality.

But it's also helped my speaking career...because the first thing I do before I even start developing a topic is take the "Who Cares?" test. Who'll want to learn more about this subject? Why should my audience be interested in this particular story? Is this something that only I care about--or is a shared experience that will resonate with a large number of people?

It's a great litmus test, even if you're required to speak about a certain topic. For instance, one of my clients asked me for help in developing a presentation on mortgage lending. (You're already rubbing down the goosebumps, I can tell.) I asked him why that topic was so important. He said too many customers get pushed into deals they'll never be able to afford and it was his mission to convince the industry that its strategy should be to help customers achieve their financial goals without get-rich-quick gimmicks.

The topic we came up with was "Do The Right Thing-Creating A Lifetime of Customers By Helping Them Create A Lifetime of Wealth!" It turned out to be the best-attended session of his industry's conference.

Take the "Who Cares?" test every time you make a presentation and you'll be pleasantly surprised with the response when you choose a topic everyone likes rather than try to persuade people to enjoy something only you might like.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stop Setting Goals!

It's frustrating to see the passion for goal-setting that continues to pervade the advice that management consultants are handing out these days. "Set challenging goals!" "Focus on your dream!" "Chart a course for success!"

Don't get me wrong. I love setting goals. I'm King of the To-Do List. But the problem I have is that too many people get caught up in the "what' and "how"...and they never ask "WHY?" Why do I need this? Why is this goal so important?

It all goes back to The Puzzle Principle--How To Create Long-Term Success In A Short-Term World. Whether you hear my speech or take my seminar, you discover that all the personal and professional goals in the world mean nothing without a clear sense of what the "Big Picture" looks like and why you want it to look like that.

Focus and direction are worthless without the values to support them. That's a success philosophy you can bank on.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Fifth Element

Breathing easier today...remember that audition in San Francisco I talked about last month? They finally called this morning and I've got a voice over gig later today. And it only took 32 days for them to decide to use me.

It doesn't always happen like that but when it does, it's good to remember the fifth element of successful performance...let's run through the list:
  1. Plan -- Nothing beats great planning. Have a firm grasp of the big picture, understand WHY you're speaking, and then determine the theme and structure of your presentation.
  2. Prepare -- Research, interview, get advice, and take care of the little touches that will make your speech a guaranteed success.
  3. Practice -- Make sure your presentation is flawless and THEN start the rehearsal process. (Remember, practice doesn't make perfect...perfect practice makes perfect.)
  4. Present -- If you've done everything above correctly, then you can relax and have fun!

and the fifth element--Patience. Everything happens when it's supposed to happen. so you might as well enjoy the ride.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Broken Window Theory

Every time I pass a store where one of the lights on its sign is out--or worse, the sign is broken--I wonder about the quality of the service inside.

In academic circles, it's called the broken-window theory. It holds that when criminals see that even small infractions are met and punished, they know that larger crimes will be met and punished. It also suggests that when neighborhoods deteriorate, criminals will thrive.

My dad had a much simpler explanation. He always told me, "Fix the window or people will think you don't care...and if you don't care, they won't care either." The point was that taking care of the details can make a big difference with the people you do business with.

How are the "windows" where you work--anything to fix there? Is the lobby clean? How about the parking lot? Does your receptionist greet everyone in a friendly and timely manner? Is your answering machine or voice mail message clean and bright?

And the "broken-window theory" doesn't stop at the lobby--what about your sales presentations? Your brochures--when's the last time you updated them? How about your business cards? Do they make a lasting first impression?

You can improve customer response dramatically just by fixing your organization's "broken windows." (So what are you waiting for?)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is

Nothing frustrates me more than seeing people waste opportunities.

Take this morning, for example. I head into the radio station around 3:30 every weekday morning for my show and sometimes stop off at a gas station to fill up ($2.95 a gallon here in Sacramento!) and pick up the morning paper. While my car was filling up, I walked to the door of the convenience store and saw this sign:

Not wanting to let a little thing like overnight store maintenance stop me from buying a cup of coffee and a day-old Krispy Kreme, I knocked politely on the door and motioned the attendant to come over. She took her time.

Finally, she walked up, pointed at the sign and started to walk away. I pounded on the door this time and said, "Listen, I'm sorry I bothered you, but could I just get in, get some coffee, and get out? I promise my feet are clean!" She pointed back at the sign, said, "We're closed! What're you, blind?!? Come back later!!!"

Obviously not a Dale Carnegie grad. I realize that I was asking her to drop everything to ring up a $2.70 sale...but it would only have cost her two minutes of her time. Her attitude actually cost her company hundreds of dollars because I'll never shop there again.

If you're in a service or sales industry, then you should always be as courteous and helpful as possible--even to the rudest of customers. If you're the decision-maker in a service or sales industry, empower your employees to make politeness their top priority.

When you sound like your customer really is number you're talkin'!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Funny Is Money

There's nothing worse than listening to someone drone on and on with no attempt at humor--unless it's someone who thinks they're funny drone on and on...

Professional speakers have a saying that goes, "Funny is money." Humor adds pizzazz. It makes your presentation more memorable. And it wins your audience over every time. But what happens if you're just not a funny person?

I suggest you start looking back at the stories your friends find amusing. They don't have to be belly busters, but they do have to have an emotional connection to your subject matter. There's a reason your buddies are laughing--find a way to use it in your speeches!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Great PR!

In the Hot Seat: Actor, DJ, cook -- is there anything Mark Standriff doesn't do?

By Gwen Schoen - Bee Staff Writer

Mark Standriff, a resident actor at the Sacramento Theatre Company, is also a morning DJ on 103.9 The Fish. Sacramento Bee/Jay Mather

Wow. You can't get much better publicity than this--a terrific profile article in the Sacramento Bee! Check it out HERE.

A Few Great Thoughts

"Those who are fired with an enthusiastic idea and who allow it to take hold and dominate their thoughts find that new worlds open for them. As long as enthusiasm holds out, so will new opportunities."
--Norman Vincent Peale

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."
--Winston Churchill

"One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man."
--Elbert Hubbard

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is therefore not an act but a habit."

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing-that's why we recommend it daily."
--Zig Ziglar