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Archive for June 2010

How to Craft A Persuasive Presentation

Wow! What a title. I thought all presentations were persuasive! 😉 With all the fancy slide transitions, crazy color schemes, badly right moused clicked pictures and logos from the web, cheesy sounds and over crowded slides with font to small to read. Awesome! Wait a minute. Your not suppose to do that? Well, that explains a lot.

Did you know I had a client really say that? The “your not suppose to do that?” part. That little description accurately described a client I once had who was trying to prepare for a major presentation. The client also was from a Fortune 500 company!!

This little episode reminded me of an interesting book by by Nick Wreden, John Daly, Isa Engleberg, John Clayton, Kirsten D. Sandberg, Roly Grimshaw, Nick Morgan (no its not a law firm!) called…. you guessed it, “Guide To Persuasive Presentations”. Here is a little snippet from their book.

HOW TO CRAFT A PERSUASIVE PRESENTATION

Most presentations are laden with unnecessary data, try to cover too much, and do little to change the audience’s mind. Here are four steps to putting together a presentation that is focused, relevant, and persuasive:

– Figure out the question you’re answering. Before you start, understand why you are giving the presentation and what your audience wants to know.
– Establish that question up front and then spend the majority of the speech answering it.
– Create the opener. Your opening should be a story or anecdote that establishes the topic of your talk and grabs the audience’s interest.
– Draft the ending. Don’t summarize. Instead, give your audience something to do with the information you just imparted.
– Put it together and edit down. Weave these three parts together and be ruthless about taking out anything that’s not crucial to your points.

Check out more and click here

Written by David Frederick

June 29, 2010 at 12:48 PM

3 Things To Know About New Ventures

I see this kind of thing all the time in my line of work, whether its a start up, new business division, new initiative or any new “venture”. Scott Anthony talks about this in his “Three Questions for Entrepreneurs’. Check out this excerpt.

-DF

3 Things to Know About New Ventures

By: Scott Anthony

All new ventures are fragile. Even if revenues are growing, chances are your company hasn’t yet hit breakeven. Be sure you know these three things to manage through this precarious time:

– How many days you have to live. Businesses fail because they run out of cash (DF note: This also applies to initiatives, new product development, etc.). Knowing exactly how many months or days you have to live can help you better manage costs and your funding strategy.

– Why you are doing this (DF Note: Duh!). Success requires hard work and constant attention. If you don’t know exactly why you should make the effort, neither will your funders.

– The top two critical issues. Be precise about which two issues deserve the highest priority (DF Note: This could be dynamic and change daily, weekly, monthly – be prepared to shift, adjust and fire for effect!). These may not be the most urgent, but are the ones that matter most to your venture’s success.

Written by David Frederick

June 25, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Will Corruption Kill the Euro?

I came across this article from author Austin Bay and thought it made complete sense and shines a not so pretty picture on the real challenges of the financial crisis in the Euro-Zone. It also helps explain Germany’s reluctance to bail out every faltering Euro-Zone economy including the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – Not my acronym!). It also touches on the historical geopolitical issues of such challenges. As I said, interesting spot light on a real problem which not only impacts Europe but the rest of the world. The downside to a global economy. Like Austin, I have a drawer full of assorted “old” European currency from my travels – Marks, Pounds, Lira, etc. Its fun to look at historic relics and always handy for my kids school projects. Maybe… they will come back into circulation?

Check it out.

-DF


Will Corruption Kill The Euro?

by Austin Bay
June 22, 2010

In a box in a drawer, I’ve a dozen Deutsche marks, a few French and Belgian francs, Italian lira, Spanish pesetas, Greek drachmas, Turkish lira and British pence. After the European Union adopted the euro as its official currency (January 1999), my traveler’s spare change collection — excepting the Turk and Brit coinage — eventually became numismatic souvenirs.

The conventional wisdom at the time pushed a narrative of inevitable Euro-progress. At some point, the Euro-zone (nations using euros) would expand, and the Turkish lira and the perfidious British pence, too, would disappear. Now, however, the Euro-zone faces a crisis catalyzed by the potential default of big spending, low productivity nations — Greece, Spain and Italy, with Portugal and Ireland also in trouble. Greece teeters on the edge. The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Hannon wrote this week that “the failure of its (EU) systems for monitoring and controlling build-ups in government debt” are why the bailout loans given to Greece by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and fiscally disciplined EU members like Germany became necessary.

He’s right. “Failure of its systems for monitoring,” however, is a euphemism — economic diplo-speak for a very difficult word: corruption. Greek governments cooked the books (its actual deficit is twice as high as officially reported), violated fiscal agreements and borrowed money they could not repay. Corruption lies at the dirty core of the Euro-zone’s trouble. Governmental corruption and its cohort, illicit business practices, are a pervasive, multicultural, global affliction. Corruption coupled with systemic lack of accountability — to include personal accountability, where managers and workers let lackadaisical and lazy work practices slide — eventually produces more than anger, cynicism and financial turmoil. Even among economies in the developed world, it stunts economic productivity, robs the future and sows the seeds of armed conflict. In the developing world it undermines aid efforts, manacles fragile economies and as a result condemns millions to poverty.

Transparency International (TI) ranks Greece and Romania as the most corrupt nations in Europe, tied for 71st internationally. TI also provides a stunning statistic: In 2008, 13 percent of Greek households paid a bribe. The Greeks call it “fakelakia” (little envelopes), but the money is huge, around $950 million to public and private bribe-takers. The Greeks know it. Reuters cited a Greek poll, taken in early June, which found 78 percent of the Greek people “accept the view that many or all in government are corrupt.” FoxBusiness.com reported Greece’s finance ministry “has discovered rampant tax evasion and corruption, including bribery, in its own tax collection offices.” The finance ministry is investigating “70 government officials who make about $62,000 on average a year, but own anywhere from $982,000 to $3.7 million in real estate.” Greek tax evaders cost the country $27 billion a year. Last month, the EU and IMF loaned Greece $120 billion. You do the math.

Greeks working in internationally linked businesses, like tourism, face the consequences of this corruption. Earth Times quoted a guesthouse owner on the island of Ikaria as hoping “the firm focus of international attention” may help Greece “combat its homegrown corruption and government waste.” That’s an anecdote from a businesswoman in the fiscal trenches. Ikaria is where the mythical Icarus’ body washed ashore. With wings of wax and feather, Icaurus and his father, Daedulus, escaped from Crete, but Icaurus, despite dad’s warning, flew too close to the sun and his wings melted. Icaurus didn’t lie, but he lacked discipline — thought he could do his own thing. He plunged into the sea. Hotel operators understand the myth’s 21st century relevance.

The big idea driving the euro and the European Union was political — to create a larger common interest based on linked economies. Perhaps growing common interests would ultimately forge a common identity, or enough of one to end Europe’s destructive wars, especially those pitting France against Germany. That is still a very good idea, which is why a European “common market” makes sense. Honest trade builds bridges. A common currency union, however, which lets crooks in Athens pick the pockets of a French farmer or German brewer, seeds conflict.

The D-marks and francs in the souvenir box may have a future.

Written by David Frederick

June 25, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Posted in Business, Economics, General

Raising the right alarms on risk

Here is a very interesting and insightful Fortune Magazine article from a fellow MIT Sloan alum, and MIT Sloan Professor Andrew Lo. In it, he discusses the goods and bads of financial reform, how to prepare for calamities to come, and the “holy grail” of good regulation. Check it out.

-DF

FORTUNE — When the rest of the world was busy buying second homes with no money down, MIT professor Andrew Lo was busy beating the drum over a coming financial crisis. For a while, he was playing to an empty room, but now his prescience makes him a voice of authority as we deal with the meltdown and its aftermath.

Fortune recently spoke with Lo about the goods and bads of financial reform, how to prepare for calamities to come, and the “holy grail” of good regulation.

Edited excerpts of the conversation are below.

How far along are we in understanding the causes of the financial crisis?

We’re somewhere between the third and fourth inning. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hasn’t even filed its report yet. We are quite a ways away form a detailed understanding of all the myriad things that caused the crisis.

With that in mind, is Congress moving too quickly to enact sweeping reform?

I’m of two minds regarding the legislation. On the one hand I think that Rahm Emanuel was right when he said, “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I think there are some positive elements of the bill as proposed and we should be thankful. But we still don’t know about a number of important aspects of the crisis. There’s great potential of unintended consequences. There are some of the causes of the crisis that this bill ignores.

What do you like about the existing plan?

The idea of creating an Office of Financial Research is terrific. The OFR is mandated to gather all the data to measure systemic risk, and also have subpoena power, which is crucial. And they’re also independent, even though they are housed in Treasury. So they are free to criticize the Treasury.

The other great idea is the exchanges for things like credit default swaps. And the idea of the Volcker rule, as proposed, could be quite positive. Banks that rely on customer deposits should not be taking on these large risks. If the government is going to be on the hook for providing backstops, I think it has every right on behalf of taxpayers to limit the risks they could take. But the devil is really in the details here.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE – CLICK HERE

Written by David Frederick

June 23, 2010 at 2:59 PM

When Your Employee Is Unaware of Unspoken Rules

This is an interesting topic and one in which I address in my “Employee Communication In Complex Environments” lecture and executive education class. Communicating in everyday environments is complicated as it is, but when we communicate in complex, global, distributed, multi-disciplined, and silo’ed business environments, its even tougher. Especially when it comes to unspoken or unwritten rules.

These little “unwritten rules” can cause major breakdowns in productivity, effectiveness, inter-personal skills and overall employee moral. Check out what Tammy Erickson of HBR’s Ask The Expert had to say about the subject.

-DF

FROM TAMMY’s ASK THE EXPERT SECTION IN THE HBR.

It’s easy to think that workplace norms are explicit and easy to obey — be at your desk by nine, don’t ask superiors personal questions, and don’t dress too casually, for example. Managing someone who doesn’t follow these norms can be tough, especially if their lack of understanding reflects poorly on your management. Before you tear out your hair wondering why they just don’t get it, try using these three tips:

1. Remain open. Some of the rules that we think are steadfast may actually just be our own preferences.
2. Delineate what’s essential to business. It’s unlikely that a too-casual outfit will stop the company from operating. If the employee needs to be presentable on client calls, that’s one thing, but be clear about what truly matters to performance.
3. Communicate expectations clearly. Don’t expect everyone to pick up on informal cues. Be explicit with someone who isn’t getting it about what rules need to be followed and why.

Written by David Frederick

June 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Don’t Let Your Strategy Distract You

I recently came across this article by Peter Bregman from Bregman Partners Consulting in the HBR. He really touched on an interesting phenomenon in business. The phenomenon is this. Many times executives focus so hard on their strategy that they forget to look up and adjust their course.

It’s analogous to have a detailed strategy “map” but forgetting to course correct for tide, wind, current, storms, etc. Business is dynamic. Not static. I have seen many business executives from small to very large organizations be laser focused and vapor locked into executing a strategy come hell or high water that they forget to look up from their course every once in a while to see if there is an obstacle in their way, or the path changed, or the market changed, consumer trends shifted, etc. If these things have happened, you need to adjust accordingly. Most organizations don’t change, Or change willingly. It’s usually forced on them reactive versus responsive. They keep pushing through even though the path/course to their objective/strategy has changed.

So the moral is, be dynamic. keep your eye on the ball, but know that their will be changes along the way. A good strategy takes into consideration the dynamic changes in a fluid environment. If your strategy encompasses room to maneuver, you have a much greater chance of executing and achieving your strategy. Fail to look up? You will end up on the rocks. Here is what Peter had to say about the subject. Check it out.

-DF

FROM Peter’s “Don’t Get Distracted by Your Plan”

In business, it’s important to set goals — achieve a sales target, grow the company by X% — and lay out the strategies you believe will get you there. A clear strategy that dictates the process for achieving goals can be comforting, but be careful not to let it distract you. Don’t keep your head so focused on the process that you lose sight of the bigger picture. Look up every once in a while and remind yourself what you are trying to achieve. Markets change, customers change, and even your company changes — looking up ensures that you don’t miss new and important opportunities.

CHECK OUT THE FULL ARTICLE

Written by David Frederick

June 23, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Is U.S. Now On A Slippery Slope To Tyranny?

A very interesting article by one of my favorite modern thinkers – Thomas Sowell. I thought you might find it thought provoking.

-DF

When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

“Useful idiots” was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

The president’s poll numbers are going down because increasing numbers of people disagree with particular policies of his, but the damage being done to the fundamental structure of this nation goes far beyond particular counterproductive policies.

Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.

And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Many among the public and in the media may think that the issue is simply whether BP’s oil spill has damaged many people, who ought to be compensated.

But our government is supposed to be “a government of laws and not of men.”

If our laws and our institutions determine that BP ought to pay $20 billion — or $50 billion or $100 billion — then so be it.

But the Constitution says that private property is not to be confiscated by the government without “due process of law.”

Technically, it has not been confiscated by Barack Obama, but that is a distinction without a difference.

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don’t believe in constitutional government.

And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a “crisis” — which, as the president’s chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to “go to waste” as an opportunity to expand the government’s power.

That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country’s wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard’s restrictions on the printing of money.

At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.”

That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP’s money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed “czars” controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.

Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power — vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom — are the “useful idiots” of our time. But useful to whom?

FULL LINK HERE

Written by David Frederick

June 22, 2010 at 11:56 PM