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Archive for March, 2013

It’s sheer agony working for my boss,” a woman recently told me. “He’s unbelievable.”

She continued: “In conversation he always puts you on the defensive. He asks rude questions such as “How old are you anyway?” “Are you a natural blond?” “How much money does your boyfriend make?”

“When he wants to make a point, he puts his hands on your shoulders to let you know he’s serious.”

“He assigns you a project, but then checks up on you 25,000 times. He butts in, changes it. He won’t let you be responsible for it.”

“He comes up and picks lint off my suit. He straightens my collar or my scarf. I want to say ‘Buzz off, slime ball.'”

“He acts like I didn’t have a life before I started working for his company. He thinks he made me what I am.”

“He can’t sit down very long. In the middle of a brain-storming session someone will be talking and he keeps butting in and interrupting. After he says what he wants to say, he gets up and leaves. Or he leaves while someone else is talking. We think he’s gone to the John. He doesn’t come back. We say, ‘Where is Fred?'”

“When decisions are made after one of these brainstorming sessions, he’s mad if we don’t use all his ideas.”

“When he’s with a client, he promises them the world. And then he reneges.”

“He is unbelievably tight when he negotiates salary. He uses every tactic in the book to intimidate you and make you feel insecure. He tells you that earnings are down. Times are hard. He’s doing you a favor by keeping you on the payroll. No one else would want you anyway. He, on the other hand, lives in a million-dollar house and drives a Jag.”

“He talks of being friends and thinks nothing of asking you to stay late or to come in early or give up a weekend. He says, ‘friends do that for each other.’ But he never says thank-you or rewards you with a bonus.”

“He takes your ideas and somehow in a week or two they become his ideas.”

“He starts a conversation in the middle of what he’s thinking about and you are always trying to play catch-up and figure out what he’s talking about.”

“He makes lewd remarks about other women.”

“He makes lewd remarks to your boyfriend about you.”

“He never asks any follow-up questions about your life. You could say, ‘I broke my knee last night’ and he wouldn’t ask you how you did it.”

“Almost everyone thinks he’s a jerk. Doesn’t he get it?”

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WHAT HAPPENS when you have to give a briefing to the big boss or to a client, or a speech to a roomful of people? What goes through your mind in the weeks and days preceding the presentation?

To find the answers, I asked a number of successful people in various fields.

“The thing that goes through my mind,” says one successful entrepreneur, is “Can I pull it off? Will the contractor see the advantages of doing it the way I think it should be done? How can I make enough of an impact for this person to run with our ideas? I may have only 20 minutes to make my point.”

As soon as possible, he makes a written outline. “I’m always concerned about the organization of my presentation because it’s so technical. I go through days of preparation in my head,” he says. “I keep thinking, ‘Am I giving them enough background information, enough detail, too much detail?1

“I try to find out who else is scheduled to be at the meeting and their present and past jobs in the organization. I make a lot of phone calls. What objections will they raise? How will I handle them?”

Once this man is speaking to the group, he continues to tailor his presentation based on the interaction in the room. If someone raises a concern, he immediately adds material that will address the issue. He then shortens other information in order to stay within the time frame. His preparation is not over until the talk is over.

A successful account executive had this to say. “For me, it’s sort of easy to present to clients. I see it as simply a matter of doing my homework. I first find out what they need, what the goal of the meeting is. Am I doing a capabilities presentation or do they want me to bid on something specific?”

If the client wants a what-can-you-do-for-our-company presentation, this woman finds out about the company before making her pitch. If they want a bid on something specific, she finds out as much as possible about the whole project and how her part of the work will fit in.

Before the meeting, she outlines her presentation. “When I walk in, I know the steps I’m going through,” she says.

When a top compensations expert is asked to make a presentation about his products, he immediately starts asking questions such as, Who will be at the meeting? What do you want to hear? He talks to as many people as possible within the company before outlining his plan.

“If the CEO is going to be there, ) figure I have about 20 minutes, and I focus on the financial implications and impact to the company,” he says.

If he’s making the presentation to the people from the human resource department, the focus changes to benefits that the individual and company will derive.

He outlines with a co-worker what he will try to get across and decides what printed materials to take with him.

“Once I organize, I spend a lot of time playing it out in my head. I put myself in the client’s shoes. By the time I make the presentation, it’s sort of anticlimactic,” he says. “How well it goes is usually determined by my preparation.”

A woman who gives successful talks throughout the country says, “As soon as I make the commitment to give the talk, I’m nervous. I immediately start thinking about what I’m going to present. I start arranging topics to cover in my head.”

Before preparing her talk she gets information about who her audience will be -how many people are expected to attend, their occupations, ages, the ratio of men to women.

She says the worst day for her is the day she actually sits down to write out the presentation. She does an extensive outline of what she wants to cover. She inserts examples that she thinks will be meaningful to her audience. “No matter how many times I talk on a particular subject, I always start from scratch. I think this keeps my talks fresh and focused,” she asserts.

After outlining the material, she starts practicing in her head. How many times does she run through her speech? About 15 or 20 times in her head and about five times aloud.

She decides far in advance what she’ll wear. Then she uses a visualization technique. In her mind’s eye she sees herself giving the talk in the outfit she plans to wear. She also sees the audience smiling and laughing.

The day of her talk she gets to the auditorium 15 to 20 minutes before she’s scheduled to go on. This allows her to check out the room. Is the mike working? Are the overheads set up? Will she stand in front of her audience or behind the lectern?

“Once I start the talk, it’s a piece of cake,” she says.

Success is no accident. People who are successful prepare and prepare and prepare.

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Adolescence isn’t all fun and games.

When we adults see teenagers goofing off at the mall or jumping around in a car to the latest beat, we often think they don’t have anything to worry about. It’s one carefree, fun-filled adventure after another.

Recently a woman told me about a prayer service that took place at a local Catholic High School. The theme of the service was a time of remembrance. At church the adolescents were invited to ask the Lord to remember a person dear to them who had died.

Here are some of the remembrances offered by teenagers.

Matt: My mother died when I was a freshman. I wish she was still alive.

Neil: My sister died when I was an infant. I wish I could have known her.

Chrissy: My brother would have celebrated his twelfth birthday. I would have enjoyed celebrating it with him.

Pete: My brother died when I was thirteen. I wish I would have had more time to get to know him better.

Regina: My father passed away five years ago. I wish he was here to share special moments in my life. I miss him very much.

Ellen: My grandma was a wonderful person. She has many who loved her and miss her.

Mark: Last spring my friend’s father died in a car accident. I had gotten to become good friends with him.

Alisyn: My grandmother died the day after my fourteenth birthday. I am told I am just like her at this age, but how do I know? I wish her well.

Jeff: My uncle died last year. I miss playing sports with him.

Libbi: My dad died when I was two. I should have been a Daddy’s girl. I miss him.

Jason: My brother died on May 12th two years ago. I am thankful for the time I spent with him. It was the most memorable six years of my life.

Tommy: A friend of mine, Allen, died last April. I miss him a lot and wish he was still here.

Erin: My grandmothers died six months apart during my sophomore year. I miss the good times with them.

Josh: My brother was killed when he was seven. I wish he was here so we could talk. I miss him.

Ann: My brother died 5 months ago. He was a good brother and a good person. I miss him.

Ana: A close friend, Sharna, died on December 28th from a drunk driver. Please pray for her and her family.

Andy: My grandfather died before I was born. I wish I could have met him just once.

When you see teenagers messing around at the mall and yelling louder than they should, soften your gaze a little. And remember, their lives are not as carefree as you might think.

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