<![CDATA[Paradigm Pursuits - Blog]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2016 02:00:05 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[       One Perfect Pitch: How to Sell Your Idea, Your Product, Your Business or Yourself by Marie Perruchet ]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2016 00:24:31 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/-one-perfect-pitch-how-to-sell-your-idea-your-product-your-business-or-yourself-by-marie-perruchet
This is a terrific book.  I am always amazed when I find a business book that I can learn from and also thoroughly enjoy reading.  The author, Marie Perruchet, is a master storyteller and she shares her wisdom with concise advice, examples and workbook like lessons that are broken into small chunks so you can master each element of pitching before you pull it all together into one story.

If you ever need to pitch your startup, pitch a consulting proposal or simply pitch yourself for a job interview, read this book first.  Ideally, read it weeks in advance so that you have the time to do the hard work necessary to perfect your pitch. 

Only two minor complaints.  I found it a bit heavy on how to pitch specifically in Silicon Valley. I would have preferred to see that specific material in an appendix. And although it has examples in each section I would have also enjoyed reading a few fully written out pitches in an appendix.  

I took many notes as I read this book, which I find to be a wonderful measure of the level of excellence of a business book, and here are just a few of my favorite quotes,

"Hide the complexity show the simplicity" 

"Studies show that after a presentation, people retain only 10% of what has been said and the percentage of what they will be able to tell others is even lower"

One idea one sentence  (also true in my work as a business coach)

Like most everything else that is worthwhile to do, perfecting a pitch is a time consuming and difficult process.  It’s a goal worth striving for, remembering that a goal without a plan is just a wish.  This book will provide you with the plan and advice  to nail it.

Thank you to netgalley for providing me an early copy in exchange for an honest review. 
<![CDATA[Never Forget What It's Like To Be A 'C' by Trevor Jarrett]]>Sat, 23 Jan 2016 17:12:17 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/never-forget-what-its-like-to-be-a-c-by-trevor-jarrett

​I received this book through NetGalley and read it immediately. The author, Trevor Jarrett acknowledges early on in this book how many other books have been written about leadership and teams. And, truthfully, I believe many hit on the same recommendations just using different words and phrases to describe the process. What I really enjoyed about this book is it is different and gets the points across in just 90 pages. How many leadership books have you closed half-way through them because you "got it"? There was no need to read more. There’s still a bit of fluff in this book; it could have been even better with just 60 pages but so much less fluff than many others.

This book reads like a fable but is actually based on a true experience of the author while delivering a full-day facilitated session. It describes a “game” that he uses regularly to help leadership teams understand and define a problem. I have read many, many business books and hadn’t come across this game before and found it very illuminating. The book also illustrates good coaching behavior by the author with his client.

Great quote from President Theodore Roosevelt.
​“The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
​What a great approach to avoiding micro-managing. I also wrote a short blog post with similar conclusions on how to avoid micromanaging at MY BLOG POST.

​Overall this is an enjoyable 60-90 minute read and the value you gain from reading it will exceed the effort that was required. A good indicator of a successful endeavor.
<![CDATA[​None of Us is as Dumb as All of Us]]>Wed, 04 Nov 2015 14:31:33 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/none-of-us-is-as-dumb-as-all-of-us
I had the pleasure of hearing astronaut Mark Kelly speak at an Inc 500 conference.  According to Mark, you will see the title of this blog plastered on conference room walls at NASA as a key lesson from the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters. Ever been in a meeting with your CEO and 5 others when the client asks a question and the CEO answers first? How often does someone in the room openly disagree with the CEO’s answer? It’s so easy to just agree. It’s so hard to figure out how to voice your dissent.
So if you are the client or the project manager or the VP, when you are in a group setting, ask the individuals lower on the leadership rung first or collect data from them individually prior to the meeting. That’s so much easier than trying to convince everyone else it’s ok to disagree with the leader (although I’d encourage that as well).
<![CDATA[The 7 Steps I Used to Get My First 1000 Twitter Followers]]>Wed, 21 Oct 2015 17:36:53 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/the-7-steps-i-used-to-get-my-first-1000-twitter-followers
Let’s get real.  How many of us will grow our Twitter accounts to 300,000 in 90 days?  And if you did, would they be valuable prospects?  In late August, I decided to spend Q4 growing my online presence, primarily focusing on Twitter and LinkedIn.  In this post, I will share how I grew my Twitter account to 1000 followers.
So why should you or I care that I now have over 1000 followers?  Your number of followers is merely a vanity metric (a metric that makes you feel good but doesn’t actually directly translate into more business).  Twitter Engagement Rate (TER) is a directional metric (a metric that shows you people are starting to pay attention).  Your key performance indicators (KPIs) are measures that directly lead to business. I started with a vanity goal of reaching 1000 followers by the end of 2015 because you need followers to create engagement, and you need engagement to achieve KPIs.  Now that I have reached 1000 followers, I am starting to set KPIs.  My first KPI is to engage with 5 prospects from Twitter by year-end and convert one into a paying client.  As of this writing, I have my first prospect.
These graphs show my growth in impressions (the number of times my Tweets were delivered to someone’s feed) and engagement rate.  An engagement is defined as the total number of times a user interacted with a Tweet including retweets, replies, follows, favorites and more. Your engagement rate is the number of impressions divided by the number of engagements.   Most articles I’ve read state the average engagement rate is .5-1% engagement rate.  But when calculating those averages the studies are usually analyzing large brands with hundreds of thousand followers. Since I doubt I will ever have 300,000 followers, I need to focus on a larger than average engagement rate.  My most recent 28-day average of 3% is a good start, but my goal is to move it up to 5% by year-end. 
Here are the 7 key strategies I used to accomplish this growth.
  1. Create a persona for your ideal Twitter follower.   Simply stated a persona is a description of characteristics or a profile of the person who is most important to your business.  I am a business coach and consultant and my target clients are startups.  Therefore, I am looking for followers who are founders or co-founders of an early or mid-stage startup. I enjoy working with extremely motivated individuals who are always learning. Although much of my coaching is over the phone, my ideal client is still in the Chicagoland area.   These characteristics are key to which accounts I choose to follow.
  2. Find and follow at least 200 users per week.  There are way too many Twitter tools to describe them all but after evaluating a few I landed on Crowdfire.  The free version works very well for this task by using their feature called Copy Followers.  You select someone who you already follow on Twitter and Crowdfire creates a list of their most active followers.  You then choose which of their followers you want to follow. Did you follow that?!  In my case, I first identified Twitter users that are business coaches, startup incubators, co-location spaces, and early stage venture capitalists.  And since my ideal client is in Chicago, I used Copy Followers only on those individuals or organizations that reside in Chicago.  I then selectively followed the Twitter users who were founders, co-founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs or executives. Bonus Tip:  Make sure you have an interesting and relevant profile. Review other people’s Twitter profiles that are similar to your profile and who have thousands of followers and then create a unique profile statement for yourself.
  3. Send a direct message back to each and every user who follows you.  Crowdfire will automate this for you for free, but every direct message ends with "via Crowdfire.”  You can remove that for $9.99/month.  My direct message shares a link to my blog. 
  4. Tweet at least 5 times per day at the times when your followers are most likely to see it.  I read that a Tweet has a life span of 18 minutes.  Expect that each Tweet will only be seen by up to 5% of your followers.  There are many tools online to help you find the optimum time to Tweet.  Let a tool like Crowdfire automatically schedule your Tweets or use a tool like Tweriod to tell you the best times.  Personally, I like to use a combination.  As I am reading something online that I find valuable, I use Crowdfire to schedule the Tweet.  I also try to read my Twitter feed a couple of times a day, during a time that is popular with my followers and retweet or create my own post.  Bonus Tip:  Most experts recommend keeping your Tweets to 122 characters to leave room for others to easily retweet them without having to make modifications.  
  5. Shorten your links so you can track how many clicks you get.  I chose bit.ly for this as it both shortens my URLs and provides simple analytics.  Bonus Tip: Studies have shown that 2 hashtags at the end of a Tweet engage the most people. 
  6. Use Twitter analytics to track your overall impressions and make sure your overall impressions and ideally your engagements are increasing over time.  If they are not, you need to take a closer look at your number of Tweets, their time, and their content and analyze what is working and what isn’t.  Twitter is not a one and done tool.  You need to keep at it and keep iterating.  Bonus Tip: Studies have shown that Tweets with images double your engagements.
  7. Use Crowdfire’s Nonfollower feature to unfollow accounts that don’t follow you back within a few days.  Technically, you can follow 2000 more users than are following you but I like to keep the differential under a few hundred.  Repeat this process every few days. Find 100 new interesting people to follow, give them a few days to follow you back, and if they don’t, unfollow them. 
And that’s all there is to it.  Now I’m off to meet with that first prospect that found me on Twitter.  Wish me luck.
<![CDATA[​WHEN Should You Give Feedback?]]>Tue, 13 Oct 2015 13:46:40 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/when-should-you-give-feedback
Susie was late again for your weekly sales meeting. Tom delivered a client presentation with three typos in it. Mark is already a week late with his code for the critical new feature release.
In the examples above, do you find yourself more likely to ignore this issue or to confront them directly? Think back to the most recent time someone on your team, a direct report, peer or even a boss, disappointed you. What did you do? If you are like most of us you were ticked off, vented to someone not directly involved and then went on with your day, hoping that it wouldn’t happen again.
In Crucial Conversations® there is a concept that states if you do not address an issue the first time it happens it may become a pattern, and, if you don’t address a pattern it will affect your relationship. Think about that for a moment. Go back again to the same example you thought of in the prior paragraph; the one about an individual who recently disappointed you. Have they ever disappointed you before? If yes, it’s a pattern. Do you think differently of them now? If you are in a position to delegate or assign tasks, do you assign them different tasks? Do you avoid them? If you answered yes to any of these it has already affected your relationship.
So what’s the solution? It’s simple to state but a lot harder to act on. When something happens, address it the first time it happens. Don’t wait for it to become a pattern or worse, for it to affect your relationship. Ask to talk them and start with the facts. For example, the fact may be that they had committed to complete the code by last Friday and it still isn’t complete. Share your story. Your story may be that you are concerned that they aren’t prioritizing this activity or that they have too much on their plate. Ask them to share their story. It may match your story or be completely different. Either way, you now have the basis to have a discussion and find a solution that works for both of you.
To learn more read Crucial Conversations® by Vital Smarts. I’m not connected to them in any way; I just like and learn from their materials:)

<![CDATA[What Does Bill Gates Say About Business Coaching?]]>Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:32:12 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/what-does-bill-gates-say-about-business-coaching
 Most everyone agrees there is increased complexity within leadership roles today and the need for resiliency to address change, as the CEO of a Fortune 500, the founder of a startup, the member of any management team or an individual contributor has never been stronger. “Leaders who maintain confidence and resilience in high-pressure situations can make the difference between organisational success and failure." (Reid 2008). Learning to work at your peak with those with different styles and attitudes can make the difference between a good leader and a great one.
Leaders have developed a stronger awareness of their own attitudes and other’s perceptions that might be holding them back or making the path forward more difficult.  Coaching brings clarity to decision making by giving us the opportunity to think aloud and with a partner who can probe to help you think deeper and who brings their own experiences and resources to the process.  Our environments are moving extremely quickly and without creating planned time slots for thinking, the day can pass you by while you spend all of your time and energy working and responding to urgent requests.  Coaching allows you to slow down and work on the business and the business strategy while assessing and learning skills necessary to reach you and your team’s peak performance.  Erik Schmidt is quoted as saying that getting a coach was the best advice he ever received.  Bill Gates, in the Ted Talk clip below, simply says everyone should have one.
Top Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
<![CDATA[3 Easy Questions to Ask Yourself to Ensure You Delegate a Task to the Right Person]]>Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:13:29 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/3-easy-questions-to-help-determine-how-to-delegate-a-role-project-or-task
As a manager, not a day goes by that you don't have to think about delegating projects and tasks.  How do you decide?  How do you choose what to keep yourself? What if multiple people have the time and the skill to do the job?  A number of years ago I asked Laurie Page, a managing partner at the Bridge Group, Inc, this question and she gave me the answer I now live by.  It really is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

#1 – Does the individual have the skill to do the job well?

#2 – Do they have the time?

#3 – Do they have the passion?

I started using this set of questions as my litmus test a few years back and realized they really did make my job easier when selecting who should take on a key role. Most often you can create a long list of those who meet 2 out of the 3 criteria but the list rapidly shortens when you consider all three. Go ahead; think about a major new role in your company or a project that requires a lead or a manager who could use some help from a team leader.   If you’ve hired well you will probably have a long list of those who have the skill to take on the assignment. But who truly has the time AND the passion in addition to the skill. In a prior role we were looking to find someone to run a new team; a team that we believed would be critical to our growth in the coming year. When I added the third criteria, passion, the ideal individual quickly rose to the top of my list.

<![CDATA[Can Expectations Make a Blind Man See (and ride a bike)?]]>Thu, 24 Sep 2015 14:36:53 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/can-expectations-make-a-blind-man-see-and-ride-a-bike

Go Ahead, Ride Your Bike Blind.  That’s a sentence I never thought I would write. That is until I listened to NPR’s Invisibilia podcast where the co-hosts Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel “examine the surprising effect our expectations can have on the people around us. Plus, the story of a blind man who says expectations have helped him see. Yes, see.” 

The science is now clear that expectations play a huge role in our outcomes as students, workers, leaders and even friends. It’s actually pretty simple; treat people like they can achieve the impossible and you will increase your chances and theirs of success. 

If you haven’t yet listened to NPR’s new Invisibilia, which launched this past January, definitely check it out. They share lots of fascinating stories about every day behaviors and actions and how they affect our lives. The hosts are great storytellers and they make psychology and brain science understandable, interesting and applicable to our lives. 

In this case not only does a blind man believe he can see, he proves it by showing them how he rides his bicycle down busy streets all by himself. If he can do that and help other vision-impaired individuals live lives that are more independent imagine what the rest of us who have our sight can achieve with the right expectations!

As always I look forward to exchanging ideas.   Leave your comments and let's start a conversation and see what we can achieve together.

<![CDATA[If You Don’t Talk It Out, You Will Act It Out]]>Mon, 21 Sep 2015 14:27:36 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/if-you-dont-talk-it-out-you-will-act-it-out
Have you ever acted out your feelings rather than talking them out?  

Let’s get personal.

Just think about the last time you were upset with your spouse, partner or close friend.  Think about how you acted prior to clearing the air or talking it out (even if in loud voices).  We all do it.  Your spouse ticks you off, and you pout, or later that evening you respond to his or her question with a snooty retort. 

At this point, you are probably already admitting you’ve done this once or twice, but you are thinking you wouldn’t do that in the work place


We all have, and if you listen carefully, you’ll hear and see it occurring in your office every day.  I remember a time I experienced it myself.  I was pissed off.   I was being micromanaged and undermined.  I knew this concept well, yet I attended a team meeting and was passive-aggressive. 

After the meeting, I was ashamed of my behavior,  but it was never clearer to me that this key phrase, if you don’t talk it out, you will act it out, holds true.  I wasn’t talking it out, so I simply acted it out, and afterwards it felt really bad.   This is just one of the many lessons I learned from Crucial Confrontations®.  There are so many amazing lessons one can learn from Crucial Conversations® and Crucial Confrontations®.  If you haven’t read the books, I highly recommend them. 

Remember, we are all human.  When we have strong feelings, they are going to emerge one way or another.  So make sure they do in conversation, rather than in action.
<![CDATA[2 Simple Ways to Forward the Action]]>Wed, 16 Sep 2015 15:13:42 GMThttp://www.paradigmpursuits.com/blog/2-simple-ways-to-forward-the-action1
How many emails do you delete that simply read, “I will get back to you,” or “Let's get together to review this?”  One of my personal favorites is when I craft an email asking a very specific question and get a reply of, “Thanks.”

But this post isn't about email etiquette or picking the right communication tool, even though those are great topics.  What I am harping on today is making sure that, when you respond to someone, no matter the method, you forward the action.  What this means is that your response somehow progresses the project or conversation forward in some way.

In today's world, we are all inundated with communications.  There are times that it is completely appropriate to send back a response that is simply a thank you, but one should never simply pass the buck or use email as a way to procrastinate.  

Here are 2 simple ways to forward the action:

1.     Make sure that, when you respond, your response moves the project or task forward.  If you can't get it done the same day, then rather than typing, “I will get back to you,” make sure to consider your basic project management criteria of who, what and when.  For example, your response might look something like this: “I will get back to you with my edits by the end of day tomorrow.”  

2.     Instead of typing, “Let's get together to review,” and putting the burden back on the sender to complete the next task of scheduling the event, send a calendar invite, scheduling a time and place to review the work.  You should always do this, rather than asking them to schedule it via an email response, especially if you are the manager.  Scheduling a calendar invite is not something you should delegate;)