Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with @ScottAddis. F. Scott Addis is an author and speaker. He recently wrote Summit…Reach Your Peak and Elevate Your Customers’ Experience, a life-changing blueprint for reaching your potential in life and at work. Scott’s articles have been published extensively in Rough Notes magazine, as well as other highly regarded industry publications throughout the U.S. For more info, visit www.scottaddisbook.com
SmallBizLady: SUMMIT is divided into four elevations. What are the four elevations? Why is the book organized this way?
F. Scott Addis: When it came to putting the material into a book, I thought it seemed natural to organize and edit the writings into a sequence that reflected a progression from individual skill development to business relationships to the customer experience. Summit is therefore divided into the following four elevations:
- Elevation I: Preparing for the Climb (Developing Your Personal Readiness)
- Elevation II: Setting up Base Camp (Preparing to Present Yourself to Others)
- Elevation III: On to the Summit (Focusing on the Customer Experience)
- Elevation IV: The Final Ascent (Discovering Your Inner Strengths)
SmallBizLady: In Elevation I you emphasize the importance of paying attention to four performance indicators and developing them as the reader progresses. One of these performance indicators is natural strength. Why is it crucial to focus on honing natural strengths rather than improving weaknesses?
F. Scott Addis: Every person who has ever lived has natural strengths (also known as Unique Abilities) though most people are not conscious of it. Because of this lack of awareness, these people have not experienced the infinite rewards that come from being able to harness and develop their natural talents and pursue their passions wholeheartedly. The more you are able to recognize your natural strengths and shape your life around it, the more freedom, success and happiness you will experience. Your Unique Abilities (i.e., Natural Strengths) has four characteristics:
- A superior ability that other people notice and value
- Love doing it and want to do it as much as possible
- Energizing for you and others around you
- You keep getting better, never running out of possibilities for further improvement
Most individuals are not able to identify their natural strengths, let alone concentrate on them, because they are trapped by childhood training. We learn at a young age that the secret to success in life is working on our weaknesses. Unfortunately, it is the focus on weaknesses that results in a sense of deficiency, failure and guilt. As a result, our lives are filled with frustration, wasted potential and missed opportunities. Letting go of these “lack of abilities” to focus on the things you love is a secret to maximizing your performance.
SmallBizLady: In Elevation II you speak to the importance of a value proposition to win the battle against commoditization. What is a value proposition and why is it so important?
F. Scott Addis: A value proposition is the reason for a person’s professional existence. It describes how you create value for others. It makes you stand out in a crowded marketplace. Without a compelling value proposition you are ordinary and disposable — a commodity. With a distinguished value proposition you are unique and indispensable.
A value proposition statement summarizes the reason why a potential customer should buy your particular product or service, how it exceeds that of your competition and why it is worthy of the price they must pay. The ideal value proposition is concise and appeals to the customer’s strongest decision-making drivers. It is an irresistible offer, an invitation that is so compelling and attractive that the customer would be out of his or her mind to refuse your offer.
Research indicates that most professionals do not have a value proposition in the form of a clear and concise statement that explains the tangible results their customers will receive, the unique benefits they bring to bear that others cannot.
SmallBizLady: In Elevation III, you discuss the customer experience. What is the customer experience? Why are the first impressions so significant in building customer relationships?
F. Scott Addis: The Customer Experience Journey is the sum of all experiences that the customer has with you – the actions and results that make the customer feel important, understood, heard and respected. Each customer interaction molds and shapes the Journey.
A first impression is the mark you make in the first moments of interacting with someone. This impression is a strong effect produced on one’s intellect, feelings, or conscience.
It is interesting to note that the brain is immensely perceptive and takes into account every minor detail of one’s facial features. The sight and sound around us are picked up by sense organs and the signal is passed to the brain. These signals are then compared to the memories of past experiences. The interpretations of the signals play a key role in forming the first impression.
SmallBizLady: In your book, you write: “Work-life balance remains my biggest challenge in my quest to reach the peak.” How do you define work-life balance? Why is it difficult to achieve equilibrium between the two?
F. Scott Addis: The term work/life balance first appeared in the 1970’s. The expression means having equilibrium among all the priorities in your life. It is interesting to note that state of balance differs from person to person. However, if there is little or no balance over an extended period of time, the vast majority of people experience stress and, eventually, burnout.
Today’s intense, competitive business climate has created corporate cultures that demand more and more from professionals. To get ahead, 60 to 70 hour work weeks appear to be the new standard.
SmallBizLady: Goal setting is also very important on the climb. Why is mental imagery, or visualization, a key component of successful goal setting?
F. Scott Addis: Visions allow you to see yourself at some point in the future, while goals offer a road map to reach these visions. There is nothing more rewarding than having visions, setting goals, launching into action and persisting until you reach your destination. The key to goal setting is your ability to turn this vision into reality.
Mental imagery is essential to goal setting. Your ability to see yourself at the point of goal actualization is a key component to successful goal setting. Goal setting breaks down unless you have great clarity about your vision.
SmallBizLady: Why is a positive first impression so important? What are some tips you can offer our listeners on creating a positive first impression?
F. Scott Addis: Because the first impression of you often lasts a long time and impacts your relationships, it is essential that you consider the following strategies in creating a positive first impression:
- Be on time – Someone you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late. Arriving early is much better than arriving late and serves as the first step in creating a positive first impression.
- A winning smile – Smile and the world smiles too. There is nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease.
- Body language – When it comes to first impressions, body language speaks louder than words. Stand tall, smile, make eye contact and greet with a firm handshake. Your body language projects confidence and self-assurance. If you are calm and confident, the other person will feel comfortable.
- Dress for success – Physical appearance matters. The person you are meeting with for the first time does not know you. Your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on.
- Be positive, courteous and attractive – A positive attitude helps to create a good first impression. It also goes without saying that good manners and polite, attentive and courteous behavior will enhance the manner in which you are perceived. Turn off your cell phone and give the new acquaintance 100% of your attention. Manners really matter!
- Do your homework – Learn as much as possible about the person you are about to meet for the first time. The other person will be impressed that you took the time to learn about them. Google and LinkedIn are excellent research tools. Doing your homework demonstrates your conscientious nature.
- Be a good listener – What do people enjoy more than anything in the world? Talking about themselves, their goals, passions, hobbies, family, business, etc. Your listening skills will create a positive first impression and get the relationship off to a great start.
- Eye contact – As your focus must be on the other person, eye contact is essential. To make a good impression, you must have the other person’s complete attention. Your focused eyes demonstrate interest and respect. Wandering eyes show disrespect.
SmallBizLady: In SUMMIT, you also write about nonverbal business communication. What is that? How can someone successfully communicate nonverbally?
F. Scott Addis: Nonverbal communication is the process of communicating through sending and receiving wordless messages. Nonverbal signals have five times the impact of verbal signals. Like the spoken language, body language has words, sentences and punctuation. Each gesture is like a single word and each work may have several meanings. Since nonverbal communication encompasses the vast majority of one’s overall message, you must understand the impact of your body language, gestures, facial expressions, posture and movements. Body language is the outward reflection of your emotional state and condition.
SmallBizLady: What are the five key elements that can make or break a businessperson’s attempt at successful nonverbal business communication?
F. Scott Addis: There are five key elements that can make or break your attempt at successful nonverbal business communication:
Eye Contact: Eye contact indicates interest, attention and involvement. A person’s eyes are always “talking” and providing valuable clues. Good eye contact helps your audience develop trust in you, thereby elevating you and enhancing your message. Poor eye contact does just the opposite. Research indicates that people rely on visual clues to help them decide on whether to attend to a message or not. If they find that you are not “looking” at them when they are being spoken to, they feel uneasy. It is essential that you engage every member of the audience by looking at them.
Gestures: A gesture is a non-facial body movement intended to express meaning. Gestures may be articulated with hands, arms or body, and also include movements of the head, face and eyes such as winking, nodding or rolling your eyes. Often, gestures tell us something about a person or situation that is not communicated verbally.
In the business setting, consumers rely heavily upon your face and hands to draw conclusions about the passion and conviction you have toward your products and services.
Posture: Your posture tells a powerful, non-verbal story. Positive body posture transmits a message of authority, confidence, trust and power. Posture is understood through such indicators as direction of lean, body orientation, arm position and body openness. Studies indicate that a person who displays a forward lean or a decrease in backwards lean signifies positive sentiment during communication.
Smile and Laughter: People who laugh and smile, even when they don’t feel especially happy, make their brain’s left hemisphere surge with electrical activity. When you laugh, every organ in your body is affected in a positive way. As with smiling, when laughter is incorporated as a permanent part of who you are, it attracts friends, improves health and extends life.
The Power of the Touch: Researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted an experiment that became known as “the phone booth test.” They placed a coin on the ledge of the phone booth, hid behind a tree and waited for an unsuspecting subject to walk in and find it. When this happened, one of the researchers would approach the subject and say, “Did you see my coin in the phone booth? I need it to make another call.” Only 23% of the subjects admitted they had found it and gave it back. In the second part of the study, the coin was again placed in the phone booth, but when the researchers approach the people who took it, they touched them slightly on the elbow not longer than 3 seconds and inquired about the coin. This time 68% admitted to having the coin, looked embarrassed and said things like, “I was looking around to try to see who owned it…” The power of the touch, whether it is your handshake, touch on the elbow, a high five or pat on the back demonstrates positive impact.
SmallBizLady: Your final chapter in Summit is entitled Discovering Your Inner Game. What is the inner game and why is it so important to peak performance?
F. Scott Addis: My senior thesis in college was “An Analysis of Athletes in Pressure Situations”. As a psychology major and student athlete at Princeton University, I had a curiosity to understand the mental aspects which create success or failure in sports and in life – the Inner Game. I have come to learn that the emotions and lessons learned in sports have tremendous applicability to our daily work. Please consider the following:
Mental Toughness – An essential ingredient in achieving success in sports and in life is your ability to focus on a task and not let negative thoughts intrude. A key strategy to confront mental toughness is one’s ability to handle pressure. Pressure can be both a positive and negative force. Pressure affects each person differently. Confronted with pressure, athletes may weigh both the benefits of success and the pains of failure at the same time. Seasoned peak performers often do not feel pressure. These people are so immersed in the game that they do not have time to understand the magnitude of the moment. Mentally tough athletes and business professionals know how to stay focused and, most importantly, how to deal with adversity. They understand the importance of controlling their emotions. It is this inner strength that allows them to achieve peak performance even in the most pressure packed situations.
Self Image – Your positive self-image is essential to your success. If you do not feel good about yourself, your performance will suffer. A negative self-image can hinder the performance of even the most gifted professional. Because athletes must learn how to deal with anxiety, fear and distractions, positive self-image is an essential ingredient to achieve success.
Commitment – Amazing performances just don’t happen. They are a result of tremendous dedication, determination and sacrifice. Commitment starts in the athlete’s heart and soul. Every athlete faces numerous obstacles and opposition. Commitment gives you inspiration to carry forward even when confronted with tremendous challenge and turbulence.
Self Discipline – Great performers are highly disciplined. Hall of Fame athletes often look back upon their careers and understand that an essential ingredient to their success was self-discipline. Self-discipline begins with setting priorities, designing one’s lifestyle based upon achieving goals. In developing a lifestyle of discipline, the athlete learns how to eliminate excuses. Disciplined athletes are highly focused on goals and specific results. They are not focused on the challenge of their athletic performance, rather the rewards of achievement.
Fear of Failure – Fear creates tension, doubt and panic. Fear of failure impacts your ability to achieve performance at the highest level. It increases muscle tension as well as your heart and respiratory rates. Fear of failure causes narrowed perception and attention as well as diminished cognitive flexibility. Fear of failure is the toughest opponent you will ever face. When you are not afraid to fail, your chances of success improve dramatically.
Motivation – Your desire to succeed must be stronger than your fear of failure. Motivation is the key. Motivation starts with a sense of purpose. It is rooted within one’s heart and soul. People find motivation in different ways. For some it is a mission to be accomplished. For others it is fulfilling a lifelong dream. Often, this dream turns into a burning desire to reach a specific goal. Playing with purpose and passion comes easily for athletes who are motivated by their desire to achieve.
Positive Attitude — Attitude influences how an athlete acts and feels. Attitude is a choice which has a profound impact on performance. Positive attitude gives an athlete a competitive edge while negative attitude impairs peak performance – especially in team oriented contests. It has been said that 10% of a performance is what happens to an athlete and 90% is how the athlete chooses to react to it.
SmallBizLady: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
F. Scott Addis: Yes, a person’s potential, what he or she is capable of becoming, represents his or her capacity for growth and development. I ask the question: Does your performance reflect your potential? If the answer is no (and I bet it is), Summit will reveal tools, strategies, systems and exercises to assist you in maximizing your capabilities. Summit will help you close the gap between your potential and your performance — giving you clarity, purpose and passion.
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.