Education Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
greatest asset

How talking too much in class turned into my greatest asset

Those tendencies standing “in your way” can be “the way”‘ to success and can become your greatest asset. When I was in elementary school, I generally received good reports from my teachers. However, one thing that came up time and time again was a comment by almost all of my teachers: “Ivan talks too much in class.”

My mother had numerous conversations with me about this but to no avail. I figure that she thought my grades were pretty good and she generally liked to pick and choose her battles on issues. Consequently, she didn’t really push the matter, and so… I talked and talked and talked in class. It showed up on many of my report cards. My teachers felt that it was a problem for me in school. On the other hand, my mother didn’t give me much grief on the subject.

My Greatest Asset

My talking too much in class was thought of as a roadblock by my teachers. Candidly, at one point, they almost had me convinced that it was a problem. My mother — not so much. She didn’t see my talking as such a big issue and that gave me the freedom to be myself. True, I had to tone it down a bit — but it wasn’t drummed out of me. I am grateful for that because, despite the fact that some people thought that talking was blocking my way, the truth is — it would eventually become “the way” for my life.

While the teachers definitely felt that it was a roadblock to my learning, I think they may have been wrong on that. What my teachers saw as a problem ended up becoming an incredible asset. I talk a lot. I talk to individuals, small groups, middle size groups, large groups, and massive groups. Any way you cut it — I’m a talker. It is my greatest asset. My job today is to talk to people. In fact, I get paid to talk. I get paid a crazy number to talk to companies, associations, and organizations. I love to share ideas with people, I love to coach people, and most of all I love to inspire people. And to do that — I talk.

Over the years, I’ve learned that oftentimes, What is in the way, becomes the way”.  

I believe the secret is to take the thing that is “in the way” and channel your efforts in a manner that makes that problem part of the solution. I have noticed that my wife, Elisabeth, has been able to channel what was in the way for her as a child and how powerfully that has served her. She was constantly being told that she was “too rebellious.” She had a very hard time doing things she was told she had to do just because an authority figure in life told her she must do them. Now when she was faced with a medical diagnosis and told by her medical doctor that there was only one path, her strong “rebellious” nature found another, more effective and gentle healing path. What was in her way has become her way!

Some of us do this unconsciously. However, imagine how impactful this paradigm could be if we were more conscious of it at work in our lives. I would encourage you to think about something you were told was “in the way” as part of your life? Has it “become the way” for you and your greatest asset? If so, how? For me — of the first things in my life that were in the way was that I talked too much in class. Looking back, I’d have to say it worked out pretty well. 

‘No-Win’ Scenario

How I Approach The ‘No-Win’ Scenario

When I was an undergraduate in college, I needed to take one more “lab class” (a course that gives hands-on experience related to the topic). I’d taken lab classes in science and the only lab courses left according to my counselor was a lab class in mathematics. Now, I did fine with basic mathematics but the higher-level courses in Algebra and Geometry were just not my passion. OK, full disclosure, I hated those courses. So, when my counselor said that was the only choice left – I went on a quest, a quest to go through every single page of the course catalog for every single department throughout the University (except the Math department), to find any other class with a lab that I hadn’t already taken. I felt like it was a ‘No-Win’ scenario.

After a painstaking search through the huge catalog, I found one course that fit the bill. It was a course in the Hotel and Restaurant Management School at the University. The course was in Enology (the study of wines). The lab part was – wine tasting! Now, you might think that I was excited at first but the truth is – I hated wine. I really didn’t like it. The only thing is, I hated math more than I hated wine so – Enology it was!

I took this revelation to my department counselor and he said – “No! you can’t take that as your lab!” I said “Why not? It is a lab and it meets all the university requirements for me to complete my degree?” He said, “because it’s unheard of to use that as a lab in this department.” I then said, “But is it prohibited? Where in the department requirements does it say that it can’t be used?” He cocked his head and looked at me over the top of his glasses and said, “alright Misner, give me the paper, I’ll sign it and get out of here.” I smiled and said, “Thank you very much professor,” and walked out with the paperwork to complete my Enology wine lab.

At that moment, I had no idea that the course I was taking would become a life-long passion. Remember, I didn’t really like wine back then. The course was much more difficult than students thought it would be. We had an almost 40% drop out rate for the class because it wasn’t just about “tasting” wines. It was about the wine industry and wine regulations so the tests were pretty tough. The tasting was only a part of the class. Today, it is a passion for me. I built out a cellar at my home in Austin (pictured here) that will hold 1,600 bottles (it’s not full – yet but I’m working on it) and I just started working on a Sommelier Certification just for fun. This path all began because I didn’t believe in the “No-Win scenario” as the only possibility relating to a challenge.

The ‘No-Win’ Scenario

I share this story with you because I truly believe that there are ‘almost’ always options to a no-win situation if you work hard to find alternative solutions (maybe even push the envelope a bit). For the Star Trek nerds out there – I’d like to think I’d pass the Kobayashi Maru simulation (the no-win scenario mentioned several times Star Trek).

What no-win situation have you been confronted with and how did you find a solution? I’d love for you to share it here.

“Can't do” or “Won’t do”

Helping others depends on either a “Can’t do” or “Won’t do” answer

Whatever the issues are that are holding someone back, focus on a constructive approach. If you ask them, “How can we help you?”, their answer will always be either a “can’t do” or “won’t do” answer. The person will either explain why they are having difficulty with the situation because they don’t know how to address it effectively, or they will give an answer that illustrates that they don’t really want to do this for some reason or another.

How to handle a “Can’t do” answer

Once there was a printer that was dead last on P.A.L.M.S. report in a local BNI group. We did not tell him that he was dead last. Instead, we asked him, “How can we help you?” His response was that his print shop was new and he admitted that he did not understand networking. This is a classic “Cant’ Do” response. It is our job to teach them because we were all a “can’t do” when we first started networking. We all make tons of mistakes. When someone says they can’t do something, they are open to being coached. It is our job to teach them.  If we were just negative and told the printer he was dead last, he would have quit. Instead, if we pour into them and help them, they become champions in BNI.

Where the clients come into the lobby area of the print shop, we recommended that he put up a sign where everyone could see it with slots for the BNI members’ business cards. He was instructed to get 20 copies of everyone business cards to fill sign with only the cards from BNI members. When someone took a card, they were told to say that Bob’s printing referred you. If someone not in BNI wanted to give him their cards for the sign, the printer was instructed to invite them to the next BNI meeting instead. True story! Nobody just took a card and left. They asked Bob his opinion on each of these. He gave a testimonial with everyone he had cards for. He went from last to number one in giving the most referrals. He went from being embarrassed to the top referral giver within 6 months. He was the winner of the year. He now loves BNI. We changed his business by coaching him.

How to handle a “Won’t do” answer

In this example, they give excuses: it’s too difficult… they are busy…I’m different. With a clear-cut “won’t do” answer, if you open the door for them they will leave on their own. I recommend saying, “I understand your frustration, it is ok to leave the group, feel free to come back if things change”. However, if you kick them out, they will become defiant and negative towards BNI. They blame the chapter and claim it is everyone fault. Therefore, if they don’t save face, they will fight you all the way. On the other hand, they don’t hate you if you give them the option to leave in a positive manner.

Here’s a suggestion. On rare, rare occasions – when someone is a “won’t do” but they don’t want to leave.  Tell them you appreciate their involvement and that you’ll throw them a “retirement party”. OK, not a real party – but recognize their past participation in the group and thank them for their involvement. This should be done rarely but it allows them to save face and leave. With this advice, you can cut down the percentage that will require a tough conversation by 90%. Then, only 10% of the time you need to have the tough talk about opening their classification and not renewing their membership. You want to be invested in their success, yet cut them loose when needed.

Being a member of the group is not enough.  If you are not contributing then why are you there? Being complacent is what I call a “MINO” (Member In Name Only). How can we help you to get more engaged? How can we help you to… bring more members? …bring more visitors? …bring more referrals? Whatever the issues are, just ask, “How can we help?” Their answer will tell you if you can help them.

Graduates

Six Steps to Find a Job Through Networking For New Graduates

It’s graduation season so, I thought I would share some ideas on how new graduates (or even seasoned professionals) can find a new job if they are looking for employment.

Over 80% of all jobs are found through networking according to a recent study published on LinkedIn.   Here are six steps to help someone who is looking for work (along with two bonus ideas when they get a great connection).

  1. First, get your mindset right. Desperation is not referable. Since you’ll be depending on your network to speak highly of you to their hiring manager and contacts, practice confidently touting your skills.
  2. Image-check your social media. Potential employers will – and you won’t want to make your network look bad if they stick their neck out and recommend you.  I was once considering hiring someone and I checked out his Facebook page.  OMG!  He threw out the “F” bomb time after time on his posts.  In addition, he posted widely inappropriate comments and tirades about people.  He was not the kind of influence I wanted in my office.
  3. Start with current relationships. Reach out to friends, family and business contacts in person, on LinkedIn and via social media to tell them exactly what kind of position you’re looking for. Ask if they can check for any upcoming openings and keep you in mind.
  4. Inventory your other connections. Don’t forget to check in with neighbors, professional organizations, past customers, and community organizations for more contacts.  When it comes to referrals for employment, don’t underestimate the strength of weak ties.
  5. Determine where you stand with these contacts. Whether they are active, passive, or dormant will determine the strategy. I can outline how to approach each.  Active; pick up the phone and ask for assistance.  There’s a relationship.  They will most likely love to help. Passive; set an appointment to reconnect (preferably in person).  Find out about them and let them know you’re looking for something.  Dormant; reconnect by social media or email.  Just talk.  Don’t ask for anything – yet.  Stay in touch, build the relationship before you ask.
  6. Visit organizations in the industry you want. Network right there, on the ground. Check in with the front desk, drop your resume off in-person and ask to meet with the HR director. Better yet, find out if someone in your network can connect you to a current employee in that company. Contact them through the referral.  Meet them for coffee and come prepared.

Once you get a referral, do these two things:

  1. Research your prospective employer. Never go in without being prepared on the history of the company, their latest press releases, their corporate culture and values – whatever you can find.  Checking out their website is only the start.  Google the organization to get more information.   If possible, find out who might be interviewing you and learn more about them.  I landed one of the biggest jobs of my career (before starting BNI and long before Google) because I researched the company and knew so much about the organization and the professional background of the person interviewing me that it blew him away and he hired me.
  2. Offer to do a “working interview.” This is a great way for any company to take your experience and work ethic for a “test drive.” It will give you an opportunity to show them what you’re made of. If all goes well, ask them to consider you for the position.  I’ve been recommending this to job-seekers for many years.  In fact, one week before I wrote this article, I suggested this idea to my eldest daughter.  She tried it out with a company she wanted to work for and they took her up on a “working interview.”  She did such a great job, they hired her the next day!

Your network is the lifeblood of your career.  Don’t let it die of professional loneliness.  Learn how to network your way into a job.

Share this with anyone you know who is looking for employment.

 

Leaky bucket

The Leaky Bucket Syndrome of Learning

Teaching is a leaky bucket process. You start with a whole bucket of information. When you train someone how to do something, a little information leaks out. When they train someone else and that information is taught to someone else, some of that information leaks out. The people being taught only get that limited version of the information based on their understanding and ability to articulate the material.
 
By the time you are in the third or fourth generation of people passing along the information, you only have about half a bucket remaining and you’ve lost half the information. There’s a sense that something’s missing. What do they do? When the bucket of information gets low, people start putting in their own content in. The problem is that it might not be good content. Very rarely does the material improve over time with this process. 

So how do we plug these leaks?

I learned early on the best solution is to write everything down and to develop “train the trainer” material so there was consistency in the system and the training needs to be conducted in a way that is scalable. When teaching, your “whole bucket” needs to be written down and all the parties who conduct the training need to follow the process without adding or substituting their own stuff. Making the training as part of a replicable system is the best way to fill the leaks. This became even more important as we spread BNI into various countries and cultures worldwide.
Thank you, Colin Horner, for the graphic
LCD's

Specific is Terrific with LCD’s

Weekly networking presentations with LCD’s

It is very important to be prepared to introduce yourself by breaking down your business into your LCD’s (Lowest Common Denominators). Each week, create a business educational curriculum to train your sales force to focus on just ONE aspect of your business.

For example, each week just focus on:

– A service
– A product
– A benefit

When you want to nail a presentation, start by explaining your lowest common denominators, or the most immediate, universal value of your business. Your LCD is your secret weapon.

Click on the graphic below, or click here, to see this video. Learn more about developing this training approach for your weekly presentations.

Seuss

Dr. Seuss’ Birthday – NEA Read Across America Day

Today, March 2nd is the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Today the BNI Foundation is supporting the National Education Association’s “Read Across America Day”. Therefore, go find a classroom and volunteer to read a Dr. Seuss story to the students. For example, in this video, I share a story about reading to my kids when they were younger, the Dr. Seuss classic, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street“.

Dr. Seuss’s very first book for children! 

Originally published: December 21, 1937

From a mere horse and wagon, young Marco concocts a colorful cast of characters, making Mulberry Street the most interesting location in town. Most noteworthy, Dr. Seuss’s signature rhythmic text, combined with his unmistakable illustrations, will appeal to fans of all ages. Finally, who will cheer when our hero proves that a little imagination can go a very long way. Now over eighty years old, this story is as timeless as ever.

Are you educating your network or just selling to them?

Educating your networking group’s members about the type of referrals you want (and even the names of the individuals with whom you want to meet and develop relationships) is much more important to the success of your networking in a closed contact network than selling to the members. This demands a shift in how you see your networking partners and educating them about your business. They are not the clients! They are, in effect, your sales force! In order for any sales force to get out there and sell you effectively, they have to know who to sell you to and how to sell you.

Read More

Decisions Aren’t Always Easy

I’ve been a member of the Transformational Leadership Council for the last 12 years.  It is a group of innovative and out-of-the-box leaders that meet twice a year from all around the world, and last week we met in Napa Valley, California.  I use this time to expand my mind, brainstorm new content for my blog and articles and most of, all learn from the incredible teachers around me.

One of the topics that really got my attention was the idea of “decision fatigue.”   

In decision making and social psychology, decision fatigue refers to the exhaustion that sets in when someone is presented with the need to make one decision after another, back to back, over and over again.  This can play out in several ways–for example, it can be as simple as going to a grocery store and being confronted with one bad choice for food after another. By the time you are checking out, your willpower becomes weak and you buy that candy on the way out of the check stand (that’s why they have it there!)

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 It can also be related to a very long day of making many decisions. If you’re making tough calls all day long, the quality of the decisions will drastically diminish by days end.  Or it might play out over a very long period of time (weeks, months, or years) where you are confronted with one challenging decision after another.  Over an extended period of time, you feel exhausted and drained from having to make so many decisions about so many different issues that it is easy to experience “burnout” as a result.

In running a global organization with an incredible amount of competing demands, this last consideration really rang true for me.  I often felt that the serious nature of the ongoing decisions that needed to be made, could create a massive amount of long-term stress for me. One way I combated this stress was to schedule dedicated “mental health days” to reset my mindset and get in a better place.  

I spoke about this several years ago in my blog here. 

Decision fatigue is a real condition.  What, if anything, do you do to combat this feeling in your life?

Four Keys to Becoming a Networking Catalyst

ID-100227642I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no mechanic. In fact, when I was a kid, my father (who could fix just about anything) took me out to the garage one day and said, “Son, you’d better go to college because you’re never going to make a living with your hands.” Well, that was great advice, Dad. And I think things have worked out pretty well for me as a result of your suggestion.

Despite my lack of skills as a mechanic, I can, however, tell you how a catalytic converter relates to networking and your business. By definition, a catalyst is an agent that initiates a reaction. In networking, a catalyst is someone who makes things happen. Without a catalyst, there is no spark, and not much gets done. So what does it take for you to become a catalyst for your business and your network? Four things: initiative, intention, confidence, and motivation.

  1. Initiative. Catalytic people don’t sit still—they make things happen in all aspects of their lives. As networkers, they stay alert for a problem that needs solving and then spring into action, calling on someone from their network to solve the problem. They operate with a “get it done now” mentality.
  2. Intention. Catalytic people operate with intent and are goal-driven. As networkers, catalytic people have both business and networking goals. They learn the goals of others so they can help people achieve them.
  3. Confidence. Catalytic people have confidence in themselves and in the players on their team. This helps ensure that the task at hand will be accomplished with stellar results.
  4. Motivation. Catalytic people are not only motivated themselves, but they also spur others on to perform at their highest potential. These people encourage others to contribute, sharing their energy and excitement through their words and actions. They are motivated by personal and professional rewards that they can’t wait to share with others, and they desperately want to help others succeed.

To set your network in motion toward helping your business, make it your goal to become a catalytic person. Think of your network as a row of standing dominoes. Each domino will remain standing until you act on the first domino. As a catalyst, you must tap the first domino to watch the chain reaction of tumbling dominoes. Your network is standing in place, waiting for you to set the pieces in motion.

But what if you’re looking at your rows of dominos and realize that there are serious gaps that will disrupt the chain reaction? Or maybe you don’t have nearly as many dominos as you thought. Even if you are a catalytic person, you first need to have a well-rounded and sufficiently populated network.

Three Essential Questions to Ask When Looking for Networking Events

ID-100303851Attending enough and the right events for networking your business can be hard. How do you know which events will be a waste of your time, and which will benefit you in the long run?

Figuring out a plan to help you pick the right events is an important step to making sure you’re not wasting time. While you have to spend a few minutes up front, you’ll save hours in time that you won’t spend at events that won’t benefit you.

To develop this plan, you should ask yourself three questions:

  1. Who are my best prospects?
    Yes, you really do need to ask yourself this. Believe it or not, it is more common for people not to know. This is a prime reason why businesspeople waste their time attending every networking event under the sun – they just don’t know who they want to do business with. One you nail down your prospects and the types of people who tend to work well for you, you can move on to the next question.
  2. Where can I meet my best prospects – or people who will introduce me to my prospects?
    If your business is geared toward a specific type of person, some events will be more effective uses of your time than others. If your business is geared toward executives at large businesses, attending a Chamber mixer after-hours is a waste of time – these people probably won’t be there. Nail down where your ideal prospects go, and attend those types of meetings.
  3. Who, exactly, do I want to meet?
    You don’t know who other people know, and guessing would be a waste of your time. So, to best get in contact with the people you need, you need to know how to describe them. If you can tell your contacts what kind of consumer you’re looking for, in as much detail as possible, you’ll be able to get connected easier.

These three steps are detailed fully in “Avoiding the Networking Disconnect: The Three Rs to Reconnect,” my most-recent book with Brennan Scanlon.

Who are your best prospects? Where are you meeting them? Share your tips in the comments below!

Never Stop Educating Yourself

ID-10041080I’m a huge believer in the value of continued education. No one is ever at a point where they can stop educating themselves, and if you do stop, you’ll surely fall behind in your field.

We can’t always be enrolled in a higher education course, though, so what is the most logical way to continue educating yourself well into your professional life? While the best way to learn indefinitely depends on your lifestyle, your specific field, and your learning style, here are my three favorite ways to keep on top of new (and old!) developments in business.

Read articles and books. Thought leaders are always writing articles and books about their fields, sharing their perspectives on the ins and outs of their specialties. While these pieces will always have some degree of opinion in them, and you won’t always agree with everything you read, well written articles and books will get you thinking, get you interested, and leave you wanting to do your own follow up research.

Attend conferences. When you attend a conference and you listen to the keynote speaker, if those in charge of organizing the event did their job, the speaker not only taught you a little something, but got you fired up to go out and learn more. Not only is the keynote speaker a great source of continued education at conferences, smaller sessions and even other attendees can help get your gears turning, and teach you something you didn’t know before.

Practice practice practice. You probably haven’t reached the point where you can do anything perfectly every time, and even if you have, going without practice can cause you to lose your skill. How can you get better at something if you don’t do it? What’s more, talk to colleagues, people you respect in your field, or consult the internet for new techniques as you’re practicing. If you keep practicing something the wrong way, you’ll get really good at doing it wrong. If you practice something in new and different ways, you’ll be more likely to round out that skill level.

How do you continue your education? Let me know in the comments below!

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