Alex Mandossian Verb

What is Your Verb?

I just spent the five days at my semi-annual TLC (Transformational Leadership Council) event in Mexico.  I come away from each of these conferences with nuggets of great information.

At this conference, one of the presentations that gave me a lot of great nuggets was from my friend, Alex Mandossian.  His talk was called “Discover Your Verb.”  OK, I thought it sounded a bit weird but his content is always so great, so I didn’t care – I had to be there.  I’m glad I was.  It was in fact, amazing.

In his talk he said, the “biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years is the one thing that makes a great business person and leader is: movement!”

Albert Einstein once said that “nothing happens until something moves.” This is true in business and in leadership because without movement, change is not possible.

Alex told the story of a legendary ad man, Leo Burnett from Chicago.  He said that “Burnett once put his staff to the task of analyzing 62 ads that failed to move merchandise. Why did they fail?  Burnett said it was due to too many adjectives because adjectives (like “extremely”) don’t move people, instead they spark skepticism and doubt in our minds.  In fact, of the 12,758 words of those failed ads, 24.1% were adjectives! Translation: more adjectives means less movement.”

Alex said that in comparison, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contains only 13.1% adjective-to-total-word ratio and Churchill’s “Blood, Sweat and Tears” speech has 12.3%.

If adjectives are the problem, then what is the solution?  Alex said that it’s not nouns – it’s about verbs or action words.

Verbs increase persuasion power and move people according to Alex.  The greatest thought leaders in history lived their lives as verbs.

For example, Alex said: “Rene Descartes is “Father of Western philosophy.” His verb was: THINK! (“Cogito ergo sum”) “I THINK, therefore I am!”

  • Einstein believed if you stop learning you start dying. His verb was: LEARN!  “I LEARN, therefore I am!”
  • Maria Montessori believed in teaching philosophy that bears her name today. Her verb was: TEACH!  I TEACH therefore I am.
  • Walt Disney believed in dreaming. His verb won him 22 Academy Awards!  “I DREAM, therefore I am!”

Alex said, “it’s a one-word language that moves people and causes permanent and positive change!”

So – what’s your verb?  Alex asked us to pick our verb and put it on a sticky note.  I chose “collaborate” but my wife, Beth, told me that she didn’t think that was my verb!  I said, “what do you mean, my business is all about collaboration.”  She said yes that is how I operate but that is not the big picture of what I do.  I asked her what she thought I did and she said – “you inspire.”  She said that Alex told us that our verb had to be something BIG.  It had to be the big movement that we have with the people we work with.  Beth said that my role is to inspire people to collaborate.   I’d like to think she was right so – my verb is “INSPIRE.”

What is your verb?  Think BIG.  It’s the big movement that you make in your community and your world.  What is your verb and why?  Share it here.  I want to know.

How One Teacher Changed My Life

In honor of teacher appreciation week, I wanted to share with you all a moment with one of my teachers, Mr. Rogers, who had a profound impact on my life.

I was 14 years old and I still remember the discussion vividly. It was a discussion that forever changed my perspective of what I could and could not do.

It was the end of my sophomore year and I had been on the student council for two years.  He asked me into his office and told me that I did a great job over the past two years and that I should run for Student Activities Director.  I remember clearly telling him I couldn’t run, because I was only a sophomore and that I would be a junior next year; all the top positions in Student Leadership were Seniors. 

I’ll never forget him looking at me and saying, “So?” 

I said that I didn’t think any junior had ever held a top position on the student council.  Again, he challenged me. I said, “Ivan is DeterminedWhat do you mean – so?, I can’t run.”  “Why not?,” he said. “Just because it’s never been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. I think you’d do great. You should run.”   I thought about it all night as I tossed and turned over whether I should break from the norm and run.

The next day I came in and filled out the forms to run for Activities Director. Low and behold, I ran–and I won. It was an amazing experience, knowing that I defied the odds and turned the tide for my felIow classmates who might be encouraged to run next year. I was the first junior to hold a top leadership role at the high school. 

At the end of the year, Mr. Rogers called me into his office again and said, “You did a great job this year. What are your plans for next year?” I said I wasn’t sure. He said, “I am – you should run for President.  I think you’d be just as great in that role!” I thought about it overnight and came in the next day and filled out the paperwork. I ran and won. 

That role laid the groundwork for the person that I would become as an adult. It provided incredible challenges and amazing opportunities to work on my leadership skills. I will always be indebted to Mr. Rogers for how he influenced me as a young man. He taught me to never accept something without first challenging and questioning it. It was this sentiment that has always pushed me to reach for the unreachable.

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