Read an excerpt from Erin's book Digital Persuasion: Sell Smarter in the Modern Marketplace
Think about when you last got a message that cut straight to the point, didn’t waste your time, and gave you what you needed in a matter of seconds. It’s so refreshing, isn’t it? Before they’ve even read one word, just seeing the brevity of your message visually inspired an instant appreciation, an instant liking—you’ve been so brief that they’ll want to repeat the interaction in the future. It showed that you are not someone who is into time-wasting.
Say you’re sitting down for a meeting at work. What’s the absolute best thing you could possibly hear from the meeting organizer? “All right, guys, let’s keep this short.”
Yes! It’s a wonderful feeling.
The most valuable things in life are time and money. If you can save someone time, or save someone money, that kicks in the reciprocity principle; you’ve given them a gift. They’ll respond by looking you up, replying to your message, referring you to someone else—the opportunities are endless, all because you kept it shockingly short.
Try being shockingly short with your next message.
- First, go through the last ten unique sales messages in your Sent folder. Get a word count on each and find the average word count across your typical outbound message.
- Then, cut that number in half. Yup, I said it—in half! Aim for two or three sentences max. Remember, the goal is to communicate for a click, and to inspire some kind of action, not to try to sell them within that one message. You want to sell them on giving you a chance, not sell them on your entire product, service, company, or idea.
- Rewrite your message and restrict yourself to the above number. Make sure to send it out and track your response rate so you can compare it to the wordier messages you were sending before. Watch your response rates improve dramatically!
In this world where electronic communication is seemingly taking over, effective communication skills have become more important than ever. Have you ever asked yourself, “How much is the way I am communicating, or not communicating, costing me?” That’s the question Vinh Giang helps to answer for influential leadership professionals around the globe.
Interview with Ty Bennett and Vinh Giang
Ty: Why the focus on communication and what led you down this road?
Vinh: I think a lot of the times when we do the things we do, it's probably because of the impact it's had on our life. For me for a long time in my life. One of the things I do in my workshop is I show my students a video of me from about seven years ago. I freak out every time I look at it again. I can't believe that's how I used to communicate. What is really cool is I used to not want to show the students because out of, you know, pride but by showing the students, they kind of go “wow, you used to be really crap”.
It's cool because I didn't know that inspires them. For me, it changed my life in that I wasn't able to communicate to my parents effectively. I wasn't able to communicate to those I was working with, I wasn't able to express my value to love interest. Not being able to communicate well held me back so much as a magician as well. I lacked the ability to communicate well. I didn't realize how much I was missing out on. Only in hindsight, is that so painfully clear. Every time I play that video, there's a moment in the workshop I'm kind of inspiring myself to teach even more because of how much I realized. Now having the luxury of having students and the videos that they send me, you know, a year down the track or two years down the track, I go back and I dig up the old videos. It just inspires me so much to do what I do know, because seeing that transition is unreal.
Ty: Yeah, I think it affects all of us, right? Communication is such a universal skill to develop. I often find that people think it should be natural, right? You have a young son and I've got kids, and it’s not a natural skill. You have to develop that. You have to have to work on that. One of the great points that I've heard you make before that I think is maybe a good way to kind of kick this off is, is, regardless of how good you are, how proficient you are at what you do, let's say that you're a great leader, and you have the knowledge, the skills, the competency, that the way that you're perceived will be in direct proportion to the ability you have to communicate that value. Do you want to speak to that a little bit?
Vinh: The way I summarize that is: you may be a 10 out of 10 at what you do. But if your ability to communicate is a 2 out of 10, people don't perceive you to be a 10 out of 10. People perceive you to be a 2 out of 10 and you're only as good as you can communicate. Just like you said, I think in a lot of organizations, as we travel and speak Ty, we both know as speakers that we see so much potential out there in the audience. That potential is not being realized, because the audience hasn't been taught how to improve their ability to communicate. So as we look out into the audience, there's plenty of people who are sitting at a 9 out of 10, 8 out of 10, 10 out of 10. But because their ability to communicate is at 2 or 3 out of 10, the potential is not being realized. As they improve their ability to communicate, they renew their potential.
How many people are sitting there in boardroom meetings, not voicing their thoughts, their opinions and their ideas? How many people in team meetings are not sharing their thoughts on how things could be better? Not because they don't know how things could be better, but rather because they're either either afraid to voice their thoughts and feelings or they don't know how. Maybe the last time they tried to voice an idea they couldn't do it properly. I didn't know how to do it well and then got shut down because of it. So to me when people talk about, oh, there's so much potential here, I think the pragmatic version is literally what we just spoke about. That as we improve their ability to communicate, we improve their ability to collaborate, share ideas, and to help improve the business.
Listen to the full episode here!
An excerpt from The Algorithmic Leader
Automation might not entirely eliminate traditional jobs from your company, but it will absolutely change the nature of those jobs and the skills required to do them.
Imagine that you have a job as a retail merchandiser at Coca- Cola, and that you are responsible for visiting stores and kiosks, advising merchants on how to arrange their products, and checking compliance with the brand guidelines. Now, using a platform like Einstein by Salesforce, a customer can just take a picture of their store’s fridge and the algorithm will tell them what to do and where to place their product. What will the purpose of the retail merchandiser be now that their job has been changed by AI? Which of their skills are still relevant, and what might a career migration path look like?
The rise of mass automation brings with it unavoidable, but not unaddressable, political and social consequences. We have been here before. Economist David Autor argues that near the end of the nineteenth century, agricultural states in America faced the prospect of mass unemployment as more automation was introduced into the farming industry. Rather than waiting to see what might happen, those states drove the high school movement, which required everyone to stay in school until the age of sixteen and became the basis for the K–12 education system that is still in place today.
That education system, however, may not be up to the task that we now face. Andrew Ng, also a pioneer in online education and co-founder of Coursera, believes that our challenge is to find a way to teach people to do non-routine, non-repetitive work. To date, our education system has not been good at doing that either at scale or fast enough to keep pace with rapid industry change.
That leaves a lot of the responsibility for education in the hands of employers. Some have already stepped up to the challenge. United Technologies, for example, pays employees’ tuition bills up to $12,000 a year. Facebook offers free AI classes for all their employees, whether or not they work in IT, while Microsoft’s performance review system includes an appraisal of how employees have learned from others and how they have applied that knowledge. However, training is not enough, unless it helps employees migrate to a new way of working and thinking. A good example of a scaled-up migration initiative is AT&T’s Workforce Reskilling and Pivot Program. AT&T is one of the world’s largest employers. The average tenure at AT&T is twelve years, twenty-two if you don’t count the people working in call centers. Internal research com- pleted in 2013 found that 100,000 of AT&T’s 240,000 workers were in roles that the company probably wouldn’t need in a decade. Worse, when the company’s leadership began to analyze the kinds of roles that they would need, they realized there were serious skill gaps. The company would need a lot more coding skills, for example, and more leaders who could make smart decisions based on data and analytics.
To address this, the company kicked off a major reorganization. They streamlined the thousands of job titles that existed at AT&T into fewer and broader categories that clustered similar skills. This simpler classification allowed employees to start planning a more diverse career path through the company and to focus on the new skills they would need.
As part of this overhaul, AT&T created an online system called Career Intelligence that allowed their employees to identify alternative positions, see what skills were required, find out how many positions are available, investigate whether the segment was projected to grow or shrink, and explore what they might earn. However, there was a catch: while the training was free and some of the learning modules could be done at work, employees would have to do much of the work on their own time.
The challenge for companies building retraining programs is that AI is evolving so rapidly, it will be hard to pin down the skills and capabilities that people will need. Even worse than not training an employee for a future job is training them for a job that no longer exists by the time they are ready. Workers will need to constantly upgrade themselves as machines evolve. Algorithmic leaders will have a responsibility, and an incentive, to ensure that both they and the people around them are able to stay just a little further ahead on the curve of the AI revolution in order to remain relevant and valuable.
While lifelong learning is a standard cliché of large organizations, it takes on an entirely new meaning in an age of machine intelligence.
Leverage your data and technology
In the industrial revolution, when they first brought automation to the cotton industry, the weavers got upset. They thought, this is our livelihoods here. But as it turns out, they didn't lose their jobs, their jobs changed. Rather than physical labor, their work now became keeping the machines running. As long as they did that, their productivity went up. In fact, 50 fold which meant the cost of cloth began to fall and people started buying more cloth. The total number of people employed in the cotton industry in America, between 1830 and 1900 didn't go down. It quadrupled.
Something similar as you may know, happened with ATMs. Everyone thought the ATM is going to destroy the job of the bank teller. Right? Yes, you didn't need as many tellers to open up a branch anymore, but this also meant it became cheaper to open up branches in many different formats. The job of the teller has changed. You need people who've got social skills, who can empathize, who can market and sell other products who can build relationships.
That's really the question we now need to face. It's not will technology destroy jobs. The question is, how do jobs need to change and in particular, how does our jobs as leaders of the community need to change? I believe we need to become algorithmic leaders. What I mean by that is that we need to become leaders for an algorithmic age. We need to develop a deep understanding of human complexity. This is how to empathize.
What is a good experience for our members or customers, how do we motivate people on our team? These are very human qualities that machines will never replace. There's not enough. We also need to take on some of the qualities of machines too. So we need to develop a flair for what I call computational thinking. Don't worry, we don't have to learn how to program. What this means is in the future, we need to approach making decisions and solving problems in a structured way that allows us to leverage data and technology to augment our capabilities. So something to be frightened of. This is how we're going to give ourselves cognitive superpowers.
The 3 best ways to connect with others and ourselves
There's a moment when we are interacting with someone. All of a sudden, our understanding of that person in front of us shifts from an intellectual idea to a feeling in our heart. It’s a feeling of connection and empathy.
What is the best way to connect with people? I’ve broken it down into three simple steps.
- Awareness. Have awareness as we interact with each other. If we say something inappropriate, if we do something inappropriate or if we know we're going in a direction that is not beneficial the first first step is always awareness.
- The next step is acceptance. We must accept where we are, we must accept what has happened.
- Number three, we must have courage. Courage, coming from the Latin word for “core”, meaning from the heart. We must have courage to think differently.
How often do we get into fixed ways of viewing others and fixed ways of viewing ourselves?
What my keynotes are about is giving ourselves permission to see others differently and to see ourselves differently. To do that takes courage and connection.
Are you looking for a speaker that will craft and tailor their presentation for your audience? Watch as Phil M Jones breaks down one of his "Magic Words" for an audience at Volkswagen Australia...who have hired him again EXACTLY for this reason.
"Phil is not only a masterful storyteller and coach, but he spent time with us to genuinely learn our business. His presentation was tailored on spot to our industry, the experiences that our sellers were facing, and our selling propositions. It was exciting to work with someone who is dedicated to his craft to personalize his message so that every person in the audience walked away with pages of notes, and a feeling that Phil was speaking directly to them."
Meg Swanson, Chief Marketing Officer, Accruent
Do you want your people to stay working for you long-term? In our research with the Undercover Millennial Program, the number one contributing factor as to how great leaders create organizations that people never want to leave is quite simply the individual leaders and their leadership style. Managers are the number one reason why people stay and they're the number one reason why people leave. How to create better workplace loyalty comes back to leadership - the choices that you make as a manager matter. What’s even more compelling is a leader who is a great mentor. That is the key. It’s mentorship versus management. This leads to increased loyalty and higher engagement.
Mentors are people that connect mentees to their dreams. The advocacy of people is just as important as the development. Ask yourself, do you know your people's dreams? How do you expect to create loyalty when you're not considering the other person? It's the power of a win-win relationship. It's the power of true connection.
Bring humanity back into the workplace
You have to get to the part about the employee. I think that every employee is always asking, “Let me know when it gets to the part about me. Let me know when your vision, the company goals, your quota requirements consider me and my dreams.” Some leaders and businesses hear that response and they think, “They're so entitled,” or “They just want us to give them more.” It's not about entitlement; it's about bringing humanity back into the workplace.
When you step into that mentorship role, you become a person that people want to be with. You become the person that people experience their best selves with. You become the catalyst that allows them to grow. We found that great mentors in organizations are incredible at what I call “sparking the possibilities for their people.” Do you spark possibility?
The possibility to survive and also thrive? Those are two things that every employee asks a boss, “Can you help me survive and thrive?” The survival part is all about “Can I pay my bills? Do you pay competitively? Am I going to be able to support a family?” But then the second piece is the thrive part. It’s the intangible things that employees look for. Not tangible. During our research for the Undercover Millennial Program, no employee ever said to me, “The reason I work here is because we throw the sickest Christmas parties,” or “I work here because we have ping pong tables.”
Now, those were definitely perks but they were not the underlying reason as to what built strong and lasting loyalty. It was always a greater focus on the intangibles. “My manager believes in me, they recognize me. There was this time when I was struggling personally and my manager stepped in and became an advocate. My manager cared.” They said, “You know what, you have a life outside of work and I understand that. So how can I help you?” That is what they talk about. These are the things that really matter.
Recognize potential and worth in your people
What we found is these managers and mentors are really good at doing two things. They create an opportunity where they communicate the potential and the worth of their people. Those two things, potential and worth - that’s what matters.
You need consistent recognition for good performance, achievement and results. When's the last time you sat down with your employee and said, “I just want you to know, this is what I see you becoming in this organization”? That simple moment gives employees the opportunity to know that there's potential. Do you create growth opportunities for your people?
No significant loyalty can happen without significant connection.
Why is that? Because every one of your people that you coach, every one of your employees is asking you the question on every call, let me know when it gets to the part about me. Let me know when what you're doing, what you're saying, let me know when it gets to the part about me. Some of you might be thinking, well, those entitled little sh...ining stars in my life.
I would propose that it's not so much about entitlement as it is about good business. Everybody wants to be heard. Everybody wants to be seen. The greatest leaders that create organizations and cultures where people like themselves best, are always the mentor managers. They advocated as much they developed.