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NEW Video by Michelle Ray on Leadership & Change!

By cmiadmin | Jan 22, 2016 | Comments Off

Michelle Ray Email Post

NEW Video by Michelle Ray on Leadership & Change!

A former media exec, Michelle Ray brings new strategies to manage change and shake up your organization in the war for talent.

One of her clients wrote: "Not only was I personally moved to action by your presentation, I was really pleased by all the positive feedback that I received from the attendees." Prudential Sussex Realty

Bring Michelle to your next event and watch your attendees thrive!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vh4maWNYkI

Michelle Email book cover

Delivering Customer Experience Excellence with Passion

By cmiadmin | Jul 21, 2015 | Comments Off

Speaking.com Interview with Lior Arussy

The recipient of CRM Magazine’s “Influential Leader Award”, Lior Arussy is known as a man who gets results in the fields of customer experience and customer-centric transformation. His knowledge of how to help organizations stop focusing on the product and focus on the customer comes from his experience working with some of the most prestigious brands in the world, among them Capital One, Thomson Reuters, HSBC, E.ON, Nokia, SAP, University of Pennsylvania and Wyeth.

Passion and purpose will become differentiators of products and services; only vendors who are willing to rise up to that challenge will be able to command premium prices and customer loyalty.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the customer experience trends you see emerging within the next ten years?

ARUSSY: Customers are going to play a more integral role in the overall experience they receive and will no longer be passive in the experience that’s being delivered to them. Passion and purpose will become differentiators of products and services; only vendors who are willing to rise up to that challenge will be able to command premium prices and customer loyalty. Employee engagement and loyalty will become a critical factors for organizations looking to foster sustainable success.

SPEAKING.COM: How do you suggest people embrace customer-centric transformation?

ARUSSY: Here is the advice I would give:

      • Be honest with yourself about the true nature of your customer relationships.
      • Understand the financial impact of not embracing customer centric transformation.
      • Humanize your organization.
      • Empower your employees to delight.
      • Measure what matters.
              • Train your people to know how to delight. Don’t assume that they know already.

SPEAKING.COM: Can you give us three tips for improving customer service?

ARUSSY: First, start every day by calling a customer and saying thank you for the business. Second, surprise your customers with small acts of generosity, and third, ask your customers, “What else can I do for you?”

SPEAKING.COM:How can organizations foster customer experience innovation?

ARUSSY: An organization can foster customer experience innovation when they:

      • Create an environment in which everyone understands the customer on a human and emotional level.
      • Walk in the shoes of the customer and identify their pain points.
      • Foster an environment in which mistakes are acceptable so employees can experiment.
      • Celebrate the heroes who are trying new ways to delight customers.
              • Let go of all the cynics.

SPEAKING.COM: Are there any clients you have worked with that exemplify customer experience transformation? If so, how did they do it?

ARUSSY: All of our clients have achieved success in different ways. We have been a part of 160 transformations to date. The approach we are taking is a disciplined integrated approach that accelerates the transformation by combining data-driven research, innovating experimentation, employee engagement and training, metrics alignment, and a strong sustainability program.

The #1 obstacle to performance excellence is people thinking they are doing it already.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the main obstacles to performance excellence and how can an organization overcome them?

ARUSSY: The #1 obstacle to performance excellence is people thinking they are doing it already. Overcome this by setting clear goals on how do you measure excellence and who is the judge of it (the customer, not you). The #2 obstacle is companies operating in silos and as a result customers suffer and performance is less than optimal. Address this by journey mapping, aligning to the customer perspective, adopting measurements that unify the whole organization, and offering incentives to change. The #3 obstacle is that oftentimes it is assumed that employees know how to deliver exceptional experiences but we find that employees are operating on procedures and not customer-based guidelines. They need the time to learn and practice how to deliver exceptional experiences before we expect them to deliver it.

SPEAKING.COM: What are a few of the reasons why organizations fail to deliver excellence?

ARUSSY: Some of the reasons organizations fail to deliver excellence are:

      • Lack of consistency in leadership support
      • Assumption that the task of transformation is minor
      • Conflicting metrics
      • Lack of employee training
      • Lack of sustainability
      • Lack of rewards and recognition for those who are delivering exceptional results
      • Process vs. Customer Orientation
              • Lack of understanding of the true customer needs

It is only when we target exceeding customer expectations that we can provide the new performance standard that is constantly changing as customers are adopting and heightening their expectations.

SPEAKING.COM: How can excellence be redefined and a new performance standard set?

ARUSSY: Excellence can be redefined and a new performance standard set based on what will surprise the customer, not what will meet their expectations. It is only when we target exceeding customer expectations that we can provide the new performance standard that is constantly changing as customers are adopting and heightening their expectations.

SPEAKING.COM: What are your main professional passions?

ARUSSY: Making an impact on people’s lives and inspiring people to change and discover the exceptional within them.

SPEAKING.COM: What other projects are you working on currently?

ARUSSY: A day in my life includes working with a chain of dialysis centers, helping a car manufacturer delight their customers, helping a bank understand their customers better and developing the next research in the area of customer experience. It’s very diverse and I work with various industries with different customers and different challenges.

The Power of Teamwork | Robyn Benincasa

By cmiadmin | Jul 21, 2015 | Comments Off

Speaking.com Interview with Robyn Benincasa

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With a trio of Guinness World Records to her name, a CNN Hero designation and a world champion Eco-challenge Adventure Racer, few people are better placed than full-time firefighter Robyn Benincasa to talk about Human Synergy, the force which allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. She brings her experience of leadership, teamwork and overcoming adversity to her inspiring presentations.

Since 1995, Robyn has been working with racing teams around the world to take on the most extreme challenges imaginable—from the jungles of Borneo to the Himalayas, from the rain forests of Ecuador to the deserts of Namibia. Racing against time to complete seemingly impossible challenges, Robyn has developed a unique knowledge of what it takes to develop a world-class team and to lead them through challenges and changes to success.

A “we thinking” leader inspires their team to not just walk side by side together, but to literally and figuratively carry one another when they need to. All problems are “ours,” and responsibility for success and failure is shared as one.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the main challenges and opportunities faced today in organizational team building and leadership?

BENINCASA: “We thinking” is probably the most overlooked aspect of team building. Most people think of a team as a group of individuals, moving forward together towards a common goal. But a “we thinking” leader inspires their team to not just walk side by side together, but to literally and figuratively carry one another when they need to. All problems are “ours,” and responsibility for success and failure is shared as one.

For example, when we race, every team at the front of the pack is utilizing tow lines that stretch from the back of a stronger team member’s pack to the chest strap of a team member who is slower at the moment, so that the slower person can be pulled along at a faster pace with less effort, and we can move faster as a team than the four individuals can move alone. We will all be that strong team member and we will all be that weaker team member at some point in the long run, so all egos must be focused on team success versus individual glory.

In our day-to-day life, “we thinking” is manifested in how we choose to lead our lives. Who is on your team? Is it just you? Is it just your family? Is it your clients? Everyone in your company? We all decide every day who is on our team and who is not.

For the most part, if we’re honest, we’re all pretty competitive and we tend to operate as soloists. But “we thinkers” make the conscious and important effort to leave their house every day and see a world full of potential teammates versus a world full of potential competitors. They capitalize on their strengths and barter their weaknesses to their “team”. And in doing so, they get a lot further, faster.

SPEAKING.COM: How do you suggest people embrace team building principles?

BENINCASA: You have to be a part of the right team. If you don’t feel motivated or productive in your team, you may not be in the right team, or in the right role. On a great team, all of the members bring something unique and valuable to the table that they share with the team; on this team, you are absolutely recognized and applauded for your contributions. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be there for very long!

It’s a common misconception that team building is a completely selfless endeavor. But while it is true that a great team member must wrap their ego around the team’s success instead of their own individual glory (egos must be left at the start line–but not confidence!), the whole point of “strategic team building” is to seek out people who have strengths that you don’t possess, and to share your core talents with them. All of this is for mutual gain.

For example, over a few years of ups and downs with teams, I formulated a recipe for success in my sport. The four team members who would travel together, day and night, non-stop for six to ten days had to be great teammates first. I needed two of the team members to be world-class navigators, two to be solid mountain bikers, two to be very strong paddlers, and one had to be a great strategic thinker who was great at interpreting the road rules we were given.

As you can imagine, everyone on the team got to be the hero when it came to their unique strength, and they were recognized and applauded by everyone on the team for their efforts. Then it would be another team member’s time to shine as we switched sports, took care of one another, navigated successfully through the dark of night, etc. We genuinely needed one another and openly appreciated and applauded individual effort, and we were on the podium race after race as a team.

We don’t inspire others by showing them how amazing we are; we inspire them by showing them how talented, smart and capable they are.

SPEAKING.COM: Can you give us five tips for building human synergy and peak performance?

BENINCASA:
1. Your ego is the heaviest thing in your backpack, so leave it at the start line.

2. Acting like a team is more important than feeling like a team.

3. We don’t inspire others by showing them how amazing we are; we inspire them by showing them how talented, smart and capable they are.

4. We work for people, not for companies. The best leaders always remember that

5. Great leaders change their leadership style like a golfer changes his clubs. Use the right style for the job: coach, visionary, friend, pacesetter, consensus builder, etc.

Are you consistently doing what it takes to win versus simply not losing? It’s a completely different mindset, leading to vastly different outcomes

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the key leadership principles leaders should cultivate?

BENINCASA: Be ruled by the hope of success versus the fear of failure!

Are you consistently doing what it takes to win versus simply not losing? It’s a completely different mindset, leading to vastly different outcomes. Fortune favors the bold. Great leaders are shattering the norm, changing the game, and doing things that have never been done in an effort to propel their team to the next level. They are courageous–not only in terms of innovation, but in terms of perseverance: taking step after step, day after day, relentlessly pursuing excellence.

We’ve won many a race not only by slowing down less than the other teams, but also by coming up with some game changing solutions. Once, in a 100-mile whitewater canoeing leg to the finish, my teammate taught me the “be ruled by the hope of success” lesson through some tough love.

We were paddling our whitewater raft near the front of the race on day 6 and every couple of minutes, I looked behind us to see where our closest competitors were. That is, until the teammate sitting behind me grabbed the top of my head, spun it back around to face forward, pointed down the river and said, “Winning is THAT way!”. My other teammate overheard the admonishment and realized my teammate was right. We had to focus on winning versus not losing.

So in the next leg, when race organizers gave each team two separate inflatable canoes, my innovative teammates decided to tie our two canoes together with our climbing rope, end to end, creating one very long, rigid and FAST new boat, powered by every member of the team. We also switched out our canoe paddles (single blades) for kayak paddles (double blades), which was far outside the norm for canoe travel. With those visionary changes, we caught the team that was an hour ahead of us and went on to win the race by 2 hours on that final leg.

In another race, the Borneo Eco-Challenge, we took the lead halfway through the race by turning a proposed ‘hiking leg’ of the race into a swimming leg by jumping into the rising whitewater rapids, generated by a recent flash flood, and swimming for several hours downriver (just yards from the hiking trail). Much of this was in the dark. It was extremely risky, but also cutting-edge cunning. We never looked back, and lead the race all the way from there to the finish line.

We did what it took to win, and not to “not lose”. Leaders need to be working with their teams to build what is needed in innovation and teamwork to beat the competition continuously rather than being satisfied with being ahead of the competition only because the competition isn’t doing anything. Don’t be satisfied with being less than you can be because you’re afraid of failing. Let the need to win because you are the best rule your actions instead.

That’s another important leadership skill: when to inspire, when to instill tough love, when to coach, when to lay down the law, when to get out front and show your team the way, or when to let them lead… and when to cut bait.

SPEAKING.COM: What is “kinetic leadership” and how does it help advance teamwork?

BENINCASA: As an example, someone on your team may not be exceptional at face-to-face client meetings, but you discover they have a talent for writing great copy for graphic design, or they’re fantastic with strategy. Keep digging until you find the gold that that person can offer the team. Let them lead based on their strength versus their title.

If at the end of the day this person isn’t cutting it on any level, you have to do the rest of the team justice and move that person off of your team before overall team morale is diminished. That’s another important leadership skill: when to inspire, when to instill tough love, when to coach, when to lay down the law, when to get out front and show your team the way, or when to let them lead… and when to cut bait.

SPEAKING.COM: What are your main professional passions?

BENINCASA: My professional passion is speaking! And I enjoy inspiring others to find the powerful team-builder, teammate, and leader in themselves. I genuinely love connecting with corporate audiences and adventurers on our Project Athena events. I love sharing the incredible winning synergy that we learned while inspiring semi-exhausted people to a nearly impossible finish line for days on end in the sport of adventure racing.

My other professional passion is firefighting! I would love to say that becoming a firefighter was a mission I had as a child, but I was pretty sure I was going to be a garbage person. I really dug the way they hung off the back of the truck.

When I graduated from college with a B.S in Marketing, I worked as a hospital supply and pharmaceutical sales rep for about seven years, but I was still equally drawn to my athletic life. So in 1996 I ditched the panty hose and heels and picked up an application for the San Diego Fire Department. I passed all the tests, but there was an unfortunate three-year hiring freeze.

So I had some fun as a substitute teacher and semi-professional athlete (the nice way to say “lived with roommates or on friend’s couches”), until I got my shot at the fire academy. Being a firefighter allows me to be all of the things I love the most–an athlete, a rescuer, an emergency medical first responder, a teammate, and an adventurer. It’s never the same day twice!

For the last 4 years, my team of Athenas and I have taken cancer survivors and survivors of other medical or traumatic setbacks and trained them for some incredible endurance adventures.

SPEAKING.COM: What other projects are you working on currently?

BENINCASA:I founded Project Athena back in 2009, after my own personal experience battling my body. My mission behind Project Athena started when I was in the middle of the 2007 World Adventure Racing Championship in Scotland. I came to a point where I could no longer move forward on the course without literally picking up my leg and moving it forward. My teammates had to tow me to the finish line.

When I arrived home, I went to an orthopedic surgeon and discovered I had stage 4 osteoarthritis in both hips. I was in complete shock and didn’t want to believe it. That marked the beginning of what is now a total of four hip replacements in four years. (My first two failed). But it didn’t mark an end to my adventurous life. It just sparked a change of sports and a new beginning.

After my first hip replacement, I knew I would get my spirit back by planning new adventures and embracing new sports. Then it occurred to me that other women who have survived setbacks far worse than mine might really benefit from getting outside and inspiring and amazing themselves through adventurous and athletic goals. So for the last 4 years, my team of Athenas (all survivors helping survivors) and I have taken cancer survivors and survivors of other medical or traumatic setbacks and trained them for some incredible endurance adventures, surrounded by a cohesive and supportive team.

Our new Athenas have crossed the Grand Canyon twice on foot, ran a marathon on the Great Wall of China, completed their first triathlons, etc. It’s the best adventure of my life to combine a love of teamwork and inspiration, with elevating the people around us who need it the most.

Multiply Your Success, Bring This To Every Conversation

By cmiadmin | Jul 21, 2015 | Comments Off

Blog Post by Tim Sanders
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Years ago, I discovered a technique for converting every meeting, conversation or interaction into a success-building opportunity.  I followed a maxim, taught to me as a child: Everywhere you go, always bring a gift.  It had long been a part of my social style, but when I applied this to my business life, success quickly followed.

Whether you are a leader, manager, sales professional or entrepreneur ... gifting drives success.

You see, success is not a place you arrive at, but instead, a direction you traverse over your career.  That direction is forward, where everyday brings new opportunities and produces incremental progress.  During each day, most of us have several interactions with other people: Associates, customers, prospects, partners, suppliers and people we meet in transit or at events.  Too often, we treat these transactionally, as opposed to looking at them as opportunities to give to others.  If we instead inject a gift into each conversation, we deepen relationships, build our brand and create momentum.

There are two key gifts you can bring to every conversation, and both are intangible (and scalable):

  1. Knowledge - Look for insert points to share tips, useful reads or helpful perspectives. Be proactive in sharing a new hack you've found to solve a common problem. If you've read a book that can shift your conversational partner's thinking for the better, highlight the point, and if he's interested, unpack the core idea from the book.  Whether it's a small share or a mentor moment, he'll be enthused about the learning.  I've found that if I am patient, listen intently and do a little prep work prior to every interaction, there's always a knowledge sharing opportunity.
  2. Encouragement - Validation is one of the most powerful psychological gifts we can give to another person.  It starts with listening to your conversational partner talk about her most important project, and prodding her to share details about her strategy, efforts and goals. Listen like the person who's on the receiving end of her efforts, which will turn up your noticing knob.  Point out the effective or creative things she's doing, and then expand on why that's either important to the project or inspires you.  By being sincere, you'll find that your gift of encouragement provides a real shot in the arm, which only fuels the energy level of the entire encounter.

If you always bring a gift to conversations, you'll deliver high Return on Attention to others.  You'll find that they value time with you, they want to introduce you to their connections as well.  After all, you've differentiated yourself from the rest of the pack, which often brings needs, complaints or give-and-takism to their conversations.  Besides standing out, you'll find that in most cases, your gift is reciprocated with helpful advice and encouragement, just when you yourself needed it the most.

 

Video Clip: Everywhere You Go, Bring a Gift (from his BBST 2015 keynote)

https://vimeo.com/132772922

The Power of Teamwork

By cmiadmin | Jul 09, 2015 | Comments Off

 The Power of Teamwork

An Interview with Robyn Benincasa by Speaking.com

With a trio of Guinness World Records to her name, a CNN Hero designation and a world champion Eco-challenge Adventure Racer, few people are better placed than full-time firefighter Robyn Benincasa to talk about Human Synergy, the force which allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things. She brings her experience of leadership, teamwork and overcoming adversity to her inspiring presentations.

Since 1995, Robyn has been working with racing teams around the world to take on the most extreme challenges imaginable—from the jungles of Borneo to the Himalayas, from the rain forests of Ecuador to the deserts of Namibia. Racing against time to complete seemingly impossible challenges, Robyn has developed a unique knowledge of what it takes to develop a world-class team and to lead them through challenges and changes to success.

A “we thinking” leader inspires their team to not just walk side by side together, but to literally and figuratively carry one another when they need to. All problems are “ours,” and responsibility for success and failure is shared as one.
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SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the main challenges and opportunities faced today in organizational team building and leadership?

BENINCASA: “We thinking” is probably the most overlooked aspect of team building. Most people think of a team as a group of individuals, moving forward together towards a common goal. But a “we thinking” leader inspires their team to not just walk side by side together, but to literally and figuratively carry one another when they need to. All problems are “ours,” and responsibility for success and failure is shared as one.

For example, when we race, every team at the front of the pack is utilizing tow lines that stretch from the back of a stronger team member’s pack to the chest strap of a team member who is slower at the moment, so that the slower person can be pulled along at a faster pace with less effort, and we can move faster as a team than the four individuals can move alone. We will all be that strong team member and we will all be that weaker team member at some point in the long run, so all egos must be focused on team success versus individual glory.

In our day-to-day life, “we thinking” is manifested in how we choose to lead our lives. Who is on your team? Is it just you? Is it just your family? Is it your clients? Everyone in your company? We all decide every day who is on our team and who is not.

For the most part, if we’re honest, we’re all pretty competitive and we tend to operate as soloists. But “we thinkers” make the conscious and important effort to leave their house every day and see a world full of potential teammates versus a world full of potential competitors. They capitalize on their strengths and barter their weaknesses to their “team”. And in doing so, they get a lot further, faster.

SPEAKING.COM: How do you suggest people embrace team building principles?

BENINCASA: You have to be a part of the right team. If you don’t feel motivated or productive in your team, you may not be in the right team, or in the right role. On a great team, all of the members bring something unique and valuable to the table that they share with the team; on this team, you are absolutely recognized and applauded for your contributions. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be there for very long!

It’s a common misconception that team building is a completely selfless endeavor. But while it is true that a great team member must wrap their ego around the team’s success instead of their own individual glory (egos must be left at the start line–but not confidence!), the whole point of “strategic team building” is to seek out people who have strengths that you don’t possess, and to share your core talents with them. All of this is for mutual gain.

For example, over a few years of ups and downs with teams, I formulated a recipe for success in my sport. The four team members who would travel together, day and night, non-stop for six to ten days had to be great teammates first. I needed two of the team members to be world-class navigators, two to be solid mountain bikers, two to be very strong paddlers, and one had to be a great strategic thinker who was great at interpreting the road rules we were given.

As you can imagine, everyone on the team got to be the hero when it came to their unique strength, and they were recognized and applauded by everyone on the team for their efforts. Then it would be another team member’s time to shine as we switched sports, took care of one another, navigated successfully through the dark of night, etc. We genuinely needed one another and openly appreciated and applauded individual effort, and we were on the podium race after race as a team.

We don’t inspire others by showing them how amazing we are; we inspire them by showing them how talented, smart and capable they are.

SPEAKING.COM: Can you give us five tips for building human synergy and peak performance?

BENINCASA:

1. Your ego is the heaviest thing in your backpack, so leave it at the start line.

2. Acting like a team is more important than feeling like a team.

3. We don’t inspire others by showing them how amazing we are; we inspire them by showing them how talented, smart and capable they are.

4. We work for people, not for companies. The best leaders always remember that

5. Great leaders change their leadership style like a golfer changes his clubs. Use the right style for the job: coach, visionary, friend, pacesetter, consensus builder, etc.

Are you consistently doing what it takes to win versus simply not losing? It’s a completely different mindset, leading to vastly different outcomes

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the key leadership principles leaders should cultivate?

BENINCASA: Be ruled by the hope of success versus the fear of failure!

Are you consistently doing what it takes to win versus simply not losing? It’s a completely different mindset, leading to vastly different outcomes. Fortune favors the bold. Great leaders are shattering the norm, changing the game, and doing things that have never been done in an effort to propel their team to the next level. They are courageous–not only in terms of innovation, but in terms of perseverance: taking step after step, day after day, relentlessly pursuing excellence.

We’ve won many a race not only by slowing down less than the other teams, but also by coming up with some game changing solutions. Once, in a 100-mile whitewater canoeing leg to the finish, my teammate taught me the “be ruled by the hope of success” lesson through some tough love.

We were paddling our whitewater raft near the front of the race on day 6 and every couple of minutes, I looked behind us to see where our closest competitors were. That is, until the teammate sitting behind me grabbed the top of my head, spun it back around to face forward, pointed down the river and said, “Winning is THAT way!”. My other teammate overheard the admonishment and realized my teammate was right. We had to focus on winning versus not losing.

So in the next leg, when race organizers gave each team two separate inflatable canoes, my innovative teammates decided to tie our two canoes together with our climbing rope, end to end, creating one very long, rigid and FAST new boat, powered by every member of the team. We also switched out our canoe paddles (single blades) for kayak paddles (double blades), which was far outside the norm for canoe travel. With those visionary changes, we caught the team that was an hour ahead of us and went on to win the race by 2 hours on that final leg.

In another race, the Borneo Eco-Challenge, we took the lead halfway through the race by turning a proposed ‘hiking leg’ of the race into a swimming leg by jumping into the rising whitewater rapids, generated by a recent flash flood, and swimming for several hours downriver (just yards from the hiking trail). Much of this was in the dark. It was extremely risky, but also cutting-edge cunning. We never looked back, and lead the race all the way from there to the finish line.

We did what it took to win, and not to “not lose”. Leaders need to be working with their teams to build what is needed in innovation and teamwork to beat the competition continuously rather than being satisfied with being ahead of the competition only because the competition isn’t doing anything. Don’t be satisfied with being less than you can be because you’re afraid of failing. Let the need to win because you are the best rule your actions instead.

That’s another important leadership skill: when to inspire, when to instill tough love, when to coach, when to lay down the law, when to get out front and show your team the way, or when to let them lead… and when to cut bait.

SPEAKING.COM: What is “kinetic leadership” and how does it help advance teamwork?

BENINCASA: As an example, someone on your team may not be exceptional at face-to-face client meetings, but you discover they have a talent for writing great copy for graphic design, or they’re fantastic with strategy. Keep digging until you find the gold that that person can offer the team. Let them lead based on their strength versus their title.

If at the end of the day this person isn’t cutting it on any level, you have to do the rest of the team justice and move that person off of your team before overall team morale is diminished. That’s another important leadership skill: when to inspire, when to instill tough love, when to coach, when to lay down the law, when to get out front and show your team the way, or when to let them lead… and when to cut bait.

SPEAKING.COM: What are your main professional passions?

BENINCASA: My professional passion is speaking! And I enjoy inspiring others to find the powerful team-builder, teammate, and leader in themselves. I genuinely love connecting with corporate audiences and adventurers on our Project Athena events. I love sharing the incredible winning synergy that we learned while inspiring semi-exhausted people to a nearly impossible finish line for days on end in the sport of adventure racing.

My other professional passion is firefighting! I would love to say that becoming a firefighter was a mission I had as a child, but I was pretty sure I was going to be a garbage person. I really dug the way they hung off the back of the truck.

When I graduated from college with a B.S in Marketing, I worked as a hospital supply and pharmaceutical sales rep for about seven years, but I was still equally drawn to my athletic life. So in 1996 I ditched the panty hose and heels and picked up an application for the San Diego Fire Department. I passed all the tests, but there was an unfortunate three-year hiring freeze.

So I had some fun as a substitute teacher and semi-professional athlete (the nice way to say “lived with roommates or on friend’s couches”), until I got my shot at the fire academy. Being a firefighter allows me to be all of the things I love the most–an athlete, a rescuer, an emergency medical first responder, a teammate, and an adventurer. It’s never the same day twice!

For the last 4 years, my team of Athenas and I have taken cancer survivors and survivors of other medical or traumatic setbacks and trained them for some incredible endurance adventures.

SPEAKING.COM: What other projects are you working on currently?

BENINCASA:I founded Project Athena back in 2009, after my own personal experience battling my body. My mission behind Project Athena started when I was in the middle of the 2007 World Adventure Racing Championship in Scotland. I came to a point where I could no longer move forward on the course without literally picking up my leg and moving it forward. My teammates had to tow me to the finish line.

When I arrived home, I went to an orthopedic surgeon and discovered I had stage 4 osteoarthritis in both hips. I was in complete shock and didn’t want to believe it. That marked the beginning of what is now a total of four hip replacements in four years. (My first two failed). But it didn’t mark an end to my adventurous life. It just sparked a change of sports and a new beginning.

After my first hip replacement, I knew I would get my spirit back by planning new adventures and embracing new sports. Then it occurred to me that other women who have survived setbacks far worse than mine might really benefit from getting outside and inspiring and amazing themselves through adventurous and athletic goals. So for the last 4 years, my team of Athenas (all survivors helping survivors) and I have taken cancer survivors and survivors of other medical or traumatic setbacks and trained them for some incredible endurance adventures, surrounded by a cohesive and supportive team.

Our new Athenas have crossed the Grand Canyon twice on foot, ran a marathon on the Great Wall of China, completed their first triathlons, etc. It’s the best adventure of my life to combine a love of teamwork and inspiration, with elevating the people around us who need it the most.

CNNMoney Interviews Robin Crow and Rising Country Star Olivia Lane

By cmiadmin | Jul 09, 2015 | Comments Off

Vanessa Yurkevich sits down with Robin Crow, owner of renowned Dark Horse Recording Studio, to talk about some of the big names that have passed through his doors. Country, Rock, and Pop singers from all around come to the studio not knowing it may be the start of something big, including rising star Olivia Lane.

Watch the Interview Here

Excerpt From Upcoming MDRT Presentation

By cmiadmin | Jun 02, 2015 | Comments Off

MDRT Ty Bennett June 2Million Dollar Round Table Keynote Teaser:

The Power of Storytelling 

In financial services you describe some very complex concepts and you use terminology that most people don’t understand – so metaphors are a way to make your information understandable and transferable.

I started as an entrepreneur when I was 21 years old. And one of the challenges that I faced in getting my business going was establishing credibility with people because of my age—or, more accurately, my lack of age. I tried several different ways to overcome the perception that I was too young to be taken seriously. What ultimately worked best was a metaphor-based story I developed. When I sat down with people who clearly had a bias against me because of my youth, I’d start off by saying, “You know, it’s interesting as I’m talking to you because I know some people look at me and they think what does this guy know about business? He’s young, He’s 21. He really doesn’t have a ton of experience. But you know, I kind of feel like a young Bill Gates.” And when I put it that way, most of the time they would smile and then I’d say, “What I mean is, you know, Bill Gates was 19 years old when he started Microsoft. He dropped out of college and he had this vision, he told everyone that he was going to take computers, which were the size of refrigerators, and he was going to put one in every house in the world. People probably thought he was nuts. Who was this young, naïve entrepreneur?”

Then I’d continue: “Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to change the world, and I’m not saying that I’m going to make as much money as Bill Gates. What I am saying is that I have something here and I know where I’m going with this, and I want you to really sit down and take a look at it. Are you willing to do that?”

That metaphor-based story worked like magic to establish credibility. I compared myself, an unknown entrepreneur, to a known entrepreneur, Bill Gates, and that little story caused people to forget about my age and concentrate on our product. Eventually we ended up building an incredibly successful business.

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins

 

https://youtu.be/76zqmmrRFe0

 

To See More From Ty Click Here

Ty Bennett’s Presentation Tips from Shark Tank

By cmiadmin | Dec 22, 2014 | Comments Off

Ty Bennet’s recent blog post uses a light-hearted example to explain some serious sales concepts. Ty suggested in his corresponding video “I believe that your ability to communicate will make you or break you.” His video (and blog post) break down some core communication concepts that we can learn from the entrepreneurs on Shark Tank.

The Shark Tank TV show follows entrepreneurs as they try to pitch their business/product ideas to millionaire and billionaire investors. Ty has experienced that same pressure as he and his brother built a successful business that now does over $20 million in annual revenue.

The Five Presentation Tips from Shark Tank that Ty outlines are:

 

  1. Personalize Your Presentation
  2. People Buy You
  3. Know Your Numbers
  4. Samples Sell
  5. Tell a Good Story

1. Ty admits that personalizing your presentation sounds like basic advice, but he mentions it because it’s often neglected. People expect personalization in today’s society, and a canned presentation won’t cut it. Ty suggests looking at the Mackay 66 questionnaire to jumpstart your research on your prospects. He also suggests seven simple ways to personalize your presentation, including changing the title of your presentation to fit your audience, vividly describing your audience’s problem so they know you understand, and using the audience name or logo on your slides.

2. The second tip is to remember that presenters, teachers, and leaders really do color their message. Ty writes, “On Shark Tank you will often hear the sharks say, ‘I love you and I would love to do business with you…’ What are they saying? They are saying that they have bought into the entrepreneur, which is the most important part of the pitch.” Ask yourself the questions that Ty gives:

  • Do people like me?
  • Do I connect well with others?
  • Do people find me arrogant?
  • Do people trust me?
  • Do people sense that I only care about myself or do I show genuine care?
  • Do others see the value I can provide?
  • Am I someone people want to partner with?

3. Ty also advises you to Know Your Numbers. You can deliver the perfect spiel, but it will fall apart if you can’t answer questions about pertinent facts and figures. Consider what questions your audience will have, then record their questions or objections and your answers after several presentations. Finally, record your presentations, study them, and then practice answering questions that you didn’t handle well.

4. The entrepreneurs on Shark Tank often win investors by giving them samples. Let your audience experience the product first hand!

5. Finally, tell a good story. It will make you (and your products) relatable, emotional, and multidimensional. Being relatable means you’ll connect with your audience, engaging your audience’s emotions will drive them to act, and being multidimensional will cause you and your products to stand out. Ty has a wealth of storytelling advice in his book The Power of Storytelling.

Mike Walsh Gives His Audience an “Advantage”

By cmiadmin | Nov 17, 2014 | Comments Off

At Advantage 2014, Mike Walsh taught his audience of 1,400 about the key components for building a high-growth business. Advantage 2014 is the annual conference for Intacct, a cloud financial management company. Mike is no stranger to the industry. As the Founder and CEO of the consumer innovation research lab Tomorrow, he's extensively studied the anthropological implications of the cloud and how it should challenge the way people think about their organizational design.

Mike's general session keynote "Designing Your Business for the 21st Century" was a well-rounded plan for business transformation. His high-energy presentation covered major emerging technologies, fast-growth markets, and disruptive shifts in consumer behaviors. He explained how to practically apply these changes so that both employees and their companies can benefit from these dramatic shifts in technology. Mike truly did enable his audience members to leave the session with the "Advantage" of knowing how to leverage these exciting changes!

Survival Myths

By cmiadmin | Aug 27, 2013 | Comments Off

The following guest blog post was written by Yossi Ghinsberg and is scheduled to be published in the the October/November edition of "The Smart Manager" publication.

Iʼm here to bust a few myths about survival.

Born in Israel in 1959, my parents were eastern European Jews, surviving the Holocaust and migrating to Israel after World War II. I was raised in a new country always in a state of war and surrounded by enemies. Both these environments, home and homeland left a colossal imprint upon me; the mould was cast and it was strong. When I turned 21, immediately after my military service I went traveling. Whilst in South America I became trapped in the midst of the Amazon rainforest after losing three of my friends; for the following three weeks in the midst of the worst rainy season, without fire, food or weapons I survived against all odds in what is considered the most hostile environment on the planet. Ten years later I returned to the Amazon and lived in a remote and untouched area for three years. Youʼd think I know a thing or two about survival.

Yet myth-busting is hard to do. Weʼre so inclined to maintain old habits and to defend our perceptions and beliefs. Cultural imprints, national narratives, religious conditioning, scientific dogmas influence us as we observe the world through tainted lenses.

Myth by definition is falsehood believed by masses. When masses believe in something it becomes reality. What creates reality is mass belief; believing is seeing.

Survival Myth #1 - Itʼs a jungle out there

We perceive the world as a dangerous place where only the strong, cunning and most talented will survive. This is the world weʼve created. What if it is not true? Is it possible that survival is quite the opposite to what we believe?

Living in the Amazon for several years I can attest that this is indeed not true. Jungle life is lush, abundant and serene - itʼs not a jungle out there at all. All forms of life in the Amazon thrive. So from where does this myth originate and why do we believe it?

Itʼs Malthusʼ fault. A British cleric and political economist, Robert Malthus laid the foundation for this myth with his logically-derived equation: population grows exponentially + resources are finite = inevitable depletion and scarcity. He concluded that this planet cannot sustain us and we need to fight for our existence.

The myth of scarcity consciousness is the single greatest tragedy ever to descend upon planet earth since it has turned us against each other, led to brutal and merciless competition, made competition the highest virtue in our cultures, led us to kill millions of species, to madly deplete all resources and prevented us from seeing the intrinsic wholeness of life. Believing the scarcity myth has created our reality. When examined closely, this myth is untrue - population does not grow exponentially but rather regulates itself. Resources are not finite; there is enough of everything for everyone. It's ridiculous to think we can exhaust resources like energy when a sun graciously and conveniently exists in the universe sky. It's the same for any resource you can name – there is more than we could ever need. So I conclude: itʼs a paradise out there.

Survival Myth #2 – Only the fittest survive

According to this common myth not everybody survives, itʼs a war zone and you must fight to survive. This dangerous myth is responsible for the war and pillaging of the planet and extinction of close to half of the planet's species. We fight each other for every resource as societies, nations, corporations, small businesses and individuals. Competition has become the highest of values, taught and encouraged from early childhood. We see Darwin as a naturalist, as somebody who derived this myth by observing nature. Wrong. Darwin, a contemporary of and greatly influenced by Malthus, was a British upper-class cleric developed this theory to position commoners as lesser people thereby preserving the class system.

Having lived in the Amazon I can attest that this theory is meaningless! As the densest place on the planet with approximately 50% of all species living there, one might think that if anywhere on the planet this myth could be proved correct it would be in the Amazon – pressure of population on finite resources leading to an extreme fight for survival, where the winners live and the losers die. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Amazon every single species is at the top of its game. There is no such specie that is not fit enough. Every plant and animal is fit, intelligent, strong and adaptable and they all survive.

Survival Myth #3 – Competition is like war and to be a winner your competitors must lose

This myth has driven us to dark days where life has become a war, from children in school to nations in conflict. Businesses fight over markets using war terminology; these values are normative and celebrated.Yet another unfounded myth with destructive consequences. Competition is a tool to create only winners however in real competition nobody loses – everyone must win. Let me explain with an example from the Olympic Games. On the podium we have three winners, gold, silver and bronze; national anthems are played and victories are celebrated. During an interview with the runner that came in last in this race, he's asked if he feels like a loser. Quite the opposite - in the true nature of competition and in full accordance with the Olympic spirit there are only winners, not as a feel-good philosophy but in actuality. The guy who came last tells us he broke his personal best record and also his country's national record. How can he be considered a loser?

Competition as we perceive it in our societies and in business is perverted. True competition doesnʼt mean outsmarting, putting down, destroying or eliminating but rather creating a supportive environment where everybody can be at their best.

Survival Myth #4 – You must rely on yourself

Sadly we feel separated from the world and other species. To survive we need to be able to take care of ourselves. Yet this is not the nature of the world. Separation is an illusion that can easily be removed if we just decide to look at the world more clearly. We are not isolated nor separated from others - in fact we are all close family. The world is an eco-system and as such adheres to three defining realities:

A. We are all related; our genetic constitution is almost the same from a glow worm to Homo Sapiens Sapiens; seeing that fact cannot leave much place for doubt unless one chooses to believe in something else.

B. We are connected; thereʼs a grid much like a spider's web unseen to the naked eye that links us all. Touch the grid anywhere and the vibration is felt everywhere - we are one.

C. We are dependent upon each other. In order to thrive we must take care of each other and the planet. The irony is that human greed more than anything else has pushed the planet and our eco-system to the verge of destruction. I think that indeed ʻGreed' is good but that 'Grid' is by far better. Greed is good because at its core is the tendency of any person anywhere to strive for a better life for themselves and their children. Without this incentive not much progress and development can occur. However exploiting the planet so savagely for greed is very poor strategy.

Survival Myth #5 – You must be a skilled expert to survive

From personal experience, the most skilled person on our expedition, our guide, did not survive; this was his last ever expedition. I was the youngest and least experienced member. Local experts said I had no chance and that they themselves wouldnʼt have survived under such circumstances, however I did. Hence I sincerely believe one doesnʼt need to learn survival skills nor to be an expert. Survival skills are intrinsic; they're part of our make-up, encoded and ready to spring into action when needed. When a true life-threatening situation arises something from within awakens; all faculties are honed, the mental and physical and right action is taken naturally.

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