As the president of a communications firm, with a14-year daily yoga practice, it’s been extraordinary to see how the lessons I’ve learned from my teacher and the practice have benefited my work. Following are three ideas, phrases, and strategies that I guarantee will benefit your business (and smooth your life): More Isn’t Better. Better is Better I don’t know what your reaction to your first backbend was, but I thought I was going to have to spend the rest of my life in traction. Once I realized I might still be able to walk upright the challenge was on. I became obsessed with getting my back to bend. One day my teacher stopped me. “More isn’t better,” he said. “Better is better.” These became words to live by, both on the mat and in the office, and I think you’ll discover the same is true once you incorporate this idea into your world. Most presentations aren’t better for being longer, most conference calls aren’t better for being extended, most meetings aren’t more productive because you spent time in the room. It’s just that in this age super-sizing everything from hamburgers to automobiles, we’ve become addicted to the idea that more is better. I’m here to ask you to join my revolution—to tattoo on your brain, if not your backside, that ‘More isn’t better. Better is better.” “Can You Tell Me Why You’re Doing it That Way?” A few years ago, I was teaching yoga quite a lot. And, as with many new teachers, I had a lot of ideas about how things ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be done by my students-- mostly, that things should be done exactly the way I said they should be done. Over the years, however, as I’ve taken, and taught, more classes I realized that when I, or my students, were modifying something it was generally for a reason. I also realized that if a teacher corrected me without inquiring into my reason it made me cranky. This made life a lot easier because it taught me the magic phrase, “Can you tell me why you’re doing it that way?” What’s the beauty of this phrase? Well, it begins with the presumption that the person in question has a smart and justifiable reason for the choice they’ve made—and who doesn’t enjoy feeling like they’re smart and making good decisions? And if they don’t have a good reason, the fact that you began by assuming they did makes them far more likely to listen to you when you correct them. Another reason “Can you tell me why you’re doing it that way?” is so useful is that it’s just possible someone is doing it that way because they have misinformation or a better idea/more complete information than you do, in which case you have a chance to learn something—always a plus. Entrances and Exits Within the realm of various styles of yoga, I practice Ashtanga yoga. One of the key elements of the Ashtanga practice is that the poses are set up in series’—primary through sixth—and within each series, the poses must be done in the same sequential order. Additionally, the entrance and exit to each pose is specifically choreographed. For example, you enter some back bending poses with your hands on your hips and you enter others with your hands folded in front of your chest. “Well that’s nice,” you may be thinking “But how does this apply to me presenting myself?” The reason it’s important is that we are often so intensely focused on the event in question—the interview, the speech, the presentation, the meeting—that we forget the importance of how we enter and exit the situation. We neglect the niceties that grease the wheels: to make a note of the name of our interviewer’s assistant or to thank the bus person who filled our water glass, etc. And these things are important. They are important not just because they are the courtesies due to others, but because these are the tiny details that are going to set you apart from other candidates and/or companies that are also trying to get the money, the contract, the position you want. If you are skeptical, consider the following stories from a few of my clients. One, a CEO was told that one of the people who weighed in on his hiring was the receptionist who greeted him each time he came for his interview. The fact that he had remembered her name, and always asked about her children, had been factored into his being hired. Another client was told that the reason he had been given the contract was because of the way he had treated the wait staff in the restaurant when he was taken out to dinner. The other frontrunner hadn’t taken the time to acknowledge them, which had led those doing the hiring to believe he wasn’t, ultimately, a team player. Finally, another one of my clients told me he had dropped a very promising candidate from his list of potential hires because she had taken out her PDA to check her email while he paid the bill. In his mind, her inability to give her 100% of her focus during a lunch didn’t bode well for her ability to give him 100% of her focus once she got the job. So the next time you are preparing for any type of meeting—whether it’s with a colleague, a boss, a friend, a date—don’t forget to factor in the importance of being present for your entrance and exit. It’s a practice that benefits you, and those around you. Frances Cole Jones www.FrancesColeJones.com
Frances Cole Jones founded Cole Media Management in 1997 to help clients identify and cultivate their inherent strengths and, through these, develop the powerful communication skills that enhance personal and professional performance. Writing The Wow Factor and How to Wow has been her way of reaching a wider audience, “My goal is to have every person who picks these up, put them down feel more confident in their ability to present their best self --in any situation.” Prior to founding Cole Media Management, Frances worked at St. Martin’s Press, Viking Penguin, Doubleday, and Broadway Books as an editor of commercial nonfiction, working on popular psychology, parenting, self-help and how-to books. The experience of helping authors translate their ideas into books that retained their unique voice is what makes her valuable to her clients. “There’s no point in my writing a perfectly crafted sound bite that you have to strain to remember,” Frances says. “You have to sound like you—authenticity is integral to trust.” As President of Cole Media Management, Frances’ clients have appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Oprah, C-SPAN, CNN, Squawkbox, The Charlie Rose Show, Larry King Live, The Discovery Channel, The BBC News, E! Entertainment, Access Hollywood, Project Runway, Top Chef, ESPN, Extra! Fox and Friends, The View, Cashin’ In, QVC and others. Clients' print interviews have appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Newsweek, Vogue, W, O Magazine, Town & Country, Harper's Bazaar, Tatler, etc. The scope of their work includes preparation for television and print interviews, IPO road shows, meetings with potential investors, and internal meetings with partners, sales staff, and in-house personnel. They also provide presentation skills seminars and speechwriting for clients. Frances also writes for WomenOnBusiness.com, Intent.com, DivineCaroline.com, and Executive Travel. Her first book, HOW TO WOW, was published by Ballantine in 2008.