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The Deliverance of No December 19, 2011

Posted by David Dirks in Communication, Confidence.
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Often one  of the early words (not the first of course but not far behind) in a young child’s vocabulary is the word “no”.  Of course, as we age we tend to spend more time using the word “yes” and the word “no” begins to fade from our vocabulary.

We say yes to just about everything.  Surely there’s plenty of times when “yes” must be deployed.  Like the time you get your first big job offer or promotion early in your career (and then a few more times after that).  When your future spouse asked you to marry.  When your kid asks if he or she can have that special something for their birthday.  When a close friend reaches out and asks you for help.  When a client has a major problem and asks you if you think you can help them resolve it.  These are all great times to say “yes”.

Then again, there are many times to use the word “no” in our personal and professional lives.  Here are a few of my favorite times to use the word “no”:

When someone who can afford the work asks me to work for free (or next to free).

When someone I work with makes a commitment for me without consulting me first.

When someone spams me on the phone.

When some stranger approaches me for cab fare giving me a story on why they don’t have it (it’s a scam…you’d be surprised at how many people give in to it and give money to a criminal).

When your teenager thinks you owe them a car.

When the person who just sent you an email sits in front of their computer or cell phone waiting for an immediate response.

When your cell phone rings in the middle of a meeting or conversation with anyone.

When someone asks if you received their text message on your phone.

When someone asks if your interested in serving on yet another non-profit board or taking on a “fantastic” committee opportunity.

I can think of a lot of reasons to say “no” these days.  The deliverance of “no” is simple.  It frees you from having to wear yourself down with a plague of insistent questions or queries.  It frees you from taking on responsibilities that only bog your life down and yield little to anyone.  It clears the air of constant interruptions and forced ADD.

Just try it sometime.  It’s quite habit forming.  And you’ll learn to enjoy the sometimes jolted look on the face of the person who fully expects (and in their minds insists) you say “yes”.


Tips to survive a layoff February 3, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, business strategy, Confidence, Dealing with change, Getting what you want, Performance issues.
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Are you worried about your job? The Big Dogz know that sometimes it is just a matter of the economy, but you can take steps to improve your chances of keeping your job. Of course, you need to be a good performer to be considered a “keeper”.  When it comes time to decide who stays and who goes, here are some strategies that can help you keep your job.


Pay attention to the small stuff

It may not seem important that you get to work a little earlier or stay a little later than others, but your boss will notice it. Look for opportunities to make observations at meetings — observations that add value. Keep the boss thinking about how much value you add. If you have been delivery near perfect results, focus on that last little bit to make your deliverables perfect. Anticipate questions before you talk to the boss. It is much more powerful to have an answer than to say you have to check it out.


Be a financial resource

In these tough times, the focus is on money. How do we make more of it and how do we spend less of it. When you are the employee making suggestions on how to reduce costs or to generate more revenue, management views you as a team player that is part of the solution; not someone we need to layoff. Look around you. Where is the waste? Where can we do it cheaper? What new markets can we go into? Once you identify some money, let the boss know the opportunity, the result and the process for doing it. It is even better if you present the results already implemented!


Display a positive attitude

Things are tough; everyone is depressed. Nobody likes depressed. Start looking at the positives around you. Frame problems as opportunities. Provide creative solutions to those opportunities. When faced with a difficult challenge, respond with what you can do, not with what you cannot do. Focus on associating with positive people; avoid the negative folks. When people start complaining, find a reason to go somewhere else. I am not suggesting you be Captain Sunshine or Pollyanna, but be a positive force. You will find others associating with you. People will follow your lead. The boss will notice it!


Pump up your skills and credentials

Now is the time to take that evening course or to get certified in your profession. If you have some special knowledge, prepare a short presentation and invite people to a lunch time session to share your knowledge. Create a “best practices” group with your peers. If you work in a global company, learn a second language so that you become more valuable. If you have skills that are not normally used on your job, offer to use these skills at work. If you are the treasurer of the local PTO, then you could help your manager with the budget. The more skills you have, the more valuable you are to the boss.


Expand your job

Management is asking everyone to do more. This situation is an opportunity for you. Not only do you want to take on more responsibility when asked, you want to look for opportunities where you can take on more responsibility. Especially important are those critical functions that no one else wants to do. However, management will notice any activity that you perform outside of your responsibility.


Take credit

You can do all of these things, but if nobody notices, you are just like everyone else! Let management know you are taking action to increase your value. Let them know you are taking evening classes to sharpen your skills. Too often, we feel it is immodest to take credit. Taking credit can be the difference between having a job and looking for a job.


The Big Dogz assume a proactive role in keeping their job. You can also. If you have any other tips to help keep your job, please send them to me and I will publish them here.




Public speaking basics October 26, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Confidence.
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p5130012.jpg Public speaking means speaking in front of groups — small, medium and large sizes. Most first line managers will need to speak effectively in front of small groups; usually 5-20 people. Even with a group this small, there can be intense fear and nervousness. The Big Dogz know how to overcome the fear of public speaking. They use a two-step process; prepare and practice with feedback.


Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Know your audience. What do they know about your topic? What do they need to know? Be careful that you do not make assumptions about what they need to know.
  2. Determine your approach. Is this presentation to inform, persuade, or maybe to deliver some news that is not welcome?
  3. Generate content. What do you know about the subject? What do they want to know? What are the facts? What is opinion?
  4.  Organize the content so that it flows naturally for the audience. You may want to build your case logically or you may want to generate excitement that results in a commitment to your objective. It is an effective technique to draw the flow on paper or use software to portray the flow. Run through the flow several times to make sure it accomplishes your objective.
  5. Using examples and models to illustrate your key points helps the listener understand your presentation.
  6. Select the presentation medium you will use. Some choices are:
    1. PowerPoint
    2. Flip charts
    3. White board
    4. Prepared handouts
    5. Just you, talking.
  7. Create the material you will use to help you make your presentation. Follow established content guideline relative to the information displayed.


Now you have a presentation. It is time to practice. Those of you who have read my entries before know that I am a firm believer that practice makes permanent, feedback makes perfect. The most effective way to practice is to arrange a feedback session with a trusted colleague. Ask them to focus on how you can make your presentation more effective. Keep practicing until you are confident it will work.


If you are not able to arrange for a colleague to provide feedback, do it yourself. Self-feedback in front of a mirror is one of the most effective techniques for improving your presentation. You can see how others will see you. This technique has saved me many times. If this is an especially important presentation and you have a video recorder, then by all means use the technology to help you become more effective.


Practice your presentation until you are comfortable.


There is always a sense of nervousness at the beginning of a presentation. Standing in front of a group, knowing what you will say, how you will say it and when you will punctuate your talk with examples will fill you with confidence.  As you connect with the audience and see the signs they are engaged with you, your fears will diminish.


The Big Dogz know that taking the time to prepare and the time to practice with feedback are the keys to being successful in front of groups. Before that next presentation, take a little time to prepare and get some feedback driven practice. I am positive you will get results that are more effective.


Send me an email at rbronder@gmail.com to let me know how your presentation was a success!

I don’t know it all…and I’m so thankful for that! March 18, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Confidence, Creativity, Grow your skills, Solving Business Problems.
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dirksphoto.jpgAnyone who believes they have arrived and know it all, are just about DOA in my book. I don’t what your age is, you can always learn, do, read, think, and ask more about anything in life. Pity the people, and you probably know more than a few, who just can’t seem to invest anything into their business life that would give them an edge. The Big Dogz, at least the majority of them, invests in making themselves even sharper on the business edge.

Taking some time each week to read, watch, or study about some dimension of your business world is key to your long-term survival. Want to learn how to deal with a recession successfully? Then find out what the Big Dogz do to succeed in tough economic times.

I read a lot. In between career and kids, I read everything I can get my hands on.  Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time readying books on leadership and innovation. These are two topics that I’m investing more time in understanding and learning about. Why? Because I’m interested in them and, while I know a lot about them, I don’t know it all. Not even close. So, while I do my morning commute, I’m listening to audio books on those subjects.  Thank goodness for Audible.com!

To stay on top of the latest marketing and sales trends, I read a lot of business magazines. I relish the opportunity because invariably, I’ll get some fresh insights into these subject areas. Ideas begin to pop up as I move along. It’s my SONY digital recorder that captures certain ideas/concepts as they come along in my reading time. Capturing thoughts and ideas has become a necessity; otherwise I’d lose most of those thoughts to memory loss of some kind!

Workshops or seminars are another great way I learn and invest in myself. It’s an opportunity to get out of the business mayhem and into a learning environment. Exchanging ideas with those who take those courses are invaluable to me.

What topic could you pick that if you invested some time for yourself to learn more about, would help enrich your overall business experience and success? If you can’t answer that question, you have other problems.

Find the time, no matter how small in amount, that each week you can call your own. Life is too short to have called it ‘quits’ on learning. When you finally check out of this world, you can stop learning (at least here). Until then, get going and get learning.

Communicate with confidence March 4, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Confidence, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Want to influence others with your confidence in face to face meetings? When we meet others, we communicate mostly with non verbal signals commonly referred to as body language. Why is it that some people are more influential than others? The Big Dogs know the answer to that question. Here is how they do it.

 Posture — keep the body straight. Powerful people stand and sit straight; it shows that you are in control of yourself and can be in control of whatever is going on around you. There is no need to be stiff, just hold your posture straight. Experiment with your posture by using a mirror to see how you come across.  

Eye contact — during the meeting discussion and especially when you need a decision or are making a key point, make direct eye contact with the other person. During most of the conversation, you can be effective by making eye contact about 65-85% of the time. Making eye contact shows confidence and an ability to relate. Of course, this technique is useful in western cultures and should be avoided in cultures where direct eye contact is considered rude or aggressive.  

Smile — a smile relaxes people more than a frown. People respond to a smile as friendly and welcoming. Frowns make people suspicious and uncomfortable. It takes fewer muscles to smile than frown, but a lot of people persist with a stern look when dealing with business scenarios. You can be serious and still smile. Go to the mirror and try it. Pick a key phrase and say it with a smile, then say the same phrase with a stern look. Even your tone will change. So smile; it is easier and more effective. 

Make hand gestures — emphasize your points with hand gestures. Using both hands is even more effective. Complex gestures with your hands will get the listener to focus on you and will enhance their listening. If the other person uses hand gestures, remember them and use them later in the conversation. This action will create a connection between you and the other person. Be emphatic in your use of gestures, but do not overdo it. Gesturing and moving the hands too much is distracting. Experiment in the mirror to see what the right level of hand gesturing that is the key to making you confident. 

Dress the part — be on the high end of the dress code for the environment. If you are in a business casual environment, do not be the sloppiest dresser in the group. In a casual environment, you may want to wear business slacks and a nice shirt or blouse without neck wear. Be careful not to over dress for the environment. Wearing a dark suit with a tie or scarf while everyone else is in jeans and a sweatshirt draws the wrong kind of attention to you. However, it is effective to dress at the high end like designer jeans and nice collared blouse or shirt. When you visit clients, try to find out ahead of time how they dress. A good rule of thumb for interacting with clients is to dress the way the client dresses. Again, you want to be at the high end of the dress code.  

These tips are applied by the Big Dogs in making a solid impression that they are self confident and in charge. Experiment with them over the next 30 days and see if it doesn’t make a difference for you.