Archive for June 18th, 2013

Today we had a moment of learning, followed by several moments of real panic.

Daniel Pink was on the big stage, and I was scribbling notes in the dark.  The problem?  I was on right after him (much smaller room) and whole chunks of his fresh research was perfectly contradictory of whole sections of my presentation.  I had data that was so 6 months ago, and it was going to be a problem.

He was reviewing his new book To Sell is Human – and it was fun.  His presentation was like his writing style –  engaging and highly accessible. At times, he offers simple metaphors and incorporates a perfect amount of humor.

His basic premise is simple: he argues that humans spend considerable energy each day trying to get others to do
what we request: purchase, buy in, comply, agree to and even obey. One professional he interviewed stated it succinctly: “Almost everything I do involves persuasion.” Whether you directly sell products, participate in teamwork efforts, attempt to direct the behavior of others or run your own business, you are, in effect, selling or more specifically, moving others to do

Pink details the dislike most of us experience with the typical professional sales approach (think used car salesman) and labels it “the white-collar equivalent of cleaning toilets – necessary perhaps but unpleasant and even a bit unclean.” He reviews the historical protocol for selling and determines that it is officially dead.

The immediate access to information via the Internet has completely altered the balance of power in direct sales exchanges. Consumers know far more and will, in the middle of your sales presentation, look up what you just said on their smart phones.

I felt the old adage of “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” summed up the notion: if people like you, don’t feel threatened, believe that you are listening (rather than waiting to speak) and respond by acknowledging needs and desires…well, it all seems obvious, doesn’t it? But that is what Dan Pink does best: redirects our attention to what seems obvious but not necessarily occuring, supports it with research-based evidence and then completes his pitch with storytelling, offering human examples to seal the deal.

He then then put up the ABCs of the new world:

A: Attunement – seeing the world from the viewpoint of the other person

B: Buoyancy – keeping your energy and message “up”

C: Clarity – delivering concise, powerful summaries

He then took 5 examples to flesh out the core story line, adding layers to the cake.  All of these were both wonderful in that they added real depth – and scary in that they contradicted points I had imbedded in my presentation that was due to be delivered next.

For example, I had included the research that introverts outsold extroverts, due to listening skills.  Dan’s data said no, the sales volume of those two groups was identical.  The real winner was a third set of thinking types, the Ambivert.  The one in the middle with both attributes.  Makes sense.  I like it.  Had to add it.  There were about 5 of those data points, all welcome but all causing me to type quickly.

I’ll be buying the book.  And, I’m sure glad I went to the program prior to mine.



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Yes, this is a big conference.  I’m sitting here in a football field sized group of our HR tribe, and I can’t see the edge of the room.

A bigger message – there don’t appear to be a huge bunch of Hoosiers up here.  Not that I have a great way to sample the number, just not seeing a lot of familiar faces;  Will keep looking.

You would think with the proximity it would be easy to get here, but I think there is a deeper reason.  It’s our State Conference. Simply put, the Indiana State Conference is almost as good, but mostly closer to home (unless you live in the region) and a heck of a lot cheaper.  I have asked several attendees how much their total bill is for coming, and the answers have all been over $2000.

The Indiana conference is less than $400, and many of us can get a hotel room in Indy for the cost of valet parking and a hot dog in Chicago. The quality of the speakers?  About the same.

I’m sitting here to listen to Daniel Pink (can’t wait!).  I’m excited because I got to meet him last year, in a wonderful executive event with a few hundred thought leaders.  Where?  The Indiana State Conference. I love the Annual Meeting, but we’re very lucky to have the success of the Indiana State Conference.  Find it a www.indianashrm.org.

The crowds have been huge...

The crowds have been huge…

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Many of the conference participants went to fine restaurants last night.  Some went to vendor receptions with high end food and drink.  Mark Records and I hit the high life.  We bypassed all of that, hailed a cab and headed to North Clark St., home of the Weiner’s Circle for a grilled Chicago treat.

Mark went for the Polish with mustard and bright green relish, I had the usual – a Chicago dog.  Fabulous.

The grill crew is happy to provide commentary and verbal abuse along with your order.

The grill crew is happy to provide commentary and verbal abuse along with your order.



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