The Common Denominator

I once worked with a delightful guy named Rick. He was cheerful, a real team player, and a kind and conscientious salesperson. He also was madly in love with his wife and nine year-old son, and we all knew it. One day at lunch I about fell off of my chair when I learned that he had an adult son. There had to be a story, so I asked. The next part really surprised me--he also had been married not once, but three times prior. I just couldn’t imagine this easy-going model husband/father having anything other than a storybook relationship with his one true love. What he said though has always stuck with me,

“Yeah, three times. At some point I realized that maybe I hadn’t married three crazy witches, maybe the common denominator was me.”

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Brand First, Board Second

In January I had the opportunity to rent a gorgeous office space in my building right across the hall from my current office. At the time both of my businesses were housed in a lovely two-story exposed brick loft and the space was adequate for our needs. We didn’t have a proper conference room, but we were getting along just fine as we were.

Like most people I intend for my business to grow, and there wasn’t room for more staff in the space I had. I’d often wondered where I’d move the business when that happened and now I wouldn’t have to. So I took a risk, I doubled my space, and now I’d have room to grow.

One small problem

Six months later we haven’t grown. In fact at the moment we have less clients than we did in January.

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How I met Dave and Other Cool People

First off let's set the record straight. As far as the larger world is concerned I’m a nobody from the middle of nowhere. My family are ordinary people who have lived in the same Ohio town for over 100 years. I come from generations of proud entrepreneurs, trailblazers, and civil servants, but most people in the world at large have never heard their names, or mine.

Interestingly, being a little nobody from nowhere has had it’s perks. Small towns have worked like an analog LinkedIn for thousands of years, so I learned a few things that help me in a digital world back when networking was only face to face.

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Get noticed without a specatcle (or maybe with)

I don’t remember exactly when I first read Likeable Social Media, but for quite some time I’ve associated orange shoes with Dave Kerpen. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the concept shows up in The Art of People. Dave’s personal brand is a key part of his networking strategy. Any branding expert would agree with him too (at least on the personal branding bit, orange shoes are a more personal choice.)

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4 Things I've Learned About Understanding

Understanding is not a linear process. You can’t add A + B = understanding, it just doesn’t work like that. Rather, understanding is a closed loop. You have to understand yourself to understand others and in turn understanding others better helps you understand yourself.

The wisest and most successful people realize that they always have more to learn, and thus are constantly traveling that loop growing wiser with each revolution. Meanwhile foolish people find themselves misunderstood and frustrated, but never stop to think about others.

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Don't Drop the Ball

Dave’s story of a stranger just rattling off all her problems is certainly something I imagine many of us can relate to.  Even though this can be annoying, Dave reminds us that sometimes people just need someone to talk to.

A tale of two people

So I'm going to tell the story of two different people that I've met at different times in my life. The first one I'm going to call Gary because I haven't asked him if I could tell the story and I don't know how to find him. The second is named O. French Ball, and I interviewed him before I wrote this post, and interestingly enough that is his given name.

First I’ll start with the story of Gary.

When I was young I started a new job, and within a few days I was warned about Gary. Apparently he would stop by and talk your ear off and distract you from your work, and “everyone” found it very annoying.  So much so that they had this internal code and they would use to get out of talking to him.

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It's Not About You

This week’s challenge is to be interested instead of interesting, which is great, because I’ve never been convinced that I’m interesting, but I’ve found most other people are. The FAST action steps suggest having a few “one-sided” conversations where you just listen and ask questions without offering any information about yourself. The suggestion is to do this with a relative stranger, as well as someone you know.

A bit of geekiness

I often joke that I wasted $72,000.00 on a degree I’ve never used, but my training in cognitive psychology informs my work and my life a great deal. That said, you could save yourself all that money and follow Dave’s advice with a similar result.

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Life's a Beach

This week I’m tasked with understanding someone better than my own friends in three minutes or less. I did this by selecting from a list of prescribed questions in Chapter 3 of “The Art Of People.”

The questions I chose:

What is the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?

If you could choose to do anything for a day what would it be and why?

If you had enough money to retire, and then some, what would you be doing?

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I Finally "Get" the Rustbelt

I’m on to my second post in this series and I’m already breaking my own rules. That’s kind of a big deal for me because I’m typically a fearful rule-follower. Just yesterday there were two police cars, lights flashing, dealing with some infraction at the bar and grill two doors down from my office. After I crossed the street I panicked realizing I’d just jaywalked in front of the police….Yeah, I’m that dork. But I digress (I tend to do that.)

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