Archive: February, 2014

Post from Transformation Tom- Be the Bigger Person: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - February 28, 2014 - Leadership, News
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bigger person

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started working for someone who I felt talked behind my back and
was making a major effort to push me out of his department. Remember
the person who gave me Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff? Prior to him joining
our department, I had been put into a temporary position managing
managers and felt I was on my way to a promising future. My bad feelings
were confirmed after his arrival a little over a year later when I was
removed from my position and asked to take a step back. My backwards
movement was to some degree a self-fulfilling prophecy, because I was
not motivated to work for him. However, I also could not seem to break
through to find what it would take for him to change his mind.

Although I was not motivated to give him my best, I did try to hide
my outward frustration by burying my head in my work. My goal was to
work as hard as I could until something changed (e.g., the “Wait three
months” mentality). I knew he was under a lot of pressure to perform,
but I had the opinion that he spent too much time trying to impress the
upper management for his next promotion versus running his own business
well. I had some small wins, but I knew we would never find the
mutual respect needed to succeed as a team.

We crossed paths a few times over the years and I still boiled over
with frustration that he never seemed to respect my work. Years later, I
ended up working for him a second time. We had both matured. I saw
the relationship dynamic changing because he was not working for the
same people he had always been trying to impress. A situation presented
itself in which he needed my experience and job knowledge in his new
department. He gave me more responsibilities and the space to succeed.
He allowed me the chance to lead a task force of over one hundred people
in a completely different area, with a lot of reign in directing our road
map to success.

Our professional respect seemed to be growing. However, the entire
tenure of the second round always seemed to have an eight-hundred
pound gorilla in the room. It was the frustration from our first go-around
together. We should have had a sit down conversation and put it all out on
the table. We didn’t do that. We worked better together in this new partnership,
but there was still so much more we could have accomplished if
we had just hammered out our differences, or at least gotten over the past.
Soon after the merger, he left the company. I was actually the last person
to see him in the hall on his last day. He asked if I would help him take
a box from his office to his car. I had a quick thought of, “I can’t believe he
still wants to put me to work.” However, I knew that wasn’t his true intention
and he just needed a little assistance. Believe it or not, he did have an
underlying motivation—even with the impromptu run in with me. As we
were walking out, he said, “I’m sorry.” He went on to talk about all of the
pressures he had been under during our first time together and how he
had wanted to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as possible, even if it
meant stepping on people. He was confessing his own learning to me and
confirming that my original opinions weren’t too far off.

I realized that if I had taken the first step by stating my opinion years
ago, I could have avoided a lot of the uncomfortable feelings we’d had. He
took the first steps and told me all the great things he appreciated about
me and the respect he had gained from my ability to work through the
difficulty he had put me through. I felt guilty for not making the first
move, but was proud of my ability to force my way through the hard
times. I also gained a lot of respect for him for taking advantage of the
current events to make a difference in our relationship.
I know it has a lot of similarities to a death bed conversation we
would have wanted to hear earlier in our lives from that person. However,
I had the luxury of still living in a small New England town with this individual.
Our interactions in town are cordial and personable. He ended
up getting a new job in one of our old buildings right up the road. I was
driving home and passed his building on a Friday afternoon. We stopped
and talked. He needed leadership help in his new business and asked if I
would join. I did not take him up on it, but carried the valuable lesson of
what can become of being the bigger person.

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival) and From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

My Beautiful Funeral- Post from Transformation Tom- Introductory Chapter from “Displacement Day”

Posted by tomdowd - February 23, 2014 - News
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funeral

Have you ever imagined your own funeral? Who will do your eulogy? Who will be your pallbearers? Will anyone show up or even care? I attended my own funeral. Let me explain. But before I do, I need to
disclose that no one died or was injured in the making of this narrative. On a typical day when I was happily playing solitaire and checking Facebook at work (add sarcasm here), I got the call. June 6th—the anniversary of D-Day.  Not World War II; I’m talking about Displacement Day—the day my twenty-three-year job was eliminated. Just like that, it was over. Hard work, tenure, and skills weren’t part of the cost-cutting decision.

On my ride to work on that fateful day, a news report announced that 175,000 jobs had been added in the US, making the unemployment rate 7.6 percent. On my ride home I was on the other side—one of 11.6
million unemployed. To grasp the magnitude, take the entire population of New York City, and then add another 4 million people. The call was like a gunshot to the head. My work identity was gone immediately. I was
being put to rest and people were preparing for my funeral. Condolences rolled in, hugs were bestowed, tears flowed. What will people say when you’re gone? An old manager once asked me if I ran through a wall, would people follow? At the time, I didn’t know the answer. I needed to know the answer. That was a lifeline—a time for action. Fast-forward six years later to D-Day. I don’t recall a more calming day. It was a day of self-reflection…a chance to hover over my dead body and ask if my life and career were a success. The notes flooded in. “Tom, you’ve touched me more than you’ll ever know, personally and professionally.” “Tom, we love you… This IS your next speech.” I ran through a wall, and people followed.

How was I going to tell my three daughters that Dad was sent to the farm, just like my childhood dog? A spending freeze on shoes, clothes, and pizza may be worse than death for teenagers. My middle child’s head
tilted down at a mourner’s angle and a small tear rolled down her cheek as if it was about to drop onto my coffin. My youngest daughter held me in a bear hug as if it was the last time ever, while my social-media-conscious
sixteen-year-old daughter told me that all responses to relocation questions on Facebook were to be “no”—as if I had a choice. The denial, the anger, then acceptance—the exhaustive feeling of having my family
watch my demise. However, my support system refused to let my casket be nailed down as they put in a crowbar made of emails, phone calls, and leads. I was being resuscitated.

How many of you have prepared a will? A will reduces stress and chaos. The run through the wall question six years earlier was my wake up call, but I didn’t realize then how it would prevent my professional passing.
My eyes were opened wide as I started to build an extraordinary career-saving and life-changing network. In Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone he notes, “Build it before you need it.” Real relationships built over
the years provided me meaning, and are the reason for my success now. I wasn’t six feet under. I was six degrees from Kevin Bacon, or at least six degrees from my big break. I was alive. My support system was my CPR.

My job loss became a celebration of life, not my funeral. It reminded me how deep my love and my appreciation really are for my family, friends, and network. I was not defined by my job. I defined my own life
and was going to do my funeral my way. No, I’m not going to belt out Sinatra. I lost work but found me. I used my displacement as reaffirmation that when I leave this earth, I’m leaving with no regrets. Think about
your own funeral—when your spirit is hovering over the mourners, will you leave them something to mourn and celebrate?

So, let’s go back to the question: Have you ever imagined your own funeral? Who will do your eulogy, who will be your pallbearers, who will care? My eulogy was shouted out by the many key people in my network
who blew my trumpet for me and gave humbling accounts of the person I had been, and who I had become. My pallbearers carried me when I couldn’t go any further. The overwhelming flood of calls and messages
showed who cared. I have to admit that I started writing this narrative immediately after I got the call, and I wrote the end too. We all know we’re going to die—I don’t mean that “end.” I mean the speech ending, where
I get a job. I wrote it before I had a job secured. It wasn’t overconfidence, it was just a belief that I was surrounded by an ironclad network that refused to stop giving me the oxygen I needed to survive. Are you ready to
see your own funeral? I lived to see mine, and it was beautiful.”

 

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival),  From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention), and Displacement Day:  When My Job was Looking for a Job.  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Make the Message Stick—Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide”

Posted by tomdowd - February 21, 2014 - Leadership, News
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Message Count

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“From Fear to Success” Audiobook= Make The Message Stick

Audiences learn and retain information differently. My youngest
daughter can sit back and absorb a presentation without taking a
note and repeat back everything—and I mean everything—she heard.
Others, like me, are consummate note-takers. Still others may need
some type of visual or auditory stimulation to retain information. It is
important to understand this learning diversity when preparing your
presentation. Depending on the type of presentation, if possible provide
multiple options that work best for information retention by various
learning types.

As a speaker, you must have an engaged audience. You can capture
their attention by getting them involved, possibly by having them out
of their seats to complete an action, or asking open-ended questions
that need responses. Additionally, you can have the audience repeat
key points you want emphasized or remembered. For some learners,
you should provide handouts; many of these learners want something
to hold and read from or want to fill in the blanks. Providing
paper and a place to take notes makes a big difference to someone like
me. Finally, you have people who sit on their hands until they see a
visual on the screen or hear music in the background. It’s important to
account for these visual and auditory learners. More importantly, it’s
essential to show flexibility for different learners in your audience. The
message sticks more when you are conscientious about your audience’s
needs and learning types.

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival) and From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby

Post from Transformation Tom- Reduce Personal Distractions—Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide”

Posted by tomdowd - February 14, 2014 - News
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Reduce Distractions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“From Fear to Success” Audiobook=Reduce Personal Distractions

 

Change jingling in the pocket or even a cell phone strapped to your
side can take the focus off you and distract the audience just enough to
miss your message. Work badges hanging from your side swaying back
and forth can have the same effect. Prior to speaking, remove lapel
pins and any badges (“Hello my name is…”), pagers and cell phones,
and any potentially swinging jewelry. The goal is to minimize the possibility
of distractions before it is too late. It seems so small, but any
distraction taking away from your message is important to address,
especially when the solutions are so simple.

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival) and From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

Post from Transformation Tom- Become a Good Listener: Chapter from “The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas”

Posted by tomdowd - February 7, 2014 - News
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Better Listener

 

Everywhere we look, people have headsets in their ears listening to

music while the world goes on around them. I’ve seen people blindly walk

into street poles as they are texting. We multitask more than we want and

our attention span gets spread to the limit. We have side conversations

with people in the room while a conference call is going on, check messages,

or make a call in the middle of a conversation with someone. One

of the more difficult things I’ve tried to learn is effective listening. I have

to make a concerted effort to try to give my undivided attention to one

person at a time. I have to emphasize that the operative word is try. This

lesson is a constant work in progress. There are too many opportunities

to pull my attention and focus somewhere else.

 

Effective listening is at risk of being a lost skill. I have found, however,

that most successful decision makers and leaders have this rare ability to

listen effectively. The ability to focus on one person at a time and truly

hear what they have to say allows the whole story to be heard, and builds

the relationship for more productive conversations in the future. Listening

also builds trust and respect. Think of the person who is always interrupting

you and speaking over you. I often found (all right, present tense:

“find”—this is still a work in progress) myself doing this. I never had any

intention to be rude, but had ideas swimming in my head that needed to

be blurted out before they were forgotten or became irrelevant. Maybe

I was attempting to be the smartest person in the room, trying to gain

attention from my managers, or just wanted to be heard. When this happened,

I was causing frustration and disruption to any real conversation,

since the discussions were more one sided then they needed to be.

 

I had to force myself to listen and not speak. I thought I solved it

by taking notes while someone else was speaking. However, I found

that the notes started to dominate my own thoughts. I was still selfish in

my approach to the conversation. I was silently interrupting someone’s

thoughts because, in reality, I wasn’t truly hearing what they were saying.

Many instances of speaking over people are caused by our need to share

our next thought with the person we are talking to, regardless of what

they are saying. That is really not a productive conversation.

 

I knew I was making progress when I entered the 2009 Fall Toastmasters

International Speech Evaluation Contest. The goal of the contest

is for all contestants to listen to the same “test” speech. The contestants

can take notes during the speech and for five minutes immediately following,

must organize and formulate their thoughts. The contestants

then give a two to three minute overview “speech” of the key points they

want emphasized for the “test” speaker and audience. I ended up finishing

in second place in District 45, which includes over 100 clubs. I was

using a critical ear, and more importantly, it was making a difference in

my professional career.

 

I found significant improvement in my ability to have productive

conversations and build more effective relationships when I put down my

pen and simply listened to what someone said. I found there was a more

open and fluid dialogue, and this generated more ideas and satisfaction

on the part of the other person. Others involved in the conversations

started to contribute, or at least felt the openness to contributing when

they had something important to say. I found greater success personally

and more productive teamwork simply by truly listening and not worrying

about formulating my next thought.

 

True listening was a career-altering discovery for me. I still feel the

pull, at times, to multitask or gather my next thought. However, the pull

gets easier as I continue to practice this skill. The practice has taught me

to be a more effective communicator all around because I am now more

engaged in the conversation, since I am invited to ask open questions and

clarify and confirm points. It is amazing the great things others have to

say when I just started paying attention.

 

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World (Honorable Mention at the 2012 New England Book Festival) and From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide (2013 Axiom Business Book Awards Gold Medal Winner and 2013 Paris Book Festival Honorable Mention).  Audiobook version of “From Fear to Success” is also available! See “Products” for details on www.transformationtom.com.  Book and eBook purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed: Amazon.com

MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success:  A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby