August has been a gentle month and it feels like was meant to be. Deep in the middle I presented Humanise Your Business in conjunction with The Slow School of Business….and no I didn’t have professional photos taken of the night!
(Why not? Because I believe in investing in professional photography when you need those photos to communicate something valuable about you. The photos act as proof that what you say you are, is really, really true, and here are the photos to prove it. In the case of the talk, it was my first one. I wanted to test the content, and also test how I felt with delivering it. If I want to push forward with speaking as part of my lineup, then next time I will invest in professional photography.)
Turns out the event was a success. For added dimension we had a very slow-rolling slideshow of photographs, some seen here.
We had a clever, dynamic group of people in the room, we shared some wine, lit some candles, had some dinner.
Then we moved into a separate area where I opened with “If I can be honest for a second, I didn’t want to be here. I procrastinated on preparing for this talk.”
There were many blank looks. Oh boy where is this leading?
I told them how I was feeling this mounting pressure to entertain, inform, educate and have them leaving feeling like they got value. And so I was putting off getting organised.
I asked them if we could forget about Powerpoint dot points, outcomes and value-adds, being in this professional, business environment, and instead get on with having a great conversation, because when you set the stage for a great conversation, it goes where it needs to go more naturally.
They said yes, I felt a sense of relief and connection in the room, and we were off and running.
It turns out, that is the point – to let go of ‘being professional’ for once, and just to be human and say the thing that you’re really thinking. To be honest about the hesitation you feel. Or to share a lesson with your listeners about what you have learnt out of going through that sticky spot. Because no-one is perfect and certainly not in business. So why put up a ‘professional image’ all the time, when sometimes, that is the furthest thing from the truth?
We are humans solving problems for other humans, after all. Just that.
While I’m on that…I don’t believe in indulgence, getting overly emotional onstage for performance sake or shaking ego around to make one feel validated at the expense of audience attention. I find that irritating and manipulative.
But I do believe in insight and learning. So I don’t share a rubbish experience unless I can equally share what I learnt from it to save you learning the hard way yourself.
In this case, my learning was to stop worrying about what ‘they will think and expect’ and instead get on with creating a talk for the night that I will have fun presenting, that feels organic and flows. It’s how I do my photography practice, so why would this talk situation need to be different? It doesn’t.
I first asked them, (and you can play along at home) what is it to ‘be human’? What does ‘to humanise something’ mean?
Answers included emotion, connection, communication, values, feelings.
We explored what it is to be a leader. Are you a leader? You are engaged by someone to lead them towards a solution they can’t achieve on their own? Yes, then you are a leader, in fact, you don’t just own a business.
We explored the effectiveness of leadership via influence across the three essential elements of facts & figures, personal credibility, and emotional connection.
We delved into the third piece in that matrix – your ability to emotionally connect and why this factor plays a role in buying decisions. We explored a simple tool you can use to help lubricate connection, where you use adjectives to describe – you. How do you describe yourself? Watch what happens.
I used me as an example – I am deep, feminine, sensitive, earthy, intuitive, grounded, kind, supportive, organic, adventurous. I can’t help it, they are fundamental to who I am.
Do you understand me a little more now?
Do you feel a richer connection to me?
Do you feel you have an insight into what working with me will be like? Yes, yes.
Do you think it would help your market to know this about you when in the process of deciding to buy from you? Yes…OK, now you –
People went into pairs, ideally with someone they knew so that if they struggled, their partner could help reflect back to them anything that was missing. The conversation was really hard to interrupt. The room was really loud!
And what came up was ‘I feel a bit silly, like I’m big-noting myself’. So this is why we don’t tell our market straight what makes us who we are – because we fear possible judgement from those that listen. Who am I to say these things? Gee, aren’t I good…
Consider that these are facts, not fiction. They are your unique blend of herbs and spices that determine how you show up.
These adjectives set the frame more clearly for people considering working with you. They aren’t the aspirational things (eg I like to think of myself as assertive)…no, they are the things that are core to who you are, and when you are doing the work you love, your best work, they are there to support you in your best work.
In fact your best work can’t happen without them.
For those that are meant to work with you, it will resonate. For those that it doesn’t wash well with, they will self-select themselves out. And who are you left with? The people who are part of your tribe, your blob, your DNA, the people who connect with you in that way they can’t really explain…I don’t know it just feels right…people buy on emotion, remember?
And finally we explore what I believe are the four pillars for humanising your business – from conversation, forms a connection, with a connection, confidence builds that you are the right one for the gig, so that then you can create something with them, solve their problem, deliver the solution.
I had discovered that these are my personal principles for working with someone. Without those four things, occurring in that order, it falls down.
Could it be that these principles could apply to any business that wants to humanise their approach?
Arrhhh! So much rich conversation that night and so little time.
But yes, I did love it, come to think of it, and I would love to run it again. I set up a page for it on my website.
So yes, this workshop runs well in any environment, with up to about 30 for intimacy, with a wall to project images onto.
If you’d like me to come and present this to a group, let’s chat about it.