When I was told by a friend that she was recommending me to speak to students being inducted into the honor society at Westinghouse High School there was a moment of horror. Me speak to teenagers? What would I say that they wanted to hear? What does any teen want to hear from any adult at or near their parents age? What adult did I want to hear from as a teen?
So after a few days of refusing to even consider it I decided to at least speak with the honor society’s faculty sponsor. She talked about how excited they would be to hear from someone not affiliated with the school and that I would do great (why she thought that I’ll never know! I guess my friend really did a great job talking me up). So I agreed to do it, I had three weeks to figure out what inspiring things I could say to today’s youth or fein deathly illness.
I wasn’t opposed to public speaking; I do it a lot, either at events or business presentations. But this was different, business speaking isn’t very inspiring and when I’m talking at events I’m usually giving away cool stuff (I’m not stupid, I figured out long ago people come out to eat drink be merry and win free swag). So I began my journey of writing out what I would say. Coming from a long line of ministers I knew to keep things short and contained to three major points. So I had my tentative outline. Also it would help to tell a funny story. But what if they didn’t find my story to be funny? So I went with a story they could relate to instead. I started to build my story … Funny/relevant opening, 3 key points:
1) remember where you came from it will help determine where you go
2) remember the people who got you there
3) everyone has value and a wrap up on how life is a series of preparation, purpose and sometimes luck.
The day came, I had to decide on what to wear, and I went with a suit but no tie (I have been mistaken for a minister too many times when I wear a tie so I shun them like a plague when choosing my wardrobe, except of course when I go to church). No looking like I’m preaching to teens instant turnoff… I arrived, still quite nervous. Notes written, reviewed for time, practiced but not memorized. The kids filed into the auditorium all between the age of 15 and 18 all young enough to be my sons or daughters. (nothing like visiting high school to realize how old you really are). I was introduced…by one of the students who did an excellent job reading my bio. The auditorium politely applauded. Luckily parents of the honor society inductees were seated in the first few rows. I quietly said a “thank you god” so I wouldn’t have to look down in the middle of my speech and see one of the kids falling asleep.
I began according to my outline: The Funny/Relevant Story My meeting with “Weezie”
I told them about meeting rap superstar Little Wayne (hugely popular, I had their attention) and the true story of going back stage and posing for a picture with him. How excited I was to send my sister (a self -professed biggest fan in the world) I had sent pictures of the concert all night. So by the time I got backstage my iPhone battery was dead. His manager, a brilliant gentleman named Horace Madison offered to take a picture with his blackberry. We posed he snapped, great, she’d never believe me without photographic evidence. As a matter of fact not many people would believe me. About an hour later Horace and I are at a restaurant and I remind him to text me the photo. Horace for all his financial acumen helping starts make millions upon millions didn’t know how to take a picture with hi blackberry. So there is no photo proof of the meeting!
The kids thought that was pretty funny I think they figured someone that old didn’t need to lie about meeting Lil Wayne so I was over!
The Meat of the Speech; Who am I??
I talked about going to a small high school that didn’t even have an honor society (or at least no one told me). I talked about figuring it all out, but it took me a while. I talked about motivation and how losing friends helped me gain purpose. The more I spoke the more I learned about myself. I had a story a story that was real and might just resonate. Not so long ago I was one of those kids in the auditorium, I remembered listening to people who came to my high school so actually with something to say sometimes politicians who seemed to be checking off a box to “talk to some kids” once a year.
I wanted them to understand that life is a series of ups and downs. It’s never going to be a smooth ride but what do you do on a ride? You hold on until things smooth out, until you figure out the roads, the twists and the turns and especially the bumps. You don’t forget who inspired you, the parents and the teachers you ignore today will be there for you all along the way. The lessons they teach today can help you more than any politician, guest speaker. Value them and value yourself. It all became clear to me at that point I was there to remember who I was as much as I was there to impart wisdom on the kids. I never let anyone tell me what I couldn’t do but there were a long line of bumps and bruises along the way. My job was to inspire them to slow down and listen and slow myself down and learn what it meant to provide real knowledge.
The Big Finale: Everyone Has Value
As I came to a close I finished with another true story. This one was related to everyone having value. I talked about vising Springfield at an annual state legislator’s conference back in the early 2000’s. I was displaying art for my parents business. I attending a party filled with politicians. Everyone had let their hair down a little and there was this one politician, who was brought out on the floor to dance with another female state senator. This guy was really awkward he danced (if you could call it that) like someone on a tightrope kind reeling each way to the beat. I was practically laughing out loud at this guy and I hoped, for his sake the music would end soon, I was practically laughing in his face. The next day I was in the foyer where all the legislator’s pics were listed and I saw that politician. I thought to myself wow not only can’t this guy dance; nobody will be able to pronounce his name, “Barack Obama.” I told the students if the president ever comes to Westinghouse to please apologize for me and let him know I’ll gladly take a job, any job in his administration! The point, you never know who you may encounter along the journey of life. Everyone has value, everyone matters.
Glenn Murray is the founder of 220 Communications and its sister company 220 Publishing. The publishing unit has produced books by over 25 authors including Volumes 1 and 2 of The Entrepreneur Within You. 220 Communications provides marketing strategy to a number of clients and produces unique experiences across the country including the popular Food And Wine Crawl Events in Chicago, Napa, and Indianapolis 220 Communications clients have been featured in local and national publications and the continues to grow its entertainment units to include music, distribution and film.
Negotiation is often seen as a specialist’s skill. Only the toughest people can handle the pressure and come out of a meeting with their demands met. Hostile approaches have to be avoided because they cause controversy. However, this is not the case in a mutual negotiation. In fact, at some point in life everyone is a negotiator. It is simply not possible to go through life always agreeing with other people and it would certainly spell the end of a business if it just agreed to all the demands placed on it. There some excellent methods to ensure your negotiation skills are as good as a professional’s skills:
Going into any negotiation you must know what you expect to get out of it. It is good to start with an optimistic viewpoint but you have to know where your bottom line is and be prepared to walk away if this is not agreed upon. This information will allow you to commit to a deal or not. It will also allow you to push harder if you feel you might be able to get a better outcome. Knowing your outcome gives you the upper hand.
The more you know about the person or people sitting across from you in a negotiation, the better. You need to know what it is they are really after and then help them find a solution to that particular issue. Information concerning past negotiations can also be useful to understand their approach and knowledge of their past deals will allow you to evaluate the potential of any deal.
You are handling the negotiations for your business because you are qualified to do it. You know your subject and what the company needs. Don’t allow someone else to intimidate you. If you believe in yourself and your abilities, then you will be able to convince anyone else to do the same. There will be many times in your career when this will be necessary, there will always be someone who doubts you are capable of the role. You just need to remind yourself that you’ve earned the role and allow your actions to confirm this belief.
The most important aspect of any negotiation is listening. If you listen to what they want or what the issue is, then you will be able to respond and resolve this issue. You will appear calm and collected which will heighten others perception of you and your knowledge. Most importantly, listening will allow you to address the exact issue; not the one you think is a problem.
Emotions have no place in a negotiating room. If you become emotional, then you are no longer in control of the facts and figures and can easily make a rash, regrettable decision. Emotion also leads to heated arguments and this ensures no one comes out a negotiation successfully. Should you feel emotional during a meeting it is advisable to ask for a short break to collect your thoughts or to research a point. Aggression on the part of your opponent may well be intended to provoke a response and ruin the negotiation. Remaining calm will be more frustrating to them and show how professional you are. This is more likely to win you the negotiation than raised voices or allowing your frustration to show.
Negotiation might seem a scary subject but it is one everyone tackles every day. Keeping to the above points will ensure that you remain focused on what you and your company need from a meeting. Knowing what offer is acceptable allows you to negotiate from a strong position and not being afraid to walk away is essential.
What’s the point of a negotiation if the final outcome doesn’t bring any benefits to you or your company? None – in this case, we’re talking about a negotiation that’s completely useless to you. It’s really important that you prioritize. Think in the best interest of your company and don’t allow an opponent to persuade you to agree to a bad deal. Provided that you can work out a 50-50 agreement, it’s safe to say that the negotiation was successful.
By Davis Miller and TheGapPartnership.com!