The Case of the Clueless CEO

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I have worked up close and personal with a great many CEO’s.  Some were great, some were not. I’ve observed how they manage (or mismanage) their operations. I’ve taken note of the degree of alignment between their word and their deed. I have assessed whether they are true leaders of people, or egotistical, duplicitous bags o’ wind.

A CEO of the second ilk, once hired me to help him craft his Annual State of the Company Address.  He was having some PR problems and wanted me to help him come across as more down to earth, or in his words, to help him “appeal to the common man.”

My first encounter with this guy should have sent me running. He left me waiting outside his office for 45 minutes. I overheard him berate his assistant, cut people off in mid-sentence, scream, swear and slam down the phone. Oh yeah…this was going to be fun!

The good news is, while I was waiting, I had the pleasure of meeting his HR Director, Jorge. Jorge was a class act. Soft-spoken, impeccable in manner and dress, an all-around A-Player. He made apologies for his boss, something I’m sure he did often. I pretended to understand.

Fast forward, I help this CEO craft his speech, we cull his message to three compelling points, we add several humanizing personal stories and craft some business-relevant humor.  We put together a good speech and he is pleased.  I decide to attend the meeting to watch him in action. He delivers the speech. He is coming across as somewhat human and all is going well, until…

The Q&A Portion.  This is the part of the speech for which he has no script.  He starts taking questions from “the common man.”  A woman raises her hand:

“Sir, I have a question. 

Fine. What’s your name? 

Doris.

How long have you worked for us Doris?

33 Years.

So, what’s your question?”

BOOM!  In one fell swoop, this CEO has negated his entire Keynote message, about the importance of “being a team” and “working together as a family.”  He has demonstrated to his people in real-time, that after 33 years of service, he can’t even be bothered to learn your name. The reaction from the audience is palpable.  I watch people lean back in their chairs, cross their arms and roll their eyes. There are no more questions and the meeting ends on a very sour note.

Here’s the kicker!  This CEO is TOTALLY CLUELESS as to what has just transpired. He walks out of the meeting patting himself on the back for a job well done, while “the common man,” scurries to avoid eye contact.

Then…we go to Starbucks next door and he asks me for my honest opinion.  This is what I tell him:

“Here’s what I’ve observed.  Your original stated intention to me was that you wanted ‘to better connect with your people.’ Then, I watch in horror, as you miss a golden opportunity to connect with Doris, an employee of 33 years, while alienating the rest of the room in the process. This leaves me to surmise, that ‘creating connection with your people’ is either;

a) Not something you are naturally capable of, or

b) Not something you are sincerely interested in doing.

Either way, here is my heartfelt advice to you:

If you want to lead this organization effectively, then close your office door. From this point on, do not speak to anyone in your organization directly, unless absolutely necessary.  Your disinterest in people can not be disguised, so stop trying.  You should lead as a ‘behind-the-scenes’ CEO. Stick to planning and visioning, to guide and grow the business. Leaving all actual human contact, to your exceptional HR Director, Jorge. Is that helpful feedback?”

The guy’s probably still sitting at Starbucks with his jaw open.

As a leader of people, your word and deed have impact.  Make sure it is the impact you intend. It is imperative that your messaging be aligned with your mission, and that you stay aware of how both you and your message are being received. One of the key lessons I continue to learn from coaching leaders is;

 WHO you are, will always speak louder than your speech, no matter how well written.

Karyn Ruth White is a nationally recognized Keynote Speaker and Public Speaking Coach. She works with leaders who intend to connect and engage through a professionally crafted message, and she helps professional speakers who want to tighten their talks.  She is the First Place, National Winner of The Jeanne Robertson “Comedy with Class” Competition. She  delivers Funny Keynotes across the U.S., helping business to thrive and have fun doing it! She is the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to stress less and work happy.  Visit her at www.karynruth.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth.

KNOCK’EM OUT with a QUICK PUNCH!

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“A QUICK PUNCH” MICRO-COACHING with Karyn Ruth White

Do you have a new story you want to include in your next speech or training, but you’re not sure if it’s “stage ready?”

Do you have existing material you would like to refresh, punch-up and make funnier?

Could your talk benefit from feedback and crafting guidance, from a professional Keynote Presenter, Comedian and Speaker Coach with over 30 Years’ experience? 

Well today is your lucky day!

“A QUICK PUNCH” Micro-Coaching is perfect for presenters who want to craft a specific piece of material.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You send me a video and written script of your material (10 Minutes Max.) It doesn’t have to be filmed in front of an audience.
  2. I review it, find ways to tighten it and punch it up; Making editing/delivery/humor suggestions and additions.
  3. I provide you with a written Coaching Treatment, including specific notes and suggestions on your material and delivery.
  4. We follow-up with a 60-minute Zoom Coaching Call to finalize crafting, practice delivery and determine next steps.

Micro-Coaching is a great way to build your Story Inventory. Bottom-line: It’s the great stories people remember and repeat. So knock’em out with your next speech by giving it a quick punch!

Total Investment: $497.00 Payable in advance via PayPal. I will send you an Invoice.

*** I am currently accepting a Maximum of 10 Clients for this Offer ***

With this coaching package you can focus on one or two stories at a time and receive invaluable coaching feedback for a very reasonable investment.  So… GET STARTED NOW! Give Yourself the Reward of Confidence…knowing that your stories are stage ready, BEFORE you take them live.

Ready to get to work? Great! Send me a LinkedIn Message or email me at karynruth@earthlink.net. (Subject Line: Quick Punch.) I’ll send you a quick Sign-Up Form with step by step instructions on how to get started. Happy to answer any questions you may have.

I love helping speakers deliver their best selves by delivering their best stuff, and as it turns out, I’m pretty good at it. Check out my LinkedIn Recommendations from my very happy coaching clients.

I’d love to help you!

Karyn Ruth White is a nationally recognized Professional Speaking Coach. She works with thought-leaders who want to up-level their impact with a professionally crafted message, punch-it up for more laughter breaks, and tighten their existing talk. She also works with cutting-edge business authors who want to launch their book with a new Keynote. She loves helping speakers craft their authentic voice and learn to express their original humor. She was recently awarded First Place, National Winner of The Jeanne Robertson “Comedy with Class” Competition. She has a decade of experience as a touring Stand-up Comedian, and 15 years and counting delivering Clean, Funny Keynotes at Conferences across the U.S.  As the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, she helps people stress less and work more joyfully. Visit her at www.karynruth.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth

3 Quick Ways to Kill a Perfectly Fine Speech

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In my adventures as a Keynote Coach, and having observed thousands of Keynote Speakers over the years, I have noticed a pattern. There are 3 main things untrained or unaware speakers tend to do, which unless corrected, have the potential to kill their performance.

#1: The first of these is the temptation to tell your audience EVERYTHING you know about your subject.  I have found that when I work with Trainers who want to start keynoting, the first thing we have to do is cull about 80% of their content.  Repeat after me: A KEYNOTE AND A TRAINING ARE TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ANIMALS! Think of it this way, a Keynote is the Why and a Training is the How.  A Keynote should appeal to us on an emotional level, then the training can fill in the tactical details. Amateurs try to combine both. This is a mistake!

#2: The second deadly mistake is: Never make it about them. Wanna kill a perfectly fine speech? By all means, talk about yourself for the full hour.  The most fascinating of personalities bring their audience along for the ride.  Nothing will shut your listeners down faster and send them scurrying to their smart phones, than an egotistical blowhard with a microphone.

#3: The third quickest way to kill a perfectly fine speech is to use inappropriate, irrelevant and inauthentic humor.  Remember: If you use a funny video you found on the internet, chances are at least half of your audience has already seen it, and you run the risk that another speaker has used the same video in their talk.  Gratuitous use of videos of dancing babies is not the professional standard we want to set.  USE ORIGINAL HUMOR…that way you stand out and there is no chance that your audience has “heard/seen that one before.” This is why we invest the time to craft “Signature Stories”, because no one else has yours!

If you have a great message to share with the world, then you owe it to us, and to yourself, to share it well.  We want to hear what you have to say. If you need help crafting your message, hire a professional speaking coach.  Make sure they are someone who “gets” you and what you are trying to accomplish, and that they honor your original voice and don’t try to mold you to their style.  A great coach is a success partner and their guidance and expertise can make all the difference on the impact you make with your spoken word.

Karyn Ruth White is a nationally recognized Professional Speaking Coach. She works with leaders who want to up-level their impact with a professionally crafted message, and she helps professional speakers who want to tighten their existing talk or re-work their branding with a new Keynote. She loves helping speakers craft their original voice with their original humor. She is the First Place National Winner of The Jeanne Robertson “Comedy with Class” Competition and delivers Funny Keynotes across the U.S., helping business to thrive and have fun doing it! She is the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people stress less and work more joyfully. Visit her at www.karynruth.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth.

Sure, We’re Connected, but Are We Really Right for Each Other?

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In my 30 years, and counting, as a business owner, I must have heard someone ask me over 10,000 times, “So, who’s your ideal client?”  To which I invariably respond;

“Uh, anyone who is breathing and can pay me?”

Apparently, this is the wrong answer.

Turns out, there is magic in getting crystal clear on EXACTLY who you want to work with.

So after deep reflection, I have comprised my list:

 THE TOP 10 TRAITS OF MY IDEAL CLIENT:

1: They gotta have a sense of humor. I have no time for humorless people who wish to stay humorless.  I am not the Whiner Whisperer.

2. They value the power of humor as an engagement and advancement tool.

3. They are on a mission to make the world a better place.

4. They are of integrity in all things.

5. They value flexibility, optimism and collaboration.

6. They need my help and I know I can help them. We are partners in our mutual success.

7. They value my expertise and are willing to invest in it, in order to achieve their goals.

8. They trust me as a professional.

9. They are excited about creating opportunity.

10. They are kind; treating people well is one of their core values.

Whether a client is hiring me for a Keynote Presentation, a Laugh and Learn Training Program… or whether they want coaching to up-level their own Keynote, all 10 Ideal Client Traits apply.

So, what is your Top Ten List? Who’s your ideal client?  Who do you REALLY want to work with? There is great power in clarity, so get crystal clear, and then allow your new-found clarity to inform all of your future business decisions.

By the way, if you answered TRUE to all of the above 10, then let’s connect… I think we could be very happy together.

Karyn Ruth White is an award-winning Business Humorist, Funny Keynote Speaker and Trainer who enjoys helping business thrive and have fun doing it! She loves her clients and they love her! She is the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to stress less and work more joyfully. Visit her at www.karynruth.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth.

Are You Sacrificing Friendly for Fast?

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A Visit to a Freaky Fast Franchise by Business Humorist, Karyn Ruth White

Let me begin by emphatically stating that I am a HUGE fan of Jimmy Johns Sub Franchise…I love them so much it’s FREAKY!!! I think their product is superior, their service is FREAKY FAST and their quality is consistent.  I have witnessed Jimmy Johns’ delivery drivers running…that’s right…running in and out of their delivery cars, visibly eager to bring their Freaky Fast goodness to the next hungry customer.  Witnessing and experiencing this dedication to excellence, brings me to the conclusion, that the Jimmy Johns’ leadership team would welcome feedback from their customers on how to be EVEN BETTER…so here’s mine;

I recently visited a Jimmy Johns store in my neighborhood near Denver, Colorado.  I am a fairly regular customer at this particular location and I have always had a great experience. I’m the customer who enters the door and immediately starts jammin’ to the music and dancing up to the counter…which makes it even more ironic that the manager behind the counter on this particular day…greeted me with a blank stare, no smile and no discernable desire to make any type of human connection.

In a rapid, robotic tone she recited: “Welcome to Jimmy Johns, How can I help you?” I was tempted to say: “OK, let’s try that again…This time with feeling!”

I said: “Wow, you’re very speedy aren’t you?” She said: “Yeah, people tell me all the time that I talk too fast.” “Yeah…Freaky Fast!”

After leaving the store, I continued to ruminate about the robotic manager and it occurred to me that, in their dedication to being FREAKY FAST, at least one member of the Jimmy Johns’ family had crossed over to FREAKY CURT. 

In our mad attempt to be “meet the deadline,” whether in a sub shop or within a business team, if left unchecked, we run the risk of coming off as curt, robotic and unfeeling in our human contact.  I believe that the human niceties, and the “not so small” courtesies like a smile, taking a moment to listen, and showing a little patience even when we’re busy…ALWAYS come first. Cooperation and efficiency flow from there.

Moral of the Story:

We don’t have to sacrifice the human niceties for efficiency. There is a very fine line between FAST and CURT, and make no mistake…your customers can feel the freaky difference.

Karyn Ruth White is an award-winning humorist, Keynote Speaker and Trainer who enjoys helping business thrive and have fun doing it! She provides engaging laugh and learn trainings to help service professionals not only give great service… but WANT to give great service. She is the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to stress less and work more joyfully. Visit her at www.karynruth.com, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth.