Because I try to wake up everyday with an attitude of gratitude, this month I’d like to explore the concept of “our work, our worth” and our quest to “find meaning.” In the book, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT, BUT I KNOW IT’S NOT THIS, author Julie Jansen writes, “In today’s work climate, more and more individuals are beginning to question the grueling pace at which they lead their lives. In an effort to manage this issue, some companies have instituted policies that support maintaining “balance” between work and an employee’s personal life.” For example, companies may offer incredibly competitive vacation time. The problem is, however, that many employees don’t use all their vacation time. Julie writes, “If senior management and the corporate culture demonstrate that succeeding means working around the clock, the pressure of fitting in and ‘doing what it takes to get the job done’ can override the desire to lead a balanced life.” Why do we feel that the harder we work and more time we spend, the worthier we are and the more value we have?
I remember feeling “numb” by the amount of work I had while climbing the corporate ladder. I would start my day at 5:30 a.m. at the gym while reading scripts on the treadmill. I would often keep going until 9:00 p.m. This was my cycle. This is what I believed you had to do to be a worthy part of corporate America. I had to earn my direction. The quest for the title of Vice President was blinding me to my own sense of fulfillment. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of what I loved most about my job, the gift of story. It became only about the work and the validation. I started wondering if everyone else who was embarking in this climb was feeling fulfilled by the process. I remember reading that the most successful people often have the lowest self-esteems. This seemed ironic to me. How could achievement of tremendous success equal a lower sense of self worth? As I rose, I began to understand the correlation.
Is our quest for greater meaning in the jobs we’re doing unreasonable? What I like about Julie’s exploration is that she helps you figure out your strengths and explains how knowing what fulfills you can help bring meaning to your work life. Our jobs are very often where we spend the majority of our time. We spend so much time choosing quality in our personal lives, why wouldn’t we do the same for our professional lives? The “paycheck” used to be the end-all be-all. It was the reason why we went in the direction that we did. We are experiencing a shift in consciousness as a nation. Since what we perceived as “security” has been thrown out the window, why not do something we love everyday? Our health and well being are strong incentives. We should commit to finding where our gratitude truly lies. We are worth the commitment.
Your time spent at work is valuable. However, it is better to connect your worth to the quality you put out, not the time spent doing it. Since I fell from the ladder, I have discovered a stronger formula for worth than time spent in the office. Worth is connection with self and those around us and the way we affect others with the work that we do. Ego and title are no longer the barometers. It is about growth. With growth comes the greatest gratitude of all.
What is the best way to sell your ideas? Why do some people seem to be able to sell their ideas so easily and get further up the ladder, while others are left at the bottom? When I think about this with television and features, I often wonder what specifically happens in meetings that leads to the sell. Is it the value of the idea, or is it the art of the persuader? When you look at the percentage of what works and what does not work, it makes you wonder. In the book, THE ART OF WOO, authors G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa, Directors of the Wharton School’s Strategic Persuasion Workshop, give very insightful tips on how to authentically woo through self-awareness. The authors explore many practical approaches including how Woo works: The Four Steps, Survey Your Situation, Confront the Five Barriers (negative relationships, poor credibility, communication mismatches, hostile belief systems, and conflicting interests), Make Your Pitch and Secure Your Commitments. The authors also discuss different approaches to persuasion: Driver, Commander, Promoter, Chess Player and Advocate. Their book draws from many other brilliant authors and expertly highlights the value of authenticity and self-awareness in your ability to persuade and influence.
We are going through a very difficult economic time. Yet, there is no greater time than now to educate yourself on how to succeed in your endeavors. Through reading books like THE ART OF WOO that are focused on the broader business audience, you learn about the power of the pitch and how your own personal attributes can get you further in the game of life. We all use persuasion and influence on a daily basis in our personal and professional lives, yet do we do it consciously? The key is better understanding the tools you have inside and how to use them to get the results you desire. You hold the key.
In reading the incredible thought-provoking book, GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY: The 5 Keys to Surpassing Everyone’s Expectations written by Robert K. Cooper, PhD, I became fascinated by the idea of whether our emotions could actually be our “gold” in accomplishing and achieving instead of something that gets in the way. Can we learn to utilize our emotions, our intuitions and our different kinds of intelligence so that we too can achieve and accomplish beyond our wildest dreams?
Robert K. Cooper explores different philosophies on intelligence and the benefits of applying more “emotional intelligence” to success. He gives a quote by scientist Gary Klein, who says, “Analysis cannot replace the intuition that is the center of the decision-making process.” Cooper says, “Emotional intelligence engages not only the gut and the heart but also the cranial brain’s limbic system and even the thinking brain.” He quotes Richard Farson, psychologist and President of the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, “The one quality that the best leaders agree separates them from their less successful rivals is confidence in their intuition.” Farson says that great leaders have “golden guts.”
Do you use your mind or your gut when it comes to making business decisions? So many people experience situations where they say, “my emotions got in the way.” What if you can learn to utilize your emotions so that rather than getting in your way, they pave the way? During my climb up the corporate ladder, I often heard, “Never let them see you cry,” and “There’s no room for emotions in business.” Now, I do agree that it’s better not to let them see you cry, but what if there are actually advantages to using your emotions in business?
Cooper writes, “Once you have placed something on your schedule because it’s important, be sure you derive the most from it by using two questions that keep you linked to your emotional experiential memory.” He says to ask yourself first
“How can I seize this chance to become more of the person I most want to be?” and secondly, “Have I just acted like the person I most want to be? What did I miss? How can I do better next time?”
I love the idea of this. What if we were more conscious and went into our business meetings as well as our personal outings with this consideration? Could learning to use our emotions actually help us to succeed versus being something that gets in our way? It’s a new time. So many changes are happening. It is time to start listening more to our intuition. Looking back at your successes and your failures, do you find that disregarding your intuition resulted more in things working or not working the way you wanted them to? I encourage you to start listening on a deeper level to your gut in both business and in life.
Are giving presentations a part of your business model? Are you good at them or does the idea of public speaking terrify you? Have you ever been to a boring presentation? I would say a majority of the presentations I attend could benefit from stronger organization and clarity about their goal. I marvel at the speakers who just know how to capture an audience. Presenting is an art. I learned recently by reading Jerry Weissman’s book, Presenting To Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, that the key to giving a successful presentation is knowing how to tell your story.
I am a Story Consultant. After being in the corporate world for 17 years, over 10 of which were spent working as a Current Programs executive in television at top studios including Spelling Television Inc. and CBS/Paramount, I launched my own business in January of 2008 at http://www.jengrisanti.com. I knew that as part of my business model I wanted to teach seminars. I was very excited about the idea of doing this and doing it well. Over my career, I had been to several story seminars including Robert McKee’s famous seminar. I learned a lot from watching what worked and what did not work. For 17 years, I had worked in offices and learned the nuts and bolts of telling a strong story, and now I had to figure out how to effectively communicate this insight and experience to an audience.
I learned a lot from my first few seminars about what I felt worked well and what could be better. I recognized that like anything in life, the more you practiced, the better you would get. I always felt that I had prepared myself well until I hit a bit of a bump in the road at a seminar I did in Seattle for the the Northwestern Screenwriter’s Guild. They say that public speaking is the biggest fear for most people next to death. I experienced the meaning of this first hand. I was about to begin my presentation when I suddenly had a mini panic attack. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest and my mouth was so dry that nothing would come out. It was like someone had taken an eraser to my brain and erased the last 17 years of experience I was about to share. This whole experience went on for 5 minutes. My way out of it was to ask the audience to share their universal life moments, an exercise which I had intended on utilizing later in the presentation. I was thrilled to see it worked. As I listened to people opening up about their own personal stories without fear, I began to see even more that our story is the key to it all.
It was this unique, yet traumatizing, experience that led me to buy two books written by Jerry Weissman, Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, and In the Line of Fire: How To Handle Tough Questions When It Counts. I connected with Jerry’s background because during his career as a television producer for CBS, a screenwriter and a sometimes novelist, story had been his foundation.
Some of the key points Jerry Weissman writes about that really resonated with me are WIIFY (what’s in it for you?) and tell the audience what you’re going to tell them, your point B. He guides you to recognize the value of helping your audience to better understand what’s in it for them. He also understands the importance of organization. He gives you several options of how to start your presentation including, Question, Factoid, Retrospective/Perspective, Anecdote, Quotation, Aphorism and Analogy. After choosing this, the next thing he suggests you do is give the USP, Unique Selling Perspective. This is a very succinct summary of your business, the basic premise that describes what you do and what your company does. He then suggests giving Proof of Concept, which is a single telling point that validates your USP.
I read these books as a way of preparing for my next seminar, a Pitch and Pilot Storywise Seminar that I did at UCLA. I knew when I first started that I could very well experience what I had in Seattle yet again. However, the difference this time was the way I approached my preparation. Jerry mentions in his book that the key to not being nervous is being totally prepared. I had done my homework. When I started this seminar to a very full room, I started with an Anecdote about my early experiences with story and what made me know that teaching story was the path for me. I also mentioned the tremendous affect that my mentor, Aaron Spelling, had on me. I then moved on to my Unique Selling Perspective by telling the audience all about the launching of my company. Next, I gave the Proof of Concept about the success I’ve experienced since I launched. I then told the audience what I was going to teach them, a new way of looking at how to structure their story in a pilot through identifying the goal/dilemma of their central character by the end of Act I and making sure that their other act outs resonated back to this goal/dilemma in some way. I told them how I planned to do this through my presentation, my workbook and my handouts. By looking at story and studying story through this unique perspective, I showed them “what’s in it for them” and how they could apply it to their own writing. I further illustrated this by giving them my back story and then sharing a few loglines with them that describe a show reflective of my life right now. Then, I asked them to share a logline that reflects their life at this point in time. It was miraculous. I had no nerves and I felt more connected to the audience than any seminar I had done in the past. I knew the keys: clarity about what I was teaching, sharing my story, telling the audience up front what I was going to tell them and being aware of and answering the question, “what’s in it for you?” The comments afterward and the e-mails that followed made me see even more that our story is the key to our success. If you’re wondering about “what’s in it for you” with regards to this blog, I’ll answer: if you read Jerry Weissman’s books and follow his advice, you will succeed in ways you never imagined.
Do these two words go together in your world? Are you passionate about what you do? Are you happy when you wake up every morning and excited to see what the day will bring? If not, could you be? We are in a new time of consciousness and simplicity. With the current state of the economy, people are looking at their lives and re-evaluating their mission. If Passion is your mission, are you living it?
Lawler Kang writes in his book, Passion and Work, “What is critical to understand is that as long as you can define your passion, someone will pay you to live on your terms. You might not make millions, but intuitively, you have a much greater chance of this outcome if you do.” In his book, Lawler explores the purpose of the five Ps: Passion, Proficiencies, Priorities, Plan and Prove. Kang says, “…If you love what you are doing, if you’re passionate about your work, life will follow in a multitude of shimmering manifestations — richer relationships, less stress, overall happiness, and so on…”
Lawler went through some life threatening hurdles that led him to this place. He has a firm grasp on how to succeed, because he has found tremendous success in work and life and he comes from a place of knowing what it was to almost lose it all.
Have you been in a position where you’ve fallen from grace in some aspect? If you turn that into life experience, you can really fall into grace. You can pick yourself up and be happier than you’ve ever been. I went from working in the corporate world for over 15 years to opening my own business, being my own boss and following my bliss. I looked at all the things that made me happy in my job. I took out all the things I did not enjoy. I put together a business model, and I put my plan into action. Following your passion may involve a lot of work and sacrifices in its inception, but once you’ve created something of your own and nurtured it from scratch, the rewards are endless. I support and live Lawler Kang’s philosophy and encourage you to identify what your passion is, put together a plan and go after it. You will be amazed to see what happens.