This month’s post
Helping, that’s all
First idea. Here is a saying we like a lot: “when we change our attitude, nothing’s changed, yet everything is different”. When you get up in a good mood, everything seems easy and self-evident; conversely, when you’re in a bad mood, everything feels harder, bleaker, and trouble lies in wait… yet the environment is exactly the same!
Second idea. Right now, as many European countries are affected by the exodus of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, some members of our team have, in their spare time, offered practical help in welcoming migrants: setting up camps, working in the kitchens, dishing out meals… One could argue the purpose of helping, perhaps unconsciously, is more selfish than humanitarian. Helping others takes our minds off our own troubles, creates opportunities for mutually rewarding interactions, and opens us up to humanity’s rich diversity. And it makes us feel good about ourselves.
What’s the link between these two ideas? It is this: how about shifting our attitude to working with people in the business world? When someone speaks with the intention of helping the listener, the form and content of what they say are radically different from those of the person who speaks only with the aim of saying what they wish to say. Or, to put it another way: what if, instead of singing the praises of our products and services to our customers, we made it our mission to try and help them? What if our objective was to make their lives easier, to solve some of their difficulties or to relieve some of their troubles: how do you think they would respond?
Presenter of the month
Battalos – “little stammerer”… That was Demosthenes’ nickname as a child. Today, he’s known for having been one of the greatest orators of his age, and that age was a long time ago, 4th century BC to be precise. Demosthenes wasn’t a born orator – no-one is. He had to invest much effort and willpower to become the great speaker we know of. For he indeed had a stammer, just like, apparently, another famous leader – Moses.
To succeed, Demosthenes devised for himself a ruthless training programme. Amongst other things, it involved numerous physical training aspects. Warm ups, strength exercises, running, stretching… Demosthenes understood that the work of an orator was a deeply physical one that required specific conditioning and preparation.
As most stage artists will tell you, if you’re not sweating profusely soon after making your entrance, you’re probably not doing what you’re meant to do… That is to say, captivate your audience. The amount of calories this takes is just as surprising as it is unavoidable.
What’s in it for you?
The author of this piece has been working for several years with David Milne and the company Najberg Milne… We find it mind-blowing that he keeps constantly improving the course he first designed over twenty years ago – “Winning Hearts and Minds”. A course that we run under his supervision in France and in other European countries under the name of “Captiver et Convaincre”.
Many of these improvements could be qualified as “embellishments”, if this word didn’t have a somewhat lightweight flavour… Yet every time David tells us about one of these embellishments, it seems to us that the course takes on an extra dimension, that one of the values with which it is infused has just deepened. The value that speaks of the time and the care taken to look after customers. The value that speaks of choosing to pay infinite attention to the people with whom we work. The value that speaks of seeing our work as an art, and an art that demands beauty.
The clients who work with David Milne are very aware of this. They pay for a unique course, and they also pay for this beauty. It costs them. But by choosing to pay more for his course, they too demonstrate their care, their attention, their engagement with their people.
The teams who experience this acknowledge it.
And the results speak for themselves.
It happened to them first
To speak, yes. But to what end?
We heard an interesting story recently. One of our former course participants currently works for a group that includes companies working in very different sectors. This group regularly organises an induction day for new recruits, across all companies. On that occasion, our delegate was given the task of preparing a presentation to inform the newbies of the activities of the business he was representing.
Rather than merely “informing” his audience, falling into the trap of a comprehensive list of the company’s products and projects, he took a moment to ask himself some questions prior to designing his presentation: “who is my audience? What do they know about what we do? What topics are likely to interest them? And above all, what would make them proud to work for a group with such a varied portfolio, even if I’m talking about a sector they’ll never get involved in personally?”
We’ll spare you the details, but it is with this end message in mind (a.k.a. the “epilogue”, in Najberg Milne terminology) that he started structuring his presentation. At the end of the induction day, the verdict wasn’t long in coming. Out of all the presenters, he was the only one who was told: “Your presentation was the most interesting of all.”
And what else ?
What’s in a bowl…
To illustrate the difference between art and craft, we use the metaphor of a bowl.
A container in the shape of a bowl is one of the first things a human being made: the first act of craftsmanship.
It’s when, considering this object, someone first thought: “what if I scored some shapes, cut some lines on my bowl to show the world what I think is beautiful?” and in so doing, opened themselves up to the judgement of others, that art was born.
Maybe that’s why we’re passionate about ceramics in general, and bowls in particular. There is something glorious and moving in the simplicity of a bowl, and the creative scope it offers artists.
Here are two of our favourite ceramicists. We hope their artistry will touch you.
Najberg Milne news
Next open course dates
- “Captiver & Convaincre – Première partie : présenter avec confiance”, Paris, 28 & 29 October 2015, and 28 & 29 April 2016;
- “Winning Hearts and Minds – Part 1: presenting with confidence”, London, 4 & 5 November 2015.
The number of places is limited to eight to allow for individual coaching, so early booking is recommended!
The link of the month
There’s slow food, which shuns fast food and invites us to eat good, unprocessed food and take our time over it. There’s low-tech, which counters high tech with simple, inexpensive and popular techniques. And now there is what we might call “slow thinking”, a proponent of which is Mathias Jakobsen, creator of Think Clearly. He advocates taking the time to reflect, grabbing notebook and pen to write down our ideas unhurriedly, and allowing them to evolve by sharing them with benevolence:
Try this: pick any slideshow you used for a presentation you made before you attended Winning Hearts and Minds, or that any of your colleagues, who hasn’t done the course, has used for one of theirs… For each slide, ask yourself whether it seeks genuinely to aid the target audience. Does it help to understand better, or more easily, or more quickly what is being said, at the very moment that it’s being shown?
Only keep those that you are absolutely unable to take out. Really play the game.
As we’re a bit psychic, we predict that there will only be a few slides left at the end… Did we get that right?