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The Number One Question All Leaders Should Be Asking

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Questions are the greatest way to express curiosity, and to actually get to know somebody. As an educator, a father, neurolinguistic programmer, and media specialist, I know how powerful communication can be.

Communications power is the ability to get to know someone. To build rapport and to work out if we are in the same tribe, speaking the same language. We only understand 7% of verbal communication. 38% is our voice and tone. 55% is body language. So when we message or email someone, we are barely communicating. If we are not careful face to face communication can be just as ineffective.

In our work and everyday life we will often be called upon to conduct an interview. This might be in a formal way, such as a manager with a potential new employee, or informally as a parent meeting a son or daughter’s new partner. Sometimes this might be free style, to see where the conversation takes us, and other times we might use our organisations set list of questions.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

Ineffective communication and questioning

The problem is, the questions are often boring, ineffective, or not relevant. Or they have been asked so many times before, the interviewee reels off a pre-prepared answer, which blurs in the mind of the interviewer with every other candidate she/he has spoken to that day.

Questions like: What is your greatest weakness? Where do you see yourself in five years? Or perhaps the worst of all, “tell me about yourself?” Why is that last one so toxic? Well what do you think they will answer?

Not only will they be reciting a familiar response, but it will also be a mix of what they think you want to hear, and their own made up story of themselves. It is natural to do this, as it is our own perception of ourselves, and mind-reading of what others think of us. Left to our own devices we can be influenced by ego, humility, self-limiting beliefs, and imposter syndrome.

Effective communication and questioning

If we want to really uncover more about the person we are speaking to, we should try this: “Tell me about the world?”Why is that so powerful? Well, to quote the Marvel film Dr Strange, “you’re a man looking at the world, through a keyhole.”

How we view the world is a reflection of ourselves. It may include what we perceive as opportunities and threats, perhaps biases and our overall outlook on life. Is the person we are speaking to open-minded, have an insight on where the world is heading, are they success-minded optimists, or negative and ignorant, with a tendency to blame others?

Are they literal, “it’s a planet orbiting the sun”, or romantic, “it’s a wonderful place full of inspirational people with the capacity to create amazing things, but too often negativity and hate clouds our potential.” Did they focus on the country they live in? A particular subject? Their own family?

“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.” – Nat Turner

It is a much more interesting question, and one that few people are asked. They may request clarity, because it is so open and you may be guiding them in to uncharted waters. Every person will answer in a different way, and it will usually provide a much deeper insight as to who they really are.

Not only is this great for interviews, but it can also be a way to break out of small talk. When two people meet it can be visualized as a Venn diagram. Sure, we will probably have some overlap whether that is sports, where we work, parents, gaming, or religion. And the tendency will be to stick to those topics.

But isn’t the real fun in the areas we don’t overlap on? The problem is we often don’t know what questions to ask about it, because we don’t know what you don’t know. This question is a great way of exploring new territory. So, tell me about the world?

Darren Horne is an educator and consultant focusing on leadership and communications. He is an author of an award winning book, a Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, on the board of trustees for an alcohol and addiction charity, and has been interviewed globally. His mission is to help a million people be a little happier. Darren also owns a martial arts studio focusing on mindfulness, emotional intelligence and life performance. You can find him on Facebook, and www.darrenhorne.com.

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7 Ways to Share Your Story on Social Media

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Content marketing is “A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services”. In other words, explicit marketing is simply saying “buy my stuff!” whereas content marketing is the art of persuading people to do so through storytelling. (more…)

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10 Tips to Deal With Negativity While Starting a Business

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There are ups and downs in business but fearing failures can stop you from taking your first step towards excellence. With pandemic on tow, aspiring entrepreneurs feel a little stuck when ideating a business prospect. Here, we give you some actionable tips to deal with negativity while starting a business, even during situations like a pandemic. We also took the liberty to throw in some amazing book recommendations that’ll help you enjoy the process of being positive and achieving your business goals.

10 Tips to deal with negativity while starting a business in a pandemic

1. Get a mentor

The first thing to do as a new business owner is to find the right kind of mentor. That person could be someone in your industry or in general who you look up to. The guidance must be apt for your business, and it should be a mutual responsibility of sharing knowledge. 

2. Two big R’s – Routine and Refresh

Made a mess of something? Try to reboot the situation and make it work. Take a break once in a while and refresh yourself if you feel stuck or your ideas feel mundane. Plan a routine and stick to them – both personal and professional. Having a routine can increase productivity and engage in more activities apart from your pre-planned schedule. 

3. Inculcate problem-solving mentality

Do not panic once you are thrown a problem. Arrange a meeting with the respective party, listen to both sides of the stories, and make a decision that is more realistic and feasible. 

4. Hire half and half

Whenever you hire someone for your business. Make sure that half of the people contradict your ideas, and the other half have the same mindset as yours. The people who contradict can bring in more valuable points and their perspective might take the discussion to a whole new level.  Don’t take too much time finding the perfect one. Hire an apt person who can have the right attitude. 

5. Network, Network, and Network

Find like-minded people and mingle with them. Be more sportive in the learning process. Listen more and talk less – if you are a beginner. You can only be a constructive person who gives input to someone if you have listened to everyone’s point of view. If you feel down, your network might have something to uplift your mood and change your perspective on something. 

“Negativity, in general, is one of the things that holds people back, and you have to see what’s holding you back to get away from it.” – Lucy Dacus

6. Tech-savvy personnel

Learn a thing or two about the latest technology that you implement in your organization. Since the world revolves around technology, make sure your administrative authority knows as well.  

7. Don’t schedule a meeting, that could have been an email

Yes! I said it. Having unnecessary meetings will weaken the purpose of having a constructive discussion. Having back-to-back meetings drains the team members and yourself too. Always have a 10 to 15 minutes break between each meeting to feel refreshed and give your 100%. 

8. Have a pros and cons list

Always, I mean always have a pros and cons list. Let’s say one of your team members pitch an idea to improve the marketing strategies starting next month. Jot down the pros and cons before approving or rejecting it point-blank. It’s a systematic way of making a decision. 

9. Track your finances

Even if you have a team of accountants and auditors, make sure that you are present (both mentally and physically) – learn if you are not aware of it. Trusting your employees is a must, but not overseeing the records is a mistake that should be avoided. 

10. Remember your “why?”

At some point in your hectic schedule or not having ME time can get to you. During those tough times – ask yourself – “Why am I doing this?”. If you can answer this question with a valid explanation, you’ll feel energized. Because “A purpose drives you”. 

5 Best books to read to be more positive as an entrepreneur

Reading always puts me into perspective. Therefore, I took some liberty to give a sample of positivity and determination through words. 

These are the 5 books that’ll guide you to be a more positive and successful entrepreneur. 

  1. Attitude is everything by Jeff Keller – The decisions you make, the routine you set for yourself, and the affirmations you say to yourself every day are going to make a huge difference. If you feel tired, hopeless, and quitting – then this book is for you to boost you up!
  2. Mindset: The new psychology of success by Carol Dweck – You do what you think. In this book, the author talks about two mindsets: The growth mindset and the fixed mindset and what they’ll do to you respectively. She helps you recognize your mindset and change it for the better. 
  3. Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen – This book is about technology uprisings all over the world and businesses that adopted and implemented technology in their firm. The author teaches you that just because your competitors and others are adopting something into their businesses doesn’t mean that you have to as well. Make an informed decision. 
  4. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen – This book specifically is about the power of thought and how it shapes your life into a more meaningful and fulfilling one.
  5. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – The author talks about how people always keep thinking about what the future holds but then forget to live and enjoy the present. And also helps us understand how to make decisions more efficiently based on the present. 

Working towards inner balance requires consistency and perseverance. So does hard and smart work. Being negative is a part of our lives. It’s important to channel it appropriately and make things happen despite the roller coaster ride that is our lives. Hope you overcome your fears and negativity to shine bigger and brighter. Cheers! 

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Defining Your Own Success: A Step by Step Guide

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Everyone wants success in their lives, but success can be defined in so many different ways that it can sometimes seem daunting. In this blog post, you will learn how to make success easier for yourself by defining what success means to you. (more…)

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5 Characteristics of Athletes You Need for Business Success

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Michigan State basketball coach, Tom Izzo, wrote “Players play. Tough players win.” I would add to that, “It’s tough to win.”I think if you, as a leader, are looking to build an organization that is successful – that wins – you first have to accept that it will be tough. There are no shortcuts to success. In my 44 years of coaching, I was fortunate to coach a lot of tough players. I believe the toughness I have seen in athletes corresponds well to any organization or business. (more…)

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