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Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.

Did You Get My Email? Tips for getting the response you need

437. Wait. Make that 439. That’s the number of emails in my inbox. Four of those are unread. Most of them need to be deleted. As much as I would love to one of those people who get to zero by the end of the day or the week, I’m just not. 

In general, I’m on top of email communication and responses, but just like everyone else there are emails that get lost in my inbox. (Which is now up to 442 emails and seven unread messages.) I like getting people the information they need and hate the feeling that I have unfinished business to address.

In my perfect world I would respond to every email within 24 hours. Nothing makes me happier than when I can give a prompt, almost immediate response to a note that landed in my inbox. The reality of my world is that I am often checking emails in a dugout between interviews, in a press box between innings, standing in line getting coffee or in my car between meetings. Not exactly the ideal environment for typing out lengthy...

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Resiliency and showing up

I don't know about you but when I think of resiliency or being resilient there's always a positive outcome in the end. As in, you stuck with it, even when it was difficult, and were rewarded. 

But sometimes the reward is months or years in the making. Sometimes resiliency is showing up regardless of the outcome because you're taking the next logical step. 

I've got a baseball example for you if you're willing to Thinking Outside the Box Scores. The Oakland A's are on pace to set an MLB record for most losses in a single season. They had the fewest wins in baseball at the end of April and yet, they still show up to the ballpark.

Teams/players don't forfeit games on the schedule because they're having a bad season or the odds are stacked against them. I talked to the A's manager who acknowledged it's been challenging, but also said the best thing (and the only thing) the team can do is show up and do the best they can. 

Your team might need this reminder or you might...

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Conversations about Culture, Teamwork and Team Outlook

How confident are you that your favorite NFL team will make the right hiring choice during the NFL Draft? 

There are a lot of opinions online when it comes to mock drafts and predictions. Most of them focus on football. That makes sense because the NFL has turned the Draft into a three-day prime-time televised event, but at its core the draft and all the workouts, Pro Days and the Combine are all part of a hiring process that plays out in a very public way.   

Here's what this means for you: there's an opportunity to have productive business conversations that you might not be able to easily broach in your normal day-to-day interactions. 

Football fans are talking about the draft. Casual sports fans are aware of the draft. Use that to your advantage. When you use topic that is top-of-mind and direct the conversation towards specific business challenges, discussions and interactions that's Thinking Outside the Box Scores. 

When I tell people to use sports in...

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So you're saying there's a chance...

Opening Day and the start of every sports season brings unrivaled optimism that "This could be the year..." 

The promise of Spring Training, the hype around new players, and a win-loss record that hasn't yet reflected the actual talent on a team, gives fans hope. Even if there is misguided optimism and unrealistic expectations (most) fans enjoy the feeling that anything is possible for the season. 

As a fan you've probably rolled your eyes a few times at friends who insisted their team had a legit chance to win the championship as a long shot. You might have even argued the finer points of expected wins, off-season moves and games lost to injury. But you can't deny the optimism that exists at the start of every season, when each team starts with a clean slate and anything seems possible. 

Let me ask you this... when was the last time you felt the same about your career or your business? 

We laugh, roll our eyes and dismiss the enthusiasm of fans, but we should...

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Planks, Pitch Clocks and Focus

business communication Feb 26, 2023

I was finishing my workout. I just wanted to make it through my final plank - UGH! I watched the seconds tick by with one thought, "just finish."

After collapsing into a child's pose I realized I spent more than a minute thinking about just one thing - that stupid plank. In fact, that might have been the only time that day my mind wasn't skipping around, trying to manage multiple things at once. The timer at the end of my workout forced me to focus. It's the same thing that's happening in Major League Baseball this year. 

For the first time ever there is a pitch clock for big league games. It's creating a lot of conversation and that gives us a chance to think outside the box scores. 

I've talked to a number of big league hitters who have all said the new timing rules forces them to focus on one objective at the plate. They don't have time to think about the previous pitch. There's no time for extra thoughts or "What ifs." Being on the clock hones their focus. 


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I Promise You're not Binge-Watching This...

business communication Feb 15, 2023

Here’s more proof that sports stands alone as a conversation starter. The NFL season is over and no one – not a single fan – has waited to binge the season from Week 1 through the Super Bowl.

We don’t watch sports that way. This isn’t Ted Lasso it’s real life. We don’t wait for a season to end before we find out what happened to our favorite team. It’s ridiculous to even suggest that. It’s equally as ridiculous not to use sports to your advantage.

I used to say sports is the only DVR-proof programming on TV. Now it’s more accurate to say it’s the only appointment-viewing programming available.

Sports fans watch sporting events in real time, or at the very least know the outcome within 24 hours. 

That means there’s always something new to talk about. There’s never a shortage of storylines, outcomes, great performances, or questionable calls to discuss. You don’t have to search for conversation...

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Business Communication Skill - Asking Yes/No Questions

business communication Feb 11, 2023

Most sports fans watching a game focus on the game action. Makes sense right? Here's what else I tend to notice, the type of communication that takes place during a game. 

It's often very direct and concise because there's not a lot of time to discuss options during the middle of a game. That brings us to a communication skill that will make you a more effective communicator at work - asking Yes/No questions. 

I know somewhere along the way you've been told not to do that. I also know it's potentially bad advice. There's tremendous value in giving someone an easy answer and limiting their options. You see it all the time in football. 

I'm not suggesting that every question be in this form, but if you really want a response to an email including "Let me know if you have any questions"  isn't as direct as saying "Does this timeline work for you?" 

One approach gets you closer to your end result than the other. It might take an extra minute to think through...

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Personal Branding and Sports Fandom

Talking about the outcome of a game is part of being a sports fan. It's also part of your personal brand. 

That might not matter so much if you only talk sports with your closest friends. As one of my Instagram followers pointed out, every fan can talk for hours about how terrible the NFL refs/officials have been in recent years. 

Here's what I want to point out - if that conversation takes place at a sports bar, tail gate or game itself that's one thing. If it's taking place at work that is an entirely different story. Being emotionally invested as a fan can lead to emotional responses to outcomes, coaching decisions, play calls, etc... That type of response isn't necessarily the message you want to send to colleagues, managers or clients.  

As a sports fan you can talk about sports however you want to, but understand you are talking about more than an outcome. If your sports narrative includes consistently blaming the officials for an unfavorable outcome, it's...

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Don't point fingers. Use sports instead.

business communication Jan 22, 2023

Pointing out a mistake or initiating a conversation about poor performance can be a challenge in business settings. Especially if you don’t like confrontation or when it feels like you’re pointing a finger or calling someone out. 

Instead of avoiding the conversation use a sports example to as a launching point into the topic that needs to be addressed.

Time management was a huge issue during the NFL Wild Card games. The outcomes of those games doesn’t matter. It’s about the opportunity to have a bigger conversation about something that matters to your team at work. 

Look at sports as more than stats and scores and you’ll find ways to make sports talk more useful in business. 

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Make Winning Obvious

In sports it is painfully obvious you need to outscore an opponent to win. 

If you say, "That was a big win!" everyone - even non-sports fans - knows that means one team scored more points than the other. 

Outscoring an opponent isn't a key to the game it is the measure of success. 

Why am I belaboring this point? Because we rarely make it this simple, straightforward or obvious in business. Things get convoluted quickly. There are multiple interests and just like with any game plan, multiple ways to get to the end result. But unlike sports, we rarely make winning as obvious as we should. 

As mentioned in the video, winning looks different for different people. The bottom-line drives decisions, but that means something different for a CEO compared to a manager compared to a direct report. 

That brings us back to Thinking Outside the Box Scores... it should be painfully obvious to everyone on your team what counts as a win. You should be able to communicate...

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