Improving the Odds of Success

cube-769322_640Depending on the day or circumstance, success can feel like something completely out of our hands, can’t it?! Like a roll of the dice (once we let go of them). So let’s spend a few minutes on how to increase the probability of success – YOUR success – by improving the odds, as it were.

Grand Plan, Supportive Strategies, and Specific Methods

Let’s start by defining some terms:

  • Grand Plan – A focused intention to achieve something of particular significance
  • Supportive Strategies – An array of plans enacted, en masse, to accomplish a Grand Plan
  • Specific Methods – A series of steps required by a Supportive Strategy

That said, we can meaningfully improve our odds by, literally, working with the odds – the odd numbers 1, 3 and 5, that is – in the following manner:

  • 1 – Choose ONE Grand Plan – the point of the exercise
  • 3 – Select THREE Supportive Strategies – to focus our energies and attention as we work to achieve our Grand Plan
  • 5 – Identify FIVE Specific Methods – for each Supportive Strategy
Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Then, we just implement our Grand Plan from the bottom up.

“I Deserve a Promotion”

Let’s work an actual example – one that worked quite well for me, back in the day, and for many of my coaching clients, since:

  • 1 – Choose ONE Grand Plan
    1. Get an “In-Place” Promotion – Receive an increase in title, pay, and responsibility as recognition for the work you’ve already been doing
  • 3 – Select THREE Supportive Strategies
    1. Articulate Your Readiness to be Promoted – Help your boss realize/confirm that, yes, it IS time and, yes, you ARE ready
    2. Justify Your Promotion in Business Terms – You can’t just walk in and scream, BIWI (pronounced “bee-wee,” as in, Because I Want It”).
    3. Identify and Engage Well-Positioned Advocates – Ultimately, you’re going to need one or more opinion-leaders outside of your vertical to stand up and say your name.
  • 5 – Identify FIVE Specific Methods – for each Supportive Strategy, per the chart below:
Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

How Difficult is This, Really?

So let’s level-set. How much work does this approach take? For me, my rough draft took about 10 minutes to build. And then I revisited it a few times over the course of a few days to fine-tune it.

But the bigger point is this: Consider the power of having 15 Specific Methods in support of 3 Supportive Strategies in service of  your Grand Plan – especially, as compared to just showing up in your boss’s office, one day, with not much more than a BIWI.

Does doing this guarantee success? Obviously, no. And might your Grand Plan, Supportive Strategies, and Specific Methods differ from the one’s I’ve used? Quite possibly.

(While I used a career acceleration example to illustrate the approach, this same process can just as easily be used to create a wide variety of Grand Plans and their cascading Supportive Strategies and Specific Methods.)

So remember: To improve your odds, work with the odds – 1, 3, and 5, GO!

What Next?

If this post helped you learn something about yourself, then great! Be sure to share your insight with others as a way of 'locking in' your learning. While you're at it, I'd also appreciate you telling them about the other self-study resources available from LeadershipTraction including:Thanks.

- bz

P.S. If you have a question or comment about this post, just let me know. I'll do my best to get back to you, straightaway.


Hello, My Name Is…

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How comfortable are you at introducing yourself to those outside your immediate sphere of influence? Many, if not most, are not. If that’s you, Money magazine offers five excellent ways to take the complexity – and awkwardness – out of it. “The key?” asks author Caroline Ceniza-Levine of 5 No-Fail Ways to Introduce Yourself at a Networking Event, “To be brief, but also leave enough information that you pique the listener’s interest.”

Here’s how:

  1. Bond Over a Shared Experience
    “If you’re at a wedding, open with how you know the couple. If you’re at a conference, open with your affiliation to the organizer or your interest in the topic. If it’s a company mixer, mention your role, department or years at the company. From this shared experience, you can share parts of your background that build from there. But you have already built rapport by starting with what you have in common. This is great for a career changer who may not want to associate himself with the role or company he currently has.”
  2. Tell a Client Story
    “Instead of just listing your title and company, talk about who you serve: ‘I’m an accountant with We Love Taxes. I prepare taxes for retail companies, mom and pop businesses, circus performers….’ The more specific the better. You can also drill down to one specific story: ‘I am currently working with a retail store owner who came to us with a laundry bag full of receipts, invoices and other papers, and I created an electronic system that can now be accessed on her phone.’ The client story is particularly useful if you’re a business owner and want to leave your listener with a clear idea of your value but without a sales pitch.”
  3. Give a Before and After
    “That anecdote of going from a laundry bag full of papers to a streamlined system is not just a client story, but also a before/after story. The before/after can be a client’s result but it can also be what you have brought to your role or department: ‘I manage logistics for We Love Mail. The company used to spend over $1 million on shipping costs, and my group figured out how to cut that cost in half.’ A before/after structure is accessible because it’s visual, and the conversational structure prevents too much business jargon from creeping in. Creating a before/after pitch also forces you to identify and specify the value you bring.”
  4. Focus on your Expertise
    “This is the most traditional pitch in that you summarize the arc of your career—industry specialty, years’ experience, and/or role: ‘I’ve been in marketing most of my career—consumer products, luxury, and now retail—specializing in social media…’ This is a dependable way of introducing yourself, and if you keep it concise, you’ll share a rich amount of information. One drawback is that many people use this pitch, so you risk getting forgotten, especially at a crowded event like a conference where introductions stack up. To be more memorable, that same marketer could have made the pitch more specific… ‘I am the social media strategist for We Love Books. I build a community for book lovers to discover our store online.’ Or the marketer could have tried to incorporate the before/after as well: ‘I am the social media strategist for We Love Books. We had a pretty dormant Facebook page three years ago when I started so I put us on YouTube, Pinterest, and Facebook and now we a third of our customers hear about us first online.'”
  5. Get Personal
    “Most pitches rightly include professional history or accomplishments because people expect this. But an introduction is really about the start of a relationship. The professional sharing could come after. You might try sharing something personal first—where you grew up, a cherished hobby, a side project you’re currently working on. If the personal nuggets engenders a genuine rapport and a chance to talk again later then it’s a good pitch to use. You might combine it with the shared experience: ‘I’m a friend of the bride. We went to school together—elementary actually. I grew up in St. Louis and didn’t come to NYC till well after college…'”

So go, experiment. Mix and match. Watch and listen how what you say engages others – does their affect remain pretty flat or do they perk up and engage back? Based on that, vary your ‘what’ and ‘how’ the next time. And the time after that, etc.

Remember, an introduction is really about the start of a relationship – not about trying to complete an entire entire relationship in 30-some-odd-seconds.

What Next?

If this post helped you learn something about yourself, then great! Be sure to share your insight with others as a way of 'locking in' your learning. While you're at it, I'd also appreciate you telling them about the other self-study resources available from LeadershipTraction including:Thanks.

- bz

P.S. If you have a question or comment about this post, just let me know. I'll do my best to get back to you, straightaway.