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“You already know how to be Great” by Alan Fine

You Already Know How to Be GreatThe first time I heard about this book was during a leadership course to which I attended some months ago. The main ideas of this document were used to teach the coaching as a technique for self-improving and to develop collaborators’ performance. In fact, I would say that this is, besides other things, a coaching book.

The author bases his proposal on the idea that everyone has the potential to perform better. The potential is blocked by the interference. That interference can come from the perception that we need more knowledge, but the author considers that “the problem is not as much about knowledge acquisition as it is Knowledge execution”.

Apart from knowledge, there are other three elements blocked by interference:

  • ·         Faith: our beliefs about ourselves and about others.
  • ·         Fire: energy, passion, motivation and commitment.
  • ·         Focus: what we pay attention to and how.

These three elements which are present throughout the book create with Knowledge what it is called the “K3F” model of human performance. The author releases his model and keeps insisting on the importance of developing each element for a better performance, but they are little the real advices to work on those elements.

The most interesting part of the book, and which I believe we can use with ourselves, is the GROW model for performance improving. This is a technique with four stages where by means of questions, we generate the better ways to achieve our targets. This is an inside-out process, where the person or team has the responsibility of developing his solutions and ideas, and the action plan. The four steps are:

  • ·         Goal: what is the goal? Make sure it is SMART. grow
  • ·         Reality: it must be accurate.
  • ·         Options: a brainstorming to come up with all the options.
  • ·         Way forward: what will you do? Make sure it is doable.

The book provides an exhaustive list of questions for each stage, which we can use from goal setting to way forward.

Since coaching is thought not only to work with ourselves but with others, the author proposes different ways to deal with people (performers) depending on their willing to collaborate. Examples of coaching conversation are given; however, I found some of them a bit fanciful (like the coaching conversation with a two-year-old girl).

Finally, I would say that this is a book from which we can obtain some helpful ideas. Probably the GROW model is the most relevant and reliable part, giving a tool to work on our (and others) performance.

“How to deliver a Great TED talk” by Akash Karia

how_to_deliver_a_grat_ted_talk-akash_kariaI am quite interested in communication. It is essential in the development of the professional career. You not only must be a specialist in the area in which you work, but also you must be able to explain the results of that work. It is quite significant in finance, where we use a “language” which is not understood by all the receivers in the Company. Therefore, we have to make an extra effort if we want that our message reaches the audience.

Presentations are more than important in finance. Quite usually the figures of the Company have to be explained to the Directors, members of the Boards, Unions representatives…Placing the facts in a friendly way is not enough, you have to “sell” the presentation. Or, better said, the audience has to buy it.

This time was the turn of Akash Karia’s book. It is short and I downloaded it for free. I have to recognize that I was attracted by its title. I really love many TED talks, and the idea of analyzing them (or some of them) makes sense for a book which intends to provide advice on public speaking.

My impression after reading the book is that the author has some good tricks on communication and he uses TED speeches to support them. The main points are as follows:

  • ·         One simple and core message: what is the one single thing you want the audience to remember?
  • ·         Tell a story.
  • ·         Attention-grabbing opening: avoid the three main mistakes.
  • ·         Clear conclusion.
  • ·         Clear call to action: sell the benefits.
  • ·         Build an emotional connection with the audience.

Throughout the book we are illustrated with some techniques which will help us to release a reliable speech based on the pillars mentioned above. I find some of these techniques helpful and practical, such as the ones related to the opening or story building; some others like the sensory inputs reference, I just found not realistic or difficult to apply. But I really agree with the last piece of advice: rehearse the speech as a way to feel more confident.

There are two aspects that the author should have cared more: on the one hand, the text should have been carefully reviewed in order to avoid typing mistakes. On the other hand, when a research or statistic is mentioned, it should be indicated the source.

  This is an easy-to-read handbook which essence is similar to the one of other books on communication that I have read. It can help to start.

The Old man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Lessons for management

OldmanseaSomeone may ask what this short story has to do with a blog about business, and I agree that, at first sight, there is no relationship. However, I am one of those people who are always thinking of ideas from other fields which can be applied in Companies management.

I am not the first one who obtains conclusions from this little masterpiece. In fact, many readers identify the novel with an allegory about the old age and the lost battle against the death. But I found a couple of ideas which can be taken into account at work.

The first idea is related with focusing deeply on a task without considering if the best track has been chosen or if there are other options. So absorbed was the old man with the fact that he hadn’t fish for the last eighty-four days, that he didn’t even think of the consequences associated with following and fighting the great fish. He didn’t calculate if he had enough food or water, or shelter for the cold nights. Don’t we do sometimes the same when we start a task? Don’t we have to stop and rethink the whole thing because we come across problems we didn’t consider at the beginning? Time is short, we shouldn’t waste it. Please, think twice before starting a task and focusing on it.

Secondly, we should pursue realistic objectives that we can get. This doesn’t mean that we can only set up easy objectives which don’t require effort. Not at all. The objectives must be attractive and demanding.  When the old man noticed that the fish was longer than his own skiff, he knew that his sole arms weren’t enough to achieve the goal he yearned. Apart from that, there were other threatens that he didn’t consider, or at least, he underestimated. I understand that in Companies it is different, since normally there is more than one person setting the objectives, but we can’t afford to lose time and efforts in no realistic targets.

Finally, I would say that this book, which was the clue for Hemingway’s Nobel Prize, worth reading. It is possible for us as readers to participate in the story and think of our own life.

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