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Good vs. Great Storytelling

The art of sales is far more than a product demonstration and a feature dump. The best sellers position their product or service without talking about their offering much at all. These sellers use storytelling to captivate their audience, stir emotion, and sometimes create urgency with a tasteful amount of fear. These stories are only effective when they are delivered in a natural and relevant way. To tell the story and tell it well, sellers must set the stage, dance around pitfalls, and carefully guide the customer or prospect to find the moral of the story for themselves.

Good storytelling requires that you step out of the sales role and into that of the customer. Great storytelling requires this and practice. Practicing each component of an effective story individually, the characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Practicing how each component and part of the story flows into the next, and finally practicing the entire story start-to-finish. Great storytellers practice well beyond delivering each scripted word flawlessly, they practice until they tell it naturally, even with unexpected interruptions or any adaptations necessary.

Practice is at the heart of everything great, even storytelling.

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The Value of Consistent Messaging

A consistent unified message is valuable in a number of ways. From company culture, approaching sensitive conversations, product positioning in the market, or messaging around business strategy and direction, consistency and accurate delivery of messaging is vital.

Companies taking a very intentional approach in defining their culture consider it important to consistently convey their ideals. From the CEO to a hiring manager in discussions with prospective hires, the ability to convey company values effectively can set the organization apart. This impacts company reputation, recruiting, retention, and more. There is typically a generally agreed-upon message, but how many people within the company can articulate it?

Consistency in company messaging is paramount when it comes to IPO, merger, or acquisition. What can be said and how it should be said are critical and can even have legal ramifications if missteps are made. Whether divulging financial information or confidential strategy, it can be permanently damaging. If everyone is clear on approved messaging and the delivery of said messaging well practiced, mistakes can be avoided.

Product messaging is likely the most commonly discussed, involving what a product or service is, how it solves customer challenges, its competitive advantages, and more. This messaging can be straight-forward, but depending on the industry, it can be rather technical. It can also be subject to regulations, making accurate delivery a must. Although the messaging may already be defined, can those involved deliver it accurately?

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Narrow Your Focus

This year has taught us many things, likely the most important lesson is the simple reminder of what we can and cannot control in life and business. For some, this lesson ignited a shift in priorities to a more limited number of things, things that we can control, things that truly matter and make a difference. Granted the specifics differ from business to business and person to person, there is a commonality in the idea of a narrowed scope and priorities of the highest value.

In our personal lives this may mean going back to basics, taking on fewer things, only what matters most. For many this is a sharper focus on family, close friends, health, or a renewed joy in an old hobby. As for our professional lives, a narrow focus could mean limiting the number of projects or initiatives to only those with the largest impact. With greater focus comes greater concentration, great concentration equates to more throughput. We may find ourselves getting more done!

A narrow focus frees up time, what you do with that time is what matters. It should come as no surprise that we would encourage you to use that time to improve at something. Being obsessed with the power of practice here at Rehearsal, we view practice as your most powerful tool. Whether you are practicing guitar or a sales pitch, intense focus on something that brings simple pleasure or measurable impact is tremendously rewarding.

Narrow your focus and accomplish more with practice.

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Perfection happens over time

Achieving perfection doesn’t happen overnight and because of that, the thought of perfecting a skill is daunting to most. The situations in which one applies soft skills constantly change, so the idea of flawless execution is unrealistic. Perhaps we should look at “perfect” as a verb, commonly defined as; to polish, hone, burnish, better, refine, brush-up, or fine-tune rather than the noun, flawless or without-fault.

If the situations where we apply soft skills are evolving, we must focus on continuous improvement or development. Reaching a state of flawlessness may be irrelevant if we are pitching a product or service in a market that is constantly changing, or perhaps in management where we handle challenging situations with personnel. What is most important is to practice skills continuously, incorporating experiences and insight learned along the way. Although it’s well known that steady improvement over time leads to significant change, it’s easy to lose sight of this along the way.

As trainers, managers, executives, and even peers, how we play a part in the process of deliberate practice is critical. As Geoff Curless mentions in the video above from a Training Magazine webinar earlier this year, “It’s managers, mentors, peers, everybody coming together to provide feedback, coaching, direction to work on those particular skills and see those improvements over time.”

Successful deliberate practice requires that we all play a part in driving continuous improvement within our organizations.

Perfection happens over time

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‘Tis the Season

Budgeting season that is. When you could just have learners use phones to record videos to send to their respective manager, why bring in Rehearsal? This sounds so simple, but it is inefficient and ineffective. Structure is a valuable aspect of effective skills development. A structure for skills development assignments organized by topic or subject facilitates purposeful learning. The simple idea of having conversation threads for a particular topic preserved and available for reference and easy access should a learner or mentor need to revisit a topic adds tremendous value.

Another case for a structured platform to guide skills development is progress measurement. With defined criteria both learners and mentors can utilize, progress and performance measurement are clear. If you don’t measure or don’t know what to measure, how can you be sure you’re making progress? A well-implemented criteria combined with the preserved conversation threads mentioned above clearly highlight progress as well as problem areas in need of more attention.

Often overlooked is the importance of visibility. Now this doesn’t mean visibility of learner activity by their mentors, we are talking about a more broad view for others in the organization. The best example is highlighting or uncovering coach-the-coach opportunities. If the only visibility exists between learners and mentors, how do you ensure those mentors are doing their best? Are they providing high quality coaching though feedback or are they simply directing? If the need to develop coaching, mentoring, or leadership skills exists, we may never see it. This missed opportunity ends up cascading throughout the organization, ultimately limiting performance.

Lastly, scaling skills development is impossible without the structure built into Rehearsal. Imagine receiving individual video submissions from a dozen individuals via text. How would you realistically track who has made a submission versus those who have not? Have you provided feedback to everyone? Which learners need to submit additional attempts? Can you quickly and effectively evaluate each submission against criteria and clearly articulate that feedback to them? What if they each have different levels of experience or are developing different skills? Trying to manage this quickly becomes a nightmare.

Don’t create a nightmare, budget to bring structure into your soft skills development initiatives.

some of rehearsals strengths

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The Softest of Soft Skills

The ability to be empathetic in both life and business is an invaluable skill. Unfortunately you can’t open a book or watch a presentation to learn empathy. You can learn what it is and why it is important, but not how to actually express it. Like other soft skills, practice is key in learning how to exercise empathy when it matters.

Why is practice so important? Let’s consider mastering good form in a simple physical exercise such as push ups. We can certainly learn tips from experts or watch video examples demonstrating good form, but nothing ensures success like practice. Now let’s be clear, the consequence of less-than-ideal form for push ups is minor, the same cannot be said about empathy. The challenge with empathy is its importance in sensitive conversations or interactions between people. Poor, or no expression of empathy can have catastrophic consequences for everyone involved in an interaction.

In business, empathy is nearly always exercised in parallel with technical or hard skills, making for a difficult balancing act. Zelus Consulting Group, who are considered to be experts in empathy suggest that empathy training be layered on top of a solid technical foundation. This yields a highly effective combination of technical skills with the ability to deliver an empathetic experience to customers or even coworkers.

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The Foundation for a Successful Sales Professional

Similar to elite athletes, successful sales professionals possess a unique drive to win. Other professions may strive for success, but not with the same ferocious competitive spirit. It’s one of the reasons sales is an exciting profession, but for those just venturing into sales or find themselves in a new sales role, what makes for a strong start?

Closing sales is far more complex than recalling product knowledge and pricing information. Although there are many commonly used sales methodologies, the ability to craft an effective message for a prospect is universal and critical for not only early success, but for continued success as well. Nearly all sales training deliver product information and pricing, leaving sales professionals to practice with prospects and customers. Effective sales training involves obtaining the product knowledge and then honing the soft skills required to deliver the massaging and engage in a dialog that leads to a sale. Crafting the conversation (or messaging) is key in helping sellers succeed more quickly.

Beyond revenue, a hidden benefit is increased retention. Turnover is a common pain point in many sales organizations, however if sellers are more successful sooner, they are far less likely to leave.

paychex webinar screenshot

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Is There a Formula for Effective Sales Enablement?

Although there is no magic formula in sales enablement, the second annual ATD Sell conference featured a number of sales enablement practitioners sharing insights on the making of impactful programs. It is clear that methods, tools, and culture are key in building impactful programs. For lasting results, organizations must shift enablement from a program mindset to a cultural one. Enablement isn’t a project or temporary initiative, but a continuous, ever-improving way of doing business.

Cultural adoption of this mindset requires not just buy-in, but involvement from the top down. Leadership must not simply endorse the enablement mindset, but demonstrate it. They should champion programs and participate in both learning and coaching. This may be best represented by a leader working side-by-side with the team rather than directing from afar.

Methods refer to the tactical approach to building, deploying, and managing enablement programs. Key elements include identifying coachable areas that will help achieve business goals is a great place to start, ensuring the leadership adoption mentioned above, conveying clear expectations for both sellers and coaches, as well as methods to showcase results.

Tools may seem straightforward; however, you have to keep your goal in mind. Are you looking to manage content, or create tailored learning paths, or even facilitate more virtual training? If you are in need of LMS functionality, there are a number of great solutions out there, but if you are looking to change behavior and truly enable sellers to perform at new heights, you have to do something different. At Rehearsal we remain focused on the power of practice using video role-play to hone skills, boost confidence, and reach top performance.

Nothing can replace people in sales and nothing replaces practice in becoming great.

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Rehearsal Presents at Germany’s LEARNTEC

learn-tec-conf

Rehearsal recently presented for a large global audience at the LEARNTEC conference at Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre in Karlsruhe, Germany. The conference was keynoted by learning guru, Elliott Masie, and attended by more than 7,000 participants and 240 exhibitors. Rehearsal had the opportunity to discuss how its technology is pushing learning and coaching to new levels.

Take a look at the presentation and contact Rehearsal to learn more about how you can use its virtual practice platform to increase performance.

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I Need My Training “Franchise-Style”

At its core, franchising is about brand value. Brand value flows from the franchisor to the franchisees and then to the customers. So how do you teach brand value? And when your company growth depends (at least partly) on an increase in the number of franchisees, how can you effectively and efficiently teach brand value to multiple general managers and franchisee teams distributed throughout the world?

The most famous franchises in the world boast that training is the key element to ensure brand value and consistency among their franchisees. In franchising, training should be continuous; Classroom training is not viable due to costs and disruptions in day-to-day scheduling and operations. Many franchises are using mobile training to get their franchisee teams up to speed. But, even with mobile and ondemand training, how will you know when your franchisees are ready? How will you know that they can deliver the level of service, passion and commitment that your brand requires?

Rehearsal has solved that problem for a number of its franchised customers. Rehearsal’s mobile-friendly video based practice platform allows for franchisees afar to bring their messages right to the home office. Through a video conversation thread, corporate employees can serve as mentors or coaches and give feedback to the franchisees until everyone is comfortable with the level of performance.

With Rehearsal, companies can ensure that brand value is preserved right from the start and continuously as the franchise builds. If metrics indicate that a franchisee is underperforming, the Rehearsal platform allows for employees to practice toward improvement. Further, the Rehearsal Leaderboard stores videos that have been graded highly and those videos can be shared across franchisees as learning resources.

If your company’s success depends on the perceived value of its brand, training is not enough. Your franchisees need to practice and perform until every location is on message.

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Train the Trainer Use Case

“We could have gone with another provider, but the Rehearsal Team went the extra mile to give us everything we needed. That’s how we work and we want to work with partners who are willing to do the same.”

training-with-whiteboard

The Challenge

This global learning company trains 100+ associates each year to deliver a signature training program for the company. The signature program reveals individual thinking and behavioral preferences through experiential and interactive learning. As part of the associate training process, each must be reviewed by seasoned coaches to ensure understanding of the content and ability to identify thinking patterns and behaviors of the students in the class. The content in these workshops is personal and can be sensitive so the company must ensure that its trainers are ready and able to do the job accurately and consistently.

Prior to implementing Rehearsal, associate reviews were done in person and through videos sent on flash drives; however, with a growing team and limited resources, the company was forced to find a more scalable solution.

The Solution

After learning about Rehearsal’s technology, the company bypassed a pilot program and went directly into implementation. A group of associates began their training experience using the Rehearsal platform. They were provided with instruction to learn the content of the workshop and then asked to use Rehearsal’s technology to record their best delivery. The response to the technology was very positive.

The Results

Since June 2015, hundreds of associates from North America have used the Rehearsal platform to practice and showcase their training abilities. The coaches find it much easier to pinpoint where feedback is necessary which helps the associates to more quickly improve and get in front of the students for live workshops. Travel needs have been reduced and trainers find the process far more efficient.

Based on the results, the company has now implemented Rehearsal internationally.

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Your Harshest Critic May be You…So Get Over Yourself!

Written by Darik Volpa

I saw this article in HRB so I assumed it was credible and timely but what I found is that it is incredible and timeless. In a group of 10 people, maybe half will say they never want to speak in a public arena, two or three may say they are ok with it if they have to do it, and the remaining are your budding thespians who get on the stage and in front of a mic whenever they can. But here’s what I find incredible….you are still afraid of what you’d look like or sound like or say once you walk up to address the mic?

I get fear of the lights shining on you; fear of tripping up the stairs or on the carpet as you walk into the presentation room; fear of a bad AV connection — those are random occurrences and you’ll have to deal with them at some point. But you know what shouldn’t be random? 

YOU!

In the generation of #selfies, do you really not know what you look like? And I mean doing everything…I have seen what Gwen Stefani looks like when she wakes up in the morning and even President Obama was caught practicing his smile and his wink, “Things Everybody does but Doesn’t Talk About”.

So to many the fear is, like Teddy and his successors have said as recently as at last night’s DNC Convention #HRC, fear itself. You no longer have to fear how you’ll “show up” in the arena. You don’t have to worry about mumbling, misconstruing words, missing the message, or licking your lips 50K times in a 30-minute presentation. Why? Because you have technology that will handle that. Specifically, you have practice technology called Rehearsal.

Whether your anxiety shows up when you have to speak in front of tens of thousands, present to a group of co-workers, or meet with a new prospect, you don’t have to fear anything because you can practice EVERYTHING. Fear is what you make it and only you can let it grow and take over. Or you can take control of it. Put yourself in the hot seat — no one needs to be watching — you are your harshest critic after all…so get over yourself. Let Rehearsal help you to show the world who you really are. 

Go forward my fearless friends.

About the Author

Alice Heiman

Darik Volpa is a passionate entrepreneur. He’s started two successful software companies including Understand.com and Rehearsal VRP. Prior to this, Darik had a successful 10-year career at Stryker Corporation in various sales and marketing roles.

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Virtual -vs- Visual: Don’t Wait For It

Written by Darik Volpa

VR

My favorite paragraph from a recent article in HuffPo:

“As companies constantly look to get ahead in terms of productivity and operational effectiveness, there is an outstanding need for ingenuity. Using VR as a mental rehearsal tool is not one that is still widely known. Becoming the first to use it could result in great success. Those who don’t innovate tend to fall behind. As we obsess about workplace performance, increasing it through this unique tactic could be the step in the right direction.”

Awane Jones, partner at Merchlar and thought leader in digital marketing and author of “How VR Can Help Executives Rehearse For Big Moments”, is right about a few things:

  • First movers tend to gain the greatest reward.
  • Those companies that don’t innovate tend to fall behind.
  • Virtual reality is not widely known.

So I ask you: What is widely known? What is available to let you rehearse for that workplace performance we demand of our employees and of ourselves? It’s Rehearsal. And the first movers are gaining the greatest reward. And those companies that are not practicing with visual recognition, creating “hotseat” environments for practicing workplace behaviors, and giving constructive and managed feedback – are falling behind.

You don’t have to go very far to see the evidence:

  • Allstate
  • Amazon
  • Verizon
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Abbvie

Some of the world’s largest companies are turning webcams on their own employees — not to see what they are doing wrong but instead to help them make it right…make it better.

If swimmer Michael Phelps gained a competitive edge by visualizing every aspect of his race, what can your employees gain by seeing themselves present, practicing how they may answer a tough prospect question, or by finding a new angle to an old challenge because they had the chance to see someone else do it differently?

If a virtual-reality trained surgical resident performs gall bladder surgery more accurately and 29% faster by seeing what he or she does and improving upon that work, why wouldn’t your employee sell faster, find ways to be more profitable, or create new solutions for old problems, if he just had the opportunity to see himself?

You don’t need to wait for virtual reality technology. That is an excuse. We have what you need to see exactly what you are doing. Get better now. No excuses. 

About the Author

Alice Heiman

Darik Volpa is a passionate entrepreneur. He’s started two successful software companies including Understand.com and Rehearsal VRP. Prior to this, Darik had a successful 10-year career at Stryker Corporation in various sales and marketing roles.

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Practice (Rehearsal) Makes Perfect

Written by Larry Israelite

Like most people of a certain age, handwriting was a major focus of my early childhood education. It was not, to say the least, one of my strengths.  My teachers were persistent, reminding me on an almost daily basis, that practice makes perfect. If I kept at it – if I practiced more – my handwriting would continually improve.   

As it turned out, this may have been the example that proved the rule (I am, still, barely able to sign my name). But the concept of practice was ubiquitous when I grew up. I recited my spelling words out loud, letter by letter, completed multiplication worksheets until my fingers (and mind) ached and recited, repeatedly, the state capitals. I also went to baseball practice, practiced my trumpet (perhaps another bad example) and attended play rehearsal. While many of these activities continue to occupy the time of our youth, the most compelling contemporary example may be gaming, on which our children (and some of our friends, I expect) spend countless hours perfecting their techniques and increasing their point totals.  

Certainly, throughout elementary and high school, and even in college, there was an expectation that we would practice frequently, an explicit understanding that our skills will improve as a direct result, and feelings of guilt, inadequacy and remorse if we weren’t able to find the time to practice or, as in my earlier examples, practice didn’t yield the expected results. It was just how things were. And we accepted it.  

This steadfast belief in practice wasn’t created by psychologists or learning theorists, such as Skinner, Gagne’, Piaget or Maslow and wasn’t the result of the rigorous scientific research they and others conducted. At best, they simply confirmed something that we have known since the middle 1500’s, when the phrase ‘use makes perfect’ was first used – the more we do something the better at it we get, especially when there is an expert around to give us guidance and feedback.

In the work place, things are a little different. Our ability to practice is, at the very best, limited, and subject to the good will of our managers and the kindness of colleagues, coaches and mentors. For technical skills, training continues to offer safe opportunities to practice and learn. That used to be the case for skills that involve human interaction – so called ‘soft skills.’  Multi-day training programs, during which we had the opportunity to practice new skills, were commonplace. Now they are less so.

Today, classroom programs are shorter, if they are available at all and, and they are heavy on content and light on practice. A substantial amount of corporate training is delivered over the web. And while web-based programs can be incredibly creative and engaging, skill practice predominantly involves demonstrating that we know what to do or say in specific situations or that we recognize the right behavior when we see it demonstrated by others.  They rarely, if ever, include activities that require us to demonstrate that we can actually do something. And for work tasks that require us to engage with others, that kind of practice is absolutely critical.

The good news is that there is a solution. There are several trends that make possible the addition of the missing link in web-based training – meaningful practice for skills that, simply put, require us to speak to and engage with others.  To be specific, there now is:

  • A camera in virtually every device we use – phones, tablets and laptops
  • Universally available high speed internet
  • Inexpensive cloud storage for video files
  • General comfort with the creation of personal videos that can be viewed by others (and yes, this even extends to many boomers, generational stereotypes notwithstanding).
  • General acceptance that providing and receiving feedback electronically is a viable alternative to face-to-face discussions and communication.

As a result, technology platforms exist that allows us to learn new interactive skills through traditional eLearning and then practice applying those skills in a way that fully replicates what used to happen in the classroom. One such system is Rehearsal (www.rehearsal.com). Imagine the following:

  • We engage in a learning activity, which could comprise completing an eLearning module or simply reviewing a written process or task list. We then read a description of, or view a short video that describes, a scenario which requires a verbal response. We also might see a short video of an expert performing the same skill we are about to practice.  
  • Using Rehearsal, we practice what we have learned by recording an appropriate response to the scenario. We review the video and then either record it again (and again) until we are satisfied with our work.
  • The video is delivered to a coach (a manager, a mentor, a peer) who reviews, evaluates and comments on our videos. The coach then approves the video or suggests a re-do.
  • We review the coach’s comments and then either record a new video or move on to the next practice scenario.
  • Using a community leader board, the coach also has the ability to make the video available to other learners as an example of what ‘good’ looks like.

And because the entire experience is virtual, learners and coaches are bound by neither location nor time.

Since the early 1980’s eLearning designers have struggled with their inability to fully recreate the classroom experience through technology. By providing web-based video practice and feedback, Rehearsal has, finally, solved this problem and done so in a way that is efficient, effective, repeatable and enjoyable – words that any L&D professional or business leader loves (and longs) to hear.

About the Author

Larry Israelite

Larry Israelite was born and raised on a small chicken farm in Upper Black Eddy, PA. Since moving to the big city, he has spent more than 35 years trying to answer two simple questions: how can we do better business thorough learning and how can we enable better learning through technology. Larry has worked in a variety of industries in senior learning and talent management roles, most recently serving as the vice president of learning and development at the Liberty Mutual Group and the head of assessment development at Smarterer and Pluralsight. He has edited three books, including Lies About Learning and More Lies About learning, the last of which was published in 2015 by ATD Press. Always wanting to be on the bleeding edge, Larry completed his coursework for PhD in Educational Technology a scant three months before the release of the first IBM PC. His degree was awarded two year later.

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Simon Says It Takes Practice

Written by Geoff Curless
VP Sales, Rehearsal

Being human takes practice

Rehearsal recently exhibited at the ATD International Conference & Exposition. We were fortunate enough to have some of our team members attend the keynote presentation delivered by Simon Sinek. He kept using the word, “Practice”. It made me excited because that’s what we do. We offer the learning community, well…moreover…we offer people who want to get better…a place to practice and be coached on workplace topics, issues, and challenges.

Each time Simon said the word, “Practice”, I felt my heart race. I wanted to grab the mic and tell everyone that just yards away from this stage on the Expo floor was a company that would give them the chance to practice – just like Simon says to do!

I didn’t Kanye West my way onto the stage. Instead, I tweeted some Simon-isms on our Twitter page and then I let the whole experience sink into my overwhelmed conference brain. Like with many exciting moments, the ideas that spark the excitement fade after some time. Sometimes you even question what got you so excited in the first place. But not this time. In fact, this time it wasn’t the excitement that continued, it was instead my confidence in how Rehearsal could help every person in that audience and all of those people out there who make it their responsibility to make others better at what they do.

I found this article. Well, I found many articles as I searched for how Simon described “practice” at work. In every case, I challenged myself to make the connection between Simon’s philosophy and how Rehearsal could make it a reality. The reason I chose this article in particular is because each of the three things that Simon identifies as a “thing” that makes a leader…well, none of them are typically things you imagine practicing, especially in front of a web cam. But what I found is that each is, in fact, practicable. See how…my notes are in red and what follows is an excerpt of a recently published article on inc.com.

Selflessness

People like to be around people they trust–it’s as simple as that. “Humans are constantly assessing people and organizations around them, and if they feel they’re selfish, they’ll keep a safe distance,” said Sinek. On the other hand, people tend to want to associate with people and brands characterized by an element of selflessness. Creating that human connection–building trust–is key, though it does take time. Just remember: You’re responsible for setting that tone, Sinek warned. [Here is it…TONE! Do you know how you deliver a message? How would you even know? Sometimes we take for granted that our intentions are received, but our tone may not convey the message we intend. You can practice your tone. But you can only do so once you have seen and heard yourself deliver a message. With Rehearsal, you can see yourself ask a very common and simple question like, “How are you doing this morning?” Or more complicated messages like, “I’m worried about your performance lately. Can we talk?” And best of all, you can have others view your video and give you feedback. You can keep practicing until you deliver the tone you intend to be received.] “When the environment is one of a leader who [will] sacrifice, the way people respond is by sacrificing in return. Being a leader is a lifestyle decision; it means you’re willing to take care of others.” 

Empathy

Speaking of taking care of others, Sinek added, “the more we do good for each other, the more we want to do good for each other.” He recounted the time he picked up loose papers for a man when he saw them slip out of his bag. The man was grateful, but Sinek said his actions went further than that. They motivated someone who saw them to do something kind. Kindness begets kindness, Sinek went on. [So how do you create contagiously repeatable leadership examples? Have you ever wondered how you can change the way you do something so to encourage others to follow your lead? Simple. Practice! Instead of opening a meeting with your agenda, why not practice asking others to build the agenda with you? Practice letting Dana start the meeting by telling about her latest client interactions and then ask how you can help her better support her client’s needs. What could happen next is that other members on your team will stop questioning the work their co-workers do and instead ask how they can help support each other better.]  It’s holding the door for someone, making a new pot of coffee, and letting someone into your lane. Putting others ahead of yourself–“that is the practice of leadership,” he said. 

Grace under fire 

Stress and anxiety are enough to make people dishonest and to sabotage their performance at work. When your body is flooded with cortisol, or the chemical that produces anxiety, “you biologically restrict empathy and trust,” Sinek said. Don’t be that kind of boss–if you’re the one inducing fear and anxiety in your employees, you’re never going to have their trust. [You just learned that one of your product lines is going to fall short of its revenue goal by more than 20%…that means no bonus for you and possible staff cuts. You are livid and you want someone to blame. You also know that your temper gets the best of you but you still call an immediate and mandatory meeting of your team and open with one question: “Who is responsible for this?” as you point to the declining trend line on the white board. What have you done??? This didn’t have to happen. You can use Rehearsal to practice your responses to some of the toughest office challenges. You can turn moments that would typically destroy team culture into moments that strengthen culture. It’s up to you.] The solution is clear: Work on managing your own stress and “be the leader you wish you had,” he said. Your team will appreciate it. 

Are you ready to practice? Are you ready to be the best leader you can be? You can be the best. You can all be the best — with practice.

About the Author

Geoff Curless

Geoff has a professional history of quickly accelerating growth for start-up software companies and inspiring mature companies to sell strategically and with greater visionary aspirations. During his career, he has presented complex software and technologies to customers and partners in ways that promote the benefits and usability of the products and services. He has managed sales teams, key partnerships, and comprehensive sales and marketing plans for software companies serving all industries.

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Why do you do it?

Why do you put up with your commute to the office?

Why do you fall asleep with your computer on your lap and your phone in your hand more than three nights each week?

Why do you listen to a TED talk and get excited?

Why do you have an extra cup of coffee before your next meeting?

Why do you try to make it to the office early?

Montage-Shot

Why do you work on your days off?

Why do you tell your kids to work hard in school?

Why do you tell yourself to stop making excuses and start making progress?

Because.

You want to be better.

You may not be on TEAM USA but you are on a team. Practice hard. Show your work.

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American Companies Spend More than $15B on Leadership Development

It’s hard not to love the American commitment to leadership. It’s likely that your next thought may be, “Is it working?” And then maybe, “What does ‘working’ look like?”

What-does-a-good-leader

Peter Bregman, business advisor and author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, argues that leadership development programs strive too earnestly to create safe environments for learning. But the best learning often comes in times of risk and struggle. I picked that up in a Forbes article entitled, “If You Think Leadership Development Is A Waste Of Time You May Be Right”.

One of my favorite quotes comes from training…physical training…it’s from celebrity trainer, Bob Harper, “You have to get uncomfortable to see change”. Simple, right? Anyone who works out regularly knows that it has to hurt a little (sometimes even a lot) to see results. The same applies to personal challenges; you can’t change what you refuse to confront.

Now let’s bring it back to leadership development. We spend more than $15B annually to develop our leaders (get the Bersin Research Executive Summary here). How often do you think our developing leaders get uncomfortable? How often do you think they watch themselves lead, recognize what needs to be improved, and then make and practice those changes. In reality, most leaders — like people in general — see something they like or don’t like about how someone else is doing something and then borrow or alter styles and strategies to forge their own approach. What could you learn if you stopped for a moment and watched yourself?

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We are human. We get better with practice.

Written by Darik Volpa

This article from Business Insider is a nice reminder that most of the all-time greatest athletes work a lot harder than most people realize.

Connor

They have an obsession with being successful.

They have trainers.

They have mentors.

They have coaches.

They have places to practice.

Compare the mindset and work ethic of your all-time greatest employees with the mindset and work ethic of these athletes. What are the similarities? What are the differences?

Now compare and contrast the mindsets and work ethic of your great employees with your average or your below average employees. How can you convince all of your employees to have an obsession with success? What more can you give them? What more do they have to give?

At Rehearsal, we believe that practice builds ability and capability and that grows into an obsession with success.

The bottom line is that we are not all born talented; we are born human. But with practice and hard work, we can achieve anything we can dream.

About the Author

Alice Heiman

Darik Volpa is a passionate entrepreneur. He’s started two successful software companies including Understand.com and Rehearsal VRP. Prior to this, Darik had a successful 10-year career at Stryker Corporation in various sales and marketing roles.

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How to Look Good for Your Webcam

You have a date. It’s different than other dates. He always seems to be looking over your shoulder and comments about things that are behind you versus the nice shoes you just bought. She’s totally cool. She never complains about how you don’t tuck in your shirt and she’s fine if you wear flip-flops no matter where you go.

Your date is a webcam.

How to look good on a webcam

Your webcam captures you from the waist up in most cases. Your webcam cares a lot about the wall behind you. What else is your date looking at and how can you make the best of your time together? Get the latest infographic from Rehearsal, then practice your webcam style, and share it with us on Twitter @Rehearsal and hashtag #meandmywebcam.

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Watch Me Grow

Written by Geoff Curless VP Sales, Rehearsal

I was watching Sunday Morning at 4PM ET last weekend. The show featured internet celebrities…people who got famous for going viral.  It mentioned many of the social platforms that I am less familiar with like Vine and Snapchat.  But something caught my attention.

I work with video and yet I am still amazed by what it can do — not just the production of it but the impact it has on people. It’s not like we haven’t been using it for decades. In fact, I watched a documentary last week about the Ford Company and saw movies of Edsel Ford partying in his 19th century chateau. But here is what’s different about video today.

One, as I mentioned, I watched CBS Sunday Morning at 4PM in the afternoon. Ondemand video is nearly essential now that we all try to balance work and life so masterfully 😉

Second, we have short attention spans and yet want to squeeze the most out of the short time we have to devote to learning something new. Video can tell a story in a matter of seconds. Forrester claims that a one minute video is worth 1.8 million words!

Third, and possibly most important, “seeing is believing”. Those of us in learning know how hard it is to measure the impact of learning initiatives. We have come a long way and many large companies are using evaluation models and assessment tools that tie nicely to business outcomes. But would we feel differently about learning if we visually saw progress?

Finally, I’ll throw one more thing into the mix before I get to the point of it all. I’m a gadget guy. I found this during my downtime internet reading: https://getkiba.com/. It’s a video camera that knows how to identify the most important moments you and your family experience. That’s right….it records and self-edits your life so once you watch it, you only see what is important. The camera builds your story for you.

What if you had the chance to teach people, watch them learn, watch them practice, watch them grow, watch them get better? What an amazingly human way for companies to show the impact of talent and development initiatives! The good news is that you don’t need to “get kiba” into all of your offices; you don’t need to get Vine celebs to capture your employees’ greatest “six-second” learning moments. You just need to teach your team and encourage them to practice. Well, at least that is your part. We at Rehearsal will capture the stories for you so you can watch every team member grow.

I’ll leave you with this video that has been viewed millions of times. It’s a six-second time-lapsed video of a woman….growing. What if you could watch your employees grow? You can with Rehearsal.

Do you have video clips — time-lapsed or not — of you, your employees, your co-workers, you kids, learning and growing on video? Share them with us on Twitter at @Rehearsal and hashtag #watchmegrow.

About the Author

Geoff Curless

Geoff has a professional history of quickly accelerating growth for start-up software companies and inspiring mature companies to sell strategically and with greater visionary aspirations. During his career, he has presented complex software and technologies to customers and partners in ways that promote the benefits and usability of the products and services. He has managed sales teams, key partnerships, and comprehensive sales and marketing plans for software companies serving all industries.

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Video Based Practice Works

Wonder why everyone is talking about video? Because it works. If you want learning retention, you need video. This infographic from Rehearsal makes your next business case for video and learning. Rehearsal takes these stats to the next level by using video role play to put learning into practice and practice into results.

Video-Based-Practice-Works

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With the Greatest of Ease

Written by Geoff Curless VP Sales, Rehearsal

Have you ever been to the circus and wondered how those trapeze artists got their start? Was it jumping from bed to bed as a child that gave them the confidence to fly high in the air with the greatest of ease? Was it just a born talent?

I took my two kids trapezing during winter break. While I felt safe about the facility and instructors, I still had to wonder how my kids were going to go from never having seen a trapeze up close to being caught in the air by a man in tiger pants flying full speed ahead toward their little bodies. The session took two hours. We learned about three moves and we had to practice them over and over again until our instructors felt we could do them without giving each much thought. Each try came with input for how we could make the moves look cleaner, how we could move our bodies more efficiently and how we could prepare for when we would reach out to be caught by our partner. When our instructors felt we had perfected the moves, we were ready for the big catch.

Eaze

I needed about two more hours of practice before they would ever give me the green light to move on; however, my daughter, a budding gymnast, was allowed to move to the next level and was successfully caught by her partner each time. See here. This experience made me reflect on what I do as a sales manager. All too often we let our sales representatives go out there and “get ‘em”, but are they really ready? Some of our newbies may be like my daughter and already come with confidence and expertise; others may be like me on a trapeze and have no experience or confidence at all. But no matter what point they are at when they begin, we have to give them the room, time, and tools to practice before we literally let them throw themselves to a new prospect.

We never want to lose a good opportunity because of our own incompetence. We need to practice the basics, get feedback, move to the next level, and repeat. This is how we build confidence and competence. This is how we build a stronger sales team.

About the Author

Geoff Curless

Geoff has a professional history of quickly accelerating growth for start-up software companies and inspiring mature companies to sell strategically and with greater visionary aspirations. During his career, he has presented complex software and technologies to customers and partners in ways that promote the benefits and usability of the products and services. He has managed sales teams, key partnerships, and comprehensive sales and marketing plans for software companies serving all industries.

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Practice Wrong, Perform Wrong

Written by Kelly Riggs, Founder of Business LockerRoom

There’s an old adage that says, “Practice makes perfect.”

Of course, that’s not right.

As the venerable Vince Lombardi said: “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

As it turns out, you can spend a lot of time practicing and actually be hurting yourself.

I’ve had a chance to see that first-hand. Having spent many years coaching kids’ football, I had lots of opportunities to see how other coaches run practice sessions during the week.

You would be amazed at how many coaches go directly to “team” practice – that is, 11-on-11, full scrimmage. To understand the problems this creates – or, if you’re not familiar with football (or football practice) – this is akin to the actors in a Broadway play practicing the entire play, from Day 1, with people who may or may not know the lines or the choreography. Instead of blocking scenes, practicing lines, and working on choreography, the actors go straight to full rehearsal (for more information on “blocking” a scene, read THIS). So, a typical football practice for a young kid (think 3rd through 7th grade) would include a warm-up and some stretching, followed by some general drills like sprints and agility exercises. Then, there might – MIGHT – be more specific drills: blocking, tackling, and ball drills (throwing and catching). 

After that – 30 to 40 minutes into practice – a lot of coaches would go directly to practicing plays with a full offense and defense.

The problem with this kind of approach should be obvious. Team performance doesn’t improve until individual players improve, which, by definition, would require much more individual practice.

Sequence is Important

As a college football player, I was exposed to truly effective practice sessions.

Warm-up. Stretch. Agility drills. Then, individual ball skills. Receivers, for example (the position I played), throw and catch with QBs. They practice specific routes. They practice catching passes from different angles, with one hand, facing the QB, over the shoulder, and much more.

Depending on the position, there was extensive blocking or tackling practice, with every conceivable game possibility included in the practice. For instance, a lineman might practice zone blocking, pull blocking, doubleteams, and much more, with application to specific plays the team runs.

Then, it was on to group practice. Groups of players worked against other groups. The offensive line practiced against defensive linemen. Receivers worked against defensive backs. Quarterbacks and running backs worked together against linebackers and defensive ends.

It was in this part of practice that the connection between individual skills and specific plays were created. Players learned how their individual roles created success in a specific play. Compare that with the average employee who toils away in a cubicle, often in complete obscurity, with little understanding of his/her role in the success of the company.

Then, after all of that individual and group practice, it was finally time for “team” practice.

But, realize that by this point, each player understands his role in the play. He has practiced the individual skills that allow him to excel in that particular play. He has worked on footwork, recognition and reaction, blocking and tackling, and much more.

The point to all of this is that sequence is important. Players (employees) have to perfect individual skills before they can excel within the “team” framework.

Unfortunately, few companies provide that type of practice environment.

In sales, for example, a salesperson needs to learn how to interview, ask questions, get referrals, respond to objections, present dozens of different solutions, tell compelling stories, present pricing, and so much more. But how many salespeople actually practice these things before they go LIVE in front of a customer??

Those companies that actually provide some level of training are often guilty of exactly the same mistake that amateur football coaches commit – they go straight to full-on sales presentations without any thought to the individual skills that will make those presentations more effective.

That’s where Rehearsal becomes incredibly invaluable.

First, it eliminates the objection of working in front of peers; employees can practice in the privacy of an office or at home.

Second, it allows managers to practice on specific individual skills before going live with a customer.

Finally, it allows employees to practice over and over until it’s right. And then they can continue to practice to stay sharp or to adapt to change.

Remember, all practice is not created equal.

Individual practice is critical. Sequence of practice makes a huge difference.

And, most importantly, perfect practice is what creates perfect execution.

About the Author

Kelly Riggs

A sales strategist and leadership coach, Kelly is uniquely qualified to help businesses improve performance. He is a former two-time national Salesperson of the Year, a successful entrepreneur, and a highly acclaimed teacher and business coach. He is the author of “1-on-1 Management: What Every Great Manager Knows That You Don’t” and “Quit Whining and Start SELLING: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Hall of Fame Career in Sales.”