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In your clients own words

NYC Branded Lifestyle Portraits Speaker Consultant Lou Diamond working on computer

Stop talking and let those you serve speak on your behalf.

So, I have this problem where I like to talk a lot, especially about the work I do with speakers, authors, and other expert-based businesses.

I get very excited, the sweat starts going, the cursing gets ramped up and my hands start to flail around like they have a mind of their own.

I sometimes have to catch myself, but never do. 

It’s because I love talking about visual storytelling and lifestyle portraiture – it’s in my blood and wholeheartedly believe every word I say. 

Although I understand that sharing this level of passion for the services I provide my clients is important, I also understand that my words alone are not enough to pique people’s interest in hiring me for my specialized help.

They need to hear from people who’ve experienced the process. 

They need to hear from people who were in their shoes and have come out on the other side much better off for the experience working with you.

For many years, I was under the impression that the work I created with clients speaks for itself.

Guess what?

It doesn’t.

Although a picture is worth a thousand words, it never opens its mouth to share them. 

That’s why I provide space for my clients to do so…

…and so should you!

Whether in written, audio-only or in video format, sharing your client’s thoughts on how you helped them with some aspect of their business is an extremely effective way for you to gain the attention of those who need you most. 

In addition to it representing social proof, these testimonials provide your audience an opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of the person whose life and business has improved as a direct result of your products, services, and specialized attention. 

This helps create a direct connection between you and your audience, which goes a long way to developing a deeper connection and trust. 

Once you gain their trust, that’s when these audience members become paid clients who buy your book, attend your workshops and sign up for your online training programs. 


Keep one important point in mind:

These testimonials are not for you. 

They’re for those who read them so they can understand how you solve people’s points of friction in their businesses and lives.

Please don’t simply ask them to write a sentence or two about how amazing you are! 

This isn’t enough. 

What your audience wants to know is why the experience was amazing. And it’s your job to guide your clients when they’re crafting these testimonials to do just that.


When I first started sending out a list of questions to my clients, I felt very uncomfortable about it. I felt that it was a burden.

But then I started reading the testimonials I received and realized that this exactly what was needed in order to paint the full picture of the experience. 

In addition, I received a few thank you’s from those who leveraged the questions to create the testimonial because it made their lives easier.

They didn’t need to guesstimate what I wanted them to talk about – they simply answered the questions, combined them into several paragraphs and posted it to my LinkedIn page.



Everyone has their own way of communicating and sensibilities, so, rather than talk about how you word your questions, I feel it’s more valuable to talk about the types of questions that need to appear in your testimonial request.

Remember, it’s not a blurb of how amazing you are.

It’s a story that shares the value of how you positively affected someone’s life and business. 

Here’s how you can set up that story.


This is an extremely important question for your clients to answer. This is the entry point for those reading to start relating themselves to this person. 

This question fleshes out your testimonial clients initial points of friction that necessitated them booking a call with you.  Either the reader has the exact same friction in their life, or they can relate to it.

And this is exactly what you want. 

You want the reader to compare themselves to your testimonial client. While this question elicits an answer that’s all about their pain, there’s a happy ending to this story. 

Allow readers to envision themselves experiencing that same happy ending. 


Allow your testimonial client to share all of the juicy goodness that represents working with you.

Now this could actually be fleshed out through a series of questions that each focus on one particular aspect of your service, depending on how you structure your service offerings.

Make sure to allow your testimonial clients to highlight specific aspects of their experience through the questions you offer.

For example, don’t assume they will talk about how the on-boarding process set them up for success if you don’t specifically ask them to talk about it. 

Remember, you have options if an answer isn’t forthcoming or shaped in the way that you want.

One, you can ask them to elaborate on what they’ve written or two, you can strike it from the testimonial altogether.

But don’t assume anything.


Value has many meanings.

If you don’t offer questions that lead your testimonial clients down a path that describes the value you want prospects to know about, you’re running the risk of having them leave the good stuff out.

Questions that touch not only the quality of deliverables, but the empowerment that they feel now that they’re on the other side of working with you are also essential to offer. 

Remember – people don’t make buying decisions based on what they think – they base it on how they feel. If you create testimonials that touch on both, then you’re creating powerful marketing assets that get attention.

So, that’s pretty much it.

All you need are three types of questions and that will tell an effective story on your behalf. 

At the end of the day, these testimonials validate you in a way that you simply cannot do for yourself. 

It takes a little extra work and prodding of your past clients.

But, when potential clients consume these testimonials, the juice is worth the squeeze.

And, oh by the way, they’ll put a smile on your face, too, 🙂


John DeMato is a NYC branded lifestyle portrait photographer and storytelling strategist who serves speakers, authors, coaches and high-level entrepreneurs across the country. His 50+ page e-book, S.H.A.R.E. M.A.G.I.C.A.L. I.D.E.A.S., lays out the how, what and why behind creating a memorable and referable online presence – sign up to get your FREE copy today.

Best Practices Growth Leadership Personal Development

Avoiding Corporate Survival Strategies Will Keep the Ball Rolling in Your Direction Subtitle: GET REMEDIAL!

Has this happened to you before? After a few meetings with a big company, there’s suddenly someone new in the room, and they completely take over—erasing all progress and putting everyone back at square one. They say, “I’m not convinced we should do this!” and then try to shoot down the proposal for the rest of the meeting. What does this mean? They weren’t prepared for the meeting and are attempting to use a “smokescreen” tactic.

Or, after a year of back-and-forth with everyone you’ve been working with, you reach a new group that will actually use your solution! But guess what? They’re unprepared. They don’t know why they’re having the meeting, and they don’t even know who you are. For them, it’s time to start all over. Their bosses haven’t briefed them on the reason, the history, or even the authorization to move forward. Or even worse—they were briefed, but they didn’t read the correspondence! Why wouldn’t they read it? Because they’re so overwhelmed, and these things can fall through the cracks. Usually, communication is minimal and last minute.

Different Strokes

Entrepreneurs need to be “hustlative”. They need to be thoroughly briefed. They need a consistent and comprehensive view at all times. Their paycheck depends on it—their future isn’t guaranteed. They have to see the big picture in order to succeed. They must know the whens and the whys.

One of the benefits of working for a big organization is financial security. These employees work under less pressure and don’t expect “urgency” to ever come up in conversation. They get paid no matter what happens to your project—unless they lose their job! So is it any surprise that Job Security is Priority #1? Any threat must be challenged. Any assumption that they aren’t performing must be crushed. All the politics—it’s the nature of the beast. Interestingly, there exists a support group for this method of thinking that begins with the division of labor and specialty associations and ends with competitive inter-organizational salaries. Employees at big companies usually only specialize in one job area and might look at everything else through that one narrow lens. Their biggest concern is, “Will this make my job easier?” instead of “How will this improve the bottom line of the company?” Specialty work can insulate and isolate employees away from the sales process.

Think about the fact that these employees could just be doing their time at this big company only to get resumé experience to help move their career along. Or they could be moved to another position within the same big company. But where does that leave you, the entrepreneur that depends on the big company’s blessing? Yep—start from scratch, even if you’ve been doing this for a year already. There likely won’t be any continuity or urgency on their part.

Navigating Blockages

This same corporate blockage can wear many masks, but the bottom line is always this—as an entrepreneurial outsider trying to accomplish something at a large company, you must be proactive when it comes to briefing, even if you feel like it’s redundant. This must happen before every single meeting.

While we were building a major brand, we worked with so many large, sluggish companies. Some were large corporations, and others were governmental. More than once, we had to do the other guy’s job while being careful not to frustrate them. Then we had to thank them before recommending them to their bosses. Crazy, right? But it’s all about getting the job done.

Use these tips to help you get through corporate blockage:

  1. After you’ve gotten the authority to move toward a solution and are handed to the first executive, confirm (in writing) that you have clear permission to do so. Explain, again, how this solution will affect the bottom line, and provide a decision-making deadline that will help the company maximize its benefits. This will be important down the line when all the executives start playing ‘musical chairs’.
  2. After you’ve been passed off to the manager or division chief, brief them in writing again before any physical meetings. Make sure to CC the higher-ups—be clear that this isn’t coming from out of the blue. Keep all correspondence on the same email thread or use Google Docs.
  3. Once you finally meet with the division chief, say thank you, sum up the action items, and send another email in that same thread with the following steps and deadline details.
  4. Before meeting with the next group, find out who will be in the meeting, and, you guessed it—send them the email thread with your agenda, explanations, and possible outcomes. Do this twice: Once in advance, and again right before the meeting. And present your agenda during the meeting itself. Try to stay in control and make sure everyone’s on the same page and understands the milestones. Don’t forget to introduce yourself and to say your ‘thank you’s! Don’t spend too much time explaining why you’re having the meeting or bringing someone up to speed.
  5. Once the meeting is over, summarize everything via email, including deadlines and yet another round of thank yous. Everyone will see that their bosses are CC’d and that you’re promoting their jobs. At the end of the day—that’s how you make progress.
  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5.
  7. Repeat ad nauseam!

Final thoughts

This might all remind you of Scott Adams’s “Dilbert” comic strip. You can throw your hands up and have a good laugh, or you can be productive and successfully navigate corporate blockage. Don’t forget—you’re the outsider here. Everyone else can easily pause or cancel your project. The more you know about what motivates them and the more you show your support, the better. You’re at their mercy! Show them how your ideas will make their jobs easier, even if it will save their company millions in the process! With each new person you meet, start from scratch. You can’t assume that everyone has already been briefed. Write everything down, keep it all on the same email thread, and pray! Corporate blockage (which we sometimes call ‘corporate constipation’ because everything’s stuck) will break down eventually, and with due diligence, persistence, and briefing, things will move smoothly again!

For more, read on: http://c-suitenetworkadvisors.com/advisor/michael-houlihan-and-bonnie-harvey/





Entrepreneurship Management Negotiations Sales Skills Women In Business

“How to Stop Biases From Turning Into Abuse” – Negotiation Insight

“Abuse stems from biases. And prejudice is the stem from which it grows.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)


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“How to Stop Biases From Turning Into Abuse”


Every time he wore a red tie, she felt her feelings change towards him. At first, he didn’t notice when the changes occurred. Then, over time, he sensed the difference in her actions. Her disposition wasn’t unpleasant – she was not as approachable as she was usually. In return, he responded to her change by not being as agreeable to her. Neither of these individuals realized it, but they were interacting with each other based on the biases they possessed.

When people engage others, their biases drive the interaction. Thus, you should always be mindful of how you act based on the environment, those in it, and the thoughts you have about both. You should make the same assessment from the other person’s viewpoint too. If you’re not aware of the effect that has on you or them, you can become the target for abuse or an abuser.

To stop biases from turning into abuse, consider these factors:

  • How might specific triggers cause you to become irrational, and what exactly might you do in such a state?
  • What thoughts are driving you to view your current situation in a particular manner, and could it lead to hostilities?
  • Are you conflating past occurrences with the present one? If so, why?
  • What powers are you conceding by not controlling thoughts that could lead to you committing negative actions?
  • What are your thoughts and beliefs about the people in the environment, and do they stem from hidden prejudices you possess or those with whom you associate?
  • What actions are others in the environment engaged in that might cause you to have disdain for them?
  • How might you treat someone if you have contempt for them based on the beliefs that you share with others that dislike the same people?
  • Are you attempting to impress others by acting a particular way in your present environment?

The point of the questions above is to make you think. And to hopefully do so before a situation driven by your own or someone else’s biases cause you or others to become abusive. In times of heightened tension, regardless of its cause, if you don’t apply a brake to your automatic thought process, that process could lead to unwanted outcomes.

So, before entering into a situation that might escalate due to unseen or unspoken biases, consider how you might guard against them and how you might control an environment should they occur. The better prepared you are to deal with challenges that can escalate and become uncontrollable, the better you’ll be at spotting and containing those possibilities. That will put you in better control of yourself, others, and the environments you’re in … and everything will be right with the world.


What does this have to do with negotiations?


Every negotiator brings biases into a negotiation. They may originate from thoughts about certain ethnicities and how they respond or act with people from other backgrounds. They can also stem from sexual orientation, gender difference, or a host of mitigating thoughts. Some may derive from misguided beliefs that others possess that a negotiator may admire or aspire to emulate.

Regardless of there source(s), biases can negatively impact a negotiation. Therein lies the reason negotiators must be mindful of the prejudices that may exist in a situation. If one is not observant and doesn’t have a plan to deal with it, the unprepared negotiator can find himself dealing with dire occurrences. In reality, those acts may be red herrings intended to thwart your efforts by demeaning you. A deeper intent may be to push you away from the negotiation so that someone of more liking can get engaged.

Never underestimate the power and destruction that biases can have on an interaction. They can quietly erode your power and sap your mental energy. If you neglect such a force, you may be doing so at your delayed peril.


Remember, you’re always negotiating!


Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator


After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com


To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here http://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/



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