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The Most Powerful Skill You Need to Succeed in the C-Suite

Demetri Argyropoulos Avant Global CEO and Founder

Whether you’re CEO of a multi-billion-dollar brand, or a start-up working towards Series A, there is one thing every executive has in common; you want to get to the next level and expand your customer base. Unfortunately, for most companies, it can be extremely challenging to keep up with change.

At the speed of light, corporate cultures are transforming and innovative technologies call for new leadership skills.

The upside is, regardless of how fast the world moves around you there’s one thing that will always stay the same, the most important skill you need to master to prosper in business.

Visionary entrepreneur Demetri Argyropoulos is well-known from New York to Silicon Valley as the king of connections.

His investment firm, Avant Global, has generated over $10 billion in revenue for clients and created strategic relationships for the world’s wealthiest, including Bill and Melinda Gates, Lady Gaga and Bill Clinton.


Argyropoulos was an early investor in Twitter, RedBull and DocuSign, and his Venture Capital fund, AG Venture Capital & Investments, has seeded over 50 diverse start-ups.


Argyropoulos credits his success to one invaluable skill…Networking.


C-Suite TV Correspondent Nicole Sawyer caught up with Demetri to talk about the most powerful skill you need to master to succeed in the C-Suite, and the biggest mistakes executives make when trying to build a strategic relationship.


Nicole Sawyer: What is the most powerful skill to have at the C-Suite Level?
Demetri Argyropoulos: The ability to bring value to your clients and your team. Typically, this value is brought forth through introducing and fostering unique relationships. All businesses and CEOs, despite how powerful they may be, depend on access to strategic relationships. These strategic relationships should monetize the company’s ecosystem, strengthen its platform and give a competitive edge over others with sustainable differentiation in the marketplace.


Sawyer: What personality traits do successful C-Suite Leaders have in common?
Argyropoulos: The most important trait we all have in common is the ability to know what the market wants before it actually happens. This comes from an innate understanding of one’s customers or clients. From there, you must be able to make decisions quickly, execute that vision, while staying one step ahead of the rest. All great CEOs are forecasters and firefighters.


Sawyer: When it comes to managing your own career, how do you prepare yourself to reach the next level?
Argyropoulos: I always have my ultimate end goal in mind. If you understand your end-game, you are able to manifest that into a reality. I always measure progress against this end goal and quantify it along the way with revenue, timelines and objectives.


Sawyer: How do you know who the right connections are for different types businesses?
Argyropoulos: The key here is to understand the objective at hand – what are you trying to accomplish? What is the client trying to achieve? Once you understand that objective, you need to dig deeper to understand the context. This is done through research and by understanding the current behavior at hand to figure out the next important introduction to make. And always remember, relationships only work if there’s equal or greater value on both sides.


Sawyer: You’ve worked with anyone from Bill Clinton to T-Boone Pickens, what is the secret to get their attention and maintain a business relationships with well-known people who are in high demand?
Argyropoulos: When you bring value to a relationship, even if it’s the busiest CEO on the planet, he or she will still make time for you. However, following-up is key, especially for those who are extremely busy. Most people don’t follow-up, which in business, can lead to distrust. You have to always do what you say you are going to do. It’s that simple.


Demetri Argyropoulos, Avant Global Founder with client T-Boone Pickens, Chairman and CEO of Hedge Fund BP Capital.


Sawyer: Where do business leaders fail when trying to create a relationship?
Argyropoulos: Oftentimes, their approach may be too aggressive and their message may not be clear enough.


Every successful relationship and every failed relationship is a consequence of one thing: how well, or poorly, you communicate. Clear communication is important to set from the beginning.


Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask the question, “Why do I want to work with this person?” Again the answer comes down to the value you can bring. Deliver value and these problems go away.


Sawyer: What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when following up?
Argyropoulos: They’re not entirely truthful. Be impeccable with your word. Just do what you say you’re actually going to do. This is so important when building trust in an influential relationship and so few actually do it.


Sawyer: What’s your advice for dealing with people you don’t like? Difficult people ?
Argyropoulos: Try not to. Seriously. I have a no a-hole rule. I’ve fired billionaire clients before because it just wasn’t worth it. At the end of the day, a billionaire is not better than someone starting out, and vice versa. You have to always respect others and the unique qualities and differences we all have.


Sawyer: If your personality is more of an introvert and networking doesn’t come natural to you? How can an individual make connections if they really don’t like talking to people?
Argyropoulos: For starters, that’s where companies like ours, Avant Global, come in handy. Sometimes we partner with, or get hired by executives who are not very social so we help to manage new relationships and introduce them to the businesses they need to get in front of. Let’s be clear, we’re not a social firm! But for those who are more introverted, we simply want them to be the best at what they excel at and we’ll do the rest. We can’t all be great at everything.


Sawyer: What’s one example of a major acquisition Avant Global made that transformed its valuation and what can business leaders learn from this example?
Argyropoulos: In the case of Owl Biomedical, we took its technology that had been developed and in existence for ten years and formed a new company with this technology in mind and capitalized on it. We sold it to a multi-billion dollar medical device company in Germany called Miltenyi.


From this example, business leaders can learn that if you know how to assemble the pieces of a company/deal: IP, human capital, and usually a combination of both, you then have all the key pieces … it becomes about execution and creating value to the market.


Sawyer: Your investment portfolio includes more than 50 diverse startups. What sectors are you watching to find value now?
Argyropoulos: We want someone who is ahead of the curve in terms of where the market is heading- who is that next big game changer? Right now we like the sectors of machine learning, data science and big data for startups. We’re also always looking for disruptive investments in high-growth companies in tech, energy, real estate and consumer products.


Sawyer: What qualities do successful entrepreneurs have that make them stand out from the herd?
Argyropoulos: All successful entrepreneurs are tenacious and never give up. Stay focused on your mission with your goal in mind. Successful entrepreneurs also aren’t afraid to fail because they have the ability to see things others may not. It’s okay to have bumps along the way, but that fresh perspective is what’s going to set you apart.


Sawyer: What advice do you have for a startup to break down barriers when approaching a well-known brand about a strategic partnership?
Argyropoulos: It’s a great time to be a startup. We’ve never seen so many large corporations working with startups. I’d advise a startup to think about how its technology could actually benefit the large brand it’s approaching. Many big companies realize that if they don’t change quickly with the times, and evolve, their number may be up. Startups should appeal to the larger brands to evolve with them.


Sawyer: You run a very successful VC Fund, what’s the best way for an entrepreneur to network with you if they are seeking funding?
Argyropoulos: Think to yourself “Why would Demetri and the Avant team want to meet with me? How can I bring value to their firm?” If you can clearly answer those questions, you’re already ahead of the curve.


Thanks for reading! We’d love to hear from you. Like us on Facebook, Follow on Twitter @NSawyerTV and comment below.


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What does Your Body Language Say?

“A blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts … the body language of a man wishing urgently to be elsewhere.” – Edward R. Murrow

You may know your content backwards and forwards, inside and out, and be completely confident in your subject, but is your non-verbal communication – i.e. your body language – undermining your authority in spite of your knowledge?

A little while ago, I was working with a client who didn’t realize that he was a “fidgeter.” After a first practice recording, he watched his video, and before offering any feedback, I asked him what he thought about his performance. He paused, and was quiet for a moment before very matter-of-factly declaring: “I’m going to cut off my hands.”

Running his fingers through his hair, folding and unfolding his arms, touching his face, hands in and out of the pockets, scratching his neck, lacing and unlacing his fingers… Not only did it distract the viewer from listening to the message, but more importantly, the “antsy-ness” (as my mother would call it) practically screamed of insecurity and discomfort, and this completely undermined his efforts to establish himself as a confident, competent leader.

What’s most important to realize is that before you even open your mouth to speak, your body has already communicated very specific messages to the audience, and those messages have one of only two possible effects: If aligned with your words, they strengthen your image and reputation; otherwise, they weaken it. That’s it.

The Importance of Alignment

This binary result is because when your words and body language are aligned or congruent, they reinforce each other, which is much more convincing to the audience. But when they are not in alignment – where perhaps your “script” seems confident but the delivery is not, or your words claim that you are caring and want to hear from people but you never smile and your voice is flat – it makes the audience question why, and this casts doubt.

When working with entrepreneurs preparing to pitch in front of investors, I always say, “Before anyone will buy your product or service, they have to buy into you.” Regardless of how well-composed the content of the pitch is, if the delivery isn’t in alignment, this will never happen.

Ultimately, alignment between verbal and non-verbal communication is the foundation of credibility. Lack of alignment destroys that foundation. Let’s look at ways to ensure that you are in alignment, in order to maximize your credibility.
Body Language – Do’s and Don’ts

Just about everyone gets nervous when speaking on camera (or in public without a camera), and in an earlier post I offered some strategies for calming your nerves ( insert hyperlink later). But that nervousness can come across as uncontrolled fidgeting and bad habits like touching your face or waving your arms around without realizing it, or on the flip side, you might come across as stiff, robotic and unfeeling.

In this video on body language, you’ll get a quick checklist with examples of non-verbal cues to watch for when speaking in public or on camera. I use the easy acronym P.E.G.S., which stands for Posture, Eye contact, Gestures and Smile.

Take a look at the examples for each category in the video to see how many of them you’re guilty of doing… then ask yourself how that might influence the success of the video’s overall objective.

In case there’s still a part of you that wants to argue that your position and experience speak for themselves, and your body language shouldn’t make a difference, I leave you with the immortal words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

When the way you deliver meets up with the words you say you are speaking in unison. That is when your intended message is reinforced and your credibility shines through.

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CEO pov: 5 Insights for Leading Change

The not-too-distant past rewarded CEOs for stable predictability. But as most of us experience, “Market transparency, labor mobility, global capital flows, and instantaneous communications have blown the comfortable, predictable scenario to smithereens.” (10 Principles of Change Management, Harvard Business Review).
The only thing that’s predictable today is that more change is coming. Whether it’s in the form of a re-org, a change in product, strategy, leadership, or a merger/acquisition, the best leaders know how to effectively manage themselves in order to keep people motivated and engaged, re-build or reshape company culture and set a new course.

Similar to individuals, companies that struggle with these types of changes knock themselves out of the market. We see it all the time.

While many factors contribute to how well a company maneuvers change, success heavily depends on how executives prioritize its people and communication in the process. How open, transparent and frequent executives decide to communicate is a solid predictor of how successful the change will be.

During the last CEO Forum, I had the privilege of asking Steve Singh, CEO of Concur, Jean Thompson, CEO of Seattle’s Chocolates and Stan Pavlovsky, president of Allrecipes.com what was most important to them as they maneuvered change.

For context,
• SAP acquired Concur for $8.3 billion in 2014

• Jean Thompson became the majority owner and CEO of Seattle Chocolates in 2002

• Stan Pavlovsky became the new President of the world’s largest food brand, Allrecipes.com, a year after Meredith Corp. purchased it for $175 million in 2013

Here are my top 5 takeaways from the conversation:

1. Create Success. The role of the leader is to create opportunities for others to be successful.

2. Talk Less. Really listen, get feedback and have empathy. Change is hard for most people.

3. Pause. Take time to celebrate the success the team and company is having.

4. Decide. Don’t’ be afraid to make a decision. You can likely fix the bad ones, but being indecisive is the worst thing you can possibly do.

5. Be Bold. Go create the world you want, and empower those around you to do the same.
I’d love to hear your perspective: What’s your best advice on leading change?

Teri Citterman coaches first-time CEOs, seasoned CEOs and high performers. Her latest book “From the CEO’s Perspective” provides a peek into the thinking of some of today’s top CEOs from companies like Alaska Airlines, JP Morgan Chase and Gravity Payments. She is a regular contributor to Forbes, a sought-after speaker and thought cultivator/founder of “From the CEO’s Perspective” leadership forum.

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Build Audience Belief the way Actors Do

To enhance your credibility when speaking for business, you can borrow a technique that actors use to build belief within the listening audience.

Why use an acting technique? The reason is simple: Persuasive and influential business speakers have a lot in common with actors. They all know that the key to successful speaking is to inspire belief in the hearts and minds of the audience.

The most important belief-building technique for actors is the use of what we call Acting Objectives. You can apply this technique to the rehearsal and delivery of your business talks (formal or informal), so that you will speak with the greatest power: power that comes from a complete commitment that is visible on your body and audible in your voice.

When actors are preparing a role, they make careful choices about what actions to take, to help the audience believe that the make believe situation is real. For actors, it’s all about actions; actions speak louder than words. So, actors examine each script and create acting objectives: actions that lie underneath the words – actions to take toward the listeners. This helps actors become motivated to speak the words that the playwright or screenwriter wrote and speak them truthfully, authentically, and conversationally.

In rehearsal and performance, actors pursue their acting objectives as if their lives depended on it. This helps the audience believe that the actor and the character are one and the same: that the actor IS the character.

This process is useful to business speakers for two important reasons:

• When you’re speaking in business, you want your listeners to believe something (believe that you have solution to their problems, for example). The more rigorously you pursue your actions (your acting objectives), the more completely your listeners will believe that you and your message are one and the same: believe that you are your message.

• As a business speaker or presenter, when you make your audience believe, they are likely to overlook minor shortcomings or mistakes you might make. Once you’ve made your listeners believe, you’ve won them over to your side. After that, your audience will forgive you almost anything!


In order to make choices about actions (to identify acting objectives), actors divide the script – and you should divide your notes for a business talk — into units. Actors call them BEATS. Each beat is a separate topic, smaller than the overall subject of the message. It is a topic of conversation: what the speaker is talking about: a simple noun or noun phrase.

Here is an example: an excerpt from the “Greed Is Good” speech, delivered by Michael Douglas’s character in the film Wall Street.

“Our company, Teldar Paper, has 33 different vice presidents each earning over $200,000 a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can’t figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent on all the paperwork going back and forth between all the these VP’s. The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the UN-fittest. Well, in my book, you either do it right, or you get eliminated.”

In this excerpt, there are two beats. Beat one ends with the phrase “all these VP’s”; it is about waste within the company. The second beat begins with “The new…” and ends with the word “eliminated”; this beat is about the survival of dysfunctional companies in America.

Take a deep dive into the notes you have for a business talk, and divide it into beats, separating the beats with small dividing marks. Consider what each beat is about, and where it begins and ends. Then, in the left hand margin, identify what the beat is about. Express this as a simple noun or noun phrase.


When you know what each beat is about, you are ready to identify an acting objective for each beat (an action that lies underneath the words you speak). This should be a specific, active verb expressing what you wish to do to your listeners as you speak; what you want to make them feel or do.

Choose objectives that are personally appealing and attractive to pursue, so that you’ll be motivated and project energy. There are three ingredients for an effective acting objective, and these are the very same ingredients for an effective speaker objective. Each objective should have the following qualities. It should be

1. A specific, active verb, Directed toward the listener

2. Personal and appropriate to the spoken message and the listener’s situation

3. Truthful (for our purposes, truthful doesn’t mean actual; it means believable)

Pursuing an objective (the simple, active verb) gives you energy and focus as you speak. Studies show that listeners pay the most attention to the actions underneath the words we speak – the vocal tone and demeanor of the speaker. Consider how a person’s tone/demeanor (not words alone) reveal sincerity, evasiveness, or sarcasm, for example.


Let’s imagine that in one beat of your business talk, you wish to be powerful.
Verb: to be powerful

Problem: the verb “to be” is static. It doesn’t contain active energy.

Better choice: you wish to obtain power

Problem: the verb is too general.
Ask yourself: “What must I wish to DO in order to obtain power?”

Now you can plan specific actions to take towards the audience – in order to obtain power. Possible verbs/objectives:
• I wish to impress the audience

• I wish to instill confidence

• I wish to earn their affection

Is the purpose of your presentation to move the listeners to give you money or provide funding for a project? Here are some objectives that may apply during your presentation:

• I wish to persuade the audience to make a sacrifice

• I wish to direct them on a noble/moral path (for PR purposes!)

• I wish to illustrate the joy that comes from sacrifice to others

• I wish to save them from their misguided ways

If these power verbs seem overly-dramatic to you, know that these objectives are for the purpose of strengthening your delivery and should remain your secrets. Keep your acting objectives private. Have you ever noticed that your secrets hold great power for you — the longer you keep a secret, the more power it holds for you? Have you noticed that when you let a secret out, tell it to someone, it loses some of its power over you? We want our acting objectives to have great power to affect our delivery! So, keep your acting objectives private; this will strengthen your motivation to speak and galvanize the commitment and passion in your voice and your gestures.

Actors write their acting objectives in the margin of the script, right next to the dialogue. In your speaking notes, in the right hand margin next to each beat, write one simple acting objective.

Rehearse By Pursuing Your Acting Objectives:

Actors rehea
rse aloud, rehearse often, and rehearse at performance level energy. Rehearse improvisationally from your notes; do not memorize or speak from rote memory. Internalize your ideas. As you speak the words of the beat,

• Focus on the underlying acting objective

• Keep it at the forefront of your mind

• Pursue the objective as if your life depended on it

Over time, as you rehearse, you should begin to notice that you are communicating your joy in sharing ideas. Always be sure you are communicating: “My message is important for you, so I love being here with you.”

Benefits of Using Objectives:

Pursuing acting objectives holds three powerful benefits for you as a speaker:

Benefit #1: It gives you laser-beam focus and simplifies your process, because it gives you just ONE thing to think about as you speak each beat.

Benefit #2: It galvanizes your energy toward what you are doing with your words. It’s the quickest and most powerful way to project energy, commitment, passion, and poise.

Benefit #3: It’s a completely organic way to make your voice and physical demeanor support your content. It turns your voice, body language, and content into one seamless, unified message.

When you are pitching to clients, making presentations, speaking with senior management, or even delivering an elevator speech, the pursuit of acting objectives will give you maximum power and deliver to your audience maximum impact.

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Is Your Voice Camera-Ready?

Raise your hand if you hate the sound of your voice when you hear it on a video… I bet if we were in a room asking that question everyone would have their hand raised. But here’s the thing: It’s not actually your voice that’s the problem: it’s what you do with your voice that makes it hard to listen to, and undermines your authority and charisma.

Now that we’ve acknowledged the elephant in the room, let’s look at why it happens, and what you can do about it.

One common goal of any appearance on camera is to come across as a confident and charismatic leader, representing your organization, company, or industry. You want to draw people in and connect with the audience… all of which is much easier said than done.

With all that pressure, knowing your performance will be immortalized on video, most people get nervous on camera; that’s totally normal, even when you’re comfortable with your content. And we all know about putting on a “poker face,” i.e. not letting your facial expressions show your true feelings to the world. But your face isn’t the only thing that can put our feelings on display.

Your voice will tattle on you faster than a kindergartener.

So let’s look at some ways to project a strong, clear, compelling vocal delivery. (You can jump to the end and click the photo with the video link if you want to hear demonstrations of these concepts.)

Sounding Confident

You know how they say dogs can smell fear? Well, people can hear fear. So what does fear sound like?

There are two key factors that will either create or destroy a confident voice.

The first is breath support. When you’re nervous, you subconsciously tense up and breathe shallowly from your shoulders. This pinches your voice, and makes you run out of air too fast, resulting in what’s referred to as “vocal fry.”

Vocal fry also happens when you’re hesitant, maybe because you’re afraid of making a mistake, or just feeling self-conscious. When your brain is holding back, your voice will too.

Of course, if you truly admire the way the Kardashians speak (read: irony) and want to emulate them as modern-day leaders, then keep doing what you’re doing, and fry-away.

But when you take a nice deep breath from your belly and open your throat to let your voice flow freely, it resonates in your chest cavity and head and takes on a full, rich sound.

The second is tonality, or intonation patterns, where you put your high and low pitches in your speech.

On the one hand, there are those of you who are so focused on your getting your content right and sounding smart, that there’s very little tonal variation in your voice, so you come across as robotic. That stiffness comes across as awkward and uncomfortable. It can also make you sound more like the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off than someone who is really passionate about her topic.

On the other hand, another common pattern is referred to as “up-speak” or “up-talk,” which is that lilting pattern that sounds like you’re constantly inflecting “Right?” “Okay?” and “You know?” at every turn, and asking questions rather than making statements. This also sounds insecure, as those implied questions are persistently begging for validation: You’re right! Yes! Okay! I hear you – now stop asking questions!

And contrary to the examples in that last video link and popular stereotypes, men do this just as much as women, older and younger. There are other reasons and patterns for when this happens which I’ll have to detail in another post, or drop me a line if you’re dying for more info. But don’t assume that you’re innocent just because you’re not a recent college grad.

Strong, confident, positive intonation puts the highest pitch on the most important words for emphasis, and drops the pitch at the end of sentences, just like a “vocal period.” This declarative tone sounds confident and trustworthy.

The most engaging voice incorporates good breath support for a full, resonant voice, as well as strategically varied intonation, with the ups and downs in all the right places. Want a demo? Click on the picture below and see what you think!

Once you put all this together, you’ll realize that all those annoying habits that made you think you hate your voice have disappeared, and what you’re left with is your very best “camera-ready voice.”

Of course, it’s a lot easier to hear about different voice qualities and habits than it is to read about the sound of your voice. So if you really want to wrap your head – and your ears – around some of these ideas, here’s a quick three-minute video that demonstrates some of the major vocal pitfalls to avoid, and on the flip-side, strategies to help you sound like the confident, charismatic, persuasive leader you want to be.

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Calming your Nerves On Camera

You know the drill.

Your heart starts to race. Your palms start to sweat while your mouth goes dry. You remind yourself to smile and pray you don’t draw a blank at a critical moment.

You’re either about to meet someone on a blind date, or you’re about to speak on camera.

If you’re looking into the eyes of a blind date, sorry; you’re on your own. But if you’re looking into the eye of a camera, there ARE things you can do to calm your nerves, collect your thoughts, and knock it out of the park.

Actually, the more I think about it, some of the solutions to these problems aren’t all that different after all.

For starters, head-games are half the battle. And I’m not even talking about if someone else is playing games with you. (Remember, on a first date those games haven’t started yet.) I’m referring to the internal head-games – some people might call it head trash – that you play with yourself.

Let’s face it: You can be your own worst enemy. And you know I’m right.

You constantly set the bar higher – a good thing in business development, but not when you’re always afraid you could or should have done better, never satisfied with your result. That wrecks havoc on your confidence, which is already under siege in front of the camera.

You’re also a pro at the “what if” game:

– What if I make a mistake?
– What if I draw a blank?
– What if they ask a question I can’t answer?
– What if I forget to smile?
– What if I fidget too much?
– What if the camera really does add ten pounds? I should’ve gone on a diet…

And what does all that accomplish? It sets you on a downward spiral of sabotage and self-fulfilling prophecies.

At that point, you’re like a major league baseball player getting up to bat and saying over and over to himself: Don’t miss… Don’t miss… Just don’t miss…

At best, that’s playing to not-lose. You need to adjust your thinking so you can play to WIN.
Here’s the first trick: Your body doesn’t know the difference between when you’re nervous or excited. Adrenaline is adrenaline. So when you feel the adrenaline kick in, along with the quickened heartbeat and shaky hands, don’t send yourself on that downward spiral by repeating “Oh my gosh, I’m so nervous… I’m so nervous… I’m so nervous” over and over again, mantra-like.

That’s psyching yourself out before you even get started, making the challenge both physical and psychological.

Instead, psych yourself into success. (After all, if you can talk yourself out of something, why wouldn’t it work the other way around too?)

When that adrenaline kicks in, change gears immediately, and repeat to yourself, “I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so excited…” and get yourself pumped up!

And it’s not just empty words… you are excited. Think about it: you wouldn’t be nervous or excited if you didn’t care, and caring is good! And you probably care so much because this is a great opportunity for you to shine and get some good publicity for you and your company.
That’s what you should be focused on – and happy about!

Aligning your mind and body that way is the equivalent of getting up to bat and focusing your thoughts and efforts on knocking it out of the park.

Then SMILE as you say this to yourself – it actually has a positive psychological effect as well.

My video below, “Calming Your Nerves” from the series, “Capturing Your Confidence on Camera,” addresses this and other strategies you can use to get a grip on yourself and be calm, cool, and compelling in front of the camera.

And these strategies aren’t just for mastering camera presence. Whenever you need to capture the attention, minds and hearts of your audience, whether in an interview, giving a conference presentation, or on that first date, run through the strategy checklist in the video.

You’re sure to come across poised, charismatic and confident – and win them over!

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Conscious Capitalism…Is It Possible?

Headline Speaker | Independent Leadership Advisor to the UN | Expert to 150 C-Suite Advisors | Inc Mag Top100 Speaker

After a presidential year, where candidates get to speak about what they stand for it’s become clear that the people are sick and tired of politics as usual. I think you’d agree that there is a flagrant mistrust of those in power. Much of that mistrust comes out of the belief that those in power don’t care about the other 99%.

The system at the very least seems to have been perverted. In my conversations with other leaders we often speak about whether the system can recover and be repaired, or do we need a brand new system.

Expansive Question:

As leaders we are all aware that there is a clear backlash on the “1%”… Without debating whether that is right or wrong, just or unjust…

The question I would like to put forward to you is this: Do you believe that we could now choose to lead from a place of “Conscious Capitalism”? If so, (or not) what would that look like to you, specifically in the context of leadership?

I trust that you found this question valuable, if so, feel free to send this to your friends. I eagerly anticipate your feedback and comments.

Please share, like and comment below!

I created the Authentic Leadership Matrix after a lot of experience and research. One of the questions I’m asked often is what authentic leadership is and how do we define it. As a result, I created the matrix. It splits what leadership is into five separate categories. So, that you can take a clear look at how you perform in each of the five main areas that are required for you to become a world class authentic leader. The process takes you through each category simply with yes or no questions.http://matrix.fullmontyleadership.com/

With gratitude, Dõv Baron

I also write for Entrepreneur.com:

Is There Life After Success(ion)?

Why 47 Percent of Your Best People Are Ready to Leave — and What You Can Do About It

The 11 Questions Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Ask Themselves

Why Being a Self-Aware Leader Is Not Enough
Unlocking ‘the 4 Cs’ to Create a Fiercely Loyal Corporate Culture

“In 2015, Dov Baron was cited by Inc Magazine as one of the Top 100 Leadership Speaker to book for your next conference! He speaks internationally and is The Leading Authority on Next-Gen Authentic Leadership and creating a Culture of Fiercely Loyal Leaders. FullMontyLeadership.com

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P.S. To get your hands on Dov Baron’s new book “Fiercely Loyal” How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent, go take a look here http://fiercelyloyalbook.com and get your FREE: How to instantly bond any team infographic”

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The Stage Presence in Executive Presence

As a CEO or other top-ranking executive, you know that a winning leadership “presence” can enhance your professional image and help you achieve the goals that are meaningful to you. It also helps others view you as an authority, problem-solver, and “go-to” person.

“Executive Presence” is much like stage presence, charisma, and star quality. These words mean virtually the same thing: a personal magnetism that makes it impossible for people to take their eyes off you.

Many years ago, when Dick Cavett interviewed Katherine Hepburn on his popular TV show, he asked her, “What is star quality?” Hepburn replied, “I have no idea – but whatever it is, I’ve GOT it!”

The word “charisma” may be the oldest synonym for “star quality”. The Greeks used the word to mean “favor”. Charis was an attendant to Aphrodite, the goddess of love; “Charis” meant beauty and kindness. The word can be found repeatedly in the New Testament and is translated as “grace”. “Charismata” is the word used to refer to gifts from God: knowledge, healing, working miracles, prophecy; qualities that bring benefit to others.

In his August, 2011 article in The New York Times, Zachary Woolfe mentions the perspective offered by Ernest Hemingway:

“In his obsession with the Spanish bullfights, he spoke of the lust of the crowd and its desire to feel something special, a raw authenticity… What he mentions is the hush that would come over the crowd at the entrance of the toreadors. The people could sense the difference between those who did it for the fame, the paycheck, and those who had the old spirit. The crowd can sense the one with the authentic message, the connection to the truth.”

The sociologist, Max Weber, provided some insight with his contemporary use of the word “charisma” to describe a key quality of leadership. He wrote the following:

“Charisma is a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or specifically exceptional powers. These qualities are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.”

As a business person, you may not need the charisma and star quality of Katherine Hepburn, a bull fighter, or a “divine one”, but you can still cultivate a personal magnetism that will help you achieve your professional goals. Here are characteristics of Executive Presence that you can cultivate for success:

Candor: The appearance of honesty, through the willingness and skill to constructively tell it like it is.

Clarity: The ability to tell your story in an intuitively clear and compelling way.

Openness: The appearance of not prejudging, of being willing to consider another’s point of view.

Passion: The expression of commitment, motivation, and drive that shows people you really believe in what you do.

Poise: The look of sophistication, conveying a background of education and experience.

Self-confidence: The air of assurance, such that others know you have the required strength and resolve.

Sincerity: The conviction of believing in and meaning what you say.

Thoughtfulness: The projection of thinking or having thought through something before responding.

Warmth: The appearance of being accessible to others and of being interested in them.

Each of the characteristics listed above is revealed through your physical presence/body language, as well as your verbal/vocal presence.

Gestures can add warmth and personality to a conversation or presentation and help illustrate a point. If your own personal style includes only small or very few gestures, remember to at least nod your head appropriately. This is an easy way to show that you are listening to, understanding, and connecting with your conversation partners.

Eye Contact occurs when two people look at each other’s eyes at the same time. In human beings, eye contact is a form of nonverbal communication and is thought to have a large influence on social behavior. In the United States, eye contact is often interpreted as a meaningful and important sign of confidence, respect, engagement, and even honesty.

Facial Expression: Smiling is one facial expression that is likely to put other people at ease and help them feel accepted and comfortable. You exude happiness and encouragement when you smile, so try to add it to more of your conversations. Scowling, chewing your lip and raising your eyebrows can all signal different meanings, so it is important to be aware of how your face looks during a conversation. When you speak for business and your topic is not a happy one, remember that you actually do have something to smile about: the fact that your listeners will benefit in some way from understanding the message you are bringing them.

Movement: We use body movement and proximity to send information on attitude toward a person (facing or leaning towards another), and desire to control the environment (moving towards or away from a person). Be aware of how your body movement sends messages. The physical distance between you and others signals your level of intimacy and comfort and is interpreted differently in different cultures.

Posture: “Body orientation” (the way you hold your body) sends strong messages to others. Remember that your posture is revealing and may ‘give you away” at any moment. Letting your body relax appropriately in a given situation (having fluid, smooth movements and facing your conversation partner, etc.) indicates confidence, poise, and engagement.

Appearance: This refers to everything you were not born wearing: all the choices we make in clothing, accessories, hairstyle, and makeup. The choices for a presentation range widely. A good rule of thumb is to dress “one step above” your listeners. See what highly-regarded people in your workplace are wearing during their presentations and emulate them – and/or ask someone in authority.

Speaking Pace (the speed at which you speak): Increase and decrease your pace strategically. A monotone is boring, and so is monopace; it can lull people to sleep! Pace also includes dramatic pauses to communicate many things, including to (1) emphasize a point, (2) give people a moment to think, and (3) surprise your listeners to deepen their level of engagement.

Speaking Pitch (the high and low tones of the speaking voice, altered with jumps and glides): Pitch can be used to convey energy, warmth, and sincerity. In American business, finishing a statement with a downward glide sounds certain and authoritative; ending with an upward glide communicates a yes/no question or uncertainty. To sound confident and authoritative, always end your statements with a pitch glide downward.

Vocal Projection (the energy and commitment in your voice, including volume): Emphasizing certain words by being louder or softer can add to the impact of what you are communicating. It’s important to project you voice so that everyone can hear clearly what you’re saying. Even if your volume bec
omes soft for dramatic effect, your energy level and commitment must successfully project your meaning and your passion.

Cultivate these qualities, and you won’t have to worry about stage presence, charisma, or star quality. You will possess a winning executive presence and enhanced power to influence and persuade your business listeners

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Be The Speaker You Want To Listen To

Do You Really Know Your Audience?


One rule of thumb that applies to almost every aspect of life is that just because something is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy.


When I was faculty at the University of Pennsylvania for a decade or so, teaching in a master’s program for educators, one of the rules of thumb I constantly reiterated was, “be the teacher you wish you’d had.”


That seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Yet so many of my students seemed to find it surprisingly difficult to apply in practice.


We can all recall boring lectures given by teachers and professors who seemed to be burnt out after years of teaching the same content day in and day out. For many, sadly, this seemed to be the rule rather than the exception.


But we can also recall those instructors who stood out, who made their subjects come to life, and lit a fire of curiosity and genuine interest in us that we never would have imagined possible in that subject.


This dichotomy is no different from what happens in corporate life.


When speaking to a group, whether in front of a camera, on stage or in the conference room, the seemingly simple rule of thumb is: be the speaker you’d actually want to listen to.


So why is it so difficult?


Whether professor or executive, it’s unlikely that most speakers aspire to be boring. Nobody actually wants to be remembered as the worst example of anything. But somewhere along the way, something gets lost in translation.


When you give a speech or presentation, facilitate a meeting, or even have a one-to-one conversation, what impression do you leave? Do you project confidence, approachability, authority, leadership, enthusiasm, and overall positive energy?


But what if you were sitting in the audience? Put yourself in their shoes (or seat, as the case may be.) What kind of speaker would you want to listen to? You’d probably use words like “inspiring,” “passionate,” “open” or “relatable.”


But in the vast majority of the meetings I’ve sat through, presentations I’ve seen and talks I’ve attended, the speaker comes across as under- or over-emotional, intense and unapproachable or bored (and boring), or like they’re just going through the motions to get the discussion over with and go back to whatever they’d rather be doing.


So what happens that creates such a gap between how you come across when you speak and how you want to come across?


First and foremost, you forgot the rule of thumb: to be the kind of speaker you’d want to listen to if you were in their seat.


Here’s video #1 from my mini-video series, “Capturing your Confidence on Camera,” with tips on how to connect with your audience:


It gives you ideas for how to frame your content and your delivery in a way that will help you connect with the audience.


Because when people walk into the room, subconsciously they are hoping you will answer one single question: “What’s in it for me?”


You can’t just run through your material with the sole purpose of checking off all the topics you think you need to cover. While this is the default approach most people take, that makes it all about you, and it comes across like a laundry list.


You have to think about who is in the audience, what matters to them, and what would make them leave feeling like their time spent with you was the best possible investment of their time, when there are so many other competing priorities.


Then, you not only need to consider the value of the content from their perspective, which gives people a reason to listen, you have to be mindful of how you deliver that information.


That’s where the experience shifts from one where your audience appreciates your content, to one in which your audience connects with you.


And that’s where the magic begins.