Presenting Your Innovation Part III: Be Yourself…With A Twist!

28 12 2012


The best news is that you are already really good at being yourself.  The better news is that you have no choice, everyone else is already taken.  However,  now that the biggest issues have been resolved in Part I and Part II of this series, let us get into the nuances of public speaking.  These nuggets will help you take your presentation skills and put them on steroids.  Your “10” will become a “12”.  You will be viewed as a public speaking guru.  If you can find a way to add one or more tricks to your repertoire, great things will happen as you present.

Wear that suit, yes, that suit.

Everyone Eye-Cubed woman and man has the outfit that feels fantastic.  You know the one.  You get compliments every time you put it on.  Wear that one.  And if you are putting on a tie, make it the one that “pops” and screams “style”.  When you know you look good, you will feel good in front of the team.

Feel good, real good.

When I had my first insurance sales job in New York City, I seemed to have my best days when I shined my shoes on the way into work.  When I was in Law School, I got myself psyched for exams by listening to Rocky music blasting in my apartment.   What do you do to feel fabulous?  Make sure you do it so you can feel it on the way in.

To Stand or Sit, that is the question.

Stand by your words.  Stand by your innovation.  Stand by your ideas.  That means you must stand as you present.  It immediately places you in the power position in the room.  Standing opens up your lungs and allows you to use the room and many of the tricks identified in this post.

Walk the Walk so you can talk the talk.

One of the most powerful moves during a presentation is to walk to a specific and strategic spot in the room.  Perhaps it is behind the most influential person at the table.  Perhaps it is close to the “contrarian” so you can put your hands on their shoulders as a sign of unity and friendship.  Just be aware to too much walking is annoying.  If you do it, have a plan and stick to that plan.  Do not wander.  If you do not know where you are going, you will get lost for sure (and you will lose the team).

Location, location, location.

The most strategic place to stand is at either head of the table, off to one side or the other.  That placement gives you a view of the entire room without swiveling your head back and forth.  You will be able to see each of the players at the table from one spot, just by moving your eyes.  That is power.

Inflection…  USE IT or lose it!

If your goal is to cure insomnia, go ahead and speak with a monotone voice.  Worse than that is a “sing-song” voice.  If you want to speak like that, go present in front of nursery school children.  You are in the big-leagues now and you need to EMphAsiZE appropriately.  When done well, it will keep your audience on their toes begging for the next word.

Pause……………adds impact.

The pregnant pause, one of the strangest descriptions (how exactly did that happen?).  Regardless, it is an amazing tool……………………when used effectively.  The pause places significant power and attention on the next word.  It actually ignites a visceral reaction in folks since they get subconsciously nervous that you will call on them.  So they wait with baited breath for you to continue.  Try it.  It is magical.

Never give them the finger, unless it is your thumb. (Is that a finger?)

The first presenter that I saw use his thumb was Bill Clinton.  I am sure that technique started long before him.  However, it works.  Do not point at your audience.  That is considered rude.

See the whites of their eyes.

Look around the room at each individual.  Take your time and make the kind of eye contact that says “I appreciate you listening to me and I really hope you like what I am saying.”  Many times, the eye contact you gain assists you in building the buy-in from the room.  By focusing on each person, they identify with you and feel as if you are talking to them rather than at them.  If you were not going to look at them, you might as well do a webcast or video presentation.

Drive 15, 25, 35 or 65 miles per hour.  The speed limit (of your voice) must vary.

If you talk really fast, no one will understand a word you say.  If you talk really slow, everyone will be praying for you to end.  But if you recognize that speed is similar to inflection and can make a point, you have just gained another tool to put in your belt.  Test the impact of talking rapidly or slowly during specific portions of your speech.  It adds variety and spice to the message.

Big words and acronyms belong in books.

You will not come out of the meeting looking smart if you fill your presentation with letters or SAT words.  Forget it!  You will come out looking like a pompous, condescending, confusing blow hard.  Be real and appropriately intelligent.  You will love the result if you do.

building muscle

I have been told that some folks would rather be in the casket than present the eulogy.  That, my friends, is unfortunate.  We all have a lot more to do above the ground and Eye-Cubed leaders use the presentation moment to propel our innovations forward by inspiring everyone to implement and evolve our organizations.  Presenting is a muscle that needs to be developed.  It is a skill like all others.  Without practice, you will be awful and miserable.  However, with a better understanding coupled with practice, you will blow them away and get exactly what you are asking for more often than ever before.

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 


Presenting Your Innovation Part II: The Eye-Cubed 10+The Bad News About The Fear Of Public Speaking!

24 12 2012


Is it the middle of the night, super early in the morning or behind closed doors?  Regardless of where you prepare for the innovation presentation of a lifetime, you sit alone, thinking.  Your fingers either hover over the keyboard or grip the pen.  The Eye-Cubed leader makes the most of this precious time.  By starting with the outline on paper or on the screen, your thoughts have a direction, get triggered and begin to flow.  You fill the page/screen with your ideas and before the third cup of coffee gets cold, you are staring at the framework of your completed outline for a successful presentation.    You now can see the finish line because the most important step in the preparation process has been completed—your outline for success:

  1. The opening story:  Do not be afraid of adding drama.  Use a metaphor.  Paint the picture.  The beginning of your presentation needs to grab the team’s attention.
  2. The plan and goal for the meeting:  It is always good to let people know where you are going and what will be covered.
  3. The pain:  How is the status quo hurting your company?  What will happen if the company does not evolve?
  4. The gain:  What is possible?  How big is the opportunity?
  5. Present the “low key” version:  Everyone gets skeptical of overstatements and potential.  Pull back your estimates and present something much smaller yet still powerful.
  6. Find solutions:  Get the team to participate.  Build a list and make sure the desired innovation is on the list, not at the end of the list.
  7. Choose a direction:  Gain commitment to resolve the issue and move forward with the desired innovation.
  8. What are your greatest challenges?: Get the team to list everything that comes to mind regarding possible challenges and solutions.  Add your projected hurdles to the list.
  9. You need a partner:  Add a co-leader/partner or have others lead the initiative with you as a team member.
  10. Commit to updates:  Once you have buy-in, identify the next step and prepare to report on the progress at each strategic meeting each month.

public speaking fear

Please do not think that I have left out the most obvious issue facing some of the greatest Eye-Cubed leaders.  I would be totally remiss to have excluded the impact that “stage fright” or fear of public speaking plays in the scenario.   Unfortunately, I have some difficult news to deliver.  All Eye-Cubed Leaders either have superb presentation skills or develop those skills over time.   This is hard work and warrants a Post specifically dedicated to unveiling ideas and thoughts on how best to enhance the presentation skills you already have.  I once said to a Manager,  now an Officer at PFP, as she worked on developing those skills:

“Speaking in front of people is part of the job.  If you want to be successful in the job, you need to do this and do it well.”

She spent the next several years building her public speaking muscle, participating in The Dale Carnegie program and found the training extremely helpful in building a foundation for public speaking.  Yet the best approach for improving this skill has been to practice in many varied scenarios and use each opportunity to develop the best speech possible and to gain comfort.  While she may still prefer one-on-one communication,  she presents often, presents well and uses the opportunity to communicate as an important tool to lead others.

Delivering the most powerful presentation is a must if you want to be an Eye-Cubed leader and earn the buy-in that you so desperately need for your innovation to get to the next step, implementation.

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 

Presenting Your Innovation Part I: Ten Steps For Rock-Solid Preparation!

21 12 2012

Rock Solid pic

This is a key moment for you, for your career and for the future of your company.  A kick-ass presentation gives your innovation the required momentum and support to launch.  By nailing this presentation from start to finish, you will have successfully completed the Eye-Cubed process of taking the inspiration and moving the ensuing innovation to implementation. You and your team will be well on their way towards Eye-Cubed greatness.

Once you get the appropriate Time and spot on the agenda, do what is necessary to have the greatest chance of success:


  1. Prepare!  That means outlining the plan of attack (You will see the outline in Part II of this series).  The more you prepare, the more professional your result will become.
  2. Less is more!  If you use Powerpoint, put one or two words on each screen.  If you use a flip chart, do not fill it with you words.  Use it for the words of your team as they come out during the meeting.
  3. People like pictures!  If you are using technology, use pictures to create powerful messages.  Creating imagery is the best way to reinforce your point.  The team will look at that picture over and over again while it is up on the screen.
  4. This is not a speech!  Do not write all of your words down and bring them into the meeting.  If you have key points or a list, put those down in a way that will trigger your thoughts.
  5. If you have humor, use it!  Break the ice if you can.  You don’t even have to be on topic.  But if you can laugh, you relax.  If you can make the team laugh, they relax.
  6. Nothing but the facts please!  You have done a lot of research.  Bring it with you.  Have it organized so you can get to it as needed.  However, do not shuffle through your papers to prove a point.  In that case, save the “proof” until after the presentation.
  7. Practice!  You have heard it this before and it is true.  You will stumble if you wing it. Just ask my mirror.  I get a standing ovation every time I present in front of it.  And my dogs have never walked out on me, even if my jokes were weak.  You must practice in order to nail this presentation.
  8. Visualize the meeting!  You have vision for your organization.  Now it is time to translate that to the presentation.  Take the time to imagine each step of the delivery in vivid detail. Then imagine the commitment to move forward.  Imagine victory!
  9. Know the characters!  Each member of your team has a distinct personality, tendency and typical reaction.  You know it well.  Now think about how to best address each one of them so that they feel heard, validated and brought into the loop as a necessary player on your innovative team.
  10. I object!  While this is no courtroom, there will certainly be objections.  And you most likely know what they are.  Use your time to prepare the best response.

Even the most spectacular innovator of our time was frustrated when he was ushered to the sidelines of the company he loved.  There was a time when Steve Jobs had the answers yet lacked the audience:


“You know, I’ve got a plan that could rescue Apple. I can’t say any more than that it’s the perfect product and the perfect strategy for Apple. But nobody there will listen to me.” – Fortune, 1995

Regardless of your past, present or future, without the Eye-Cubed skills of superior communication, planning and execution, all of the brilliant innovations in the world would continue to go unnoticed.   Make sure yours lives, thrives and has its chance to revolutionalize your world and ours.

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 

Planting The Seeds Of Inspiration: The Key To Unlock Your Innovation

18 12 2012

You’re walking down the hall to the monthly strategic meeting with your team.  Armed with your iPad, pen and pad of paper, you take your seat.  Interestingly enough, it is the same seat you always take during this meeting.  It is the seat you are most comfortable in.   Frankly, prior to the meeting, you can predict, with precise detail, who will sit in each of the seats around the table.  This typical scenario is a symptom of a syndrome suffered by the vast majority of teams.  Imagine if everyone was forced to sit somewhere else.  They would think it was a terrible joke.  Many would be visibly upset and actually say something.  Others would simply feel uncomfortable and remain quiet.

comfort zone

People typically gravitate towards their comfort zone.  They crave predictability.  Most often, our colleagues cringe with the thought of change.  And yet, it is within this group that you must innovate in order to survive.  This is the group who gets frustrated by your forcefulness to bring about change and who frustrates you as well when the resistance inevitably shows itself.

  • How do you bring your innovation into this culture?
  • How do you ignite the inspirational flame inside your team to drive your innovative thought through the operation all the way to implementation?

To be an Eye-Cubed Leader, you have learned about Corporate Hydrology and Corporate Dendochronology .  Today, we will focus on Corporate Horticology, applying the study of gardening and plant cultivation to the innovation within your business.

Inspiration, like horticology, requires a seed of thought to be planted into the minds of others and for that seed to grow into an uncontrollable desire to act.  This is a process that requires work and time, two variables that leaders typically ignore when a possible solution is uncovered in the form of an innovation.  Farmers would never have a crop if seeds were not planted or of they chose to harvest too early.  The same is true for the corporate hortocologist.

Here is the process:

  1. Take the time to plant the seeds of inspiration one at a time by meeting individually with each team member.  You need buy-in prior to your presentation at the group meeting to increase your chances of success.
  2. At the individual meetings, discuss the problem that needs resolution.  Agree on the “pain” this issue brings to your business.
  3. Strategize together about the vision of a company free from the problem.  What would improve?
  4. Ask the following question (in your words):  “If we can agree on a plan to solve this problem, would that make us a better company?”
  5. Discuss possible solutions.  Brainstorm ideas that may work.  Do not limit your discussion by what you think is or is not possible.  Throughout your discussion, encourage creativity.
  6. Include your innovation in the conversation as a possible solution.  Spend the time discussing it so that it is understood clearly by your colleague.

planting seedsTHEN WAIT!……………….You may need to repeat steps 1-6 again at a later date or time.   As you discuss the possible solutions in the future, open up the dialogue to allow for the solutions to be raised by either you or your colleague.  Over time, the conversation will become fluid, and the most feasible solution will be clear.  Be aware that your idea or method of solution might not be the best way to solve the problem.  It may not be the appropriate idea to bring forward as the primary innovation to test.  That is the beauty of fostering the Eye-Cubed culture.  The collective minds within your organization will take innovation to a higher level, continually being inspired and ready to implement.

Once you have buy-in among the leaders of your team, it is time for the big day—the presentation at your strategic meeting.  Never underestimate this opportunity.  That, my colleagues, is the topic for our next class.

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 

The Innovator’s Cure: Sell…Or Die A Slow And Painful Death!

14 12 2012

It’s like being kicked in the ribs…after being punched in the gut.

Such is the feeling of the innovator following the war of buy-in and implementation with regard to the next great innovation.  It has nothing to do with whether or not a decision was made to move forward.  It does not have anything to do with success or failure or the ultimate impact the innovation may have on the organization.

As described in The Innovators Curse, the process caused frustrations throughout the organization.  And it was human nature to take the pushback personally.  Over the years, I felt targeted, isolated, powerless, unappreciated, unsupported and impatient.  My typical reaction had been to relentlessly push forward.   With the innovation as the battleground, I would wage war on the organization until I felt victorious.  Of course any “victory” was hollow indeed.


Over the years, I had found that “successful” innovation had taken its toll on me.  Without fail, regardless of success or failure, I had needed time to recover.  Unfortunately, the time needed for recovery had grown over time.  During the process of “licking my wounds”, I had felt as if I would rather wrap myself around the operations of the organization which would eliminate the need for me to lead innovation again.  Then, typically, there would be an unresolved issue lingering over the company.  And, like throwing a dog a bone, I would not be able to help myself.  My brain would start churning and innovative solutions would blurt out of my mouth.  I could not stop myself.  Like a punch-drunk boxer, I kept going into the ring.  This is the innovator’s curse.

This was just not working.  There had to be a more effective way.  I needed a very different strategy in order to remain healthy, interested in continuing my innovative ways and remaining engaged and effective within the organization.

First of all, I needed to stop taking this whole “innovation” thing personally.  No one was doing this to me.  Everyone had their own personalities, their own experiences and their own agenda.   None of that had anything to do with “David Sussman”.


Second of all, I needed to relax and make my personal timelines for implementation much longer.  I would always be willing to move more rapidly should support for the innovation become apparent quickly, but I should not be willing to go at that pace alone.  I needed to give the idea more time to germinate and grow. I needed to be patient and wait for a clear consensus.

Third of all, I needed an entirely new strategy to gain buy-in.  I needed to work much harder with this process well in advance.  I needed to improve my presentations and gain the support of other key executives by demonstrating the issues more dramatically.  I needed them on my side as champions of the cause.

And for the Holy Grail of an Eye-Cubed Leader…I needed to…..SELL.  Drink from this challis and you will be cured from the innovator’s curse.

Plant the seed of innovation in the minds of those around you, plant the solution there as well and ultimately allow for others to develop the solution on their own and as their own.  They would then own the innovation and champion it through the organization.  You then would become a cheerleader and lead blocker clearing the path for the innovation rather than the quarterback, pitcher, coach, GM and owner all wrapped in one.  It is the ultimate sale, selling buy-in.


By following the above, I believed I would see more of my ideas move through the company than ever before.  And that is exactly what happened.  And now you might ask, “How does one gain this type of buy-in?  Check out the next Eye-Cubed post, Planting The Seeds Of Inspiration:  The Key to Unlock Your Innovation, for the answer.

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 

The Innovators Curse: The worst idea is the innovation you failed to sell.

11 12 2012

I am known as an innovator who carries the original entrepreneurial spirit of our family business that my father, Stan Sussman, had his whole life.  While being looked at as the “idea guy”, the “innovator” or the “champion of change”, I realize that the reputation is not self-proclaimed.  It took years to earn and is a responsibility to maintain.   I have been innovating throughout the first 17 years of my journey as a corporate executive at PFP, our family business.  But it has not been an easy road to hoe.

Innovator Brain

The innovation training-ground. (1995-2001):

Ignorance was bliss!  I had an audience of one.  By convincing Stan, who was President at that time, that an idea had merit, he had the power to give me the green light.  He created an environment where I could build my innovative muscle without killing the golden goose.  I worked well outside the core operations of PFP.  I pursued ideas designed to build a new empire.  He controlled the investment of time and money.  If I struck gold, we would all benefit.  If I were able to build a successful division outside of the core operations of PFP, it would be great for the second generation of the family business.   I was a willing pioneer.

Innovate by starting a new Department!  (2001-2007):

A fledgling department is an innovator‘s playground.  I took on two new departments in 2001.  Innovations in these areas began to flow freely.  However, the origin of the ideas shifted from me alone to include those folks who were also part of the team.   We all knew that ideas were welcome and could come from anywhere.  The goal was to “build” something incredible.

I was able to effectively “own” an innovation laboratory within the company by running the two divisions.  I was able to control the resource allocation within the department and was successful in developing a strategic innovative partnership between PFP and our “big-brother” insurance carrier.

However, I began to experience the “innovator’s pain” along the way.  One may call it pushback, channel conflict or political infighting.  I contend that key leadership had a lack of buy-in, reluctance for change or a need to control.  The bottom line is that I was not frustrated alone.  Perhaps I didn’t lay the groundwork to get buy-in?   Perhaps I was an immature innovator!  The result was that the innovations brought forward through my effort created friction among the core leaders of the company.   Something had to “give”.


Innovate within the core operations (2007-Present)

As successful innovations became a larger percentage in the annual budget (both revenue and expense), the process became more intense.  No longer was I an island able to remain walled off from the rest of corporate civilization.  The ideas were bigger.  Their impact spanned throughout the organization.  The stakes skyrocketed.  So did the frustration.

Since more was at stake, my partners challenged the ideas more significantly.  There was an enhanced need for multi-departmental buy-in as key executives and officers controlled resource allocation and essentially held up progress.  The required collaboration from top management and ownership could no longer be met head-on by me.  I had to do something about my reputation as a “bully” or “run-away freight train” or “closed-minded psychopath”.  I consistently wondered what was wrong with these people?  How could they not see what I was able to see?  I wanted everyone to just “do it”.  That wish, of course, did not come true.  While I knew I was an asset to the organization, was the pain associated with innovation worth it?  This was a personal question I needed to resolve.


It is now December 2012 and I have been more effective innovating during the past five years than any other time in my career at PFP.  I figured out how to break the innovator’s curse.  The secret is simple.  I changed my attitude significantly, developed some and eliminated specific communication skills, utilized existing presentation and relationship-building skills and continually self-reflected.  I became better at what I do.

How did I do it?  That is explained in detail in my next blog titled “The Innovators Cure: The best idea is the innovation you effectively sell!”

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 

Trust: Does It Exist In Corporate America?

7 12 2012

I sat at lunch today with my mentor Valerie Coffin.  She was a leader of people and possessed the unique set of skills required to move our company forward as its President, the position she served for the final five years of her 33-year tenure employment with my company, Schmitt Sussman Enterprises, Inc.

We caught up, talked about our families and reflected on our past.  We always had such a fantastic time working together and our periodic lunches are very special to me.   Valerie and I spoke of the company, identified what remains the same as well as how it has changed.

Then we spoke of trust.

Throughout her lifetime with the company, Valerie built relationships that transcended the typical employee-employer status.  She shared a genuine love for the people she worked with and created an atmosphere that fostered trust and loyalty.

She spoke of her boss Stan, my father and one of the founders of the company.  He earned her trust while she, in turn earned his. Valerie trusted him with her corporate life.  All of his employees felt the same way.

The culture of trust, loyalty and appreciation did not come from Stan alone.  It was he and his partner/co-founder John Schmitt who solidified the original culture of PFP.  Folks who worked with them at the time reflect on it as a true “family” within a family business.  I have interviewed many of PFP’s top executives who are still with the company to this day and were part of that original team.  They knew they had been part of something unique and special.

One of the greatest challenges facing successful Eye-Cubed companies is in maintaining one’s culture during growth, succession and over time.  Instead of a tight group of 20-30 in a few states, PFP has blossomed into a powerhouse of 300 employees throughout 17 states.  We discuss “corporate culture” and trust (among many other qualities) is a tremendous quality that we must preserve.

  • How can an atmosphere of “trust” be fostered in an environment peppered with litigious individuals?
  • How can an atmosphere of “trust” be fostered in a society where corporate deception has been making headlines over the past decade?
  • How can we foster trust when our company has been faced with tough business decisions over the past five years, which resulted in layoffs?

Eye-Cubed companies and executives are meeting this challenge every day. Ask yourself the following to determine if “trust” is likely to exist as part of your culture.

  1. Is your executive team trustworthy as individuals?
  2. Are your corporate motives towards your employees and customers genuine?
  3. Are your messages to your employees consistent?
  4. Are your top executives truly connected to the people throughout every level of your organization?
  5. Is there transparency for employees to hear, see and understand the reality of situations that drive decisions?
  6. Is there consistency in behavior, messages and actions that foster predictability and stability?

Trust is clearly not something one can buy or turn on like a light-switch.  It is created and built over time.  Trust can be shaken and repaired.  It can be challenged and proven.  It is not lost.  It is not gone.

In fact, you cannot be an Eye-Cubed executive without it.  It must exist within your organization to graduate from Eye-Cubed University.

Perhaps Trust Is A Journey, Not A Destination!

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you.