This Idea Totally Changed How We do Business and the Results Have Been Extraordinary!

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When I first started The Sweeney Agency I received some powerful advice from Tim Sanders, formerly of Yahoo! This is what he said:

“Don’t think about sales or closing deals, just position yourself so that whenever you can help someone you help them, without any expectations. 20% of the people you help you’ll never hear from again, but that won’t matter because you will certainly hear back from the other 80%. They will remember you and how you helped them and that will create such great relationships that you will build both a great business and a great life.”

A few weeks after Tim Sanders told me that, I was talking to Colleen – a new employee at a major software company we had worked with. She told me she didn’t really now many people in the company or the new city as she had just moved across the country to take the job. After I finished the call I remembered what Tim  had said and I thought of what I could do to help Colleen.

She wasn’t looking to book a Speaker, but I did know a great book that would help her connect with others so I couriered  Colleen How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less by one of our Speakers, Nick Boothman. This was at a time when sending anything by courier meant no coffee for a week at The Sweeney Agency. Two days later she emailed me back thanking me for my kindness and said she loved the book.

Colleen was reading the book in the company’s café when the VP of Global Communications saw her and asked about the book. Collen referred the VP back to us and he called asking if we could help find him a book on Innovation – which, of course, we were happy to do. That led to further discussions with different people inside the company that we had never dealt with before, which led to the Company asking us to help them find Speakers for their 5 annual sales meetings. We did this for them for the next 7 years and several of the people we met at the company during those years went on to work for companies around the world and today, 12 years later, we are still doing business with several of them.

That all happened because we saw a chance to help Colleen, without any expectation of any return, and just like Tim Sanders said – they remembered us.

 

Derek Sweeney has been helping Clients find the right Speakers for their events for 15 Years. During that time Derek and his team have researched and reviewed over 12,000 Speakers on a variety topics and listed the top 500 on www.thesweeneyagency.com

This Idea Will Dramatically Change How You Make Great Decisions

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Over the past 15 years in the Speaking business I have reviewed thousands of speakers on a variety of topics looking for the very best. A great speaker has to have both great content and the ability to deliver it by engaging and inspiring the audience.

Watching 1800 Executives mesmerized by Dr. Roch Parayre’s presentation on Decision Making I knew I was witnessing something special. It wasn’t just what he was saying, it was how he was delivering it:

With his right hand held in mid-air he began, “We process information through ‘rules of thumb.'”

He paused here for 3 or 4 seconds as the heads in the audience gradually began nodding.

“Overall ‘rules of thumb’ lead to pretty good quality decisions,” he went on.

Another pause and again the audience agreed.

“However” He continued, “the use of ‘rules of thumb’ also lead to systematic and predictable biases.” He paused. “We are predictably wrong in predictable ways,” he stated.

You could tell so many people in the audience just had an ‘aha’ moment.

Dr. Parayre is brilliant at making you rethink how you make decisions. We don’t realize that when we are faced with a problem our instincts automatically try and solve the issue based on our past experiences. Those past experiences formed over time can send you down the wrong road when we really need to re-frame the issue and look at it from another angle. When we don’t take the time to really investigate issues we often end up solving the wrong problem (and will continuously do so) because we aren’t looking at the big picture – what if this problem is a symptom of a larger issue? If we do not “zoom out” and look at the larger picture, and simply “deal with” the problem at hand, we will continue to treat the symptoms and not the cause – indeed as Dr. Parayre points out: we will become “predictably wrong in predicable ways.”

 

Derek Sweeney has been helping clients find the right speakers for their events for 15 Years. During that time, Derek and his team have researched and reviewed over 12,000 Speakers on a variety topics and have listed the top 500 on www.thesweeneyagency.com

This Idea Changed How I Look at Leadership

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Over the past 15 years in the Speaking business I have probably reviewed over 12,000 speakers on a variety of topics – always looking for the very best. A great speaker has to have both great content and the ability to deliver it by engaging and inspiring their audiences.

The first time I heard Cam Marston I knew he was changing the leadership world by teaching people how to lead different generations in the workplace. As Cam pointed out, “The technology that has become so important is now owned, operated, and manipulated freely by the young generation. Never in human history have the younger generation held the keys to something so important to the functioning of business”

When I heard this from Cam, I understood the total change in power dynamics within organizations and how difficult such a substantial shift would be to manage. Cam’s insights into how every generation has their own set of skills and abilities that all contribute to the success of an organization are a valuable resources for leaders who employ a multi-generational workforce. Knowing not only how to manage each generation individually, but how to create an environment where generations work in collaboration with one another is why Cam Marston is such a relevant and significant authority on Leadership.

Cam Marston: The Hiring, Shaping, and Retention of Young Talent

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With so many generations currently in the workforce, more and more organizations are struggling to build a cohesive team; cultivating a harmonious and productive working environment seems to be a daily challenge for many businesses. In this post our generational expert and Speaker Cam Marston explores these struggles of hiring, retaining, and shaping young talent: 

Last week I received the following email:

“We are a small company with a diverse workforce and recently hired a team (4) of recent college engineering graduates as Sales Engineers. The generational differences are creating challenges that are affecting productivity and morale and we are searching for ways to help all of us to overcome these differences with better understanding and support.” 

Workplace challenges among the generations continue as they have for the past twenty years. I see no slack in the demand for solutions. And the solutions vary depending on the size and ability of the employer. For example, a fellow panelist at an event this past spring listed the things that the Millennials want in their workplace: Mentors, meaningful work, flexible schedules, newest technologies, planned career paths, predictable bonuses and raises, and the freedom to work on things that interest them. “It’s simple,” he said. “None of this is hard.” Maybe not, but are these reasonable things to offer to a new-hire with no track record? And only the largest workplaces with ample HR budgets can afford to offer them. Most workplaces are like the writers of the email above – small companies where workplace disruptions impact lots of people. The audience that day listened, like I did, with a perplexed look on their face, thinking, “Yeah. It’s easy to understand. But who is going to implement all this? And change the way we currently do things? And smooth it over with the old-timers who have been loyal and received none of this treatment? And where is the budget going to come from? We’re small and need people who want to fit in, not disrupt.” Easy to understand? Yes. Realistic? I don’t think so.

Today’s workplace has gone from a place where a new hire sought opportunities to prove themselves to a place where new hires say to their employers “Make me happy or else…” From “give me a chance” to “you get one chance.” My assessment may be a bit severe but my employer-clients seem to agree with my description. As a society we have promised today’s youth that someone else will make them happy, that their happiness is not up to them. In their workplace they want to be made happy, not to be happy. So all the things contemporary workplace trends highlight – from mentors to workplace buddies to ping-pong tables – are to make employees happy, especially the youngest ones. Maturity will ultimately teach them that their happiness is their own job, but until this maturity sets in, the job is the employers. It’s evident in the way we raise children today – from rewarding participation vs results – to the way we talk about the purpose of education – “do well on your tests so that someday you’ll find a good job that makes you happy.” It has become a part of our culture.

So what do you do? First, there is an undeniable association between age and turnover: the younger they are, the more likely they are to leave your employment to find another employer who they hope will make them happy. From now on, hire youth at your own risk. Buyer beware.

Next, don’t let “short timer’s disease” deter you when you’re hiring. If you you see an applicant is nearing their late twenties or early thirties they’ve now become a more predictable person and are likely learning that no employer, job, title, or Aeron chair is going to make them happy. They’re at the age when they are realizing that they want a good job and are willing to invest their efforts into making it a good job. They’re also at the age where they realize that happiness is their job, not yours.

Next, communicate inter-personally and frequently. Set the devices and the emails aside and find your people and look them in the eye and talk. The screens in our life prevent meaningful interpersonal connections. Talk, show interest, and relate – old school stuff.

Finally, where you can provide things from the list of what Millennials want mentioned above, do it. But don’t alienate your loyal workers in the process. Explain that these new workplace offerings are designed to benefit everyone, not just your youngest employees.

Ultimately word will get out that you’re a good, fair employer and they’ll come looking for you with their resumes in their hands.

Cam Marston is the leading expert on the impact of generational characteristics and differences on the workplace and the marketplace. As an author, columnist, blogger, and lecturer, he imparts a clear understanding of how generational demographics are changing the landscape of business. Learn more about Cam Marston.

Top 10 Closing Speakers for July 2015

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A great closing speaker is one who sends your audience away on a high note. They are inspiring, motivational, and energizing – often with a compelling story that reaches people on an emotional level. After two or three days of heavy content, a speaker who entertains and engages your attendees will leave them feeling excited and ready to implement everything they’ve learned. Here are the Top 10 Closing Speakers* for July 2015:

Mike Abrashoff | Formal Naval Commander and Speaker on Inspired Leadership

Mike Abrashoff’s story of turning one of the lowest performing naval ships into one of the finest in the Pacific Fleet will have audiences inspired to take initiative within their own leadership and collaborative roles.  Mike’s keynotes are an engaging combination of great storytelling and practical advice on leadership, teamwork, and peak performance.

Stacy Allison | First American female to reach Mount Everest summit, Speaker on Risk

Stacy Allison’s stories of adventure will inspire audiences to undertake their own exciting ventures. Attendees will no longer want to run from risk but rather they will be ready to approach it with eagerness and excitement.

Dr. Robert Ballard | Deep-sea Explorer and Discoverer of Titanic Wreckage

Dr. Ballard will have audiences captivated with his tales of the deep. His presentations will inspire attendees to develop a culture of teamwork as well as motivate them to venture into uncharted territory – leading to new discoveries and innovation.

Robyn Benincasa | CNN Hero, Firefighter, and Motivational Speaker on Teamwork 

As an adventure racer and firefighter, Robyn Beninicasa has amazing stories about leadership, change, and human synergy. Her high energy keynotes will have audiences feeling empowered to perform at their maximum potential both personally and professionally.

Tom Flick | Former NFL Quarterback, Authority on Leadership, Teamwork, and Peak Performance

Tom Flick draws on his extensive knowledge as an athlete and leader in corporate America to deliver a high intensity, and inspirational message to his audiences. He is a skilled storyteller who will galvanize attendees to take the necessary steps to achieve greatness.

Adam Kreek | Olympic Gold Medalist, Adventure Rower and Motivational Speaker

A gifted storyteller, Adam Kreek will captivate your audience with his amazing adventures. His focus on preparation and teamwork will motivate your audience to foster a culture of collaboration and development.

Dr. Janet Lapp | Authority Change Management and Employee Engagement

Dr. Janet Lapp is one of the most dynamic and entertaining speakers on the circuit. Her presentations are funny, engaging, and highly motivating. Dr. Lapp’s keynote will leave attendees feeling energized and ready to face challenges with fortitude and positivity.

Mike Rayburn | Musician, Entertainer, and Speaker

Hilarious and unique, Mike Rayburn’s presentations are like nothing you’ve seen before. As a guitar virtuoso, Mike will inspire audiences to challenge their perceived limitations and teach them how to push themselves and their organizations beyond existing barriers.

Steve Rizzo | Motivational Speaker on The Power of Positivity

Steve Rizzo’s interactive presentations will have attendees laughing and learning. He will teach your audience how to develop and maintain a positive attitude – creating a more cohesive and healthy working environment.

Rick Searfoss | Astronaut and Inspiring Speaker on Teamwork and Leadership

Rick Searfoss will have audiences fascinated with his presentation which combines exciting imagery and moving stories of leadership, teamwork, and personal performance. He will leave attendees committed to holding themselves and their business to new and higher standards of greatness.

*Speakers are listed in alphabetical order

Top 10 Opening Speakers for July 2015

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Selecting the right opening speaker for your event is crucial – they set the tone for entire engagement. A great opening speaker should inspire their audience to open a dialogue with one another. They should also energize, engage, and motivate attendees to get the most out of the event. Here are our Top Ten Opening Speakers* for July 2015:

Ty Bennett | Inspiring Speaker on Improving Your Communication Skills and the Power of Story

Ty’s keynotes teach attendees how to effectively engage others on an emotional level, leading to stronger connections, stronger commitment, and ultimately a stronger bottom-line. Audiences describe his presentations as inspiring, thought-provoking, and entertaining.

Walter Bond | Motivating Speaker on Becoming More Accountable, Former NBA Athlete

Teaching how personal and organizational accountability creates teamwork and engagement, Walter Bond’s unique presentation style motivates audiences to take responsibility for their own continued improvement. Walter’s keynotes are funny, insightful, and full of practical strategies for sustainable success.

Nicholas Boothman | Engaging Speaker on How to Connect with Clients and Colleagues

Nicholas Boothman’s entertaining and thoughtful presentations demonstrate that connecting with others is not an innate talent, but a teachable skill. His interactive keynotes and workshops will encourage attendees to open up and communicate with one another while developing skills that will improve sales and productivity.

Dr. Travis Bradberry | Author and Speaker on Improving Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is one of the most accurate predictors of personal and professional success. Dr. Travis Bradberry is a world-renowned expert on EQ whose fascinating presentations teach audience members how to increase their EQ and achieve more. Attendees leave with a newfound sense of self, as well as practical strategies for future success.

Dan Clark | Motivating Speaker on Teamwork and Sales

Dan Clark’s presentation is the ultimate motivator. Combining inspiring stories with practical insights, Dan encourages attendees to push themselves to the next level.  Audiences leave Dan’s presentations hungry to learn and do more.

Chip Eichelberger | Motivational Speaker on Focus and Committing To Your Goals

Motivational Speaker Chip Eichelberger will energize your audience with his contagious enthusiasm. His interactive presentations allow audience members to break the ice and begin to collaborate. Attendees will leave his presentation feeling motivated, excited, and empowered to take on new and existing challenges.

Chester Elton | “The Apostle of Appreciation” and Best Selling Author

Dubbed “The Apostle of Appreciation” by The Globe and Mail, Chester Elton’s presentations explore the connection between effective recognition and employee engagement. His motivational keynotes are full of energy and enthusiasm, setting an exciting and positive foundation for any event.

Dr. Tasha Eurich | Organizational Phycologist and Speaker on Leadership

Dr. Tasha Eurich is a highly sought-after leadership expert who captivates her audiences with interactive discussions, engaging activities, and real-world applications. Dr. Eurich blends scientific theory with practical information, creating a new and exciting perspective on leadership.

Steve Gilliland | Famed Storyteller and Motivational Speaker

Steve Gilliland’s keynotes are funny, energizing, and compelling. His presentations motivate audiences to thrive both personally and professionally, creating a desire to get the most out of what life has to offer.

Ross Shafer | Motivational Speaker and Humorist

Enlightening and fun, Ross Shafer’s presentations will have audience members inspired to reach their maximum potential. He will inspire attendees to take the steps necessary in their own personal and professional development – and he’ll tell some jokes too!

 

*Speakers are listed in alphabetical order

Do You Have the 4 Key Traits of Today’s Most Influential Leaders?

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The characteristics of a great leader have evolved. The qualities necessary to be an effective manager in today’s business landscape have drastically shifted from those of 20 years ago – Intimidating and berating your employees to get results won’t work anymore (But did it ever?). As a contemporary leader, are you reaching your maximum potential? Here are the 4 qualities that you need to have to be that leader:

  1. Focus on EQ instead of IQ. “Intelligence is not the sole source of success” says our Emotional Intelligence Speaker Dr. Travis Bradberry. Sure Gary in IT dabbles with quantum physics in his spare time, but his inappropriate jokes offend his co-workers. Although businesses list “strong interpersonal skills” as an important quality, they are often overlooked by managers. Having a highly intelligent person on the team is great, but if no one wants to work with them because of their thoughtlessness and insensitivity you’ll end up becoming their babysitter – no manager has time to constantly remind their employees to “play nice.”

 

  1. Say No. According to our Innovation Speaker & Author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less Greg McKeown, the most successful leaders know how to strategically prioritize. Modern prioritizing is not simply organizing and ranking your tasks by importance, but actually saying “no” to certain tasks. “Doing it all” is not constructive – it hinders your effectiveness. Just say no and delegate!

 

  1. Inspire those around you. A great leader has a clear understanding of the core values of their company and they model themselves to reflect those values says Our Motivational Speaker, Firefighter, and CNN Hero Robyn Benincasa. A leader who consistently demonstrates excellence and dedication will inspire those around them to follow suit. It will also have a much larger impact on employee behavior than the “Code of Conduct” recorded in the Employee Handbook – reading what is expected of you and actually seeing it in action makes a huge difference!

 

  1. Listen. When Our Leadership Speaker Mike Abrashoff took over as Commander of the USS Benfold Naval War Ship it was one of the most under-performing ships in the Pacific fleet. Morale was low, turnover was high, and the crew had unacceptably low performance evaluations. With the same crew, Abrashoff turned the Benfold into one of the finest ships in the Pacific fleet. How did he do it? He listened. He spoke with the members of the crew and gave them a platform to voice their concerns and opinions, and he used this valuable information to implement changes that boosted morale and performance. Simply listening to your employees will make them feel valued and you will glean insight that you could never get from the quarterly reports.

Would They Follow You Up The Mountain? 6 Ways to Inspire and Lead a Culture of Collaboration

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Good Leaders and Managers require a lot of self-awareness and self-motivation, however, Great Leaders know that their behavior towards others is crucial to employee engagement and commitment. You can provide employees with wonderful perks and benefits (dental!) but if you don’t empathize, listen, and provide a platform for others to be heard your team may start looking for someone who will.

Below are 6 ways that great Leaders help create and build great teams from our Expert Speakers

Give yourself a point for each one you execute on a regular basis and review your score at the end:

1. “I learned that you don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing them how amazing they are.” Firefighter Robyn Benincasa award winning Speaker on Teamwork.

2. “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” John Cassis Speaker on Leading Change

3. “What we do is try to lay out for people that what we find to be fairly common sense in our personal lives – saying thank you and appreciating people – somehow gets lost in the course of normal business.” Chester Elton Speaker and Author of All-IN

4. “First, tell the truth. It’s simple and sometimes hard to do.” Marilyn Tam Speaker on Leadership and Diversity

5. “When you truly listen, you let go of formulating your response while someone else is speaking. Then, you can easily slip into his or her shoes.” Brian Biro Speaker on Change

6. “Most people are generally reasonable and can rally around an idea that wasn’t their own as long as they know they’ve had a chance to weigh in.” Patrick Lencioni Guru on Leadership

 

  • 6 out of 6: They would follow you over the mountain and every mountain after that.
  • 5 out of 6: They would follow you fairly close to the top of the mountain and want to go further.
  • 4 out of 6: They would follow you half way up the mountain and then give a serious think to going further.
  • 3 out of 6: They would slowly follow you halfway up your mountain but once there they are going to evaluate you and other mountains to climb.
  • 2 out of 6: They would listen to your idea about following you up that mountain, nod their heads, and when you are on the mountain they’ll email you.
  • 1 out of 6: It’s your mountain and you’re the one who wants to go up it, they’re leaving at 5 PM.

4 Ways to Engage Millennials in the Workplace

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With experts predicting that Millennials will make up nearly half of the American workforce in a few short years, Employers are banging their heads against the wall looking for new and effective tactics to engage and retain a notoriously uncompromising group of employees. Millennials are a very different generation than their predecessors and previous employee engagement initiatives are no longer viable.

Leaders cannot keep Millennials away from the general workplace population – positioned behind closed doors and large computer monitors. The digitization of almost every sector of business is unavoidable and our Speaker & Generational Expert Cam Marston points out that because of technology, for the first time in history the youth hold the keys to the functioning of modern business – striking panic into the hearts of organizations across the country. However, to engage (and consequently retain) them you have to challenge them – Managing Social Media and Webservers will simply not suffice for this energetic and ambitious generation. Millennials can (and demand to) do more.

Here are 4 approaches to engage Millennials in the workplace and how to use their specific talents to your advantage:

Research

Millennials are amazing researchers. They live in the Information Age and can access and gather useful data with astounding speed. They also know which sources are credible and which are not – Millennials know not to cite Wikipedia or The Onion. Explain to them that their role is a key component to the foundation of a particular project and keep them in the loop as the project progresses – regardless of whether their skills are needed beyond the initial phase. Seeing how their efforts contributed to the overall project will make them feel like a valued member of the team.

Teamwork

Despite common perceptions, collaboration and teamwork is not a foreign concept to Millennials – in fact their education was largely built around group assignments – therefore they have the understanding and experience but may lack the finesse for workplace interactions. Exposing them to the particulars of workplace collaboration with multigenerational team members fosters a sense of inclusiveness and camaraderie. Furthermore, our Speaker David Stillman advocates for frequent multi-generational collaborative work as a means to give the younger generations a chance to learn from the Traditionalists and Boomers before they leave the workforce.

Feedback

Millennials have been labelled as “needy” because of their desire to be constantly evaluated (i.e. praised). This desire may be the residual effects from their education – remember Millennials have not been out of the post-secondary “bubble” for long. Giving feedback often will pacify this need and demonstrate that the organization has taken an interest in them. Our Speaker Lynne Lancaster explains that feedback will also give Management frequent opportunities to address problematic behaviors in an appropriate setting. When giving Millennials feedback be sure to always begin with something positive before addressing the areas where improvement is needed.

Change Management

Non-Millennials often refer to “bracing” for Change as though it was a tidal wave about to crash down on them. Change for Millennials does not cause trepidation, but rather excites and drives them. Assign Millennials to a project or taskforce that negotiates the ways in which transition and transformation will be approached within the organization. Their enthusiasm will be infectious and covert negative attitudes towards Change into positives ones.

Inspiring Influencers: 4 Habits of Dynamic Leaders

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Evaluation is a constant task for anyone in a leadership position. The best leaders, however, not only evaluate others, they also evaluate themselves on a consistent basis. Great leaders follow specific directions in order to keep their employees, their business, and themselves on the “right path.” Here are 4 of the most popular dos and don’ts of great leaders:

Do expect and prepare for Change. Change is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be frightening. Travis Bradberry argues that if you understand that Change will happen, you will be emotionally equipped and mentally prepared to handle any challenge in a productive way. This fortitude will set a great example for the rest of your team.

Don’t waste time focusing on things that are out of your control. Mike Abershoff astutely points out that leaders are too often fraught with worry by all the things that are out of their control that they forget to actually regulate what they can. Effective leaders are those who can quickly identify what is not within their control and choose to focus on what can be managed. The ways in which you engage with your employees is certainly within every leader’s control so why not spend time actively listening and communicating with people rather than obsessing over what cannot be changed?

Do fail. Failure doesn’t have to be seen as a setback. It is always a learning experience. Peter Bregman explains that failure can also make us more relatable, more compassionate, and ultimately more human. These traits allow us to forge more powerful relationships with those around us.

Don’t stop growing. Consistently “check” yourself and your role as a leader. Mark Sandborn recommends regularly asking yourself questions such as “Why do I want to lead?” “What kind of leader to I want to be?” and “Who will I follow?” These questions are designed to make you think about your own role within the team and how you can strive to be better. Always hold yourself to a higher standard.