My colleagues (Yu-kai, Shin, Gabe, and Garren) and I went to an event tonight called The First 100 Days of a CMO. The presenter was Scott Hamilton from Allign and he spoke about how a CMO can successfully integrate himself within the company and ultimately lead the company to success. Overall it was a great presentation and what I want to write about is something that stood out in my mind during the event.
The room was full of people in their mid 30’s. My colleagues and I had badges on that read “students” so that people would be able to recognize us and place us in the right seats (not that they couldn’t distinguish simply by looking at our young faces). During the event, Scott asked us to get into groups and run a case study about how to effectively quantify the commitment of your marketing team.
To be honest, I wasn’t that into it and I merely sat back while everyone at my table discussed some points. After listening to what they had to say, I commented on my view points, added to their ideas, and began to sum everything up into bullet points and key topics. To my surprise (surprise because everyone was at least 10 years older than I was), everyone loved the direction that I was headed towards and chose me to be the speaker for our table. They wanted me to present my ideas.
The funny thing was that Yu-kai Chou, who was sitting at another table, was chosen to speak for his table as well. Now what’s going on here? We are literally fresh out of college, and we’re asked to present the ideas when there are people here with 10+ more years of experience than us. Yu-kai and I decided to analyze the situation and we came out with these conclusions:
1. We speak with authority and confidence
If you want to demonstrate that you know something and can contribute to the topic, you need to speak with confidence and in factual statements when adding your ideas. Yu-kai and I speak through people – not just at them – when we are adding out points of view. Speaking through a person means to actually project your voice through them, so it’s like you’re talking to them as if they were two steps back from where they are standing. We also speak with authority by giving clear, concise ideas with concrete stories to back up our ideas.
2. We synergies ideas
Yu-kai and I not only look to contribute our own ideas, but we look for the synergies between all of the ideas. How does this comment relate to the other comment and how can it further our project. It is one thing to acknowledge that the person had a great idea; it is an even better thing to take her idea, mix it with yours, and come out with an even more powerful idea.
3. We lead with questions
Yu-kai and I love leading with questions. This means that we begin every team conversation with probing questions that make everyone in the team contribute. We do not want to give a lecture and tell everyone on the team what to do; instead, we know that 5 heads are better than just one, and by creating an environment where everyone feels confident and free to contribute their ideas, we generate the perfect setting for the best ideas to flourish.
4. We summarize points and make it concrete
Yu-kai and I both summarized the ideas and strategies of our tables. Not only did we summarize them, but we articulated the ideas to our team in a clear and concise manner so that everyone understood the exact steps that we were taking. We also acknowledge the person who made the contribution for each point so that they feel praised and rewarded for their efforts.
These 4 reasons are why Yu-kai and I were both chosen to speak for our tables. Learn to use these traits successfully and you too will become a leader.
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