Tuesday, November 27, 2007

He's Just a Guy!

Finally back from from all the travels. The last trip was at the same time awesome and frustrating. Awesome because I was back in the first city I called home, Sao Paulo, Brazil and frustrating because it took 48 hours of flying, pucking, watching a guy snort cocaine, no sleep, train riding and did I say pucking trip home. There I'm done with that horrible trip home. More on Sao Paulo to come.

While in Sao Paulo I was talking to a co-worker who had to come here to Germany and present to the president of our company. He said he was nervous about the presentation. My first comment to him was "He's just a guy". That one statement seemed to stick with me the rest of the trip and so I thought I'd write about it.

I used to be one of these people I'm about to talk about. You have a presentation you have to give, to your boss, the president of the company, 400 people you don't know or even the president of the USA. The thought of actually standing there doing the presentation is nerve wracking. You think, what if he or she asks too many questions. What if they ask no question. What happens if I make a mistake. What happens if my information is wrong. What if he or she yells at me. The list goes on....The thought of presenting to this person is worse than actually preparing presentation.

I worked for this guy that was all this and more. He would ask a ton of questions or he would ask none. He would point out mistakes. He would get mad. He would sometimes yell and even sometimes just get so frustrated he would walk out of the room. It was this guy that taught me how to say "He's just a guy".

And this is what he taught me:
1. Always treat your boss, the president, 400 people in an audience or the president of the USA like they are the most important people that day.
2. Be confident that you are the expert on the subject (It's your presentation) and be prepared for some of the possible questions.
3. Look him/her/them directly in the eye.
4. Listen Hard
5. Be professional the entire time.
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But what happened to the "He's just a guy, part?" What I found was the more professional I made the presentations, the more relaxed he got. The more relaxed he got the more I learned that he was just a guy. I learned that he watched Survivor every Thursday. So on Friday meetings I would break the ice and talk about the episode the night before. I knew he liked to stay fit so I asked him how is workout was. And the more I gave professional presentations and the more I asked him about his life the better those presentations went. He stopped yelling. He listened hard. He asked hard questions and took no for an answer. Once I asked him about all of this and he gave me my line "I'm just a guy, yes I own this company, yes, I expect you to be the expert, yes I'm going to ask hard questions but I'm just a guy and the more you treat me like that the more I am receptive. Don't ever slack off on your presentations but don't treat me like you can't talk to me".

That lesson opened an entire new world for me. Because of that lesson I once presented to the biggest athletic brand in the world with 400 people in the audience and I had to follow the then president of the company. He was telling them how much better they were going to become and I was following him with a presentation of how bad they were. Of course I was nervous but it was easy at the same time because I knew "He's just a guy".

It's a good life.....
Dave
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