Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Own Private #Blogathon ATX Goal

I attended Blogathon in Austin on Saturday, April 29, 2012.  For the event I came up with my own private  goal to write five blog posts in one day and post them on the Some Assembly Required Blog.  The purpose of the event is to bring bloggers together for a day of education, information, and networking... but I decided to make it about pushing my writing creative effort.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to write when you write a daily blog.  I get worried if too many posts will overwhelm people, while too little may bore those who visit regularly.  I know some of my posts are better than others, but I appreciate the response I get from readers to most of my work.

I set the goal and although I could not get them all done before I left the event (I had to leave early), I did finish all five posts before the end of the day.

In addition to meeting my goal, I also met several interesting people, reconnected with many old friends, and had a lot of fun.

To review the posts please visit my blog:

Which post do you like best?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Who Excites You?

There are not that many people who excite. We live in a "vanilla world" and people cannot escape from the being blah.  You cross paths with hundreds of people a week, but most do not stand out.  Too many of us have turned down our "tone" to ensure we fit in with the crowd.

Safe.... but not exciting.

Every now and then we run across someone who is inspiring and exciting.  These people get our attention and are remembered.  I think of us many wish they fell into this category, but we fall short.

This is true in the world of celebrities.  Some are just more interesting (I am talking about "in a good way"... not "in a Kardashian way").  A real stand out actor, author, politician, or other celebrity makes us feel something inside.  They get under our skin.

In my profession (professional speakers), some can emotionally connect with the soul of an audience and get them pumped up while also delivering meaningful content. Other speakers just go through the motion and deliver a report.  Maybe it is "good" information, but not "exciting".

But beyond the tabloids or conference stage who is it that gets you excited?  (I am talking business here, folks!).  Think about the conversations you had the last few days, was there anyone who had that spark in their soul that reached out and got you thinking and feeling in a different way?  What was it about them that was exciting?

I am always looking for people who have that unique aura around them that motivates me to try harder or think deeper.  We should champion those who bring excitement to an otherwise dull routine.  But I question if most people are comfortable with those who inspire.  What do you think?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Attention on Ideas

A friend and I were talking about ideas.  Specifically, we were talking about how some people put their attention toward ideas, while others talk (gossip) about people.  The real thought leaders we know are always focused on ideas. Those who talk about people are often cataloging what others do (and not always the good stuff).

Idea people are the engine of the future. They do not care about what type or car another person drives or where their house is located.  These folks are less impressed with the subject someone majored in college than they are with the concepts the person can bring to a conversation.  Sharing ideas, and expanding on them (and taking action), are how anyone can change themselves and the world.

It is hard to focus on ideas.  They are often obscure.  Difficult to quantify.  And most of all an idea without action is not worthy of much.  People are sometimes scared of their own ideas being ridiculed by those who do not cherish the power of thoughts.

Putting attention on ideas is a struggle, but the results are the building blocks of legend.  

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Protagonist of Possibilities

Who is your Protagonist of Possibilities?

Few people are really present in our lives who recognize and support our personal and professional goals.  We may think that those near and dear to our hearts understand what we strive to accomplish, but too many are caught up in their own "stuff" that they are blind to everything else.  It is rare to find those caring souls who are helpful to us along our journey toward success.

Antagonists seem to be everywhere and it is common to encounter people who want to dismiss our dreams and desires.  People gossip about those around them and question the legitimacy of the success enjoyed by others.  Have you ever felt undermined or dismissed by someone in your network?  It happens.

The people who have your back and go out of their way to follow through on their intentions are worth their weight in gold.  I talk often about those with "Follow Through DNA", and the term resonates with audiences because most people find few people who have this trait (of doing what they say they will do).

Recognizing who in your life lifts you up, pushes you along, and applauds your victories is important.  Never take these folks for granted.

We all need "protagonists of possibilities" - but they are rare.

Are you one who helps others or are you caught up in your own stuff?

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Three Tips for Networking at #BlogathonATX (or any other event!)

No matter what the industry, a main reason people attend business oriented events is for the "networking opportunities".... and yet once they arrive they suck at making the types of connections they had desired.  They sit with old friends and get buried in their electronic devises.  At the end of the one, two, or three day event they look at the stack of business cards (or other list of connections) and are not sure what to do with the information.

Additionally, those who self identify as being more introverted mistakenly think that the social aspects of attending events is just for those pesky extroverts.  They can be nervous (or pained) by the thought of having to chat with strangers who may just drone on and on about themselves.  But the truth is that introverts are BETTER networkers.  Yep, I said it.  Introverts are much better at networking (and I say this as an extrovert), and once they embrace their power in this area they can easily maximize the time they invest in attending conferences.  Introverts tend to ask questions and listen better.  When you learn about others you have a higher opportunity of being able to discover ways to establish an ongoing connection and help each other succeed.

Meeting someone once does NOT make them part of your network.  Meeting someone once makes them "someone you have met once".  There is a big difference between people you have met once and those with whom you cultivate a long-term and meaningful relationship.  But you have to start somewhere!

For those at Austin's Blogathon there are three things that we can all do to make today a better event (and it is already Ilene and her team have done an amazing job in coordinating).

Three Tips for Networking at Blogathon

1.  Do not sit with your closest friends in the room.  Look at your friends and say "I love you, you are the coolest, and I appreciate our relationship.... but I am going to move to another table with people I do not already know".  Putting yourself at tables with strangers who are not part of your inner-circle will expose you to new creative minds that can inspire you in ways you never imagined.

2.  Say hello to people.  There is POWER in the world "HELLO".  Others might be shy, but they are happy when you smile at them and say "hi".  Nobody who invested time to come to Blogathon is an asshole (okay, nobody might be an overstatement).  Greet people and ask them questions.  Listen to them.  And be aware of the difference between a chat and a meaningful conversation.

3.  Plan for the follow-up. When you have one (or more) of those meaningful talks, embrace the idea of following up with the person.  Follow-up does not happen by accident, someone has to "own the follow-up".  It is like dating... if one person does not ask for the first date, second date, etc... there is no relationship.  Be sure to get a business card or other contact tool (be respectful, as not everyone like to "Bump" or Google Search you later. Business cards are still a useful tool, but if you did not bring any (or are freakishly opposed to business cards), find a way to make sure you both can get the needed info.

If you read this while at Blogathon I hope we meet.  Come and say "Hello".

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Live Blogging at #BlogathonATX

I am attending BLOGATHON in Austin.   I believe this is the fourth annual event, but it is the first time I have been present.

This is an event that was organized several years ago by Ilene Haddad (and others) to bring together people in Austin who write blogs and are otherwise engaged in the local social media community.  Austin is full of creative people, and anytime you can be around amazing people you cannot avoid being inspired.

The event is being hosted at Tech Ranch and there are nearly 100 people crammed into the meeting room with their laptops and iPads open and fingers flying.  There are panel discussions, experts, advice bars, one-on-one advice, and an inviting atmosphere.

I am hungry to get fresh ideas, find motivation, and meet new people.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cool Things My Friends Do - Maura Thomas Releases Her New Book: "Personal Productivity Secrets"

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their work and professional lives.

My friend Maura Thomas just released her first book, "Personal Productivity Secrets" (Wiley 2012).  Over the past 17 years she has helped others regain their time and become more productive through her speaking and training at business groups, conferences, events, and corporations large and small, nationally and internationally.

Releasing your first book (or any book) is a great accomplishment.  Congratulations to Maura.  I am very excited to read the book, as I can use a boost of productivity in my daily life!

The book is available through all the regular book retailers including

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You Would Not Give "Poop" As A Gift!

You want to speak at business events?  Many have a desire to speak, but have no idea where to get started.    Speaking at industry events can be a great ways to promote your business, and those who speak are often seen as the expert.

But just saying you are a speaker is not enough.  Networking can only go so far.  Blogging is not the same as speaking.  The reality is that speakers speak. To be a speaker you must be in front of people.  When you do this well, other groups will invite you to speak to them.  Often these early talks are "free", but their is a whole world of opportunities for those who want to get paid to speak.

There is a whole "Speaking Industry" made up of those who earn a living from presenting.  The business of speaking is unlike most professions.  There is no "one way" to become a professional speaker, and no two speakers are exactly the same.  Where I may be the right fit for one company or association, someone else is what another group needs on their stage.

The hard part to quantify is "skill".  Judging ability is left up to the subjective nature of other human beings and their feelings.  Perception is reality. To show skills as a marksman one need to his the bulls-eye repetitively.  However, to be a great speaker means people's opinions of the talk is the bulls-eye.  The mind is a moving target and it is not as clear cut to know if you hit the spot.  Plus the make up of every audience is different and most people are so conditioned to mediocre presentations, that they do not expect anything better.

To improve as a public speaker you must make "Presentation Skills" a priority.  Most who choose to wing it are destine to be those speakers that audiences find blah (and that seems to happen a lot).  Few who are really good at presenting to audiences got that way by natural ability alone.  It takes practice and preparation.  Speakers speak.

A speaker is not a commodity product.  When selecting a band to play at an event most event organizers would never just choose someone without vetting their abilities in front of an audience and without getting feedback from people who have heard their music.  However, speakers are often chosen because they are smart or have done something cool, without regard to their experience speaking.  "We just want content" is a lazy answer, as this mindset leads to lots of mediocre presentations at events.  (Content is important, but should not stand alone).

A friend recently attended a real estate industry event where several local executives participated in panel discussions.  He was shocked that these successful brokers from companies were all horrible communicators from the stage.  He could not figure out why these people were asked to present in the first place.  But it happens all the time.

Anyone can become a better speaker if the make it a priority.  It does not matter if your personality is more introverted or extroverted.  All that matters is that you understand where you are coming from and where you want to go.  When you understand that speaking is about the audience, not yourself, then you will want to deliver better talks.  They call it "giving a speech" because it is a gift to those listening.  Nobody would bring a piece of dog poop crap as a gift to someone they care about....  But that is what an unprepared speech is for an audience.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The TED-ization of Meetings

I am a huge fan of  The success of TED Conferences and their TEDx franchise have captivated the meetings industry with a desire to create a "happening" instead of just a meeting.  Many conferences in a variety of industries have become obsessed with making their events more "like" TED.

The typical reaction is to just go to the short-format presentations.  TED talks are typically 18 minutes long, with some speakers having even less time.  The TED audiences are treated to captivating single idea nuggets from industry thought leaders.  However, there is more to the success of TED than short talks (the make up of the audience and the long-tail of their videos, etc...).  Additionally, the amount of preparation that a speaker puts into a TED conference can exceed 50 hours.  Most conference speakers put in only a fraction of that time working on their speeches for any other event (except for professional speakers, who are always working on their platform skills and can have thousands of hours invested in their presentations).

As a professional speaker I am receiving more requests to do short talks at events, as the lure of the quick delivery is pervasive throughout our society these days.  We seem to want to fit everything into a style of 140-characters (thanks to texts and tweets).  Shorter has become very popular.

But is shorter always better?

Every event is not a TED Conference, nor should it be.  Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but simply shortening the time that speakers have to share their information will not turn an event into a "happening".  Re-tooling a whole event to a trendy format is not the answer.  If all meetings shifted to this format we would stop getting enough information in sessions, as 18 minutes is often not enough time to get to the meat of an issue.  Especially if the event is utilizing industry speaker who are no experienced or skilled at connecting with an audience.  Not everyone can connect beyond the surface within only a few minutes.

Yet meeting professionals should try things to make their conferences more unique and interesting.  The PCMA Conference in San Diego in January 2012 had a fantastic opening session.  They had three very different speakers (one who was brought in via Skype), each with about 20 minutes.  But their opening talk was not the whole package.  Each of the speakers later presented a full length break-out session.  If audience members wanted to go deeper they could attend that session and learn more.  This was the best of both worlds.  What I liked about this was the PCMA did not simply "copy" TED by turning their keynote time into three TED-style talks, but they went further by adding the more intensive break-out option.

I am hosting a program at the 2012 National Speakers Association Annual Conference called "The Learning Lounge" (another idea from PCMA 2012).  The lounge is open as an option during all concurrent sessions.  One of the featured areas in this lounge will be a stage where we will have a series of short format talks. But this stage will also feature a master class on better PowerPoint during one of scheduled times, "Speaker's Corner" during another (a chance for anyone to come give a 5 minute impromptu talk), and presentations from the Youth Leadership attendees.  Mixing up the short format speeches with other programs is intentional.  There are six times when people can come to the lounge, and having only the 15-18 minutes talks during each "Learning Lounge" session would have gotten old before the end of the three day event.

Being new and different is a good thing.  But when all conferences try to be different by doing the same thing, then it is neither new or different.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cool Things My Friends Do - Mary Ellen King Named Austin's 2012 Outstanding Young Lawyer

Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their work and professional lives.

This week I would want to congratulate my friend Mary Ellen King of the King Law Group who was named the 2012 Outstanding Young Lawyer by the Austin Young Lawyers Association.

Each year this award recognizes a young attorney who has shown exemplary professional proficiency, service to the profession, and service to the community.

Mary Ellen will be honored at the Austin Bar’s Annual Law Day Luncheon and Annual Meeting on May 4, 2012.

I enjoy seeing people receive kudos for the good work they do in their career and community!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Purpose of Business Meetings

The current situation and investigation of the GSA's Las Vegas event has many people up in arms about the investment that companies, associations, and governmental agencies make on hosting business meetings.  People who question the purpose and power of business meetings are rattling the cage and making noise just as they did after "Muffin-Gate" in 2011 (the over hyped and twisted story that a DOJ paid $16 per muffin at a meeting coffee break).  But there is more to meetings than the costs to produce a meaningful conference.

While it can sound expensive, the realities of hosting events do cost money.  Hotels, meals, transportation, professional speakers, entertainment, and other necessary items have associated bills.  But when a meeting becomes a "happening" there is value created.  Looking at pieces of the puzzle separately can cause some to misinterpret the real power that happens when people gather together.  Throughout history man has collected in groups to share the best ideas, learn, grow, entertain, have fun, and get inspired for the future.

Of course there are those who abuse the system, make poor spending decisions, and waste money.  I am not condoning bad behavior.  Meetings are not something you just "do"... as you need trained professionals to help you organize or you will fall prey to all sorts of mistakes. Too many jump in thinking "how hard can it be?" and wing-it in their planning.  A conference has so many parts that you should never expect the right results without the proper planning and experience.

Some people think that the meetings industry is dead.  I spoke to one person recently who said she never goes to business meetings, and thus was convinced that conferences were dying.  NOT TRUE.  Many business meetings are growing and new conferences spring up daily around the world.   The meetings industry is a multi-billion dollar business that employs over 1.7 million people in the United States.

The problem with all the discussion about meetings is there is not a clear understanding of the purpose of business gatherings.  If you talk to different people you will get different answers.  Some think meetings exits to educate.  Others to entertain.  Networking opportunities are regularly cited as a reason to attend. There are those that believe meetings a perk, while just as many view them as an obligation.  Associations can acquire much of their income from conferences and at the same time other companies and agencies have them as expenses.

Every meeting that is planned can have different purposes (even meetings that are put on by the same organization).

Since there is not a single purpose for business meetings there will always be controversy as people tend to only look at things the way they want to see them.  Those who want to see meetings as expensive can make that argument, but if you have ever been to a conference where you made a connection that changed the direction of your career, or learned something that inspired you to achieve more... then you know why there will always be business meetings.

All opportunities come from people, and bringing groups together is a way to create more opportunities.

I believe meetings exist for many of reasons, but too often even the organizers cannot tell you the clear purpose.  Working to appeal to a variety of people can leave an event too vanilla to become spectacular to anyone.  If you cannot clearly articulate the reason to host the meeting, why can you expect attendees to understand the purpose?

Knowing the answer to "why" will make the event better for everyone!

What was the last meeting you attended and why was it great? (or why was it blah?).

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Change Your Point Of View

Nobody argues that life these days can be busy.  Overwhelming for many.  We have a constant stream of information coming at us, and often we are making conscious and unconscious choices at every moment.  There is little time to sit and just "be".

I tend to see the world from my own point of view.  Others do the same thing.  Sometimes we are surrounded by people who share our ways, and other times we are in conflict with those with differing views of life.  Many people jump to the conclusions that they are "right", which makes others "wrong".  But often it is not that easy.

The knee jerk reaction to being right leaves people with a superior feeling.  When they do not have all the facts they fill in the blanks with their own guesses, and then hold their adversaries in a negative light.  I try hard to get past these "feelings" about people and situations, but it usually takes a purposeful intent to not jump to my own answers.

When I am open to looking at situations from differing points of view I am usually amazed at my understanding of what motivates people who have beliefs that do not match how I see things.  A small push of my own mind to look at something from another vantage point brings not only understanding, but also more peace.

What do you think?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cool Things My Friends Do - Merry Maids 30th Anniversary

Each Friday on my blog I highlight cool things my friends do!

My friend Sarah Trivitt and her mother, Marilyn Gregory, celebrated thirty years in business in Westlake (Austin, Texas).  They are the owners of the Merry Maids franchise in Central Austin.  While Sarah was only two-years-old when her mom launched the company, she now is her partner and the two continue to grow the business and serve the people of Austin.

Over 100 people came to celebrate their accomplishments this week.  Family, friends, customers, employees, former employees, and other business owners toasted the continuity of their company over three decades.  In today's competitive world this is really a cool thing!!!

Congratulations to Sarah and Marilyn.  Here is to thirty more years!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Business Page on LinkedIn

I recently launched a business LinkedIn page.  While the most current information and my most recent pontifications are always here on the blog, there are a wide variety of ways to communicate in the social media world.  I am looking forward to watching the LinkedIn page materialize in some unique manner.

CLICK HERE to follow Thom Singer - Professional Speaker



Inner Purpose

I had an incident.  Details do not matter.  It was nothing catastrophic.  Hardly the stuff that people write about on their blog.  It simply caused me to think clearly about my purpose.

Purpose is the reason for which something exists.  Why do I strive to do the things I do?  Determination.  Resoluteness. What really pushes me toward success?

Interestingly, it was like a movie.  In the middle of the night I woke up and just nodded "yep, that's it!".  I grasped my purpose a little better than I had before.  I went back to sleep.

As I have gone about my business I have had this purpose in the front of my mind.  It guides me in making decisions.  It nudges me to be a better person.  An internal purpose is like the gas in your engine.  It makes me smile even when I have lost focus on what to smile about!

Without going into details, it has become clear that knowing my inner purpose has lead me to more opportunity.  Business opportunities have appeared that bring me closer to all my goals.  The two are not visibly connected, but yet they are interwoven.

This purpose has made me care less what others think (because sometimes people fill in the blanks with lots of stuff they make up in their heads), and care more about my own actions.  Although I think we all care a little about what others think, I now select more carefully whose opinions matter to me.  (others can still make me sad, but that is because I am a human being).

Mistakes scare me less.  I know I will make them, we all do.  Yet too many people make sport of gossip about the shortfalls of others while ignoring their own faults.  My faults help feed my purpose.  No matter what I do there will be those who will assume what they want to assume.  Taking ownership of my missteps and going forward while trying not to make the same mistakes twice is all we can expect from ourselves or others.

What is your inner purpose?  You don't have to tell me, but life gets better when you tell yourself!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Entrepreneurs and Knowledge: Know What You Know (and What You Don't)

The old saying that "knowledge is power" is not just a cliche.  What you know will have a tangible impact on the long-term growth of your company.  Knowledge matters for entrepreneurs (and others).  While many successful business owners get plenty of on-the-job training, you must go into your venture with a clear understanding of what you know and don't know about running the company.

Knowledge in three areas is key:  your industry, the products/services (and how they impact the customers) and your own experience level.  While there are many example of those who have achieved high levels of success while having deficits in some of these areas, there are also examples of people who have failed because of their lack of awareness.

Being well versed in the trends of your industry will is important to the decision making process on where to focus your growth efforts.  Competitive analysis and a grasp of historical cycles allows the entrepreneur to make the tough choices with regards to R&D, expansion, and marketing investment.  This knowledge of the industry also helps in attracting key hires from the competition as your business grows.  People want to work for the industry leaders, and those who are leaders are always aware of what is happening in their industry.

Understanding your products and services helps you stay relevant.  Things change fast in today's business world, and it is important to offer what your clients desire and deem necessary.  Offerings can become obsolete quickly, and the tools with how customers gather information about competitive options are undermining buyers loyalty.  What sold yesterday may not sell tomorrow.

Self awareness is often difficult for a gung-ho first time entrepreneur.  The lure of running a business can overshadow inexperience in certain business skills.  The thrill of being your own boss does not replace an understanding of managing employees, sales and marketing, or dealing with unhappy customers.  When you are clear of areas of needed improvement you can either focus on learning the missing skills or hire people who can compensate.

Know what you know, and what you don't know.  Entrepreneurial knowledge will help you avoid common mis-steps.  Your future can easily hang in the balance of the information you gather.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Austin Hoops for Hope

Have fun.  Raise money for charity.  AND get yourself into the Guinness Book of Records.

The Smile Never Fades (A local breast cancer charity) is hosting "Hoops for Hope" on May 20, 2012 from noon to 3:30 PM.

Join your fellow Austinites at The Long Center for the Performing Arts and twirl, twist and roll our way into the history books. Out of practice? That’s okay. The only requirements are a hoop and a smile.

Hoops for Hope is family-friendly event for people of all ages and experience levels. To top it off, all proceeds from the event will go directly to the comfort and care of breast cancer patients right here in central Texas.

To appease the lovely folks at the Guinness World Records, advanced registration is requested. The next step is to learn the routine. From there, it’s all just fun and games!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Monday, April 09, 2012

Beyond Cooperative Significance

"Cooperative Significance" is the phrase I use to describe the need for people to help each other find success.  We all need others to assist us along the way, and yet too many are stuck trying to reinvent the wheel every day by doing things that come easy to someone else.

Everyone wants to be significant; at home, at work, in their neighborhood, in their faith community, etc....  But we cannot be significant alone in a field.

Yet people allow assumptions, snap judgments,  stereotypes, and one-time situations to close the doors on creating meaningful connections.  It is a shame.

Pride is another thing that blocks us.  We do not want to appear weak or not in control of our own lives, so shut off parts of ourselves from the outside world.  Vulnerability is a natural part of the human experience (for a great TED Talk on vulnerability you should watch the talks by Dr. Brene Brown). It seems rare for people to ask for help, even for the little things that could easily be remedied by those around them.

It is difficult to let others know you need help, but apparently it is also difficult to lend a hand.  Too often people who could make an introduction do not do so (whether asked or not).  Some who can quickly solve an other's difficulties look the other way, as they do not have the time (or some other reason).  But if we do not make the time to serve, promote and assist others, why should we ever expect anyone to take actions that for us in our hours of need?

Finally, we should all strive to be slow to anger and fast to forgive.  Everyone makes mistakes, even those who are acting to help others succeed.  If our focus is only on the flaws of others, it can magnify our own short comings.  While a second chance is difficult to grant, it is often the basis of a win / win situation.

"Cooperative Significance" can make a difference in all of our lives, but it takes everyone being willing to do a little bit more.  I recently heard a speaker say that "win / win" has come to mean; I win twice as much as the other person to far too many.  If we have to keep score, we all lose in some manner.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Friday, April 06, 2012

Cool Things My Friends Do - Scott Ginsberg Book Giveaway

Each Friday I am posting "Cool Things My Friends Do" to my blog.

My friend Scott Ginsberg is a writer.  He writes for hours every day.  Sometimes he publishes his stuff, other times he files it away for later.  But either way.... he writes.

Scott is famous for saying "Writing is the basis for all wealth".  But he would rather have you read his words than pay him for his writing.

He has 13 book, and right now he is offering free downloads to all of them.

If you go to his website you can "steal" any or all of his books.  (Here is the link to all the books:

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Must You Accept That LinkedIn Request? ---- Point / Counterpoint

The Situation:  You receive a LinkedIn request from someone in your work ecosystem, a peer at a company your company partners with. However, your interactions with this person have been unpleasant and frankly, you dislike her. Must you accept her invitation to link?

Leslie Says: No. You have nothing to gain from connecting with her.  First, you won’t ask her for introductions because you don’t want to interact with her any more than you are already forced to. Second, you won’t make a personal introduction to anyone in your network to her because she will likely be just as abrasive to them as she is to you. And finally, you don’t want people in your network to think you have a relationship with her because she is toxic. This is why LinkedIn has an IGNORE button.

Thom Says:  Yes (well, Maybe).  You need to take into account the relationship between your company and the organization where the other person works.  If you own the business, then it is a personal decision.  In this case, if they are offended by your ignoring their request it could have an impact on the partnership relationship between the companies.  While I believe you should not link to everyone with a pulse, a LinkedIn connection does not necessarily mean you are endorsing this person or that you have a close relationship.  

The Conclusion: There are no hard and fast rules with social media.  Different people use these tools in different ways, so you have think through how you interact with people in these communities.  The best advice is to be consistent

Leslie Morris is the director of marketing at SOASTA, Inc. and the editorial director at New Year Publishing, LLC.

Thom Singer is a professional speaker and corporate trainer who regularly assists companies and individuals with issues related to building their network, reputation, and brand.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The End of Entrepreneurship?

If you have the drive to be an entrepreneur, there is no end point.  Quitting is not a choice, even when facing tough obstacles along the way, there is still the internal spark to overcome and construct new path.  Entrepreneurs do not know the meaning of the words "can't", "wont", or "die".

There are many things that can happen to you and your company.  Some are good, others are not as pleasant.  Change is the only constant with the passing of time and adapting is an important trait in the world of entrepreneurial success.  You, and those around you, should not be surprised by your continued push forward.

Your company may fail.  It could run out of money or you may decide to walk away to free yourself up to be ready for more appropriate opportunities.  You might have an exit event where you sell your company (that can be a really good thing!).   Possibly you may keep ownership of the company, but turn the reigns over to another person to take the business to the next level of growth.

No matter what the reason, those separated from one company will most likely move quickly onto a new project.  The journey is never over for those who are called to create.  Like an artist, an entrepreneur will simply find a new canvas and begin something new.

The new adventure could be another start-up, working as an intrapreneur for another established company, joining the world of non-profits, or any of several other option.  Regardless of what you do next, there is rarely retirement for those who carry the entrepreneurial spirit.

There is no end of entrepreneurship.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

20th Wedding Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to my Wife!!

Twenty years ago today Sara walked down the isle with tears in her eyes.  One of my friend's commented..."You'd cry too if you were going to marry Thom".

I will go with the version where those were tears of joy!

Hopefully I still bring her joy.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Steven Tomlinson - "Preparing to be Spontaneous"

A room of over 50 professional speakers, authors, consultants and coaches were left speechless when Steven Tomlinson addressed the Austin Chapter of the National Speakers Association (April 3, 2012).

His talk, "Preparing to be Spontaneous" was simultaneously totally off the cuff and expertly prepared.  Tomlinson began by connecting with the crowd through asking a series of questions to ensure there was mutual understanding of the shared purpose between speaker and audience.

Steven's face is a mirror to his soul.  You can see that he heard the answers, and was not just going through the motions, as many speakers do, with his empathy to those who were fortunate enough to be in the audience.  In the first few moments of interaction he was crafting the messages that he would share.

Do I sound like a fan of Mr. Tomlinson?

I am.  We are social friends.  He is a mentor.  And I regularly tell anyone who will listen that he is the best speaker who lives in Austin, Texas (which is high praise, but also tinged green with envy, .... as I wish that title was mine!). I have seen him speak several times (including being present at his TEDx Austin Talk in 2010), and admire the way he entertains, inspires, educates and challenges everyone with his oratory.

He began the NSA conversation by sharing stories of how he was not always a great speaker.  He talked about the need for some speakers, himself included, to want to impress an audience. This can be both a way to prove yourself, and to protect yourself.  When a speaker wants to impress he or she cannot engage.  Along the way he learned, through errors and mentors, how to share his vulnerabilities and not need to conquer an audience with his brilliance.

At one pivotal moment, a mentor (Margaret Keys) told him:
"People are not interested in what you think you have done right - and they are not interested in your advice"
WAMMO.  Instead he learned to share with others what was hard.  When he was stuck.  What, though good fortune, he figured out.  And who helped him along the way.  From that day forward he is "spontaneous by design".  When being spontaneous you still have all your knowledge and life experiences inside you, but you are free to go where the audience needs you to go... not where you prepared to take them.

His advice is to approach speaking with an open heart. Give the audience permission to come to a "brain-state" and create something from what you gave them.
"Communication is not what comes out of your mouth, it is what the audience creates in their imagination about the words you say" - Steven Tomlinson
Be authentic.  There is a different energy when someone is authentic, and the whole room knows it (we all knew it listening to this presentation!).  The best speakers talk inside the head of the audience.  They respect the needs of each person.  Too many prepare to speak the same way they learned to present for an 8th grade book report.  It is better to come at speaking as a way to help the audience, not dump data on them while showing all your knowledge.  It is impossible to be self-conscious when you are helping someone else.

He concluded by reminding the audience (of speakers) that GREAT presentations make those listening want to talk to each other. The good presentations make them want to talk to the speaker.  ("wowwwww" was sighed from the whole crowd).  Our goal is not to connect to the audience, our goal is to connect the audience to each other (again "wowwwwww").

There is no formula for being spontaneous.  There is only intention.  We cannot have a presentation on "The 5 Ways to be Spontaneous" (although I bet someone has tried).  Steven shared with the audience not a list of steps to follow, but a way of life in which to live.

The methods that great speakers use communicate have changed over the years.  Twenty years ago Zig Ziglar and the other "masters" spoke from the stage like Moses delivering the tablets from the mountain top.  The current style has become more conversational, and more vulnerable.... but nobody has told the audience or most speakers.  Steven added, "Imagine if Zig Ziglar, who is amazing, talked in the same manner that Dr. Brene Brown speaks?"  (See Brene Brown's 2010 TEDx Talk to learn more about being vulnerable in communications).  The mix of experience and vulnerability (in life and as a speaker) is what captivates the souls of an audience.

NSA Austin continues to bring amazing speakers to the monthly luncheons.  Steven Tomlinson will long be remembered as "big shoes to fill" for all who follow.

Thank you Steven for giving your time and heart to the audience.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Monday, April 02, 2012

Austin Bloggers Converge for Blogathon 4

Mark your calendars for April 28, 2012.... as it is time for Blogathon 4 in Austin, Texas.

BlogathonATX® has taken the Austin by storm. It all started with a tweet in the summer of 2010, asking if anyone wanted to get together and blog all day; maybe have a potluck. That tweet grew into the hottest ticket in town for both established and aspiring bloggers alike.

This 12-hour event includes a full day of blogging, collaborating, tech support and roundtable discussions led by Austin’s brightest blogging experts and social media enthusiasts.  Oh, and there is lots of food and a happy hour, too.

If you have never been to a Blogathon, this one promises to be the biggest and the best.  The new location of Tech Ranch will provide the right mix of atmosphere and enough space to stir your creativity while inspiring all in attendance to step up their blog.

This event will sell out, so sign up now to ensure you spot at this all day happening.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Mean People In Business

My friend Leslie has a post on her blog about "Mean Women". She was counseling a friend who was dealing with difficult people in a philanthropic organization, but her point is not limited to women .... as men are equally guilty of doing jerky things business situations.

I enjoyed her conclusion that "Intentional Meanies were compensating for things in their lives they can't control: the actions of their own aging parents, their portfolios, the state of their marriages." There are people who feel the need to punish others for any variety of reasons... and they often do not even know that they are filled with this rage, as they justify that others are clearly the cause of all their problems (but those around them witness their constant finger pointing it in all sorts of situations... which probably makes this a never ending cycle for some people).

Minor disagreements get blown up because people fill in the blanks with conspiracies of how others might take advantage of them. They feel if they "go mean" they are protecting themselves. Of course they are also protected from future opportunities, as actions build reputations.

People get jealous of the success of others and often want to "knock them down a notch" and put them in their place. They gossip and try to bring others into their web of disdain. They compare themselves to others and cannot understand how the inferior could possibly have more success.

And there are countless other reasons people behave poorly. We can never know what others are thinking. Assumptions get us in trouble, as the way things appear on the outside rarely match the reality.

In the end, none of us can control the actions of others. It would be wonderful if everyone stood up to the "meanies", but most continue to get away with bad behavior. Best to take Leslie's advice and hold yourself to a higher standard and ignore the background noise.

Getting caught up in the weeds only brings you down.

What do you think?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer