“Tell me about yourself.” The statement seems simple and easy enough but it can be one of the most stressful conversation starters. Is the person just being polite or is there a deeper motive? It can be a landmine that we second guess our response to afterward. With some thought and preparation, you can navigate this very successfully.
Know your audience
It’s important to be aware of your audience as you answer this question because how you approach the question should vary significantly depending on who the person is. You can’t navigate this question with a one-size-fits-all canned answer.
Social settings, significant other’s family, peers outside your company
In this environment, it’s okay to get personal just be sure not to be too personal. Keep it short, personal and positive. The person is likely asking the question for small talk and is not there to be overly judgemental.
Interviews, potential hiring managers
These are veiled as a conversation starter, but these are often asked to see what they can get out of you. It’s also a way for them to get you to spill about things they can’t legally ask you in an interview.
Craft your response differently for each person that asks you the question. You may have three or more interviews as part of the process to get the job and have every one of them start with a variation of you telling them about yourself. Your conversation with the first person should be about what you do. The last with a C-suite leader should focus on the impact to bigger picture goals.
Use this simple template in building out your response.
Present: What you do or what your role is and perhaps something that you’ve done recently that you are proud of. This is not the place to start listing out all of your greatest accomplishments.
Past: Quickly tell about your journey on how you got there.
Future: What are you excited about doing next and if it’s an interview, why you think they would be a great fit.
Meeting your significant other’s family I just started at Stord a couple of months ago and have been loving it. We make it easy for companies to know exactly what they have where in a live setting. Before that, I graduated from Georgia Tech where I met Sara and we both are adventurous so we are excited to start exploring the city more this year.
First interview for a sales job I’m currently at Salesloft as a sales rep. We just finished out the quarter and I was the top salesperson for the third time in a row. Before that, I worked in training at Mailchimp and really enjoyed investing in others there. I’m looking to continue to grow my career where I can combine my love of people and sales. I love the culture here at Leasequery and the sales trainer role looks like a perfect fit for my passion and experience.
Last interview for a sales job I’m currently at Salesloft as a sales rep. I just won top salesman for the third quarter in a row and I’ve been enjoying helping set budgets and mentoring new Lofters this last year. Before that, I worked in training at Mailchimp and loved creating material that helped our people meet our business goals. From my time with Scott and Lakisha I think Leasequeary is a great match where I can serve long term and making lasting impact in the organization.
Bad example for an interview So I just graduated from college and got married this summer! I interned in the marketing department at Mailchimp during my senior year. I’m a fun and personable guy and I work hard. My wife and I go the beaches in Florida pretty often and we are hoping to end up there one day.
More quick tips.
Practice on others that are close to you.
Write it out. It sometimes helps in formulating your thoughts as you create your roadmap.
…but don’t memorize. You want to come off as natural and authentic. Give yourself the flexibility to change or add something as the natural conversation goes on.
Keep it positive. Don’t drag personal or professional negative experiences into the conversation. Remember that this is playing into the person’s first impression of you.
Stay focused and keep it short and sweet.
Get a good mental gameplan beforehand so you can navigate this space well and leave a lasting positive impression on the other person.
Two of the most powerful words that you can speak are, “Thank you.” Showing appreciation and gratitude are gestures that no one can ever get enough of. It can make someone’s day, pull someone out of a bad frame of mind and affirm their behavior.
Don’t fight charity and gifts
Many people have a tendency to fight charity and gifts. You’ve likely seen someone playfully argue with someone else about getting a meal paid for. “You really don’t have to do that. No, no, I can pay for my own stuff. You don’t have to do that.” Maybe you’ve said those things to someone!
Part of the problem is that we can have difficulty accepting gifts. It can be rooted in a sense of pride or guilt that you don’t have anything to give in return. When you fight back against a gift or charity you are robbing the joy from the giver. They shouldn’t have to argue, playfully or seriously, to give you something. If you receive a gift or service, simply thank the person for the gesture and show your appreciation. Doing so affirms that they gave you something of value and makes them feel good for doing so.
Convey the meaning and impact of your thanks
Saying thanks and thank you can turn into the phrase, “How are you doing?” It’s a pleasantry that we truly don’t expect any answer back other than fine or good. Be sure to share the meaning and impact of your thanks from time to time to break up the monotony of just simply saying thanks.
Tell the person why you are thankful. “Thanks for doing this for me. This is really going to save me some time on my project.” “Thank you for mowing the yard. I know it’s a lot of work and hot out there today. It looks awesome!”
Giving them the why and impact of the thanks conveys an extra sense of appreciation and acknowledgment of what the person did for you.
Show thanks and gratitude in other ways.
Words are powerful and your actions can back those words up. Gifts, gestures, service are just a few of the ways you can show your gratitude besides just words. Don’t just do things for others after they first do something for you. Be proactive is looking for ways to surprise and delight others with your thanks appreciation and gratitude. Here are some areas to discover how you can show your gratitude:
Find out what their favorite snacks/restaurants.
Discover what their hobbies and interests are.
Understand what they love to do.
Understand what they really don’t like to do.
Ae you saying thanks enough? Do your actions convey the same message? Increase your gratitude and strengthen your relationships.
Our findings show that the voice is a much more powerful tool for expressing emotions than previously assumed. -Alan Cowen
Yes, words are powerful, but we often forget the power of our voice itself.
When receiving communication, how the message was spoken carries just as much weight as the words themselves. If I say “Please get out of my office,” in a timid tone, you’d take it that I was likely worn out, out of energy, stressed and/or unengaging. If I said the same sentence with a growl in my voice that was low and load, you’d immediately know that I was very angry and upset.
There are several areas where we can learn about the power of our voice.
Using your voice to communicate without words
There are 24 sounds that people use to communicate without words. The University of California, Berkley completed a research study with actors and regular people where they recorded their reaction to different emotional scenarios. 24 seems like a lot but think about your every day. How often this week have you let out a frustrated sigh? Maybe you’ve let out a gasp at surprise, fear or terror. A good laugh communicates your amusement without any words.
The school also has an amazing interactive map that lets you hear the sounds and how they correlate to communicating emotions. I probably spent a little too much time here playing around with it. It’s fun and educational!
Your voice is a powerful tool to communicate emotions even without having to say any words. Understanding this communication piece can help you increase your self-management and relationship management with others.
Using your body to control your voice
Your voice calls on over half of your body to help it communicate. When you are speaking with authority, your shoulders are back and you are speaking from your diaphragm. When you are annoyed or showing contempt you speak through your head. You move all your vocal power to your upper throat and nasal cavity.
Think about your body as you talk to others. Knowing what parts of the body convey what message can help you enhance what you are trying to get across. Knowing the role that your body plays also can help you with self-awareness. Talking through your nasals or in a weaker high pitch that is exaggerated can come off as annoying and uninviting. If you find yourself doing this, knowing the body’s ties to the voice can help you correct it for better communication.
Match your voice to your message
Now that we know about the sounds that we make and how we use our bodies to project our voice, we can make sure that our voice and words align to bring the message that we want. Have you ever had to go back and explain to someone, “That’s not what I meant,” because they misinterpreted how you said something? Make sure that your voice, non-verbals, and words are speaking in beautiful unison when you are communicating to others.
Your voice is a powerful tool in your daily communication. Understand it’s impact and use your knowledge to your advantage in becoming a better communicator.
We as a society can get caught up in numbers. It’s easy to start attaching our self-worth to the number of likes that we get, the followers we have and comments we receive across social media platforms. I know people who have let the pursuit of numbers fully consume them and miss out on opportunities to connect with others in the real world because they are focused on their next post.
Two of the most common questions I get from people interested in starting their own podcasts are: How many listeners do you have and how quick can you start getting ad revenue? My answer to both is, I don’t know. Neither is the reason why I started this endeavor.
An audience of one
Just because I don’t keep track of our weekly podcasts numbers doesn’t mean I don’t have an idea of who our audience is. We announced on our birthday week that we now have Baton Carriers in 101 different countries. Even with the large group that we are blessed to have I still write to you as an individual and you’ll often hear John and I talk about the table for three on the show. John, myself and you. It’s all I’m concerned with.
I regularly run across people that think they aren’t true leaders until they lead a certain number of people or obtain a certain title. They are looking for a sense of arrival when there is none in leadership. Even if you have zero followers you can lead your peers well by modeling great leadership behaviors. Focus on leading your one very well and you’ll be asked to lead more in the future. Let tomorrow worry about itself.
Hold on to your why
As your audience grows, there is a strong temptation to change who you are to match the trends of the day. Dale Partridge discusses this cycle in this book People Over Profit. You start out in the Honest Era, being defined by your values. You become successful and start chasing more in the Efficient Era. You begin to compromise yourself in the Deceptive Era and then you try to right the ship in the Apologetic Era. You can think about any large company are trace how they have gone through this cycle, sometimes multiple times. The same cycle also applies to our personal life in regard to growing an audience and influence.
Hold on to your Why so you don’t fall into the cycle that Dale talks about. It’s your North Star to keep you focused on staying in the right direction. Check your compass by evaluating yourself, your team and your organization to ensure that your values still hold true and your values on the wall haven’t turned into just another decoration. I typically do this personally and professionally a couple of times a year.
When you find yourself drifting from your Why, apologize and right yourself as quickly as possible even if it means letting go of some of your audience.
After the numbers and equipment questions, future podcasts often reveal how they are overwhelmed with getting great music, a logo, format, and quality sound. That fear and sense of perfection causes many people to never even start their show and once they do, most shows don’t go past number 7.
I mean, have you listened to PTB Episode 1?
It’s two guys who are huddled around one mic and not knowing a thing about podcasting. We didn’t even know how to record the show! I think it took me 5 hours to write the first intro music for the show.
……But we did it.
You can do it too. Just start. Start leading yourself well today. Start working on that project you’ve wanted to today. Start that podcast as a full-on amateur hour basement show. Don’t worry about being perfect for an audience of 1000 that you don’t have (yet). Do it for yourself or friend or family member. I just want you to start and then figure it out from there.
Your audience size truly does not matter. What matters is that you are willing to influence others one person at a time.
When you spend time with others it shows to them that they matter. -Lee Cockerell
I’m so excited to have Lee Cockerell as our guest for our 200th episode of Passing the Baton. Lee is the retired Executive Vice President of Disney World and currently travels the world speaking to clients and companies about the power of Creating Disney Magic in their own organizations. Today he shares his thoughts on showing your team care and support. -ZH
Appreciation, recognition, encouragement: A.R.E. Together they make up a cost-free, fully sustainable fuel, one that builds self-confidence and self-esteem, boosts individual and team performance, and keeps an organization running cleanly and smoothly.
Spend meaningful time with employees
You’d be surprised how much it means to people when their leader chooses to be with them – not looking over their shoulders but helping them, getting to know them, asking what they think and feel, and simply enjoying their company. Employees know how valuable your time is, so if you spend some of it with them, they figure they must be pretty valuable too.
When I was at Disney World I spent about half my time out and about, visiting Cast Members. I asked them to walk me through their operations and show me all the good things they were doing for Guests. The message I was sending was simple but profound: ” You matter, and I know it. We couldn’t do it without you.”
When you’re a leader, you’re well served by being visible. I always found that seeing employees with the hair down and meeting their children and spouses added a personal touch to my relationship with them that made working together easier and more pleasant. You give out tremendous amounts of ARE just by showing up.
Give extra ARE to frontline employees
Pay particular attention to your frontline employees. They often get overlooked when leaders dole out recognition and the are most likely to get heat from the customer. Employees that don’t feel cared for are not committed one. They may give only 50% effort instead of 100%, or worse, they get revenge by gossiping, quitting abruptly, suing the company, or even stealing.
Make sure to treat frontline employees as respectfully as you treat higher positions, if not more so, even when you have to disciple or fire them. You can be tough, but your frontline employees should always know that you’re on their side and that you appreciate what they bring to your organization.
Make ARE a natural part of your routine
Great leaders are environmentalists. If you want to attract and keep the best employees, you have to create a wonderful environment for them, and I assure you, ARE is as important to a healthy workplace as clean air and water are to a healthy planet.
To build the routine in your habits, schedule it. Make it a habit today and don’t hold it off until tomorrow. If you aren’t comfortable expressing your emotions face-to-face yet use notes, pins, certificates, publications and other methods that don’t involve speaking to the person directly. The most important thing no matter how you give it is to give it regularly. People who say that it’s not a good time, are using that as an excuse not to get started.
I used to write down in my Day-Timer the names of deserving people I wanted to acknowledge, not just employees who did something exceptional, but those that needed a little extra support too. Remember, for some, a workplace with a heart can be a place of refuge.
Other ways to show ARE to others
Recognize them by name.
Catch them doing something right.
Make it public.
Include their families.
Recognize and encourage great ideas.
Watch our company language.
Remember that ARE is contagious. Each person who receives ARE from you will have more of it to give to his or her co-workers, colleagues, and customers. It’s not only free fuel but the main ingredient for creating a culture of magic.
Respect Everyone desires respect among their peers and co-workers. This is the main reason why I don’t appreciate the phrase “OK Boomer”. I understand that it’s rooted in the frustration that a younger generation feels like they are ignored and being held to outdated ideology. Answering disrespect with disrespect only proves the other person’s point in their own mind and does nothing to build a meaningful relationship.
To be heard Similarly, everyone has a desire to be heard. Take time to listen to others without judgment no matter the age difference. Their point and perspective is just as valid as yours.
Connection On some level we all desire connection with others. People, for the most part, enjoy collaborating, mentoring and helping those that they are close to. We enjoy sharing ideas and thoughts when we feel safe and supported to do so.
Being recognized Positive feedback, praise, and recognition go along way no matter your age. It strongly affirms and builds confidence in your leaders while showing respect and appreciation for older leaders. You can never give out too much praise. The person who has been around 30 years will love it just as much as the person who has been around 30 days.
Keep the light on Every generation hates being left in the dark. Be inclusive of all groups and communicate clearly with a varied approach to match your audience. When you don’t deliver the narrative and mission people will begin to write their own.
Magical things begin to happen in your organization when different generations work well together. Here are just a few of those benefits:
Innovation increases Forbes led a study that showed diversity being key to driving innovation in your team. It’s the increase in perspective and experience that is the fuel for talent and ideas here. Each generation can provide insight and knowledge to an innovative thought regardless of stereotypes.
Better serves your customer/client The increased perspective also gives your team a great advantage of fully understanding your audience. This is one of the reasons why I always coach teams to match the customer that they deal with on a daily basis.
Future-proofing your workforce
Last year, we had Diana Wu David speak on our show (Ep 182) on future-proofing your success as an individual. Generations that work well across lines in a company future-proof the success of the organization. Your loss of knowledge drops significantly when older leaders leave and your younger leaders step into those roles.
We talk about the power of mentorship often, but mentoring in this circumstance can be a two-way street. The older ones can mentor younger leaders on people issues, industry knowledge, and best practices. The younger leader can return value by offering a perspective in changing demographics and technology changes.
Well rounded skillset
Your organizational and team ability increases as generations work together for a common goal. An example would be utilizing the communication preferences from last week’s lesson in a sales campaign. Your older team members could utilize phone outreach while your mid-tier leveraged email and your younger leaders reached out by apps, text and social media.
There is beauty when different generations are working together and adding value to one another. Work hard to identify any issues that you may have, understand their perspective and lean into their uniqueness to lead them well. You and those around you will a more fulfilling work experience.