152: Executive-style Communication with Dianna Booher

By May 8, 2017Podcasts

 

Dianna Booher shows how you can conduct more effective meetings and make a greater impact with subtle tweaks to your communication approach.

You’ll Learn:

  1. What a great leader sounds like
  2. Tips to get your emails read
  3. Quick tricks for better meetings

About Dianna

As founder and CEO of Booher Research Institute, Dianna Booher works with organizations to help them communicate clearly and with leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence. She has provided communication programs and coaching to some of the largest Fortune 500 companies and governmental agencies, such as IBM, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Siemens, NASA, and the U.S. Navy. National media outlets frequently interview Booher for opinions on critical communication issues: Good Morning America, USA Today, Forbes.com, Wall Street Journal, FastCompany.com, Success, Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, Fox, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, NPR, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Dianna Booher Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Dianna, thanks so much for joining us on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Dianna Booher
Sure. It’s great to be with you, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m amazed by you in that you’ve written 45 books. Tell me, how is that even possible in real life?

Dianna Booher
Well, if you stay on enough airplanes, sit on enough hotel rooms you gradually can do that.

Pete Mockaitis
So you’re telling me you had a lot of hours without interruption.

Dianna Booher
Right. Right. You just play like nobody knows where you are and you just play like you’re at some fantastic place, but it’s boring everywhere else. So you’re right.

Pete Mockaitis
Very good. So, then, what does that break down to in terms of like words per day? Or do you have a particular goal or focus or mantra, tricks for that level of prolific production?

Dianna Booher
I start early and write late. I just tend to block off two weeks or three weeks and do nothing but write between engagements. So I start at 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning and write till 11:00 at night, and I do mean write. I just sort of inhale my meals during that time, and I write very quickly. That is my strong suit, is writing. That was my master’s degree, it was in writing. And so I just turn it out.
Now, that doesn’t count when I say I can write a book in two or three weeks. I’m not talking about the research. I might research something for five years but if I’m writing in my area of expertise – I’ve got an outline and I’m ready to go – so when I get ready to draft a book, I sit down and I do it.

Pete Mockaitis
Impressive. Very good. Well, so we’re going to hear a little bit about your perspective when it comes to writing well and communicating broadly, verbally. So, can you share with us your book Communicate Like a Leader, what would you say is sort of the big idea there and some of the most powerful strategies we’ll find?

Dianna Booher
Well, I think a lot of people have gotten to where they are because they are brilliant with their technical skills but at some point they stall out because they need to get to a higher level and they don’t have the broad strategic communication skills they need to get to the next level. And so this book fills in that gap. This book says, “If you want to get to that next level with those communication skills, the fundamental essential leadership skills, this is what you need to do. You need to write, speak, negotiate, network and think strategically to build those relationships with all the stakeholders throughout, inside and outside, your organization, across all functional areas. These are the skills you need.” And so that’s what I put together.

In other words, it prevents micromanagement before it happens. You know, those people who don’t have the skills and so they’re looking over everybody’s shoulder trying to manage every project, and they just don’t have those strategic skills. And if you think about it, communication is the basic business. Nothing happens until somebody communicates either orally or in writing or in a meeting. They have to share those ideas, and this is the book that helps you do it all. And if you don’t have those skills then somebody somewhere is going to call you a micromanager, either a department or a people or a project.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Certainly. Or you will get micromanaged because your communication isn’t enough to scratch then they’ve got to fix all your stuff.

Dianna Booher
Right, and somebody doesn’t trust you to handle it because you can’t communicate what you’re doing well enough. So, one way or the other, you’ve got to have these skills.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Understood. So, now, could you maybe paint a little bit of a picture in terms of a clear contrast between, let’s just say, in the realm of speaking? What does speaking like a leader sound like versus speaking in a way that’s sort of disappointing and lacks that executive presence?

Dianna Booher
Well, a leader would always summarize upfront and gives the big picture and then, “This is what I’m asking you to do.” And then, if necessary, go back and elaborate. What happens if you don’t have that skill to summarize, the person who’s writing tends to, “Once upon a time.” They start off with details, “Here was the problem and this is how I thought about it. This is how I approached it. Here are the details I found and there are some pros to this and there’s some cons to that. And here’s another approach we could take or another option to solving the problem. Here are the pros and cons.”
And they gradually wrap it up. In other words, they write as they think. And at the end they finally know what they want to do and then they summarize. And that’s a backward way of writing. And, again, the leader thinks all of that before they sit down to write and they summarize well and very succinctly.

Pete Mockaitis
That is excellent. I teach that in my Enhanced Thinking and Collaboration programs. It’s about an answer first, and that can show up in terms of verbally, you share the implication right up front, or in your slides that’s sort of the executive summary or the action headline tagline at the very top of the slide

Dianna Booher
Right. It’s overview then elaborate. Overview then elaborate. In fact, one of the quotes of mine that actually I said it 10 years ago and it still gets tweeted, it still surfaces and it’s, “If you can’t write it in a sentence you can’t say it in an hour.” And that’s why so many people complain when they’re in a presentation. Sometimes people take 30 minutes to say something and it’s because they have not thought through it well enough to formulate a good one-sentence summary of their point. And that applies to speaking, to writing, to tossing out an idea in a meeting, to even working into a negotiation. If you don’t know what you want you’ll likely not going to get it.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes. And that reminds me, I don’t know if it’s Benjamin Franklin. Who was it who said, “I would’ve written you a shorter letter but I didn’t have time”?

Dianna Booher
That was Pascal. It’s been interpreted by a lot of different people but it actually goes all the way back to Pascal.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, there you go, so 45 books I bet you’ve researched this before.

Dianna Booher
I have technically.

Pete Mockaitis
And so you’re right, it does take some thought. I think in my experience it often takes more time to write the slide or the email or verbalize the words themselves. Is there a sort of a ratio or an amount of time that comes to mind in terms of just sort of hammering that home for what kind of level of thought if often takes?

Dianna Booher
No, but if people think about it their writing is a picture of their thought process. And you might think for a month to write a good one-sentence movie script if you’re a movie writer. If you’re an email writer, now according to the importance of the idea, you may think two hours to write your one sentence. But, again, there is no correlation between quantity and quality.
In fact, a great story, I remember this probably 25 years ago it happened. I was working with the CEO of a power plant that went down, and they typically run 24 hours round the clock, and they were shut down for eight days. It was a huge cost to the chemical plant. After they got back in operation, there were eight engineers working on it trying to get them back in operation.
After it was over, the CEO took the eight engineers and their spouses out to dinner, and one them leaned back after dinner and says, “Well, you know, Gene, the hard part is beginning where I have to go back to the office and write up the report and tell you what happened.” And Gene says, “Well, be brief, will you?” And the engineer says, “Well, how about, ‘It broke and we fixed it’?” And the plant manager says, “Great. You’ve got the right idea. If you can tell me that briefly what happened, that’s fine with me.”
So, again, if you can succinctly say, “This is the problem. This is how we solved it. This is how much it’ll cost,” or whatever, you might’ve worked on a project for months and you can explain the significance of your solution or your recommendation in a couple of sentences, that’s great. Nobody is going to applaud you for writing 10 pages if you don’t have to.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s perfect. I think a lot of times it’s almost like an internal need to justify our work, our effort, our mattering that’s just like, “No, you don’t understand. I poured a lot of myself into this. Two sentences isn’t fair.” But that’s what is preferred.

Dianna Booher
Yes, you’re wasting time if you spend more words than you need to an executive to tell them what you’ve been doing.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. And so now can you also share, you had a chapter entitled Connect with Intent, what’s the set of principles we should think about there?

Dianna Booher
Well, I’m talking there about the connections that you need to bring the right top talent on, to be able to pick up the phone and call somebody to get an answer immediately, to hire the best people to get them on your project. Even if you’re just working across department lines and you need an answer, “What supplier can I call to get the men here, to get the right software package?” when you don’t have time to wait.
Let me ask you this, how many times have you gone to some kind of networking event? Maybe it wasn’t for the purpose solely for networking but it was a conference. You were speaking, you went to learn something specifically and you come home with a pile of cards. You toss them out, you’ve got 18 cards there, and you can’t remember half of them, who they were, why you have a card or what you were trying to recall about them.
And you pick up maybe six of them and then you think. All right, maybe you remember these six and what the conversation was but even if you remember them you don’t remember enough about what they did to refer them if anybody asked next week, “Can you tell me about somebody who does such and such?” You couldn’t refer them because you don’t remember that much about it. That’s not an intentional connection.
And so to stand out in somebody’s mind, you don’t want to be that kind of person on that card for somebody else who went back to the office. You have got to make an intentional connection with other people so that when you need that answer at 7:00 o’clock at night and you’re ready to go home but you have got to get something corrected, you’ve got to get an answer, you’ve got to get your budget approved, you’ve got to get an answer on a project, you need to know who you can call in the organization to help you to get to the right person, to bypass that typical chain of command to get somebody to get some temporary help in there, or whatever the problem is.
And those are the connections that I’m talking about who’ll help you champion a cause or an issue. Those are the intentional introductions that you need so that maybe even if you’re leading an organization, trying to get into another department, trying to get a transfer, or whatever. If you’ve just made casual chitchat here and there that’s not going to do you any good.

Pete Mockaitis
So your key bit there when it comes to intent is not just, “I’ve got a big network. I know a lot of people. I have a lot of business cards.” But rather you’re entering into those situations thinking about the relationships, the partnerships, the alliances that you need and seeking to go forth and build them even if it’s less

Dianna Booher
Right. Right. You want to not have names but you want to have active relationships. Who can you call and they return your call within four hours? If it’s just a name on your rolodex, you know, the viral connections that we have now, they’re not any good to you. Who could you call at 7:00 o’clock in the morning and ask for an answer within 45 minutes? Those are people in your real active network. And if those are not kept up then they’re not doing you any good.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. And how about you have a ta-da template for writing. What’s the story there?

Dianna Booher
Well, we don’t want to have to keep reinventing the wheel. When you are doing any kind of written document, you don’t want to have to reinvent. And that ta-da formula is the structure that we were talking about earlier to help you write clearly. You want your topline message is the opening part of whether it’s a report or a proposal or an email, and then after the topline summary, which might be a sentence, it might two or three sentences but it’s that summary.
And then so what action next, the A stands for action. What recommendation are you making? Or maybe it’s a follow-up action or it could be a recommendation and a follow-up action. And then the D in ta-da, is the detail. Then you go back and elaborate on who, what, when, where, why, how, how much. Not all of those are necessary in every document. Generally, the why and how are the two important documents in most business correspondence.
And then the A for any kind of attachment. So T-A-D-A, if you remember those they’ll have the four parts of almost any or 90% of all the emails, the proposals, the reports that you would write in the business world. And that structure, whether it’s a one-sentence one-screen email, or a 2,000-word proposal, like when I go into Lockheed or IBM to coach them on writing marketing proposals, sometimes those run two volumes, 2,000 pages, it will still be in that four-part structure and it’s just a great format to follow.

Pete Mockaitis
Now when you say attachment, do you literally mean the little paperclip document on the email? Or what do you mean by it?

Dianna Booher
Yes, it could be an attachment in a proposal, it might be a capacity statement, it might be a generic brochure that you’re attaching, it could be a list of references, it could be a glossary of terms. If it’s an email it could be, “Here’s the phrase of the contract that I’m referring to.” “Here was the letter from the lawyer who’s telling us we can’t do this.” It could be any number of things but it’s not part of the primary document. It’s something that most of the primary readers don’t need but you’ve just summarized it in your primary message but you’re saying, “Hey, for secondary readers, you really want to get down into the nitty-gritty detail. This is something you might look at for further information.”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, very good. And so, as you are crafting, I think of emails in particular here, are you doing anything with your formatting, bolding, bulleting, etcetera in terms of segmentation of the detail component? Like sometimes I’ll put in an email and I’ll say, “The detail is below.” It’s not actually below my signature. So do you have any tips for how you do it in email?

Dianna Booher
Sure. Anything like that that help the readers skim quickly is helpful whether it’s bolding, underlining, using color, for example, in a proposal, a sales proposal, color and indentation, all of that helps a reader quickly skim a document and pick out what are equivalent ideas if they’re indented in a certain way, if they’re the same size headings that tells a reader they’re equivalent ideas.
So anything where the typography is the same it communicates, it helps the reader comprehend what are key ideas, what are minor ideas, what are major ideas, what are supporting details of another idea, that’s all very helpful and it helps the primary reader say, “Hey, I don’t need that. That applies to the legal idea. This is a major headline. This is about finances. That’s not my thing. I can skip that section. I need to go down here to the operational part, that’s my section.”
So you’re helping skimming readers find what they need quickly. And, again, it’s about reading time. And if you have other people on your distribution list, the primary reader may need just the summary and the action items at the top, and then the details they forward your email and hand it off, or project off to someone else to read. And they, the person who’s actually going to be the worker bee, to do the rest of the information, take the action. They are the ones who actually dig down through the details to carry out the action.
And that’s why you would use all of the things that you mentioned, that bolding and underlining, because that helps different readers skim and find what they need to know. Everybody doesn’t need to know everything in a big long document.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. So, Dianna, it’s funny, while we’re talking about emailing, just today I emailed someone I really admire, and I was just like, “Hey, you know, we met here,” just to kind of refresh his memory so it’s been some years. And then I had a particular request for an introduction and I put that in bold, and I thought on the one hand that’s helpful because he’s like, “What do you want? Let me get right to it quickly.” But on the other hand I thought, “If he jumps right to that is that going to feel like, ‘Wait, who are you and that’s kind of audacious of you to bold the thing you want from me?’” Set me straight, how should we be thinking about bolding and requests, and people’s feelings?

Dianna Booher
Well, you want to be careful in that you don’t call attention to something in a bold way if it is a negative message. That would be the only time that it would be received in a negative way.

Pete Mockaitis
You are underperforming.

Dianna Booher
If you were saying something like, “Do not send this straight to me. Make sure that you…” and you underline that, it’s kind of like you’re saying, “Hey, are you so stupid that you don’t understand this?” So if there’s any way that the message could be perceived in a negative way then be careful about that. But if it’s just a neutral message then absolutely you’re helping people notice key details so don’t worry about that if it’s a negative something.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly.

Dianna Booher
But to give you an idea of what we mean by skimming readers and helping them get through it. In the book Communicate Like a Leader you’ll notice that there are 36 chapters but they’re divided into six different ways. No reader do I expect, any reader, will pick up that book and read it all the way through it cover to cover because some readers will pick that up and say, “Well, I’m not interested in the writing section.”
And that has little five brief chapters. Most of the chapters are two or three pages because they just get right to it and speak right to one point. But some people will say, “Hey, writing, I know that’s my key strength.” They may focus just on the presentation section or just on the negotiation and say, “Hey, I know I don’t know how to negotiate with top skill like I should as a leader with suppliers.” And they would go right to that section.
The whole goal is to look through very quickly at those headlines, those 36 chapters and say, “I need this one, this one, this one, this one,” and be a skimming reader. And if you think about it, most every business book, if they’re well done, is written like that. You don’t want to have to go through 200 pages or 300 pages and read it word for word, unless you’re reading a novel and that’s for entertainment.
But for something that you’re looking at for business skills and business tips, you need to be able to skim it and find exactly, “I need help here. I need help there. This is a new idea. That’s a new idea. I don’t need this. I don’t need that.” And that’s the way we should write every email, that’s the way we should write every sales proposal just like you’re skimming a website. Same thing. You don’t read every page on everybody’s website.
And if people keep that principle in mind that’s how they can quickly get their message across to their readers and that’s what they need to keep in mind when they write, when they compose it, when they arrange it and when they do the things like you’re mentioning with the bolding and underlining, etcetera.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. So we’re talking about the brevity side of things. So I’d like to sort of shift gears into the realm of sort of the emotional. What are your best practices when it comes to bringing forward some inspiration into your communication?

Dianna Booher
Well, I think what inspires me is telling stories. And in the emotional realm the part that I really like best in writing this was the part about being persuasive and telling stories. One of my favorite quotes, in fact, is from Plato, “Those who tell stories rule society.” And the best way to put ideas in the world, another one is closely related. Probably whoever said this probably got it from Plato, the first one. But it was, “The best way to put ideas in the world is by storytelling.” And so I think that’s what involves me most is listening and being able to tell a great story.
The thing about it is when I coach executives I try to teach them, and this is a hard selling point, believe me, this is a hard sell because they usually know so much about the subject and everybody does. Even the most technical person knows so much about the subject. They want to get everything in, and they want to build a logical case. And I say, “That’s great. That’s wonderful but don’t expect the logic to make your case. You’ve got to reach somebody both logically and emotionally. And if you don’t tie those two together – give them the studies, give them the data, give them the facts – but you’ve got to dump your data into a storyline.
Even politicians now. We’ve just come through a presidential cycle where each of the different political parties had a narrative they were trying to tell. And so they looked for the facts that fit the narrative. They looked for the case studies. They would say something about, “So-and-so soldier is just back from the warfront,” and they could both justify what they were telling their storyline, their narrative, and tell opposite stories, make an opposite point.
So that’s what I try to get across when I’m trying to help people become better speakers. And that is that you cannot just depend on one or the other. You cannot just depend on emotions or logic. You have to have both to be a great persuader or a great communicator.
And so, again, that’s the skill that somebody needs to both motivate the people that are working with them on their team and to make them see the importance of what they’re doing and have the measure of what they’re doing. That’s the logic but also to inspire to do what they’re doing.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood, yes. Thank you. And so then it seems in some context you’ll have the space to share a story and then others you won’t. What would you say is the way to navigate that? Is it worth in an email sharing a two-sentence story? Or do you really need to sort of draw them in?

Dianna Booher
You know, Pete, you bring up an excellent point. I’m so glad your comment reminds me of that. Most people think, “Oh, telling a story takes too long.” You can tell a story in a sentence. Absolutely. And, in fact, if you’re a good speaker you will know, “Here’s an incident. I can tell it in three minutes, or in 30 seconds, or in 15 seconds.” And you know the timing where you have to start in that story to make a point.
A story doesn’t have to be long. It could be a sentence or two. And, yes, you could put it with a quote in an email. You can just make it as you’re passing down the hall, a comment, “Well, the guy said to me, ‘I had a caller who said…’” and just drop one line and that’s an anecdote that makes a point.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes, “A person said something,” I think is probably a great example of a short story in that it has a subject, a character, someone that we understand or connect to or that we relate to, and then something in fact happened and then that means something.

Dianna Booher
Right.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s like, “A customer just yelled at us for being late with the shipping the third time.” Story complete.

Dianna Booher
Yes. And, in fact, I just had an incident. Early today I have a friend in the hospital so I took time out of the office to go by the hospital. And on the way back I thought, “You know, I’m going to stop at this little store to buy a blouse.” I’d been by there several times and the store has its little boutique and they’re erratic in their hours, office hours, and it really irritates me because I don’t like to shop and I don’t shop very often.
And all I said to her was, when she started to ring me up, she said, “Well, thank you for shopping.” And I said, “Well, it’s really hard to shop here. I’d been by four times and you have been closed each time.” Now, in that one line, I’ve told her a story. I told her, “You need to be more consistent in your store hours.” I could repeat that in any store about being consistent if I were giving a speech on customer service or consistent operations or whatever, and it would take me 10 seconds to tell that story.
And, in fact, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a short story in six words. Now I don’t know if this is true or not, but he said, “Yeah, I can write a short story in six words. It’s, “Baby shoes, never worn. For sale.”

Pete Mockaitis
I’m sorry. It’s not funny. This is a tragedy. But what’s funny is that you said, “Baby shoes, never worn.” I was already hooked in, I was like, “What? What happened? What happened to the baby?” And so, sure enough, with four words you got me.

Dianna Booher
Yes, that’s right. It’s coming to now. It was six words for his short story, he said, “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” And that really gets you emotionally but that’s a six-word short story. So if he can write a short story in six words most of us could tell, if we polished it, obviously we need time to think about it. But if we polished it, most of our customer service stories, our operational stories, our time management stories, the stories that we tell about people are important to us.
All of those stories, if we really polished and we wanted to use them as a team leader or a project leader, we could tell them in 15 seconds, 30 seconds. It wouldn’t take long. But most people have the idea, “Oh, if I tell a story that’s going to be two minutes. Oh, if I write that on an email it’s going to take me two paragraphs.” That’s not true.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. That’s excellent. Okay. Baby shoes, that’s going to stick with me for a long time.
So, now, one more topic area. You talked about meetings. What are some quick tips you could share to help us make the most of them?

Dianna Booher
Well, my absolute best tip is to have an agenda. Now I know most people think they have an agenda but they don’t in my book. And I mean literally in my mind, I’m not talking about literally in my book, although I do say that in the book. They have a topic list and that is not an agenda. And what I mean by topic list, they have things like Update on Accounts, or another topic might be Cost for the Trade Show, etcetera, Vacation Policies, or Update on Summer Vacations.
Those are just topics. And what happens when you have a topic list rather than a real agenda is it’s just like buck shots. The discussion can go everywhere. When you say Cost for the Trade Show. Is the meeting leader going to talk about, “This is how much it costs for the trade show booth”? Are they going to ask the people there, “What do you think about the costs?” or, “Is the costs too much?” or, “Should we have a hospitality suite at the trade show?” Are they saying, “Is the cost more than what we would get out of it? Or is the cost more than we spent last year? Do we want to spend it all? Or for this costs we are definitely going but what could we do to get more advantage for this cost?” You see how this discussion could go anywhere.
So what you want to do when you put together an agenda is to focus the agenda into questions. The topic should be laser-focus questions. So, for example, instead of Cost for the Trade Show, it should say something like, “Is the cost of $12,400 justified for approximately 30 leads that we get every year for the XYZ Convention?”

Pete Mockaitis
And so that’s the actual sentence that should show up on the document?

Dianna Booher
Yes, that would be the actual question. So immediately, when you get to that on the agenda, people know exactly where the discussion should start and it immediately focuses the discussion. People think, “Oh, you mean we don’t get any more than 30 leads out of that trade show, and we’re spending over 12,000? I could think of a lot better places we could spend $12,000 and get 30 leads. Well, how many of those 30 leads, how many of them actually turn into business?” You could see immediately how the discussion could zero in on what the real issue is as opposed to just talking all over the world. All kinds of things could come up on this broad topic.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So that’s a great trick right there. Clear agenda bullets, like, “What are you actually talking about?” such that it sort of cue people’s minds to think and process and be ready to go there. Any other gems like that?

Dianna Booher
Well, put in place a cancellation system for key people. When you send out a meeting agenda, a lot of times people they tell they’re going to be there or you have, “Cancel if you can’t come.” But what happens, you have a key one or two people that have to be there because they have to sign off on things, or they’re a key person who has input to something. And then at the last minute either they don’t show or they come down the hall and stick their head in, “Look, I’ve got to go to such and such. I’m sorry. I’ve got an emergency at home. I’ve got to leave.” And everybody else’s time is totally wasted.
Either they’ve driven across town because they work in another building and they’re there, or they, for some reason, they throw out ideas, you go ahead and have the meeting but it’s wasted and basically you have to have to redo on the meeting because those two or three essential people are not there. So if you have a cancellation system in place and enforce it so that if eight hours or whatever it is, 12 hours that you set ahead of time, everybody has not confirmed, you, whoever owns that meeting absolutely cancels the meeting on behalf of this person.
So you send out an email and you invite everybody and you say, “All right. Such and such, everybody has confirmed. And then if we have not heard from you 24 hours ahead of time the meeting will be cancelled on your behalf.” So let’s say Jim is in charge of this meeting, and Tom has not checked in to confirm, then all of a sudden an auto-response goes out and says, “The meeting is cancelled on behalf of Tom.”
And pretty soon that person is going to learn, and everybody is going to learn, that you’re serious about cancellations and who’s there, who’s not. And it keeps people aware of how much either their input is important or the cancellation and confirmation system is important, and you don’t have all these early leavers, late arrivers, “I’ll cancel on a whim,” etcetera. And it makes people aware of the importance of when they’re there they’re there, they’re not on their phone, they’re not checking in with their email, they’re mentally there and they’re there for the required time, you get there, you get it done and you leave.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And I like that and, two, it also just puts a little bit of discipline on who is really invited to this meeting, and sort of puts at a higher standard such that it’s like everybody who’s invited to this meeting is essential.

Dianna Booher
Right, and they’re accountable. They’re accountable to their colleagues for confirming or not confirming, and then cancelling if they can’t come. They’re really essential to be there, and if they’re not at least they owe the courtesy to let people know ahead of time so you don’t mess up everybody else’s schedule.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. Well, tell me, Dianna, is there anything else you want to make sure to mention before we hear about some of your favorite things?

Dianna Booher
I just think that all of these skills that I put in the book, all these 36 are the essential things. I mean, I started out with about 60 and I really had to trim it down because of the length of the book, but I think all of them are really, really essential, particularly the one question that you have to have an answer for. And that is, “What are you working on?” and it needs to be essential to make you stand out, and you need to be able to answer that in the four-part way that I’ve mentioned in the book, and that is, “What is the key problem that you’re solving? Why is it important to the organization? And what are the outcomes or benefits to the organization?”

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Dianna Booher
That, I mentioned a little bit earlier and that was “those who tell their stories rule society.” That is what I find inspiring because all of us can learn to tell good stories.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And how about a favorite study or experiment or a bit of research?

Dianna Booher
One of the studies that I think is fantastically exciting because we can all do this was a study done at Stanford and Harvard by Tormala, Jia and Dr. Norton, and that was on the value of potential as opposed to achievement. This was actually a group of eight studies done, and this was that people who have a track record somewhere versus those who just have a dream when they want to transfer or whatever.
People evaluate potential more so than achievement. And what I mean by that is most of us when we go on, we’re looking for a job or a transfer, we want a raise or something, we tend to tell the boss, “Hey, look, I’ve done this and I’ve done this and I’ve done that.” And that’s not what really gets you the promotion or the raise. What gets you the raise is to sell the dream, what you can do because of what you’ve already learned, and that’s borne out by a huge body of research.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, thank you. And how about a favorite book?

Dianna Booher
I’ve just finished a book by John Addison called Real Leadership: 9 Principles of a Real Leadership. He’s the leadership editor of Success Magazine, and I think that’s really, really good in all aspects of leadership.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. And how about a favorite tool whether it’s a product or service or app, something that helps you be more effective at your job?

Dianna Booher
A favorite tool. I like just the plain old OneNote on Microsoft. I use that to keep track of resources, people I can call on for different things, different suppliers. I use that a lot. And then also outsourcing. I outsource a lot of one-off projects, things that I don’t want to have to learn, or my staff to learn. I go there for people who are really specialists in it, in something.

Pete Mockaitis
And so with your outsourcing, you’re saying your OneNote just has a nice little directory of different folks who know different things?

Dianna Booher
Yes. I have a tab just on technology, just all technology tricks. I have a tab on marketing. When I get a great marketing idea for my next book or on social media, I’ll put little old tips there on marketing. And then I have a note on suppliers and on people who are experts in different fields and suppliers. So any of those little tabs, I just keep running notebooks there on my desktop in OneNote. Anytime I have a resource that somebody mentions to me I just stick it right there and it’s really easy to pull up.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And how about a favorite habit, a personal practice of yours?

Dianna Booher
You know, I’ve had this habit since childhood, and that is to do it now, never push a deadline. I know a lot of people like to put off at the last minute to do things but my parents taught me never, never put off to tomorrow what you can do today. And I always, just immediately, when somebody asks me for something, or when I’ve got some kind of project going on, I just do it immediately because that allows me the freedom to take new opportunities that come my way.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And how about is there a particular articulation of your message that really seems to resonate with people, getting them taking notes and nodding their heads?

Dianna Booher
I think, “Be brief or be dismissed.” That happens to be one of the chapters in Communicate Like a Leader, and it gets tweeted a lot. Be brief or be dismissed. And then when I’m coaching on executive presence, a quote that’s circulated a lot is, “End with a wallop not a whimper,” when you’re talking about a presentation. And then one I mentioned a little bit earlier, “If you can’t write it in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well then, tell me, if folks want to learn more or get in touch where would you point them?

Dianna Booher
To our website BooherResearch.com. And then the book website also CommunicateLikeALeaderBook.com. Either of those places they can get in touch. Pete, you might spell the name Booher. Most people can’t hear that. Like boo her, B-O-O-H-E-R. BooherResearch.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for those seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

Dianna Booher
Yes, I think that writing is so extremely important because it is a reflection of your thinking. So I would say to write well. It goes on record. What you say people won’t remember it in three days. But what you put in an email, what you put in a proposal or recommendation it is on record for the world to see. So if you write well it will put you in good visibility.

Pete Mockaitis
Brilliant. Dianna, thanks so much for this. Good luck with your book and all that you’re up to.

Dianna Booher
Thank you, Pete.

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