Simply Said
Simply Said
Simply Said is the essential handbook for business communication.

Coaching: One Size Does Not Fit All


As an athlete and a sports fan, I’ve been inspired by the fantastic recent events – the World Cup, Wimbledon, the NBA Finals. As I watch these incredible athletes give it their all and compete at the highest levels under extreme pressure, I can’t help but reflect on their coaches and how important the coaching relationship is to their success. In business, too, an exceptional coach can help take someone from good to great.

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When I was a kid, my father always lectured me, “If you don’t change, you’ll end up like the dinosaurs… extinct.” I knew what he said was true, but I hated hearing it. Change is hard and uncomfortable.

Fast forward many years and I now know change is not just unavoidable, it’s essential for growth. Businesses and individuals must change, adapt, and adjust to compete and thrive.

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Happy Holidays – Another Season of Insanity is upon Us


I’m Going Out of My Mind

Well, the holidays are here. What started in October with innocent kids dressed up as super heroes and princesses knocking on my door for treats has evolved into a mad rush as we wrap up our good intentions along with our holiday gifts.

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Changing History to Herstory


Allison stood at the front of the room and felt her stomach drop to her toes.  She had worked in the technology industry her entire 20-plus-year career, gained significant experience, and had credibility and knowledge beyond many of her colleagues sitting at the table that day.  She is a well-spoken, educated, competent woman, working in a primarily male-dominated industry.  Through the years, Allison rolled with the punches, smiled through the chauvenistic comments, took part in scotch and cigar and golf events to stake her claim as a “player” in the field.  And until now, she generally felt respected and admired for her work.

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Uniquely You


Admittedly, I’ve never seen an episode of Carpool Karaoke. As a single mom of two teenagers, full-time career woman, helpful friend and neighbor, DIY home owner, and countless other titles, my days are so filled with busy activity, I can barely keep my eyes open through the 10:00 evening news, much less through Stephen Colbert and on to the Late Late Show.

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Perfectly Imperfect


Great stories start with imperfection.  Watch any TED Talk, read any People magazine article, and the story typically begins with a struggle.Most people who have great success aren’t handed life on a silver platter. They had a difficult upbringing, or faced a major challenge, or overcame adversity.  In almost every meaningful victory, there is first a struggle with some form of perceived imperfection.

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Can’t We All Just Get Along


“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

With the tree going up at Rockefeller Center and the ubiquitous festive displays in New York City, the holiday season is officially in full swing.

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Do you hear what I hear?


On a recent vacation to Italy, we stayed on the Amalfi Coast in Positano and wanted to take a day trip to the town of Amalfi. When we asked the travel office for the best way to get to Amalfi, the agent recommended we take the public bus.

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The Danger of Speaking the Same Language


My wife is feeding our 2-year old son, Jake. I overhear the following conversation:

Jake – “Mom, give you carrot”
            (Mom takes the carrot)

Jake – “No, give YOU carrot”
Mom – “Give YOU carrot?”
Jake – “Yes”
            (Mom gives carrot to Jake, who takes one bite and throws it on the floor)

Jake – “Mom, pick up and give you carrot”
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When your global colleagues don’t make sense …


“What is a summer Friday and why is no one picking up their phone?”

“They’re inefficient and we’re spending too much time fixing their mistakes.”

“What?! There’s no coverage because they’re all having lunch together?!!”

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Building Your Personal Brand and Getting Others to Notice


Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come.

Kevin Costner – it’s a lie. If only it was as easy as just building it. Building great things is nice; building great things and getting people to believe in them – that’s the sweet spot. Good things don’t happen just because you are smart, capable and interesting. They happen because you make them happen.

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Say what you mean, and mean what you say


In a summer that brought drought, wildfires, and a controversial nuclear arms deal with Iran, you could sum up the biggest national story in one word – Donald.

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How to Talk to Strangers: Lessons from a 4‐year old


My daughter repeatedly asked me to sign her up for gymnastics camp. I kept putting it off because the camp was for 4 – 12 year olds, and since she was four, I knew she would be one of the youngest in the class. I worried about her and told her I didn’t want to sign her up because of some made up reason. Deep down inside, I remember how nervous I was that she wouldn’t make friends. That she would feel left out. That the older kids would ignore her. That everyone would be better at gymnastics than she was.

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Oops. The mistake that still haunts me 15 years later.


Many years ago, I worked at a large investment bank. Around the holidays, my boss received a small box of Godiva chocolates from an old client. Right before he left for a business trip, he told our team we could help ourselves to the candy. One snowy, busy day, when I had no time to eat lunch, I inadvertently ate all of the chocolates. When I realized what I had done, I placed the empty box back on my boss’s shelf and pretended it didn’t happen. When he returned from his trip and saw his chocolates were gone, he angrily asked me who ate them all. I didn’t know what to say. So I said nothing.

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Lessons on Presence from Oprah, Jeter and Springsteen


What exactly is “executive presence?” Sylvia Ann Hewlett says in her new book on the topic that it’s a “measure of image—a dynamic mix of gravitas (how you act), communication (how you speak) and appearance (how you look).” Seems like an easy formula – act confident, speak well and dress up. The only problem is that doing those things does not instantly give you great presence. The best, most respected, leaders possess so much more than that.

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Feedback Schmeedback


I’m pretty sure the first person to say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” was never a 14-year old girl - or a professional in corporate America, for that matter.

Words can hurt. At work, many times those words come in the form of too much feedback.  

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The Power of Pretty


The blind auditions on “The Voice” offer some of the best moments on reality TV. People get a chance to show their pure, raw talent to the world and the judges choose their team based on talent alone. There’s no weight placed on appearance. After a few weeks, America gets in on the action and starts to vote on who they think has the best voice. But I stop watching at that point because often the best voice doesn’t win. The power of good looks comes into play.

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A story of discrimination…Yes, I am judging you.


A long, long time ago I had great affection for Dunkin’ Donuts. I remember the really cool diner-like counter where I sat with my dad and sister every week. We ate Boston Crèmes and drank hot chocolate. I felt happy there and liked seeing the Sunday morning regulars: other dads with their kids, the after-church crowd, truck drivers taking a break. Oldies played on the radio and the lighting always made it seem cozy.

But then that changed. Dunkin’ lost its allure and I turned my back on a place I once loved. 

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Business Development and Social Media – What Should You Do?


Anyone with just a little experience knows social media gives sales people tools that would make even Willy Loman more effective. It can help you meet new people and stay connected with past colleagues. But many of us don’t take advantage of what the various social media platforms have to offer.

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How to get what you want – and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror


At some point, selling got a bad rap. Maybe it was the stereotypical used car salesman. Or maybe it was the guys who sold aluminum siding in the 1960s like those Richard Dreyfus and Danny DeVito portrayed in the movie, “Tin Men.” Or maybe it’s the unending flow of emails that assault our inboxes every day trying to get us to part with our hard-earned money.

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So tell me...what do you do?


Imagine the situation…you’re at a casual gathering with lots of people you don’t know. You end up standing next to someone and, after a few awkward moments, you start a conversation. Once you get past the pleasantries and the explanation of how you know the host, the “what do you do” question is bound to come up.

If you give the typical reply, you probably get the typical response – “Oh, nice,” at best, and at worst a blank stare.

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New Year – New Business


On January 1st most of us responsible for business development get a familiar feeling. You ask, “Where will the business come from this year?” Of course you know that some people will buy again. But others won’t.  So if you don’t find new opportunities each year, you stagnate.

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How Do You Make Training Stick?


Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions at one time or another. Unfortunately, we rarely keep them. To say it another way: despite our best intentions, we usually fail.

For example, take one of the most common resolutions – to lose weight. In our minds, we commit to some combination of diet and exercise to help us look and feel better. We all know how to make it happen. Yet somewhere between day one and day whatever, we gradually, and sometimes immediately, return to our old habits. Why?

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How do you hit send with confidence?


Email dominates the business communication landscape today the way McDonald’s rules the fast-food world. Some estimate that we send over 200 billion emails every day. That means, with all due respect to the “Golden Arches,” we digest many more emails than hamburgers.

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The Rise of the Teleconference – We’re Not Talking Martini Chic


Any regular viewer of the show Mad Men enjoys a unique glimpse into how people used to conduct business. The partners of the fictional advertising agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Price, offer us a romanticized view of advertising in 1960s Manhattan. And while the show highlights the sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism of the time – you also see some striking differences from the business world most of us know.

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Starting the New Year with a Bang – and a Fog Horn


Exec-Comm kicked off 2012 with some big news – we’re transcontinental! On February 1st, we opened our San Francisco office. Of course, we’ve always served your needs on a national basis from our New York headquarters, but now we have resources specifically dedicated to serve you in the west.

Amid the excitement of our announcement we thought about different communication styles. How do they change by region? What differences do we see in the ways individuals communicate? And how do those differences impact you and your key business relationships?

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Negotiations - “You want how much!?!”


“This ultimatum is just going to make most players angry…” said Chris Duhon, when the Orlando Magic’s NBA player rep learned about another “final offer” by owners during the recent lockout talks. The players were so angry that they threatened legal action. Whether you are negotiating a contract or deciding who brings the cookies for a holiday gathering, meeting the needs of everyone involved is a challenge. Here are some tips for more successful, collaborative discussions.

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Shooting the Breeze


In a recent client meeting workshop with newly promoted investment bankers, we asked: “Why is small talk important?” A fresh-faced banker replied: “Small talk gets people comfortable talking to you.” Nicely put. As a general rule, when the client is talking more than you, your meetings are more effective. Small talk often plays a big part at the start of a successful interaction.

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Organic Client Meetings


Spring is here! In this spirit, we offer you some meeting skills tips to help you tend the garden of important relationships you have with clients and colleagues. And while much of your contact may be on the phone or through email, the most effective way to grow your business relationships is through strategic face-to-face meetings.

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Executive Presence


The learning and development world is abuzz: "The King's Speech," a movie about King George of England conquering his fear of public speaking, is a blockbuster. For our part, Exec-Comm just hosted an Executive Presence Panel Discussion in New York, with four distinguished panelists and over 100 guests. Here's what our panelists shared on this hot topic:

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Hello, How Nice to Meet You


It’s the holiday season again and your December calendar probably includes several parties. Sometimes striking up conversation with new people at a party can be a bit daunting.

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Vote for My Message


It's four weeks before the midterm elections and you're probably getting bombarded with phone calls, flyers and commercials about various candidates. Each of these communications carries a message.

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Read it Write


Good readers make good writers and August is a prime reading month. As you head off to the beach chair, lakeside dock or the backyard hammock, grab a newspaper, magazine, book or e-reader and settle in.

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"Here's to you ..."


June is all about celebrations: weddings, anniversaries, graduations, Father’s Day, even Flag Day. And celebrations often involve giving a toast, an ancient party ritual involving a filled glass and a speech. Just in case you’re the speech-giver this month, we’ve got four key tips on delivering the perfect toast.

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Apologies: "I'm sorry, so sorry."


At some point in your career, you'll have to apologize to a co-worker--to someone up, down or across the corporate ladder.  Getting to the next rung on that ladder may depend upon how well you deliver the apology.  The well-executed apology establishes your credibility as a decent person and helps others trust you.  Conversely, sidestepping a needed apology makes you seem indifferent to the situation--or emotionally disconnected to the person deserving the apology.

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My Funny Valentine


Humor is tricky in presentations and meetings. Sometimes it works-and everyone chuckles, laughs and smiles. That's a swell moment for the presenter and an enjoyable one for the audience. When humor falls flat, causing people to cringe and look away nervously, it's painful for everyone in the room.

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Giving Thanks in the Workplace


Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday because its purpose is so simple – on the last Thursday in November we step out of the rhythm of our daily lives to give thanks. Together with family and friends, we reconnect, share stories, overindulge in great food and watch far too many hours of football. We show those in our personal life our appreciation by giving them our time and attention.

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Six Steps to a Brand New You!


What do Oprah, Heinz, Kleenex and Tiger Woods have in common? They are all recognizable brands. They are known for inspiration, quality, reliability and tenacity.

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Six Storytelling Essentials


Summertime! Time to sit around a campfire, telling tales or gather around a conference table, listening to vacation stories from colleagues. Summertime is story time.

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Take It In - Turn It Around


It is nearly time for your mid-year performance review. This year, even the best performers may feel a tinge of trepidation as they meet with their manager. While much has been written to help managers deliver reviews, we want to shift the focus to you, the feedback recipient.*

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Interviewing Essentials - Six Tips for Success


When I asked a client recently how things were going, she replied that she was in a state of "grief relief." Grief, she said, over the daily list of colleagues being laid off, and relief that she still had her job.

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Inaugural Newsletter


We thought it only fitting, with the inaugural issue of our newsletter, Substance & Style™, that we bring you insight into another inauguration – that of President-Elect Barack Obama and his upcoming inaugural speech. He approaches this historic occasion with an outstanding record of public speaking excellence; everyone expects that his speech will be great. But, what makes a speech great? What should you watch for, what should you listen for and how can you apply what you observe to your own speaking occasions?

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