eMusings Newsletter


         VOLUME THREE, ISSUE 10    


3 Human Elements








     Even the iconic Audrey Hepburn got airbrushed. I caught a story from the NY Post yesterday showing Hepburn's before and after publicity shots from "Breakfast at Tiffany's". There she is in her Holly Golightly costume, her "before" picture clearly marked with pencil, indicating where she needed a little touch up. I'm not writing about that, however - just thought it was an interesting tidbit and further proof that we've always longed for perfection. The story about Hepburn made me think of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" which started me humming "Moon River" which was written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer which reminded me that I'd once had the pleasure of meeting Mancini at some awards thing in Los Angeles. I told him I was a fan and that "Moon River" made my mother swoon and he told me it was almost cut from the picture and then his lovely wife took him away to find their seats.


     It turns out that not only did "Moon River" almost get cut, it almost didn't get written at all. Marty Rackin, the head of production for Paramount Studios, didn't want Mancini for the film's music and refused to meet with him. Mancini thought he was perfect for the film and bypassed Rackin, going straight to director Blake Edwards, who went with Mancini to pitch his musical ideas for the film to the producers. They loved Mancini's ideas and they hired him. Mancini brought Johnny Mercer on board to write the lyrics and "Moon River" was born. (It was originally called "Blue River" but Mercer discovered that another songwriter was already using that title so they had to change it.) Mancini loved the song so much that he ended up using it thematically throughout the movie. Hepburn was so jazzed about the music she wrote Mancini a letter praising it.


     Marty Rackin didn't agree. After the movie's preview, he declared that the song stank and demanded it be cut. Accounts vary on who it was that shouted, "Over my (her) dead body!" Some say it was Hepburn, others that it was one of the producers. The point is someone spoke up and Rackin backed down and the song went on to win Mancini his first Academy Award (Mercer had a previous win in 1946).


     The point of this little tale is to remind us that there are times when it's imperative that we assume the role of "courageous messenger" and speak up. None of us wants to be labeled a troublemaker or "not a team player", but failing to speak up when it's important has a negative impact on ourselves, others and the places where we do our work. And organizations can't afford to maintain the kind of Work- Climate that stifles those who want (and need) to speak up.


     Think a moment...are you one of life's courageous messengers?


 Jennie Ayers

Senior Partner, BoldWork  
In This Issue
Hello, I Can Read: Death by PowerPoint & Other Tales
What's Your Guarantee?
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"Hello! I Can Read!" by Jennie Ayers                                          

(490 words - estimated reading time: around 2 minutes)


I just got back from a two day conference where I sat in on 7 separate presentations. Six of them were dreadful...which was both disappointing and disrespectful. I expected the presenters to honor me (and every other participant) by confidently delivering a clear and compelling message that engaged us. Instead, we got sabotaged and ended up in PowerPoint hell. One woman had 56 slides (with full text so tiny it was almost unreadable) for a 90 minute gig....and her idea of "presenting" was to recite - verbatim - the material from each slide. I wanted to shout, "Hello! I can read!"


death by powerpointPowerPoint is a computer software program designed to provide visual support - the operative word here being support. There's a lot of info on the web on how to use it effectively so I won't go there...although this slideshare is worth a look (powerpoint.) And no, it's not lost on me that Alexi takes 61 slides to offer up advice.


Some of these presenters were billed as subject matter experts who were there to share what they know. At BoldWork, we think sharing knowledge is integral to creating consilience - taking what each of us knows and combining it into new knowledge. But if you're a lousy presenter, the fact that you're a subject matter expert is moot. I talked to several other attendees at the conference and not one of them viewed it as a learning experience.


So what do you do if you want...or need...to make presentations in order to share what you know? Get feedback. Make an honest assessment of your abilities and if you come up short, you have two choices. Get better. Again, there are oodles of books written on the subject. Here's a thorough one - "The Exceptional Presenter" by Timothy J. Koegel. If you can't - or won't - do deliberate practice to become a competent speaker, do us all a favor and stop presenting. Find another way to share what you know - book, anyone?


guy giving speechAt the end of the conference, I got the inevitable evaluation sheet. I admit I don't often fill these out. I don't know why - at BoldWork, we take to heart the comments/suggestions we receive following our own presentations and make improvements based on them. This time I decided to hold myself accountable for speaking up. I was candid in filling out the evaluation and offered what I hope was construed as constructive feedback.


Most of the time, when we think of being accountable, we think of it in terms of taking responsibility for what we do. But what if we also think about it in terms of taking responsibility for what we don't do? Whether it's choosing not to fill out an evaluation that could prove helpful - or refraining from being a presenter when our skills
just aren't up to par - it seems to me that what we don't do is as crucial as what we do.


How do you see it? 

"What's Your Guarantee?" by Jennie Ayers 

(319 words - estimated reading time: less than 2 minutes)

My friend and colleague, Beck, and her husband recently traveled to another state to watch a nephew play in a championship soccer match. They stayed at a local Hampton Inn, a 1700-property chain of hotels that are part of the Hilton family. What sets the Inns apart is their 100% money back guarantee. They became the first national hotel brand to offer such a promise: "If you're not satisfied, we don't expect you to pay." Each and every one of their employees is empowered to refund a guest's money if things aren't up to snuff. Cynic that I can be, my first thought was that a lot of people would take advantage of the offer, complain about something negligible and demand a refund. I'm happy to report that according to management, refunds made in accordance with the money back guarantee account for less than a quarter of 1%.


green guarantee sign 



I wondered how many other companies offer such a guarantee. (In the spirit of full disclosure, BoldWork does.) If my web surfing is any reflection, not many. A logo company. A vitamin store. Some webmasters. A fertility clinic. (I'm not making that up.) But even though most companies may not offer a 100% money back guarantee, they do offer some kind of warranty, for very specific reasons. A guarantee:

  • lowers or removes a barrier to purchase
  • builds trust
  • sets a company apart from its competition
  • demonstrates a company's confidence in its services and products 

Accountability is about ownership. Companies can't "make" employees accountable - they have to choose to be so. But companies can influence employees to make that choice by doing two things:

  1. send employees a message that makes it clear that the company holds itself accountable for the things it says and does
  2. create a climate where employees feel empowered to "right" any "wrongs" they see 

How does your company hold itself accountable? And do you "buy in"?


boldworklogoAt BoldWork, we specialize in helping businesses and organizations optimize the performance of the people who work for them.

Typically, our clients come to us when they are seeking to change, to solve problems or to challenge a status quo that no longer works. Most importantly, they call us when they want to create a WorkClimate that increases motivation and strengthens employee engagement.

Please take a moment and visit our website at www.doboldwork.com to find out more about us and what we have to offer. Or contact us for additional information at info@doboldwork.com