Why Not You?

The truth is without good relationships communication suffers; without engaged employees, awareness is lost; and, without generations supporting each other, information isn’t passed down. In the long-term, the culture doesn’t improve and may, in fact, deteriorate.  

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Why Being Prepared Is Better Than Being Smart

The Hurricane Don’t List: safety tips from two generations of survivors  

They say experience is important, but do we really need to learn our greatest lessons about safety at the point of failure? Although I appreciate the guy who blew himself up instructing me how not to blow myself up, I also want to hear about the person who, as nondramatic as it may seem, avoided having an accident.

In a recent study to be published in Accident Analysis & Prevention,1 researchers have determined that a sidewalk’s distance from the street is a major factor in pedestrian-motorist collisions. In short, the closer you are to cars in motion, the more likely you are to be hit by one. Seriously? We needed a study for that? As comically obvious as that is, it proves a very important point: Safety, first and foremost, is about positioning yourself to be safe. Without that foundation, everything else is simply less effective.

As a Houston resident dealing with Hurricane Harvey; and Hurricane Ike back in 2008 (which spawned a watery tornado that put a hole in my roof, flooded my house, and motivated me to move into a tall concrete building where I safely reside now), I’ve been inspired to put together a preventative list. Let’s call it a “don’t” list. That is, if you want to position yourself (physically or provisionally) to weather a storm safely—

  1. Don’t stand on the balcony of your high-rise in hurricane winds. It sounds like a no-brainer, but if you notice your patio furniture is missing, don’t go out there!
  2. Don’t be hopeful. Hope is not a strategy. Instead, expect to be flooded. In Houston, New Orleans, or coastal Florida/Caribbean, carpet and wooden floors are for those who enjoy overpriced contractors.
  3. Don’t live where the water goes. You can always find a really good deal on a nice big house in the middle of a floodplain! Because water seeks its own level, it’s eventually going to seek your house.
  4. Don’t starve. Water and nonperishable food are available almost everywhere. If you think you’ve had a bad argument with your spouse before, try arguing after three days with no food.

This fourth pointer is where I fell short during Hurricane Harvey. As smart as I thought I was having survived a previous storm, and having grown up on the coast of Florida, I did in fact run out of food. The grocery stores closed prematurely and we did not have enough food on hand.

In this, I am the conflicted child of my parents. After experiencing the great hurricane of 1935 as a little girl in Miami (back before we started naming ominous weather events after mild-sounding aunts and uncles), my mother always had candles, batteries, and flashlights on hand and a pantry full of food. My father always poked fun at this. “Betty Ann,” he would say, “are you planning for the end of the world?” She’d fire back, “Billy, if the world does come to an end, that doesn’t mean we’re not having dinner!” My mother, it turns out, was an expert in preventative strategies.

I, on the other hand, am now the hurricane equivalent of the guy who talks to you about fire safety because he has actually burst into flames. I speak at safety conventions every month; in 22 years of speaking professionally, I’ve delivered safety messages on five continents. One might imagine I would have the fundamentals of safety down pat. The truth is that when a hurricane approaches, it’s easy to forget some basic things. More importantly, the lesson is to consider whether you’ve positioned yourself to remain safe long before the storm hits.

Selling Your Ideas: Getting People To Agree With You


Why is it that some of the best ideas are never considered and idiotic concepts that we know will fail are?

How did AT&T decide to focus on the picture phone and sell off the rights to the cellular telephone? Research clearly showed that the number-one reason people placed a phone call instead of showing up in person was speed and convenience. The number-two reason was they did not want to be face-to-face with the person they were calling. If you are at home on the phone in your underwear, do you really want people to see you? (OK, some of you do, and you know who you are, but let’s move on.) Why did it take so long to get squeeze-bottle ketchup? Squeeze-bottle mustard was on the market 20 years earlier! Were there really people who believed that ketchup in a glass bottle was sacred and could never sink to the lows of a seemingly misguided mustard?

The issue is that some of us are just much better at getting people to agree with us than others.

It’s why it took so long for people to wear seat belts and yet pet rocks sold instantly. We interviewed some of the most persuasive people in the Wynn Solutions top-performers research pool and found some interesting information about getting people to see things your way regardless of how ineffective your ideas may be:

  • Find out what people value most before you start talking. People are much more likely to listen to your ideas if you can prove you know what’s important to them first (agreeing that it’s important will also help a lot).
  • Make sure your ideas are clear. It does not matter how smart you are if no one knows what you’re talking about. You may need to have your top expert teach their concepts to your top presenter. A lot of great ideas are not considered because people don’t want to admit they don’t get it.
  • Make sure you can explain the basic value in about 20 seconds. People buy into what they can understand quickly. “The longer it takes you to explain value, the more people think you don’t have any.” Show how it will make the person(s) you are talking with look good personally. What’s in it for them?
  • Show the similarities first and differences second. The main reason people don’t want to change is that nobody wants to be a “senior beginner.” When things change, people are afraid their expertise will have less value—they may not be as important to the organization as they used to be. Show how the new way is similar to the old way first, and then the new way feels more valuable.

Our research showed that ideas have to be more than great. They have to get supported by humans as they make their way toward implementation. Some pretty weak agendas get moved forward because they are presented 10 times better than an agenda that was …well … 10 times better.