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What Resonated This Week: Timing

February 12, 2016

 

This is the eleventh installment of "What Resonated This Week," where I share my observations around a common theme or topic that made an impact on me, and hopefully will be a catalyst for conversation and further discussion.

 

For the last few months, I've published posts about what's resonated with me. Connecting the dots was the initial theme, followed by the idea that you need to customize your message and be mindful of your audience. After that, I wrote about finding the courage to ask for help and the power of "Coffee Talk" and connecting in person. Recent posts were on the hidden benefits of road trips, notes written on Post-its®, and customer service. A few weeks ago I wrote about bananas, nuts, and stories that suck as well as triggers. And last week I thanked and introduced my BFAM (brother from another mother) and LinkedIn Family, those special folks here we've never met but with whom we feel a certain kinship and ease.

 

This week it's all about timing, and the lessons learned from TV Powww.

As a child growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late '70s, I watched an after-school program on KTVU called "TV Powww." Kids were invited to mail in a letter to get on the show, which was an early version of a kind of Asteroids game with live, voice-activated laser fire via a phone call.  The point was for the contestant to scream "pow" into the phone in hopes of having the laser hit the incoming spaceships. The trick was to correctly anticipate when a spaceship would be in your crosshairs and figure out when to shout “pow.”

 

In other words, it was all about timing.

 

Those early lessons of TV Powww translate to the business world as well, and can be boiled down to a few universal principles:

 

Assessing the situation

You have a new business pitch.  You've done a million pitches before so you can just do what you worked the last time, right?

 

Not exactly. 

 

While past performance and feedback can be an indicator of future success, each situation is different requires some degree of preparation. Perhaps the potential client has an aversion to PowerPoint, or you suspect that the client is really looking for more help than they originally said.  The only way to know for sure is to do some research and assess the situation ahead of time.

 

In the case of TV Powww, I was a long time viewer but a first-time player.  I had studied countless players' strategies — for better and for worse — before deciding on the best approach.  And that work helped to best prepare me to face my competition.

 

Anticipating when to strike

 

You've been killing it at work.  You've blown out your numbers or found a way to save the company millions.  You're a rock star and you're tempted to ask for a raise or promotion.

 

Before you do, it's best to take a step back.  Look around.  Is the entire company rocking it or is it struggling to stay afloat?  What else is happening outside of your silo?

 

A lot can be said about the power of true observation in regards to timing. Your intuition or gut can also be a good indicator if you allow it to move past your ego. 

 

To succeed in TV Powww, I learned to observe first, act second. Put some thought into making that big move, and your chances of success will increase.

 

Being selective

When offering up solutions to my clients, there are often numerous ways to go. Rather than recommend every strategy under the sun, I tend to focus on the strongest few to maximize impact. If you throw too many options at a client — or to anyone, in general — you risk your effectiveness and credibility. Quality always wins out over quantity.

 

TV Powww required me to be selective with my "pow" strikes, and zero in on those that would actually have the greatest impact.

 

Putting it all together

As for my performance on TV Powww that day? Nailed it.

 

My opponent, a cocky, I-ain't-letting-no-girl-beat-me kind of fellow, believed in winging it with a machine gun approach, spewing a rapid fire of successive "pows" into the receiver. Imagine his surprise when my method of first assessing the situation, anticipating when to strike, and then selectively voicing my "pows" earned me the prize.

 

Like I said, timing is everything.

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So what resonated with you this week? Is timing really everything? When was the last time you shouted "pow!" into the phone? Let me know in the comments section below.

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