Businesses Have LifeStories, Too!

Most of us believe that if we want to find the heart and soul, the LifeStories, of a family, all we have to do is sit around a Thanksgiving table or any other family gathering and simply listen to the stories shared by the elders. It is there that magical connections can be made to our past and, rightfully so, to who we are inside ourselves. But when the Thanksgiving meal is finished and the relatives have gone home, we run the risk of losing or, God forbid, forgetting the stories that connect us all. That’s why they must be recorded.

While we think about those of our family, we seldom think about the stories of the businesses we work within on a daily basis. How can the heart and soul of a business or non-profit organization be passed down to “future generations”, to potential and current clients and employees? It’s not as easy as it might be for families, but it is possible.

Simon Sinekstart-with-why

At LifeStories Alive, we always start with “why”. Utilizing the wisdom of Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why, businesses should record the answers to the question, “Why do we do what we do?” When a good interviewer is recording the answers from the founders, long-time employees and early customers of a business, that “why” can be presented in a way that magically reveals the heart and soul of a business. Those magical connections that happen with family LifeStories can now happen for a business.

Here is a sample of how an incredible organization, Special Olympics Texas, told their LifeStories, found their “why” and, in the process, relit the flame of how they positively effect the lives of thousands of families in Texas each year: https://vimeo.com/106438215.

If you’d like help to record your LifeStories, to find your “why” or just kick around ideas that connect you to your business family, or the one you were born with, please give me a call.

Mike O’Krent – LifeStories Alive, LLC – 512-5431-8166 – mokrent@lifestoriesalive.com http://www.lifestoriesalive.com

Want to Spice Up That RFP (Request For Proposal)?

If you want to separate yourself from your competition with the next RFP (Request For Proposal) you submit, think about what my client, Wayne Gonzalez of Gonzalez Office Products http://www.rwgop.com, did. Here is a kind endorsement and story of Wayne’s success:

RFP

“The impact Mike and LifeStories Alive has had on my business and continues to have on my company is huge. With little or no advance notice Mike and his team helped us separate our company from many that were responding to an RFP. He knew video was the only way to show the decision makers the true DNA of my company. Not only did he have a short time to prepare he had very little knowledge about what we were trying to achieve with our proposal.

Mike jumped right in. He spent time in our office asking the RIGHT questions, and immediately was able to see where video could help separate us from the competition. . Something we had not even thought about due to our focus on the RFP. Once Mike had compiled the questions and his video team, he was ready to shoot the video. Now please understand we have never done this before and had no idea what to do.  We had only 4 days to do the shoot edit and produce and marry that with the RFP.

Immediately after the shoot, Mike again went into warp speed to produce what we needed and still make it to the bid opening on time. He continuously keep us in the loop as to how it was going and his calm demeanor and professionalism made us able to concentrate on our end of the RFP.

Not only did Mike Make it happen just as he said it would we were awarded the RFP.  It was the video and his professional team that separated our company from the competition and showed where we are better than our competition. I have been in business a long time and have never seen the impact that an expertly done video can show. We still use the video and plan to use Mike again in the future. In today’s business world finding honest dependable experts to help grow your business are one in a million. That is what Mike O’Krent is. If you are not using his expertise your competition will be. Thank you Mike you are truly special.”

Wayne Gonzalez

Gonzalez Office Products

Kind Words Go a Long Way

Kind words can go a long way. Yesterday, I was having a “so-so” day until late in the evening when a client of mine, Spencer Hayes (name given with permission) http://www.oxfordcommercial.com/our-people/spencer-hayes/, wrote a very kind note regarding the work I did for his family. My entire attitude changed to become more uplifting and positive. Here is his note:

“LifeStories Alive partnered with my family to bring us the greatest gift we could ever have: my parents sharing their stories so that their legacy will continue for many generations.

Mike O’Krent is a uniquely gifted documentarian. But moreover he is an exemplary human being who connects with people on a deep level, and brings out of them the essence of who they are.  The ability to capture all that on video for posterity is rare, and we have been blessed as a family to own the product of his talent.”

I encourage all of you to do as I will now; share a few kind words to someone – to the next person who comes to mind. It’s not hard, won’t take long, and will make you feel good. Thanks, Spencer, for making my day!

I Thought I Would Learn About Classical Music…

I thought I would learn about classical music, but ended up learning about life. This is my conclusion after listening to yet another great TED Talk. This one is by Benjamin Zander. To prove to you how little I knew about classical music, I didn’t know who the hell Benjamin Zander is! I do now. Since 1979, Benjamin Zander has been the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic.

What impressed me most about this talk is how he used a lesson in classical music appreciation (and, by the way, I now appreciate classical music) and turned it into, at the very end, a lesson in life. I will not tell you what he says at the end. It is worth watching this all the way through. I will only tell you this: It reinforces the power of a well-told story…a well-told life story!

Please take the time to watch this: http://tinyurl.com/ntqr4 on and then let me know what you think.

Ben_Zander

Honoring a Hero Today, Col. Richard Cole

Today is Veterans Day, 2013. Not just any Veterans Day, but one that is especially meaningful. Last Saturday, at a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, a final toast was made for the Doolittle Raiders. A bottle 1896 of cognac was ceremonially uncorked and a toast was made, delivered by Col. Richard Cole, a man I had the honor of interviewing in November 2012. He is one of only four surviving members of the original 80 member team of Doolittle Raiders. Here is a screen shot from the interview, part of a film Lee Kirgan produced for The Yellow Rose Project, a short film to celebrate the B-25 and to support The Yellow Rose. The 1944 B-25, the Yellow Rose, is hangared in San Marcos, Texas, and is maintained by the Centex Wing of the Commerative Air Force http://tinyurl.com/TheYellowRoseFilmProject.Col. Richard Cole 12:7:2012

For the story of the ceremony and a bit of the history of the Doolittle Raiders, click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/opyazj3. Many years ago, 80 goblets were made, on each one was carved a name of a member of the Doolittle Raiders. Every year at a reunion of the surviving Raiders, the goblet with the names of those who died in the previous year is ceremonially turned over, then a toast is made to those who died in the raid, those who have died since the raid, and to those still living. Today, there are only four goblets standing upright, representing the four Raiders still alive. Three were at the ceremony last Saturday evening.  

A bottle of 1896 (the year of Col. Doolittle’s birth) cognac that was given to Col. Doolittle was uncorked. Many years ago, the survivors of the Raid vowed not to open the bottle till most were gone. It was decided that this was the year to open it and give a final toast. Here is a video of the ceremony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDKPYpkU5Cg. Fast forward to 48:53 to watch Col. Cole open the bottle and give the final toast.

On this Veterans Day, let us all remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, as well as those who served and continue to serve our great country in order to preserve that freedom.

Oh Sweet Lorraine

Sometimes it just all comes together. You have one of those days like mine has been today. It started out with a meeting with a new group of friends whom I admire greatly. In our discussion this morning, many were reflecting on the memory of a young friend who died last week. They spoke so highly of him and the stories of his life. The message we all gathered was to not let a day go by without telling  your friends and family that you love them.

Then I received an email this afternoon with this incredible video attached: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDi4hBWsvkY. Without spoiling the story, I’ll tell you it’s about the love a 96-year-old man named Fred has for his wife. In fact, he wrote a song about her called Oh Sweet Lorraine. Based on my experiences this morning and watching this video this afternoon, I encourage you to do the following: 1) Watch the video; 2) Buy the song; 3) Tell someone today that you love them. Don’t wait! In fact do it now … right now.

And remember to do it every day. And when you tell that person you love them, think of Fred … and sweet Lorraine.

Listening More to be More Persuasive?

In a recently published article in Inc. magazine, author Kevin Daum wrote about 7 Things Really Persuasive People Do http://tinyurl.com/m4h2c69. Number two on the list is “They Listen … and Listen … Then Listen Some More”. What? Listen more to be more persuasive? Most people believe that those who are the most persuasive are the ones who talk the most, not listen more. One of the most valuable lessons to learn in persuasion is that it’s not about you, it’s about them! Knowing that, how will you know what’s important to them if you don’t listen to them? If the voice you are listening to is only your own, only you will be persuaded…and you don’t need that at that moment!

In the article, he addresses “…listening when in persuasion mode.” He explains what this means: “First, (people who know how to persuade) are listening to assess how receptive you are to their point of view. Second, they are listening for your specific objections, which they know they’ll have to resolve. Last, they are listening for moments of agreement so they can capitalize on consensus. Amazingly persuasive people are constantly listening to you and not themselves.  They already know what they are saying. You can’t persuade effectively if you don’t know the other side of the argument.”

               

What Kevin Daum says above is essential to being more persuasive. But think about how being a better listener can help you in all areas of communication: with family, with friends, as well as in the workplace. In a blog I posted in March, 2012, I began to uncover the basics of the “Forgotten Communication Tool” http://tinyurl.com/7rhkyax. Applying only a few of the skills I mentioned will make you a better listener. And when you become a better listener, positive things will happen in all areas of your life … including those that require your sharpened persuasive abilities.