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Stories that Change: Event Hosted by Association of Change Management on February 11


photo by Dominic Campbell /BY CC

The Washington, DC chapter of the Association of Change Management Professionals is hosting a special free event on February 11, 2015.

Stories that Change: Winning Hearts and Inspiring Action (register) will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the North Highland offices in Rosslyn (1501 Wilson Blvd. Suite 900, Arlington).

Amanda Marko from the Connected Strategy Group will discuss the use of storytelling as a communications vehicle. If you are leading new initiatives, responsible for changing other people’s behaviors, or need to convince others that a different way of thinking is necessary, then you should learn these concrete communications frameworks that will make you a better leader.

After the event, head on down stairs for extended networking at Heavy Seas Ale house. We look forward to seeing you and your friends!

The Dotted Line: Calling All Change Agents

The October 2014 issue of The Dotted Line features news + resources for leading change. Subscribe to receive future issues of The Dotted Line delivered to your inbox.



Be the Change By Telling the Story

The last Storytelling for Leaders public workshop of 2014 will be held on Monday, November 17 in Washington, D.C. at the Le Méridien Arlington. Get details and register or take your chances trying to win a seat at the training by heading over to Facebook.

If you can’t make it to D.C., bring Storytelling for Leaders to your team, company, or corporate training academy. 2015 dates are already being booked. Find out more.


Resources for Change Agents (Like You)

How to Make Yourself Memorable
from Business Insider

Whenever you meet someone new, you can be sure that they want to know two things about you. No, it’s not where you’re from and what you do for a living. Those superficial questions are actually trying to ascertain what you’re about and what you want.

Your employees also seek the same information from their leaders, especially during times of change. Until you provide answers, they are going to resist change because they doubt your sincerity, ability, and motive. Find a way to connect with everyone you meet by using these four steps for creating your own connection story that will improve your effectiveness as a leader.

The Cure for Micromanaging
from Simply Hired

Leading change is a stress-filled endeavor, so don’t make it worse by breathing down the necks of everyone on your team. Micromanaging won’t make you a better leader (unless being annoying is your goal). This cure for micromanaging results in the need for less direct oversight and fewer rules, while encouraging more engagement. It’s sort of like a magic pill, but it’s not bitter at all.

No One’s Favorite: Flavor of the Month Leadership
from LinkedIn

Humans are hardwired to seek consistency. That’s the reason we hate hypocrites and are justified in demanding some degree of certainty at work. Leaders violate that trust when they roll out a new initative or switch the strategy too often. As a result, employees revolt by refusing to participate, their reason being that “it’s just the next flavor of the month”. Put an end to this complaint by taking a hard look at your organization and identifying which of the five root causes apply to you.


 Executive Coaching
*  One Opening  *

One-on-one coaching works for busy executives who want to learn communications and influence skills that will enhance their effectiveness in the boardroom, behind the podium, or across the desk. You’ll be led through a proven program that’s customize to your specific needs and current workplace challenges.

Just last week a client in Atlanta used these skills to deliver a presentation to a skeptical executive team and he was elated to report that he ultimately won their support for his initiative.

I have opened only one new spot for an executive who is ready to improve his or her communications and leadership skills. Inquire today.


Upcoming Events

Storytelling for Leaders public workshop
in Washington, D.C.on Monday, November, 17.
Reserve your spot.

Make Your Strategy Stick: Storytelling Roles of Management and Communications in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday, November 20. Sponsored by the International Association of Business Communicators. Sign up.

Little Stories that Pave the Way for Big Change podcast interview with Jesse Lahey of Engaging Leader to air in early 2015. Learn more.

Request a speaker on the topics of change communications,
corporate culture, employee engagement, or business strategy.


Connected Strategy Group was founded by Amanda Marko, president and chief connection officer, to help leaders increase their influence through deeper connections that enhance the effectiveness of business strategy, change management, employee engagement, and corporate culture initiatives. Amanda recently became one of only a handful of people globally – and the first in the U.S. – to partner with Australia-based Anecdote to deliver their Storytelling for Leaders program. Storytelling complements her consulting work to help leaders better influence, engage, and inspire others.


Strategic Storytelling Workshop for Corporate Executives Who Want Training in Using Stories to Improve Their Leadership



The last public Storytelling for Leaders workshop in the U.S. is on Monday, November 17. Learn more and register.

Additional public training sessions in strategic storytelling will be scheduled in 2015.

Go here for details about bringing oral business storytelling to your workplace, attending a public workshop, or receiving executive coaching in storytelling techniques.





Learn to Make the Business Case for Storytelling

Storytelling Audio-1

What Once Was Free: A Guide to Implementing Fees on Freebies


Photo by Caden Crawford / BY CC

Don’t Be a Qwikster
Price increases are hard. They’re even harder when you need to start charging for something that was previously free or bundled.

Remember what happened at Netflix a few years ago?

In the spring of 2011, [Reed] Hastings, Netflix’s widely admired chief executive, held a meeting with his management team and outlined his blueprint to jettison Netflix’s DVD operations. Netflix managers would tell subscribers on July 12 that they planned to do away with a popular subscription that offered access to DVD rentals as well as unlimited on-demand streaming video for $10 per month. DVDs and streaming would be separated and each would cost subscribers $7.99 a month, or $15.98 for both, about a 60 percent hike. The changes would take place in September.

Jonathan Friedland, the new vice president of global corporate communications who had joined Netflix just a few months earlier, asked whether customers on tight incomes might object to the price hike, according to people at Hastings’ meeting. Hastings argued that Netflix was a great bargain. He said he knew that some customers would complain but that the number would be small and the anger would quickly fade.

Hastings was wrong. The price hike and the later, aborted attempt to spin off the company’s DVD operations enraged Netflix customers. The company lost 800,000 subscribers, its stock price dropped 77 percent in four months, and management’s reputation was battered. Hastings went from Fortune magazine’s Businessperson of the Year to the target of Saturday Night Live satire. Continue reading CNET’s detailed description of this dramatic chapter in Netflix’s history.


Smooth the Move in Six Steps
I’m working with two clients whose viability is dependent on their capacity to demonstrate their value and persuade their customers to pay for services that today are no charge. Neither of them are excited about this change, but their economic circumstances, in fact their very survival, depend on making this transition.

Managing the change means getting a real handle on the way customers and employees perceive you, while also adding up the true costs of “free”. There’s plenty of room for error in this process (ahem, Netflix), so be sure to:

1. Understand What Customers Value
It’s a given that you’ll need thick skin to absorb the inevitable negative feedback, but you can head-off the skeptics by aligning your value proposition with the pricing strategy. The intent of the freebie was likely to endear you to new clients, reward existing customers, or distinguish yourself in the marketplace. Over time, the effect has eroded, and so your new pricing strategy must highlight what the customer actually wants. Otherwise, you risk cannibalizing your value proposition by sending mixed messages.

2. Understand What Your Employees Value
Anticipate that the us-versus-them mentality might come from an expected source: inside your organization. If your sales force and customers become allies in revolt, your pricing initiative is doomed from the start.  However, when your sales force is comfortable with the new pricing, customers will happily pay what your products and services are worth. Uncover the benefits employees received from the freebie and find a suitable replacement. If the give-away made it easier for the sales force to call on new clients, then your marketing approaches and sales training need to be re-engineered.

3. Track the Value
Our priorities are revealed by what we measure. To change your outward-facing pricing, first examine your internal procedures. Start by instituting a method for tracking what was previously taken for granted. Whether it’s a physical asset, a service, or time, unbundle it and account for it. This process alone can be eye-opening in an organization. Don’t be surprised if you hear, “I didn’t realize how much of my effort was actually going this.” Handled correctly, the experience can accelerate acceptance of the change by employees.

4. Separate the Value
By unbundling your offering, you’ll open  the door for customers to select options, while also giving them the power to remove those they don’t need. It’s a win-win. Customers are relieved of unnecessary costs and unrealized benefits, while you have a chance to add revenue streams in the form of service or product enhancements. Be forewarned that this works best with the extras and not your fundamental promise to customers. As long as they are not core to your value proposition, then institute charges for speed or personalization, or perhaps reward loyalty with a tiered system that charges new customers higher prices.

5. Demonstrate the Value
What’s “free” doesn’t get counted by customers either. To set the stage for the price increase, communicate all the value you deliver – both what is currently free and what is charged. For instance, one client is going to monetize the free services they have provided over the last year and send it to customers in the form of an account statement along with an explanation of the changes afoot. As a result, customers will see that they are receiving so much for so little. And when the fee is enacted, customers will have a basis of deeper appreciation for the value they have derive in the past and a better understanding of what they will receive in the future.

6. Redefine the Value
Price adjustments are an opportunity to fundamentally change the way you and your customers define your value. Setting prices is the same as defining value, so don’t miss the chance to direct customers’ attention to what makes your products and services different – and better – than the competition.


Cleveland Roadshow


Photo by Rebecca Olarte / BY CC

There’s lots more to consider when changing prices, so later this month I’ll be joining a couple of smart strategists with expertise in business strategy, pricing, solution selling, and talent management to dig into this topic as part of the Strategic Leaders Wake-Up Call.

If you’re in Cleveland, RSVP and join us.  If you can’t attend, but want more insights and resources on change management and employee engagement, connect with us.






Invite_The Price is Right 9_19_14

Four Ways Storytelling Improves Communication in a Corporate Setting

guest post by Christopher Kogler, President, Narrative Intelligence

The best corporate presenters are individuals who have learned how to convey their corporate messages to their stakeholders via a story. When done effectively, storytelling’s power resonates on a wide variety of levels. So what are some of the benefits that an individual can expect when using stories to convey initiatives like a firm’s change management plan or its new direction?

The ability to share and elicit stories helps us to build rapport and a connection with our audience.When we first meet someone we naturally look for a way to relate to and connect with them. Whether talking to potential clients or new employees, stories that build rapport provide that opportunity. By telling a Connection Story that shares something about your character and reveals something about what drives you, you are establishing a link with that other person. And, once a person feels a connection with you and they understand something about your character, they are much more likely to listen to what you have to say.

photo by DavidLawler / CC BY

photo by DavidLawler / CC BY

Stories provide communication that is clearer, more memorable and inspiring than a list of facts or a PowerPoint presentation. There’s a reason for this. Stories that are engaging and contain emotion affect more areas of the brain than a straightforward, rational explanation. When more areas of one’s brain are stimulated, understanding increases and the comprehension of information increases significantly. Weaving facts into your story is much more effective in conveying information than simply providing the facts alone.

Stories have the unique ability to influence others without the benefit of authority. If you’re trying to change someone’s mind, it’s always better to share a story on the topic that makes your point before launching into your formal argument. Stories encourage the listener to be less judgmental while listening to your viewpoint.

Stories provide the tools we need to effectively explain things in ways that connect with different audiences. Different stakeholders have different points of view and bring different biases to the table. And, as a result, their reaction to the information you’re providing may be very different depending on their perspective. For instance, selling a division of the company may be applauded by the Board but be considered a huge loss in that division. To be able to construct an Influence Story in a way that is appropriate to your audience gives you significantly more flexibility in conveying difficult information or getting someone to think differently, rather than simply presenting them with the facts.

Increase your influence by becoming skilled in the three dimensions of story-work during the interactive Storytelling for Leaders training. Register for a workshop or inquire about bringing the program to your organization.

Strategic Leaders Wake-Up Call: Pricing Workshop in Cleveland

Invite_The Price is Right 9_19_14

Storytelling for Leaders – Las Vegas

Make the Case for Storytelling

tumblr_n0hq0nxdQd1st5lhmo1_1280 You don’t need to tell a communicator: storytelling works. The best communicators know that true emotional connection can only be made through stories.

But try persuading a stubborn executive, a reluctant leader, a timid manager, an overwhelmed salesperson, or an analytical accountant, and you will have a hard time making them budge.

In this free 30-minute audio training, learn to make the business case for storytelling to even the most skeptical audiences.

When communications becomes a responsibility shared by the communications department and executives alike, you’ll find that change is smoother, employees are more engaged, strategy is understood, and the pace is quickened.

This audio training will help you create an organization full of story-vangelists.




Workshop for Communicators in Cleveland on June 24


On Tuesday, June 24 I will be the lunchtime guest of IABC Cleveland to discuss storytelling’s role in assisting with change management and cultural transformations, as well as reducing complexity.

Details and registration are available on the chapter’s website.

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