Hollywood, Start Up & Brainstorming

One thing working in Hollywood taught me is to just open up and throw out every single idea. This is a technique used by writers and producers and it is fun and extremely valuable.

The comparisons between the creativity, stakes and pace of Hollywood and tech innovation are remarkable. In order to innovate new ideas, you have to be open to entertaining everything that comes into your head.

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. – Robin Williams

90% of your ideas in a brainstorm session will be terrible – but that’s okay! That is how this works. Another 5% will be Less Terrible, and another 2.5% will be Okay and then you will hit the sweet spot – the ideas that really might work.

Don’t be afraid to brainstorm, to let all of your ideas fly.

Don’t judge, don’t think, just jot those ideas down.

 

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How Is Your About Page?

Often in the world of start up and high tech, the “about” page can be very minimal and sometimes dry. It’s often just repeated copy from other pages.

Take a few minutes to personalize your “about” page with more than copy but with a compelling story of WHO you are and what your inspiration and mission is. This is your chance to not just inform but INSPIRE.

Remember – clients and consumers want more than your amazing app or product, they want to feel connected to your brand and to become loyal to it.

Whether you are B2B or B2C, a feeling that you took a few moments to say something fresh and new about yourself shows that you really care about what you are doing and that more is in store.

Everybody loves a good story. So make your “about” more than just copy.

Contact Julie Gray for expert, Hollywood style pitching and presentation workshops for your start up or high tech company TODAY. 

Your To Do List

לחצו פה להסבר על תרגום לעברית.

I have always been a list maker. Like you, I have a lot to do. Sometimes seemingly very disparate tasks: personal errands, family business, story editing, copy writing, essay writing, organizing a class I’m going to teach or a workshop I’m going to give, returning phone calls, getting to the post office before it closes. You know the drill.

Every time some kind of new technology seemed like a better way – any new idea, really – I tried it. Remember Palm Pilots? Tried that. It was more work to input my to-do list than to just do them. I tried using a whiteboard. A chalkboard. A fancy notebook. Various apps on my computer and iPhone.

todoNothing is or was as effective as just plain writing it down. Boring, right? But for me – effective. I use small, lined yellow tablets and importantly, I write in pencil so I can erase and rearrange my list as often as I want.

I make one list at the beginning of each week and as the list gets added onto and messier and messier, I make at least two other versions down the line.

Something that really helps me is to make sure that my list reflects my priorities for the week or for each day. There are some things, in other words, that MUST be done or else. And others that would be nice but that can be pushed back a couple or more days.

Of course, you have to watch those tasks because pretty soon they pile up too.

I make sure that the things that can be done quickly, I tick off the list right away.

It also helps to know what your personal style is, when it comes to work. I am a binge worker, meaning I might very well have a day or two in which I seem to get almost nothing done and then work for 8 hours without moving and get completely caught up. I know that about myself, so I don’t beat myself up; if something really needs to get done – I do it.

Interestingly, for me anyway, with all the apps and technology in the world, sometimes a piece of paper and pencil really is the thing.

Prioritize what you need to do daily, weekly and monthly. Use technology like alerts on your Google calendar (or the like) and mostly? Be nice to you. Your list is there to help you stay organized, not to make you feel bad. So don’t let it.

Here are more tips about how to create, maintain and vanquish your to do list!

Business Etiquette/כללי התנהגות עסקי

please

.לחצו פה להסבר על תרגום לעברית

A big part of doing business well is making sure that you are polite when you do.  That is obvious. But it’s more than about being polite, it is about having the best interaction you can have, right?

You want the person to call you back, to choose you, your company or your project.

There is an expression: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It’s an important one. Because whether you are a writer, hi tech innovator, filmmaker or consultant, you need every interaction to go well and to plant seeds for future meetings.

Don’t think of business etiquette – or for the Hebrew curious: כללי התנהגות עסקי

honeyThink simply of being as effective in every transaction as you can possibly be. You have an end goal. How does it feel when someone wants something from you? Are you more likely to grant them a favor or read their script or look at their website if they are difficult to connect with, inconsiderate or too aggressive? No.

All favors are personal, at the end of the day, because we are people. And if you are setting up a meeting, on a certain level, you are asking a favor.

Here are a few simple and basic tips:

When Setting Up a Meeting

Know that we are all very busy. Offer two or three choices of times and dates. Make the meeting place convenient for the other person.

During the Meeting

Buy your listener coffee. Thank them for their time. Make time for small talk. Keep your business talk focused. Don’t go over time. Wrap up your meeting with clear goals and expectations.

Following Up

Wait 2 to 3 hours after the meeting and send an email follow up, thanking the person for the meeting and saying you look forward to the next step.

If you don’t hear back in 4 or 5 business days, email again and just ask how they are and if there’s anything you can do to help move the project forward.

If you STILL don’t hear back:

In the US and EU: don’t email again for another 3 to 4 weeks. Assume you are being ignored but not totally shut down.

In Israel: email again in another week. And the one after that. And then let it lie for awhile.

You don’t want to be a nuisance. But neither do you want an opportunity to slip through your fingers.

Here are more tips for following up. 

The Two Faces of Your Facebook Feed

drunkFB

לחצו פה להסבר על תרגום לעברית.

I have written before about curating your Facebook feed, meaning designing your feed such that it has the maximum entertainment and positive influence on your personal and professional life. You can read that article here. 

Today, let’s talk about managing how you appear to others looking at your page. What kind of feed are they getting from YOU?

Avoid the Unfriend Zone!  

The fact is, that most of us are on Facebook. You might have a personal page and a business page. Or, in some cases, the two might blend, somewhat.  The kind of Facebooker I am speaking about today, is the page that is a blend. That’s what I do too.

Say you are a consultant or you work at a company that is fluid, meaning you network and keep yourself mobile and available for other opportunities within your field. You don’t need a Facebook page to push a BUSINESS per se – you ARE the business.  Here’s four tips and explanations of them:

Tips for Targeting Your Facebook Feed

  1. Create categories for “close friends” and “acquaintances”. Create categories that are as specific as you want. (go to your page, click on friends, next to each friend a category will appear. click on the category, scroll to the bottom and click on “new list”.)
  2. Every time you post, choose the category or categories that can see the post. Every. Time.
  3. NEVER post rants about sensitive, polarizing subjects.
  4. Refrain from too many “selfies”, by all means. Even if they are business related. It doesn’t reflect well unless you are a teenager. That doesn’t mean NONE, just watch the ratio there.

Categories and Posting

Make sure you categorize your FB friends minimally into “close friends” or “acquaintances”. If you take the time – and I know it’s really a bitch after the fact – you can create even more categories so that your business peers are in a category of their own. So that, in other words, you don’t post pictures of your weekend family picnic to your business peers, and that you don’t post (necessarily) what a great business conference you went to to your close friends.

This means you need to slow down when you post and check the box for which group of people you are posting and subsequently will see what you are posting.

Be Careful What You Post

It goes without saying that posting pictures of you drunk at a bar is not a great idea, or that posting rants about politics, religious or other sensitive topics is a very good idea either. Stuff on the internet lives for a VERY long time.

Clean Up Your Facebook Categories and Think Through Your Usage and Why

If you are a business unto yourself – and more and more of us are these days – make sure your Facebook feed is one that you have curated carefully.

Personally, I have three pages – my personal page, which by default has a lot of business peers on it because I didn’t take the time, way back, to set up another page – my business page, Stories Without Borders, which is for writers, filmmakers, start up, high tech and other creative types in business and a page for the Tel Aviv Writer’s Salon, which as you can imagine is quite focused.

I am in the process of migrating business and professional contacts that are on my personal page toward my other pages. I am newly getting into the habit of not accepting every friend request on my personal page – which is how I wound up with over 2,000 FB “friends” the vast majority of which I do not know at all.

Because I was not careful to curate my pages in the past, it is taking some time to clean that up so that only select people see what I want the to see. Sure, like you, I post hilarious pictures of my cats doing stupid things.  I’m human. And I post a lot of articles from The Atlantic about social issues and politics. That interests me. But sometimes I want to post something about where I live – Israel – that will a) only interest Israelis and b) not subject me to a storm of political comments about Israel. I just want to ask a question or point something out that is specific to this place.

If you have a lot of Facebook friends, I know this can seem daunting but take an afternoon, or a couple of them, sporadically, and look at your list of friends. Unfriend those you truly never interact with. Categorize the others. Is this truly a FRIEND, or is this a nice person you met at a business Meet Up? Ask yourself, do you want this person to see the hilarious picture of your cats? Do you want the to see your selfie while you were on a roller coaster or at the beach? Maybe you do. But make that a conscious choice.

You may not want to maintain more than one page in which case you then must be extra diligent about creating and maintaining categories. And before you hit “post” make SURE you are posting to the right group. Look, if you post a picture of yourself at a family barbecue to a group of friends that are business friends, it’s not the end of the world. You ARE a human and more and more our personal and business lives do blend. But online you are curating an image and a reputation. Too many selflies, even in a business context, too many “life is great! be positive!” pictures with horses on a beach – and you will be taken far less seriously. Trust me on this. Create a category of friends who also love motivational pictures of waterfalls with nice quotes. That way you do not annoy those who are not into these things and are not written off completely.

It’s the same as anything else in life. You don’t invite a particular friend to go to the opera with you. No, that’s for your other friend, Dani. You don’t talk about UFOs with most people you work with – but you might with Shira, because you have lunch a lot and have become close. Same concept here.

 

 

Public Speaking 101

Did you know that public speaking is the most common fear in the world? More than sharks, spiders and tsunamis combined? For most of us, the idea of standing up in front of a group of people and talking – about anything – is like a nightmare of epic proportions.

Some of us do it regularly – I know I do. And as you might think, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Well – not easier, per se, but more normal. It’s an odd feeling to have every eye on YOU and to know that for a set period of time, you must entertain, educate and in some way please a large number of total strangers.

speakingThe difference between someone accustomed to public speaking and someone who is not is that the nervousness you feel just before speaking gets translated into high energy while speaking – rather than nerves that ruin your ability to speak. Same nerves – different response to it.  Depends on why you are speaking. Maybe it’s at a wedding, or maybe it’s a business meeting and you have a lot on the line.

Having a lot on the line can actually really make the nerves worse.

Here’s what I do:

I focus on about three or four parts of the room and move back and forth between them. If I have a friend listening and I know that, I avoid looking at them.

I remind myself that I am very good at what I do and what I know and that talking about it is no different.

I remind myself that the people at the talk or conference WANT to hear what I have to say. They are interested. They signed up. I’m already ahead of the game.

I do not practice.

But I do watch the time.

I have prepared more to talk about or do than the time allotted – just in case.

I leave time for pauses, for questions, for interactivity.

I talk to people the way I enjoy being talked to. Personally, entertainingly.

If I make a mistake or an error – I acknowledge it and keep going. I am human. Because am I relaxed about this possibility, I rarely make mistakes.

I write out bullet points only on index cards and use them as my notes. Simply writing them down is practice enough. I know my stuff.

I speak the same way to six people as I do to 1,000 people. It makes no difference, in actuality.

I love speaking and teaching. If it were torture for me, I wouldn’t do it.

If you find yourself in a situation where you HAVE to speak publicly and yet you’ve never done it or really fear it – there are some steps you can take (many of which are listed above) and I am available to coach you through your event. 

speakingHere are a few more tips:

Don’t memorize what you have to say – it will sound memorized.

Use notes as jumping off or talking points.

Don’t try to take in the whole room, narrow your focus.

Relax, you were asked to speak because you have something to say.

And some more tips about avoiding “ums” and “uhs”. 

 

 

 

 

The Difference Between What We Say and What We Mean

For Israelis in business, Americans can be very confusing. We seem to indicate one thing with our words and another with our followup.

This confusion is tripled when the communication is written. Because now the body language and intonations are missing altogether, which is very problematic when you are already dealing with cultural differences. miscom

For example, if an American says “I know you are busy”, it really translates to – why haven’t you gotten back to me?

Would you have guessed that? Maybe or maybe not.

Look, Americans value being very polite. We often couch what we are saying in order to get the best result. Rather than actually SAYING “you are busy, you never get back to me!” we just politely acknowledge that yes you are busy. But we mean something else. We want to hear back from you.

Here is a list that is meant to be humorous but that is actually very accurate, of things Americans might say in email correspondence – and what they really mean.