So, Yeah, Right

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images-1One of my guilty pleasures is watching Shark Tank almost every week. I know, crazy stuff for a Friday night. I started to notice that every person who appears on the show answers questions asked by the Sharks with So, Yeah or Right. Every one. It generally sounds like this:

Shark: What does it cost to make your product and for how much do you sell it?

Entrepreneur: Right. It costs me $20 and I sell it for $40.

In what world does saying “Right” make sense there? I know that many of these people prepare for the show by doing some form of spokesperson training and it seems like someone out there is teaching them to answer questions this way. I thought it was a weird phenomenon of Shark Tank media training, but I was wrong.


I have now started to notice the exact same bad habit on the Today Show, Good Morning America and CNN. This could certainly just be a case of the bad grammar we are all getting numb to just getting a bright light shining on it via national television exposure. However, I believe that this nonsense is way too pervasive for that and I really think that some spokesperson training firms may be giving their clients the option to use these words as transitions to make them feel more comfortable. That makes me sad.

What should they do instead? Just answer the questions asked with the information requested. Good spokesperson training will tell you that all day long. In fact, here are five of my favorite tips to give to clients when they are preparing for interviews.

  1. A media interview isn’t really new. You talk about your product in a variety of environments to anyone who will listen. This is just a new audience to whom you are speaking. There is no need to change your normal pitch, your normal enthusiasm for your product simply because there is a microphone.
  2. Take control of the conversation. Know the three key points that you want to make and then make them several times throughout the interview without appearing to be scripted. Don’t answer every question with a key message point if it isn’t applicable. Mix it up and at the end of the interview, restate your three key points.
  1. Watch your gestures. For example, if you nod your head in agreement with a reporter when she is asking a question, you are implicitly agreeing with whatever she is saying. That becomes a problem when you are in an adversarial interview because the agreeing head nod when you are disagreeing with a point can be misconstrued as lying.
  2. Don’t get caught by long pauses. Some reporters will use the long pause as a tactic to get you to ramble on even after you have succinctly answered a question and that is often when people claim they are “misquoted” because they said something they didn’t mean to say. Wait out the pause and let the reporter ask a new question.
  1. Your words can come back to haunt you. The number one thing to remember when talking to a reporter is that nothing is off the record. If you don’t want to see it appear in print or be broadcast out over the air for all to hear, don’t say it. This is one huge reason why every business leader should go through some form of spokesperson training on a regular basis.

A media interview doesn’t have to be a scary thing and good spokesperson training, done regularly, can keep you on top of your game. So..Yeah..Right.




You Can’t Vacation When You’re Dead

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DSCN1070 There is a popular saying among hard charging, ladder-climbing executives – “I can sleep when I’m dead” they say as they burn the candle at both ends. I guess I can appreciate that mentality to some degree, although my relationship with the importance of sleep to my life is a different topic for a different day.

I take a lot of heat for being away a lot. Most of it is good-natured ribbing from friends but some of the snarky comments are “mind your own business” moments. Anyone who knows me knows how important it is for me to take trips away from the grind of daily life. Indeed we do travel a lot. Most of the vacations are 3-5 day recharging moments centered around the kids’ days off school or holidays, often to the Orlando resort area and sometimes to the beach, like this past week’s five-night trip to Cancun. I love and appreciate these trips for how they impact our family dynamic – forced quality time together that gets better every time. But we also take longer trips – like a week-long cruise at Thanksgiving, or a Christmas break at Disney World or the long 2.5 weeks in Greece to visit family in the summer.

You see, I’m a big “live for today” kind of guy. I’m not going to ever assume that my golden years will be spent traveling the world with my wife. I hope that’s what will take place. But I don’t want to take it for granted that I am somehow entitled to have that experience. Too many people make that assumption and find themselves too ill, too poor or too disinterested to do so when their time has come. Others find themselves, well, not here anymore. That’s what happened to my mom, who loved travel but put it off to take care of her family and then passed away suddenly at age 50.

By traveling now, when we can, we are exposing our children to worlds that I couldn’t have dreamed of as a kid and making family memories that will last us all a lifetime.

In addition, as a small businessman, I am never off. Never. Because of the kind of work I do, I can really get 95 percent of it done from anywhere so taking days here and there to be in a different zip code has no impact. In fact, I’ve written a full-blown strategic communications plan for a client from the lobby of a tiny hotel on a tiny island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. I’ve written and edited an employee magazine for a client from the lounge at a Disney resort hotel. When a campus crisis literally blew up in the media, I managed all communications execution from the deck of a cruise ship. I’m always available; always “on” and always keeping on top of every ongoing project. I’ve even made new business calls while in a warmer weather location for a few days. While most people get to fully unplug when they vacation, I don’t – and I’m not complaining as I wouldn’t trade this life for any other.

I confess that I love to spend time away – generally in warmer weather – with my family. I’m pretty sure that when I am ready to meet my maker I won’t say, “I really wish I hadn’t vacationed so much.”