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Quote of the Week
Newsletter Archive
July 20, 2003


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In case you initially question the usefulness of this quote in business, please make a point of reading my notes under the "Key Point" section. Al Lampkin may be known for his humor and magic, but don't forget that he's also a successful businessman with a 25 year track record of successful self promotion. If you prefer, just use this quote to add a chuckle to your day. Thanks a bunch, Al.


Ric Moxley - Editor

In this issue:

Key Point

Applying the Principal

When Your Words Must Count ...

Your Favorite Quote?

Don't talk about golf if you don't know which caddy to hit the ball with.

Al Lampkin, Comedian and Magician



Key Point

It may not be true, but let's just say that Steven Spielberg happens to be an excellent gardener. Even so, which of his opinions would you be more inclined to respect -- those on film directing or those on horticulture?

When you speak or write from your strengths, your words inherently have strength -- a clarity and persuasiveness engendered by your reputation or confidence. When you speak or write outside your strengths or areas of recognized expertise, watch out! Two reasons:

  • First, speaking outside your specialty, you may, frankly, make a fool of yourself. You could misuse terminology. You might have insufficient breadth of understanding to speak logically on the subject. Remember: your ignorance is transparent to those who know the subject well.
  • Second, even if you speak correctly but your audience knows you are speaking outside your specialty, they will be inclined to question the legitimacy of your assertions.

If you are not strong in a certain subject, or not recognized as an authority in the topic, defer and refer to experts. These experts may be members of your team, leading voices in other departments of your company, or outside voices of authority. Using experts and expert facts to support your position secures respect, particularly from the subject matter experts in your audience.


Applying the Principal

I once worked for a man who thought too highly of his marketing knowledge. Rather than trust the marketing professionals he hired, he often made costly errors in judgment, relying only on his own limited marketing prowess. He had difficulty gaining the respect of peers and co-workers -- a problem created as much by his words as by his actions. One example I still recall: he frequently mangled the term "viral marketing," which generally refers to person-to-person, self-perpetuating promotion (like a virus, only desirable). In meetings, he would speak of "virile" (which means showing masculine spirit or strength) instead of "viral" marketing. The mispronunciation illuminated his ignorance and cost him respect. Unfortunately, the work climate he created was unstable enough that no one dared to pull him aside to offer correction. The lesson I learned from this: speak from your strengths and employ the strengths of others for greater persuasiveness.

Here's an example for practical use; if you are an IT manager writing to persuade your company that a certain piece of technology will strengthen competitive advantage in the marketplace, consider these three tips for adding credence to your words:

  • Use statistics about competitive advantage achieved by other companies when they employed this technology.
  • Insert supportive quotes and internal stats from the marketing leaders in your company -- the recognized authorities on the subject of competition.
  • If you can get your hands on it, use information about direct competitors who are successfully using this technology.

Even if you are speaking or writing on a subject in which you are considered an authority, it's still a good idea to support your assertions with expert opinions and verifiable facts. Doing so strengthens your position, much like adding stability in building construction by increasing the frequency of supporting posts and beams. Each fact or supporting opinion you use makes it harder for a naysayer to knock it down.

With a team-based approach to expressing yourself, your words will possess a far greater force. If someone wants to cast doubt on your assertions, that person must also question the authoritative opinions and documented facts that undergird your assertions.



What is Your Favorite Quote?

Do you have a favorite quote that has either served you inspirationally in the workplace or has been a nice bit of spice in speech or in writing? Write and tell us about it. We may feature your quote in a future issue to inspire others.



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