Why We Need Leaders With Negotiating Skills?: The CAPIROCK Approach!

After, over four decades of involvement, in, nearly – every aspect of effectively leading, from identifying and qualifying, to training, developing, and consulting to thousands of actual, and/ or, potential leaders, as well as serving as a leader, several times, and negotiating, hundreds of, both, large and small contracts, I strongly believe, for someone to become a true, meaningful, responsible, effective leader, he must be aware of the challenges, and necessities, of quality negotiating, and using that knowledge, to the group’s best interest! In order to achieve, and learn, how to use, every negotiation, to the organization’s actual benefit (in a realistic manner), I believe and have taught, what I refer to, as the, CAPIROCK method, to make this easier, to accomplish, learn, and utilize. With, that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, using the mnemonic approach, what this means and represents, and why it matters.

1. Customized: Since, every organization, is unique, in some way, and each negotiation, requires a certain degree of individual planning, one must proceed, in a customized way, based on the guiding principles, taught, and learned, from a professionally – designed, customized, leadership training, and planning, program!

2. Absolute integrity: Some, falsely believe, there is some benefit, to claiming certain things, during a negotiation, which, to say the least, stretch – the – truth! While, at some time, there may be, an apparent advantage, in the short – term, to doing this, the only way, in the longer – run, to develop the type of relationship, needed, to achieve, a win – win, negotiations, the negotiator must proceed, with absolute integrity!

3. Promises: Avoid the temptation to make empty promises, and/ claims, which you can’t deliver, because, at some point, that approach, is harmful, and back – fires!

4. Ideas; imagination; innovate; insights: Great negotiators need the imagination, and insights, to perceive and conceive of, create, and implement, the finest ideas, and approaches, to create the optimal results! Instead of seeking the same – old, same – old, and being restricted, by the self – imposed limitations of their comfort zone, one needs to proceed, with a willingness, and ability to innovate!

5. Relevant; results; responsive; ramifications: How a leader proceeds, and negotiates, often, has ramifications, and, thus, we need to let prospective leaders, understand, how essential, the results, are, in the immediate, and longer – term!

6. Outside – box; open – mind: When a negotiator considers options and alternatives, and the needs of the other side, he uses an outside – the – box, open – minded, approach, to show, how there are potential mutual savings, and shared – benefits, for both sides!

7. Character; creative; calm/ calming; clear/ clarify; cooperate; contingencies: Great negotiators show their quality of character, to their negotiating adversaries, by being calm, and clarifying, what you seek! Calming leaders suggest creative options and approaches, in a clear, cooperative manner, and include, contingency clauses, and plans, for whatever, one can conceive – of!

8. Knowledge; keen: It takes self – confidence, training, knowledge, and expertise, to proceed, with keen attention, to the most viable solutions, for the specific circumstances!

We need to create leaders, with the training, and personal character, to take advantage of the CAPIROCK approach to negotiating! Are you fit to be a real leader?

Presentation Skills – The 7 Basic Rules of Visual Design

This article will elucidate the rules of presentation visual design that, if heeded, will almost always assure that your audiences will be able to follow your ideas every step of the way. Of course, you must keep in mind that visual design is only one-third of the package required for a successful presentation, the other two being content and delivery.

Like a fine dining experience that requires equal parts food, service and atmosphere to really work, the visual design part of the presentation process is every bit as necessary as the others to achieve the desired result – in this case, true knowledge transfer.

So without further ado:

7. Maintain paragraph integrity. First, all 1st Level Paragraph text must be the same size in every slide. Likewise, all 2nd Level Paragraph text must be smaller and of a different color. Lastly, don’t go beyond the 3rd Level, and this text should not be smaller than 20 points.

If all information of the same importance is of the same size throughout your presentation, your audience won’t be raising question marks as to just how important this information is with each click of the slide. Take this concept one step further by ensuring that all material of the same nature is the same color. If, for instance, you use a lot of numbers in your bullet points, make them all one color, different from the text. Once your audience recognizes this pattern, they’ll spend less time digging through the text to find their figures.

6. No boring fonts. Rarely is there a need to use more than two different fonts in any presentation. However, there is a HUGE need to use any two fonts other than the PowerPoint defaults Times New Roman and Arial!

The problem is that because everybody else uses these two fonts 99% of the time, if yours is the fifth presentation your audience is seeing that day, pretty soon all the text starts to look the same, and you lose much of your meaning and impact. We often hear from clients who have to sit through presentations themselves that after a while, they can’t remember which vendor said what – it all becomes a big blur. Make sure you’re not part of the blur.

5. Use proper builds. Without a sense of good design, which in most cases means simply showing restraint, animations can quickly overwhelm an otherwise well laid-out presentation. The trick then is to introduce concepts one at a time in a way that doesn’t draw more attention than the concepts themselves. Builds are essential elements in turning slides that would otherwise have TMI into ones that audiences can follow; but like other elements of good design, a proper build should never announce itself. Rather, a well animated presentation should simply appear to “happen”, without a clue as to why it seems so easy to follow.

4. Be colorful – Light on dark. Watch much black-and-white television these days? Although black-and-white works as an art form in many ways, humans tend to like color. Even old-guard newspapers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal finally concluded that to avoid losing readers to more modern media, they had to go to color.

While humans can discern a dozen or so shades of gray, they can see millions of different colors. We’ve evolved to use our sense of color to survive – help your audiences survive your presentation by not blinding them with black on white.

3. Less is More. This rule is central to good presentation design, but absolutely essential for graphs or charts. We often see pie charts come across our review desk with over a dozen slices, many so small they need to be annotated with lines and arrows far from the graph itself. Do you really think anyone will remember all 25 competing products in your market and their percentage share? Might be good information for a handout, but in a presentation few people can absorb more than six elements in any graph.

You make your point much more effectively when you limit your displayed data to the stuff the audience is likely to remember. Less information becomes more retention of the stuff you really want them to go home with.

2. One concept per visual. Here’s another really common problem we see in the majority of business presentations, and the solution flows from rule number 3. When more than one concept appear at the same time, your audience not only tries to figure out the concepts, they also try to determine which one deserves most of their attention, how the two or more are related, whether one is the “right” one or the “good” one, and so on and so forth – all having nothing to do with your actual message itself.

This extra time and effort acts as a drag on presentation flow, and explains why a 45-slide presentation, properly broken down into one concept per, takes less time to present than the same information packed into 15.

1. Favor Right-Brain information. We humans have evolved with two different ways to deal with stimuli from the outside world so that we can react to it in the way most likely to keep us alive. Our right brain reacts to input such as colors, graphics, shapes and patterns instantly, without stopping to process the information first. Our left brain kicks in when presented with speech, text or numbers; however with this kind of information we first pause to analyze it before storing or reacting to it. We have filters on the left side on the brain, and not everything gets through.

If you want your ideas to strike fast and be readily absorbed, then every time you can, figure out how to turn your left-brain type data into shapely and colorful right-brain images.

Basic Bank Accounts Failing the Basic Needs of Consumers

The lists of bank and savings accounts that are available to most people are bewildering. A quick look at a comparison site like Moneynet or Moneyfacts will reveal thousands of different products. Unfortunately many of these accounts are not accessible for anyone with either a poor or even no credit history.

Research carried out for the National Consumer Council (NCC) reveals “that the poor pay more, or get less, for essential goods and services… having a bank account can be a gateway to other products and services, such as affordable credit and insurance”. To help counteract this problem of financial exclusion, the government has tried to initiate the introduction of basic bank accounts for the least well off. The NCC has however warned that, “the current model of basic bank accounts, introduced by government in 2000 in an attempt to enable all low-income consumers to access banking services, is not delivering.”

The new basic bank accounts were introduced as part of a wider push towards ‘universal banking’ and corresponded with the introduction of direct payment of social security benefits to bank accounts as well as the Post Office Card Account (POCA). The plan was that these accounts would also help their users by letting them set up direct debits to pay their utility bills, and so keep better track of their finances from week to week.

The accounts were originally designed to let people save and withdraw money, but in an effort to prevent extending any existing debts and stopping the accounts from becoming overdrawn, they don’t offer cheque books, overdrafts or other credit facilities. The accounts were intended for those with no credit history who might not meet the banks’ criteria for opening a standard current account. The accounts features typically include the ability for payments, for example pensions and benefits, to be credited direct to the account, withdrawals by plastic card through cash machines and the facility to pay bills by direct debit.

The problems experienced seem to be partly because the accounts do not always help those with a small weekly income to deal with the unpredictable gaps which can occur in wages, benefits or spending. Automated monthly direct debit payments for goods and services can prove of little use to many on low weekly based incomes. Those paid on a week by week basis, expressed a preference for weekly cash based, rather than monthly direct debit, budgeting options and felt that bank accounts with direct debit facilities would not provide them any advantages. By using cash instead of a bank account, they found they could juggle payments easier, and avoid punitive additional bank charges if they did not have the funds to hand, to cover an outgoing debit payment.

Another problem experienced was that the holders of these basic accounts are also liable to be those on low incomes, with low (if any) savings and are more likely to be in arrears paying their household bills than those without them. This vulnerable group are less likely than most to be able to deal with unexpected additional expenditure, such as an unforeseen bill for home repairs, but without recourse to any credit facilities, they may be forced into resorting to high interest loans to cover temporary setbacks.

The NCC found that “people on low incomes who use accounts to manage their money are more likely to be in arrears with household bills. They are also more likely to have outstanding credit commitments, partly because they have wider access to credit”, than those without accounts.

The government has set a target of halving the number of households which do not have access to a bank account by 2006. The banks state that they currently face a lack of demand, however more than two million applications, in excess of the government’s expected take-up, for the POCAs have been made. The banks are claiming that reaching the targets will be difficult, as they are being impeded by various barriers to opening basic bank accounts, such as the identification requirements in money laundering rules. Some of those on low incomes may not possess either a full driving license or full passport, and so find difficulties setting up new financial accounts. The banking industry has also been widely criticised for failing to actively promote basic bank accounts and, sometimes, for actually discouraging people from opening them.

The NCC proposed that basic bank accounts need to be more flexible. Suggestions to make the bank accounts meet the needs of consumers included offering weekly, rather than monthly, direct debit facilities where payments are only triggered if the money is available in the account, occasional payment holidays, and small free ‘buffer zone’ overdrafts.

Whether the lack of interest is due to the banks, the government, or the product itself, something needs to be done if there is to be an increase in the take-up rates. Half of those surveyed by the NCC felt they do not really need an account. An even more damning indictment of the current basic bank accounts was that a similar proportion of account holders preferred to withdraw all their income, rather than leave it in the account, and then manage it as cash. An inclusion policy may be a laudable idea, but it is no use if people do not want to be included, and it should not disadvantage those it is meant to help.