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Domino by Nick Tasler

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1Sandy's Rule

A few years ago, I was asked to give a talk at a global sales conference for a multinational technology company. In response to plateauing sales, the leadership team defined a change strategy to reignite their growth. Unfortunately, they had announced the change nearly nine months before and it hadn't taken hold. With the conference only two weeks away, they were hoping I could help.

In cases like this where I'm hearing about a session just days before the event, my job more closely resembles triage than it does consulting or speaking. Since that happens fairly often, I've had to develop some shortcuts to get my arms around a situation quickly. One of these shortcuts involves writing the word NEW at the top of a blank notebook page. Then about halfway down the page I scribble the word OLD. As the clients explain their vision of the future to me, I begin taking notes under NEW. If my notes fill up the space between NEW and OLD before they finish explaining their plan, it's often a good sign that we need to clarify the strategy. I adhere to Einstein's dictum that “if you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself.” As my wife will attest, I play the part of a six-year-old disturbingly well so this method lets me leverage my gift of perennial immaturity. I've found that if I can understand the vision after just a few minutes, then it is usually crystal clear to the client's team members.

So when this call began, I opened my notebook and jotted ...

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