How to Love Public Speaking - David DeWolf

How to Love Public Speaking [Graphic]

Confession: I love public speaking.

Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years that may help you to love it, too:

Speak from your heart. Focus on the message, not the words. Tell stories. Be confident and be yourself. Don’t overprepare.

To read more of my thoughts, be sure to see my earlier post about my love of public speaking.

Question: Do you speak in public?  If so, what rules of thumb do you live by?  If not, why not? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment by clicking here. Learn to live an integrated life with humble confidence. Get it Now

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Where Do the Great Ideas Come from? - David DeWolf

Where Do the Great Ideas Come from?

Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?

There are all sorts of great ideas. Great ideas that come from the top, great ideas that come from the bottom. Some great ideas come out of thin air. Others are long, laborious processes where we work the kinks out and form an idea over a long period of time.

The most powerful ideas come from those people that are closest to the client, closest to the problem, and who collaborate tightly with others. You see the best “aha!” moments, the best ideas are fueled and formed by individuals or small teams who thrive off of the collection of information.

These people are naturally curious. These people love to ask questions. They collect data, they collect information, and they’re always reading. They’re up to speed on their emails. They read the news. They listen to public radio. They collect information from all sorts of different diverse sources, even things that may be non-core to the business they’re in or the life they lead.

These people learn to collect information and connect dots. They identify trends and they apply these learnings not only to the situations they observed them in but they learn to apply them to new situations. These types of ideas, those that are formed through the collection of information and data, from diverse sources and are drawn through conclusions and insights, those are the most powerful, the most creative, the great ideas.

Question: Where do the great ideas come from in your organization? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment by clicking here. Learn to live an integrated life with humble confidence. Get it Now

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Do the Right Thing: Have the Hard Conversations - David DeWolf

Do the Right Thing: Have the Hard Conversations

I’m the kind of guy who hates sending my food back to the kitchen when it’s not done the way I like it.

I get the argument that you’re in a restaurant and you’re paying for service and it should be done right, but there’s something about me that doesn’t want to complain. I don’t want to make the other person suffer because they didn’t do something perfectly or didn’t meet my expectations.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m in the services industry and I get it. Sometimes there are just missed expectations, and they’re nobody’s fault, I just had a different idea than what they had. Every now and then, you overcook a steak a little bit. So what? I can still be grateful for it. I can still enjoy it, even though it’s not perfect.

Unfortunately, I have a situation right now that takes this to the next level. I have a good friend who, after years in technology, decided to start his own business. His business is one that I typically wouldn’t engage with, but this is a guy I really like. He’s personable, professional, does things well, and is a good all-around guy.

He’s a custom clothier. That’s right: he makes custom clothes. He helps you build a wardrobe that fits you well, feels good, and looks right. To be honest, I have no sense of style, so several months ago, I reached out to him. I said, “It’s finally time.” He’s never tried to give me a hard sell, but after seeing a couple of my suits fall apart, I thought, “You know what? Because I wear them so often, maybe it would be best to get something custom that will last a little longer.”

Unfortunately, this has turned out to be a disaster. I paid a good bit of money and a couple of the suits I purchased are good and solid, but several of the pairs of pants and a couple of the sports jackets are just falling apart. I’ve already had to send a couple of them back, and I’ve had buttons fall off pants and coats. I’ve had snags in the pants that just make them look bad. One of the pairs of pants, when I got them back after the snag was fixed, the butt was hanging to my knees.

It was ridiculous.

I do not have the guts to call this guy. I just do not want to send the stuff back.


In business I’ve learned to have blunt, hard conversations. I truly believe that by building a trust relationship and by openly discussing issues and problems, we all get better and we all solve problems. But for some reason, when I’m paying for a service, I struggle to take that same mentality.

On one hand, I know that this friend really needs to hear the feedback. On the other hand, I don’t want him to take the financial loss and to do what is right would require a financial fix. Maybe it’s that I fear that he won’t do the right thing, but I know that he will. Maybe it’s that I fear that I’ll put him in a very difficult spot.

Whatever the case, I’ve found that, over and over, brutal honesty, with transparent and open communication, don’t just help you, they help the person you’re having those communications with.

I’m going to reach out and I’m going to take the action to go ahead and talk to my friend, to give him the feedback that he needs. I don’t need to be irate or upset, but I need to let him know that his business is not meeting expectations. I expected a superb product, and while I may have gotten it for a couple of suits, I sure didn’t get it for the rest.

This is beneficial for him just as much as it is for me. Sometimes you just have to will things over the line. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do what’s right. In this case, it’s not about doing what’s right for me, it’s about doing what’s right for him.

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How Do You Encourage Creative Thinking in Your Organization - David DeWolf

How Do You Encourage Creative Thinking in Your Organization?

How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

Last week I sat through a demo that one of our employees at 3Pillar was giving, showing off our new 3D printer. That’s right, we have invested in and acquired a three dimensional printer.

Now, if you know anything about our business you may be asking why? What does 3D printing have to do with being in the software development space? You build products! You innovate software products! Printing? 3D printing?

Well if you’re guessing that it’s just a cool toy, you’re kind of right.The reality is that we acquired this 3D printer to fuel creative thought. To fuel innovative thinking.

One of the staples of our business, and quite frankly all businesses, is creative thinking and innovative thought. Employees who are mechanical, who just get things done, and who don’t experiment are employees who aren’t leading and aren’t propelling the business forward.

We invested in a 3D printer because we wanted to fuel this type of creative, forward thinking. We want people to think about things differently and to explore how can they use a 3D printer to take our business to the next level.

I don’t have high expectations that we will trip over something that can be core of our business model. But I do have high expectations that by giving our employees that opportunity to play with something that’s a little bit leading edge and that’s a little bit cool will not only increase the excitement and the moral of the organization, but also the creativity, innovative thought, and out-of-the-box thinking that leads to the next generation of companies. Then that mindset will be further embedded within our culture.

That is more than worth the small investment we’ve made in a 3D printer.

Question: How do you encourage creative thinking at your organization? What’s an example of something you’ve done lately? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment by clicking here. Learn to live an integrated life with humble confidence. Get it Now

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LastPass ON MY PHONE - David DeWolf

What’s on My Phone: LastPass

Have dozens of passwords? Has your twitter account been hacked and now you dread having to change all of your accounts that share the same password?

LastPass bills itself as the last password you’ll have to remember. Allow yourself to use super-secure passwords without having to worry about remembering them (LastPass will even generate them for you). With LastPass your passwords are always secure and right at your fingertips — and you can even share them with a friend.

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You Can’t Help Everyone - David DeWolf

You Can’t Help Everyone (But You Can Help Someone)

You can’t help everyone. You just can’t.

You may want to. You may want to be generous. You may want to help everyone, but you can’t.

But what you can do is go all-in helping a few people.

Recently there’s been a college graduate who I’ve taken under my wing. I met her three years ago after giving a talk at a university. She did a phenomenal job of staying connected to me. She would reach out every four to six months with a quick update or let me know how something I said had resonated with her and she was acting on it or asking me a question. When she graduated, in a very professional yet aggressive manner, she came after me and asked for a job and asked for help finding a job.

I was incredibly impressed with her responsiveness, with her professionalism, with her passion. I decided to give her a hand. I’ve gone all-in by introducing her and helping her find a job. I’ve gone all-in on trying to shape her and teach her some things that will hopefully be beneficial to her as she goes and pursues a career in International Business.

This young lady was someone who impressed me. I found a good fit where I could without too much of a burden on myself, my job, my family responsibilities, and everything else, and I really made an impact in her life. I found somebody I believed in and who I could generously help in a means that fit with what I was doing and with where I was at in my life. I have invested in her and I’ve gone all-in to help her.

I get dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of requests for jobs and I say no to them all the time. I say no all the time to those people just looking for an introduction because I can’t help them all efficiently or effectively.

Part of the reason I took special interest in this young lady is because I knew I could help. I was willing to give passionate introductions and genuine referrals. I was more than happy to stick my neck out because of what she had shown. I knew there was something there that she would grasp onto and take to the next level. I knew I could sink my time into helping her and have an impact.

For all the others, yeah, I can meet them for breakfast, I could have a phone call, or I could make an introduction, but would it really be impactful? Would it really be effective? No. I can’t help all those people. I simply don’t have the time to dive into the level that would be required in order to help them all.

You can’t help all the people all the time, but you can help one person and have an impact. Pick and choose where you spend your time being generous. This isn’t selfish; this is prudent. It allows you to make an impact in the world without disrupting your own life and getting your own priorities out of balance.

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Why You Shouldn't Have More than a Few Direct Reports - David DeWolf

Why You Shouldn’t Have More than a Few Direct Reports

One of the most dangerous things for any leader is to have too many direct reports.

I was talking to an executive last week who was saying that he had 12 direct reports at one point in time and he was just able to reduce that to nine. Unfortunately, I think he still has too many on his hands.

You see, the difference between a manager and a leader is that a leader pushes things forward. A leader propels to the next level. A manager maintains the status quo.

Can you really push things forward, can you really take an organization to the next level if you have nine direct reports?

My Max = 5

I have found that the optimum number of direct reports for me is somewhere between three and five. I think the vast majority of people probably can only handle five as well. More than seven just flat-out scares me. Once you get over seven, its almost impossible for anyone to do anything more than maintain the status quo.

You have to have time, not just to do check-ins and see how people are doing or have a weekly team meeting, but you have to have time to think about each one of your direct reports and how to push them to be better leaders. How do you push their organizations to perform better? That’s the first reason why you shouldn’t have more than five or seven.

Build a Team

Secondly, you need to build a team. Your direct reports should be a team. Your team requires teamwork and if you have more than five or seven, it’s excruciatingly difficult to develop teams.

Teams work together in small groups. They collaborate, they build trust, they build relationships. It’s almost impossible to do that with nine or 12 people, especially if you’re working to create a high-performing team.

Responsibilities Beyond the Team

Finally, you have to remember that you’re not just managing these people. You have responsibilities to push the organization as a whole together. You need time for yourself.

It’s not just about building teamwork and it’s not just about leading individuals and having time to think about how to push them to the next level. It’s also about how you push yourself to the next level.

How do you take care of your own responsibilities? Too few leaders spend the time strategizing, thinking, and blocking off time to take themselves to the next level.

No Kingdom Building

For these three reasons, I believe the number of direct reports that’s optimal for any individual is between five and seven, no more. And you know what, if you can get fewer so be it.

Get out of the mode of kingdom building. It’s not about how many direct reports you can have, it’s about how effectively you do your job.

Think about organizational structures in a way that supports your strategy. Think about how to optimize the structures, the team, and the individuals within it. When you take the time to do that, I think you will find that you are whittling down your direct reports and reorganizing the organization to be optimal.

My One Exclusion

If you are truly a manager – you are managing the activities of staff – you may be able to expand the number of direct reports you are managing. This is a rare exception for leaders. Quite frankly, managers who are organizing activities in the field really are managers, not leaders. Organizations simply don’t scale without staff that are organized into operating units. 

That said, find a way to teach them to be leaders. Encourage them to be leaders. Grow them into leaders – and as you do so, figure out how to ensure that they are leading an optimized team as opposed to a kingdom.

Question: How many direct reports do you find to be ideal? Why or why not? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Go. NOW. - David DeWolf

Go, NOW: A Lesson for Entrepreneurs

Sometimes you have to move. Sometimes you have to just do it. Sometimes you have to push the rock forward and do it quickly.

Too often people want to wait for perfection. Too often people want to put all the details together, have a perfect plan, before they move.

But entrepreneurial organizations require little wins. They require vision and direction. They require immediate change. They require momentum.

Make a decision and go. Don’t plan too much.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s important to plan! But the value is in the planning, not the plan. No matter how much you refine it, it will be wrong. No matter how much you’ve left out, you will have left out more than you thought.

Make a decision and go. Sometimes, that’ll disrupt people. Sometimes that will make them uncomfortable. Sometimes it will rock the boat. All of that’s okay.

Be prudent and be deliberate, but don’t be afraid to move.

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Want people to like your idea - David DeWolf

Want People to Like Your Idea? [Graphic]

Want people to like your idea? Of course you do.

Impressions matter. For better or for worse, most judgements and decisions are made with at least a minor emotional bias. When presenting a new idea or proposal or seeking buy-in, too many people depend solely on substance and forget the importance of good communication.

Here are a few tips on how to convey your message and win support for your idea.

1. Be concise.

2. Come prepared.

3. Be passionate.

4. Use a WOW! factor.

Want more? Be sure to read the post I wrote about this.

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Overcoming 4 Hurdles to Fully Integrated Communication - David DeWolf

Overcoming 4 Hurdles to Fully Integrated Communication

A few days ago I received a message from my little sister. She heard I was about to release a new eBook and she wanted to know why I hadn’t told her about it myself.

Just this past weekend Teresa and I went out for a glass of wine after the little kids went to bed. I shared with her some of the different projects that I’m currently working on and why I was so excited about them. It hit me that I had had many of these conversations with coworkers weeks before.

Unfortunately, both of these are par for the course. I’m simply not the communicator at home that I am in the office.

Communication is essential to professional success. All leaders are taught to communicate “7 times in 7 different ways.” Yet, no matter how deliberate we are about communicating our corporate strategy, these best practices don’t always seem to take root in the rest of lives.

If communication is so essential for corporate wellbeing, shouldn’t we assume that it’s at least as critical for optimizing our familial relationships?

As I’ve examined my own motivations, I’ve discovered four obstacles to personal communication that I need to overcome. Hopefully, my sharing them will help you see similar struggles in your life and give you the the motivation to strive to overcome them.

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