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Interview with Keith Ferrazzi

In this interview with A-Speakers, Keith Ferrazzi opens up about speaking, preparation, and healthy relationships in the workplace. Read more below.

What is the message you hope people take away from your presentations?

The message will of course depend upon the particular audience. For a leadership audience, I can promise to help increase leadership efficacy and measurably higher degrees of employee engagement by helping leaders understand how to build a team around them that won’t let them fail. In addition, we will focus on breaking down the silos between divisions and functions which traditionally plague organizations causing political strife and decreasing innovation and productivity through our focus on internal relationships and what I call the Relationship Profit Chain.

For a sales audience, as I have served sales audiences around the world, I will focus on increasing the differentiation and strength of an individual in the selling process through unleashing the depth of their relationship capabilities and their relationship acceleration. All too many products and businesses feel significantly commoditized and it’s with and through the strength of a relationship that you gain permission to tell your increasingly complex stories of the selling process today. In addition, when the natural failures occur in service and product delivering, it’s through the strength of the relationship that you get the trust and the capacity to recover in the most efficient way.

For organizations in general, and for all of our audiences, we focus on the criticality of relationships to all of our career success. This focus is extraordinary for high potential leaders and diverse affinity groups within organizations like women’s groups and others, and is generally beneficial to anyone walking away from one of my talks who recognizes that it’s in their control to accelerate their own careers.

Finally, for organizations focused on accelerating learning and development, our focus will be on informal learning – how to build a network inside of an organization that accelerates mentorship and the closing of both hard and soft skill gaps through the informal learning process. This focus shifts the burden back onto the individual to manage their own learning roadmap.

 

What is the feeling you would like people to take away?

One of the benefits of having me speak at any event is that the mood shifts in the room to a more connected and caring feeling. We have physical meetings instead of virtual meetings today because we are unwilling to give up on the fact that professional success is contingent upon strong relationships inside of our organization. At my talks, I unleash a sense of mutual commitment of generosity and camaraderie like no other speaker in addition to providing the motivation to take personal control of our growth in our own careers, with our clients, and as leaders.

 

How do you prepare for speaking engagements?

All of my speaking engagements are highly customized. In addition to rich secondary research from our research team and whatever is provided by the client, I spend hours in discussion with our clients and our prospects. I am excited and open to calls, even before the close of the sale, to help describe what we can do for you or your clients. Once we are engaged, a mandatory pre-call, at a minimum, is necessary to understand the client’s needs. I show up early on site to meet and talk with the audience members and I open myself up to physical meetings with the leadership on site. This all acts in service of customization of my message by gaining the language of the host organization and assuring that the rich stories and folklore that are within the organization are referred to during my talk as if I am an old friend.

 

What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?

The reason I’m in this business is to make a difference in people’s lives. I’m not focused on my brand or what people think about me; I’m worried about the attendees making a difference in their lives when they leave the room. As a result, I work hard in my talks to connect intimately and to help the audience connect with each other, to practice the behaviors of relationship strength and collaboration that are necessary to their personal and professional success.

 

How much does humor factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?

Humor is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. So is rich and robust storytelling of a personal nature and a nature of un-bedding the stories of the host organization as well. It is critically important to keep people laughing and soaring high but it’s equally important to be poignant and impactful on both sides of the emotional scale.

 

What is the key to achieving a high performance team?

High performance teams are bound in four core values:

  • Connectedness and camaraderie to each other as people
  • A sense of mutual support that won’t let each other fail
  • High degrees of candor and truth-telling that few of us get in our professional lives in service of each other and a shared vision
  • The kind of accountability that kicks each other’s butts and doesn’t allow only the leader to shoulder the burden of the accountability but is instead diffused among the group of people who care about each other’s success.
  • Of course, all of this needs to be wrapped in a powerful shared vision and mission that people can have passion for and taste strongly.

 

How are your keynote presentations unique?

Perhaps one of the most unique elements of my presentation is my desire to give a good portion of the time back to the audience in interactive exercises which allow them to experience the content for themselves. It is that taste of a new way of behaving that engrains the soft skills elements that are so crucial to their success into their DNA, and sends them out into the hallway to practice it for the rest of the event and then back into their work life to focus on stronger relationships and greater collaboration in service of growth of their companies and of themselves personally.

 

Do you have any unique memorable moments in your speaking career?

I’m blessed with memorable moments of individuals reaching out to me months and sometimes years after having heard me speak, with the message that the time we spent together not only resonated so deeply, but moved them to action clearly and led to a real change in their lives. Nothing is more important to me than people making a difference in their lives; not just what I call “corporate entertainment.” It’s important that people do something different and that the message sustains into action in the future.

 

What is the importance of healthy relationships in the workplace?

Healthy relationships in the workplace drive innovation and powerful, appropriate risk taking because people feel comfortable unleashing themselves and they’re not constrained by the traditional, stifled corporate environment. Relationships bond people and radically improve employee engagement, which statistically increase productivity (because we all remember days when we bound out of bed with a spring in our step, not just because we cared about the work, but likely because we cared about the people we worked with.)

Our philosophy of the Relationship Profit Chain has proven statistically in our research that stronger internal relationships within an organization yield greater relationships externally with clients and prospects and key constituents and drive the growth of companies, increasing customer satisfaction, sales, repurchase and customer loyalty to the point where it is noticeably contributive to shareholder value.

Relationships are perhaps the singular most important, yet under-managed element of business success today. It is my mission and my passion to create an understanding and an awakening of relationship-centricity to business and personal success and to give people the tools and the motivation to step up and change the commitment and the actions for positive results starting with a talk that they’ll never forget.

 

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