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  • What Leaders Can Learn from Muhammad Ali’s Presence

    His greatness — and crossover appeal — lived at the intersection of humanity, athleticism, and activism. Even in death, his presence is felt everywhere. Muhammad Ali was by far the most influential presence in sports. How did he shake up the world and rise from reviled to revered? And what can you do to build your own influential presence? Here are five lessons from Ali’s epic presence that you can use to maximize your own greatness:

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  • What You Can Learn from the Presence of Prince

    You only needed to scroll through the photos of iconic buildings bathed in purple on the days following Price's death to see evidence of his presence. From the Eiffel Tower to the Superdome, the world glowed his signature color. As we ponder his death and the outpouring of grief and tributes, I offer this thought: your presence is what remains in your absence. Not only when you leave the planet, but just as importantly to your leadership, every time you leave the room. Nearly every leader underestimates the impact that their presence has upon their ability to lead. They don't understand what presence is. They don't realize that it follows them everywhere and directly influences how whether their leadership will be successful or fail miserably. They think it's an undefined "X" factor and leave it to the rumor mill to decide how others define them. Crucial mistake. I'd like to offer five qualities of an influential presence that I've culled from Prince's legacy:

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  • The One to Watch: What You Can Learn From Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors

    This quick read pinpoints why Mary Barra's presence is influential and what you can learn from her growth. Senior executive advisor Connie Dieken demystifies how Barra sharpened her presence and gained gravitas to deliver messages that reverberate around the globe.

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  • Real Versus Fake

    Who's the real deal and who's not? The mismatch between what people want us to believe and what we learn to be true can be disappointing. We are living in an almost excessively “faux” world. This post explores why it matters to you in the business world.

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  • The World Demands Perfection, Yet Craves Authenticity

    Think about the paradoxes in your life. You want to exude executive presence—yet still be genuine. You want to hone your speaking and influence skills—but not appear manipulative. You want to inspire top performance from others—yet not drive away top talent with your demands. You want to be—and to be seen as—the real deal. How do you balance the polarities of perfection and authenticity to lead at your peak level?

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  • ‘Just be yourself’ is inadequate advice

    "Just be yourself." As a piece of advice, it’s common—even clichéd. But it’s far more demanding than it sounds, isn’t it? If you’re a leader, you’re on the receiving end of relentless and often conflicting advice about how to present yourself to the world. Perhaps you’re urged to be active on social media in order to...

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  • How to Influence Fellow Senior Leaders

    Membership on a senior leadership team gives you immense cachet. You’re in a circle of highly visible, powerful leaders. Your role is complex. You simultaneously manage your own business unit, function, or division while serving on a senior team that creates the organization’s future. To boot, you may be vying with those peers for a higher spot in the succession plan. As an executive coach, I’ve noticed that many of you are grappling with some loaded questions: Do I have influence with my peers? How do I add value? And how do I handle the conflicts that arise when strong-willed leaders butt heads? Here are a few ideas to ponder:

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  • Leader, Teleprompted: Why Executives Must Master the Machine

    As an executive, you're called upon to deliver important messages to your organization and the marketplace. People look to you to set the tone in public speaking. You want to come across as a strong leader, but natural. To complicate matters, your busy schedule doesn't allow a minute to spare. That's why you need to master the Teleprompter. Man and the machine are converging in today's media-centric world. If you're a leader, you're now a broadcaster. Or at least a narrowcaster with consequences. Soon, you'll be called upon to record crisp messages for both your organization's intranet and the broader Internet.

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  • How to Manage Presentation Anxiety and Radically Improve Your Outcome

    As you watched the London Olympics, you may have wondered, "Why does one athlete reach her golden goal while another with equal talent falters?" Sports psychologists tell us the athlete who hauls in the hardware has learned to manage her anxiety. Same with influential leaders and presenters. After a decade of coaching executives, I've learned the key is to manage your anxiety, not try to control it. Managing and controlling are two different mindsets. If you manage your anxiety, you'll stay focused, which radically reduces your stress and improves the outcome. If you try to control it, you give the anxiety too much power. Trying to control your nerves while delivering a presentation makes you vulnerable because...

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  • Top Influencer:  Mark Zuckerberg’s Girlfriend

    She's a smart cookie. Medical student Priscilla Chan inspired her famously private boyfriend, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, to lead a public health revolution. Over dinnertime chat, Priscilla shared stories of how patients she interacted with that day were impacted by organ donations. Those who failed to find donors were dying. Those lucky enough to be on the receiving end of donations lived. Priscilla lit up like a firecracker when she shared stories about lives saved. "Why don't more people donate?" she wondered, "If only people knew about the critical shortage of organs for people who are desperately in need." That's where dinner talk turned to into action.

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  • Influencer of the Week: E.L James is Tickled Pink

    Let's set aside the color featured in her saucy book trilogy for a moment. The shade that's dominating the New York Times bestseller list. Literary sensation E.L. James is tickled pink. The author of Fifty Shades of Grey is simultaneously revving the engines of women and upending the publishing world. Originally a self-published author – and a first-timer, at that – James is stunned that she's influencing the way books are bought and sold. In a statement to the BBC, James calls it "an extraordinary and wholly unexpected adventure." Fifty Shades began as a free e-book, allowing for discrete buying for those who didn't want others to know they were reading erotica. After eager book club members started recommending it, the trilogy exploded and went viral. (Not to be confused with the naughty acts she writes about, of course.)

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  • Influencer of the Week: J.C. Penney’s Oscar Hijacking

    The Oscar's Red Carpet was the center of the universe Sunday night, featuring wildly expensive couture and jewels, taut bodies and sometimes tauter faces. But turns out, fashion's biggest night was hijacked by J.C Penney. Yes, J.C. Penney. The boring one. The 110-year-old retailer used Hollywood's hottest night to reveal its own facelift. The company, now led by former Apple Inc. executive Ron Johnson, unveiled five clever ads during the Oscar telecast, featuring spokeswoman Ellen DeGeneres.

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  • Influencer of the Week: Your Voice

    In a week that's featured the return of Adele's powerfully emotional voice, the silencing of Whitney Houston's soaring vocals, and the imminent finale of Glen Campbell's crooning to Alzheimer's disease, I feel compelled to share this this truth: Use your voice. It's the center of your influence. Ever lost your voice? I've been silenced by a case of full blown laryngitis this week and am under doctor's orders to stay completely silent for 48 hours. No talking. No whispering. Not so much as a gentle throat clearing. You'd be surprised at how much you learn about your ability to influence when you're suddenly silent – and what others imply by your stillness.

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  • Influencer of the Week: Cancer-Conquering Super Bowl Sensation

    The All American linebacker with the crazy face paint – that's how Mark Herzlich was defined during his stellar football career at Boston College. Then came cancer. Doctors hoped to redefine the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year as Mark Herzlich, cancer survivor. Finished with football, yet alive and well. But Mark disagreed. He had a goal. Always ambitious, he was still determined to become Mark Herzlich, NFL linebacker.

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  • Influencer of the Week: The Tarmac Tiff Photo-Op

    Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's tarmac tiff with President Obama influenced a major book bump. Who knew that her Scorpions for Breakfast tome even existed before the photo-op transformed it into a best-seller? Apparently not many. Brewer's book rocketed from No. 343,000 up to No. 7 in Amazon book rankings as a result of tarmac time. That's an astonishing literary leap. She transformed a digit on her right hand into a handy digital sales tool.

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  • Influencer of the Week: The Wikipedia Blackout

    Wikipedia went dark for a day and illuminated the world on how to influence boldly in the 21st century. The site's massive one-day protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) stopped something, alright. It stopped the Hollywood-inspired bill in its tracks. The political sponsors quickly turned tail after a tribe of Wikipedia-influenced constituents weighed in. In Wikipedia's words, its supporters "shut down Congress's switchboards and melted their servers." According to the website, 162 million sets of eyeballs viewed...

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  • The Worst Influencers Alive: The 10 Least Influential People of 2011

    2011 was a bonfire of the vanities of leaders losing their influence. From sex scandals and financial fiascos to arrogance and morality missteps, the year was packed with one powerful public demise after another. Why did these leaders fall so hard? They confused influence with manipulation. Influence is a balanced approach to changing hearts, minds and results, while manipulation is fueled by a self-centered agenda. Followers quickly turn on leaders when they feel they're being played. Here are my picks for the "Worst Influencers Alive in 2011"...

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  • The Top Influencers Alive: 10 Breakout Influencers of 2011

    2011 separated the influencers from the manipulators. One by one, once-admired leaders from the athletic office to the corner suite to Wall Street toppled like dominoes. Turns out they lacked influence. Why? Because they misjudged what influence really means. My list of the "Top Influencers Alive" may surprise you.That's my point. Despite conventional wisdom, influence and persuasion are not the same animal. After decades of advising top leaders, I've concluded that persuasion is a self-centered skill – it's manipulation fueled by a personal agenda run amok. Influence is a balanced approach to change hearts, minds and results. There are three dimensions of a true influencer. Do you measure up?

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  • How to Be a Global Influencer (Even When Language is a Barrier)

    Increasingly, leaders like you are facing language barriers, both within your global organizations and in front of audiences in presentations. With that in mind, I'd like to share three quick lessons that I have learned.

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  • What Your Executive Presence is - and is Not

    In this edition of "Connie off the Cuff," Connie shares the truth behind what your Executive Presence is - and is not.

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  • Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence

    Tim Sanders is a confidence guru. A New York Times bestselling author, riveting keynote speaker and former Yahoo executive, Tim has written a compelling new book called Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence that's loaded with insights on how to develop unshakable confidence in a shaky world.

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  • Reconsider Confidence - It's Not What You Think

    Confidence is more critical now than ever in the economy we're facing today. It's essential to cultivate it so you can seize opportunities and avoid pitfalls. But it's not just recent graduates who crave confidence - every C-suite executive whom I've had the privilege to coach wants a booster shot to help them be more influential and make things happen.

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  • Courage Not Caution

    Here are some some off-the-cuff thoughts on courage and critisism from her own personal experiences.

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  • Les McKeown: Are Passion & Authenticity Over-Rated?

    Les McKeown doesn't buy into the common belief that passion and authenticity can make you influential. It's not that he's a contrarian - but this über-successful business author and serial entrepreneur pinpoints another, more specific reason for why leaders influence others.

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  • Carol Roth on ‘Be Bold - Ask Yourself Tough Questions’

    Carol Roth is a leader you should know. Think of her as Suze Orman, one generation removed; she's a financial braintrust who leapfrogged from working class to privileged status through sheer determination and wicked smarts.

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  • Dr. Nick Morgan on Authenticity and Charisma

    Are you an authentic, charismatic leader? Do you need to exude these qualities in order to lead effectively?

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  • Are you Influential - or Just Popular?

    Interesting question, isn't it? When you were in high school, influence and popularity were one and the same.

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  • The Fastest, Most Profitable Way to Gain Influence

    It struck me recently that you may associate influence with two things: money or charisma. You may think you need one or both to be a convincing leader who influences others and makes things happen.

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  • Can You Make Things Happen - No Matter What?

    What if you could: Overcome resistance and influence negative people who won't budge? Bypass those frustrating systems and roadblocks that give you headaches every day?

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  • The Influence Maker's Tip of the Day

    Great communicators aim to gain commitment, not just compliance. That's a key difference between being influential and being a manipulator.

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  • Stop Selling Yourself Short - Be a Confident Communicator

    Being a confident communicator who influences others is a choice you make each and every day.

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  • How to Conquer Criticism

    Goldman Sachs executives were skewered on Capitol Hill this week. They were sach-ed. The men faced blistering cross examination by the Senate on the firm's mortgage market and its role in the country's financial collapse.

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  • 10 Radically Different Resolutions for 2010

    Top 10 Communi-lutions to Improve How People Respond to You In Our Distraction-Driven Decade

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  • Did Letterman Communicate Effectively to Influence the Public?

    How you communicate a message has a direct impact on your ability to influence opinions.

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  • The Less is More Lesson

    You heard about the married politician caught trysting with his girlfriend in Argentina. On the day he was caught returning from his fun in the sun, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford held a hasty, free association press conference at the statehouse to drop the bomb.

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  • Is Your Voice Undermining Your Success?

    The difference between winning and losing may come down to how people perceive the sound of your voice.

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  • Credibility Smackdown

    You're a smart person. The axe is falling on leaders everywhere and you want to come across as valuable and indispensable, right? Here's a quick cautionary tale to bullet-proof your credibility, straight from your TV.

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  • Are You a Communicator-in-Chief?

    Out with the old, in with the new. As we say goodbye to George Bush and his colorful, sometimes mangled communications, (can you say misunderestimated?) we usher in a new era of oratory.

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  • Do You Share Credit or Hog It?

    News reports throughout the weekend referred to Jett Travolta as "the son of John Travolta" and called the boy's death "The John Travolta Tragedy." The boy's mother was an afterthought in the news reports, if she was even mentioned at all.

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  • Are You The Chosen One?

    You thought this day would never come, but it's finally here. Election day. You've chosen the leader who makes the most sense to you. But now, let's focus on your leadership.

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