by Connie Dieken

In-flight Influence?

When you hear "flight" and "fateful seat" in the same sentence, what comes to mind? An accident, perhaps? Allow me to explain.

My recent adventure started in New York, where I boarded a Continental flight for Texas to deliver a Talk Less, Say More keynote speech. My seatmate, Jeff, had endured two canceled flights due to airport shutdowns in wintry Texas. A world-traveling executive, Jeff had been stranded in New York for two days - including his birthday - causing him to miss a celebration with his wife and daughters back home in Austin.

As we slowly taxied to the runway, our pilot announced that we should settle in for an extra long flight. It would take four and a half hours to reach Texas, he said, because we were facing strong headwinds.

Alrighty, then.

After we'd chatted for a while, my seatmate and I began to tackle our workloads. As Jeff tugged his laptop out of his briefcase, he whipped out a Kindle, too. The sleek new reading device was a Christmas gift for his daughter, Jeff explained, but he "borrowed it" for the business trip. (Those of you who are parents know that "borrowed it" is code for "my child doesn't realize it's missing.") As he powered up the display, Jeff explained that he'd read a book over the weekend that had a strong impact on him and he wanted to consult it again. He had an important, complicated message that he needed to deliver to his organization and it was critical that others understand him clearly. Change was imminent. Profitability was on the line.

As he toggled through his titles to show me the magical book, my jaw dropped - Talk Less, Say More. It was my book!

My heart glowed. But I didn't let on that he was sitting next to the author. I thought I'd toy with him for a minute.

"By the way," Jeff said, "what do you do for a living? These 3 bubbles might help you," he shared, as he pointed to the 1-2-3 method on his screen.

"I'm a business author," I replied.

"Really? What's your book?" Jeff asked.

"That one." I said, as I pointed to the pilfered Kindle in the palm of his hand.

It was in that moment, as we cut through the clouds and the sun began to shine, that I realized I'm living my true purpose.

Jeff and I honed his message for most of the flight. We devised how he could best Connect, Convey, Convince his organization to take positive action in this time of change.

When we landed in Texas, Jeff said he believed it was fate that his earlier flights were canceled. He said he was meant to sit next to me and it was a flight he'd never forget. No, Jeff, the honor was all mine. To all of you executives I have the honor of working alongside, thank you for the privilege of helping you discover your leadership influence, in-flight or with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

So my promise to you is this....if we find ourselves seated together on a flight, I'd be delighted to help you develop a leadership message to influence, inspire and impact your world.

P.S. I'm blushing about a recent honor. I'm grateful to www.Speaking.com for selecting me as one of America's Top 5 Speakers of 2011. It's a privilege to spread my Influential Leader message to audiences worldwide!


Topics: Speaking :: Talk Less, Say More