began the same way it had last year--and the year before, and the year
before, and the year before that...
cocktails, you and your co-workers were herded into the dining room for
the regional sales meeting. The guest speaker had been flown in from
As he began
speaking, it was clear he knew the company inside and out. He launched
into discussing "strategic outlook."
asked a provocative question: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if you
could read your customers' minds, and knew what their objections and
concerns were before they articulated them?"
the audience for a list of the five most common concerns that customers
express. As people called out from their seats, the speaker jotted their
responses down on a pad of paper. Then he called upon the young account
manager sitting next to you. "Mary, I'd like you be the customer,
and pick one of these concerns. Don't say it out loud yet."
|The speaker starred one of the items on his yellow pad--although the
audience couldn't see which one. Mary then announced she was thinking of
the word "Dependability."
turned his pad of paper around. "Dependability" had a big star
next to it. The audience gasped collectively.
How did he
continued, and said anyone could learn to read minds at an upcoming
after another, his demonstrations became more unbelievable. The guy was
truly psychic! People were laughing and clapping; their eyes were wide
with shock at every new revelation, every correct guess the speaker
people at your table thought he was a plant, a hoax, a big joke. But
then again, they wondered, would our traditional, often humorless
company really plan something like this?
half was dying to know when the training
Element of surprise
When magician and mind
reader Dick Steiner does his "executive impersonations," days
can pass before everyone realizes they've been had.
fools people because he's a low-key, conservatively dressed, middle-aged
man. And he does a great deal of research beforehand to sound like a
true company insider. "I read the annual reports, articles from the
Wall Street Journal, the organizational charts--anything to
really get a handle on the company," he says.
planning makes an impersonation more costly than Steiner's traditional
mind-reading act. But he finds that companies are willing to spend money
to spice up the corporate message.
companies today, Steiner says, will choose off-beat, but professional,
performers to enliven an official event with laughs and good cheer--not
to mention, an element of surprise.