Archive for the ‘Meisner technique’ Category


The MBA Accelerator

April 15, 2011

The MBA degree has become more and more commonplace, with thousands of students looking forward to graduation in a very short time this spring. Academic institutions concentrate on learning, delivering the academic fundamentals that create a foundation within the workplace.

For one Dallas-based institution, “higher learning” has turned into higher program rankings – and an improved student experience as well.
Professional Development Coaching

The New York Times reports that academic rigor has changed, particularly in the undergraduate environment. The “new rigor” ain’t all that rigorous, as seen here in “The Default Major – Skating through B-School” in the New York Times. Consider this quotation:

    • Business programs also attract more than their share of students who approach college in purely instrumental terms, as a plausible path to a job, not out of curiosity about, say, Ronald Coase’s theory of the firm. “Business education has come to be defined in the minds of students as a place for developing elite social networks and getting access to corporate recruiters,” says Rakesh Khurana, a professor at Harvard Business School who is a prominent critic of the field. It’s an attitude that Dr. Khurana first saw in M.B.A. programs but has migrated, he says, to the undergraduate level.

    One school that seems to “get it”, and understands that the MBA degree is more than just an instrument (or means to an end) is Dallas’ own Southern Methodist University. Founded in 1911, the school celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, as well as a longstanding tradition of academic excellence, particularly in the Edwin L. Cox School of Business. But what’s most impressive is the school’s commitment to expansive teaching, from the Dallas business community. Spearheaded by Dean Al Niemi, the Business Leadership Center is led by Paula Strasser, a twenty-year SMU veteran with close ties to the Dallas marketplace. Paula has assembled a team of 67 experts from the DFW area, to assist in the real-world learning of SMU MBA students.

    While other schools feature impressive boards, and invite CEOs to speak on a regular basis, SMU has taken an approach that adds significantly to the traditional path. While the university attracts nationally-recognized business leaders, local practicioners provide actionable and compelling insights into the day-to-day world of finance, communications, customer innovation, project management and more.

    “The Edwin L. Cox Business Leadership Center (BLC) develops strong leadership skills that are fundamental in the world of business”, according to the BLC brochure. I’m proud to be a part of this organization, and join an elite group of 67 business pro’s who care about SMU, the MBA degree, and the greater Dallas business community. For other schools that aspire to improve their rankings (and the student experience), they must consider the role of the greater business community within the academic environment. What distinguishes the SMU degree is that community connection, and the powerful and tangible networking experience that creates a truly unique learning experience.

    Approximately 92% of Cox graduate students actively participate in the BLC elective programs – meaning, MBA students invest their time with no grade or credit hours as a ‘reward’. The learning and exposure is, in itself, the value equation – and students report that the experience is impactful, and necessary. The students see the value, and make a real investment in their education – an education that is enhanced outside of the classroom. For many students who choose SMU, the BLC is a deciding factor in their choice, since the BLC is unique among graduate business schools and MBA programs.

    Congratulations to Paula Strasser and her team at SMU. And, to Dean Al Niemi, who continues to support this valuable program (now in its 20th year) – I am honored to be a part of this outstanding organization.

    Chris Westfall is an award-winning instructor at the Business Leadership Center (BLC) at SMU. He regularly speaks on leadership issues in his MBA seminar, “Pick a Team and Win.” He was recently recognized by MBA students with the top teaching award from the Cox School of Business. An alumni of SMU, Chris graduated with a BFA degree from the Meadows School of the Arts. Additionally, he speaks and consults on career management issues, personal branding, management strategies and sales techniques. Other colleges include:


The Moment Before

April 14, 2010

What is the “Moment Before” someone finds your website, learns about your product, or decides to purchase your service? Understand that moment, and you find strategic direction for your marketing and sales campaigns.

Sanford Meisner
, one of the godfathers of “method acting”, first coined the phrase as part of an emotional preparation for performers. Before taking the stage, the actor must consider the “moment before” – what has just happened offstage, to create the tears, the laughter, the anger, or whatever other emotional through-line is driving a particular scene? After all, if you dog has just died, or you won the lottery, your “moment before” changes everything. This concept from the world of theater is imminently important to business today.

While actors benefit from a clearly defined script to let them know the moment before, they still have to find their own creativity to express it, engage with other characters onstage, and then move the story forward. Similarly, businesses must understand the “moment before” to create their own story, and involve customers in the process.

That moment before is crucial to understand how to market yourself (or your products), how to position services among competitors, and how to place a brand on the world wide web. In a recent client session, I asked, “What do people think of – what is the need – that causes people to find you on the web? What is the the desire – that causes them to find you?”

When a company is able to step into their customers’ mind, to understand what the customer lacks – the “fill in the blank” need that causes the customer to seek out a particular solution, and ultimately, your particular company. That “I need a _______” is the keyword search and the place where the sales process really begins. PS: It’s also the place where your potential customer finds your competition.

Many have written about the nature of desire. (Desire has many definitions, please stay with me on the high road here). I am speaking specifically of the desire that is part of “the moment before” a potential customer begins to seek out your product or service. At its core, desire is produced by one thing and one thing only. In fact, all desire – including the kinds of desire that are found elsewhere on the internet – have their roots in one simple thing.

All desire comes from lack – we can not want unless we lack something.

For want of a nail, a shoe was lost
For want of a shoe, a horse was lost
For want of a horse, a rider was lost
For want of a rider, a battle was lost
For want of a battle, a kingdom was lost

Consider what the customer wants, before they become a customer:

The moment before is about what’s missing. Lack creates the first step towards a particular product or service. So, to understand what it is that is lacking is to understand the customer.

Effective marketing and sales strategies can focus on creating that sense of lack – or capitalizing on it. So much of our effort is spent on addressing the needs of the customer, through features and benefits, but what about understanding the moment that got the client to engage? If we understand the moment before, we understand who our customer really is. Moreover, we can understand what alternatives (either competitors or substitutions) come into play as part of consumer behavior. If the “moment before” is right, the performance of the organization will be, too.