Archive for February, 2010


Are you a professional speaker, business person, husband, wife, son, or daughter? How would you handle a situation like Tiger Woods?

Tiger Woods spoke today for the first time in three months. Media outlets like CNBC, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, covered the event.

Reactions varied from “he was robotic. He read from a script. It was rehearsed. He is a phony. It was drama. It was real. He apologized.”

Whether you like Tiger Woods or not, some facts need to be stated.

• He has not been seen in pictures for three months-amazing in today’s world
• He had to speak in front of 100 million people
• He took total responsibility

Tiger Woods did something today that not many celebrities or politicians do. He accepted responsibility without blame. His statement can be interpreted differently depending upon your vantage point: Were you listening, watching on TV or live in person.

My belief, from watching, then listening, then watching again, is he was genuine. His eyes were red, teary, lip quivering, all signs of being genuine, hurt and humility. He the FIRST sports celebrity I have ever heard to admit “I did not think the rules applied to me.” Roger Clemons, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez? I have never heard them take total responsibility and admit they broke a rule.

Friends and media have suggested that Tiger should not have had notes. It was rehearsed. Would it be better to be “off the cuff, unprepared, rambling, and arrogant?” Those are the opposite of the criticism thus far.

Effective communicators use notes. Professional speakers use an outline and rehearse. I have been a professional speaker for ten years, and always prepare in advance. When I have had to apologize, I sure have had to think and rehearse how I wanted to say what was on my mind. Off the cuff in emotional moments may release terms, phrases and emotions you cannot take back.

It is difficult for anyone to take full responsibility when they make a major mistake. Add the publicity, media pressure, sponsors and a family crisis; I think Tiger did pretty well. (I am speaking of today, not the last three months)

I’m curious what you think of Tiger Woods and his mea culpa today.
E-mail comments, or if you would like help in how communication scripts may help your business or personal communication to

Category : Uncategorized | Blog

How are you at crisis management?

Buy a Toyota lately?

One of the strongest brands in automobile history is currently experiencing what some might call severe crisis management. The cars accelerate on their own. Toyota isn’t sure what’s causing it. People are dying.

The #1 issue seems to revolve around the source of the problem itself: Is it in the electrical system (experts say yes, Toyota says no) or is it the floating floor mat causing the pedal to accelerate? In either case, why has it been kept a secret for so long, and why hasn’t Toyota aggressively pursued a solution?

You might remember the days when Tylenol learned millions of its pills were tainted with poison or more recently, that it may cause liver damage?

Or the mad cow disease rage (quite current) and Oprah’s beef with the cattle companies.
(They sued her for defamation – but lost.) Still, beef rebounded. People eat steak. People take Tylenol for headaches.

Over half a century ago Arthur Miller wrote about this kind of crisis management problem in one of his greatest plays, All My Sons, in which a father discovers the faulty airplane parts he knowingly shipped to companies may have caused the death of his own son, a pilot in WWII.

That play – a huge hit in 1947, — poses the question quite clearly.
Do we let the fear of losing money undermine and erode our basic moral values and sense of integrity?

Of course we do. We’re seeing signs of it day after day.
Sixty three years after the premier of Miller play, we might ask the same question
of Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

What if one of your sons, Mr. Toyoda, was driving the car that had a faulty accelerator? Wouldn’t you want to know what caused it? Wouldn’t you have done whatever e possible to prevent that from happening? What took you so long?

Karen and Dr. Brian bring this issue up because every day we are seeing examples of behavior we don’t want to mimic. As business profesionals, we can easily earn invisible MBAs by simply taking heed of other people’s personal embarrassments and tragedies. We help large corporations and small business owners with their written, e-mail, verbal and public communication needs.

Here’s the lesson we learn from Toyota.

You spend whatever it takes to disclose the problems, even if it means telling the honest and embarrassing truth. The sooner the better.

Knowing when to wait to publically announce the crisis is another matter. Does one death do it? Two? Or do you spend zillions investigating – uncovering as much as possible before anything horrible happens?

Decades ago I worked in a company that built European style rail-hung cabinets, and unfortunately at that time, a few cabinets fell off the wall and demolished the hoods of a couple of Porsches,

The problem, we discovered, was a manufacturing defect, complemented by bad installation.

Several executives truly wanted to stick their hands in the sand. They said – it’s only been a few cars – let’s wait and see.

Several others, on the other hand, pursued the redesign of the system and called up every client that had these cabinets installed in the past, and sent trained installers out to re-enforce all bolts and screws so that no future damage would occur.

It was a very costly nightmare. And it was worth every penny of it.

We live in an age where people think there still are secrets. I don’t believe that’s true.
If there’s problem or an error or a manufacturing defect, we will twitter, facebook, and youtube until we find out about it.

No matter what the cost, do the right thing. Can you and your company use ethics over profits? Are you allowed to speak your mind when you sense something is wrong? It will ultimately keep your company in business and brand you as an individual with integrity and compassion, something poorly lacking in the world today.

Listen in Tuesday night, 6PM

Category : Uncategorized | Blog