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The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest

Influence

I saw Paul Kenny of Ocean Learning speak about sales least year at the Business of Software Conference. I thought he was great and so when we were talking about how we should present our case for changes in my group to management, I thought of Paul. I was going to be in the UK, Paul lives there, and so I suggested him. His video is here from last year.

My boss jumped on it as he had been at BoS 2008, and yesterday Paul came to speak to my group of 6 people. I wasn't sure what to expect since this was supposed to be a bit longer and was surprised that we spent the first 45 minutes or so talking about our priorities and what we wanted to present while Paul sat there and took notes. I almost interrupted a few times and I'm glad I didn't because apparently this was what Paul wanted.

Once we'd come up with our list of priorities, Paul took over the show and started to talk about influence. What it is, how you get it, and what it means. He sees it as a state, meaning you have it or don't, but persuasion is how you use your influence to deliver a message. It was fascinating in that he talked about the stages of relationships and how people form them and create influence. A lot of his talk related well to dating as well as business relationships and he has a great way to of teaching by asking questions and forcing you to interact with him.

I'm not entirely sure of everything that was presented in the two hours, but I did learn a few things. One is that we need to present our case after having assumed they will say yes, and work backwards through all the questions we think they'll ask. We should answer them proactively in our presentations.

We should also work on building relationships outside of the presentation. Get to know the people that we work with and ask things of. Or might ask them of us. We definitely realized we were approaching our presentation the wrong way. The last thing I got was that it pays to understand the type of person you're presenting to, and Paul had a few times. Is this a conservative or radical person? Are they a big picture person or tiny detail person? Are they seeking pleasure (looking for the good) or pain avoiding (avoiding issues)?

I can't recommend Paul enough. He's the only motivational person that talks sales I've enjoyed listening to and I think he's worth hiring if you can to talk to any of you employees.

Comments

Posted by Phil Factor on 23 January 2009

Yes. I've heard many times the same points as a set of isolated bits of advice. Paul gave us a very good 'big picture' of why such things are important. That made it all much easier for me to absorb. The most impressive thing about him is that he is able to explain techniques of persuasion in a logical way that can be understood by geeks.

DBAs don't always find it easy to participate effectively in the decision-making process in companies. They tend to get far too closely identified with the change they wish to make, and find it hard to empathize with other viewpoints and group-cultures. Paul somehow manages to bridge the yawning gap between the impulsive, intuitive thought processes of business management and the more explicit, sequential chain of thought that IT people use. That is what makes him special.

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