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Need Advice on Big Meeting That Could Help Me to ER
Old 04-15-2010, 08:59 PM   #1
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Need Advice on Big Meeting That Could Help Me to ER

I have a big meeting with a fortune 500 companies president that is a client of my company next week. I have never had a meeting at this high a level and am a little nervous.

I was hoping for some words of advice from some old sages on this board to help me out.

I really appreciate any advice!
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:11 PM   #2
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be professional & treat him with respect but remember that he puts his pants on the same as you do, one leg at a time.
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:18 PM   #3
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Thanks man. Good Advice. The meeting is next Thursday. I will try and remember those words of wisdom as I go in.
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:29 PM   #4
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Impress with a can do attitude and do not try to impress with knowledge. Otherwise give respect but do not fawn over them. It could lead to a big opportunity in the future if handled right!
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:36 PM   #5
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Be professional, but above all, be enthusiastic. He's had a lot of meetings with people that know there product/service/etc, but the enthusiasm is what he'll remember
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JB2033 View Post
I have a big meeting with a fortune 500 companies president
Who is it?
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Old 04-15-2010, 10:17 PM   #7
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President of a Berkshire Hathaway owned company. Several of his underlings are going to be present, and my boss, and a big shot from a different department within my company.

They are already a client of my company. The meeting was requested to gather information, and for us to give them an opinion on how to solve a problem.
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:06 PM   #8
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My best advice is to be prepared. Know your stuff inside out and backwards. Then you will be comfortable in your knowledge and do well in the meeting.
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:09 PM   #9
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I'd be nervous too. Good luck and we want a full report!
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:25 PM   #10
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How good are your bosses, really? Are they helping you to get ready for this or do they expect you to get yourself ready? Would they take the time to let you run through your presentation in front of them so that they can critique your style and help think through a few questions or scenarios? Failing that, can you gather an audience of your knowledgeable peers for the same purpose?

If this was a flag officer visiting/touring a training command, I would've been mustered for daily practice briefings starting about two weeks ago. I'd also probably be on rev 14 of the brief by now.

The guy has probably seen a gazillion presentations and can listen while reading. If you have a habit of reading from your slides... don't.

If you've gone over the presentation so many times that you know it by heart and can race through it at 200 words per minute... don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JB2033 View Post
President of a Berkshire Hathaway owned company.
If you're saying that the president is running a really really big company with lots and lots of people, then he'll either be an impatient fire-breather or a really nice guy. If he's a fire-breather and doesn't like what you're saying then he'll flame on you or your bosses. If he flames on you then try to let the warmth wash over your body, don't take it personally, answer the questions you can answer, and say that you'll work on fixing [whatever it was he didn't like]. He didn't show up there specifically to execute you and his temper tantrum may just be a way of emphasizing his enthusiasm point. Hopefully your bosses will be thankful that you're taking the heat, not them, and they'll think of you more kindly at performance-review time. Of course a really good boss would jump in to defend and help out.

If this president is a really nice guy then he'll make you feel as if you're the most important briefer he's ever listened to, and you'll wonder why you ever felt nervous about it.

If you have really good bosses then they'll jump in when he asks a complex question (or if you overlook a mistake) and clarify "Well, what JB meant to say was..."

Like Martha says, the better you know your stuff then the more you'll be able to talk in a normal voice without that high-pitched quaver choking up your throat. It'd be bonus if you could sneak a water bottle up to your podium for an occasional swig.
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:06 AM   #11
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Been there, know how you feel. Based on what you said, I assume that your bosses are doing most of the talking. ?? Regardless, what everyone else has already said really does apply. Know your stuff, relax and don't be nervous, smile, offer a firm but not overbearing handshake, and don't forget what knucklehead61 said above (I would have said something to the effect that he does the same SSS routine that you do in the morning). Now then, see, that wasn't so hard?!?

Good luck

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Old 04-16-2010, 06:15 AM   #12
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Good luck with your meeting.
I used to psyche myself out before events like this. I would worry about being asked a question I could not answer. It did me absolutely no good.
Preparation is key. If you cannot recall data from memory, put together brief and simple to read notes for you to glance at in case a critical number escapes you. Better yet, bring along a supporting "data person" who is right there to pull the info out quickly. It takes the pressure off of you.
I used to do this for my Senior Tech Advisors when we had a higher level briefing. We would put the info together as a team prior to the meeting. No matter what was asked, I was heavily depended on to "come to the rescue". I dreaded didn't enjoy presenting, so it w*rked out for everyone.
Smile and maintain eye contact with your audience. Invite questions. Count to 3 before answering a question.
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:36 AM   #13
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All the answers are above. I have met with many CEO's and the like, although most were not Fortune 500.
  • Be prepared, whatever that takes for you. If you're afraid you'll lose your train of thought, write everything down. If you don't use it, fine, and it is a good way to prepare anyway. If you need it, you'll be glad you did.
  • Don't be intimidated, in the end we're all people. If the CEO can see you're intimidated, it will reduce your impact. CEO's see it all the time, so they recognize it. He (she?) will be more impressed and even comfortable with you if you are confident but a little humble. That does not mean to overcompensate and be overbearing, just be your normal personable self. Relax, you will do better.
  • You have something of value to them. You're no better and no worse than anyone else in the room. Again, know you're stuff and relax.
After you've done it for a while like I have, you'll realize CEO's are just people too and most would rather be treated like human beings. In my experience, some are asshats, but most are smart, decent human beings just like everyone else.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
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If this was a flag officer visiting/touring a training command, I would've been mustered for daily practice briefings starting about two weeks ago. I'd also probably be on rev 14 of the brief by now.
That's one of the things I truly hated about my job. Practice drills before presenting something to the Administrator. I understood the purpose but hated the practice.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:53 AM   #15
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Lots of good advice here, this one stuck out for me:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
  • You have something of value to them. You're no better and no worse than anyone else in the room. Again, know you're stuff and relax.
I think that can be a real confidence booster and help put you at ease. Just remember, they asked you there because they don't have all the answers. So in some ways, *you* are their superior. So unless the CEO is just an asshat, his/her people will be trying to at put you at ease, as they want this information from you. They have nothing to gain by making you uneasy.

You might also get a read on this from others that have met with them, but don't pre-judge too much either.

OK, one small tip - I recall meeting with a bunch of VPs from another MegaCorp with a VP from my MegaCorp . This was early internet days, and I took a few minutes that morning at home to check the news reports on the company. Turns out they issued a great earnings report the night before. So I mentioned that as we were doing our introductions and congratulated them, and I think it was a decent ice-breaker, and our VP seemed to be impressed that I was current on this. Just like you should learn details about a company before a job interview - same thing. Might help in a small way.

-ERD50
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:38 AM   #16
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In addition to what's been said here, I've been given the advice to be succinct. Give background info as needed but don't dwell on it so that you can get to the point. Have the detailed info in reserve so you can drill down if you are asked. Take cues from the bigwig. If he indicates he's got the point of a slide, move on. And do present to and take cues from the bigwig, not the underlings. Don't completely ignore the others, but your focus is on the big guy.

This is just a general guideline. There are times when you really do need to present the details to show that what you are presenting is not fluff, and there are some execs who want full info rather than bullet points.
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Old 04-16-2010, 08:54 AM   #17
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if you're a chick, try to flash a little boob.
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:01 AM   #18
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if you're a chick, try to flash a little boob.
Yeah, that one will get them pitched out pretty darn fast -- goodbye lucrative business relationship!

Recognize that the CEO is a busy person. As others have said, be succinct, and take your cues from the executive.

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Old 04-16-2010, 12:51 PM   #19
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That's one of the things I truly hated about my job. Practice drills before presenting something to the Administrator. I understood the purpose but hated the practice.
For us nukes it worked out to about an hour of practice (and cleaning) for every minute of tour. However it can also produce those once-in-a-decade opportunities.

At my second training command I had to tour the admiral in charge of Navy training. He had a reputation as a good guy but was one of those unpredictable aviators and was thus viewed with suspicion & skepticism by the submarine force. By this time I was pretty smart on where the money and billets came from and I knew how to work the system to get our "fair share". When the troops would finish showing the admiral a new system or training program, I'd chip in with "... and we've sent in a revision to our billet structure to get the money and manpower to permanently support this training."

At the time our training commands were only 70% manned because the Navy was sucking wind on recruiting and retention as the economy boomed. (Remember the late '90s when the Internet "New Economy" was going to pay off the national debt in a decade?) Viewed as a recruiting problem, every sailor rolling to shore duty was forced to screen for recruiting duty-- which unfortunately used the same screening sheet as training commands. So recruiting was 200% manned at the expense of the training commands. BUPERS had even paid Spike Lee to produce/direct a series of recruiting commercials-- perhaps some of you veterans recall the "Go Navy, rock on" commercial showing junior enlisted flight-deck crew stationed on an aircraft carrier. They'd formed their own garage hangar band and were jamming in front of a cheering crowd of shipmates. Ol' Spike was pulling down fees that would have run our training department for several years. Big sore spot with everyone in the training community, especially among the instructors who were pulling extra duty to cover the gaps.

So... after the third or fourth time I showed the admiral how well I could play the billets/personnel/budget game, he lost a little patience with my one-note piano pounding. He asked me "And just where do you think I'm going to get these instructors to fill all your billets? And just where do you think I'm going to get this funding?" Submariners challenge each other like this all the time so I reflexively shot back "Gosh, admiral, maybe we could stop paying Spike Lee so much for misleading teenagers about sea duty. We could run this department for three or four years on his budget". As soon as my words flopped onto the floor I immediately wanted to clap my hands over my mouth. My CO instantly jumped in with "What he meant to say, admiral, was that..." while the aide scribbled furiously in his notebook. I didn't get to say much during the rest of the tour.

Six months later BUPERS "realized" that they were paying $50K per recruit (including Spike's payroll). The new BUPERS admiral* suggested that maybe some of the recruiting money could be used to raise retention bonuses instead of on speeding up the manpower revolving door. Six months after that Spike had moved on to other projects, our instructor manning was back up to 100%, and our nuclear-trained instructors were getting nuclear pay for teaching nuke topics on shore duty.

[This was Norb Ryan, the guy now running MOAA.]
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Old 04-16-2010, 02:02 PM   #20
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Are you selling something to him
is he selling something to you
is this about a supplier?
is this about information sharing only?

Treat anyone with respect
but do not suck up
be enthusiastic and its OK to have a different opinion if what you believe is genuine
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