Posts Tagged ‘communication skills’


A Lesson From Director Robert Altman

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Great film directors, like great business leaders, work effectively with their teams, in part, by being great communicators.  Last evening I attended a “Live Talk, Los Angeles” discussion with actor and director, Tim Robbins and at one point he talked about what he had learned from Director, Bob Altman while shooting the film, The Player. (Robbins would shortly thereafter direct his first film and so studied Altman carefully during shooting).

As Robbins explained, Bob Altman was a true auteur who had a clear vision of what he wanted from his films, but he used collaboration rather than proclamation to get there.  As an example, Robbins described numerous instances wherein crew members or actors would approach Altman with a question.  Altman would respond with, “I don’t know.  What do you think?”

Robbins noted that by Altman simply turning the tables on the questioner, the questioner became more invested in the discussion and Altman gained insight about his team.  In the end, Robbins said, laughing, “Altman very likely carried out his original vision,” but everyone felt included in the process.

January 25 is Better Business Communication Day.  Take a note from Altman.  Rather than always doling out your ideas when others look to you for answers – turn the table and first ask them what they think.  The best questions start with what, how or why?  

And, as a side note – find out about live discussion groups in your area.  Often sponsored by libraries, local colleges, universities or public broadcasting outlets, these discussions offer you opportunities to learn from a broad spectrum of leaders, thinkers, authors and artists.


Monday, June 18th, 2012


Golf pros will tell you that when you find yourself in a rough, only an amateur will go for the “heroic shot” to try to reach the hole with one swing from the weeds.  An experienced golfer knows that what is needed is a “recovery shot”  – to just get the ball on the green – and back in play.

That’s what JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon did in his recent appearance before Congress – he put the ball back in play and in the process demonstrated the fundamentals of how to manage crisis communication:

#1.  Acknowledge the crisis.   Though in early April Dimon initially called the trading problem a “tempest in a teapot,” once he knew the true severity of the problem – two billion dollars lost – he admitted it.  You can’t say you’re on the fairway when you’re in the weeds!

#2. Own your mistakes and show empathy for those impacted:

Dimon used collective pronouns and apologetic language when he said, “We have let a lot of people down and we are very sorry for that.”  “We feel terrible,” and “I was wrong,” Dimon spoke with sincerity and vocal concern – he didn’t mumble or hedge.

#3. Put the mistakes into context:  If you don’t frame the issue, others will and often with vitriol. Dimon explained,  “We will not make light of these losses, but they should be put into perspective.”  He went on to frame that perspective:  “…no client, customer or taxpayer money was impacted by this incident.”

#4. Quickly look to the future and keep the dialog going: Let your public know that you’re proactively working to resolve and not repeat the problem; and keep the information feeder line to the media open.

Immediately after facing Congress, Dimon headed to CNBC where he sat for an extensive interview with Mary Thompson.  During the discussion, Dimon said, “We are going to wrestle this down, admit our sins and get on with our business.”

When probed about who would be fired and who would stay, he said they were conducting “an extensive review of this incident,” and stated, “We are going to do the right thing,” He also promised a personal commitment:  “I’m going to do the best I can every day.”

By the end of the day, Reuters posted the headline:  “Humble but firm, Dimon explains mistake.”  And, JPMorgan stock was on the rise.

With his effectively executed recovery shot, Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan were back on (and in) the green.

Satori Communications, Inc. Announces Alliance with StoryWorks

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Satori Communications is pleased to announce an alliance with StoryWorks, a Los Angeles-based consulting group dedicated to helping businesses “review, assess, build, establish and communicate” their corporate or brand story. Founded by Len Jacobson, StoryWorks offers its clients comprehensive services from brand and product naming to marketing and strategic brand building for both internal and external audiences.

Satori Communications, Inc. provides its corporate clients with customized communication skills development seminars and one-on-one coaching sessions in: presentation skills, communicating effectively in small groups, meeting with the media and writing effective business documents.

Merna Skinner, President of Satori Communications said, “Our alliance will allow our respective companies to more fully serve our clients. While StoryWorks helps organizations craft their story, Satori gives business professionals the skills to communicate those stories successfully.”

Merna Skinner at 310-437-0400
Len Jacobson at 310-750-5929