Bridging the gap

between corporate content and entertainment

                   

Don Packett is a raconteur, professional speaker, stand-up comedian, author and CEO of presentation specialist firm, Missing Link.

Speaker

Don brings a fresh perspective to conferences and events by sharing his experiences with audiences, related to a number of hot topics, assisting CEOs and organisational leaders drive specific messages home. Every talk provides educational and entertaining anecdotes, tales, metaphors, analogies and a healthy dose of recapitulation for good measure.

Comedian

Building a comedy career balancing between underground clubs and big, flashy, corporate stages has built Don’s style into one focussing on everyday preoccupations that make him, and now you, think a little differently about life, love and everything in between.

MC

With a wealth of deep-set knowledge and appreciation for the corporate beast, Don is hellbent on ensuring that the gap between organisational content and entertainment is not only bridged, but firmly set in order for all audiences to engage with speakers’ content as effectively as possible.

Facilitator

Having co-built an innovation consultancy a decade ago, and working closely with organisations on their strategic intent for twice as long, Don’s magic power is to not only ensure objectives are measured and met in facilitated engagements, but to also ensure that participants are pushed to their paces on the road to excellence.

Clients & testimonials

“Don didn’t just present ‘Speed Kills’, he told a fantastic story which resonated with our audience, provoked thought and inspired action. Great energy and objective achieved!”

Jaco Markwat – Wonderware: Sales and Marketing Director

“We invited Don to talk at one of our regular ‘Heavy Chef’ events, on slowing down in the speedy era of digital. It was one of the most popular sessions of our calendar, with Don providing a strong mix of scything humour and fresh insight.”

Fred Roed – World Wide Creative: CEO

“I’ve been working with Don and his team for close on 10 years and not once have I been left thinking, ‘Wow, that’s exactly what I asked for’. The reason for that is I have always got so much more.”

Shaun Edmeston: FNB Commercial

Featured in:

Through business, comedy or off-the-wall strategy summits, Don has been featured in a number of online and print publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur and Khuluma.

Latest from my Blog

6 Ways To Lead In The Multi-leader Economy

Why business leaders today compete for mindshare among their employees, and how they can lead.

Originally published in Entrepreneur Magazine – November 2018

I recently attended an event where a CEO delivered the company’s annual results and outlined its future strategy. He closed the talk with some inspirational content to get the team excited about the year ahead.

While I listened to this business leader speak, I also had my eye on the audience. While the content was relevant and inspiring, the narrative and delivery was off. This was evident in the audience, who seemed disengaged – most had their faces in their phones. These employees, who should be inspired by their leader, were simply biding their time, waiting for the next speaker.

Was it because they’re generally rude, disengaged people? Not at all. In fact, they were a phenomenally switched-on crowd when we presented to them. So why weren’t they listening intently to the proverbial captain of the ship?

I believe it’s because leaders today are competing for the attention of those they lead. People are exposed to hundreds of potential leaders in their daily lives, and that number grows daily as the internet brings a whole host of outside influence into reach.

While many of these influencers are not tasked with leading, per se, great leaders seldom have to force a following. They naturally build one through an innate ability. They achieve this by delivering inspiring and engaging content on a regular basis via platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, podcasts or TED.com.

And it’s not just inspirational visionaries like Jobs or Branson who people listen to today. Anyone with a strong message can self-publish to spark debate, inspire or influence.

Accordingly, whenever a leader steps up to deliver something relevant to their team, they need to be aware that in the past 24 hours their audience has probably watched people like Simon Sinek, Mel Robbins or Will Smith deliver a message that could spark a different way of thinking.

If you’re a business leader and have not considered the possibility that your team is also being influenced and, often, led by a host of other leaders, then you’re in for a tough time. The reality is that leaders now face fierce competition, and as the head of an organisation you need to take charge and own that space.

Here’s how you can take the lead in leadership:

1. Maintain face-to-face engagements

This is still the best way to work, especially when talking about important matters. I have a standing one-hour meeting with my team every three weeks. I open this session with a 10-15 minute talk on a specific topic I feel is important. The remaining time is used for open discussion. These sessions have been incredibly powerful, because it’s an opportunity for everyone to have their say, share their views and contribute to growing the business and the team, together.

2. Write narrative that catalyses conversation

This pertains to the content of your engagements. This needs to be something that’s not only on your agenda, but also on your employees’ agenda. People need both answers and guidance, but when leaders and teams can work on both aspects together, magic happens.

3. Deliver with conviction

Leaders often throw out a concern, hoping that it gets resolved. You can’t do that. Leaders need to stand up and deliver with passion to galvanise their teams. Sure, be part of the conversation, and ensure that your team knows how important it this, but understand that it’s more than just a conversation.

4. Get them to challenge you

The proverbial ‘open door policy’ requires employees to walk up to the door. Our regular team session offers me the opportunity to ask everyone, collectively, about their thoughts on a subject. I’m basically standing at the open door and asking them to come in, and not just randomly, but to discuss something pertinent.

5. Make the changes required

After listening to your team, take action. Due to the influence of social media, society today is plagued by “ask-holes” – people who ask for advice or ideas, but never action them. Leaders need to listen and take action. Not that you should do everything you team asks, of course, but listening is the first step to understanding, and action needs to follow.

6. Rinse, repeat

Effective leadership is not an annual speaking engagement. It requires constant work to keep teams focused on the business. The biggest failure in most businesses is a lack of communication, which is something leaders need to constantly work on.

Anchovies, anchoring and the power of experience

Earlier this year, we were having dinner with friends at a restaurant, and I’d ordered an anchovy pizza. My mate, Nic, immediately responded to my order with a firm “Anchovies? No dude. Gross.” which, in fairness, is not the worst reaction I’ve received in simialr scenarios. And while anchovies on a pizza may not be everyone’s favourite to eat (or have sitting across from them at the dinner table) my order was decided on not only the fact that I enjoy the taste, but of what anchovy pizzas mean to me.

In 2016, my wife and I visited Venice for the very first time. We’d checked in at our hotel late in the day, it was the middle of winter, freezing, but we wanted to explore as much as possible as soon as possible. We’d brought a bottle of De Grendel red wine with us, opened it in the room, poured two travel-glasses and may our way outside into the Venetian cold. 10 minutes into the walk, we walked past a hole-in-the-wall pizza place with slices for sale. The guy said he was closing up soon and only had the pizzas left on display, one of them topped with anchovies and olives.

Now, Lauren and I share everything, and food orders are generally a team conversation to make sure that we can both enjoy each other’s meals. This time was no exception. I went for a classic slice with pepperoni, and Lauren asked if I’d mind the slice with anchovies. I’d never tried pizza with anchovies before, and I love to try new things (I don’t have “open your eyes” tattoo’d on my body for nothing) so we bought both slices – and a beer to replenish our depleted glasses of wine – and continued on our way. Before tucking into our dinner we came to a small piazza with a single light in the middle, where we sat down on a cold bench to take it all in, share the beer and ‘cheers’ to the bucket-list-item we’d just achieved.

We exchanged slices, I took a bite of the anchovy-filled pizza, and my mouth went into a sea-flavoured orgasm.

It. Was. Amazing.

We spent a bit more time in the piazza, finished our food and beers and continued on our way, exploring the rest of the city, the start of an epic trip abroad.

I often think about how I remember every little detail about that night, and realise that it’s because every time I order an anchovy pizza and take my first bite, the memory comes flooding back. In detail. The city, the cold, me holding gloved hands with my wife, the food, the walking, the magic. The full experience. One bite transports me back. Every slice has an anchor in my brain that for the rest of my life will remind me of pure bliss.

I know this: Experiences are for life. A simple thing like biting into an anchovy pizza was, at the time, an on-the-move dinner. It was nothing that I would’ve thought would make such a mark on my brain. But it did.

So why should you care about my anchovy pizza?

Every day, we’re faced with giving people experiences. Experiences that will guide the way they think, the way they operate, and how they feel. The trick is, though, you don’t know which experiences are the ones that will last! So what should you do? Give everyone you interact with an experience that they’ll never forget.

At Missing Link we pride ourselves on making this a priority. Giving amazing experiences matters to us. And it’s not just verbalised, we’ve officially made it one of Our Things. We commit to ourselves, each other and to our customers that we will Be Impossible To Forget.

How? By delivering amazing experiences in any way possible.

And that’s your challenge. Consider the next engagement you’re about to have. Whether with a family member, a friend, an employee, a supplier or a customer, and make an intentional effort to Be Impossible To Forget.

And remember, sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest impact.

 

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Originally posted on LinkedIn.

You’re amazing. Tell yourself, and tell everybody else

I woke up this morning feeling very average. I get those days. But I decided to turn it around. How? By having amazing people around me.

3 things I did:

  1. I spoke to my wife. My everything. She gets me. And not in the “pat you on the head and make you feel better” kind of way, but in the pragmatic, honest “this is who you are” kinda way. In that, and the conversation that ensued, my headspace changed to one of power and, most importantly, of valuing myself and the contribution I bring to the world.
  2. I was guided by EO (part 1). A large part of EO is about understanding your group, your peers, the people who you connect with on the lonely entrepreneurial journey. How do you understand these folks in a short space of time? Well, you tell each other. In 30-60 minutes, you present yourself, your life in totality up to today, to everybody else. It’s remarkable. It’s not the surface level stuff only, it’s the emotional journey that underlies it all that made you what you are today. By sharing your story, you remind yourself of what you did to get to this point in your life. Sometimes we forget…
  3. I was guided by EO (part 2). An exercise we did in our Accelerator group last month (led by Ryan Sauer) had each person “sell themselves in 5 minutes”. The catch: No sort ofs, no maybes, no I think I. Absolute, unequivocal, unadulterated positivitely “I am…”. This is who I am, and I’m amazing. Probably one of the most difficult exercises I’ve ever had to do. To stand in front of a group of people and, with focused seriousness, tell them why you’re an incredible human being, is one of the most uncomfortable conversations to have. We do that for our businesses, we do that for our friends, but we never do it for ourselves. Why? Because for the most part I believe it’s because it’s seen as being vain, arrogant and all those things we don’t want to be.

Well today I gave myself a pass. And I’m giving you one too.

I’d like to challenge you all to share in the comments just 3 things that you believe make you an amazing individual. 3 things that if someone just knew that about you (and they knew that you knew that about yourself) that they’d want to get to know you a little better, or realise that they too have those qualities, they just don’t tell themselves enough. And be positive. Sell it.

So, the 3 things I’m amazing at are:

  1. I’m amazing at what I do. I can stand on a stage and deliver a message with conviction, and have people buy in.
  2. When people speak, I truly listen. My lifelong curiosity for knowledge and understanding people, and how they tick, is a foundation for this.
  3. I can play Mary Had A Little Lamb on any chord-based instrument. Even one of those old grey Telkom landlines.

So that’s me. Now it’s your turn. And if you know some people who need a reminder of how amazing they are, challenge them too. My day just got a whole lot better. Yours will too.

Don’t forget: You’re amazing. Tell yourself, and tell everybody else.

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Copyright Don Packett 2018