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

Bucket lists, birding and sticking to the Victory Condition

Most people I know have a bucket list (whether mental or physical). A list of things they just have to experience or do before they die. Inspired by Rich’s video (you really shouldsubscribe to his channel), I created my own Bucket List PowerPoint deck.

The result: Having it visual and accessible actually helps me get things ticked off the list. Once I’d had them all listed together, I also realised that most of them are pretty easy to do: They just require time and money. For example, “Meet Mona Lisa” and “Eat a crepe under the Eiffel Tower” were both ticked off while on a visit to Paris in December. Buy flight ticket. Book Airbnb. Easy.

However, going through the list again this weekend, I realised I not only had ‘the easy ones’, I had a list within a list. List inception. You see, one of my bucket list items is “Tick 1000 birds in the world”. As a birdwatcher (birder / twitcher / birdnerd) I have another list I’m completing too. Since I started this hobby in 2013, every time I see a new bird species (they’re called ‘lifers’) I get to tick it off the list, and it’s been one helluva exciting, emotional, tactic-shifting journey.

When I started birding it was easy enough. We placed some food out in the garden and watched them flock in. The usual suspects visited, and kept visiting, but the lifers decreased, and eventually ended. So we visited other places around the country to add to our Southern African list. Different birds prefer different areas, habitats and food, and seldom wander out of their areas, so by going to new places, the lifers increased. As the list grew, though, it’s started to get trickier to add more.

You see, ticking birds off the list is, essentially, a diminishing return. Of the roughly 950 recorded bird species in Southern Africa alone, we’ve ticked 482 lifers to date. This not only requires travel, it now also requires heaps and heaps (did I say heaps yet) of patience. Why? Well, the birds we’ve added to the list to date are mostly the easily-accessible ones: The raptors who soar the skies, the fence-sitters who grace our roadside telephone poles, and the species who are happy to be out in the open – in grasslands or wetlands – for the world to see. To add more lifers to the list, we now need to go out and find the more difficult-to-see species: The shy. The secretive. The species who don’t like coming out in the open. The ones who skulk around in the middle of bushes or reeds, keeping to themselves, keeping very quiet, and not very keen on being seen.

I’ve made a few birding friends in the past few years, and I recall early on someone mentioning for me to sit and continue to scan the area for a while when in search of birds. Back then, my ‘while’ was 5/10 minutes, and if we didn’t see something moving around, or didn’t see something new, we moved on to the next location. Well, how things have changed. This year alone, we have spent hours and hours in bird hides (we recently did a 06:00-09:00 stint in one hide waiting for one particular bird, who never showed up). So my plan to achieve my bucket list item has changed from a ‘let’s see a few birds in this area’strategy to one of ‘if we get to see only one on this trip, we’re winning’. This weekend, after spending a number of crazy visits around the country, over 5 years, to try see one particular bird, we were graced with a spectacular viewing of one of the most secretive birds in the region: The African Finfoot.

I won’t lie. It was a spiritual moment.

So why am I telling you this?

Finding these kinds of birds now requires a different approach. Different tactics. My Victory Condition remains the same: “Tick 1000 birds in the world”. But how I get there has changed. It had to change, and that’s okay. If I hadn’t instilled saintly-patience into my birding journey, I’d add very few new species, which would be not working well towards achieving the Victory Condition laid out before me.

My question to you:

Are you trying the same-old tactics, but not getting results? Think it’s maybe time to change something?

 

Originally posted on LinkedIn, 25 March 2019

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.

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Copyright Don Packett 2018