Bridging the gap

between corporate content and entertainment

                   

Don Packett is a raconteur, corporate MC, professional speaker, stand-up comedian, author and strategic advisor.

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.

Talks

LEGOrise Your Business

Lessons from one of the most fascinating businesses in our history, guiding teams to think differently (inspired by LEGO) to build their businesses in a better way.

The Psychology of Sales

Shining a light on why people buy what they buy, and how to adapt sales approaches to suit the new world of buying decisions.

Speed Kills

How the rapid adoption of technology is killing incremental progress. Or is it?

In Search of Excellence

Excellence in organisations is not that easy. Tom Peters & Bob Waterman codified it in 1982, but the world has been trying to achieve that ever since.

Culture of Collaboration

How defining a few simple steps in your business will lead to a collaborative and high-functioning team.

Contact Don for more of his available talks, or to create a bespoke talk for your event.

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

Remote working with your significant other

In the wake of pretty much mass hysteria about COVID-19, including infection, death, travel bans, social distancing and everything else that comes with it, there’s also been a strong focus on businesses trying to figure out what to do with staff (and whether they can work remotely or not). For those who can have staff off-site and work remotely, the conversation I’ve seen happening online focuses on remuneration, best practice on paying for staff data to remain online, video-conferencing tools, etc., all focused on the business imperatives, but I’ve not seen much about the people themselves. The conversation is more “How will my business keep going?” and very little “How will my staff cope working from home?”

Here’s where it becomes tricky. The problem is that while every organisation strives to build their own office culture and way-of-work, remote workers are now taking that energy home (habits are hard to break), which may conflict with their significant other’s office culture and way-of-work. My personal experience is this:

My wife has been working from home since before we met. Working with or consulting to organisations in other countries across various timezones has enabled her to build a solid remote-working routine and energy that I’ve never quite been able to grasp. It’s frighteningly efficient and applaudable. She can get work done in perfect time, manage our household (contractors, shopping, etc.) all while getting it done in the quite, serene comfort of our own home. There’s structure, process and a work/life balance that most people would envy. She really has it all figured out.

Enter Don into the mix. For the past 18 years I’ve working in an office with loud punk rock blasting through the speakers, people shouting across the office, ping-pong balls bouncing on tables (ping pong and workstations), sporadic bursts of “Happy Birthday to you!” from the crew when people walk through the doors (almost every time it was not, in fact, their birthday), and jumping on tables and singing at the top of our voices to whatever track was playing at that point in time (granted, I’m probably the most guilty of this one). I’ve now entered into her domain. Her calm, her planned days, her structure. A few days into me working from home, I’ve found out that I:

  • type extremely loudly on my keyboard
  • make throat-noises when I’m concentrating
  • need to chat to her at random times about random things, breaking her stride

and a few more things that I can’t recall, or am yet to hear about.

Anyone who knows us well will agree that Lauren and I are a solid unit and can weather a lot of storms as a strong force, but getting into a new work rhythm at home together, bizarrely, has been a challenge. So here’s a few things we’ve put into place that I believe has and will continue to help us, and I’m hoping may help you too.

  1. We work in different spaces in the house. Sharing a desk/table with someone who doesn’t work the same way you have before, is a potential argument waiting to happen.
  2. We plan our days the previous evenings or mornings and know exactly what the other is doing, in order to plan around each other, particularly when it comes to potential noise during video calls.
  3. We agree on mealtimes, to save time, energy and dishes. This also has us ‘meeting up’ in the middle of the day to discuss the morning’s events, if anything particularly interesting happened.
  4. As best as we can, we keep gaps between videocalls (at least 30mins). Generally, if I was riding from meeting to meeting, I’d have this time to address an email or two, to think about the meeting I’d just had, or to think about and mentally prep for the meeting I was going to. Jam-packing calls in a row loses that.
  5. To avoid cabin fever, we go for strolls. Either in our garden or around the estate. It’s not a marathon, just a decent amount of time around the block for fresh air and perspective.

Another big reason we try to stay clear of each other during the day is to ensure that at the end of the day, much like it was when I was working from an office away from home, that we still have something to chat about at dinner time. Looking forward to catching up on the day not only helps me build some excitement about certain things, but also gives us both the opportunity to review the day with some perspective. Oftentimes, these end-of-day reviews and conversation end up with ideas/tasks to improve them, which has always been a spectacular gift.

My question to you:

If you’re working from home with your significant other, or roommates, what are you doing to ensure your sanity and best way-of-work?

Here’s why PowerPoint’s ‘Presenter Coach’​ – a competitor to what we do – is amazing for our presentation business

 

“Public-speaking is nerve-wracking, which is why having a coach is so important.” – Microsoft365

Missing Link is a Presentation Specialist firm on a journey to save the world one bored audience at a time, by helping our customers create memorable, remarkable presentations that will activate their audiences. We make presentations. It’s quite simple. And particularly niche.

So whenever Microsoft or some other startup launches a new addition or competitive product that makes it easier for people to create their own presentations, we generally get bombarded by emails and messages from people we know, asking how it’ll affect our business, and are we concerned that we’re being made redundant.

Every time I answer a clear “No.”

Not because I’m blind to progress or foolishly cocky, but because of this simple reason: Awareness. Let me explain.

PowerPoint was release in 1987 to, essentially, replace the archaic overhead projector and become a replacement in a digital format. In that time, PowerPoint has been a tool used by 99.9% of the world in a very, very bad way. Bad because of design, bad because of narrative, and bad because being bound to a perceived way of creating a presentation (their templates) has hamstrung speakers who don’t know better. It’s okay, we understand. The beast that is Microsoft built a platform that says “Insert header here”, so you insert your header there. You trusted them. It’s an easy mistake to make.

10 years after its launch – when my partner, Rich, started Missing Link – he went out to break every SOP that Microsoft and PowerPoint were driving, to ensure that the tool itself could be better. He saw potential in what it could become. For the past 22 years we’ve been waxing lyrical about the power and potential of good narrative and powerful use of the PowerPoint tool, but our reach has landed on an audience just far enough to make an impact around us, but it’s a very big world out there.

So when Microsoft365 announced the soon-to-be-released Presenter Coach, we got quite excited. (Click the pic to watch the video)

 

Overview: Presenter Coach uses on-screen recommendations and audio reminders, giving you:

Intelligent tips to improve your presentation skills

Real-time feedback on pacing

Use of inclusive language

Warnings if you’re using ‘fillers’ like ‘umms’ or ‘ahhs’

Feedback if you’re reading your slides

 

Microsoft is now coming to the party to help us share this important message, by allowing people to use the tool in a better way, and to realise that having a coach to help you present better is a far cry better than just standing up on stage, or in front of a potential customer, hoping for the best. They’re showcasing the value of speakers preparing, correctly, before going out to present. For speakers to go out and want to be better.

So why is this great for Missing Link? Well, because the more people understand how important it is to be a great speaker in order to activate your audience, the more I believe we’ll get inbound leads asking how we could help them. Online coaches and real-life coaches bring different things, of course, but I’m just extremely excited about more people realising how important this is. Will certain people stop at Presenter Coach and build powerful presentations on their own? Absolutely. Will that be the majority of people? Not even close.

So why am I telling you this?

Stop seeing newcomers or new products into your market as threats, and see them as opportunities. Change your mindset, change your narrative, and embrace the new entity. Shaping yourself up for a new adventure will only make you stronger going forward.

Thanks again for realising the power of presenting beyond PowerPoint decks, Microsoft. Glad you’re here.

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.

Get in touch

For quotes, bookings, rates or client testimonials, fill out the form below.

Johannesburg
South Africa
+27-82-622-3590
+27-82-331-0599
+27-11-465-3638
hello@donpackett.com

                   

Copyright Don Packett 1980-2020