Monthly Archives: September 2008

10 Downing Street on Twitter

Who said that diplomatic correspondence could not be done in under 140 characters…

Networking event at Boston University

Report from Boston University’s School of Management Building.

Location: 595 Commonwealth Avenue, Ninth Floor.

I was really pleased with how proactive the students were at the event.

They didn’t stick together in cliques, instead, they actively sought out the advice of older alumni like me.

Incidently, here is how I suggest you approach a networking event.

1) You must define an objective, a goal.

For instance:

  • Get 10 qualified leads
  • Talk to VP of Marketing at xyz Co
  • Get referrals
  • Schedule a meeting

Do not leave till you reached your goal.

2) Be prepared

  • Pens
  • Notebooks
  • Business cards
  • Brochures
  • Anything else that is relevant to your goal
  • Have a list of questions you must ask
  • Have a list of people you want to talk to
  • Elevator pitch
  • Have things to offer (names at your own company and other business partners)

Before the event:

•    Can you get a list of the participants?

•    If not:
o    Speak to the facilitator (that’s the whole point of the event right?)
o    I know this person is speaking, can you make sure I sit next to this person’s assistant
o    Go early to the event and look at name badges


Stand in line to talk to somebody.


Power is usually in the front row; that’s where you need to sit.

After you collect a business card, flip it over and ask – could you tell me who is in charge of training at your company?

Write down a memo on the card you just collected

If it’s that person you need, ask “could I get a meeting with you on Wednesday?”

3 Document each meeting on your notebook.

  • Who
  • Title
  • Company
  • Referral
  • Action
  • Physical reminders (so you can recall who the person was)

4) How and why you should disengage at some point

Ask “Who’s in charge of marketing at your company?”

Have something to offer. “Is there anyone I can introduce you to?”

You and everyone else are there to network. Say so “we are both here to network so lets move on.”

If that person is not willing to give any information then that person is not in power or is too timid. Thank anyway for their time.

5) Follow-up.

Use the names of the people you have met at the event.

Presidential Debates

US Presidential Debate.

(The original article on the French presidential debates in 2007 between Mr Sarkozy and Madame Royal was published on the magazine of the American Chamber of Commerce. AMCHAM – Page 16)

What to look for in the upcoming presidential debate between Barak Obama and John McCain.

(Ségolène Royal, left and Nicolas Sarkozy, right)

Here are a few techniques that you should be looking for during the upcoming US presidential-debates.

Framing the debate.

Prior to the second Ronald Reagan / Walter Mondale debate in 1984, much was made of Ronald Reagan’s age. Mr Reagan successfully re-framed the issue by saying: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” All of the sudden, the debate was not going to be about old age, but about experience and lack of it. Twenty-three years later Nicolas Sarkozy gained the upper hand early on when during his debate with Ségolène Royal he framed it in  the first few minutes.

Journalist: “Just to loosen-up the atmosphere ‘how do you feel’ madame Royal?”
Royal: “Very well, proud to be here, very happy”
Journalist: “How about you Nicolas Sarkozy?”
Sarkozy: “[I am] Focused: this debate is a big responsibility… the French people have selected Mrs Royal and I to give back the dignity to politics… [people] will be able to say by the end of this debate ‘we know where each candidate stands’.”

Questions come in two general categories: open-ended and close-ended. This first question by the journalist was of the former kind. When asked “How do you feel?” one does not expect a precise answer (although the answer may be precise).

Mrs Royal’s answer lasted four seconds. The problem was that she missed an opportunity to frame the debate once and for all. She could have stated why she was there and what her key messages were. Instead, perhaps because of lack of preparation and focus, she did not seize the moment. Mr Sarkozy on the other hand did not miss this opportunity. In this case, Mr Sarkozy told the viewers what the debate was going to be about (dignity) and how to think about it (know where each candidate stands). Once the debate is framed, it is very difficult for both viewers and debaters alike to step-out of it.

As Thomas Friedman said, “if you name an issue, you own it”.

Facts stand in the way of opinions.

People like to believe that they are objective in their decision-making process. Most likely, people vote on the basis of “these are the opinions upon which my facts are based”. Nonetheless, any respectable post-Aristotelian form of government has to pay lip-service to science, statistics and facts.
Be prepared therefore, to withstand a sustained assault by both debaters. Any data presented to you will be qualified by a “facts speak for themselves” statement or something to that effect.
Unfortunately the facts tend not to speak for themselves. You will have to perform mathematical gymnastics throughout the night to beat meaning out of a single piece of data. Whenever a statistic or fact will be provided ask the following questions:

  • Who is the source of the data?
  • Are there other sources?
  • Would the data change if I chose a different time-frame?
  • Beware of relative statements dressed as absolute
  • Know the difference between median and mean and what each reveals
  • Forecasting the future is difficult, know and challenge the assumptions candidates make

It’s all in the delivery.

Look at where the candidates mark a pause when they speak. If they are well-prepared, they will pause right after a key word or sentence. This will allow you to sort out the main messages the candidates want to get through to the audience.

These candidates will be thoroughly prepared in terms of body language. Observe where their eyes go after they make a statement (do they go down or stare into the audience or camera). Likewise look at the hands and fingers, whether they point, tense or stretch. In general, their body language should underscore their words; for instance, an open palm with a conciliatory message.
If cameras permit, also observe the candidate who is not speaking. Try detecting body reactions to what his opponent says..

Winning or losing.

There are many other variables to consider during a debate; each subtly influencing the other as well as voters. It is likely that at the end of each debate, both sides will claim victory. Professionals, in their ultra-objectivity, will be left to debate who won and who lost; unless of course one of the two candidates makes a horrible blunder.

It is tough to win a debate outright but it is very easy to lose one.

* Souce:

Why “tweet”?

BestBuy CEO on Twitter

BestBuy CEO on Twitter

I have to say that I have been reluctant to join “twitter”.

I wondered, how can a social website which only allows you to post 150 characters at a time, be useful.

Little by little, I realised that it is an indispensable tool to keep up to date with the latest buzz from around the world.

Here is an article on Twitter posted at “IWantMedia”.

Jack Dorsey is the co-founder and CEO of Twitter, the two-year-old free microblogging site that is racking up high-profile enthusiasts who hail it as both a “hypergrapevine” news resource and an innovative business tool for customer service. Among its heavy-hitter users: The New York Times, Huffington Post, Comcast, General Motors, YouTube, and U.S. presidential candidates.

The entire article can be found at

BU Alumni Event