Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Helicopter Crash and Insight Stories


I've spent a large part of my career working in the oil and gas and mining industries where safety is always a primary concern. A significant issue in safety leadership is getting people to appreciate the importance of preparing for rare but extremely dangerous events. The following anecdote is a perfect example of the importance of preparation and training and is applicable to many situations.

As a young field engineer in March 1988, I was transferred at short notice from China to Australia. I had been expecting to take a helicopter from Tanggu base to my oil rig in Bohai Bay, Northern China but in a rapid turn of events, found myself heading for a rig in the Timor Sea off Darwin as a result of a shortage of Australian engineers.

The company engineer that met me at Darwin airport was sporting two spectacular black eyes and as we drove to the Darwin helicopter terminal, clearly still in shock, he related his story.

"I was the last one out of a helicopter that ditched into the Timor Sea and I was kicked in the face while trying to get out."

"We were a 100 miles out over the sea, cruising at about 5000 feet, when the engine exploded and we started falling from the sky. Incredibly, there were two helicopter safety experts on board and as we auto-gyrated down to the ocean they gave us a helicopter ditching training lesson!"

"They told us to expect the helicopter to land hard and then tip upside down and fill with water. They said they would open the door and we would need to swim down to get out and they also told us to remove our headsets and tie up the cables before impact because in the last accident they investigated, people had become tangled in the headset cables and drowned."

"Everything happened exactly as described, I was the last one out and got too close to the person in front of me, so was kicked in the face. We inflated two life rafts but both had holes them. So we were in our life jackets swimming in shark infested waters holding onto a deflated life raft."

"Fortunately, there was a US/Australian joint military exercise going on and a rescue helicopter winched us all out of the sea about an hour later."

The obvious safety lesson and insight from this story is that you may not be so fortunate!

Wouldn't it be better to be prepared rather than hope there is an expert there to teach you in your critical moment?

Postscript
In the last few years, I've been teaching sales people how to collect and deliver stories to help them connect with and influence their customers. I counsel my students to always tell true stories (See "The Ponytail and why your Business Stories should be True") and that got me thinking about my own favourite stories. So I resolved to check the veracity of the ones that did not happen to me directly.

I made the effort to track down the engineer that met me at Darwin airport. I couldn't remember his name but I did remember another engineer who was in Darwin at the time and through the wonders of LinkedIn and Facebook tracked down John Patel. John located the air safety accident investigation report and we compared our memories of  an event that he had tried to forget.

A few months later John attended one of our public story telling workshops and we got to tell the story again.

The Author (Left) with John Patel at a Selling with Stories workshop in Sydney this year.

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* Short notice transfer. I got the phone call to transfer to Australia at 1 am in the morning. At 11 pm on the same day, I was on an oil rig 200 km out into the Timor Sea. That is a short notice international transfer. 

Title photo credit: http://www.shetnews.co.uk

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Sell your People with Story

















If you work in a company of more than one person, your work colleagues are a critically important to your sales success.

Potential customers don't buy your products and services they buy the expertise of your company to ensure an outcome.

By expertise, I mean the skills of specific individuals in your company, not amorphous 'corporate expertise'.

When I was selling for Siemens, we sold a pre-paid charging system to a telecommunications company for well over $10 million dollars - a deal which took several months to negotiate and close. I was the sales person but we sold it, as you will see.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Desert Storm - Mohamed's Story











If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you

----- From ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling  ------

In 2011, Mohamed, one of our Story workshop participants, was asked to travel from Egypt to Iraq to represent his company in a dispute meeting with a major Iraqi telecommunications company. 

The Iraqi Telco was experiencing serious network failures and the main suppliers, including Mohamed's company, were all pointing the finger at each other.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Rejection Antidotes





Pushback (n):  a negative or unfavourable reaction or response.

Mismatch (n):  a failure to correspond or match

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In 2009, while working for a major international supplier of telecommunications equipment, I arranged to meet the CTO of one of Malaysia’s largest mobile network providers. I was accompanied in the meeting by one of our technical sales specialists.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

How to Re-Purpose a Story





Do you know what it feels like to really help someone but they don't realise you helped?

In our business story workshops, we ask participants to tell a story about when you helped, this is a preparatory exercise to help them construct business success stories (not to be confused with marketing case studies).

Most people tell business stories in this exercise but occasionally there is a memorable personal story:

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Disrupting Telecoms - Norwood Company Story


Invention and entrepreneurship are in the blood for Paul Ostergaard. Paul’s start-up company, Norwood Systems, is named after his grandfather, Arthur Norwood, who invented processes for extracting gold and silver from ore bodies in the 1940s.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Schlumberger in Russia


I think the first time I noticed the power of stories in sales was when I was managing a sales team in Russia for Schlumberger in 2000.