Friday, March 5, 2010

Comfort Challenges: Lear to Propose

The 4-Hour Workweek Assignment (2 days):

Learn to propose - offer a solution!

The Challenge is to stop asking for opinions and start proposing solutions. Begin with small things. If someone is going to ask, or asks, "Where should we eat?" "What movie should we watch?" "What should we do tonight?" or anything similar, do NOT reflect it back with, "Well, what do you want to ...?" Offer a solution. Stop the back-and-forth and make a decision. Practice this in both personal and professional environments. Here are some suggested lines:
  • "Can I make a suggestion?"
  • "I propose..."
  • "I'd like to propose..."
  • "I suggest that... What do you think?"
  • "Let's try... and then try something else if that doesn't work."
I've been living this assignment for about 10 years. Anyone who knows me knows I don't do the:

"What do you want to do?"

"I don't know. You?"

"Whatever you want."

Seriously. Nails. Chalkboard. UGH!

Be the one to stop this! It's OK to have an opinion and it's OK to not have an opinion, but speak your mind.

"What do you want to do?"

"Right now? Write a blog post."


"What do you want to do?"

"Hmmm. Let me think about that for a minute."

You can do this without being rude.

"What movie should we watch?"

"Lord of the Rings, cartoon style. Unless you have something else in mind."


I understand being assertive and straight up can be uncomfortable, but it's appreciated. The person on the other end of the conversation will be happy to be free of the back and forth and have direction.

Like I said, this is pretty common for me, so thinking of an example is tough, but one thing that comes to mind is a recent product I'm building for ESPN. The product is a live-chat type do-hickey for the NFL Draft, and we'd like to integrate with Facebook.

We can use a Facebook widget, which will take about an hour to implement and gets us 90% of what we want, or we can build our own solution from scratch, which might get us 93% of what we want and take weeks of development.

When asked my opinion? Wham! 90% rule, baby!

Alas, I still had to prove that the other option was in fact much more time consuming, which I did, but the point is, when asked "Should we use this or that?" I was unequivocal. And, fortunately, my boss was unequivocal about what he wanted to see from me to back up that opinion.

Open dialog. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

This challenge was easy for me. Did you try it? What examples do you have?

That said, the next challenge is going to be the hardest for me.

Next up is Get Phone Numbers.

Being sure to maintain eye contact, ask for the phone numbers of at least two attractive members of the opposite sex on each day. Remember that the real goal is not to get numbers, but to get over the fear of asking, so the outcome is unimportant.

This is going to test me, for sure. I don't really care if I get the number. I just don't want to come off as "That Guy." Ugh. Tim, my boy, this better be worth it.

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