The Advancing Leadership Blog

Cupcakes, Juice and Winning Ways!

A client recently asked, “Jeff, you always stress the value and significance of words and language. Is it really that big of a deal?”

My response, “If you want long-term business-growth success, you bet! If instead, you want a quick path to extinction, fuh-ged-uh-bout-it!”

Magic words

While at O’Hare Airport, I overheard one businessman say to another, “What should I say? Can you give me magic words?”

This fellow was searching for words of wisdom. He wanted to avoid language losers. Why? Because the words, phrases and questions you use really do matter. Especially, in a marketing, sales, service or persuasive message.

This point was driven home by a bunch of first-graders.

Words build understanding

When we celebrated our youngest daughter Amanda’s 7th birthday in her school classroom, my wife served chocolate cupcakes, while our other daughter Brittany, and I were in charge of “drink distribution.”

To the first group of four kids, I asked, “Would you like apple juice or citrus cooler?” Each, with a look of confusion, cautiously responded, “Apple juice.”

Brittany said, “Daddy, nobody wants citrus cooler.”

Boom! It hit me!

I exclaimed, “Brittany, how could they? Why would they? Who the heck even knows what citrus cooler is!”

I said, “Brittany, I used ill-conceived language that didn’t appeal to their dominant buying motives for risk, excitement and adventure.”

Brittany then said what she often says, “Daddy, you’re very strange!”

I said, “Brit, watch this!” I then asked 15 more children: “Which would you like regular apple juice or yummy green bug juice?”

Their eyes bulged! Cheeks puffed! Smiles erupted! And, 14 of 15 exclaimed, “Gimme yummy green bug juice!”

Words build respect

Here’s another example:

Gus, a salesperson for a personal-improvement website was trying to woo me to advertise on his site. In his voice-mail messages, he assured me, “Jeff, you’ll make big bucks just like your friends in the industry.” I was skeptical, but set-up a brief phone meeting. We scheduled a time and date for Gus to reach me on my private line.

Gus called. Twenty hours early!

I told him I was chatting with a client on another line and could he please call back at the scheduled time. He said dejectedly, “Okay, I was just hoping to pitch you now.” (Hmmm. He wasn’t going to assess my goals and needs, he was “pitching.”)

The next day, I waited for the phone to ring. It didn’t. Gus blew-off our phone-date.

Ninety minutes later, my private line rang. It was Gus. I asked, “Gus, is everything okay? I expected your call at 2:00.”

He replied, “Oh, I didn’t call because we’re moving our offices and I lost track of time.” (Gus sells self-improvement and he can’t keep track of time!)

He then said, “Let’s make this quick. This will work for you. You deserve to pay $600.”

I exclaimed, “I deserve to pay?”

He said, “Ummm, maybe that’s not the right word.” (No kidding!)

Gus then tried to flatter me, when he boldly declared, “Jeff, I’ve already gotten commitments from other superstars like you.” (It didn’t work. I ain’t a big fan of fawning and insincere praise.)

When I asked, “Who?” He started name-dropping.

Amazingly, every name he dropped, he mispronounced.

I politely ended the conversation, by requesting he send me this “superstars” list so I could confirm their results. He assured me, “You’ll get it today.”

I never did.

Words build (and break) relationships

Remember, one foolish utterance, often destroys the rapport and trust of your business relationship! It’s better for people to think you’re a fool, than to open your mouth and confirm it!

Power words

I’ve created a list of 189 power words and profit phrases that I’d love to share with readers. Simply email me with the subject heading “TEC – Winning Words” and we’ll send you a copy via e-mail.

May you always win with words!

Jeff Blackman ( is a Hall of Fame speaker, bestselling author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” You can hear Jeff speak at the upcoming VIATeC and TEC Canada event in Victoria, BC on Friday, October 28, 2011. More information is available at

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