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The keynote speech: value versus entertainment

Last week I was asked to give a presentation to associates at a large international law firm.  I suggested one of my favorite topics:  personal branding.   The partners were appreciative: “We’re sure you’ll be entertaining, informative, and motivating”.

As we discussed the details, they were enthused by my idea that each individual’s personal brand should incorporate the firm’s core values. Yet when I suggested taking a poll during the presentation to find out how many people could actually identify these values, and—still more crucially—how well individual firm members were delivering on those values, they lost their nerve.

“Oh no,” I was told:  I couldn’t ask that.  I was supposed to be entertaining and inspiring, not instigating controversy, challenge or change.

(Of course, I adjusted to their preferences.  But what a chance missed!)

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