Lenny Kravitz Throwin’ Some Ass into Reputation Management::
Several years back, Lenny Kravitz was named the celebrity Grand Marshal for the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Challenge at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The All-Star event is a no-holds-barred, winner-take-all race among drivers – this race is about the money and bragging rights!
I was running Sprint’s marketing communications team for its NASCAR series sponsorship and on at this particular event, I was ‘on point’ to be with Lenny for various media interviews. His main role at the race was to give the most famous command in motorsports, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” Well, in today’s races, it is “Drivers, start your engines!”
We spent most of the day together between meeting drivers, media interviews and filming promotional videos for NASCAR. We stood on the infield grass near the Start/Finish line waiting for his ‘moment’ and joked around as the drivers were being introduced – he has a hilarious sense of humor! Lenny took in the amazing fly-over and watched the fans go crazy at the sight and sound of the F-15s as their afterburners lit up the summer evening sky.
A few minutes later, Lenny leans over to me and says, “hey Mike, let me ask you something. You’ve been around this for a while. How do you think I should do this? What do you think they’d like?”
It took me a second to realize what he was asking and then realize that this was a Grammy Award-winning artist/performer asking me my opinion about how to say, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
It was all very bizarre at the time and I didn’t give it much thought, or perhaps I would have answered differently. But in that moment, standing face to face with Lenny Kravitz, this was the professional advice I gave him.
“Lenny, you saw how crazy the fans got with the fly-over, right?” He nodded his head, saying, “yeah.” “OK, then, you’ve got to throw some ass into it and just give it to them.”
My parents would have been proud. A decade and a half spent in motorsports PR and my advice to Lenny is to ‘throw some ass into it’. Brilliant. But, it worked. He laughed, put his arm on my shoulder and said, “I got that.”
Reputation Lesson: There will be times in your life when people are honestly looking for your advice. They are seeking this from you, more than likely, because they value what you will tell them based on your professional position or your personal experiences.
Regardless of why you are being asked, it’s imperative that you understand your impact (positive or negative) on the person that is seeking your counsel as well as the impact (positive or negative) it will have on your reputation.
4 Tips To Give Solid Advice And Build Your Reputation:
1. Slow down and be in the moment :: this is tough in our society these days, but it’s a clear sign of respect to the other person. Make sure they know you are in the moment and that you are genuinely interested in helping them. An easy way to do that is to maintain eye contact. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and as you are talking you notice they are looking around or past you? How does that make you feel? Yeah, like they are looking for someone or something or anything else than in the moment with you! Another tip would be to lean into or towards them. This body language gesture demonstrates interest in what the other person is saying.
2. Don’t talk, just listen to what is being asked :: Stephen Covey has a great quote about listening – “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” In order to give solid direction, you must understand what is being asked. Your time to talk will come, but actively listen to what the person is asking of you; otherwise your ramblings may have them asking themselves why they sought you out in the first place!
3. Connect with them through relevant examples :: when giving direction or feedback, abstract examples rarely help. Instead use examples of something with which they can relate. These could be from your personal experiences, experiences you and the other person may have shared or even examples that have been in the news or are noteworthy. The key is that we learn best from stories, not just directive words.
4. Show appreciation :: remember, it’s a privilege for someone to ask you for your thoughts, ideas and perspective. They obviously hold your opinions in high regard and believe that you can be of help them. Such trust is not only one of the highest forms of respect, but also an indicator as to the strength of your reputation. Remember to thank them for the opportunity and ask if it was helpful.
So, use the steps above the next time you are asked for your advice and, like Lenny did, throw some ass into it!