NEWSLETTER VOLUME 3, #6
Ideas for people pursuing an empowered life,
On winning proposals
Many years ago, I was inspired when I heard about the ancient Olmec culture and how they civilized the jungle. I was awed when I thought about what it must have taken to convince millions of people to join together in a free trading empire. Imagine those people scattered in an immense number of independent tribes - each has several hundred people and there are thousands of tribes for every million - from an astonishing diversity of environments.
More than 2500 years ago, America banded together and traded: Salt, foods, lumber, minerals, art, fur, know-how and much more criss-crossed the land. Imagine an efficient "real-value" free-trade system from the South of America to somewhere North of the Mississippi basin - with indications they may have traded as far North as New York State - uniting small independent businesses.
So how did they propose the winning scenarios that assured them "customer buy-in"? I met descendants of these First People - the Maya in the mountains between Chiapas and Guatemala - and was quite impressed by their small stature and delicate features, by their soft spoken and polite way. The task their ancestors accomplished millennia ago is more than marvelous, it is monumental.
I've written about how the Ancient Jaguar-kings taught their people the 5 roles of a strategic thinker (http://www.consult-IIDC.com/english/training/strategic.htm) and how they introduced them to Nature's law - i.e. the concept of altruistic self-interest: It's in all our interest to care for the greater good.
The Jaguar-kings proposed that by banding together in commerce, we-the-people could co-create paradise on Earth. Well that got me thinking about how to make winning proposals. So I looked up what the modern-day experts think, synthesized my own ideas and whittled it down to an 8-point list. Then I started making my own proposals that way... and the rest is history. Here's my list:
What it takes to make a winning proposal:
1. Research, research, research. Are you selling what they are buying? Know your proposed client's needs.
2. Don't be afraid of giving away ideas. Don't hold back your best concepts for fear of being ripped off - they are exactly what will win the contract. You needn't give away any details but do explain the idea in all its broad terms.
3. Focus on your unique selling position. What distinguishes you from the competition? Tell why you are different and why you merit the business.
4. Use facts and adopt a simple communication style. Facts speak long after flowers fade, and jargon doesn't bamboozle anyone... it just confuses things and sets off people's warning bells.
5. Properly organize your ideas. Remember the A-B-C's - Audience, Back-story, Context: Who will read your proposal? Why are they reading it? How will they find what they are looking for?
6. Include a benefits-to-cost comparison. Use visuals. Competitive pricing can be all over the map and quite confusing so people want to know what they'll get for their money. Show your win-win-win scenario.
7. Begin with a strategic summary. People are busy; they want to get the gist of a concept right away so they can see if they should keep reading. Put your most compelling arguments up front and tell them what you'll do for them.
8. Promise 100% and deliver 110%. If you already go the extra mile I'm stating the obvious... but so many people are still waiting for proof that this pays off. Because understanding follows experience, your competitive edge exists because the competition delivers less, waiting for proof.
A good rule of thumb is to write one page of proposal for every $1000 dollar slice of business you are looking for - up to 30 pages. If you need more than 30 pages to explain a concept, maybe you'd better simplify it... or propose getting paid for an in-depth analysis.
One of my favorite ways of expressing ideas is with ¬´Visual thinking¬ª. I'm forever sketching symbols, pictograms and stick characters on napkins or placemats to represent ideas. I've kept a grimoire - a little book of blank pages where I think in doodles - for over 25 years.
I recently found a great software program that lets me use my PowerBook(c) in that same way. Inspiration(c) let's me click here and there as I'm inspired - and get instant visuals. Then I can project my musing on a giant screen - live. Because I'm a visual thinker, now my laptop really does work for me.
With a click, Inspiration(c) lets me create pictures of ideas and concepts, I can relate them to one another in larger forms and diagrams. It also lets me translate those diagrams into written documents (and vice versa). A combination visual and linear thinking tool, it can help you deepen your understanding of complex ideas, increase memory capacity and retention, develop organizational skills, strategically plan or creatively muse.
Easy to learn, Inspiration(c) (for Windows(c) / Mac/9(c) / OS/X(c)) will make your thinking an active rather than a passive process. It can organize your thoughts because the CNS - the central nervous system - more quickly grasps images and more easily holds visuals for recall in the mind's eye. And we better grasp how ideas relate to one another in clear diagrams. By creating visual maps of your ideas, your audience will recall them quicker and retain the details better than if they just read about them in a paragraph or a page.
Inspiration(c) calls itself the premier tool to develop ideas and organize thinking. I'm enjoying mine a whole bunch... considering its price... Why not download a free 30-day trial version at http://www.inspiration.com/freetrial/index.cfm - Happy Holidays!!
Pssst!! How'd you like to go to Costa Rica... for FREE? OK so nothing is ever really free and you'll be working for your fare... but consider this: Prosperity incubation has to do with giving material form to a creative intent.
If you want to go... you can "intend a free tour" by joining the "Mayamu Touring Club" - and being creative instead of pining the winter away. Dream your paradise... imagine yourself co-leading a small group learning-adventure... and then we'll help you realize a strategic plan to materialize that intent.
In the spirit of the season - as yesterday is history and tomorrow is mystery, shape your next present by giving yourself this gift!! The details are here.
I'm writing on a cold, dank autumn day so it's easy to figure out why I'm longing for the jungles and beaches of Costa Rica.
More than a few of you might want to expand your horizons and include some time in that tiny slice of paradise so here are a few clicks that might feed your curiosity. The Costa Rican/American Chamber of Commerce is at http://www.amcham.co.cr/, the Canadian Residents Association is at http://www.casacanada.net/ while the Costa Rican Investment Board (CINDE) helps foreign investors establish operations in Costa Rica from http://www.cinde.or.cr/cinde/home.nsf/pages/about.
The online edition of the Tico Times - the English language weekly paper is at http://www.ticotimes.net/. The official Costa Rica tourism board site is at http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/home.asp?ididioma=2 while http://www.costarica.com/ is a great community site offering everything from retirement info to daily weather reports from most everywhere in this amazingly bio-diverse place and a chat room for live updates.
Then http://www.LoveCostaRica.com/ is well-made commercial site run by an outfit called the Costa Rica Travel Exchange who offer a way to click-on to any region, pick a place to stay and consider things to do.
Surf the web... and then surf many of the 150+ beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts... ahhh paradise.
"I don't know the secret to success, but the key to failure is to try and please everyone!" - Bill Cosby
"Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principle." - Mahatma Gandhi
"There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, But there are many more dying for a little love." - Mother Teresa
"No man is an island, entire onto himself. Every man is a piece of the whole, a part of all. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less - as well if a promontory goes, or a friend's house, or your own. Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." - John Donne
"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind." William James
="Successful people in this world are those who get up. And look for circumstances they want. If they can't find them, they make them." - George Bernard Shaw
A long time ago the small cats did not live in houses with people. They were savage and lived alone in the jungle.
One day - for reasons still unknown - one particularly cat became friendly with a rabbit. She went everywhere with that rabbit and seemed astonished at the cleverness of her new friend. She wanted to learn all she could from him.
After a season and a half, a horned goat fought with the rabbit over a cabbage and killed it. As her friend was now dead, depressed, the cat decided to follow the goat, and was heard to mutter: "I think a well-armed companion is the ticket - and I can learn to be hard-headed to get over my grief."
Then, a short time later, the goat was killed by a leopard and the cat was traumatized... for a brief moment. A survivor, she decided to live with the leopard, thinking: "This jungle is a dangerous place so I'd better align myself with an ally - with the fastest inhabitant of all so I can learn to be quick and agile enough to avoid danger."
A few days later the two met with a lion - who immediately jumped to defend his territory, fought the leopard and killed it. The small cat then quickly made friends with the lion: "Ferocious is the trick. I'll be defensively ferocious from now on."
So she lived with that lion and was learning to snarl in a truly menacing fashion until the day they met a herd of elephants. As bad luck would have it, a huge bull picked a fight with the lion and killed it. The small cat then thought to herself, "This elephant is the largest and strongest citizen in the jungle -surely nothing can defeat it! What must I do... all is lost... what should I learn about size and might"
Little did she know that her adventures were not yet over - for soon a hunter found and shot that elephant with a poisoned arrow and it died. Now the cat was truly stunned for she had never seen a two-legged beast such as this before. She thought hard and said to herself: "Well if this sort can kill a huge animal like an elephant by stalking it down and shooting it with a small stick, then size doesn't matter after all. I'll better make friends with this crafty and creative sort - so that I can learn in safety - to be a crafty, creative stalker."
She followed the hunter back to his home, and when he entered his hut the cat crept up on to the window ledge. She heard sounds of quarrelling in the hut and peering in, saw the man in flight from a rather attractive and sassy woman who was beating him with a wooden spoon. She was calling him a lazy beggar and he was cowering away from her in fear.
And the cat concluded: "Now I have truly seen the greatest of all creatures in the jungle! And I can easily learn to be sassy and independent-minded."
Ever since day, cats have lived in huts with the people, because they befriended women who are secretly the all-powerful rulers of the world.
Those friends share other skills - cleverness, hard-headedness, quickness and agility, defensive ferociousness - as well as being crafty, creative stalkers who are independently-minded, strong-willed and in charge.