Young Thought Leaders Making Waves in the European Young Chemists Network

EYCN group boating in Portugal

A group from the European Young Chemists Network on the canals of Aveiro, Portugal

There’s something inspiring about meeting three dozen bright young European scientists who – despite some healthy debate – are now all pulling in one direction: to try to raise the profile of the European Young Chemists Network as thought leaders.

I presented them with some cool tools to help guide their discussions and debate and the final product of the session was a framework with claims they want to make to potential sponsors and members, as well as media and other stakeholders in the non-profit organization, about the essential contribution they are making as a group.

As part of the European Chemists and Molecular Scientists Society, these young chemists represented their national groups at the Delegates Assembly in Aveiro, Portugal, from 6-9 May.

Cold, driving rain throughout most of the conference encouraged active participation in indoor activities, like the business sessions and workshops. A stronger, more cohesive group ended the conference with a social event – an informal boat race around the canals that have earned Aveiro the title “The Venice of Portugal.”

Does your company, team or non-profit group need to master some of the tools of thought leadership and apply them to your own particular situation? Ask, assess, then act.

How to Persuade Others to Persuade

Aristotle and use of ethos in modern business communicationsDo you ever have to persuade others to persuade others? Then here are some modern hints for you from a very old source.

A friend sent me the link to a fascinating (well, fascinating for a rhetorician like me) article in Business Week called “Jay Heinrichs’s Powers of Persuasion” by Peter Heller.

Rarely do you read an article in mass media that mentions Aristotle, but this piece points out how the Greek philosopher’s teachings apply in today’s business world. One of the three stalwarts of classical rhetoric – along with Socrates and Plato – Aristotle taught that the three purposes of discourse were

  • to teach
  • to move
  • to delight
In a business setting, before writing a speech or even an email, it’s critical to ask yourself which of those three goals you are intending to fulfill and then analyze what would be the most appropriate way to do that for your particular audience.

Emphasizing the power of rhetoric (the science of argumentation and debate), Aristotle also taught about the three tools of persuasion:

  • ethos – appealing to the “character” or inner goodness of the audience member
  • logos – appealing to the rational, logical thought processes of the audience member
  • pathos – appealing to the emotions of the audience member and stirring up empathy or sympathy
Jay Heinrichs, the rhetorician featured in the Business Week article and author of Thank You for Arguing, says that the first tool, appealing to a person’s character or better self, is the most effective for persuasion. Logos, he says, doesn’t draw the audience in as much, so it’s harder to convince that person.

Convincing others – especially those who need to then persuade others – often takes a gentle hand. Someone once described a good rhetorician as a person who has the ability to “convince without seeming to argue and compel without seeming to urge.”

To do those things well, Heinrichs suggests you may need to change verb tense to future tense as that’s the “language of choice and decisions.” The past, however, focuses on “blame and punishment,” and the present is more about “belonging,” which is why using the future tense may be the better rhetorical approach.

If you’re interested in reading more about the topic of rhetoric in the workplace, two rhetoric websites that Heinrichs produces are with some great current examples of persuasion at work and, which features his latest book.

Are these hints helpful? Have I successfully persuaded you to consider how rhetoric can help you in your daily work as a thought leader? Ask, assess then act.

What’s in a Name…or an Acronym?

acronyms in communications

What's hot, what's not

Erin McKean, founder of the Wordnik online dictionary, reviewed some of the new words and acronyms introduced during 2011 in the Wall Street Journal. Two of the most interesting “blended words” in business are “acquihire,” which describes the practice of acquiring a company mainly to get access to their human capital, and “solomo,” which combines social networking, local commerce and mobile communications.

She also described some popular new acronyms in 2011 and defined “acronyms” as a string of letters pronounced as words, like RADAR (for RAdio Detection And Ranging and now accepted as an actual word). These differ from “initialisms,” which are letters pronounced as themselves, like the IRS.

Two new acronyms this year that McKean noted in the article sound like familiar words: CARBS and CIVETS. CARBS (Canada, Australia, Russia, Brazil and South Africa) are the countries most affected by fluctuations in the price of commodities and CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa is a clever acronym because it stands for the next generation of young tiger economies.

Are you in touch with language trends when you communicate with internal and external audiences? Is your “voice” up to date and authentic or is it antiquated and academic? Ask, assess then act.

And the victor is…

Victor Hugo

The recent “war of words” between Britain and France has been making international headlines lately. Victor Hugo once commented that the French and the English needed each other because they both got better from the competition.

Are you experiencing any particularly aggressive external competition right now? Are you using that brouhaha to strengthen your company?

Times of struggle against a common “enemy” can unify your internal team members and help them pull together in one direction — hopefully that is the direction where your company needs to go. Are you consistently clear about that direction and who is the true “enemy” so that internal competition is eliminated and the focus is only on the external competition?

Are you communicating your thoughts well to those inside — and outside — your company? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help.

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