AIBTM Keynote: Mastering ‘the Tornado of Business’

Michael Hoffman 2014 AIBTM keynote
Michael Hoffman explains “the tornado of business” in his keynote address at the 2014 AIBTM Expo.

When your office is hit by a crisis, you won’t solve it because you’re a nice person or even a naturally gifted crisis manager, but because you’ve been preparing for this moment pretty much from the day you were born, according to motivational speaker Michael Hoffman.

He wants you to be good on purpose. By working at it.

Hoffman took on “the tornado of business, the F5 finger of God tornado”  in his keynote address June 10 at the AIBTM Expo in Orlando.  Subduing the tornado is a matter of using the things you’ve been adding to an imaginary bag of skills your whole life.

“When you’re born you get this bag,” he said. “It’s invisible. It’s this bag that you reach into over the years that you’ve been filling up with experiences, with education, examples from your parents growing up, companies that you’ve worked with—all the things that you’ve lived through, you add skill sets to this bag. And it’s that bag that you reach into when you walk into that situation and you say, ‘Assess, assess, assess, I’m going to handle it this way.’ And out it comes.”

“That may be why people love you, you know. When everybody’s going nuts, you, for some reason, you hunker down in low gear and that’s when you show up. You’re reaching into that bag and you say, ’I’m going to respond this way.’  Have you ever hung up the phone and gone, ‘And that’s how it’s done’?”

Hoffman, president of the Dallas-based sales and leadership training company Igniting Performance, spoke for about an hour to meeting planners and other AIBTM attendees in the Orange County Convention Center. Always engaging, often clever and just plain funny, Hoffman entertained and encouraged the audience to give themselves credit for doing a great job. “The tornado makes you so busy that you don’t do a couple of things. Number one, you don’t celebrate. There’s a reason why, when the tornado rises, your team does this—or does this. There’s a reason why, and it might be you.”

“There’s a reason why our people work very well together. There’s a reason why I have worked with you for so long . . . and I walk away saying those were some of the best times of my life. I grew personally; I grew professionally. . . . Have you ever worked with one of those people that when they walk into the room the lights get brighter? Well it’s not because of their pheromones—they are doing things and saying things and saying things that have people go, ‘I’m so glad that you’re here.’”

Hoffman said a leader must recognize great work by team members—not to be nice, but to encourage competence by inspiring confidence. “I want you to know that I am for you. When I am for you, you don’t have to be for you so much.” “I build confidence in my people because they don’t have to guess, ’How am I doing?’

“So here’s a little tiny tip that all teams do. Hopefully they do it on purpose. They say ‘Thank you’ and ‘I appreciate you.’ I’m not doing it just to be a nice guy. I’m doing it because when you know that you’re on, your confidence in you and your position goes up.”

Hoffman also encouraged the audience to take advantage of their time at AIBTM. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “ you’ve got a couple of days ahead of you. Let’s take advantage of it. Let’s do this right. You’ve already connected with each other, you make some friends. You get some business cards, because this industry needs people to talk to. We need our friends too, you know. Iron sharpens iron. You take advantage of the breakout sessions, you take advantage of all the fun things we have planned for you today.

“This is a meeting planner’s meeting—let’s do this right. You let your hair down, you get your skill bag out on the table, you look at yourself and be honest with yourself, because you know what your tornados are and you say ‘What skill sets do I need to grab this time?’ Because you are a professional—you’ll never be done learning. And you polish them up and you stick them in your bag and you approach this tornado, F5 finger of God tornado, not as a victim of what we do. Where the mere mortal would run, you stand stronger.”

Update, August 14, 2014: “Most of us are so busy in the tornado, we rarely get time to look at the thing we do on purpose’ Prevue had a chance to chat more with Michael Hoffman this week. He again stressed that it’s not luck or even natural talent that brings success, but hard work. And that means it’s important to take time to analyze success and figure out what you’re doing right.

“Any success you have should be things you have been doing on purpose. Most of us are so busy in the tornado, we rarely get time to look at the thing we do on purpose. . . . When you start paying attention, you’re going to recognize the things you do well.” And perhaps keep doing them.

Hoffman had quite a success at AIBTM; many audience members left the keynote smiling and commenting on how much they had enjoiyed his message and his delivery. He told Prevue he had prepared extra-hard for the assignment. Although he has never been a meeting planner, he knew he’d be speaking to experts at organization and presentation.

“It’s a tough  crowd. You go into this thing nervous as all get out.But being in the business for 20 years, you get to know the needs of the audience.

“These are my people.”