CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q: My colleague and I attend a lot of client meetings together and

we always brainstorm and plan our strategy before we go. "Dave" always

has a lot of ideas for how we should tackle certain promotions, or how

we should raise a problem with the client. In fact, he comes up with

more than his share of good ideas. But when we get to the meeting, he

hardly says a word. I have to do all the talking, and when I try to draw

him into the discussion, he just turns it right back to me by saying

something like, "You explain it much better than I do." I am really sick

of being the one who has to do all the work in the meetings.

Mrs. J, Birmingham, AL

A: "Dave" has one of two problems. Either he is hopelessly shy in front

of the big scary client, or he feels nervous about his ideas and wants

to distance himself during the meetings in order to gauge the client's


Whatever his motives are, it is clear that neither one of you knows the

first thing about how to properly plan for a client meeting. An

effective face-to-face involves a lot more than just rattling off a lot

of winning ideas to promote the next-generation toothpaste, or whatever.

You have to demonstrate to your contacts that you work as a dynamic

team, that both of you are committed to the account and equally

important to its excellent management.

Presentation is as important as substance. Tell the taciturn "Dave" that

your strategy sessions will henceforth include developing a presentation

plan, with informal scripting of who says what and when. Otherwise, your

partner might find the client wondering what he is adding to the account

team, other than billable hours.

Q: I am VP of corporate communications for a small technology company.

We have just signed a licensing deal with a major tech company to

manufacture one of our most exciting products, and the press is starting

to really pay attention, asking me for interviews with our designers and

our CEO.

My problem sounds really dumb, but it concerns our CEO. She is such a

great person, and she has absolutely no vanity, which is exactly the


The last official photo she had taken was seven years ago - right after

she was appointed. Not only does she look different now, but the photo

looks old-fashioned and not befitting our image. We are not publicly

traded (yet!), so there is no annual report to worry about, but she

won't even let us take a new picture to put on our website.

If publications, newsletters, or conferences ask for her picture (and

are not willing to pay for a photographer), we end up looking like

amateurs. But she just doesn't care, saying it doesn't matter what she

looks like. In many ways she's right, of course, but I really think

having a good photo is important. What do you think?

Mr. L, Winston-Salem, NC

A: I admire your CEO's attitude, but you have to make her understand

that having a good photo taken is not an ego trip. Photos are important

tools when communicating with the media, investors, consumers, and the

general public. The company is gaining more media attention now, and she

may not know that this happy situation will demand a more high-profile

response from her.

Have you ever discussed with her what image she wants to project to the

public? It may be that she is turned off by the staid, boring headshots

that so many companies use. Find ways for her to demonstrate her unique


Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try

Pandora. E-mail her at

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in