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The Paradox of Selling

The Paradox of Selling

Just took a trip to the Texas Hill Country area and browsed in a few tchotchke* shops in Fredericksburg, Texas.

One store sold a variety of jams and it reminded me of The Jam Study.

If this store wants to sell more jam, they need to read this blog!

In a study conducted by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University they observed the following buying habits: On one day there would be a display table with 24 different kinds of jam. On another day, at the same store, shoppers were given only 6 types of jam choices.

Drum Roll… drum roll…

More display choices created more interest by shoppers.

Less display choices created more sales.

The study shows that while choice seems appealing, at first sight, choice overload generates the wrong results. If a person is presented with too many choices, he or she is actually less likely to buy.”

Since this study, there has been more research on the topic in other areas within the food and clothing industries… with the same results.

Why this matters to you

As leaders in your organizations are you confusing your marketplace, your VPs, or your teams with too many options or protocols or data? Are you giving too much info on your emails, in your meetings, or within your presentations? Are you over-communicating?

A confused listener tunes out.

A confused buyer says no.

Your takeaway

Less is more.

*Tchotchke: Yiddish word for knickknacks and collectables, AKA “dust collectors”.

Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and did NOT purchase any jam at this Fredericksburg store pictured in this blog.

© 2022 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved

Gravitas, Intentional Branding, and Ice Cream

Gravitas, Intentional Branding, and Ice Cream

Ice cream sales soar these days. Deodorant – on the decline. (source: Apple News)

Our guess is that you’re not sweating that much but you still need your ice cream. I get it.

Q: What does ice cream have to do with communicating with gravitas?

A: Let’s let Ben and Jerry (Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade ice cream) answer this question.

“We usually say [we’ve been successful] because of three things: really high quality ice cream, great ingredients – very unusual flavors, and also the activist social mission of the company”.

To communicate with gravitas you need those ‘3 Ben & Jerry things’:

Ben & Jerry’s thing #1: Really High Quality Ice Cream.
For your organization this translates to your really high quality product/service.

Ben & Jerry’s thing #2: Great Ingredients & Very Unusual Flavors.
Your business’ success depends upon your great people with an emphasis on the unique qualities your team brings to your brand.

Ben & Jerry’s thing #3: Activist Social Mission of the Company.
Your strong mission for your organization – communicated by you and your board/advisors/culture – catapults your business above your competition. Ben and Jerry say that other companies could add big chunks to their ice cream, but these other companies can’t copy their mission. “It’s not something you can just say. It has to be who the people are.”

We are not suggesting that your organization must have an activist mission statement. We are saying that your company’s mission, clearly defined and embraced by your people, AND communicated by you, will increase your long-term competitive advantage.

Back to Ben and Jerry – these two childhood friends started out in a remodeled gas station in 1978 and turned their business into a household name around the world. You can say it’s due to its unique chunk-filled product. They’d maintain it’s also due to their strong mission.

Now go eat some ice cream. You might want to apply some deodorant too.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/27/magazine/ben-jerry-interview.html?smid=em-share

© 2020 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved

Photo Credit: Karen and her couch

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#Speaking #PresentationSkills #BusinessCommunication #OrganizationalCommunication #Speaker #SpeakingSkillsCoach
Karen Cortell Reisman, MS, Executive Communication Author & Speaker

How to be Funny Without Offending Anyone

How to be Funny Without Offending Anyone

Humor soothes conflict. Humor creates buy-in. Humor adds joy to any conversation.

The secret to effective humor: be self-deprecating. Use yourself as your foil. You will never offend anyone else.

The other day, two close friends paid me a compliment, “Karen can laugh at herself.” Thank you, Robin and Liza! But what Robin and Liza may not realize is that I purposefully look out for the funny stuff that happens to me. The humorous situations where I am NOT the hero of the story. Those are the gems that I share.

Recent example. As readers of this blog you know that I have just returned from a successful business trip to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. HU, co-founded by Albert Einstein, invited me to speak about the personal side of my famous cousin (yes – that guy with the bad hair).

Now back in Texas I sent some thank you notes to my clients, and one person replied, “Our pleasure. You were an amazing guest. (We don’t have so many Einstein relatives to choose from). Best regards and I hope to see you again.”


Do you think he could’ve omitted the parenthetical sentence?!

Let’s say you just got a recent promotion to SVP and your CEO says, “You’re doing an amazing job. We didn’t have many candidates to choose from.”

Before you take pity, please know that I did receive great comments from others (without qualifying parenthetical statements!). BUT, here are the reasons to share the odd comment and NOT the nice stuff.

  • The nice stuff is blatantly self-serving.
  • The odd compliment is funny – in a self-deprecating way.
  • You still get the same message across (neat business trip).

Rules for self-deprecating humor:

  1. Embed the funny stuff that happens to you with other impressive data. Your fly is down while you ring the bell on Wall Street during your 27 million dollar IPO gain.
  2. Avoid telling only the idiot things you do. That will demean your value.
  3. Keep it short and relevant to your situation.

Humor can also offend. Tune in to my next blog for the two biggest humor mistakes – guaranteed to cause missteps.

Photo ©:  123RF Stock Photo

© Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 3 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with decision makers on how to speak with gravitas. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Karen also speaks about her cousin, Albert Einstein, in a message about hope, resilience and brassieres.

Read more at www.SpeakForYourself.com/blog

#PresentationSkills #BusinessCommunication #OrganizationalCommunication

Karen Cortell Reisman, MS, Executive Communication Author & Speaker

Making Yourself Memorable with Your Auto-Responder on Email

Don’t you hate “out of the office” email responses? They are always the same.


 “I will be out of the office from This Date to That Date with limited time internet access. In case of an emergency, or any urgent issues, please feel free to contact XYZ.”

How NOT unique! Try these tips to make you memorable.

1)      Humanize the normally mechanical message.

2)     Make it funny.


Try something like this!

“I am currently out of the office on vacation.

I know I’m supposed to say that I’ll have limited access to email and won’t be able to respond until I return – but that’s not true. My blackberry will be with me and I can respond if I need to.

That said, I promised my wife that I am going to try to disconnect, get away and enjoy our vacation as much as possible. I’m going to leave the decision in your hands:

  • If your email truly is urgent and you need a response while I’m on vacation, please resend it to interruptyourvacation@[redacted].com and I’ll try to respond to it promptly.
  • If you think someone else at [the company] might be able to help you, feel free to email my assistant, and she’ll try to point you in the right direction.

· Otherwise, I’ll respond when I return. Warm regards,


It’s hard to get annoyed. In fact, you can’t help but respect George.


Here are a couple more great examples!

I will be on vacation from Wednesday through Wednesday (inclusive), and will not be checking my e-mail. Seriously. I don’t even have a cell phone with e-mail capabilities.

Please do not panic, stampede or otherwise become fretful. There are other [department] minions available to do your nefarious bidding; make them work while I’m out of town goofing off. If you would prefer to receive extremely belated technical assistance, I will be back next Thursday.

Please Note: Larger denomination bribes and/or larger quantities of canned goods or other non-perishable (but tasty) food items will receive priority treatment.”



“Your fearless leader is out of the office today, but has left his trusted henchmen to watch you carefully. They are instructed to respond to any questions in the usual slow, evasive and ineffectual manner. And for those who do not trust the answers, watch for them on ‘Jeopardy’ this evening.”


Obviously, different types of messages are appropriate for different work settings. Knowing your audience and your company and how these ideas will go over is an important thing to consider when mixing it up.

Do’s and Don’ts of Small Talk

By Sarah Epstein


You will face situations in which you must mingle with others in a professional setting whether at an event, a conference, or a holiday party. These settings can be daunting for even the most skilled small talkers. Today, we ask Karen for her advice/best practices on how to work a room and make meaningful small talk at an event.


Q:  Karen, what is a good way to open a conversation with somebody else at an event?

A:  Find some way to compliment the person.


Q:  Would you say that there are topics that you should avoid?

A:  Yes. Know the culture of the company or group you’re networking with. You don’t want to discuss anything taboo.


Q:  Many people say that they are too shy or socially awkward to make small talk. What advice do you have for them?

A:  Introverts are at a disadvantage here. Try attending these events with a friend. Separate for a while to mingle, but plan a time to regroup with your ally for moral support. Also, be the question asker. The other person usually loves talking about their favorite subject – themselves.


Q: Are there any faux pas that you’ve seen that you think could be easily avoided?

A:  Making assumptions will cause you to have Titanic Moments. For example, NEVER ask a woman if she’s pregnant unless her water has broken! Never assume that a couple is actually a couple! Never assume that someone is someone else’s mother when that person could be the other person’s spouse. Never assume anything! Just ask questions and let the other guy do the talking.

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