This transcript is from Episode 36 of The Savvy Event Planner Podcast
To listen to this podcast, please visit: http://SavvyEventPodcast.com/36
Interview only transcript
Tom: Folks, I'm on the line today with Susan Young. Susan, how are you today?
Susan: I'm fabulous. Thank you for inviting me to be on your show, Tom.
Tom: I'm thrilled to have you here. Now, Susan, you are a speaker. You help people harness the power of change, to thrive, prosper and succeed. Would you mind telling us a little bit about your background and how you kind of evolved into the event speaking industry or into the event industry itself?
Susan: Oh, I would love to. Thank you for asking. I had a very strong background in sales, and then I went back and got my Masters Degree in Human Performance Technology. And having such a passion for people and having been a speaker for several years, that I've created an entire platform where everything that I do, from my workshops, my leadership development training, my keynote speeches, it's all about empowering people to be their best and do their best so that they can get better results at work, at home, in life, and all around. So, it's been very rewarding.
Tom: And I'm not trying to age you or anything, but how many years have you been speaking for events?
Susan: I've been speaking for 20 years.
Tom: You've worked at a lot of different events. One of the first things I like to ask my guests, is there an event that you've ever worked that really stood out in your mind? And if there is, what made it so special for you?
Susan: Actually, you'll probably appreciate this because my all-time favorite event of life is the National Speakers Association Convention. Because we're all world changers. Those of us that are on the platform and we're going out there and we're giving our best ideas and trying to be thought leaders, is that when you get multitudes of us together, the energy is electric and amazing. And this [inaudible 00:01:45] that's gravitating.
What I've always been impressed by is how our event coordinators put such an incredible program together when you've got all these messengers of hope gathered together in one place and how we can empower each other. Because in this negative world today with so many challenges and so many fears, is that those of us that are on the platform really do bring hope to people that may have lost it. We bring encouragement and motivation when they're feeling deflated, overwhelmed, overworked, stressed out. The National Speakers Association perhaps is my absolute favorite venue.
Tom: Fantastic answer. Usually you're coming in to inspire attendees at an event, but today, I'm going to ask you to help inspire our event planners. One of your programs is called First Impressions for Positive Impact. And I thought this was a pretty cool topic. Although I know a lot of people would use it for networking concepts, but events also rely on creating a positive impression and impact. And I thought there was some cross over there that I was hoping we could talk about.
Susan: There certainly is. Something wonderful when I'm working with event planners and meeting planners is, my job is to make them look really good. I want them choosing me as their keynote speaker or their workshop leader to make them look like a success. And it's all based on those first impressions that I'm making on an audience.
And so, anyone who's putting on meetings and events knows that the people that are attending their conference and their meetings, they want them wowed. They want them to be truly impressed, to create a memorable experience that was positive and helps everyone achieve their objectives. And first impressions is certainly the place to do that. Then ironic is that my book, “The Art of First Impressions for Positive Impact,” had to shine bright and stand apart from the crowd.
It applies to every walk of life, every kind of business, whether a child is leaving for college. Or it is an event planner that's really trying to get a huge contract and they're competing against a different competitor and they're wanting to get that contact, is that what is it about you that is helping you to stand apart from your competition? What is going to make you memorable? What can you be and do that would be the extra that makes you extraordinary? And so, in my book, I give a lot of tools on how to make that happen.
Tom: Let's talk about some of those tools, because you sent me an outline that I'm looking at here and you have nine points that you then break down further. Can we start with the first one, the art of being?
Susan: I would love to. Thank you for asking. Because with all great intentions, to be organized, do we have the right clothes on or have the right advertising, the right business card, all of that is irrelevant if your art of being is not the foundation that creates positivity in your client's eyes. And that's why it's the first chapter that kicks off the book, because the art of being is critical for how people perceive you.
And in the art of being, I share seven, eight really great tools on how to be your best. And I started with authenticity because authenticity illustrates to people that you're real, that you can be trusted, that you really care. And we have plenty of phonies and Charltons in the world, and authenticity alone allows for a transparency that makes people feel confident in doing business with you.
Another aspect of being is passion, because if you're not passionate about your business, nor am I. Passion is conveyed in the way that you walk, the way you talk, the way you represent yourself to your clients and to your audiences. And another aspect of being is of your approachability. Some folks are very approachable, where they put out the proverbial welcome mat which welcomes people to engage in conversation, that they feel comfortable doing so. We've all known people in business that are not approachable. They make us feel awkward, as if we won't be emotionally safe to go near them.
Another aspect, of course, is charm and charisma. Charm is a real art into itself, and not charm where people are trying to get something for nothing or weasel you out of something. Charm can go both ways. But when people are truly charming and they're engaging and they have this wonderful ability to connect and to communicate, that it's impressive and memorable.
Also, a heart of service. That's a way of being that some people come from and others don't realize how important it is. I have really focused my networking efforts, my marketing efforts to build my speaking business nationally and internationally by just serving others.
And when I come at my goals, when you go for your goals, by wanting to be of service to others and provide them value, you'll get everything that you want. Whereas there are plenty of folks out there, they're focusing on the bottom line only. They're only focusing on what they're going to get out of it. And people feel it, people know it and it makes them not have trust for them. And regarding the heart of service, perhaps on of my favorite quotes of all time that relates to this is Zig Ziggle when he said, “You can have everything in life you want by giving enough other people what they want.”
And so, the heart of service enables you to become a magnet where you are attracting prosperity, you're attracting referrals, you're attracting recommendations. Because if people think that you're only in this for you, they're going to go to the next person in line that's going to treat them like they matter. There's several other areas for the art of being: humility and gratitude, having a healthy self esteem. Take into consideration that some of us are introverts, some of us are extroverts, and then there's the ambivert. And I like that new term. Have you heard of that yet, Tom?
Tom: I have not. Let's talk about introverted versus extroverted versus…what was the term again?
Susan: It's ambivert.
Tom: Ambivert, okay.
Susan: You're ambidextrous; you know how to write with both hands.
Susan: Well, I have found that I am more of an ambivert, and a lot of successful people are. They may appear to be extroverted, where we go out there and we want to change the world and make a difference and knock on doors and make phone calls and be all things to all people.
However, we need downtime to reset our buttons, to recover, to reflect, to regenerate before we can go back out there and use all that kind of energy again. And so, an ambivert, I believe, is able to successfully navigate both sides of the introversion and the extroversion to really be a moderate way of being so that you can adapt as you need.
Tom: I see a lot of my wife in that, because she's very extroverted in business and in networking, and yet, she needs that downtime. So, that's pretty cool. Now, I do want to ask you a question about this because I'm always fascinated by introverts versus extroverts. I, myself, even though I'm a performer and I get on stage in front of 1,000 people and can get them laughing, when I'm off stage, I'm an introvert.
And in one of your speeches, or one of your programs, you had a thing about tips for social introverts. So I'm going to ask you for myself, and I'm sure a bunch of our listeners out there, what are some tips that can help an introverted person put themselves out there?
Susan: Well, ironically, one of my best friends is an introvert and she's a professional speaker.
Tom: It's not unusual.
Susan: And I do tend to be more of the extrovert. She just makes sure that when she is networking or when she's having meetings, that she prefers one on one time, that she feels like she can go deeper and make a better connection if she's able to communicate that way. I'm happy to go into a room filled with 300 strangers and be best friends with them all before I leave. That would horrify her. The tips, when I've had introvert friends that I do social things with or business things with, I'm a nice wing woman to have, kind of like a wing man in the Air Force.
Susan: Having a wing woman who's an extrovert then can help clear the path for you to make it a lot more comfortable so that they can take care of helping make introductions and walking up to strangers so that the pressure's off of you. But ironically, when we get further into the description of my book, you're going to hear some things about how to connect and communicate so that it makes it easier for introverts.
Tom: Okay. Now, we've talked about the art of being, and as I'm looking down here, the next point was the art of preparation. Obviously, in planning an event, you've got a lot of preparation. Let's talk a little bit about those and how they might apply to an event.
Susan: It's funny, I know that I'm a Zig Zigler fan, but he once said that success is when preparation meets opportunity, that that's when we're really successful. And every great event planner knows when they're really prepared and they're on top of things and they're being proactive to think of things before they happen, they have so much more control and comfort over their own situation. And in the aspect of preparation, sure, you've got the details and all the scheduling and the agendas and the itineraries, and all of the prior planning.
In terms of making a great first impression, your personal branding is a very important part to focus on, the branding that you put forth, not just for your company but also for your own personage when you are at a conference and you are in a position where you're handling all the details. Your personal brand, whether it's your hair, it's your clothing, it's your business card, it's your color name, what is your signature brand that is making you unique? And this is something that really does deserve focus, it deserves attention for people to pay attention to, rather than just go into things blindly, whether that be dressing for success.
Something that I imagine every event planner has had to deal with is having mindful awareness. And this is something that I speak to when I'm training companies on the art of first impressions and speaking keynotes for conventions, is that to really make a great impression, that awareness happens on a lot of different levels. It is cultural awareness for cultural differences, it is situational awarenesses, just watching and listening and looking and being prepared to make a situation successful and to help minimize things that are becoming challenging. You've also got orientational awareness.
And as we go to events, just the orientation of how tables are set, the orientation of how banners and flyers are out with the flow of traffic, is it going to be conducive to what their desired outcomes are? And so mindful awareness shows up in a lot of ways of how to be prepared ahead of time. Another aspect of the art of preparation is being punctual and on time. And when we do not show up on time and we're not abiding, it's as if we're breaking a promise. And it looses trust and people learn they can't depend on us.
I tell you, with event planners, things are so tight in terms of time and scheduling that when programs are not going according to time, they can really upset the [inaudible 00:13:59] and make everyone's life very stressful, not only the attendees but the client who's hired you to put the event on.
Tom: I love that example right there. Because I can tell you, and I'm sure as you can, been to a lot of events and there are some that just don't run on schedule or they have somebody who speaks longer than planned and it throws everything else off. So, that's a great tip to bring up.
Susan: Thank you. And also, the healthy habits. This may sound kind of silly because it's so obvious and so completely sophomoric for people to brush their hair, for them to brush their teeth, for them to wear deodorant and to have clean fingernails and to have ironed clothing, but how many times, as much as you have spoken and been on stage and worked with event planners, that you'll see people that look disheveled or they've got halitosis or they wreak of cigarette smoke? And it makes an impression even though words are not being spoken. And it says so much about your professionalism as to whether or not they want to continue doing business with you.
Tom: Great stuff. You've got the next point as being the art of body language, but I'd like to skip over that because…obviously we're going to be talking a little bit about your book in just a little while, but I want to go down to the art of action. Can we talk about that for a little bit?
Susan: Ironically, that ties us back to the extrovert/introvert thing.
Susan: I've got several aspects of actions that you can take that make a great first impression. And mix mingle and glow is one of my favorite topics where you know how to mix with different groups of people and mingle among them, and to glow not only yourself but to bring the best out of other people. And any time you go into an event, a convention, a conference, a networking event or whatever, it takes a special effort to introduce yourself to people, to take the initiative.
But also, when you see people that are along the walls, they're standing back, standing at a table by themselves, that are the wall flowers that perhaps are the introverts that aren't comfortable with engaging, a savvy person who wants to really make a great first impression for a positive impact will go up and speak with them and find a way to put them at ease, to engage them, so that they can communicate.
That's just a great action to take. But another is to really mind your manners. I'm not your mother, but manners do matter. And it's amazing when I see things happening and deteriorating today where rudeness becomes the norm and it's tolerated. And when we're in a position of leadership and planning events and so forth, that is something that just isn't negotiable, in my book.
And being courteous and kind and thoughtful and giving and opening doors and pulling out chairs and refilling someone's water glass, you're doing things that just show the extra effort of just small actions that mean so much and they make a big, big impact. One item that we have under the art of action also is polishing the gold, because we all can find good things in other people. I believe it was Charles Schwabb who had said that developing people is like mining gold. Everybody has dirt but if you'll just find that sparkle inside of each person and begin to polish that gold, they will shine so bright and exceed your expectations.
Children flourish when people compliment and catch them doing things right. I don't understand why, in work environments, more managers and leaders don't realize that, that that's really how you get the best out of people. But I've used it, in my networking, as one of the finest tools, is to just find something that I like about someone, bring it to their attention and compliment them or thank them for doing something right, and polishing the gold. They are often so surprised that I'm complimenting them or finding something nice to say, that it really leaves us with a great resonance that creates some happy memories for positive impact.
The art of action too is really pay attention to your moments, because positive psychology has shown that it only takes one to three seconds to create a moment and it's over instantly. We have over 20,000 moments a day to create new experiences, and that's with eight hours of sleep. And these moments are going to be either a negative one, a zero or a positive one.
And so, are you taking the action to make moments positive, or are you allowing these negative moments to creep into your present time and compromise it? Something that I say in my keynotes which is really funny…you're a comedian, you'll appreciate this. Do you know the number one reason why a man falls in love with a woman?
Tom: I plead the fifth. Go ahead.
Susan: It's because of how she makes him feel about himself. Do you want to know the number one reason why a man falls out of love with a woman? Because of how she makes him feel about himself. It's the same thing. We love to be around people that make us feel great, that make us happy, that they bring the best out in us. And this is an action that we can take to make our moments more meaningful, is to create these great experiences. Because I know I want to do business with people that make me feel good. What about you?
Tom: Definitely, definitely.
Susan: So take the action to make those moments matter.
Tom: Fantastic advice. Now, Susan, let's discuss a little bit about the art of communication, if we can.
Susan: Oh, my pleasure. I actually do complete workshops and keynotes on that for confident communications, how to create an effective and positive workplace. Because a breakdown of communication means a breakdown of so much more than just communication. It destroys performance, productivity, profitability. It ends marriages, kids run away from home. It can be devastating. And if you just have some tips on how to communicate well, then it can change everything. One of which, of course, is our act of listening.
That silly old adage, you have two ears and one mouth, so you should be listening twice as much as you're talking, it really is true. Because when we listen to people, and as event planners, when you become a great listener, your clients will tell you exactly what they need and how you can serve them best to earn their loyalty and referrals. But people start talking too much. They talk past the sale, they talk over other people, they interrupt. But if we really listen and take a moment to hear what people have to say, it impresses them beyond description.
One of my favorite stories that I've ever heard, it may have been in a “Chicken Soup For The Soul” book a few years ago, was about this 14-year-old child who was finishing up his breakfast and his mother is washing the breakfast dishes. And she looks at her son and says, “Son, I love you.” “Yeah, mom, I know,” with the teenage eye roll. And she says, “No, son. I really love you.” And he says, “Mom, I know.” “Well, son, how do you know that I really love you?” And that child says, “Because duh! Whenever I have anything of importance to say, you stop whatever you're doing and listen.”
And so for that child, listening is love. But for your client, listening is respect, listening is love, listening is appreciation. And if listening became one of your greatest marketing skills and your marketing strategies for exploding your business, you'll be very successful. Because in this crazy, busy world, people need to start listening to each other.
Tom: I'm sorry, I wasn't listening. I'm sorry, I couldn't resist that. That was perfect. I absolutely love that.
Susan: You're funny. You're so funny. Another thing about the art of communication is the social synchronicity and savvy socializing that I talk about. Communication has a rhythm to it. There's a big rhythm. You've noticed it. Whether it's how people are using their words, body language or whatever, there's a rhythm. But I believe that savvy socializers really do recognize the fact that healthy communication is not monologue, it is a dialogue.
And there have been times that, intuitively, if you listen to your intuition and you go with your gut, you'll know when to be quiet, you'll know when to speak, you'll know when to respond, you'll know when to bite your tongue and not say a word. And savvy socializers make a great first impression when they exercise that type of a discretion and that type of a compassion for humanity, for the other person that they're trying to connect with.
Tom: Now, Susan, let's move down the list again. I'm going to skip the art of connection, even though that's a very important aspect. And we'll provide people with ways to get in touch with you for more information on these. But the art of your online presence, let's talk a little bit about that because event planners naturally have to create an online presence in some situations to sell people on the idea of coming to their event or for follow up. So let's talk about those a little bit.
Susan: And you know what's ironic? I've been typing and editing that chapter. I've renamed it to be called “the art of your digital activities,” because this digital world today is not just what's online, it's also what's in your hand with your smartphone and on your computer. And so, I want to talk to you about some of those areas.
Something really great happened recently, is that a global company called me and said, “Susan, we would love to hire you to come to speak to our international sales conference in Orlando.” And I said, “That's wonderful. What do you need to know?” And they said, “No, we don't need to know anything else. We've watched all your videos on your YouTube channel, we've read your entire website, and we've seen your one sheet and all your programs. We want you.” I was blown away!
Tom: That's great.
Susan: They had not even interviewed me, and it was like a knock, knock on the fly moment. But in my head, I'm like, “Oh my gosh. Whoever I'm putting out there into the world is exactly what's going to make or break me getting hired.” You're making a first impression on people before they ever pick up the phone, before you ever open your mouth, before you ever have a conversation, and you want it to count.
You want to put your best foot forward so that when people do come across you, that you represent an intentional congruence, not just in your branding where all your colors are matching from your LinkedIn, and your Twitter, and your Facebook, and your website, but that your message is congruent, that your values are congruent, that your willingness to be in service to others is congruent. And there's so many aspects for the sale cycle that is not just about the online, about the internet with social media and websites, but it's also about how we write emails to follow up with clients, how we send out proposals and goods.
We're making an impression with them long before they've ever spoken to us. And event planners know that you'll watch videos of speakers several, multitudes of them before you even reach out to the speaker to see if they're the one that's going to get hired for your event. And so the email etiquette is a huge piece of this.
Also, phones and texting, which is something that is rampant for disengagement in the workforce, is that people are so distracted. Tom, I imagine you've been in the middle of a conversation before, haven't you? When you're engaging with someone and their phone rings and they answer it while they're talking to you?
Susan: Or they start texting to someone.
Tom: Now, that happens every once in a while during a performance. You'll look down and somebody in the front row, and it's like “Seriously?”
Susan: And so that person in your audience is making a very bad impression on you because it's demonstrating that they aren't respecting you, that you're there to make a difference and they're not participating.
Tom: I guess that was a bad thing to say in a public forum. “Hey, guess what, folks? People don't pay attention to me.” I love when that happens because I have lines that come out and the audience has a good time with it. And the person's like, “Oh yeah, I am being rude.”
Susan: That is great. That's funny.
Tom: Let's move on to the next step, which is something that every event planner is trying to do, and that's the art of a positive lasting impression.
Susan: Oh, indeed. Because when you have rocked their worlds, they're going to want you back to do it again and again and again and again, because you are a guarantee. There's always a risk of a company when they're hiring an event planner for the first time, since they've not worked with them, knowing and making sure everything is going to be perfect.
And when you have really made that great first impression and you've made a positive impact, the event is a great success, all the attendees are in love with it, everyone takes home with them whether it be messages or products or whatever the venue might be, that's how you get referrals. That's how you get repeat business and loyalty, and it transcends satisfaction. What I do as a performer, and you do as well, Tom, is that we create such a great experience that they have us back again and again.
And in the art of a positive lasting impression, a part of that is to create happy endings. You know, and they lived happily ever after. How you end a conversation is as important as how you begin it. You can have a fantastic conversation that you really feel great about this wonderful venue that you got a contract on, and then you mess it up at the very end, it can undo all the good effort, right? And the happy endings happen as you walk away from conversations, not just things that are happening on the telephone.
And how do we exit a conversation discretely and kindly, respectfully, so that we can move on? And I know when an event planner has people pulling at them from all directions in the middle of a convention or a conference, because they're the “go to” person that everybody is looking to to solve all the problems or handle all the issues, is that how do you skate back and forth among the people and the stakeholders that need to be served? And do it with dignity and with grace, because it can be very, very awkward at times, to leave conversations when somebody else is pulling at you?
Tom: Yeah, it most certainly can.
Susan: But also, the positive lasting impressions, I would hope that every amazing event planner would buy the book called “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman in reference to how to increase emotional intelligence. Because you have such a diversity in your audiences and such a diversity of clients who are hiring you that when you can raise your emotional intelligence, your EI, you'll make a better lasting impression. And I'm not sure if you have read about emotional intelligence. You probably have.
Tom: Actually, I haven't, but I'm going to look it up right after we get off the phone.
Susan: You are going to love it because it is with that that we have empathy for other people, that increase our social skills, and that we truly have an understanding of how to communicate with people better. There's something that I've been very impressed by, because I have been a leadership development trainer for the Air Force research labs at [inaudible 00:30:20] Air Force base. And as I'm teaching them emotional intelligence, one of the components is self regulation. And it's ironic how your body naturally has systems built in to self regulate, to keep you healthy, which are you sweat when you're trying to cool down or you shiver when you're trying to warm up.
But we also need to have self regulation for our emotions so that we don't lose our temper, we don't explode, we don't freak out. And some of the stress that these event planners are under, it would be easy to have massive reaction and lose our cool when people are not being reasonable. And so when you are emotionally intelligent and have a high EQ, they say it's more important than an IQ for making you successful in life, that it is a wonderful way you can give better customer service.
Another part of the positive lasting impression is to always be cognizant of the respect that you get in others because that's what's built in your reputation. And some people, it takes 30 years to build this impeccable amazing reputation that could be lost in one event. It can be lost in 10 seconds. And so, reputation is critical, as well as fabulous follow through.
I'm always impressed when people do what they say, because it's become such a norm nowadays that they say that they'll send you something or they'll give you this estimate or they'll get back with you, and they don't. How many times have you given out business cards and people are like, “Oh, I'll call you for lunch,” and you never hear from them? And so, the art of a lasting positive impression is critical that you do follow up. You follow through, do what you promise because that builds the trust, and that is what event planners will make them successful.
Tom: Excellent stuff there. Excellent stuff, Susan. I appreciate it. Now, Susan, tell us a little bit more about your book. I know it hasn't come out when we're doing this. When do you anticipate it being out?
Susan: Our target date is for it to be out in May, because I already have a book signing for it lined up.
Susan: And so, it has to get back from the publisher, and all the editing is finished and beautiful. It is an absolutely delicious, delicious book, because anyone, whether it's personally or professionally, that you want to make new friends, build social confidence, you want to have more fun, you want to figure out how to expand your influence, grow your business, find fulfillment, there are answers that you will find that can help you do all of that and more. For likeability and for just optimizing your relationship skills.
And you know, Tom, something that I want to add too is, the last chapter of the book ends with nurturing your network. Because this could be a book for networking, but I want to put something forward with you and think about. Everybody who is listening, think about your best friends that you love.
Just think about how much they mean to you and how meaningful those relationships are, whether they've been professional associations or personal friends. There was a time when you didn't know them and there was something about that person that made such a great first impression that you knew you wanted to have them in your life for the rest of your life.
And so, as we go out there into the world and meet people, we meet thousands and thousands and thousands of people that every so often a person crosses our path, who is so wonderful and so captivating and so memorable that they resonate with us. It's a chemistry, it is an attraction. And I'm not talking about just falling in love, I'm talking about making new friends and new clients, is that when you really hone in on your skills for making a great first impression, you have the opportunity to create friendships for a lifetime.
Tom: That was perfect. I don't have another way to say that. You know, you're 100% right. You're nurturing your network. Also, that would apply to nurturing your attendees. Just wonderful, wonderful advice. Susan, we're going to include a link to your book on the podcast show notes. Would you mind telling everybody if they want to reach out to learn more about you and your speaking programs and everything that you do, how can they find you?
Susan: Oh, thank you. Thank you for asking. My website is susanspeaks.com. And the beautiful thing is that my social media buttons in the upper right hand corner have a Facebook icon and a YouTube icon so that you can see me in action to see how I have rocked the world from my event planners, dinner audiences, and why my programs are just going national and great things are happening. And in my website also, Tom, I have a products page for my products that will be coming out in the next year.
All three will be published. I have three books that will be launched. The first of which is “The Art of First Impressions for Positive Impact: How to Shine Bright and Stand Apart From the Crowd.” The second one is “Let's Go, Girls: The Ultimate Goal-Getting Success Guide for Women,” and it really gives techniques on how to not just set goals but get them. Stop the list making and start making your dreams come true. And the third book is called “Shift, Shed, and Shine: Your Go-To Guide for Resilience in Times of Change.”
And this helps people deal with stress and change and bouncing back through adversity. And it's about shifting your mindset, shedding what no longer serves you, so that you can shine to your true potential. And so, you can learn all about that on my susanspeaks.com. Because with every book that's going to be coming out, I've got workshops, keynotes, and conference retreats that are available for the masses.
Tom: Fantastic. You are a busy woman. I appreciate so much you taking the time to sit down and share all this information with our listeners today.
Susan: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you. I'm honored to be a part of your program, and I look forward to hearing from some of you listeners out there and seeing how I may be of service to help make you successful.
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