Wednesday, February 3, 2016

performance

The Path to Excellence

I shared my Tucson Presentation on Athletic Excellence the other day via my Twitter Feed.

This afternoon, I was talking to Sue and she pointed out that the prez was written in gordo-speak. Good point - here are some notes to go with the prez.

By the way, if you'd like to attend our Boulder Camp (three slots left) and create a DVD of the talks then I'd happily do a trade. Please get in touch with me.


SLIDE ONE

Who Am I?
I'm a former fat-guy that discovered I had a fast ultradistance motor lurking under my skin. What I achieved is outlined elsewhere on this site. The key aspects that I'd like you to know is that it was from scratch; required a lot of work; and I enjoyed doing the work.

I was very strategic in my approach to learning / training and travelled to the best teachers in our sport. I've worked under fellow coach-athletes that have a total of 20 World Championship victories between them. My initial, and primary, motivation was to achieve (not to teach), so I learned from others that did it.

I'm not unique - I have friends (such as Clas Bjorling, Chris McDonald and Justin Daerr) that have come from similar backgrounds. None of us were endurance prodigies as kids.

You're Wrong

In my clearer moments, I see the hazards of having a job that is focused on providing answers.

Every answer I give can reinforce my thought patterns and biases. In one sense, having a wide range of clients provides me with an opportunity to work through a coherent picture. However, without caution and effort, I can dig deeper and deeper into creating my personal athletic dogma.

I have a few tactics that I use to balance consistency bias. This week I'll share them - you can apply them to sport, specifically, or life, generally.

Winning and Healing

The first part of this letter will share some ideas on setting up a high performance mind-set. The techniques can also be used as a coping strategy when dealing with challenging people/situations.

The second part will be an update on how I'm settling back into the real world following my big trip across New Zealand. With a little over a week to regroup, I've had some insights that should be interesting for you.

We're going to start taking deposits for our Moab Camp shortly - (May 3rd to 9th) - if you are interested in signing up then drop me a line.

Epic Camp Prologue: Foolin'

I'm looking forward to the Tour of New Zealand and I hope that I have the energy (and connectivity) to share frequent updates.

Monica repaired my Terminator sunglasses for Christmas. I'm rocking them in this week's photo.

At camp, I am not going to check email - FYI.

We flew down to Sydney yesterday and I had a chance to brainstorm blog topics. Here's the list of items that I want to share with you:

  • Work Before Work Rate
  • Kids and your Athletic Performance
  • Your Marriage and your Athletic Performance
  • Simplify to Succeed
  • The Anaerobic Athlete
  • Be Excellent, Dude - Focus On What You Know
  • Talent At The Line - Maximal Training
  • Weenie Training
  • Windows of Opportunity (Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em)
  • Self-Sabotage, hardness vs flow
  • The Time You Have
  • The Person Not The Protocol
  • My Best Clients
  • Hoax Algorithms
  • Live Like A Pro
  • Learning To Say "No"
  • Catching Up
  • No Easy Way

That's 18 mini-topics. I'd better hit them early in the camp before I get too shelled!

Who Are You

I suppose that a more appropriate title for this piece is "Who Am I" but there's such a good connotation with "Who Are You" that I couldn't resist.

This week's photo is Lex seeking comfort after Daddy used her for a bit of (gentle) air guitar. Not popular in case you were wondering.


In following our athletic journey, we are often seeking a transformation from what we "are". More specifically, we are using athletics to change the view we have of ourselves.

OR... we use our results to resist the view that others appear to place against us.

Seeking transformation can freak people out. With good reason! Major personal transformations (or obsessions) are often triggers for relationships ending.

Is it any wonder that we tend to gravitate towards folks that share our addictions, in all forms.

Fear, Anger and Flow

One of the interesting psychological effects of the end of the race season is the first wave of "cabin fever" that sweeps through my head (as well as my team). Between our peak periods, race weeks and recovery needs... many of us are starved for endorphins!

This neurological craving tends to show itself in a number of ways. Most common is that we start looking back on the season and wish we could have been "tougher" in our races.

I receive a lot of questions about how to deal with pain; and how to push harder.
Pain...
Harder...
In life we most often get what we expect - more than focusing on how much a task is going to hurt, or how difficult it may be. I prefer to figure out what's required to perform. Ultimately, our goal is performance, not pain tolerance.

This week I will share some ideas about true performance -- concepts and techniques that have enabled me to succeed in a range of fields. I will use athletics in my examples but sport is a metaphor for life. The tendencies that we show under athletic stress are the exact same ones that occur in our family and work environments.

Understanding Intensity - Part Three

No compression socks in this week's photo! Makes a change, eh?

Part One discussed different ways to look at appropriate training zones -- heart rate, power, metabolic function, lactate profile. Hopefully, it also gave you a practical example about how you should be wary of using another athlete's tolerance to decide your own.

Part Two stripped out all the technical stuff and made the point that, ultimately, you should judge your training by what you can repeat.


This week I will offer some ideas to consider when assessing why, what, when and how... to ramp your training load. Remember that load is a function of frequency, duration and relative intensity.

Understanding Intensity - Part One

This week's article will require you to put on your thinking caps. It looks long but that's because of all the charts.

This series is going to touch on an aspect of my performance philosophy that is best summed up by a recent Kona Qualifier... why train fast if you are racing slow.

The best coaches/athletes in our sport have an inherent understanding of these issues - they might not use fancy charts but their programs/approach take into account what follows.

Part Two will be my article for XTri.com next week -- it is going to be a LOT more straightforward than what follows. If you are able to wrap your head around Part One, I think, you'll get more from Part Two.

Let's go!


Something that I noticed early in my athletic career was a huge difference in my tolerance for different types of workload.

The biggest example that I can remember with my own training was the effect that high intensity and flat steady-state riding had on my fatigue. I would become absolutely whipped.

Athletes have large variability in their tolerance for both workload and relative intensity. Over the years I have had this explained to me as:

Constitution - some athletes have superior constitutions... they can just handle it.

Experience - athletes have been racing fast, or training strong, since they were young kids... they can just handle it.

Mental Strength - the athletes that can't handle it are mentally weak. They could do it if they would harden up. You need to buckle down, toughen up and just handle it.

Part of the reason why I dislike HTFU is the philosophy points many athletes in COMPLETELY the wrong direction. STFD is more appropriate for the majority of people that I coach (slow ... ... down), perhaps Steady ... ... Up (STFU).

Understanding Athletic Performance

We were very fortunate to have Dave Scott as our special guest to close out our July Boulder Camp this week. Dave made the observation that, more than protocol, what defines a Master Coach is the ability to get an athlete to do work.

Like all great athletes I have met, Dave is passionate about protocol. In fact, the strongest similarity between top athletes lies not in their programs, but in the powerful belief they have in their program.

Across the week of our Boulder camp we had presentations from Marilyn & Chris McDonald; Laura & Greg Bennett; Bobby McGee; Dave Scott and Justin Daerr.

One of the challenges facing a passionate athlete is the fact that every speaker will talk about a different approach -- some speakers will also share multiple approaches that they have used across a 10-30 year athletic career. This can be confusing!


Let's start with the basics:

What work-rate is required for YOU to achieve your goals?
Most athletes, and coaches, are unable to answer this question. That's a shame because this is a fundamental aspect of performance and will greatly impact the appropriate strategy to employ with your training.

For me to go sub-4 in a Half Ironman, 275 watts of average output is likely to be required (at least!). The word "average" is important there because, to optimize my race, I will need to be able to recover below that effort and sustain extended periods above that effort.

One school of thought is to build the capacity to hold that exact level of output.

Looking at my lactate profile, you will see that level of output is a Threshold effort for me.


Click to blow these charts up in a lightbox

Putting It Together

Our photo this week is my daughter watching me set a personal best for push-ups (she prefers to check me out in the mirror).

I need to score 300 on my APFT so I can back off the upper body work. Greg Bennett says that my freestyle looks like I am wrestling down the lane!

Typically my fly is my only stroke that looks like it came out of the Rocky Balboa school of swim excellence...


So I've been rolling for two weeks and have a good idea on my baseline data. Before I get into my story I wanted to offer you some tips on your own training.

The EC Team have been writing a weekly column for XTri for six months now. I think you'll find a lot of good content there from each of us. We have a range of philosophies that are consistent at the core and different at the edges. Worth checking out if you get the chance.

Over the last two weeks, I completed a How-To-Manual for triathlon training. Here's how you apply what I have written:

Date Focus
Monday Swim using tips from Benchmarking Your Swimming
Tuesday Long Run using tips from Runing Well
Wednesday Unload with day off or easy aerobic training
Thursday Brick using tips from World Class Endurance
Friday

Long Term Greedy

This week I thought that I'd share some ideas about maximizing expected value in the fields of athletics and personal finances.

When doing expected value calculations I like to remind myself of a few key points:

Make Your Fate

Gordon Livingston writes, "only bad things happen quickly". Even with "bad" things, such as a rising uneployment, it takes many months to see the true impact of shocks to the system. The best analogy for large, complex systems is of a gigantic supertanker... it takes a long time to change course but, when it does, expect it to keep moving in that direction for a while.

This week I am going to write about "good" things that have been happening in my life. As I write this, there are a few bright spots in the economy but, unfortunately, I expect the economy to continue to deteriorate. Even when good policy decisions are made, the huge amount of leverage is going to take a long time to work through the system. Having lived through a few economic shocks, I'll share some ideas on the adjustment process in an future article.

An economic depression need not imply disaster on a personal level -- many good things have happened in my life during 2009.

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On Monday, Noon Denver Time, Monica is joining me for a free webinar on Nutrition and Fit Pregnancy. contact me for a slot. We have spaces available.

Benchmarks and Forecasting

there are parallels between weather forecasting and performance forecasting in the world of athletics. Similarly, there are those who are understanding and embracing these new technological tools to better forecast their athletes’ performances and there are those who still see this new science as ‘hit and miss’ at best.

Controlling For Reality

Careful readers will have noticed that I write quite a bit about "reality" these days. I believe that the events of the last eighteen months will cause fundamental changes in the way we live our lives. I have also made substantial changes within my own approach to living.

When Monica starts repeating gordo-isms back to me, I know that I have been hitting a topic particularly hard. Part of the purpose of this blog is to reinforce the life that I want to lead for myself. Also, if my views get too crazy then, I hope, a few of you will let me know!

The gordo-ism of the last six months is "it was nice while it lasted". There are two components of that statement.

The first is the classic view of the self-absorbed guy (me). In the Story of G, I was fortunate that circumstance offered me the ability to be completely self-centered in my pursuit of academics, finance and athletics -- each for about a decade. Seeing Lex snuggled into her mother, the two of them star-fished on what was formerly know as "my bed"... drove home the reality that I'm not running things any more. Further, to impose my will (and retake my self-centered existence) implies breaking my personal ethics. That said, I am holding out pockets of resistance...

Wellness, Fitness and Performance

Mark Allen was in town this past week for a book signing with Brant Secunda – you can check out their new website here.

I caught up to Mark for breakfast and, for a change, didn’t have a shopping list of triathlon questions for him. I actually managed to do some listening!

This week’s letter isn’t about our conversation, per se, but it touches on some topics that are contained in his new book as well as things that struck me after we spent time together. The combination of Mark & Brant really works for me -- it is a mix of being lifted, entertained and relaxed. Shamanism is non-linear, as Mark likes to put it, but it works at some level and that's enough for me.

At the book signing, Mark shared his main goal in terms of current 'athletic performance' – live a long and healthy life. Barry Siff made a joke that Mark was going to be coming back to triathlon at Boulder Peak (not true). While I am sure we'd all like to see what Mark would be capable of, I doubt that we will ever see him race again.

Elite athletics (for me) is about setting our lives up to give completely to the task of athletic performance. For nearly a decade, every aspect of my life flowed through a prism of athletic success -- would this action make me faster... or would it build my team, which is necessary for me to go faster. In this sense, performance is simple (but FAR from easy). It would be exceptionally difficult for me to change my pattern of performance in triathlon -- far easier to replace that aspect of my life with a new sport that didn't come with the haunting knowledge of what-it-takes. Of course, my "athletic patterns" run back 25 years through business, academics and 'social' past times.

Starting Out - Fundamental Skills

If I had to offer you the greatest difference between a Master Coach (say, Dr. John Hellemans) and an Expert Coach, it would be in their approach. An expert will tell you exactly what to do to get your desired result -- experts tend to be quite precise and create confidence through their certainty. The master coach will give you a plan, possibly more simple that you think you require.

High Performance Coaching


These week I will share some thoughts/ideas that came out of three days at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. I've been quite busy on the business front -- apologies if your waiting for an email reply. I spend my spare time with Monica and Alexandra. I've also been doing yard work -- gets me away from my desk and into the sun!

Old School Endurance

This week, I am going to have some fun and write about a topic dear to my heart -- Old School Endurance.  Not quite "Old Time Hockey" but Paul Newman's passing has been on my mind.  Watching Slapshot is a rite of passage for a lot of my Canadian pals.
Management and communication tips can wait for another week -- if you are like me then you could be a little burnt out on reading about the dire state of the global economy.  There is going to be plenty of time for working through the aftermath.
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Two quick announcements before we get started:
I was looking for photos on the web this past weekend and discovered my interview on Endurance Planet -- scroll down the page, I am July 1st.  13 minutes long with some ideas about performance and coaching that might interest.  
Bobby McGee, world-class running and triathlon coach, is featured on Endurance Corner Radio.  Greg Bennett is coming in two weeks.  Send questions to Justin Daerr.
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This past week, I was running (in the rain, wearing a cotton t-shirt... Chuckie you would have been proud).  I was rolling along thinking about this article and Ironman Hawaii in particular.  
The legend of Ironman is fairly well known... a few military guys sitting around trying to dream up the wildest event they can consider... Waikiki rough water swim, ride around Ohau, Honolulu marathon... something like that.  For me, that's Old School Endurance.
Sit around with your pals, dream up something off-the-charts then figure out how to do it.  Outside of Ultraman, there aren't a lot of triathlon events that fit that mould any more.  You are most likely to discover old school endurance on events like the Triple Bypass, Leadville 100, Hard Rock 100 or by bumping into an ultra-amigo on the Continental Divide trail.
Ironman has gained a lot over the years, lives have been changed for the better, and many cottage industries have popped up -- pretty much as a direct result of that original dare.
As a private equity guy, I think the sale this year could mark the high water mark for Ironman, but not necessarily for the WTC, as a company.  From the outside looking in, I can see clear opportunities for further profit enhancement:
  • The launch of the 70.3 series was a good move, when faced with an aging demographic as well as a need to attract younger customers.
  • The ability to bring race management in-house via acquisition, or competition.
  • Superior licensing arrangements -- to me, there has always been a disconnect between the marketing strategy (mass market) and the people that actually do the races (niche market).  Perhaps the most lucrative customers are the one's watching the NBC broadcast?  I suspect that there is a lot more that can be done with those of us that are actually doing the races.
Ramp things up and either fold into a larger entertainment group, or sell a piece of Ironman through the public markets.  I keep coming back to Planet Hollywood in my mind, though -- not a great outcome for the IPO shareholders but a great franchise name.  I'd be wary if they take m-dot public.  Of course, history tells us that select buyers will pay a large premium to own world-class brands.  My concern would be the risk of declining cash flow.
Why sell?  Long term capital gains tax rates are likely heading up; and a vendor wants to leave enough in it for the next buyer to generate a fair return.  The deal made sense to me from both sides. 
How to maintain growth of an expensive and time consuming hobby in the face of a declining economic environment?  The 70.3 series is a good strategic move.  It will be interesting to see how Ironman handles a significant economic slowdown within its demographic -- the Ironman target market has had a sustained bull run -- we should get Dan Empfield to share his thoughts.  Perhaps he'll write something about his -- SlowTwitch reflects the pulse of the sport and Dan has a historical perspective that few can match.
Back to Old School Endurance.  Before I ever did a swim set or bike repeat, I was a weightlifter, hiker, and (very average) sport climber.  Like many of us, I got a kick out of dreaming up new projects -- my progression to mountaineering was the ultimate in Old School.  Find a volcano somewhere in Asia -- use a three-, or four-, day weekend to fly-in, summit and fly-out.  I would sleep rough and listen to the jungle.
These days a ten-mile climb wears me out... still it is September.  A guy's got to rest some time!
Some of you might recognize the guy in the photo below -- this summer during Epic Camp Italy, I used my easy day, to ride past the turn off for the Messner Museum in the Dolomites.  Everest, solo, no oxygen, no one else on the mountain.  Pretty Old School! 

Endurance has a number of different qualities -- all of which are important to consider if you want to (ultimately) race well.  Each of these attributes is linked with the others and a breakdown in one area ends our ability "to endure".
Mental Endurance -- the ability to keep moving forward until the objective is met.  Chip away, bit by bit, day after day.  The downside is that people that score high here are the sorts the die in the mountains, or spend years pounding away at an area where they have little potential.  I score reasonably well here, so need to balance persistence (good thing) with consistency bias (risky thing).
Working on our physical endurance benefits our mental endurance in many ways. 
Anger management -- I experience a lot of background anger in the world, specifically what drives a lot of ultraendurance athletes to get so far away from home, from the 'real' world, from everyone else.  
To truly endure, we need to accept the way things are.  Somehow, years of physical endurance training managed to work-out a lot of situations, histories, and people that used to upset me.
Humility -- This could be the ingredient that creates the later life peak for the ultra-endurance athlete.  It takes most of us a many years to have enough setbacks to gain the humility required to stop repeating our mistakes.  The only sure fire way to increase my humility is wait around until an unexpected setback reminds me that I don't have all the answers.
Fear -- for me, fear is what leads anger.  I struggle to see the emotional roots of my fears... ...I only feel the anger.  I spend a lot of time searching for the fear that lies beneath my emotions.  My main fear has to do with disappointing people that I respect. 
Physical Endurance -- just like VO2 max, many people appear to be gifted with bodies that are created to tolerate volume well.  Expeditions are a great example of this trait.  When I was in peak mountaineering shape, I could carry/haul 130 lbs of gear daily, at altitude, for a week -- good for me, "easy" for a sherpa!  I could do a tremendous amount of low intensity work then handle hours of tempo on a final "summit day".  
What I couldn't do was swim, bike or run quickly -- let alone put them all together.  Endurance is an essential component of fitness but it is only a component.  At my mountaineering peak, I was a mediocre athlete.  But my solid endurance base, enabled surprisingly rapid progress when I started converting endurance to race fitness.
Most adult triathletes come to our sport with a focus on race fitness prior to the creation of an endurance (and strength) platform.  This is the piece of the performance puzzle that is missed by intensity-driven programs -- most likely because they are created by life-long athletes that haven't experienced an absence of endurance.
Metabolic Endurance -- I don't read a lot about this in the literature but I see it with people that are able to survive when placed in extreme situations -- as well as athletes that are (ultimately) able to go 'fast' in an Ironman.  Physical endurance is the ability to walk from Boulder to Vail.  Metabolic endurance is the ability to do it on minimal food and water.  Some coaches/athletes seek to train this through (effectively) starvation.  
Perhaps a future article will talk about self-starvation, and self-denial, in an attempt to exert control within a mind that feels out of control.  It's a complex psychological issue that is far easier to observe than treat.  I have had my greatest success with simple acceptance and affection for (fellow) crazies.
Constitutional Endurance -- relates to how fast we recover, our immune systems and what we generally call our "constitution".  We see this a lot at Epic Camp... there is normally one, or two, campers that manage to get stronger as the camp progresses.  Some individuals can simply take more than others -- and keep bouncing back.  In my mid-30s I could get away with extreme training -- at least I thought I was getting away with it!
Molina once managed the first week of an Epic Camp on nothing but liquid calories.  He'd had the trots for a week leading into the camp!  He didn't mention this to anyone lest we rip him to shreds -- Epic Campers can behave a bit like hyenas when they get fatigued... 
Scott's not the only example of World Champions that score off-the-charts for Old School Endurance -- Tom Dolan is a guy that springs to mind.  Talent, motivation, and the capacity to out-train any swimmer of his generation.

Now you might think that Ironman Hawaii is the ultimate test of endurance -- we could be fooling ourselves.  The photo above is how Amundsen chose to spend his summer when he raced Scott to the South Pole.  Great story.  Guts will only get you so far without preparation.
The real test of Ironman is the months, and years, of daily training that are required to put together a fast race.  That is the true test and probably why we see such an emotional release at the finish line -- so much went into that one day.
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Some suggested reading to get your Old School mojo working...
Endurance, Shackleton (pictured above, likely the greatest demonstration of human endurance, ever -- gotta love the frosty beard, Monica won't let me grow one...)
Many enjoy the romanticism of endurance-Samurai that go down in flames -- the problem with that approach is you can't write up your adventures if you are dead on the mountain.  
Being a success oriented guy, I like the stories that centre around getting the team home in one piece.
Molina's 50 in 2010 -- it's going to take me a while to build back up but I'm looking forward to Going' Old School one more time with my good buddy.  We'll need to come up with something special.
Good luck to everyone racing Kona -- when it gets tough remember that it's just one day!
Back next week,
gordo

Big Meeting Protocol


I have been in a few big meetings over the course of my business career and had another this past week.  The meeting went as well as could be expected and I wanted to share the approach I took to give myself the best shot at a good outcome.  

Before we get into the BMP, a couple of announcements:
It's my brother's birthday today.  Happy Birthday Chuck!  Relevant to the US elections, there is a clip about the Canadian Health Care system -- not exactly G-rated, you've been warned.
Brooke Davison just won the overall female AG title at Nationals in Portland last weekend.  She's interviewed (with her 2 year old) over on Endurance Corner Radio.
Coffees of Hawaii now have decaf.  Albert was kind enough to send me a sample bag and I'm hooked.  Out photo this week is from the plantation on Molokai.  When you grind the beans, they look the reddish color of the earth (seen in the picture).  Enter "EC" at checkout for a 20% discount.
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It's amazing what we can get done when something _really_ matters to us.  My main client in the UK is working through its business plan with banks, shareholders and suppliers.  As part of this process, we have been having a series of meetings with people that are fundamental to a successful outcome.  Separate from content, I have found that my approach has a BIG impact on outcome.  So here's my Big Meeting Protocol.
Be Prepared
I had eleven days of preparation for the Big Meeting this past week. 
I undertook independent discussions with senior managers; key shareholders; and lenders.  I wanted to speak with people one-on-one because it reduces the tendencies we have in crowds -- peer agreement, avoiding bad news, consistency bias, deferral to authority.  As the listener, I need to be aware of my own tendency to use these conversations to confirm, rather than to learn. 
Prior to our meeting, I wanted to have a clear idea on the position of each of the company's projects.  Our final internal meeting was a top-to-bottom review of every project on the company's books -- took three hours and we already knew the deals.  We might not have identified all the issues, but we did our best to make sure that we all knew the same issues.  This enables clarity in communication.
Finally, I believe that it is essential to have a clear understand on the cash position of a business.  Running out of cash is not a good thing.  I probably spent a full day considering the very short term cash position for the business.  As I wrote last week, a buffer of liquid assets provides time -- in business, as in life, time can be very valuable.
Visualization
Visualization is not just for Ironman swim starts!  Throughout my business career, I have used visualization to prepare for, and rehearse, important meetings.  While things rarely go as mentally (or actually) scripted, having mental and written plans increases your chance for a successful outcome.  It also increases relaxation during your competitive event (in this case a business meeting!).
Pre-Meeting Routine
I have the exact same routine that I use for Big Meetings.
  • Snack
  • An hour of aerobic exercise (no higher than steady)
  • Shower
  • Good sized meal with carbohydrate
  • Head to the meeting
If the meeting is in the afternoon, or evening, then I will leave the office early to get my training done.  I'll eat my pre-meeting meal and return to the office.
The routine makes sure that I am alert, relaxed, stress-free and fueled.  Generally, key meetings don't last more than 3 hours.
In an important, or crisis, situation... it can be tempting to skimp on nutrition, sleep, or exercise.  For me, that is always a mistake.  My productivity and clarity are far higher when I stick with my routines.  As well, I do my best problem solving when exercising (a meditation of movement, perhaps).
Stimulants
Big Meetings are stressful.  When work stress increases, my caffeine intake halves.  Clear decisions require us to slow our reaction time.  Pausing, before acting, is tough enough when stressed, near impossible with a quad-latte coursing through our veins.
WingMan
I didn't have a wingman this past week but have had one on the past.  
In the UK, they have a habit of placing a small plate of cookies on the table at business meetings.  Quite civilized, one meets for tea, cookies and business discussion...
If you have a wingman, ideally one with a low emotional attachment to outcome, then your wingman can "offer you a cookie" if you start to freak, or get off track.  The pause to eat your cookie, could enable you to reset.  You don't really need a cookie to use this technique... what you need is a calm friend and a pre-agreed strategy for signaling a need to pause.  I suppose that is the role that an attorney takes in many situations.  However... if you turn up with a lawyer then you might freak the other parties at the meeting!

If you don't know... ...then just say so
Kind of sounds like something Johnny Cochran would say.  He really was a character.
Managing serious situations is about trust -- you might get away with spinning things in normal times but it is a poor strategy when faced with important decisions.
For my meeting this week I had two computer screens running (three spreadhseets); two reports open on my desk; and a hard bound book containing a year's worth of notes.  With all that information, days of preparation and over ten years of advising the client... I was STILL stumped a few times!  
If the stakes are high, and the quality of the decision relies on the accuracy of information, then people don't mind waiting a couple of minutes (or even another hour) while you calculate the right answer.  
A commitment to accuracy/transparency is an attractive trait in a trusted advisor.
Summing Up
You'll see that I use a lot of "race tactics" for my Big Meetings.  In reality, these are performance tactics.  High performance in business, athletics and academics is all the same.  
Take time to learn from successful outcomes and remember that the toughest situations are ripe with opportunities for learning.
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Next week, I'm going to share specific ideas for managing through a recession.  As I predicted last spring, we are moving into the action phase of global liquidity shock which was triggered back in August 2007.  
As we saw with the demise of the American Investment Banks, it is a lot better to take action, than be acted upon.
Until next week,
gordo