Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Change the World Through Cool Capitalism at Kiva.org

I just loaned money to an entrepreneur in El Salvador. Read about it here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Don't Let Your Smartness Hold You Back

Or...How Many Degrees Do You Need? Read it here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How To Celebrate Imperfectly

Really, it's the only way. Read it here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

10 Tactics for a Bodacious 2010

It's here.

By the way, you'll have an easier time finding Mixonian at our new address:


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

7 Ultra Icky Presentation Mistakes

I promise you these annoy your audience. Do not allow these in your talk. See here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Paradox and the Holiday Whirlwind

Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You Don't Have to Gain Weight this Week!

Something to think about during the holiday. Click here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Are You Categorizable?

See here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

13 Things About Authentic Success

From a former people pleaser, here's my take on authentic success.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Power of a Mind Shift -- A True Story

Read how a client really turned her life around. It's here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Enjoy Your Serendipity

It's here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Gentle Kind of Persistence

Read about it here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Setting Delight-o-Meter Goals

Make more room for fun in your life! Read it here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Truth About Sophie and Phronie

It appears to be obscure but it's really not! Read it here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who Do You Want to BE?

Read it here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why Language Is So Powerful

Take note so you can leverage better your own language. Click here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

When You've Done All You can

When the ball is not in your court. See what to do here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

At Least 11 Rewards for Clarity and Confidence

To see what they are, click here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Find What You Seek

Find what you're looking for. Click here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

There's Only 58 Days Left....

So make each one count. The article is here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If you want to find hidden opportunity in your life...

Click here to see the article in my new blog.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Choosing Clarity and Confidence for 2010

Have you noticed that this year has flown by and is nearly over! Yep, that's it. Ten months of the year are now history.

That's the nature of life and that's what allows us to savor and appreciate our time here. I heard someone say recently that you don't begin to live until you face death.

This year has been one of huge transformation for me. I finished my PhD in Communication after 6 years of graduate work, and I realized more clearly than ever that I don't want to play the academic game of going for tenure. (Note that no university is asking me to apply for tenure at this point.) I've had this sneaking suspicion for a long time, but like many of you, it took some reflection for me to begin to trust my ability to create a life that supports me in every way.

I'm excited about getting ready for 2010. Not in a hyper way, but I have a calm confidence that it will be a year of continued growth and prosperity for me, a time of reaping and sowing new seeds. My life is meaningful and profitable.

Like many of you, I'm not doing more things; actually I'm paring down my activities and focusing on leverage. Leverage gets you more time for yourself, in my case, to do nothing. ;-)

Here are some questions to help you get ready for another trip around the sun:

- What are you doing to get ready for the next year?

- How clear are you on your true purpose and priorities?

- What are you doing differently that will produce better results for you?

- What relationships and activities are you letting go of because they don't serve you?

- Do you trust yourself to make choices?

It's fun to take inventory, assess your progress and develop new plans. We're still in October, barely, and here's to living with greater clarity and confidence in 2010!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Your 3 Critical Communication Choices

This is the essence of a talk I'm giving Monday at the College of Charleston Faculty House. It's about leveraging language to serve you better.

Language is a tool. You can use it to build up people, including yourself, or bring yourself and/or others down. Here are some choices you probably don't usually think about, but the way you decide to be clear, to interpret and to encourage impacts your every experience.

1. Choose clarity.

Being clear about who you are and what you want is an ongoing process. But the more clear you are, the better and faster your decisions. Sitting on the fence seems to be the right way, keeping your options open, but truly it's an awkward and unproductive way of living.

What helps me sharpen my clarity is my journal. Being basically lazy, my favorite journal posts are lists. I'm constantly writing lists of what I love about my life as it is presently constructed, and what I would like to experience differently. With these lists, clarity emerges.

You can also ask yourself, "Do I really want to do this?" "If I were clear, which way would I go?"

2. Choose your interpretation.

The most important thing I learned in 6 years of graduate studies in Communication is the flexible nature of reality and the power of language to shape our perceptions. One healthy habit is separating events from the story about them. Another is not to settle on the interpretation that seems obvious ("Obviously he's a jerk because he didn't hire me") -- look for one that serves you better ("Obviously there is something better for me out there.)

3. Choose to encourage.

It's probably second-nature to encourage others, don't forget to encourage yourself. Ultimately, you want to be your own coach and cheerleader - someone who's always there for you.

Encouragement is part of of love and of leadership, it's something to live as well as do for others. It's also fun and rewarding!

Friday, October 23, 2009

10 Ways To Get Unstuck (Last of 3)

The theme this week is about getting back on track after a setback, or two, or a dozen. Yesterday I wrote about changing neural pathways, today I'm giving you a list of simple, concrete things you can do right now.

If you're tired of this theme, I totally understand. Come back on Monday. For the rest of you, here's some help.

1. See if you can pinpoint the trigger to what got you off track. Separate the event from the dramatic story about the event.

The event could be an unexpected loss of income. The story is that every time I get ahead financially, something unexpected comes to set me back.

The event is one thing, the story is a separate entity.

2. Take a nap. So many of my clients run around exhausted so much, the simple act of getting rest grants a whole new and fresh perspective on the situation.

3. Be extra kind to yourself. Ask, "What do I need right now?" It could be a nap, talking to a friend, baking cookies, listening to a good recorded book. What usually works for me is to sit on my bed and do nothing. Then I get inspired to write a blog post. ;-)

4. Think of a past success. I know it's hard to do this when you're feeling defeated, but you know there are past successes in your life. Make a note of some of these. If you're not coming up with anything, ask a confidant to help you.

5. Go for a walk. Clean your room. Hire a maid. Do something unrelated.

6. Strengthen your other disciplines. I heard this from Jack Canfield earlier this year. The example he gave was if you're concerned about money, turn your attention to exercising more and eating better. The multiplier effect helps you gain needed perspective. This practice has been great for me this year.

7. Think about people less fortunate than you. In other words, count your blessings. I know it's trite but really in the country we are all so blessed that we tend for take things for granted.

8. Brainstorm other interpretations. So many times my daughters think I'm sad when I'm just lost in thought. Just like the students who assume the teacher is mad at them when in fact the teacher has just had an unpleasant encounter with someone in administration. You're not a mind reader, think of alternative interpretations to your situation.

9. Ask yourself, "What is the lesson in this?" Choose to learn from it, rather than be defeated.

10. Lower your standards. Maybe your goal is too ambitious. Maybe you need to learn something more profound so that when you do reach the goal, your success is so much sweeter. It's possible that you're tying too hard. Been there and done that.

Happy week-end to all!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What To Do When Your Good Intentions Blow Up

This post is for everyone who's made a serious commitment to effect a positive change in their lives, only to find themselves (seemingly) slapped back by that same intention.

There is so much to say, and so little time and space to say it, and read it. Here's the basic paradigm.

When you decide to go on a diet, it works for a couple of weeks, then you find you're unfairly passed over for a promotion, that makes you feel so defeated that you react by overeating. Then you say to yourself something like, "You see, Ms. Glutton, there is NO WAY you can lose weight. Just give up now!"

Only those who knew me in my early twenties know that during those years my weight was around what it would be much later, when I was nine months pregnant. I've now been at my ideal weight for many years, and I maintain that with no effort at all, just care with my health habits.

I'm painfully aware of what it's like to "feel like a failure."

The truth is, you've got a unhealthy habit. The first step is to recognize that.

This habit has formed strong neural pathway in your brain, so certain events can trigger a reaction that you follow without being aware of it.

What you want to do is create new neural pathways, which will facilitate new and healthier habits. What helped me the most was to shift my focus away from the result I wanted to the habits I wanted to establish.

I stopped weighing myself, I stopped thinking about losing weight, I focused on eating well, and not eating in reaction to emotional triggers. I made changes in my life that removed those triggers, one at a time. Or I worked so that the disappointment didn't automatically result in over eating.

This post is getting way too long. But the principle applies to health changes, financial improvements, or stronger relationships.

Become the detective in your life and look for patterns of behavior that you want to change.

Ask yourself, "What kind of person do I want to be?" "How does the person I want to be live?"

There are so many things you can do, but the first thing is stop beating yourself up for being a failure, but to totally transform that focus to what you can do to establish twenty things you can do that help get your new habits into your life.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When Your Good Intentions Backfire

(OK, alright already. I got the muse back to work. Thanks for all the encouragement. I even heard from an ECU student I had 8 years ago!!!)

When you commit to something, a change, a transformation, a project or a relationship, you're making and taking a stand for something. You are no longer sitting on the fence. The marks left by the fence on your derriere will begin (slowly) to fade.

You are excited. You are ready to embrace a bigger version of you. You are ready to shine more brightly than ever before.

Here's the thing.

What one of my mentors has taught me, and what I have found to be true is that as soon as you really really commit to something, what you get is resistance to that change you seek to make. Some people might interpret this as "It's not God's will for me to....lose weight, be financially independent, enjoy better health or freedom from addictions."

The process looks something like this:

If you commit to being punctual, all kinds of things crop up to delay you.

If you commit to saving more money, for sure you're going to get hit with an unexpected expense.

If you commit to an exercise program, you will find yourself more tired than ever before.

And so on. It's so annoying.

It seems that you're really not meant to go there, to do that, to start that new habit or project or business.

It seems like you have only two choices. One is to deny that it's not working out, telling yourself you feel fantastic and victorious, when in fact you feel sad, deflated and defeated. The other is start complaining about how nothing ever works for you, that life is awful and you're an innocent victim.

Well, I'm here to tell you that neither one of these options takes you where you want to go. You can neither deny what you're experiencing, nor give up. There are other options you may not have considered.

Tomorrow I'll publish a list of things you can do when life appears to be conspiring against your wonderful intentions.

Here's the Scoop

Inquiring minds want to know....what's up with Mixonian?

The truth is, the Mixonian Muse went on strike a few days ago. I was ashamed to admit it, but her lingering refusal to work leaves me no other option.

I told her that muses from good families didn't go on strike, but she refused to listen. She's negotiating for new designer clothes and a more cool website on which to publish her brilliant posts.

I'm offering her week-ends off.

Obviously, this is a high-pressure situation and our mediators are working feverishly to reach an agreement soon.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with instructions for establishing world peace, per Mother Teresa of Calcutta (paraphrased):

The fruit of silence is faith.

The fruit of faith is prayer.

The fruit of prayer is love.

The fruit of love is service.

The fruit of service is peace.

Back to you real soon...I hope!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Is Your Job Like High School?

Early in September my boss and I had this great conversation. He explained to me why my area of research, that of foreign authoritarian charismatic political leaders, was not interesting to the academy.

In essence, the reason is I'm not in the popular crowd.

As he explained how the system really works, the "top-rated" communication programs, the "star" professors and their disciples, I got it. It's exactly the same as high school.

I was so mistaken to think that academics really took their stated commitment to critical thinking seriously. Not at all. They don't even have time to because they've got to play the popularity game to get tenure.

Today Seth Godin explained how everything is like high school. People just don't take the time and effort to make informed decisions. You can read what he wrote about it here.

It's encouragement to relax and not take things so seriously. Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Take Your Presentation to the Next Level

No matter how many presentations you give in a day or a week, you probably want to make your next talk more effective, more authentic, more natural. You want to build relationships with your people.

In using the term "presentation," what I'm talking about is broader than a formal presentation to a group, each day you're presenting yourself to the world by the way you show up.

Your presentation reflects you in a unique way; even the way you get dressed in the morning impacts your presentation throughout the day. Each time you polish your talk, you're also polishing yourself.

Some things you can work on to get your presentation shining more brightly:

1. Your presentation is never perfect; it's never done. It's an art form that you spend your life crafting and fine tuning.

2. You already know that how you say it trumps what you say. The foundation for your presentation lies in your purpose. Why are you presenting? Why are you here and what is really important to you? Another way to look at it is to think about the person you want to become.

3. Develop a manifesto for the presenter you want to be. If you know why you are making a certain presentation, consider what kind of person would you be if you had already achieved that objective. How would you feel? What would you look like?

Many people want to make a great presentation that builds relationships and somehow brings them more money. In other words, they want security so they can feel more relaxed. How does being relaxed about money feel? Can you practice feeling that way right now?

4. Question your assumptions. This is really challenging to do by yourself. It's like asking the fish to describe the water in which he lives. How does a fish compare water to something else?

I have this young beautiful client who is passionate about art. Yet she "knows" that artists don't make money. Tell that to Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso. If you're willing to stretch the boundaries about the ways you think the world works, you can find a way to merge your passion with your profession.

This is where Christine Kane has inspired me. She's a musician, and everyone knows musicians hardly ever make good money. And you need a record label to make money selling your music. For years she has questioned all the assumptions that surround the music industry. And she's succeeding on a scale that has attracted a huge following.

Really isn't taking your presentation to the next level the adventure of your life?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Couple of Communication Reminders

1. How you say it is more important than what you say.

2. Who says it is more important than what is said.

We communicate from the inside out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Opposite of Being Nice....

....is not being mean, it's asking for what you want. Asking in a way that shows you mean business and in a way that's drama free.

I'm not sure why it's so hard for some of us to ask for what we want.

I work with this client, Michelle, who is sooooo nice. Everyone loves Michelle.

Unfortunately, Michelle has always had a hard time asking for what she wants. She knows and expects certain things to come forth, and gets angry and/or frustrated when they don't appear. After all, she is a very nice woman. She goes beyond the call of duty consistently and her students adore her.

That's part of the reason she loves teaching. In the classroom, she is the authority figure. Everyone has to play by her rules. Once she leaves the classroom however, it's often a different story.

Part of her problem comes from taking everything personally. So, we're working on her seeing situations as impersonal business deals. In business, you always ask for more than what you expect, and you don't expect to win every concession.

The real deal for Michelle is getting clear on what she wants. So many times, she's given a "whatever" sort of answer to people that they're not used to her having preferences. She's so easy going, easy to please, easy to deal with.

Not anymore. Michelle has come so far in a very short time and I'm extremely proud of her.

She's constantly writing down in her journal lists of things she wants. She asks for all kinds of things.

She asked her landlord to lower her rent (one did not, the next one did), she asked her boss for more money (she got some of what she asked for), she's asking her ex for more money (in process), she's asked for refunds when the policy is no refunds (gotten partial and complete refunds), she asks the cashier at the bakery to cut the huge brownies in half (no problem), she asks to pay in installments without paying interest (no problem), she asks for charges to be reversed (no problem), she's asking asking, and asking.

She's asking with a quiet determination these days. Finances have been a huge issue for her and she's learning, quite frankly, to ask for more. She doesn't do it perfectly and sometimes the people she asks get all angry with her for acting out of character. But she's winning a lot more these days.

Before you can get what you want, you have to know what you want. Then you ask.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Get Inspired to Play "Opposite Day"

If you've ever been a kid, or been around one, you know they love to trip you up by playing "opposite day." It's really fun for about 30 seconds or so, but usually the kid wants to keep at it, until you are so confused as the game gets into the opposite of the opposite of the opposite.

You might have detected I'm not a natural fan ofplaying "opposite day." But some recent challenges that cropped up inspired me to play it with myself for a few days. For a few days I'm trying to go against my normal reaction to everything, and do just the opposite.


The answer is simple. Remember that definition of insanity being the result of acting the same way and doing the same thing day after day and expecting a different result? Well, you've heard that, and agreed with it, but did you really ever think how to break out of that, or any pattern of yours that you don't really see?


My coach tells about an episode of "Seinfeld" in which George Costanza, pretty much a loser character, decided to play opposite his normal behavior. The result is that Costanza gets an awesome job, a lovely lady friend, and all kinds of unusual respect. But then he gets uncomfortable with it and goes back to normality. And yes, I do realize we're talking about fictional television series. (You can watch the clip here.)

So, how do you play "opposite day" with yourself? The key word is play and keep it simple.

Here's how I played it last week at work. It was the week of informative speeches, typically super hectic because each student's speech needs to be recorded, timed, and evaluated. My normal approach is to keep everyone on a strict time schedule so we don't "waste" time. I'm usually rushed and stressed out.

Last week I decided to take a much more intentionally relaxed approach. It turned out to be useful on the first day in one classroom where the audio-visual equipment was not working properly and I had to call in outside help. We ended up starting the talks at least 20 minutes late. And you know what, the world didn't end. I bet you didn't even hear about it on the evening news. We didn't get through all the presentations I had scheduled for that week, but I figured out a way to make up for the lost time.

Just as your mind plays tricks on you, you can actually grow by playing tricks on yourself without the help of a psychotherapist. It's also a trick I use with coaching clients: they have to pretend to be relaxed about speaking in public. It works every time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Vocabulary to Impress and Confuse

Some suggestions offered from readers, from in and outside the academy.

- modularlize

- productionalize

- operationalize

- socialize

- templatize

- strategize

- containerize

- interpretism

- signification

- objectivism

- effectivity

Thanks to all who sent in suggestions. Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How to Talk Like An Academic: A Primer

Most Mixonian readers are far too intelligent to spend their lives slaving away in the hallowed halls of the ivory tower. However, now and then you might want to have a few rhetorical tricks up your sleeve to converse in the language of aca-dementia. it's good for sounding intelligent, yet unclear. If you're good at it, no one will question what the heck you're talking about.

By far, the most important thing you need to know is never to ever say anything without a qualifyer.

That means you would never say, "Gosh, this cake is delicious!"

You would say, "Speaking only from my perspective as a bodacious sales manager, this cake appears to be delicious." Then, if the next day your bathroom scales seems to indicate that indeed you did eat the cake, it's time for a fresh analysis.

You see, in PhD school, you're trained to doubt EVERYTHING. In the case of the cake, a true blue academic would doubt whether it's really cake, whether it's really delicious, and whether you're really eating it.

The two words you want to insert as frequently as possible are: perspective and paradigm.

You always want to say that you're speaking from your perspective as something, and then you define that something.

If you want to discuss a situation, try to throw in the word "paradigm." For example, "Obviously, he's still operating in the nineteenth-century capitalist industrialist paradigm."

If something is weird, call it an outlier. "Don't mind Fred, he's always been an outlier." If your boss criticizes something about you, you can deflect that criticism by casually dismissing itas an "outlier." This will confuse your boss and he will be too insecure to ask what you mean.

Finally, you can always insert the phrase "my premises may be flawed but." To put Alice in her place, you could say, "My premises may be flawed, but speaking from my perspective as an awesome widget manager, Alice is worthless as my administrative assistant."

Be patient with yourself. It takes time, 21 to 30 days, to develop a new habit. I can promise you that learning academic speak will serve to confound your colleagues, customers, and bosses and they'll learn to leave you alone.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

When Your're Not Being Appreciated

Feeling unappreciated is something I struggled with for many many years. A really long time. I even asked a priest for help with this inner conflict in a confession.

The priest said it was perfectly normal to want people to show appreciation for your contribution. But he didn't know how to "make" people appreciate you.

Like you, I love helping people, serving. I'm not sure if you're like this, but after a while I was usually feeling that no matter what I did for others, it was never enough. This would inevitably make me angry, but then I'd feel bad for being angry.

The cycle would usually end with an ugly emotional outburst. I would be reminded that I was "overreacting." After blowing up at something, I would calm down, and the cycle would begin again.

I finally got the answer to this. It took me a while.

People will never appreciate you for what you really do for them. They will never get how hard you tried, how big your sacrifice was, how much effort you put into the task. Never.

Here's the deal.

It's a matter of asking a different question. It's a matter of making sure you appreciate yourself and your contribution.

Aspects of appreciation:

- Appreciate your body by feeding it well, getting rest and exercise.

- Appreciate your mind by feeding it quality material.

- Appreciate your creativity by providing an outlet for it to manifest.

- Appreciate your soul with prayer and meditation.

- Appreciate your spirit by doing what it takes to be cheerful.

If you don't truly appreciate yourself, your special existence, then it's not realistic to expect others to appreciate you.

A wise reader, Sally, sent this response: I don't do anything hoping someone else will appreciate the action. I do everything hoping I will appreciate the action.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Get Your Audience Really Involved

The more you can get your audience involved in your presentation, the stronger your connection with them. This is especially important the first time you present to a group.

Remember that building relationships is the foundation; you can't get transactional until a relationship is pretty well established.

Some quick ideas for audience involvement:

1. Ask questions. Get them to raise their hands. Ask rhetorical questions you will deal with in your presentation. Remember it's all about them, not about you.

2. Have them make lists. Lists of their top concerns, priorities, favorite things to do....think of some list that serves to get them thinking about your topic. Then you can ask questions about the lists and tie it into your presentation.

3. Give them a written exercise to do. It could be a creativity-builder, even if your talk is about financing a Caribbean resort. There are all sorts of brain exercises, one that's super easy is a page full of circles. Ask the participants to draw things on the circles to make them into different objects (faces, soccer ball, globe, etc.) Make it a contest with a time limit.

4. Get everyone's body moving. Ask everyone to stand up and stretch. You certainly don't want your audience to feel sleepy.

5. Depending on the situation, you may want to ask your audience to relate to each another, do an exercise in pairs, or in groups of 3, depending on the size of your audience.

Your presentation is a tool to build community among the members of your audience and you. You have more leverage than you think.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Ultimate Sock Experience

I was showered with great gifts last Saturday for my birthday. One gift stands out....a pair of socks. These socks are pretty impressive and I'm writing about them to illustrate how value can be added to the most ordinary of objects.

You might come up with ways to add value to your own products or services.

The feature of these heavenly socks include:

- They have a moisturizing quality with Shea butter that lasts through 15 washes.

- They're made from organic cotton.

- They have three layers to keep your tootsies really warm.

- One of these layers is a thermal fabric. Whatever that means.

- The toe and heel parts were reinforced and are more cushy.

- They're supposed to mold to the shape of your foot.

- Part of the profit is donated to fight breast cancer.

-They're pale pink and white.

We've thrown away the packaging so I can't tell you the brand but they're available at Bed, Bath & Beyond. They are incredibly soft and warm and would make a great gift for anyone who gets cold feet. ;-)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What the Heck is Coaching?

Professional coaching provides a nurturing and accelerated learning experience to achieve extraordinary results.Through coaching, clients focus on the skills and actions needed to successfully producte their personally chosen results.

Coaching clients usually experience fresh perspectives on personal and professional challenges and opportunities, enhanced critical thinking, and decision-making skills.

Based on the goals set by the client, coaching takes place bothone-to-one and in groups; sometimes a combination of these two gives awesome results.

My coaching practice focuses on confidence and presentation skills.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Do You Hang with Genuises?

More and more often, weird things and events are coinciding in my life....or maybe I'm just paying more attention to what's going on out in the world.

Just one example, on Wednesday I assigned random topics to my awesome speech students about which they were to give a short, impromptu talk. And in so many cases, the student would have a personal connection to the randomly assigned topic.

In another case, twice on Tuesday I read about hanging out with geniuses.

One instance was a practice Dr. John Demartini recommends. That is to make a list of the Nobel Prize winners, and to systematically read their work. As he put it, if you stick your hand in the glue, some of it will surely stick. So, there's a reading plan for you to consider.

The other example came from Gina Rudan. And who is Gina Rudan? She's someone who recently made a successful transition from the corporate world to the parallel universe occupied by us entrepreneurial types. And her business is about personal branding, and finding your core genius. You can find her on Twitter. (I'm spending more time these days on Twitter. No wonder my Chavez book proposal is lost!) One of her big themes is actively building relationships with really smart people.

My third point on the subject of genius is a definition my friend Ruben shared with me. He says that being a genius is a matter of laser focus on something. If you think about it, the kids that have trouble in school are those who have trouble focusing, while the reverse is also true. The good news in that is that the genius quality is more accessible than what you probably think.

So, make some space in your life for genius- yours and that of the people you hang out with.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A True Story of Passion, Profit, and Contribution

This past Friday through Monday I took care of two sick daughters. After the first 24 hours, it becomes increasingly difficult to be patient, loving, and kind. I just want them to feel better now.

As you know too well, caring for loved ones who are sick or elderly, is time consuming and taxing. And that caring falls on top of everything else you have to do.

In a presentation last Friday (yes I took a sick daughter to work with me, don't tell anyone,) I heard Nadine Vogel share how it is to care for special-needs children, 24-7. It's all consuming, taxing, and scary.

You'll probably be surprised to know that Americans with disabilities and their caretakers make up a full third of the U.S. population. Of this group there are 28 million women with disabilities.

The cool thing about Nadine is that she started this company, Springboard Consulting, to help corporate America relate to and communicate more effectively with special-needs individuals and their caretakers. She's also just published a book, Dive In, in which shares her experience and research findings. It's just been out a couple of weeks and is already a supplemental textbook at places like MIT and Georgia Tech. Impressive!

Nadine's making money, making the world a better place, and having tons of fun in the process. Her enthusiasm is contagious.

Here are some random-but-useful things I learned from Nadine's talk at a class at College of Charleston last Friday:

- Language is a huge issue. Adults usually refer to having a "disability" while parents refer to their children with disabilities as "special needs."

-The person comes first. Anna has a brother with Down Syndrome, not Anna has a Down Syndrome brother. That reminds me of what Dr. Seuss wrote, A person is a person, no matter how small.

- A person in a wheelchair is not confined to that chair. Rather, the chair grants the person mobility - highly desirable! And on the subject of wheel chairs, it is offensive to lean on a person's wheel chair, Nadine compared it to leaning on a pregnant woman's stomach. (She has two special-needs daughters.)

In her talk, Nadine shared the analogy of the iceberg. When you see a person with evidence of a physical disability, you're only seeing a small aspect of the entire human person. While that's also true of everyone we meet, our tendency can be to stop with the perception of a disability, and make no further attempt to get to know that person.

Because this large portion of our population has been ignored or marginalized for so long, there is much potential for people and companies willing to dive in and see what's below the surface.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Sound of Axes Falling All Around You

You're reading that the recession is officially over. Whatever that means.

There is still a lot of fear in the environment and if a boss has to decide between losing her job or you losing yours, guess who gets the pink slip?

Professors on tenure track usually spend a few years of their lives in this same fear. It can suck the life force out of you, if you let it. I have seen with my own eyes brilliant people groveling at work...it's not a pretty sight. The trick is to remember that you really, in the end, work for yourself, on commission, no matter what.

When you take your power back and stop being scared of what others (or the economy, or politics, or your mean ex-girlfriend) can DO TO YOU, you step into the true reality where you get to decide each day how to create your life.
-- Christine Kane

I would add to her list of "others" entities like tenure committees and senior management.

I know some Mixonian readers work in environments of potential job losses, non-renewal of contracts, and losing key customers. While it is definitely challenging, it is possible to NOT make the situation worse by ruminating, complaining, whining, or criticizing the powers that be.

Here are some practical things you can do to make yourself stronger:

1. Remember that no matter what happens, you will be fine and you will get through this. Spending down savings, living off unemployment benefits, and cutting expenses is not fun, but it can be done and it's not fatal.

2. Act as though you're already 100% on your own. Your employer is your customer and you do your best work for this customer, but you're on the lookout for new customers. I strongly suggest you use Twitter to connect professionally with new people. Beef up your own public relations plan. Consider getting professional help with this.

3. Make lists of all the things you can think of to build your customer base. Complete those actions, even if you only have time for one action a day. To get your brain thinking along these lines, I recommend Jack Canfield's The Success Principles. Or attend a seminar or workshop to put energy to productive use.

4. If for any reason your situation is such that you have more down time, get more exercise!

If you train your mind to focus on your strengths and your contributions, not neediness, you significantly strengthen your position, no matter what happens.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Buddhist Self Confidence

I thought you would enjoy these two quotes on self-confidence from a Buddhist perspective:

Self-confidence is not a feeling of superiority but of independence. Lama Yeshe

Self-confidence is knowing that you have the capacity to do something good and deciding not to give up! - The Dalai Lama

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Let The TRUE You Shine through

To be successful you need to let other people know the real you. Not the person your friend wants you to be, or your mother, or even your boss. But sometimes it's hard to let people know. Or sometimes you are afraid to let them know. You want to why?? Because you don't know how they will react.

You must learn to conquer that fear. Here is the way: ask yourself some questions....(put yourself to the test). When you feel insecure about anything... Ask yourself these questions:

Why am I afraid??? (I'll bet you won't be able to come up with an answer).

What is the worst thing he/she can possible say or do???
So what??????! (unless it's your boss). ;)

Like my aunt Cynthia... she is possibly the best example for not caring what other people think.

Once I was at the grocery store with her, and she randomly started dancing and singing. She seemed to be having a great time. And you know what????? No one stared or said anything.

She was being herself, and a happy person at that.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

5 Sure Signs You Lack Confidence

Most of us who have experienced periods of low self-confidence, are often not really been aware that we were coming across to other people as insecure. The vast majority of the women I work with do not self identify as lacking self confidence. They just hate public speaking. Or, they feel frustrated with results they're getting in some area of their lives, but not really sure why.

I remember pitching my own business plan way back, and overhearing someone in the audience comment, "She doesn't seem to be secure in what she's talking about." Ouch.

To help you become aware of how you come across to other people, I wrote this list of signs that others certainly would interpret as lacking confidence.

1. Defensive. You know this already. It is painful to try and discuss a situation with a defensive person, one who for some reason feels personally attacked. If you're being even a little bit defensive, I can promise people are not comfortable talking to you about real issues. If you suspect you may be coming across as defensive, simply ask a buddy. Defensiveness can be the elephant in the room -- something you definitely want to get rid of.

2. Indecisive. I used to have indentations on my derriere from spending so much time sitting on the fence, keeping my options open. If you have a hard time making decisions, it's because you have excessive fear of making a mistake. Let me assure you, it's easier to recuperate from a "bad" decision than from a non-decision. Making good decisions fast is a skill that improves with practice.

3. Using qualifiers in excess. These qualifiers also point to indecision: It might be prudent to....Perhaps we could think about....That could have been a reason....The prospect seems to be somewhat interested. Just say it.

4. Apologizing....a lot. There are people who never apologize because they never do anything for which to apologize. Or rather, they are not strong enough to admit being imperfect. Those are not the people I work with (they would never need help in any area of their lives anyway.) My clients, and a whole boat load of people I observe apologize for things like, when their purse hits someone's arm, they make a mistake in speaking, they want the bank teller to give them four $5 bills instead of a $20 bill. In their heart of hearts, these people probably don't feel that they've done something wrong, that really merits an apology, they simply have this habit of apologizing all the time. It's annoying and gives the impression that you would love to be a door mat.

5. Never confronting...until blowing up in rage. This can be ugly to watch, and worse to experience. People who are so nice, so easy-going, so sweet, until the day they overreact and leave observers (usually only close friends and family) spinning in a maelstrom of anger pent up for weeks, or months, or maybe even longer. This type of situation usually leaves hurt feelings and is the result of someone being afraid to express a preference, to politely disagree, or to decline a commitment.

It was my chic hair-dresser who helped me see that being easy-going can often be a mask for lack of self-confidence. It's deciding other people's preferences have merit, and yours don't. The problem is, eventually the easy-going person does want to make a decision, and that can really bother some people because they're used to your supporting them, and not the converse.

So, give the matter some thought. If you sometimes come across as less than confident, it's not hard at all to fix that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The One Thing

Yesterday I got to hear a talk by a top head hunter from New York. He is the president of a high-level communication executive recruiting firm. His clients are top top top companies, universities, and foundations.

His name is Bill, and he's spending a few days at the College of Charleston, talking to students.

There is one thing that you need for business success. (Apart from writing skills.)

It's self-confidence.

What can I say? Great minds....;-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So You Think You're A Responsible Person

If you're reading this you probably think of yourself as a responsible person. I know I do.

The thing is, what does it really mean to be responsible? I was taught that being responsible meant doing what you said you would do. A responsible person is certainly reliable.

It turns out, I took on responsibility that wasn't really mine to take, and failed to take real responsibility for myself. Being a somewhat slow learner (read "hard headed,") it took a painful divorce (yes, that's redundant expression) to get me to rethink the issue of responsibility.

For most of my life I had this idea that if I made other people happy, like say, a husband or parents, then he/they would make me happy.

If you please the teacher, you certainly get good grades. So I guess I extrapolated my academic success to the rest of my life.

Turns out it doesn't work that way. It's technically impossible.

I now realize I am responsible for myself, my own happiness, and for raising my children to the best of my ability. I do not have the power to make anyone else happy. Simply can't be done.

And this has what to do with communication?

When you accept that you are only responsible for your own happiness, you cease to be a people pleaser. You also stop trying to control others. You give them permission to disagree with you.

And that makes you a powerful communicator.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Make More Powerful Decisions

The good thing about not taking responsibility for your life is that you can always find someone to blame for your troubles.

The downside is that you never really get anywhere because you don't realize your own power to achieve what you want. Plus your blaming eventually drains your energy, as does feeling resentment and anger.

Step 1: Deciding to take responsibility for all outcomes is the first step. That means you can see your part in everything; that's not saying everything is your fault.

Seeing life in terms of my fault, your fault, their fault limits your ability to conceive solutions.

Step 2: Define success for you. What do you want to see happen in your life today, this week, this month, this year, before you die. Not what you're supposed to want, what do you really want to experience. Write it down.

Step 3: Now, here's a really fun and challenging step. Imagine that you already are where you want to be....how does that feel? What you want is to make decisions from that place, not from your current reality.

Does that mean asking your banker for a yacht loan?

Probably not.

It does mean that you ask yourself, "If I were the person I want to be, how would I make that decision?"

Example: My friend Emily has a business in which she helps people market their businesses using social media and helps them recover time. Her computer recently broke down. Instead of blaming Steve Jobs for not making a computer that lasts a lifetime, she decided not to waste time trying to mend an outdated machine and bought a new fancy computer. This is not what she would do normally. Normally she would have a minor breakdown and then try to fix the problem with the sole criteria of using the least amount of money.

However, what she did was buy the computer if she had as much businesses as she could handle. Her new computer enables her to do even better work for her clients, and makes her day brighter.

You can read about Emily on Twitter, or she has a cool blog.

So, next decision you face. Consider what would you do, if you were already the person you want to be.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Point Quibblers and Other Icky Clients

Last week at a meeting, I proudly shared my latest classroom triumph -- I had already "made" a student cry because she got a B+ on her first speech, and yet everyone knows she is an "A student." Such is the life of a mean and evil public speaking professor. My colleague said, "Oh, she must be one of those annoying 'point quibblers.'"

Now isn't that a fantastic term, a "point quibbler"?

Reminds me of certain clients I no longer deal with. For your handy reference, here's a list of clients you're probably better off without....no matter what shape the economy is in. Life is simply too short.

Run, don't walk, away from....

- Clients who endlessly negotiate every single item, even after you've already reached an agreement.

- Clients who don't show up for the call or appointment, and always have excuses for why they didn't show up. (If you don't make excuses, why should you deal with clients who do?)

- Clients who don't do their homework, or answer preliminary questions that help you serve them better.

- Clients who seem to have already decided that your product or service won't work for them. (Really, why bother?)

College professors don't get to fire their students. Entrepreneurs and managers have more leeway in deciding with whom to do business.

Dan Kennedy put it like this: You may think you'll do business with anyone who has breath. But a lot of people have really bad breath.

Decide in advance who your ideal clients are. That's where your real success lies.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Are You Really Happy It's Friday?

Probably you are. I sure am.

If you're really really really happy and delighted that it is finally Friday, I think you need to drop something.

I'm not saying quit your job.

What activity can you stop doing?

Another possibility is to work from home one day a week. (Tim Ferris tells you how to get this concession from your boss in his must-read The Four-Hour Work Week.)

Don't save your life for the week-ends. Put a little week-end in your work week.

Works for me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What Most People Don't Know About Persuasion

If you're like most people, you would love to be more persuasive. Having more influence makes you more valuable in the marketplace.

Here's the thing: people, your audience, your prospects, your potential employer, all of these individuals decide whether to allow you to persuade them.

It's their choice, not yours.

Your job is to make the choice easy: being credible, likable, trustworthy.

The thing is, people take all of 7 seconds to make this decision about you.

People take in your attitude, your posture, the way you dress, your mannerisms....and make this huge judgment about you. And yes, they know you're not supposed to judge people.

If you trust yourself, accept yourself, and like yourself, then others will do the same. And if they don't, they're not your people anyway.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pleasing Your Jaded Audience

Today provided me with an eye-opening experience.

I asked students to provide the class with guidelines from their point of view, of what kinds of speeches they would like to hear. This exercise, which I totally made up, was supposed to help the students with their topic selection.

I think they're all scared to death. The students are far and away more demanding that any professor would ever think about being.

Here's what they want to hear in a talk:

They want to learn but nothing too complicated.

Forget all issues related to religion or politics.

Nothing controversial, but nothing "normal" either.

It has to be "edgy" but not offensive.

Insert a celebrity and you're fine.

The topic has to relate to them, but don't tell them what they already know.

Funny is good. Happy endings are cliche.

Wow is good. Prefer talks that are inspirational and motivational.

Nothing about business.

The thing is, these college students represent all of us as audiences. And if you ask them what they want, they come up with absolutely impossible demands.

The trick is, key in on benefits to the audience. Organize and support your core message. Insert humor and celebrities whenever possible. Keep it short and snappy.

And lastly, remember you can't please everyone all the time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When Sad Things Happen to Highly-Confident People

Sally emailed me this morning that her newly-adopted pet, Daisy, had a stroke last night.

Sally lost her beloved black lab, Fletch, in December. It hardly seems fair to lose two pets in one year.

But stuff like this happens, even to really incredible and positive and wonderful contributing people, like you, and like me.

It's not what happens to you but how you react to what happens that really defines you.

Being confident doesn't protect you from feeling pain, it simply helps to put boundaries around it to limit the hurt.

Healthy people feel the pain of loss. They grieve. But their sadness is only part of their life.

The tapestry of life becomes more beautiful because of all the different kinds of experiences that color it.

This is what Sally wrote me:

Sadness is what happens when you invest so much of yourself into something. Without that investment, you can't feel the sadness, but then you can't feel the happiness and love either. So the statement should really be worded, "Happiness is what happens when you invest so much of yourself into something."

In the end, the emotional investment is definitely worth it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

21 Reasons to Be Bodacious

Bodacious is the combination of "bold" and "audacious". I understand George Bernard Shaw invented the word. The truth is you don't have to wear fire-engine red lipstick to be bodacious. You can even wear Birkenstocks and eat granola every day while being bodacious. You could even be a bodacious cloistered nun - there's one in Alabama who runs a television station.

It's really about living life with gusto, savoring each day, and doing what you came here to do.

1. If you focus on being bodacious, you have less energy to waste time worrying about things.

2. Bodacious people have more fun.

3. You'll never be bored.

4. Make more money.

5. Laugh more....especially at yourself.

6. Attract other bodacious people into your life.

7. Be a better parent and grandparent/aunt/uncle/etc.

8. Sleep more soundly. (Being bodacious takes energy!)

9. Have more interesting stories to tell.

10. Inspire and encourage others.

11. Attend fewer meetings.

12. It's a healthier way of life.

13. You might become famous, or infamous.

14. In any case, other people will talk about you more.

15. You can help others heal.

16. Your presentations are more engaging.

17. Less need for therapy.

18. Learn more.

19. Feels wow.

20. Ask more, receive more of what you want.

21. It's a creative way to live.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

7 Habits of Highly Confident People

You already know more confidence means a higher level of performance. (Of course we mean authentic confidence -- not that annoying puffery!)

So, after working with so many clients and students with their confidence in public speaking, I've come up with a list of the habits you consistently see in highly confident people:

1. Avidly care for their bodies. It's not that all highly confident people are model thin, it's something much deeper. Highly confident people realize that to keep up their high levels of performance, they must take extra care of themselves. You'll find many of the highly confident people take their nutrition and exercise very seriously. Exercise, nutrition, and rest are indispensable for mood management...and we all know how ridiculous people can get when they're irritable simply for burning the candle at both ends, for too long. (Not that I have any personal experience with this.) ;-)

2. Appreciate who they are and what they have. The best way to snap out of negativity is to stop and take a look at what you already have. Highly confident people know they aren't perfect, but they are also aware that they are already contributing to a better society.

3. Assign the best possible interpretation of motives to all people and situations. This is a habit, like any other, that has to be deliberately cultivated. It helps you shrug off things people say, or things that happen, that might otherwise throw you off kilter. Because highly-confident people consistently look for a positive framework through which to view events, other people generally return the favor. This training in looking for the positive slows down that knee-jerk reaction of going off on mental fantasies of disaster.

4. Able to confront early and lightly. This is probably the trickiest but most telling habit. They usually give positive feedback, but when a correction is necessary, highly-confident people say what needs to be said without getting all dramatic about it. And because they take care of themselves, they're not harboring resentments that can turn a trickle of annoyance into a fatal tsunami.

5. Ask for help. Highly-confident people don't have their egos tied to being the lone savior of a situation. Likewise, they realize that people enjoy helping and delight in being asked to contribute. This habit helps avoid overwhelm, another kill-joy tendency.

6. Are acutely aware of their preferences. It's not that highly-confident people always insist on getting things their way; but somehow, they usually do. When asked where to have lunch, they suggest a place. When asked what they would like to drink or eat, they respond immediately. This awareness sets the foundation for their goal setting, and helps them make better decisions more quickly.

7. Are attractively light-hearted. Highly confident people take their work seriously, but not themselves. That makes them so attractive to others

Friday, September 11, 2009

If You're Not Getting It, Try Relaxing

In talking to my coach yesterday, I was expressing frustration because it's taking me so much time for me to reach one of my goals. (I want it NOW!) After all, I am a super "go-getter" and should have gotten "there" by now.

As she has told me many times this year, she repeated, "Laura, I think now is a good time for you to relax and really think about what it is you want to do."

I hate it when she says that, but experience has proven she's right. I remembered something that really illustrates what happens to us when we find ourselves getting nowhere.

I love to swim. Normally, for the last few years, I swim 2 to 4 miles a week.

Sometimes I see adults swimming who seem to be struggling so much. They are novice swimmers, and it used to hurt me to watch them.

It bothered me because I see them struggling so much, expending FAR more effort than is necessary or desirable, and swimming so awkwardly.

It's because they don't trust themselves in the water. So they overcompensate.

You can see that with novices in anything. Swimming may have a related fear-factor similar to that of public speaking because of the possibility of drowning.

If you're having trouble and feeling a lot of frustration in some area of your life, try relaxing and letting go. Try to trust yourself a bit more and see what happens. You may be in for a wonderful surprise.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

True Story on the Power of Confidence

I got to hear so many incredible true-life stories yesterday and the class before. I heard a young man tell of being falsely diagnosed with a fatal illness, another who experienced repeated failures trying out for the baseball team before getting into a game he enjoys much more -- golf, a young woman who out-of-the-blue had to deliver a baby for her mom's friend, so many fabulous stories. So much wisdom!

But one story stands out in my mind to illustrate our incredible power. Here's what happened to this young girl, we'll call her Suzy.

One Christmas Suzy had her heart set on getting a new Barbie. But not just any Barbie, it was one where you could cut her hair. At least the doll came with scissors.

It was the last gift that little seven-year-old Suzy opened, and she felt pure bliss.

Barbie's hair went from hip length, to waist length, to long layers to asymetrical, to shoulder length, to China chop, to pixie short....finally ending with a total buzz cut. Suzy was enchanted. And then a little bored. Two hours had passed in hair cutting ecstasy - what next?

The logical thing to do was of course for Suzy to cut her own hair. Which she did.

She cut layers and more layers and then a bit more. Some might called the end result "massacre with scissors." Suzy knew it was THE cut of her life and couldn't wait to show her parents.

Little Suzy had a hard time understanding why her mother wanted to take her to a beauty salon to "fix" her hair style, after all what was there to fix?

Mom knew Suzy would be subject to endless ridicule at school, possibly traumatized for life.

Suzy knew everyone at school would be so envious of her cosmetology savvy and skill. Her friends would turn green with envy.

Who do you think was right?


Her complete and unquestioned confidence in her appearance caused other people to see her beauty.

That was 12 years ago and Suzy still has pictures of that hair cut. She would never cut her hair again, but she cherishes that memory of boundless self-value.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

SmartConfidence Comes From Action

Through my work I get to talk with some really interesting people. They have a lot of incredibly creative and powerful ideas. However, most of the ideas stay ideas....they never take flight as action.

Author Stephen King says that talent is worth essentially the same as table salt. Why? The real kicker is taking action.

So....why don't more people take action?

Some are too way too busy. You know, crazy-busy.

Some don't have supportive friends or families.

Some are too tired.

Some aren't really sure what the best action to take is.

Some are waiting until they get another degree.

Some are waiting for the stock market to get better.

Some are sure they'll fail, so why bother?

SmartConfidence is taking actions, however small, however imperfect, way before you get your act together.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Meet Brooke Castillo

At our Platinum Mastermind Coaching Awesome Spectacular Incredible Women Who Are Also Sublime Goddesses (or some dang name like that) retreat in April, Christine Kane introduced us to Brooke Castillo.

I mean she introduced us to her blog and her line of thinking. I think her specialty as a coach is working with women who want to lose weight. But, since everything is so interconnected, you'll definitely benefit from reading her blog from time to time.

She doesn't write that frequently.

Check out her post from September 1. I really liked it.

P.S. I think The Satorialist must be on vacation. Hope your style isn't suffering. Surely he'll be back soon!

For People Who Give Away Their Power

Today President Obama is speaking to our children in school. My own theory on why he's doing that is he wants to reach a specific part of the school population, and he can't reach those kids without talking to the entire population. Obama and I have not discussed the matter personally....yet. ;-)

The message is supposed to encourage the children to be good little boys and girls and get good grades. I used to one of them -- not that my grades were stellar but they were always top 10% and I certainly was a good little girl. Until quite recently, actually.

As a teacher, I used to anguish about why girls tended to be so much better students than boys. Then my friend, Ruben, reminded me that boys tend to make more money once they get out of school. Took me a while, but I finally got it. The male part of our population, which has problems of its own, is less likely to want to play the "let's make the teacher happy" game.

Some of us good girls get so well rewarded for pleasing our teachers, we went out into the real world to please bosses, husbands, children, and clients. In exchange for our doing what they ask us to, they are supposed to appreciate us and pay us. What often happens though, is that they ask why we haven't done more. As in "what have you done for me in the last five minutes?"

The thing is....as students some of us learned to give away our power. That means we let our teachers determine if we're good enough or not, rather than trusting ourselves. If we get an A, all is well, if not, then we have to work harder to give the teacher what she wants. Or blame her.

All outer-directed and totally disempowering.

So, if you were a good little girl in school, and have this sneaking suspicion that you're underperforming in real life, think about where your power is. If it's not inside you, get it back.

I'm not saying getting good grades is a bad thing. On the contrary. What you don't want is to live life trying to make the teacher happy with you.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Real Power of SmartConfidence

This is what top marketing expert Seth Godin, author of Tribes and other best-selling books, has to say about confidence: All the evidence I've seen shows that positive thinking and confidence improves performance. In anything.

Research strongly supports these findings about people with higher self-confidence. They are…

· Happier
· Higher performing
· Better at setting and respecting boundaries
· Saying “no” effortlessly
· Selling more with less stress
· Taking better care of their bodies
· Avoiding manipulation and being manipulated
· Taking more calculated risks
· Making more money
· Taking more time off
· Magnetically attracting like-minded people to them
· Enjoying richer, more fulfilling lives

So, why aren't more of us so self confident?

The answer is because we're often so comfortable with what we have, we prefer our rut to the unknown.

And change, even the most positive, brings collateral effects which are not totally predictable.

Another reason is what we'll call the crab factor: when one crab gets uppity and tries to leave the bucket, the other crabs will pull him down.

The older you get, the more you see how the reasons we used to play small were so silly. Aren't you glad you're past that now?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Does Your Presentation Coach or Teach?

As one who loves teaching, coaching, and learning, I was thinking how different it is to work with college students, compared to professional women (my coaching clients.)

College students are fun. I think of them as baby adults, and teaching them is a lot like being their mom for a semester.

There is nothing that equals the experience of working with people are committed to improving their personal life leadership and presentation skills. It's kinda like teaching gifted students. Their focus on moving forward gives them a genius quality.

I think that coaching is personalized, forward-moving teaching.

Coaching enables clients to solve specific problems. Teaching is more of connecting useful ideas to people with various levels of interest.

In your presentations, are you coaching or teaching? Probably both, depending on the commitment level of your audience. Consider taking more of a coaching approach when possible.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

5 Reasons People Fear Public Speaking

You probably already know that the fear of public speaking is top-ranked in our country. Even though I've been working with clients and students for many years, I never cease to be amazed at how attractive, smart, articulate, accomplished women can feel so uneasy about talking in front of a group.

It's easy to see why other people should be more confident, it's a lot harder to BE more confident yourself. But definitely worth the effort.

It's easy to see how silly other people's fears are. It's harder to face your own silly fears. Let's take a look at what is really behind the fear of public speaking.

1. Fear of embarrassing yourself.

The chances of doing this are pretty remote but even if you, laugh it off. Don't take yourself soooo seriously that this fear keeps you from living your wow life.

2. Fear of people being rude to you.

If you haven't noticed already, some people are rude. That's their problem, not yours. Shake it off.

3. Fear of people disliking you.

There's nothing more annoying that people who want everyone to like them. I know, I used to be there. You sell your soul for approval and ignore your own power. Is this where you really want to go?

4. Fear of making a mistake, or worse, failure.

Come on now, if you're not making mistakes, you're not really alive. The ONLY way to be creative and innovate is to make mistakes. You can't succeed without failing either; it's an integral part of the process of success. Celebrate your mistakes; laugh at your failures!

5. Fear of success.

You might actually make the sale/get the promotion....and live up to higher expectations. Yes, it's scary, and exhilarating, and dynamic. Try it, you might like it.

The only way around fear of public speaking is through it. Get someone to hold your hand, and you'll be fine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Three Steps For Making Great Decisions

The good thing about not taking responsibility for your life is that you can always find someone to blame for your troubles.

The downside is that you never really get anywhere because you don't sense your own power to achieve what you want. Plus your blaming eventually drains your energy, as does feeling resentment and anger.

Step 1: Deciding to take responsibility for all outcomes is the first step. That means you can see your part in everything; that's not saying everything is your fault.

Seeing life in terms of my fault, your fault, their fault limits your ability to conceive solutions.

Step 2: Define success for you. What do you want to see happen in your life today, this week, this month, this year, before you die. Not what you're supposed to want, what do you really want to experience. Write it down.

Step 3: Now, here's a really fun and challenging step. Imagine that you are where you want to be....how does that feel? What you want is to make decisions from that place, not from your current reality.

Does that mean asking your banker for a yacht loan?

Probably not.

It does mean that you ask yourself, "If I were the person I want to be, how would I make that decision?"

Example: My friend Emily has a business in which she helps people market their businesses using social media. Her computer recently broke down. Instead of blaming Steve Jobs for not making a computer that lasts a lifetime, she decided not to waste time trying to mend an outdated machine and bought a new fancy computer. This is not what she would do normally. Normally she would have a minor breakdown and then try to fix the problem with the sole criteria of using the least amount of money.

However, what she actually did was buy the computer if she had as much businesses as she could handle. Her new computer enables her to do even better work for her clients, and makes her day brighter.

So, next decision you face: consider what would you do, if you were already the person you want to be.

The Incredible ROI of Looking for the Best Side

Monday I had a great opportunity to exercise my calm-in-the-storm frame of mind, literally.

The day started when the bus driver shut the door almost in my daughter's face....we're not sure why, but apparently he was unable or unwilling to wait for her to get to the door to let her in. Therefore I got to take her to school. I got to my work just in time for class, with not a moment to breathe, much less stop by my office. All was fine; my first two classes were great.

Between class two and three, I have to hike about four blocks in under 10 minutes. It was not raining; it was pouring torrentially. I taught my third class dripping wet. All was well.

Now it's lunch time and I can't wait to get to my office and sit down! When I get to my office, I realize my office keys are not where they're supposed to be....they are in the first classroom I taught in, 3 blocks away. Fortunately, they were in the exact place I had left them early in the morning.

So, I have 25 minutes for lunch instead of an hour. No problem.

I was so happy to get to my fourth class. We had a great time. I enjoyed the 1-mile walk to my car and hopped in to get on my way to Whole Foods, a fun place for me to buy "special" groceries.

I notice the car is making a really weird noise.

I have a totally flat tire.

No worries, I have a service (with USAA) so they send someone out to repair it. I wish it didn't take an hour for the guy to get there, but I'm glad to be in the shade and happy to SIT DOWN (all teachers know what I mean!)

Miracle of miracles, I make it home just before my daughters do. And all was well.

All of us have days like these. Maybe you're the sort of person who lets everything like this roll off your back like water on a duck.: no bad mood, no grumpiness.

It's taken me a while to develop the habit of not letting bad things get worse by thinking how unfair it all was. I just got through the day, one obstacle at a time. By maintaining serenity, you have more resources at hand to deal with everything and you don't waste time, the new money.

Yesterday I took some time to goof off.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Define Your Preferences in Detail

If you're like me, when you were younger, still enjoying that delicious age of "infinite wisdom," you may have scoffed at people who talked about "knowing who you really are." I mean, how stupid is that?

Turns out, Her Smartness, it's not stupid at all.

There was a reason Socrates said something like, "The beginning of wisdom is self knowledge."

It's easy to know yourself generally. Like your favorite color and television show. And you want to have lots of money and plenty of time to do stuff in it.

But, if that were what made people happy, you wouldn't have celebrity suicides, or Lindsay Lohan would not have spent so much time in rehab.

It's been something that's come up unexpectedly in my work with my coach. I hired a coach for one reason -- to build my business, and several months into our work she starts asking me to write lists of my preferences.

So, I do. I have lists and lists of lists. I know pretty clearly what kind of work I like to do, and am good at, what's really really really important to me (like having TONS of downtime) and how I like to spend my money. I want to travel, but not that often. I want a new car, but not a brand-new one. I have very specific trips (London in June) and cars (Honda CRV) in mind.

The weirdest thing is, I've become a more powerful person. I state my preferences more quickly and get more of them. If someone asks me anything, I no longer EVER say, "it doesn't matter to me where we eat lunch". Well, actually I have wimped out a couple of times, and lived to regret it. Mostly, I say, I prefer grilled fish for lunch.

Clarity makes you more confident. Confidence is money in your bank.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The 2 Secret Ingredients of Top Speakers

Audiences connect to speakers whom they know, trust, and like. But, wait, that's three things, not two....what is Her Smartness up to now?

Well, for your audience to know/trust/like you, you need to have 2 secret ingredients.

They are credibility and vulnerability.

At TED.com there are so many great talks it's hard to pick the best ones. However, Dan Pink's talk about the failed use of incentives at work, is top notch.

He begins his talk by telling us he studied law. But, to cast that decision in a positive light, he tells us he graduated in the part of the class that makes the top 90% possible. He never practiced law. We see he is not Mr. Perfect, and we feel like we can relate to him. But what could a C law student have to say to us?

Dan Pink is the author of several top-selling business books. He was also a speech writer for Al Gore. But that's not where his credibility comes from in this talk, although it surely was critical in his getting an invitation to speak at TED.

Mr. Pink does the intelligent thing. He borrows credibility from scientific studies done by people with lots of letters after their last names. Easy as pie.

He takes studies, which were not recent, btw, and simplifies what happened in those studies (like he doesn't mention which statistical tests were used), made cute illustrations for his slides, and make the studies relevant to the audience.

One of his points was that business often ignores scientific resources. His primary argument was that financial rewards/incentives do not result in better results when the task is complicated and requires creativity, they only work for simple jobs.

Fear not telling your audience that you never read newspapers, that you're a recovering people pleaser or that you really like Tabasco sauce on your scrambled eggs. Your credibility is only enhanced with sincere vulnerability. Nobody relates to Ms. Perfect.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

De- Clutter and Enjoy Peace at Home

By Christina Rodriguez, age 11.

Have you looked at your house recently? Do you see it cluttered with gifts (junk) from family, friends, and,well, things you bought because you thought they were pretty?

If you want to De-clutter your house, you have to ask your self the following questions:

Do I really need this?

Have I ever used this?

You're going to find yourself saying: "Well, Susie (anybody) gave this to me for my birthday 2 years ago....I should keep it."

NO! You shouldn't keep it! If it's not an absolute yes, then it's a no.

Say your best friend gave you some nice china plates last Christmas. Have you used it by now, or are you still saying: "I'll save it for a special occasion"? Use it while you can because it's not going with you to heaven.

Now, I know that somethings are going to have to stay, but try to make it as few things as possible.

Here are the three main rules to De-clutter your house:

1. Be strong. Being able to throw away things that were given to you isn't easy but you're going to have to throw them away sometime.

2. Don't be hesitant. If you can't choose between throwing something away or keeping it then its a no-no. Like I said before, if its not an absolute yes then it's a no.

3. Don't keep something just because you are afraid you might hurt some body's feelings. I am 99.999% sure that they won't notice it's gone.

Laura's note: De-cluttering is a hot issue for those of us who have spent countless hours packing and unpacking.....and still don't know where to put the stuff. Remember that our storage business generates multibillions of dollars annually.